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Thread: Star Trek RPG - Mission #7: "The War-Brotherhood of Irkhuit"

  1. #851
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    Bizhi wraps the thin blanket more tightly around himself. He urged Nia to try to get some rest and conserve her strength, but he has to admit conditions are not very restful. He wishes he could gaze at the stars (beautiful, but distant, and indifferent) flying by, but there are no observation windows on this kind of shuttle. The only good thing about the situation, so far, is that they only have to endure another few hours.

  2. #852
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    Like Kylah, Rangin sees no way to establish communications with anyone outside of the shuttle, in or out, receiving or transmitting, emergency or otherwise, except perhaps with a personal communicator. You each have one, but of course they have very limited range, typically from a planetary surface to an orbiting ship, or from one ship to another nearby.

    The shuttle's navigational sensors are operating, but with very limited acuity. You won't be hitting any asteroids in your path, but more sophisticated readings are impossible.

    The Tesla has no "small sensor probe." But see post 812 as to the log buoy.

    Time passes. The air is getting a bit stale and the cabin temperature is quite chilly now, but still nothing life-threatening, fortunately.

    At last the shuttle enters the Ollos system.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 26 Sep 2022 at 10:21 PM.

  3. #853
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    For hours Nia's been doing her best to breathe normally--or at least without sounding like a rusty-hinged door--and isn't sure how much longer she'll be able to maintain this facade. Waves of dizziness are still pulling her out to sea, but she's fighting hard and, so far, still kicking. Tempting as it is to let herself sink into oblivion, she's kept her head above water.

    She rouses herself enough to say with some measure of cheer, "Almost there. Everyone holding up?" Short sentences are necessary for her to maintain her controlled breathing. "ETA, Booker?" Another inhale. "Wish we knew more about the people down there before landing."

    After another desperately measured breath, Nia asks something she's been trying to calculate herself without much success, which says a lot for her decreasing mental acuity. "How off-course are we? I mean--" Achingly slow inhale. "How many hours did we add between us and the ship?"

  4. #854
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    Kylah leans against the wall, staring at nothing in particular. Napping has proved impossible under the circumstances, with too many minds in close contact, all with varying degrees of discomfited emotions. At Lt. Onn's question, she stirs and is about to respond, but the older woman is asking something of Lt. Graham, and Kylah does not wish to interrupt.

    She rubs her cold, stocking-clad feet. When the cabin temperature became noticeably cold, Kylah hugged her knees up to her chest, her small frame making it possible to do so on the seat. The less-than-dignified position has enabled her to stay completely beneath the emergency blanket, the extra material tucked under her for complete coverage.

    Surreptitiously she has also removed her boots, which is why she is able to rub her feet to warm them. The cabin temperature is not unbearable by any means, but it is uncomfortable--and her anxiety about their situation seems to compound it.

    It has been awhile since Kylah checked the CO2 levels. Reluctantly, she unwraps herself from this wrinkly silver cocoon and reaches down to pull her boots back on. Getting up, she glances at the doctor and Velir to see if they are awake. As she passes by Ens. Rawlings she does the same, and if he is up she will ask him how he is feeling. To anyone not dozing, she offers to get them whatever they need from the aft storage area, if anything.

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    Rawlings replies to Kylah's question, saying, a little dully, "I'm OK." He looks tired and uncomfortable, however, wrapped in his emergency blanket.

    Graham sees from the Nav display that, if the shuttle remains at warp, it will reach the planet in just under seven minutes. Of course it is SOP to drop out of warp at least several minutes before entering orbital range, proceeding on impulse power for final approach. The Tesla does not look like it has gone off-course at all, fortunately.

    Cabin carbon dioxide levels are a good bit higher than recommended under Starfleet LS protocols, but are still not in the danger zone.

  6. #856
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    Mäkeläinen responds generically to show that he is paying attention, but the truth is that his mind was partly elsewhere. Perhaps already down safely, sipping hot drinks in a utilitarian yet cosy lounge? To be sure, but that is not the entire story. In any case, the voyage only seemed interminable.

  7. #857
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    Graham glances at Nia, then back to the console. "Good news: no more than seven minutes at warp speed." He glances back Nia and forces a small smile after her other comments, resisting the urge to squeeze her hand. "I'd suggest one step at a time: let's tackle fresh air, warmth, and terra firma and we can go from there."

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    Being only a few minutes out perks Dr. Mäkeläinen up, but his demeanour changes little. He reminds the others, "We also have injured. When we get into local comms range and identify ourselves and so on, tell them one of us is hurt, not an emergency but a serious bone fracture nevertheless, and ask them to patch us through to an acute care facility."

