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Calamity

Posted on Fri Mar 6th, 2020 @ 8:20pm by Commander Temerant Bast & Captain James McCullen & Lieutenant Oliver Ross & Lieutenant Eza Bergen PhD & Lieutenant JG Alexander Mitchell & Lieutenant JG Callum McIntyre & Shasath

Mission: Reaching Out in Hope
Location: Sentinel Bridge

In the Karandath asteroid belt, roughly five hundred million kilometers from Stakoron II, Shasath, senior kastuvas, or miner in the common language, frowned down at the readings displayed on the console in front of her.

Something, she knew, was wrong. The feel of the rock beneath her hands and feet, the sound of the walls, these things told her that there was a danger. What the panel said, with it's blinking lights and flashing displays, she could not tell. Before a few days ago, she had never gotten a close look at the thing, always kept at arms length by the Jem'Haddar, but she had seen it used.

Somewhere deep beneath her feet there was a rumble, an unmistakable tremor shuddered through the rock and suddenly, the room was filled with blaring alarms. She needed no alarm to tell her to be afraid, it was an asteroid miner's worst nightmare. Collapse.

Asteroids, unlike terrestial bodies, are mined from the inside out. To cut from the outside where there was no gravity to catch the removed rock was not possible, all of the collected ore would simply fly off into space. Instead, a drill team cuts to the center of the floating rock and begins hollowing the thing out while another team sets up an airlock and a feed belt system to deliver the spoil and the rewards to the surface and onto waiting ships.

However, cut too long and too wide, and you risked undermining the shell. Hollowed out, with nothing holding it, an asteroid nearing the end could collapse like a crushed egg, dooming all within to a dark, cold gravy in the icy nothing of space.

"Kastuvas Shasath!" An underling, a boy of not more than sixteen who's crest hadn't yet hardened, came rushing into the room. "Section fifteen is collapsing! There have been rock falls and tunnel cave ins all over the asteroid! What are we going to do?!"

She hadn't seen the panel close up, but she had figured out some of it. Every time they wanted to speak to someone, they pushed the same glowing button. She supposed it was some kind of communication device, similar to the short-range comm units the miners wore, but bigger and stronger. Gingerly, she reached out a talon and tapped the button. "This is Kastuvas Shasath on Asteroid 174, we're having a collapse." She said matter-of-factly, "we need help, evacuation, something. Can anyone hear me?"

===Bridge, USS Sentinel===

The piercing silence of the Bridge ended abruptly by a beep from behind Ross, the Ensign at Ops looked up from her console. "Sir there's a distress signal coming from one of the Asteroids."

"Let's hear it," Ross said as he stood up and turned to face her.

"...Can anyone hear me?"

"Open a channel to that signal," Ross stood up from the command well and stood next to his fellow officer. Once the channel was open Ross began. "This is Lieutenant Oliver Ross on the Sentinel. We've heard your call for aid we're going to do what ever we can to help you. Sit tight."

Ross then pressed a key on the Command Chair console that was direct line to McCullen. "Sentinel to Captain, there's a situation on one of the asteroids. Long range sensors are picking up collapses in the mining fields. How do you wish us to proceed?"

"Commander Bast is returning, proceed to provide assistance if you can." McCullen's voice came back quickly over the comm.

Lieutenant Mitchell had begun plotting a course towards the asteroid belt the moment the distress signal came through. He was ready to engage it as soon as the XO was onboard. Navigating the Sentinel through the belt would be difficult and he would do so under manual control. He was looking forward to the challenge.

The away team that was returning materialized on the transporter pad, the operator already confirming for the bridge the team was aboard the three officers heading for the bridge.

With the Away Team confirmed onboard, Lieutenant Mitchell activated the impulse engines. Within seconds the Sentinel had broken orbit and was on course for the asteroid belt at full impulse. "Ten minutes until we reach the field, Lieutenant." Mitchell announced to Lieutenant Ross.

