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One Small Step for Man

Posted on Sat Sep 5th, 2020 @ 5:56pm by Lieutenant Commander Rosaleen O'Donnell & Commander Eliana Masters & Lieutenant Carl Baumann & Lieutenant Commander Ewo'tOst Menkova & Ensign Arianna D'Tal

Mission: The Black Rose of Winter's Embrace
Location: Renaras


The cloud bank seemed to go on forever...all around them was a pure white blanket that was as thick as it was endless. None of the ships could see each other. The 3 craft relied on their instruments to avoid one another. Their fighter escort had even backed off a bit...worried that somebody might accidentally wander into someone else's flight path.

As an unexpected twist in her life, Arianna had been sent along on this mission to stand in the Captain's place. In her eyes, this was a lot of responsibility, as it effectively put her in a position of authority that she didn't feel she deserved. It would also place her in charge of whatever medical facility was apt to be setup early on, not to mention how she felt about this so soon after the events on Taranok IV.

Situated in the pilot seat of one of the Arrow class transports, Arianna expertly piloted the craft, making sure to relay updated sensor data to the others in order to keep them from flying into each other. =A= Sensors aren't picking up any other craft in the area. We're clear, and free as long as we remain in formation. =A=

For her part, Commander Masters had volunteered to fly the Titan class transport. Much to the chagrin of many pilots, most engineers of the modern era were designing smaller spacecraft with little to no regard for they would perform in atmosphere. This led to a majority of smaller shuttles, runabouts, and transports relying on massive thrusters in order to maintain altitude. A thin line existed between stabilized approach and smoking hole in the ground, but this was precisely the reason why people like Masters had a job.

"Speaking of which," Ellie spoke into the open comm, "keep the speed up and the descent rate going. I'd like to keep this heavy sonuvabitch pointed in the right direction, and it gets hard to do that if we start slowing down."

As they neared the lower portion of the cloud bank, the transport Arianna was piloting began to shake. =A= Hold onto your seat belts. Looks like the cloud formation below us is more dense, and moving faster. We may be descending right into the middle of a storm. =A=

"This wouldn't be the first time that's happened for my pilots," Adria commented into the open comm. Given the situation she had her eyes on the HUD. Lately it seemed like duty had her spending more time away from base than it did there.

Rosaleen looked over at the Titan looming outside of the cockpit window of the Arrow that she piloted. "O'Donnell to Masters. Uh...you are getting a bit close here. Every time I adjust you scoot over with me." Rosaleen realized that they were trying to keep the formation tight, but geez...

"Oh I was just trying to get a better look at your engine readouts. I can't quite make out what the number two EGT is reading," Masters replied in a voice that was full of sass. "I'm correcting, but if you think that's close, you should come fly with our demo team. We'll put you in the slot position. Inverted too, if you like. Shut up Waterson, it's not funny!" The squelch on the radio intervened, preventing the sound of pilot-on-copilot violence from being transmitted across the channel.

There was a pause on frequency.

"Descending through four thousand meters," Masters deadpanned to the rest of the group.

[Sea sixty meters depth, near coastal Landing Zone.]

The Beagle was under the turbulence of the storm, the probe on the surface bobbed harmlessly as he was attached to the Beagle with a micro-filament cable that held it in place enough to hard wire the scans from the surface.

"Bedder dan a periscope." Baumann said from the Observation Nose.

He sat in a seat with the illumination lamps causing the water to have a soft glow as the fish of this depth swam slowly about him. The larger fish were no more than two meters in length, the gills of these fish that resembled something of a mix of a porpoise like body with short Orca mouths.

"Do not send any divers owt unless in shark suits." Baumann commented as he was watching the sea life around him. "Prepare the 'Pea-Sub' for launch, we should get some scans and footage of the sea life a little deeper." He checked the surrounding readings. "Break it owt as ve need to get her immersed and tested.

The holographic screen projection popped up just between Baumann and the Clear aluminum front portals he had like a looking glass to the sea with the shutters open. The images were of seven 'blips' on the screen with a wide pattern to them.

