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On a Wing and a Prayer

Posted on Wed Jun 24th, 2020 @ 3:42am by Cailus Griffin & Captain Nycolas Temple & Lieutenant Nicholas Boucher & Lieutenant K'Laus & Lieutenant Commander Mindo & Lieutenant Ziara Rrareth & Lieutenant Kalin Brennan-Griffin PhD & Lieutenant John Sandoval & Lieutenant Krysia Kaleri-Smith & Lieutenant Alexandra Alves MD & Lieutenant James Smith & Lieutenant JG Vecon Fick & Lieutenant JG Aeryn Jameson
Edited on on Fri Jul 10th, 2020 @ 5:58pm

Mission: The Evils Within
Location: Bridge


It had taken the Pandora two days to find their way to the Hesiod system; managing to avoid rousing suspicion from Alrakis Pact patrols and those who may have wondered why the Starfleet vessel was heading to a supposedly 'empty' area of the Expanse. It hadn't been an easy journey, and certainly caused the Captain no small amount of anxiety; especially as the crew noted a significant increase in the Breen presence around the Inconnu region. He had to conclude it was due to them losing Paradise, but it was still surprising to see the Breen patrolling the Tzenkethi border too.

As described, the star system was largely nondescript and forgotten. The patrols and commercial traffic had disappeared the closer they came to Hesiod, and the Pandora was soon all alone. There was just one dwarf star burning brightly, young in age compared to others in neighbouring galaxies, with two planets orbiting at near equal distance, some 200 kilometres away. The ocean planet of Hesiod Blue, and it's darker brother, Hesiod Green. It was obvious from even long-range optical scans why the planets had been designated so.

Captain Temple arrived on the Bridge upon hearing the news that the Pandora was about to reach her destination.

"All hands, yellow alert," Nyx commanded as he sat down in the Big Chair. "Mr. Fick, ease us out of warp, if you please."

Fick's fingers slid over the console in front of him and he nodded. "Aye, Captain." The ship slowed, the area around them coming into focus on the viewscreen in front of them, out of warp. Fick glanced up at the dual planets briefly. "Do you want me to hold position?"

"Beautiful." Nyx remarked under his breath, as the vibrant blue of the ocean world came into view. "Yes, Mr. Fick. Hold position."

Krysia stepped out of the turbolift. She’d purposely arranged her counselling sessions so she could have the free time to be on the bridge upon arrival at their destination. Walking over to her seat, she sat down beside Nyx and turned her attention to the viewscreen.

John Sandoval had been working on one of the aft stations. Someone had gotten him a stool he could sit on to work for a while, reviewing key documentation about the local political situation involving Hesiod. He was figuratively standing by for a signal by his Captain.

As soon as the Pandora dropped out of warp, Nick and his wingman shot out of the shuttle bays in their fighters. It was purely precautionary, but Alpha Squadron had been given very little Intel on what to expect and he had pushed for a fighter escort upon arrival.

The two fighters maneuvered into formation, flanking the starship, both pilots keeping their eyes open and locked onto their sensors.

Krysia was ready with her senses. The crew was a working unit and their emotions were controlled, if heightened, as they concentrated on their jobs. It made it easier for Krysia to discount the emotions and thoughts of those around her and to filter things down so she could sense what was going on outside the ship. "I'm not sensing anything unusual at the moment, Captain."

James arrived on the bridge shortly after Alpha Squadron had launched, he quickly made his way over to one of the open science stations and accessed his Intell computer as well. James looked out as they slowly approached the planet.

Ziara stood at her Tactical station. It felt strange to not be the one in control of the ship. However, she had a job to do. "Tactical scan complete. We appear to be alone, for now." Her unaccented voice clear as she was on duty.

Sitting on Nyx's right, Cailus frowned. "For a place transmitting a distress call, you would expect some signs of distress," he remarked suspiciously. With Commander Nash on shoreleave, Cailus had been temporarily bumped up in his place as acting XO, but he was still adjusting to the role. "Our escorts are in position, Captain. Should we prepare an away team?"

