Second Chances Part 2
Disclaimer: Star Trek Voyager is a registered trademark of Paramount Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended.
A short time later, Captain Janeway quietly entered her ready room, Commander Chakotay close behind. They had spent the past thirty minutes in sickbay, suggesting alternate possibilities, only to have the Doctor reject them outright. They had finally accepted there were none.
They needed the dilithium immediately; they couldn't afford another confrontation with the alien ship without warp engines. Engineering were still extremely busy trying to repair the damage to the ship and couldn't spare the time that was needed to repair the Doctor's programme.
There was only one option available. The Captain and Commander would have to mine for dilithium themselves. Not the most desirable situation, but the only one they had.
As the doors closed behind them, Kathryn headed directly towards the upper level and the replicator. She needed a good strong coffee. Chakotay followed, unsure of what to do or how to act. Since they had left sickbay, she had only voiced her desire to discuss the situation in her ready room. The rest of the journey had been made in silence.
Hands wrapped tightly round the coffee cup, Kathryn turned and asked if he wanted anything. When he answered no, she indicated to the couch, then sat and waited as he joined her.
She sat back, slowly sipping the piping hot coffee as he sat on the edge of the chair, elbows leaning on his thighs, hands tightly clasped. Before it became too awkward, the Captain dived straight into the necessary discussion.
"We better prepare ourselves for the away mission as soon as possible. The quicker we get the dilithium, the faster we can leave this area of space."
"Agreed," Chakotay nodded, gradually turning round to face her.
Kathryn cleared her throat before continuing. "I know it won't be very convenient, but I think it would be best if we remain on the planet throughout the whole procedure."
"Captain?" Chakotay was obviously surprised by her suggestion, not to mention a little worried. They would be extremely vulnerable.
"Normally, I wouldn't suggest that," Kathryn began, shaking her head. "But normally, there would be round the clock duty shifts during the procedure. With just two of us it won't be normal. We obviously can't leave everything on the planet and beam back for the night, and it would simply waste too much time to take everything apart at the end of the day to beam it back to Voyager."
"Yes, of course." Chakotay could see the sense in that, but it still didn't do anything to ease his concern.
"I'll go to engineering and prepare the equipment we'll need. If you prepare what will be needed for a few days stay on the planet then join me in engineering, we could probably leave within a few hours."
"Aye Captain." Chakotay hesitated then continued. "I'm not very happy about you leaving the ship under these circumstances, and I'm sure Tuvok will object."
"Under the circumstances it probably isn't wise for me to be leaving the ship, but we have no other option." Kathryn's head lowered and she continued in a slightly quieter voice. "You can't extract the dilithium yourself .. and .. I wouldn't let you." She paused briefly. "You're not going down to the planet yourself."
The statement was final. There would be no negotiating that point, even with Tuvok.
Chakotay watched Kathryn. There was a lot he wanted to say, but finally, he simply nodded. Excusing himself, he silently left the ready room.
It didn't take as long as the Captain had anticipated for herself and Chakotay to prepare for the away mission. Unsurprisingly, B'Elanna had ignored the Doctor's instructions to remain in sickbay, fleeing to engineering at the first possible opportunity. She almost had everything prepared for the Captain before she could even set foot in engineering.
Chakotay had found Neelix had done likewise, filling cargo bay one with everything they could possibly need and more. Chakotay had spent most of his time quickly sifting through the equipment, deciding what could be left behind, assuring a worried Neelix that it wasn't an essential.
While both were grateful it had been taken care of, they were more than a little surprised with how quickly it had been done, not to mention how fast the news of their predicament had spread. Both had no doubts that the Doctor was somehow involved.
Within the hour, they were ready to begin transporting what they needed to the planet. Kathryn and Chakotay beamed down first, materialising in almost the exact spot as before. Their discussion in the ready room now momentarily forgotten, they tried to focus on the task ahead.
Eyes adjusting to the glare of the sun, Kathryn and Chakotay looked across the land, as if expecting to see the lethal virus. The planet no longer held the charm it had before now that they knew it's secret. But of course, it looked just as safe and peaceful as it had a few short hours ago.
Eager to get to work, they turned their attention to some of the containers that had beamed down with them. While Chakotay began checking them, Kathryn contacted the ship.
"Janeway to Voyager."
"Voyager here Captain." Tuvok answered.
"We've arrived safely Tuvok. You can begin transporting the rest of the equipment." She walked over to stand beside Chakotay.
