Part of USS Atlantis: Mission 11 : Tomorrow Today Yesterday

Tomorrow Today Yesterday – 11

USS Atlantis, GSC-9587c
January 2401
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“It’s down there somewhere,” Carmichael announced as he threw the shuttle Waihou into a shallow starboard bank. Not that it mattered for the occupants, safely kept in a mostly static frame of reference by inertial compensators and artificial gravity systems. The only three who would know were those clustered near the shuttle’s controls and the forward windows. For the rest, they just kept feeling the same buffeting forces they’d been subjected to for the last ten minutes.

Waihou was the only shuttle in Atlantis’s inventory that violated the naming convention of being drawn from the names of Greek islands and instead originated from the old Atlantis’ use of river names from across Earth. She’d been the captain’s favourite shuttle and used as her personal transport when the old ship had been decommissioned, entering service with the new when she was brought into commission.

“Indeed it is,” Fightmaster confirmed, his hands on the headrests of the two flight seats as he leaned forward, looking for their target as well. “This blizzard isn’t exactly the most helpful though.”

“Tell me about it.” The winds surged, jostling the shuttle harder than they had so far. “We either set down and try and figure out where this bunker entrance is, or bug out and wait for the weather to change.” Carmichael had gone from trying to spot anything outside in the white-out conditions to relying solely on his instruments.

“Just how close are we?” Fightmaster asked.

“We’re orbiting within fifty meters of it, that’s all I can say.” Ensign Kelly Tabaaha was still working the shuttle’s sensors, trying vainly to refine the sensor return that Atlantis had picked up in orbit. “The fallout that’s still in the atmosphere and this storm are really messing things up.”

There was a pause, just long enough to let the most senior member on the flight deck think, before Fightmaster made his decision. “Pick a spot Tabaaha, best guess. Carmichael, get us down.”

“Oh that much will certainly happen,” the young pilot said sarcastically.

“Safely.”

“That’s optional at this point.”

Waihou’s landing wasn’t the smoothest with the slight bounce that Carmichael had unintentionally caused, but it was down, in one piece and ready to depart at a moment’s notice.  The only problem was they’d landed in a white featureless plain, with a sky that matched so well that one’s eyes couldn’t make out any difference.

“Lieutenant, with all respect,” Kelly turned away from her console to face him directly, “this is stupid. We should wait for the storm to settle and come back later.”

“The captain wants this done now, however,” he replied. Then stood up straight and turned for the rear compartment. “Keep the shuttle ready to go just in case. You’re also our comms relay back to the ship.”

While normal away teams were currently scattering themselves across the surface of the world, Lieutenant Ch’tkk’va had opted for a hazard team at this location due to the inclement weather and that it was detectable from orbit despite being buried under a mountain. An underground bunker with a sizable geothermal power plant was one of the best chances for active computer systems that might be able to tell anyone anything about what had happened. There was also a non-zero chance of natives being on site and with that a potential for hostilities.

It had only taken them ten minutes in the blizzard, scanners working to triangulate as they spread out, where the hidden entrance to the facility lay buried under the snow and ice. By the time they had breached the sealed entrance there wasn’t a soul relieved to out of the storm. All of them had opted totally out of necessity to don a winter coat over their hazard gear and were in the process of removing it as the door was pulled shut behind them. Shoulder-mounted lights started to flick to life, casting no visible light, but throwing the tunnel before them into bright illumination for the team’s goggles to pick up.

“Two and Five with me. Three and Four together.” Lieutenant Gavin Mitchell, Silver One, had his orders delivered directly to each of them via earbuds, his words crisp and clear. A quick flick of his hands at the junction ahead indicated which way each team was to proceed as they started their exploration.


“How’s it looking down there?” Captain Tikva Theodoras asked any and all in Missions Operations as she descended the stairs. “Anything interesting yet?”

“Not so far ma’am,” Ch’tkk’va answered, arms folded while observing the main display. It showed both hemispheres of the planet below, a scattering of dots showing the locations of the now two dozen away teams spread across the surface at points of interest. Destroyed cities were the preference at the moment, but two teams had been sent out to sites of interest far beyond the confines of abandoned civil population centres.