  9. #859
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    The Tesla heads deeper into the Ollos system. Navigational sensors, fuzzy though their readings are, reveal one gas giant, two rocky inner worlds and Ollos itself.

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    Dropping out of warp as they approach the ever-closer target planet, Nia nods to herself as well as Booker. His idea of fresh air is different from hers, but right now she's finding the shuttle claustrophobic and coffin-like, and she's definitely ready to exchange one atmosphere for another.

    "Ensign Kylah. Closer we get, start listening for any signal traffic your communicator can pick up." Nia licks her dry lips--she's been breathing through her mouth and feels dehydrated. "Rather not broadcast our ID until we know who's there to receive us. Agree, Graham?" Her voice lowers, though her volume's not exactly booming as it is. "Maybe you should listen too. You might recognize something she doesn't."

    She clears her throat to speak up again. "Doc... Rangin... remind us whatever we need to know about a Class L planet. Double-T visited so it's obviously fine for humans, but just in case." Anything to keep them occupied, especially Dr. M.

  11. #861
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    Feeling slightly depressed that there is little more he can do when it comes to the comms, Rangin endures the shuttle trip like the rest of the crew.

    When news comes in of the close proximity, he’s looking forward to trying to make contact again. Of course Lt Onn, passes that responsibility to Kylah, leaving him to drag out the note on Ollis for the third or, perhaps, fourth time for everyone to remember. As if they have forgotten over the last few hours.

    But anyway Captain's orders and all that. “Yes Ma’am, he calls back to her, while fishing out the material. Ok, a brief reminder on what we will find on Ollis. But with no holidays snaps from Rawlings, I just couldn’t find any at such short notice.”

    He hopes the slight levity will provide some cheer and help to pass a few more moments as they head towards the planet.

  12. #862
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    "Yes, ma'am," Kylah says to Lt. Onn, gladly picking up her communicator so she can monitor any signals the small, not-very-powerful device is capable of picking up once they are close enough.

    She looks over to the injured Security officer behind her, and after a pause moves to the seat in the back row across from him. "Mr. Rawlings," she begins gently. "Do you remember any contact from your visit years ago? Or even just know of anyone specific we might reach out to? This Freetown settlement... is this where you stayed when you were here?"

  13. #863
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    Mäkeläinen says, "I could tell you more about what to expect, physiologically, if you show me the planetology data on atmospheric composition and the like. 'Class L' by itself does not mean much." It would be best to ask Ens. Rawlings more about it, but, despite the painkillers, Bizhi is not sure he is up for giving a travelogue and does not want to volunteer him. He shrugs. "We know it's a major hub and has a substantial population and multiple settlements, so how bad can it be? You can even find asteroids with a population of a hundred thousand, or even more, the point being people stay inside the habitats.

    "If you are still thinking about the possibility someone lured us here via sabotage, and in that case, for all we know, they could have tracked us all the way, and know we are coming... even if we cannot dismiss the possibility, what alternatives do we have? At least some of us have to make our way to a major settlement to communicate with the Yorktown and to arrange for repairs to the shuttle. I volunteer to accompany Ens. Rawlings to wherever the most advanced medical facility is--- I'm guessing Freetown--- and take care of whatever other tasks I can help with there."

  14. #864
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    Kylah finds that the shuttlecraft is still too far from Ollos to reach anyone, or hear anything, via communicator. A Starfleet communicator's range does not go very far beyond planetary orbit.

    Rawlings says, "Yeah, I was in Freetown briefly, just a few hours. Our landing party didn't go anywhere else on the planet's surface."

    The planet is Class L and not M primarily because of its typically cold climate. See post 832 for more info.

    Onn tries to take the Tesla out of warp, but nothing happens. The shuttle continues towards Ollos at Warp 1.4.

  15. #865
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    "Outdoors, we know it will be cold and dreich—" Bizhi would look Lt. Onn in the eye, but she is obviously preoccupied with the helm— "and we have no exosuits, or even a change of clothes, so we will have to buy what we need. The lower the temperature, the more essential proper attire becomes for even short excursions, even if you feel like you can tough it out for a few minutes. I hope it will not come to that, but it is a possibility." Bizhi remembers storybooks where people warm themselves in front of a genuine fireplace. Such a fantasy seems appealing right now.

    How long has it been since Lt. Graham's nav announcement? They must be practically there.

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    Most of Dr. Mäkeläinen's words are crowded out by what seems like a burst of static in Nia's brain, which keeps her from asking him the question "cold and 'dry', how is a Class L planet dry?" that originally leaps to mind but dies the instant she realizes the warp field is still active.

