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CHAPTER 03: Master of My Fate

CHAPTER 03: Master of My Fate

"Times of great calamity and confusion have been productive for the greatest minds. The purest ore is produced
from the hottest furnace. The brightest thunder-bolt is elicited from the darkest storm."

                                                                                                                  - Charles Caleb Colton (1780 - 1832)

[ Theta Eridani IV | Seventh Morning | 0549 hrs. | In the Wake of the Nightly Storm ]

Two things woke Jien Ives up.

First was the repeated shudder of the ground. Second was the voice from the other room of the modular shelter. Blinking, he looked around, noticing Cameron Henshaw beside him in the bed. Gradually, he came to remember that they had taken shelter from the thunderstorm that had swept across the valley the evening before. He frowned, wondering how the thunder could still be so persistent. What was the time? In his simulated underwear, he slipped from the sheets, and realised that the voice... was rather loud, and that it came from his combadge in the other room.

[...answer. Thea to Captain Ives, please, come in. We are under attack. I repeat, we are under attack. Please respond.]

The spoken words of the Ship AI caused Jien's blood to run cold. He looked around, saw Cameron waking up as well, then left the room and closed the distance to the badge. He cursed himself for leaving it there. He jammed his thumb into it and spoke when the chirp acknowledged his pending transmission. "This is Captain Ives, status report," he barked as he headed towards the exit with the badge in his hand.

[Five minutes ago, after the storm that blinded our sensors finally passed, our long range sensors picked up the presence of the Calamity in this sector, barely giving us enough time to activate the external shield generator in time. Our defence plan is now in effect. The shield that the Engineering Outpost raised now protect the entire valley and the two starships. The Reavers are carpet-bombing our defences though. Two minutes ago, the Calamity itself entered orbit, and is now unleashing all its fire-power upon the shield, meaning to bring it down and destroy us all. Time is short to evacuate all personnel and fight back. The shield is already down to 20%. It will not hold, Captain.]

The sliding doors of the modular shelter opened, and Jien stepped into a dark world thrown into chaos; the visual image of what Thea had told him. For over their heads, spreading across the whole of the valley, the sky was lit by the massive shield. It's blue shimmer thrummed and flashed with the orbital bombardment. Phaser fire was raining down upon it from the Calamity from high on, added with close proximity blasts from a swarm of Reavers that circled the dome. Everything below the shield flashed to life with the enemy fire; the early dawn cast into cascades of light. The floor of the valley resembled an ant farm kicked over, with personnel in various states of undress running and shouting.

His thoughts running fast through his sleep-drowsy mind, Jien tried to keep himself from panicking. Tried to ignore the mounting sense of horror and focus on what had to be done to save the two crews. The initiation of the defence plan had not needed him, yet the shield was already failing, and time was running short with too much personnel still outside the starships. "How much time to evacuate all personnel?" he asked thickly, not about to start running too. He needed to remain calm despite the situation. He thought he sensed Cameron behind him, so he needed to keep his composure for her sake too.

[As according to the defence plan, almost all of the Senior Staff was Transported aboard both the Theurgy and the Harbinger at first notice, you being one of the last unaccounted for since I could not find you. I am powering up as we speak,] said Thea over the static of the comm-link, referring to herself as the starship and not the holographic projection. [The Harbinger, the Operations staff by the planet-side Transport Centre as well as myself are all working together to beam up everyone as quickly as the systems allow us to, yet we cannot locate everyone, and by the estimated time the Shield is penetrated, 30% of the two crews will still be in the valley - vulnerable to enemy fire. The shield is now at 10%.]

Another volley from the Calamity lit everything in orange phaser fire, added with two more detonations of photon torpedoes.

[Shield at 5%. Captain, I must beam you out of there. Is there anyone with you?]

Jien looked out over the personnel that was still in the valley. It felt like he was abandoning them all. He turned around and met Cameron Henshaw's eyes, torn about leaving yet knowing that there was no sense to stay. "Two to be..."

He trailed off.

