They're Dead, Harv
Location: Planet Surface
Summary: Captain Geisler joins Ensigns Mitchell and Crehan for a shuttle ride to the surface. They begin to explore and find something unsettling.
Timeline: Mission Day 21 at 1600
A dead planet. An extinct civilization. An Alien Archaeologist and Anthropologist's dream. Aidan had a bag over his back with supplies and one in his left hand. It'd been a long time since he'd been on a dig or anything like that. And here was an entire planet that classified as a dig. The El-Aurian entered the shuttle bay and looked around for the assigned shuttle that would take him down the surface. Well, he and whoever else he happened to be riding with. Regardless, he was looking forward to some field work.
By now, the shuttlecraft selections were extremely limited. Most of the more versatile craft had been utilized, leaving the shuttlebay surprisingly vacant. Aside from the smaller shuttlepods, which were only capable of impulse and would carry only one or two people, only the Type-8 Shuttlecraft, Nimoy, remained.
But Ensign Crehan wouldn't be alone in the shuttlebay for long. The crew access doors opened, allowing Captain Geisler to enter the massive room. He hadn't told anyone that he was heading down to the planet. Joey wouldn't have objected, but she would have ensured he'd be surrounded by at least a half-dozen security personnel. He didn't plan to be down on the planet for a long time, but he certainly wanted to take a look at a few things with his own eyes.
He would, however, have to be smart about it. That meant avoiding shuttlepods. He wasn't at all surprised to see the shuttlebay nearly vacant, but he was disappointed to see that only one of the Type-8 shuttles remained. "Mister Crehan," he greeted, approaching the older science officer.
Aidan was slightly startled at the mention of his name, which was odd for him. He quickly attributed it to being focused on what he might find and even bring back to the ship for study. "Oh, good afternoon, Captain," he said. "It seems most of the crew and shuttlecraft have already gone down." He paused a second and looked at the Captain. "Are you here to see the rest of us off?"
"On the contrary, Ensign," Harvey said with a coy smile. "I intend to stretch my legs. That is, if you don't mind the company."
Shay caught sight of the Captain among those in the shuttlebay and began to approach. She'd already checked her gear multiple times and felt she'd be prepared for almost anything that might be thrown her way. "Captain Geisler, Ensign Crehan," she greeted with a nod. "I'll be joining you down on the surface today per the request of Lieutenant Commander Geisler."
Harvey chuckled, though he frowned. His wife knew him so well that she accurately predicted that he would try and take a ride to the surface. "I don't suppose you've also been ordered to inform her that I'm coming down, are you?"
"No, Captain," the Security officer answered. She'd been assigned to protect him a couple times before, and like those times, she was willing to give her life for his and Aidan's if it was needed. "Should I inform her?"
The Captain shook his head. "No, you most certainly should not," he told her. "She's already on the surface, so I'll just meet up with her there later." He looked over to Ensign Crehan. "Shall we, Mister Crehan?"
Aiden had been listening to the exchange and was glad that there was some security with them. He nodded to the Captain. "Ready when you are, Sir." He put his science-y things away for the trip and turned to the others.
"It's your mission, Ensign," Harvey confirmed, taking the seat beside the science officer. "I'm just tagging along for the ride, remember?"
Aidan smiled and dipped his head towards the Captain. He began a quick power up of the shuttle before turning to the Security Officer. "Ensign Mitchell, are you ready?"
"I am," Shay answered just after she'd taken a seat so they'd be able to depart. "Do either of you have any particular destination in mind?" She seriously doubted it, but might be surprised.
"Not me," Harvey said, shaking his head. "As I said, I'm just tagging along. Where we go is up to Ensign Crehan."
"Course set for one of the outlying villages from our base camp," said Aidan as he brought the shuttle to bear and left the bay. "We can explore there and work our way to where we need to go." He adjusted course to bring them to the landing site quicker.
A few minutes later, the shuttle had touched down in Ensign Crehan's selected location. Captain Geisler pulled out his tricorder, opened it, and began to check the settings on the device. He wanted to be the first one off the shuttlecraft, but he would wait for either Ensign to open the hatch.
Shay rose to her feet and moved toward the hatch so she could get it open. There weren't any concerns of attack. The planet didn't have any signs of life on it, nor did any of the other groups report any kind of trouble. She was confident they'd be just fine. "After you," she said, gesturing outside before pulling her own tricorder out. While she was confident, she still wanted to take precautions.
Harvey was the first to walk down the ramp, scanning the immediate vicinity with both his eyes and tricorder. The area was indeed suburban and filled with homes and buildings in various states of decay. One swatch, in fact, looked like it had recently been hit by a major storm.
"Well, I'm not sure what all we're going to be able to find here," Harvey remarked, looking for an area that appeared to be more intact than the other.
Aidan followed the others down the ramp, tricorder in hand. The decaying buildings and obvious overgrowth made him grin. "Clues to the past," commented Aidan. "Where is everyone? Why did they leave? What happened? If it was bad, what can we learn to keep from repeating it? It's an archaeologists dream. And this El Aurian's...an entire planet that's dig site." He turned and scanned in a different direction.
