Endless I: Planetfall
by Judy firstname.lastname@example.org and Etal
Day: 08, Hour: 2011
Chakotay stepped into the shuttle, found the doctor running more tests on the local food supply, and noticed Tom watching the doctor. He gave the pilot a smile and spoke briefly with the holodoc. "How's he doing?"
"Better. Remaining inside today was helpful."
"Comes and goes. I think we're staying ahead of it now. I've rigged a tricorder set to detect the nerves firing and have inserted a miniaturized hypospray along the nerve pathways to release pain killers before the impulse reaches the brain. So far it's working."
"I wish it could counteract all the pain impulses. But it can't."
Chakotay frowned. "Why don't you block the nerve from firing?"
"Unfortunately, such a solution defeats the purpose of having the nerve endings reconnect. Although it doesn't work one hundred percent of the time, this method helps with the pain."
Shrugging his shoulders, Chakotay turned and walked over to Tom while the doctor went back to his tests. "Hi, Tom."
"You're looking better," Chakotay lied.
"Right. I appreciate the effort." Tom looked at the first officer and saw someone who looked as if he could use a few years of sleep. "Thanks for what you did this afternoon."
When Chakotay's brow furrowed, Tom added, "For saying the words for B'Elanna."
"I was glad you asked me to do it."
"I miss them," Tom said, surprising himself by the fact that he revealed such a personal feeling to the commander. But it was painfully true.
"I do, too, Tom."
Kathryn lay on her cot, the PADD from Chakotay in her hands. It was the first opportunity she'd had to review his assignments of crew to quarters. She had to smile, thinking of Bolian digestive functions, when she realized he'd placed Ensign Golwat in a shelter next to one of the facilities shelters. On the PADD, she read:
Shelter 1, men, Cr. Gibson, Patrick (sciences), Cr. Gibson, Frank (sciences), Cr. Jarvin, Darius (security), Cr. Dalby, Ken (maintenance);
Shelter 2, women, Cr. Delaney, Jenny (sciences: astrometrics), Cr. Delaney, Megan (sciences: astrometrics); couple, Ens. Ryson, Soh (ops: environmental) & Ens. Ashmore, Mary (engineering: propulsion);
Shelter 3, men, Cmdr. Chakotay (XO), Cmdr. Tuvok (security), Lt. Paris, Thomas (flight operations: pilot; medical);
Shelter 4, women, Cpt. Janeway, Kathryn;
Shelter 5, couples, Cr. Morrow, James (sciences: exobiology) & Cr. McMinn, Evanthia (ops); Cr. Nozawa, Cochrane (maintenance: airponics) & Cr. White, Lawana (ops);
Shelter 6, couple, Ens. Malek, Arenda (maintenance) & Ens. Patel, Narinder (maintenance); men, Lt. Carey, Joe (engineering);
Shelter 7, couple, Cr. Boylan, Derick (security: ordnance) & Cr. Hickman, Christopher (maintenance); men, Cr. Tasoni, Angelo (ops, security), Cr. Grimes, Robert (security);
Shelter 8, women, Cr. Celes, Tal (sciences: astrometrics), Cr. Rogers, Linnea (maintenance), Cr. Swinn, Toni Marie (ops; pilot), Cr. Dorado, D'Linda (flight operations: pilot; security; sciences);
Shelter 9, men, Ens. Culhane, Sean (flight operations: pilot), Ens. Molina, Eduardo (security), Cr. Zakhireh, Hammid (engineering: propulsion), Cr. Blain, Michael (maintenance);
Shelter 10, women, Cr. Trumari, Tierney (maintenance: airponics), Cr. Zhang, Jiguo Gao (engineering), Cr. Jackson, Mikhaila (ops, medical), Cr. Pacheco, Valencia (security);
Shelter 11, men, Cr. Emmanuel, Kurt (security: ordnance), Cr. Henard, Andreas (sciences; medical), Cr. Swift, Melchor (sciences: astrophysics), Cr. U'Lanai, Vol (sciences);
Shelter 12, women, Lt. Burleson, Penelope (sciences: exobiology), Ens. Brooks, Chalice (ops), Ens. Bereyt, Te (ops: environmental), Ens. Lang, Robin (ops: transporter);
Shelter 13, men, Lt. Ayala, Miguel (security), Neelix (morale, chef), Ens. Parsons, Richard (ops), Cr. Sophen, Brian (maintenance);
Shelter 14, women, Cr. T'Sem (sciences), Ens. Golwat (maintenance), Cr. Powell, Rebekah (maintenance) .
