Literary Challenge #28 : Stranded
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Join Date: Jun 2012
09-26-2012, 12:49 AM
Drem ordered me off my own ship because I raised my voice at my helmsman. I tried to explain to the well-intentioned, but overzealous doctor that I was getting status reports from the Tobarri colonies across the t?O network, but she wouldn?t buy it. Sometimes, I think she?s the one in need of a vacation. That damn woman, I never should have asked her to join my crew. She even had the unmitigated gall to order my security team to escort me to the shuttle bay. But apparently, I?m just the captain, and for some reason Starfleet chose to make Chief Medical Officers outrank captains ? for the life of me, I?ll never understand that decision.
So, there I was, in my shuttle, in the middle of the Felczer Nebula, a dozen light years from the Orellius Sector Block and known civilization. At least they dropped me off in a system near an idyllic M-class planet. And, as much as I hate to admit it, it was nice to get out and stretch my wings for a bit. I picked a campsite along the southern edge of the largest continent with some spectacular sea-side cliffs. The thermals rising up from there was perfect for soaring. The only thing that would have made it better was having Audria to share them with me.
Three days went by much too quickly for my tastes. Did I just say that out loud? I?ve got to put up the pretense that it was inconvenient. I can?t let Drem think that she could do this whenever she felt like it.
When it was time to go, I packed up the campsite, boarded the shuttle and took off to rendezvous with the Tobarrus. I had barely left orbit, when something bad happened.
The shuttle?s deflector stopped functioning and the shuttle began being struck by micrometeorites. I tried to raise the shields, but the forward emitter array took a hit. Without shields and without a deflector, I was stuck in orbit. I transmitted a distress call, knowing full well that the nebula?s interference would prevent the Tobarrus from detecting the signal until they were practically on top of me. It was not looking good, but I had to do something.
Next, I crawled under the forward console, removed the panel, and stared at the isolinear chips in utter confusion. I should have paid more attention to that engineering course at the Academy. I was tempted to start pulling chips, but decided against it. I didn?t want to make the situation any worse. I replaced the panel and crawled out from beneath the forward station. I climbed into my chair and thought for a minute as I looked around the shuttle. My gaze fell upon the transporter. If worse came to worse, I could always beam back down to the planet and extend my shoreleave for a while longer. The Tobarrus would come looking for him once they realized that he wasn?t at their rendezvous coordinates.
I sat back and thought for a moment. Suddenly, it occurred to me that the very thing that had sent me on this little excursion could be my saving grace. I tapped into the t?O?s telepathic network and sent a message across space in a blink of an eye to the Tobarri colony. There was a Starfleet Intelligence officer there that could relay my distress call to command and relay it to the Tobarrus for my rescue. It would take some time for my message to make its way up the chain of command, but at this point, it was my only choice.
I closed my eyes and focused on Marlos.
Marlos, are you there?
Behind my eyelids, I saw the node aboard the Tobarrus before the universe started to blur as I instantaneously transverse a hundred light years to the colony?s t?O node. Marlos came into focus. He was standing at a chalkboard with a complex equation scribbled across it. He stared thoughtfully at it. I materialized behind him. I cleared my throat to get his attention, but he didn?t acknowledge me. Marlos was lost in concentration. As he reachde to solve the equation, it changed. The numbers, letters, and symbols began to dance across the slate board. He scribbled answers frantically, but each one joined its companions in its waltz. Marlos was dreaming.
I reached for him and tapped his shoulder, which startled him awake. The environment that we stood in transformed into his bedroom at the colony. It was dark, but the moonlight from the pair of asteroids that orbited the tiny m-class world shone through the open window as a cool breeze blew made the curtains wafted back and forth.
Marlos was wrapped up a light sheet. He sat up from his bed and looked over at me in disbelief. He rubbed his eyes. When he focused on me again, he slumped his shoulders in disappointment.
Soriedem, is that you? He asked as he looked at the clock on his bedside. Do you know what time it is?
Marlos was the lead Tobarri researcher for the Borg nanite code problem. His role kept him in contact with Richard Stevenson, the Starfleet Intelligence liaison officer stationed on the Tobarri colony overseeing their work for the Federation against the Borg threat.
