Chapter 1: SANDBATS ON MANARK IV
ATTACKED BY SANDBATS ON MANARK IV, AND EXPERIENCED A NEAR-FATAL ALLERGIC REACTION TO THEIR VENOM
Captain Pike glanced around the scene with a fond smile in place; Spock was busy studying different exits in the walls of the cave whilst Number One was sorting through their equipment over the cave floor. When Pike was finished sorting his own equipment he perched on a rock, took a sip of water from his canteen and massaged his calf muscles. The group had already hiked at least a mile over rough ground and his legs were protesting the treatment. It had been a while since he’d had to hike on a new world, especially whilst carrying such a heavy load. The slight burning in his muscles was an unpleasant reminder that he spent too much time sitting in the chair, but not today.
Una hadn’t even complained this time when he named himself as part of the landing party, in fact she had just smiled coyly at him and requested to come along too, one look at her face told him the request wasn’t negotiable. So that was how he, Number One and Spock landed this particular gig; a routine sweep before the science teams descended in packs with the main aim to set up a forward base deep within the cave structure. Sadly Enterprise’s scans couldn’t penetrate the deep mineral; hence the hike and hence the bags of equipment.
“This passage will provide the best terrain to safely carry the equipment whilst completing the mission within the initial parameters.” Spock declared whilst indicating the left most passage out of the clearing they’d decided to rest in.
“Very good Lieutenant.” Pike zipped up his backpack and glanced to Number One with a smile. “Ready to go Number One?”
She finished repacking her equipment, jumped to her feet and nodded an affirmation. “Always, Captain.”
Chris smiled bashfully and averted his gaze back over to their designated exit. “Lead on, Spock.”
The trio walked on in comparable silence for some time. They picked their way over the rocky ground carefully and Chris marvelled at Spock’s ability to multi-task; he was striding over the obstacles with ease and his eyes never left the readings on his equipment. Pike was enviable by the young man’s balance, if he tried anything like that he would fall flat on his face in a heartbeat.
As the trio walked deeper into the cave they started to come across crystal structures adorning the walls. The fact that they looked like crystals was the only information they had on the phenomena, and Spock was still having trouble narrowing down what element they were made from or even how they came to be in existence in the first place. Chris could tell that Spock was starting to getting annoyed; the slight furrow in his eyebrow gave him away, that and the way his movements became sharper after another negative reading chimed on the tri-corder. He hated not knowing something and for some reason these crystals were withholding their secrets.
Pike was growing just as curious as his two friends; he decided to take a closer look at one of the crystals himself. When he was just a few inches away from a rather large crystal he suddenly saw it twitch. Had that rock just moved? He shook the ridiculous thought away only for everything to turn to chaos around him.
The walls of the cave sprang to life all at once; the crystals unfurled and shot off of the walls. The little blurs came together as one and swooped down upon the away team. Pike dropped to the floor in shock and heard Una and Spock do the same, they all covered their head with their hands as the flurry of bats batted their wings at their heads aggressively and filled the space with a desperate squeaking cry.
In all the chaos Chris dropped his torch so the light in the cave dropped dramatically, all he could do was press himself against the ground and hope the surprise attack passed. He was blind, disorientated and from the sounds of it Number One and Spock weren’t much better prepared. Pike felt something nip at his wrist, he instinctively yelped and flicked his hand outwards catching something furry solidly and sending it flying.
The sounds of the wings flapping started to decrease and when Pike glanced up into the dim light he saw that the colony of bats were decreasing in number rapidly, he fumbled against the ground until he found his dropped torch and pointed it up at the ceiling. Pike saw just a few bats left circling around above their heads, and when they got caught in the torch beam they scarpered for the exit following the rest of the colony out.
The trio got to their feet as one, glancing around the space warily for any further attacks, a little dusty and ruffled but on the surface at least unharmed. Pike shone his light around the space and ended up his sweep on Una and Spock. “You both okay?”
They nodded their heads whilst dusting themselves off and started to pick up the dropped equipment.
Una squinted towards where the bats had left and frowned from them to the walls of the cave, most probably looking for more of the crystal structures. “Was it just me, or did the inanimate crystal rocks just turn into bats?” She eventually asked, sounding just as skeptical as Pike looked.
“That account appears to be accurate.” Spock muttered as he glanced down at his tri-corder readings. “Their dormant state appears to be inanimate until they need to attack their prey. Fascinating…"
Chris cracked a smile at Spock. “You find being prey fascinating?"
“Naturally.” Spock quipped back.
Chris chuckled and shook his head incredulously; he noticed that his XO was just as amused by their colleague’s priorities. His good mood lasted right up until he felt a sharp sting from his wrist. He frowned down at his appendage and noticed a small red scratch, where had that come from? His mind flew back to the nipping feeling during the attack, one of the damned bats must have caught him on the way out. It only took a quick study to see that the bleeding had already stopped, it wasn’t deep and it definitely wasn’t worth bringing up, not until they made it to their final stop at least.
“Good to go Captain?” Number One’s question pulled him out of his thoughts.
Pike covered the scratch up and looked over at his first officer with a smile. “Yeah, I’m good.”
After the excitement of the chaotic bat attack the trio were more cautious and they kept their eyes peeled for any other crystalline structures. Una ended up travelling alongside Spock at the front chatting about the properties of the mysterious creatures and theories on their evolution.
Chris followed on behind the chatting pair to keep a lookout for all three of them, he rubbed his eyes again and tried blinking away the fuzziness in his sight. He felt his balance shift and had to adjust to compensate. From there on out he put the majority of his focus into walking straight, the ground was becoming more uneven which didn’t help matters and neither did the itching sensation in his wrist.
He’d checked the mark out for himself, it was just a little scratch and not worth fussing over. Besides there wasn’t an easy way out of the cave, the transporter signals didn’t penetrate this far down, hence they were carrying signal boosters to the designated forward centre. The only other way out was by walking the many miles back down the passageways; his discomfort was not nearly that vital. He’d have it checked out when he got back to the ship, after they’d reached the centre and carried out their mission here. Boyce would probably grumble but that wasn’t anything new.
Chris kept up the resolute determination for all of 10 minutes.
He noticed that he was stumbling over his own feet more often that not, his legs felt more unwieldy with each step and his vision was growing more blurry. Chris thought he was doing quite a good job of keeping his newfound dizziness to himself, but that was proven wrong when he stumbled and tripped. Pike fell against the wall and gripped onto a handhold desperately, grunting from the impact.
Spock and Una stopped in their tracks and spun on the spot, their torchlights shining up into his face. “Captain?"
Chris groaned when his aching limbs trembled under his weight; the simple act of holding himself up was becoming strangely arduous. He held up a hand to stave off the bright light, “I’m fine,” he retorted back automatically.
He must have lost a few seconds because one minute Number One and Spock were standing quite far away, but now his XO was gripping his arm and he saw her worried expression swim before his face. Maybe he looked worse than he felt…
"You're not fine Chris. You look pale as hell and you're shaking." Una placed her hand on his forehead and then withdrew it immediately, hissing at the contact. "Jesus, your skin feels like it's on fire."
Now that she mentioned it he did feel rather hot and why did the cave feel so small all of a sudden? Then again it was just a scratch so it couldn’t be as bad as all that; he was so certain of this that he tried to push away from the wall to prove that he was alright.
That plan didn't go well. Pike cried out when fire raced through his chest, his lungs constricted painfully, and his legs buckled uselessly. Una and Spock caught his arms but he continued to crash forward into the pair of them.
"Captain!" Spock sounded almost as alarmed as Number One had been when he too felt how hot his Captain’s skin was.
Chris felt himself being lowered to the floor as pain suddenly flared up everywhere, and he found it more and more difficult to draw breath. He closed his eyes in an attempt to drown out the thumping in his mind, and the misery that seemed to radiate from every nerve along his spine.
“What’s wrong with him?” He distantly heard Una’s voice echo off the cave walls, and he heard Spock’s trio-corder hovering over him.
"He's suffering from some sort of allergic reaction, to what I do not know."
Allergic reaction? He wasn't allergic to anything; at least not this seriously.
"Don't have allergies..." He managed to mutter, sounding pained to his own ears.
"Well the readings say otherwise Chris." Una scolded and then took a hold of his wrist - the one which felt like it was on fire.
"Ahhhhh." He moaned and tried to clutch his hand back, but Una was having none of it.
"Oh my god, what the hell is this?” Spock and Una prodded the wound and the scanner was held there, whilst someone's fingers pressed against his neck.
"The bats..." Chris answered, although how on earth could he feel like death warmed up after a little scratch?
"Why didn't you say anything?!" Una yelled out loudly, far too loudly.
He groaned and tried to escape from the shrill sounds but his friends were remained resolute. Chris felt hands roll him back into place and begin to prod his body indiscriminately. He heard a hiss as something was injected into his thigh which lessened the constricting in his lungs.
