Acting Captain Erin Hayden entered the conference lounge reading a PADD. She glanced around and took her seat at the side of the table. She refused the take the captain’s seat. “Okay,” she started, “What are we looking at people?”
There was a pause as officers looked back and forth at each other. No one willing or sure they should be the first to speak. “We should arrive at the planet in an hour,” Ensign Anthony Talon reported breaking the awkward silence. That seemingly simple first sentence broke the tension and the staff opened up.
“The storm has increased to a Catagory 5,” the replacement operations officer said. Ensign Tessa Jones was a dark skinned woman with close cropped black hair, and had been Erin’s assistant for almost six months now. “It should hit the planet in about three hours.”
Erin grimaced at that. That wasn’t something she wanted to hear. There were still 5,000 colonists left on the planet. They were cutting things way too close.
“It will take about two hours to beam the last of the colonists up,” Chief Engineer Marcus Washington announced echoing her thoughts.
“That’s way too close for comfort. Anyway to speed that up?”
Washington shook his head. “Not with a Mark V transporter. The new Mark X definitely. We could do it in forty-five minutes. Two hours is the absolute best I can do.”
Erin sighed and turned to the Science and tactical officers, “Shrin and Garza I need you two to work together. Let’s get some sort of emergency shelters built planet side just in case. Anthony push the engines as hard as you can. See if you can squeeze out warp 8.7 or a bit more if you can.”
Anthony nodded, “Engines aren’t rated for that, but I’ll do what I can.”
“In case we get caught in the storm we should reinforce the shields and use an inverse warp field to make a sea anchor or sorts,” Washington suggested.
Erin didn’t even give it a second thought. They were going to be there until the last minute and the likelihood of them getting stuck in the storm was a real concern. “Do it Markus, and help Shrin and Garza if you can.”
“Okay people, we’ve got work to do. Let’s get on it.”
The away team materialized in a transporter beam. There was an energy in the air that you couldn’t quite put an objective finger on, but it was present nonetheless. Maybe it was the unnatural feel of the hot wind blowing against them.
Shrin had her tricorder out and started scanning the area. “Commander,” she shouted above the gale, “There’s a large concentration of lifesigns in that building over there.”
She was pointing at what looked like some sort of a stadium. Something told her that it was a soccer stadium, but for some reason she hadn’t the foggiest clue where she got that from. “Is that one of your designated shelter locations?”
“No,” Diego Garza replied. “It’s open to the elements. There’s a handful of buildings including the Colonial Senate House. We need basements so the shields are only being hit by one side.”
“Okay, Garza take your team and start getting set up.” She tapped her combadge, “Hayden to Crazy Horse.”
“Go a head Commander,” Washington’s voice came from the other end.
“Markus how are the beam ups going?”
“We’re working our way through it. Got a lot of surprised people, but Doctor T’lar is getting them sorted and settled. They seem relieved that they weren’t forgotten.”
“I would be too. Hayden out.” Erin nodded to Shrin and they started across the street to the stadium. They entered through one of the open gates, there was no one there to greet them. Walking down a long dark corridor that during game day would be alive with vendors and excited fans. The corridor deposited them at the base of the stands encompassing a lush green field with white lines painted on the grass.
The stadium had capacity for roughly 10,000, and maybe 2,000 colonists were there. Kids played with each other as they ran about the seats while worried parents looked on. Shrin had her tricorder out and was entertaining commands, “Ma’am I linked your combadge to the stadium’s sound system. You just need to tap it and speak.”
“And what if I need to contact the ship?”
“Tap it twice or move 500 feet from the stadium and it will revert to default settings.”
Erin nodded appreciating the initiative. Tapping her combadge she started speaking. It was a the surreal experience heaing her own voice coming from all around her. “Hey Folks. I am Lieutenant Commander Erin Hayden with the USS Crazy Horse. As we speak we are beaming as many as we can to the ship, but a little over an hour will not be enough time to get everyone off the planet. We are going to be establishing emergency shelters to ride the storm out.”
This prompted a smattering of fearful, angry, or uncertain muttering from the crowd. Finially a lone voice rose above the crowd, “And who decides who gets to stay and who actually makes it to safety, ” a middle aged man demanded, his wife and two daughters clinging to him.”
“No one is making any decisions. We will take everyone we can, but we just don’t have enough time. You here since you are massed together will be the last to be beamed up, so plan on heading to the shelters. I assure you they will keep us safe until the storm subsides and either the transporters work again or shuttles can be used to ferry people to my ship. Also myself and the crew here establishing the shelters will not be transporting up either. We will not going to trade ourselves for someone else’s spot. Stay here and we will direct you to your shelters soon.” Erin tapped he combadge to close the signal not that it would have mattered as those started shouting in protest. She sighed, and absently wondered if this was how the Titanic crew felt when they turned passengers away from the lifeboats. At least here, there wouldn’t be any fatalities if she could help it.