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Landing Party

Posted on 24 Jul 2019 @ 6:47pm by Petty Officer 2nd Class Marioneta Gomez & Lieutenant Commander Jayla Kij & Lieutenant Camila Di Pasquale & Lieutenant JG Lina Sorensen & Lieutenant JG Catherine Cooper & Ensign Shay Mitchell & Chief Warrant Officer Roosje De Vries & Chief Petty Officer Tarsa Rogers & Petty Officer 1st Class Allen Miller
Edited on on 05 Aug 2019 @ 3:09pm

Mission: Truth and Justice
Location: Flight Deck / Penduli V
Timeline: MD 15 || 1200 hours

"I'm just about done back here, Lieutenant," Tarsa called out. She'd been working with Chief Engineer Sorensen and Support Craft Pilot De Vries on making the necessary modifications to the Mississippi to make the impending away mission feasible. The information and technology for these modifications had been obtained by the previous away mission. As the senior enlisted systems engineer, Tarsa had been assigned to outfit the runabout with the upgrades. She'd also be accompanying the team to help keep an eye on the modifications and deal with whatever technical issues arose.

She moved an isolinear chip from one slot to another before slipping one of her slender fingers into a small opening between ODN nodes and touching a control. Her tricorder chirped at her, a signal of success. "I think I got it," she said, withdrawing her hand from the panel and sitting up. "Go ahead and run a diagnostic," she shouted out to the cockpit.

Hearing the shout, Roosje started dancing her fingers over the Mississipi's main control panel. For now everything seemed to be working as it should. But that was no guarantee when they would be out there. That field surrounding the planet could virtually render them dead in the water.

As the diagnostic went on, suddenly three red lines showed on the stabilisation display. Followed by a dull thud from somewhere behind her. And a complete lockdown of power. "Oh. Oh.", she shouted. "Seems the diagnostic is not complete due to something going wrong.", she added.

"That's not what I wanted to hear," Tarsa said quietly, laying back down and sticking her hand back into the panel. She felt around until she found the isolinear chip; she removed the small data storage device and placed it in a different slot, two over from the original. "Give it another go," she called out.

As the power went back up, Roosje restarted the diagnostic. This time she could even finish it. There seemed nothing wrong at first glance, but if she looked close to the power output of the left nacelle, she discovered that the efficiency was down to 83.576 percent. Making manouvers pretty much difficult. Not what she would want when out there. "Could you look at the left nacelle?", she shouted back. "Not very optimal there."

Lina monitored the readings of her tricorder with which she constantly scanned the connected devices. Some of those readings did not yet make much sense to her, but in the test runs before she new she would have to manually change some settings.
"Wait a second," she said to both Rogers and De Vries. "Let me try something here." She used the tricorder as remote control for the device and entered some slight modifications. It was not really much she could do, but she had access to some subroutines of the device and she used them to change minor energy settings. Lina had spent several hours and days trying to understand what she was doing and yet it was more like trial and error. She just hoped that would be enough to work.
"Olaaaaaay," Lina started again. "How is it now?"

Sliding and typing, Roosje launched some more sub-routines to restart some of the diagnostics. "Good job.", she shouted. "Almost a racing machine.", she laughed. "I am launching a last diagnostic to see if everything holds under pressure."
Tapping into a self written program, Roosje did a final check. "Great job. All looks fine to me. Of course we still need to test it out there first."

"Of course," Lina answered, happy that it worked in the first place. Changing those energy settings was more or less the only real access she had found to the device and she hoped that would be enough if something went wrong.

Camila showed up a minute later securing a tactical belt to her hip. It had a Type II phaser and two power cells in various pouches, a stun grenade, a manual door opener, tricorder, and several manual restraints. "Is it ready yet?" she asked the person sitting at the helm running diagnostics as she boarded.

Roosje looked up from her display and turned her seat. What she saw was a yellow shirted woman. She first thought it to be another engineer. But then she saw the pips and recognised the chief Tactical officer Lt. Di Pasquale.
"That would depend on you definition of 'ready', Sir.", she responded. "It could work. But there are no guarantees.", she added with a smile.

"Noted," Camila said as she headed towards the back again.

Petty Officer Marioneta Gomez was the next person to arrive at the runabout. Like her Chief, she sported a tactical belt on her waist which featured extra power cells, two stun grenades, tricorder, and manual restraints. Before boarding the runabout, she pulled out her phaser to ensure that it was set for level two, a nice stun blast that would be able to halt any attacker or foe in their tracks.

Marioneta holstered the phaser and reached up to control her long hair. She didn't normally wear it down and loose while on duty. Lately she favored securing it with a simple gold clip to match the security color trim on her uniform jacket cuffs. Satisfied that her hair was under control, she stepped onto the runabout. "Petty Officer Gomez reporting as ordered," she announced.

Camila looked at the Petty Officer and gave a half smile. "Have a seat, Petty Officer," she said. "There's no rush at the moment, but be prepared."

"Yes, ma'am," the Hispanic woman said with a nod. She looked around, and considered the commotion with the engineers and the pilot before choosing to stand, not sit, out of the way.

Petty Officer First Class Miller came strolling up, ready for another away mission. Well, as ready as he could be for this one. As far as he knew, they were venturing into the unknown. The complete, utter, darkened, unknown. And Allen Miller was going to be ready for anything. On his tactical belt, he carried a phaser, two extra power cells, a tricorder, two concussion grenades, and some manual restraints. The one very noticeable difference from the other security personnel was the Isomagnetic Disintegrator that hung on his back from a strap across his chest. Yep, Miller Time was going to be ready for anything.

