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Deep Breath

Posted on Jun 30, 2019 @ 7:36am by Commander Jacob Crichton
Edited on on Jun 30, 2019 @ 7:37am

Mission: Last Days of Empire

= Deep Breath =

(cont’d from “First Posting”)

SCENE: Transporter Room
STARDATE: [2.19]0630.1512

Heck was already outside the transporter room as Jake, Jasmine, and Eve approached. He looked up and gave Jake a nod, a silent thanks for including him on the away mission so soon after being stationed aboard the PHOENIX.

“Lt. Solorzano,” Jake said. “Have you met Lieutenants Yu and Dalziel?”

“A pleasure to meet you,” Heck said, nodding to each woman in turn. “It’s an honor to be serving aboard the PHOENIX.”

“You look familiar,” Eve said. “Have we met before?”

“You may have seen me at Starbase 56,” Heck said, casting a quick side-long glance at Jake.

Jake took the cue and stepped in. “Hector’s an old friend from my Academy days. I think he got tired of sitting around all day, moving stacks of reports from end of his desk to the other. That about right, Heck?”

“Thought it was about time I put all that Starfleet training to good use,” Heck said, smiling at Eve.

Jake had a feeling Eve could tell the subject was being changed, but thankfully it seemed like she wasn’t going to press the issue here. Jake gestured for the Transporter Room doors. “Shall we?”

They stepped into the transporter room, but stopped short when they found a young woman, dressed in Medical department blues, standing in front of the transporter pads. A tangle of tubes descended from her left hand.

“Ah, Commander,” she said, turning to look at the away team more fully as they entered. “I’m glad I caught you.”

Jake noted the rank pip on the woman’s collar. “I’m not sure we’ve met, Ensign…?”

“Samson,” the woman said. She smiled politely, though Jake thought she looked disinterested, as if her mind was on something else. “I came aboard on the most recent crew rotation.”

Jake realized he’d seen her in the same group that had beamed aboard with Heck, though at the time he’d been too focused to make the proper introductions.

“Of course,” Jake nodded. “Dr. Samson. What can we do for you?”

“Dr. Bartlett… that is, Commander Bartlett… ah, I’m not really sure what to call him--”

“I think he’d be happy with either honorific,” said Eve.

Dr. Samson smiled awkwardly. “Of course. Anyway, he sent me to deliver these personally, before you beamed down to the planetoid.”

Jasmine Yu looked at the twists of tubing still clenched in Samson’s hands. “What are they?”

“Oxygen regulators,” Samson said. “Worn intranasally. Apparently they’re a necessity down there.”

Jake took the proffered regulators and inspected them. They were simple enough in design: a dual-set of tubes to be inserted into each nostril, attached to a thin length of tubing that ended in a small case designed to be attached to the belt of their uniforms. He passed one each to Jasmine, Eve, and Heck in turn.

Heck frowned at the device, then looked up at Samson. “Why do we need these?”

“For breathing,” Samson said, sounding a little annoyed at the question.

“I think what he means is, is there an issue with the moon’s atmosphere?” Jake asked.

“It’s incredibly thin,” Samson said. “Scans show that oxygen and nitrogen levels are well below M-class standard.”

“That makes sense,” said Jasmine. “We’ve detected some atmospheric regulators, but they’re very outdated.”

“It’s akin to high-elevations on Earth,” Samson continued. “Think Mount Everest. You could tolerate it for a short time, but you wouldn’t be taking in enough oxygen with each breath to sustain brain function. Before long, you’d notice effects like dizziness, nausea, irritability… and eventually disorientation, hallucinations, and death.”

Heck listened to the list of symptoms, then clipped the device to his belt and attached the breathing tubes to his nostrils without another word. Jake and the others followed suit.

“So everyone down there wears one of these?” Eve asked.

“I couldn’t say for sure,” Samson said. “Most humanoid species have similar atmospheric requirements, though symptoms of low oxygen would present differently for each of them. And of course, any sealed buildings would have their own internal atmosphere. I would guess use of breathers like this one would be commonplace, though I couldn’t guarantee they would all be tuned to your exact physiologies. To be safe, I recommend you be careful not to damage your regulators.”

“Thank you, doctor,” Jake said, clipping his own regulator to his belt. “And welcome aboard the ship. It’s good to have you.”

“Thank you, sir,” Samson said. “Will that be all, Commander? I don’t mean to be rude, but I have some research I was working on in my lab, and I really need to get back to it.”

“By all means,” Jake said. “We’ll let you know how these things work out.”

Samson nodded and was out the door in a flash, apparently very eager to return to her research. Jake and the others stepped onto the transporter pads, and a moment later, they were gone.


SCENE: Marketplace

They materialized in an abandoned alley, at the far end of what appeared to be one of the central markets. The view of the starfield above, as well as the dull glow of the gas giant around which the moon maintained its irregular orbit, was covered by a patchwork of tents and awnings, attached haphazardly to the sides of what may have once been shipping containers or the blasted-out hulks of small starships. All of these were arranged in roughly oval shape that was wide enough to leave room for the crowds that drifted between the various shops and food stands, but tight enough to make the setting feel claustrophobic.