Bast stepped off the transporter platform, and with long strides made his way to the turbolift, followed by Tyran and Bergen. Within a minute, they emerged onto the Bridge, and Bast made his way to the command chair.

"Status report," he called out.

"We've received a distress signal on one of their civilian channels," Ross began. "Long range sensors picked up several collapses in the residential and processing areas." Ross moved to relieve the OPS officers. "We haven't heard from anyone since the last collapse.

Bergen took his station relieving the ensign and pulled a finger in the collar of his uniform really wishing he had had a chance to change. He turned the Sentinel's sensors to the asteroid field and the bearing of the distress call. "I've got a heading on the distress call," Eza said, "Sending it to the helm. It's coming from one of the largest asteroids in the belt."

"Got it." Xander announced as the heading popped up on a message screen. "Thanks Ez..." he caught his informality and quickly corrected himself, "...Lieutenant." The new heading was entered and the Sentinel's course was adjusted accordingly. "Adjusting course. ETA, five minutes."

Eza smiled hearing the pilots almost slip up. He's focus on the readings, trying to get what information he could.

Bast turned toward Bergen. The other Trill was hunched over his station.

"Are we close enough to scan for lifesigns?" asked the First Officer.

"Not yet, there's too much interference from the other asteroids, the problem with minerals worth mining is they usually interfere with scans. I won't be able to get much until we're actually into the asteroid field." Eza replied.

"Bridge to Sickbay, stand by to receive casualties," called out Bast. He cut the comm line without waiting for a response, then turned back to Bergen. "What were they mining in here?"

"Tyllium, used in dominion weapons." Bergen reported, "I recommend against transporters tyllium has a nasty habit of scattering patterns when transporters are used in it's vicinity. " Bergen reported.

"First things first," replied Bast. "Let's see what we're up against before we start thining of a course of action. Could we send drones over with pattern enhancers?"

"Even pattern enhances can be tricky, if you had a transporter room over there, and could do an actual system to system transport that would be one thing. I think shuttles are our best bet, i'm already picking up increasing levels of tyllium compounds as the dust is scattered, it will make the transporter even riskier." Bergen replied.

"Approaching the asteroid field perimeter." Mitchell announced as his fingers danced over the controls. "Slowing to half impulse." Trying to navigate the asteroid field at full impulse would be incredibly risky. He switched to manual control and carefully manoeuvred the Intrepid-class ship around the large chunks of rock. The journey from the planet had allowed him time to plan out a rough course and, though it was tighter in places than he'd originally thought, Xander was able to squeeze the Sentinel between the asteroids.

Cutting the impulse engines, Lieutenant Mitchell allowed the Sentinel to coast on inertia for the last few thousand metres. Arriving on station above the source of the distress signal, Alexander allowed the computer to take control again and programmed the autopilot to match the Sentinel's movements to those of the asteroids. "We're on station, Commander." Mitchell announced.

Bast looked at Bergen. "Scan for lifesigns," he instructed.

"I'm getting readings, but I can't localize them, they're too deep into the asteroid, I am detecting structural fracturing throughout the asteroid though, the entire thing could come apart." Bergen said.

"With all this tyllium ore in the rocks, there's no way we can use the transporters." Bast let out a curse in his native Trill language, then turned to Ross. "Lieutenant Ross, this is now a Search and Rescue operation. Coordinate with the department heads, and let's find the survivors." If there are any, he thought, but he left that thought unsaid.

"Aye sir," Ross replied and headed toward an auxiliary station. He sent both text and audio messages to every department head. Making sure each group was ready to begin.

Mitchell had already contacted Lieutenant D'Astous while the XO spoke and ordered her to prepare the shuttle bay for high tempo ops. A couple of shuttles were always kept on standby, ready to go at a moments notice. But now all of the Sentinel's auxiliary craft would be powered up and used in this mission.

"Commander, I have an idea, if we were to use the main deflector to project our structural integrity field onto the asteroid, it might help stabilize it enough to get the people." Eza said.

"Do it," ordered Bast. "Get us as close as you can."