Harvey had started to walk in the direction of one of the most intact buildings, but stopped when he saw something alongside the road. His tricorder flashed and beeped incessantly as it recognized it. "Looks like you're going to get one of your first answers, Ensign."
The Captain knelt on the ground and brushed away some of the foliage to reveal a skeleton. It did not seem to be terribly disturbed or trapped in the overgrowth. One hand, it seemed, held a pair of cutting shears, long rusted beyond usefulness. "The tricorder indicates no signs of trauma, nor any lingering DNA on the blades. But there's nothing left of the person's organs or features to determine if death was caused by stabbing or shooting."
Aidan turned to the Captain at the mention of a first answer. "Most interesting," he replied. He scanned the remains with his own tricorder and shook his head. "These readings can only tell me so much." He knelt next to the remains and set the device down, allowing it to continue scanning. Aidan gently pulled away the surrounding overgrowth and used one of the vines to slowly lift the hand still holding the cutting shears. He cocked his head to the side as he examined them and the fingers wrapped around them. "He isn't holding them in an offensive manner, as if he were defending himself from a stabber or shooter," he commented aloud.
"What are you saying?" Harvey asked. "That this person just fell over and died? And that no one came to check on him or her?"
"Him," said Aidan, forgetting himself for a moment. "The subpubic angle of the pelvis is narrow. A female's is wider for gestation and child-bearing. The width also influences the position of the femurs, which are often more angled in females than in males. These femurs are not angled. Therefore, him." He turned to face the younger man. "I make no suppositions to his death at this point. I am saying that he wasn't defending himself. I do not see how he simply laid down and died without anyone moving the body. Unless the body was moved. And then we find ourselves in Ensign Shay's territory. Uh, Captain."
Harvey listened to the science officer's assessment carefully. "Well, there's only one way to find out if the body was moved, and that's to keep on with our investigation. Best guess?" Harvey scanned the horizon for a moment before pointing in the direction of a building with a lopsided and decaying roof. "I'm thinking there."
Shay listened to the men and observed quietly. "Given our current surroundings, there's no way to know if he was moved or not. If there were ever any drag marks that might have once been here they have long since overgrown," she pointed out, though, they'd know that for themselves. "With the lack of trauma to the remains, I'd rule out foul play. There would also be some sort of defensive wounds. Unless..." Her brows furrowed. "Unless, of course, some sort of poison was involved."
"Which we won't be able to tell if poison was involved unless we find a body that's better preserved," Harvey remarked. "At this point, it's too early to conclude anything."
Shay nodded her head. "You're right," she said. "The more we look around, the more we'll likely uncover."
"Then towards the building with the roof falling in," said Aidan. "I would say that since it has lasted this long, it should still hold. But be careful nonetheless." He picked up his tricorder and, inadvertently, took the lead. "Oh, I apologize," he said, pausing. "Protocol has escaped me what with the excitement of such a find. Ensign Shay, as our security escort, would you mind at all?"
Shay smiled. The Science officer certainly did seem to be quite excited, and she didn't want to ruin his fun. She scanned the area and moved toward the building. "I'll run an initial sweep, then you and Captain Geisler can go in," she said.
The Captain nodded his acknowledgement. He then turned to his tricorder as he started to sweep the area outside the structure.
Aidan agreed with Shay with a simple dip of his head. If he were to write an article for a journal, be it scientific or archaeological, this would be the planet of topic. He followed the others and scanned the area with his tricorder and his eyes. There was so much to take in around here...so much to remember.
Once they agreed, Shay moved to the door. It was slightly ajar and shouldn't be too difficult for her to push open, but that was going to have to wait for a few more seconds. The young woman raised her tricorder, and though she already knew there weren't any signs of life, she still wanted to double check, especially with the Captain and Ensign Crehan present. Joey and Mila could both be pretty scary when they were truly angry, and she didn't want to be on the receiving end.
Satisfied there wasn't anyone that would ambush them inside, she began to push the door open rather. It put up a bit of hesitation given its exposure to the elements, but after using a bit of force, she was able to get it open just wide enough they'd be able to squeeze through. Something on the other side was preventing it from opening any further.
Shay took a deep and calming breath just before she disappeared through the partially opened door. Aside from the roof that was beginning to cave in, and the stale air, she couldn't see anything that would pose a threat to either man. "Come on in, and watch your heads."
Aidan walked inside. The partially collapsed roof allowed much daylight into the building. That, and the windows whose wooden frames rotted decades ago and let the glass shatter to the floor. Aidan looked behind the door and saw a cage. Well, rows of cages to be exact. Each of them contained a different skeleton presumably of an animal. All of which appeared to have simply laid down and died. But there was no humanoid skeleton.
The El Aurian walked over to a long counter with cabinets lining the walls above it. Doors had long since fallen off, but the cabinets contained bottles and vials and containers. All were still securely sealed and full. Aidan scanned them with the tricorder. "Captain, the liquids contain trace elements of the foliage we passed. The creams seem to contain soil...maybe root...particles. But there are other components in them which the tricorder can't determine. They could be native to another part of the city or planet."
