Forged Through Fire
Posted on Wednesday, 22 December 2021 - 7:59pm by Captain Pippa Whitley & Lieutenant K'Var & Lieutenant Alex Kingsley
Edited on on Thursday, 23 December 2021 - 11:01am
Operation: Mirror of Madness
Location: Vulcan Forge
Several days. It took several days of intense heat, sandstorms, windstorms, and trekking through dunes of for dozens of kilometers, spending nights in caves that were good shelter from the brutal heat of the blistering days, but the chill of the night after sweating so much could have killed a man easily. If not the environmental concerns, then the wildlife itself. As beautiful as the bare and sparce Vulcan Forge was, dangers were only a stone’s throw away at all times. Predatory nocturnal arachnids with venom nearly a hundred times the potency of an Earth scorpion were underneath the rocks. If Captain Whitley or either of their companions (escorts) or as Pippa liked to view them chaperones made even the slightest misstep or mistake in not checking their boots before stepping in and lacing up, it would be the last mistake they ever made.
Lieutenants K’Var and Kolani had volunteered for the bold personal mission of Captain Whitley. Though there was no chance that Pippa’s Security Chief, Lieutenant K’Var was going to let Pippa leave the starship without proper security escort, and who better to ensure the Captain’s personal safety than the starship’s Security Chief. Kolani’s accompaniment was out of bravery, nothing short of it. The man was happily involved with Lieutenant Vali, a woman who was half Vulcan and all heart. Her compassion and soul were fuel for Raith Kolani to step up and pilot the Captain’s gig down to the surface of Vulcan, traversing navigational hazards to see to it that the Captain’s pilgrimage could be seen through to its entirety.
Checking in with their starship regularly, Captain Whitley left command of the starship Standing Bear in the capable hands of Acting First Officer Lieutenant Alex Kingsley. It was without any sign of reluctance that Whitley surrendered command of the starship and entrusted it with Kingsley until Doctor Rose was unable to stall any further. Pippa had ordered the Chief Medical Officer to come to a snail’s pace when it came to evaluating Commander Soral and clearing him for active duty. All the pieces were coming into place and though Pippa did not have the answers for sure, the Captain did know one very important thing; the man who had returned to the USS Standing Bear with the Vulcan monks was not Commander Soral, at least not the same one Lieutenant Kingsley was soulfully bonded to.
Pippa had made sure to tip their hat to Kingsley, leaving the woman detailed information of Pippa’s suspicions, and that even if ‘Commander Soral’ was cleared for duty by Doctor Rose before Pippa returned, to not allow the man to leave orbit of Vulcan. If it came to it Pippa instructed Alex to work with Doctor Rose to relieve Soral of duty and to have security confine him the damn brig.
A pilgrimage of several days on foot from where Lieutenant Kolani had set the Casablanca down in the Vulcan forge at the only landing strip around. “We’re getting closer, Lieutenants, I can tell by the sand and soil,” Pippa announced. They were all dressed properly for their pilgrimage, white Starfleet uniform variants that were breathable and especially designed for the extreme heat. Doctor Rose had given them each a hypospray cocktail of radiation treatment and had packed a deluxe sized medical duffel with medicinal supplies. It was a lot to carry, but Caitians were quite strong and had good stamina for the most part.
Pippa crouched down and ran the Volcanic sand through their fingers, letting it slip through like sand in an hourglass. “Yes, we are definitely getting closer to Mount Seleya,” Pippa added looking up at the Caitian who was casting a shadow over them. “The higher oxide content causes the sand and soil near Mount Seleya to appear reddish in color,” explained Pippa. The Captain then opened a satchel that they were carrying, rummaging around for the tricorder that they had packed.
"Yes" K'Var said as she remembered from some of her teachings as a younger child. Vulcan was a member of the Federation and her history shined throughout a child of the Federations studies. K'Var was making sure to keep a close eye out for any dangers as they made their way around the surface and even more so every time the Captain let her guard down.
The sound of a canteen popping open followed by the sloshing of water against its metallic sides alerted Pippa that their other companion was starting to run low on water. “Kolani, you’ll want to saver that water. We have enough collectively for another day maybe a day and a half if we are conservative with it. It will be another day’s travel at the very least until we reach one of the few watering holes in the Forge,” explained the Captain.
The Chief Operations Officer looked a bit wounded by the news. “Sorry, lieutenant, the Forge isn’t for the faint of hearted…nor the thirsty” teased the Captain. It was true that the Standing Bear probably had a decent transporter lock on them still. This would change when they finally reached Mount Seleya proper, but even though the Standing Bear and Doctor Rose were undoubtedly monitoring their life signs and could send down additional supplies of food and water, Captain Whitley would refuse any more. The only intervention Pippa would allow would be medical and only in the utmost severe circumstances.
Captain Whitley looked at K’Var “We need to make this pilgrimage without assistance,” stated the Captain. “My speech will be all for naught if we don’t look withered as through, we endured the Forge itself to get there. If the Forge doesn’t kill us, the ascent to Mount Seleya and its thousands of carved and winding stairs very well may.”
"We will look the part ma'am" K'Var ensured the Captain.
Seeing it as a good point to check back in with the starship, especially before the potential of losing contact on the ascent of Mount Seleya, Captain Whitley made an attempt to contact the USS Standing Bear. =/\= "Whitley to Standing Bear. Captain Whitley to Standing Bear, can you receive this? This is the best I can get signal-wise on my end."
The response was almost instant, clouded initially by static. “We h… Captain,” Lieutenant Kingsley replied. “There that should be better. Is everything alright, Captain?”
"So far so good, Lieutenant," Whitley replied. "We have about another day possibly two of travel. We will be at the foot of Mount Seleya shortly, but the mineral deposits along the ascent will likely cause significant comm interference. I won't make the next scheduled check in...probably won't hear from us until we reach the top. I just wanted to report in."
“Understood,” Alex replied. “While I’m sure you do not intend to, we have an official request to remind you of the hazards of your journey and that you can turn back. I assured the Vulcan ambassador I would relay the message but I made it clear you had no intention of abandoning your journey. A delegation will be awaiting your arrival.”
"Ah well then I see you are vying for Security Chief," Pippa chuckled teasing the Chief Science Officer. "Thank you, but you may politely tell the Vulcan Ambassador to live long and piss off." The Captain brushed some sand off her dessert operations uniform. "I packed a dress a uniform just for this, Lieutenant. I do not plan on turning back, not now nor ever."
“I wasn’t aware we were at dress uniform seriousness,” Alex commented with an almost audible grin, “I will pass along your message.”
Pippa beamed with a smile as they looked up at the sun bearing down upon them. Better get a move on thought the Captain. "It isn't every day a Starfleet Captain takes a shuttle into the Vulcan Forge, treks through it, and ascends a thousand stairs of Mount Seleya to deliver a speech to the Vulcan people."
“True. Be careful, those last few hundred steps are when you really question life choices,” Kingsley replied.
Pippa scoffed. "Already questioning...Whitley out."
K'Var considered herself in top athletics condition and even she was panting as they continued their journey "Oh not far now ma'am" she tried to shine a little hope as she stopped to take a few breaths.
"Onward and upward," Pippa replied. The Captain looked at K'Var and nodded. Their journey would soon take them up a mountain, one of the most sacred on the planet. "Get used to the heat now, when we reach the peak of the mountain, it can get to temperatures that snow in the winter."
"I'm thankful I'm covered in fur" K'Var joked with the other's in the team.
It was then that Pippa was a bit envious. You have a point thought the Captain.