Timeline: Day 21 at 2020
Arriving well ahead of the scheduled departure time of their team, Doctor Andrea Carter patiently waited. The former science officer used the time wisely; studying the latest schematics of the base and then checking (and rechecking) the equipment which would be used by herself and the three others in the team during their exploration of the third level. While she had hung up her uniform and resigned a little over four years ago, it did nothing to lessen the inherent sense of responsibility she felt for her 'team'.
An unknown base meant they could encounter anything. And although the base was apparently deserted, it did not mean the previous inhabitants had not left some surprises behind. Caution was needed, especially when the team included a pregnant woman. It would not have been her first choice but she had to admire the woman's determination to try and help. Yet it added an extra burden of responsibility.
"Should have gone to Risa," she mused before approaching footsteps caught her attention. Already suited up but with her helmet tucked under one arm, she turned to face the newcomer.
Isabelle had been resting as best as she could prior to now, her leg was stiff and a little achy too, but it was her back that usually ached the most given the weight she was carrying around out front of her. She always said she understood how a space whale must feel. Seeing someone else waiting she offered a polite smile. “Am I early?” She grinned. “I was expecting to get here last.”
"You are right on time," Andrea assured her. "Lieutenant Veran, yes?"
Isabelle nodded. “That’s me, please call me Isabelle.” She offered a warm smile.
"Andrea Carter. I'll be leading the team. I have our equipment set up over here. I can help you in to the suit if you like?" the scientist offered. "They can be... awkward, if you aren't used to them."
“I’d appreciate that, thank you” Isabelle nodded. “I’m already carrying around a fair amount of weight, I hope these suits don’t add much more!”
"I'll carry any additional equipment you may require, Counsellor..." a deep, masculine voice spoke as Ensign Udal rounded a corner in full EV gear, minus the helmet. Being tall and rather wide, he tended to struggle with EV suits himself, but had been granted permission to replicate one (since he was seemingly an integral part of the search teams now).
"Don't worry, they aren't so bad," Andrea assured the woman, "much lighter than you'd expect. And thank you, Ensign, for the help."
Isabelle offered Udal a warm smile. “Thank you Udal, you’re very kind and I appreciate your help.”
"I'm here," Dr Siana called out as he hurried around the corner. "Apologies, apologies."
"Quite alright. Okay, let's get you both suited up then we can go," Carter nodded.
"What are your orders, Doctor?" the brute of an Orion questioned as he lifted his helmet upon his head and sealed the protective layer. He had done his research in the intervening time since his assignment to Carter's team and was suitably impressed, but he still had no idea who she was as a person, or what her expectations would be.
"First, nobody wanders off, we stay in constant contact, comms stay open," Carter informed them. "We move in a methodical order, sweeping any rooms and documenting what we find. Ensign, you and I will take point. Just in case. I always go by the policy of expect the unexpected, so pay attention to any little voices in your head that if anything doesn't feel right just speak up. Lieutenant Veran, if you need a break, just say the word.
This level is underground, it will be dark and that can make a lot of people uncomfortable. But we can do this."
Switching on the light beacon on his helmet, and drawing his hand phaser, the brute of a Security Officer nodded in acknowledgement and headed for the doorway nearest to them. Together, their team would be going into the depths of the facility, beyond the assignment range of virtually every other team. Doctor Carter was, in the Ensign's estimation, right to be so cautious.
Isabelle was already feeling claustrophobic in her suit, it was taking the Counselling methods she used for patients with a fear of enclosed spaces, just to keep herself from wanting to take the suit straight back off. “One question ... if conditions allow it will we be able to remove our headgear?
"Not until we get official word from the XO," Andrea replied via her suit's comm system. "There may be some small pockets of air but they will be unstable and cannot be relied upon until full life support is restored. I'm sorry but right now, it's too dangerous."
Isabelle took a deep breath and let it back out slowly, “I’m not someone who suffers from claustrophobia but this suit is making me uncomfortable.”
The scientist smiled, "understandable. They take some getting used to but if you'd prefer to sit this out, nobody will hold it against you."
Isabelle shook her head. “I’m not going to give in that easily. Thanks for the offer but I’ll manage.”
"You can adjust the environmental controls of your suit to give you a breathing atmosphere that makes you feel more comfortable, Counsellor," the Orion advised, "just avoid anything too toxic for the baby." Soon enough, he was leading them out of the room and towards their search radius, his eyes scanning far and wide, his phaser and beacon of lights following his every move.
“Thank you for the advice Udal” Isabelle offered a warm smile as she kept her eyes, and senses alert for signs of anyone, or anything being there. “I’m not sensing anything yet.”
"The only thing I can sense is the hunger in my body," Udal groaned as he placed a hand on the torso area of his EVA suit. "I'm surprised you haven't heard the growling..." he laughed.
Isabelle grinned. “Is that what I heard? I did wonder!”
"You mean rations didn't fill you up?" Carter grinned as she continued leading the way, pausing occasionally to check her tricorder readings. "Rations definitely haven't improved much, have they?"
"Taste wise, no," Doctor Siana agreed, "although nutritionally they are superior to those in issue even two, maybe three years ago. I still wouldn't turn down a steak for a ration pack though. So... you were in Starfleet before, yeah?"
There was a small hesitation before Carter replied. "Yes, five years ago."
"Glad you came back?" the doctor commented.
"Delighted," she assured him.
"This is my first day," he countered. "Have to admit, it's not been the best of starts. And this place, it gives me the creeps."
"Afraid of the dark, Doctor?" Carter teased as they reached a junction.
Isabelle paused. “Wait! Nobody move.” She took a moment. “There’s something...” She frowned as she lost the sense she had. “I could have sworn I sensed something down here with us, but it’s gone now.”
Udal stepped forward, an angry expression on his face as he took the lead once again and trained his phaser ahead of them, his wrist beacon illuminating the pathway. "Can you tell us anything else?" the butch warrior asked in a hushed tone, alert and ready and scanning the distance.
“It’s pretty strange” Isabelle shrugged her shoulders. “Normally I can either sense a species or I can’t, but whatever this is it was there, then it was gone. I don’t know of any species that does that, unless it’s a sentient species that can hide itself from me. Which if it is denotes some Intelligence.”
"Keep your eyes peeled people," the Orion growled as he sauntered ahead of the group, lights trained directly ahead.
As they walked Isabelle dropped back slightly, with the weight she was carrying around up front she was trying to reserve some energy. She didn’t hear an access doorway opening until someone or something strong grabbed her from behind and pulled her into the darkness the hatch closing silently behind them. The only trace left was the head piece of her suit.
"Some proper lights would be good, and make this place a hell of a lot less creepy," Doctor Siana mused. "Right Lieutenant?"
Half turning he aimed his flashlight behind him, wanting to use the excuse to check on the fourth member of their group. His eyes widened in alarm when he found only empty corridor behind him. "Lieutenant Veran?!" he took a few steps to retrace their path, stopping when his foot hit something solid. Looking down, his flashlight illuminated the unmistakable shape of the helmet from a Starfleet issue EVA suit. And he doubted there would be any just lying around.
"Guys! We have a problem!"