Part Of Your World
Posted on Mon Aug 31st, 2020 @ 2:20pm by Captain Nycolas Temple & Sasha Vieers (Deceased) & Lieutenant Commander Mindo & Lieutenant Ziara Rrareth & Lieutenant John Sandoval & Lieutenant Krysia Kaleri-Smith & Lieutenant JG Vecon Fick & Crewman Ian Milkovich
The Evils Within
Location: Hesiod Green - Mountains
The Hesians gathered together outside of their mountain colony, still feeling the earth shake and groan beneath them. This was unlike any of their previous quakes; it was a constant, volatile tremor, as if the planet itself was heaving. Parents and children grabbed at each together, hurrying to get away from the mountain as rocks and boulders freely fell from up high - some bravely standing at the entryway to guide those who were still fleeing from the caves within. There was crying and screaming abound; panic in the eyes of these tired, beleaguered people who had only ever known suffering, and were being forced to suffer once more. No one knew how long the quake was going to last, if everyone had made it out alright, and what would be left of their home in the aftermath. All they could do was run.
Some could do so more easily than others. John Sandoval never felt truly like someone with a handicap until he needed to run. But all he could do was keep up with the pregnant Krysia and hope that others would help. He would be in agony when he got back to the ship, but he knew Dr. Alves would help him. For now, all he could do was survive and endure the experience. Pain means you're alive, John.
Krysia was struggling to keep pace with the faster crew members so she was grateful to have John to keep pace alongside of. Right now she was wishing she was back onboard the ship safe in James’ arms, he didn’t even know she was on the surface instead of being safe on the ship.
Fick stopped, just outside the exit to make sure there was no one left behind. He gestured for people to hurry up, trying to rush them out faster. This and several other things that had happened so far was exactly why Fick didn't want to get involved with any of this and would have preferred to stay observing. He was, honestly, super frustrated and things weren't getting any better.
When they reached a safe distance, everyone stopped. Many of the Hesians were out of breath. Most were looking for loved ones, hoping they had made it out. Mindo surveyed the situation, knowing that there had been many who did not get out in time.
Once Krysia had tended to Mindo's head wound, Mindo approached Fick. "Vecon," he said, "I know you think I'm doing the wrong thing. I assure you, I'm not. You remember learning about Drema IV in the Academy? This situation is the same. Starfleet had already interfered with this planet's evolutionary course months before we got here. These people knew we weren't who we said. They even believe us to have divine powers. And they've requested aid. We have to help these people. It's the right thing to do. As for inciting a revolution, we've done no such thing. A revolution here was inevitable. We'll stay out of it. When it ends, if they still want help, we'll give it to them."
"I didn't say we incited it." Fick hissed. "I said we're gonna get dragged into the middle of it. I'm not protesting because I disagree with you. I'm protesting because this is not what we were sent here to do. That's all. It's not like I'm not going to follow your orders, or do what needs to be done. I think you know me better than that." Fick snorted. "I think everyone needs a... what do the Humans call it... devil's advocate..."
As the Hesians gathered in an opening, further away from the Mountain, some began to look around the survivors and identify those who had made it out alive. Names were being screamed amongst the chaos, as family and friends desperately searched for each other, but it was hard to see amongst the dust and disorder. They could only hope that everyone had evacuated safely.
In the center of the crowd stood the Village Master, his cape torn and somewhat dusty, but he seemed mostly unharmed. Somehow he had made it to safety long before the rest of his people. He was surrounded by his followers, who were keeping the desperate Hesians at a distance from their leader. He waved at them like they were gathering around royalty, instead of panicked people who had just fled their crumbling homes.
"Calm yourselves," he called out, his peaceful tone belying the madness. "Our home is perfectly safe. We're all going to be fine."
"YOU!" came a voice from within the crowds of people. Ho-Mar stepped forward into the center of the circle, her face covered with dust and her cheek smeared with drying blood. "YOU ARE TO BLAME FOR THIS!"
"You are shaken, my dear." The Village Master smirked. "Calm yourself and then you may address your concerns."
"NO!" Ho-Mar screamed, still inching closer to him. "You will not slide out of taking responsibility this time! Look around you, Leader, look how your people suffer!"
"A temporary situation." He shrugged nonchalantly, "An unfortunate interruption to our day, but now we are stronger and better informed for it." He smiled as he looked around at everyone. Actually smiled. "Yes! We have tested the capacity of our Colony home and we are still standing. Yes, we will have to clean up a little, but this will only benefit our community long into the future. You should be thanking me, dear one."