At a glance, Jake could see representatives from a dozen species - humans, Ferengi, Andorians, Caradassians, and even a handful of Romulans. Their dress varied greatly across each individual; some wore flowing robes of fine silk, embroidered with eye-catching patterns of vibrant color, while others were dressed in far more drab and humble attire. Then there were those in armor, carrying sidearms and sticking close to what Jake guessed were their wealthy clientele, keeping a careful eye out for pickpockets or scam artists.

Jake had seen places like this before. On the one hand, the Bazaar represented a kind of rough-and-tumble tourism for the wealthy elite, a chance to get away from the stuffy cocktail parties and boardroom meetings and spend some time walking “real” streets, thronged with “real” people. Much of this “realness” was only for show, of course; if there was any real danger here, it would be in failing to haggle a kiosk attendant down to a reasonable price, or in losing a few strips of latinum to an obviously rigged streetside game of chance. The wealthy interests that ran the Bazaar wouldn’t want to scare off the serious money, and so wouldn’t tolerate anything like violent crime for very long. The marketplace was a chance for the wealthy elite to get some dirt under their fingernails without venturing too far away from the luxury suites on their merchant ships in orbit overhead, and the creatures that made this moon their home were only too happy to maintain that air of dangerous mystique if it meant they could continue to profit from it.

Still, Jake thought, it was important to remember that the Bazaar sat at the edge of what might soon be a warzone between the Orion Syndicate and the remnants of the Klingon Empire, and that meant they couldn’t take anything here for granted.

“Nice place,” Heck said, looking around. “Think I’ll have time to buy a couple tchotchkes for my quarters?”

“Business before pleasure, Heck,” Jake said. “We’re here to find out what Captain Book was doing here, and where the Satet may have gone after this.”

“We should ask after this J’hora woman,” Jasmine said. “Major Thytos said she’s a major player here.”

“No sense in being coy,” Eve agreed. “Anyone with a half-decent orbital scanner will have seen the PHOENIX dropping out of warp. If J’hora is as important as Kass said, she probably already knows we’re here.”

“Even so, stick to the cover story,” Jake said. “The Satet is stolen Federation property. We’re trying to recover the ship and apprehend the ones who took it. Don’t let on that Book or his crew were affiliated with Starfleet, and don’t volunteer any information beyond the basics.”

“The colony isn’t that big, but there’s a lot of nooks and crannies,” Heck said. “Might take awhile to find anything. We’d cover more ground if we split up.”

Jake turned to Jasmine. “What’s your assessment, lieutenant?”

“I don’t think there’s much danger,” Jasmine said. “I’ve seen a few small sidearms, but nothing serious. Security analysis suggests that violent crime on this moon is quite low, especially in the high-commerce areas. And anyway, we have our phasers. I believe the threat to be minimal.”

“Alright,” Jake nodded. “Eve, you and Heck head off to the right, start asking after Book and J’hora. Jasmine and I will head left. Keep in touch via communicators, if you find a lead let us know. If we turn up nothing, we’ll meet back here in two hours. Understood?”

The group nodded their agreement.

“Be careful,” Jake said. “This is the last place the Satet was before it disappeared. Don’t take anything at face value.”

With that, the team stepped out of the alley and joined the crowd.


Across the small square, sitting beneath the shadow of patchwork grey tent, sat a lone figure. His eyes were fixed on the alley several meters away, and they shone with interest as the group of Starfleet officers emerged and split off into two pairs. The figure waited until one of the groups had picked their way past him, not once glancing in his direction. Then, he rose from the small stool where he’d been sitting and stepped out into the crowd to follow them. As he emerged, light from the nearby storefronts shined across the green skin of his thickly muscled arms, and illuminated the twisting pink scar that ran from the top of his bald head down one of his weathered green cheeks.

The figure picked his way carefully through the crowd, careful not to let the Starfleet officers ahead out of his sight. As he watched them, he raised a small communicator to his lips.

“They’re here,” he said.


NRPG: Welcome Shauna! I hope I did okay with Allison in this post! Let me know if I got anything wrong.

So, the away team has beamed down to the Bazaar and can begin their search for leads on Captain Book and the Satet. They've split into two groups for now - Jake and Jasmine, and Eve and Heck - but can reunite as needed. Book beamed down with one of his crew before the Satet left the Bazaar for parts unknown; we need to find out what he was looking for, and where the ship may have gone after leaving.

Right now, the best lead is the Klingon J’hora, but who knows what else might come up during the investigation? Also, who is the mysterious Orion that is shadowing one of the two groups?

I’ll leave it to whoever posts next to decide which group is being followed.

Shawn Putnam
Jake Crichton
Executive Officer


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