Endless II.A: New Deal
by Judy email@example.com and Etal
Year: 00; November
Chakotay reviewed Lang's summary. Two of the colonists' lifesigns had failed to be detected: Narinder Patel who had been working with his wife and others in the underground food processing area and Jiguo Gao Zhang, last seen chasing her pet. They were presumed dead in the destruction below them. And both Angelo Tasoni, who had lost his wife in Voyager's crash and Ed Molina, who had helped pull Tal Celes from under the dirt had miscarried. Chalice Brooks' fetus was in precarious health and was under the doctor's care.
Of the other pregnant colonists, Soh Ryson, Jim Morrow, Lawana White, Arenda Malek, and Te Bereyt, all had come through unscathed. However, Arenda was in shock after her ordeal underground. That experience coupled with the news that her husband hadn't made it, had left the quietly competent woman emotionally devastated.
Then there were the injuries. Almost all who'd been on or under the ground when the earthquake struck had sustained some form of injury. Many, like himself, were superficially bruised or cut. Some had lungs compromised by the dirt and dust and gasses released when the shockwaves hit. Too many needed the doctor's help and the doctor's chief assistant, Tom Paris, was sidelined by some form of intestinal upset.
"Kathryn, what do you see for landing sites?" Her shuttle was still flying above them and she had a better overall view than any of the rest of the pilots.
"There's a lot of dust in the air. Makes it hard to see. I'm applying filters now." There was a break in her transmission, then her hushed voice told them, "The colony is nearly destroyed and there are continuing aftershocks."
"You think VoyCe is out?"
"Do you see anyplace nearby where we can land?"
"Let me get back to you."
Chakotay could hear her voice and Joe Carey's as they conversed but couldn't make out their words.
Finally, she told him, "Two hundred kilometers north. There's a break in the forest and a branch of the river runs near the clearing. We're not registering aftershocks there. We can land safely."
"Let's do it, then." He conveyed the information to the other shuttle pilots and they set down one by one in a tight circle, much as they had seven months ago.
Once on the ground, Chakotay looked around at those he'd rescued. Some were bleeding, others were covered with dirt, and still others were wet from the overflowing river. He singled out and pointed to those who were injured, Mary Ashmore, Darius Jarvin, D'Linda Dorado, and Miguel Ayala, and indicated that they should come with him. He assumed the rest would be all right once they were cleaned up or dried off. Of the injured, only Darius required assistance in getting over to the Lee.
When he stood up, Chakotay had been surprised at the stiffness and pain in his hip. He remembered hitting it when he fell, but it hadn't seemed too bad in the mess hall. Now, his hip was definitely sore. Rubbing it a little, he led his small group over to the Lee, noting that Miguel was helping Darius.
Jenny Delaney appeared at the Lee's door looking harried and relieved to see him. "Mayor, the doctor needs some help."
"All right, I'll be inside in a minute. Do you think you could organize things out here? And is Andreas around?"
"Of course, I'll help," she offered and gave him a warm smile. "Andreas is already inside."
He had no doubt that Jenny could straighten out the walking wounded who were gathering outside the Lee's doors. They had walked over from all of the newly-landed shuttles. Without having to ask, he knew the worst off were being beamed into the Lee.
"Is Tom still sick?" Jenny presented a strange look on her face at his question. "Jenny?"
She seemed to struggle with something and then gave a wave of her hand. "He's inside resting. I'd better get to work out here."
"Thanks, Jenny." Chakotay wondered what it was she didn't tell him, but then forgot about it once he stepped inside the shuttle.
His eyes took in the controlled chaos inside. The injured occupied the two biobeds, the floors, and the seats. He spotted Tom stretched out on the floor near the bathroom, wrapped in a blanket, his crutches at his back. With Tom facing the wall, Chakotay couldn't see his face, only the long blond hair. But even at this distance he realized there was a fairly pungent, slightly sickening odor from Tom's direction.
Unconsciously, Chakotay held his breath against the smell. He almost jumped at the voice beside him.
"Yes," the EMH agreed, "he needs to be cleaned up, but as you can see there are higher priorities here."
"Is Tom all right?"
"He will be. I think. I could use your help."
"You've got it."
With a flurry of directives, Chakotay went to work. He regenerated Linnea Rogers' broken leg, applied a dermal regenerator to the jagged metal cut along Michael Blain's torso, regenerated Vol U'Lanai's broken ribs and arm, and so on, while the doctor worked over those who were more badly injured.
It must have been hours later when Kathryn appeared and removed whatever device it was that Chakotay held in his hands and substituted a ration bar and a mug of hot tea. When he smelled the tea, he began to return to the moment. "Kathryn?"
"Dinner time. The doctor tells me you've been working nonstop since we landed."