Ho-Mar's fingers dug into her palm, she was balling her hands together into such tight fists, the rage only growing within. "THANKING YOU?!" she spat back at him. "You dare lie to our faces now? When people are missing and probably dead?!"
"Well, we only had to evacuate as a precautionary measure," the Village Master said, his tone half-way between smug and condescending, "And we actually did a fantastic job of getting everyone out. No other settlements have managed to do such a good job of keeping their people safe as we have done. Frankly, if anyone is missing, it's their own fault for not listening to the clear instructions they had to leave. That's a shame, really, but, you know, it is what it is. And I think if you look at how many people are here, you'll see what a terrific job we've done. Really. Maybe if certain people had been causing such a panic, they wouldn't have been all this chaos. There was no need for it. We had it all under control, but, you know, some people want to act like very dumb people, and they caused a problem. They did. They caused what was an orderly, very-well controlled evacuation, they turned it into a rush. It's sad, but the point is, we had a plan and we did the best job possible. No one else could have done it better."
Other Hesians had to step in to stop Ho-Mar from launching herself at the Village Master, the closer she got to him it was evident that she wanted to do him harm. They managed to hold her back for now, but tensions were at their highest level, and the Hesians were not satisfied with their leader's response to the crisis. Likewise, the Master's supporters gathered around him, acting as a human shield, though they looked around worryingly, knowing they had lost significant support.
The away team stood a few yards from the main group, but watched and heard everything. "Just stay back, everyone," Mindo said quietly, so that only the team could hear. "Whatever is about to happen, we must not interfere."
John leaned against an outcropping and listened in silent agreement. This was going to be hard to watch, but it was going to happen. The academic in him was fascinated, though he understood how morbid his curiosity was.
Krysia nodded. She was doing her best to stay out of view behind the others, after hearing what Ho-Mar had said about the village master she didn’t want to be seen by him.
The Village Master raised his hands to the crowd. "Do not listen to this nasty woman. She is spreading false information to undermine our efforts to build a stable, prosperous community. Only I can lead us to greatness."
"LIAR!" Ho-Mar screamed.
Now the others in the crowd started to join her. "Liar! Liar! Liar!" they chanted. The crowds surged in, pushing closer in towards the Village Master, screaming and yelling, blaming him for everything that had happened to their homes and people. They were angry, scared, and tired of losing everything. They had spent too long huddling in caves, waiting for the quakes to consume them. Now they wanted justice against the man who they held responsible for their situation.
"WAIT!" came a cry above the noise. At first the chanting of the crowd drowned it out, so it came again, "Please Wait!"
Ho-Mar and her supporters stopped and looked towards the source of the cry, eyes finally settling upon two figures standing on a ridge above them. She stepped forward and pointed. "Ja-Bo?"
The elder Hesian, Ja-Bo stood before the crowd; weary and injured, but no less defiant. Next to her was Sasha Vieers, looking just as disheveled after their long journey.
"Yes! I have returned." Ja-Bo beamed. "With great news. We are SAVED! The Children of the Stars are here!"
Mindo nearly jumped out of his skin. What now? Who were these new people? He looked at Sasha, thinking she looked familiar, and he was pretty sure he'd seen her on the Pandora at some point. What was she doing here? This just got a whole lot worse, he thought.
Krysia realised she was staring at Sasha as her appearance took them all by surprise, she quickly diverted her gaze not wanting to appear that they knew each other. If their cover was blown who’d know what would happen.
Ja-Bo meanwhile moved down the cliff side, gingerly in her age and condition, to walk amongst her people. They viewed her with an awed silence, respecting their elder, but also, perhaps, wondering what else this day might bring. The senior Hesian arrived in front of Ho-Mar and placed a gentle, cupped hand to the younger woman's face.
"Such bravery." Ja-Bo smiled. Ho-Mar bowed her head in reply.
"This woman is crazed!" shouted the Village Master, still surrounded by his wall of men. "Don't listen to her."
"It matters not if you believe me anymore," Ja-Bo said with a simple shrug, a knowing smile on her face. "For destiny shall happen with or without your approval, Village Master."
He scolded and shook his head.
Sasha quietly moved away from the others. Amongst all the shouting and debate, she had noticed a light beeping sound emanating from her comm badge. Turning her back so that she could not be seen, she slowly retrieved a tricorder from her belt and attempted to find where the signal was coming from.
