Author's note: I don't own anything except the plot, the planet and its inhabitants. Be gentle; this is the first story I have posted here, but if you're nice I might post more! :) I don't think there are many spoilers, if any. This story would have occurred in the first season, back when T'Pol was still a Sub-Commander and they were still explorers... not "humanity's last chance!". Entirely too much pressure and angst after that. Since this 'episode' didn't actually occur and the changes in this story did not in fact happen in the "real timeline", I guess this story is slightly Alternate Universe (though I believe it stays pretty true to the first season). This story contains sexual situations between consenting adults (m/f), so you've been warned. If you don't like Malcolm, don't bother with this one.
Malcolm staggered through the knee deep snow along the edge of the forest, clutching his side. He tapped the button on his chest with his free hand again, then lightly smacked his breastplate, trying to get the communicator to stop fritzing, yelling to make his voice heard over the howling wind. "Enterprise! Enterprise, do you read me?"
The communicator just crackled.
He gave it another smack, then spoke as loudly and clearly as he could, "If you can hear me... I'm going to try to get to the energy source we detected in the forest. Hopefully there will be a ship or some kind of shelter there." Static was the only reply,
He sighed and gave up, smacking the button to turn it back off and looking down at the gash in his side. He carefully peeled his hand away from it. The blood had actually frozen in the sub-arctic temperatures. "Well, at least I'm not going to bleed to death..." He muttered with a sarcastic grin. He was starting to feel a bit dazed. The suit was made to withstand super cold temperatures, but it had been breached, and the environmental functions were damaged and failing. He could feel himself going numb with the cold. At least the atmosphere was breathable, or he would probably have been dead already.
He leaned against a tree for a moment, his shoulders shaking. The energy reading had come from just about a kilometer into the forest... He looked into the densely packed trees, their branches low and intertwined. It wouldn't be easy... but it looked like his only chance. T'Pol had warned them about the locals... primitive, superstitious and violent. They had been given very specific orders to avoid the nearby village and its inhabitants at all costs.
He staggered over towards a small break in the branches. He tripped and fell headlong into the snow as his foot caught against something. He lay there for a minute, his head swimming. It took an enormous effort to raise himself shakily to his knees.
It was then that he heard it. An eerie whining howl that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. He barely had time to turn over before they were on him. He put his arms up to protect himself and the first creature snapped at him, its teeth sinking right through the protective suit and into his arm. He cried out in pain.
The world blurred around him as the pain clouded his brain. He heard an odd, trilling sound off to the side and the creature released his arm. He only got the impression of towering, hulking creatures approaching before he passed out.
When he next became aware, he felt a tight rope around his chest, under his arms. His backpack was gone, and he was being dragged by the rope at a high rate of speed. He was thankful for the snow now, as it greatly cushioned the ground, and hadn't torn his suit further.
The thought of being dragged by a rope by persons or things unknown should have been alarming, but he was feel quite numb by now. The inside of his faceplate was covered in frost, obscuring his view of the outside world.
By the time he skidded to a stop on his side, the world outside seemed quite far away. Only the vaguest of shapes showed through his faceplate, and he couldn't feel his body anymore.
He became aware of something hitting against his helmet. After a couple more whacks he heard a crack, then his faceplate was ripped away.
He blinked, trying to clear his eyes as the icy air bit into his lungs. There were creatures around him in the rapidly descending darkness. They were hulking figures with fur and slits for eyes. He stared at them dazedly as they circled around him, growling to eachother.
More began arriving. He was pretty sure some were poking him with sticks, but he couldn't really feel it anymore, just a vague pressure.
He stared around at them blankly. After a minute, he let his eyes drift, staring absently at an odd structure behind the figures.
Another figure came into view. It stopped as it caught sight of him. They stared at eachother for a minute. He noticed the bundle of wood it was carrying. Very slowly, his mind started making connections.
The figure approached as the others turned their attention to ripping into his backpack behind him. It knelt beside him, setting down the wood. He could hear raised voices behind him, more ripping and clattering as the contents of the pack fell to the ground.
The figure next to him reached up, and to his surprise, lifted away the fur covering it's face. He found himself looking into two brilliantly blue eyes. The pupils were slitted, but the face was unmistakably humanoid. Click. Click. He was in the village... the figures weren't animals as he'd thought... they were locals in heavy winter garb.
He drew in a sharp breath as a bare hand touched his cheek. His skin was so cold, the hand burnt like fire. The hand withdrew and it... no... he was sure now it was a female... SHE put her glove back on, glancing over him at the crowd beyond.
If he could have moved, he would have flinched. She had drawn a knife. He stared helplessly as she moved it towards him. But she didn't cut him. He felt a definite sawing tugging, then she pulled away the rope. She tucked away her knife as he heard the unmistakable sounds of his equipment being smashed to bits and barking laughter.
She grabbed him up roughly, slipping her arms under his, holding him around the chest awkwardly, his feet dragging the ground to one side as she staggered off with him. His head lolled onto her shoulder. The fur against his face felt quite nice actually.
He dazedly looked up, seeing the others smashing his things with rocks by the light of several torches. As each device was obliterated a kind of cheer went up from the gathered crowd.