Reluctantly, Alexander began working his console. "Crazy son of a bitch." He muttered as he worked. Using thrusters only, the Sentinel began moving towards the surface of the asteroid.

"Bergen to Engineering, I need as much power as you can put into the SFI, we're going to attempt to project an integrity field onto the asteroid." Bergen said over the comm.

"Engineering to Bridge. You've got it," the engineer stated over comms.

"Any idea how close we'll need to get?" Mitchell asked, glancing over at the Chief Science Officer.

"If you could land us on the asteroid that would be ideal." Bergen said, "But since I doubt that, how do you feel about 10 klick?"

Xander's head snapped to the side when Bergen mentioned landing on the asteroid and he gave the Chief Science Officer a look that silently asked 'are you mad?'. He was glad that the Trill quickly tossed that idea aside but 10 kilometres was still much too close for the pilot's comfort.

Turning to the XO he articulated that. "I can do it, no problem," The Acting Chief Flight Control Officer said confidently, " but 10 klicks doesn't leave much margin for error if this thing cracks like an egg, despite the Lieutenant's efforts, or something down there goes boom."

"It's a risk we'll have to take," countered Bast. "The Stakorons don't have the resources to rescue these miners on their own."

"I will have to make sure there are no errors." Bergen said, turning his attention to the task of expanding the integrity field.

"That would be ideal," replied Bast.

Xander pushed the Sentinel closer towards the asteroid, as per the XO's orders. "It's possible to do everything right, make no mistakes, and still fail." He commented as he watched the distance between the two objects decrease. The pilot knew only too well just how true that statement was.

"100 kilometres." Mitchell called, firing the bow thrusters again to slow the Intrepid-class ship. "50...40...30..." He fired the bow thrusters again. "20," The Sentinel coasted ever closer to the asteroid. Xander could swear his heart was beating at 100 miles an hour. He fired the thrusters once more, killing the ships movement completely. "We're holding station at 10 kilometres." He announced, his fingers dancing across his panel as he programmed the autopilot to maintain their position relative to the asteroid.

"Now show us those skills and hopefully this works." Bergen said to the pilot, "Priming the deflector." Eza said. "Lieutenant Ross are we ready to bring the deflector to full power?"

"Yes, we're ready to go," the OPS Chief replied.

"Alright, pray to the gods of your choosing this works." Eza said, "Transferring integrity field to the deflector, you'll get an increased attraction between the asteroid and the ship." He added to the helmsman. "I'll power it up slowly, should make the effect more gradual."

"Now he tells me." Mitchell grumbled. With the ships autopilot set to maintain a constant distance of 10km from the asteroid's surface, it should theoretically compensate for any increased attraction, unless it become so strong that the Sentinel was unable to break free but he didn't think that would be the case. In any event, he would be keeping a close eye on their distance and ready to take over from the autopilot if necessary.

Bast was silent for a few seconds, watching the monitors for any further signs of instability from the asteroid. "It seems to be holding," he said. "Good work, both of you," he added for Bergen and Mitchell. He turned to Ross. "Are the SAR teams ready?"

"They are ready for transport," Ross tapped a command on his console. "At your command."

"How's the helm responding?" Eza asked from Science, he had fine tuned the field as much as he felt safe doing but for the time being things should be pretty stable, unless something on the asteroid went wrong.

Mitchell was keeping a close eye. "We're holding at 10k, for now." He replied tersely.

Bast nodded and turned to Bergen. "Is the asteroid stable?" he asked.

"As stable as we can hope it to be but I would recommend we get out of here as quickly as possible." Bergen replied.

The First Officer turned to Ross. "Launch the rescue shuttles," he instructed.

"Shuttle bay doors are open," he replied. "Estimated arrival in two minutes."

"Sickbay to bridge, McIntyre here, do we know how many survivors we're dealing with and what their condition is?" The Lieutenant said over the comm.

"Too early to tell, Doctor," replied the Trill. "Stand by."

McIntyre nodded, "Affirmative." Before closing the channel and issuing orders to have the medical department as prepared as they could be.

 

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