It was time to go. Sal Vaxx set to work cutting away a section of the ceiling with the plasma torch. Just to be safe, the party conducted another quick scan with their tricorders, this time picking up a metal alloy signature roughly 200 metres beyond them on the surface and decided this should be investigated, but in the mean time they made provision.
Unfortunately for Sal, he neglected to step out of the way when he finished cutting away the ceiling bulkhead and the plate dropped onto his head. Aside from a headache however, he remained undamaged. All that remained between the party and the cold outside was the two feet of bright blue ice that would instantly vaporize on contact with the plasma torch beam.
Before breaking their seal, Sal then set to work on the escape pod’s life support systems, preparing a clumsy interface with the energy cells of the dermal regenerator and the auto-suture. Several minutes later, smoke began curling from the life support system as expected. The charging procedure had shorted the energy supply out. The pod’s systems died.
With the crew carrying all they could hold easily, including the dismantled still they had crafted from bulkhead panels and wires, they held flashlights while the doctor, Jahus, began to carefully extract the shard of glass from Lt. Cmdr Larian’s chest cavity. Moments later he turned the dermal regenerator off as the last of the wound was sealed, and the, dehydrated from blood loss, commander rose to her feet.
The air was already getting stuffy as the ice was cleared from their escape hole, but all gasped as the low atmospheric pressure seemed to suck the air from their lungs. Breathing itself would be work. Just as the air thinned in the pod, the tremendous cold moved in. Despite their cold suits, in the space of a few seconds the party already felt the chill starting to set in. They would not last long so exposed to the elements.
They began climbing out of the pod and onto the ice above, lifting and pulling each other to make the distance. Already they were panting with effort. Ragnaar, standing topside, turned his head for some time, as if to listen to something with his keen ears. When asked however, he dismissed the concerns of the others with a gruff, “It’s nothing.”
Looking about, the party found themselves standing at the bottom of a long hole punched into the ice by the crashing pod. The sky was pitch black, and the sound of howling wind from high up provided background noise. Scanning noted that the ice only went up half way, but frozen silica sand layered another several metres on top of that. It would be a hard climb up the side of the hole. As the party shone flashlights around the hole and discussed how to get out, Ragnaar briefly caught a glimpse of a man in black holding a clipboard looking down on them.
Excited at the prospect of a vertical climb the party was not. Thinking of alternatives, Ixlain drew her disruptor and began using it to cut a diagonal path up through the ice, and then using the combat knives crawled up the steep angled slope, dropping a cord down for the others to follow once at the surface.
Once on the surface the party noted grimly that the air was relatively calm, but not ten metres over their head into the black, wind speeds surged at over sixty kilometres an hour. The wind chill would cut through their cold suits’ insulation, already struggling to contain the party’s body heat. Sal Vaxx growled as the engineering tricorder died in Radda’s hands. As per their plan, they set out towards the detected metal alloy with feet plodding on fine silica sand.
Some minutes later found the party shining a flashlight over what appeared to be an engineered door, long since iced over with a thin layer of frost. Through the frost Jahus could make out the Klingon language stamped in the metal – the mark of the Klingon Empire. As Jahus read the words, Larian’s breath caught, “…Jach’Eng Launch Facility.” They were standing in front of a doorway that led to altogether long banned Klingon weapons of mass destruction.
Shivering in the cold chill, Sal began cutting through the heavy door plating to make a hole large enough for a person to squeeze through. On the other side what met them was what appeared to be an internal airlock door. A dead console panel hung on the wall to the side, but without power it served little purpose. Using their knives as crowbars, the party wedged the airlock door open and stepped through, even as the frozen pneumatics protested.
What greeted them was a dark and cold frosted corridor sloping down at a fairly pitched angle, with walls and ceiling obviously cut by disruptor fire into rock, and a silica sand floor. All was silent, and thankfully the wind did not seem to sound in the shaft. On the ground lay bones of decidedly Klingon nature, along with several daggers. From the scratches in the rib bones, Jahus concluded they must have sustained stabbing injuries to the chest. Curiously, dating with the tricorder indicated the bones were at around 1600 years old. Unsure of what they would find, the crew began making their way down the tunnel.
A half hour later, with the party walking abreast of each other, Ragnaar took the lead out in front some distance away as he attempted to see into the dark ahead of the bright flashlights. Moments later, Ragnaar’s sensitive hearing heard a ‘click’ as someone’s foot came down. Knowing what was about to come, Ragnaar did not attempt to call out a warning, but instead threw himself forward in self-preservation. As Jahus’ foot came up for his next step, an old bouncing Betty type landmine sprung from the ground into his chest.
The explosion was relatively small, as while Jahus was thrown back with shrapnel embedded in his chest, the heavy cold suit took most of the damage and prevented him from losing limbs. Even so, the doctor lost consciousness from the shock impact. The blast echoed up and down through the corridor, thankfully muffled enough from the cold suit to not break eardrums, but precious small mercy.
Radda crawled over to weakly ascertain the status of Jahus – doctors were supposed to patch up other people, not be patched! Despite Radda’s best efforts, it was 10 minutes before the wounded MD came round to find his coat shredded. Another 10 minutes while the doctor tried to seal the bleeding holes and remove the largest shrapnel. Ragnaar, having escape the blast, stepped to the side to look around, heard another familiar ‘click’ under his own foot.
Quietly, so as not to elicit panic, Ragnaar alerted the crew to his predicament. Carefully so as not to step on any more landmines, the party picked themselves up and backed away up the shaft to get out of the blast radius. Crouching into the Antican sprinting posture, Ragnaar then roared and launched himself towards the party, catching only part of the blast and taking negligible injury.
A terse discussion ensued, as the party strove to ascertain their next move. They were in no condition to explore the surface with impunity and had insufficient supplies to last for long. They elected to continue, keeping a sharp eye open for traps, and throwing ahead of them chunks of ice and icicles condensed on the ceiling as a hopeful means of reducing their risk. Not five minutes later one such throw resulted in a low ‘boom’ sounding out about thirty metres down the shaft. A sound of rain was heard as small steel ball bearings started bouncing around. Jahus picked one of them up to examine it, “Claymore.”
Several minutes later, the shaft still going down, the party came across a number of bodies. Unlike those discovered earlier at the mouth of the tunnel, these appeared to be fresh, though frozen. The flesh of the bodies was torn apart from the back, as the doctor identified the wounds to have been sustained from military-grade flechette rounds. There was some quiet horror and wonder as the bodies were turned over only to find that the faces of the dead matched their own. The bodies were mirror copies of the crew.