"How long until we reach Boxredum?
"Doxerum." Spock says from somewhere behind me.
"1 hour, Captain." Sulu answers, choosing to simply ignore my mistake. I turn to give Spock my best, 'see, he can pretend I don't fuck everything up' look, but my diligent First Officer's head is bowed down; scanning the screen at his station. He is so used to correcting me that he probably didn't even look up.
I make a face that only goes noticed by Uhura, but she just rolls her eyes. It's been years since I was first given the Enterprise but she still thinks I can't do it. Turning back, I look around at my crew. After some consideration I put on my best smile.
"Sulu, you're with us on this one." I say trying to keep my smile from becoming a smirk.
"Aye, Captain." He responds quickly and I can tell he's excited. Hell, I'm excited. Not every day you get to set your feet down on a planet that only a handful of people have ever been on.
"Sir…" Spock says, stepping down and approaching me. "I'm sure you're only having one of your temporary lacks of judgment. Don't you agree that the only crew to be joining us should be science officers? We are simply to beam down and collect samples of various plant life. "
"Ah yes, but you yourself said earlier that this could be dangerous. Don't you think we should have a few people trained to handle –"
"God Damnit , Jim. When I tell you to come to sickbay, COME TO SICK BAY." Bones is storming over to me, hypo in hand. I can't help but cringe. How did he even come in without me seeing? Ninja.
"I was going to," I plead, adjusting my position and glancing around to find a way out of this. "I just got a little sidetracked."
"We're going down to some planet that is full of God knows what kind of bacteria, and you still refuse to come willingly to sickbay." He says, still advancing, but slowly. He knows I might run.
"The Doctor is correct." As if I need someone to tell me that. I turn again to Spock, mostly to just fix him with a glare but end up gripping fiercely at the sides of my chair and shutting my eyes against the sound of the hypo. "The unusual-extreme weather patterns of Doxerum keep teams from beaming safely to and from the surface. These very storms are likely the reason why no life aside from foliage can be sustained." He takes my moment of weakness to continue, but I don't miss the flash of something across his face.
Spock and I are friends. Far from the famous and amazing friends I was told we should be, but friends nonetheless. Once a week we play chess in my quarters and occasionally we eat together in the mess. I learned to deal with his unemotional ass the same way he learned to deal with my overly emotional, brash, cocky… well, me. Mostly it involves ignoring each other. Our conversations are comfortable, but never lengthy or deep. I don't know much more about him than I did when we first met. But we don't hate each other. That's good.
"Sulu is coming too." I say, ignoring the Vulcan. I can't help but smile as Bones rounds on the other man.
This is going to be a good mission. The first one in a while that doesn't have me dreading arrival. The place screams adventure. No team has ever been able to get more than a few reading after beaming down before the weather turns bad. Apparently there was some sort of front that was recorded by a satellite they placed over the planet that was going to clear the normally hectic weather for at least 2 hours. Plenty of time for my team to get down there and make some doxedrum history.
I shuffle along, content to fall behind a bit and marvel at the utter strangeness of this planet's surface. Spock is holding up the front, followed closely by three science officers with Bones somewhere in between. Sulu is only a few paces ahead of me, probably realizing that there isn't much he can contribute. The trail we're following is so thin that his feet keep brushing the tangled weeds at either side of him.
The science team stops, no doubt collecting samples of something. I halt too, not willing to catch up just yet. Turning to my left I lean over the biggest flower I have ever seen.
"I bet this thing weighs more than Uhura." I say absently, glancing over my shoulder to Sulu. He must've stopped when I stopped.
"No girlfriend can turn down an apology when you punctuate it with this thing." He adds with a smile. I'm grateful for the lightness of everything. The normalcy.
I chuckle but immediately wish I hadn't. No sooner than the breath leaves my mouth does the plant spew some sort of horrible yellow dust. I stagger back, hands clawing at my face.
"What the hell was that?" I manage to choke out after a second.
"I don't know. Should I call them over, Captain?" He sounds a little panicked. I compose myself and look ahead. They've moved forward, but not by much.
"Nah, I'm okay. Just a plant." I flash him a smile, hoping to diffuse the situation. The last thing I need is to screw up something else.
He doesn't seem convinced, but goes along with it anyway. I decide changing the subject might be good.
"This place sure doesn't look like extreme weather central." I move forward, but only at a crawl. The storms here are mostly weird electrical ones. Something about the planet's core. Damn, I should've paid more attention. I've been so off lately.
"I just don't want to be caught on here when they come back." Sulu says from behind me. The thinness of the trail doesn't allow any side by side conversation.
"I second that." I respond back just as my communicator crackles.
"Captain, I suggest you keep with the group to avoid any disastrous situations that can easily be prevented. " I grimace at the not so subtle 'get up here now before you mess up what should be a simple mission.'
I start forward at a slightly quicker pace but stop just as fast. Something is off.
"What is that? Do you feel it?" My words are rushed. Well, so much for not making him panic.
"Captain?" He probably thinks I'm high on plant dust. "Wait… I feel something too." He stops just behind me. "Like a vibration or something."
