Part of Endeavour: Where Angels Fear To Tread

Moving Heaven

Command Centre, Endeavour NX-06
Monday 16th May 2157
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The shuttlepod had barely touched the deck before Leonov’s instructions came through: all remaining senior staff, especially members of the landing party, were to gather in the command centre. By the time the officers arrived, the XO was already in there with all their limited pertinent sensor readings of the surface of Alpha Gruis One on display.

With the landing team last to arrive, Leonov’s eyes landed on Xiang and Gasset with an assessing air. “Commander, Lieutenant – you seem in one piece. Good.” Their health seemed a matter more of satisfaction than any warm relief. “What the hell happened down there, and just how bad is this?”

“We got jumped,” Shu blurted out. “Sensors scans have missed an entire bleeding civilization down there,” she elaborated. Her Aussie accent, typically something she worked to take the edges off of, was making itself known with the stress of the situation. “Captain ordered me back to the shuttle, said he was right behind me. Suffice to say, I won’t be making that mistake again. He goes first from now on.”

Shu stepped forward to the table in the middle of the room and produced the flattened mushroom of metal she’d recovered after she and the captain had been shot at. “No stun settings with these ladies. Tall too.” She placed the spent round down for all to see, or pick up and examine. “Ten-millimetre round, late musket or early rifle. That is going to mess anyone up it finds.”

“I’d say we’re dealing with a matriarchal society, most likely pre-warp too,” Gasset said as she slumped into one of the stools. “They were quick, tough and fierce. Two of them were able to hold Randall down without breaking a sweat,” She turned to the major. “If we’re going to attempt a rescue then we’ll need the MACOs in full force.”

“That’s a possibility we’re going to be ready for, and I want you working on options, Major,” Leonov said quickly, gaze landing on Caidin before it swept back to take in everyone. “But I want that as our fall-back choice.”

“Understood, Commander.” The Major responded as she adjusted the scope on her pulse rifle. “Knowing if those firearms of theirs are properly rifled or not would be really advantageous however…I’d like to know exactly how close our marksmen teams can safetly out range them…”

“We’ve stumbled on top of, as the commander put it, an ‘entire bleeding civilisation,’” Leonov elaborated with a simple shrug. “I’m not thrilled that their first choice was to open fire, but we ran onto their turf. We also know almost nothing about them. Once upon a time, Starfleet came out here to make new friends, not new enemies. I’d rather we exhaust our scientific and diplomatic options before we run the risk of losing or taking lives.”

“We could start with old-style radio, see if anyone, any at all, is listening down there?” Shu said with a hint in her voice telling of her own lack of faith in that idea. “Failing that, bloody obvious shuttle landing in an open field and wait for them to come to us? Open terrain gives both sides the illusion of distance as defence and the chance to yell at each other safely.”

Gasset shook her head. “No, we need to do our own reconnaissance on them. First off, we need to learn their language. Observe general behaviour. Maybe a few of us go undercover, posing as the locals. We have an experienced quartermaster and instead of using the shuttlepods we go down via the transporter.” The armoury officer was feeling they were missing something. They needed to know more. Pure investigation was required here. “If we can work out where the captain and the others are kept, we may be able to beam them up when not in view of the inhabitants, that said we need to know why our sensors didn’t pick them up in the first place. Maybe there’s some kind of natural barrier we’re missing? An ore that blocks sensors, or an ionic disturbance in the atmosphere we’re not familiar with.” 

“Agreed,” said Leonov, nodding to Gasset. “Maybe we do have to open communication blatantly, but we need to know more first. Or we just risk a new firefight in an open field. But we can make this two-pronged: going in undercover, and more recon by shuttlepod. Our usual sensors might be ineffective, but we can keep a craft high enough they won’t see and conduct surveillance with magnification, recording, so forth. A little bit more old-fashioned. Gives us the lay of the land physically instead of just going walkabout on an alien world.” She looked at the two survivors of the landing party. “Did you get a good look at their faces? Physiology? What do we need to go incognito?”

“They appear human and I’d say they almost wear the same clothing as the early twentieth century,” Gasset replied. “Before you ask how I can be so precise, I’ve watched a lot of films based in that era. Their clothing almost looks like the type of clothing you see in a period drama, very regal in appearance but as they appear to be a matriarchal society, the clothes the women wear are more…” Gasset paused as she considered her words carefully. “More masculine,” she chose. “No long dresses, for example.”

“…function and form?” Caidin commented with a raised eyebrow. “…I may have to go shopping for a new wardrobe next time we get shore leave.”

At that point, First Lieutenant Flynn Trommler arrived in the command centre. “Sorry for the intrusion, commander, major,” He said looking at both Leonov and Caidin, “but someone told me my husband is missing and has been kidnapped.”

The Major looked over at her subordinate and nodded. “I am sorry, Trommler, that does appear to be the situation on the ground.” 

“Sorry Trommler, my bad,” Shu admitted. “I…next time when the captain tells me to run, I’ll make sure he’s running before I do.”

