Part of USS Neptune: The Invisible Web

Brace For Impact

September 21st 2399
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Sirens continued to blare on the bridge of the Tesla as the ship lay stranded above the now seemingly dormant planet.

“What the hell?” Riru seemed to voice what everyone on the bridge was thinking. She began scrolling through an endless list of alarms and readings, attempting to decipher the gibberish, but she had never seen readings quite like this before.

“What is going on? Someone report.” Michael said clearly agitated. 

“It seems as though whatever had a hold of us decided to let the Tesla go,” she reported. “But we are dead in the water.”

“How were we immobilized by a force field?” the XO questioned.

“It’s hard to say for sure, but it seems like it’s somehow blocking the reaction between deuterium and antideuteriam in the dilithium crystal matrix. M/ARA’s completely out of juice.”

“So it disabled or siphoned the antimatter in the warped core? I’ve never even heard of anything that could do that.” Tia was perplexed. 

“It didn’t siphon the antimatter,” Riru clarified as she continued to inspect the readings on her screen. “But it seems to have broken down the chemical makeup of the antideuteriam. Until we find a way to recharge the particles in the pods we aren’t going to have warp capabilities.”

“And to perform a quantum recharge would require us to let down the magnetic containment field.” Tia surmised.

Riru threw their XO a glance that held a mixture of surprise and respect, a rare look for the Chief Engineer. She was unused to having someone else understand the complexity of a warp core’s mechanics and fully appreciated Lieutenant Savik’s knowledge of engineering matters.

“And the impulse engine ?” Tia questioned.

“Our deuterium pump took some damage. Till it’s repaired we’ve got nothing.” Riru shook her head in frustration. “We are down to basic thrusters and even half of those aren’t operational at the moment.”

Michael listened closely trying to make sense of what happened to his ship. The whole situation troubled him. He knew something was wrong, but he couldn’t make a determination of what it was. He had never heard of the same situation in any prior ships. He looked at his XO. 

“Commander please go and pull up any files that seem similar to this incident. I feel like there’s more to this.” He paused before speaking again. 

“Copy that, Sir.” The deep creases in Savik’s brow betrayed that she too was curious as to how such havoc had been wrecked upon the Tesla. 

“Frank do you think you can get us to the planet’s surface…safely?”

Their chief flight officer slowly nodded his head, his features calm and thoughtful as he considered. “I believe I can safely maneuver the ship to the planet’s surface with what little thruster capabilities we have,” he affirmed.

“Slow and Steady.” 

“Yes, sir,” Frank responded smoothly, turning from the CO to focus his full attention on the controls before him.

“Code Blue! All stations prepare for landing.” He ordered as the bridge was bathed in blue. 

After the captain had called the code blue, the first officer then began circling the bridge and handing out orders. “Lieutenant Sareth, ensure Dorner has as much thruster capabilities as possible and get to ensure the landing struts and inertial dampeners are operational. Lieutenant Commander Kra’vaak, please get what you can from the scans to see where we will be putting down. If we are headed into more trouble it would be best to know in advance. Lieutenant Kennedy, ensure we have a team on standby for landing. The ground needs to be secured the moment we put down. We don’t want any more surprises.” Tia’s face was taut as she turned back to the flight bay, observing Franklin Dorner’s carefully calculated manipulation of the controls. They would have a rocky road ahead of them working to repair the damage to the ship with what limited resources this unknown planet likely had to offer, but for the moment she pushed these future issues to the back of her mind as she focused on the issue at hand. No sense worrying about repairing the ship till Dorner got them safely to the ground.

The chief flight officer’s deft fingers handled the controls of the conn with the skill of one intimately familiar with the flight control station. His calm demeanor almost made the task look easy to those watching, but to attempt a planetary landing with minimal thruster capabilities was no easy feat. With the plasma vented and Sareth directing all available power to what few atmospheric thrusters they had available, Dorner commenced landing procedures. Everyone on the bridge held their breath as the descent began. Dorner managed to keep the ship at an acceptable trajectory, but it took every skill he had to maintain the declining glide without sending the Tesla into an uncontrollable spin.

Kra’vaak was not used to the take charge attitude of the XO, but there was something about it he liked. In fact he felt like she had some honor to her. Regardless he scanned the surface and saw they were headed for a clearing. “Well the ship is headed for a clearing, but too short or long and we may all be going to Sto’Vo’Kor.”

Michael gave Kra’vaak a glancing look and returned his gaze to the viewscreen. Franklin was doing well with what little control he had over the ship. Michael still had no idea what was going on, but the uneasy feeling was getting worse by the minute. 

Amanda had immediately prepared teams as she was ordered a quick procedure and some orders later she spoke up. “Capn the away teams are ready ta go.” 

Michael nodded as acknowledgment. 

The chief flight officer then spoke up. “The crew may want to brace for impact. This landing will be rough.”

Michael nodded “Everyone brace!” 