    What? She stares at the screen for a second or two--which feels like an hour--before she darts her gaze up to the rapidly approaching system bodies.

    Did she screw up fixing the propulsion system? She must have. Fuck fuck fuck. Nia clutches the edges of her seat for support again, then turns to Booker. "The controls aren't letting us drop out of warp," she mutters. "I need to see what's wrong back there. If I don't shut down the field we're gonna overshoot the planet--and that's the best option. Worst is crashing into it. Prepare to nav us slightly out of a direct hit." She eyes him carefully as she gets to her feet. "You okay with that?"

  17. #867
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    The Tesla races on. The shuttlecraft will hit the planet in just a little over five minutes if you cannot drop out of warp soon - and even then, it will be difficult to decelerate in time to either safely achieve orbit or land on the planet's surface.

    Before he replies to Onn, Graham sees, through the very poor-resolution navigational sensor display, that there are at least a dozen ships in orbit of Ollos, as well as what appears to be a large orbital drydock.

  18. #868
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    Graham listens attentively, having suffered through some rough combat landings in the past but nothing to compare with impacting a planet at warp speed -- bad for shuttle, bad for planet - he thinks.

    He starts nodding as he notices the nav sensor display. "Shit - yes," he says sharply to Lt. Onn. "Yes but there's traffic in orbit." He holds her eyes for a second. "If you can't get us out of warp ASAP we may need to juke hard, and send a distress signal slash warning that we're a speeding bullet."

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    Kylah cannot keep herself from giving a start at what appears to be an electric shock of alarm stemming from either Lieutenant Onn or Graham--or both. But since she cannot hear whatever their concern is, she just swallows and listens to Dr. Mäkeläinen. His remark reminds her of the unusual vocabulary she noted earlier. "Dreich, she repeats softly to herself, carefully recreating the same relatively uncommon consonant sound for someone speaking Federation standard. Of course, it is easy enough for her--not just because of her Starfleet role, but primarily her formative years spent listening to Klingons and learning to speak tlhIngan Hol.

    "Forgive me, sir, but I do not think I have heard that term--Dreich. And there were a few others that were also unfamiliar to me. Dreeing? Tholing?" She shakes her head apologetically. "I am embarrassed by my ignorance. To my ears it sounds similar to some Germanic or Gaelic languages of Earth, but perhaps it is vernacular specific to your homeland?"

  20. #870
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    Hand curling over the top of her chair, Nia nods tightly. "I'll work as fast as I can but until I get back, plot us to steer clear of the traffic and planet, then take a wider orbit so we're circling the neighborhood without going too far out." She hears Kylah's voice yammering on about something and her already dizzy head twitches as if annoyed by a horsefly. She raises her voice. "Everyone: back in your seats. We're having trouble coming out of warp. The inertial dampers won't be enough to keep us from feeling our attempts to slow down and avoid obstacles."

    She stalks back, nearly bumping into Dr. M. before she grabs onto Kylah's arm both for balance and to wake the girl up. "Keep trying to contact someone either on the planet or a vessel. Not just you--Doc, I want you listening too. If you make contact, tell 'em we're coming in hot and they'd better get in a tighter orbit around Ollos to avoid our path." Lunging to her knees, she darts a glance at Rangin. "You, I want out of your seat. Go aft and double-check my work. See if you can find what's preventing us from disengaging the warp field from back there."

    On her belly again, she digs back into the floor access panel to try to disengage the one nacelle she wanted so much to do all the work for them.

  21. #871
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    From his seat Mäkeläinen, too, now stares wide-eyed out the front window.

    "We can always get a new warp drive," he suggests equanimously, "but not if we slingshot out on a one-way trip into deep space. Worse come to worst, I suggest we emergency scram, disconnect the relays, vent the core--- however it's done. Another hard shutdown and a few more repairs seem like a small price to pay."

    He glances at Ens. Rawlings, then at Kylah and Rangin. "Please warn us if there will be more juddering...."

    He turns to Ens. Kylah and is about to answer her questions when Lt. Onn orders them to get on subspace radio. He looks at Kylah and follows her lead.
    Last edited by stolz; 10 Oct 2022 at 08:34 PM.

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    Everyone takes their seats and hangs on as best they can. Rawlings wonders to himself yet again why Starfleet's shuttlecraft designers didn't install seatbelts.

    Onn, with Rangin looking over her shoulder, soon finds what appears to be a fused control circuit in the warp-power control assembly. She doesn't know why it would have fused only hours after she disconnected the starboard nacelle and reestablished control over the port nacelle; perhaps too much power went through it, once one and not two nacelles were running? She can't tell. It is actually hot to the touch, which is even more unusual.

