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Saving Jack and Nolan

Posted on Sun Oct 21st, 2018 @ 6:56pm by Commander Martin Sorenson & Lieutenant John Evans & Lieutenant M'rrina & Karrun North

Mission: A Misguiding Hand
Location: Brax, somewhere near the crash site

Four columns of shimmering light briefly lit a darkened forest before resolving into seemingly ordinary Braxians in civilian clothing. Or rather three of them did. The fourth might easily be mistaken for a species native to Brax, but wore nothing but a collar half hidden under her rough of neck fur and afixed with a comm badge. Martin had felt a bit awkward asking M'rrina to disrobe for the mission, though honestly Caitians had few taboos about going au natural, so going on all fours had been the bigger ask.

After glancing around, assuring himself the sensors had been right and no one else was near enough to have seen their entrance, Martin ran a quick medscan - just in case. Transporters were fairly reliable, but this close to the interference it was best to check that everyone's scattered atoms had reassembled correctly. Satisfied, he closed the scanner and slipped it into his jacket, leaving them again in near darkness.

"Okay, the crash site is due north. There aren't many roads into this area but it probably won't be long before the local militia starts moving in," he said. "We'll try to avoid them, but remember, if we're stopped that the story is that we're looking for our children - two boys who we think snuck out to go see the meteor. M'rrina, you'll scout ahead, but don't get too far. If someone decides you're wild and starts shooting, we don't want to be too far to yell for them to stop. Hopefully, the collar will be all we need to convince them you're... part of the family." Braxians seemed to have cougar-sized domesticated felines, much like some humans had wolf-sized dogs, but even if the cover story was to pretend she was one of them, it still felt odd to call her a 'pet'. "Any questions?"

"Yeah." M'rrina's voice drifted up from near everyone's hip height, one clawed finger tugging at said collar derisively. Sitting like many a zoo or nature preserve feline on Earth - or like very young kits on Cait who were just learning to sit and walk, which happened on all fours before hint limbs, much like a human child learned to crawl - she looked eerily like an oversized pet...except for the thoroughly annoyed slit-eyed expression on her face. "Those guys owe me. When I said I had no issues...what did Rufus call it--"furring it"?--I didn't know there'd be a collar and tag involved like a piece of lost luggage." She grumbled.

Karrun chuckled at the irritable response from the Caitian, "Just remember, the Braxians culturally are fairly impersonal. They shouldnt question too much if they see us wandering around, but rural towns are always a bit of a wild card in any civilization. They tend to have their own rules culturally that might not match the civilization as a whole. They could be more conservative or more liberal and friendly. We need to be prepared to deal with both."

"I'll owe you a catnip julip when we get back to Vesta," Martin told M'rrina before returning to the business at hand. "But Karrun's right, we don't know how the locals will respond, and there's the complication than militia units will be on their way as well and their attitude toward strangers will almost certainly be less friendly. Ideally we'd like find Jack and Nolan and get out without running into them. Given the distance to the crash site, it'll be light by the time we get there, so we'll try to stay away from roads and primary trails and to approach from cover." He looked around at each of them before pointing through the trees. "Let's go."

"Just three regular old people walking through the middle of bush with no real aim or appearance that we're properly geared for our hike. We're not suspicious at all." Karrun said with a shrug as she set off towards the direction the doctor had pointed. "We should have researched the outdoors types of their society a bit more."

"I dunno," Martin replied. "Seems to me that not being geared up much beyond warm clothes and sturdy boots plays fits a bunch of parents dashing out in search of offspring who ran off to find a mystery meteor, eh?"

.: Several hours later :.

Making their way through the forest had been slower going than anticipated, especially after militia vehicles began to roll by. M'rrina could hide in plain sight, but the rest of them had to get behind trees or lay low in brush in spots where cover was scant.

As early dawn turned to morning light, Martin felt increasing apprehension about reaching the two Mirans in time, especially as aircraft could now be heard passing overhead. They were still about 20 minutes from reaching the sight or getting more than the burned tree tops ahead as a visual. He tapped his comm, hoping for better news from their felinoid scout. "M'rrina, can you see the crash site? What's the status?"

