Part of USS Altai: Here Be Monsters

Chasm

Outpost 1-SZ, Subterranean Level 68 Epsilon
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Streth stood, staring away into the void. The half-lit incandescent glow of the lights penetrated less than fifty metres into the gaping tunnel maw before fading into the blackest pitch. What lay down there, in those unplumbed, unfathomed depths was anyone’s guess. Well, any one of the most recent arrivals’ at least. For the Breen that had abandoned the array no doubt had their reasons for continuing to excavate deep down into the rock’s frozen core. Built, like a malignant growth, into the side of its host asteroid, the metallic structures melded and sank into the barren silica surface. Dendritic metal towers, packed to the brim with signal boosters and subspace repeaters, reached out towards space as if yearning to separate themselves from their dusty prison.

The Starfleet team responsible for automating the base had clearly never ventured beyond this point, and had clearly not cared. Their job had been simple; to install automated listening equipment that would report ship movements in the sector back to Starfleet Command. They had barely been here a few days. Now Streth, and the crew of the Altai, would be here for the foreseeable future.

The Andorian scratched at the two day old stubble adorning the lower half of his face. Since arriving at 1-SZ, he’d barely had time to think, let alone shave. His leg still ached from the explosive blast in the cargo bay. The previous night’s sleep had been deep as soon as his head had hit the pillow, but he did not feel rested. He had yet to see his base-side quarters, but even now the thought of spending a night here instilled a deep sense of discomfort. His eyes struggled to adjust as he peered into the gloom in front of him. The Lieutenant from the Don S. Davis who accompanied him held an arm mounted flashlight, the beams from which were swallowed up whenever they flickered into the inky distance.

“It’s definitely a generator of some kind.” The Grazerite glanced towards Streth, gesturing into the tunnel, “If we can get it back up and running we could restore this whole section.”

“What’s stopping you, then?” Streth said, voice tired and gruff, “Scared of the dark?”

“Well sir, our records indicate that no Starfleet personnel have moved beyond this point. Based on the logs of the original automation team, there could be all manner of Breen anti-personnel devices, potentially hazardous indiginous life forms, biochemical-”

Streth tapped his combadge, =/\=Streth to Vogler=/\=

=/\=Voger here sir,=/\= Astrid replied.

=/\=I need you to suit up the HAZARD team and get ready for a bit of cave exploring. Report to level…=/\= He paused, barely remembering the base layout he had briefly skimmed only hours before, =/\=68 Epsilon, at once.=/\=

=/\=On our way sir.=/\= She looked over at her hazard suit hanging up on the other side of her office and sighed. =/\=Other than spelunking, anything I need to know?=/\=

=/\=There’s an Engineering team here that could use a little reassurance before they go further into the tunnels. Said there’s another generator down there, they’re gonna try and activate it. I think we’d all feel a lot better if your team was keeping a lookout for anything… unexpected.=/\=

=/\=Understood. A whole lot of unknown. We’ll be there in a few minutes, and we’ll be loaded for bear. Vogler out.=/\=

Streth looked up at the Lieutenant, “HAZARD team’s on the way.” His expression softened, “You’re right to request assistance, Lieutenant…?”

“Joresh, sir.” The Grazerite volunteered.

A twinge of regret came over Streth from his earlier remark to the Lieutenant, “Joresh, I’ll put some of my people on it. We don’t know what’s down there, it’s a new environment and we’re all tired. We’d never expect you to go it alone.” His blue eyelid twitched, betraying some of the fatigue.

“Uh… Appreciated, sir.”

=/\=Beck,=/\= Streth was back on coms, =/\=I want to map out some of these tunnels, it’s like a frost-rabbit warren down here and I don’t want people getting lost. Got anything in your box of tricks?=/\=

=^=Funny that you asked, sir.=^= Beth said as he pushed himself away from one of his engineering consoles in Main Engineering that he had tasked to keep checking on the progress of the Station’s repairs. =^=I was keeping an eye on things and I noticed where the progress had stopped. I believe I can take the spare equipment in the cargo bay to our class nine probes and install it…=^= Beck paused for a moment as he stopped to think, going back to his Academy days when he read about something that might just work. =^=Cap, is one of them Davis’ crew there?=^=

=/\=Affirmative, Beck, we have a Lieutenant Joresh from the energy systems work team.=/\= The Grazerite looked a little alarmed as Streth mentioned his name.

=^=Perfect! Lieutenant, I don’t suppose the Don S. Davis could have…oh I don’t know…any of those old DOTs lying around in one of the Cargo Bays?=^= Beck asked in curiosity.

Cooper raised a brow from the spider that she was still working on. “You know you could ask me.”

“Yeah but no offense lass, you’re no officer and you’re also no longer assigned to the Davis either. Can’t keep using you to pull on Commander Walker’s strings for favors!” Beck chuckled.