    Kylah can at last pick up exterior signals with her communicator, but realizes it is an ear-splitting, overlapping cacophony of voices and datatones across the entire subspace spectrum. She recognizes Federation Standard, Yridian and Rigellian; she thinks she also recognizes Drelloan, Low Bachu and a word or two - maybe - of Sazzin A and Uwat. None of them sound happy; she catches "...steer clear...," "What the hells are you...," "...you crazy or what...," "Veer off, I repeat, veer off, or we will op...," "...too fast, damn it, too fast!," and the like. Dr. Mäkeläinen hears much the same, but understands even less.

  23. #873
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    While he would prefer to be in his seat and buckled in, he acknowledges Lt Onn’s order with a brief “Yes, Ma’am,” before heading back to quickly check what is going on alongside her.

    On seeing what has happened with the control panel, he looks across at the senior officer, “Well ma’am, I can’t see anything that was done wrong and I have no idea what has happened.” He shrugs calmly despite the general thoughts that they are hurtling to their own demise. “Is there any way we can just dump the warp core and drop out close to the planet. Perhaps someone will be able to tractor us to somewhere more appropriate than crashing into the planet’s surface.”

  24. #874
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    Graham plots courses - plan A, wider orbit, steer clear of traffic; plan B...push the shuttle to its limits to veer off at the last possible moment if warp can't be shut down.

  25. #875
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    Nia stares in dismay and disbelief at the fused control circuit. For one flashing second of paranoia she fears the Tesla's turned sentient and is purposely sabotaging itself to defy her.

    Getting unsteadily back on her feet, she contemplates the ideas--her own and the others'--pelting her mind. "Jettisoning the nacelle would slow us down, but its warp bubble'd remain intact. It'd beat us to Ollos and slam into it like a missile."

    Something to bear in mind, she realizes, for some future desperate situation in a shuttle lacking a photon torpedo. Weaponizing a nacelle like this against an enemy would be... unprecedented? Maybe not, but at the subpar level her brain's working now, she can't recall a similar last-ditch strategy.

    The thought of her own dwindling capacity sends her gaze back to Rangin. He's near enough to hear if she speaks quietly, and she does. "The reset button worked once, so we'll roll the dice again on that. But... either way I'll need your help on another longshot. Your confidential help," she adds with soft but intense emphasis. "If you're willing. Mull it over."

    After thanking and telling him to get back into his seat for safety, Nia hurries toward the helm controls and again reaches for the emergency switch. This time instead of trying to restart the engine, she uses the override to shut down the warp drive.

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    Graham's course options look good to him, but he also knows, given the shuttle's other problems so far, that this approach might be their only chance to arrive safely on Ollos.

    After Onn hits the override to shut down the warp nacelle, agonizing seconds pass by while nothing happens, but then with a THUMP and a perceptible shift in momentum, the Tesla drops out of warp. Onn and Graham can both see that she retains far too much momentum for a survivable landing, however; they will have to turn the shuttle around and use the impulse drive at the stern for braking.

    Rawlings, watching what's going on, says, "I don't think we'll still want to have a photon torpedo on board for the kind of landing we're in for."
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 15 Oct 2022 at 08:04 AM.

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    After taking in the blast of anger- or fear-fueled outbursts in disparate languages, Kylah tries to put it all into context. She snaps her head up when Lt. Onn rushes back to the Helm and is about to blurt out her impressions before she hesitates. Clearly the mission commander needs to concentrate.

    Kylah turns to Dr. Mäkeläinen, wondering how much he heard that she did not catch. Soon whatever Lt. Onn attempted has worked--to some degree--as the ship's sudden decrease in speed makes Kylah fall forward until she manages to brace herself and return to a safer position.

    When there's a window of opportunity, she lowers the communicator and, after glancing at her fellow crewmates, stares at Lt. Onn's back. "Ma'am, I am hearing many interactions and communications nearby. They are all--from what I could understand--there is a high level of urgency and chaos in the region. There are implied near-accidents--vessel glitches, navigation errors, possibly even collisions, it sounds like. And--and if I understand correctly, Lt. Graham, there appear to be threats to one another if they do not change course."

    She hesitates and adds hurriedly, "In short I believe they are having the same unexplained problems we are. Vel--Lt. Rangin, do you think this is possible? Given the idea you mentioned earlier?"

