The air was practically electric. Discharges of electricity arced across the brown-yellow sky. The wind had even picked up to a deafening gale whipping Commander Hayden’s yellow hair free of its bindings to strain against the roots.
The trees bent against the wind and all across the settlement the sounds of destruction echoed through the streets. She couldn’t see the source, leaving the cause to her own imagination. The storm was here and they were out of time.
“Hayden to Crazy Horse.“
“Go ahead Commander,” Lieutenant Marcus Washington said on the other end, barely audible over the wind.
“What’s the status of the evacuation?”
“We’re bringing up the last of the unsheltered colonists now. We can start br…. y…r… up.
“Crazy Horse… I’m having difficulty reading you. Come again.”
“Comm… …. …. …. we… ….”
And that was it. Her combadge gave an electronic buzz as its connection to the ship was severed. Thunder punctuated the silence from the ship as it was close enough for her to physically feel the vibrations.
Not far away lightning struck a tree splitting it apart in a shower of electric sparks. The trunk and leaves ignited into flames momentarily before the wind blew it out. It was time to seek shelter.
–USS Crazy Horse-
The bridge of the Crazy Horse was in near chaos as all communications had been severed from the away teams. So far Washington had held things together, but an uneasy cloud hung over the crew. Doctor T’lar, who was technically in command, was down in sickbay taking care of injured colonists.
“Ensign where are we on the ‘have to evacuate’?” Washington asked the young lady at operations.
“There are still seventy-five colonists in several small settlements across the planet,” she replied.
“Do we have any kind of transporter lock?”
The Ensign turned to him and shook her head, “The ionization is making it impossible to even get lifesign readings let alone a solid transporter lock.”
Washington rushed to the engineering station and started entering commands routing the primary sensor array through the deflector dish in order to boost their power. No joy. Not only had the storm enveloped the planet it was starting to envelope the ship as well.
He took a deep breath and turned away from the console to change gears, “Full power to shields. Engage inverse warp field.”
There was a rumble overhead and the forcefield protecting them buzzed and hummed. Everyone in the bunker looked up nervously at the only thing separating them from the now toxic atmosphere outside. A baby started fussing, sensing her mother’s unease.
Shrin approached Erin and handed her a cup of something hot. “The worst of it should pass over us in a few hours.”
Erin sniffed the contents of the cup, and she was pleasantly surprised that it was coffee. She sipped the bitter brown liquid and absently wished she had some cream and sugar, but this really was better than nothing. “Thank you. Where did you get this?”
“One of the colonists had it and wanted to share,” the Andorian science officer replied.
“Well, thank them for me. Better than anything we can get out of Starfleet rations.”
“Agreed, but we won’t go hungry.”
“No, we won’t,” Erin agreed. There was a moment of silence between them. “How do you figure the rest of the teams are holding up?”
Shrin shrugged. They hadn’t heard from anyone outside of this shelter since the storm and settled in on the settlement. She knew the ship’s chief of security, Diego Garza, wasn’t more than fifty meters away, but with the ionization he might as well have been fifty kilometers away.
“I figure,” Shrin replied finally, “About the same as us. Mostly bored, and surrounded by people who are facing losing everything.”
Erin frowned. That was an unfortunate thought. She had been so focused on saving their lives, she didn’t know if they could even return to their homes after this. She sighed and looked around and she felt for these people. “Damn the luck!” She said it with passion, but it was restrained so that only Shrin could hear it. “I wish there was more I could do for them.”
“You have given them something they wouldn’t have otherwise and that’s their lives. That’s worth something.”
Erin nodded, Shrin was right.
There was a heavy thundering, followed by the sound of splitting wood. Alarms screamed in warning as a computer voice broke over the din, “Warning: lifesuport containment compromised. Field failure in three minutes.”
Erin glanced at Shrin and the two women ran to the control panel flashing in red. Erin’s fingers danced over the controls panel. “I think the building has collapsed over the top off us and has damaged the power generator for the lifesuport system.”
Shrin didn’t look up from her side of the terminal as she pulled up report after report. “Damaged, but not destroyed. That’s why we have partial functionality, but it won’t last long before the whole generator goes down.”
“Yeah, just over two minutes, but we don’t have parts for this. What are we going to do?”
“What if you tapped into the colonists power grid,” a nearby colonist suggested.
“We had considered it, but thought an independent generator would be more reliable,” Erin replied. “But, it’s worth a shot. You think it’s still working?”
“Yeah, I do,” the colonist responded. “The power grid was my responsibility here.”
He climbed to his feet and walked to metal panel recessed into the concrete wall. After a quick examination he removed one of the lead. With the help of the two Starfleet officers they stretched out an ODN cable and connected one end to the power main and the other into a terminal on the back of the lifesupport generator.
“The power is not compatible,” Erin said running through the menus. “We’ll have to write an adaptive subroutine.”
“How long is that going to take?” Shrin asked.
“Under normal circumstances, I would give myself an hour.”
“Ma’am not to put too fine of a point on it, but in just over a minute that force field is coming down and ionized atmosphere is going to enter this space.”
“I know!” Erin replied as she frantically worked the controls. “I am using a program similar to one used previously. Hopefully I can jusr adjust the parameters and make it work by sheer brute force.”
Shrin nodded and scanned the energy source. “The imput energy is at 75 hertz, 2,000 volts, and 750 amps.”
“That’s too much voltage,” Erin responded. As she worked to increase the input resistance.
“Warning lifesupport failure in fifty seconds,” the computer announced unhelpfully.
“Voltage is good,” ma’am Shrin announced.
“Warning lifesupport failure in thirty seconds.”
“If I don’t get the amps tuned it will blow everything out,” Erin said desperately entertaining commands into the system. The seconds ticked away.
“Warning lifesupport failure in 10…9…8…”
There was no more time. Erin brought up the wall power and overrode the warnings with quick efficiency.
“7…6…5…4… Power restored. Lifesupport system is stable.”
Erin sucked in a lung full of air that she didn’t even know she had been holding as the occupants of the shelter cheered in relief.