"Fear Is A Choice"
Previous post "From Weird To Strange"

Only fools fight what they cannot see or hear.
- Khan Noonien Singh, during the colonization of Ceti Alpha V


Setting: LOCUS 1, on the moon surface of PI ALPHA III
Stardate: 30148.1030

The Native American had to admit that the ride back to the crash site of the SPHINX had actually been a pleasant one.  The four-wheel drive craft almost seemed to enjoy traveling over the rough moonscape, as if designed for that specific purpose. This of course left Captain Morningstar to think that it all had been too good to last.  Let's face it, their journey to the moon of PI ALPHA III had not been such a joy from pretty much the get go.

From afar the Native American could see the rest of the away team, everyone having gathered outside of the wreckage of the SPHINX.  It was only when the three LOCUS came to a stop that the CO noted something different, especially in the facial expressions of those that had stayed behind.

"Something wrong Commander?" Erik inquired as he got out of the craft, not truly wanting for his acting Executive Officer to reply in the affirmative.

"Doctor Mizore detected on her medical tricorder some bipedal silicone-base life forms about 10 kilometers from our current location," Maya reported with a certain hint of concern in her voice.

The Captain had been ready to point out that the mentioned device could not have performed as stated, but Erik thought against it. As an experienced Officer and Scientist there had been no doubt in the CO's mind that the acting Executive Officer had been very well aware of that fact and that an explanation had already been thoroughly investigated.

"Silicone-base bipedal life forms," Morningstar repeated with a sigh. "That narrows the field of possibilities down quite a bit, and none of them are all that desirable."

"Well, that would explain the phaser riffles," the OPS Officer noted as he and the CNS came to stand next to the Captain after having disembarked from their respective LOCUS.

"What would either one of those races be doing here?" Eve questioned as she looked onto the distant horizon as if trying to see what the tricorder had picked up.

"Too many possibilities," the Captain pointed out.  "Still, it may be safer if we consider all of the options from the safety of an alternate location."

"Like the ANUBIS? I'm in, let's get going, NOW!"  The CEO quickly contributed not at all trying to hide her desire to put as much distance between these silicone-based life forms and herself.

"Has there been any additional tricorder readings since the initial contact?" Erik inquired in an effort to accurately established the threat level and their own tactical situation.

"None," Maya replied as she handed over her tricorder to the Native American so that he could take knowledge of what little information they had managed to gather.  The small device had receive a copy of the data picked up by the aCMO's tricorder as well as presented the CO with a map of their immediate surroundings.

"The lack of any addition readings may indicate that they are aware of our ability to track them," the ILO stated in a matter-of-fact manner, pointing out the growing tactical disadvantage the team had been faced with.  "We are at a tactical disadvantage."

"Has anyone tried to contact the ANUBIS?" The CO inquired, thinking that maybe this situation had been beyond the limits of what had been expected from a training mission, regardless of how demanding it might have been meant to be.

"There is some type of ionization field present in the atmosphere," Maya explained.  "There is no way to contact the ANUBIS, our signals are being reflected back down to us and the SPHINX's subspace communication array is completely destroyed.  We were also unable to determine as to how far this field stretches making it impossible to know if we could just get out of the range of the interference.  Our best bet would be to head for the BARRACUDA, we may be able to contact the ANUBIS along the way, or if we are unable to do so use the craft to return there ourselves."

The Native American sighed to himself in momentary discouragement, this mission had not at all turned out the way he could have hoped or ever expected.

"Alright," Erik began making sure that he had everyone's attention before he continued.  "Commander, you, Ensign Stalk and Ensign Ttosk will take LOCUS 3 and take point.  Stark knows the coordinates of the BARRACUDA and can be your navigator." The Native American paused as he shifted his attention onto the CMO and her patient.  "Doctor, you will accompany Lieutenant Paquette in LOCUS 2 with Ensign Shar'El at the helm.  Counselor Dalziel, Doctor Mizore and myself will take LOCUS 1 and bring up the rear making sure that everything is alright.  Questions?"

"How long will it take us to reach the BARRACUDA?" Ensign Mizore inquired, trying her best to make it appear that her question had been meant for medical purposes.

"It is hard to say for certain because of the terrain and the shifting rivers of magma," Ensign Stark reported.  "We might be able to make it in about two hours if we are lucky, if not and we have to take several detours, it could maybe take four to five hours before we reach the BARRACUDA."

"Then it would be best for us to get going now," Erik offered, sending everyone onto their respective tasks and crafts.

"I will need help to bring Lieutenant Paquette into the LOCUS," Doctor Doyanne stated, her gaze having already drifted onto the towering Flight Control Officer.

"You want her *on* or *in*?" Wydran asked of the CMO, the seriousness in his voice leaving it to everyone else's imagination to figure out if whether or not he had actually been joking.

Sonja raised a threatening finger towards the approaching FCO.

"In will be just fine," Lillie replied, interrupting whatever the CEO had been ready to unleash as her own answer, one that would have likely been sharp and meant to put the Ensign in his place.

"Doctor, Counselor," the Native American CO said as he invited the two women to step inside the LOCUS that would be theirs for the next leg of the journey.  "Will you be needing any assistance," Erik added as the injured Bajoran passed next to him.

"I will be fine Captain, although I do appreciate the thought," Seska replied, keeping her own personal concerns about getting into a LOCUS with her CO as hidden as she could.

"If you don't mind, I'll drive," Eve said in a half teasing tone. Although the situation had been very serious, the Counselor had thought it best to try and keep the mood light, plus giving the CO some level of freedom to deal with whatever might come their way seemed like a good decision.

Captain Morningstar grinned for a second before he turned and watched as everyone got themselves ready in their respective crafts, wanting to make sure that nothing had been forgotten and that no surprises would come to disrupt their hasty departure.  Erik gave one last look at the broken form of the SPHINX, thinking to himself as to just how much this training mission had taken a life of its own.  What had begun as a mere exercise had turned into a possible race for their very lives, all depending on what had been on the moon surface with them, if anything at all.


Francois Charette

Captain Erik Morningstar
Commanding Officer


Lt. Commander Elan Fairborn
Robotics Engineering Officer