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Part of USS Aquarius: Unstable Weather

The Cleanup – Part I

December 2399
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Tajir after getting all of the reports, he had contacted Commander Q’orvha onboard the ship to give her a status update on the current situation. Once that was completed he headed to where Commander Makoto was located once more crew had beamed down to assist with the cleanup. “Commander, so where is the more concentrated place we need to focus our efforts compared to others places that can wait?” Tajir asked looking at Commander Makoto.

Aki had made several mental notes during her evaluation of the residential district. There were two apartment complexes, each housing a half dozen units that needed some attention and a broken water reservoir had flooded a nearby field destroying the crop from oversaturation. “Structural integrity on the East side of this building is heavily compromised and needs to be reinforced. Another shock could cause the building to collapse entirely. The one to the North has a collapsed front canopy and will take some time to clear from the main entrance. If we can take care of that, the rest of the cleanup should be superficial and we can concentrate our efforts on any injured and bringing in food supplies to compensate for the broken reservoir behind us.” She said pointing to the South.

“Sounds good,” Tajir replied as he looked around and noticed that Lieutenant Bates was not with them. “Where is Lieutenant Bates?” Tajir asked looking at his first officer.

“I’m afraid you just missed him. When he finished in the market and returned here, I briefed him on the situation and went over all the sensor scans of the area. He took one look at the scans to the North and said he’d be back after going to check something. He seemed a bit troubled, but I didn’t think much of it at the time and continued with efforts here. However, now that you’re here, maybe we should go and see if everything is alright.”

Zane informed the Commander that he was going to double-check the complex to the north as he had a twinge-like gut feeling that he couldn’t shake. Of course, all scans had indicated that there was no one in the area, that they had all been evacuated. So why would his gut be doing somersaults? With his tricorder out, Zane had run scans everywhere around him while he walked towards the Northern Complex. The concentration of rubble couldn’t cause interference or block sensor scans, could they? Even from a tricorder? He was no scientist, nor Operations or Engineer who would understand tricorder operations better than him, he only knew the basics of what he needed to know as a Security Officer. But now that he is the Chief of Security and Tactical on board a starship, he really should take those extensive courses on tricorder operations.

Just on the other side of the road to the Northern Complex with the collapsed front canopy, he noticed a home had completely collapsed. He knew apartment complexes such as these were reinforced to survive earthquakes if any were ever to happen as it has. But a regular standard home? Surely not, as proof to the one before him as he stood there with his tricorder aimed at it. Nothing. No life signs, so they must have not been at home when it all happened. He took a deep breath and just about exhaled in relief when he heard faint tapping. He frowned, turned around to face the Northern Complex, and saw some workers trying to clear the main entrance, some of the front canopy have been removed but ever so slowly. Maybe he heard some tapping over there? He shrugged his shoulders and started to step away until he heard tapping again, but this time behind him. He turned and looked toward the collapsed home with yet another frown.

Zane stepped closer to the home, to where the front door would be when the sound of tapping got louder. He checked his tricorder once more but shook his head, as literally nothing appeared. He switched scan modes to see if maybe there was something that they had missed. He switched to a mode similar to a ‘ground-penetrating radar’ but more advanced of course, and while the scan still included what was left of the home structure, it also began to reveal a basement but then there was something that was interfering with the scan. When he tried to scan it, he wouldn’t get anything. So he scanned around it and got the dimensions of this odd interference and it was about eight feet by twelve feet, small but big enough to be a shelter. Suddenly the tapping turned into loud banging.

Zane had an idea of where the entrance to this shelter was, which was in the basement, which was very unfortunate as the basement ceiling/flooring had collapsed and was completely covered in rubble. He carefully placed each foot down inside the home, having tested each step to make sure he wasn’t going to cause another collapse or fall into a hole with sharp objects. That would not be a fun story to explain to the First Officer or the Captain. He switched scan modes to determine how much rubble was blocking the entrance to the shelter and could see that there was a lot. With knowledge of where the shelter was, he could see some of the ceilings to the structure were exposed due to the flooring having been completely torn right out. He carefully navigated himself to it before he knelt to feel the material of the structure then he knocked on it and it very much sounded like metal. Although upon doing so, he got a response, a few knocks right where he knocked.

Zane felt the material once more and thought about it. If this shelter survived an earthquake and the collapse of this home with no structural damage, using a phaser to cut open a hole would probably not work at all. “Damn.” He said to himself before he stood up and hurried out of the rubble to the front of the home. He took his hands, cupped his mouth, and shouted, “Hey! I got someone alive over here!” That was enough to grab the attention of the workers and to have them pouring over across the road to him. Zane loaded up the scans he made and showed them, “There’s some underground shelter here. I don’t think cutting tools will cut it open. So we need to clear out this rubble from the entrance and we need to be quick about it. Come on.” He put his tricorder away and lead them to the rubble that was blocking the entrance and pointed at it before he knelt and started picking up piece by piece, handing some of it to one or two workers so they could toss it onto the grass or dirt away from the fallen house.

This is something that would take over an hour, maybe two, to clear all the rubble away from the door just enough to open it and the moment they got it open, a child, who looked to be ten, maybe twelve years old, ran out and wrapped their arms around Zane’s waist. Zane looked at the workers in some confusion but mainly in relief that they finally got the door open and found out who was inside it.

Aki took the lead and escorted Tajir to the complex in question. As the two got closer, they could see Zane sitting on the steps in front of the collapsed house across the road from the complex with a child sitting next to him and a PADD in his hand, actively scrolling through something.

“Bates…you left in a bit of a hurry. Is everything alright?” Aki asked.

Zane looked up and saw both the Commander and Captain. “Apologize for not standing up, got some weight tied to my leg.” He gestured to the kid with this thumb. “I just had a hunch, Commander.” He answered Aki’s question. “And I was going over some details, purchase history, stuff like that that the owners of this home did. They had an emergency shelter and failed to notify any particular authority that they had one. I’ve already reached out to the government for the kid’s parents, they’ve arranged transport to pick up the kid and take her back to her family.” He ruffled her hair before holding the padd up to the Commander or Captain. “So that makes me wonder how many places around here would have an emergency shelter and forget to have it listed.” He shrugged his shoulders.

Looking at the small child clung to the Lieutenants leg, “that is hard to say but glad that you were able to rescue the child. But why would the parents leave a child alone in an emergency shelter?” He asked looking at the two then to his first officer, “Was there anyone else in there like a nanny?” Tajir asked his second question as things were concerning as to why a child was alone.

“From what she’s told me, no. No nanny. And the parents weren’t home, said that she was old enough to be alone. I mean, she knew where to go for safety, so that’s a proven fact right there.” He smiled and ruffled the kid’s hair again.

Tajir nodded when he heard Bates comm go off with a request for him and security to head to the alpha team’s location, raising an eyebrow he would soon find out what was going on that needed a security team. “Don’t worry about her we will get her back to her parents,” Tajir replied as Bates headed off calling for his team. After he left he looked at his first officer, “I wonder what that is about?” he asked.

If they were meant to know, they would find out in due time, she thought to herself. Aki shrugged her shoulders, “Who knows.” she replied as she and Tajir began making their way to where the child’s parents were located with the young girl.