Beta: My heartfelt thanks go to Pennyforum for helping me beta my first Trek fic.
Archive: Just drop me an e-mail and let me know where you're sticking it. :)
Disclaimer: I do not own anything or anyone of the Star Trek Universe. Everything recognizable belongs to Paramount and everything else belongs to me. I did not obtain permission to use these characters and I'm not receiving money for this story. I merely take them out for a spin and will return them in one piece… more or less. -g-
Summary: Faced with a no-win situation, Trip tried to get his people to safety.
Hoshi dropped to the ground at the sound of her commanding officer just as a barrage of shots sailed past her head. She watched with apprehension as Commander Tucker slowly inched his way towards her position and flopped down onto his stomach beside her.
"That was close," breathed the man as he scrutinized the young communications officer. "Are you hit?" he asked, concerned.
"No Sir. But they are everywhere!" Hoshi's voice trembled with tension. "I'm not sure how much longer we can last." The woman brushed a strand of stray hair from her face, her demeanor grim when she considered their hopeless situation.
"Hoshi, we can't give up now. Where there's a will, there's a way." Trip was determined to get his people out of this predicament but it seemed like they've been trapped in a no-win situation. Scanning his surroundings, he noted some dense foliage to his left. Some of his men were already taking cover there, the others were scattered around the vicinity. His first priority at the moment was to get Hoshi to safety. And then he would do something about their situation. But right now, he had absolutely no idea what he would do.
"I want you to make a run for the foliage. We need to regroup." Tucker surveyed his surroundings and took note of the locations of the remaining members of his team. It would not be easy to get them together but he would try his hardest.
Hoshi looked at Tucker incredulously. "But what about you, Sir?"
"I'll create a diversion to draw their attention away from you."
"That's insane!" the ensign cried and winced at her outburst. "You know that you're their main target. If they get you, it'll be all over!" Hoshi protested desperately.
"I know," Trip sighed and ran his fingers through his disheveled hair. "But it's a risk that I'm willing to take."
"Yeah?" Trip turned an inquiring gaze at Hoshi.
Trip smiled reassuringly. "Don't worry. I'll be fine." He scanned his surroundings having remembered seeing a ravine somewhere. He found it a several meters away from his position and slightly to his right. If he ran fast, he could slide down the slope and take cover there. Unfortunately, he had no idea what was at the bottom of it. He just hoped that there wouldn't be any surprises waiting for him. But life was full of surprises anyway. Trip took a deep breath and readied himself. Checking his weapon one more time, he nodded to Hoshi.
Hoshi gulped visibly.
Without further hesitation, Trip made a sudden dash out of his hiding place and headed straight for the ravine. Several shots landed beside his feet narrowly missing their target. He heard shouts around him but he could not tell whether they were from his friends or foes, and frankly, he did not care. All his attention was focused on getting himself to the ravine in one piece. When he neared his destination, the man dove for the opening and felt himself slide over the edge. The next thing he knew, he was tumbling down the slope, crushing small plants and wild flowers along the way. Then his body came to a sudden halt, courtesy of a tree stump near the bottom which prevented him from ending up in the small stream below. Having the wind knocked out of him, Trip lay panting and gasping as he tried to regain control of his breathing and rein in the pain in his body. That was going to leave some nasty bruises, he thought dryly.
Several minutes passed before Trip finally made his way to the top of the slope, keeping his head low so that his enemies would not be able to see him. He realized that they had ceased firing and wondered what happened. Then all hell broke loose. He heard shouting and screaming and he risked peering out from behind the slope just in time to see another two of his officers being taken down by their enemies. He couldn't believe that he had already lost a quarter of his people. Their foes had them surrounded. They had no where else to run. It was only a matter of time before they were picked off one by one. Trip sighed despairingly. How he wished Malcolm was by his side. He could definitely use some advice from Enterprise's chief armory officer now. Even though Trip knew that he was fighting a losing battle, he was going to take as many enemies as possible with him before he went down. Aiming for a large tree, he leapt out of the ravine and ran towards his new shelter, firing madly at the direction where he had last seen the enemies. They returned fire but he was lucky to escape unscathed.
Leaning against the huge tree trunk which protected him from enemy fire, Trip gulped for air and tried to calm his racing heart. Suddenly, he heard the sound of crushing leaves behind him. Spinning around with his weapon outstretched, Trip came face to face with the leader of the enemy. But before he could fire a shot, a sharp pain hit him in the right shoulder, the impact knocking him off his feet and he landed on his back with a grunt as crimson started to blossom on his uniform. A booted foot pinned him to the ground by his chest and an evil grin broke out on the leader's face.
"You're a dead man, Commander," the tall man taunted. He reached down and hauled Trip up onto his feet. And then he smiled.
"Good game, Trip."
"Aye Sir. I knew there was a reason they made you captain." the young man gave his commanding officer a lopsided grin and then looked down at the red paint that stained the front of his uniform. "You ruined my shirt," he complained.
Archer laughed heartily and brushed the dirt off his chief engineer's back. "Don't worry, Commander, it'll wash off."
Trip muttered something inaudible under his breath and picked a dry leaf out of his hair.
"Come on, let's get everyone back on Enterprise and let the second team have their share of fun," said Archer as he ushered his friend towards the waiting shuttlepod.
"Fun? You call that fun?" Trip said sarcastically as he wiped his filthy face on his sleeve.
"Ahh... Commander, it's not that bad," the captain replied with a barely restrained grin.
"Oh, it's bad Cap'n. I lost almost one third of my men! You had us floored!" Trip grumbled good-naturedly.
"Don't be such a sore loser, Trip. It was just a game."
Wrapping an arm around the younger man's shoulder, Archer gave him a brotherly hug which Trip returned with equal enthusiasm. The two friends strolled towards the shuttle at the far end of the field, hidden behind a wall of trees. Suddenly, Trip groaned and staggered into Archer, almost knocking the man over.
"Ohh...I don't feel so good…" Trip managed before his knees buckled and he collapsed onto the soft grass, dragging Archer along with him.
"Trip?!" Archer called out frantically as he instinctively reached for the man's neck to check his pulse. The heartbeat was strong and steady. But his friend was shaking. Puzzled, Archer took a closer look at the younger man and realized that he was shaking because he was desperately trying to contain his laughter. Jon pushed himself up to his feet and planted his hands on his hips, glaring down at the almost hysterical man.
"Pull that prank on me again and you'll find yourself purging impulse manifolds into the next decade!" Archer reprimanded his third-in-command with a harsh tone but a glint of humor shone in his gentle green eyes.
"Sorry Cap'n," Trip apologized and accepted his friend's outstretched hand. He pulled himself up with a small grimace which did not escape the attention of the ever vigilant captain.
"Trip?" asked Archer with a raised eyebrow.
"Ahh, it's nothing." He tried to brush it off with his disarming smile but Archer did not back down.
"It's either the truth or the impulse manifolds. Your choice."
Tucker had the decency to look embarrassed. "I think I might have bruised some ribs when I took a tumble down the ravine earlier," he confessed sheepishly.
Archer shook his head in amazement. His engineer seemed like an injury magnet, attracting disaster wherever he went. "You'd better have Phlox have a look at that when we get back to Enterprise. Come on, let's not keep the others waiting. I'm sure Malcolm and T'Pol are dying to start their round of the game."
Trip snorted at the statement as he walked alongside his captain, talking and laughing as they disappeared into the trees.
- The End -