Theta Eridani IV

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Theta Eridani IV was located in the Acamar System. As a binary system, it had two suns, and it was a M-class planet with rich tectonic activity. This planet was the refuge for the USS Theurgy and the USS Harbinger after the first battle against the Calamity. The two starships spent one week of repairs down on the planet before the Calamity found them again.

The two ships had a defense plan in mind for such an event, and if they hadn't, the two ships would likely have been destroyed. As it were, there were many casualties, but in the end, the two starships were able to ascend and leave the planet behind.

Story Excerpt 01: Bloody But Unbowed

Captain's Log, Star Date 57505.17. Almost twenty-four hours have passed since the Calamity starship retreated, and we have successfully reached the fourth planet of the Acamar System. We have landed in a valley surrounded by mountains and powered down our ships to the point where we ought to be virtually invisible - hoping the false Warp trail will lead our new enemy astray. Together with the crew of the USS Harbinger, who share our plight and fought by our side, we have begun repairs and initial discussions about exchange of crew. So many have died or been put in stasis units - like coffins with dead that are to be resurrected on a brighter day. For after all that has happened, this past day was perhaps the darkest of them all... despite the fact that we are no longer alone.

- Captain Jien Ives, Commanding Officer, USS Theurgy

[ Theta Eridani IV | Acamar System | Beta Quadrant | 1930 hrs. ]

The smoke clung low to the ground, hovering in a tenuous scarlet mist. The rhythmic clangs and squeals of machinery and cranes echoed throughout the smoggy valley as the light fumes swirled about, churning with the firelight in a nebula of red and yellow. The lights on the cranes far above moved lazily while the repairs to the hulls were made. Amidst the cluttering clashes and whirs of toil - the machines labouring in their interminable duties and the plethora of clangs and clashes continuing monochrome song - two crews intermingled and spoke, working together to create their temporary settlement.

Acamar was a binary star system and thus had two stars at its center, yet Theta Eridani IV lay too far out to be graced with warm nights. One of the suns had yet to set, but already the chill turned everyone's breath into mist. Bonfires were set up to keep everyone warm and rid the need of coats. Several paths were set across the valley, made with crude torches. Many carried torches of their own to light their way and keep warm. It was needed because both the Theurgy and the Harbinger were in Grey Mode. Power was cut since the tactical situation required a discretionary removal of energy usage. Only the machines that made the repairs and their long range sensors were allowed full operational status. It had been an undiscriminating choice from both Captains. The Warp Cores were shut down cold. Weapons systems, phasers, and photon torpedo launchers all brought off-line. Life support systems were brought to minimum levels since the M-Class planet had plenty of oxygen that could be filtered inside, yet the air was left as cold as the outside. Transporter and turbolift usage was terminated and suspended. Food replicators were powered down, and emergency rations distributed. To care for the wounded, both ships had raised all the triage center canvas they could find into a joyless circus area - medics working hard without rest to preserve as many lives they could from being lost.

Captain Ives, in her female form, walked through the firelight - seeing a mix of subdued faces and people relieved to have found others that had been falsely accused of treason. To meet another crew served to verify that the truth about their dire task was neither misinformation not misplaced belief. In that, there was gladness, despite the fact they had lost so many.

Jien reached the middle ground, the equidistant point right between the two starships. Both crews had been summoned there, so the noises of the repairs had gradually fallen silent. By the time Jien reached the open area - finding Captain Vasser waiting there - the entire valley had fallen silent. She inclined her head to the human, their brief meetings having led to the understanding that they both needed to facilitate their alliance by a public address. They had only delayed the initiative so that the Tactical Conn pilots who created the Warp trail could return. There needed to be no doubt that they stood together in their fight for the truth.

Her steps drew to a halt, and she turned to face the same direction as Vasser did - her unblinking gaze staring out across the crowd. The silence lingered before Jien raised her clear voice, making it carry across the quiescence of the valley.

"To all those who do not know me, I am Captain Jien Ives of the USS Theurgy, and beside me stands the Commanding Officer of the Harbinger , Captain Declan Vasser," she said, and gestured with her gloved hand towards the man. She paused again, not quite sure how to proceed. She shook her head, taking a deep breath. "It would be trite and not wholly accurate to say that no words would be able to describe how we all feel this day. There is so much to consider. So much to remember. So many faces that we wished were here today, when we have found allies in an otherwise hostile galaxy."