"Aye Captain. Beginning transport."
For the moment, communication was cut. Chakotay finished looking around then met Kathryn half way.
"We should be able to get most of the equipment set up by the end of the day Captain," Chakotay began, as he nodded towards the horizon. It was late afternoon on the planet, but they still had plenty of time before the sun set.
"We should be able to get our shelter set up for the night and prepare what we'll need for tomorrow. That should give us a head start."
"You know, if there wasn't a threat from an alien race.."I think I'd quite enjoy camping out tonight." Kathryn stood, hands on hips, the hint of a smile on her lips, watching as more items materialised nearby. The smile soon turned to a full grin when she looked up and saw Chakotay's face.
"Excuse me?" This from the woman who hates roughing it?" A real smile lit Chakotay's face, his dimples appearing. But as soon as the words left his mouth, the sudden familiarisation of their situation hit them both at the same time.
Their eyes dropped, unable to look at one other, acutely aware of the tension in the air.
Kathryn cleared her throat and tried to speak, only to be cut off when Tuvok's voice cut through the air.
"Tuvok to Captain Janeway." Immediately Janeway and Chakotay were alert, unable to miss the urgency in Tuvok's voice.
"Janeway here, is there a problem Tuvok?"
"Captain, the alien ship has returned to the system. They will be in weapons range within 30 seconds. I suggest you and the Commander beam back to the ship immediately."
Kathryn only paused for a second before saying, "No Tuvok, beam the equipment back first. We can't risk letting it fall into their hands."
"Captain .. ," Tuvok began, "We don't have enough time to beam everything on the planet back to Voyager. Only one transporter is functioning." Before he could go on he was swiftly interrupted.
"Tuvok, we don't know what they would do with the technology. Beam it back to the ship now."
When there was still no response Kathryn spoke more firmly, "That's an order Commander."
Within seconds, the equipment that had just arrived began its transport back to Voyager.
"Captain." It was Chakotay. Kathryn faced him, already knowing what he was going to say.
"Captain, you need to beam back to the ship." When she didn't reply he repeated himself, this time more forcefully.
"We can't allow Starfleet technology to fall into other hands Chakotay; especially when they could use it against another race. You know that as well as I do." She tried to speak gently, not wanting to have this argument with him now.
"You can beam up in the next transport, you'll only take the place of one piece of equipment." His voice had grown louder, etched with concern.
But Kathryn was adamant. "The equipment is more important. I won't allow it to fall into alien hands."
Barely containing himself Chakotay almost shouted, "No, you're more important." They stood, face to face, both unwilling to even think about how the last remark was meant. Almost as an afterthought he added, "The ship needs its Captain. The safety of the Captain is paramount."
By now, most of the equipment had been beamed back, only a few pieces remained. But suddenly, the transport that was taking place caught their attention, and they dragged their eyes from one other. It began to dematerialise, only to reappear then disappear again.
"Something's wrong." Kathryn said, worried. Tapping her comm badge she hailed Tuvok. "Janeway to Voyger."
Tuvok responded immediately. "Captain, the alien ship has fired on us. Transporters are off line. We are unable to beam any more of the equipment back to Voyager .. or you and the Commander."
"Understood. Get Voyager out of their Mr. Tuvok. Now."
Again Tuvok hesitated, but Kathryn knew he understood it was the right thing to do.
"Yes Captain. We will return as soon as we can."
"Understood, Janeway out." Both had heard what Tuvok hadn't said, understood the underlying meaning. They would return if they could.
The last thing Chakotay and Kathryn heard was Harry's voice in the background. Shields were almost gone, Voyager had sustained major damage, and the alien ship was still firing. As they looked at one another, they could only hope that Voyager and her crew would somehow manage to escape unharmed; and that they would succeed in coming back for her commanding officers.
As soon as communication ended, Kathryn and Chakotay collected the remaining equipment that lay scattered around them. Luckily only a few pieces were left, and those they could carry without too much trouble. Some pieces they carried in their arms, others with straps were thrown over their shoulders.
"We need to find cover." Chakotay said. Worry was written across his face, the one thing he had hoped wouldn't happen having just happened.
"Agreed, we're far too vulnerable here." Kathryn tried to ignore the worry she saw on his face, knowing it was reflected on her own. Voyager's safety wasn't the only problem they now had to worry about; there was their concern for each other. And that, both knew, could be infinitely more troublesome.