She thought Chakotay had done a good job. Subspecialities were identified. Troublemakers were placed with security personnel or with experienced, level-headed crew members. Although the number of formally recognized couples didn't come out even for housing purposes, she knew that a wall could easily divide the shelters into private areas.
As she ran down the list, she smiled at some of the names. Crew member Hickman had once been an ensign, however, a sweetly drunken Harry Kim had inadvertently revealed the source of the illegal still and she'd been forced to demote Hickman. She wondered how long it would take him to start one here on the planet.
With a few commands to the PADD, she reorganized the list to give her a crew manifest by department. Altogether, she had eleven scientists of one sort or another, but of that group only one, Burleson held a rank above crew member. There were probably too many crew in some form of security, but that would only hold true until they were attacked. *If* they were attacked, she amended, deciding to remain optimistic.
There were no senior officers in either maintenance or ops. She sighed over that situation and wondered who would emerge as leaders in each section. Unfortunately, maintenance had a few too many malcontents. In Ops, Parsons and Ryson had shown leadership skills and she decided to keep an eye on them. Possibly Chakotay would have some recommendations.
As she looked at the few people left in engineering and propulsion, she realized that they had taken a terrible hit there. She wasn't sure if any of the sciences crew would be able to move over to the more practical and applied engineering section. However, Tom Paris had shown a flair for engineering, after all, he'd basically designed the Delta Flyer in his spare time. But it might be awhile before Tom was well enough to help them.
Medical was another area of concern, particularly with Paris injured and unavailable to serve as a nurse. Only two other people were left with even the slightest of medical training at all, Crew members Jackson and Henard. And, tellingly, she knew the doctor had not used them during the flight from Voyager.
The EMH might have to start up classes for those willing to train as nurses. She wondered if Chakotay would be interested. He'd been a great help on their trip to this planet.
Although several of her officers could take over at the helm, as she had, as Chakotay had, she knew that Paris was the best she'd ever seen. He was also an excellent teacher and had done a fine job crosstraining those interested in flying. But their pilot resources were desperately thin if they had to face the kind of emergency that would require combat with hostile ships.
As all of these concerns crossed her mind, she was glad that Chakotay and the doctor had talked her into authorizing Tuvok's retrieval of so much of Voyager's sickbay. They needed Tom Paris. And she recognized that she wanted him restored to health for more than his skills. His smart-ass comments livened up many a shift and staff meeting. She hoped he'd recover his sense of humor along with his health.
When she checked the hour on the PADD, she realized she'd been working on these problems for far too long. It was time to visit the facilities shelter and go to bed.
Day: 10, Hour: 1427, Alpha Quadrant
Harry was walking the halls of Deep Space Nine again. Now that the admiral trusted them, at least a little bit, their quarters had been upgraded and he and B'Elanna were allowed to move about the station unescorted. He suspected that if he headed toward the docking bays or a weapons locker, then security would be on him in a heartbeat, but Harry was determined not to make a rash move like that again. He had to be 'Ensign Eager' and follow the rules if he was going to keep these new privileges.
He and B'Elanna were now active members of the station's Voyager search team. Harry spent most of his time on the bridge of DS9 with Dax while B'Elanna worked with O'Brien in Engineering. It was frustrating that they weren't allowed out yet on the scouting ships, but at least they had input on the search patterns.
Harry was also annoyed that the doctor told him that he continued to be too stressed to function normally, so he was only allowed to work short shifts and forced to take long rests. Harry knew that Captain Sisko was watching the time carefully and always made him leave the bridge when his abbreviated shift was up.
But today Harry felt fine, he was just too restless to sleep. So he had to walk for a while before heading to their rooms. He tried to spend as much time away from his quarters as possible. His first image each time he thought about it was that their rooms were a prison and then the guilt would hit him. Tom had spent time in a real prison and Harry couldn't get beyond a few days of comfortable, loose confinement. What was the matter with him?
Whenever he thought of being in that room with Admiral Paris, Harry felt drained and exhausted. He couldn't help but wonder what was in Tom's best interests. Remain lost in the Delta Quadrant? Or face this harsh, demanding man who claimed that his love went unappreciated? Would the admiral really send his son back to prison? An involuntary shudder shook his frame, his knees buckled, and Harry found himself sitting on the floor trying to catch his breath.
He sat there and wished that the authorities would let him contact his parents. So far he'd been held incommunicado. The memory of his parents' warmth helped him, but not enough to banish the chill left by Admiral Paris.
"Mr. Kim," he vaguely heard the captain's voice over the pounding sensation in his head. "Ensign Kim, respond."