"Tell us, what have you learned?" Ho-Mar asked, forgetting her rage for the moment.
"The Children of the Stars are amongst us. Part of our world," Ja-Bo announced. She turned around to look at the crowd of Hesians, as the hung on her every word. Finally, Ja-Bo noticed the strangers standing with her people and this caused her to smile even more. She walked towards the Away Team, pointing straight at them now, "And look! You have been visited by the great ones, too. Welcome, Children of the Stars!"
Krysia looked at the Mindo and the rest of the away team in shock and surprise. This was where her skills as an advisor would come in handy, but she wasn’t sure, right now, exactly what to say, if anything at all.
Well, it was probably inevitable, John mused internally. This was a society that they probably should not have visited without knowing more. Their claims about who they were were difficult to believe. Possibly impossible to believe. But they needed to be here, and revelation was just a consequence of that.
Ho-Mar and the others turned to look at the Away Team, eyes burning into the group with awe.
Fick turned a little 'I told you this was a bad idea' glance at Mindo.
"They honour us with their humility!" Ja-Bo grinned. "But I know from where they came. From the Grey Beast itself! It landed over beyond the Wastelands, and sent forth small groups into our world. One group went underground, then my friend here - " She looked at Sasha. "Came to visit me in the crystals. And this group." Ja-Bo indicated to the Away Team. "Must have come from the smaller beast that went flying towards the Colony."
"You are not from another settlement?" Ho-Mar asked, eyes crossing between the group, but a part of her knew the answer already. "You come... from the stars?"
Mindo sighed. He had hoped to wait, to see where things were going with the Village Master. This new development put him and his away team in a very rough spot.
"Yes, but we are not gods," he said after a brief moment of hesitation. Mindo then addressed the Village Master. "Sir, the reason we have not revealed ourselves until now is difficult to explain. My companions and I are on a peaceful mission and mean no harm. Some of your people have asked us for help in finding a new place to live. We may be able to assist you."
“Sir.” Krysia moved alongside Mindo as she looked towards the village master. “We have a directive that normally forbids us from interfering with the development of worlds and their inhabitants.” She looked at Mindo then back at the village master. “But as my colleague has said, your people have requested our help. You can see how afraid your people are, how many have died and how many more will die? Please... allow us to assist you to save your people.”
"You can no longer deny the dangers your people are facing," John said firmly, remaining where he leaned. "Everyone will almost certainly die if you ignore these them, or if you continue to fight among yourselves. Your culture going extinct is in no one's interests. Our people can help, now that our help has been requested."
The Village Master let out a long and bellowed laugh. "Do you hear this madness? People from another world? Trying to scare you - us - into believing we're going to die? It's fanciful! It's insanity! We must put a stop to this talk. I forbid it!"
Ja-Bo shook her head, turning to their leader with pitied eyes. "I knew you once, Village Master. When you were Ja-Gan. My nephew. And I taught you since you were a mere youngling to believe in the Children of the Stars. Well now they are here, in front of us, offering their help, and you still deny it?"
The Village Master sneered at the reference to his past. "I am Master now, I have no other name. As for your bedtime stories? I stopped believing them when I grew up, Ja-Bo. Only you are foolish enough to believe them now. These people are liars and frauds, trying to usurp your leaders. Do not believe their lies!"
The crowed murmured amongst themselves, debating over who to believe. Their natural instinct was to follow their leader, as they had always done, but they understood Ho-Mar's complaints and were fearful after what they had just experienced within the mountains. The Hesians also still knew of their religious tales - the Children of the Stars, carriers of their death, who would make them all One with the Planet. Even if they had stopped faithfully practicing this belief, they all still knew of the story. And yet the very people Ja-Bo claimed were these mythical creatures, denied being as such, even though they still offered to help the colony find a new home. The question remained, evident on all of their faces, whether any of it could be true.
Ho-Mar came to Ja-Bo's side. "I want to believe, Elder, but they are just strangers. They are flesh and people, like us. If they are who you say they are, they could have stopped our home from collapsing, but they did not. They ran for their lives. They show nothing of the great Children of the Stars. I don't see how they can help us."
Ja-Bo, meanwhile, had a quiet smile on her face, as she had noticed someone in the crowd wasn't talking. Sasha Vieers, the first stranger she had met, who had confirmed in her mind that the Children were real, was standing off on her own away from the others - staring up at the sky. The Hesians normally didn't look up at the sky. They had no reason to. For years now, it had been a violent storm of dark green clouds - a sinister shadow hanging over their heads, reminding them that their planet was poisoned and dying. Hesians avoided looking up for this reason, they didn't have to be reminded if they just didn't look at it.
