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The Craft

Posted on 12 Aug 2021 @ 3:35pm by Captain Harvey Geisler & Lieutenant JG Kemm & Petty Officer 3rd Class Klim Sokamin & Lieutenant Commander Camila Di Pasquale & Lieutenant Zayna Ryler & Lieutenant JG Ian Beckett
Edited on on 12 Aug 2021 @ 3:46pm

Mission: Extinction
Location: Sadoria
Timeline: Mission Day 22 at 1600

As the USS Zambezi landed on Sadoria as close to the site where PO3 Sokamen had pointed the alien craft in the picture out, Camila found herself questioning the training of her personnel and the drone pilots in particular. Why had no one looked up and saw the damned thing? She was so intent on that, the runabout came down with a bump before it auto stabilized and took control out of her hands. The Security Chief suppressed a curse and cleared her throat.

"Sorry about the bumpy landing folks. Check your gear and tactical belts, and let's go check that structure out the ship is on, then the craft."

All Klim carried with him was a tricorder, a phaser, and a sample retrieval kit. Being a lowly non-comm in Intelligence meant that he rarely needed to carry more than that when off the ship. Though, if the Zakdorn could have his way, he'd carry around his entire office or a lab with him. Once he was satisfied with his gear, the Petty Officer rose from his chair, indicating he was ready to exit.

Engineering Officer Kemm stood and positioned himself behind Klim. He carried a toolkit and a tricorder of his own. Part of him was eager to see this alien craft. The rest of him was slightly worried about whatever strangeness would await them.

Zayna double-checked, as she always did, what she had with her. "Ready as I'm ever going to be," she said as she stood up behind Klim.

Camila checked her Tactical belt and put the power cell in her phaser and activated it, then put it back in the holster. She checked her tricorder next, then a small PADD; once she was satisfied with the readings, she put everything back away in the pouched. "Ready?" she asked as she opened the hatch.

Klim felt a wave of anxiety rush over him. He normally didn't react like this during times like this, but it seemed he couldn't help it. The emotion felt quite foreign, almost as if it wasn't his. Still, he stepped out of the shuttle with his tricorder activated. "Tricorder readings are more limited here than other locations," he reported. "I'm picking up an abundance of crystal, and while they do seem to be amplifying the signal, it seems that a feedback loop is developing. I'm adjusting scanning range for thirty meters for now."

"Thirty meters, noted," Camila said as she adjusted her tricorder accordingly. She put it back in her belt and stepped out, surveying the area from left to right, up and back down and to the left again. Finally, she stepped forward and took a breath of fresh air before she stopped and put a respirator mask on from her belt. "I'd still rather breathe through this than breathe bodies again."

Klim raised an eyebrow at the Chief of Security. He hadn't brought a mask or respirator, so he would have to make do. "I'd be more concerned about stepping in bodies and remains than I would be breathing them. Even on the Black Hawk, we all inhale trace elements of dead skin cells and hair follicles."

"Smart to bring that," Zayna stated as she nodded to Camila. She double-checked her tricorder range and matched it to Klim's after verifying what he'd said. She let out a shaky sigh as she looked around, the bodies making her uneasy this time, though they hadn't done that as much when she went walking through them before.

Camila looked around as she stepped out of the runabout and onto the planet once more. She felt more alive and more aggravated at the same time and gave her head a shake and wrote it off as being on a planet full of dead people. She checked her tricorder, then waited for the others to come out.

Ian had a standard Operations kit with him, but no breather. First time off the ship in a while and it was to a dead planet with dead bodies and living plants. This ship seemed to run into a lot of dead things all the time. He shrugged and pulled out a tricorder as he fell in line with the others.

Engineer Kemm followed Ian, though he had nothing remarkable to do at this time.

Klim looked up from his tricorder and visually scanned the horizon. In front of them was a decaying five-story structure upon which the alien craft rested. Unlike the other buildings in the metropolis, this one had a cleaner construction and facade to it, as if it were some sort of official or capitol structure. It was however, widely overtaken by moss and vines, almost greener than the others. The front entrance, once all glass, had completely decayed, allowing free entry. "My tricorder suggests the structure is sound, but we should tread carefully."

