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Way Down We Go Part 1

Posted on Fri Jul 24th, 2020 @ 8:22pm by Leiddem Kea & Chief Engineer Michael Burnstein & Laurier Cami

Mission: Prospecting
Location: Mine
Timeline: MD 03 13:00
1878 words - 3.8 OF Standard Post Measure

Burnie swallowed, focusing on the map to the collapsed area of the mine rather than the low rock ceiling and sense of hundreds of tones of rock ready to come down on them. He reminded himself that they had sensors running and anti-grav pallets that could be flipped to create a temporary pocket in an instant. He also had a belt with engineering tools, a pack with various explosives, expandable support struts, and small drones, as well as rope looped around his shoulders. Cami and Leiddem were arrayed with similar gear, including an emergency medkit in Leiddem's case.

After descending another level, there was no question they'd reached their goal. A rock fall blocked nearly the entire tunnel ahead.

"I think this is as far as we can go," Burnie said, eying the small gap at the top of the rock pile. "See if you can get any life sign readings. If not, we'll need to clear that a bit to send a drone through."

"No problem." Cami suppressed a yawn. She'd not slept much, and being woken up to help out on yet another excursion seemed like a lot of stress for a supposed lay-over at this colony. She took out her scanner and waited for the feedback. "Well, we're getting something. Very faint. But the signal is being bounced all over the place; probably something in the rock here is sending it crazy." She shrugged, glancing at Leiddem, whom she knew would be quite willing to dump her in it with Burnie at a moment's notice if she said anything remotely mean to him.

Normally the Betazoid would have used him, Cami and Burnie in a tight space to tease and prod Cami about her crush but it would have made an already difficult situation worse especially with how he knew that the man had been out on the town the previous night. "Faint it good? Here see it a medical scanner can do better." The man unzipped a pocket and brought out a very small civiallian model passing it over as he looked around at the surroundings.

"Anything is good," Burnie agreed, gingerly climbing the rockfall and starting to shift debris away from the small gap to open it further. "Hello! Liha! Quin! Can you hear me?" he called.

----

Somewhere two levels below, Liha stirred at the sound, a faint echo that roused her from an exhausted sleep and that she imagined was the remnant of a hazy dream. She looked over at Quin, still out cold, and nudged him with her good foot. "Did you hear that?" she croaked, voice rough from a dry throat.

No response. She prodded him again, annoyance masking alarm. He had passed out at some point in the night due to the human inability to cope with thin air, heat and lack of water. Liha had grimly commented that she hoped they'd be rescued so she could chide him about that weakness. Now she grew concerned it was more than unconsciousness and grimaced against pain to lean close enough to check for a pulse. "Hey! You'd better not be dead." She shook him. "I was looking forward to rubbing your nose in passing out before me."

---

Up above, Burnie strained to hear a reply, and caught a faint sound. "Liha!! Are you down there?!"

A raspy reply "Yes" echoed upward ...and also a string of Romulan that more or less translated as 'About time! Get us out of here', except with considerably more cussing interspersed.

"It's not going to be a quick job," Cami said, motioning to the bent and twisted metal girders snaking around the walls and ceiling of the passage they were in. "If working the ore mines on Bajor taught me anything, the structural integrity of this tunnel will need to be reinforced before we can start digging or blasting."

"I will never complain about all her curses ever again." Leiddem wanted to let out a cheer of happiness at hearing all the curse words but all he could do was strain to listen and take the tricorder back to monitor.

"Don't let her hear that," Burnie joked, his mood buoyed by evidence of life. But they still had a way to go before relaxing. "You're right about stability, Cami. Start setting up the telescoping struts to reinforce this area while I send a drone through to get a look at the other side."

Leiddem grinned as concentrated on the tricorder and the signal he was watching for. "What can I do other than watching the life signs bounce around?" He wondered not really knowing what he was going to do to help but he had to do something.

Burnie pointed at one of the anti-grav pallets. "Turn that upside down and be ready to activate it if you pick up any tremors or sudden shifts in the rock here. It's not a lot, but it will make enough of a pocket that we won't get crushed if the ceiling comes down." Removing another rock, the engineer pulled out one of the softball-size camera drones. "Liha! I'm sending a drone in! Don't kill it!" he called down before sending it through.

"Tell me it's not carrying explosives..." filtered up through the hole.

"Now would I do that?" Burnie chuckled, mostly in relief that she was well enough to snipe at him like that, but quickly followed with, "Don't answer that! You need to save your air. And don't worry, this one's just a camera."

