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Old April 12 2012, 09:06 PM   #1
Bry_Sinclair
Commodore
 
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Location: Tactical withdrawl along the Klingon border
April Challenge Entry - "Out In The Cold"

STAR TREK: EPOCH
Tales From The Cimmerian Cluster

“Out In The Cold”

Brydon J Sinclair


Words: 5628


Fifteen months ago his life had been perfect. Captain of the wrestling and parrises squares teams, dating the class valedictorian and all set to enter Starfleet Academy and become an officer, out exploring the furthest reaches of the galaxy and seeing things no other human had seen before. But that wasn’t to be for Harvey O’Connell. At school he was a mediocre student, though popular and heavily involved in many extracurricular activities, they weren’t enough to make up for his poor grades. So whilst he was forced to watch Stephanie and their friends being accepted and get ready for their new lives, he was being left behind. There was always the option of enlisting—the academic requirements weren’t as strict, as they gave on-the-job training in whatever field recruits opted for—but he wasn’t going to be a lowly crewman whilst everyone else he knew were training to become officers.

After school he’d bummed around at home, not really sure what to do next and annoying his parents for being so mopey. Then one day, three months after his friends had left for San Francisco, he’d caught the latest report on the Federation News Service. They were covering a story on a new star cluster that had been discovered (over ten sectors from the farthest fringe of Federation space), which was reportedly filled with metals, minerals and ores that it could be mined for the next fifty years and still barely scratch the surface of the resources it possessed.

Over the next five days, they had numerous specialists in mining and geology on to speak about the find, what it could mean for the Federation and the rest of the galaxy—there were even a few representatives from the big mining companies, who stated they were very interested to get prospecting in the region (which had since been named the Cimmerian Cluster). It was on the fifth day that Starfleet had a public relations officer on; she was impeccably presented, in her figure-hugging uniform, raven hair piled high on top of her head, and a polite smile on her face. She’d told the interviewer that Starfleet was interested in the region, but that its remote location made it difficult to effectively reach in order to chart and patrol. She added that due to the tentative relations with such powers as the Klingon Empire, Tholian Assembly and Kzinti Authority, that Starfleet was at present unable to commit any substantial force to the region.

As soon as the programme was concluded, Harvey had gone to the computer and submitted his résumé with Jupiter Mining Corp. He may not have excelled academically, but he was hard-working, strong and eager to get out into the unknown, surely he would be of use to them in some capacity.

The rest, as they say, was history. JMC hired him as an able deckhand on one of the survey ships they were sending out to the Cluster, he went to their orientation facility on Titan for six months of basic training, after which he was whisked off to join the other new recruits and experienced staff of the S.S. Epoch.

He hadn’t known what to expect, but the last thing he thought he’d find was an old Intrepid-Class ship from the previous century—he had expected more from a big multi-system company like JMC and, going by the reaction of several other rookies, he wasn’t alone in that assessment. But he’d sucked it up and reported onboard, seeing as how the Epoch was probably his best shot of getting out into deep space without having to settle for being just a Starfleet enlistee. True, as a deckhand on the Epoch he was on the bottom rung of the ladder, he was expected to stack crates, mop floors, check equipment, messenger datapads from section to section, and any other dogsbody work that needed seeing too, but at least he didn’t have to worry about facing his friends.

The journey out to the Cimmerian Cluster took almost four months across unclaimed space, so everyone was a little on edge; aside from the initial scouts and a couple of follow up surveys, the region was still very much a wilderness—some on the crew had even started calling the Cluster and the space around it the “Wild West”. Truth be told, Harvey kind of liked that. He’d be like an early pioneer on a wagon train, or a cowboy making his home on the open plains—which was exactly why he’d signed up in the first place.

He’d even come to overlook the age of the Epoch, despite which, she was still in excellent condition and kept up to date. Much on the interior styling and décor remained unchanged, but that gave the ship character, something lost on modern ships with their smooth finishing. Onboard he had to share a room with one of the ship’s medics, an Andorian who liked to be called Shen. The two got along well and it didn’t take long for them to settle into the living arrangements as well as their duties onboard. He couldn’t say he had the wide circle of friends like back home; he spent every opportunity taking extra shifts or training programmes.

Once they reached the Cluster, they immediately set about their task. It was enormous: four closely grouped systems, including a red dwarf, two G-types and a pulsar; each system had at least one ring of asteroids, as well as multiple planets and dozens of moons—all of which were potentially packed full of the minerals they were there to find.