Cooper walked in soon after Miller and headed to where the others were waiting. Like the other security personnel she wore a standard away team tactical belt with It had a Type II phaser, a few extra power cells in pouches, two stun grenades, a manual door opener, tricorder, and several manual restraints. Her choice of extra was a mini first aid kit that was an optional attachment to the belt. Hair in a simple pony tail and out of her way she was ready, coming up behind Miller she waited patiently. Vivaldi playing in her mind, she liked it and having music running in the back of her mind aided her zen.

Right on Cooper’s heals came Jayla, med kit slung over one shoulder and sporting her ever-present smile. She grinned and waved at Camila before grinning at the rest of the crew gathered around. What was she so happy about? Probably nothing in particular. Jayla, it seemed, could not get through a single minute without smiling at least once.

Shay wasn't too far behind the doctor. A quick scan of the area told her she was one of the last few to arrive, however, she wasn't late as no one appeared to be boarding the runabout yet. Like the others in her department, the young woman was in possession of her standard tactical belt with a few extra goodies on it. A couple power cells for her phaser that she'd made sure was set on stun, a few stun grenades in case they were needed, two EMP grenades, manual restraints and an exographic targeting sensor. Perhaps, some of it was overkill, but she (like the others) wanted to be prepared for anything.

Cooper smiled back at Jayla, it was almost impossible not too. "Best be about it I suppose." She said to Jayla but directed it at everyone as it looked like all were here. She turned and headed into the Runabout, she saw her Chief, "Lieutenant Cooper and other assembled away team reporting as ordered Ma'am." She said and gestured back to the small group.

"Have a seat and get strapped in," Camila told Cooper, Shay and the others. "It's supposed to be a smooth ride, but be prepared for we we land. There's inhabitants here and it's likely they haven't seen anyone from the outside for a very long time."

Marioneta cleared her throat, spotting the engineers as they worked. Her few briefings on the alien technology still left a few holes in her own mind, especially since she knew she was going to be charged with protecting the away team. "Do we know the range on this alien tech yet? Like, once we actually get on the ground and disembark, at what distance from the runabout will our phasers and tricorders still be operational?"

"Could be two meters, could be twenty," Camila said with a shrug. "Just be prepared and use what you were given naturally if it comes down to it," the Security Chief said before she went to the replicator. She brought up a menu an did some searching, then pressed the selection she wanted. The familiar hum of the replicator bringing something to existence sounded, then she pulled a pair of fingerless black gloves and a solid looking back off the platform and put them on. "Sapper gloves," she said. "Great for a backhand or stopping something hard."

"Oh," Lina said taking the gloves from Camila. "Those actually might come in handy." She did not really like to wear gloves while working, as those really hindered her. But these were fingerless and should do.

Cooper nodded to the Lieutenant and found a seat, prepared to belt in when they took off just in case as she mentally reviewed the mission perimeters, trying to plan for what they mind find. Which was difficult considering the sheer number of unknowns, ah the day in the life of Starfleet. Both exciting and dangerous all at once.

Allen opted for standing as his isomag would make it difficult to sit. And he didn't want to hold it in his lap or cradle it. He nodded a 'hello' to the others while taking a place near the seats. He then looked to Camila. "All set and ready to go, Chief. Let's party."

"Replicate a non-energy weapon, Mister Miller," Camila told him. "Our phasers may not work very far here."

"Well bang goes that idea," said Allen. "Oh hey! Wait a minute! I do have a non energy weapon." He removed the isomag from his back and laid it over his shoulder, holding the barrel end. "I can cave in a skull with this thing. Blunt force uh-oh-I-shouldn't-have-done-that trauma. But as a backup..." He walked over to the replicator and input the codes for a Reman jackal knife. When it appeared a few seconds later, he picked it up and found a place in his tactical belt for it to rest.

That reminded Cooper and she checked the small slug thrower pistol in her ankle holster. It was fine but she did get up after Miller sat down to replicate a few speed loader set rounds and a multitool, it included a knife and had other uses. She returned to her seat and secured her new items, trying to recall if she needed anything else but wanting to be careful about being weighted down.

Marioneta shook her head. She of all people didn't know what to expect on the planet below, except that the use of simple weapons would endanger everyone's lives. If this was going to work, then everyone needed to survive.

Shay boarded the runabout and found herself a nice, quiet spot where she'd be able to think. There was no telling what they were going to be getting themselves into, so the young woman planned to use the trip to mentally prepare herself for all sorts of possibilities. She looked at the faces present, hoping they'd all be on the runabout for the return trip home, but kept such thoughts to herself.

"Let's get going," Camila said to De Vries.

Roosje nodded and closed the shuttle doors. "Brace yourselfves.", she said. "This could be a bumpy ride."

The flight out of the hangar bay was uneventfull, as well as the first few minutes. After that they were entering the field surrounding the planet. Now they would see if the alien technology worked. At first she did not see many change to normal flight. But after a second, she could notice a drop in efficiency and the shuttle responding slower than it should.

"The technology is holding, but it is like a battery decreasing rappidly.", Roosje spoke out.

Once the Mississippi was in space, the Chief of Security looked at the others. "We aren't certain what kind of welcome we'll receive on the planet," she said. "These people haven't seen outsiders in a very long time. Be polite, diplomatic, but stay on your guard. We have no idea what we're walking into or what happened here."

Marioneta nodded, still leaning against the bulkhead. The cockpit of the runabout was a bit crowded, but she didn't want to leave. The planet, despite the negative vibes everyone seemed to get from it, looked rather breathtaking. Part of her wanted to shed her binding uniform and explore the world to see what all it had to offer, but this was not the time for her to do so. Not while there was a mission to complete.

The word diplomatic echoed in Lina's mind. If there was one thing she was not really good at, it would be diplomatic. She was here to ensure that the device worked properly. And she intended to remain quiet and leave the talking to the more qualified officers.

