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Onwards and Inwards

Posted on Mon Jul 18th, 2022 @ 8:44am by Captain Shran dh'Klar & Lieutenant Ayana Hillis & Commander Samantha Howard & Lieutenant Shoniara T’ghann-Travis Dr & Ensign T'Plana-hath & Ensign James Phoenix

Mission: A Trip to Middle Earth
Location: Holodeck

Dr Sam Howard hid the grimace as she stood, the conglomeration of officers come warriors now trapped in the holodeck with no idea how to free themselves. In the distance the sounds of dark creatures could be heard, masses accumulating for battle.
The team hurried to get moving before Sam had an idea. It would cost them time but could potentially save their backsides later.

"Perhaps we should strip the dead of their weapons. Arrows, bows, knives and the rest. We may need them later" She explained, looking around at the corpses strewn around them. She spied an orc with a blade much more suited to her statue and picked it up, wiping the blood on her tunic before experimentally giving it a few swings.

Shon smiled watching Sam, “we will have you riding wargs yet Sam.” She said and turned to Shran. “We need to make a defensible camp somewhere, Sam needs to rest, we all do, have a drink and eat something, wait for daylight. Ayana what do you think?” She asked.

Ayana looked at Shon, "The entrance to Moria is only a few hours away. We may wish to take shelter in the mountains, which would be safer than remaining here."

"I think that might be best" said Shran. "We'll help those who need it, but we should press on until twilight."

Shon joined Sam in collecting a couple of the more lethal Orc weapons including an obviously stolen beautifully engraved broadsword. She made up her mind to clean and sharpen it when they rested. “T’Plana, Phoenix? Are you both ready to move off, we need to reach that ridge by twilight?” She pointed to an overhang far above them that seemed impossibly far away. Shon shouldered her pack and then Sam’s. “Sam, let me help you?”

Phoenix unhitched his water canteen from his side and took a swig. He then attached it to his side and moved himself into his position with his bow still in his hand. Once he was there he nodded that he was ready.

T’Plana fired off three more arrows in quick succession. There were loud squeals and grunts and the sound of heavy bodies falling. She turned and smiled “I am ready when the group is.”

"Very well. Ayana, you and Shon take point once more, Phoenix and T'Plana in the rear. I'll help Sam along. Let's move. With a bit of luck we can make it to the mountains by twilight and make camp, hopefully having time to rest unmolested." Shran moved to help Sam up and offer her support if she wanted it.

Ayana looked at Shon before beginning to move towards the path. While this wasn't entirely what she had thought things would be like, she was enjoying herself, being immersed in the world created by Tolkien. She was beginning to bond a bit with some she hadn't previous had much opportunity to get to know as well. It was unorthodox, but somehow Shran's exercises in camaraderie always seemed to play out.

Shon began to move on upwards climbing the gradually steepening path through the trees. The path seemed pretty well used and she noted the signs of grazing here and there. The Misty mountains towered above them and she could see where the tree line gave way to scrub and then rock. The three mountain peaks of Celebdil, Caradhras and Fanuidhol were now within view and Moria was beneath those mountains crowned by Durin’s tower. For the first time she wondered what this trek had in store for them now the holodeck safety’s were off? there was a real chance of severe injury and even death for all the members of the team. Her shoulder ached interminably and she looked forward to reaching their rest place, she turned to Ayana. “I think it will take us about two hours to reach the outcrop If Sam can keep up the pace.”

Ayana nodded in agreement. "She'll keep up the pace. If she can't, the captain will carry her. She is a close friend, and other than Celes, she is the longest serving officer with him. He'd protect us all, but he has a special bond with her. Suppose that happens if you serve together long enough." Ayana looked up towards the distance and smiled. "I have always wondered what this might look like. Seeing it outside my mind is amazing."

“I agree,” Shon said breathlessly. The Tolkien books have long been my favorites and to see them brought to life like this, I only wish Seth could.“ with that Shon put her head down to climb, she needed every bit of breath she had for the trek ahead.

