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Grateful For Small Merseys

Posted on Mon May 15th, 2017 @ 5:28am by Captain Claudia Ainscow & Lieutenant Commander Martha Cusack & Lieutenant JG Amber Zuzan & Lieutenant Tabetha Relton & Lieutenant Commander Gareth Tau & Ensign Jessie Hall

Mission: S1E5 - Unknown Territory
Location: USS Mersey/Vindex Bridge
Timeline: Mission Day 83; 1200

The Mersey runabout hurtled toward the planet at breakneck speeds that pushed the inertial dampeners to their breaking point. Ryland sat back in the pilot's seat and kept his arms at full extension in order to relax his body. He needed to keep his focus on the instrumentation cluster in the conn panel rather than maintaining balance. This suicide mission was going to be a trick.

"Full impulse, my ass," he muttered with a cocky sneer.

Martha glared at the man - she may have misunderstood him but she felt at this particular point she wanted 100% concentration from everyone concerned.

"Eyes on the prize Lieutenant. Don't disintegrate the shuttle before we've even got there" Martha warned.

"Aye, aye, ma'am." Ryland took them into a steep descent which let gravity take over from the thrusters.

A hail came in from the Vindex.

"Mersey here," Ryland said.

"What's your status?" Claudia asked.

"We're inbound for the basecamp with an ETA of 8 minutes," Ryland said. "Any luck getting them on the horn?"

"Negative" Martha commented.

Claudia and the Vindex had had similar luck - unfortunately they'd not been able to get through to the away team. It was down to the Mersey to find them by luck and bring them home safely.

"Nothing from up here. We'll keep you apprised" Claudia replied.

Gareth had returned to the Bridge once the Mersey was underway. The autoscan program he'd left running gave him a hefty amount of results to assess.

"Captain, I suggest moving to the far side of the planet," he said. "The tricobalt detonation is no longer disrupting the kinoplasmic bursts, and before long I'm afraid we'll be no better off than the ground team."

"I'm preparing to fire a second tricobalt device - it will buy us more time - another couple of minutes at the most" Amber said.

"We can't do that!" Gareth exclaimed. "Those warheads pack a powerful punch, and the results have a cumulative effect on local subspace! If we just detonate one tricobalt device after another in the same spot, there's no telling what might happen!"

Claudia turned to Gareth and then to Amber.

"You have a few minutes to work out a solution to avoid that happening Mr Tau - otherwise Ms Zuzan will be firing the device" Claudia replied.

"Understood," Gareth grumbled. He quickly cycled through the multiple programs running through his sensor grid.

"Captain, I got a channel open to the away team," said Ensign Jessie Hall from the Ops station. "It's audio only, but it's solid."

Claudia smiled at the young woman to commend her work. Turning back to the viewscreen Claudia spoke.

"We're sending someone down to rescue you. Everyone needs to remain in the structure until the Mersey has arrived - do not attempt to leave using the Horsa" Claudia said.

=/\="The Horsa is dead to this world, Captain, so that's great news. We're bunkered down in the shelter. Be advised we're fighting off hostile lifeforms on all sides... please hurry."=/\=

"The Mersey will be with you within the next ten minutes or so - we are trying to locate the source of this radiation but so far we haven't been successful. Once inside I want you to stay in there - Commander Cusack will beam you aboard using the Mersey's transporters. Is everyone still alive Commander?" Claudia replied.

=/\="For the moment, Captain, but the shelter has been breached. We're fighting off... whatever these things are. I'll see you on the other side."=/\=

Tabetha felt sick, Asher was down there, and she was in danger. And there was nothing Tabbie could do except sit in the chair and hope the Mersey got to the away team in time.

"Don't say that Commander. We'll be with you soon - sit tight and keep their morale up" Claudia replied.

On board the Mersey, Ryland flew toward the region of the away team's last known transmission.

"Any sign yet?" Ryland asked. His bravado was getting harder to maintain without any clear destination in mind. The radiation was only getting stronger, which meant their little rescue flight was running short on time.

Martha scanned the surface and managed to locate the second communications tower. She attempted to trace it back but was unsuccessful - so instead she resorted to the old fashioned way - looking out of the window.

"Let's see...I've just noticed something. They look like tracks - follow those and they should lead us back to the base camp. Step on it - we don't have much time" Martha instructed.

"I'll have to get pretty low. Hold on." Ryland grinned and put the Mersey on its side in a sharp downturn. "Whaddya' know, there are tracks down here."

"Follow them" Martha ordered.