They swiftly scanned the area, trying to decide which direction would provide the best cover. "I suggest we head for the forest," Chakotay thought out loud. "If I remember correctly, Voyager had some difficulty scanning that area, the alien ships may have the same problem." He hesitated before saying, "If they know we're here and decide to look for us ..." The sentence was left unfinished, and their eyes locked, the implication hanging in the air between them.
Moments later, everything was ready and they began moving. They set off at a steady pace, knowing they had a lot of ground to cover before darkness fell. Their conversation consisted of planning for as many scenarios as possible, sharing ideas and opinions with one another.
The terrain they had covered, and what lay ahead, was fairly even, providing an easy path for them to follow. But while that didn't prove too difficult, the containers and equipment they carried, while light, soon began to weigh them down.
"I'd swear someone sneaked a few extra rocks into the containers when I wasn't looking," Chakotay said, heaving the container further up his shoulder and throwing Kathryn a half-hearted grin, trying to lighten the mood.
She returned the smile with the same half-heartedness. He knew she was worried about Voyager, but he tried again, only to be met with the same response. Eventually he relented and they carried on in silence.
The next few hours passed quickly and uneventfully. The sun began sinking towards the horizon, a welcome rather than a hindrance. Even with the steady breeze that had accompanied most of their journey, they had grown hot and sweaty, stopping more and more often to readjust the weight they carried.
Finally though, they had to stop for a more substantial break. Fortunately, most of the equipment that had been left behind consisted mostly of survival gear, leaving plenty of water rations for them to share.
"Captain," Chakotay called to Kathryn. She looked over to him and saw he had taken out some water rations from the pack he carried. She took it gratefully and gulped some down, the cold liquid clearing some of the dust that had settled at the back of her throat.
Suddenly she hiccoughed, the water causing a reaction after having gone so long without. She hiccoughed again, the noise sounding very strange in the silence around them. After the third, both broke into laughter, very aware of the absurdity of the situation.
"Thank you," she said, covering her mouth as she hiccoughed yet again, passing it back to him.
"You're welcome," he said, still smiling, trying to disguise the affection on his face. Preoccupied, their fingers brushed as the water passed between them, causing both to pull back abruptly. They tried to act as though they had felt and sensed nothing. He quickly took what was left, barely daring to glance in her direction, before speaking.
"I've been thinking," he began. "We .... " but he stopped suddenly. A faint sound could be heard above the noise of the wind that had begun to grow in intensity in the past hour. Kathryn and Chakotay looked around, unsure of where it was coming from.
In the distance, from the direction they had just travelled, vague outlines could be seen. "Do you see that?" Kathryn almost whispered, as though someone other than Chakotay could hear her. Chakotay only nodded. They couldn't tell who or what was headed in their direction, but they weren't about to wait to find out.
"We have to get out of here. Now. Within seconds, they were back on their feet, gathering their belongings together for the second time, and resuming the journey towards the forest. It was their only hope; they wouldn't be able to hold off an attack for very long, not with a mere two phasers between them.
There was still at least a two-hour hike until they reached the edge of the forest. Knowing this, they picked up the pace, also aware that the gap between themselves and whatever was behind them was closing rapidly. They continuously looked over their shoulders, checking their progress.
Finally, but not soon enough for them, they arrived at the edge of the forest, the sun almost completely gone.
They paused to catch their breath, gulping down as much water as they dared. With a little trepidation, they peered into the darkness before them, unsure what to expect.
"Did Voyager detect any lifesigns on the planet?" Kathryn asked curiously, her eyes still focussed directly ahead.
"No, well, at least not as far as I'm aware. No life forms were detected elsewhere, but since we couldn't scan this area, and a few others like it, we couldn't be sure."
They continued looking ahead. The trees were taller than either of them had ever seen, forming a thick canopy overhead. Even from where they stood, they could see that the few small shafts of light that managed to break through the barrier the trees created, barely touched the forest floor. The path ahead was cold and undesirable, but the only one they had.
"Any idea how far inwards we have to travel to escape sensors?"
Chakotay shook his head and shrugged. "Sensors did have a little more difficulty closer to the center of the forest, though not much. "
"Well, I guess we better get moving." Rather reluctantly, they crept forward. As they stepped under cover of the first trees, they took one last look over their shoulders. Humaniod lifeforms were now clearly visible, and would be upon them very soon. Eyes meeting they silently confirmed that now was the time to go. Leaving behind what was left of the fading daylight, Kathryn and Chakotay hoped it wouldn't be too long before they saw it once again.
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