Shran remained by Sam's side as they ventured up the rocky edifice. "How you doing Sam?" he inquired.

T’Plana allowed the group to slowly get ahead of her as she began to quietly move of the trail into the shadows. She heard the Orcs and their warg mounts slowly gathering down the trail and she intended to harass them with arrows as the group made its way up into the mountains. The air was cool and slightly moist. The coolness causing her to be slightly uncomfortable. She had no issue with the altitude other than the moistness of the air, which if she was honest could lead to trouble eventually if she stayed in the moist air for too long. Vulcans coming from a desert planet were susceptible to aspiration pneumonia if they breathed in too much moist air over a period of time.

"I'm still here" Sam breathed heavily as they moved, keeping pace with the team but wishing that their camp would magically appear before them so they could take a rest. What was supposed to be team building had turned into a possibly deadly situation. Without a full medkit or access to sickbay, she couldn't treat major injuries, and even minor ones could prove tricky if they ran out of supplies. Surely someone on the bridge would be missing them soon... She tried not to lean too much on the Captain, and kept her eye out for a suitably sturdy branch she could use as a crutch or walking stick to allow her injury to heal.

Shran could tell Sam was in pain. She was obviously trying to tough it out, but he'd seen plenty of wounded people in his time to know when somebody was hurting. He saw an oak tree that had several decent branches. He drew his sword and like a lumberjack, whacked the tree several times until he had cut a branch that was just the right size. He quickly worked to smooth out one side and then caught up to Samantha. "It isn't perfect, but try using this Sam" he said as he handed over the makeshift crutch.

Shon hung back until Sam and the Captain caught up to her. She opened her pack and brought out a medkit. “I have learnt never to go anywhere without one” she said. I have a hypo of analgesia. She leant over and depressed it into Sam’s carotid artery. “That should help Sam.” She said. “It’s not too far now. We can start a fire and you can rest after I have looked at your wound.” Shon noted Phoenix bringing up the rear, an ofttimes lonely position. “How are you holding up?” She asked him.

James looked back behind himself and then at Shon. "Not the most ideal of circumstances. We have blood thirsty orcs and wargs trying to kill us and we don't have access to the outside world. However I hate to admit it, but I've been through much worse" he answered Shon's question honestly while implying past events in his life and even events while he was on the Washington.

Shon looked at him a concerned look on her face. “If ever you need to talk my door is open, if you need a friendly shoulder to cry on my door is open.” She smiled. “Once we get through this and I can have a hot shower and a good sleep I will feel much happier I can tell you that.”

"Thanks doc" he nodded. "As for me, I will just be happy once fictional monsters stop trying to kill us" he chuckled at his own quip in an attempt to lighten the mood a little.

Sam focused her energy on moving forward and not holding anyone up, she hated being the liability in the team, particularly in this situation. She looked at the Captain. "Next time can we go team building on a nice warm beach with some pina coladas?"

Ayana held in the lead, alone near the top of the path. She looked around and noted that they were nearing a summit, though it wasn't where they were planning on making camp. That was still roughly an hour away. On the bright side, the places for orcs to hide for an ambush were greatly diminished. They were out of the woods literally, and were now in the mountains. As she scanned the area she began to sing, "Far over the Misty Mountains cold, To dungeons deep and caverns old..."

T’Plana waited until the party was just barely audible before she engaged the first three orcs coming up the trail. She swiftly fired off three arrows and downed all three orcs. She then turned and flew up the trail, silent as a wraith, and found another good hiding spot to again ambush any orcs that may be courage’s enough to follow them up the pathway. In the distance where the party was she heard the sounds of wood being chopped.

Shon headed back up to Ayana and stopped for a minute to keep up with T’Plana. “How are you holding up in this moist air? She asked concerned.

T’Plana pulled Lieutenant Shoniara into the shadows with her then fired off two arrows, killing a warg and its rider, a small smile creeping up on her face. “I am fine, the coolness is more troublesome right now than the moister. I recommend we move up another 50 or so yards.” She waited a second then looked at Shoniara “Go now and I will cover you.” With that she stepped onto the trail and fired off an arrow.