"You got it, Chief," said Allen. Being on guard would be easy for him. Polite would take some work, though. Diplomatic...well, that would take a good ole Academy try. But he would certainly give it his best. He chuckled as he remembered how he'd tried to be polite and diplomatic with Baby Face that time the Changling nearly...well, nearly. He scanned the rest of the team and mentally placed bets on who might get 'Changlinged' this time.

Cooper nodded and a phrase came to mind as a pilot friend tried to explain flying casual while trying to basically be alert to issues but not looking for a fight, "You gotta keep your distance but don't look like you are keeping your distance." The Pilot had said, got what he meant and hoped she could keep up the balancing act.

As they entered the stratosphere, Roosje had trouble holding the shuttle steady due to the decrease in power levels. The shuttle started to shake and rattle. "Compensating.", she stated. He finguers dancing on the display screen. She had to reroute some of the power towards the controls to do so. The shuttle responded but slower and slower. As they broke through the clouds, the away team could get their first clear glimpse of the planets surface. By now the drop in power was thus big that she would have to diminish life support to get the shuttle on the ground. "We are losing power rappidly.,", Roosje shouted. "Brace for a rough landing. And i'm sorry if breathing will become somewhat difficult in the next minutes. It is the only choise I have."

Lina listened to the pilot, then jumped up from her seat to get to the energ output screen at the back of the runabout. "Let's see if I can help you to get some more energy.", Lina shouted towards De Vries.

She did not care about the warning of a rough landing as she tried to help the pilot in order to make it smoother.
"What is going on here?," she said more to herself as to the others when she saw the energy levels of practically every system falling. Then she turned to CPO Rogers. "Can you give me a hand here?"

Tarsa hopped out of her seat and moved to the standing console. "Give me a second," she answered as her fingers danced across the panel. Her eyes took in all of the information the computer was collecting and displaying. "Rerouting secondary backups." Her hands expertly moved, mostly out of instinct, to get power where it needed to go. It took nearly a minute before the levels began to even out. "Here we go," she said to no one in particular. While the power wasn't dropping anymore, the overall levels were still low.

"I can manually switch some connections to access the tertiary emergency stores," she explained, already moving towards the back compartment of the runabout.

Laying on the floor, she removed a deck panel and started rifling around looking for the right EPS line. Once she found it, she deactivated it, disconnected it from the main junction, and connected it to the tertiary power grid. "Gotta love Starfleet's love of redundant systems," she said to herself.

Walking back into the front compartment, she took her original seat. "That's as good as it's going to get."

Once the runabout landed, Camila got out of her seat and headed for the door. "Okay. Form up and watch for my signal if anything goes wrong," the ombre haired Security Chief said as she disengaged the door and hovered her hand near her phaser in case they got a hostile welcome.

Shay was on her feet and took her position, checking her gear one last time. Would anything she had with her be useful? That was a question the Ensign really didn't have an answer for, but she certainly hoped it would. Time would tell, though. "You got it, Chief," she said.

"Lieutenant?" asked Marioneta, eyeballing the structures out the side window of the runabout. "Are we all going? Or did you want some of us to guard the runabout?"

"You stay behind with Alonse," Camila said, indicating a Bajoran Security officer Ensign. "Raise the shields once we exit. If the locals get too curious, take it up to ten meters and signal me."

"You want me at the shuttle, Sir? Or could I go with you?" Roosje asked eagerly. As this was her first away mission and she really wanted to explore this planet.

"Come with us," Camila said.

" Thank you, Sir", she replid smiling. She put her phasor in the holster and a small pocket knife under her shirt. Ready to follow the group.

Marioneta nodded to the Lieutenant before looking over to Ensign Alonse. "Yes, ma'am," she confirmed as she moved to the back of the group as to not be in the way when they disembarked.

Allen watched Gomez move to the back of the group. He knew that someone had to stay behind, but it would still be the most boring job ever. He kinda felt bad for her. He then got up and hefted the isomag to his shoulder. "It may not work far away from here, but for the first little bit it'll still scare the hell outta whatever attacks." Allen moved closer to the edge of the runabout's door. "Whoa. Boys and girls, you gotta see this."

Cooper had previously stepped forward at the Chief's command and looked out from near Allen at his comment, she blinked slightly amazed at the sheer devastation and scale. She couldn't see anyone and wasn't sure there were even sentients around. However she knew life could be a stubborn thing so didn't want to count that out, though she wondered what condition that life would be in with a setting such as this, "Whoa is right..." She said.

Catching sight of a building that reminded her of a library, except crumbling like the other buildings within sight, Jayla stepped out of the shuttle staring at it. She actually wanted to go inside and see if there were any books, but decided that it probably wasn’t a library at all. After all, what were the odds of this culture designing old libraries they way they did on Her own home world. “It’s kind of... beautiful,” she said. “In a sad way.”

Lina waited for the first security officers to lead the way. After all they did not really know what awaited them, but the Chief Engineer was really curious to find out more about that planet. When she left the shuttle she looked around and shook her head as she saw all the destruction. One building on her left was half collapsed, but someone seemed to have tried to fix the roof as well as was possible.

"Just imagine what it looked like before those buidlings were destroyed," Lina replied to Jalya's remark, then pointed to the fixed roof. "It seems they at least tried to do some provisional repairs"

The landscape of the city looked like it was survived an apocalypse and the inhabitants had given a half hearted attempted at fixing things before they gave up. Camila pulled her tricorder and began scanning it. "I'm picking up an unusually high readings of geothermal energy," she said. "It's like they gave up any form of power except steam." She stepped outside of the shuttle carefully and began to pick her way around the rubble towards the tower they had picked up on their scans. "Two by two," she ordered the rest of the team. "And spread out. No more than ten meters."