"You're right, Commander, this is very calm indeed," Nyx pondered as he stared at the planets. He turned to Ops, "Lieutenant, perform a full scan of Hesiod Blue and locate the Federation base. I want to know what we're heading into before we send an away team."

Fick, with nothing to do but sit at his console, started to tap at his console. Even though his station was mostly designed for helm control he could still perform a limited number of scans. He was looking around the area for anything else that might be unusual. He was sure there were already tons of people looking, but he wanted to anyway. There were a lot of storms in the system. Geometric storms. It made him a little nervous at first and then he noticed that they seemed to be mostly located in one area and that area was still a long way from where they were now. He let out a little breath of relief that no nasty geometric storms were going to come their way.

The Klingon slammed his fist down atop his console, though strategically avoiding any of the controls that would put the starship at risk. If anything he may have accidentally rerouted some power to replicators. Nevertheless, he corrected that little mishap quickly. "Impossible," he grumbled as he performed continuous scans. Yet, each scan only yielded a similar perplexing set of results.

K'Laus was almost certain that his little outburst and grumbling had caught the Captain's attention. "You will want to reconsider that course of action, Captain. In fact..." the Klingon walked away briefly from his station. "Lieutenant Fick may want to check navigational sensors," the Operations officer said looking down at the young flight controller. It was not every day that he got the opportunity to fill in at the operations station on the bridge of the Pandora, but today was one of those times. It was also fascinating albeit frustrating.

Fick turned his head to look at K'Laus briefly, before he too started scanning the planet, his fingers tapping on his console. He frowned at the results and tried again, then he frowned at K'Laus, shook his head and shrugged.

There was no honor nor glory making such an announcement, but there was no way he could allow the Captain to send an away team down. "I have scanned the planet Captain. If this truly is Hesiod Blue then we have a serious problem, Sir. I am detecting no signs of a Federation base. No Federation power signatures, no lifeforms that would indicate the presence of such a facility," reported Lieutenant K'Laus.

The Captain had turned at the sound of K’Laus banging his fist, which really could have been for any number of reasons, but he was quickly on his feet and by the Ops station when the Klingon made his announcement. “Nothing?” Nyx said incredulously. The data spoke for itself and K’Laus was correct; Hesiod Blue was empty of any Federation life. “Not even subterranean.” He added.

The Klingon shook his head "No Sir. Nothing... terranean nor subterranean," replied K'Laus

“I don’t like this,” Nyx added, wondering if Admiral Thac hadn’t been so vague about this mission because perhaps even he didn’t know that Hesiod Blue was vacant. Or if there was something else going on here. ‘Frack.’ Nyx thought to himself, ‘It’s always something else.’

With a furrowed brow, he ordered, “Perform long range sensor sweeps of the whole region. See if anything shows up. Stay on Yellow Alert. Keep weapons at the ready.” He returned to his seat and awaited the results.

The Klingon grunted. That was all the response he needed to make for the Captain to understand that K'Laus knew what was being asked of him. He too was concerned with what the sensors had shown or rather not shown. He returned to the ops station and began performing broader and more expansive scans of the entire region. These sweeps were far more all-encompassing albeit they left room for interpretations. The problem with scanning further out was the increased inaccuracy of the results.

When he did detect something he immediately reported it. "There is something out there, Captain," he said cautiously, "but not from Hesiod Blue. There's some sort of... transmission coming from another planet in the Hesoid system. Sensors would seem to indicate the source of the transmission is Hesoid Green, but we are too far away for me to determine the nature or exact source of the signal... if it is a signal at all. Mineral and alloy composites of various moons in this system could be causing interference with long-range sensors. We could simply be chasing after an echo."

"We're not chasing an echo." Krysia had been sat with her head down and eyes shut filtering out what she could of the crew's emotions to allow her to feel more clearly what was outside the ship. "There's definitely life out here. I can't say exactly what kind of life or how wide spread but there's definitely life." She looked at Nyx.

"I definitely don't like this," Nyx grumbled as he looked to Griffin. "Why would the distress call be coming from the second planet? Blue has a stable, tropical climate, oxygen-rich atmosphere, and familiar gravity. Hesiod Green is... the complete opposite of all that."