“I can see the shuttle in the distance.” Came the voice from the commlink built into and hidden in the ‘collar’ M’rrina wore. “Obviously damages but looks like it could have been a survivable impact. No sighting on the crew, though.”

Martin released a breath at 'survivable'. What he felt was not quite relief since unconscious, in shock, too badly injured to move, etc., remained distinct possibilities, but at least there was hope. If they could get to them first. "Good. Keep an eye on it," he replied. "Are there any signs of local militia yet?"

“No. Just some local fauna...Looks quite tasty.”

"You can catch snacks for breakfast after we retrieve the crew," Martin replied, suppressing a chuckle at a typically felinoid addendum to the report. "Let us know if there's any sign of Jack or Nolan, or the militia. Sorenson out."

He tapped off the comm badge hidden inside his shirt pocket and turned to the others. "There's a good chance we'll need to carry them out of there and if I need to stabilize them first, we may need buy time with a distraction or something to make the militia approach with extra caution."

"A distraction I can arrange. Just how big and loud of an distraction do you need. Someone walking away from you, or a small explosion?" John said, thinking of the plasma grenade he had brought with him and was hiding under his robe.

"Yes lets distract the amped up local militia who are already looking for weird things and possibly people with a explosion. That wont get more of them into the region, possibly the local armed forces with flying vehicles, at all." Karrun said sarcasm dripping from her voice. "You need to do something that would split their attention and cause a strain on resources. A small fire perhaps. Smoke would draw interest and if they're kitted like any regional militia, they also are trained to deal with forest fires. They wont want it to spread and endanger the town."

Martin suppressed a smile at Karrun's curt response. It wasn't quite as ...tactful... as he might have put it, but if he'd had any reservations about bringing a civilian bartender - no matter how impressive her background in anthro/xenology - he didn't now. She clearly had good grasp of the tactical situation as well as solid practical sense. "A fire or the appearance of one would be a good approach," he agreed. "If something more immediate is required, perhaps trees falling and cries for help. Unless there's absolutely no other choice, the last thing we want is an explo-"

KABOOM!!

The trees shook with the blast that cut off his last words as the flash momentarily whitened the black-scorched tree tops around the crash site.

Any thoughts of tactics, practicality, or even his basic command training, instantly forgotten, Martin was running even before the debris thrown upward by the explosion began to fall. It was nearly pure instinct - though not perhaps the normal instinct, which would be to run away from disaster. The doctor's response was driven entirely by the hope someone was still alive there and the absolute knowledge that anyone who had survived that would need immediate care.

"No Martin!" Karrun yelled as she began to sprint after the doctor. She had seen the images of the wreckage, she knew Starfleet designs, it wouldn't have blown up on itself. It was either the kids, or the militia, and either option meant running towards the explosion was a bad idea. It was useless though, he was bigger and faster then her, all she could do was hope it was the militia.

John had started running the instant the doctor had. He agreed completely with Karrun, but sitting back wouldn't be a option. "Stop running, sir." He yelled.

Martin heard shouts from behind, but was too focused on the disaster ahead for the actual words to resolve and so ignored them as nothing more the sort of exclamation he might have made in reaction to the blast ...until he he reached the edge of the blast zone and had to pause at the fallen tree that blocked his path. Through the maze of stumps of broken trunks he could see the blackened pit where a shuttle had presumably once lay. Now there was nothing. Careful excavation might find some bits of scorched debris, but not life, however faint.

He closed his eyes, only vaguely aware of the sound of others behind him as he fought despair and shock. Shuttle didn't just explode like that, so it had to have been the Braxians... He'd seen the reports on how paranoid they could be, but he hadn't even imagined that one of those aircraft would be carrying bombs. And to just obliterate the whole site without even investigating...

Still, maybe Jack and Nolan had gotten out, gotten far enough away. He lifted a hand to tap his comm when he heard a metallic 'click' behind him, followed by a no-nonsense command.

"Put you hands up and turn around slowly."

Breathing hard standing beside Martin Karrun let out a groan, "H'kaslha." She mumbled as she stuck her arms into the air.

to be continued...

 

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