"Wasn't important..." Chris eventually managed; even he realised how stupid that sounded now.
"You can be a prize idiot sometimes." Una admonished.
"Sorry..." Chris muttered miserably. He tailed off and squeezed his eyes shut when the agony reached a new level and every muscle felt like it was tightening, especially his chest...
Una and Spock continued to move around him rapidly, trying communicators and applying first aid techniques until some of the swelling stopped getting worse. It still wasn't enough though, Chris felt like he had hundreds of things pinning him to the floor.
"Is the hypo making any difference?"
"His breathing has improved but the pulse has become thready, we need to get him back to Enterprise."
"The signal won't penetrate this far down. We've either got to make it back to the entrance or..."
"Or set up the signal booster here." Spock finished grimly.
Chris really hoped they weren't going to try and move him; he just wanted to rest and to for the pain to go away. He couldn't even breath easily anymore and that panicked him more than the other symptoms combined.
"Setting up the booster would be faster, we've walked for more than an hour and that was when we were all able-bodied." Una mused
Her hand was still gripping Chris' tightly. Whether it was for her reassurance or his was beside the point, Chris took it as a lifeline and held on for dear life.
"Agreed." Spock replied and the next thing Chris heard was equipment bags unzipping and machinery being set up.
He must have blacked out for some time because suddenly someone was muttering his name, and he came back to the world with Una's hand running through his hair. There also seemed to be a damp cloth on his forehead.
Chris blinked his eyes open wearily and eventually managed to make out Una's blurry face. Her forehead was creased with worry lines and her lips quirked wistfully, all the while her hand brushed his hair out of the way of his face.
"How are you feeling?" She whispered, having picked up on his sensitivity to loud noises.
Chris swallowed hard and felt that his lips were dry and crack, his throat felt swollen and the idea of talking too much was not a pleasant one.
"Everything... tight...", he wasn't even going to try and pretend everything was okay. He could barely breath, he was scared and his XO could clearly see that in his face.
She swallowed hard and leaned down to him, her grip on his hand tightening. "Just hang in there okay, Spock's almost done. We'll be out of here in no time.”
Pike nodded his understanding although even that small action stole what little energy he had left, so with that in mind he laid back against the floor and focussed on taking even breaths in and out. As time wore on he continued to struggle, his skin felt hotter and he definitely couldn’t handle talking anymore. At some point Una let go of his hand and left his side to help Spock, leaving Chris alone on the floor feeling trapped and like he couldn’t move.
All of a sudden his throat tightened so much so that he couldn’t draw in a solid breath. He started to panic when he realised he couldn’t actually breathe at all; his hands flew to his throat and he coughed and gasped when everything constricted painfully.
Una was there by his side in an instant, staring down at him with wide eyes. "Spock we need it up and running now! He can't breathe!”
Una leant in close and gripped his hand tightly; she muttered anything she could to try and calm him and help regulate his breathing pattern even though they both knew he was choking to death. Chris fought for every slither of oxygen and managed a small gasp every few breaths, but it wasn’t nearly enough to sustain him and his vision was already darkening at the edges.
He felt a prodding around his neck, setting it alight but he couldn’t even make a sound in protest. "His throat's closed up completely, the emergency hypo isn't working!"
Hands shook him lightly. "Just hold on Chris... just hold on..."
Her words were becoming more distant, the shaking having less of an effect and Chris felt everything slipping away. His eyes fluttered closed and the pain receded almost to nothing.
"Spock to Enterprise..."
That was the last thing Chris heard before the lack of oxygen finally took its toll; he fell back into the darkness and went limp.
The next time Pike woke up he was in sickbay surrounded by a mound of soft pillows. The first thing he noticed was his throat; it was tight and painful and for a moment he panicked as he flashed back to the feeling of it closing up. He calmed down when he realised that even though it was painful, he could in fact still breath. On further reflection it felt like something had been shoved down there, which was probably quite an accurate description given the fact he had been suffocating. He honestly hadn’t expected to wake up again, Chris probably should be concerned that this wasn’t his first time thinking that but it wasn’t his fault these things kept happening to him.
Someone who would disagree with that thought finally popped into view. Despite the grumbling he knew must be coming, Chris was incredibly pleased to see Boyce’s face.
"How are you feeling?"
"Sore." Chris rasped, not even attempting to cover it up. He knew that had been a close one.
"I'm not surprised." Boyce replied grimly; the Doctor handed him some water and a straw which was heaven against his scratched throat. "We had to open up your airways, I'm afraid it wasn't the easiest operation so it's going to hurt for a while."
Boyce soon busied himself by taking some readings and checking Pike's wrist which was heavily bandaged. "You suffered a near fatal reaction to the sandbat's venom. You were very lucky that Spock and Una reacted so quickly with the hypo-spray. It stopped your throat from closing up straight away."
His colleagues quick thinking wasn't a surprise. They hadn't let him down when he'd needed them the most. One thing he didn’t get was why they’d had an emergency at all, he’d never suffered from anything like this in the past. “I didn't know I had allergies.”
"This isn't a normal allergy. The venom wasn't anything you could have come into contact with anywhere else." Boyce smiled sadly down at Chris. "You were just unlucky they decided you were on the menu."
Chris snorted and shook his head, that was when he noticed another presence at his side. He glanced to his left and saw Una asleep in a chair by his bedside.
Boyce followed his gaze and sighed wearily. "She's been here all night, I did try and get her to leave but she threatened to drug me." Boyce snorted suddenly and shook his head. "That's usually my line."
"She didn't have to stay." Chris muttered warmly, he knew from first hand experience just how uncomfortable the medical chairs could be.
Boyce laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. "You should try telling her that Chris." With that he wandered off, leaving Pike alone with his dozing first officer.
Chris kept his gaze on Number One and found his lips quirking upwards whilst he watched her sleep; she looked so peaceful and he wasn't going to be the one to interrupt the rest she probably needed. A sudden wave of exhaustion swept over him sending Pike back into a restful sleep, his breathing syncing up with Una's automatically.
Almost killed by a sandbat, that was a new one.
Chapter 2: EXPOSED TO SPACE
EXPOSED TO SPACE FOR 10 SECONDS DURING AN ATTACK ON THE ENTERPRISE - MILD HYPOTHERMIA, RAPID DECOMPRESSION SYMPTOMS, OXYGEN DEPRIVATION
Captain Pike picked himself up from the floor gingerly; he groaned when his head complained about the sudden movement and for a moment his vision went completely haywire. He clutched his head until the room stopped swaying so violently, and until his lungs stopped contracting so badly for each breath.
It took a few moments but eventually he felt like he wasn't going to pass out or collapse any second. That was when he started paying attention to the surroundings and Pike realised that he couldn’t hear much at all, just a faint ringing shrill that was becoming louder and louder by the second. All of a sudden all the nosies and chaos from around him slammed back into perfect focus.
“What the hell was that?”
“Lock down those systems before they cascade through the entire ship.”
“Engineering to medical, we’ve got injured people down here.”
“The corridor’s completely collapsed, we can’t evacuate engineering.”
“Comms are down, I’m getting nothing but static.”
All the panicked shouts merged into one and Chris watched as engineers scurried around the flaming space, trying desperately to come to terms with the emergency and fiery carnage around them. As he stared at the rubble, the fires and the ruined systems it sparked a memory. He had been checking in on the engineering core and going through maintenance schedules, when the comm system blared from the bridge and ordered everyone to brace. A second later the whole world around them exploded in a flash of brightness, fire and pain.
Speaking of pain, his head chose that moment to flare up and he staggered and clutched onto a buckled console until the murderous nausea passed. The more he tried to evaluate his injuries, the harder it became to think clearly. His head felt oddly detached from his body and each time he touched it he felt more cuts and lacerations, but that wasn’t important, his injuries weren’t the priority.
Pike snapped back into command in an instant and focussed on getting the engineering team and his ship through whatever emergency this was. He soon spotted the chief engineer who was staring wide-eyed around at the flaming chaos, clutching his bleeding head. Chris made a beeline for him and shouted so he would be heard above the various alarms and complaining systems.
“Chief! What do you need?”
Louvier snapped to his face and Chris watched the engineer's brain catch up with events; he glanced around at the chaos with calculating eyes and immediately zeroed in on the priority. “The core, we need to protect the core.”
Pike followed his gaze and gulped when he saw the state of the systems in charge of keeping it in check, not to mention the actual containment area itself. They could fix this, if they all had the same goal they had a chance.
The Captain turned to the room and shouted an order above the rising chaos. “Everyone, eyes on me.”
It only took a few seconds for everyone in the room, everyone that was conscious and standing that was, to look to him, recognising the order and automatically reacting despite the raging fires around them.