"Skipper, Sonar here, we have in bound seven craft." The Sensory Officer nicknamed 'Sonar' as that was the old station on submersibles, informed.

"With dat pattern they must not trust each otter or dey are taking a pounding?" Baumann said as he rotated his chair to the side monitor. "Sparks can you eestablish communications?"

The man Sparks was the Communications Officer and the best man that the Beagle could have in that position.

"I will use the Probe to phase out any of the water interference since it is on the surface." Sparks replied.

"Send Dem the Signal beacon and alert the Encampment that we hav in bound and to put more juice in the landing lights."

"Roger that sir." Sparks acknowledged.

"Have Da Star Fish ready to launch in case dey start to lose course."

Baumann went to a locker to one side of the Observation Nose and took out a black Flight jacket with vintage cut to it and old style Captain Pips with the North American Naval style chevrons on the shoulders.

Popping the hatch in the Observation nose deck he slipped the jacket on just before starting to descend the ladder to the Hunley Style Aquatic Shuttle. It was adapted with the design of a Manta Ray shape for the hydro and aerodynamics to it. He closed the hatch after him.

It was short order to get the Dorsal hatch to close and the lighting had already illuminated the Flight Cabin. He moved to the left chair with the control yokes at the end of the chair arms. Strapping into the four point harness he switched the over head controls to bring the power to the Star Fish and flood the chamber to match outside pressure. The multi- switched control yokes, the drives were coming to life, the Holographic HUD displayed all the vital information as he heard the muffled echo of the belly doors opening.

=^= Star Fish launching. =^= The tractors lowered the shuttle past the Beagle and the impeller drives moved the vesel through the water rapidly ramping her speed to match a projectile in the water as he angled the shuttle to the surface.

The Star Fish burst out of the waves with water following it when the Drives sucked in the air rather than water to produce the thrust.

=^= Star Fish to Miss D'Tal...=^= Baumann's strong German accent called. =^= Da Kapitain told me you vere leading the formation. I have you on screens, you should be getting a beacon for your approach, I am on Vay to meet you and help guide you to landing Zone. =^=

=A= We're already receiving telemetry from the beacon. =A= Arianna replied somewhat absently. With the storm pounding the group of vessels, she was working hard to maintain formation, and keep the transport stable. =A= The storm is a little rough, but we should be landing in less than 60 seconds. =A= Arianna said, inwardly wondering why in the galaxy the Captain would choose to put a yeoman in charge of the mission she was supposed to be leading, especially considering that she didn't feel she was ready for this much responsibility, after the war zone that was Taranok IV.

Meanwhile, things were beginning to take a turn for the worse on the flightdeck in the Titan. With the glide ratio of a rock and engines that were having a hard time dealing with the amount of water ingestion from the storm, Masters' job of flying the Titan in formation was akin to keeping a bowling ball balanced on top of a sewing needle.

=^=Two thousand meters, get ready to deploy thrusters to slow down.=^= Eliana addressed the other pilots in the formation.

"This sonuvabitch really, really, REALLY does not want to stay in the air. I'm switching to manual flight," Masters looked over to her copilot. "We're going to have to use the inertial separators to keep too much water from getting into the engine intake. I don't want to do a single engine atmosphere landing in this box of bricks if I don't have to."

One thousand. The ground proximity system sprung to life and began to count down the remaining altitude.

"Checked." The response was automatic.

Five hundred.

"Alright, final thruster burn on my mark. Five, four, three, two..."

One hundred.

"Mark! I've got the landing zone in sight. Hold on folks!"

Fifty, forty, thirty, twenty. . . .ten.

With an anticlimactic thud, the Titan settled down and sank ever so slightly into the hard-packed sand that covered the landing area.

"You beauty, you!" Eliana hugged her console and kissed the engine monitor for good luck before running the after landing checks. She remained in her seat as the others disembarked. They didn't need to see their pilot reduced to a puddle of sweat and emotion in the front seat.

