<Stardate: Unknown. Location Unknown. Approx. 13 moths ago.>
The green tell tale stood out on the display, almost daring John Carter to do…something. However, he DID know he was somewhere with breathable atmosphere, and that was a plus. Any other answers, he'd have to find for himself.
Carter set about collecting what supplies he could find amidst the crash-tossed contents of his shuttle's storage bins. Without too much trouble, he found a tri-corder, several days worth of fast-pack rations, and a field water processing kit. “Great,” he said out loud. “Assuming this place has something that passes for water, at least I won't die right away.” He proceeded to pack the tools and supplies he could find in a hard-shell backpack, and gave the inside of the shuttle one more look.
“Sorry I couldn't get you home in one piece, girl. You deserved better than to end up on some nameless ball of dirt.” John paused a moment, putting his hands on his hips. “Come to think of it, so did I.” He made his way back to the pilot's compartment, reaching under the control deck to activate the Emergency Location Beacon. Then he patted the bulkhead before strapping the scoffed at life-support belt around his waist. “Can't believe this thing might actually be useful.” he mused.
He had stepped carefully through the cabin to the port side hatch, and had just placed his hand on the exit controls when there was a heavy thud on the top of the grounded shuttle.
John instantly dropped to a crouch, looking up in the direction of the noise. “What the Hell?” He paused for a moment, cocking his head to one side trying to make out any other sounds. After a few moments, there was a faint scraping followed by two more sharp thuds, almost as if something were probing the skin of the shuttle for weak spots.
“Right. ” Carter said as he blinked at the odd sounds. “So…not alone.” By reflex as much as training, John's right hand slipped to his belt, where a phaser would have been in most circumstances. Carter shook his head. “Getting sloppy old man.” he chided himself.
The strange sounds continued above him as Carter sought the hard case he'd put the antique phaser II in when he'd set off from the NX-01, who knew how long ago. “Come on, come on, where are you?”
The thudding continued, followed by a shrill, inhuman cry from whatever was outside. A few seconds later, there was the sound of another heavy impact on the roof.
“Sure,” Carter mused as he finally put his hands on the case. “Invite the whole gang over.”
There was another alien cry and then a third, followed by the sounds what John could only assume were two more visitors.
Trying to keep things in perspective, Carter focused on the job at hand. He took the weapon from it's case and checked the charge. “Half-full.” He mused grimly. “Still, that should be enough to scare off whatever's out there.” In a few more seconds, he found the belt rig that went with the weapon and was able to secure the phaser pistol to his belt. “You know,” he offered out loud, on the off chance the universe was listening, “just once I'd like to catch a break.”
John Carter drew his phaser and reached out with his left hand to open the shuttle's port hatch. As servos engaged to lower the embarkation ramp, the sounds of movement shifted from the shuttle's dorsal surface to the source of the movement. In the cabin, Carter set himself into a kneeling position to give his visitors a low-profile target, while giving him superior firing position on whatever was in front of the open door. Then he hit the control to open the hatch.
“Give me one reason, ONE, why I shouldn't slit your throat RIGHT NOW!”
Dadjinn's voice reverberated on the small cavern's stone interior causing her target to wince as he essentially heard her threat twice. Nonetheless, Zharon kept his composure and faced the warrior with what he thought was a great deal of poise. “Oh stop being dramatic, Dadjinn.” He spit back at her, his tone more like a chiding teacher than a zealous scientist.
Undeterred, Dadjinn stepped closer, her right hand resting on the pommel of the wickedly curved sword that she was now infamous for amongst the rebels of Garsol. “Damn you, old man.” She cursed. “Every time you try to reach the Gods, your `experiment'…” the word dripped sarcastically off her tongue, “brings the fliers down on us! I warned you what would happen if you tried it again!”
Dadjinn's sword was a third of the way drawn when the scientist cleared his throat. “Not THIS time.” He explained simply.
“What?” Dadjinn asked as she blinked in surprise.
“I used the device 36 hours ago.” Zharon answered. “Nearly a day has gone by, and the beasts haven't devoured us. Have they?”
It took a moment for Dadjinn to recover. She hadn't been prepared for the scientist's calm response. She'd assumed he'd admit his fault and beg for his life, a plea that Dadjinn had been more and more likely to deny the longer the fight against the fliers went on. She honestly hadn't considered the idea that, after his myriad failures, Zharon might actually have a valid point, let alone some measure of success.
“That's…not the point!” She screamed. “Your mission will come to NOTHING when you could be making yourself useful!”
“That's exactly what I AM doing!” Zharon shot back. “We can't win back our planet without help! The Gods themselves told me…”
Dadjinn was on the old man like a flash, weapon drawn, as she bowled him over with a shoulder block, sending Zharon to the ground. “Rrraah!” She screamed, raising her sword high above her head. “Stop it, just STOP IT!” She yelled. “The gods are a lie! Your help is a lie!”
She brought the weapon down hard, causing it to bite into the ground, inches from the downed scientist's ear. “One more chance, old man. Either make yourself useful and find a way to kill more invaders, or I'll stake you out in the desert and LAUGH as the THINGS tear you apart.”
With a firm pull, Dadjinn freed her weapon from the earth and swung it gracefully to rest on her shoulder, turning to head out of the chamber. She nearly ran smack into Bah-Ki.
The rushed observer bent over, breathing hard; his chest heaving as he gulped breaths waiting for his body to catch up to the demands he'd placed on his body.
“You…” he huffed as he tried to straighten up. “You really need…” he nearly doubled-over as his labored breathing continued. “…to see this.”
Unsure of what to make of Bah-Ki's condition, Dadjinn put her hand on his shoulder, studying his face. “What is it, Ki? What's happened?”
“On the plain,” he commented, as his breathing finally began to slow. “Where it fell…”
Dadjinn's eyes went wide. She shot a concerned look at Zharon, then looked down the cavern from where Bah-Ki had come and broke into a run, headed for the sheltered look-out space she'd been in shortly after sun-up.
A moment later, Zharon sprinted after her as fast as his old legs would carry him.
Bah-Ki looked back as the scientist left him alone. He slumped against the cave wall, finally taking a moment to try and calm his body down. “It's ok…I'll…I'll catch up.”
The sword-wielder shielded her eyes from the sun as she broke from the cover of the cave system. Ordinarily, a Garsolan who was out in broad daylight took their life into their own hands. At any given moment, at least one, usually a mob of flying monsters, would descend at the slightest sign of movement and lift their target into the air where the unfortunate soul would quickly be torn to ribbons and devoured on the wing. Despite the danger, Dadjinn braved her exposed position, and was rewarded with a truly remarkable sight.
Far in the distance, at the head of the dark scar that had been carved into Garsol's surface by the morning's odd event, Dadjin saw another. At what seemed to be random intervals, thin lances of orange fire would lash out of the event crater, and as Dadjinn watched, the fliers who had been attracted to the movement of the crash wheeled and dove to try and avoid the danger. More often than not, one of the angry lines of energy would strike a flier and send them spiraling to the ground. Dadjinn could only imagine the sounds they made as they seemed to catch fire and flail on the ground.
For a long moment, she just stood and watched as the impossible happened. Something was willing her enemies out of the air, and they fell to earth, charred, twitching, and she could only hope…or perhaps pray, that the message was now clear. “Vengeance has come to Garsol.” She whispered.
Behind her, Zharon cleared his throat. “Gods be praised,” he offered. “It worked.”
<To Be Continued>
CMDR John Carter
Educational Outreach Officer
USS Enterprise, NX-01