  28. #878
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    Still working with Kylah, Mäkeläinen says, "It is safe to say our approach has not gone unnoticed," stating the obvious. "No question of slipping in quietly— not that we have any discretion but to broadcast Mayday and warn all ships to keep our path clear."

    He does not interrupt her. Can a communicator be set to some sort of wide-band mode, or is there a single emergency frequency, or several that must be selected alternately? He watches her work. She keeps addressing him as "Sir." It is true he is technically her senior with an extra tour of duty under his belt, but otherwise she is not his subordinate or even in the same department. She appreciates formality and precision, it seems. So does he, but in his case it applies to his work. But then, communication is her métier.

    Mäkeläinen thinks it might be possible the Tesla's precise identity might be overlooked in the wake of all the immediate chaos they are causing, but they will soon enough be infamous systemwide, for better or (more likely) for worse. The vessel, anyway. Or are there indeed other erratic ships out there? His focus right now is on trying to get through this without him or anyone else getting injured (or more injured), then see if direct transport to a hospital can be arranged.

  29. #879
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    "Commendation, Rawlings!" Graham shouts, spending only a second before hitting the console to attempt to turn the ship around with max burn on impulse thrusters and - hopefully - drop the remaining torpedo unarmed.

    "Nia--Lieutenant," he adds urgently , "Good work - agree with Doc and Kylah--do we have a go to broadcast distress warning? And by god, I can transfer all power to slow us down...but I could use your pilot skills up here..."

  30. #880
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    Graham is able to turn the shuttle around and the impulse drive responds with gratifying promptness to his button-pushing for a max burn. Navigational sensors show the Tesla is now slowing down dramatically - but will it be enough?

    Rawlings staggers from his seat, despite the noisy, very bumpy ride, to grab the back of Graham's seat and say urgently, almost in his ear, "Should we detonate the torpedo at a safe distance, sir, or even send it into Ollos's star, to keep it from being recovered?"

  31. #881
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    Nia turns to stare at Booker from her position only a foot or so away from his side up at the helm, where she just cut the warp engine. He must be so intent on his new navigator role--which he's certainly taking to with impressive skill--that he didn't notice that she's right here.

    Her own straightforward choice would've been to pull the ship slightly from their trajectory toward the planet to avoid its atmosphere altogether, aimed safely away from crashing into the population and whatever traffic's in orbit. Then she'd've tried to slow down before pulling back to attempt another pass at Ollos. Basically, what her initial orders were.

    But Booker's quick on the trigger, probably part of his DNA, and she didn't have time to order him to do otherwise. Rawlings is feeling his oats too. Nia opens her mouth to protest dumping the torpedo. They've got nothing else, and if there are other ships out there gunning for them...

    Well, she's decidedly not at her best. Who's to say she'd be right? Nia wordlessly backs Booker's helm actions and waits for him to give instruction for whatever he needs her to do. She does turn to Kylah and the doctor.

    "Sounds like the communications are threatening us, Ensign Kylah. Not each other. At least that's what the Doc seems to be saying? But let's hear it and let the Security officers decide. Rawlings, as you're up and feeling better, you can play lead on that." She sits back shakily, and sideeyes Booker. "You may give the orders, Lieutenant."

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    Kylah's lips part as she hears the others around her, and her skin tingles with a flush. "Yes, of course they might be speaking to us. Forgive me, I--I did not think--" She peers into the communicator as if expecting the answer on its tiny screen. The presence of the others in such close proximity presses in on her. "There are too many of you," she blurts in frustration. "It is too much to distinguish, I cannot--"

    At once she stops, blushes even more hotly. Any more such indiscretion and she will reveal far too much about herself. She realizes she feels even more at risk than usual, and just as suddenly recognizes that... this insecurity is not merely stemming from within her. Her eyes dart around until she lands on... Lt. Onn...? It is wholly unlike the Sidonian woman but Kylah is almost certain that it is, indeed, she who is feeling so unsettled and unsure.

    At a loss, she hesitates, then lifts her device again to back out of her own near-admission. "Too many voices, I mean. The vessels. Communicators are not meant for listening to so many disparate broadcasts, not while making each one clear enough to understand. I can try to send a multichannel announcement, warning any nearby ships of our situation. If you do not think it is strategically unwise, should there be any enemies nearby."

  33. #883
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    Graham's glances at Nia and freezes, momentarily, not sure why she would want him giving the orders...her side conversations with the doctor jump to mind, and he's worried about that--but it won't matter if they crash into the fucking planet in a few minutes...

    "Aye," he says, blinking briefly. "Blast that warning out. Make clear this is a Starfleet ship in distress." Then he adds "Keeping us from getting shot down as a threat is ob one, Mr. Kyah."