"Understood." Cooper turned to Jayla, "Stay close Doc." She said, figuring it would be better to partner with a non security officer to support them. "And we'll see what we see..." She said, "Steam..." She muttered shaking her head, wondering at it as her eyes skimmed the desolation and debris.

"That would mean either hot springs near the surface or a heat source left running," Jayla said absently as she gazed at the ruining buildings. "Should we check it out?"

"No," Camila said. "We're here to try to make contact, not check out hot springs." She continued to make her way through the rubble carefully and made it look easier than a normal person would be able to navigate it, but she had Search and Rescue training and was conditioned for all terrain. ""Watch your step."

"Well, I meant... never mind," said Jayla, stepping carefully over the rubble. She had meant that if it were an artificial heat source, that could lead them to civilization- or what's left of it- but that seemed unlikely, so it didn't matter. "The trick is where to start," she added.

Cooper walked with the Doc as moved carefully through the dry wind. "Well I believe we're making for that large tower, good a place as any to get the lay of the land." She replied to the doctor as they walked, "If you see anything that looks like recent habitation give a shout out." She wanted to pull out her tricorder but with the difficult terrain trying to scan and walk would be a bad idea. She made a mental note to do a scan when they stopped.

Looking out for recent habitation while not trying to trip over something was not really easy. This seemed all very odd to her. Why hadn't they tried to build up again at least part of the buildings and houses? It just did not make much sense to her.

"Isn't it strange that they only did those provisional repairs? This must have been an advanced society so clearly they must have had the ability to ... whoa!", Lina started as she stumbled over a brick right in her way. Why hadn't she just kept her eyes on the ground.

"Ensign Mitchell, join me up here, please," Camila said as she warily made her way forward. At one point about a hundred yards away from the tower, she had to stop as a large amount of steam was pouring forth from a large gouge in the terrain and tricorder readings indicated it was over a hundred and twenty celsius and covered roughly thirty yards of area and fifty deep. "You go left and I'll go right," she said. "The rest of you, wait for us to signal and please keep an eye out for anything."

"Aye Chief" She pulled her phaser, made sure it was set to stun and proceeded to hunker down behind a pile of debris but one that gave her pretty good field of view. She didn't like splitting up but sometimes it was needed.

Had Shay been the only one to see Lina stumble? Possibly. She moved over to the woman and helped steady her. "Careful, Lieutenant," the young Ensign said, making sure she was steady on her feet before she moved toward Camila as ordered. "You got it, Chief." Shay kept her hand just a hair from her weapon in case she needed it and moved left as the Security Chief instructed, taking in the sights before her. She'd never seen anything like this before.

Allen took up position to the group's left. He kept his eyes open as well as his ears. And he watched his feet on occasion...the debris was everywhere. But the thing that stood out to him the most was the steam industrialization of the place. Inventive to say the least.

From the cover of the buildings, several dozen eyes had turned towards their visitors. Many had watched the spacecraft land from the sky, and each one had done with with great interest. Though none remained from the Great Conflict, the stories had been passed from generation to generation. At last, they would have a second chance to rejoin the galaxy.

At last, they would have their revenge.

On the ground level, several of the locals watched their new arrivals. From what they could determine, these aliens seemed frail, likely due to their dependance on technology. The Pendulians had been forced to live without it for centuries, developing stronger, bulkier forms in the process. What remained to be seen, however, was whether or not they could withstand their energy weapons, especially since one of them carried a cannon on his back. At the front of the group was a thin woman with golden hair. She had been judged either as a scout or a leader. Only one way presented itself as a way to find out.

Chitters rippled through multiple buildings, cycling around the Away Team. Though their tricorders had said they were not alone, this verbal announcement only confirmed it.

"Uh... Lieutenant," Shay said, looking around in all directions when the chitters began, her hand (which was just above her weapon) now rested on top of it to draw it quickly if need be. were they friendly? She didn't know, but had a feeling they were going to be finding out sooner rather than later, and the young woman didn't know how she felt about that. "I think we're seconds away from having company."

Camila held up a hand and closed it into a fist. "Form up," she said. "Medical staff in the middle." After all, she had been the one to test Jayla in the unarmed and armed combat and the safest place for her was in the middle of the group. She canned with her tricorder and it told her the chittering was the local inhabitants and they had the away team surrounded. She tapped her combadge to access the language matrice that had been incorporated into it and the Universal Translators. "We come seeking peace and knowledge," she called out.

No one came out. Chittering continued all around them.

Shay made her way back to the others, keeping her back toward them so she could see any movement from those who happened to be chittering. It didn't take long before she was in formation, glancing behind her briefly to make sure non-Security personnel were in the middle. She had a bad feeling, but she had a bad feeling about this part of space as a whole. And, the young woman was willing to bet that she wasn't the only one.

Jayla opted to do as she was told and stayed in the middle of the group. She could defend herself- she had proven that to herself- but she wanted to avoid it if at all possible. She hated physical conflict.

The sound sent shivers up Allen's spine. He removed the isomag from his back and shouldered it. "Eyes open, Chief. And I don't see what's making that god-awful noise."

Lina noticed the security personnel gathered all around the group. But that did not really make her feel better. That sound really made her nervous and she kept looking from one direction to the other. She opened her tricorder to find out who was making that noise and where they were.
"What?...", she did not finish her sentence but started tapping the tricorder buttons.
"My tricorder doesn't seem to work."

"Run a diagnostic later, set your phaser on stun," Camila said as she swept her phaser from left to right, looking for a source of the chittering. "We mean you no harm," she called out, but her combadge translator seemed to only give half of the translation to the languages they had access to. She tapped it again. "Di Pasquale to Gomez. Raise the shields on the Mississippi and give me an area scan."

