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Crash on Volturnus (IC)


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Zebulon System
Along the reaches of the Scutum-Centarus Arm 

Oskar struggled with the controls of the Xeno as the ship spun out of control into the upper atmosphere of the system's second planet.  It was impossible to tell when the ship's power would completely give out, but with a bit of luck it would not be before he was able to get it down onto the ground for at least a controlled crash. 

This was supposed to have been a simple survey expedition, with Oskar and the Xeno hired to survey a few planets far from the outer edge of the Lor Republic.  Getting out this far had been no small task, with Oskar having stopped at a few other locations along the way.  But shortly after he had reached the Zebulon system, the Xeno had come under attack by pirates.  Unable to outrun them, and with the Xeno taking heavy damage, Oskar had tried heading towards the most habitable planet in the hopes of losing them closer to the surface.  That was until the last hit which had damaged the ship's engine and power grid. 

"I cannot do anything about the failing power grid while we are spinning around out here!"  Called out Soreen over the Xeno's intercom system from the engine room.  The pale blue skinned female humanoid was one of the crew that had accompanied Oskar on this job.  She was a talented engineer who helped keep the ship flying, but there was only so much she could do in the middle of a firefight....

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"Well, we won't be spinning around much longer. One way or another!" said a grim faced Starshot as the ship span. He was a fair pilot, but this wasn't something he could hold together. 


He did his best to keep the ship riding through the atmosphere, and glanced at the sensor array, punching up a few buttons. 


"Buckle up back there!" he shouted at the crew. "And put on your space suits, just in case!"


If they could...


Perhaps abandoning ship would be best, launching the lifeboats. But there was no way of knowing if that would be more dangerous. 

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Although Oskar managed to stop the Xeno's spin, there was nothing he could do to stop its descent to the planet below.  The damage and power fluctuations gave him no trust to work with.  When it came to it, he believed that at best he would be able to make a controlled crash and limit further damage to the ship.  

The ship's powerful sensors swept over terrain beneath them, but Oskar was only able to half pay attention to the data that streamed over the monitor.  He could see that there appeared to be some life signs below, but there were no major concentrations like one would expect from a city or even towns.   

He noted some small bodies of water in the region they were headed toward, but even when they had first approached the planet, it was pretty obvious that there were no large oceans like on Earth.  As for energy signatures, he only was able to catch a couple of locations with any significant energy output.

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"Where theres life there hope" said Starshot to the sensors, bleeping at the life signs. What type of life was another question altogether, of course. 


He turned his attention back to the ship and the crash. Too many bleeps. Too many flashing lights. Too many spinning dials. And not enough control...


Doing his best to mitigate the inevitable, he braced for impact...

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Waiting until the last possible moment, Oskar fired all the Xeno's maneuvering thrusters along the lower hull and forward sections of the vessel, which caused everyone aboard to jerk against the restraints of their seats, but helped reduce the plummeting vessel's velocity.  But the maneuver did not bring the ship to a complete halt, there simply was not enough power available to do that right now, but at least it made the impact considerably less than it would have been. 

They were going down on the side of the planet currently in the night cycle, making it hard to tell what they were landing, but Oskar had done his best to guide them towards what appeared to be some sort of open section of land with some gentle hills.   


The Xeno skipped off of a large sand dune, continuing forward to slam into several others. 


On the last impact, the ship began drifting to the right, as it slammed onto the desert floor and began sliding sideways, threatening to flip over.  There was enough power for Oskar to turn hard to the left, keeping the Xeno more or less level as it skid along the sands. 

Then, finally, after traveling more than a hundred meters after it had fully contacted the ground, the Xeno came to a halt, as it ran into a large sand dune that towered above it. 

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Dune..desert planet...


Starshot shook the cobwebs out of his head. All in all, it had gone better than he had thought. They were still alive, for one thing. The impact had jarred his head, though. All he can think of, for one moment, was sand - endless rolling sand. 