She folded her arms underneath her chest and paced slowly out towards the crowd before her, head lowered. "For almost three months, we have fought to preserve something so intangible, vague, as a mere idea - however firmly we have verified it and believed in it. It has been a profound and unforgettable understanding that we face an enemy no one else have come to see, but time has worn on, and the trials make you forget. Until yesterday... when we learned that others have seen what we have. Some of you may have been in doubt, unsure as to if what we learned should verily be taken as fact. Besides yesterday's victory, where we managed to defend ourselves and drive off the unmanned starship that was sent by the enemy to destroy us both, we have won an even more important battle - the battle against our doubts. We stand here - tonight - united in understanding, shedding those doubts... even though it cost too many lives. Precious friends and faces that we will always remember."

Bathed in firelight, Jien took a piece of paper from her pocket, forehead furrowed at the memory of seeing half her Senior Staff shot down in front of her. Nevertheless, she raised her chin again, voice still ringing true. "Before we join together in a moment of silence, I would like to read an old poem that I have placed value in since my Academy days. I hope you will take heart in these words, as I will, and not be alarmed at how eerily they have predicted this time in our lives."

The paper in her hand danced in a slow breeze, yet she needed to not truly read the words. She knew them by heart.

"Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul."

The second sun set behind rim of the valley, and it made the fires burn all the brighter.

"In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed."

For that was what they were, bloodied as hell, yet not about to yield.

"Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid."

Her voice rang firmer as each word fell, instilling fortitude and hope into the two listening crews.

"It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul."

The last word echoed across the valley, and as it did, Jien folded her hands behind her back and raised her chin - the ensuing silence filled with the shared memories of those they had lost. Thus they stood, in united quietude... before Captain Vasser spoke up - the spell lifting from the crowd. His would be a more joyful message, healing those wounds and helping to unite the crews in their common cause.

Story Excerpt 02: The Thermal Springs

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[ Theta Eridani IV | Thermal Springs Lounge | 2030 hrs. ]

Hot springs have had a mystique about them for thousands of years, despite science having long past proven that no mystical or regenerative powers came from them. They were most commonly created from water trickling through layers of rocks, accumulating minerals, and heating up from the pressure of the earth. If the water encountered a fault line, it was thrust up to the surface, bringing the minerals and heat with it. It was because of the heat and high concentration of minerals that they had once been held as sacred, yet even if that was not the case, the appreciation for the comfort and chance of relaxation was undeniable when appraising the crew that had found their way there.

In the shadow of the USS Harbinger, the makeshift lounge was quickly built that afternoon. There was a floating bar counter where the collective stock from the two ship lounges had been brought. Several waterfalls with cooler water cascaded down the mountainside, and gradually, spontaneous games came to be held with wagers held for replicator rations and holodeck time. After the two Captains had spoken to them all, the two crews were made aware of the lounge and its location, and there were few places in the valley that drew such attention at the chance of getting some brief R&R. Most did not even bother to find something else to wear in the thermal spring than their Starfleet issue undergarments - piles of uniforms were thrown away with little care or thought of being able to easily find them later on.

On the morrow, the hard work and toil would continue, yet tonight, there was a chance to let one's hair down and finally try and distance oneself from worries, loss, and regret. The two starships would not be repaired overnight, that much was certain, so a faint hope grew that their temporary settlement would last longer than just one night. Who knew when there would be such a chance again? Who knew how many days they could avoid detection in that valley? Perhaps there was just going to be that night, so why not enjoy it to the fullest?

- Written by Auctor Lucan, Episode 03: Unconquerable Soul - Part I, Chapter 9: Thermal Springs

Story Excerpt 03: Calamity Attacks From Orbit

[ Theta Eridani IV | Modular Shelters | Eighth Morning | 0549 hrs. ]

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 remembered 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 realized 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 defense plan is now in effect. The shield that the Engineering Outpost raised now protects the entire valley and the two starships. The Reavers are carpet-bombing our defenses, 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. Far 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, 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 defense 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 as well.

[As according to the defense 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 will allow us, 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, combined 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 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 suddenly ceased, 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 and 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 cooking with pent up anger. There were many volcanoes in the region, and even through the worn shield, the distant clouds of billowing 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 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.]

Just as she said, 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 the Lounge, he had to take it. Furthermore, he was perhaps the one best suited 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.

Then suddenly, he stopped for a moment and rounded on Yeoman Henshaw where she stood by the entrance to the modular shelter. A 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 as the Theurgy and the Harbinger finished powering up and immediately activated their weapon arrays. Both starships 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 detonating in his path and throwing gravel high and wide. As he ran - breathing labored 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.

- Written by Auctor Lucan, Episode 03: Unconquerable Soul - Part I, Chapter 26: Master of My Fate