Cailus nodded, frowning. "It'll complicate the rescue mission," he replied pensively. "This doesn't make any sense so far. Why put a research base on a hellhole like that when you have a comfortable planet nearby? Even if it is a trap, there's no reason to broadcast a distress call from Green rather than Blue. It just makes us more cautious."

Standing, Nyx addressed the Bridge, "Well, we've been sent to answer this call, and we shall. Lieutenant Fick, plot a course for Hesiod Green. Boucher, maintain close formation with the Pandora. K'Laus and Kaleri, keep a constant watch on all fronts. Lieutenant Rrareth, I want you on the Security console and ready."

“Aye, Sir.” Krysia nodded. Her senses were more acute than those of a Betazoid, but she didn’t have the strength of a full blooded Drax. Plus, she’d also have to trade off the amount of input she was going to have to allow her senses against the stress it might put on her pregnancy.

Lieutenant K'Laus grunted. The Klingon cast a stare at Krysia. He was not sure if she was comfortable where she was or if she would want to join him at his console. He tried to exchange a look with her that was professional and inviting. He would welcome her presence near his station.

Fick plotted the course and then turned in his seat to look at the captain. "Course plotted, but there are a lot of storms near the green one. We might want to be careful as to which side of the planet we end up on. They're geomagnetic storms. They could really mess us up if we tangle with them." He turned back to his console. "Of course, I'll make sure we don't go near them, but you should know anyway..."

"Aye, Aye, we'll be ready sir." Ziara responded.

Nick kept his fighter off the starboard flank on a tight escort formation. He didn't like surprises and this was already shaping up to be one.

Tag as above. Rrareth, while Griffin is Acting XO, we'll have to make you joint Security/Tactical if that's ok. Rrareth: Sounds good to me.

As they steadily approached Hesiod Green, Cailus stood up and walked around to the back of the Bridge, where the auxiliary consoles were, as well as Shae, the distinctive Chief Science Officer. "Shae," he said with quiet tenseness as he walked up next to her, "have a look at this place. Is there anything interesting there from a scientific point of view? Abnormal geological features, unusual lifeforms, something about the geomagnetic storms? Anything at all that would justify a scientific expedition this far from home?"

"At first glance, there's nothing at all remarkable about this world. Of course, that wouldn't stop the average scientist from wanting to study and chart a new world, except the atmospheric dangers would be more than a little off-putting to any expedition," Shae answered as she studied the scans of the planet. "Wait a moment..." she said as she noticed some irregularities within the readings, then refocused the scanners through the main deflector which had been modified specifically to keep them safe from the invisible dark matter within the Inconnu Expanse. "Well, I take back what I said about this world being unremarkable, the geological terrain is absolutely fascinating! Oh, this world would be any geologists' dream to study, but far more interesting than this trove of geological treasures, I'm detecting dark matter within the core itself. That shouldn't even be possible!"

"It's very green... and swirly..." Fick commented for no real reason.

K'Laus' scowl worn on his face as he monitored sensor readings changed ever so slightly into a smirk when he heard Fick's voice. He listened to what the flight controller had said. "Planning your next shore leave, Lieutenant, or are you adding it to the list of potential wedding destinations?" teased the Klingon. "Let's hold that thought for a moment. It's not looking very inviting from the look of these sensors readings."

Fick looked over his shoulder at the Klingon. "Who's wedding?"

“Gentlemen, we are at Yellow Alert.” Nyx interrupted with a tone that was unmistakably final. “So the distress call is coming from this planet. Could we take a shuttle down?”

K'Lus grunted an apology of sorts. "Yes Captain, we are at yellow alert," was all it was in words, but it was as close to an apology as one could expect from K'Laus. He looked at the Captain briefly. Then around the Bridge. Was he an expert in this? No. No, he certainly was not. "It is possible that modifications could be made to the shuttle to lessen the risks. I stand by any work that Lieutenant Mindo does. It is our duty as a Federation vessel to respond to that distress call, Captain."