"How long?" He couldn't quite keep his voice from sounding dazed.
He truly had lost track of the time. "Thanks for the refreshments."
"What's the situation?" she asked him.
"Chalice's baby didn't make it. We have two dead and three miscarriages."
He walked outside and she followed. They stood staring at the sunset, a rather unspectacular one at that.
"What is it, Chakotay?" In addition to the appalling death toll, she knew that something else was bothering him.
"This could be the end of us. We're almost out of energy. The conversion obviously didn't work."
She voiced the thought that he didn't. "Instead of helping us, it caused a catastrophe."
"Yes. The underground storage rooms were destroyed and with it our harvest. Most of our homes were demolished. There's a river of waste running through our settlement. We lost almost five percent of our population."
"And what do you think we should do about all this?"
"We can't give up," he said softly.
"No. We can't. And we won't. Perhaps some of the harvest can be salvaged. The shelters can be rebuilt...."
"But we can't replace the people we lost. And I don't know if we can risk continuing with the conversion project."
"I don't know either, Chakotay." She sighed in frustration and drank from her own coffee mug. "I wish I knew what went wrong. Every simulation we ran said we would be successful. Tonight we should celebrating, not...not this."
After taking a sip of his tea, Chakotay asked, "What does Tuvok say?"
"I haven't spoken to him about it yet. We were more concerned with rescue and recovery. But I suspect he's working on the problem. He may even have some solutions."
He glanced at her in the fading light. Her hair was mussed and her posture slumped. Guessing that she was as tired as he about now, he asked, "Have you had anything to eat or are you just the angel of mercy around here?"
Her snort told him what he needed to know. Breaking his ration bar in two, he offered her a share. With an ironic lift to her lips, she accepted. The sun went down like a billiard ball sinking into a corner pocket. A chill went through him.
Through her mouthful of ration bar, she echoed his thoughts, saying, "It's cold out."
"I hope we have enough energy to replicate coats and blankets for everyone."
"I'm sure we do," she reassured. Her look into her mug told Chakotay that either her beverage was gone or she wasn't as sure of their energy supplies as she'd tried to sound.
"Tonight. But tomorrow?" he pressed.
"We're going to be all right," she told him fiercely.
Chakotay finished his ration bar and nearly drained the last of his tea. He offered the very last of the beverage to Kathryn but she shook her head. "Somewhere inside is more coffee with my name on it."
Gallantly, he suggested, "Then let's go in."
As they walked back to the Lee, Kathryn asked, "Do you know what's wrong with Tom?"
"No. I'm not sure the doctor knew, either."
"How is he?"
"Truth? I've been too busy to check on him."
"Shall we do it together?"
Steeling himself, Chakotay stepped back into the Lee. The air handlers had worked overtime, but the smells of injury and sickness still permeated the interior. Even Kathryn wrinkled her nose.
Most of those recovering were wrapped in blankets, sleeping on pads on the floor. Instead of occupying the space he'd been in earlier, Tom was now on a biobed, the doctor holding a tricorder over him. His soiled clothes had been replaced with a sickbay nightshirt. There was an IV directing fluids into his arm.
He seemed pale and tired. And he didn't look happy.
"Tom," Chakotay greeted his roommate.
"I'm all right now," Tom announced defensively.
"I'm glad to hear that," Kathryn smiled at him.
"Doc, tell them I'm fine."
"Doctor?" Chakotay asked.
"He's still dehydrated."
"Is that all?" Chakotay kept his voice mild.
"I've repaired the bruise to his kidney. But I would like Tom to remain on the biobed tonight."
Chakotay and Kathryn both glanced around the shuttle as if assessing the degree to which others might need the biobed. A sleeping Arenda Malek occupied the second bed, monitors tracking both her and her baby's vital signs. As nearly as they could tell, those readings looked normal. Near the helm, dark haired Jenny Delaney had her arms around an unnaturally pale, ashen white Chalice Brooks who sobbed quietly.
"I'd like to go home," Tom confessed.
Chakotay checked with the doctor who shook his head.
"What?" Tom asked, confused by the looks exchanged among the three.
"We can't go home yet, Tom," Kathryn informed him. "The earthquake is still giving off aftershocks and the city...well, it's going to need some work."
Chakotay shrugged. "I don't know. Some of the shelters were destroyed. But I don't know which ones."
"Yours was damaged, Tom, I could tell that much. But I don't think it was one of those that was completely demolished," Kathryn sounded apologetic and Chakotay realized that she was taking the blame for the events of the day.
Based on the look that crossed Tom's face, so was he. "Tom, you didn't do anything to cause this."
"It was my idea, remember? Just convert the warp energy for power to the city," he reminded them bitterly. "Great idea."