The oribital strikes had suddenly ceased to come, the valley falling silent besides the blue shimmer of the waning dome above them all. The sound of Reavers in atmospheric flight could still be heard, cutting thunderous rifts across the dark heavens, yet the change was definite. "What happened, Thea?"

[The Calamity is leaving, going to Warp. Reason unknown. I cannot make out much on long range sensors.]

"Why? The storm has passed. You have to be able to do better than that," said Jien, just as the remaining Reavers started to fire upon the dome anew - making it flicker in and out of existence.

[It's not that, Captain. It's the radiation from the planet, it suffered too mu-]

The earthquake came in booming answer; ripped away the sound of the combadge's transmission. It even threw Jien off his feet; made him land on his side next to the modular shelter. He lost his breath from the impact. The quakes subsided quickly, yet tremors still remained, as if the planet was a cooking with pent up anger. There were many volcanoes in the region, and even through the worn shield, the billowing distant clouds of smoke could be seen like rising demons around the rim of the valley.

[Captain, the enemy has exploited the instability of the planet's fault line to destabilize this area's entire tectonic make-up. The eruptions are already building up in force. Soon, the floor of the valley will split apart, and the pyroclastic clouds from the volcanic eruptions will wipe out everything. The hot groundwater system is already boiling over, increasing the flow of water underneath the hot springs. It is causing geysers a hundred feet high.]

True to her word, when Jien got to his feet again and looked to the Thermal Springs Lounge in shadow of the Harbinger, running people were being showered with hot water... screaming... falling. "For pity's sake..." he cursed, and his eye was then drawn to the towering mountains, where volcanic thunder was clapping above the craters - heralding doom upon everything alive. The Reavers swept over the valley one more time, and with the impacts of another bombardment, the shimmering blue dome vanished. No one was safe anymore.

[The shield is gone, Captain. I have been sending down all our shuttles to the valley to help with the evacuation. Wait... The Chief Engineer - Alexander Rosek - he has just now beamed himself back to the Engineering Outpost, trying to reboot the external shield generator and reroute power. He says he means to raise it again to cover the shuttles and the Transport Centre.]

"Send aid his way if you can find someone," said Captain Ives, changing into his uniform at the turn of a thought. He pinned the combadge to his chest. "Try to assist the evacuation in any way you can, Thea. I do not want to leave anyone behind in this hell-hole. If you see ways to get people back on the ships, then make it so. Until the shield comes up, use the extra power to beam up more people. Take out the remaining Reavers by all means necessary."

[Yes, Captain. The Senior Staff awaits you on the Main Bridge.]

Before he gave the order to bring him and Cameron aboard, another thought came to him. "Thea, locate Lieutenant Sarresh Morali."

[Location unknown. He has not been beamed aboard. He was last contacted five minutes ago by Cadet Amikris Neotin over comm, transmission signal originating from the Thermal Springs Lounge.]

The Temporal Affairs Officer must have gone to aid the young Ash'reem girl. Jien feared for the worse, and he knew that Sarresh Morali was key to surviving another encounter with the Calamity. If there was any chance to retrieve him from the nightmarish waterscape that had become of the Lounge, then he had to take it. Furthermore, he was perhaps the best suited one to do it given his abilities. "Do not bream me up, Thea. I need to stay a bit longer. Ensign Henshaw, the shelter should have emergency breathing masks somewhere. Find them."

[Captain,] objected Thea, [the ships will not be able to handle the volcanic eruptions, even with our shields at full capacity. We have ten minutes, maybe less.]

"That is enough. I will brief Commander Rez and Captain Vasser en-route," he said and put on the breathing mask that Henshaw brought him. "Ives out." While adjusting it, he started to run towards the hot springs.

Yet he stopped for a moment, rounded on Yeoman Henshaw where she stood by the entrance to the modular shelter. Snowfall of ash had begun to drift down from the darkening sky. "Get yourself back on the ship, Ensign!" he called to her over the short distance, just when both the Theurgy and the Harbinger finished powering up and immediately activated their weapon arrays. Both starship began to return fire against the Reavers - scourging the turbulent skies while still on their landing gears. "Try to locate Sarresh Morali for me when you get to the Bridge and contact me as soon as you do! We need to get him out of here... Now go! That is an order! "

Jien was already running, pockets of gas hidden underneath the soil now detonating in his path - throwing gravel high and wide. As he ran - breathing laboured through the mask - he attempted to contact his First Officer...