"Spock?" I ask as calmly as I can into my communicator only to have silence greet me back. I try a few more times but stop when Sulu yelps.
"I think that fern just zapped me. " He says, yanking his hand away from the sides of the trail.
"Kirk to Enterprise." I try instead. The answer is immediate, though garbled.
"Cap… forming… you up." I can't even tell who it is. A quick look forward and I see that the rest of the away team has rounded a corner. "Come on." I say to Sulu and break into a jog to catch up with them. "I can't hear you. " I say, turning my attention back to the communicator while I run.
"Storm… signal… together?" How could a storm be forming? They'd only been on the planet for a half hour. Spock himself even said they'd have at least three times that. I round the corner and nearly slam into Bones.
"Where were you?"
"Something is happening. We need to beam up." I say breathlessly, ignoring the CMO and checking over my shoulder to make sure Sulu kept up.
"My readings indicate-" Spock begins but I interrupt.
"No time." I lift the communicator. "Beam us up!" We wait in silence. A low buzz begins to ring in my ears. This can't be good. I'm about to comment but stop when I can feel the familiar pull of the ship. Thank God. Bones vanishes but then something crackles loud above me and before I know it I'm flying through the air. I land painfully in a pile of little prickly tree things.
I struggle to my feet but fall right back down when another crackle begins. This is really not good. I pop up quickly when it's over and start running through the plants toward the path. When I get there I only see Spock. He's crouched low, a single trail of green blood running down the side of his face.
"We must find shelter." I marvel at how he projects his voice over the booming storm. "The others made it to the ship." He adds, answering my unasked question.
We start running. I don't know where because all I saw earlier were plants, plants, and more plants, but I trust Spock and follow closely behind him. Something hits the ground a few feet behind us and the resulting wave throws me forward. I climb to my feet so fast that I feel dizzy.
"Spock!" I call out and stumble, the world tilting viciously. So much for not screwing everything up. A strong arm wraps around my waist and all but drags me forward. I'm moving my legs as best I can but still I'm unable to stop myself from staggering every few paces or so.
We make it to a clearing but suddenly it's all gone. We're falling. I land hard on my back, Spock landing only a few inches away.
"What the hell…" I groan, looking around. It is no use though. Even with the light from where we fell not too far above us, I can't see a thing.
"We appear to have fallen into a cave." Spock's already on his feet, dark eyes scanning the area. I don't know how he can see – especially when I can barely see him.
"Are we safe down here?" I ask, pulling myself up. The dizziness is still there. I shake my head, hoping to clear it.
"We must descend deeper."
We make our way through the rough and not to mention pitch black terrain. I can't help but feel frustrated at how many times my feet catch on something while Spock practically glides ahead of me. "Are you alright?" I ask mostly to break the silence. I don't expect him to give me an answer that is straightforward.
"I am well." I can't see him now. I just hear his voice echo from ahead. We've traveled so low that I can barely hear the loud crashing of the storm.
"It is nothing."
I sigh and decide to take another route. "What happened? I thought we had plenty of time to beam down and get what we need." This was such a disaster. It has been growing into my pattern. I'm on a roll.
"Spock," I begin, stopping and resting against a damp wall. It doesn't feel rocky at all. "Okay, tell me what you do know."
"My readings indicated a rise in electrical activity. As for the cause… I do not know." Did he sound different? Defeated? "The front should have given us ample time."
"How long do you think we'll have to wait for the storm to stop?" He's beating himself up over this. I take another step, sliding my hands along the lumpy wall, struck by the sudden urge to comfort him.
"Satellite readings indicate the last break in the weather over this region didn't occur until the storm was 7.5 days old." He says, his voice once again schooled into the usual unemotional fact spitting tone. I don't know why I'm disappointed.
"We don't have the supplies for a week long cave camp."
"Indeed. For now we should halt. In order to ascertain when the storm ceases we will need to be able to hear it." I can hear Spock's steps stop. I don't say anything – just listen to the low rumble. One more second and Bones would've been dead. I shut my eyes, willing my mind not to go down that path. How come things always go wrong like this? It's not just once, it's every time. One second I'll be chatting to the ambassador of some planet, and the next I'll be up against a wall, phaser in my face.
Am I cursed?
I hear Spock's steps again. Slow and even. My eyes have adjusted enough for me to make out the outlines of everything. I can even see his pale skin traveling along the far wall. I find myself a nice nook and slide down. Where did all my energy go?
I don't feel very captainly. Not once today. Being corrected, yelled at about hypos, allowed to wander off, input not required in the mission at hand. God, why am I so depressed? I press myself further against the wall, hands clutching my arms. When did it get so cold?
"Fascinating." Spock's voice lifts me a bit. Wow. Where did all of that come from?
"What?" I ask, trying to get him to say more. Get me away from these dangerous thoughts.
"It appears we're in one very wide, very long tunnel that's made completely out of the roots of plants."
"Is that good?"
"I don't believe it has any effect on our current situation at all."
It grows quiet once more and I feel my chest tighten. Not again. I shift, trying to think of everything but the hopeless situation we're in. The hopeless… dark… terrible…