sunset as a raft leaving the water in braids behind it;
Location: Pretorious, Kalailah (RZ17)
Timeline: February 18th 2390
Jack's been here for the better part of three years. When his contract with Yvrrih expired, he set sail through the Rigel system, picking up crew jobs on freight liners until Hobus decided fuck being a star! and exploded the universe for seven billion people.
Tandar Prime's caught in the cross-fire, which meant all that time spent waffling and wondering if he'd ever set foot on his ancestral homeland was for nothing. Jack's never been one to do the right thing, and it's not precisely that which leads him to apply for the open architect spot of Kalailah's terraforming division; but he knows what it's like to be displaced, and if you can't pick your friends and you can't pick your nose, you can at least align yourself with the only other people this side of the quadrant who have any idea what it's like to lose a whole G-dforsaken planet in the divorce.
Part of his work includes conducting environmental impact surveys prior to construction; and Pretorious, Refugee Zone 17's capital ('city' is a big word, 'hovel' is more accurate), bears a great deal of Jack's artsy, sweeping signature along its skeleton-skyline. It takes years to make buildings, so most people live in Federation ISO containers repurposed for the heat and installed with modern amenities, but they're gradually phasing that out in favor of real houses and this block's been partitioned for the first experimental suburban zone.
He gives a two-fingered knock to Valeria's temporary office before ducking in, sharp yellow eyes taking in the scenery before he sets a PADD down on her desk. She's already aware of the requisitions request, and now they just have to get out and actually do it. They know each other vaguely in passing, but haven't as of yet worked that closely together-which is set to change today. The architectural teams need a soil analysis signed-off on and completed before they can even think to drive stakes into the earth. With little in the way of personnel-"Jack Toreel," he touches a hand to his own chest instead of extending it, aware of the Vulcan distaste for personal contact. "I'll be your partner today."
Valeria looked up, "You're late, we were supposed to meet here 8 minutes ago." She replied coolly, her mixed ancestry gave her the facial features of a human in her mid 50s, silver white hair but piercing blue eyes. "We've got a shipment of equipment arriving in two weeks to begin upgrading the weather control system. I need to take some readings in the dunes about 10 clicks north of the settlement. Does any of that pose problems for you?" She said curtly grabbing a large bag and swinging it over her shoulder.
"Mm," Jack gives a jerk of his head in the negative-the verbalization more a noise than a real response, and he picks up his own duffel from the ground to sling it over his right shoulder as they head out. Her demeanor doesn't appear to faze him-slave integration has that effect on people, and he lets her lead the way into the harsh, bright afternoon sun. The weather on Kalailah is humid and hot and brutal, even with the weather control systems, and it's nearly everyone's hope that the planned upgrades will address those concerns in the coming months. Jack doesn't say anything as they make their way to his aircar and onboard, bags tossed into the back while Jack slides into the driver's side. "GPS is there," he taps it, indicating for her to input her destination.
"I'm aware." She replied, her slender fingers quickly entering a string of longitude and latitude coordinates. "We'll start there, there will be quite a bit of hiking I hope you are prepared, if not I will continue on my own and you can remain with the vehicle. The readings are key to being able to properly model the existing climate so the control system will be able to increase precipitation levels and moderate humidity and temperature."
"Our commitment is to the soil survey," Jack points out, eyebrows raised. He's fine with taking a hike, literally-and it's obviously necessary, so he's not exactly begrudging it-but this is a good ten clicks out of the way for something entirely unrelated to their task, and she's got the gall to call him out over being eight minutes late, so call him a little petty.
"Yes but the soil survey information is of no use with out adequate atmospheric data to model how the soil chemistry responds to other environmental factors." She replied flatly.
"Got me there," Jack shrugs, evidently not all that concerned about it after all. He keys the ignition and consults the GPS before looking at the map and locking it in mentally; most of Kalailah's surface is littered with construction frames that he designed, which results in a good deal of familiarity with the terrain and the dunes are no exception. Within a few moments they're elevated off the ground in a swift vertical line and headed out to their destination.
Valeria spent the journey silent reviewing her information on a PADD. She had planned out the sample collection and was reviewing the last round of samples she had finished analyzing earlier that week. The terraforming project was advancing slower than she would have liked, but that fact that there were already refugees here meant there work had to progress differently that in her previous projects. When the craft set down a few minutes later she quickly got out and prepared her gear. "It will take me approximately 74 minutes to collect the samples at this location."
