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Part of USS Atlantis: Mission 10 : A Blast from the Past

A Blast from the Past – 3

Wreckage of the USS Aitu
September 2, 2400
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As the away team materialised on the surface of the frozen world a gentle dusting of methane snow was falling from the sky, condensing not from clouds but directly from the pitiful atmosphere of the world. There wasn’t even enough of an atmosphere to tint the sky any colour, the bare majesty of the band of the Milky Way snapping the entire sky instead. A singularly bright source of light hung suspended in the sky, but even its brilliant was diminished by distance to merely the brightest star in the night sky.

Ahead of the new arrivals at barely a kilometre away lay the mangled and broken wreckage of the USS Aitu, its hull recognisable despite being broken into so many pieces, a single nacelle pylon stabbing upwards from the ship as it lay on a lean, the nacelle itself sheared off and its skyward end a jagged mess. Its hull was covered in a thin layer of methane ice, dulling the sheen of the metal in the meagre light.

“Easy hike,” Blake said over the EV suit comms, the first words likely spoken on this frozen world as she looked at the mostly flat landscape between them and the ship. “Though would have been nice if we could have beamed into the ship itself.”

“There wasss sssignificant radiation,” W’a’le’ki said from behind Blake, one of the handful of support personnel that had come with the away team. “While our sssuitsss are sssufficccient, the transssporter would have had difficulty.”

“And I for one prefer to arrive in one piece,” Adelinde said as she took a step forward, then turned to face her team. Blake was their only medical staffer, along to assess any bodies they might find, would find more likely. Gabrielle had W’a’le’ki and Wilbur-Northcote with her to indulge the Science department’s survey needs as well as identify the so-called sensitive cargo aboard the ship should they find it. As for Engineering, she’d snagged Maxwell and Merktin, both capable engineers with field experience – Maxwell for his generalist skill and Merktin for a self-proclaimed interest in old technology.

“Scans show large parts of the hull appear intact, but others are mangled beyond recognition. We’ll stick together until we can determine it’s safe to start breaking into smaller groups.” She saw the head nods from everyone, some a touch more restrained than others, Wilbur-Northcote in particular whom she figured wanted to start some geological study right away.

“There’s an airlock on the Engineering hull that’s close enough to ground level that we should be able to use it to access the ship.” Merktin was eyes down on her tricorder as she spoke, a few key taps before she looked up. “Might need to melt some ice but nothing we can’t handle.”

“Let’s get to it then,” Adelinde said as she proceeded to lead the group across the ice sheet towards the mangled wreckage of the Aitu.

Ten minutes later and everyone was standing in a loose group as both Merktin and Maxwell were carefully phasering away at the methane ice, sublimating it straight to gas and doing their best to move it away as it rapidly refroze and fell as snow, which itself was being brushed away as best as possible by Wilbur-Northcote. Close enough to ground level was roughly two meters down, so a ramp was being cut into the ice to give access and eventual egress, but it was still slow going.

“So,” Gabrielle said as she sidled up next to Blake, “I hear you and the Commander are…dating?” The last word was said with a hesitant drag as if testing the word while saying it would lessen the impact if she had it wrong.

“We’re not dating,” Blake said with a roll of her head so she was looking straight up, where somewhere overhead the Atlantis was maintaining a geostationary orbit. “But we’re not not-dating too,” she added on to the end.

“So…complicated then?” Gabrielle followed up.

“Not really.” Blake shrugged and looked back to Gabrielle with a smirk. “We’re having fun, being adults about it. No need to really put labels on it right?”

“Sounds like you and the Commander need therapy more than the Captain and Gantzmann over there do.” When Blake’s expression turned into a quizzical glare, Gabrielle continued. “To you know, label whatever it is you have going on.”

“I can hear you both,” Adelinde’s voice came over their suit comms in her typical calm, flat tone. “Perhaps we can focus on the work now?” She had turned to indicate that the others were working down the slope into the ship proper and that Gabrielle and Blake could join them as well.

“Sorry Commander,” Gabrielle said as she gave Blake a wink and proceeded on in behind her people, descending the icy ramp carefully, gentle with each of her steps to avoid slipping.

As Blake brought up the rear Adelinde stopped her and leaned in, bringing her helmet in to touch against Blake’s own and with a command muted their comms for a moment. “I would seriously recommend therapy if you are seeking to maintain any form of relationship with Commander MacIntrye. Setting professional and personal boundaries is important,” Adelinde said. “That said, if you ever just need a drinking buddy, you know where to find me and I promise to keep secrets unless they threaten the safety of the ship.”

And with that Adelinde stepped back, re-engaged both of their suit comms and then proceeded down the slope, leaving Blake to stand there for a moment slack-jawed at just what had happened.

With only the occasional spoken update as the group proceeded through the wreck, updates from tricorders and announcements of which ways were blocked, the group all came to a halt at a major intersection of corridors. “Scans look clear in multiple directions Commander,” Maxwell spoke, checking his tricorder, confirming with Merktin and then looking up to address the entire away team. “Main engineering and the secondary computer core is that way.” He pointed down a corridor, the darkness barely turned back by the suit lights. “Main cargo bay is that way.” In the opposite direction, uphill slightly before turning left and once more into the foreboding inky darkness.

“No life signs?” Adelinde asked, multiple negative headshakes answering the question for her. “Right, we’ll split up to cover a bit more ground. Gabrielle, Merktin and Wilbur-Northcote, head for the cargo bay and see if you can’t figure out what this sensitive cargo the Aitu was carrying was. Maxwell, W’a’le’ki and Pisani, with me. We’ll get to what’s left of engineering and see if the portable generator we’ve got should be enough for us to power up what’s left of the main computer and get some idea as to how this ship ended up over a light-century from its last reported position.”

“And what if we find something really interesting?” Merktin asked.

“Then we call it in,” Gabrielle answered. “Let your tricorders just keep scanning. Do a high-detail scan of each room as you enter and another over anything you find that’s interesting, corpses included,” she said with a nod to Blake. “We want the best data possible for holographic reconstruction either back aboard ship or for some forensic folks back home one day.”

“As the Lieutenant said,” Adelinde followed up, “scan everything, scan it a second time before touching it and stay in touch. No going off alone, understand?” With a series of affirmatives, both teams wished the other good luck and departed in opposite directions, tricorders chirping in the near vacuum a poor heralding horn, but very common for Starfleet.

Comments

  • Oh, I really enjoyed this post! You started off on the right foot with just enough world-building to paint the reader a picture of the frozen world. I really enjoyed the imagery of a sky without enough atmosphere. The central conflict between Blake and Gabrielle (with Adeline as the much needed peanut gallery) was a delight to behold. Gabrielle felt much needed in the role of the skeptical friend, offering a second opinion on Blake's life-choices. What an intriguing mission you have ahead for us!

    September 17, 2022