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Piravao sh'Qynallahr: "After Action Report"

Piravao sh'Qynallahr

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After Action Report
Search and Rescue, Planetary Evacuation
Telstrus III
Lieutenant JG Piravao sh’Qynallahr
Starfleet Rangers

I always loved the wind. Howling across the frozen plains of my homeland, bringing with it eerie songs and bitter cold. I felt safe in the clan keep, with its imposing stone walls, hundreds of years old, breaking the wind, defiant against the forces of nature. I would watch from my window as it carried the snow across the world, warm and safe. Filled with childhood wonder.

Telstrus III sat on the Federation border. A thriving colony on a lush Class M world, orbiting a white Type A star. Or rather, it was thriving, it was lush, it was Class M. For several months the inhabitants of Telstrus had observed changes in their star, spectral changes slowly shifting it from white to yellow, a shift which grew faster by the day. The USS Amundsen was already in orbit when our team arrived. The spectral changes in the Telstrus star were the result of rapid cooling, which had in turn thrust the colony on Telstrus III into a rapid Ice Age. In the space of three days, the Amundsen had observed a rapid surface temperature drop, and the freezing of much of the planet’s surface. It was now officially a Class P world, the same as Andoria..

The Commanding Officer of the Amundsen, Captain Alexis Widmer, briefed us upon arrival.

The Amundsen was an aged Excelsior class, retrofitted for stellar observation and scientific research. They had no experience in Search and Rescue operations, and were not equipped for an evacuation. Transport ships had been diverted from nearby cargo routes, and were arriving day by day to help with the evacuation. Due magnetic interference from the cooling star, transporting the nearly 50,000 colonists off the surface wasn’t possible. With night time surface temperatures at the equator already reaching freezing temperature, there wasn’t much time left before the inhabitants would freeze to death. 

Our team, consisting of Commander Styvark along with Lieutenants R’Nara and Fessler and myself, took a shuttle to a mountain top observatory on the surface of Telstrus III where we joined three teams of security officers from the Amundsen. I was the junior officer on the team, and the only one with any proper cold weather experience. I will confess to nervousness, while the Commander and Lieutenants knew the theory, as they had received cold weather training, they were all from much warmer worlds than my own. They would be relying on my experience. 

The plan was simple enough, and had already been communicated to the inhabitants. The observatory sat at the top of a long valley near the equator. The rapid cooling on the surface had created gale force winds that swept across the planet, running North and South as the ice raced down from the poles. The valley faced East, causing the mountains to give it a modicum of shelter from the wind, allowing shuttles to fly up and down it with relative safety. The colonists were to make their way from the settlement to the observatory where a shuttle evacuation point had been set up.

By day our team would trek out of the valley and guide any colonists we found back to the observatory for evacuation to a waiting transport. By night, we hunkered down in the observatory and watched as the world froze around us. By the end of our second day on the surface, ice had reached the valley. Only half of the colonists had been evacuated so far. 

On the morning of day three, when we reached the mouth of the valley, we were greeted by a wall of icy wind. Visibility was reduced to almost nothing, and interference from the star rendered our tricorders useless beyond a couple of meters. Yet still we searched, unwilling to give up on those still making for safety. We found them. In ones and twos, turning blue as the cold took its toll, small families, wrapped in clothes that did little to protect them from the harsh wind. I think that by the end of that day we all knew the truth. There were still thousands of colonists out there, many of whom would never reach the observatory. 

At the end of the fourth day the wind shifted, blowing up the valley, carrying with it the faint sounds of voices. None of us slept that night. We stood vigil as we listened to the colonists freeze. When dawn broke, the wind shifted South again, leaving us free to walk the trail back to the mouth of the valley. It was a somber journey. The first body was barely a hundred meters from the observatory, a young man, frozen solid with his hand outstretched, as though reaching for a rescuer that would never come. All along the valley we found more of the same. Yet not all was lost, we found a family, huddling together in a small hollow under a fallen tree. They were almost as blue as I am, but they were alive, and they had hope. At the mouth of the valley we entered the wind wall, hoping, praying to all the gods who might listen that we might still find survivors on that frozen, howling plain.

Day to night wind shifts were regular now. Every night we struggled to sleep as cries for help were swept up the valley, carried on the mournful song of the wind. It was a haunting melody, one that I will not soon forget. Every day we found less survivors than the last, and more bodies. After a week on the surface, we were ordered to evacuate, lest we too join the dead marking the path to the observatory.

On our last day we had found only one survivor in the valley. A baby crying out, swaddled in his mothers coat, buried under her stiff body. She had sacrificed her life to act as a shelter for her son. One last gift, and the hope that he might be found. 

I always loved the wind. Howling up the valley, bringing with it haunting songs and deadly cold. I knew I was safe in the observatory, with its thick glass and solid steel, the height of federation technology, breaking the wind, defiant against the forces of nature. I watched from the window as it carried the snow across the world, warm and safe. Filled with sorrow that we could not save them all.

I always loved the wind...
...until that mission on Telstrus III.

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