Originally posted on fanfiction.net - Link. Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek: Lower Decks. -------------------------------------- Those Left Behind Chapter One: Another Mission Gone Awry “Oooo, this is so exciting!” Tendi squealed with a bright smile and eager eyes. “I can’t believe it’s finally happening! My first away mission! This is going to be so cool!” “This is gonna be so lame,” Mariner grunted lifting a cargo container off an anti-grav. She, Tendi, Boimler and Rutherford were in the Main Shuttlebay loading supplies into the waiting shuttlecraft Alcatraz. “Spending three days conducting a planetary survey of some forsaken, uninhabited ball of rock nobody’s ever heard of. Talk about boring!” “It’s not boring,” Boimler defended as he and Rutherford worked to carry a large container. “Nauru II is one of several planets recently discovered within the Tibor Nebula. The Cerritos will drop us off before delivering separate survey teams to other newly cataloged planets located in the nebula while further exploring the region.” “Yeah, it’s really neat,” Rutherford smiled. “The Tibor nebula has remained virtually uncharted until now due to all the sensor-blocking theta, polaron, and baryon radiation floating around inside it. Starfleet didn’t even know Nauru II existed until the Argus Array picked it up after completing its latest round of sensor updates.” “And we’ll be the first ones to ever set foot on the new planet!” Tendi chirped while practically hopping up and down. “Just think of all the fascinating, unknown lifeforms waiting for us down on a strange new world!” “Sorry to burst your bubble T, but there aren’t any weird, interesting lifeforms down there,” Mariner said stowing a container. “Preliminary scans showed nothing but rocks, various plant life and nothing more complex than some ocean-dwelling invertebrates.” “Wow, you actually paid attention during the mission briefing?” Boimler asked, surprised. “Eh, I half-listened to the first thirty seconds of it before tuning out the rest,” Mariner waved. “I spent the rest of the briefing asleep. I swear Stevens has the dullest voice ever. Someone should record his mission briefings and sell them as the ultimate cure for insomnia! Hmmm, that’s not a bad idea…” “Oh no. Don’t even think about it,” Boimler warned shooting her a look. “We’ve been assigned a serious mission! The first away mission we’ve been on in months! In Tendi’s case her first one ever,” He indicated their Orion friend. “The last thing we need is for you to slack off and treat it as just another big joke!” “Oh, please,” Mariner rolled her eyes. “We’ll be conducting surveys on an uninhabited planet where the most dangerous thing will be stubbing our toes while fending off boredom. It’s practically a camping trip!” “Oooo, really? I’ve never gone camping before,” Tendi smiled happily. “Well, except for wilderness survival training at the Academy, but that was more like monitored outdoors classes and tests. This will be the real thing!” “Yeah!” Rutherford chimed in excitedly. “Just think of all the planetary data waiting to be scanned, processed, cataloged and analyzed!” “Thrilling,” Mariner drawled. “I can hardly contain myself.” “Hey there, people!” Lieutenant Commander Stevens sauntered into the shuttlebay. “Finish loading up the supplies and let’s get this show on the road!” “Yes, sir!” Tendi, Boimler and Rutherford replied cheerfully. “Yes, sir. Of course, sir,” Mariner mocked picking up another heavy container. “Thanks for offering to help load and stow away the supplies, sir. Ugh, this mission is really gonna stink.” The four ensigns soon finished loading the shuttlecraft and piled in along with Stevens before departing the Cerritos. “Yep, you ensigns sure are lucky Nauru II’s atmosphere contains so much ionization and high energy particle emissions,” Stevens commented sitting in one of the pilot seats as they descended through the thick layers of plasma and clouds. “All the interference blocks transporters so you’ll be logging plenty of shuttle flight hours as we conduct our surveys of the planet.” “Understood, sir,” Boimler said sitting next to him as he piloted the Alcatraz. “Always happy to get more experience in various shuttlecraft environments.” “Not to mention experience kissing up to superior officers,” Mariner quipped sitting across from Tendi and Rutherford in the back with her feet propped up on a container. “And you’re overlooking the complete impracticality of conducting an entire planetary survey on foot. Of course we’d take a shuttle down to the surface. Too bad we didn’t bring an Argo-class buggy along too. Now that would’ve been fun…” “Sensors confirm a rich Class M atmosphere, if a little light on oxygen and a touch heavy in carbon dioxide,” Tendi reported leaned forward to check one of the readouts. “A twice-daily, ten cc’s tri-ox compound injection should easily compensate for it.” “A twice-daily, ten hundred cc’s ingestion of ice-cold beer wouldn’t hurt either,” Stevens remarked as the shuttlecraft broke through the last cloud bank and soared over some rocky, jungle-like terrain. “Hmmm, not exactly Casperia Prime or the south-west coast of North America, but it’ll do.” “What did you expect?” Mariner