“We have one priority; secure the warp core, otherwise there’ll be no ship left to fix. Those that can stand make yourself available, everyone else do what you can to keep the Enterprise and each other alive.” Pike glanced between each of the faces and saw sheer determination shining back; he nodded and passed the command back over to Louvier. “Chief?” This was his domain after all.
Louvier addressed what remained of his engineering team, his injures forgotten in the state of emergency. “Damage report.”
“The power to the warp core is holding for the moment, lots of systems are shot to shit but life support is still functioning.”
Now that people were on task and no longer running around like headless chickens, Pike let his attention wander to the surroundings and to the state of the place. He made a beeline to a young Ensign who was just coming around and looked confused as hell.
“We can’t get a hold of anyone over comms, we have no idea what this was or if there’s more to come.”
Chris kept half of his attention on the engineer’s reports and the other half on calming the Ensign and offering what little first aid he could manage. He grimaced when he noticed a large shard of shrapnel which had impaled the young man’s stomach, which definitely accounted for all the blood.
“The automatic bulkheads aren’t closing, they’re being jammed by rubble.”
Pike shirked off his command jacket, bunched it up and pressed it against the Ensign’s wound earning a moan of pain for his efforts. He heard the engineer’s update on the bulkheads and found his attention drifting to the problem, sure enough less than 25 metres away was a bulkhead that hadn’t closed entirely. He could actually see space beyond it.
“Are the emergency force fields holding?”
“Barely, the power feeding them is fluctuating, they could collapse at any time.”
Chris gulped as he saw the force field flicker right when the engineer reported the power problems, if that went down… Pike pushed the Ensign’s hands down on his jacket and ordered the young man to keep the pressure up. He got to his feet and took a few unsteady steps towards the failing force field, his eyes zeroing in on the offending rubble that was stopping the bulkheads from sealing.
“And then this entire section will be exposed to space, and the core…”
If someone went in there, retracted the bulkhead a tad and pushed… His eyes roamed around the area and he spotted a metal rod which would do the trick.
“We need those bulkheads down. Suggestions?”
There was nothing else for it, there was no time to find a way out of engineering and to the EV suits, no comms, and that force field could collapse any second. Pike picked up the metal rod and used an intact terminal to retract the bulkhead a few inches.
“I’m going in.” He called back over his shoulder.
The gaggle of Engineer’s all turned to him in unison with wide-eyes; they looked at him like he’d lost his mind.
Louvier eventually spluttered a response. “In there? Captain, that area is exposed to space. Are you insane?”
“Unless you’ve got any other magical solutions to get those bulkheads down?” He answered stiffly.
Louvier blinked rapidly, took one look at the space beyond the force field and started to shake his head. “But… You’d be unprotected, you can’t Sir. It’s a vacuum.”
Pike stamped down ruthlessly on the fear that spiked when he was reminded of his crazy plan and the consequences of it; he imagined that being slowly exposed to space was a painful way to go, he’d seen enough on his first aid module to know that… But no, he wouldn’t let that deter him from what needed to be done. “I have to. That force field isn’t going to last and the core can’t take that, not to mention everyone in this room.”
Hell, he would never let anyone else do this. Enterprise was his responsibility, and so were her people.
With his mind made up he set up the final command to shift the force field past him, by-passing the safety procedures with his command code. Before he hit enter on the terminal he turned to Louvier. “Tell Number One…” He trailed off as the weight of the moment threatened to crash down upon him like a tsunami, what really could be put into words? Chris smiled sadly and shook his head. “…Forget it, she already knows.”
Chris looked back towards his goal, steadied his grip on the metal rod and took a deep breath of oxygen. Like that was going to help. He grimly slammed home the command and braced for the other side.
“Captain!” Louvier’s alarmed cry faded out when the force field shifted, cutting him off from the engineering core and more importantly the life support system.
Nothing could have prepared him for the sheer absence of anything on the other side, his body immediately reacted to the freezing air and for a moment he thought it was going to be too much, and that this sacrifice would all be for nothing. Determination and the thought of what would happen to everyone else spurred him on, he’d come this far and honestly there was no going back. He staggered towards the bulkhead, gripping onto the metal pole for support as he went. His mind distantly informed him that the air wasn’t completely decompressed, his organs should already be constricting but aside from a rapidly pounding head and the bitter cold he hadn’t registered any other critical effects.
He soon got to work and started to clear the debris, he felt his limbs grow more sluggish and felt the rapidly lowering gravity begin to effect him. It felt like his whole body was turning inside out, and everything was suddenly becoming so very tight…
Pike finally managed to clear the last of the rubble, exerting what remained of his energy with a final desperate shove. The movement unbalanced him and he crashed to the floor, marvelling at how the gravity seemed to make the fall last forever. His mouth opened and closed as his lungs desperately cried out for oxygen that just wasn’t there, he curled in on himself against the floor and clutched at his body which was trembling all over. Despite the agonising thudding in his head, and the way his body fell apart beneath him, Chris managed a small smile when he watched the bulkhead lock into place.
His job was done.
That was when the lack of oxygen became too much for his body; his limbs stopped cooperating entirely and the agony dialled up a notch, he just wanted the pain to go away. Even though he knew this was what was supposed to happen it didn’t make suffocating alone any easier… Pike closed his eyes and let his exhausted and wrung out body rest. Out of nowhere there was a loud pop, a rush of noise and warmth, and then nothing.
Captain Pike gasped awake and shot upwards, his hands flew to his throat and he took in huge, beautiful pocketfuls of air. It was so thick with oxygen, it was glorious. He felt his heart thud rapidly beneath his chest and although he hadn’t opened his eyes yet he knew where he was. He would recognise the smell of sickbay anywhere.
How the hell was he breathing and here? He could have sworn he’d died…
When Chris felt like his heart wasn’t going to explode he opened his eyes and confirmed his location. His eyes swept over the room and he took in the other patients laying in the other beds, sickbay was full and busy. Even though there were Doctor’s and nurses moving from person to person, the atmosphere wasn’t manic and a quick glance at a terminal confirmed that there was no red alert. Because of these signs, the Captain was pretty confident that whatever the hell the emergency had been, it was now over.
His muscles suddenly complained about being abused so early on in his recovery; he gasped and sank back down into the mound of pillows with a wince. Pike was still getting his bearings when Boyce appeared at his bedside, nodding a hello and immediately starting to take readings. Chris studied his friend in silence and noted the dried blood on his cheek, his pale complexion and general haggard appearance. Boyce had clearly been busy.
Now Pike felt a little more alert he suddenly remembered just what his supposed final act had been, and why he had done it. “The core?” He muttered, his throat feeling raw and his voice coming out raspy.
Boyce noticed; he poured out a cup of water and handed it to his patient before answering. “Stable, and Enterprise is out of the woods.”
Chris downed the entire cup of water, letting out a satisfying sigh at the simple act of drinking. It was something he had thought would never be possible again. With his throat sorted, he turned to the urgent matter of what the hell had caused this chaos in the first place. “What happened? What’s-”
“Una’s handling it Chris.” Boyce interrupted firmly, his tone brooking no argument.
The Captain shut his mouth immediately and took his friend’s word as gospel. If there was anyone he knew would take care of Enterprise and a disaster, it was Number One. She could more than handle it.
He glanced around at the many beds, all filled with people in various states of consciousness. “Any Fatalities?”
“Not yet, despite your best efforts.” Boyce responded dryly, clearly unimpressed by his antics. “A couple more seconds out there and your body would have imploded.”
Boyce glanced down at the data pad and started to reel off the consequences of Pike’s unprotected space walk. “Your body temperature dropped so low that you started to exhibit signs of hypothermia, the oxygen deprivation starved your brain and organs severely and don’t even get me started on what rapid decompression could have done to a human body.”
Chris felt the Doctor’s glare burning a hole right through him. He glanced up to see Boyce staring at him over the top of the medical pad, clearly seeking a reaction.
Boyce sighed wearily and shook his head disapprovingly. “Oh and Una sends her regards, she told me to tell you that you’re an idiot.”
Chris groaned and sagged back into the pillows, wanting to hide away from the inevitable speech that was coming his way. “Can we skip the whole lecture thing this time?”
“You should have thought about that before you went running in there. Did nobody ever teach you that there’s no air in space?” Boyce mocked.
Pike rolled his eyes. “I guess I missed that module at the academy. Besides I didn’t think I’d be around to see your disapproval.”
“Disapproval?!” Boyce laughed incredulously shaking his head, long-suffering. Suddenly his expression changed, to something more serious and probing. “Sometimes I think you going looking for all of this.”
As soon as Chris noticed the scrutinising look he averted his gaze, he knew that look and with Boyce it was never good. Pike didn’t want to be psychoanalysed thank you very much, not when his mind was a step behind and he was drugged to hell.
“I don’t.” He muttered back quietly.