    "Good man, good man, Rawlings," he grunts a moment later. "Into the star it is--can you make it so?" he asks his hulking colleague.

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    Rawlings bites his lip and says, "Yeah, I think so." He hunches his way forward to the Tesla's small torpedo control panel, thinks for a moment and then inputs several commands. In moments there is a flare outside the forward viewports and, despite the shuttlecraft's continuing shaking and rattling, you all feel a different kind of jolt as the torpedo is launched. "Torpedo away, sir," he says, allowing himself a satisfied smile as he checks a readout, "and headed directly towards the star. Impact in... three minutes, mark."

    The shuttle continues braking as it plunges towards Ollos, the waterworld growing larger by the second on the tactical display. The gauges show the deuterium fuel level for the impulse drive is steadily dropping as the aft engines blast away, but Onn and Graham see that there will, or should, still be a small emergency reserve for maneuvering once you hit atmosphere. That is now just seconds away.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 21 Oct 2022 at 11:51 PM.

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    Mäkeläinen does his best to hang on for the ride. The piloting is out of his hands, and the feeling from earlier of having no control as he and the people around him hurtle to an unknown fate creeps up on him again. There is little he can do even to assist Kylah— he follows her instructions, but his language skills, not too shabby even if it is himself telling it, are not as extensive as her own (at least as far as the local comms go, evidently), and only one person at a time can speak into the communicator, anyway. But surely Graham and Onn have things in hand (there will not be much time for regrets or recriminations if they do not), and, as usual, there is no time or point to get philosophical. From what he can see, the shuttle is still coming in fast, and he is not sure whether they are trying to make a low orbit or to bleed off their energy completely and land somewhere on the surface. He hopes his skills in emergency medicine will not be put to the test again so soon.

    "If you are going for the surface," he tells the helm, "pick any point on land, even if is not close to civilization, in preference to the ocean. We won't last more than a few minutes in freezing cold water."

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    Against all the warring anxiety, anger and near-despair, Nia can't help a faint smile. "Water'd be practically toasty compared to space, Doc. Trouble will be the pressure, not temp." Her face hardens. "But the sea's more forgiving to crash into than hard land. And the harsh truth is, if we crater I don't wanna endanger any civilians. They didn't sign up for this."

    Ignore the following if not technically possible please.

    If the Tesla again has the capability to identify ground properties via sensor readings or topographical maps available this close to the planet, Nia will hurry to read them. What she's looking for is any other than sheer ground. A large swamp, mud, marshland... even a few km of fluffy snow if there's any possible way to determine it; worse comes to worst, a desert. Sand's not much better than earth but it is a little better, and she'll take whatever she can get.

    (She knows that to aim for any specific location, of course, she'll have to take into account the fact that they're facing away from the planet. Any move she makes has to be reversed in order to have the proper effect.)

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    Fingers bloodless as she clamps them around the communicator, Kylah does her best to block the crew from her focus and find anyone out there who appears to be within their rapidly changing range. She speaks Standard, but if anyone responds who speaks another language she can speak, she will switch accordingly.

    "This is Starfleet vessel Tesla approaching planet with malfunctioning engines. Keep safe distance. No aggression intended. Any assistance possible--"

    Her mind shrieks at her. It is insane, they are likely going far too quickly but if anyone can get a lock on them perhaps there is a chance.

    "Anyone hearing me with access to transporters? There are six of us. I do not know--we are trying to slow down but... perhaps..." She glances worriedly at Velir and Lt. Graham, her usual sources of support, but of course Lt. Graham is likely too busy piloting (why him? why not Lt. Onn, what is wrong with her?) to hear her. So she adds Dr. Mäkeläinen into her rotation of pleading looks. Is she making any sense at all? There is so little time. Kylah is purposely not staring out the viewports, but she can feel how fast they are moving.

    Inhaling, she begins again. "Repeat: This is Starfleet vessel Tesla approaching planet with malfunctioning engines. Keep safe distance. No aggression intended..."

    She continues her mayday until and unless she gets a reply--or until she is no longer able to speak.

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    "Come on, come on..." Graham grumbles at the Shuttle. After the other back and forth conversation he says over his shoulder "Hang on as best you can, doc - if we come down hard you're the number one most important person to be awake and ambulatory if we have injuries."

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    Bizhi looks into Kylah's panicked eyes. He, too, should be horrified, but it is as though all this is happening to someone else and he is merely a detached observer, albeit of a nightmare he cannot control.

