Disclaimer: I don't own it, I make no money from it. Not written for profit, simply for pleasure.
"Damn it," Trip mumbled as his foot slid into a puddle, the brackish water all but submerging his boot. That's all he needed, he thought. As if things weren't bad enough already; now he had wet feet.
He glanced over Hoshi's head to Malcolm and his foot slipped. He scrabbled for purchase in the wet growth along the ground and managed to maintain his footing despite Hoshi leaning on his arm. Malcolm glanced in his direction, then returned his focus to the jungle around them.
They'd been half-dragging Hoshi between them for well over an hour, and Trip was getting tired. And hot. With the hand that wasn't around the ensign, he reached out to push aside some green vines, sweat dripping down his face in the heat and humidity. He looked down at Hoshi, her face partly obscured by her lank black hair, and he could tell that she was pale and, from the way her feet were dragging through the underbrush, she was also getting tired. To Malcolm, he said, "Maybe we should rest for a minute."
Malcolm simply nodded.
As a group, they sank to ground, the vegetation and muck squelching beneath them. Trip could feel the wet and the mud ooze up through his uniform, but he was tired enough that he really didn't care. He took a sip from the water bottle that Malcolm passed to him, then made sure that Hoshi also drank.
"I know where we are," Hoshi said, passing the bottle to Malcolm as she looked from Trip to Malcolm, her eyes too bright.
"Where?" Trip asked.
"In the woods," she said with a satisfied nod.
"Thanks, Hosh. That's real helpful," Trip replied, looking over her head to Malcolm beside her. They exchanged a significant look. Hoshi had been, well, altered was perhaps the best word for it, since soon after their shuttle had crashed on this unpopulated world. Luckily no one had been hurt in the crash. Hoshi's problem had come later.
She'd been outside the shuttle, scanning, when she'd tripped over a vine and fallen face-first into some plants. She'd stood up immediately, but her face had been covered with a sticky yellow powder. Although they'd wiped it away and cleaned her face, since then she'd been a bit whacked. He reckoned maybe she was getting worse.
Of course they'd contacted Enterprise right away, but it figured, Trip thought as sweat rolled down his face and he wiped away the dampness with his sleeve. The one place on this planet sweatier than Florida, and that's where they'd crashed.
Their location was apparently too dense with jungle for a shuttle to land, and the transporters wouldn't work through the environmental interference. They had to walk to a more open area, where Travis would be able to land and pick them up. Considering the alternative, Trip did not mind the walk - after all, they didn't want to end up like poor Novakovich that time, with leaves in his skin.
Trip figured, once they got Hoshi to safety, a team could go back for the wrecked shuttle. But their priority had to be Hoshi. Hours had passed as they walked, and with each one, Hoshi had been getting more and more loopy.
"What time is it?" Trip finally asked Malcolm.
"Tuesday," Hoshi replied brightly.
"Eighteen hundred hours," Malcolm said.
"Sun should be settin' soon," Trip said. "How much further?"
Malcolm looked down at his padd. "About five kilometers."
Trip stood. "Best we get headed, then." He reached down for Hoshi and, with Malcolm's help, got her to her feet. She bobbled a bit and grabbed onto their arms, then smiled at them both.
"You guys are both lovely." She slid her hands down their arms and grasped their hands.
Trip raised an eyebrow at Malcolm, then looked back to Hoshi. Like a proper gentleman, he simply said, "Thank you."
Hoshi nodded. "Do you think I'm pretty?" she asked, blinking up at him from underneath her sweaty hair.
"Yes, Hoshi," Trip replied, trying to keep from laughing. "You are very pretty."
She turned to Malcolm. "How 'bout you? You think I'm pretty?" she asked as she shooed an insect away from her grimy face.
Malcolm looked at Trip, his eyes showing his desperation. Trip simply lifted one eyebrow and waited expectantly.
"I mean, I know I'm smart," Hoshi said, beginning to ramble. "Most guys think that I'm smart. But do you think I'm pretty?"
Trip watched as a blush began to creep up Malcolm's cheeks. Finally, Malcolm answered, "Yes."
Hoshi started walking, dragging them along by their hands. "Why aren't either of you dating anyone? Any woman would be lucky to have you." She smiled wickedly. "Too bad you're my brothers." Then she scowled. "Can't date your brothers. Could lead to unpleasantness."
"Right," Malcolm said, his blush intensifying.
"Good," Hoshi said firmly. "Anyway, shipboard romances tend to complicate things."
Trip shook his head. He hoped that Hoshi wouldn't remember this once she back on Enterprise.
Hoshi frowned. "Why are we here again?"
"We crashed, remember?" Trip said, pushing aside some greenery.
"Why has the Captain not found us yet? He leave us here?" Hoshi took a noisy sniff. "I don't like it here. Hot. Humid. Smells funny." She leaned over and sniffed Malcolm. "You smell funny." She looked away from him, off into the distance. "What's that?"
