"Ten seconds till touchdown captain."

Kirk bounced nervously on the balls of his feet as they neared the base of the canyon. He kept his eyes averted from the front window. Even with the sunscreen on he still found the light blinding. Spock, on the other hand, stood directly behind Lieutenant Uhura, staring straight through the glass as if nothing was amiss. Oh how Kirk would have loved to believe that.

While the desert floor appeared empty and barren, something tugged at his insides. Something was definitely not right here.

The shuttle gave a soft hiss as it landed on the dirt and sand. Spock walked briskly over to the rack of balusters and supply packs. They carried everything one might need if deserted: water, imperishable food, fire-starters.

"I hope you can soon see, Captain, that we have no need to be here. It is a fruitless effort."

Kirk groaned. The bit of human in Spock must have been offended, because he whirled around, green-faced.

"Do not chastise me for speaking what I know to be the truth," he said, his voice and expression filled with the cold logic that was the closest Spock usually came to rage. "The report showed no signs of life or a threat to the Enterprise. By Starfleet code of conduct we have no business on this planet."

"Pike said a good captain should always follow his gut, and that's what I'm doing," Kirk replied calmly. At the dashboard Sulu and Uhura were watching silently, utterly bewildered by this subdued outburst. Spock hesitated, taken aback by Jim's calm response. Had he expected him to be angry? Even Kirk had to admit it wouldn't have come as a surprise. At the moment he was too nervous to be angry, but he didn't expect it would last long. He took advantage of the stunned silence.

"As your captain-"

An explosion outside the shuttle sent Kirk and Spock flying hard into the back doors and threw Uhura and Sulu into the piles of crates near the front. The shuttle tumbled through the dust, and Kirk cried out in agony as debris smashed against him like so many speeding cars. Searing pain cut through him and he tasted blood in his mouth. He fought to keep his eyes open, but something was dragging him under. A crash filled the compartment and the world was filled with stark shadows and blinding white light. He needed to keep his eyes open. That's what the shadow said as it knelt over him, but he didn't want to keep his eyes open. The further they closed, the more weight was lifted from him until the rubble was gone and he was just…floating…