Boyce noticed his reluctance and wisely chose not to push the point, not this time at least. The Doctor moved to the end of the bed and replaced the medical data pad before throwing him a sardonic smile. “Try not to get yourself killed whilst in my sickbay, I’ve already got a lot on.”
Pike glared at his friend and at the implication in his order. “I don’t have a death wish Phil.”
Boyce just smiled at him, the kind of smile which said that he hadn’t believed a single word. “Keep telling yourself that Captain, maybe one day you’ll prove us all wrong.”
Chapter 3: CONTRACTED SYNTHOCOCCUS NOVAE
This short is an interesting one, I was passed on this medical entry along with the knowledge that synthcoccus novae is fatal in Pike’s time, so how on earth did he survive...
CONTRACTED SYNTHOCOCCUS NOVAE AS A CADET DUE TO AN IMMUNIZATION OVERSIGHT
Endless classrooms, terminals and training simulators were hidden throughout a winding maze-like structure. A shrill alarm bell rang throughout the empty corridors and a few seconds later the space began to fill with aliens and humans alike; the one thing unifying them were the academy uniforms they wore which identified them as cadets of Starfleet Academy in San Francisco, Earth.
Out of one of those classrooms two cadets emerged and soon moved to an empty alcove; they glanced around the dispersing crowd anxiously.
“Still no Chris.” Kat muttered with a frown.
Philippa shook her head dismally. "I haven't heard from him in days."
Kat shot a worrying glance to her friend and swallowed nervously. She hadn't heard from him since the day before yesterday and with his roommate out of town... "Last I heard he was knocked down with the flu, it sounded pretty bad."
Philippa picked up on the missing notes. "You want to go and check up on him." It wasn't a question, just a statement and Kat realised it was true.
She nodded once. Philippa took it in her stride and smiled, "Okay let's go and pester him. I'm sure he'd love the company."
As it turned out, Chris didn't really need the company well not from his point of view anyway. His bedroom was full of people, people which he knew shouldn't be here yet his eyes were telling him a different story.
His mum was over in the corner knitting; his brothers were racing around the room and generally causing chaos. His dad came in and out and scolded him from time to time but the oddest appearance was his horse, which had somehow squeezed through the door...
Because of all the oddities, he didn't bat an eyelid when Kat and Philippa appeared dressed as cowboys.
"Chris?" One of them asked, although he couldn't tell which one because there were just too many things moving.
"What are you doing here?" He slurred sluggishly, his tongue felt unresponsive and heavy. "And why are you dressed like that?"
They narrowed their eyes at him suspiciously, looked at each other and then at him like he'd gone insane. Clearly they were the mad ones, wearing cowboy clothes in the middle of the day...
"Dressed like what Chris?" Kat asked, her eyes piercing.
Really he knew he was ill and his head felt fuzzy, but was he the only one with eyes here?
"Cowboys." He answered assuredly.
They threw each other a funny look which gave Chris the impression that they didn't believe him, or that they thought he was crazy. Well, they were in fact the crazy ones; he was sure of it.
Philippa suddenly reached out to touch his forehead, and he flinched back. She frowned but moved her hand forwards again. "It's alright Chris, I just need to check your temperature."
Right the fever, the flu. He had the flu.
Pike gestured to his mom in the corner who was waving at him. "Mom already checked my temperature."
"What?" Philippa and Kat both said in unison, their alarm increasing with each decibel.
Chris pointed to the corner. "Oh yeah guys meet my mom, my brothers and there's my horse tango."
The horse made a greeting noise that had Chris laughing, but when he stared at his friends he was confused why they weren't laughing; he was even more confused by their next suggestion.
"We need to get him to medical.”
Chris must have passed out because one minute he was talking to his mother and the next he was in a white room, strapped to a bed with doctors poking and prodding him.
"Where the hell did he contract it from?"
"God knows, scans for the campus are coming up clear."
He squirmed against the soft bindings and frowned at the men in white coats, what the hell was going on? He was fine, he just had the flu and a banging headache. "Don't have time for this..." he muttered, "need to feed Tango..."
The doctors shot him a weird look and then carried right on with their conversation like he wasn’t even there.
"How could we have missed this in all his medicals and why the hell wasn't he immunised in the first place?"
"His record says he was."
The further Pike's eyes focussed the more he realised that he was encased behind a force field on all sides with the Doctors on the other. Why the hell was he boxed in like this?
"A faulty batch of medicine?"
"Must have been, or his body didn't take to the immunisation."
Kat and Philippa watched on with great apprehension. As soon as they'd brought Chris in he'd set off a storm. His results set off so many alarms that the entire ward came running, and the force field and restraints went on soon after. Seeing him struggling against the bindings, confused and not knowing what was going on was difficult to watch, honestly it was growing closer to impossible to watch. Listening to the Doctor's back and forth was just as torturous. Kat wanted to know what was happening to her friend; this looked serious.
"What's wrong with Chris?" Kat interrupted, an urgent edge to her voice.
The doctors turned to the cadets with matching grim expressions. "He's contracted synthococcus novae. It's fatal.”
Chris gasped awake, sweating and limbs trembling. Every muscle ached, every nerve felt like it was on fire; this was the worst flu he'd had ever. His mouth felt so dry, his wrists were sore under the restraints and his head thudded miserably. What the hell was going on, where was he?
Everything was dark, fuzzy and eerily quiet. There was some kind of force field in place around the bed he was laying in. The question was how the hell did he get here and why was he restrained?
A shiver racked his whole body sending his back arching upwards violently. He trembled through the aftershocks and focussed on trying to stay calm and just breathe, which was easier said than done when he could see snakes and spiders crawling all over the walls and floors. The next thing that made him jump out of his skin was a loud popping sound followed by a bright flash of light. Chris couldn’t use his hands to shield his eyes against the bright red light so he had to resort to squeezing them shut until the light receded.
When Chris eventually opened them again he saw a figure in the distance, a figure which was dressed in a red suit and outlined by a bright flashing flashing light. He squinted against the outline and observed something akin to wings unfolding and opening up, extending either side of the humanoid figure’s arms. His fever-addled brain struggled to comprehend this strange newcomer; the only description that seemed apt and that was coming to mind was angel.
"Who are you?" He croaked, strangely not feeling any fear to this unknown entity.
It began to walk towards his bedside and replied in a mechanical tone. "That doesn't matter. I'm going to make you better."
Better? But he remembered the Doctor's saying something about dying. Oh my god he was going to die.
"You can't it's fatal." He responded despondently. Pike didn't want to be nasty but he also didn't want this magical angel wasting its time with him.
The angel ignored him and reached his bedside, the blinding red light still pulsing behind it. "It isn't where I'm from." The figure produced a hypo spray and pressed it against his skin which activated with a hiss. "Rest now."
Not knowing what else to say he just muttered his thanks, “Thank you." staring up the apparition in awe. Of all the things his mind could conjure up this was the weirdest.
"You're welcome, Christopher Pike." With that the angel was tugged back through the red light, and the bright flash closed in on itself leaving the room once again in darkness and undisturbed like it had never happened.
Chris felt his eyes growing heavy and he collapsed back exhausted. "Nice angel…"
"His results are coming back clear, no sign of the virus."
"How is that possible? I ran those tests twice."
"That's not the only weird thing, his blood-work indicates that he's been immunised."
"I can't explain it either."
"Christopher, did something happen last night?"
Chris glanced between the two puzzled Doctors. "An angel visited me.” He muttered in a hoarse tone, his voice cracking from dryness.
Pike felt a hell of a lot better than the day before but his body was wrung out and exhausted; he was still trying to come to terms with what he had seen last night and whether any of it was real. Considering the way the Doctors were looking at him now, it clearly hadn’t been.
The Doctors sighed. "His temperature still seems to be feeding the delirium, his body needs to relax. Get me 10cc of diazepam."
"Don't worry cadet, we'll have those hallucinations sorted and you'll be back on your feet again in no time."
When Chris was done with his coughing fit he managed to croak. "Not dying?"
The Doctor smiled. "No son, you're going to be just fine.”
Four cadets made their way across the lawn under the shining sun and picked out a spot overlooking San Francisco bay; the weather was warm, the smell of spring was in the air and the group had something to celebrate. This was Chris’ first day completely free from medical. Chris, Kat, Philippa and Leland all settled into the grass and enjoyed the fresh air. Chris took a deep breath and revelled in the simple fact that he was here, alive and well, when there had been a time when he thought this wouldn’t be possible.
The Doctors had kept him in sickbay until all signs of his fever had disappeared, and when they were sure the mysterious virus wasn’t going to make a reappearance. No-one could give him a straight answer about why, or how the virus had been cured. The Doctors were starting to think that he’d never had it in the first place and that their diagnostic machines had produced a false positive. Chris chose not to dwell on the mystery too much, he’d quickly gotten sick of being poked and prodded by medical and having to go back for a checkup had also gotten old.
