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Part of USS Hathaway: Episode 12: Redemption and USS Hathaway: Season 3: Prometheus Squadron

Over the hill and far away

Northern Wastes
Stardate 240012.25
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Ice fields and enormous peaks made up the Andorian landscape across the entire planet, but the treacherous Northern Wastes was the home of the tallest peak on Andoria and was the site of Vasoch’s would-be-attempt to fulfil the last wishes of his fallen comrade. While he had planned to engage in this ill-advised pursuit on his own, he had somehow managed to elicit the help of a new comrade, a poor soul who had been planetside for an academic conference and had somehow volunteered herself for the climb to the summit of Bien’lan, the tallest of the mountains in the range. Even now, at the height of the Andorian summer, the temperature in the wastes had fallen to 25° below zero, and despite the warnings of their guide, the two offworlders had wrapped up warm and covered the distance to base camp.

Kerry stood beside Vasoch and looked up at the mighty peak before them. She had changed into the best cold weather gear the Federation had to offer but even with that, the cold made her shiver ever so slightly. Looking over at Vasoch she smiled, “Well, where shall we start?”

A clatter nearby caused the two to look over at their Andorian guide. “I recommend we start at the bottom and work our way to the top,” he told, throwing some equipment to the floor between them. “Grab one of everything and we’ll start the climb,” he told sternly, putting some devices onto his belt.

With a trademark ‘hmph’, Vasoch exchanged a smirk with Kerry and then began picking up some of the dumped equipment, including something resembling an Andorian pickaxe and some rations.

The comment caused Kerry’s cheeks to redden, ‘Of course the bottom I knew that…’ she thought to herself as she followed Vasoch. After a moment of looking at the gear, she quickly slid the safety harness up over her legs and secured it tightly. Picking up one of the pickaxes she looked over it quickly before turning to Vasoch and their guide, “I didn’t get your name, I am Kerry Dawson. Could you check on the harness? Definitely do not want to fall because I put it on wrong.”

“Tsh’las,” the burly Andorian responded, stepping over to the woman and pulling on her harness, ragging her nimble frame around as he did so. “You’re all set,” he told, then moved over to the Tellarite. “What about you?” and began checking over the elder man’s equipment.

“Steady…” Vasoch growled at the Andorian, not desiring the same treatment as the young woman had received.

Kerry wasn’t overly pleased with the guide so far but let it slide for the moment. As she watched him finish checking Vasoch she finished packing her backpack with extra rations the guide had brought on top of the ones she had packed along with the basic survival gear already in the bag. Glancing at Vasoch and Tsh’las she shouldered her bag and clipped two of the picks on her belt, “So I guess we follow your lead Tsh’las?”

“Let’s go,” the Andorian nodded, pushing past the two climbers and heading into the snow.

“What’s his problem?” Vasoch remarked, “I’m sorry he is being so rude,” the elder man frowned apologetically while looking at Kerry, before following the tall, blue-skinned man into the snow.

Kerry shrugged as she glanced at the Andorian and muttered a quick, “Thanks.” She then turned and followed Vasoch. Following behind with her now rather heavy backpack her nerves were starting to get the better of her, ‘Off to a great start already. The guide already doesn’t like me…maybe this isn’t a good idea.’ As the thoughts raced through her head they reached the trailhead leading up the mountain. Staring up at it she turned to Vasoch and smiled as best she could, “You all set?”

“It doesn’t seem that much taller from up close,” the Tellarite lied, shaking his head as he followed the lead of their guide and began planting safety equipment into place.

“We’ll go up on separate lines,” the Andorian brute told, tying off his rope. “We’ll add pitons every hundred feet or so. That way, if either of you fall, you’ll be safe. Keep your comm badges handy. Questions?”

Kerry shook her head, “Straight forward enough.” She looked up at their first climb planning her route and shivered, not from the cold but from the adrenaline that began to pump through her veins. “Do you want to check our set-up before we get started up?” she asked the surly guide.

Tsh’las grunted and wandered over to the woman first and pulled on her equipment, checking that everything was in place, then followed suit with the Tellarite.

Without further pause, Kerry stepped forward and began the climb. Though cold the rocks were not slippery and she was able to find solid hand and foot holds. After making it about 30 feet up, she secured her second piton and she locked herself in, leaned back and tested the hold before turning to look down at Vasoch, “How are you doing?”

“Oh, you know, loving every minute,” Vasoch frowned, practically dragging himself up to the same location as she was at and slammed the piton into place. A glance upward showed Tsh’las was already two steps ahead of them. “I don’t think much of this guy,” he grunted, taking a deep breath and composing himself before the urge to continue up the cliff came again.

Kerry let out a low laugh, “Yeah, same.” With that, she continued up the cliff face beside Vasoch. The next few hours passed as they followed their guild further up the mountain alternating between short hikes when able and climbs. They stopped every so often when a suitable location or ledge was reached to rest their arms and eat.

Kerry looked out over the northern wastes from their perch high up the mountain as she messaged her lower legs she couldn’t help but admit it was stunning in its harsh beauty. She smiled and turned to look over at Vasoch, “This climb is something else, how are you doing? Your fear, um, issue with height isn’t giving you too much trouble?”

No, I’m fine, ” he wheezed, but as he did so, he heard something that sounded otherworldly, unearthly even. No, wait! It was the earth shaking beneath their feet as the mountain rumbled like a terrible beast waking in the depths of the darkest ocean.

“Brace yourselves!” came a bellow from above, the Andorian clinging to the rock face for protection.