Roosje was getting a bit scared by now, outside the protective cocoon of a spaceship and surounded by alien sounds. She kept quiet and close to the middle of their group.


===[Runabout Mississippi]===

"Standby," Marioneta said, moving from the closed door to the front controls. She began to tap a few buttons before calling out to the ensign left behind with her. "Ensign, I'm not getting power to the sensors for some reason. Can you open the maintenance hatch and check the flow regulator?"

"Certainly," Alonse the Bajoran Ensign said as he turned to go check the flow regulator and pulled the maintenance hatch off.

Marioneta paused, hearing the sound of the hatch being opened. Very quietly, she tapped a button to disengage the comms to mute what was about to follow from the rest of the Away Team. Her left hand reached down slowly to grab her phaser. As soon as the hand found the hilt, Gomez turned around and fired at the Bajoran ensign. Her shot rang true, and within a heartbeat, she was the only conscious person on the runabout.

Alonse hit the floor without a word, the grate of the hatch falling under him.


===[Away Team]===

The chittering grew louder and louder until it suddenly stopped. Silence did not reign for long. From out of the shadows exited several creatures in all directions, surrounding the away team. They did not appear to be armed, though, for a group of seven-foot tall ape-like creatures, their size and muscular features was enough to intimidate even the solid countenance.

The group walked towards the away team, not a single one daring to run. Scaring the new arrivals would only prolong what was about to happen, and the more of the arrivals that survived this round increased everyone's chances for survival.

Camila held up her free hand and pointed at the fissure that the steam was coming from. "Stop there and we can talk," she said upon seeing how many of how big the aliens were. She remembered that the beings on the planet had been described as apelike, but to see them in person was another story. She looked around and realized that they were coming from all directions around the party. "Don't shoot unless they seem like they plan to attack us," she cautioned the others.

One of the creatures, a taller, thicker ape brandishing gold shoulder pads with markings, stopped when he noticed the weapon. The presence of the energy weapon did not phase or scare him. He immediately noticed it was small, shaped in an odd curve. He wondered why these creatures had not invented a finger-pulling trigger... unless the firing mechanism was handled via thought or some other pressure-sensitive control obscured from his view.

The other apes noticed the gold-shouldered one had stopped, and they stopped to. Gold-shoulders raised both of his hands, and continued to walk forward. None of the other apes followed. Gold-shoulders did not speak; however, he kept his eyes fixed upon the blonde woman as he approached.

Shay kept an eye on the nearest ape-like creature out of her peripheral vision. Most of her attention happened to be on the closest ape like creatures that were closest to her and the others. There definitely seemed to be more of them than there were of her fellow personnel. Now, the young woman hoped that Camila would be able to accomplish something here, and found herself grateful that that weight didn't fall on her shoulders.

"Watch your six," Camila told everyone before she stepped forward until she was about halfway to the gold-shouldered one. "I'm Lieutenant Camila Di Pasquale of the USS Black Hawk from the United Federation of Planets, and we come seeking knowledge and friendship."

The leader shifted his head slightly to the left as he examined the petite woman. Lieutenant was such an odd name, and it was not a name recorded in the annals left by his ancestors. But, what surprised him more was that she was speaking near-perfect Aketi. They were technologically advanced, able to avoid the powerful energy-cancelling fields that bombarded the planet, and they could speak any language.

Yes. Yes, indeed. These travelers would serve their plans nicely.

"I am Voc'rar," the ape spoke, mirroring her translated Aketi tongue for one that was perfectly fluent in the language. "Welcome to Penduli V, Pasquale. You come to free us from the bondage forced upon our ancestors."

Catherine stood in front of the CMO watching her part of the circle, keeping an eye on the ape like creatures nearest her part. As she trusted the others to watch their ends. Even with good peripheral vision there were limits and she did not like being out in the open nor the fact that Lina’s tricorder was already showing signs of not working. What if the phasers were next? Even if they were ok, if it got to shooting they were in trouble. She'd just have to really hope the Chief was an amazing diplomat then. Dry wind moved dead looking earth around as Cooper stood quietly while the sun beat down on them, careful to keep her phaser pointed down but ready.

"Greetings, Voc'rar," Camila said but didn't bother to correct the ape-like being on her name. "Why have you and your people been imprisoned here and what happened to your wonderful cities?"

Voc'rar did not immediately reply. Had his kind been forgotten already by the universe? Perhaps they were finally given a gift to set the story straight. "We were wrongfully imprisoned for trying to restore order to the galaxy. If you do not know us, then it seems our captors desired for us to be forgotten." With that, he lowered his hands.

Behind the away team, the apes began to march forward once more.

The Security Chief watched him when he lowered his hands and then looked around behind her to check on the rest of the landing party. When she saw the other beings coming forward, she looked back at Voc'rar. "That is why we are here to discuss, Voc'rar," she said cautiously while holding her ground. Her free hand by her side flashed a sign by to Shay, Cooper and Miller to stand ready if they attacked. "Do you have a place we can discuss this in peace?"

Voc'rar smiled. "There is nothing to discuss, Lieutenant," he snarled. "This place will suffice perfectly."

Behind the Away Team, there was a loud droning sound along with the sudden appearance of wind and dust. The Runabout Mississippi hovered above the Away Team and slowly came down for a landing in between the apes and the Away Team.

"Yes. Ship to the rescue.", Roosje thought.

The runabout touched the ground. Its engines remained hot as the side door opened, permitting Petty Officer Gomez to emerge from the doorway with her phaser extended and ready. Except, it wasn't pointed at the apes. It was pointed at the Away Team. With a loud voice, a series of clicks and snarls erupted from her mouth, followed by, "Stand down, Starfleet. And you won't be harmed."