Ryland laughed loud and carefree. "This is it, Madam Lawman. Just you and me. Until we make it back, nobody else exists. Any last words, in case this is it?"

"Stop...fucking...calling me that. And besides if you're as good as you claim to be Dedeker then you'll get us out of here alive and not in a torpedo casing" Martha hissed.

"Yeah, you're right. It's a sick game us flyboys play when cheating death." Ryland looked through the viewscreen at the raised promontory jutting out from the coastline into the sea. "As for me? I regret never settling down. Always living the fast life, never appreciating the finer things."

Before Martha could respond, Ryland spotted columns of gigantic quadruped creatures with nimble limbs bent at unnatural angles swarming toward the basecamp.

"Aw, hell, that can't be good!" He shot Martha a glance that was vacant from any feeling he had been expressing just prior. "Think you can light'em up while I bring us down overhead?"

Martha went back to her Tactical console and within seconds she began to lay down fire to distract or kill the unusual lifeforms which were surrounding the shelter.

"There's too many of them...I have an idea - hang on" Martha said.

Martha prepared a few decoy charges before loading their launching bay with them. Martha hoped the brightness of the harmless decoys would be enough to stun the creatures for long enough to land the craft and rescue those inside the structure. Once they were ready Martha looked over at Ryland with the sincerest of glares she could give him.

"Fly over them in a circular motion - and do not deviate one inch until I tell you to" Martha ordered.

"Yes, ma'am, Madam... ma'am."

Once the course was set in Martha staggered the launch of the decoys so they launched at equal intervals. After a few revolutions it appeared the charges had done their job - with those creatures still alive currently unconscious - although Martha knew it wouldn't be like that for long.

"Take us down - land us next to Horsa. Stay here - do not move or I will make sure the Captain busts you back down to Cadet" Martha ordered.

"Do I look like a Marine to you? I'll give you as long as I can before I hit the bricks." Ryland smirked at her. "Which is to say, take your time."

"The radiation is increasing," Gareth reported. His face was downcast, as he knew that meant they would detonate another tricobalt device.

"We're out of time Captain" Amber said.

Claudia nodded - she knew there could be consequences of this - but then again there might not be. There was an away team on that surface and now also the runabout team - she wasn't going to give up trying to rescue them without exploring all of their options.

"Alright - you can fire one more device" Claudia instructed.

Amber nodded and launched the second tricobalt device.

"The second tricobalt device is launched Captain" Amber said.

"Kinoplasmic bursts are diminishing," Gareth replied. "No subspace ruptures so far."

Claudia nodded. "Good - let's keep an eye out for those please Mr Tau"

The Ops console flashed red. "Captain, we've lost subspace communications--the runabout, basecamp, everything."

Ensign Hall pounded the console and tried again.

Claudia sighed - that was not good.

"Keep trying Ensign" Claudia replied.

The Chief Science Officer did his best to hide a smug expression as he dutifully busied himself with strengthening the shields.

"Shields have dropped to 63% and holding," he reported. "I've repurposed the primary sensors with a short-range active polaron scan. We should have a visual of the planet through the radiation and distortions."

Claudia nodded. "Put it up on the screen Commander"

The main screen zoomed in on the rolling clouds of the middle atmosphere. A small pinpoint of light began to emerge from it.

"Signature profile confirmed--it's the Mersey," Gareth said. "But... I'm detecting engine malfunctions. Captain, at their current angle of ascent and acceleration, they aren't going to reach us."

"Fuck...alright. We're taking the Vindex in - let's try and tow it in clear of the planet and bring it on board" Claudia said.

Looking over at Tabetha Claudia gave her next instruction.

"Set course for the Mersey's trajectory, Ms Relton - full impulse" Claudia ordered.

"Already on it, Captain." Tabbie said, typing in a course towards the planet, engaging when ready.

Claudia kept hold of her seat as the planet came closer and closer into view. This was not the ideal solution but it was the only solution - the Mersey was in need of rescue and the only way of doing so was picking it up with the tractor beam.

"Take us in so we come across the Mersey's bow Lieutenant" Claudia instructed.

"Yes Captain." Tabbie said, preparing to switch to the manual control stick for better control of the ship.

It was going to be a tough manoeuvre, but Tabbie was confident she could do what Claudia was expecting her to do. There was a first time for everything, and this was going to be the first time Tabbie was going to fly a starship above a planet's surface.

