Endless I: Planetfall
by Judy firstname.lastname@example.org and Etal
Day: 00, Hour: 1003
In sickbay, Chakotay found chaos. Debris had fallen everywhere and one wall had caved in. He saw injured crewmates standing, sitting, or slumped on the floor, with more being carried through the door. He tried to shut out the smell of burned flesh and the cries for help as he searched the room for the holodoc. But he didn't see the EMH and received no response to his hail. At least Paris and Tuvok had survived the transport even if they had to lie on the floor until help arrived.
A petite, injured ensign was working at a sickbay console, trying to pull up the doctor's program. Recognizing her as Ensign Malek from maintenance, Chakotay left Tom and Tuvok and joined her. Together, they finally retrieved the EMH's matrix. It flickered, then materialized. The doctor looked around, dismay evident when he grabbed a tricorder. The doctor almost looked at a loss as to whom to scan first. Grimly, he asked Chakotay, "What happened?"
"We fell out of the slipstream and crash landed on a class L planet. There's nothing but ice and snow out there. The ship is severely damaged and I don't know how long we can stay here. We've had injury reports from every deck that we can contact."
"Did we make it to the Alpha Quadrant? Can I call a nearby starbase for assistance?"
"Just before we crashed, Tom indicated we were still in the Delta Quadrant. And, no, we don't have external communications. We're on our own."
"Understood." The doctor looked around and saw three crew members with minor injuries. "Congratulations, you're promoted to medical personnel. You two, clear off the biobeds and move these five to beds when they become available." Grateful for something to do, they ran off to follow his orders. To Ensign Malek, the doctor announced, "You're my new nurse until Paris gets here."
Not looking at Chakotay, the doctor snapped, "How soon can Paris come down from the bridge? I could use his help."
Chakotay surprised the doctor by telling him, "He's already here." Grabbing the doctor's arm, he briefly described Paris' injuries and led the EMH to where Tom lay. "Tom and Tuvok were injured on the bridge. Tuvok might be in a healing trance, but Tom has been unconscious for a while."
"I'd better look at him. These injuries could be life threatening."
Together with the newly anointed medical technicians, they lifted Tom on the backboard onto a biobed. Almost immediately, the doctor began to scan Paris. "Who treated him?" the doctor asked.
"I did," Chakotay answered anxiously. "We couldn't reach you, so I tried to..."
"You saved his life," the doctor summarized approvingly.
Chakotay felt the first pang of relief since this whole disaster began. But he quickly remembered the gravity of the situation. "His spinal cord..."
"I know," interrupted the doctor, "but it is no longer a life-threatening injury. Thanks to you." Chakotay began to speak, but the holodoc continued, "I am afraid that corrective surgery will have to wait until I treat the others. See if the cloning chamber is working. We can begin cloning the new nerves he's going to need."
As the doctor and Chakotay looked around, both saw that Malek and the others had the room better organized. The panic seemed to have decreased, but there were still a lot of people who needed immediate attention. Chakotay checked in with the Captain and they agreed he would continue to assist the doctor while she remained on the bridge doing what she could for the other crew members and the ship.
Although the doctor came across as imperious as ever, Chakotay suddenly realized the EMH's attention was on him. With seeming impatience at the commander's injuries, the doctor ran the dermal regenerator over Chakotay's face and around his eye, reducing the puffiness sufficiently so that he could see clearly. Scanning and talking at the same time, the doctor told him, "You're in charge of triage. The priorities are life and brain; anything else has to wait. Let me know how many major injuries we have. And don't forget the cloning chamber."
He didn't know if the EMH had fixed him out of compassion or because the doctor needed an efficient assistant. It didn't really matter. With his vision fully restored, Chakotay felt grateful that he'd gotten off so lightly.
His centering resolve almost broke when he checked the cloning chamber and found it damaged beyond immediate repair. He hated to think what this would mean for Tom's recovery as well as that of the others who would need the now useless equipment. All right. He couldn't fix it. Looking around, Chakotay realized he had seen plenty of days like this in the Maquis and he could feel those survival skills pushing to the surface. He grabbed a medkit and decided they would save as many as they could.
On the bridge, Janeway had one of the relatively uninjured crewmen accompany the other badly injured crew member to sickbay via the transporter. Based on what Chakotay had said about sickbay, the seriously disabled would need the help of a less injured companion when they appeared there.
She couldn't believe it when, as the crew members dematerialized, Ensign Lang commed her to indicate that the transporters had gone down. Almost immobilized at the possible loss of two more crew, she was relieved when Lang indicated that she'd managed to save the two matrices in the transporter buffer. Thanking her, Janeway urged her to do all she could to get the system back online. It was bad enough to lose crew in the crash, but it was unconscionable to lose them to a transporter malfunction.
Parsons told her the ship's environmental controls were still offline and that they had less than fifty minutes of breathable air, less than forty-five minutes of temperatures warm enough not to require environmental suits. To be on the safe side, in thirty-five minutes all the living and injured crew would need to be in environmental suits or in shuttles leaving the planet. Ominously, Parsons added that he'd been unable to raise anyone on Deck 12 where environmental controls were located.
