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Part of USS Resolute: Holding Pattern

All it takes is a song… (SURVIVAL 101 – JUNGLE THEME)

Holodeck - Resolute
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The exercise started with a crash. Fitting for a survival skills examination. 

Raan Mason rolled his neck and shoulder as he waited for the doors to open in front of him. He couldn’t believe he was having to do this, right now… all because of an admin error. 

A grade miscalculation had put his current assignment on the Resolute at risk and that was unacceptable. He now had to spend a couple of days in the holodeck, passing a course, rather than readying his ship and crew for their new assignment. They would travel there while he dealt with this. 

The doors slid open in front of him, revealing the jungle beyond. He stepped inside. Heat and noise hit him and he paused for a moment to orientate himself. 

The shuttle he’d ‘crashed’ in was behind him, the holodeck doors disappearing in the blink of an eye, and broken trees that marked the crash framed the mountain that loomed overhead. 

Right. He might as well get on with this. First things first, he was going to a source of water, and shelter. Turning around, he considered the shuttle. It was badly banged up, half turned on its side and he didn’t think it had a straight, or whole panel. 

“They really did a number on you, hey sweetheart?” he murmured as he ducked inside the open door. 

The storage cupboards were all busted open, their contents strewn all over the floor. Quickly he searched through the mess, dumping emergency blankets and a cover sheet to one side, before spotting a tricorder and a medical kit. A smile curved his lips. Things were looking up already. He’d half suspected he might have to improvise from what he could find in the jungle. 

“Okay, let’s see what we can see.” 

Tricorder in hand, he started a scan of the local area. His main priority was water, followed by fixing the shuttle’s SOS beacon. A quick glance that way told him that particular task was going to take a couple of hours, especially with his spade-like hands. There was a reason he was better at blowing things up than in fixing them. 

The tricorder chirped. There was fresh water twenty minutes north. Leaning back a little, he glanced at the sky outside. The sun was going down, which meant he had to move it if he wanted to get back before darkness hit. And travelling in the dark, on an unknown planet, with local animals he knew nothing about was a bad idea. 

He grabbed a nearby backpack, putting the tricorder in there along with a medical kit that had been balanced precariously on the edge of an open storage cupboard and an emergency blanket. Even though water was only twenty minutes away, that didn’t mean he was going to just walk into the jungle without any supplies. 

“Water bottles… water bottles… where art thou?” he muttered, resisting the urge to look up and around. He knew the whole exercise was being monitored and assessed by senior staff. Who, he wasn’t sure, but it didn’t matter. Nor did the fact the whole thing, this jungle, this test, was being conducted in the Resolute’s holodeck. It was a test, like many he’d faced, so right now, it was the real deal. 

Moving aside half a branch and some other debris, he found the water bottles and added them to the pack. Slinging it over his shoulder, he closed his eyes for a moment in irritation. He couldn’t get his other arm into the tiny pack, flailing around like a turtle with a too small shell. 

“Oh for frenn’s sake,” he hissed, yanking it off and looking at it. “Who do they make these things for? Kids?”

Nope, there was no way he was getting this on his back even with the straps extended all the way. And it wasn’t even as if he was a particularly big guy. Not for a llanarian anyway. 

Giving up, he slung it over one shoulder and headed out into the jungle, the shuttle’s sole phaser tucked into his belt. 

It took him forty minutes to get to water and get back. The terrain was tough going, and he had to jog the last five minutes or so on the way back to make sure he reached the shuttle before darkness fell. 

“By the book, Raan,” he reminded himself as he set lights up around the shuttle and set about his secondary objectives. 

The shuttle was too badly damaged to serve as shelter, but the roof was mostly in one piece. Minutes later he had a temporary shelter set up, pegged down securely so there was just room for him in there. Fire to keep the local animals at bay was far easier, a matter of muscle memory. He’d spent enough time on the front lines that living rough like this was second nature. 

Settling down with a sigh, he studied the emergency beacon in front of him. The fire warmed his skin as he balanced it on his knee and opened it up. 

“Ugh.” 

It was a complete and utter mess in there. Sighing, he scrubbed a hand through his hair. Yeah, he should have known this was going to mean itsy-bitsy stuff. Why couldn’t they have assigned him to fight a tralaxian bull or something? That he could have done with his eyes shut and one hand tied behind his back. 

But the point of these things wasn’t to be easy, now was it?

Pulling out the small engineering kit he’d recovered from inside the shuttle, he set about testing what was usable in the beacon and what was toast. It looked like a mess, but to his relief, most of the beacon was still in good shape. Okay, that made things easier. All he had to do was bypass this section here and plug in thi—

Movement registered in the corner of his eye and he snapped his head up. The jungle looked back, but he could feel them out there. Eye watching him. Without taking his eyes off his surroundings, he lifted his hand from the beacon and reached for the phaser by his thigh. 

“Come into my parlour, said the spider to the fly,” he said in a low voice, wondering if the fire would scare off the local predators. They were smaller in size, but he hadn’t managed to get a look at them. They could have claws or teeth, or worse… stingers or venom that would incapacitate him. 

Nothing moved, including him, for long minutes. 

Then he felt the interest fade away. “Okay, not joining me for dinner tonight then. I won’t take it personally.”

Keeping half his attention on his surroundings, just in case, he finished mending the SOS beacon and activated it. A sense of satisfaction filled him. He just had to survive out here now until pickup, twenty four hours from now. 

Setting the beacon down under cover, he recovered one of the emergency blankets and wrapped it around his shoulders. Setting the tricorder as a rudimentary motion detector, he leaned back against the shuttle roof and fell back into the habit of most old soldiers. When you can, sleep.

Morning came and found a very grouchy Raan, grumbling as he eased the kinks out of his neck. He had planned to sleep, but the damn animals had set the tricorder off every five minutes so he’d given up on that idea and simply sat up, watching the treeline. 

Once the sun came up, the threat level receded and he breathed a little easier. Not totally easy, since he was still here and who knew what else the examiners decided to throw at him. A quick glance at the beacon told him it was still active. 

He was just boiling water for a hot drink when the leaves behind him rustled. Whirling around, he had the phaser in hand just as… something came out of the undergrowth. 

It was small. It was furry. It was cute as hell, watching him with wide, dark eyes. It was joined by another, then another, and another…

“Well, hey there little fellas,” he smiled, beginning to hunker down. That was until he saw the vicious claws the things had. “Oh hell no…” 

Hours and another night later, the rescue team arrived to find Raan sat on top of the shuttle with a nearly depleted phaser. Singing. His voice was nearly hoarse but he gave them a thumbs up, indicating the horde of furry critters watching him with wide eyes. Completely and utterly mesmerized. 

“Guys, I am so glad you’re here.” He dropped down off the shuttle and made his way quickly over to them, careful not to break the spell of any of the clawed little critters. 

They didn’t answer him, disappearing as he neared and to his relief, the arch materialised, signalling the end of the test. 

He turned to look over his shoulder and chuckled. “Singing to forest animals. Who knew?”