"Alright," Jack murmurs, translating that into his head to approximately one and a half hours like a normal person. "Do you need any assistance?" Not that he'd object to sitting pretty; he'd make an excellent fern. The offer's genuine, though, because at the end of the day Jack is a man of action, and has a hard time twiddling his thumbs up his ass.
"If you would like to use the trans-spectral probe to collect readings on nucleogenic particles in the atmosphere." She said already setting up equipment to began collecting samples.
Jack is familiar with the probe's operation and detaches the portable scanning unit from the base, calibrating it to concentrate on nucleogenic particles before aiming it upward in even strokes to sweep out over the looming, dusty sky above. Unlike on Earth or Vulcan, Kalailah's sky is a smoggy yellow, with white streaks of clouds obscured by humid fog, bathing everything in a dim golden hue. He doesn't speak while they work, the silence interspersed only with the sounds of beeping and button-pushing from them both.
The time progressed within out either speaking until Valeria sudden looked up from her makeshift work station. "Interesting." She paused for a moment, made a few notes on her PADD and then began packing up the equipment. "Have you completed the survey of nucleogenics?"
"Just about," Jack nods, waving the scanner before turning back to tap in another final sequence. He snaps it into its home once he's finished and puts it back into the sleek black casing it came in, letting his PADD finish uploading the output of the generated scan field in a sea of letters, numbers and equations highlighted in its basic coding algorithm. 'Got it," he says after it chimes.
"Thank you, the next location I require sampling from is 8.64 kilometers east-northeast of our present location, given the geography I recommend we hike, I only require some of my equipment." She said looking to man for his response.
He gives a nod, picking up his duffel and slipping it over a broad shoulder, setting his sharp, yellow-eyed gaze up ahead toward the vast plumes of desert sand that periodically kick up with gusts of hot wind. "It feels like there's an electrical storm gearing up," Jack speaks more than a monosyllable for the first time in approximately 74 minutes. Upon reflection, his words ring true. The smell of petrichor ignites the air, wet and humid and both of their hairs are stood on end, a product of static building in the area.
"Yes, by my estimates the storm is approximately 2 hours and 43 minutes out. We should have time to make it to the site collect the readings and return to the vehicle in adequate time," Sorru said before turning and beginning to move a rather brisk pace for a silver haired septuagenarian.
If she were from Vulcan, she has the distinct advantage of being a Hilar-class native, so Jack's inclined to believe her, but that doesn't mean he isn't planning a contingency in case they get cornered by an angry bolt of lightning. Rather than reply verbally, he falls into step beside her, breathing longer and deeper than normal to compensate for thinner atmosphere but otherwise capable of keeping up.
The progressed in silence, and they crossed the distance in good time, in the distance the sky was beginning to get dark as the storm continued to approach. "This area will suffice, if you would take nucleogenic readings again I will collect the soil samples. It shouldn't take me more than 15 minutes." She said, her blue eyes almost glowing in the darkening sky.
"Will do," he gives her a wry two-fingered salute and sets his equipment down to get himself set up again. It was beginning to look like the electrical eddies and currents were heating up, growing closer in a swirling tornado of razing sand and sparks, but Jack kept at his duties, periodically looking up to keep a pulse on the storm's progression toward them.
Just shy of a quarter hour later Sorru began packing up her gear. "I've completed my work, how are the scans?"
"The electrical storm's starting to interfere with them," Jack murmurs, holding up the PADD. It's fuzzy at the edges, streaks of mismatched data twitching and flashing.
"We will have to make due with the data we have for now, I recommend we expedite our departure." The woman replied her eyes moving to the storm, flashes of lightning just becoming visible along the horizon.
"Agreed!" Jack raises his voice above the howling din as it steadily approaches, and quickly begins to shove his equipment back into its appropriate compartments on his duffel, hefting it over his shoulder once he's finished. "Let's get out of here."
The two began at a quick jog but soon were running as the storm gained on them, when the reached the vehicle they threw the equipment in and Sorru leapt into the passenger seat.
Jack straps himself in and directs her to do the same, buckling his seatbelt and kicking them up off the ground vertically, switching the controls to manual and generating a topographic overlay scan, relying on instrument flight rules instead of visual field analysis and it becomes apparent pretty quickly that Jack is an experienced pilot, weaving in and out of large spires bellowing sand and ash at them, deftly swerving from oncoming lightening and gunning it into the large expanse up ahead.
Valeria strapped the belt across her and watched as Jack began flying.
"I'm going to take us through that pass up ahead, it should provide some cover," Jack mutters.
