First Contact

The small dropship juddered slightly as it began to enter the atmosphere. The FOnewearl looked around at the other occupants of the cramped confines. The safety harness around her shoulders restricted head movement too but in the dim red light she could see most of their faces. The whole spectrum of human emotion on display, from joy to fear. The shaking became slightly worse so she closed her eyes till the feeling of nausea subsided somewhat.

Major Cortana picked his way carefully down the narrow gap between the seated soldiers, making his way using the rope handholds to steady himself again the erratic movent of the ship. He addressed them in a loud and authorative voice over the roar of the engines.

"Listen up people! As you are all well aware, approximately twenty-two Beats ago an explosion rocked the Central Dome interrupting the communication beam proceedure. There is a total news blackout but I can tell you this. So far there has been no communication with anyone on Ragol at all. Scans from Pioneer Two show that electrical systems seem to be still functional and that damage to the area is minimal compared to the size of the explosion witnesssed, but have been unable to detect life signs because of the atmospheric interference."

He let those words sink in for a fraction of a Beat before continuing.

"Due to the presence of a high concentration of unusual photons, we are going in by dropship instead of risking the transporter system. As part of Operation: Gran Squall our primary objective is to make contact with any survivors of the explosion. Our secondary objective is to re-enable an uplink signal with Pioneer Two. We have onboard an emergency transmitter should the main tower be inoperational."

Cortana slowly turned himself around to face the FOnewearl.

"As you no doubt have noticed we also have on board a civilian." He indicated to her with a wave of his hand. "Erica Fion will be acting as a support FOrce and during the mission will carry rank of corporal. Some of you have worked with her before so you knoiw what to expect."

Erica smiled weakly around the room.

"This is a search and rescue mission folks... If we encounter hostile forces you are not to engage if possible. I repeat do not engage...."

He was interrupted by the progressively stronger shaking of the ship. Audible creaking of metal under great stress could be heard from behind them.

"There's a build-up of photon energy out there causing the turbulence!" Shouted the pilot over his shoulder into the cabin behind. "It's messing with the ion thrusters... But don't worry... It's nothing I can't handle!"