1008: Cold Miser

by TC Blane
Concurrent with Hell Freezes Over

-=Base Camp, Sibalt=-

The bone-biting chill woke TC from his slumber shortly before sun-up. He pulled his sleeping blanket tighter around his bare shoulders as he rolled over onto his side and grabbed his watch. He squinted to see the time in the dim morning light that seeped into the tent.

“0600 hours.” He mumbled as he dropped the watch and sat up rubbing the sleep from his eyes. “I overslept.”

Normally he would have been up at least an hour prior, completed his workout and prepared breakfast. He rubbed his bare arms to fight off the chill in the air. He took notice that he could see his breath.

* The cool air must have helped me sleep deep. *

“Up and at them.” He urged himself on as he flung the comfortably warm sleeping bag off his bare body and searched for his clothes.

=^= A Short Time Later =^=

TC emerged from his tent into the new winter wonderland. The lush deep green of the rainforest was covered in a blanket of bright white. TC thought it had a sort of strange beauty to it, like two worlds colliding and coexisting for a time.

His boots crunched on the snow and he made his way over to his fire pit. He kneeled down and removed the snow that covered the broad green leaves that he had placed over the dim embers of his fire from the night before. He had placed the blanket of leaves over the smoldering fire before going to bed.

The original intent was to protect the fire from any rain that might happen over night. Snow had not been a factor but the plan worked just as well. As he removed the last of the leaves he could see the telltale wisps of smoke from the still hot embers.

It only took a few minutes to get the fire started up again. It took longer to warm up his hands over the now blazing flames.

It was then that he saw the captain waving for him to join what looked like a conference between Commander Salvek, the Vedek, Captain O’Sullivan, and herself.

Zipping up his coat he made his way over to the group. His footsteps continuing to crunch as he walked on the newly fallen snow.

He nodded to each of the officers gathered near the captain as he neared the group.

“Captain?” He asked as he saw the all too familiar look of a person worried on her face.

“Thomas, we’re missing some of our people.” Liis explained bluntly.

TC frowned, the chill of the cold air forgotten completely. “Who?”

“Lt. Grace and Commander Reece.” Salvek answered.

Concern gripped TC immediately. “When?”

The Vedek spoke up now. “Sometime before the snowfall started. We could not find any tracks in the snow near or around either of their tents.” He pulled his coat tighter as a shield against the now fiercely blowing snow. “It is possible that they went off somewhere together?”

The captain shook her head. “No. We would have heard Reece complaining about the snow and the cold by now.”

TC nodded his agreement. “Could this be part of the training?” He asked. “Maybe our rogue element, what did you say his name was?”

“Mellice Cem.” Liis replied.

“Maybe he is trying to throw another wrench into the works.” TC put his hands into his pockets in an attempt to keep them warm.

“Maybe, but this is out of context for these events.” The captain suppressed a shiver that threatened to shake her clear out of her coat. “All of the events have been in a highly organized format. A kidnapping does not fit with the capture the flag event.”

An uneasy silence fell on the gathering as each went over the possible causes of why and where the missing crewmembers could have gone.

Finally it was Salvek who spoke up. “Captain, considering the situation may I suggest that you suspend any further testing until we have recovered our missing crew.”

TC immediately nodded his agreement. “Yes, and get them to turn off this blasted weather. If they did happen to wander off this will not help us find them. Plus if they still had wet clothing exposure is going to be an issue.”

The Captain quickly nodded. “Agreed. Consider the games suspended from this point foreword. No more teams, we are one crew from here on out. Thomas, organize search parties and get them ready to go. Salvek, I want you to work up a search plan.”

She turned to her husband. “You and I will talk to our host and explain to them the situation and get any help from them we can.”

TC spoke up. “Captain, I would suggest that we have Zander set up security for the search parties and the camp. We do not know what has happened yet, or why, but I think caution and security are a priority.”

Liis thought for a moment and then cast her eyes back to Salvek. “See to it.”

Salvek nodded as the group broke up and headed off to complete their assigned tasks.

TC trudged through the snow, worry on his face. His “little sis” and her husband were missing. He could not ignore the nagging feeling in the back of his mind that was screaming that something was afoot.

All could think about was someone he cared about was missing and possibly hurt and god help anyone who might be responsible.

Commander TC Blane
Second Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012