Harvey had gotten used to a routine when they were travelling, but once they got to work it went out the airlock and he had to get used to a whole new way of doing things. Their work load piled on as they would need to ready shuttles, gather together necessary gear, pack it (only to unpack it later and transport it to the labs), and were often called upon to join teams going out for core samples. It was a lot for them to take on, in addition to all their other duties. It was hard to believe that there were only nine deckhands onboard, yet somehow they always managed to get the work done on time.

* * * * *

The alarm screamed at him. Groaning once again, Harvey’s hand shot out from under the duvet to hit the snooze button for the third time. But this time he slapped the small alarm clock onto the floor, where it continued to wail at him to get up from under his bed.

Admitting defeat, he swung his bare legs out and over the edge of his bunk, his feet resting on the familiar carpet. Slowly, he raised his torso off the matrass and stooped his neck to keep from whacking his head on the bed above his. Shen had been rotated onto second shift, so they barely saw each other awake, one usually getting up as the other went to bed. When they’d been on the same watch, Shen would always get him up and make sure he didn’t fall back asleep—something he’d always had problems with growing up.

He reached under his bed, retrieved the offending clock, switched it off and set it back on its small shelf. Standing he stretched out his tired muscles. The cramped cabin just allowed him to do this, though not by much. The room didn’t contain much, just the bunk beds, a couple of closets each, and a single desk and chair—it was intended for sleep and little else; they had to make use of the mess hall, gymnasium or rec room for their entertainments and socialising. He checked that the bathroom they shared with the cabin next door was available, stripped and hopped in for a quick shower. As the hot water soothed his sore muscles, he couldn’t help but wonder what tortures awaited him. Boatswain Nkosi knew how to deal out the work to keep them all busy for their eight hour shifts, but he always let the deckhands know when they’d done well—as bosses went, he was alright.

Last week, Nkosi had taken Harvey aside and asked him if he was interest in getting his Bridge Certification—which would allow him to cover a station up on A Deck. He’d had to bite his tongue to keep his excitement in check, merely telling the older man that he was very interested in the opportunity.

Though the work was hard and sometimes very physical, Harvey had to admit he loved it. Maybe it wasn’t as glamorous as life in Starfleet, but he was out making an important contribution whilst Stephanie and the others still had three years of classes to endure—if they all managed to pass their exams.

Stepping out of the shower, he wrapped a towel around his waist and moved to the sink to shave. On the mirror, someone (he suspected his roommate) had drawn a smiley face with pair of antennae, which would only show when it steamed up. He chuckled as he wiped it off and continued his morning routine.

Forty minutes after waking up, showered, dressed and fed, he stepped into the cargo office, ready for whatever the day had to offer. He was surprised to find that Nkosi wasn’t there.

“Where’s the boss?” he asked Carla Montgomery, who was seated at the control console, whilst Raymond Gunn (who everyone called Ray-Gun) was perched next to her, looking over a datapad.

“Called into a meeting about an hour ago,” she told him. “He left a message saying we were to wait here for him.”

“Weird,” Harvey muttered.

“Yup,” agreed Ray-Gun. “Whatever it is, we’ll be the last to hear anything though.”

“That’s just the way things are boys,” stated Montgomery, who was once again looking over the console screens.

He chuckled and stepped over to one of the equipment lockers. Nkosi had ingrained on them the need to stay busy, that out of habit, Harvey began checking on all the torches and scanners that were inside the compartment. When he was only halfway through, the door behind him opened—it wasn’t an automatic like on his quarters, mess hall, sickbay or the turbolifts.

Nkosi stepped through and closed the hatch with a muted clang. He looked around approving at them, all carrying out tasks in his absence.

“So what’s the news, Boss?” Montgomery asked—having worked for several years with Nkosi, she had an easy relationship with the boatswain.

“We’re heading for the outer belt of Cimmerian Delta. The assayers’ probes have picked up dilithium signatures, so we’re going to check it out,” he began. They all knew what an important find it would be, given that good quality dilithium crystals were hard to find. “We’ll be there in a couple of hours. Aldridge has asked for a little help with this one, so I’ve offered up your services gentlemen,” Nkosi said, looking between Harvey to Ray-Gun. “There’s a mission briefing in twenty minutes in the ward room, you both need to attend.”