The Captain frowned. "It would still be a considerable risk, and could take too long to make the modifications." Silently he moved to the front of the Bridge and next to the helm station. While he stared out at the swirling green clouds in the planet's atmosphere, Nyx ran the variables through his mind. They had to respond, but they couldn't send an away team. The atmosphere was too dangerous for a shuttle and beaming was out of the question. There was only one option left that would get them to the planet's surface. A look of resolve passed over Nyx's face as he stared ahead, "Mr. Fick. You are the best pilot of the Pandora, correct?"

”Hell yeah I am...” Fick started and then looked a little chagrin. “Sorry, Sir. Yes... I believe so. I might not be that old, but I’m pretty sure I’ve at least logged more hours in this chair than most.”

"You know how she moves, how to navigate through dangerous space?" Nyx continued, a smile now firming.

”Yes, Sir. I could get her through most things. I’m certain of it,” Fick stated with confidence.

"Good." Nyx nodded and looked down to the Lieutenant. "We're going to need your skills, Mr. Fick, because we're going to land the ship on Hesiod Green."

Fick looked up at Nyx, his mouth open slightly in surprise. “On Hesiod Green, Sir? The whole Pandora?” He wasn’t really questioning the order, he was trying to clarify that the captain had actually just told him to land the ship on a planet.

"The whole Pandora." Nyx nodded, returning to his seat. "Unless there are any other suggestions?"

Krysia looked at Nyx in surprise, but she didn’t have any other suggestions so she simply kept quiet.

Ziara nodded, what Nyx said was logical. That Fick was surprised worried her slightly. She had been in his seat many times before, but it wasn't her seat anymore and she had to accept that.

That caught John's attention, spiking his nervousness. He never liked landings of any sort, after the one that made him use a cane. The entire ship? That made him wary.

Shae showed no signs of worry; though Fick was surprised at the order, Shae had every confidence in Fick's skills, provided that she could help him find a safe route.

Still at the back of the Bridge with Shae, Cailus took a moment to absorb the unusual order himself. Finally, though, he glanced cryptically at Shae before returning down to his own chair.

“You heard the Captain, people,” he said firmly as he sat down. “Let’s make it happen. Go to blue alert.” At the order, rare blue lighting lit the Bridge as a very unfamiliar alert tone. As he sat, he tapped a control on his armrest. “All hands, we are about to land the ship. Report to your designated shelter areas and standby for atmospheric turbulence.” He glanced to his right. “Lieutenant Rrareth, reconfigure the shields and main deflector for atmospheric entry. Lieutenant Brennan, find us a safe landing area as close to the source of the distress call as you can.”

"Aye, Aye, recongifuring shields and deflector. I'm going to make the shields slightly rounder then recommended and use a bit more power on the deflector. That will give us more margin of error to deal with geomagnetic storms, but we won't have as much lift from the shields," Ziara said, taking a moment and manually reconfiguring them into a design that she felt would gave them a smoother entry then the standard landing configuration would. Ziara could feel a nervousness ball up in her stomach of not being in control. She wondered if this is how everyone felt when she was landing. She didn't like the feeling.

Fick's fingers flew over his console as he started prepping for the landing. They would need to divert all of their power to the atmospheric thrusters. Currently, he was bringing the landing struts on-line and setting the inertial dampers at maximum. Landing a ship this size was never easy. There were innumerable calculations that had to happen in a moment's time to ensure a smooth transition between lack of gravity to the gravity of a planet's surface. Fick, however, was completely confident. If there was one thing he could do, it was calculate like a champ.

'Safe' and 'close' were wildly different variables and given the unique properties of this planet's mantel, Shae wasn't entirely certain she could find a suitable landing spot that met both conditions. But that wouldn't stop her from trying. "Plotting telemetry now," Shae answered in response to the orders. Once she found a suitable location, she forwarded it on to the helm, remaining vigilant to the sensor readings so that she could assist Fick through the descent as much as she could.

As everyone hopped to their orders, Cailus glanced stoically at the Captain. “Standing by for your order, Sir.”

While Griffin had been preparing the ship, as diligently and professionally as usual, Nyx had been busy working on another issue. He nodded to the Lieutenant Commander, "Thank you, Number One." He pressed a button on his chair. "Lieutenant Boucher, have you been following our comms feed?"