"Yes...sir?" Harry sputtered.
"Harry," Dr. Bashir interjected, "are you all right?"
Harry could hear the doctor and captain talking over his comm badge as he tried to regain control. After taking a few deep breaths, he said, "I'm fine, doctor. There's no problem."
"Where are you?" the captain asked.
Knowing that they didn't believe he was fine and afraid that he'd be restricted after violating the rules, Harry quickly added, "I was heading back to my quarters for my rest, sir. I just didn't feel tired yet, so I thought I'd take a walk. I'm trying to follow the schedule, sir. I'll be in my quarters and asleep in a couple of minutes."
"No, we're transporting you to sickbay."
Harry was about to object, but the transport was already in progress. When he got there, he tried to look calm and comfortable, but the tricorders always gave away too much. He sat dejectedly as he saw the doctor give a grim report to the captain. They weren't close enough for him to hear them, but he could see it was an intense conversation. Harry felt even worse when he saw the admiral enter sickbay and join their discussion.
"I'd really like to see him get some rest first, Captain," the doctor urged. "I know this is important, but in two or three hours, he'll feel a lot better. This could be an overwhelming experience for him. What if it doesn't go as well as we hope?"
"Doctor, do you think he's well enough to make this decision for himself?" Sisko asked.
Bashir thought for a moment. "Normally, I'd say yes, but he's already shown a propensity to cover up when he doesn't feel well. And his dishonesty when he tried to steal the Flyer leads me to..."
Sisko concealed his shock when the admiral interrupted, "That incident is behind us." The admiral continued, "Doctor, do you have children?"
Surprised by the question, Bashir quickly replied, "No, sir."
"I'm sure you're a competent doctor," Admiral Paris told Bashir, "but you're also a young man and you don't know what it feels like for parents and sons to be torn away from each other unexpectedly. Believe me, two hours will make a world of difference to these people. Unless, he's at death's door, give him a vitamin hypospray and get him on his feet so I can take him to his parents."
For the first time since their meeting, Ben Sisko admired and liked Owen Paris.
Day: 10, Hour: 1430
Janeway found Carey directing Chakotay over their comm link as Chakotay flew the Earhart above their compound. Between them they were cutting a narrow channel from the river to newly created holding ponds. Eventually, they would construct a filtering system to handle wastewater that traveled from their compound through underground pipes to the holding ponds and their filters. Malek, Sophen, and Golwat from maintenance had devised the filters so that the water which left the treatment ponds was purer than the river water itself.
In the past two days, Chakotay had organized the crew so that they could begin the transition from reliance on Federation technology to the use of indigenous resources. One area of research had begun to generate some controversy. Without killing them, the small, native animals had been stunned, tested for nutrients and proteins, and found suitable for use. Then they had been set free without giving them a taste test.
She wasn't sure she wanted to give the order to use them in such a fashion. A lifetime of replicated 'meats' had made the killing of animals for human consumption repugnant to her. Chakotay wouldn't even eat the replicated variety. For the time being, there was no need to make a decision. Plants were plentiful.
The fish were as much a source of disagreement among the crew as the small animals. It wasn't as if the replicators couldn't synthesize the missing nutrients in more or less palatable forms. However, if the extra replicator energy needed to make 'steaks' and 'grilled chicken' or 'smoked fish' was put off limits for the crew, there would be complaints. She could name several of her crew she knew to be confirmed meat eaters.
Sure, they'd become used to quite a variety of Delta Quadrant plants and vegetables, but she and the crew often saved up replicator rations for treats of the 'meat' category. They would have to find sources of energy to enable the distribution of replicator rations as they had on Voyager.
Smiling to herself, she wondered if the insects would be a stumbling block if she suggested using them as a source of protein. Over the past two nights, the insects had made their nightly flights at more or less the same times regardless of the alignment of the moons. Although the doctor had worked on an insect repellant, he hadn't been completely successful. When they swarmed, they were too numerous to avoid no matter how much smelly repellant a test dummy had worn.
She'd gone to the Lee to talk to the doctor about the situation and to see Tom. The doctor had reported earlier that he'd had to place Tom back on the respirator, his body still not strong enough to breathe on his own consistently. She saw the pain clearly etched on his face and wished she could do something besides murmur lies to the young man.
The doctor had activated an antigrav unit to keep Tom's body levitated a few inches off the bed. The EMH explained that the pilot needed respite from pressure spots that had been building up on his skin. It was very strange to see Tom lying on a cushion of air above the biobed, the respirator and other tubes entering and leaving his blanket covered body.