"What the hell are you doing, Gomez?" Shay demanded, her attention on the runabout and the woman standing in the doorway. It was clear the Away Team was in danger from both the ape like creatures and one of their own. She had to do something to allow the others to get away, but they were surrounded, and their only way off of Penduli V was now in the hands of a traitor. "Chief... orders!"

"Take aim, Mitchell, Miller! Everyone else gather in!" Camila tapped her combadge =Di Pasquale to Mississippi close and seal door and power down!=^= she shouted before she brought her phaser up to Voc'rar. "Stand back!" she ordered him. "We're not your enemies!"

The runabout did not heed the Lieutenant's commands. Gomez, with her phaser still outstretched, held up her other hand which held three isolinear chips. "Command chips are right here!" she called out over the whine of the engines.

Voc'rar's smile grew. The fact that one had turned against her shipmates confirmed what he'd been hoping for all along. "Lieutenant, I have no desire to harm you. We believe that we can help each other. There may be eight of you, but there are dozens around you here on the ground, and many more in the surrounding buildings. Lower your weapons, and all will be explained."

Although she was terrified, something deep in Jayla's gut told her to trust them for now. Maybe it was her dislike of confrontation and her fear of having to punch somebody, but she really wanted these guys to be good. "I think we should do as they say," she said tensely.

"You got to be kidding,Sir", Roosje said without thinking. "You can't leave them in control of our ship."

Allen had taken aim with his isomag at the now landed runabout...well, the traitorous Ensign. "Take it easy, Warrant," the Petty Officer called out over his shoulder. "Now's not really the time to have a contest. We'll get your little ship back to you soon enough."

Cooper was reminded of a chess lesson her Dad tried to teach her. She didn't always have the patience for it but tended to pay more attention if he described things in tactical terms. This situation reminded her of what her Dad had called 'a line of death'. When multiple pieces on the game board would fall becuase of their placement in relation to enemy pieces. It would just take one piece to capture another, or in this case one shot fired and it would all come crashing down.

That was not a cheery thought as she moved in with the others, and cover too far away. Nevertheless her mind tried to work out plans as she was faced with the fact something had gotten to Gomez. She stood calmly, her body between the Doc and others in the little huddle as best she could. Ready to react to an attack or other but holding, her eyes scanning her side.

As ordered, Shay removed her phaser and pointed it ahead of her, taking aim. Miller had his isomag leveled at Gomez, so that left her with gold-shoulders and anyone else who might have felt froggy enough to jump. Not that she truly minded. "Someone better start explaining something."

Lina stood there not moving at all, but she had her right hand near the phaser she was also carrying. However, she did not intend to touch it or even move her hand in that tense situation. After all, since the tricorder was not working, who said that the phasers would? The engineer somehow doubted it. She felt her heart beat as she was nervous with all those ape-like creatures around, but right now there was nothing at all she could do apart from being ready just in case Voc'rar had lied about having no intention to harm them.

Miller re-checked the setting on his isomag and increased it to temporarily impair a lifeform's central nervous system. The magnetic charge inducer indicated the shoulder cannon was fully charged and ready to disrupt some electromagnetic fields. A smirk crept across his face as he was thankful that Gomez had landed the enhanced runabout between them and the apes. "Ready on your mark, Chief. Or further incursion of the enemy...whichever comes first. I'm hoping for the second."

Gomez remained absolute, her phaser still aimed at the Away Team. It was set for a wide beam on the highest stun setting. While it would be effective, the arrangement of the Away Team would prevent the shot from taking out everyone, and it would also take out a few of the locals as well. The decision was risky, but she would take the chance if she had to.

"Last chance, Lieutenant," Voc'rar warned, raising a hand with two fingers pointing upward, a signal for his brethren to prepare to fire. "Though I must admit I'm curious as to the color of your blood, I really have no desire to harm you."

"Lower your weapons," Camila said after a moment. She had no desire to get more people killed and followed her command by holstering her phaser.

Shay couldn't believe Camila was ordering them to lower their weapons. It was clear that one of their own was a traitorous bitch, and now her Chief was giving in to them. Still, the young woman had no choice but to comply. After all, it was an order.

"Lower our...what?" he exclaimed. Why in the world did he bring an isomag if he wasn't going to get to fire it?! "Might as well have brought a Type One phaser...," he trailed off. Allen removed the shoulder cannon and held it at his side.

Cooper understood the reasoning but it still felt wrong as she reluctantly complied and holstered her phaser.

"Excellent," Voc'rar declared with a smile. The rest of his digits were instantly spread outward, forming a flattened hand, which he slowly lowered, a signal to his forces to hold their fire. In the absence of weapons fire, more than a dozen apes stepped forward, grabbing the arms of each Starfleet member and forcing them behind their backs to bind them. "For your safety," Voc'rar explained, coming forward. As he did, he pointed to several members of his entourage. Each one nodded, moving forward to join him at the front of the group. Others continued to keep their weapons pointed at the Starfleet personnel, just in case they tried something.

Shay didn't know what to do. They'd moved so fast, and now she was being restrained. A growl escaped her lips as she struggled, her angry gaze turning toward Camila. "Do you still think we should have lowered our weapons?" she snapped, fighting against the individual that held her.

"It was that or have them overrun us while Gomez fired on us from behind," Camila said before she turned her attention to Voc'rar. "As for you, I guarantee that you have a lot to learn and will very soon," she vowed.