Shon nodded her thanks to T’Plana and set off up the path at run to find Ayana singing softly. Shon recognised the song and joined in “The pines were roaring on the heights. The winds was moaning in the night” she was getting to like Ayana more each time she had words with her.

A light rain had begun to fall as they began to rise above the tree line. The Orcs had begun to tail off the last few having been decimated by Phoenix and T’Plana. “We need to look for shelter soon it looks like storm coming in, there may be a cave somewhere.

The sky began to darken and a light rain descended from the sky like a thousand small icicles.

Ayana stopped singing as she looked around. "I see a cave opening. About 200 yards from my position. It looks like the closest shelter."

Shran looked at Sam and then back towards Ayana, "Check it out. We'll move along as fast as we can." Shran watched Ayana begin to sprint off and turned to help Samantha. "Just a little further and we will be able to rest. Think you can make it?"

" I'll make it - the alternative isn't worth entertaining" Sam replied as they continued towards the cave. From what she remembered the Dwarves lived in the caves, and although cantankerous they were supposedly allies.

Ayana called down, "Definitely a good place for us to camp. I'm going to take a deeper look inside." Ayana set her pack down and rummaged through it for a moment, pulling out a torch. She lit it and then pulled her sword out and began to make her way into the cave.

T’Plana was miserably the rain was cold. Her clothing was damp and she felt a chilled to the bones. She enjoyed such activities as sailing and swimming, but had never really gotten used to rain. She had found a tree with limbs good enough to be made into arrows and she had gathered them up, with the tools, arrow heads, and Shavokh feathers she had replicated. She heard Ayana call out about a cave and the captain telling her to check it out. Turning and looking back down the trail one last time, and seeing no trace of orcs or wargs, she hurried to catch up to the rest of the party.

Shran stayed by Sam as they made their way up to the cave itself. "We'll need to make a fire. Who wants to gather wood?" he questioned.

Upon catching up to the party she heard the captain’s question. “I will sir, I am already wet and am more than capable of defending myself from the current threats.” With that she turned and headed back down the trail to some scrub and trees she had seen to gather the wood.

Shon removed the pack from her shoulders with a moan of pain. Dried blood had stained her shirt and she knew that she would have to remove the arrow head as soon as possible. She withdrew her torch and turned it on the beam casting shadows against the walls of the cave making ungodly shapes that appeared to rear in attack as the beam moved on. “I will check the back to make sure we are not sharing it with bears or bats or even a Dwarf or two.” She smiled and walked slowly on playing the light into the darkness. The cave ended about a hundred yards from the entrance and, apart for a few old animal bones there was no evidence that it was still occupied. She returned to the group, “Nothing Captain.” She reported to Shran. She moved back a few yards to her pack, cleared herself a place on the floor and sat down, loosened her protective leather armor and removed the breastplate. Unlacing her shirt she removed the med kit she carried and took out a scalpel and forceps. She removed the hypo and considered giving herself a shot. There were six analgesic shots left and, she thought, who knows when they would need them. She decided she could manage and put it away. Holding her torch in her mouth she took the scalpel and opened each side of the wound exposing the arrowhead embedded into her shoulder. The torch fell from her mouth and she swore loudly giving voice to the pain rather than the fallen light source. She leant her head back on the wall and shivered.

Shran looked at Shon, "What do you mean nothing? Surely you encountered Ayana. She went back to explore the cave only a few minutes before the rest of us arrived." Shran stood up, "You all stay here. Tend to the wounded. I'm going to see where Ayana is." With that Shran drew his sword and headed into the cave.