Hearing that, Trommler took a moment. Even when the Orions had boarded the ship and had hurt Lloyd, he had never been far away from him. “Any rescue plan, I’d like to be a part of,” He insisted with determination. 

Saorise Caidin crossed the distance of the command centre with a few quick strides to place a firm grasp on Trommler’s shoulder. “I get that you are motivated, First Lieutenant…but in the field, that level of emotional investment can cut both ways.”

”I get that me being married to the captain hasn’t always been the easiest for everyone,” Trommler looked from the major and then to the commander, “and it may make some of you uncomfortable but I made a vow to him. For better or worse.”

“I want you to take a mental step back.” The Major said, her voice level and calm, yet firm as her continued grasp on the First Lieutenant’s shoulder. “Take a look at the situation objectively, with as much professional detachment as you can muster…take a breath, and then tell me that you can see this through with a clear head. Do that for me and I’ll clear you for the field.”

Trommler took a breath, he nodded. “I understand, ma’am, I do. However, I’m the deputy commander of our detachment and though my husband is in danger, so are the lives of other crew members. Put me in the field, I promise you that you won’t regret it!” Trommler stated. 

The Major was silent in contemplation for a moment and then gave a firm and hardy slap to Trommler’s shoulders. “Alright then. You’re in. I want teams kitted out for rescue and reconnaissance, with the shuttle fitted for hazardous extraction…just in case. The Gals in the purple jumpsuits over here, are coming up with other options…we’re the go-to plan bravo, which means if we have to get involved, we will be going in hot, heavy, and at half-a-moment’s notice. Savvy?”

“Gals in purple?” Shu said quietly, very quietly, as she plucked at her own jumpsuit. “Always thought it was more blue myself.” She looked at the planetary map on the main display and hummed to herself. “I’ll get teams on the shuttlepods right away. We’ll strap every extra sensor to the undersides that we can and get them flying a grid as quick as we can.”

”That would be good…I hate going in blind.” Saorise noted in response, before allowing herself a small smirk and a side comment. “And it’s definitely a shade of purple. Blue tastes differently….anyways, make sure one shuttlepod is left without all those extra add-ons. If we do have to pull off an extraction under fire, I would rather not have my ride laden down so.”

Leonov had looked a little awkward at Trommler’s arrival, like she was biting her tongue, but the major’s intervention saved her giving a lecture on emotional distance herself. She raised a hand at the discussion of outfitting the shuttles. “Leave one shuttlepod ready to deploy. But the MACOs are a last-ditch option. I know we’re apprehensive after the Orions attacked us. But we are the intruders here, however hostile their response.”

She paused a moment, tapping the metal edge of the console as she considered. “Gasset and I will plan for the landing party. Xiang, get the shuttlepods ready, but I want you to join us beaming down. Major.” She looked up at Caidin. “Do you want to be boots on the ground with us for recon, or planning from up here?”

”Boots.” The Major responded as she slapped the retracted scope back into the body of her rifle. “If things do go wrong, I would like to respond as quickly as possible, until our drop team can arrive…besides if you are doing recon, it would help to have someone actually trained to do reconnaissance.”

Gasset cleared her throat. “As a former member of the Earth Global Defence Force, I’d be able to undertake that job with your assistance, thank you, major.” The armoury officer said, slightly irritated at the lack of consideration from the MACO leader. 

Leonov looked to Trommler. “I’m not bringing you on recon, Lieutenant, not if there are local gender dynamics at play we don’t understand, and frankly, not with your personal bias. The shuttlepods will pipe their findings back up to Endeavour and we’ll report in with as complete information as we can get. You can plan, Lieutenant.”

Saorise offered a slight frown in response to the Commander ordering her own XO around…technically, MACOs were not under the direct control or command of the Starfleet Chain of Command…but the situation was already tense and obviously weighing heavily on everyone’s shoulders, so she let slide for now…besides, Leonov’s logic was sound if stated with more emotion than the Major would utilize.

Trommler nodded once at the commander. He knew that Oliver would kill him if he made even more of a scene in front of the rest of the senior staff. “I understand, commander.” 

“I’ll speak to our quartermaster to start preparing appropriate clothing to help us blend in,” Gasset remarked to Leonov. “We should also study the local area to see if a team infiltrating during the night would be best suited compared to the day. That said, we don’t want to arouse any suspicion among the locals. A group of strangers roaming around at night may ring some alarm bells.”

Leonov arched an eyebrow at the exchange between Gasset and Caidin. “I’m in command of this ship and this mission, Major. I decide who goes where to recover the captain and the others. If things go wrong, we are withdrawing and considering our options. But yes, it has occurred to me somewhere down the line that this might not be possible. However.” She lifted a hand to forestall any further comment, gaze sweeping across the gathered. “I reiterate: we know little to nothing about these people, and we will rectify that. We intruded on their society, and they retaliated, and while we will rescue our crew, we will do so in full awareness that the initial hostility was ours. If we have to double down on that, we have abhorrently failed.” She drew a deep breath. “We go out there. We learn more. We figure out how to open negotiations. Humanity didn’t come to space so we could meet new people and shoot them because it was convenient.”

She straightened. “You have your orders. Dismissed.”