Three weeks later and he was looking a lot more healthy, his colour had returned and all flu symptoms had disappeared entirely. His memory of the incident was still a little spotty; the initial illness, the hallucinations, his family, the angel…
Chris had stopped trying to make sense of it and of his strange memories, he just focussed on enjoying day to day life, he was grateful that he could still do that. He was just thankful to be given the all clear, no matter how that was possible. Pike wanted to get back into a normal routine as quickly as possible; to do that he needed to catch up on work before finals, so whilst his friends chatted lazily he was head-deep in a data pad.
"Hey Chris, are we boring you or?" Leland teased, bringing Chris out of his own little world.
Leland’s comment earned a wry smile and Chris shrugged in response. "Sorry, did you think you were interesting enough to hold my attention?"
That got a laugh from the group. Leland's eyes narrowed and he suddenly snatched the pad from Chris's hands. "You're still studying for the Kobayashi Maru? You're such a swot."
"Hey, some of us take the test seriously." Philippa chimed in, earning a grateful smile from Chris.
"It's unbeatable or did you not get the memo?" Leland shot back and lazily lounged on the grass, dropping the pad back in front of Chris.
Chris picked up the pad, a gleam in his eye. "There's a first time for everything Lee."
Leland scoffed showing his contempt for the thought. He waved his hand through the air, "be my guest Chris, but no amount of studying is going to make the end result any different."
Chris sobered and responded quietly. "It's not about the end result."
A thoughtful silence fell over the group, and the atmosphere turned sombre when his words and meaning landing. Everyone knew the test was unbeatable, but that wasn't the point. The point was how one faced their own mortality; something which Chris had first hand experience with even though it wasn't a pleasant memory to think back on.
"You know." Kat drawled lazily, "you two are employing very different methods for the test, it would be interesting to dig into why-"
Kat was cut off by the entire group groaning. She glanced around at them innocently. "What?"
Chris managed to throw her a pained smile. "No offence Kat, but my head couldn't take one of your psycho-analysis sessions right now."
"Ditto." Leland soon chimed in, followed by Philippa.
Kat frowned at all of them before settling down to relax too, muttering bitterly. "You're no fun."
The trio laughed and it wasn't long before Kat cracked a smile too.
Chapter 4: QUASI-INTELLIGENT FIRE-BREATHING DRAGON
A/N - So for the purpose of this tale, I’ve taken Quasi-intelligent to mean - something which is thought to be intelligent but actually isn’t, which was what I’ve pieced together from google searches :)
FACIAL HAIR AND TISSUE SINGED BY QUASI-INTELLIGENT FIRE-BREATHING DRAGONS ON BERENGARIA VII
Captain Pike breathed in a lungful of alien air, taking the moment to revel in the unique smells and composition this new world created. It was always a marvel just how many planets out in the universe could support life, this world had lower oxygen levels to earth but it was still well within comfortable levels. No matter how many worlds he visited; simply standing and taking in a new skyline, and feeling the heat of a different star on his skin would never get old. Berengaria VII was no different.
Pike turned his attention to the landing party and the reason for their visit. "Any update Lieutenant?”
Spock unburied his head from his tricorder and glanced upwards to look at Pike, his lightly furrowed brows the only thing showing that something was up. Spock schooled his features and indicated towards the ridge line a hundred metres north of their position. "The signal is weaker than before but it appears to be emanating from beyond the ridge line.”
Chris squinted into the distance and frowned. A weaker signal could mean any number of things but not many of those things were good, not with the urgency of the message, not when someone was calling for aid.
The Enterprise had been running along swimmingly on the outskirts of federation space, running a multitude of crew shakedowns, maintenance, supply runs, and generally prepping for their next 5-year mission. The peace and quiet was interrupted by a new signal which comms picked up on and played to the bridge crew. The message was transmitting on all frequencies and sounded like it was on a loop, but it was difficult to know for sure given that comms were having trouble understanding the message all together.
After running the message through the universal translator the teams had managed to understand enough of it to work out that it was a cry for help of some kind. Further attempts to translate the rest of the signal were hampered by the fact that they simply didn’t have enough information about whatever species had sent it or their dialogue; it didn’t match anything in the federation database which was even more curious.
As soon as the crew identified the distressing nature of the call, Captain Pike immediately threw all of Enterprise’s considerable resources at finding the signal and getting the ship there as soon as possible. This was how he, Spock, a trio of linguistic specialists, a medical and security attachment ended up on an unexplored planet designated Berengaria VII.
Pike pushed the engines and the Enterprise arrived at the planet within 2 hours. From orbit it soon became clear that the interference originated from a nearby black hole, and that combined with a rare gravitational event was making scanning the atmosphere impossible. Whilst the phenomena had limited the Enterprise’s equipment, it was almost certainly the reason the signal had been extended in the first place. The only relevant consequence of the interference was the need to send down a landing party in person, where hopefully they would have a better chance of following the signal’s trail.
The Enterprise group followed Spock’s directions for half a mile, crossing the seemingly barren wasteland in considerable heat, all the whilst being dwarfed by an incredible emerald green sky. As planets went it didn’t show much sign of life, in fact they hadn’t seen any compounds or minerals even capable of supporting life as of yet, the only exception being the atmosphere.
All of a sudden a faint rumble started to echo across the landscape accompanied by sounds of movement. The away team cautiously approached the ridge where the sounds grew in volume dramatically, so much so that they could actually identify them as some kind of roaring. Spock’s tricorder chirped to life as soon as they were within range and it was soon announcing multiple life signs, all of whom were very close to their current position.
Pike signalled to the away team to slow and approach cautiously, whispering for radio silence until they had a handle on just what was waiting for them on the other side. With that done the group snuck up on the ridge carefully and glanced down into the pit on the other side. When Chris saw the origin of the noises and the rumblings underfoot he almost forgot to remain silent, he also almost forgot that jumping backwards in shock probably wouldn’t go undiscovered. It took all his years of training to stay rooted to the spot and remain calm despite what his eyes were showing him. Down in the pit, towering up towards the sky, were dragons.
Well, they probably weren’t actual dragons by that was the closest description that came to mind. What else would you describe something that was 8 foot long, had black scaly skin, four pointed limbs, a spiked spine and lengthy coiled tail. The only feature that was missing were the wings. The creatures were lounging around the pit and appeared to be conversing together, not that Pike nor the rest of the away team could understand them.
Captain Pike gulped and glanced to Spock with wide-eyes, looking for confirmation. Surely he couldn’t be serious? These creatures didn’t appear to have any dwellings, signs of any civilisation or means of sending out a signal.
Spock noticed his Captain's questioning look, he raised one brow and tilted his head. "The signal does appear to originate from this location Captain, although there is no sign of technology nearby."
Chris nodded, Spock’s assessment confirmed his suspicions but the majority of his questions remained unanswered. "If we just had more to go on... I would usually preach caution but the call made it clear that help was needed, urgently."
Spock returned his grave look. "Agreed."
Pike took a fraction of a second to come up with a plan of action, the first thing was to tell the ship and Number One just what was happening down here and what they were about to do.
He flipped his communicator open and opened a channel. "Pike to Enterprise.”
Static filled the air until the connection was stabilised, Una’s voice crackled at first but soon levelled out just like the signal. "Enterprise here, have you managed to find anything on your field trip?”
Pike’s lips quirked upwards when he heard his first officer’s smirk coming through the line. “Spock’s narrowed down the signal and it's led us to a clearing, we have creatures which resemble dragons in sight but haven't made contact yet."
"Yet?" Una prompted, hearing the unspoken notes.
"I can't ignore a cry for help."
There was a lengthy pause in which Chris could positively hear her displeasure, when she eventually spoke again it was surprisingly aimed at Spock which cut him out of the process entirely. "Spock, give me a run-down on the creature's biology and any signs of intelligence or civilisation down there."
Pike realised that Una must have been able to boost the scans, so much so that she had noticed the lack of civilisation as well. If Spock was affected by being brought between the command team again he didn’t show it. He reeled off what Chris had observed and made a careful note to emphasise no sign of intelligence, or that the creatures would respond well to anything at all.
As expected, Una took his cautions seriously, more seriously than Chris. “Captain, you're not seriously going to try and contact dragons when we have no proof that they even sent the signal or that they won't eat you on first sight?"
Chris sighed tiredly and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Firstly they're not dragons, secondly we're here to answer a cry for help and it's hardly fair to judge a species before meeting them.”
“Whilst you have a point.” Una conceded. "I don't like this; something feels off.”
Pike was a little surprised that his XO had picked up on his inner concerns, maybe he’d let something slip into his voice. He made an extra effort to keep his tone steady as he replied. “Noted.”
Number One sighed in response, long suffering as always. “Be careful, Enterprise out.” Either he was getting worse at hiding things from Una or she was getting better at reading him.