I?m sorry to disturb your sleep, I replied, but I have a bit of a problem and I need your help to get me out of it.
Marlos grew concerned as his brow furrowed and the expression on his face had shed its annoyance at being disturbed in the middle of the night. He shook the last vestiges of sleep and swung his legs from the bed. A problem? What happened? Is the Borg?
I sent him my memories in a series of telepathic flashes. He blinked quickly as he received and comprehended everything that I had sent him.
Why are you sending this to me? I don?t know a thing about Starfleet shuttles, and even less about their deflectors or shield arrays, he replied.
Next, I sent him details pertaining to my plan for being rescued by the Tobarrus and what I need him to do.
Rich won?t like being roused so early, but I?ll take care of it right now, Marlos replied as he got up from bed, slipped on his robe and slippers, and made his way to the door.
My final message to Marlos before disengaging our link was a simple, Thank you. In a blink of an eye, I crossed the galaxy and found myself alone in the shuttle, orbiting a small m-class world somewhere deep inside the Felczer Nebula.
All I could do now was wait for help to arrive. To occupy my time and stave off boredom, I played games with the computer, listened to music, cleaned up the shuttle, reorganized the compartments, took inventory of supplies, retuned the hand phasers, ran diagnostics on the remaining shuttle systems, and just about went out of my mind in boredom. You couldn?t imagine my disappointment when I discovered that only an hour had passed since contacting Marlos.
I checked in Marlos to find out what the status of the rescue was coming along. He was on the verge of sleep, when I roused him once again. When I asked for a status update, he seemed annoyed as he sat up in bed and began to describe going to Rich?s room, waking him up, and the message he transmitted to Starfleet Command. Marlos had done all he could to help me. It was now in Starfleet?s hands.
Instead of going back to bed, Marlos agreed to keep me company. I brought him back to my shuttle. As his consciousness settled into a chair across from my own, I went to the replicator and produced a three-dimensional chest board and set it up between us. I allowed him to make the first move. As nothing more than a figment of my imagination, he couldn?t influence anything on the shuttle. He would indicate his next move, and I would place the piece in its intended place. We played half dozen games in this manner before the sun rose on the Tobarri colony world. It was time for him to go to work. Reluctantly, I agreed to let him go if he would keep me updated on the status of the rescue. In an instance, he was gone and I was alone in the shuttle again.
I realized that I was hungry and prepared the last ration pack. If the Tobarrus didn?t arrive soon, I?d have to use the transporter to head back down to the planet for supplies. It was uninhabited and didn?t offer much in terms of animal life. However, it did have plenty of insects and plant life that would allow me to survive indefinitely down there. I just hoped that it didn?t come to that. After dinner, I stretched out on the bunk in the rear compartment and tried to get some sleep.
I?m not sure how long I was asleep when my communicator chirped indicating that the Tobarrus had finally come within range. I jumped from the bunk, and took a seat at the center console just as the Tobarrus came within view. I opened a channel and demanded to know what had taken them so long.
?We weren?t in a hurry to interrupt your vacation,? my first officer, Ceathoo replied. ?We?re extending our shields around the shuttle, and then, we?ll secure with our tractor beam. You?ll be back onboard in a few minutes.?
When the blue beam of the tractor beam grabbed hold of my shuttle, the small shuttle shook momentarily before it was pulled towards the Tobarrus. I closed the channel and sighed heavily with relief. It was almost over, and a few minutes later I was back on the bridge of my ship ready to get underway.
Later, after the engineering crews took the shuttle?s deflector apart, they discovered what had happened to it. They discovered a small colony of insects had crawled inside the shuttle?s deflector and made their new home in its warm interior spaces. The bugs had even eaten through the patch cables. Even if I had paid attention in the engineering course, there was little I could have done to repair the shuttle without an EV suit. Hearing that bit of news didn?t make me feel any better though. It just made me wish that Audria was here with me. She was always better with engineering and scientific principles than I was. Me, I was a soldier. I was more comfortable with a gun in my hands than a spanner or whatever they?re called.