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1st Lieutenant Tallera - Asking for Directions

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((Interior. U.S.S. Arrow, Deck 2. Transporter Room 1.))

Collins: Is it weird that I'm...a little excited?
Tallera: Yes.
Tallera, minding the finer workings of a miniature arsenal she was placing into her pack, had assumed the Commander was talking about the violence they might have to employ.  She'd spent far too much time with Klingons.  When she looked up and took in the smattering of gear Collins sported, she revised the assessment.
Tallera: ...No?
For the Vulcan side of her, priming gear was almost a form of meditation, so the interruption had been slightly jarring.  The satisfying clicking-into-place of equipment, the tightening of straps, the bundling of spare environmental gear, the organization of sensors, tools, demolition charges... Everything in its place.  That included everything from a lightweight Marine armor cinched around her torso and thighs, to the bandana hanging around her neck, to her hair tied back and firmly clipped into place.
She took stock of their rag-tag team once more, from the multiple robes in the room to the franken-tricorder protruding from Collins' hip.  That's right - this was an archeological mission, just with hungry, armed Chalnoth likely to beam down after them.  She revised her statement once again.
Tallera: Perhaps it is weird.  :: A coy smile. :: Which I suppose would be perfectly normal for you, Commander.
Weird people were more interesting, anyway.
MacKenna: Everyone have what they need?
Collins: Aye, sir. I've also sent detailed scans of Plateau 3 to each of yer tricorders. Now they aren't perfect maps, but they should give us at least a decent sense of direction once we make planetfall.
Tallera drew her pack close to her body and stepped onto the pad.
Tallera: That will help, but we'll still want time to orient.  Rescue will be slow if you get separated.
Tallera nodded, acknowledging the security detail as it arrived.


MacKenna: As you noted from the primer, where we're headed is quite sandy, hot, and dry. Everyone have water and hydration tablets?
Just like Vulcan.  Tallera had spent a week there once, and found it distinctly not to her taste - just not because of the environment.  If anything, she'd have something of a home field advantage with the climate they were expecting down there.
Collins: I have some...
Tallera: I've got extras, and food as well.
She wouldn't likely need it, her body naturally capable of going without water for longer periods of time than her human companions.  Still, there was no telling how long they'd be planet-side.
MacKenna: If we're ready...
oO Ready... Oo
There was a command, and the light took them.
(( Pankot - Plateau 3 ))
Tallera almost got a mouthful of sand before she could cover her nose and mouth with the fabric around her neck.  Her eyes took a moment to adjust to the wind and sun, but, when they did, she was already scanning the horizon.  Her training had beat into her that the seconds after beam-down were some of the most dangerous.  It seemed there were no angry Chalnoth, no relics, no traps... just sand.
Even up on their slight perch, the sand-polished terrain around them was about as featureless as one could imagine, only sporadic patches of tough grass mixed into splotches of flat, hard pan.  The dunes around them undulated into the distance, cutting the view distance almost as much as the thick orange sand swirling and spinning through the skies.
No cover and bad visibility set her on edge.  Any number of bad things could hide out here in the sand.
When Collins sledded down the dune, she made a hand signal to the nearest marine to follow him down, lest he got separated.
Marine 1: Anything, Commander?
Quentin shrugged slightly.
Collins: I have a heading, but not much else.
Tallera: Does that heading take us to cover?  This wind and sand will make for hard going.
MacKenna/R'Ariel: RESPONSE
Tallera almost missed the slight sound of sand falling on sand in the wind.  Her head whipped to the source of the high frequency only to find a hairy, bulbous, black thing skittering up the leg of one of their guards.
Security 1: I think I've got somethin-WAARRGH!
She shifted her weight, and was rapidly surfing the few meters of sand down the dune all while the man was wrestingling with the arachnoid creature that was clearly very strong for its size.  Before she made it to the scene, he'd freed a hand and punched the creature off of him.  Not that strong, evidently.
Collins: Sand Spiders! Why did it have to be Sand Spiders!?
Tallera promptly ignored the Commander, and instead ran awkwardly through the soft sand to the sprawling spider, only just reaching it before the creature righted itself.  She grabbed a firm hold of one of the legs, and grappled with the struggling being.  Finally she felt its face (if the far-too-numerous mandibles and bubble-like eyes could be called that), there was a brief surprise when she felt a familiar neuro-chemical connection and...
The spider relaxed, and so did Tallera.  A second's silence, and she gently set the weirdly fuzzy thing down on the sand.  It sat its bulbous form there, in a manner, looking confused as to what just happened.
Tallera: You can relax, Commanders.  I have explained to the spider that we do not intend to eat it.  :: Beat. :: Or at least I think I have.
She'd performed minor mind-melds with other non-sentient creatures before, and even with creatures who had highly developed central nervous systems it was something of a crapshoot.  With a spider?  It was more simple chemical communication: like showing a picture to a child and seeing if they threw a tantrum or not to determine what their favorite food was.  The relatively docile nature was good enough for her.
Collins/R'Ariel/MacKenna: Response
Tallera: Does it not strike you odd that a creature we can obviously overpower would attack?  We are not its food.  I could only read a faint smell and a distorted image, but definitely a prey response.  I believe the Chalnoth are somewhere nearby, and they actually ate some of these... spiders.  It attacked, expecting us to do the same.
Collins/R'Ariel/MacKenna: Response
Tallera: The meld was quite tenuous and unintentional, I'm frankly surprised it worked at all...
She had a sense this was going somewhere.  She wasn't sure if she liked it or not.
Any Team 3: Response
Tallera: You want me to try what?
She'd heard it alright, she just hadn't fully processed the request.  The worst part? It wasn't the most insane thing she'd ever heard of.
Any Team 3: Response
Tallera: I suppose it would know where good places to hide and hunt are.  :: She sighed heavily :: Very well, I will attempt to "ask" the spider if it knows of any large subterranean features.
She knelt down, the spider waggling two front legs curiously at her.  Tallera looked at it dubiously.  She was surprised it hadn't run away already.  Perhaps her ability to communicate in this way wasn't as accurate as she thought it was.  She took a deep breath, trying to center her being as much as possible.  It wouldn't do to have noise in the connection with this creature that wouldn't understand.
She reached out again, this time with no fight.  She conjured in her mind a series of images of caves, caverns, ruins - anything large and underground - then paired it with the smells of damp and stone and all the things a spider might actually understand.  She terminated the strange connection with a feeling of questioning, as much as she could imagine a question might feel like.  It was probably closer to asking for food than anything, but who knew?  The mere fact she could communicate, in any form, was something.
In reply, she felt hungry.
Any Team 3: Response
Tallera's hand retreated from the creature wordlessly, and she swung her pack around.  She reached in and pulled out a small morsel of food.  It dropped to the ground, and the spider swallowed it whole, then immediately started to scurry off.
Tallera: Fascinating... :: Her voice was thousands of lightyears away. ::
Any Team 3: Response
She came back to the ground after the utterly bizarre experience.
Tallera: I have either been swindled out of a small bit of food, or brokered a trade for directions.  I think we're supposed to follow.
Any Team 3: Response


First Lieutenant Tallera
Starfleet Engineering Corps Marine Detachment
USS Arrow - NCC-69829
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