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Run Silent

Posted on Jan 06, 2018 @ 2:42am by Lieutenant Tomas' Vukovic

Mission: Bramatine: Truth, Justice and the Federation Way

"Run Silent"
(continues from Jerome's "Hardball")

Location: USS PHOENIX
Stardate: [2.18] 0105.1411
Scene: Shuttlebay

=/\=

"Ready?" Tomas' queried the man sitting behind him.

"Carry on, Mister," Captain Kane replied, just a hint of something in his voice.

"Begging the Captain's pardon," the Slav/Borg interjected, "but this isn't your standard shuttle. Just didn't want you to be unprepared for what's about to happen."

"And that would be?" Kane asked

This time the voice was a little edgier. The "stop wasting my time" sort of voice.

"Well, it's so new we haven't even named it yet," Tomas' explained. "It's a counter-surveillance, fighter style drop ship. Designed to go down world like some kind of natural phenomena, like a meteor. We'll be gliding in ... unpowered."

"Unpowered?"

Tomas' nodded. "Yes, sir. Like a flying brick, basically. No power signature of any consequence."

"That's going to leave us unable to maneuver," Kane objected.

"Don't worry about that, sir." Tomas smiled only because he knew Kane couldn't see him do it. "She'll turn if we need her to. It's the burning up in the atmosphere part that's the problem. This is not the ship for an amateur pilot."

"Then I guess I'll have to take comfort that you are not an amateur, Mr. Vukovic." The man's voice was dry as a desert.

"And when we decide to light her up, we'll require a considerable amount of Structural Integrity Support, or our insides won't keep up with the thrust."

"Are you trying to frighten me, Mister?"

"No, sir? Not at all. But I've never regretted keeping command informed."

Kane was silent for a moment. Tomas' heard him cinch the restraints a little tighter.

"Carry on, Mr. Vukovic. Try not to make a mess."

"Aye, sir."

=/\=

Scene: Tomas' quarters
Time Index: prior to previous scene

=/\=

It was unseemly to curse at the pugnacious counseling department mascot.

All right. He was behaving in an unseemly manner.

"I'm not a freaking fire hydrant," he muttered, not that he'd ever actually seen a fire hydrant. That was just part of the stereotype contributing to Captain Smooshy's effect on him. And that was another thing. "Captain Smooshy"? That had to be an Iphie thing. Right? He could just imagine what Kane thought of that.

He chucked the uniform into the 'cycler and was standing in his underwear when the giggles started.

"What the freaking hell?" he asked, looking quickly in every direction.

The giggling stopped. But he was certain he'd heard it. And it sounded ... familiar?

"Lieutenant Vukovic?" the Captain's voice overrode anything else he'd been thinking about.

"Vukovic here," he stood there in his half-dressed glory.

"Uniform malfunction, was it?" The Captain sounded like he was grinning from ear to ear ... and that was terrifying enough.

"It's handled, sir."

"Good. I require a pilot."

"Sir?"

"Did I stutter, Lieutenant?"

"No, sir. You want a pilot. What's the mission? Might make a difference in the craft we use."

"Stealth. And some good old fashioned 'kick to the teeth' aggression."

Tomas began to grin.

"I know just the thing, sir."

"How soon?"

"Ten minutes, Captain. You might want fighter gear."

Kane was silent, but Tomas' could almost hear him smile.

"Shuttlebay 2, sir."

"Very well, pilot. In ten. And put some pants on."

Tomas' startled.

"How the hell ...?" but the connection was broken.

=/\=

Time index: after launch

=/\=

Mach three with his hair on fire ... and pretty much everything else.

The experimental drop ship lanced through the atmosphere, a shooting star not unlike the other occasional flashes of meteoric glory from the neighboring debris cloud that suggested ACAMAR III had once had a moon. They were falling blind ... except that they weren't. It was true that Kane couldn't see anything with the canopy shields in place and the cams shuttered against the entry burn. But Tomas' was connected. He knew exactly where they were, how fast they were coming down, and when all that would end. Kane hadn't uttered a sound during the entire trip. But he could have sworn he heard him clench his teeth over the head set. Either that or he was unconscious, and Tomas' didn't think he'd bet on that.

Plugged in like this, Tomas' was barely a bipedal humanoid. He felt the air flow over the skin of the drop ship. He felt the flame of friction. The circuitry hummed in parallel with his nervous system. It was a heady way to fly, but it was hell when it came to breaking the connection. Especially since every time he connected recently ... he was sure someone, or something, was watching. But it didn't pay to lose focus here. The ship would vibrate itself to pieces if he didn't keep the fall line positioned just so, funneling the heat away from them as they fell.

They'd be seen, all right. But no one would know what they really were.

About one thousand meters from the surface, he engaged the engines and felt his internal organs shift against the push back from the suit he was wearing. At the same moment, he dropped the kinetic load that would fall away and hit the surface, some place relatively empty. It would furnish the fiction of a meteor strike. He also triggered the wings. Inch by inch they swept out, bringing lift to the craft that now seemed more organic, more manta-like. They cruised along the upswept edges of mountain ranges, lifted by the thermals, the engines barely ticking over now that they weren't going to impact the surface.

"Captain?"

"Yes?"

"You all right?"

Kane didn't answer immediately.

"We are never doing that again."

"Anything you say, sir."

Kane triggered the sensor suite and arced the small craft along the jagged edge of a recent ground slip. With the canopy shields pulled back, Kane could see it clearly ... the outer edge of the geologic event that had resulted in the cave-in of the Hungry Pits mine.

"It's worse than I thought," he muttered.

This looked like a major event, just short of a nuclear strike. And the shifting ridges indicated it wasn't done moving.

"This whole thing could come down," he said. "Put us down over there."

Tomas' flared the wings and dropped the little ship onto landing struts.

"What's the plan, Captain?"

Kane stretched to relieve the kink between his shoulder blades and dropped onto the ground blasted clean by the exhaust. He took the equipment pack from Tomas' and made sure his hand phaser was within easy reach.

"I'm making this up as I go along," he muttered, and then set off.

=/\=

NRPG: Sarah asked me to create chaos, Jerome. How'd I do?


=/\=

Kenneth Field

writing for:
Lt. Tomas' Vukovic, Flight Control Officer
USS PHOENIX

 

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