That would make things harder, if they had indeed crashed on a desert world. Water, for one thing. He hoped the ATV would be salvageable. 


He flipped the comms, hoping they still worked. "Damage report! And that goes for people as well as ship!" he ordered. 

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"I am fine."  Replied the gruff voice of Oskar's second crewmember, Laark, a seven foot tall humanoid that was primarily for helping with any heavy lifting that might be needed, but could provide Oskar some muscle when needed.  "There appears to be some damage down in the cargo area, still inspecting." 

"I could be a lot better, but I am in one piece."  Soreen replied.  "The main core is offline, we are mainly running on batteries right now.  We might want to power down everything we can to conserve what backup we have.  Not sure just yet what it might take to get the core back online." 

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"Jawohl" replied Starshot, and started flipping switches, powering off as much as he could. The capture tanks, sensors, engines, even lighting. All he left on was the emergency lighting, doors, internal comms, and life support. 


"Someone check the tank, would you?" he asked. "I'm going to take a look outside". 


He flipped his helmet over his head. He hoped the atmosphere was normal, but he wasn't taking any chances right now. And that meant taking Trigger. He powered up the plasma rifle who responded with some inane jabber about killing sandworms. 


He paused by the airlock, and checked the readings. Temperature, atmosphere. He could take most temperatures thanks to his cybernetic systems, but again, no time to be taking risks...

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"Understood, going to check tank."  Laark replied. 

With most of the internal lighting shut off, the inside of the Xeno got very dark. What faint light that was given off, was hazy due to some smoke that drifted up from damaged systems. 

The sensors just outside the airlock took only a few moments to take readings of the conditions outside.  The atmosphere reading came back as safe for the crew, although slightly higher in nitrogen than most other oxygen rich planets.  The temperature was cool, but not at all different than one might expect in a desert environment at night.  How hot it might get during daylight was another question, one the sensors could not answer now. 

Exiting the airlock, Starshot was greeted by a cool breeze that blew a bit of sand into the ship.  The terrain beyond was generally flat, with more dunes visible off in the distance.  Mostly covered in sand, there were a few patches of barren rocky terrain visible in the area Starshot could see.  The enhanced sensors inside the helmet did not pick up anything moving out there, at least not nearby.

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Could be worse. But not much. 


Satisfied they were not about to be eaten, as Trigger pointed out, by Giant Sandworms, he went back inside the ruined Xeno and flipped on the com system. 


"Just sand and more sand out there. Good news is we can breathe. Bad news is water. There is none of it. So please tell me the hydrorecycler is online..." he said, fingers crossed. 


"If not, we best take the tank out and find some. First order of the day, water. Next, food. Then we can start thinking about repairs..."

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The airlock sealed shut behind Starshot once more as he updated his crew.  The faint howl of wind shut outside once more.  

"I haven't had time to check the recycler just yet."  Soreen replied with a slightly irritated tone.  "Still focused on assessing what it will take to fix the core and engines.  Unless you want me to set that aside for the moment and start checking everything else." 

"Tank appears to have suffered no significant damage."  Laark interjected over the com system.  "However, the aft cargo door is not opening."  The gruff crewmember then added.

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"Oh perfect. A fully functional ATV, but no way to get it out..." fumed Starshot, irritated. If the Xeno could not be repaired, the ATV was there best bet. The odds surviving a potentially endless desert trek were slim. 


"Let me see..." he grumbled, hauling himself down to the ATV hangar, and the door. He did not want to cut open the door manually, but it was certainly an option, if a time consuming one. The Xeno was not armed, but it was sturdy. They could open up the hangar and seal it off if they later needed to fly. Which, he conceded, they might well need to. 


"Can we cut it open? or are you strong enough to break it?" he asked the burly lump of alien muscle. 

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When Starshot reached the ATV bay, Laark was over examining the aft cargo door.   "Does not appear to be any damage to door."  He commented at seeing the captain, an observation that Starshot quickly agreed with.  There did not appear to be any significant damage to the interior of the door, but that did not necessarily mean that there was not some exterior damage, or damage to the operating mechanisms that the two could not see. 