The Security Chief gave a nod and headed towards the structure, pausing once or twice to get overgrown vegetation out of her way as she made it to the building. She scanned her tricorder, then stepped in and looked for a set of stairs going up. Spotting one, she headed that way and looked around while she waited for the others.

Ian put away the tricorder so he could have both hands available if needed. "Dank, slightly dark, moss, and greeny mold everywhere. Everyone watch your step on these stairs...they could be slick or weakened."

Kemm followed, his tall and wiry form navigating the stairs more carefully than the others.

Klim followed the group up the stairs, though his gaze was mostly fixed on his tricorder. Even though he'd condensed its range, the readings were starting to appear erratic. He paused, frustrated, and tapped away at the small screen. "Looks like there is an abundance of crystal at our location. I'm not detecting any feedback, but it's making it difficult to scan."

When Zayna's tricorder started to say the same thing, though she knew this was what was going to happen, she got annoyed. Why was she annoyed with it? Keeping it to herself and shaking her head, she gave Klim a nod. "Same again. Likely won't get anything remotely clear until we reach the top of the stairs."

With each step she took, Camila had to fight the urge to turn around and kick the person behind her in the face. She knew she had anger issues, but she had never had that particular urge, even with a prisoner. Well, except one Tellurite prisoner that had been obstinate, but that was a Tellurite and if you looked them up to learn about them, they were listed under obstinate. She forced herself upwards and with the tricorder going in and out, she put it away and continued up the stairs.

It wasn't long before they arrived up on the roof. "The interference is lower up here," Klim reported. "I do suggest that we don't increase scanning range, just to be safe."

Ahead of the group was the alien craft. It was not large at all. In fact, it seemed to be about the size of two of the Black Hawk's escape pods put together. Various pieces of equipment were strewn about, along with a skeleton or two, as if the examiners had perished while working. Amazingly, the craft was still closed, but its access hatch was clearly marked.

Ian nodded and adjusted his tricorder range a little smaller for safety. "It looks smaller in person that it did in the image," he remarked. "Huh, guess even 'advanced' aliens aren't as good as they think. Bet getting in here will be pretty easy." Everyone else had seemed angry as they climbed the stairs. Ian was more sarcastic and demeaning.

Klim looked up from his tricorder at the alien craft. A sense of frustration had washed over him, almost unexpectedly, and he fought to push it back. "What do you think, Commander," he asked Di Pasquale. "Should we try to open up the craft?" Of course, Klim didn't expect to open it himself. He was no engineer, he was just here to provide insight and analysis on whatever they find.

"That's what we came here for," Camila said to Klim. "Hey, Lieutenant Kemm, do you think we can get in here today?"

Working to shake off the feeling she had, Zayna stayed near the group but walked around the craft getting a visual of it while letting her tricorder so its own scanning.

"One moment, Commander," Kemm acknowledged. He approached the alien craft from behind and studied the hatch carefully. "Interesting," he remarked, scanning it with his tricorder. He had little more to add to that at the moment, but he studied the hull composition and found it to be a combination of diamagnetic ore, tritanium, and a couple unknown metals. He could not, however, penetrate the hull with the tricorder.

It wasn't long before he realized what he should be doing, He reached over to the hatch and found the release lever. The hatch slowly lowered, aided by a controlled pneumatic system. The interior of the craft seemed smaller on the inside, especially since there was an angled slab mounted to the hatch. Kemm assumbed it was the pilot's seat and bed. Above it, still in the craft, were several screens, which jumped to life with some holographic projections. One such projection was the planet of Sadoria, and several other sensor readouts.

"Wow," Klim remarked, approaching the craft to give the readouts a study. "It appears the alien craft has no trouble with the atmospheric interference." For proof, he pointed to the Black Hawk, which appeared to be orbiting the projection of Sadoria.

Camila looked in behind Kemm and was impressed when everything came up on holographics. "That, and it's still active, but it clearly didn't originate here. See if you can access their logs?"

Kemm stepped aside for the Zakdorn Klim to step in. "There really is not that much room here," he remarked, trying to translate the graphics projected around them. "This may take a bit, the universal translator that is. The language appears to be a bit more complex than the Sadorians." He did, however, feel a bit faint, so he leaned against the ramp while he worked.

