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Part of Outpost Houtman (Archive): A matter of flipping coins

Enter Player Two

USS Colorado Springs, Sheo System
January 1, 2401
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The New Orleans-class USS Colorado Springs dropped out of warp and approached Sheo II.  The green and blue planet grew large on the viewscreen as The Springs closed in on the planet and slid into a standard orbit.

“Station keeping Mr. Y’Trel,” Captain Denise Richardson said from the center seat.  She was a petite blonde in her mid-thirties.  Not the youngest captain in the fleet, but she was certainly a rising star even if her ship was more than five decades old.

The Xindi-Primate at the helm responded,  “Station keeping, aye.”

Richardson stood and extended a hand to Commander Ethan Talon, “Well Mr. Talon, welcome home.”

Ethan stood and accepted the hand, “Thank you ma’am, and thank you for the ride.”

Captain Richardson laughed,  a high, but pleasant sound, “I was going your way any way.”

“Nonetheless,  I am much obliged.” Settling his duffle on his shoulders he placed his black cowboy hat on his head.  Like something from an old west movie, he tipped the front brim of his hat slightly,  “Ma’am.”

Several minutes later Ethan was standing next to a very large crate taller than him located in cargo bay two. He patted the side after reading the glowing display on the side.

“No issues whatsoever Commander,” the cargo bay attendant greeted.  “I have made regular checks and not so much as a power surge.”

Ethan smiled, “Thank you for your diligence Crewman.”

“You are welcome sir.”

He handed him a PADD, “You think you can beam me down to these coordinates?”

The crewman looked at the PADD, the device making several trills and beeps as he l looked it over.  “That shouldn’t be a problem but that’s over two kilometers from the outpost.  Are you sure you want that location?”

“I am,” Ethan responded.  “It’s a mountain overlooking the Outpost and holds the high ground.  I want to get a visual on the lay of the land.  I can look at maps all day long, but you don’t understand what the terrain is like until you are in it.  I don’t know if that knowledge will come in handy, but as they say ‘knowledge is power’.”

The crewman looked at Ethan with a strange look and shrugged, “They say there’s dangerous animals down there.”

“I read the briefing,” Ethan replied.  “That’s why I brought an elephant gun.”

The crewman blinked twice at the Commander like he had just stripped naked and started singing show tunes.  “A what?”

“A very large gun used to kill elephants way back in the day.  I don’t want to have to use it, but as they say, ‘better safe than sorry’.”

“Yes sir. Of course sir. I assume you want your luggage beamed directly to the Outpost?”

“Naw, that comes with me,” Ethan replied as he interacted with the display pad on the crate.  “Okay, we got five minutes.”

Giving up being surprised by the commander the Crewman simply shrugged and went to the transporter control station and a moment later he had beamed the crate to the transporter pad and then beamed it down to the planet.  

With the crate gone Ethan shouldered his heavy bag and stepped onto the pad himself, “Energize.”

Sheo III…

The beam down site sat on the edge of a rocky outcropping on the side of an unnamed mountain.  Below a river cut through the jungle and dropped abruptly in a waterfall that fell several hundred meters to the bottom.  Jungle wasn’t Ethan’s preference.  Too hot.  Too humid, and way too much rain, but he had to admit it was beautiful in its own right.

Turning to the crate Ethan twisted the locking mechanism on the corners and the four sides fell away to reveal a stasis pod with a buckskin colored horse tucked away inside.  Opening the pod he cleared away the obstructions and carefully stacked the bits and pieces.  After several minutes the horse started to stir and with an ungainly lunge he was on his feet with a snort of nostrils and a shake of his massive head.  

“Woah there buddy,” Ethan said cautiously and approached the gelding and grabbed the lead rope. “How are you feeling?” The horse’s ears perked forward at the familiar voice and it took in Ethan’s scent.  Smiling, Ethan ran a hand down his white/yellow neck.  “Well Jake, how did you like your first trip through space?  Don’t remember it? Good.”

Ethan lead the horse to a patch of green grass and picketed him to recover and graze.  Meanwhile Ethan pulled out his saddle, and other gear.  Tagging the stasis chamber he sent it back the Colorado Springs and with a hand phaser he vaporized the crate.

After an hour and a cold lunch he saddled Jake and shoved the enormous elephant gun into the scabbard.  He checked the girth one last time and stepped into the stirrup and swung into the western style saddle.  With a click of the tongue and a soft tap of boot heel to the ribs they headed off down a game trail. 

They were quickly swallowed by the jungle and it was almost chilly in the shadow of the canopy, but the trail was good as it wound its way around trees and other obstacles. Twice Ethan dismounted and used his phaser to cut through fallen trees. 

Fording the river where the water came to his boots they climbed the bank on the other side and pushed through the brush and entered  an opening in the jungle with Outpost Houtman sitting in the center. A parameter fence encircled the encampment. He followed the fence to a gate where he was greeted by a red haired security officer.

“Bloody hell!” The woman exclaimed. “What are you doing you bloody bampot?”

Leaning on the saddle horn he pushed his hat back and squinted up at the at the blue dwarf that served as this planet’s sun, “Just taking the scenic route.”

“Ye could have been killed,” she exclaimed.  “There are wild beasties.”

Ethan shrugged and patted the rifle hanging from his saddle with the butt pointing forward for easy removal,  “We all gotta die sometime, but I came prepared just in case. You must be Lieutenant Donovan.”

The woman nodded, “Aye, I am, and you must be Commander Talon.”

He tipped his hat to her, “Yes ma’am.”

“I have to be honest… this is not the entrance I was expecting from my CO.”

Ethan shrugged with a wry grin, “Ordinarily I wouldn’t either, but being on a planet it presented an opportunity to bring Jake with me, and I was itching for a ride. I haven’t ridden since leaving Terra Alpha.”

Kat shook her head and opened the gate to let him in. 

Ethan rode inside the outpost. The perimeter fence would be perfect for keeping the horse until a stables could be built. There was plenty of grass and Ethan could supplement with grain from the replicator.  Gathering up the reins he slid down and extended a hand, “Pleasure to meet you Ms. Donovan.”

Kat was amused, “Thank you sir.  This is going to be an interesting assignment to be sure.”