“Yes Boss,” they replied in unison.

“In the meantime, I want you both to get to hold two and go over the zero-g sample containers.”

“On it,” they replied together again, then headed for the cargo bay.

* * * * *

Like most of the other rooms on the Epoch, the ward room was compact and practical. It was the first time Harvey had set foot inside, seeing how it was generally only used by the senior staff. Seeing as how Ray-Gun was the more senior of the two, Harvey let him enter first then followed quickly behind.

Inside was a long rectangular table, with numerous chair around it, a small cabinet on which sat empty cups and glasses (though he noted there was no water or coffee on offer for their meeting), whilst the smaller bulkheads had large monitors—one was off and the other depicted a graphic of a star system. Around the table sat four people, all of whom he knew in passing but had never said more than ‘hello’ to. At the head of the table, her thick, dark brown hair pulled back into a tight braid, sat the diminutive Janine Aldridge. For a mining company ship, there were only three professional miners onboard, who acted as consultants and extraction specialists for samples—it was the Epoch’s job to determine where best to dig, before the main operation arrived in a few short months’ time—of those three, Aldridge was senior. Though she stood only a little over five feet, she was well known among the crew for her deadpan cynicism and dark, acerbic sense of humour—so no one knew when she was making a joke or really chewing someone out. On her left sat one of the more unusual crewmembers, Haldundresh K'Dentor. The tall, wiry Chezkenite headed up the assay and research team onboard, and from what Harvey had head, he was apparently one of the best geo-scientists in the Federation. Though brought up never to judge another species based on appearance, the native of Monchezke was odd, with his large, bulbous head, angular features, scrawny torso, and long narrow limbs; Harvey wasn’t quite sure how his body could support his head. Next to K’Dentor sat one of his assistants, Sikorra M’Vani. The lithe and sultry Caitian moved with grace and ease, whilst her vibrant green eyes didn’t miss a detail. On the left side of the table, sitting in the chair with his legs dangling in the air, was Farojj, the Girinite first shift helmsman. Everyone thought of him as peculiar, scurrying around, muttering to himself—often carrying out whole conversations, where he spoke for both sides—and turning up in some very unusual places.

Though arriving exactly when they were told to be there, Harvey got the feeling they were late, so he and Ray-Gun quickly took their seats. Aldridge watched them enter and sit down, her face impassive. After a few moments looking at the two deckhands, she then looked at the others in the room.

“Now everyone’s here, we’ll get started. Doctor,” she said, turning to K’Dentor.

He nodded his large, orange-hued head, before slowly rising to his feet; all his movements were measured and considered. He went to the monitor and focused in on the systems outer asteroid belt.

“Our long-range probes have detected dilitihium signatures, though scans show that the level of concentration is far greater than anything discovered previously. If these readings are accurate, we could have enough dilithium for hundreds of new starships—maybe even thousands.”

“Wow,” Harvey exclaimed, realising too late that he’d spoken aloud. He quickly clamped his mouth shut and felt his cheeks burn crimson.

Aldridge shot him a look that was somewhere between annoyance and disdain. Great, he mused, she hates me. Good going Harv.

K’Dentor never noticed the look, but instead nodded his head excitedly. “You are right to be impressed, deckhand…what was your name?”

“O’Connell. Harvey O’Connell, sir.”

“When we first looked at the readings,” he said with a gesture to M’Vani, “we were also excited. However, before we can mark this as a site for future mining operations, we must first confirm what we have found. This means we need samples.”

“Which is where we come in,” Aldridge stated. “We’ve isolated a large asteroid in the outer belt of Cimmerian Delta that looks to contain a significant amount of dilithium. The team will get out there and take core samples. Unfortunately, gravity is very light, which means that this will be a zero-g excavation and retrieval. The belt is also too tightly compact to get the Epoch safely inside, so we’ll be taking a shuttle.

“Mr Farojj,” she continued, looking at the helmsman, “your job is pretty self-explanatory. You’ll get us to the target asteroid and then remain at station and co-ordinate between the team and the ship. Doctor K’Dentor will monitor things from here, so Doctor M’Vani will be on the team.” She then turned to Harvey and Ray-Gun. “Since the two of you are both fully certified for zero-gravity ops, as well as cleared for use of the sonic drills, you will be coming along to help set up the equipment and collect samples.”