Arianna's landing wasn't quite as smooth. Just as she was about to touch down, a sharp gust of rainy wind swept the landing area, shoving her transport off formation by a few meters. Lucky for her, and the others, there were no other vessels in the spot where she was forced to land. "Figures we had to come in during a storm." She muttered to herself, as she started the after landing checks. =A= "Welcome to Renaras, ladies and gentlemen. Hope you enjoy your stay, and mind the rain." =A=

Keeping her distance Adria was the last to land. She had purposely wanted to monitor the landing procedure and provide extra protection if needed. Carefully she set her fighter down int he designated landing zone then quickly began her post flight checklist.

=^=Menkova to Renaras Team. Be advised i have arrived in system and am proceeding with approach and landing procedures.=^= The Betelgeusian Officer spoke into an open comm channel, as the ship decelerated on the systems edge. She glanced at an ancillary panel which still had three pulsing markers, indicating active monitoring stations, then turned her attention back to the task at hand. Turning the small runabout toward the planet in question. =^=Any issues environmental or otherwise I need to be aware of?=^=

=A= D'Tal to Menkova. You are to exercise extreme caution during decent, and landing. =A= Arianna replied as she went through her own post flight checks, making sure she didn't do any real damage to the transport, or it's contents. =A= The landing zone, and surrounding areas are being hit hard by a storm. =A=

=^= Star Fish on station.=^= Baumann said over the channel. =^= This is a Hunley class shuttle adaptation.=^= the water in his intakes did not affect his engines in quite the same manner; his craft was adapted more for atmosphere and the fact is was also aquatic was to a slight advantage, the Manta Ray type shape was good for some aerodynamics. =^= Lieutenant Buamann here; ONce you all are down I vill bring in Da Star Fish.=^= His strong German accent always bled though when he was in a higher stress situation. My mother ship lays just off the coast in close proximity, she is submerged und not taking quite the pounding. =^=

The higher pitched engines of the Star Fish could be heard as it circled over the landing area. HE was using the twin joystick controls to keep the Bird in the air, he treat the winds like a strong storm that it was and compared to some of his under water antics this was not quite unknown to him, though the closer he got to the ground the more danger he had.

Easing the Star Fish in an approach vector ; using subtle controls of the multi-function hand controls he was careful to check the specialize sensor that measured currents and water density; in a storm that were not as effective but a better judge of the conditions near the surface than normal sensors. The Star Fish was a warp capable shuttle with aquatic design in mind, easing the craft on a vector with a head wind approach Baumann used the most subtle manipulation of controls to bring the craft into the landing area.

"Nice und easy my lady." Baumann sad as he neared the ground, opening the Impeller ports allowed the water and wind to move through the shuttle wile extending the three landing gear mechanisms for drag before touchdown.

The Ski style landing gear had wheels in it as well should it be parder ground and with a flair at the end the rear gear touched and anchored her slightly as the under windge wing gear touched the ground.

"Dat iz my girl." Baumann quickly started the power down sequence. The bottom 'moon pool' style hatch also had an extending ladder for disembarking. "Time to meet the landing party." He chuckled as he thought of some rain and wind was like being on the conning tower in a gale.

Another moment later, and the hatch to Arianna's transport opened up, and the young lady stepped out, wearing a rain slicker over her uniform. She still couldn't understand why the Captain had placed her in charge of this mission, when she clearly was outranked by nearly everyone there.

As people started filing out of the vessels, Arianna began issuing orders. "Since this area is going to be our primary landing zone, first thing we need to do is setup a temporary base camp that includes a Command center, a medical facility, Communications, and a basic security perimeter." she called out over the sounds of the storm. "I want to see that much done within the next hour, or as close to it as we can get. Once that's done, we can start on the rest."

"Yes Ma'am." One of the officers replied, and started directing people to unload the transports.