Valeria nodded, holding the arms of her seat as they maneuvered.
The aircar zooms forward, hitting plumes of dust and kicked up debris that sprinkle off the windows in long swathes. Great, jutting rocks begin to surround them. All at once, a bolt of lightning cracks in the distance and it hits one of the spires around them, causing large chunks of rock to smash to the ground, a few of which dent the aircar's fender. Jack curses under his breath and keeps them moving.
"Can we go faster?" Valeria said, "The storm has gained speed considerably compared to the models. I will have to revise the forecast models for the weather modification network."
"Trust me, we're moving as fast as we can," Jack replies, his foot jamming the pedal into the floor as they lift higher up into the atmosphere. If they can't go around, maybe they can go up. It's touch-and-go for a while, and at one point the aircar itself does get struck by a bolt of electricity, but the heat shield and failsafes kick in, allowing Jack to land them several miles outside of Retrayan's designated building zone. It's better than crash-landing, but not by much. Smoke begins pouring out of the back end and it's clear they won't be airborne anytime soon. "This thing is toasted," he says, flipping switches at random in front of him. "We're going to have to walk the rest of the way."
Val pulled out her tricorder, "We're no longer directly in the storm's path, I estimate if we wait here about half an hour it will pass and we should be able to safely proceed on foot. We can leave the equipment here and retrieve it after."
"All right, well we should stay in the vehicle since it's pretty much the only thing around here that offers good cover. I'm going to see if I can get the heat shields activated, that'll give us some protection if the storm decides to fuck with us after all." Jack's already climbing back into the cabin, a toolkit in his hands as he rips off a panel on the wall.
She nodded silently and referred to her tricorder again, "This storm is not behaving as it should, this could mean that there are larger weather systems at play that we have not been paying attention to, or unique surface features that enhance the effects of electrical storms."
Jack's got one earbud in and he's only half-paying attention as he focuses on his task, but he hums in response, music trickling out of his tinny speakers and he drifts his head to the beat, squinting as he takes into account the extent of the damage before him. He jams the hyperspanner into one specific area and remains steady as it sparks, and he brushes two metal components together again, sparking them. "We've still got some juice in here," he mutters, flicking switches overhead (most of his body inside the hatch by this point). "It's pretty hot down here, What, sixty degrees Celsius?" He waves his wrist out of the hatch, showing off his embedded temperature regulator. A vulcanoid like Valeria likely wouldn't need one, but Jack sure as shit did. "Where I'm from when it got this hot we always had thunder and lightning. Static electricity in the air."
"I assume you also had more than 2% humidity." Valeria replied her attention now on a portable communicator trying to get a signal through the interference.
"Yeah," Jack said, defaulting to his typical mumble as his own attention focused on the panel before him. "All right, I'm gonna get you to stand back," he raised his voice a little deliberately, shuffling backwards himself as he raised two metallic ends of the spark joint he'd set up, plugged into a PADD flicked to a screen displaying rows and rows of code. Once he was certain the area was clear he struck them together and a loud electric snap! shot through the circuitry, and all around them a bubble emerged from the aircar; the heat shield flaring to life. "Got you," he smiled faintly.
"Good work." She replied, the temperature inside the car already falling.
"That should hold for now, but we should really assess our options here because it's bound to fail before a half-hour," Jack tells her, grimacing slightly. "I don't suppose you have a spare solar panel in that bag?"
"Actually." She said reaching into the back seat and pulling an equipment bag free, she rummaged inside and pulled out a black rolled up mat. "Here." She saId handing it to him, "it's not much but it's something."
Jack takes it, turning it over in his hands. "That is something. We can use this, if we generate enough heat I can use a coil maneuvering transfer to send some power to the engine. That'll keep the shield up for longer." He unrolls it and gets to work. After a while he looks over his shoulder. "You're not 'Fleet, are you?"
"If by that you mean a Starfleet Officer no, I never joined Starfleet, but I've contracted with them fairly extensively." She replied, adjusting the controls and increasing the efficiency of the heat shield.
"Mm," Jack nods his acknowledgment, sitting back against the wall once everything is finished; there's not a whole lot left to do but wait for the storm to pass them by and hope that their precautions are enough.
It took time but eventually the storm passed, "According to my readings the worst of it has passed, we should be able to get a comm signal through and request transport out of here."
"Perfect. Let's do this," Jack pilfers his comm from the pile of rubble in the center of the shuttle and flips it open. "This is Toreel to Pretorious Control, environmental survey team requesting two to transport."