The large alien looked over at Starshot.  "Could always cut open, but perhaps I can try to assist  in opening first?"  He suggested.

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"I'd rather not cut open my own ship. She's suffered enough" agreed Starshot with a smile, although he was not hopeful that even between them they could shift the door open. 


"Lets give it our best then" he ordered and setting down trigger. Cracking his knuckles, he took hold of the best hand holds he could find, and gave Laark the nod when he was ready. 



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Laark gave a nod as he braced a shoulder against the heavy metal door and prepared to start pushing.  Although he did not understand exactly what Starshot was saying, the intent was plain enough so he began to push at the same time as his boss. 

At first, it seemed like the door would not budge, even with both Laark and Starshot pushing against it.  But after a few moments, it began to move slightly, although there was something that seemed incredibly solid opposing them.  As the door managed to crack open ever so slightly, sand began to pour down inside the cargo area.

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Starshot did not even pause to wipe his sweat-ridden brow, let alone massage his aching muscles. His palms were cut and swollen from the effort. Laark was a strong one, no doubt, and he was glad the lug had joined the crew. 


The sand poured in. I hate sand! he cursed. It would get everywhere, in his body, in his helmet, in his gun, and, more worrisome, in his ship. At least the ATV hangar was relatively protected. 


Shifting his legs through the accumulating dunes, he moved upwards. "Get up, get up!" he shouted at Lark, and pointed at the ATV. Obeying his own command, he waded through the dust and into the tank. 

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As Starshot ordered him to get back and up onto the ATV, Laark wasted little time moving as instructed.  Both he and Starshot were able to quickly move out of the path of the thin stream of sand that was now pouring down from the slightly opened cargo door. 

They were just starting to climb up the large wheels when it became apparent that the sand was not going to spread too far.  A large pile accumulated at the base of the cargo door, spreading out away some as it piled higher and higher, but in the end, all that was likely to happen was the cargo door was going to be buried behind a mound of sand which extended only a few feet into the bay.

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"Thank the stars" breather Starshot, kicking the alien sand from his boots. 


"Soreen, any update on damage assessment? Water? Food? How bad is it?" he asked over the intercom. With a few more punches, he downloaded the sensor readings to the tank. The Xeno had a formidable sensor array; so necessary for a successful hunting trip, or indeed an exploration mission like this one. The Tank had a quite respectable system, but nowhere near as complete. Still, they could review the readings from the Tank's computer. 


"Lets see what we have..." he said, opening up the Tank and inviting Laark in. Time to look at what they had got themselves into...

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"Those systems are fine."  Soreen replied over the comm.  "The problem is power.  Running them requires draining the reserve batteries."   

"Besides some other minor damage that I can deal with, or just ignore till we get to a spacedock, the real problem is the power core and engines.  Both need repairs that I cannot do without some parts, which we don't have." 

Looking at the sensor readings taken while the Xeno was going down Starshot found at least some measure of good news.  While the desert in the region they crashed in was not small, desert was not the only terrain in the area.  Along the southern edge of the desert was an ocean.  Bordering the northeastern edge of the desert was areas covered with more vegetation, including a large forested area.  Toward the middle of this forested area was a large lake with a couple of small islands. 

There were also a number of rocky, mountainous areas along the borders of the desert (particularly to the northwest, west and eastern edges).  These seemed to be a mix of rocky, barren areas, to areas with a considerable amount of  volcanic activity.  Past beyond the volcanic regions to the eastern edge of the desert was a mountainous region made up of some unusual mineral that Starshot was not sure about. 

Life signs were scattered throughout the area the Xeno had been able to scan, the largest concentration being around the forested region and surrounding areas that also had significant vegetation.  There were scattered life signs within the desert, a number clustered together in what could be herds, or perhaps some sort of collection of humanoids, if any were native to this planet.   