Elsewhere on the main screen were images – stills taken by the teams as they explored, showing the devastation wrought on the surface of this world. There was little hope of finding survivors in the ruined cities but they were looking nonetheless. Earth’s nuclear armageddon paled in comparison to what these people had done to themselves, having been armed with antimatter warheads and done a considerable number on their population and biosphere.

“Gold was checking a launch facility and Silver was going to a bunker, yes?” she asked. “Sorry, only just woke up, curiosity drove me here before coffee.”

“That is correct,” Ch’tkk’va confirmed. “Gold has already searched four launch silos and found nothing that would illuminate the circumstances leading to launch.  Silver has only been on the ground for thirty minutes now and took ten of those finding the entrance to the bunker.”

“I know Mac suggested my yeoman, my yeoman I might reiterate,” she was holding up a finger to emphasise the point, “not his, for the hazard teams. And I know Fightmaster has committed to it wholeheartedly, but did you have to put him on Silver team?”

“Ma’am?” Ch’tkk’va asked, finally turning to face her. “I don’t understand.”

“Silver team. Stirling Fightmaster. Stirling silver?” She tried to lay it out as plainly as possible for her security chief and got nothing from them. Obviously, it was lost on Xindi-Insectoids. But she sensed the wave of amusement from a few of those at consoles, managing teams on the planet below. Even heard a snicker from one individual. “Nevermind.”

“I can reassign him to Gold team if you wish.”

“No, don’t do that. They’ve been training for weeks now and starting to fall into a pattern.”

“Actually ma’am I constantly mix them up during training exercises so that teams can be swapped around as circumstances dictate.”

She nodded in understanding, then pointed at one of the windows on the main screen. It wasn’t a still but a live image, clustered with a series of others in a box labelled ‘Silver’. The image had gone from generic halls to someone working at a computer terminal in a room with a faint blue glow.

“I think someone just found something,” she said.


“Silver Four to Silver One, we have a live data terminal. Three is attempting access.” Lieutenant Junior Grade Brek spoke with the monotony Vulcans were famous for in tense situations.

“Understood. Keep us appraised.” The short reply confirmed receipt and implicitly told them to go ahead.

“Check the cylinders,” Fightmaster said, a quick flick of his chin indicated the contents of the room to Brek as he set his weapon down to focus on the data terminal before him.

It was part of a large control console, similar to free-standing units found through the Atlantis. But unlike those reported on the alien space station these had wireless connections as a quick tricorder scan revealed.

“Interesting.”

“How so?” Brek asked, only a few meters away.

“The crew on the space station reported the consoles there as being hardwired and secure, but this console is barely secured at all. I’ve already made a connection with it.”

“Fortuitous. Atlantis should then be able to talk with their computers via Waihou and your tricorder, allowing us to continue with our exploration.” Brek’s voice shifted as he was walking around the cylinders, surveilling them completely visually before reaching out to brush what looked like frost off the outside of one.

Atlantis to Fightmaster,” the captain’s voice suddenly appeared in his ear, not his commbadge. “Good find there, Lieutenant. The data connection is awfully slow, however. Think it’s on their end. Mind taking a look and seeing if you can’t figure it out?”

“Aye, ma’am.”

“Before you get too busy with that Fightmaster, you may wish to come and see this.” Brek had stepped back from the nearest cylinder, a small window in the frost to peer through it present at eye level.

Fightmaster had only just made it up to the cylinder to peer through that small window when the captain spoke once more. “We see it too Lieutenant.”

“These are makeshift cryo pods,” he clarified. “We’ve got survivors.”

Comments

  • oooooooooooo - now the juicy part has been revealed! Aliens in stasis!! I love it!!! This storyline is so well-detailed and has so many great parts that the moment you think you've got one fixed to another, then one more comes out of the blue and hits you straight in the face, and a further twist appears! Tikva's concern/annoyance with Mac sending her yeoman was a joy to read. Please sir, can we have some more?! :P I am intrigued to know how the temporal shenanigans are going!

    April 8, 2023