“Faasha, are you sure you want to do this?” his hands hovered over the controls. She stood on the transporter pad - shoulders squared - phaser in hand. “Transport me to the programmed coordinates. If I’m not back in 20 kelms, assume command.”
“You’ll be outnumbered. The Phluvoigh will ambush you the moment you materialize!”
“Drokkan, send me now that’s an order!”
Faasha felt her body coalesce as her molecules came together. The process took seconds but felt arduously slow to her. A member of her crew was missing and possibly hurt; she didn’t have time to waste. She blinked several times to clear her vision as she glanced around the maroon landscape – her hand brushing away the fringe of blue hair from her indigo-colored eyes. The purple haze of the planet’s atmosphere allowed little light to filter in from the sun. The phaser set on stun, she scanned the area with the Biogeometer, hoping for signs of life. Scans showed that weather patterns were fluctuating and radiation emissions were at acceptable levels, but no signs of life. This meant there were no Phluvoigh in the immediate vicinity, but it also meant that Crewman Inertia was closer to the mining camps than Faasha had hoped.
Two kelms had passed since she materialized and Drokkan would leave orbit in 20 kelms whether she made it back or not. She ran towards the mining camp taking cover wherever she could, the Biogeometer scanning periodically for signs of Crewman Inertia. Twenty meters from the camp the chirping sounds of the Biogeometer alerted her of life signs ahead – twelve Phluvoigh and one Cardian. Her chronometer was set on a countdown; she had eight kelms to find her Crewman and get back on the ship. The Phluvoigh were a patriarchal mining warrior class that functioned in camps led by a Core Master. The only thing she could do was trade herself for her Crewman which she was willing to do knowing that the Phluvoigh treated females, regardless of species, no better than slaves. The fact that she was a Captain would bear no weight when she negotiated the trade and it was important that she didn’t encounter any of the others until she found the Core Master’s encampment.
The pungent smell of kroag roasting turned her stomach but it meant that except for the security detail, most of them would be at their dining hut. She crept forward hiding behind a bivouac scanning for Cardian life signs but finding none. How could this be? Either Crewman Inertia was being held prisoner elsewhere, or the Phluvoigh were employing cloaking technology. Footsteps nearby alerted her of the security patrol coming her way and she ran away from the camp acutely aware of the kelms ticking away; swallowing her frustration at not finding her Crewman. Shouts erupted from the top of the barracks where the Phluvoigh bunked. She turned to see the militant Phluvoigh fire his phaser rifle. Phluvoigh warriors swarmed out of the dining hut giving chase; their Core Master barking commands in the background.
Chunks of maroon and lavender rocks flew in the air around her from the impact of the phaser rifles firing, as she ran towards the mines looking for some place to hide. Her long legs enabled her to cover more distance as she continued her climb going east, the Biogeometer reporting Cardian life signs nearby. The Phluvoigh shouting war cries were gaining ground on her. She pushed herself harder feeling the fatigue of her earlier trek to the camp. A quick glance at the chronometer informed her that there were only two kelms left. But looking at her chronometer had cost her, a Phluvoigh jumped down in front of her – phaser rifle pointed – demanding her surrender.
This Phluvoighan was more repulsive than most. He stood a foot taller than she did, reeked of kroag and body odor, was missing his left fang and the overly long hairs of his pug nose were moist. There was nothing Faasha could do at this point but to give in, slowly she bent and placed her phaser on the ground while the Phluvoigh watched her with contempt; a little dribble escaping the side of his mouth where the fang was missing. She heard the others approaching and as she began to straighten up, she stabbed the Phluvoigh on his thigh snatching his rifle and shooting him. His scream enraged the others as they pursued and Faasha surged ahead directly to the cave where Crewman Inertia’s weak life signs had registered.
Phaser fire came from all directions and she was hit on the back of her shoulder as she entered the cave. She fell to her knees from the burning impact, grinding her teeth in pain but continuing forward using the Biogeometer’s track light to illuminate the inside of the cave. The Phluvoigh gathered outside the cave now, brawling with each other to determine who would go in after her but unwilling to act without the Core Master’s orders. Crewman Inertia lay motionless in a bloody heap on the floor; her usual mauve complexion was a pasty coral. The wound over her left ear had stopped bleeding but was encrusted with dried pink blood.
While Faasha scanned her, she signaled the ship “Drokkan, I found Crewman Inertia. We’re in a cave within the Phluvoigh mining camp. Transport us now!"
Drokkan paced the bridge trying to decipher the Captain’s message through the distortion that the planet’s weather was causing. “Faasha, we’re trying to lock on to your signal. The electromagnetic field being generated by the storm is disrupting our ability to transport you!”
Outside the cave the Core Master gave orders for the phaser cannons to be brought forward. Faasha tapped her communicator “Drokkan, transport for two. Drokkan, do you read?” The communicator emitted static sounds while the temperature dropped a couple of degrees. The Phluvoigh sang songs of carnage while the winds began to howl. Faasha scanned around her, the Biogeometer analysis showing a storm coming her way. With no way to communicate with the ship and the Phluvoigh outside the cave, Faasha knew she was on her own. Twenty kelms had passed and Drokkan should be leaving orbit. She was trapped and cornered. All she could do is continue her stand-off and if captured negotiate with the Core Master, but she feared that they would end up roasting like the kroag. The booming sound of the phaser cannon brought her back to focus as it sealed the entrance to the cave - rubble and detritus pummeling them. Faasha, kneeling over Crewman Inertia, coughed through the thick dust and silt that covered them. She tapped her communicator again managing a hoarse “Drokkan...” as she lost consciousness.