Gezegend – Chapter 4
Harry Kim stayed beside Janeway as the battle raged on in the streets surrounding their hiding place. He made one brief foray into the alley and discovered that teams of rebels were rounding up the citizens and forcing them to leave the city, and so he retreated to the studio apartment to wait for the battle to wind down.
About mid-afternoon, the building on the other side of the alley was hit by a bomb, reducing it to ruins and shattering every window in the apartment. Luckily, he had stacked boxes and furniture between the sofa and the windows, so both he and the captain escaped injury from flying glass.
For a while, the heat and the bricks falling from burning building insured that no one would wander into the alley and search for them, but Harry wasn’t sure that they were safe. He made a pallet on the floor beside the sofa and tried to get some rest. Staying low protected him from the smoke that drifted into the room. No one could see them unless they managed to get inside the apartment.
Harry checked the captain’s condition on a regular basis, doing whatever he could to make her comfortable. She was still alive, although gravely ill, and he hoped that that she would hold on long enough for Voyager’s doctor to treat her. Every thirty minutes or so he pulled out his tricorder with the hopes that it would be working and allow him to call for help. While the effect of the photonic pulse was waning, Harry wondered if there might be some other reason for the equipment’s continuing failure.
As darkness fell, he decided that he had to leave the captain and look for help. Starfleet protocol required away teams to return to the beam in site when they were separated and unable to contact the ship, so he had high hopes that Tuvok and Ayala would be heading in their direction as long as they had survived the battle. After one last look at the captain, he crawled through one of the shattered windows and crept toward the street.
He made it less than two blocks from the alley when a group of armed rebels forced him to hide behind an overturned ground vehicle. He lay beneath the vehicle listening as the ground troops systematically scoured the buildings for survivors, herding everyone away from the center of the city. He had managed to pick up a weapon on his brief walk, but he didn’t want to use it and draw attention to himself. Harry regretted not bringing some food and water with him. An hour later, as darkness fell, he was able to crawl out from under the vehicle and head back toward the alley.
“I should have stayed with her until it was completely dark,” he thought over and over again as he skulked along the edge of the sidewalk, peering into the destroyed interiors before dashing past each building to another doorway. When he turned into the alley where he’d left the captain, the moonrise created an odd shimmer in the atmosphere that he hadn’t seen before. Worried that there was some sort of motion sensing device in the area, he stopped and pulled out his tricorder. For the first time in hours, the readings had changed, but not for the good.
“They’ve activated a sensor dampener,” he whispered in dismay. “That means Voyager will never be able to find us.”
Hunkered down in the alley, he spent a few minutes playing with the device. Years of experience on Voyager’s bridge helped him figure out that the dampener was just a few blocks past the alley in the opposite direction he’d taken. He decided that he would take a minute to check on the captain and then try to disable or disrupt the dampening field. If he was successful, Voyager would be able to lock onto their commbadges and beam all four of them to safety, even if the team was scattered around the city.
Reenergized by his plan, he closed the tricorder and gripped the alien disruptor tight as he looked up and down the alley. Things looked different in the dark, almost unrecognizable, and he had a sudden feeling of foreboding. He turned to crawl back through the window when he noticed that the apartment door was standing open.
Someone had been there.
His heart pounding, he crept through the door and into the room.
“Captain?” he cried out softly, trying not to panic. “Captain?” he repeated as he stepped around the boxes and looked at the sofa where he’d left her.
She wasn’t there.
“Captain?” he said louder, looking around the room. “CAPTAIN?”
He methodically searched the small room, actually walking into every nook and cranny to make sure he didn’t miss seeing her in the dim light. The only way out of the room was the door to the alley. He wondered if she had regained consciousness and wandered into the street and into the custody of either the rebels or the government troops. Perhaps some civilians had found her unconscious body and had taken her somewhere for medical care.
He told himself that either outcome would be fine. Chances were good that wherever she was, that whoever had taken her, she would be treated for the poison in her system. He hoped so. He hoped that she was still alive.
The guilt for leaving her alone was nearly suffocating. She had been so sick, so helpless, and he had been so desperate to help her that he’d left too soon. He should have waited until dark, when it would be less likely for someone to search the room. Now, she was not just sick, she was missing, and it was all his fault.