The engineer, however, studied the holographic image of the planet. It was easy to manipulate by simply pinching and pushing with his fingers. He zoomed into the city where the Black Hawk's teams were exploring, and he was amazed to see that the sensors were detecting the away team's biosigns. Small whispers of data appeared next to each of them, and if Kemm focused on one of them, the vital signs would expand. He zoomed in further to the complex and the alien vessel. The image before him, however, gave him pause.

Kemm looked up and counted each of the members of the Away Team. The math didn't quite add up, but he had no reason to believe that the sensor results were lying. "Commander Di Pasquale," he asked, "are you aware if there is someone else from the Black Hawk exploring this complex?"

"Just us, why?" Camila asked as she looked around to make sure no other team had suddenly beamed down to an area that was prohibited in. Then again, if someone wanted to blow themselves up, she wouldn't be too upset or really care that much.

Kemm pointed at the anomalous reading on the projection. “It would seem that we are not alone.” His long index finger pointed at a faint signal that was coming from inside the facility, three floors down, and near the center of the building.

The Security Chief did a visual headcount on the other members of the away team and back to Kemm. "Can you get more details of whoever that is?" She asked, noting the alien writing beside each member of the away team. "And how soon until we can get a translation?"

Klim had somehow become oblivious to the conversation, and the question as well. He hadn't been leaning against the slab for very long, but he'd found himself nearly overwhelmed. For a few moments, he felt frustration, fear, curiosity, trepidation, fatigue. Klim could hear the craft continue to come to live, even its life support system. Perhaps there was something in the air that was being circulated by the craft... maybe some form of natural anesthizine. "Um... translation. Still working on it. The UT has identified several common characters, but, um, nothing definitive yet."

Zayna glanced, best she could, at what they were seeing on the readings from the craft. The fact that there was another life sign gave her even more of an uneasy feeling than she had in the past. "Someone...randomly...just there?" She let out a shaky breath and looked to Klim. "You okay?"

"Hmm?" Klim asked, surprised to be asked the question. He slowly turned to her and stared at her for a moment, as if the speech was foreign to him. "Okay?" he asked, somewhat confused. "I... think I'm okay." Subconsciously, he reached out his hand, hoping someone would help him up.

Shaking off her own feelings as best she could, Zay put her hand out for Klim. "I get it...I don't like this and..." She didn't finish the sentence. "Let me help with the translator, yeah?"

Klim was surprised. Why did she take his hand? He looked at her, then at her hand holding his, and then back to her. Did he just unknowingly ask for help? How did that happen? Still, Ryler was the only blue-collar on the team. If there was anyone qualified to help him, it was her. "Please," he said, sliding over on the thin slab and gesturing at the projections. "Anything would be helpful."

Camila sighed. There was someone that could help them, but she was stymied as to who it could be. She sat down at the side of the hatch and frowned. "This is stupid," she said. "Send in a drone." She paused, then jumped back to her feet. "Drone! We have drones, right?"

"I don't believe we brought any," Kemm stated. "My tricorder can't penetrate the structure below, and no remotely operated drone will make it this far from basecamp. We may have to go it alone."

Nodding to Klim, Zayna listened to the other conversation as well. Drones had been a good thought, but Kemm was right, there was no way they'd be able to use them this far away. Staying with Klim, she helped continue working on the translations. "No one went off by themselves before it was said to not do so, right?"

"Nope," Camila said as she slid back down to the ground and laid her head against the craft. "And I can't go because I'd have to leave you kids alone."

"We can go together," Kemm suggested. "Mister Sokamin has a phaser, and I know I am up to date on my certifications. Or, we split up?"

"You're going to make me get up again, aren't you?" the lackluster Security Chief complained. "Fine. We can go. It's probably a bug."

"A bug wouldn't give off that type of life sign, I don't think anyways." Zayna kept with Klim, mostly to make sure nothing happened again. But, she really wasn't sure she wanted to go find the life sign, at least, in the back of her mind.

Klim completed his tricorder readings, but was nowhere close to cracking the language. "I'm probably going to need the base camp's or the Black Hawk's computer to make heads or tails out of this thing. We may need someone to take this craft up to the Black Hawk."