At the end of the counter were carefully laid out instruments. That was all Aidan could call them, instruments. They were old like the shears were old and looked like they were from another time. In another tray were long needles, still filled with liquid substances. "Those, I am glad remain in the past," he said. "I'm not picking up any humanoid remains, either. Just the animals."
Harvey's tricorder remained open, but his attention was now removed from it. "Do you think this might have been a pet shelter or a veterinarian's office?" Though the decay was old, there was a foul smell coming from the cages, as if something was still rotting away. Harvey couldn't pinpoint it as each cage appeared to only possess a clean, but dirty, skeleton. Absolutely no flesh, fur, or innards remained behind. "Is there any evidence that there's a sub or lower floor? If so, it might be better preserved than what's above ground."
"Do you want me to walk ahead, Captain?" The young woman asked. If there was another level, she wanted to check it out first for a number of reason. Two of those reasons came back to Harvey and Aidan's significant others.
"Completely your call, Ensign," Harvey stated, still examining the contents of the cage.
"I won't be out of ear shot. Either of you needs me... shout," Shay stated. With that being said, she moved toward one of a couple doors that seemed to lead off to other places off of their current room. The young woman hoped the air was a little fresher on the other side, but there was only one way to find out, and that urged her to push the door open carefully since she didn't know what was on the other side.
The door creaked open. Not only did darkness await the woman who opened the door, but a foul, wretched odor bellowed out from behind the once sealed portal.
Shay gagged. She hadn't been expecting the putrid odor to assault her sense of smell, and yet here she was. Her eyes began to water and blurred her vision momentarily, preventing her from going inside just yet. "Captain Geisler... Ensign Crehan..." she managed to choke out before gagging again. "Be careful opening any doors you come across."
Harvey immediately picked up on the gagging. His first thought was not to ask if the Ensign was okay, but that the sealed room should actually yield more clues than anything they'd discovered so far. Of course, after he thought that, a bit of concern developed for the security ensign. "Take this," he told Shay, pulling a scented cloth mask out from the back of his tricorder patch. He hadn't brought enough to share, so he would brave the subfloor on his own.
"I have..." Shay began before gagging again. She couldn't get passed the smell, and instead pulled a respirator from her tactical belt. A second and third followed. The young woman handed one off to him, then put hers on. "I habe us covered, Captain. I just wasn't expecting that. I have one for Ensign Crehan, too. Commander Di Pasquale likes us to be prepared."
Aidan took the respirator from Shay and nodded. The foul stench would soon be gone from his nostrils, for which he was very grateful. He put it on and started towards the door. The odor, however, might meant that there would be some better preserved remains for them to scan and inspect. Aidan picked up a couple of cloths from a nearby table and shoved them in his pocket. Best replacement for gloves at this point. "Is there any form of lighting, I wonder," he said aloud.
"You assume that there's power," Harvey said before putting on the respirator. "This place has been dead for a long time." He clicked on a wrist light and ventured into the subfloor. Were it not for the respirator, Harvey would have been overwhelmed by the putrid odor. The subfloor was filled with darkness, mold, and an environment seething with pestilence. "Over here," he called out as his light fell upon an alien corpse. "I think we found our veterinarian."
Now that she had her own respirator on, Shay felt more confident making her way through the door, and did just that as she followed behind Harvey. It didn't take long for her to spot what he was talking about. "I kind of get the feeling this place is going to offer us more questions than answers."
"I agree." Harvey took out his tricorder and began to scan the rotting corpse. "But at least we know someone who can start coming up with some answers." He took a few steps back and tapped his badge. "Captain Geisler to Black Hawk. Direct me to Doctor Jennin please."
What now?!? Rhula thought when he was notified the Captain wanted to talk to him.
"Is this important?" he asked once the comm line was open.
"It depends, Doctor," Harvey said, preparing to transmit the scans he took of the corpse. They certainly wouldn't be as detailed as anything a medical tricorder would detect, but they would provide some decent information. "I'm standing right next to a humanoid corpse. My best guess for time of death is a hundred and fifty years ago, but its final resting place has been well preserved. I thought you might want to take a look at it, but without transporters, I'm probably going to have to recommend you inspect it down here first."
The Bajoran's interest was certainly piqued. "So yes, this is important," he said. He swiveled his chair towards his wall display and activated it. "If you haven't taken any scans, do. If you have, send the data."
Harvey frowned as his tricorder buzzed in response to his attempt to establish a connection with the Black Hawk's computer. "I'm trying, but it seems my tricorder can't get a strong enough signal. There may be too much atmospheric interference. I'll head back to our shuttle and use its transceiver. That should be strong enough to transmit the data."
Rhula groaned. "I'm getting a shuttle and coming to you."
"You might also bring a dedicated pilot," Harvey started. "Once you see this, you might not want to trust this corpse to anyone else."
"I know how to operate a shuttle, Captain. I'll be down shortly," he said while grabbing a pathology field kit.
~To Be Continued~