But perhaps one of the most promising things picked up by the Xeno's sensors was some sort of structure located along the northeastern corner of the desert, right next to the large lake.  The only signs of technology that sensors had picked up in this region were coming from there.

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"North East then..." decided Starshot. Freshwater, possible food, and even better, some signs of technology. Of course, it was a hazard. But then was sand and mountains. The strange mineral readings might mean something, but not to him. 


"Shut down what you can then. This ship isn't going anywhere"


He turned his attention back to the ATV and the sand. They could cut there way out, but power was limited. Power was vital. 


"Lets suit and boot up. Its gonna be a helluva long  trek..." he advised his crewmembers. "I won't lie, this is gonna hurt. Blisters and thirst. But we cant stay here". 


He took the best guess he could. Water, mainly. A few rations. Everything else stripped bare. Just his jacket, his helmet, and his gun...

Edited by Supercape
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"Well, if we are not staying here, we can power down everything but the airlock power.  It will be a really minor drain unless we are opening and closing the airlock a lot."  Soreen replied before she set about powering systems down. 

Laark immediately set about gathering up supplies for the trip.  The muscular alien grabbed a large pack, which he began to fill with rations and water.  He then added several sheets of canvas material and some rope, along with a number of tall poles.  "For shelter from sun."  He explained to Starshot.  Adding some other miscellaneous gear, the pack was soon full, and Laark gathered up the large club that was his primary weapon (a blaster pistol hung at his hip) and moved toward the main airlock.

Soreen met the pair there, having shut down all other systems.  She had her blaster pistol on, and had a pack on her back as well, although much smaller than Laark's.

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Starshot checked what he could, and made sure he drunk all that he could possibly drink before setting off. His cybernetic implants would keep him cool, but he still needed water. 


He lead the way, stepping out to the rolling sand and dunes. 


With a touch of a button, his helmet slid down over his face and head. The readouts flipped into place. Most importantly, the navigational system, a precise map of the ground they covered. After all, they would need to find the Xeno later. 




"Let's go" he said grimly, and started trudging through the desert...

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Laark took up a position at the rear of the small group, being the second most experienced at survival and field work.  Soreen willingly took her place in between the two as they started off.

The HUD of Starshot's helmet provided him the direction they needed to go to at least be moving in the general direction of the lake.  The only question is when they might find some other terrain feature that would allow them to more accurately determine their position. 

For the most part the cool night air was still, with only an occasional gust of wind blowing by and carrying sand with it.  The ground beneath their feet was rather soft, a sign that it likely was rather deep, but occasionally they crossed harder, rocky surface that jutted up from the dunes. 

Two small moons were visible in the night sky, providing a fair bit of moonlight in the otherwise dark desert.

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The moons were at least beautiful. Starshot even spent a minute, pausing for breath, admiring them without the HUD display. As advanced as his helm was, he craved unfiltered air and the unfiltered sight. 


He could feel his joints beginning to complain. But it was only the first irritants of what would be a long journey. He hoped that the Jungle would offer some respite, for he suspected the three of them would be run ragged by the time they arrived. 


Silently, he pressed on. By his judgement, they needed to cross the desert as fast as possible, including through the day. A blistering and dry as that might be, it would be better than dragging things out. 

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For the most part the others remained quiet during the early part of their expedition.  Soreen occasionally grumbled about things, particularly if she stumbled on some rocks or slide on the slope of a dune.  Laark soldiered on in silence, more accustomed to such adversity. 

It turned out the night was about half over when the Xeno had crashed, so after about four hours of trekking through the desert sands, the bright blue sun began to rise in the distance.  As the first rays of light began to stretch across the desert sands, Starshot got a glimpse of the distant mountains which had registered strange mineral readings.  The sun's light seemed to gleam extra bright off the mountain peaks, at first making Starshot think it might have been snow cover.  But as he focused his helmet's binocular vision on the closest mountain, he realized the entire thing appeared to be made of our some sort of massive crystal formation.

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