But Ja-Bo had noticed Sasha staring off into the distance and followed her gaze into the sky, where she could see something coming. Something familiar. The beast from her drawing. It had the same round, flat head and two limbs behind it, hanging in the air against the background of green clouds. A blue light emanated from beneath as it stood out against the dark sky. Nothing on their world was capable of such a feat. Nothing else could confirm beyond doubt that these strangers were indeed saviours from the stars. It was all the evidence that Ja-Bo needed to show the Hesians the truth.
"LOOK!" she cried, pointing up to the sky.
The Hesians all turned their heads to where Ja-Bo pointed, as the USS Pandora approached.
[USS Pandora - Bridge]
Temple was looking down at the screen on his chair, hoping to find life signs from the Away Team. Interference from the storms and geological activity was making it difficult but they had picked up a faint signal and were heading towards that location. Engineering had thankfully improved long-range sensors and it was proving effective as they attempted to make contact with the missing officers.
"Captain?" Crewman Milkovich spoke. "I think we have something on the surface."
"The shuttle?" Temple asked, looking up immediately.
"Better!" Milkovich smiled as he tapped away at the Ops console. "I have Federation and Fesarian life signs. Mindo, Sandoval, Kaleri, Fick, Vieers, and..." A sudden frown came across his face. "Uh oh."
"What is it?" Nyx leaned forward in his chair. "Are they okay?"
"They're not alone, Sir," Milkovich replied, his tone heavy. "I have visual."
"Onscreen," Temple ordered with a nod, as he stood up to see the problem.
The main view screen turned to a visual of the surface below, where a large group of people were standing. Milkovich magnified the video and it showed the crowd of Hesians with the Pandora crew amongst them. They were all staring up and pointing directly at the ship.
Temple eyes widened, "Oh fu-"
"That's our ship," said Mindo. "It's called Pandora. It travels through space. We can use it to find you a new home!"
Krysia was grinning like the proverbial Cheshire Cat as she looked up at the Pandora, she was looking forward to being back home safe with James again.
Fick stood at the back of the group, his arms crossed over his chest. He stayed silent. There really wasn't anything he could think to add to this insanity. He was glad to be headed back to the ship though. He missed K'Laus.
Having already been revealed, the ship appearing before them meant, first and foremost, that they would survive. John smiled at the knowledge that he and his team would live, and hoped it meant salvation for the Hesians too.
The Hesians stood in opened mouth awe as the Pandora approached; their minds reeling with this sight. A quietness fell over the aliens, only the rumbling of the planet could be heard and the distant engines of the Pandora as she approached. Ja-Bo looked around in knowing self-satisfaction, having her entire life choices and belief system validated not only to herself, but to her people as well. As quickly as her old and frail body could manage it, she knelt down onto the ground and bowed her whole self to show respect to her deity. Ho-Mar noticed the act of worship and did the same, convinced that what she was witnessing was the miracle of their religion.
One by one the Hesians fell to their knees, and they began to chant. "Pan-dor-a. Pan-dor-a. Pan-dor-a." Over and over again. The Village Master was the last to kneel, and he stood, proudly arrogant, against the sudden act of devotion. He tried to get his followers to stand back up, telling them that it was all a trick, a lie, a subjugation of his authority. But the Hesians were no longer listening to him; they believed in the Children again. He had no choice but to kneel as well, begrudgingly, as he contemplated how to regain control of his people.
This, John knew, was where things often got out of hand. He had read more than one report of alien cultures taking images of starships and making them into religious symbols. "No," he called out. With great effort, he stopped leaning and got to his feet. "Please, stand. It's not something to kneel to. It's a ship. A tool, nothing more. More advanced than what you have, but still just a tool; a means of transport."
[Pandora - Bridge]
Temple watched the Hesians bowing down and he frowned, the very real feeling of dread settling in his stomach. They had been in such a rush to find the Away Team, they hadn't considered accidentally exposing the ship to the native inhabitants. With the planetary interference and urgency to rescue both groups of Pandora crew on the surface, the exposure had occurred before he could stop it, now the Pandora was in potential violation of the Prime Directive.
