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Part of USS Jaxartes: As The World Falls Down and Bravo Fleet: Labyrinth

Part D: Underground

USS Jaxartes / Vargus III
12th September 2401
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The bridge of the USS Jaxartes was relatively quiet; Ensign Harris was at the helm, but with the computer system monitoring everything, there wasn’t much for him to do.  Lieutenant Devron was covering a shift in his old spot at tactical.  Commander Salan sat in the Captain’s chair going through some reports on his Padd, whilst behind them all; Ensign Cho kept a watchful eye on communications.  Right now the science officer’s seat was empty,  Ensign C’Rren having taken a trip to Vargus III.  None of them had the slightest clue about what was happening down on the planet.

A message came in from the USS Cuyahoga Valley, which the young Korean was instructed to put up on the main screen.  It was the face of Doctor Folland that appeared, and the forty something black haired, cosmologist; had a rather worried expression.  “We’ve got a problem developing on Vargus III.” He almost blurted out those first few words.  “Atmospheric data sent back from our shuttle indicates a large storm forming in the upper Stratosphere.”

“Isn’t that rather high for anything of that nature to occur? Commented the Vulcan. 

“It is; which is why we ran through all the data first.”  Replied Folland.  “And why we’ve discovered it’s another aperture forming!”

“What does that mean for the planet and your people?” Asked Salan, half thinking he may know what kind of an answer he might receive.

“We estimate the aperture to be fully formed within the next two to six hours.” The cosmologist was referring to a Padd someone had just pasted to him from off screen.  “If it’s as big as the one which was in close proximity to this systems suns, that planet won’t have a life sustaining atmosphere within four days, and nothing whatsoever after six.” 

The bridge crew of the Jaxartes were left momentarily stunned, only the Vulcan Commander remained calm and focused on the issue at hand.  “With that in mind I believe your best course of action would be to retrieve your fellow scientists, promptly.” 

“We’ve been unable to raise them or the Teohari since just after they sent the data.” Folland responded. 

            **********

Whilst the crews of the Jaxartes and Cuyahoga Valley set about figuring out their potential rescue plans: Assistant Inspector Koryl was leaning over one of the few remaining Devore men he had with him.  This particular one had several components from the scientific party’s communication system. The fist sized hole edged with scorch marks in the side panel he’d already removed; was an indication as to what had happened to the device. 

“Is it fixable?” The Assistant Inspector shouted angrily. When the man examining a damaged capacitor merely shrugged his shoulders, in response.  Koryl glared hard at him. “Then maybe you should choose your aim more carefully?” 

He turned towards two other men from his group and pointed at the various pieces of equipment, instructing them to start dismantling them in an effort to find anything suitable to repair the communicator.  Several gasps and shouts came from the huddle of scientists and assistances in the far corner of the cave they’d been using as base camp until the arrival of the Devore.

Koryl rounded on them. “If your colleague hadn’t been foolish enough to make an attempt on my life, then none of this would be necessary.” 

“Why don’t you just contact them from my shuttle?” Asked M’Niia; doing her best to look brave despite the weapons that were being pointed both at her and the others being held captive. “Or are you scarred of a bit of rough weather?”

He walked right up to her dipping his head slightly to make full eye contact. “Do not mock an officer of the Devore Imperium.  Not if you value your life?” His words were cold and sent a shiver down the Caitian’s spine.  “We will head back to your craft.”  He tried to make it sound as if it had been part of his plan anyway, but the Caitain wasn’t convinced.

It was only a short walk to the cave entrance but as Koryl, M’Niia and the guard accompanying then rounded the curve in the tunnel, they could already hear the howl of the wind, and as they approached the mouth of the cave they could feel it to.  This wind was far stronger than any of them had expected to encounter, and M’Niia was starting to wish she hadn’t taunted the Devore officer.  Her hope had been that maybe separated C’Rren might be able to deal with these two individuals when they entered the shuttle, not suspecting anyone was on-board; even thought they were both armed, she hoped the element of surprise would help.  She just hoped that with this storm raging he was safe, and had alerted everyone else.  What she couldn’t know was that the storm was already creating enough interference to stop that happening.  For now at least no one else was aware of their plight. 

The guard was the first of them to step outside and as he did so the wind seemed to seize him, he turned with fear and shock in his eyes as he was physically lifted from the ground.  Frantically he reached out his screams lost in the noise of the storm.  Koryl reach out fingers clasping around the guards wrist, as he felt the female Caitain’s arms around his waist.  Together they pulled, but the wind would not let go of its prize and there was the high chance of it dragging them away to.  Moments later the guard was snatched from Koryl’s hand and he along with M’Niia fell backwards.  Scrambling for safety the two of them moved further inside. 

Panting for breath the Devore looked at the Caitain. “You know…..you could have….just let ….me die to?”

“That’s your….way…. not ours.” She replied equally breathlessly.   

They spent the next few minutes just gasping in lungs full of air; heartbeats drumming and thumping in their ears.  The Assistant Inspector was the first to stand, and rather uncharacteristically for one of his kind; offered his hand to help M’Niia stand.  She was unsure how to react but took the pro-offered hand, regardless.  

“Despite your misguided attitude your actions can not go unacknowledged.” He said in a quiet yet firm voice, as he removed a small emblem from his uniform and proceeded to attach it to the cream coloured jumpsuit the Caitain was wearing.  “You are hereby under my personal protection.  No Devore may harm you or through inaction allow harm to befall you. Providing of course you don’t try anything stupid.” The last sentence was delivered as a clear warning not to over step any boundaries or annoy him. 

M’Niia looked at the badge, unsure of actually how safe it really made her, if the  Assistant Inspector could just change his mind at any point, but she was hardly going to hand it back and say ‘no thanks’. 

When they reached the rest of the group, one of his men noted that only two returned, and that the Caitain now wore the badge.  A withering look from Koryl stifled any questions.  He was in charge, you did not ask, you just obeyed.  His orders were clear; grab what supplies could be carried, mostly by the scientists and their assistants along with the communicator and head deeper into the cave network in the hope of discovering another exit.  Koryl knew that the Scientists would have examined at least some of the cave system; they had been here over a week after all, and they were far too curious to completely ignore what was around then.  It may have been easier and quicker to leave them behind, but prisoners could be used as useful bargaining tools, and right now he had nothing else to his advantage.  Picking up a touch and what he believed to be a handheld scanning device, he handed the two objects to M’Niia.

“Lead on. I’m sure you can find a way through.” He said in a commanding voice, then leaning closer, and talking softly. “Because if you get lost, you’re just as dead as anyone else.”

With that the ground moved off, heading deeper into tunnel system and the mountain, entering a labyrinth of a whole different kind.  

Comments

  • A great piece of interaction where you can see that the Devore are being creative with what he has and what he needs to use in the field! Even if that would be a hostage in this situation. The storm is picking up and I wonder if the away team can reach them in time! Great story!

    July 13, 2024
  • It seems the universe might be pushing some buttons to get Jaxartes on site, but I'm grateful because Koryl is a piece of work. M'Niia might yet get through to him but even saving his life didn't diminish his nastiness, so I'm not holding out hope. He's well written though and i'm enjoying how you're writing him trying to hide the fact he's clutching at straws.

    July 13, 2024