A smug feeling came over him. Had he not spent the months of travel out to the Cluster practicing and training for zero-g ops or going over the specs and guidelines for the mining equipment, he’d never have been selected for such an important job. He was being given a chance to make an important contribution, not just to JMC, but to Starfleet and the Federation. He could only imagine his parents’ reaction to the find and his part in its discovery when he sent out his next message.

Aldridge spent the next thirty minutes going over the safety protocols and mission criteria. Harvey listened to every word, taking note of his exact duties. His heart sank a little when she stated that he would be assisting her, whilst Ray-Gun would be working with M’Vani, but he was determined to try and change her first impression of him.

Once she had finished, Aldridge looked around the table at those that would be accompanying her. “We’ve got about an hour until we get there. Let’s get all our gear together and start prepping the shuttle; I want to be underway as soon as we arrive.”

With that, the meeting was apparently over and they had work to do.

* * * * *
__________________
Avatar: Captain Naya, U.S.S. Renown NCC-1415 [Star Trek: Four Years War]
Manip by: JM1776 (STPMA.net)

Last edited by Bry_Sinclair; April 13 2012 at 09:27 AM.
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Old April 12 2012, 09:07 PM   #2
Bry_Sinclair
Commodore
 
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Location: Tactical withdrawl along the Klingon border
Re: April Challenge Entry - "Out In The Cold"

They spent an hour and seven minutes getting everything ready, going over all the equipment and gear they were bringing with them and ensuring it was in proper working order before it was secured in the hold of the shuttle. Boatswain Nkosi was lending a hand to get things ready, personally checking their EVA suits, so that by the time the Epoch reached Cimmerian Delta, they were already onboard the shuttle and waiting to depart.

Harvey sat in the hold opposite Ray-Gun and Doctor M’Vani, whilst Aldridge was with Farojj in the cockpit. Everything was strapped in to keep it from shaking loose and breaking, thus slowing them down, whilst the team were already suited up, all they were missing was their gloves and helmets. Only the pilot remained in the crews standard grey jumpsuit (the fitted suit, with its abundance of pockets, was standard for the bridge, engineering and deck crews, whilst the medical and research staff were in blue coveralls).

From the cockpit he could hear Aldridge speaking with the bridge, then strained against the harness to look out the forward viewport as the space doors opened and they were offered their first real look at the enormous asteroid belt (which was at least half an AU in width). Unlike other ships of the era, the Intrepid-Class didn’t utilise a drop-bay style hanger, but rather had two separate bays at the rear of the saucer—it was a design feature that allowed them to carry more modern shuttles, which were far more practical and durable that older models.

With expert skill, the Girinite lifted the shuttle off the deck and out into open space. The trip into the field was short and uneventful, a few small chips twanged against the hull of the shuttle but they were few and far between. It didn’t take long for them to reach the target asteroid. When they did, Aldridge joined them in the back, where they finished suiting up. The airlock to the cockpit sealed, keeping Farojj safe, whilst making it easier for them to move the equipment out into position.

Though it was Harvey’s first time on the job, the others had all done it before (even Ray-Gun who was only three years his senior, but on his second tour onboard the Epoch), so they knew exactly what needed to be done and kept him right. He was grateful for the guidance, as he wanted to be useful onboard and make a contribution, no matter how small.

The four of them floated out the shuttle, each laden with portable drills and sample containers, and headed towards the largest asteroid in the vicinity. The plan was to set up six small drilling platforms around the surface and drill simultaneously, lessening the time they needed to be out in EVA. The target sites had all been preselected on the Epoch and the co-ordinates were locked into their scanners, so each team had to set up three drills each. Once they were activated the drills it would take a short time to get down far enough for suitable samples, in which time they would have to make sure they remained calibrated and in synch.

As they split up and began their opposite trips around the asteroid, Harvey was alone with Aldridge. She remained in front, scanner open and directing them towards each point. When she made a statement or issued an order to complied, but their conversation went little beyond that. The silence made him uneasy, even more so as they moved further around the asteroid and lost sight of the shuttle.

They got the first drill established and as they were packing up for the second location, M’Vani purred through the comm that they had done their first as well and were moving to second position. Her soft tone and breathy voice right in his ear was incredibly intimate and Harvey became jealous of Ray-Gun for being paired up with the researcher.

“Copy that,” Aldridge’s level tone snapped him from his fantasising. “We’re moving now as well.”