Huddling near the door, he reopened his tricorder and studied the source of the current sensor dampener. He would get something to eat and drink and then find out how he could disable the emitter. It was his only hope.
After some crackers and water, he took a deep breath and eased through the doorway. The moon had set, leaving the alley and street in near totally darkness. He relied on the glow of the embers in the destroyed buildings in the area to help him find his way. He was amazed at how easily he could move through the darkened streets and wondered what had happened to the bands of rebels he’d seen earlier. Maybe they thought they had found all the people in the buildings and moved on toward unmistakable sounds of an ongoing battle in the distance.
The fight continued. He was just behind the lines in an area that the troops thought had been secured. It was like walking through a ghost city, with every building dark and empty.
His tricorder was unable to pick up anything but the direction toward the source of the dampening field. He couldn’t tell if Voyager was still in orbit overhead, nor could he pick up the distinct signal of a commbadge, not even his own.
In less than an hour, he arrived at the area that was the source of the dampening field, a dense cluster of buildings that reminded him of a college campus. He crept forward, moving from a shadowed doorway to a hedge to a small copse of trees, trying to keep himself from being detected by security forces that seemed determined to chase everyone from the area. Soon enough, he was huddled against low hedge that surrounded a darkened building. Muting the usual beep of his tricorder, he opened it and did a preliminary scan. The dampener was, in fact, somewhere inside the building.
What caught Harry’s attention, however, was not just the expected emitter, but the unexpected and unmistakable evidence of another Starfleet tricorder in close proximity. In fact, the device had to be nearby if he could pick it up in spite of the dampening field.
“Tuvok? Ayala?” He looked up to find the two men crouching low and approaching his location. They greeted each other in relief and quickly explained how they had survived the battle and what they had been through in the last several hours.
Harry was obviously upset as he explained the captain’s injury and disappearance. When he finished, the three men regarded each other for a few moments in silence.
“Ensign,” Tuvok finally sighed, “I’m tempted to criticize you for your decision, and yet, in the press of the moment and the worry about her condition, I can understand why you left her to look for help.” He glanced up at the building. “What we must do now is disable the dampening field and find the captain. We can only hope that she is still alive.”
“What’s the plan?” Ayala asked.
“This dampener would be very greedy for power, and I believe that there is a central power plant for these buildings that is providing that power. What we need to do is to look for power line from the power source and shut it down.”
“Wouldn’t they have a backup power system?” Ayala wondered.
“Yes, but there should be a lapse of time before any backup systems come online, maybe as long as several minutes,” Tuvok explained. “We can use that time to contact Voyager and search for the captain’s location.”
“How do we know Voyager is in orbit?” Harry asked.
“I believe that the Commander will be doing something to find us.” Tuvok turned to Ayala. “You and I will split up and circle the building in opposite directions, scanning for some sort of power feed as we go. Mr. Kim will remain here and be ready to provide assistance, if we need it, and will make the initial effort to contact the ship when the dampener shuts down.”
“All right.” Ayala gestured in one direction. “I’ll go that way. What if we don’t find a power source? What if it has an internal generator?”
“Then we will have to break into the building.” Tuvok pulled out his disruptor. “The power feed is most likely underground. If so, look for a transformer near the base of the wall. It will be well-protected.”
“And therefore easy to find,” Ayala nodded. He’d come across such designs during his years with the Maquis.
Tuvok turned to Kim. “You must be prepared to scan for the captain’s commbadge and contact Voyager as soon as the dampening field drops. We can hope that the emergency power will have a lapse of several minutes, but it could be just a matter of seconds.”
“Yes, sir,” Harry nodded, opening his tricorder.
Within moments, the simple plan was underway. Harry watched as the other two quietly crept away from him in opposite directions. He could hear the sounds of fighting in the distance, but the surrounding area remained quiet, with no sound from person, animal, or insect. Moments later he heard Ayala give a quiet shout as the dampening field shimmered out. He was in the process of hailing the ship, when he found himself caught in the familiar tingle of a Starfleet transporter. Voyager had, in fact, been looking for them.