    "We have gone below standard orbit without hitting anything or getting blasted out of the sky, so whatever you are doing is working," he says to her. "I am not sure what happens to communications during atmospheric reentry, but keep broadcasting. If anyone offers emergency transport, tell them to stand by. I daresay we may need it, at least after we are down, but I don't know when it will be safe to beam out, and anyway we cannot abandon ship until we get the order."

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    Onn completes the braking burn and then struggles to turn the shuttle around so that it's belly-down as it hits the atmosphere; she certainly does not want it to tumble out of control and burn on descent. Despite this, the shuttle's buffeting becomes even more severe soon after atmospheric entry. It is all you each can do to hang on and stay in your seats. The noise is incredible.

    The Sidonian pilot gets only very broken-up and unreliable sensor readings but believes, from the tactical projection, that the shuttle is on track for a landing on Chebb, the largest island, as she intended. Chebb, of course, has Freetown, the main city, and its shipyard. The island is heavily forested, with scattered lakes and some mountains running right down to the coast, where Freetown is. Even with further braking once the shuttle has made it to the lower atmosphere, however, she doubts that she can pull off a safe landing at the spaceport; coming in hot, the city's defenses might even try to shoot the Tesla down rather than permit its very fast and only semi-controlled approach. A hard, or even crash, landing outside of town, perhaps in one of the mountain meadows or even on the limited farmland available, might be her least bad option.

    From some of the fragmentary messages she's hearing, Kylah thinks she's gotten through to at least some of the ships in orbit, and perhaps even to Ollos Port Control, but she can't be sure. The subspace cacophony continues largely unabated until the static of atmospheric entry finally overcomes it.

    The sun sets behind you and the Tesla falls down, down, down through darkening skies before plunging into thick clouds. Snow begins pelting the front viewports.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 24 Oct 2022 at 07:49 PM.

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    Kylah nods gratefully as she listens to Dr. Mäkeläinen's supportive words and tries to brace herself both physically and mentally.

    When she barely hear her own thoughts, much less anything that might be coming through her communicator, she grabs the sides of her chair and bends her head, eyes squeezed shut as she nearly sobs aloud. It is not fair. She was not even supposed to be on this mission. A last-minute decision placed her here. She should be back safe on the Yorktown.

    The thought is cowardly but she cannot prevent the burst of resentment and regret that are now added to the otherwise overpowering terror of what lies ahead.

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    Just when Nia most needs every last ounce of concentration to handle the insane number of calculations she must make for them to survive, she's increasingly aware of just how disconnected, tired and dizzy she is. Exhaustion coaxes her into sleep, like warm water seductively drawing her deeper and deeper beneath the surface. It would be so easy, just closing her eyes and the fear and stress will be gone.

    She gasps and rouses herself. Can't wait anymore. In a practiced move she yanks at the silver chain of her inhaler, pulling the device from under her uniform's collar to shove it into her mouth. She's put it off as long as possible--it's the only supply she has on her--but she's close enough to emergency status that now there's no time to waste.

    A blast of the button sends a sharply clarifying rush of the BuNO2 compound into her Bilitrium-starved system. The gray curtains that seem to be at the edges of her vision fade, at least momentarily, and her improved focus lets her strategize and do her best to navigate the Tesla to a safe destination.

    Not in a forest, not in a city or village, most certainly not into the side of a mountain. When Chebb takes up more and more of her viewport, she scans frantically for the largest meadow at the highest altitude she can find: she wants it snow-covered.

    In a last-ditch hope she seeks for something near a lake or some other largish body of water. Her goal now isn't to plunge into it. If she's skilled enough--and her still-dear shuttle is capable enough of being held steady--she might be able to skim the Tesla's belly across the surface, allowing the friction and drag of the water to help slow them to a slightly safer speed before they reach land.

    Maybe the snow pelting the vessel means they'll find enough fresh snow-cover to cushion their inevitable halt. The heat will melt it, maybe encase them in ice if the weather outside's particularly frigid. But it's better than a nose-down crash for sure.

    "Book, shields up if they're back online," she mutters, her voice hard enough to cut through the din. Still tired but taking advantage of the limited lifespan of her refreshing Bilitrium dose, Nia prays and aims the shuttle as best she can to the safest possible target.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 25 Oct 2022 at 01:03 AM.

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    Graham grunts acknowledgement and - if he can - powers up the shields.

    Risking a free hand during the turbulence, he puts one on Nia's shoulder. "You've got this, Nia. You're the best damned pilot on Yorktown," he says in a low voice.