As things got started, Arianna moved to the transport that Eliana had been piloting. She had yet to see the Commander make an appearance, so she stepped inside the transport to look for the older woman. "Commander Masters?" She called out as she made her way towards the cockpit. "Are you still in here?"

The pilot's seat was empty in the Titan. Behind Arianna, the door to the lavatory slid open and Masters stepped back onto the deck, as composed as she ever was. A close observation would reveal that her hands were still shaking from the rather brick-like flying characteristics of the Titan, but her demeanor and voice were calm as she replied to the question.

"Still here," Ellie nodded as the two of them walked out to join the others. "Remind me to have a word with chef about the number of pepper pods he thinks is sufficient in the chili when we get back to base. Anyway, what needs to get done?"

"Remind me to have a talk with the Captain about putting me in charge of her mission, when I'm outranked by everyone here." Arianna said with a light grin. "I've already gotten the teams started on building a temporary base, until we can get something more solid here. I think my botched landing did some damage to one of the port thruster assemblies. Think a member of your team can have a look at it, while I get started on putting up a temporary medical facility?"

"I'll make sure that gets taken care of. I need to do a walk around of all of our birds. The shield emitter output was fluctuating, which tells me that we descending through some pockets of hail here and there. I'll just make sure we didn't take any damage," Masters replied as she closed the entry to the Titan behind them.

Stepping out onto the Reneran beach, a quick glance of the surrounding area revealed a landscape that wouldn't look out of place as a setting for any of the newest crop of adventure-based holo novels. Or at least, it would've been, but the day's less than ideal weather spoiled much of the view. Regardless, the view was enough to make several members of the crew stop what they were doing and just stare for a moment or two.

"Eight decades," Eliana spoke quietly as she contemplated putting her sunglasses on. "I've been in uniform for eight decades, and many people have thought I was fresh out of Academy for most of that time. Be a leader, and don't let anyone look down on you because of age. Captain Cleh chose you for this mission for a reason."

Arianna stood watching along with Eliana, while the rain storm pelted their rain slickers. "Both her, and Kathleen told me that my performance on Taranok IV was exemplary." She finally said, glancing over at Eliana. "Apparently, being stranded in a war zone with a scared diplomat, and a militia guard without dying looks good on a report."

"Hah, yeah, and stealing a runabout to get a message out to the station doesn't look great on one," Masters grinned. "However, it does score you major points among the piloting circles, I will say that."

Eliana paused for a moment, deciding that it was indeed time for the sunglasses to be put on despite the overcast conditions.

"I hope we made a difference in those people's lives."

"Me too," Adria replied emerging from the other side of her fighter. Despite her protective gear she was wet. "However I'm getting a feeling this sector is know for its crappy weather. We've got some work to do on the fighters as well at least from what I'm seeing in my brief inspection."

"Which reminds me," Masters continued the thought. "I need to cover the engine inlets to keep all of this sand from blowing into places it shouldn't be. I'd like to be able to leave without doing a complete teardown of the hot sections. Before this place and Taranok, it had been a long time since I flew in atmosphere. I have to admit, I'm a bit rusty."

Adria nodded, "Yeah I've issued orders to my ground teams to check the engines of all our fighters carefully and get them covered. Atmospheric operations poses a unique set of challenges that's for sure."

Slowly but surely, the various flight crews from the starbase began to secure their various craft. Most of the equipment had been unloaded by now, which meant that the team from flight operations was free to work on any damage sustained during the descent to the surface. Mechanics began to emerge from their hiding places and begin working on various components on the varied aircraft. Masters herself was fairly skilled at turning a wrench, so she went to join those gathering around the left side of Arianna's Arrow.

Arianna stood there for another quiet moment, just admiring the view. Despite the rainy weather, she too found the view of this area breath taking. "I'm going to get started building the Medical module." She finally said, turning to Adria. "Keep me updated with progress reports, and send a message to Starbase 80 to let them know we've arrived safely." She said before moving off to look for a good spot for the Medical Module.

Looking over at Arianna, "Roger that. I'll keep you in the loop." Adria moved off to take care of various items.