=/\=DOTs…=/\= Joresh looked puzzled for a second as he racked his brain, =/\=You know I think we do have some of those…=/\= Overhearing Beck’s side conversation with Cooper, he added, =/\=I’m sure the Captain will let us have a few if I ask. Want me to have them beamed straight down here?=/\=

Beck smiled at the answer he got, with Cooper sticking her tongue out at him when she knew that was the answer Joresh would of given anyway. Beck shrugged one of his shoulders at her and then left Main Engineering. =^=If you don’t mind, Lieutenant, that would be wonderful. I will be there in five minutes.=^=

After a short but painless talk between Joresh and Captain Walker, the DOT materialised about three metres away from where Joresh and Streth stood. Streth was familiar with the worker drones, having used them several times on Cratek pass for forays into areas his personnel would rather not have gone. Streth could see where Beck was going with this. It wasn’t long before the Chief Engineer materialised himself, flanked by Ensign Vogler and the rest of the HAZARD team.

[Altai Transporter Room/Level 68 Epsilon]

In her Hazard suit standing outside the transporter room Astrid had briefed her team. “Okay guys, after our little metallic friend visited us we got some nervous people around here. We’re going to escort some engineers around while they do their jobs. There will likely be some scouting involved. There’s a whole lot of unknown so there’s a good chance we got dressed up to go the ball and our dates flaked on us. But, that doesn’t mean we should let our guard down. We have a lot of people depending on us. Not just the gear heads, but our families back home. Let’s go.”

Astrid lead them into the transporter room. Stepping onto the pad she made one last check of her equipment and announced, “Energize.”

Beck ran into the transporter room with his case. “Hold it! Hold hold hold, please!” He said as he hurried up onto one of the empty spots on the pad. “Good thing I got here just in time! Not like were in some energy crises that needs us to save on energy with these things but hey, better I tag along than go in all by myself.” He grinned before nodding his head to the transporter chief who finally engaged the system and off they went.

Then it wasn’t long for Beck to arrive shortly after the DOT did with a case in hand that had one of the probes sensor equipment in it, and the HAZARD team “Ah, wonderful. I was hoping these things were still in service. I’ve never seen them before but in Starfleet History, these buggers used to be around quite a lot on Starships.” Beck knelt down behind the DOT, taking out his tricorder, syncing up to the DOTs systems and shutting it down. “Oh and the cavalry is here!” He pointed back with this thumb at Astrid’s team with a grin. Then he sighed, “I wonder why they don’t have these around as often as they used to though…maybe they took too many jobs away from us engineers and there was a complaint form or something.” He grinned with a chuckle as he set his case down and opened it up before removing a panel from the rear of the DOT. “I am just going to install this sensor equipment from one of our Class Nine probes, give the DOT more powerful sensors than what came with it, which should be able to map out this cavern without any issue at all whatsoever.” He said as he started installing the sensor equipment into the DOT. “Once I’m finished here, we should be able to tap into its systems real easily with our tricorders and get to see a wonderful view of whatever is beyond us from here with this lovely little thing.” He tapped the DOT’s head as he quickly finishes up before putting the rear panel back on and sealed it up. “There we have it.” He stood back and pulled out his tricorder to turn the DOT back on. “Excuse me my little friend, but could you give us a peak at what’s in front of us and beyond? Ya should have access to some lovely new sensors.”

Astrid sighed. This was turning out to be a typical babysitting expedition. Turning to her team, “Fan out. Standard fixed position securement.” She holstered her phaser and sank back out of the way a few meters, but still close enough to observe and hear everything.

Streth observed Beck’s comments on the DOT sensor switch-out, recalling his own brief experiences using the robots. “A novel idea Mr. Beck, I had no idea the Class IX probe sensors were so versatile.” Engineers truly did seem like a species unto themselves at times like these. The DOT whirred to life at Beck’s question, hovering above the rough, uneven tunnel floor.

The HAZARD team were already positioned at the group’s extremities, forming a protective bubble around Joresh, Beck, Streth and the DOT. The Captain surveyed the group, impressed by how quickly they had jumped into action, “Feeling a lot better about this now your team’s here, Ensign Vogler,” Streth looked towards the tall, dark haired woman who stood watch with an air of authority.

“Yes sir,” Astrid replied respectfully. “Of course sir.”

The DOT began to glide forward at a walking pace. Two floodlights lit up the tunnel ahead, highlighting jutting chunks of rock and casting shadows that stretched long into the distance.

Joresh snapped open his tricorder, “Sir, our schematics indicate the generator chamber to be about 200 metres further below the surface.”

“Alright everyone,” Streth called out, “let’s see if we can’t make this place a little more hospitable.”