Knowing Tom couldn't talk with the tube down his throat, she did all the speaking, telling him about the progress they'd made and the plans they had for the day. He seemed grateful to be included but, as she spoke, she was aware that the normal sparkle in his eyes was missing. His despondency touched her deeply, making her wish there was some way to cheer him up. She patted his hand before she left and told him she'd come by again soon. When she looked back before leaving, she saw that he was asleep. If anyone should catch a break, it was Tom Paris.
Day: 10, Hour: 1448, Alpha Quadrant
John Kim, compact, dark-haired, paced their guest quarters as he waited for his son's arrival. His wife, Myeong-Jai, thin faced and slender, sat on a nearby couch, trying to look calmer than she felt. "John, dear," she entreated, "please sit down. The admiral said that Harry would be here in a few minutes."
"That was 20 minutes ago. If Harry is really okay, what could be taking so long? Do you think we should head towards sickbay?"
Myeong-Jai rose and placed a hand on her husband's arm. She joined him in his walk and methodically slowed their pace. "I'm just as nervous as you are, but what if we go to sickbay while they are bringing Harry here? I don't want to risk missing him. I think our best choice is to wait here."
"I can't just sit like you. I have to do something to help my son."
"I know, darling. The admiral had some ensign unpack our bags. Would you find the special things we brought? I want to give Harry the clarinet that he always kept in his room. And I know he'll love your painting of the lake...."
"Harry met his first Starfleet cadet on our trip to the lake when he was fourteen," his father remembered with mixed emotions. "I've thought so often how that afternoon changed our lives."
Myeong-Jai had the same conflicted feelings with no resolution, so she and her husband silently held each other.
They turned to see their son, their most precious son, standing in the doorway with Admiral Paris. Harry looked so different. As they started towards him, John noticed that his son looked bulkier, that he'd filled out a little bit in the past few years. Myeong noticed the fine worry lines that had formed on his forehead and that slight twitch he got under his left eye when he was overtired. Still, they both thought he looked wonderful.
When he first saw them, Harry was surprised that his father seemed a little smaller than he remembered. It appeared as if the last few years had taken something out of him. His mother's hair was now sprinkled with grey and her hands were a little thinner. But when they heard his voice and turned to see him, Harry could see the years falling off them. As he stepped towards them, he noted the little things that he had started to forget -- the way John's smile always started at the right side of his face, the brightness of his mother's eyes when she was happy.
As they hugged and kissed, the group exuded a certain completeness. Satisfied that Harry was in capable hands, the admiral made a silent exit.
Overwhelmed with emotion, they were at a loss for words and fell into platitudes. "You look good!"
"How do you feel?"
"It's been too long!"
Recognizing the absurdity and inadequacy of the cliches, they all began to laugh.
"Let's sit down," Harry said, wanting to make sure that his parents were comfortable. "Did you get my last message through the array? I tried to send as much information as I could, but we each had limited space given to us. You know, so everybody could send a letter home? There was so much I wanted to say."
Myeong-Jai and John smiled at their son. Brushing his cheek, Myeong replied, "We have your letter with us. We read it every night, wherever we are. Did you get our reply? We had the same problem -- so little space, how to tell you everything we wanted you to know."
"Yes, I got it. I don't have it with me. I left it on Voyager...." Harry's voice caught at the mention of his ship.
"The letter doesn't matter now," his mother tried to comfort him. "What matters is that you're here with us."
"I know," Harry whispered, "but my friends.... They aren't with their parents tonight. I've been trying to find them, but there's been no word so far."
"We're aware of that. Admiral Paris gave us updates while the transport vessel was bringing us in from Monterey. He said they'll keep looking," John assured him.
Myeong-Jai had never before encountered the look that came over Harry's face. It shattered her to see her son's agony. Harry's next words almost broke her heart. "I wanted you to be proud of me. I never meant to cause you pain or worry."
Confused, his father replied, "We are proud. Your mother and I know that your disappearance into the Delta Quadrant wasn't your fault."
Harry couldn't stop the tears that began falling out of his eyes. Choking on the words, he told them in spurts, "But this time...I wanted to come home so badly...if I was wrong.... Maybe I destroyed the slipstream.... My friends might be lost -- or dead."
Unable to dismiss this possibility, his parents simply held Harry as the strain of the last few days began to pour out of him. "My dear son," Myeong soothed, "we will love you and stand beside you, no matter what happened."
"No matter what," John echoed.
Harry didn't know what to believe about Voyager's future, but he did believe his parents.
End Part 12