Somewhere down below, Liha muttered "This one?" but Quin hadn't stirred even at the prospect of a lunatic pyro blowing them up. If explosives were what they needed to get out, at least Burnie had a lot of experience.

Leiddem did as instructed and turned the anti-grav pallets before had a sudden thought. No one had asked Liha if Gregnol was with them. He turned around and motioned that he wanted to talk to the woman. “Hey, Liha. It’s Leiddem. Who is the ‘us’ with you?” He demanded.

"Quin - though he's too passed out to count for much," she called back.

"Well at least it is quiet for you," Leiddem told her back before moving back his previous place with the pallets frowning. At least they knew now but it was leaving a bigger mystery as to where the man was. How could a Captain of a Startship even a civilian one just disappear like this. "Got the images yet?" He requested wanting to get a look at them both.

"Yeah..." Burnie frowned as he viewed the images coming back. Liha and Quin had fallen a whole level down and from above it was clear that his Romulan friend was much more badly injured than she was letting on - if for no other reason than that she had obviously accepted medical treatment. He showed the video feed to Leiddem. "We're going to have to go down and get them. She's going to object, but the way her arm is slung there's no way she can climb or get herself into a harness, let alone get one on Quin. Probably best if I'm the one to do it," he added with a sigh. "I'm more used to handling that."

He eyed the small opening he'd sent the drone through. "We're going to need to make that hole a lot bigger first. Cami, break out the blast shield curtains. We'll send one down to them, and use one up here for us."

"Okay." Cami tried not to make eye contact with Leiddem as she worked on pulling the gear together as Burnie had asked for. Working together in such close quarters, they were obviously going to be brushing up against one another naturally, and she didn't want him tormenting her over it.

For all the woman's worrying, Leiddem would not have dreamed of saying anything or teasing at that moment. He would be the perfect gentleman and ultimate professional when two of his ship mate's life was at risk. He watched as the blast shield was sent down to Liha and hope it would not be needed. "They have steady bio signatures even being down there a while now."

Burnie nodded acknowledgment, relieved to hear that, though the string of Romulan profanities that showed Liha had gotten the blast shield was equally reassuring, at least as far as her condition went. "It's just a precaution," he called down as worked. "I'm setting shaped charges around the base of the hole. More of it will blow back at us than at you."

"It had better! If you $%^#%# bring this $@#$# place down on us, I'll #!@#$&# come back and haunt you!"

"No worries," Burnie yelled back reassuringly. "If that happens we'll all be ghosts."

"I am sure ghost Liha will be just as foul mouthed, it will be comforting if we all die," Leiddem commented on with a grin. "I trust you to not blow us all up. Ain't that right Cami you trust Burnie right?" The Betazoid wondered not looking at the woman. Anyone who looked like a mad idiot around explosives had to have some type of idea how this would go.

Cami glared daggers at the back of Leiddem's head. "Of...of course I do," she answered. Burnie was technically her crew chief as well, and trust was implicit among the engineering family. "Chief knows how to fix things. Goes without saying he knows how to blow them up too."

"I appreciate the vote of confidence," Burnie said with a smile, as he placed the last charge. "Though most people would say I'm better at blowing stuff up," he joked as he moved back and pulled the blast shield across as much of the tunnel as he could manage. "Be ready to trigger that anti-grav. Blast in 3... 2... 1!"

**KaBoom!**

Rock and dust blew inward from the rock fall, pelting the shield, and for a very worrying moment a the entire passage shook with a dire rumble.

Despite his usual excitement at explosions, here Burnie held his breath, praying he'd hadn't missed a fault in the scan - being buried underground once had been enough for a lifetime. When the tremors subsided, he crept toward the now much larger hole and ran his tricorder. Whew. He expelled a relieved breath. "I think it's stable for now."

"It better %#$%@# be!" Liha yelled up, coughing, and then cursing more at the pain that caused. "Send a harness down for the doctor."

"I'll do better than that. I'm coming down to get you both - no objections! It'll be faster," he explained. Turning to Cami and Leiddem, he started tying the rope to his own harness. "Get the other end anchored. Leiddem, you belay for me and be ready to haul the Doctor up. Cami, I want you on that anti-grav, ready to switch it on if anything shifts."

The former marine wanted to argue that he was probably the best open to go down but the Engineer was already pretty much down the hole and he was making sure he was anchored. Leiddem just offered a silent prayer to deities that things would be okay. "Be careful." He called after grabbing the PADD trying to see everything that was going on.

 

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