Meanwhile, Eliana and two of the mechanics from her department had removed the protective cowling from around the port nacelle and were currently poring over the engine to see if any damage had occurred. The covers to the plasma injectors were still hot enough that any rain that fell on them was being vaporized into steam on contact.

"Yikes," Masters whistled, turning towards one of the mechanics. "Let me think for a minute...uhhhh, Jester, get me some of those silicon gloves and let's take a look under the injector covers. I bet our issue is in there, and if it isn't, I bet something in there will point us to where we need to be."

"Agreed on all counts. Look sharp, gloves inbound."

Deftly catching and putting on the heat proof gloves, Ellie got to work removing the four injector covers, carefully setting them aside so that they wouldn't burn anything or anyone nearby. A quick diagnostic scan taken by a tricorder confirmed that there was an issue with the number three injector.

"Oh, yup, look at that. The nozzle is out of tolerance. We're going to have to replace that," Jester pointed.

"Alright, let's get to it. We'll have this bird put back together in no time."

The three representatives from flight operations continued about their work as other teams from various departments continued to put together the makings of a base camp. The team building the medical facility with all the latest and greatest in portable medical technology was nearing completion, but even they were slacking behind the team that had somehow managed to complete the command center and wired up half of the communications equipment. Some of the crew had also been on Taranok IV, so building most of a city out of nothing was second nature to them already.

"Alignment is good, I'll do a diagnostic check from the flight deck and make a note in the log. You guys go inside and dry off, okay?" Masters called out from underneath the Arrow. The two other mechanics finished replacing the cowling before seeking out a place to hide from the elements. Ten minutes later, the job was done and Eliana was propped up against a cargo container inside the command center, sipping on some hot tea.

"Need anything else?" Masters queried a passing Arianna.

"As long as she'll fly, I think that's all for now." Arianna said somewhat absently, as she opened another crate of medical supplies. The medical module was pretty well finished at this point, and they were just setting up the supplies. "Go take a rest, Commander."

[Command Module]

"Well...this is 'home', eh? I think I prefer the station" A soaked Rosaleen finally made her appearance in the command center. "Or the least we can do is make a nice resort on a dry beach somewhere."

"Oh, I think it'll be alright once the storm blows over," Masters postured as she brought over a towel and a second hot mug of tea for Rosaleen. "Here, it's the least I can do. I would get them to move these clouds and rain away for you too, but that's way, way, waaaaaaaayyyy above my paygrade."

Rosaleen threw the towel over her shoulder for the moment, deciding that the tea was a better fit at the moment. "Thank you." She took a sip of the tea. "Surely in your inventory you have a weather modification module set somewhere. We have to plan these things better." She had already increased her body's temperature to curb the effects of the cold rain. "And we now know that you are crazy enough to fly into these storms." She paused as a gust of wind shook the room. "Hurricane strength, wouldn't you say?"

"Oh, I don't know about that, but like my instructor told me, a flying object in atmosphere doesn't 'feel' the wind, only the gusts. A fish swimming in a current doesn't know that the current is moving with respect to the sea floor, and a shuttle doesn't care that the air it's moving through is moving with respect to the ground either. But the starts and stops, the gusts and windshear? Fish, shuttlecraft, leaf, starship - it doesn't matter. You're gonna feel it and it's going to make flying challenging," Eliana nodded. "You seemed to handle it well though, you can teach me a few tricks sometime."

Rosaleen's smile was quite mischievous. "Well...having the ability to slow things down around you helps out quite a bit."

"Ah, see, I always forget about that one," the El Aurian shook her head. "I don't think you can teach that." Taking another sip of her tea, Eliana pulled a blanket around her shoulders and tried to stay as warm and dry as she could. With people stepping into and out of the command module, the periodic glances of the outside world were not painting a pretty picture.