Chris snapped the communicator shut and placed it back on his belt. He glanced around at the away team and made a quick decision to head forward on his own; there was no need to put anyone else at risk. “I’ll head out first, make initial contact.”
In response each and every one of the landing party stared at him like he’d grown a second head, followed by a tirade of responses…
"We're coming too."
"You'll need medics if there are injuries."
"How will you translate their dialect alone?"
Captain Pike held up his hands and took a step away from the barrage of arguments. "Alright, alright. Jeez." He looked around at the stubborn group whilst shaking his head. "You've all clearly been spending too much time around Number One.”
He had hoped the joke would lessen their resolve but only steely faces stared right back at him, they didn’t give him an inch. Pike graciously accepted defeat with a roll of his eyes and led the group out. "Come on then, everyone keep your eyes peeled.”
The group moved as one down the edge of the pit and towards the creatures, who didn’t notice the newcomer’s presence until they were 100 metres away. They didn’t act aggressively per se but there was a certain edge of panic to their movements and the noises they started to make. Pike brought the away team to a slow halt he didn’t want to come on too strong, not when he could see the size of their claws…
Chris snapped his attention back to their faces and waited patiently for the creatures to come to them, he kept a wary eye on as many as he could whilst carrying out a threat assessment on the fly. So far so good but he was very aware that things could all change in a matter of moments. His rapidly beating heart proved that fact; even though he hadn’t seen anything so far that would warrant any major cause for concern.
The creatures came to a stop a few metres from the away team and began to sniff the air curiously. Pike noticed their eyes were darting from one face to the next but he didn’t see any recognition there, nor any sign that they were actively trying to communicate. As far as he was aware, both sides were still sizing the other up. Something which Chris couldn’t help but notice, and couldn’t help but be intimidated by was the creature's larger size, the ferocity of their claws, and the razor sharp teeth he glimpsed when they snapped their jaws open.
Chris was no expert in alien body language but it was clear that the creatures didn’t know what to make of the away team, and honestly the feeling was mutual.
The Captain glanced to his linguistic specialist who had been busying configuring a translator and she gave him a nod to go ahead.
"Hello. I'm Christopher Pike, from the United federation of planets. We received a call for help from this location, we've come to offer aid.”
Chris made sure to speak slowly and as clearly as he could manage; he even repeated the crucial parts of the message again and accompanied it with gestures but nothing came back from the dragons. He caught the linguist’s struggles out of the corner of his eye, the translator couldn’t be programmed correctly until the newcomers spoke. The dragons clearly couldn’t understand him and as they weren’t communicating they couldn’t understand them; they were at a stalemate.
Pike kept the strained smile in place and tried again for the third time which was right about the time he noticed movement on the edge of the group. The next thing they knew, the movement turned into something faster and far more aggressive. Before any of them could react a dragon hanging near the back of the group charged through the creatures at the front, knocking them aside like bowling pins and it aggressively swiped out at the away team.
Chris had been the closest to the creatures and so when the scuffle began he was the first to be knocked aside, he’d managed a couple of surprised steps backwards before a dragon’s limb caught him in the chest and he flew backwards to land flat on his back in a heap. He yelped when the ground came up to meet him and coughed violently when the air was forced out of his lungs, he clutched his mid-section and groaned as his ribs throbbed with each breath. Pike snapped out of his stupor when he heard a scream and phaser blasts began to fill the air.
When he managed to sit up to assess the situation he quickly saw that everything had gone to hell.
The dragon creatures were launching a full-scale attack, with one another and with the away team. The security officers had formed a ring to try and protect the group, they had reacted far quicker than Pike who had meagrely contributed to the situation by being knocked on his ass.
Chris shakily got to his feet whilst trying to ignore the trembling in his legs and arms, he felt adrenaline take hold and soon the blow to his chest numbed to nothing and all he could feel was the desperate need to protect his people, and to get the hell away from these creatures. His hand grabbed at his waist for the phaser which should be there. When his fingers grasped nothing but thin air, he panicked and glanced down to confirm that his only means of defence was in fact gone.
Pike looked to the ground but couldn’t see his weapon anywhere obvious, and not only that he and the others were being forced backwards so it wasn’t likely he was going to find it anytime soon. The away team were completely outnumbered, more and more dragons were joining the fray, fighting each other and growing more bold to come and swipe at the humans. The Captain backed away and grimaced when a claw almost caught the front of his jacket; coming here had been a mistake, they needed out of here now.
As always Spock was on the same wavelength and calm under pressure, he already had his communicator out and was configuring it to boost the signal out of the pit to contact the Enterprise. With that vital task underway, Chris focussed on his crew and getting them all through this mess in one piece.
Speaking of which…
Pike’s vision snapped to a fast-moving creature, one which was heading straight towards the medical team. Chris called out a warning but it was to no avail, the dragons were just too fast and roaring too loudly. He could only watch on in horror as it knocked them all down to the ground, all but one of the medics who ended up flying away from the group to land alone and isolated.
The Captain understood animal hunting patterns well enough to know that predators liked to separate their food; they picked off their prey one by one. Without a second thought he raced towards the downed medic, picked up a rock along the way and threw it at the oncoming dragon whilst yelling in its face. His scare tactics worked just about and the dragon turned about and re-joined the pack, more likely out of surprise rather than fear but Pike would take the win anyway.
He soon reached the medic and helped her get to her feet all the while he took in the carnage around him, in short it was madness. The security team had attempted to form a ring around the Enterprise group; they were valiantly fighting off the creatures whilst trying to retreat but the dragons kept attempting to break the ring into smaller groups, likely trying to separate the humans. Everyone who was armed was firing at the dragons, the linguists were desperately shouting anything towards the species although Chris doubted they would listen even if they did understand. It was quite clear what they wanted, he would recognise incredible hunger and base animal instincts anywhere.
At this rate the group would be overwhelmed in no time, they weren’t going to make it. Pike made the quick decision to change that fact; he pushed the medic back towards the rest of the away team and yelled at her to run, for a moment she looked like she was going to argue the order but the look soon disappeared when he threw her his most commanding stare.
Chris watched her go and prepared for his crazy plan. If these creatures wanted a lone victim to go after then he would play bait.
Pike started to wave his arms about wildly to catch the dragons attention; he called out and even resorted to throwing some small rocks at the front runners. Whilst he focussed on getting the creature’s attention off of the away team, they focussed on their Captain and were horrified to see that he was trying to lead the dragons away from them and towards him.
For his part, Chris was beginning to gain hope as his plan started to work. He smiled when the creatures started to abandon the larger group in favour of easier pickings; it was working.
Shit, it was working. They wanted to eat him.
The triumphant grin was obliterated off of his face when the oncoming dragon opened his mouth to reveal a wave of flames, the fire shot out at lightening speed whilst scorching the ground and setting the air ablaze. Chris had already been moving backward but he still felt the heat of the dragon’s breath; he couldn’t help but imagine what those kind of intense temperatures would do to his flesh...
Pike stared wide-eyed from the scorched ground to the dragon which was snarling at him hungrily, saliva dripped out of its jaw and its claws began to dig up the ground. Captain Pike gulped, spun on the spot and ran for his life.
"Captain!" Multiple voices called out, although they were quickly drowned out by the roar of the hungry creatures.
Pike didn’t have time to work out who had called his name or if the voices had been getting closer or moving further away, not when he had a dragon closing on his tail and flames persistently licking at his boots, literally. The fire had gotten so close one time he actually had thought he’d been set alight. Chris ignored the heat and carried on forwards; his heart pumped madly with each step and each breath became harder to draw as the heat in the air grew.
He knew he had to think quickly if he wanted to make it through this without being burned to a crisp; with that in mind he sought cover and soon found a boulder right towards the edge of the crater. Chris leapt over the top of the rock and bunched his body up behind it, ducking into cover whilst he desperately tried to catch his breath.
Whilst Pike panted and tried to come to terms with the fact that he was being chased by a dragon, he noticed a dragon’s shadow approaching, he felt the rumble of its footsteps and the heat and smell of scorched air.
Even though he had managed to get to cover, he had absolutely no idea what to do next. His entire plan had been thrown together in less than a second, his only goal had been to get the creatures away from the landing party which he supposed had been accomplished. His options became even more limited when suddenly the dragon roared, opened its mouth again and breathed fire at him and his shelter. The flames licked the rock and circled around them, searching for him every second and growing larger as more oxygen was sucked in.
Great job Pike, now you’ve turned yourself into dragon food.
Pike tired to make himself as small as possible but that didn't stop the flames from wrapping around the rock, from singing his skin, clothes and face. Everything was so hot, it was like all the oxygen had been sucked out of the air, he could barely breathe let alone move without being fired to a crisp.
Chris was really starting to lose hope of ever getting out of this one, and his inner core temperature had already risen dramatically by the time he saw a golden light begin to envelope him.