Tia took her seat on the bridge and strapped in. The faces of the crew around her were tense, but every one of them was ready to face whatever may come. The surface of the planet loomed on the screen before them, drawing closer at a rather alarming rate. Tia had only ever experienced planetary landings from the safety of a holodeck, and never even then with a ship that had taken as much damage as the Tesla had. She glanced over to see their chief engineer cross herself and in that moment she was jealous of those who had a god to pray to.

The wooded forest of the planet below grew larger and Dorner gritted his teeth, unable to change their course to look for open ground. They would have a rough landing indeed. As the ship hurtled forward, the harsh branches of several treetops could be heard scraping against the hull. Dorner grimaced but maintained a steady hand on the controls. 

It all became a whirl as the left side of the Tesla struck the ground, careening the ship around and throwing the crew members roughly about in their seats. The loud snapping of metal beams being rent in two penetrated Savik’s ears, and then the ship settled into her bed of broken limbs and uprooted trees with an echoing groan and chilling shudder.

Kra’vaak was the first to speak up. “I think you overshot it, Dorner.” He chuckled as he stood up wiping himself off. 

The Chief Flight officer threw him a grin, thankful for the experienced Klingon’s easy humor in such a tense situation. “Perhaps by just a little,” he good-naturedly acknowledged, glad they were all alive. 

Michael rolled his eyes and grimaced as he stood a sharp pain coming from his shoulder. “Is everyone ok?”

Riru groaned, favoring her right shoulder as she unstrapped herself from her seat to lean forward and inspect the controls. “We’ve got a lot of work to do,” she reported.

“That’s an understatement, Chief.” He replied. 

Amanda stood up and surveyed the bridge seeing the once perfect area to be well less than perfect. 

“Captain, should I take a team and scout out the area?” Savik suggested.

Michael thought for a moment. “In most circumstances I’d say no, but this isn’t normal. Prepare a team, but stay in constant contact. That’s an order Commander.”

“Yes, sir,” she nodded her head in agreement and reached up to switch over her earpiece. “Lieutenant Chung, report to me with a team of twelve and a medical officer at shuttle bay three.”

 ((In the shuttle bay))

Tia approached the group of waiting crew members in the shuttle bay, recognizing one member of the team as Master Chief Richardson from her previous encounter with the Klingons. It was somewhat reassuring to see a familiar face after all the chaotic events of the day.

“Chief Richardson, you will accompany me and the doctor aboard the shuttle. We will survey from the air and provide support to Lieutenant Chung’s team who will scout out the area from the ground.” Tia turned to the Lieutenant. “We have some data that was pulled from the ship before we went down. A gathering of life forms was detected to the east of our location. Could be nothing more than a herd of animals, but a little ways past them the terrain shows a valley that may contain a river. If getting the Tesla back to fully operational proves to be a difficult task, we may have need of a freshwater source. You and your men determine if we can forge a safe path to the river and investigate those life signs on the way. Richardson and I will scout ahead with the shuttle and provide support if you run into trouble.”

The Lieutenant gave a quick nod, conveying that he understood the orders. Tia glanced down at the datapad on her wrist to see what doctor had been assigned to this mission.

“Medical Officer Kula?” Tia requested the doctor to identify themselves.

“That’d be me.” A young woman stepped forward and threw a finger up.

“You’re the doc?” Richardson spoke without even thinking, a habit that was customary for him, his eyes running up and down the slight form of the medical professional. Tia had to admit that she shared the master chief’s surprise. Kula was not what she would have expected from someone in medicine, but the Orion female had learned not to judge based on appearance, as people so often did in her own case.

The doctor pushed back a mass of long blonde dreadlocks with a tattoo-covered hand to glance over in the direction of the master chief. “That’s what I said,” she responded with a drawling accent that sounded somewhat like an earth Australian accent, but Tia recognized the cadence as one native to some parts of Bajor.

“Good to have you with us, Doctor Kula.” Tia quickly pulled the conversation back in the direction of professionalism. “Do you need any assistance loading medical supplies on the shuttle?”

“Just got my bag.” The girl tapped the black duffle at her side and Tia nodded in approval.

“Then let’s prepare for departure,” Tia ordered, turning to lead the way into the shuttle.

Lieutenant Chung circled his finger in the air and then pointed it eastward. “You heard the XO, soldiers. Move out,” he commanded. 

(On the Hirogen Ship)

Tidac had been watching carefully as the ship had been trapped by the planet’s little trap. This was hunting grounds and it had been a while since the Federation was the prey. The ship hadn’t detected him or his crew and that made the hunt even better. The ship had hit the planet and according to Tidac’s scouts, it was in bad shape. 

This was the time he had been waiting for. The hunt was about to begin and the prey was about to experience their deaths. Though it wasn’t possible to see the news excited Tidac. As Alpha, he was the one who led the hunt and to start they would began by taking some gullible fresh prey.