"Aye, sir," Nick replied. He wasn't overly enthused about the idea of taking the fighters down into this planet's atmosphere. They'd take a beating on the way down.

"Very good," Nyx nodded, "I will need you to remain in orbit of Green and Blue. We can't be sure what we're walking into and I'd like you to cover our backs. Plus, Commander Nash is due to rendezvous in this region and I don't like the thought of him being out here without protection. I am sending a shuttle with supplies that will land on Hesiod Blue. It's atmosphere is safe enough to travel through and you can use it as your base of operations for the time being. Though, hopefully not too long. Any questions?"

"I recommend quickly scrambling Beta shift," Nick suggested. "They should be on standby and can join us out here in minutes. Gamma can stay with the Pandora just in case you need fighter support on the planet for whatever reason."

"Be careful, Lieutenant. And stay safe," Nyx replied with a warm but heavy tone. He didn't like leaving the fighters, or Commander Nash, alone in the region without the Pandora to come back to, but it was their only option in the circumstances. "We'll see you soon. Pandora out."

"Godspeed, Sir," Nick replied, exhaling heavily after he cut his mic. This mission just took one hell of a turn.

With a sigh, Nyx turned back to the Bridge. "If we're ready, Lieutenant Fick? Take us down."

"I'm ready here, but still waiting on Engineering for power..." Fick replied.

Krysia looked towards Nyx as he mentioned Owen, she hadn’t heard that he was headed back to the ship. She smiled happy in the knowledge that he’d soon be back onboard again, she’d missed him. She took a calming breath and let it out slowly, even though the crew were concentrating on their jobs there was still a lot of raised emotions.

Just then the comm chirped. =/\= Mindo to bridge: If we're really going to do this, we're ready when you are."

Fick shot a glance over his shoulder at Nyx, his fingers hovering over his control panel.

"Proceed," Nyx said with a firm voice, as he tried to hide his nerves. "Take us down, Mr. Fick."

"Aye, aye, Captain." With the warp core now offline and all the plasma vented from the nacelles, Fick carefully nosed the Pandora into a declining glide trajectory. Usually, anything that Fick had guided the ship into had gone rather smoothly. This ride was a little different than all of those. The ship started to vibrate, just slightly at first. "Sorry about that, Captain! Making corrections now! Was coming in a little hot. Adjusting inertial dampers to the planet's gravity..."

"Keep her steady, Mr. Fick." Nyx said shakily from his chair as the Pandora lurched once more.

The ship continued through the dense atmosphere, which was an experience more akin to tactical falling than a normal descent, due to the compounding elements that had made this task so perilous. The lights around the Bridge flickered as more power was required to stabilise the vessel; the Pandora shaking and jerking as if the planet itself was rejecting their presence. It was taking everything the Luna class bird had to break through the atmosphere, with stabilising systems trying to counter balance the wild conditions around them as Lieutenant Fick attempted to guide them through safely.

Fick's fingers flew rapidly over his console. He wasn't even bothering to look at the viewscreen. "Sorry Captain... correcting as fast as possible." It was about all he was capable of saying, because most of his brain power was being used up in computations as he rapidly made adjustments.

"How's our shields?" Nyx called out, his concern taking a graver tone.

Lieutenant K'Laus' response was a bit more of a snarl than he intended. "Fickering!" he shouted in response. "I mean flickering, Captain. I'm doing what I can to reroute auxiliary power from wherever I can, but there's only so much I can do. We need to land and we need to do it now," added the Klingon.

Then, as if they had suddenly come through the other side, the atmosphere unexpectedly cleared up and the ship, which had been working at-capacity to resist the waves of geometric storms, suddenly found itself free-falling towards the planet's surface. With nothing left to fight against, the Pandora began to spiral downwards.

Krysia had remained firmly in her seat during the ride, in her condition the last thing she needed was to be falling and hurting herself. She was glad when the ship stopped shaking but the free fall wasn’t good either.