Moments later, Arianna stepped into the room, pulling back her hood to reveal near soaked red hair. For a brief moment, she stopped to look at Rosaleen, part of her still in awe of the fact this woman was even alive. Finally, she pulled her rain slicker off, revealing the red uniform underneath, a Tricorder on one hip, and a phaser on the other. "The medical center is up, and most of the supplies are in place." She said as she moved to pour herself some tea. "Had I known the weather was going to be like this, I would've had us bring a couple of weather regulators."

"Agreed," Masters nodded, "but we've got the hand we've been dealt, so we'll deal with it. We can write a recommendation that the regulators be part of the standard loadout for any large scale planetary mission, but for now, think of this storm as a fringe benefit!"

A few confused looks met Eliana's huge grin which naturally prompted an explanation from the latter party.

"Well, it's not everyday in Starfleet that you're going to sit through a hurricane," she explained. "The recruiters used to promote visiting strange new worlds and experiencing new things and hey, I can't call my recruiter a liar. Nope, not today."

"I'll be sure to quote you on that in my report, Commander." Arianna said with a humored grin. She took a sip of her tea as she picked up a stray PADD that sat on the table. "What's the status of the Communication equipment? I want to make sure Kathleen knows we've made it safely." Though her experiences on Taranok allowed her to grow up a bit, it was plain to see that the 17 year old girl had no qualms about being informal. Since Jasmine had left with her younger brother to Vulcan, and her father was now gone, Kathleen was the closest thing she had to a guardian. Arianna clearly regarded Kathleen, and Rosaleen as family.

"I seem to remember some of the techs talking about handshakes this and packet loss that," Masters replied. "They should be able to tell you. For what it's worth, the last communique I sent was a simple message letting them know we were starting to descend into the planet's atmosphere. And that it was going to be one hell of a ride."

For a moment, Arianna's mind went back a few years to when she'd rescued her mother. She remembered that after getting away from the Klingons, her shuttle had been severely damaged. Right up until she'd gotten close to the ship, the damage to the shuttle's communications equipment had resulted in failed handshakes, and a lot of packet loss... and that was after she had managed some crude, but hasty repairs.

"That just means the storm is interfering with the equipment, and the signal." She said with a heavy sigh. She took a sip of her tea, and sat down to relax for a few minutes. "After I drink my tea, I'll go see if I can help get it working, because if we run into a problem here, we need to be able to get a message out." After her experiences on Taranok, Arianna was not taking any chances. She'd learned the hard way that a good, boring day can very quickly turn into the worst day ever.

"Very well. In the event of an emergency, I can always just fly out of the atmosphere and deliver it. I'm pretty good at that sort of thing," Masters referenced her escapade off of Taranok off-handedly. "Leaving the atmosphere is almost never a problem. Getting back in? Well, you felt how the ride was. Although, that being said, Ros can quote 'slow things down' which is so not fair by the way! Anyway, I digress - it's an option if you need it," she nodded firmly.

Rosaleen threw a grin at Eliana. "Maybe someday I can teach you that trick."

It wasn't long after that Adria entered after shaking off some water then fully entering. Shoving back her hood. This wasn't the first time in her career she'd worked in less than ideal weather. "Yes its the getting back in that's normally the issue. However I suspect we may have more than just that problem today."

Rosaleen glanced up at Adria. "Oh my...what now?" Things kept stacking up on them it seemed.

Adria's statement caught Arianna's attention, and she immediately tensed up in anticipation of bad news. "What's wrong?" She asked without hesitation.

"My teams are reporting potential sideslip damage. Its more of a concern for our lower G rated craft. But fighters or other craft we're in serious trouble if this keeps up," Adria didn't mince words.

"Is there a way to stabilize the ships to prevent further damage?" Arianna asked. "If we can keep the damage to a minimum we can ensure that we'll be able to use them, without having to repair them first..." Her words trailed off as the gears in her mind began turning. After only a few seconds, she glanced around the room, then looked at the others with a raised eyebrow. "Can we get eyes on the storm?" she finally asked.

"Give me a minute to think." Replied Rosaleen. "I may have a thought, but it will be a bit 'creative'."

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