Bird's Eye View
Creatures in the Corner
Location: Over mountain range on Oskurn
Timeline: MD2 - 0025
Cassandra's eyes burned from being tired but she didn't want to leave the bridge until she knew the teams on the ground were settled and secure.
As Billi was about to hit the stratosphere Quinn's voice came through.
"Negative Eagle one," Cassandra replied. "I need you to get me some aerial images of the mountains near the colony. Specifically the canyons."
"Aye, Commander Quinn," responded Billi. "Eagle Three, RTB. Turning back toward the surface now." Billi banked hard right and began to dive back through the clouds, descending quickly at an angle to prevent too much heat on the nose of her craft.
Cassandra sat back in the command chair and rubbed her eyes. "Ops....record what she sends us and do what you can to clear up any distortion."
"Aye, Commander," the ensign on the Ops console replied.
Getting back to her flat ledge, hovering over it, Billi gave her orders. "Oka, start recording visual and open a link to Eclipse." As her RIO went to work Billi moved her ship through the arroyos and canyons, staying at minimum 100 feet above the terrain, and making sure she wasn't too close to the ridges on each side. Over and over she went, making sure the sensors and visuals could and would record every crease, seam, canyon and coolie within these mountains and hills. The sun was almost down now, the sky beginning to darken. "Eclipse, the sun is setting," said Billi. "Something tells me that shit is about to get real. I would advise informing the away team of a possible..."
"Movement!" Oka piped up from the back, the channel to Eclipse still open. "Air molecule disruption to our right!"
Billi looked that way while hovering, her canopy and ship on an even plane with a rock face. As she had been piloting, focusing on keeping the fighter steady for the visual scans, Billi had not noticed that she had rounded this bend in the cliff a little too close. There was one of the beasts, in a crouch atop a large boulder protruding from the cliff, watching the flying thing before it. "Visual contact, Eclipse!" She spun the nose of her craft around to face the beast, trying to get it on visual, and that was when the Qirs leaped the gap of thirty feet, landing on the extended nose of the fighter. "First Contact has been made! Permission to engage?"
Cassandra sat forward in her seat. Her first instinct was to let Billi blow the thing to kingdom come. But the little red shirt voice in the back of her head told her no so she said, "negative, Eagle One. I repeat...do not engage.""
As Billi said all this the Qirs ran up the nose of her craft, coming to stand atop her canopy, going into another crouch as it looked down at her while she looked up at it, the beast turning its head this way and that as if trying to decide what the hell it was touching...or, how to get inside to the soft flesh beneath.
"Eagle one....do you copy?" Cassandra said, starting to get to her feet.
"Oka, move slowly but get that helmet on," ordered Billi, her eyes never leaving the beast. She kept her fighter completely steady. It drooled down onto her canopy and she could immediately see the rising smoke from the acid. The creature noted that, sweeping it's own hand through the mucus before turning and leaping into the darkness. Billi jammed her own helmet on and locked it down. "Eclipse, my canopy is being eaten away by acid. We're coming home, helmets on."
Angling her nose upward Billi once more ascended, this time shutting down the life support inside the cockpit. No pressure meant nothing getting sucked out into space, but would make the ride home a bit chilly if the acid got all the way through the canopy. Leaving the atmo and back in free space she gunned her engines to full speed to get back to Eclipse, seeing that the acid was finally slowing down, leaving a few millimeters left in the transparisteel for cover. Coming in and landing, doing post-flight shutdown, Billi opened her canopy and removed her helmet, standing up. "Davis! My canopy is in dire shape, replace it immediately!" She looked back. "Oka, report to the pilot's briefing room and file your report, I'll join you shortly."
With the orders given, Billi descended her loading ladder, all full of sighs of frustration. Her ship had paid the price but at least now they had some physical material to examine and study.