Origin in Pain
"I thought this planet was inhabited." Holding his sides and grimacing, Tom stared into the dusty, utterly unforgiving landscape before them. An estimated days worth of walking, no rescue craft, no signs of life. He was beginning to actually savor another week or so of bed rest.
"It was." The captain said tersly, motioning for him to sit down for a break and switching to the medical tricorder.
"I'm fine, really."
"You lost a lot of blood...you need liquids." Crouching, Janeway pushed a strand of hair back, scanning him with concentration. "A couple of cracked ribs, gash in the side...concussion. I'm afraid sleep is out of the question-"
"Just how the hell can a planet be inhabited one minute and uninhabited the next?" He
"There are many unorthodox explanations in the universe, Mister, and I'm not about to sit here and list them off one by one." She said shortly, putting away the tricorder. "You're right, you're fine. We need to keep moving."
The darkness, if possible, was far more intimidating than the miles of endless desert. It was, Kathryn Janeway decided, just her luck that she should be stranded upon an apparently and very oddly deserted planet that raged somewhere above a hundred degrees during the day and below zero at night. The com badges had proven worthless long ago, and the tricorder only served to help them escape the bare dangers of stepping into sinkholes or onto predator niches. Tack onto that an incrementally swelling ankle that she staunchly hid and a lagging and alternately hyperactive and sullen Tom Paris, and you had the away mission from hell.
She quit. Well, momentarily, at least.
Flopping down in a nest of particularily loose sand, she flexed her ankle, thankful the darkness hid her uncaptainly wince. Paris groaned, bumping her knee as he too settled down. "Does this mean we get to settle in and die peacefully?"
"I somehow doubt the possibility of that." She said irritably. "I haven't found a way to shut you up
He laughed. "Trying to dispel a rotten mood with an even more rotten mood, captain?"
She sighed. "Hows the side?"
"Better than the ankle. If you don't remove that boot, you'll have a permanent limp."
"And here I thought we were going to die peacefully and leave our mortal ailments behind."
"I have a kid to think of, ma'am." He tried snide apology.
"So do I."
He wasn't entirely sure he had heard it, but decided not to press. Still, he grinned, reaching over to unlace the boot and pull it off. "You have holes in your sock, captain."
"I'll put myself on report later." She muttered, lying back. "Go to sleep, Lt. Theres nothing out here to bother us."
"Thats what you think." He waved the tricorder. "I heard a growl."
"There was no growl, Tom."
"The hell there wasn't...captain. I distinctly heard a growl, by your head, but its so damn dark I can't see anything."
"Then how do you know its my head?" She yawned, making a mental note to speak to Chakotay about his rescue and recovery time scores.
Sitting up, she squinted, finally making out his vague shadow and hearing rhythmic breathing. Out like a light. Shaking her head, she patted him on the arm, turning back onto her side. Annoying as he was, somehow the deserts seemed quite a bit less lonely when he was around.
A strictly noncaptain observation.
The dawn was brilliant. Not something Tom Paris typically had the chance to observe, star bound as he preferred to be. The planet, what was it Naomi had nicknamed it? L'Utopie. Little Utopia. Yeah. Little Utopia had beautiful dawns, even if the rest disappeared without rhyme or reason.
Rolling onto his back, Tom stared up into the sky, enchanted by the brilliantly glittering but never
quite blinding view the two mirror suns offered.
Finally forcing himself out of his revery, he stood, staring down at the exhausted captain. "I'd like to let you sleep, Mama Kate, but if sunburn isn't bad enough, we have company, and I don't think they want to offer help."
Darkness again, but this time a chilling, grimy, bone-aching darkness. Swallowing a grimace, Janeway balanced on her good ankle, staring around the prison camp. No worse than any she'd seen before, but certainly no better.
"I thought this place was uninhabited." Tom moved up beside her, face marked by angry
scraches and bruises, tones back to snide harshness. He might not be saying what they had done to him, but if this camp was like any of the other morally and sexually depraved ones they had seen, his mother had a pretty damned good idea. Despite the cockiness, humilation practically radiated from him.
She turned away and left him to it, throat constricting..