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Part of Endeavour: Where Angels Fear To Tread

Though I Walk Through The Valley…

Alpha Gruis I
Monday 16th May 2157
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After splitting up the landing party into three groups, Campbell was keen to get underway and had noticed that he was not the only one. His chief medical officer was in a giddy mood when they departed from the shuttlepod. Locking the shuttlepod up, the team went in separate directions to cover as much land as possible as they undertook their survey. 

Campbell was with his new chief engineer; both had their scanners as they walked along the bank of a gushing river. “This stream appears to be coming from that hill up there,” The captain indicated with his hand that his scanner was in. “If the listening post is set up here, at least they will have access to a water source.”

“And this far upstream from the larger bodies of water, all that lovely algae and plankton growth isn’t present either,” Shu said as she checked her scanner, made a slight calibration change then rescanned. “Still wouldn’t drink it till it’s been boiled, but it’s a good start.”

Though the sun was blasting down on them with little cloud cover, the shade from nearby trees by the river helped them somewhat. “I suppose you’re used to the heat, commander, coming from ‘down under’?” 

“To a point,” She admitted with a smile. “Been in the fleet long enough that last I was home I was close to melting in the middle of December. Thirty-five degrees at ten o’clock is a little much for me. No thinking, just swimming or surfing then beers in the shade afterwards.”

“I have to admit; I’ve never visited Australia; my brother-in-law raves about it and spends most of his shore leave there surfing,” Campbell shared. “Fynn tried to teach me once during a break in Newquay in England, but I kept falling off.”

“Eh, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.” She gave a single sharp laugh. “Heck, I’m terrible at it anyway. I only go surfing to see who’s willing to try and teach me how to surf better. So,” she stretched the word for emphasis, “many bad pickup lines.”

Looking down at his scanner after it beeped at him, Campbell frowned at the readings. “The nearby rocks contain minerals that are interfering with my scans. Do you have the same?”

Shu’s expression went from willing to joke and banter to professional instantly as her attention dropped to her own scanner, waving it in the same direction as Campbell’s own. “Magnesite ore likely. Whole mountain is likely lousy with the stuff, these rocks are just washed down over the eons. Won’t know till we get a sample back to the to confirm with spectroscopy, but I’m willing to put a round of drinks on it.”

The captain chuckled at her confidence before refocusing on his scanner. “I suppose that may assist in keeping the base’s location hidden,” Campbell stated.

“Certainly from orbit if they see someone coming in time to power down. Plenty of foliage cover to hide optically with, magnesite to hide life signs and structures from non-visual scanners. Turns off your big power sources and you could likely go quiet around.” She scanned the river briefly. “Set up a couple of water wheels for running essential electronics in such a scenario, a decent battery bank, and a few wind turbines somewhere, this could make a decent little outpost.”

They continued walking until they heard movement on the other side of the riverbank. As the scanners could not determine what it was, Campbell gestured for Xiang to pull out their handheld phase pistols before calling out.

Nothing replied, and then three tall slim figures appeared out of nowhere and started to fire at them. Their weapons seemed similar to those of rifles from the late nineteenth century/early twentieth century. Pushing Xiang behind a large rock formation, Campbell dropped down beside her. “So much for a quiet away mission.” He sarcastically stated.

“Tell me about it,” Shu muttered, then reached out to snap at something that had moments before slammed into the ground beside her. Her hand wrapped around it, picking it up, then immediately dropped it as she withdrew her hand, hissing. But she’d pulled her target close enough to look it over now in the safety of the rock’s lee. “Is that a musket round?” she asked of the flattened mushroom of metal on the ground, its back half the only indication of its previous round shape.

Glancing carefully above their shelter, Campbell saw that their attackers all looked like tall human women. They wore suit-like clothing that made them look like characters he had seen from a period drama his mother used to watch when he was a child. Their hairstyles were all identical, short bobs with tight ringlets. Also wrapped around their heads were bandannas with a few small decorative feathers and jewels attached. 

“Hold your fire; we are not your enemies!” Campbell called out after quickly kneeling back down to avoid their fire.

“Don’t tell us what to do, man!” One of them called back. 

Exchanging a look with Xiang at how quickly the universal translator had worked, Campbell knew they were pinned down. “I’ll draw their fire; you take a run towards those bushes,” He pointed out, “head to the shuttlepod and get some help!”

“Sound plan, but aren’t you the captain? Shouldn’t I be giving you cover fire?” Shu asked as she shifted about, getting ready to spring to her feet and start running flat out.

“I’ll be right behind you!” Campbell answered, still whispering.

“Alright boss, but I’m holding you to that,” she snapped back, then gave him a wink and nod to indicate she was mentally and physically ready to start running, even getting her pistol ready to fire wildly behind her as she ran to offer her own bit of covering fire.

Nodding to her, Campbell jumped up and started to run in one direction, firing his phase pistol towards their attacker while Xiang ran in the opposite direction, following almost the same path they had used to get back to their shuttlepod. 

Noticing that she was far away, Campbell hid behind a wide tree. The three women were still firing at him. Deciding he needed to do something clever, he pulled his rucksack and saw that the smoke grenade he had packed in it earlier was okay. Pulling it out, he pulled the pin and threw it in the direction of his attackers. As it went off and started to fill the vicinity with smoke, he made a run for it to follow after Xiang. Firing his pistol as he did, he was almost far away before one of the women opened fire and got him in his leg. Instantly he fell to the ground and screamed out in pain from the hit. 

Turning around on his side, he was confronted by his attackers, all using their bandannas as face masks. Their weapons aimed at him, and he flew his hands up to show he surrendered. Dropping his phase pistol when he was shot, he showed he was unarmed, but the woman in the middle made a growling noise at him before she used the butt of her rifle to hit him in the face and knock him out stone-cold. 

“Xiang to landing party,” Shu said nearly fifteen minutes later into the shuttlepod’s limited comm station, her communicator lost somewhere in the brush that she’d had to scramble through in a hurry to get back in the time she had. “Xiang to landing party, can anyone hear me?” she asked. She waited nearly a minute before flicking the switch to hail Endeavour in orbit. “Xiang to Endeavour, we’ve got a problem.”