Gomez chittered to a couple of the apes, who boarded the runabout to bring out the stunned ensign. She holstered her phaser and approached Voc'rar who greeted her with a simian smile. "The work has only begun," she informed him. "This is only a shuttle, and we are ten of nearly eight hundred. There is a large ship in orbit, large enough to escape and renew our work."

She turned back to the Away Team. Pointing at three of the Away Team members, she said, "These three are senior officers. Security. Medical. Engineering. We have others like us on the Black Hawk as well. Not enough to take her, but with this group, taking the ship should be easy."

They're going to try to take the ship! Shay continued to struggle against the Planet of the Apes wannabe and kept her eyes locked on Camila. "Who has more to learn now!?" she demanded of the other woman, using her booted foot to stomp on the foot of her captor. "If I make it out of this alive, you can consider this my resignation." With that, she continued to fight. All the young woman wanted was to get an arm free. If she could accomplish that, then she'd be able to turn the tables in their favor. Hopefully.

Having his arms behind his back and restrained was one thing. Having it done by a giant, smelly gorilla was whole other one. "Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!" Turning to Camila, "Thanks, Chief, now I smell like wet monkey."

Helpless rage ran through Catherine who had anger with no outlet. Another large gorilla had her by the arms and she still didn't know what they'd done to Gomez. There was a small fission of fear in the back of her mind as the words about taking the ship filtered in. She tried to breathe slowly, keep her mind clear for an effective action.

Voc'rar laughed at the Chief of Security, then said, "Just watch and see."

The nine selected apes each drew a dagger from a sheath on their left legs. They raised them high into the air, each shouting a cry in an unrecognizable language. The knives quickly came down, flesh slicing apart at each of the impact points. One by one, the apes fell to their knees as their bodies began to fail. Two other apes came up behind them, brushing something off the ears of those who'd just committed suicide. As each ear was brushed, the expression on each of the downed apes faces changed. Resolute expressions quickly morphed into shock and fright.

Voc'rar removed his own knife as well as the two aides approached the Starfleet personnel with their hands extended. Their hands, while still, seemed to squirm from something dancing on their outstretched palms. "For you see, Lieutenant. We do have need of you. We have long been imprisoned on this world, suffering for losing the Great Conflict. Today, we shall have our revenge. Today, you shall help the Dolmoqour escape."

The leader, without waiting for Camila to respond, shoved his own knife in his chest. As the aides began to brush the ears of the rest of the Away Team members, Another aide came forward and brushed Voc'rar's ear. "He has selected you, Lieutenant," the aide said, reaching his hand to her ear. "You honor him."

Camila screamed when she saw what was taking place and the things on the hands of the apes that hadn't just killed themselves in front of her. "Vaffanculo, sporco fottuto parassita!" she cried and brought both of her strong legs up as she aimed at the thing in the ape's hand. She felt like her skin was going to crawl off in revulsion, but her instinct to survive flooded her body with adrenaline and she knew she could willingly drop a photon grenade at her feet if she could get her hands to her tactical belt. She jerked both arms to the point where she nearly dislocated her shoulders and screamed again.

Allen was by no means a small man and he put up no small fight either. The nearly bleeding marks on his wrists and arms from the restraints and the bruises that had already started forming on his forehead from the headbutts were indicative of that. There was no way in hell that he was going to end up a puppet with something in his head. "Lower our weapons," he finally said, exhausted. "Yeah, that's paying off in gold pressed latinum." That was the last thing he said before a blood-curdling scream left the Petty Officer's mouth and echoed off the stone around them. In those few seconds, he could only describe the pain as an ice-pick being slowly buried in his brain and twisted.

Jayla panicked.

And it wasn’t her usual quiet panic that resulted in her cowering and whimpering- oh no! Their captors couldn’t be so lucky. This was a loud, violent, unrelenting panic. She screamed at the top of her lungs, kicking and thrashing as hard as her muscles would allow. Once her breath was spent, she heaved another and began spluttering Trill obscenities at them, still kicking and thrashing like a woman possessed. In the back of her mind, she knew it was Belar’s personality influencing her and she wondered how much of this she would remember clearly afterwards, but the front of her mind was blind panic mixed with rage. She continued to struggle- hard- and curse and scream and hurl vile threats at whoever was holding her. If she could have seen how she was acting, she would have refused to believe it was even her.

The grip on the Doctor's arms tightened, reinforcing what she was resisting against. "Hold her still," gruffed the aide who stood in front of her now. One of his hands reached out to grab the top of her head to hold it still in order to keep the Dolmoqour meant for her to have a chance to take hold.

“Stay away from me or I’ll rip you limb from limb you-“ unrepeatable Trill curse that would make a Klingon blush “-worthless piece of gutter trash! I will rip out your heart and eat it in front of you! Keep those hands off me if you don’t want them to end up trophies on my wall!” And she kicked and thrashed as hard as she could despite the arms gripping her

It was a difficult task, but the aide managed to brush the spotted woman's ear. the Dolmoqour slithered on the surface of the lobe before sliding into the ear canal.

Jayla continued to kick and rage for several seconds, but then gradually began to calm down. She continued to glare, however, and even after she stopped struggling altogether, the blind rage she had exhibited previously never left her eyes. This parasite was going to have its work cut out for it with all the personalities who suddenly found an opening with which to fight for control.

As the spotted woman ceased to resist, the apes began to loosen their grip, slowly letting the Dolmoqour get to know its new host's body, no matter how tired it now was. Nearby, the apes began to release Miller who conversion had also just completed.

Gomez stepped forward to accept Voc'rar from the aide whose hand had just been kicked by the ombre-haired woman who continued to resist. She then nodded to the aide who reached for Camila's hair so that they could together perform the same task on the Chief of Security that had just been handled on the Chief Medical Officer. Another ape approached and reached for the Lieutenant's feet to prevent another kick. "Relax, Lieutenant. This shall all end soon." Gomez extended her hand towards Camila's ear.

