USS Traveller
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Field Trip

Posted on Thu Sep 9th, 2021 @ 12:19pm by Captain Remas McDonald & Lieutenant Commander Shadi Zatra & Lieutenant Mar Megara MD & Lieutenant Dinui Locke (loch) & Innocent Bystander & Commander Onofron Zuir

2,416 words; about a 12 minute read

Mission: S2:2: Something Missing Something New
Location: USS Traveller, Shuttle Bay
Timeline: February 2390

Remas had arrived early, and watched as the hanger deck crew had brought the Zheng-he up from the under-deck hanger and into its launch cradle. The sleek, aerodynamic lines of the Arrow class runabout always made it look fast, and Remas knew that was true enough. In the hands of a good pilot, it could perform acts of navigation verging on being worthy of song, and with Jolani at the helm, he had no doubt that would be the case.

They had arrived on the edge of the border zone of Messier 4's core, a span of void some two light-years across. But in that bubble were at least a dozen stars, all orbiting and colluding with each other to make a near-impossible ticket for a starship to traverse. The Runabout, on the other hand, would make easier headway than the bulky Wayfarer class battlecruiser. A days travel from their current location as a low warp factor would bring them to the edge of the distortion field, and the pallet of fuel cells loaded into the Zheng-he's cargo bay would ensure once her warp drive became inoperable power would not be a problem.

Still, to not be joining them on this mission...

The door to the shuttle bay opened, and the first of the away team arrived with their kit bags.

In Shurikan's opinion, punctuality was really just a guideline. He turned up when he felt like turning up and it just so happened that that day he had nothing more interesting to do. So he strolled into the shuttle bay, in his customary lack of anything resembling a uniform, with a bag slung over one shoulder and sauntered over to the runabout, tossing a half-hearted flick of his fingers that couldn't possibly be mistaken for a salute towards McDonald. "Mac," he drawled idly, throwing any illusion of procedure out the airlock.

Most CMOs liked to pretend that there was a lot of work that went into preparing for an away mission, but not Meg. The medkits were kept packed at all times, so really, it was just a matter of double-checking it and making sure the tools were all charged before heading out the door. It took ten minutes, tops. Or, maybe other CMOs didn't keep the med kits stocked and the tools within them charged. If so, she did not approve, of course.

But, in any case, she arrived just behind the Trill and didn't bother to hide her gaze from his form. After all, men were fun to look at, weren't they? "Buenas dias," she said in an almost sing-song voice.

Shurikan glanced back at the woman following him into the shuttle bay and grinned. "Amshur, via'lar," he answered with an amused glint in his eye.

Meg grinned, making it somehow sultry. Spirited one the translator had told her. She liked that. Good looking and complimentary. She could get used to this.

Jolani strode into the shuttle bay. Her face was its typical impassive look. Duty called and she was going to do it. As long as she was flying, she had a reason to continue. She wondered if she was developing another. Logic told her that was impossible. After all, her mate had been dead for some time now. They were bonded. She survived. It could not be possible to bond again, could it? She shook her head slightly to herself and continued to await boarding her shuttle.

Like Remas, IB had arrived early, keen not to miss any part of the process with regards this exciting launch. He'd nestled himself quietly and neatly in the closest corner to the Traveller's captain, settled into a comfortable seated position and simply observed in contented silence. Such a majestically streamlined and wonderfully functional little speed-demon of a craft this one, and velocity was something IB truly appreciated.

He remained seated when the big Trill entered the space, canted his head to the side at the impolite greeting and nodded to Meg, but remained seated until Jolani entered the hangar. This was the second key moment IB had been awaiting - to see her expression as pilot and craft visually collided.

"Are you ready to sing the song and dance the dance of our competition challenge?" IB asked, standing to his fully impressive height and stepping enthusiastically into Jolani's path so that she couldn't ignore him.

Stopping and looking upward at Jolani, something rare occurred. She smiled. There was a twinkle in her eye, as she savored the challenge. "I am looking forward to see what you can do out there. Only one person I knew could out fly me." Thinking of her late husband caused the smile to fade, as his noticeable absence returned. "You're not him," she concluded, not completely understanding what her statement might be referencing.