With the Vindex now in the atmosphere Claudia hoped that the Mersey could be rescued and then they could withdraw to safety until the source of the radiation was found. This wasn't going to do the proposal to colonise the planet any favours if the radiation source wasn't located and dealt with as soon as possible. If there were any lasting effects then the planet's colonisation was going to be over before it had even begun.

"Open a channel please Ms Zuzan" Claudia said.

Amber opened a channel to the Mersey and confirmed this to Claudia.

"Vindex to Mersey. What's your status?" Claudia asked.

"Sum-bitches wreaked havoc on the hull before we could get clear," Ryland replied. "I'm burnin' up the engines just trying to keep us going."

Claudia nodded and gripped the arms of her chair gently - the Danubes were well built but clearly the Mersey was struggling to keep going. The Vindex was close to the runabout - so Claudia decided to reassure Ryland of that fact in the hope the Mersey held out for long enough.

"Sit tight Lieutenant - we'll be with you in about 60 seconds or so" Claudia replied.

"I hope so," Ryland said. "My nav systems are shot to hell in all this interference."

Which, in Flight Control parlance, meant he was flying blind.

"Captain, everyone on board is in agreement. If the Vindex can't safely retrieve us, well, we understand."

Claudia looked over at Tabbie. The Mersey was in trouble and there was no way it was going to last that long - there was only one thing for it.

"Miss Relton - do what you can to save that runabout" Claudia ordered.

Without thinking, Tabbie got up from her station and walked around to the manual control stick. Taking tight hold of it, she prepared to throw it forward.

"You'd better tell everyone to hold on, Captain." Tabetha said.

Claudia pressed the comm panel on her chair - she knew this was probably going to result in a lot of things getting spilt and knocked over - but if it worked then it would be worth it.

"Captain Ainscow to all hands - hold on to something" Claudia said.

Tabbie moved the Vindex into the Mersey's path of ascent, then threw the stick full forward, sending the star ship into a steep nose dive. She held on to the stick with one hand, using the other to stay stood up. The steep descent was at least 45 to 50 degrees, and Tabbie could almost feel the stress the starship was going through. It wasn't designed for this, but Tabbie knew this was the only shot she and they had at saving the Mersey from destruction, and the loss of all on board.

"There you are..." Tabbie said, throwing the Vindex into an even steeper dive to pass under it.

"Get those shuttle bay doors open and tell him to kill the engines, we've got one chance at this." Tabbie said, keeping her focus on the target.

Claudia turned to Amber and gave her the nod to get the shuttlebay doors opened and have the arrester nets deployed to steady the Mersey's landing into the the shuttlebay.

"The shuttlebay is ready Captain" Amber said.

Claudia nodded. "Re-open the channel to the Mersey"

Amber nodded and opened the channel again.

"Mersey, this is Vindex. Kill your engines and hold her steady" Claudia ordered.

"Copy all."

"Brace for impact..." Tabbie muttered, levelling the Vindex out enough to let the Mersey slide into the main shuttlebay.

The Bridge fell deathly silent for a moment. Everybody stopped what they were doing and looked to one another, wondering if they had an update or hope to share.

=/\="Commander ben-Avram to the Bridge--The away team is onboard and accounted for. Let's get the hell away from here."=/\=

Ensign Hall squealed in delight before composing herself again.

Gareth allowed himself a single clap of celebration and dry-washed the mirth out of his hands before it spread to his face.

Claudia stood up as the Vindex levelled out and went over to Tabetha - resting a congratulatory hand on her shoulder. The Mersey and all those on board had been saved thanks to her quick thinking.

"Well done Lieutenant" Claudia offered.

"Captain, the kinoplasmic radiation has reached a critical mass point," Gareth said. "It's... it's nullifying our impulse thrusters. If I didn't know better, I'd swear the planet had us in a tractor beam."

Claudia looked over at Gareth with a great deal of surprise. She then looked to Tabetha and gave her the order to attempt to break free - there was no way Claudia intended on letting that thing keep hold of her ship without a fight.

"Full impulse Miss Relton - let's try and get free of that thing" Claudia ordered.

Tabetha nodded, punching the Vindex into full impulse, although it wasn't doing anything.

"Captain, we're not moving." Tabbie replied. "And the engines are overheating..."

Gareth's jaw hung low. "I don't believe it," he said with eyes spread wide. "The increased radiation levels have allowed me to isolate its origin. It's coming from a crystalline quarry in the mountains near the abandoned basecamp. Sensors cannot identify its unknown mineral composition, but... Captain... I think it's alive."

To Be Concluded Next Season. . .


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