Camila forced herself back to her feet and looked around, then at Klim. "You...Petty Officer. Come with me."

The Petty Officer blinked. Him? Why choose the one enlisted person to follow her into the complex. Then he remembered that he was the only other away team member who came armed. That's it, he thought. Not ever bringing a phaser ever again. Klim nodded, reluctantly, and followed the security chief.

"Well," said Ian, pushing back the urge to make another sarcastic remark, "it's not quite the size of smaller ships we're familiar with. Maybe it's some sort of landing craft? With sensors to track all of the inhabitants? That's the weird part." He paused and chuckled, giving in to the sarcasm. "Heh, yeah, that's the weird part of this whole thing. Righhhhht."

The Security Chief thought about punishing Beckett, but didn't feel like doing any of the PADDwork. If being a smartass could get him written up. She shrugged. "Let's go," the told the Petty Officer who she had picked entirely at random to accompany her as she headed back to the way they came. She checked her phaser and pushed the setting up to three. "Keep scanning," she told Klim.

Watching them leave, Ryler let out a heavy but shaky sigh. The worry feeling was back, but she had no idea if it was for her or for Camila and Klim who were heading down to find what the life sign was about.

* * *

Klim followed closely behind the security chief. Even though he'd been told to continue scanning. He had drawn his phaser and kept it handy. His eyes remained fixed on the tricorder screen, glancing up ever so often to make sure he wasn't going to accidentally run into Di Pasquale. Seeing, however, had grown difficult. As they ventured into the facility, Klim's readings had become clearer, and even more distorted and unusual all at the same time. "I am still picking up a lifeform, but I still can't identify it. If I had to guess, I'd say the readings are faint. Or at least, the vital signs themselves are faint. Do you think it could be a survivor?"

"How would I know?" the ombre haired woman grunted. "If I knew, we wouldn't be in here traipsing around while the ones up top do who knows what? They can't be trusted to replicate toast, you know." She said as she headed deeper into the building. "Left or right?"

Klim paused, not just trying to study the readout, but trying to reengage his mind. He couldn't remember the last time he had to fight so hard just to concentrate. It was almost as if he had no desire to keep moving forward, yet here they were. "Right, I think."

"You think? Are you sure you're in Intelligence?" she asked as she stared at him in disbelief.

Klim, previously confident, found himself overcome by doubt. It took every ounce of willpower to continue forward, motivated only by wanting to discover the identity of the lifesign. He continued to navigate the corridors, and as they walked, the tricorder began to solidify its lock on the lifesign, guiding them like a compass in the Sadorian maze.

Camila followed him and checked her own tricorder, wondering why they were even bothering.

Around the next corner of the corridor they found a large door. The lifesign was just beyond that large, ornate door...which itself was an oddity compared to the rest of the planet. It wasn’t locked or secured, but it still hung on its hinges as a testimony to its creators. Behind the door was an open room without any windows and very little furnishings. The only light was a faint blue glow that came from the stasis chamber in the center of the room and cast a light to the immediate area. And the only ‘furniture’ was a ceremonial rope that linked from stand to stand and surrounded the chamber.

"Would you look at....what is that?" she asked as she approached it cautiously. It had power, that was clear and the lifesign clearly came from within it.

The rope directly in front of the chamber had a clasp that allowed entrance and closer examination. Next to the clasp was a polished stone pedestal engraved in the language of the long-dead inhabitants. It read, ‘Here lies Linaya, savior of our people, preserved until the day of redemption of Sadoria. Enter the Sacred Circle and hear her message.’

Camila worked to translate the message on her tricorder, having to stop and start several times with the Universal Translator until she was able to read it. "...savior...redemption?" She scoffed. "Whoever you are, you probably killed the planet. Did the insects consider you a savior, too?"

Klim stepped forward, wanting to scan the woman with his tricorder. In this small room, all of the interference seemed to be gone, or it was at least minor enough to not impede his efforts. “She’s still alive. But if I’m reading this correctly, I think the stasis unit is failing.” He stepped closer to see if he could find a control mechanism to verify his suspicions.

"I wouldn't if I were you," the Security Chief said. "We need an Engineer or what's her name up top? The Science officer." She examined the stasis chamber and looked for any obvious power drainage indicator, then stopped after a moment. "Really, what's it matter? This alien probably killed the population with some disease and made a shrine to itself hoping someone would rescue it one day."