Bystander's bronze features showed off a broad grin at that initial smile, the happiness of an individual who wanted nothing more than to experience a game with a valued and worthy opponent. As Jolani's expression fell sharply, he frowned in confusion. "I am Innocent Bystander," IB clarified, unsure where the mix-up had occurred in this short exchange of words. "I have yet to partake in competitive activities with anyone here. Perhaps you will triumph," he continued. "Perhaps I will. We do not yet know."

"You are an incompetent fool," belted Ono as he marched through the doors into the hangar bay.

Shadi, following in his wake, gasped in horror at the insult. She slithered across the deck in order to surpass him and then sprung up in his path. "How dare you?! I am a daughter-spawn of Ragolar, the first--"

"What are you is an embarrassment to Starfleet," Ono interrupted. "Assign someone more competent to repair my sonic shower and hopefully get to the bottom of its sudden indifference to my programming and vocal commands."

When Ono's eyes fell on Shurikan, they narrowed to angry points. Could the gangly Trill have accomplished such a feat? There would be a trail.

Shurikan simply smirked.

Shadi was hissing with rage at this point, though no coherent words managed to form. Interrupting her again, Ono said, "Perhaps I have judged you too harshly, Commander Zatra. My apologies. Just...ensure your maintenance teams perform all due diligence and report their findings directly to me."

Confusion fell over Shadi's face. "Very well. Since you withdrew your insult, I will forego the ritual combat challenge."

Straightening his uniform, Ono ignored Shadi's nonsensical ramblings and joined the others. "Good day to you, Captain McDonald."

Meg glanced over at the gorgeous Trill and rolled her eyes at Ono's antics. She desperately wanted to make a "he's crazy" sign, but he was still facing her direction, so she didn't dare. It wouldn't do to get any more on his bad side than was necessary.

In return, Shurikan gave Meg a wink.

"Commander Ono," Remas nodded. "We be just waiting on Lieutenant Locke, but I don't see much in the way of harm in getting the briefing started. Thanks to Jolani's fine-flying, we have arrived on the outer edge of the Core Stars. As odd as it sounds we can't easily take the Traveller in there due to the overlapping gravitation fields of those stars, so the Zheng-he will be your chariot."

As if on cue the Arrow class vessel's engine nacelles began to glow, and a deep bone tingling purr filled the air.

"She has a cargo bay full of compression graphene battery cells, which we've determined shouldn't be affected by the field effect of the Slow Space. But to repeat, once past the Core Stars and within the area of effect of the Slow Space you'll not have warp drive. You'll also have no fusion-based power, if our last encounter with this phenomenon is any reckoning." Remas continued. "Which means caution is the watchword. If its a Clockmaker Sphere at the centre enclosing a star, I'd like you to be able to return to tell us about it. If instead it's a colony of Clee'san's people-"

A rapid ticking sound broke his words, as a beach ball-sized sphere of brassy metal walked into the shuttle bay. The spherical robot, an ancient artefact of the Morningstar Imperium, had been salvaged from the wreck of the ark prior to its destruction. Its lower hemisphere unfolded a set of jointed legs that milled under it providing locomotion, whilst its top half-revealed with netted openings and grills intricate impossible clockwork that industriously whirred within.

"Then I will vouchsafe your travels," Clee'san's voice rang out from the orb as it skittered up to beside Remas.

IB observed this entrance with great interest, golden gaze wide and bright. Internally he attempted to visualise the deeper workings of this bot, while his busy silence failed to dim his outward excitement at this important arrival. He didn't speak, but let his attention shift from Remas to Clee'san and back again. "Teamwork," he noted eventually, intoning the word with a deep respect as if this was a relatively new concept.

Clee'san had gotten Shurikan's attention at least. Anything even vaguely resembled an AI always would.

"The talking sphere will be our chaperone?" Ono asked rhetorically. "Why wasn't this covered in the briefing?"

"Clee'san might ssseem like an unsavory space ghossst, but it has proven itself time and again," Shadi interjected.

"So the ball is the ghost or is it some sort of talisman to ward the ghost away?" Ono asked, full of scornful condescension. "I'm confused. Perhaps we should light some incense candles to clarify the issue since we seem to have taken full leave of our senses."