"It was a good idea," Kathryn corrected him. "It was my science that was off."
"Neither of you are to blame," Chakotay told them firmly. "Tom, it looks as if the doctor wants you to have a comfortable bed for the night. I suggest you thank him graciously."
Chakotay hoped his grin would allow Tom to see the humor in the situation. Sometimes Tom responded well to such suggestions. After living with the man for six months, he had a pretty good inventory of Tom Paris' behavior and responses.
Kathryn helped by teasing, "Give it up, Tom."
"Fine," he agreed sourly and allowed the doctor to apply a hypospray.
The sedative took effect almost immediately. Relieved, Chakotay, the doctor, and Kathryn held a mini-consultation by the doors, out of earshot. "What's wrong with him?"
"I don't know," The doctor had to tell them. "I had to deal with so many others first because Tom wasn't in any real danger. By the time I could give him a thorough evaluation, I couldn't find anything. No virus, bacteria, or unknown nasty. There was nothing."
"But he was sick?" Kathryn questioned.
"Oh, yes. Violently."
"It's not some residual from Voyager's crash?" Chakotay checked.
"There was no sign of any relapse."
Kathryn looked troubled. "Maybe I can try to talk to him tomorrow."
'Good luck', Chakotay thought. No one was more reluctant to talk when he wasn't in the mood than Tom Paris. Even Tuvok, their Vulcan roommate, was positively verbose at times compared to the almost unnatural silence of the former pilot.
"Well, I'm going to touch base with Tuvok. Maybe he has some ideas about what went wrong."
"What about Joe and Penny?"
"Let's see. Joe's statements on the conversion project are, so far, unrepeatable. Penelope has been going around muttering but not making much sense. I'm hoping Tuvok will have something for me."
As head of the conversion project, Kathryn had picked the top people from the colony to work on it. In addition to the four, Melchor Swift, Hammid Zakhireh, and T'Sem had also labored intensively on the design. Chakotay resisted the urge to tell her not to work too hard tonight. But he knew there was no point. She was just as stubborn a scientist as she had been a starship captain.
Instead of asking her to get some rest, he just said, "Let me know."
She stepped outside where the outboard lights of the shuttles and one of the moons illuminated her way. Chakotay watched her go, marveling at how tiny she appeared in the shifting patterns of light and dark. Finding the doctor at his elbow, Chakotay asked, "What do you think, Doc?"
"Never mind." He'd already had this conversation with Kathryn.
"Just feeling the weight of the day."
"Perhaps you should let me fix that hip and then you might get some rest."
He wanted to protest that his hip was fine and that it was too early for bed. In truth, the hip ached and he was deeply tired.
As well, he worried about all of them, Chalice, Arenda, Ed Molina, Angelo Tasoni. Angelo had now lost the baby he carried in remembrance of his wife who'd died on Voyager. Two such losses coming so close together were bound to affect the man deeply. Chakotay thought about Narinder Patel and the wife and unborn child he'd left behind. Patel had been well liked, a quiet man who conscientiously carried out his tasks. A man of modesty and strength. And then there was Jiguo Gao. Her humor and kindness to all would be missed.
How many times had he seen Tom Paris give a startled reaction when he'd glimpsed Jiguo? Chakotay assumed that her dark hair and golden skin tones reminded the pilot of Harry Kim. Maybe. Maybe not. Now she was gone. And the latest health problem for Tom Paris was something he couldn't discount. Something had gone very wrong for the former pilot and even the doctor hadn't been able to diagnose it.
At least Tom seemed on the mend. Chak felt reassured that, despite the doctor's lack of a diagnosis, at least the EMH didn't think this was some kind of relapse. Tom had worked so hard to walk again and to find useful work in their small community. That he was still quiet and reclusive had been noticeable to everyone, especially his roommates. But he'd been functioning and seemed to be grateful to be able to live in the shelter instead of sickbay. Chakotay hoped the doctor was right and that this illness didn't signal a setback of some kind.
Kathryn left the Lee and found her way to the Jolly Roger where Tuvok, Joe, and Penny were finishing a meal of ration bars and assorted beverages. She threaded her way through sleeping and talking colonists and refilled her coffee mug from the replicator. She joined her team in seats around the helm. "Thoughts?" Kathryn asked as she sat down.
Tuvok gave her an appraising look and she almost snapped that she was fine, but the presence of the others reminded her that her goal here was to calmly and dispassionately, as Tuvok would say, review the experiment that had resulted in their exile from VoyCe.
"What!" She couldn't have been more surprised if he'd said 'magic'. "Tuvok, surely...."
"There is no other conclusion."
Completely shocked, Kathryn bought some time by sipping her coffee. "Sabotage," she repeated softly. Then she commed Chakotay.
End of Part 3