From Star Trek: Theurgy Wiki
Story Excerpt: SAR Mission
[ Planet KE 286583 S - "Varcae" | Crash Site ]
Soft, yellow light filtered through the holes and cracks in the escape pod. One by one, the crew woke up. Lieutenant Jacqueline Cody; Science Officers Amy Jenson and Loclan Tsan, a botanist and a chemist respectively; Nurse Harry Pitt; Cadet Adam Knott; and Chief Petty Officer Curt Lucas. The only one who didn't wake up was Melanie. Ensign Melanie Konzola would never see that light or any other. Still strapped to her seat, a part of the metal casing of the pod was sticking out through her abdomen. She'd taken her last breath during the crash. Curt had looked at her, but he hadn't seen her - his thoughts deriving how the emergency thrusters on the pod must have saved them all.
The rest of the crew was comparatively unscathed. Obviously, there were cuts and bruises and no end of aches and pains but nothing life-threatening. Lieutenant Cody, the black woman from Tactical, had quite a bad limp but Curt heard Nurse Pitt assuring her it was just a couple of broken toes and a twisted ankle. Cadet Knott had lost a good deal of stomach lining after he had seen Melanie. None of them had quite known how to cope with Melanie as they scrambled out of the wreckage. They'd had a lot to process as they stood, hurt and confused, taking in their surroundings while Nurse Pitt assessed them with a medical tricorder. Curt noticed, absently, that Pitt seemed to be the only one able to pull himself together enough to be of any use right then.
The planet they stood on was anything but familiar. All they knew was that the pod's navigation systems had tagged it as 'Varcae' before they entered the atmosphere. Tall, pale green plants towered over them like soft, swaying trees. They were vine-like with fine hair on their surface and had big leaves at the top that looked similar to Venus fly traps. These plants reached up into a yellow sky and sprouted from soft, crumbly orange soil. The ground was comprised of this soil, interrupted occasionally by strange hollows in the ground. The hollows were like inset metal dishes, a few feet wide. They were coppery, like shiny pennies of yore, with small green patches. Even the air was strange; it was warm and smelled faintly of sulfur and metal. Tiny birds flew in the sky.
"Well, you're all fine for now. I don't know how long that will last, though. This air doesn't smell particularly healthy," Nurse Pitt said. He had a brisk, authoritative manner but there was an edge to his voice that hinted at inner panic.
"Yeah, what is that smell?" Curt asked. He saw that Science Officer Tsan had scrambled to get his scanner. Jenson was busy stroking Cadet Knott's back and trying to calm him. The boy was only eighteen and nearly hyperventilating.
"On it," Tsan mumbled, taking readings.
"Well?" Lieutenant Cody asked, cocking a hip and folding her arms under her chest. "Are we all going to die right now or will we have to wait a few days until we starve?" She was clearly irritated, not just from her pain but the overall situation. She was so mad she forgot proper conduct for her rank.
"Jackie, please! That won't happen. We should be able to scavenge enough from that..." Curt pointed a thumb at the wreckage of the pod next to them. "...to at least send a distress call."
Science Officer Tsan coughed politely. "Looks like the air is just barely breathable, but I can't tell how it will affect us in the long run. This planet is weird though - highly unstable. From my readings, it would seem that the water has higher levels of sulfuric acid than would be expected and most of the land is copper-based. The area we're in at the moment is stable but we'd better hope it doesn't rain," Tsan said.
"What happens if it rains?" asked Cody, her dark brows drawn.
Tsan looked uncomfortable. "One hell of a chemical reaction. The acid rain will cause corrosion of any exposed copper. You don't want to breathe in the fumes from that. Plus, I'm not sure how strong the acid rain would be but I'm guessing it would sting more than a little if you got caught out in it. "
There was a moment of silence as the others processed this information.
"We'd best get a move on before there are any little showers then, I suppose. I don't fancy getting choked or melted," Cody said with a humorless laugh.
Curt threw her a disapproving look but nodded in agreement. "We'd best see if we can salvage any of the communication system."
"Before you do…" They turned to look as Science officer Jenson spoke. She'd moved away from Cadet Knott, scanning one of the plants while the others had been talking. "There's something you should know about these big plants."
"Are they going to make us melt too?" The limping lieutenant asked.
"Not exactly. They're not exactly plants, either. They're more like animals than plants. They have copper based blood, like Vulcans, and if my scans are right…" She trailed off as she looked up at tops of the green vines. The others' gazes followed hers. As they watched, they saw the leaves at the top of the plant open wide and snap one of the little birds right out of the air. Jenson gulped.
[ Two Days Later | 1420 hrs.]
Two days passed. Two horrible days. A lot changed in that time.
The survivors were residing in a cave, none of them in good shape. Tsan was seemingly mute. The journey to their makeshift shelter had not gone well. The plants had left them alone at first, not really registering their presence until Science Officer Jenson had the great idea of trying to take a sample of their flesh to test for edibility. The plant let out a banshee's screech and all hell had broken loose. They lost Lieutenant Cody to the plant creatures as they ran. She just couldn't keep up. The things could lunge and whip like enormous tentacles.
Next, the wildlife had found them, nightmarish beasts that looked like a combination of hyenas and reptiles. They secreted some kind of oily substance that made them virtually invisible at night. The crew never saw them coming until it was too late. Whenever his mind strayed, Curt couldn't stop himself from hearing Cadet Knott's screams - the unfiltered fear and echoed agony as he was dragged off into the darkness. Torn to pieces while still alive. Harry Pitt had his jugular torn out right away. At lest the nurse hadn't screamed.
Eventually, Curt and the two surviving scientists had found the cave to take refuge in. It seemed that the predators were not as active during the day, but the cave was as much a trap as a refuge - death awaiting right outside. Tsan seemed like he had given up. Curt couldn't remember when the chemist had spoken last. Amy Jenson was desperately doing her best to remain calm, but asking questions all the time.
In their cave, they waited for rescue. They'd found enough parts to jumble together a device that was sending out a weak distress call. The transmission probably wouldn't get far, but they would just have to hope that luck would bring another ship close enough to receive it. Curt Lucas hadn't told Jenson and Tsan how unreliable and weak his device really was but he had a feeling they had guessed.
Amy had grabbed some containers of water before they left the crash site, but it wasn't enough to last the two days that they'd been waiting. They would just have to wait, faint from hunger and dizzy from thirst as the wildlife awaited them outside their barricade.
As Curt sat near the entrance to the cave, looking out over the jagged mountain terrain, he grimly noticed something that might prevent them from dying from thirst or hunger.
The sky was clouding over.
Wait... What is that?
- Written by Auctor Lucan, Interregnum 03-04, DAY 01: SAR Away-Mission