T’Plana had just finished gathering the firewood when she sensed the presence of six orcs surrounding her. A huge burly one stepped forward and spoke. “Kulknej caught lat know. Lat mat. Companions mat.” T’Plana cocked her left eyebrow up and replied “Sorry I do not understand what you said, however it is in your best interest to turn around and leave.” With that she threw the bundle of firewood she had gathered at the large Orc, drew her Trillpa and spun. She connected with three of the orcs as they came rushing in on her, The first she completely decapitated, the second slicing deep into his throat and the third lopping off his sword arm. T’Plana-hath started singing a very ancient Vulcan combat song, bringing her into a trance like state of combat, those who had Vulcan blood would feel the tug in their blood for combat, similar to the effects of Pon farr on Vulcan males, but effecting both sexes. She calmly assessed the battle field before her, there remained only three more orcs, the big one having picked itself up and untangling itself from the firewood. She continued to sing as she jumped up snapping both legs out; one to the orc on her left side and the other approaching from her right. She swung her Trillpa down in a two handed swing on top of the large orc as it rushed forward. She sliced the orc in half from the top of its skull to the mid-section of its body. Her kicks had connected with both orcs and pushed them further from her. She came down into a low crouch. The orc on her left charged towards her with its sword, she easily deflected the attack with the hilt of her Trillpa, spun around the orc and cut its knees out from behind the creature. Glancing up she say the last orc feeing down the trail, still singing, T’Plana-hath switched weapons. She drew back on her Khaiya and fired, piercing the back of the orc’s head. T’Plana-hath slowly brought the song to an end as she surveyed the scene. Noticing no more threats, she cleaned the blood of her sword and slung her bow. She proceeded to regather the firewood she had thrown at the large orc.

Shon could not understand why she had not known Ayana was already in the cave and why she had failed to see her. She put it down to the pain of her wound and the weakness she had begun to feel. She knew she would have to ask for help to remove the arrowhead. “Once the fire is lit could someone help me to remove this arrowhead from my shoulder?” she asked.

Phoenix knelt down next to Shon. "I'm no doctor but I may be able to help" he thought for a moment. He wasn't a doctor, but he had a more or less general idea of what needed to be done to fix a wound in a situation like this. He looked up for some sort of clarification. "We are getting fire. So once the arrow is removed we'll need to cauterize it if I'm not mistaken?"

Shran made his was into the cave, moving cautiously, but deliberately. Thus far everything was as Shon had said, dark, dank, with a few animal bones on the ground. Worst of all, no sign of Ayana. He reached the apparent end of the cave and stood dumbfounded. Only one conclusion, a secret door must be around here someplace. He began feeling around trying to locate a secret lever or keyhole perhaps, all while thinking how much he had read more on this particular aspect. Ayana was a treasure trove of information about this stuff, but Shran had only read through it a time or two.

Suddenly blue light formed around the rockface in the shape of a door and Shran took a few steps back. The door opened and Ayana appeared from beyond the door. "Captain, as you have obviously seen, I found us a secret entrance. Dwarf doors are notoriously difficult to detect, but I wagered one might be here as the cave was just too perfect not to have something. It leads into a very obscure part of Moria."

Shran nodded. "Very good, though I am just happy to have found you. I was concerned something dastardly may have happened."

"I wasn't worried. I knew once we reached the mountains that we had very little to be concerned with until we got into Moria" Ayana replied with a smile.

"Let's get back to the others. This door is a bit of good news. We won't have to worry about dealing with that water creature in front of the main door."

"True enough" Ayana replied.

T'Plana had gathered up the firewood and made her way to the cave entrance. She entered the cave and saw Shon and Phoenix, she heard the captain and Ayana near the back of the cave. "I have brought the firewood. Where would you like me to start the fire?"

Shran and Ayana made their way back to the entrance. "I see we have wood. Time to get a fire going." Shran gave a look of approval to T'Plana. "Good news, it appears Ayana has found a hidden entrance into Moria. We'll use it after we get some rest."

T'Plana nodded "Good, I need to warm up from the rain. Also, I had to engage and kill six more of the 'orcs'. The sooner the team can warm themselves, heal themselves, and rest the sooner we can move out. I will stand the first watch while everyone gets some rest." With that T'Plana moved to where she was just at the entrance of the cave where she could observe but could not be observed herself.

