With most of the research in place, the teams prepped, and the Trent modified for their adventure, the runabout came out of warp in orbit of the planet. Everything was just as it should be, “standard orbit, Lieutenant,” Neil stated. Taping his comm badge, “we’ve arrived at the planet Commander.”
“Local time 2300 hundreds, a slight storm building up on the Eastern side of the continent,” Neil added, as the Commander arrived, “Just as we predicted. This should help give us some cover.” He looked over to the pilot, “scan the colony, let’s locate the inhabitants. We don’t want any unneeded casualties.”
“Right you are, Harrington.” Vex responded. He opened the interface on his own console and double checked to make sure all the preparations were in place for the crew’s big stunt.
“Ensign Cho, prepare for atmospheric entry. We’ll break the atmosphere 0.5 miles from the edge of the storm and head in. With nightfall being over that side of the planet and the storm building, we should hopefully have all the cover we need not to be detected prematurely. Be ready everyone, this is going to be one hell of a bumpy ride!”
With that, the remaining crew took their seats aboard the runabout and prepared themselves for the torrential turbulence ahead of them. Ensign Cho entered the commands on his console to bring the runabout into a lower orbit around the planet, beginning the incremental descent into the upper atmosphere.
As the ship finally entered the stratosphere of Koruku III, the shaking immediately began with a great violence as the Trent rattled across it’s every bulkhead. The shields became quite visible as a burning red oblate spheroid surrounded the ship, the thick blanket of cloud beneath them growing closer and closer, giving the impression that the ship was already about to hit the surface.
“Steady ensign. These ships were built for landing but I’d rather it did so in one piece.” Vex called out.
This was the part of the trip Neil wasn’t looking forward to, in his opinion these rides were to be much smoother. As the runabout jolted Neil gripped his arm rest tighter. “One piece would be good,” he joked.
“As predicted most of the colony is in the main village,” Neil read over the scans, “we have a few in the outlying areas but they shouldn’t be a problem for now.” This was all going according to plan which actually was a little worrisome. Things were going, to well. Neil couldn’t shake the feeling that the other shoe could drop at any point.
“Approaching the colony from the Eastern coast,” Neil monitored the scans, “so far all clear, no indications we’ve been noticed.” Neil stopped, “Commander picking up an unusual energy reading 42 kilometers to the north of the colony.”
An unusual energy reading? Vex wondered if this had something to do with all the secrecy surrounding the assignment.
“Hrmm… Ensign Cho, maintain our current course and heading. Harrington, scan that energy reading and give me something more substantial to work with. If it’s worth diverting from our mission for, we shall take a look if we are able.”
“I am afraid it’s nothing that registers in the system,” Neil stated. “The pattern here almost suggests a debris field of some sort, up in the mountains. I doubt given its location the locals even know it’s there. Metal in nature, and definitely emitting some energy.”
Neil couldn’t help but let speculation take place. Could this be the reason they were sent here? Surely this couldn’t be it? This unknown appeared old. Given its location and altitude he seriously doubted any of the locals had ever seen this object. “Definitely metal in nature, roughly 3 meters long and 2 meters wide.”
Neil turned to the Commander, “Nothing on this planet suggests these people have the technology to build a device like this. We would have to assume that whatever it is, that it does not belong to the Koruku.”
“My suggestion, continue with the mission. We can use the storm to our advantage hiding us in the mountains. We beam that thing up, and leave it with Scientists a bit smarter than us.” He paused, “Sir.”
“Acknowledged Commander and I happen to agree. Our mission here to displace the locals should be our top priority. In the wake of the chaos caused by our upcoming stunt, we should have a perfect opportunity to examine the wreckage before leaving. Any objections?” Yanrel asked.
The crew remained silent. None of what they were doing sat well with any of them, truthfully. The frustration of being left in the dark about the whole thing was only exacerbated by the apparent danger they now felt themselves getting into, as the Trent shook and creaked under the friction of entering Koruku III’s dense atmosphere.
With a loud whoosh, the upper atmosphere of the planet was finally put above them, and the Arrow-class returned to a stable flight pattern. The crew could barely see out of the vehicle’s windows as heavy rain and flashes of lightning occluded their vision.
“Easy does it, ensign. Set us down just over there in that glade.” said Yanrel, pointing to a clear opening amongst the thick jungle.
“Aye sir. Deploying landing gear.” Ensign Cho responded, pressing a few buttons on his console.
With a loud whir coming from beneath the crew, the Trent deployed it’s landing gear and, with some gentle maneuvering and occasional swaying and banking, the runabout was set down with a large thud on the mossy jungle floor.
“From what I have read these people have a very similar belief to early Earth,” Neil explained, “renaissance area level of thinking here. Our technology will give us an advantage, but we need to maintain as little to no contact with the locals. We need to convince them to leave on their own, that doesn’t involve the magician from space who scared them off.” He pulled up a map of the village with an overlay of the population, “this area seems to be the best area to hit. There is little population and most of the cities’ infrastructure is here. Take out their water, and their resources to live off of, but it’s going to have to be big and convincing.” He looked over at Ensign Davis.
“This is where the torpedoes and phaser come into play,” he pointed to the Commander’s map, “we target these areas specifically, and use the engines with a few extra tricks.” Davis smiled, “these people will likely thinka dragon or some sea monster is attacking them.”
Neil winced at the thought, but orders were orders; even if these orders made absolutely no sense. “We are going to have to do some serious damage in order to force their move.”
“Destroying their resources intentionally is unnecessary and franky unacceptable, Commander, we simply have to put on a convincing show for them. Have the torpedoes and phasers fire at buildings at random. Avoid casualties at all costs. If these people truly are as simple as you claim, it shan’t take much to have them running in fear. We do need to cause enough widespread devastation though to have them spooked for a good long while. I’m told another team shall be following us to… complete the mission.” Vex said. At the final statement, he rolled his nose in visible annoyance and frustration.
Just what was this mission? What was the point of all of this harassment of local populaces previously protected by the Prime Directive? Vex wanted answers, and once this mission was through, he felt driven as ever to march into the Commodore’s office and get them.
“Well. You have your orders, people. Commence with the final modifications and prepare to engage. Hopefully we can have this done, have time to check on that anomalous reading, and get out of here before the taste in my mouth becomes too bitter to endure.”
Neil understood and actually agreed, but in the end the Commander’s comments made no sense. He took serious offence to the suggestion that he was targeting casualties. Neil suggested infrastructure; roads, wells, habors. They needed to target things that would force these people to leave. Only in taking a large portion of their infrastructure were they ever going to convince these people to move. Just putting on a light show and some flashy phasers wasn’t going to be enough. Everything suggested these people would fight till the end. Unless the runabout could produce an actual monster they were not going to spook them enough.
The Diplomat in him knew that his idea was wrong but without a solid plan these people would be back the next day to rebuild and repair. If Starfleet truly wanted them gone, then their plan had to have long term effects not just a day. “Yes, Sir,” Neil replied.
An hour had passed as the last of the modifications were completed. Like it or not they were ready for their show. All that was missing was a giant fountain in the middle to play the lights off of. This was a challenging assignment and Neil wasn’t convinced this was going to work. Starfleet wanted these people gone, he wasn’t convinced this would be enough.
All he wanted now was to get this dreadful mission over, report back to Starbase 72, and hope that his next adventure was on the horizon. For once, he was actually glad that he wasn’t in command of this mission. As Vex looked over the modifications Neil and the rest of the crew assumed their positions. Cho in the pilot seat going over the flight plan, as Neil and Davis monitored the phaster, torpedoes, and deflector dish.