A pleased smile crossed Kylik's face, the Rutian glad that they would have the Lexington as a backup 'central nerve'. Even better, if he became too busy to effectively command the flight group, he was sure the command staff would be able to take over. 'I just hope it doesn't come to that.' he considered. Like most shuttles, the X-90s controls were designed in such a way that a single person would be able to handle most of the tasks to be done, even under difficult conditions.
Kylik noted one behemoth of a man make his way to the Seeckt to store his gear, and soon a few more away team members followed. Near the rear of the shuttle, medical equipment was being loaded in. To the helmsman's eyes, it looked like Dr. Wu and his team were planning on opening a hospital on the planet.
With the final few minutes available to him, Kylik did a walk-around of the shuttle, checking for any potential issues that would make it unsafe to fly. He knew most of the other pilots would be doing the same. It was a strange notion, considering that the engineers had checked each shuttle both inside and out. But it could be therapeutic, especially ahead of a mission. A ritual to clear the mind and focus on the task at hand.
The words hung in the air for a second before the Rutian was spurred into action. He closed the distance to the shuttle hatch quickly, pulled himself inside and waited for the hatch to seal before checking that the flight lock had engaged. He gave a quick look about the cabin, making sure the away team and the majority of their gear was strapped in.
He paused next to Ensign Tam. "Ensign, we may need to do a particularly quick descent to the complex. If that's the case, I'm going to ask you to shift power from the auxiliary systems to the internal inertial dampeners, and to do it quickly." It wasn't really an instruction, but rather an effort to get Tam to have a plan in place for if the time came. He wasn't sure about the Trill, but he had seen other engineers get the impression of 'deer being caught in headlights' when given such instruction without forewarning.
Finally, satisfied that they were as ready as they would get to be, he made his way to the cockpit. He started cycling up the shuttles power plants as he strapped in, though the familiar whine was drowned out by the sound of crewmembers shuffling in the aft section. Soon the whine died down, and was replaced by a gentle purr as Kylik started the engines.
=/\="Comet lead to shuttlebay control, departing. Comet 2,3, follow me out."=/\=
The Rutian couldn't prevent a smile from erupting on his face. This wasn't the pleasant distraction that the previous flight had been. Despite his inhibitions about them, they were taking the X-90s on an actual mission.
[X-90, Corsair B upper atmosphere]
With the [I]Lexington[/I] parked so close to the planet, the shuttles hit atmosphere within mere minutes, and shortly thereafter Kylik started getting his first decent views of the surface. At first, all he could see was a sea of green, with several mountainous outcrops dotting the horizon. As they descended, though, the full effect of Corsair B started to weigh on him.
Kylik had been to many scenic locations since joining Starfleet. He'd done some travelling on Earth, Risa and Casperia Prime. Each had presented a natural wonder that could not be compared to anything else, that overwhelmed the senses grabbed at the heart.
But the scenes he remembered so fondly now seemed pale, controlled and lifeless. Corsair's landscape was vivid, wild and flourishing. Green canopies extended as far as the eye could see, broken by occasional patches of grassland. In those grasslands, Kylik saw patches of colour, though none that he had ever known a plant to possess.
Kylik heard Ley, the navigator seated with him in the cockpit, gasp and then sigh as they surveyed the scenery. Kylik wanted to call Commander Tulley to the cockpit to observe the scene with them, but his heart would not let him. Somewhere, deep within the primal parts of his mind, he didn't want to share this moment. It was his, and nothing would ever be the same again after it.
Kylik wasn't sure how long they sat, mesmerised, but he only returned to the cockpit of the X-90 when the flight controls chimed that they had reached the next waypoint on the route. Kylik shook his head, hoping to clear the image of Corsair B from his thoughts enough that he could concentrate on the mission. He only partially succeeded.
=/\="Ok Comet 2, time to do your thing. Get down to that complex and get us some intel."=/\=
=/\="Aye Lieutenant."=/\= the pilot answered. Kylik saw the shuttle speed past them, already several hundred meters below them and dropping fast. The shuttles were still relatively high up, but he knew at the pace they were capable of Comet 2 would be nape of the ground within a two minutes. Meanwhile, he eased his shuttle into a slightly gentler descent.
About as quickly as he'd expected, several images began flickering on his screen - images sent to them from Comet 2. The complex was easy to make out, a hive of interlinked structures sticking out like a sore thumb in the midst of the greenery surrounding it. There was something off-putting about the images, though, causing his brows to furrow as he tried to figure out what it was.
=/\="Comet 2, there's nothing on these images you're sending me."=/\=
=/\="Blanks, sir?"=/\= they answered.
=/\="No. Nothing alive. I don't see any people, any wildlife or any sign of power. Heck, it doesn't even look like anyone's lived in that complex in years. We’re supposed to be looking at a battle scene?"=/\=
=/\="Yes sir, we saw that too. We're doing a second pass now, but everything is quiet here."=/\=
The Rutian didn't like this. He supposed it was possible that they were simply too late, that the animals had simply dragged off all of the scientists. Still, he expected to be able to see at least some kind of aftermath of the conflict as the occupants of the facility fought to survive.
"Commander Tulley," Kylik called to the back of the shuttle. "Preliminary scans don't show anything going on in the complex. I'm sending Comet 2's report to the panel next to you. Instructions?"
He could already see the complex ahead of them, and they were descending fast. They would be over the complex within a minute if they continued.
In what is probably one of the longest posts of the entire Special Mission, Kylik Roth has managed to include a variety of posting techniques into this one submission.
Speaking of this post, Acting First Officer on the Gettysburg Lieutenant Commander T'Ra Jones commented, "It is very in-depth, and all of the detail makes it feel like you're actually there with his character."
Join us in congratulating Kylik on what is also his second Post of the Month Award in a row! Don't forget, if you see a post you think is worth of recognition, send it to your Commanding Officer before the end of June.