Trip turned in the direction she was looking. There, almost covered in vines, was a rather imposing statue. Approximately two meters high, it was a figure of some sort, carved from a hard, green material, slightly shiny in the dampness. Looking more carefully, Trip realised that it appeared to be a human man with an extremely stern expression on his face. His arms were at his side, and he stood, rigid, his eyes seeming to stare just over their heads.
Malcolm dropped Hoshi's hand and stepped forward cautiously. As he moved, he said back over his shoulder, "I thought this world was unpopulated."
"Supposed to be," Trip replied. "Scans showed no evidence of tech, or those sorts of biosigns."
Malcolm scanned the figure. "Someone was here once." He stepped forward and looked up into the statue's face. "It looks human." He pulled away a vine, exposing the top of the head and revealing a set of horns. "Well, not quite, actually."
"Looks like the devil," Hoshi said from beside Trip, her hand still in his. "Every man who ever had a statue made of him was some kind of sumbitch or 'nother," she said in a dead-on Texas accent. Trip looked at her in surprise, and she turned a beatific smile on him.
Trip stared at her for a moment, then tore his eyes away and triggered his communicator. He told the Captain about the statue, and gave them its coordinates.
They began walking again and soon came upon another figure, this one female, but otherwise the same -stern face, horns and all. About a half kilometer away, they passed another one. Then another. Finally they reached a fairly wide, grassy clearing. Trip stumbled as he entered, the ground was so much firmer than that which he'd gotten used to walking on. When he finally looked up, he simply said, "Wow." Ringing the clearing were several dozen of the statues, all facing in towards the center.
"Are these the coordinates?" Trip asked, looking from one figure to the next.
Malcolm glanced at his padd, then nodded. He glanced at each statue, then looked to the sky.
Trip opened his communicator. "Where are y'all?"
Archer's voice came across the comm. "Travis should be there in a moment. He's having trouble with the turbulence."
Trip nodded, remembering the reason for their crash. "Yeah, we know all about it. Tell him to be careful."
"Captain, there are also those weird statues kind of surrounding this clearing."
"That's okay," Archer replied. "We aren't reading anything from them. It should be fine."
Just then Trip heard the shuttle roar above him and saw it break through the clouds. He felt a tug on his hand and looked down at Hoshi. She was grinning. She tugged at his hand again, pulling him closer, then reached up and planted a kiss on his cheek.
Trip grinned. "What was that for?"
"The rescuement." She giggled. "You know, damsel in distress and all." Directly into his face, she shouted, "Malcolm!" and Trip flinched back at the noise. She dropped his hand, and he watched as she ran to Malcolm a few paces away and enveloped him in a hug. Pulling back slightly, she then gave him a peck on the lips. Then, still holding Malcolm, who looked shell shocked, she turned back to Trip and waved him forward. Cautiously, he stepped towards her. As he got close, she reached for his hand and pulled him in, hugging them both. "You guys are my heroes."
Trip noticed the shuttle landing nearby. "Um, thanks, Hoshi," he said as he tried to gently get out of her grip. She wasn't giving up, instead holding him closer. She looked up into his eyes. "No, really," she said softly, her eyes seeming clear. She smiled, then let them both go. "Anyway, I knew we'd be fine."
"Oh, yeah, how?"
"You know how?" she replied. "Because we are so...very...pretty. We are just too pretty for God to let us die." And she skipped towards shuttle just as its door opened.
Trip looked to Malcolm and sighed. "She is so going to be feelin' this in the morning."
"Hopefully she won't remember," Malcolm replied.
"At least it's just us." At Malcolm's puzzled look, Trip continued. "If it were Travis, he'd never let her live it down." He watched as Hoshi entered the shuttle, then turned again to Malcolm. "We should talk to him, make sure he knows -"
The ground rumbled beneath their feet and Malcolm's eyes widened slightly. It moved again, this time more violently, and Trip stumbled. Then he heard a clear, pure, and extremely loud note ringing all around them, drowning out even the noise of the shuttle's engines. He turned his head to the side, trying to see where the singing was coming from, and he started in shock. The statues no longer stood sternly, arms at their sides, stern expressions on their faces. Now they stood, arms raised to the heavens, mouths open. The singing was coming from them. He looked at Malcolm in alarm.
Malcolm said one word. "Run."
They sprinted toward the shuttle. Malcolm was slightly ahead of him and reached the door first, racing inside. Just as Trip was about to leap into the ship, the ground shook again, violently, and he fell, smashing his head against the rim of the door before he hit the ground.
He closed his eyes. He thought he felt a hand grasp his ankle, pulling him back and away from the shuttle, but he wasn't sure. It didn't matter. God, he was dizzy, and his stomach felt -
The movement stopped. He opened his eyes. The sky was blue above him, with white clouds chopping across it from left to right, swooping diagonally. He felt himself being dragged along the grass again. His head hurt. He shut his eyes.
There were shouts, and still the singing, one clear note held forever. And he was moving, although he was lying down, someone was pulling him by his ankle, but that didn't hurt. His head hurt. He wished they'd stop singing.
He heard weapons fire and he stopped moving. There were voices, some of them familiar, and then someone lifted him. He was moving again, then he stopped, and there was something soft beneath his head, and something warm wrapped around him, and he slept.
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