Kerry felt that mountain shake and began to pull herself close to the rockface but looked up as their guide shouted. As she did she was pelted with small rocks and chunks of ice as they fell down the slope causing her to slip and fell to the last piton she had locked in place, almost 50 feet and slammed into the wall. Shouting in shock and pain she was able to grab hold of the rock face pulled herself in close and closed her eyes tight, wishing, not for the first time that she had not started the climb.

“Hang on!” Vasoch yelled down the rockface to his fallen comrade. He was just about to release his rope and begin the descent to her location when a blue figure hurtled down past him, causing him to jolt back and nearly destabilise his own position.

“Stay there, Pig!” the Andorian guide yelled, sliding down to the woman’s location and coming to a halt at her side. “Do you think you’ll be able to climb the rest of the way?” he asked her, less out of sympathy it seemed, and more out of inconvenience.

Kerry blinked as her head spun, she glanced over at the Andorian. Before she could say a word the mountain shook again and the icy rock before them split causing both the Andorian and Kerry to lose their hold and fall into an icy mist below them, along with their pitons in a shower of rock and ice.

Vasoch watched in horror as the scene before him unfolded, entirely helpless to assist in any way. Clinging to the rock face, he thought about sliding down to find them, but what if the mountain gave way some more?

Kerry slowly made her way back up the crevasse before she pulled herself onto a ledge and put her back to the rock wall. She pulled out a commbadge from her coat and tapped it before frowning when she realized it was cracked. Looking up into the haze she shouted, “Vasoch can you hear me?”

“Yes!” the Tellarite yelled from above, “are you alright?!”

Kerry let out a sigh and glanced back down the crevasse then back up towards the Tellarite, “Yeah, a couple of bumps, I got lucky though I lost my pack in the fall. The guide though, he didn’t make it; saw him crack his head before falling further down. Can you lower a rope? I think I am done with the climb.”

“Hang on,” the Tellarite called down to her, “I’m coming.” With that, he gathered as much equipment as he could still reach and pulled on the damaged rope left behind by the free-falling Andorian. “Can’t say I’m going to miss him much,” Vasoch smirked as he began to descend to his new friend’s location.

Kerry smirked at that as she glanced back down, “No, I won’t either.”

She paced impatiently on the ledge for a few minutes while Vasoch descended down towards her. She was about to call out asking how he was coming along when a rope dropped into view and he slide down. “I see your fear of heights hasn’t slowed you,” she said with a smile. 

“Heights is a problem going up,” the Tellarite grinned, “not coming down.”

“I don’t know about you but I am not really feeling like a climb-out is the best bet, shall we call for some assistance?” Kerry asked.

“Do you have a commbadge with you? I, uh, don’t…” he smirked, making reference to the fact that he was no longer a Starfleet officer.

Kerry shook her head and tossed her damaged commbadge to him, “It was damaged when I smashed into the rock. Guess we need to do this the hard way.” She looked up at the dangling rope and walked over to it before giving a quick glance at the crevice. “I don’t really want to hang around here anymore.”

“I might be able to get something working out of this,” the Tellarite mused, reaching into his bag, and searching for a particular piece of equipment. Pulling out a small, screwdriver-like tool, he prised open the commbadge’s case and began to get to work. “The power system is intact. We just need to get it to emit some sort of signal…”

Kerry leaned back against the rock wall and pulled her arms around her and shivered, “What if you connected the power supply directly to the transmitter? That should send out a pulse?”

“I’ll give it a shot,” the Tellarite nodded, rubbing his hands together briefly to keep them warm before getting back to work on the small device. For a novice engineer, it was surprisingly easy to accomplish his goal. When it was connected, a press on the front activated the small pulse. Now all they had to do was wait.

And wait they did, for a little over an hour, huddled for warmth and doing their best to keep an eye out for any sign of someone nearby. But as the cold began to get to the older man’s bones, he could feel himself drifting off.

When he next awoke, he found himself under the bright lights of the medical facility at the Federation Embassy, with a physician eyeing him up as he rested.

Kerry glanced over at the Tellarite when he began to move but waited for the physician to move off, “That was an adventure, remind me next time I run into you to not go climbing a snow and ice-covered mountain.” Before Vasoch could speak she continued, “The SAR team looked for the guide, but they couldn’t find any trace of him, the crevasse was very deep and broke off into smaller ones the deeper it went. He wasn’t the nicest guy but wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”

“No more rock climbing; no more adventures,” the Tellarite shook his head as he was helped back to his feet. “I think it is time to face facts… I’m not cut out for a life away from the uniform.”

They spoke for a few more hours before they were discharged from the medical facility. Standing outside Kerry turned and looked back at Vasoch and cocked her head, “So, when are you due to report back? I need to get back to the Sojourner pretty quick here.”

“I need to hitch a ride to Deep Space Seventeen,” he smiled to his new friend, “see if the bigwigs will even take me back. I want to thank you, Kerry. And I wish you, and the Sojourner, all the best in your adventures together.”

Kerry smiled, “I am glad to hear that sir,” she said. “I wish you the best of luck with things. I have already received a message from Ensign Toi asking when I will be ready to depart.” With that, she nodded to him and turned and walked off. She had to make sure all the things that were brought to Andoria were accounted for before she beamed up to the Wavecrest.

Watching as the younger woman disappeared, Vasoch felt a wave of calm flood over him, almost as if he was at peace again.

The ghost of Tharia sh’Elas had been laid to rest.

For now.