"Traitor!" Camila screamed before she screamed again, this time in horror as she felt something slimy brush her ear. It felt like something was really crawling on her this time and another scream ripped from her nearly raw throat when she felt the invasion of her being start. She tried to fight it with everything she had. She brought up memories of the Consortium betrayal, fighting her own Starfleet brothers and sisters, memories of her family, and everything else she could use to try to defend herself on a mental level.

There were many things Shay had witnessed in her short career as a Starfleet officer, but nothing was more terrifying than what she was witnessing now. This... this wasn't covered at the Academy. There was no curriculum on it... no exams to take... no amount of studying that would have prepared her for this. No. This was real. A nightmare brought to life, and she and her fellow crewmen were right in the thick of it.

The screams of those around her were deafening... so loud, she could hardly think, but she had to. The young woman didn't want to be a pawn in whatever game these... things were planning. She needed to fight. She needed to get free and warn the ship somehow. She needed to...

Shay felt something brush against her ear, breaking all thoughts of concentration. Whatever it was was now moving into her ear and further still. "No! No! No!" she cried, struggling for a moment before the searing pain of the parasite making itself at home was felt. Her eyes closed against it as she went limp in the hands of the ape like creature restraining her.

No matter how hard Camila felt, she felt the crushing weight of her past defeats overwhelming her and the fight against the creature lessened. Tears slid down her cheeks and she gazed at the faces of her crewmates as they succumbed one by one to the parasites and knew she had failed them once again. A great sob wracked her body before her fight against it ended and her body stopped fighting the apes. She looked down, then up with new eyes and around at the others. "Dolmoqour...." she whispered with a new light in her eyes, then she began to laugh in a way that had absolutely no humor in it that anyone would find funny.

On one level Cooper knew that fighting would not be helpful. That did not matter, the moment all hell started to break loose and she realized just what was going to happen she fought. Standard moves like jerking her head back and going after the enemies legs were what she started with then it became quickly whatever she could do. She was perfectly happy to rip her arm off if it meant she could get to her belt. She focused on actions because it was better than focusing on the fission of fear that that gone down her spine at their first comments about the ship.

This loss of self and being helpless were two of her most severe and secret fears. She had to try to force her way past that even as she damaged the one holding her, fighting like a wild cat with rabies, he just called another over to help hold her as the wiggling thing came closer and closer. "Someone will make you pay..." She vowed with confidence she wasn't sure on but felt she had to say something. The last image she had before pain so intense she blacked out for a few moments was an image of her parents. She had a moment to regret putting down her weapon before the pain scattered everything and became all she knew. The pain continued and a cry forced out from the depths of her soul tore out of her throat, echoing with the cries of the others around the nearby buildings. A cry of anger and of loss.

After a time she stopped struggling and the apes let her go. She stood there with new eyes surveying their prison. Yes. It would be good to leave.

The ape-like creature held the Chief Engineer tight, but Lina did not move or fight or scream. The young woman watched the scene and felt paralyzed. She felt as if she was suffocating and needed to grasp for air, but that was not due to the tight grip of her 'guard'. That situation felt so unreal, so horrible, so terrifying that is was, in fact, more than she could cope with at the moment.

That paralysis went away when Cooper who was standing next to her was about to be infected by that parasite. She suddenly started to fight as she tried to help her fellow officer, but she had no chance against the tight grip of the creature holding her - and her ankle still hurt as she had tripped over that brick earlier. "Leave her alone...", she cried but it was no use. It didn't take long until Copper like all the others stopped to fight and had a strange look in her eyes.

Lina knew it was her turn now as another ape-like creature came towards her. Lina hadn't thought it being possible, but the guard behind her held her even tighter. Again, she was as like paralyzed. She stood there, breathing hard.
"No... no... please, don't!", she begged, but it was no use. Tears were rolling down her cheeks and she closed her eyes. She felt that thing at her ear and in her ear and then she just screamed in agony and pain until... suddenly ... everything felt okay again... and Lina's eyes opened again. She looked down at her body and her own hands as if she saw them for the first time. Then she looked at the other officers standing next to her and nodded.

Roosje watched in horror as one by one her fellow crewmates succumbed to what seemed to be a parasite of sole sort taking overvtheir bodies. She knew she would be next. She had witnessed that resistance had not worked. Yet every bone and fiber in her body screamed to get away. So she to resited the ape like creatures grip. She would never be able to use brute force. She had learned that early in her chareer. But she was a pilot with a good three dimentional insight and as a pilot she had good reactions. So with some twisting of her body she managed to pull away and run. But of course numbers did count and she was held again. As one of the aliens approached, she could feel a slimy touch to her ear. And then a burning pain so deep as any she had ever felt. She started to scream. A high pitched sound that would have scattered glass if there would have been any around. The pitch sound higer and sharper with every second passing. Until it stopped and there was a centered zone of silence and she was sitting in it.

This is so far from good, Tarsa thought. The odds were stacked against her; there was no escape. As her turn came, her instincts kicked in. "Fuck this!" she shouted, ready to fight back.

It took only a moment for them to subdue her. And then, as the others were, she was under the control of another.

Gomez stood fast, though her hand rested on her phaser should a quick blast be needed. She remembered possessing this lowly brig officer during the event that had spread the crew throughout time. It had taken her years to infiltrate a Guardian vessel, and when that vessel found the Black Hawk and then her host had been captured, it had been easy to latch onto the brig officer's clothing, waiting to take possession of the woman once she was totally alone. Her scream had been loud and painful, but it was nothing like what she had just witnessed. This first phase was now over, and the next chapter would begin.

 

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