"What about Decks 13, 14 and 15?" she asked with dread.
"Nothing from them. Captain, I'm not sure they exist anymore."
She closed her eyes and wondered just how bad it was.
Lt. Ayala commed from the shuttle bay on Deck 10 and reported that there were five shuttles out of seven operational. In response to Janeway's request, he told her he believed that a maximum of fifty-five people could be crammed inside them. She asked him if they had control over the shuttle bay doors and held her breath while he checked.
"Yes, ma'am," he finally reported.
Good. They could get the shuttles out of the ship and off this planet. If the computer stayed online.
"Captain, I'm setting the controls to manual override. Just in case."
"Good thinking, Lieutenant," she told him, relieved at his initiative.
While Janeway dealt with those realities, crew member Dorado tried to obtain an accurate tally of the injured and dead. Dark-eyed, prematurely grey haired, Dorado had been cross-training in Sciences. But she'd been a member of Starfleet for many years and had seen her share of destruction. Only one other experience had prepared her for what she found here and that was at Wolf 359. In the here and now, she was distraught to find that the number of dead outnumbered the living. And most of the living were injured, several critically. However, her professionalism kicked in to let the captain know that no one would be left behind.
Joe Carey realized that the warp core was never going to come back online. However, it wasn't going to explode the ship any time soon. He powered down all propulsion systems and finally turned his attention to the rest of the engineering section. Surrounding him was destruction and death. Vorik and Bristow were both dead.
Hell, everyone in Engineering was gone. Had he not been on the mezzanine during the crash he knew he wouldn't have survived either. Somehow, the mezzanine had had enough give to ride with the shock waves that shuddered through the ship. During those long moments of impact, the mezzanine had swayed and bucked and for a terrified minute he thought the floor would drop out from under him. But he'd hung on, lying flat as he heard human and Vulcan screams.
When the shrieking sound of the mortally damaged ship stopped, so did the cries of his engineers. The only sounds were the groans of the decking beneath his body, the occasional whimper from Voyager, and the whoosh of warp plasma. That was when he'd stiffly gotten to his feet and looked over the railing.
Below him, Engineering was a disaster with green and red blood pooled near broken bodies. But he knew if he didn't get down there, the warp core was going to blow. If it did, it'd take the whole ship and any survivors with it. That's when he'd gone to work, ignoring as best he could the carnage around him.
Although he didn't realize it at the time, he had serious bruises and lacerations to his front and legs. Yet somehow he'd managed to focus on the really important mission before him. His body could be repaired. Reluctantly, he gave the good news/bad news to the captain. It was more bad than good. At least the ship was no longer in any danger of blowing up from the warp core.
Lt. Burleson was the only lieutenant apart from Carey, Paris, and Ayala that Janeway knew to still be alive. A tall, no nonsense exobiologist, Burleson wore her dark hair short and out of the way. To Janeway's surprise, Seven had once remarked on Burleson's efficiency. High praise from the former Borg. Now Penelope Burleson reported that everyone in the Astrometrics lab was dead except for the Delaney twins who were both injured and both unconscious. Janeway asked about her condition and the condition of the lab. "I'll need medical attention but not right away. The lab is on backup power."
"See if you can raise someone to treat the Delaneys. Now, this is important. We need to get off this planet and find somewhere else we can go. And we need that information now," Janeway told her. "It has to be in shuttle range with the shuttles carrying ten or more crew each. Contact Ayala and find out how long the shuttles can last with that many crew on board, particularly when many are injured. Then find us a planet."
"Yes, ma'am," Burleson acknowledged. Given the circumstances, it didn't surprise Janeway that the normally brusque voice of Lt. Burleson sounded shaky.
In a deep bass rumble, Parsons reported more bad news. "The gel packs are freezing. The breaches on decks 5 through 10 are barely contained. We'll lose most of the computer in twenty minutes. Unless we get the doctor into a shuttle, we'll lose him. I still can't reach anyone below Deck 11."
The catastrophic reports hit one after another, but Janeway had no time to dwell on them. She could tell that the temperature in the ship was dropping rapidly, the air was frosty and thin. She hoped they had as much time as she'd been told. She ordered everyone into environmental suits and asked the relatively uninjured to help the injured. Although reluctant to accept help for herself, Janeway's healing arm prevented her from putting on her suit alone. With Parsons' assistance, she suited up.
The loss of the ship's transporters meant that they would have to rely on the shuttle transporters to get everyone to the small ships in time to evacuate Voyager. Pilots were to beam in to the shuttles immediately for preflight checks. She directed those who were ambulatory to try to make it by foot to the shuttle bay. She knew that with the shuttle bay on Deck 10, it could be a long way down through Jeffries tubes, which themselves could be blocked and collapsed. If they encountered insurmountable barriers and couldn't use the Jeffries tubes, she gave the crew permission to request beam-out to the shuttles.