Sam took a breath and moved over to Shon, carefully peeling back the fabric that covered the injury. "You know this has to come out, right?" She said as she regarded her 2IC.

Shon swallowed and nodded, “I was just about to take it out myself but I dropped my torch, Phoenix offered to help me. I have tweezers in my medkit but nothing to cauterize the wound. Phoenix suggested fire and I concur with that. Then a little sleep would be an excellent plan for us all after we have eaten something.” Shon felt as though she were drifting off to sleep.

Shran watched Phoenix start a fire while Sam was working on Shon's arm. It was a bit ironic that the people who had been injured were the medical staff. He walked over to T'Plana, "Not exactly what I had planned, but how are you getting along with some of your new crewmates?"

T'Plana regarded the captain "They seem proficient and capable. Lieutenant Shoniara seems resilient, however one must question her ability to keep her priorities straight. The deal she made with Hela will have far reaching consequences for herself and the rest of the crew. I will state for the record that I have no children, but I have made a similar mistake in my past, and it almost cost me my sanity and has had far reaching consequences. Commander Howard has shown great strength, she also shows capacity to think 'outside' the box. She was wise enough to swap out weapons. Ensign Phoenix is an excellent tactical officer, but seems to hold back just a little and drifts. Lieutenant Ayana is loyal and competent. However, that is not what you meant when you asked your question, I am able to work with them and I see no problems in 'getting along with them'. I am pleased with my assignment to the Washington."

Shran nodded as he listened to T'Plana speak. "Interesting assessments. Samantha is the heart of the ship. You'll find that she is extremely caring, but more than capable in a tactical situation. Phoenix is a solid young officer, he is just trying to find his way. Ayana is everything you said. As for Shon, you have a point, but I understand why she did what she did. Only an officer with children can truly understand what she was dealing with. I'm not saying I agree or disagree with her decision, only that I understand it, and don't hold it against her. If Hela comes calling, we will deal with her accordingly. Despite all that is going on here, I hope you are able to get to know your fellow crewmates and develop a richer relationship. It isn't always easy for intelligence personnel to do, I know, but I hope you will try."

Phoenix had a decent amount of survival training largely due to the fact that he was a tactical officer. This helped him create the fire. He first put most of the wood in front of him and arranged it so the base would be sturdy. He dropped to his knees and began to rub one of the smaller pieces of firewood against a small rock that was next to him. After moments of doing this, a small flame was born. He carefully set the stick with a flame on top of the pile of wood and allowed the pile to be engulfed enough that they could have enough warmth.

The last two pieces of firewood were for treating Shon. He looked at Sam. "How are you doing on that arrow wound?"

Another rationed hypo later, Sam began the surgery, using one of the knives the team had with them that had been heated until it flowed on the fire to take care of any bacterial. She sewed the wound closed using a period accurate needle and thread that she had brought in her own kit, thankfully sterile. An antibiotic cream and an absorbant dressing later it was the best she could do under the circumstances. She regarded the Captain as she wiped the blood from her hands on the hem of the outfit she wore. "Best I can do here. It should hold without infection for a few days at least until I get access to better equipment. We're going to get low on medical supplies very quickly at this rate" she admitted as she scooted closer to the fire.

Shon nodded her thanks to Sam and went to sit by the fire. It made the cave a little smokey but the flames were warming. She pulled her pack from behind her. Opening it she pulled out a wheel of cheese, elven bread and a large pie filled with vegetables. A large bottle of ale followed them. She placed them on the floor along with one of her short knives. “Eat please everyone” she said. “You need to keep up your strength.”

"Eat and rest everyone. We'll take the hidden passage into Moria in a few hours. What awaits us, I cannot say for certain." Shran pulled out a bit of jerky he had with him and took a bite, following it with some water. This was a good adventure and team building exercise, but not being able to control the danger was not what he had planned. He could only hope that those outside were figure out that something was wrong and try to fix the situation soon.


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