Part of USS Mercy: Mission 2 – “Into the Breach”

On the Ground

Ghulion IV
8.31.2400 @ 1600
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Crawford gripped her engineering kits tightly as the transporter faded, revealing the world around her.  Fires burned unabated, and cries of pain, sorrow, and suffering echoed throughout as the whine of the transporter continued to signal the incoming medical and engineering teams along with an assortment of security and operations officers.  She turned to her partner, Choi, “You ready?”

Choi materialized in beside her. The Betazoid blanched, immediately feeling the pain and suffering around them. He took a shaking breath, mentally blocking what he felt out, “As ready as I will ever be.” He felt dread knot in his stomach, or perhaps he was picking that up from someone or somewhere else.

Carolyn searched out and found a building that had taken some significant damage.  She slipped out her tricorder, “I’m getting life signs from that structure.  Come with me, Lieutenant.”

Egrel inclined his head in acknowledgment, “I can feel them; I’m right behind you.”

She took off at a spring, dodging smoke and debris as she went.

Egrel blinked twice as she took off, not expecting it evidently. He took off after her, a little slower but still able to keep up.

Carolyn bounded up next to the structure, her tricorder scanning the structure, which rumbled and groaned every so often.  “Damn it.  It’s not going to hold for very long.”  She glanced at him, “What do you have on life signs?”  She snagged her PADD and transferred the building scans, the floor plans blooming into view.

Egrel stepped up beside her. He seemed to zone out for a moment and a half, focusing on what he could telepathically feel around him. While he connected to figure out where they were, he tried to reassure them as much as he could that help was here. He snapped back in an instant and leaned over, tapping a few places on the PADD she held, “These spots I can feel where people are. These two are weak.” He tapped two spots again, specifically, “The rest are stronger.”

Crawford contemplated their next move, “We’re going to send our triage medics to the stronger ones.  Let’s see what we can see with the weaker ones.  They’re on the second floor near the middle…which makes it even more exciting.”

Egrel nodded. He personally knew very little about medical triage himself as a counselor, “Makes sense…” He hesitated then and frowned, “Exciting? You mean dangerous and likely deadly.”

She gave him a gentle nudge and pointed at his communications badge, “I can guarantee you we have a large team on the Mercy watching everyone’s signal with a hair trigger on transporters in case something goes wrong.  Trust our better angels that watch over us…and let’s get to saving people.”

He hesitated and nodded again. She had a fairly good point there. A thousand worst-case scenarios and what if’s ran through his head at warp speed. He closed his eyes momentarily and shoved the thoughts out of his mind, and squared his shoulders, straightening his back. He opened his eyes again and nodded, “You have a pretty good point about that. Alright, ready.”

Carolyn kept her tricorder out as she stepped carefully up the back stairway of the shattered multilevel, navigating the creaking structure with her eye on the strongest segments ahead of her as she walked.  They moved up the stairwell and onto the second floor.  Small fires burned in isolated corners, and debris still fell from the gaping holes in the ceiling.  Crawford pointed her tricorder towards the middle of the room where desks were upended and furniture scattered, “Life signs that way.  Follow my steps.”

Egrel walked just behind her yet was careful not to hover over her shoulder. He pulled out a flashlight from his jacket pocket and used it to illuminate where they were walking to avoid tripping and becoming one of those who need to be triaged themselves. Egrel was on high alert, constantly looking around and watching their surroundings, while Carolyn kept her eyes on the tricorder. He followed where she pointed with his eyes and nodded, swinging the beam of light in that direction, “Alright, I’m right behind you.”

The engineering officer moved cautiously as the floor trembled underneath them, and the rafters above them vibrated for a moment.

Egrel winced and froze, looking up sharply, breathing out his words as if afraid his voice itself will bring the place down, “Is… Will that hold? Are we safe?”

Crawford shook her head slowly, “It’ll hold.  Trust me – when we’re close to imminent collapse, I’ll have us on our way out.”

He let out a deep breath and sighed softly, “Alright, I trust you.” He furrowed a brow and continued on following her.

They ventured closer and closer to the scattered furniture, and two bloodied and still bodies came into view.  Crawford walked with Choi behind her until they were close enough, “Egrel, your turn.  I’m going to check the other side of this area.”

Egrel nodded and knelt down beside the two bloodied bodies. He looked up and watched Crawford walk off. He hesitated, moving a hand to check one’s pulse. He could feel their minds still alive, but sometimes having that tactile response is far more soothing. He pulled out a tricorder and scanned them quickly, eyes watching the data scrolling across the screen. He tags both of them and sends their data to the ship. He is about to stand up and wait for Carolyn when the building shook and tremoured. He heard a creak and groan that careened him back to a distant memory.

***

Betazed had been taken by the Dominion forces with little to no resistance. He was with a small group of hopeful resistance fighters. They were young, brave, and optimistic at first, their hopes dwindling out slowly. The small group was huddled in the ruins of what was once a building of living quarters. Egrel stooped to pick up something he stepped on. The memory was hazy with time, but he recalled it was a child’s toy, ripped and scarred after the attack. The building around them shook and groaned. A cacophony of snapping and cracking erupted around them as the building started to come down around them. Egrel yelled and sprinted for the exit. He dove into the blinding light and spun around, only to realize that half of them made it out alive as he felt his heart crash down and shatter with the rubble.

****

Egrel snapped back to reality, adrenaline coursing through his body. He tried to send out an absolutely urgent telepathic message to Carolyn to get out. He leaped up to his feet and screamed out loud at the top of his lungs, “Carolyn! Crawford! Get out now!” In an impulsive move to try and save them all, he scooped up the two injured, one over each shoulder, and turned to run out the one they came. He had to get them out. He couldn’t leave anyone behind. Not again.

The triage teams came running as Crawford and Choi carried the injured heavily on their shoulders.  They were quickly loaded on stretchers and suddenly counselor and engineer were alone again.  She glanced at him, “We made it out of there. Thanks for yelling at me to move in the middle of all that.  Didn’t know you could shout that loud, Choi.”  She playfully punched him in the arm.

Egrel handed the two he carried off to the triage teams, watching them get carted off. He dragged a slightly trembling hand down his dusty face. Carolyn’s punch to his arm brought him out of that ‘shellshock’ state. He gave his head a little shake and gave her a faint smile and chuckle, “Ah… Even us quiet guys have a loud voice when needed.”

Crawford gave him an odd look before her face showed her realization, “Some of that was telepathic.”  A thin smile crossed her lips, “You’re a good man Egrel Choi.  I’m glad I had you with me.”  She glanced back at the remaining buildings, “Let’s get some more engineers with us with a medic or two.  I think we’re going to need to travel in numbers for safety from now on – lotta risk out here.”

Egrel nodded in reply to that, “It was, yes. I tried my best to telepathically and physically yell. I’m glad it worked.” He followed her gaze to look at the rest of the building, “That is a sound and good judgement. I am in agreement. We are stronger as a group.” He emitted a soft sigh of relief, rolling his shoulders back, steeling his resolve for the rest of the ground work they had ahead of them.