There were so many loose ends, so many details she'd had to delegate. She'd placed Ayala in charge of the evacuation knowing he had to coordinate with Dorado to make sure all evacuees were counted and assigned to a shuttle. Eventually, Burleson would provide the coordinates for the flights. To her relief, one of the experienced crew members named Hickman found a way to retrieve the two who'd been trapped in Voyager's pattern buffer.
Neelix couldn't be raised, so another decision had to be made to ensure the crew would have what they needed on the unknown journey ahead. With these thoughts in mind, Janeway assigned provisioning the shuttles to Ensign Ryson and crew members Boylan and Dalby. She instructed them to include a balance of food packs, phasers, tools, and survival gear. Personal items were to be left behind.
With any luck, she thought, they would eventually return to Voyager, either to salvage what they could or to make her flight-worthy again. She noted that Carey had already shut down all the propulsion systems from engineering. She asked him to review what he'd done with an eye to being able to fly the ship at some time in the future. She didn't see his expression of disbelief at this suggestion. If she had, she would have realized that Carey thought Voyager would never fly again.
With the ship's temperatures dropping well below freezing, Ayala wore one of the bulky environmental suits as he keyed in the names of those reporting to the shuttle bay. He most commonly saw two crew members arriving carrying a third, injured person, between them. Sometimes only one crew member would help a second into the staging area. Before allowing anyone but pilots on board, Ayala asked that the more seriously injured be beamed in so they could be secured in the shuttles first. He had already allocated one shuttle, the Lee, to be a sickbay for the nine people with the most critical injuries.
The holodoc transported in with some of the badly injured from sickbay. Chakotay arrived last holding Paris on an antigrav bed. Both wore environmental suits and Paris had a cumbersome looking brace around his neck. The doctor hovered and muttered about the lack of healing time for any of their injuries. Of particular concern was Paris' broken neck, but he recognized the need to make sure the others were out of danger before he tried to do any nonessential procedures.
Janeway mulled over the evacuation route Burleson identified. A class M planet with no signs of technological civilization was at a five to six day shuttle ride away. Although the shuttles were good for weeks of travel with the usual two to four crew members, with ten or more people crammed inside and with so many injured, resources would be taxed to the maximum. And the very few crew members who weren't injured had lost friends and lovers as well as their home for the last four and a half years. It would be a rough five day trip. But they had no choice.
Janeway sent Parsons to the shuttle bay, but the route proved impassable. Hearing the stoic Parsons' almost frantic description of the destruction through the core of the ship, the captain had Ayala beam Parsons to the shuttle bay. As she remained on the bridge, Kathryn struggled with the awful wave of despair that tried to knock her to her knees.
As the last person on the bridge, Janeway looked around through her suit's visor, noted with sadness the bodies of her friends and crew, all of them members of her family. As a final check, she asked the computer to search for any crew members not yet in the shuttlebay who were still alive by their lifesigns and not by their comm badge locations. When the computer identified two previously unaccounted for crew members, one of whom was Neelix, she directed that they be sent to the shuttle Lee, their portable sickbay.
Moving a little awkwardly about the bridge in her suit, Janeway corroborated that the emergency beacon was active and then powered down all the remaining systems. With the emergency beacon giving her hope for their eventual rescue, she realized that she could do no more.
Taking a moment while her gaze settled on Seven's now ice cold body, she felt the finality of this immense loss. It was unreasonable to expect Seven to sit up and resume her duties. Of course, it was out of the question. Seven had died. Why then did Kathryn look at Seven's body as if her fleeting fantasy of reanimation could come true? Swallowing hard, she signaled Ayala for the beam out to the shuttle.
At her request, Janeway rematerialized in the shuttle F'Lang, the shuttle which had the least experienced pilot at the helm. Gaining her bearings, she took a seat beside crew member Swinn, careful to keep her still healing arm out of harm's way. "Power up," she signaled.
Swinn's long, curly, dark hair fanned out from a band in the back of her head that held it loosely together. Janeway was momentarily distracted as it bobbed like a dark mane when Swinn bent her head to the controls.
In its last act, Voyager released the force-field over the shuttle bay opening. One by one, five shuttles left her embrace. The Lee, the Ride, the Jolly Roger, the Earhart, and the F'Lang swarmed from the shuttle bay like honey bees forsaking a bear-wrecked hive.
Janeway asked Swinn to swing the F'Lang around and over Voyager so she could see for herself the damage the great ship had suffered. It was massive. Huge openings were visible, the lower decks were pancaked. If she hadn't understood before, she did now. Without help, Voyager would not fly again. The great ship lay surrounded by ice. It wouldn't be long before she would be buried under the snow and ice.
Even as they left, Janeway noticed that it was snowing fiercely and found that her last glimpses of her ship left her with little to fan the small spark of hope she'd had that Voyager would fly again. Without hope perishing altogether, this was as bad as it got.
By 1153 they were too high to see anything but the bright expanses of white below and the blackness of space above.
End Part 2