...and hoped this did not seem the kind of folly he feared it to be.

OOC#1: Please check the sub-threads to learn where your characters are at. These hold varying crisis situations that needs to be resolved. If a crisis situation is not resolved, it will lead to casualties, and the danger that some NPCs are in is quite real. Unless your characters decides to save them, they will die in this Chapter. The consequences in each crisis will be a direct result of what your characters did or did not do.

Remember, you are the masters of your characters' fate. Now is the time to decide who they really are.

OOC#2: Valarie, you may either post an interim response in reply to the above starter here, or, proceed directly to Crisis #01, which is the direct continuation of the above scene. You could cover how Cameron Henshaw wakes up either here, or there, your choice.


Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 03: Master of My Fate]

Reply #1
She'd been dreaming of the almost daily afternoon thunderstorms that she had experienced on extended breaks from the Academy.  Those blissful times at the Hawthorne's beach house with her loving adoptive family.   In her dream she was surrounded by warmth and the steady breeze that blew in from the gulf.   Indistinct crackling of a disembodied voice slowly woke her.  She rolled over as the warmth of Ives' arms around her slowly slipped away.  Her eyes watching the firm muscles of his back flex and move as he crossed the room.

Sighing she stood, the tangled sheet and blanket falling from her slight nude body.  Stretching she worked her bruised shoulder as she headed toward the bathroom.   The transmission from Ives' combadge was much clearer now that he must have picked it up, so Cam clearly over heard about the attack and eminent shield failure.  She ran to the bathroom and pulled on her running clothes from the day prior.  One glance in the mirror as she was pulling her shirt down over her breasts confirmed that her hair was hideous.  Sticking up all over her head like a, god she couldn't even think of something prickly enough.  There was no time for vanity.  Grabbing her combadge she affixed it to her running tee, slipping on her shoes she was back out the bath and to the modular unit door just as Ives' opened the door.

Her eyes widened at the living hell that the open doors exposed them to.   The normally sultry, stea night was a cacophony of noises, flashing lights, explosions and yelling people. The loud whining drone of the Reavers, the deafening bombardment of the dome by the Calamity and the chaos of all the staff and crew trying to grab stuff and get aboard ad her silently wishing this was a bad dream.  Each strike had the floor beneath her feet vibrating.  Silently she crossed her fingers behind her back and held her breath that the shield would hold.  And then....the heavy bombardment on the shield ceased.

She stepped forward into the door beside Ives and looked up at him.   Reavers still swarmed and wrecked havoc, but she was surprised at ... She had not time to finish the thought as she was thrown into the door of the modular unit when the earth rolled and bucked.   Slamming her already bruised shoulder squarely into the door, she swore quickly under her breath, "sonofabitch"  Pushing herself up, she rolled back into the modular unit and checked the storage unit by the door for the rebreathers she had noted the night prior.  Grabbing both she returned and handed one off to the Captain as she slipped hers on.

Their modular unit was furthest from the transport area, yet fairly close to the Thermal Springs.  She listened to the progressively more heated dialogue between Thea and Captain Ives'.  Her eyes widened as she noted the glow in the predawn sky over the surrounding mountains and the ash and lord knows what else spewing into the atmosphere over them.   "God this is like Herculaneum and Pompeii all rolled in one."  She said in a low awed voice, her eyes wide as goosebumps shot out all over her body.  Stepping out of the modular unit to start the run to the transport area she pulled up short when Captain Ives' voice stopped her short.

"Yes Sir, Get to bridge.  Find Sarresh Morali and let you know where he is."  She whipped around not waiting for confirmation and sprinted toward the transport area.  Hot ash and pumice started to rain down on her as she ran.  She noted that others were stumbling out of units.  "Rebreathers and Get on the ships!"  She tried to yell over the now deafening retaliatory strikes by the Theurgy and Harbinger.

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