Just before the transport completed, the flames upped their pace and reached further than ever before; far enough to make his face feel like it had just been burnt…
Captain Pike stared back at his own reflection and frowned unhappily, he brought up his hand to touch the affected areas and sighed wearily. Boyce had assured him there would be no scarring and that everything would return to normal, but that didn’t help him in the here and now. For the time being he still had to live with no eyebrows…
His hair would grow back of course, it was just a little strange in the mean time. Chris took one last look in the mirror, styling his hair as best he could manage around the singed areas, he then cancelled the holo-mirror and headed out of his quarters. He turned right and headed along the corridor towards the turbo-lifts, staring straight ahead and ignoring the shocked looks from the crew.
It could have been a lot worse than simple burns and hair loss. He had never been so happy to see sickbay after the alternative had been being roasted alive, Number One had not been so happy after his cowboy stunt but his smoking clothes did earn him some sympathy for a while. After the away team had been accounted for and treated for injuries, the focus turned onto the distress signal and more importantly where it had come from.
The Enterprise still weren’t sure whether there were people waiting out there for help so the urgent search continued. It wasn’t until the gravitational phenomena had passed that the science teams managed to track the signal back to its true origins and also date it. They believed the signal was being transmitted through the black hole, and had only been amplified by the nearby phenomena. More than that, due to the degradation they believed it to be hundreds of years old, that and it could have originated from anywhere in the universe. Discoveries concerning blackholes and wormholes were mostly still experimental, so with no else to lend aid for the signal the Enterprise informed command and moved on to usual duties.
The turbo-lift came to a stop at the bridge level, Chris steeled himself for the moment and walked out onto the bridge. He noticed the staring immediately, the little gasps and stifled laughs, but none of that was as bad as Una’s smirk when he moved to take the con from her.
Number One’s eyes flicked up to his face innocently, specifically where his eyebrows should be. Pike resisted the urge to avert his gaze, he managed to keep his composure and informed her to stand down from the conn. Una’s lips quirked upwards, she threw him a look which equated to an ‘I told you so’ before walking over to the helm.
Chris watched her go with a barely suppressed glare. He didn’t even get the chance to settle into the Captain’s chair properly before Nicola called out that a communication had just been received. "Sir, I've got Admiral Cornwell for you.” He sounded as puzzled as Pike was by the timing of the message, surely this couldn’t be a coincidence.
Chris clenched his jaw, glared at the view screen and then to Una who was suspiciously staring straight ahead, looking like she was struggling not to laugh.
Well, there was nothing else for it.
He gritted his teeth and nodded to Nicola. "Put her through."
A few seconds later Admiral Cornwell appeared on screen; Chris could tell by her expression that this call wasn't official. Damn her, damn Una, damn them all.
Why couldn’t they all behave like adults?
"Admiral." He greeted stiffly, shifting a little uncomfortably under the scrutiny. "What can we do for you?" He put an emphasis on the query.
Her lips quirked upwards and he spotted the glance Kat and Una shared. Dammit to hell. "You submitted quite an interesting report." She started.
Chris refused to take the bait. "Did I?"
"Hmm." She purred. "Imagine my surprise when I see that not only did you lead another away mission, but also that said away mission ended up with you being chased by a fire-breathing dragon.” She looked far too amused by the tale, probably imagining him getting chased by such a thing. The thought might be comedic now but at the time it certainly hadn't been. "Am I missing anything?"
"Firstly the risk assessment was minimal, a security detachment accompanied me, in line with protocol. And secondly..." He paused, took a breath and jumped into explaining his mistake. "We were under the impression that the species were intelligent beings, capable of communication.”
Chris stalled and squirmed in his seat. "We were wrong."
"Oh I can see that. That was rather a close shave Chris, although if anyone could pull off no eyebrows..." her eyes were sparkling, she was clearly enjoying teasing him.
Pike was well aware that the gentle ribbing was having an effect on the bridge; the crew were visibly struggling to contain their laughs and they all kept shooting him looks.
"Is there anything else Admiral?" He interrupted irritably.
She smiled and glanced to Number One before shaking her head sweetly at him. "No, that's all. Just wanted to check in."
Of course she did...
“Oh, and Number One, please try to keep Chris in one piece; his track record isn't getting any better."
"Yes Sir.” Number One responded, the smile evident in her voice.
"Bye Kat.” His tone was firm and final; he was not amused.
The bridge fell silent as the connection closed and the viewport faded to black. Chris took a breath and decided to get this talk over with.
"Eyes on me.” Pike ordered.
Chris waited for the bridge to respond and let the moment hang until there was complete silence. As he looked around at their faces, he noticed that a lot of them looked like they'd been laughing; Una was the worst. "Look, I know that the Captain having his eyebrows burned off might look funny, but is there any chance we could drop it?"
Unbelievably everyone turned to Una; she really was the ringleader here. Number One shrugged and smirked at him. "Perhaps after a few hours."
Chris dropped his head and ran a hand over his face wearily, after a few moments he started shaking his head and smiling. He glanced back up at her. "You're insufferable."
"We aim to serve." She quipped back.
He schooled his features into a look more suited to the bridge, and measured his tone. "Alright everyone, back to work."
Chapter 5: CARDIAC FAILURE
Usual warning, I am not a Doctor and have no medical background so take everything with a pinch of salt!
SUFFERED CARDIAC FAILURE WHILST CONDUCTING A TRADE MISSION
Captain Pike glanced over to Michael and he knew the answer to his question before she uttered a response; the glare she was throwing at the scanner in her hand gave her away.
Michael met his gaze and shook her head dismally. “None.”
Now it was Pike’s turn to frown at their equipment. They’d covered a lot of ground already and should have reached their destination by now, yet all they’d found was a whole load of nothing.
“And this is definitely the right quadrant?”
Michael tapped the tri-corder a few times and sighed heavily, letting it drop to her side as she shone her torch beam around the cavernous area. “This is where they should be.” She almost pouted, “an entire outpost."
“Not to mention the dilithium…” Pike muttered into the darkness.
This was the real reason they were here after all, well more accurately why the Discovery was stuck here. A jump gone awry drained their entire stock of crystals and they were weeks away from any Federation outpost at light-speed. They’d had to resort to the database for deposits, they’d actually felt like they’d struck gold when a nearby planet was shown to be listed as a source but now the whole thing felt more like a wild goose chase.
When Pike and Burnham beamed down to the settlement in question they were surprised to be directed elsewhere, the dilithium was mined and held in a completely different quadrant and one which could only be travelled to on foot. Hence their little hike, and by little he actually meant huge.
Chris joined Michael in a visual scan, his torch beam slid across the vast cavern in tandem with her's. “I don’t think the settlers were lying about the dilithium.” He muttered.
“I didn’t get that impression either.”
They continued onwards in stony silence, becoming more alert and wary the further they walked without sign of life. They had found a structure of some kind a mile or so back so had thought they were on the right track, but now there was only darkness ahead.
After 10 more minutes of silent exploring Pike pulled them both to a stop, seriously debating turning back for more personnel or consulting Discovery. “Well, I don’t think anyone’s here.” He murmured dejectedly. “Unless they’re shielding their life-signs…”
As it turned out that was exactly what was happening.
Pike and Burnham both froze in place when the lights on their equipment blacked out, followed by their torches and everything they had which required a lick of power. They waited a beat in silence and then both reached for their illumination lights, cracking them to reveal some light on the situation, or lack thereof. The only thing they ended up illuminating were their matching wary expressions and a few metres of empty rock face.
Their eyes met in the dim light and Pike saw Michael do the math just as he had; power capable of knocking out their equipment meant technology and technology meant people.
They both immediately moved into a tactical stance, Chris going in front naturally as Michael slotted in behind to cover their rear. Pike marvelled at the synchronicity of it all, it was like he and Michael had served together for years rather than months. It had always been like this with them though, they just worked together.
Pike took a few steps forward, careful to cover all angles as he did, and called out into the gloom. "Hello?"
The only answer to his call was an eerie echo so Chris tried again but he didn't get very far. "Hello we're here to-"
Pike tailed off and his brain stalled when something bright and loud exploded into his chest, something which stole his voice, his breath and everything he had all at once. Chris felt fire rocket along his nerves, his muscles spasmed wildly and then he knew no more as the darkness descended. Captain Pike collapsed to the floor with his mouth hung open in a silent cry; when his dead limbs settled his chest remained still and his eyes stayed lifeless.
Michael ducked down the moment she heard the disturbance followed by the Captain’s grunt of pain. Her mind flew into overdrive when she spied the barrel of a gun in the distance and noted where it was tracking, her tactical training kicked in all at once leading Burnham to the nearest cover which turned out to be a group of rocks. Her phaser was in her hand in the next instant, and she started searching for any and all threats as well as how to extract the Captain from the line of fire. That was when she noticed his eyes, and his too-still body.
