Character/Pairing: McCoy, Spock/Uhura, Kirk, some redshirts

Rating: M For swearing right now.

'Jim, this entire situation is a clusterfuck.'

'Bones, what do you want me to do?' Kirk snapped.' We can't stay down here, we have to get the ship back to D-III and deal with the Klingon attack. We're the closest ship....'

'I realize that, but you can't just leave them, Jim! They could be hurt!'

'We'll be back as soon as we can, Bones!'

'That could be weeks! They'd be dead by then if they're injured!' McCoy lowered his voice, hating that he was locking horns with Jim in front of the rest of the landing party. 'Leave me here Jim. I'll look for them--for however long it takes you to get back.'

Kirk refrained from responding, so McCoy pressed his advantage knowing that Kirk was starting to relent.

'Look, Jim you've got a full complement of perfectly capable medical personnel that can do whatever you need. You can spare me! I can look for them, help them if needed, hell, I'll even carry out the rest of the investigation on the outpost while I'm here.'

'Shit. Alright.' Kirk hurriedly looked around at the three other crew people, "Let's finish getting these supplies unloaded from the shuttle! On the double, people. Fine, Bones, I know you're right. Just be careful. We can't beam anything more down here because of the interference from the planet. We'll leave the extra phasers for you though.'

'Captain, give me a little credit. I passed Survival 101 just like everybody else.'

'Right. Sorry, Bones.' Kirk ran his fingers through his hair. He knew it'd be tough—knew that the threat of losing friends like this would be hard.

'Damnit Jim. It'll be fine. Go kick some Klingon ass, then get back as soon as you can. We'll be fine, I swear it.' He clapped Kirk on the shoulder and grinned. 'You know Uhura, she probably just got a little lost.' He said it lightly, knowing that she most of all would weigh heavily on Kirk if something bad happened, but he regretted saying it already. Spock's name hung in the air between them. McCoy couldn't bring himself to offer any more empty comfort to Kirk.

'Jesus, I hope so, Bones. Find them for me, I have faith in you.' Kirk walked over to the Galileo. The rest of the crew were already buckled into their seats, their faces tired and dirty. 'Good luck, Bones.'

McCoy watched the Galileo take off into the sky and waved as it passed over. The shuttle grew smaller and smaller in the darkening sky. Clouds were starting to roll in too so McCoy set out grim-faced to quickly get settled into the small building nearby. It was a squat, ugly permanent shelter that had been hastily constructed by the first scouting party the Federation had sent over 20 years ago. No one from the landing party even had time to look inside, before Scotty had called down about the urgent new orders.

He sighed. Everything had gone to shit so quickly. They weren't even on the planet for fifteen minutes before McCoy looked around to ask Spock something and noticed he was missing. They spent hours combing the surrounding forest for him. Tricorders were wonky and the Enterprise had trouble reading anything on the planet's surface.

McCoy dragged each of the large black plastic boxes further inside the dark room. There were no lights or power yet. He'd have to check that out tomorrow. He looked around the room. A neat, somewhat empty room with several bunks stacked over to the far end of the wall. A little dusty, but pretty solid with no leaks or damage from what he could see. Well, that's a plus, he thought. At least he wouldn't have to deal with sleeping outdoors and being vulnerable to god knows whatever that was out there.

They were exhausted by the time they stopped looking and set up camp. Uhura was helping McCoy set up his tent, her face frowning in either concentration or worry. McCoy couldn't tell which one it was, but asked anyway, 'You all right, darlin'?'

'Yes, Doctor. It's just getting late and we haven't found him yet.' Just then, rain started to fall steadily. Uhura cursed softly before attaching the last corner of the tent to the ground.

Everyone in the encampment paused and turned their faces to the sky almost at the same time and then returned to finish their respective tasks in a hurry.

'Look, Uhura. Spock's done this a million times. That is one tough Vulcan bastard out there. If he could make it across a desert when he was seven—then I'm sure he'll manage out here.'