The stasis pod began the quick process of reanimating Linaya upon Klim stepping forward. Once the process was complete, the lid opened with the sound of a vacuum seal being broken. Laying inside was a ninety-six year old woman dressed in the brown and tan burial attire of the Sadorians. She coughed and blinked her eyes. Then she slowly placed a frail hand on her chest. When her eyes adjusted she looked around the dimly lit room and spoke with an aged, cracking voice in the Sadorian language. "Kestrel? Kestrel, is that you? I told you not to do this, but to let me die along with the others."

Klim raised an eyebrow, scanning the woman. Her physiology was nothing like the Sadorians, yet she seemed to have been accepted as some sort of an authority or prominent figure in their society. Being a Petty Officer, it was against protocol to answer the woman considering Commander Di Pasquale's presence. He instead focused on the technology that had kept her preserved, thinking it was a miracle that it had functioned this long. "Her vitals are strengthening, but she probably needs a full examination," he told the senior officer. He looked up from his tricorder to face Camila. They'd found a living witness to the extinction of a race. The answers this woman could provide would be invaluable.

Camila looked at the ancient woman and waited for the translator to give a translation. She frowned, undecided on if she should draw her phaser or help the old woman to a seat. "My name is Commander Camila Di Pasquale of the United Federation of Planets and the USS Black Hawk," she said formally and hoped the UT could compensate for the completely different languages. "We're here to help," she said but wasn't sure why she should help. Few helped her. "If you'll come with us?" She gestured towards the way they had came and tapped her combadge. =^=Di Pasquale to Medical. We have a living person here that needs medical attention.=^=

Linaya didn't quite catch all of what the woman in gold pajamas said, but she did hear one word. Help. She wondered what she could help the woman and her odd looking husband with. Maybe they were looking for clothes as they both seemed to be in their pajamas. She stretched out her hand to show that she would need some assistance moving about. "I've apparently been in here for quite a long time."

Klim provided an exasperated sigh. "By our estimation, you've been here for at least one hundred and fifty years."

"Oh dear," she replied, catching the words one hundred and fifty years. It was getting easier to understand their language, which intrigued Linaya. "That is most certainly quite a long time." Her mind raced and she came to the ultimate conclusion. The Sadorians were gone. Kestrel was gone.

A male voice came back over the security chief's combadge, one belonging to Captain Geisler. "Commander Di Pasquale, can you repeat that? We thought you just said that you found a survivor."

"Affirmative, Captain," Camila responded. "We have a...the...survivor of Sadoria."

There was a pause on the other side of the line for a moment. "Bring the survivor aboard. I'll alert sickbay and set up a containment field. Bring anything else worth examining."

"On our way, Captain," the Security Chief said and looked at the ancient Sadorian. "Ma'am, we need you to come with us. We can help you."

Linaya nodded and stretched her hand out once again. "I will need some assistance. Walking after one hundred fifty years in stasis will not be easy for an old woman."

Klim wondered what, if anything, would be easy for an old woman who just came out of stasis. It took him a moment to realize that he should be the one helping the old woman, especially since he was the most subordinate in the room. He holstered his tricorder before extending a hand of assistance.

Linaya accepted the hand of the wrinkly faced man. "Okay, pajama people, let's get going."

Where she got pajama people from, Camila didn't know or care and she held onto the ancient woman's other arm and with Klim's aid, they got her back up top through the old building to where the others were. "Well, we found the other lifesign," she said as if it weren't obvious by the crone between her and the Intel officer.

Kemm turned to see what the security chief had found and had to blink twice. "A survivor? How is that possible?"

Ian turned from his work at the ship and saw the old woman. "Huh," he said, and shrugged before turning back to his work. "At this point, I have no more cares to give. Let's just finish the job and get back to the Black Hawk." Whatever was affecting everyone had seemed to capitalize on a deep-seated 'I don't care' emotion within Ian.

"She was in a stasis chamber," Camila said. "We need to get back to the ship. You, Beckett, can stuff it." She blinked at what she said. "Later."

At that, the team returned to the runabout. Little did they know that the worst was yet to come...


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