She turned towards him. “Let’s get moving, O’Connell.”

“Yes sir…eh, ma’am.”

He couldn’t be certain, but he was pretty sure he saw her roll her eyes. Things are just getting better and better, he griped to himself.


* * * * *


The rest of the drills took only around forty minutes to set up, at which point both teams returned to the shuttle from where they could activate and monitor the progress, until such time as they had reached their target depth. In the shuttle, M’Vani and Aldridge went through to the cockpit, leaving Harvey and Ray to sort out what equipment was needed next.

From the briefing, he knew it would take the drills around twenty minutes—any faster and they risked destabilising the orbit and rotation of the asteroid, which would make things in the already tightly packed field all the more difficult. As they saw to the gear, he kept an ear open to what was being discussed in the front, so when he heard an alert he looked back at the scientist as she scrutinised the readings. Ray-Gun must’ve been doing the same, as he paused and looked as well. Aldridge stepped closer to the Caitian’s console and waited impatiently for a few moments.

“One of the drills is losing power. It’s down twelve percent and dropping.”

“Which one?”

“Number two,” M’Vani replied, still looking at the screen. That made it the second one he and Aldridge and set up, but everything had gone smoothly and their checks had shown it was fully operational. What could have happened to it, in less than an hour, that it was now failing?

Aldridge looked back at him. “Grab your helmet and a couple of repair kits, we’re heading back out.”

“Yes ma’am,” he replied automatically, then quickly got together what was needed.

“Do you need another pair of hands, ma’am?” Ray-Gun asked.

“Not yet. Remain here, we could need other supplies so be ready to move quickly.”

“Aye.”

Ray-Gun and Aldridge switched places in the shuttle, his fellow deckhand now safe behind the cockpit airlock, as Harvey and the petite miner got their gloves and helmets back on and hefted the toolkits. He wasn’t sure exactly what use he would be; he was trained to run routine diagnostics not repair valuable equipment—though he suspected that Aldridge wasn’t expecting to rely on him too much, but rather needed someone to do heavy lifting.

Once they exited the shuttle again, they activated their thrust packs and took off towards the problem drill. En route he focused on their destination, not the wide expanse of stars that engulfed them, of the mishmash of rocks that floated all around them. Aldridge was in the lead and remained quiet, all he heard was his own breathing within the confines of his EVA suit, and the occasional update from M’Vani.

“Power loss now at twenty-one percent.”

“Understood. We’re almost there,” Aldridge reported back to the shuttle. “O’Connell, prepare to cut engines and reverse thrust in eight seconds.”

“Acknowledged,” he stated.

To himself he counted down. On eight, he tapped the stud that stopped his forward momentum and fired the reverse jets, bringing him to a relative stop. Aldridge did the same just ahead of him. Together they approached the faulty drill. Still new to life in space, he expected it to be like the old movies he’d seen back on Earth, hearing a shrill noise or clanking, but there was nothing, it looked just like how they’d left it— except the control panel was flashing red.

Whilst the mining consultant moved to the display and began tapping away at the controls, Harvey stayed a short distance away, looking at the drill. He was surprised that something was wrong with it, as he could see no problems. Over the open comlink he heard the two women on the team going back and forth over possible issues. Harvey felt like a spare part, just drifting a few short meters above the uneven surface of the asteroid.

“What if you try shutting down and restarting,” M’Vani purred.

“Without knowing what the original fault was, we could have the same problem crop up again,” replied Aldridge. “The diagnostic systems can’t localise the problem, and I can’t see anything that would cause a drop in power. The sonic pulse is stable, vibration dampeners are aligned, powerpack fully operational.”

Harvey pulled the scanner from its holster and began running a few sweeps. He wasn’t sure exactly what he might find that the more experienced members of his team couldn’t, but an extra pair of eyes was always useful.

“What if we get another drill from the Epoch?”

“It might have to come to that, Doctor,” Aldridge admitted. “Comm the ship and have them ready another drill, just in case we can’t solve this problem.”

“Understood,” Farojj chipped in.

As he drifted, scanning the drill, a faint flicker caught his eye. It was close to the connectors between the drill and its powerpack, but at his current angle he couldn’t see that caused it. Moving in closer, there was another flicker and the link between his suits comm system and the scanner chirped. He studied the screen again and noticed that what he saw wasn’t matching up with the system diagram.