'I…I guess you're right.' She stood up and threw a couple of blankets into the tent. She looked like she wanted to say something more, but just shook her head. It was pouring now and they all went to sleep right away. Kirk had the first watch.

He set out a lamp and turned the knob to its lowest setting. He didn't want light to spill outside and alerting…. whatever was out there- that the building was occupied. The windows were small and high up, close to the ceiling, but he felt he should err on the cautious side. He spent the next couple of hours cleaning up the sleep area and setting out his medical equipment just in case.

Out of a dead sleep McCoy was jerked awake by a blood-curdling scream. His heart in his throat, he scrambled out of his tent. Timmons? Or Uhura?

'Get down! Get down! Fire at the light!! Shoot it!!' Kirk was yelling and McCoy hit the muddy ground as a phaser burst next to him.

He could barely see a damn thing except for a wildly waving flashlight and was trying to get a sense of where everyone was before feeling something brush by him. Something big.

'There it is!!' Another flash of phaser burst lit up the darkness. There were more yells but McCoy was frozen on the ground, his fingers digging into the mud. A roar. A loud, inhuman roar completely shook the night and McCoy down to his very bones.

McCoy jumped up just as there was another scream. Nyota. He ran blindly towards her, bumping into another body and slipping down again.

'Uhura!! Nyota!' He stumbled after her but her cries were getting fainter into the forest, getting drowned out by the shouting and phaser fire behind him. 'Shit!' He was knocked over on his side by something again. A couple of somethings. Something animal-like and definitely on all fours. His flesh crawled with fear. But it happened so fast. And then there was utter silence.

Grabbing a flashlight, he went out to do a quick perimeter check of the building. It was a very quick check though, as McCoy glanced over uneasily to the still, deep woods. He glanced to the back of the building, there was a small cistern on a raised platform. Rain catcher. Another good sign. He swept the surrounding area with his flashlight. Whatever human presence that had made itself known here twenty years ago was now long gone. All that was there was an incongruous building set in the heart of what had to be the quietest wood he'd ever been in. And it was freaking him out a little. He shook himself mentally. He was a doctor damnit, not some scared teenager. There'd be plenty of time to search in the morning when there was light.

They huddled in a circle with their backs to each other and their phasers drawn. No one spoke and there was little body movement. McCoy had found a lamp and turned it on, raising his arm up and moving in a circle. The camp was destroyed and he couldn't see Uhura anywhere.

Dawn came in an hour and Jim ordered everyone to salvage what they could before heading out to find Uhura.

'What did you see, Bones?' Kirk looked over at him as he was binding Flaherty's hand.

'Barely a damn thing. I tell you what though—whatever it was? It was big. And I think there was more than one of them.' McCoy glanced at Kirk whose shirt was ripped and muddy. It was a miracle that no one had actually been seriously injured, either from the animals or from the wild phaser shots.

'She couldn't have gotten very far…'Flaherty stopped as Kirk silenced him with a hard glare. 'I'm…I'm sure she's all right, sir.'

Kirk ordered McCoy, Timmons and Karelin back to the shuttle to follow them to the rendevouz point at the outpost. Kirk and Flaherty would follow Uhura's trail. They didn't get very far before Kirk's communicator whistled.

'Scotty here, Captain. And you're not going to like it.'

He returned inside and shut the metal door firmly behind him. Fortunately, there was a manual slide bolt that slid securely in place. He unpacked the rest of the crates. There was communications equipment that Uhura would need to put together when she got back. Food rations and bottled water he stored on the empty shelves-- which was also weird. The original scouting party had eight people and he couldn't understand why everything was completely empty. No personal effects, no clothing, no detritus that people left when living in a place. It was as if they'd never been there in the first place.

It was raining harder now and while McCoy was grateful to be inside, he couldn't help but feel guilty. It had been more than twelve hours since the attack at base camp. Twelve hours since they realized that Uhura was gone too. He closed his eyes and prayed that she was still alive somewhere and found shelter.