Shadi's eyes bulged. "Candles? Well, no, but I did bring some emergency flaresss..."

Turning to Remas, Ono said, "I beg your pardon, Captain, but I need to know from a competent individual what a Clee'san is and why it's vital to the mission."

Watching the interaction between the reptilian engineer and the blue humanoid, IB decided that there was far more confusing detail in the latter's vocalisation than with regards the spherical robot and its conscious passenger. Clee'san made far more sense to him than these fleeting statues comprised of water and essential minerals, crafted though they all were from the very stars. A humanoid secondary to Captain Remas McDonald's fine leadership of this spacecraft seemed somewhat superfluous and redundant. Perhaps this Ono was a spare, Bystander had logicked, a test subject of sorts to throw into the fray, though the XO's skill-set mostly eluded him.

"You are the chaperones," IB said, stepping closer to Ono. "Respect is required rather than impertinent queries and tiny fires atop scented dusty sticks. Your presence is not required for success in this mission, you are merely unnecessary caustic noise and dissention."

Dinui walked in after having gone over her reports twice, and assignments to be done in her absence three times, with the away team, she was carrying a well packed carry-all, besides basic field gear, including a coil of rope, tricorder and spare power cells. She had tucked in a thick blanket, and (some of the dice from her collection) for the moments of when she might need the distraction while thinking. There were also containers for gathering samples if the chance arose. She gave everyone a sheepishly cheeky grin as she made her way to the shuttle.

"Clee'san is allied to our cause. She was our first contact in our first ventures out past the galactic barrier. We rescued her from an Ark we found-" Remas began to say. The Orb robot continued mincing past, beginning the complicated task of getting up the stairs to the runabout.

"You disrupted a stalemate I'd successfully invoked between myself and an active Clockmaker infestation. In doing so you forced me to deploy a final gambit that annihilated my ship, and forced us into a partnership to seek my people," Clee'san's voice piped from the machine. "If my people are at the centre of his star cluster, I will know. And if we face Clockmakers, I am the only one here who has ever faced them in battle."

Given her mind had been uploaded to an informational format after her death, something she alluded to as part of her service to the Morningstar Ascendency, did not make that statement sit well on anyone shoulders. To die once was terrible enough, to die and come back to fight once more was the stuff of ancient tragedies.

"Surely we are not taking a single runabout into battle, though," Ono said. "We're just scouting. But I suppose if the obnoxious hologram and talking orb can help, we might as well benefit from their presence before a Bajoran vedek comes to retrieve them."

Shurikan was ignoring every word that came out of Ono's mouth as the garbage it was and focusing on Clee'san. "Amshur, Clee'san," he began in a far friendlier tone than he had ever aimed at the ship's second, watching the spherical being work on getting itself into the runabout. Then he turned his attention back to Ono. "You about done talking rashak'shi kir, Z? I'm sure your ass needs a rest after upping the volume."

"Rashak'shi Kir?!" Shadi exclaimed with a gasp. "The first virtue of the Warrior Code! How doesss a Trill know of the Ragolar Way of the Warrior?!" Her eyes were wide in surprise. "Go on! Recite the ressst!"

Ono rolled his eyes. "Perhaps we should just get on with the mission before the freak show begins in earnest."

"We're just following your example, big guy," Shurikan deadpanned before grinning at Shadi. "A Trill doesn't but he'd like to learn. I'm insulting him in Trill. It looks like our cultures both got something right."

Leaning directly into Shurikan's personal space so as not to be overhead, Ono said, "To quote a particularly poignant Security instructor from the Academy, if you disrespect my authority again then I will eat your insubordinate ass like corn on the cob."

With that said, he looked at Shadi. "You can discuss your pagan profanity with Mr. Tsin in transit. Let's load up, people. The runabout isn't going to fly itself."

"Unfortunately for you, I have standards," Shurikan smirked at Ono.

Remas watched the crew mount up in the Runabout, and for once was glad he would be staying behind. Either they'd come back a team, or he'd need to prompt from the lower ranks to fill gaps in the hierarchy.


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