~ Sickbay ~

Meanwhile, Alexandra was preparing the medical staff for the rescue operation and sickbay for the income of injuries. Much to her surprise, the Pandora abandoned Hesiod Blue, and headed towards another planet, Hesiod Green. Then the ship went into yellow alert, and an announcement was made that they're gonna land on the planet surface. The doctor shook her head, and decided to make sure her department is prepared for any emergency or anything unusual. "Aeryn, get those emergency supplies ready, Nurse, get those three biobeds operational in the left wing."

"Yes, Doctor," Aeryn nodded as she looked in Alexandra's direction.

~ Bridge ~

James sat down and braced for the landing, putting a starship on the ground was not always a good idea, but thief were times when circumstances commanded it. He looked over to Krys to see how she was doing before looking back at the view screen.

~ Engineering ~

Down in Engineering things were a mess. The bumpy ride was causing more damage than Mindo anticipated. They had activated the emergency force field around the core, which was holding up, but other systems like shields and structural integrity were taking a huge hit. Mindo managed to stay rather calm; his experience with such strain on a ship was considerable. He knew Fick would land them safely, but Mindo had to clean up the mess. He cursed under his breath as the ship continued to shake and jostle his staff. Some terminals were inoperable, and already a few crew members had taken nasty bumps and falls, including Zo, who would definitely need medical attention. And the Captain wondered why I called him 'kooky,' Mindo thought as another wall terminal went down.


Fick was struggling. Now that they were actually into the atmosphere he had to work quickly and with precision. He slowed their descent quickly and lowered their landing gear. "Landing gear down, Captain!" he yelled before going back to concentrating on the calculations needed for landing. He had to change the angle of their descent as well, as soon as possible, his hands actually aching from all the rapid movement.

The Lieutenant's hard work was soon rewarded as the Pandora corrected her spiralling and managed to fly right again, adjusting for the natural gravitational pull of Hesiod Green. The skies beneath the dense storms were strangely clear; stoic and quiet like a summer's day. The lower atmosphere still had a green tinge around it, but the planet itself seemed almost sunny and light, From below, the storms took on the glow of an 'aurora borealis', stunning in its emerald beauty. There wasn't time to marvel at this, of course, as they still had a ship to land. Once the crew had located a suitable spot on a desert plain, around two kilometres north of the beacon location, Nyx gave the order to proceed with the final stage.

Fick breathed a sigh of relief as the ship finally let itself be under control again. It didn't stop his hand though, they still had to land. "Landing struts extended and locked, Captain," he announced. "Commencing landing." First, he had to find a suitable place to set down. It wasn't like the Pandora was a small ship. He scanned the surface quickly and found a decently cleared area that he could use and set the ship down.

The ship landed onto the planet surface with a satisfyingly easy finish. Compared to the rough ride they had just been on, Captain Temple was sure he wasn't the only one relieved to be on firm ground. It stuck him that this was the first time he'd been on an actual world, and not a man-made construct, since leaving Earth almost two years ago. The explorer in him wanted to run out with the Away team and investigate this strange planet immediately; but the Captain in him knew it wouldn't be possible. As the necessary stations checked in and confirmed alightment was complete, Nyx stood from his seat.

Over ship-wide comms, he announced, "Crew, we have landed on Hesiod Green. Mr. Mindo, see to any repairs as necessary. Griffin, Alves, Smith, K'Laus, Brennan, and Jameson, meet in Cargo Bay one in thirty minutes. All others, standby for further orders. Let's make this quick and simple."


"Aye sir, I'm on it," Mindo said. He tapped his badge and closed the channel. He looked around and muttered to himself. "And I just had this place fixed."

He tapped his badge again. "Lt. Samson, report to Engineering for repairs. Alert all uninjured second shift personnel to report to Engineering as well."

Krysia turned and looked at James offering a nod and a smile. She would worry about him regardless of whether he was off or on ship, but she knew he could take care of himself.

James returned the smile. He had requested to be on the away team, and he knew she would worry about him no matter where he was. James headed to the turbo lift to get ready for the mission.

Shae had to pause for a moment before handing her station off to a junior officer; normally, turbulence didn't bother her in the slightest, but for some reason her stomach was churning fiercely now. Once the wave of nausea passed, she handed off her station and rose to quickly pad her way over to the lift.



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