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Cold Hearts

Posted on Fri Feb 21st, 2020 @ 4:49pm by Petty Officer 2nd Class Thane Mox

Mission: Shoreleave
Location: Unnamed Planet, Star System X-479-A
Timeline: --

As the shuttle craft door dropped into the open position, the intense cold outside hit Thane Mix. The Bolian took half a step backwards, his instincts telling him not to go out there, even in his cold weather gear. He tapped a control on his wrist, activating the heating elements incorporated into the suit. He had been planning to save the heating for when he really felt the need, but he couldn't face that frozen wasteland without it. Without allowing himself the luxury of a further delay, he stepped out into the cold.

Thane had been returning to the Imperator from a medical conference. There had been a presentation on avian species trauma injuries that he had been very interested in attending. Hollow bones shatter so easily, which can cause as much damage as the initial injury, moreso sometimes. He had come away feeling a little more prepared for such an eventuality, new tech and the advances in understanding had given rise to improved treatment methods. During his journey back, he had detected a distress signal from a tiny, frozen planet away from the usual travel routes. It was a general signal, no way to know who it was sending the call, and they hadn't answered his hails. He was hopeful that he wasn't too late, and could help.

The air on the frozen rock was bracingly cold. Snow drifted on the strong breeze, meaning visibility was poor, Thane could only see a few metres ahead of him. Some peculiarity in the atmosphere meant that the sensors were imprecise, giving him only a general area in which to look for the source of the signal. His own shuttle had a strong transponder signal, meaning that the journey back would be significantly more straightforward. He trudged out into the snow, moving slower than he'd like because he wanted to be absolutely sure not to fall. The last thing he wanted was to break an ankle and freeze to death out here.

The heads up display in the medic's goggles provided a little more information than his eyes, but he had to keep wiping the accumulated snow away. His torchlight bounced off the drifts, quickly fading into grey further away from him. The hard, slow physical work combined with the disorienting weather to distort Thane's perception of time. It felt like he'd been searching for hours, but maybe it had only been minutes. He knew that he couldn't keep this search up for much longer. He wondered if there was anything he could do back from the shuttle, some way to boost the sensors? He wasn't much of an engineer, and his scientific knowledge was limited to biology, so that seemed a desperate hope.

He was almost ready to give up when he saw something. A red glow coming from a large snow drift. As he got closer, he realised that it was indeed an electronic light, and the snow drift was in fact a vessel. He couldn't make out the details and he didn't recognise the design, but it was a little larger than his own shuttle. The light proved to be an access panel, he tapped it and an adjacent door slid open. Thane didn't hesitate to step inside.

He pulled off his head coverings and gloves, then breathed hard into his hands, desperately trying to get some feeling back into them. He looked around and, towards what looked like the cockpit, he saw two figures huddled together on the floor, leaning against the bulkhead. He didn't recognise the species, they were vaguely reptilian and had vivid green skin, almost the colour of the leaves of an avulkhala tree. His attention was drawn to the apparatus between the two aliens, a device connected to each of them by tubes containing a purple fluid. After a moment, he realised it was some kind of improvised transfusion. One of the aliens appeared to be more injured than the other, and this seemed to be a last ditch attempt to help.

Thane scanned the pair, his tricorder told him they were Tredchaii, a species from the beta quadrant, one that he was unfortunately unfamiliar with. He approached the less injured Tredchaii, a male, and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Hello." He said simply as the male's eyes blinked open. "I'm here to help."

"Avrana. My… my mate." The male turned towards his companion. "Is she…?"

"She is alive." Thane reassured him. "Your transfusion appears to have worked. I am Thane Mox, what is your name?"

"Talsim." The male replied. "We were travelling, trying to reach the Federation, we… something happened, there was an energy surge in warp space, I don't know. We crashed here and Avrana was hurt, she lost a lot of blood. If I tried to fix the ship, she wouldn't have made it, so…"

"So you decided to help her." Thane concluded. "And hope that rescue arrived."

"If she didn't make it, then what's the point?" Talsim said wearily. "Better we both die than I live without her."

Thane nodded silently as he opened his medical kit. He could appreciate the sentiment, even if he wasn't quite sure he could relate. His relationships had been far more casual than Talsim and Avrana's apparently was. The Tredchaii biology was close enough to most Federation species that he could help them. He gave Talsim plasma, helping to regenerate what the male had donated to Avrana. He gave her a broad spectrum antibiotic, and both of them a cocktail of painkillers and stimulants. As reluctant as he was to move Avrana, or to go back out into the cold, she would need treatment at a proper medical facility and this ship wasn't I'm a condition to fly.

A short while later, Avrana was awake, if very quiet. They disconnected the transfusion device, and Talsim was able to help Thane gather some supplies. Their vessel didn't have cold weather gear, and the damage was too extensive for them to repair any time soon, so they had to get back to Thane's shuttle. They gave Avrana Thane's heated suit as her need was greatest. He and Talsim managed to cobble together some gear from clothing and insulation material they had pulled from the walls of the ship. Thane had given Avrana the oxygen from his med kit on low flow. Her injuries probably warranted high rate, but this would keep it going for long enough for them to get to their destination, and maybe keep her on her feet.

Thane checked the beacon from his shuttle. It was less than a kilometre away as the Grelk flies, but it would be a difficult trek. Thane and Talsim each supported one of Avrana's arms. She was relatively steady on her feet, but she had barely spoken since she had awoken. Talsim pressed the door release and the cold came rushing in. He audibly gasped when it hit him, and Thane felt himself wince. The Bolian took the lead, taking the first step, however reluctant he was, it needed to be done.

The trek back to the shuttle was almost unbearable. Without the heating elements, the cold cut through to Thane's bones. By half way, it felt as though he would never be warm again, and they were all shivering uncontrollably. With a quarter of a kilometre left, Avrana had stopped shivering and was dragging her feet. Thane couldn't feel his hands or face but Talsim soldiered on, moving more determinedly than any of them, despite his own injuries.

Thane wanted to give up, to stop and drop and rest, anything to feel better. Talsim though, just kept going. The Tredchaii wasn't a big man, smaller I'm stature than Thane, and he was injured, and had donated a significant amount of blood; and yet he kept going, determined and somehow stronger than Thane, almost dragging his mate along with him. Thane was in awe of the effort it must have taken, and that kept him going too.

The shuttle was already almost covered with snow. Thane wasn't quite sure of what he was looking at until he hit his comm badge and opened the rear door as they approached. They staggered into the small vessel as the door closed behind them. It was already comfortable inside, but the heating kicked in as they all dropped to the floor, tearing off their snow soaked outer garments.

Minutes later, they were out of the atmosphere, a course set for the nearest Federation colony. Avrana and Talsim would be be fine after some treatment, but it's likely they wouldn't have survived much longer without help. And Thane should be too late back to the Imperator.


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