He blinked and realized that he was standing beside Tuvok and Ayala in one of Voyager’s shuttlecraft.
“I have three of them, Commander, all in good shape,” Tom Paris reported as he angled the shuttle away from the planet and gained altitude. “The captain wasn’t with them.”
“Keep scanning for her, Tom, and move fast, before the Broden have time to attack you or reenergize dampener. When that emitter went down, both sides mobilized.”
“Yes, sir.” Tom nodded a greeting as Harry took over the operations console. “Any idea where we should look for her?”
“Head back toward the central plaza,” Harry answered as he began working the console. “She was just a few blocks away from our location the last time I saw her.”
“She wasn’t with you?”
Harry shook his head. “She was injured in the initial blast.”
“I was afraid of that.”
Harry studied the search telemetry as Tuvok took over the security console. Harry scanned for the captain’s commbadge signal while Tuvok studied the movements of the Broden ships. Ayala and the other two crew members who had come with Tom retreated to the back of the shuttle to keep out of the way and to be ready to beam to the surface, if necessary, in case Janeway needed to be retrieved physically.
“Ships are scrambling from two military bases and the orbital station,” Tuvok reported. “Voyager is moving toward the planet from behind the asteroid belt.”
Tom clicked his tongue. “Things are going to get sticky.”
They could hear Chakotay’s voice as he attempted to notify both the rebels and the government forces that his shuttle was not attacking the planet, but simply retrieving his away team. The Broden seemed to think that the damage to the sensor dampener was a prelude to an invasion.
“Are they heading toward us?” Ayala wondered.
“Yeah, with shields up and their phaser banks fully armed,” Harry muttered. He tried to concentrate on his search, tried to keep his emotions under control as he did his work. Systematically, sector after sector, he scanned the surface surrounding their escape vector, gradually expanding it wider and wider.
“Two bogies approaching from the rear,” Tuvok stated. “Raising shields.”
“Taking evasive maneuvers,” Tom chimed in as the ship banked hard to port.
“Incoming phaser fire. Brace for impact,” Tuvok warned.
The ship shuddered as the phasers slammed against their shields and then pitched them hard to starboard.
“Shields down to 65%.” Tuvok’s reported, his voice calm. “Targeting their weapons.”
Muttering in frustration, Harry continued to scan, even though the ever-intensifying battle made his job more difficult.
“Two more bogies joining in,” Tuvok reported, “but they’re targeting the two previous ships, not us. Shields are at 25%.”
“They’re taking the heat off of us just in time,” Tom cried as he pulled the shuttle’s nose up sharply and headed back toward the primary search area. “Come on, Harry, time’s running out.”
“Found her!” Harry shouted, his voice full of relief. He looked up at Ayala, who had scurried to the transporter controls. “Sending you the coordinates.”
“Two more bogies are coming toward us,” Tuvok warned. “We have time for one attempt, Ayala.”
Tom aimed the ship toward the captain’s location on a direct vector. “I’m going to swoop by, Mike. Lock on and as soon as you initiate the beam out, I’m hitting the ceiling.”
“Understood,” the lieutenant replied, sweat forming on his upper lip as he concentrated on his work.
“Incoming phaser fire,” Tuvok announced as the shuttle rocked and dipped dangerously close to the skyscrapers beneath them. “Shields failing.”
“Locking on. Beam out initiated.” Mike looked back at the transporter pad. “Pattern in the buffer.”
“Heading for orbit before they can target a nacelle.” Tom banked the ship sharply, making everyone reach for a handhold as the inertial dampeners struggled to keep up with his wild maneuvers. The Broden’s vessels were caught by surprise, and their last, deadly phaser blast narrowly missed the shuttle’s port nacelle. Tom whooped in satisfaction as the shuttle sped toward high orbit and the safety of Voyager’s powerful shields. “Get out the med kit, Ayala. As soon as I can, I’ll check on the captain’s condition.”
“That won’t be necessary, Tom.” Harry repied, his voice full of anguish. “I picked the coordinates of her commbadge, but all we got was her uniform. The captain is still on the planet’s surface.”