gave him a look. “Did ya really think every planet we’d visit would look like Southern California?” “Looks like there’s a wide-open landing space approximately twelve kilometers ahead near the base of a mountain ridge,” Boimler reported. “Sounds good to me,” Stevens said. “Ensign, take us down.” “Ahooga, ahooga. Dive, dive,” Mariner quipped as Boimler worked the controls and gently landed the shuttlecraft. “Good work, Ensign,” Stevens praised before activating the shuttlecraft’s comm. “Stevens to Cerritos. We’ve safely made planetfall and have confirmed the preliminary sensor scans of a breathable, Class M atmosphere.” “Understood, Commander,” Captain Freeman replied. “We’ll break orbit now and head to the next planet on our survey list. See you all in three days.” “Acknowledged, Captain. Stevens out,” Stevens said closing the channel. “Ahhh, a brand-new planet just for us!” Tendi smiled opening the rear hatch and literally skipping down the ramp. “Mmmm, just smell that sweet, fresh, non-starship recycled air!” “Smells more like a severe case of jungle rot to me,” Mariner snorted as she and Rutherford followed after Tendi. “Man, even Boims’ dirty socks don’t smell this bad. Which is scary considering they spend all day cooped up inside his sealed Starfleet regulation boots and even while he sleeps.” “Hey, my socks and feet smell just fine, thank you,” Boimler protested as he powered down the shuttlecraft. “I regularly clean them using a sonic washer and sprinkle a light coating of epidellic foot powder on them before every shift!” “That explains why you go through more socks than an Edosian sprinter,” Mariner quipped. “I swear the cleaning processor shudders every time you approach it.” “Hey, is it just me or does anyone detect a faint smoky scent in the air?” Tendi asked taking a few sniffs. “It smells kind of like a plasma fire.” “More like weapons fire,” Mariner frowned noticing several faint scorch mark trails covering the ground. “Are we sure this planet’s uninhabited?” “It’s not weapons fire. It’s regular fire,” Rutherford explained studying his tricorder. “This planet has large concentrations of high energy plasma in its upper atmosphere. The subsequent high energy particle emissions must gradually build up before being eventually ignited by all the radiation emitted by the nebula, resulting in intense fire storms like on Bersallis III.” “Well that certainly puts me at ease,” Boimler groaned exiting the shuttlecraft and looking around. “The fires must periodically clear entire areas of plant life like this clearing.” “Which must also break down some of the rock in the area releasing large amounts of newly liberated minerals and enriching the surrounding soil,” Tendi realized. “Thus allowing new plant life to take root and thrive. Wow, isn’t life amazing?” “Some life maybe,” Mariner shrugged. “My life right now, not so much.” “Hey, what are you people standing around for?” Stevens scolded emerging from the shuttlecraft. “Quit loafing around and wasting time.” “Says the guy who has spent the last two minutes grooming his mustache in the shuttle’s control panel reflections,” Mariner muttered. “This area is as a good place as any to set up our base camp,” Stevens declared. “Plenty of space to put up shelters. So let’s get to it!” “Yes, sir,” Tendi, Boimler and Rutherford nodded and began unloading the cargo containers. “And just what are you going to do, sir?” Mariner gave Stevens a look. “Stand around and watch while the rest of us lowly ensigns do all the actual physical work?” “I’m working. I’m supervising and monitoring your progress,” Stevens said striking a pose. “After all, I learned and modeled my personal style of command from the best: Commander Jack Ransom!” “I should’ve known,” Mariner rolled her eyes. “Plus, I’m checking the area for potential hostiles,” Stevens continued pulling out a tricorder. “You never know when or where danger will suddenly strike!” “Yeah, I’m sure the native plant life is very dangerous,” Mariner drawled grabbing a container. “I bet there’s a whole network of roots and fungi tendrils lurking under our very feet right now, just waiting to burst up and grab us and turn us into giant spore bags or something.” “Oooh, you really think so?” Tendi asked anxiously. “That would be neat!” “Are you crazy?” Boimler looked at her in shock. “What am I saying?” “Once we finish setting up our camp we’ll start taking surveys,” Stevens said poking at his tricorder. “Half of you will take the Alcatraz and begin running a geological scan of the southern hemisphere while the rest you set up monitoring stations…” BWWWRZWH! “Gahhh!” Stevens screamed as he was suddenly struck by a bluish-white energy bolt. “Yikes!” Rutherford and Tendi yelped dropping the large container they were carrying and quickly huddled behind it. “Ahhh! What the heck was that?” “Don’t know. But at least Stevens isn’t prattling on anymore,” Mariner grinned drawing her phaser. “‘Bout time we had some real action around here!” “Surrender!” The air around them suddenly shimmered as nine heavily-armed Jem’Hadar unshrouded with charged rifles leveled and ready. “Do not move! You are now prisoners of the Dominion!” “You just had to say that, didn’t you?” Boimler groaned.