He saw one of the figures look over to where he had lain and give out a cry as they started around the corner. The woman carrying him picked up the pace, starting to trot as fast as she could while lugging Malcolm's weight.
He heard a roar go up that definitely sounded angry, then the sounds of pursuit. The woman's breath was quickly getting ragged as she tried to go a bit faster. They appeared to be moving out of the main part of 'town', as the structures he now recognized as dome shaped homes became less and less frequent. The crowd caught up to them as they passed the last of the 'houses'. They were yelling at the woman holding him angrily. She just called over her shoulder, continuing to run as fast as she could.
The angry crowd started grabbing up pieces of ice and rocks, and began pelting her with them. She ran on, letting Malcolm shift a bit lower so his head was protected by her shoulder.
She ran on, staggering a bit when particularly large objects hit her. Then she veered towards a lone building. The door opened as she ran up to it.
Malcolm was suddenly surrounded by warmth and relative brightness. She let go of him and he dropped to the floor, where he lay, skin burning at the sudden heat. There was the sound of something sliding heavily into place. Then another and another. As angry pounding started on the door, he watched as the woman came into view. She fitted a heavy plank into notches across a wooden shape against the wall. He assumed it was a covered window. She disappeared to the side again and he heard a similar sound on the other side of the small house.
The pounding on the door suddenly stopped. Malcolm heard a deep booming voice calling through the door. The woman stopped, then slowly approached the door. He heard her call out something in their language, and then an argument ensued.
Whatever the argument was about, it appeared that after a few brief moments the woman had won it. She made one last pronouncement, then there was a pause followed by a great boom against the door. Then silence.
He saw the woman go over to the window, peering through a crack in the wood. She sighed, then came over, undoing her massive coat and peeling it off. Without the furs, she looked positively minuscule. Malcolm gazed up at her as she started working on getting his suit off, wondering how such a petite creature could have lifted him, let alone carried his weight all that way.
The woman's eyes peered into his again, swimming in and out of focus, then faded away entirely.
"What do you mean you can't locate him?" Archer growled, clenching his teeth in pain as Doctor Phlox cut away the bloody remains of his suit and uniform around the large tear that covered the lower half of his leg.
"There is some sort of electrical disturbance in the area that is blocking our sensors." T'Pol informed him calmly.
"Is it a natural phenomenon?" Archer asked, more concerned than ever.
"As far as we can tell."
"What do you mean by that?" He asked, flinching and letting out a hiss of pain as Phlox swabbed the area with antiseptic.
"There is currently a rather violent storm, which may possibly be the cause, and the sensors showed nothing previously on this planet capable of producing such shielding. Therefore, until information is found to the contrary, it can be deduced that the source is most likely natural." She glanced at the wound, noting the pained look on his face, "Doctor, perhaps the Captain needs a bit more pain medication...?"
"He hasn't had any. As I just explained to him, the creature that bit him had quite potent venom..." He paused as he extracted a thin tooth, about three inches long, from Archer's leg. He dropped the tooth into a pan and continued, "If it is combined with any of the pain relievers I have available, it would quickly result in cardiac arrest..." He calmly scanned the wound again, locating and extracting yet another tooth.
T'Pol looked from the wound to Archers pale, waxen face. "Will you be able to eliminate it?"
"Hopefully with a bit of time. I've been able to greatly slow it's progress for now. Actually, he's very lucky... if he had the biological makeup of the local inhabitants, he would have been dead within about three minutes... not to mention, it wouldn't have stopped attacking..."
"How did my biological makeup stop it from attacking?" Archer asked, curious despite his obvious pain.
Phlox smiled. "I imagine you taste quite bad. In fact, it's very possible that the taste it got of you has it feeling even worse than you do."
"Serves it right." Archer grumbled, eyeing the wound. He looked over at T'Pol, "Why wasn't there any warnings about those things in the Vulcan Database?"
"This planet was only observed for a short period of time during the warm season. From the scans you took before it attacked, that creature appears to be adapted to the cold... it is possible they hibernate or retreat up into the mountains during the warm season. You WERE warned that there were many dangerous species on this planet."
Archer sighed, knowing further questioning of the database information would be useless. He looked over at the doctor. "How's Trip?" He asked, glancing over to where he lay.
"He'll be just fine. Little bump on the head, nothing more." Phlox said unflappably, "I sent him to his quarters. He's on strict bedrest for the time being, but I doubt there will even be a scar."
Archer's eyes widened, "I just remembered... Malcolm got raked across the side by the claw on the end of that tail.. or tentacle... or whatever the hell that was... that's what pushed him off the edge of the slope... if it's got the same kind of venom..."
Phlox blinked contemplatively. "Oh dear... Let's hope not... I'm afraid the prognosis for such an untreated wound would not be good. The low temperatures should slow the progress some, but..."
Archer sighed heavily, then looked over at T'Pol. "Find him... I don't care how... if you need to send another away team, do it... but first figure out how to detect those... things... no sense sending them a buffet."
T'Pol nodded. "Aye sir. We'll monitor the storm and watch for a break... the turbulence is too violent to get a shuttle through. You got out just in time."