As he witnessed the scene below, however, Temple noticed the native aliens were seemingly distracted, as they all fell to their knees and bowed to the ship. Most of them were still facing the ground now, giving him an idea.
"Beam the away team to Transporter Room one," he instructed as he moved towards the turbolift.
"But what if the Hesians see?" Milkovich asked, swinging around in his char.
"Then it will only be our second biggest mistake today," Temple remarked as he stepped into the lift.
[Transporter Room 1]
A few moments later, Temple ran into the transporter room just as the blue lights faded from around the Away Team. The Captain couldn't help but smile, despite the situation, at seeing his crew mates back on board, safe and sound.
"It's good to see you all," he remarked as he entered.
Mindo stepped off the transporter pod and approached the Captain. "Sir, I take full responsibility for what happened with the Hesians. I believe the presence of the Pithos station has had a dire effect on this planet and its people. When we encountered them, they were already suspicious. I firmly believe they've been aware of Starfleet's presence from the start. Our Away Team confirmed their suspicion. They believe we were sent from the stars and that we have god-like powers. We did our best to convince them otherwise, but the presence of the Pandora seems to have given their faith a jump start."
"Despite best efforts," John added, in support of Mindo's report.
Mindo continued. "There is deep conflict among the people. You transported us out of there in time to miss an insurrection against the Village Master. They have already asked us for help in finding a new home. I believe we can."
"Contamination had already occurred?" Nyx pondered, listening to Mindo's report. "We had suspected that Pithos may have already broken the Prime Directive, but I didn't realise it was this deep. Of course they would see us some kind of gods, but if they've already built an entire religion around our presence, it means contamination occurred long before we arrived."
Krysia stepped down off the transporter pad relieved to be back onboard ship. “For what it’s worth Sir, I support Lieutenant Mindo’s actions.” She offered Mindo a smile before nodding and heading on her way to get cleaned up.
John stayed silent on this point. He generally did agree but it wasn't his place to say it. Instead, he found a spot along the wall to lean and relieve pressure from his leg.
Fick stepped down off the transporter pad, totally relieved to be back on the station. He knew there were probably going to be things for him to do soon, regarding what had just happened on the planet, but he wanted away from the group at the moment. "I only participated under protest," he noted to the captain on his way out of the transporter room. He wasn't angry, he actually understood what had happened below, but he was frustrated.
Nyx took Fick's response with a quiet nod, realising there was tension present within the group. "Thank you, Mr. Fick. Please head to the Bridge. I'll need you on Helm, if you're up to it. We're getting off this planet."
"Yes, Sir. Right away! Definitely ready for all of that," Fick replied, turning briefly to smile at the Captain and Mindo and walk backward through the door, before heading for the bridge.
Mindo watched his friend depart the room. He couldn't help but sympathize. Addressing Captain Temple, Mindo said, "Sir, I think this mission was a total disaster from the start. Everything that could go wrong, did. I don't know what the other away team found, but things were pretty FUBAR by the time the Pandora landed. We owe it to these people to find them a home."
"From the start?" Nyx caught onto those words and frowned, a theory brewing in his mind. He took a deep breath, having to put those thoughts away for now to focus on the more pressing issues. "We need to make contact with the Pithos team. Long range sensors are showing the geological issues are originating from the facility and we need to get our people out of there. We'll figure out a plan for the Hesians once we've rescued the others."
Mindo nodded. "I'll be in Engineering," he replied, thinking he'd best shower and change first.
"Thank you, Mr. Mindo." Nyx said, "And for what it's worth from me, Lieutenant, I have no doubt that you exercised your best judgement in an incredibly terrible situation. Whatever your report says, I will back it one hundred percent."
Nyx waited for the Chief Engineer to leave before turning to the last remaining person on the transporter pads. The last person he wanted, or expected, to be speaking to.
"You didn't make it to Pithos then?" Nyx raised an eyebrow as he looked to Vieers.
Sasha shrugged, "It's a good thing I didn't, Temple. I believe it's given me some important information that you'll need to know before you rescue those Hesians."
Nyx looked Vieers up and down, there was a change in her face and demeanour. Something significant had happened on that planet, it was clear as day in her eyes. He just didn't know what just yet, but Sasha was carrying herself differently. Security were on hand to greet the prisoner, of course, but she no longer felt like a threat.
"Care to elaborate?" Temple asked casually, as he looked towards the doorway.
"Happy to." She replied with a slight nod, perhaps even surprising herself with her willingness to cooperate, and the two quickly departed.