Closing to only a meter and change he was finally able to see the frayed wiring and damaged sensor relay. It looked as though something had smacked into that section of the drill, throwing the sensors off whilst causing the power drain—which the diagnostics didn’t know existed.

He reached for the conduit, whilst tapping the comlink. “Ma’am, I think I’ve found the problem,” he stated, trying to keep his excitement and pride from his voice—he didn’t want to come across as big-headed on top of being a ‘dump jock’.

“What have you—O’Connell! NO!”

Her warning came just as his hand made contact with the damaged connector. There was a blinding flash, a pulse of heat passed through his suit, and his head snap backwards, cracking against the side of his helmet.

Everything went dark after that.


* * * * *
__________________
Avatar: Captain Naya, U.S.S. Renown NCC-1415 [Star Trek: Four Years War]
Manip by: JM1776 (STPMA.net)

Last edited by Bry_Sinclair; April 13 2012 at 09:34 AM.
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Old April 12 2012, 09:07 PM   #3
Bry_Sinclair
Commodore
 
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Location: Tactical withdrawl along the Klingon border
Re: April Challenge Entry - "Out In The Cold"

The alarm screamed at him. Groaning once again, Harvey reached out to smack the clock but his hand just kept on moving. Opening his eyes, throbbing pain shot through his head. Squeezing his eyes tightly shut to try and help block out the pain, but to no avail. He groaned again. His head was killing him, his body felt both heavy and weightless at the same time, and the place smelled of piss.

“Must’ve been one hell of a party,” he slurred to himself. A voice in the back of his mind piped up, I hope Aldridge is alright.

That struck him as weird. Why was he worrying about the scary little woman? She’d never have been at a party, especially not one where he’d gotten as drunk as he had.

His alarm blared again, though this time is sounded like a voice instead of its usual shrill tone. “Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion in five minutes.”

“Funny Shen,” he murmured, finding his roommate’s practical joke a little morbid.

Chuckling to himself he allowed himself to enjoy the heavy-floaty feeling of his body, it reminded him of the zero-g simulator.

“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion in four minutes and thirty seconds.”

“What?” he asked, the words finally cutting through the pain that filled his head. He opened his eyes a little and found himself looking out into empty space—though he and Shen had an interior room. It took a few moments for his vision to clear, but when it did he focused in on the cracks across the glass—as intricate as a spider’s web. They’d have to call maintenance to check that out.

“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion in four minutes.”

“Suit?”

Suddenly it all came back to him; the shuttle, the asteroid, the drills, he and Aldridge heading out to check on a problem, her shouting, then the flash and the heat. Panic gripped his still jumbled mind, but he knew enough to be terrified. He must’ve been caught by a blast and knocked unconscious. He was now drifting in space.

“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion in three minutes and thirty seconds.”

Harvey quickly started looking around for any sign of the big asteroid, the shuttle or the Epoch. Nothing. He did his best to spin around, still looking for something familiar so he could try and get back to them. But no matter which direction he faced he couldn’t see their target asteroid, and he hadn’t looked at the stars to know any patterns.

He was alone in the blackness of space.

“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion in three minutes.”

He slapped the companel on the front of the EVA suit. “O’Connell to shuttle! Shuttle come in! Farojj, M’Vani, Ray, can anyone hear me? Aldridge, please respond!” he yelled into the open channel, his voice breaking with uncontained terror.

Epoch, this is O’Connell. Anyone! Please! Is anyone there? Someone answer!”

“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion in two minutes and thirty seconds.”

“Frak!”

His mind was a mixture of pain and dread. He had no clue where he was in relation to the ship, how far he’d been blown or how long he’d been unconscious. With minutes of air left he wouldn’t survive much longer after it was gone—he was already starting to feel numbness in his hands and feet.

“Anyone out there? Please! Help me!”

“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion in two minutes.”

He craned his neck to try and look down at the breastplate and the comm system controls. His hands felt heavy and clumsy, but he focused on what he needed them to do; open up a wide band channel. Still groggy from the concussion he must’ve suffered, it took him longer than it ever had in the simulator. His fingers either didn’t want to work or didn’t know how.

“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion in one minute and thirty seconds.”

When he finally finished he opened a comlink, which went across multiple frequencies and band widths, if anyone nearby was paying the slightest bit of attention to their communications array they’d pick him up—or so he hoped.