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    The Tesla at last drops below cloud level and the snow squall clears as if a switch was thrown. Onn and Graham can see at once, by the light of the setting sun and despite the long shadows it now casts, the dense forests and not-far-distant mountain range of the island below. There has clearly been extensive snowfall across the region. Onn also sees what appears to be an open, snowy field off to starboard, roughly in the same direction as Freetown, which must lie several kilometers beyond. It might be a large- and long-enough open space for the shuttle to land upon. She can also just see, off in the distance but in the same direction, the blue-green gleam of the ocean across the horizon.

    The shuttle's speed is greatly reduced and it is shaking much less, but still it breaks the sound barrier with a loud BOOM as it drops. Onn struggles with the controls. The shuttle is extremely sluggish in handling, and the impulse drive is now nearly out of fuel.

    Graham is nevertheless able to power up the shields.

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    At the compliment--but even more at the sound of the shields powering up--Nia exhales her gratitude in a rushed, "Oh Book, may Sid'Os bless you with eternal rain."

    She frets at the distance of the ocean. It would make a perfect place to drag the shuttle's speed before reaching the large snowy but solid landscape. But the way the Tesla is handling, Nia's not confident in the plan. It'd require flying out to the ocean a decent enough distance, then bringing the shuttle around the necessary 180-degree turn back to land, then managing to fly steadily enough to skim the water instead of being plunging underneath. The shields should allow them to skip like a rock, but... there's the fuel problem and possibility of losing the impulse drive. Too quick a loss in speed and there's no guarantee the shuttle doesn't perform a similar insane bucking motion as at the start of this whole fiasco. With gravity now an issue, not to mention a huge deadly planet-sized obstacle, they'd never survive the drop.

    Her eyes flick from the fuel indicator to the speed gauge and back to the ocean, calculating desperately how far out she'd need to get them to a low enough altitude that'd let the shuttle's belly touch the waves. And none of this matters if she can't keep the pitch, yaw and roll steady. None of which are typical worries for a starship or shuttle pilot. Aside from basic training at the Academy a dozen-plus years ago, she hasn't done this regularly since her father's airships back home.

    If it seems possible, she'll take the risk. Otherwise if the odds are much better for them to hit the field, Nia will start the landing procedure, such as it is.



    See setup thread for questions... SG is not as smart at this tech stuff as her PC
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 29 Oct 2022 at 03:59 PM.

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    Onn decides in seconds, her mind racing, that the odds are very poor for the Tesla to make it out over the ocean and back. The shuttle is falling too fast and her margin of control is so slight that she knows in her gut it's just not going to happen. With a herculean effort, she brings the shuttle about on what she thinks will be a non-lethal glidepath to the open snowy field. You are now less than two minutes from the planet's surface.

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    Things are chaotic, but it is hard to miss the ground looming and Bizhi can tell this is the final approach. Lt. Graham's comment put it out in the open, but it is not like he was not figuring out the best way to brace himself (not for the first time, it is glaringly obvious the shuttle has not been configured with any kind of emergency safety harnesses or for uncontrolled conditions beyond the capabilities of the inertial dampeners. Dangerously inadequate, and they already have the casualties to prove it.).

    He works out what position he thinks will minimize, should they come down hard, the risk of injury from flying debris, of broken limbs, and blows to the head, and also tersely instructs the rest of the crew how they should brace for impact.

    He is not really worried. Yet. Maybe just a little. They are still going pretty fast. Dropping rather steeply. Or is that an optical illusion?

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    In response to his shouted instructions, Kylah manages a grateful "yes doctor" through tightly gritted teeth. The sensation of the plunging shuttle yanks her mind back to the near-disastrous orbital skydiving incident months ago, which nearly killed Velir and put a terrified Kylah at odds with Lt. Graham. Her eyes squint open to spot the latter in the co-pilot seat, hoping that he is safe enough up front; then her gaze shifts back to Ensign Rawlings. She cannot be reassuring since she does not feel so--and he is likely far braver than she is, anyway. With no other resources--Velir is not visible to her in the seat right ahead--she draws herself inward again and sobs, waits, and dreads.

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    "Full power to forward shields," Nia orders Book--he's probably already done so, way to waste what's left of your breath, woman. Right now she'd give anything for something properly tactile to control the shuttle, a good old-fashioned yoke for example--but her precise, practiced gestures on the Tesla's controls are part of her muscle memory.

    The white expanse takes up the entire viewport. "Brace for impact!" she shouts, as her thoughts scream silently: Here she comes. Please, please, Sid'Os... forgive me and spare my crew for many seasons more...

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    Graham cranks the forward shields to full power, plus whatever power of prayer he can muster.

    "Hold together," he grumbles at the craft. "Come on, hold together."

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