“This is deckhand Harvey O’Connell, of the Jupiter Mining ship Epoch,” he began, using what little was left of his self-control to keep from breaking down. “I’ve been involved in an accident and am running out of air. Please, if anyone hears this message, I need immediate help. Please!”

He kept his finger on the transmit button as his suit calmly informed him, “Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion in one minute.”

“Can anyone hear me?” he begged. “Please! I don’t want to die!” Tears streamed unabashedly down his cheeks. “If anyone is listening, please help me!”

“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion thirty seconds.”

The numb, heavy feeling was moving up his legs and arms. Summoning what little strength he had left, he smacked the companel, which lodged the transmit stud on, before he let his limbs go limp and float. His chest was starting to burn and every breath was getting harder to draw in. Inside his EVA suit, the air was warming up and getting stale.

“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion fifteen seconds.”

Filling his lungs with what air he could, he screamed into the still open channel, “HELP ME!”

“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion ten seconds.”

“Please,” he sobbed, his voice feeling tiny in his own throat.

“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion five seconds.”

Harvey counted down his last few moments of breathable air, his body shaking as he wept.

After he counted one, the suit chirped. “Air supply depleted. Air supply depleted.” Its macabre chant continued both in his suit and across the channel he’d opened.

It wasn’t long before his eyelids felt heavy. Though he did all he could to fight it, slowly they closed.

“Pleeease…hel…p…” Harvey O’Connell tried one last time before his eyes shut.

“Air supply depleted. Air supply depleted. Air supply depleted. Air supply depleted.”


* * * * *


END
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Old April 13 2012, 01:34 AM   #4
Sandoval
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Re: April Challenge Entry - "Out In The Cold"

Love it Bry.

I'll give you some proper feedback tomorrow.
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Old April 13 2012, 04:31 AM   #5
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: April Challenge Entry - "Out In The Cold"

Wow - what a way to go. I can't think of a lonelier way to die than drifting alone in a space-suit that's counting down your few remaining moments of life. I'd say you really nailed the theme with this one. "Out in the Cold," indeed.

Great job, Bry!
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Old April 13 2012, 06:18 AM   #6
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: April Challenge Entry - "Out In The Cold"

Thank you gentlemen.

I was a little worried it was a bit too obvious.
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Old April 13 2012, 10:30 AM   #7
Sandoval
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Re: April Challenge Entry - "Out In The Cold"

Ray Gun...

I thought it was a terrific piece of work and I enjoyed it from start to finish. I'd say it's exactly what this whole 'Cimmerian' thing was set up to achieve - telling stories about civilians far outside the safety net of the Federation and the omnipresent security provided by Starfleet.

The writing itself is top notch - I enjoyed the how believable and 'real' the characters felt and how they behaved and interacted, as well as the descriptions of the asteroid mining process.

Well done, I'd imagine that I'll be voting for this in a few week's time.
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Old April 13 2012, 02:07 PM   #8
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: April Challenge Entry - "Out In The Cold"

Sandoval wrote: View Post
Ray Gun...
I thought up the name of Deckhand Gunn, and just had to play about with that.

I'm very glad you enjoyed it Sandoval.
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Old April 13 2012, 06:33 PM   #9
admiralelm11
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Re: April Challenge Entry - "Out In The Cold"

Awesome work, Bry. I wouldn't be surprised if the Silverfin comes along and finds the body.

Anyways, keep up the great work.
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Old April 14 2012, 11:23 AM   #10
CeJay
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Re: April Challenge Entry - "Out In The Cold"

Didn't see that coming. Then again it probably helped that I didn't know what this month's challenge theme was. Wow, what a downer. But hey, that's life in space, filled with dangers and risks of death, especially if you are lowly worker and not a senior officer headlining your own series.
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Old April 14 2012, 11:56 AM   #11
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: April Challenge Entry - "Out In The Cold"

Mr O'Connell was always fated for a lonely death.

When I first thought up the idea, he was going to be called Conklin and be a bit of a douche, but as I started writing he changed to a more normal guy, whose life didn't quite go the way he wanted.
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Old April 18 2012, 06:07 AM   #12
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Re: April Challenge Entry - "Out In The Cold"

Sweet Beavis, I'm supposed to compete with that?? Fantastic piece, Bry, simply fantastic.
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Old April 18 2012, 07:27 AM   #13
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: April Challenge Entry - "Out In The Cold"

Thanks Cobalt
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