At first she thought that her own eyes were playing tricks on her, if she just focussed long enough then she’d see him breathe, she’d see that he was just unconscious. Her heart clenched painfully when Pike remained still, he needed help now.
Michael took out her communicator, tried to open a channel and promptly threw it against the floor when it remained unresponsive. She leant her head back against the rock face and tried desperately not to panic. The Captain needed a med team and urgent care, not a flustered officer.
She attempted a peek around her cover and prepared to rush over to his body, needing to get to him. Michael managed just one step before the dark area lit up with a crackling electric fork, heading straight her way. She leapt back into cover and breathed heavily, gripping her weapon tightly as he heart pumped away at a ridiculous pace. She had no idea what kind of weapon that was, who was firing it or how many hostiles there were. The only thing Michael knew for sure was that Pike needed her.
“Hold your fire!” She called out desperately into the darkness.
Michael listened carefully and after a few tense moments made out movement nearby, more accurately footsteps or people changing position. She chanced a peek but quickly had to duck back in again with gritted teeth when a phaser bolt whizzed by, they clearly weren’t going to stop firing. The Captain didn’t have time for this.
“I need to get to him, he needs-“
“The human is dead.”
No… That couldn’t, how?
“What?… What have you done to him?”
Michael’s mind whirled and she started to breathe faster and faster, flashes of the past invaded her mind and it wasn’t long before she was remembering another time of unthinkable anguish with another Captain; with Philippa.
"An electrical charge, it interrupted his heart's usual rhythm. He won't survive without intervention. You want him to live, surrender.”
Michael kept half her attention on the mysterious attacker’s threats but the majority of it on Captain Pike, she felt so useless just sitting here watching whilst he lay there still and cold. How could this keep happening, why did she continue to lose the people she had come to admire?
She tried to get a handle on her escalating emotions, her panic would not get them anywhere only reason could do that. "We're not here to harm you, we only came to trade. You must let me help him."
"We do not trade with outsiders. Surrender now or his heart will never beat again, he will remain dead."
Dead, that word just didn't compute. How could Captain Pike be dead? He had been standing right by her side, flashing her a tired smile not 10 minutes ago but now his face was still, his eyes vacant. It was all wrong.
"Time's running out. He's only got one minute before the oxygen starvation will cause irreversible damage. 5 more and he'll be nothing more than a vegetable.”
Michael couldn’t stop the gut-wrenching pain from ripping through her heart. She couldn’t sit here whilst Pike laid there alone, even if it meant her own death. If there was a chance then she had to take it. Michael couldn’t lose anther Captain. The universe couldn’t lose somebody so pure and good.
“I’m coming out.” She called out brokenly, her hands rising in surrender.
“Throw out your weapon.”
Michael fought against every instinct in her body and stepped out into the line of fire, completely against all of her training and common sense. It was strange how logic eluded her when it came to Captain Pike. She threw her phaser out into the open area and felt immediately naked without it. Michael half expected to be shot down immediately and had certainly expected to be shot upon when she neared Pike’s body but miraculously no phaser beams materialised.
Bodies started to peel themselves away from the walls and more crawled out of the shadows until she and Pike were completely surrounded. Michael tried to get to the Captain but was barred when a heavy hand landed on her shoulder and a blaster appeared in her face.
Throughout the manhandling her eyes never left Pike’s face, how long ago had his heart stopped? 2 minutes? 3? She pushed the blaster out of her face and lunged for him, needing to fix this. “Please, he needs-“
Michael bit back a cry when something heavy collided with her ribs, she felt multiple hands grip her arms and tug her away from Pike who was being rolled over by their attackers. “Stay where you are, we will handle this."
Michael didn’t voice the automatic retort she so desperately wanted to snap back, these bastards had caused this. They’d killed Pike, and now they had their hands all over him, they were ripping open his shirt and connecting equipment to his bare chest, all the while Pike’s head lolled lifelessly to the side.
“What are you doing to him?” She cried out desperately.
The man holding her arm pulled her back roughly and threw a disinterested look to the Captain on the floor. “Restarting his heart."
Michael jumped when Pike’s body jerked and spasmed upwards, the action was repeated by the people operating the equipment until the monitor emitted the first signs of life. Her view of the Captain and his supposed rescuers was blocked by the people pulling her to the ground. They covered her with a blaster whilst putting her through a full body search, one which she was trying very had to ignore.
The irritation from the attack, from the rough treatment and from the needlessness of it all was getting to her. They never asked for this; the irritation quickly morphed into anger. "Why are you doing this?"
The attacker’s barely paid her any mind. "You trespassed on our land, it is our right to defend ourselves."
Michael reared up and practically spat back at the men holding her. "Defend yourselves from what? We weren't causing you any harm, we're peaceful explorers!"
"Armed peaceful explorers?” He scoffed.
Michael pointedly ignored the mocking condescension dripping from her captor. Her attention snapped back to the Captain when another electric shock assaulted his body followed by a hacking cough that made his whole body and chest spasm. She waited on bated breath for any other sign of life, after a few seconds of silence Pike took another breath and then another. It was the most beautiful sound Michael had ever heard; even if the Captain was fighting for each and every snatch of oxygen, even if his skin looked clammy and pale. He was fighting, he was breathing.
She knew that this miracle might not last, not without some real help. The Captain was still struggling, he was still unconscious, and he looked far from healthy. Not only that, but Michael was concerned about the irregular sound of his heartbeat, and she was even more concerned about the oxygen deprivation… What kind of damage had their weapon done to his body?
"Please help him.”
Michael noted the first signs of compassion cross the alien’s face, they glanced down to Pike who was still struggling to breathe. “We will, we don’t relish senseless loss of life."
She wanted to yell at them, how could they say that when they’d almost ended his life for good! Michael struggled with the turmoil raging inside of her, furious anger at the people who had done this, relief that they had given him life again, guilt over being so helpless, fear over what could happen next. Burnham and Pike were completely outnumbered and the Captain was in no fit state to do enact an escape, their lives were in another’s hands and that didn’t sit well Michael. Not one bit.
“What are you going to do with us?” She couldn’t help but glare at the phaser jabbing into her ribs; no small amount of emotion tainted her voice.
Their new friends peered at the both of them suspiciously and Michael finally got a better look at Pike’s breathing when the circle around him cleared. Her eyes were fixed on him and only him whilst their fate was decided. “You will be our guests, until we can decide what to do next.”
Right guests, the universal word for prisoners.
Michael almost ripped her arm free from the restraining grip and she took a step forwards, causing lots of weapons to snap to attention. She ignored them all and pointed at Pike whilst arguing fiercely. "He needs medical help!”
The aliens regarded her evenly. "We can keep him alive."
Michael heard the unspoken threat in the air, saw the way people edged closer to Pike who lay defenceless on the ground. They could keep them alive yes, but they could also take their lives away.
Michael swallowed down the fear that came from having her life in another's hands, she tried a different tact. "Our people will come looking for us, and they will not take kindly to your care."
The alien finally cracked a smile. "Is that a threat from peaceful explorers?"
Michael didn't rise to the mocking tone. "It's a warning." If there was one thing she was sure of, it was that Discovery would come and they would be as unhappy as she was with the treatment of Captain Pike.
"If they come, we will deal with that problem too." The alien replied dismissively before gesturing to the people surrounding Pike. "Take them."
Michael's anxiety returned in spades, her heart began to palpitate and her senses became hyper-vigilant all at once. She watched the Captain like a hawk, right from the moment someone laid a hand on him to drag him to his feet. Something tight and painful clenched in her chest when a whimper of pain slipped past his lips, and when his face contorted in agony with each movement and breath.
She finally allowed herself to be steered away but only because of the many weapons pointing her way. One thing was for sure; if they hurt the Captain again then no amount of phasers in the world would stop her.
What the hell?
Captain Pike's first conscious thought was not eloquent nor was it informed, but it was all his frazzled brain could come up with. His mind which felt sluggish and unresponsive, the worrying behaviour was mirrored to his entire body. It was like waking up from a dream to find your entire body paralysed, but this was no dream. Michael assured him of that.
Chris groaned and scrunched his face up when his insides tightened painfully, he clenched his fingers and felt something warm and flexing squeezed back. He felt his muscles spasm and breathing catch, enough so to kick-start his heart and set off internal alarm bells everywhere.
He was not okay, he was struggling to remember exactly what had caused him to be on the floor writhing around struggling to catch his breath, but whatever it was it had to be bad. In all his adventures and throughout all of his scrapes Pike had never woken up to this before, he'd never been as scared as this before.
He heard a whimper slip past his lips and marvelled at how unlike him that had sounded; he also couldn't connect the wheezing sounds to his own dismal condition despite the shitty constriction of his chest. What the hell could have happened to him to cause this agony?
Pike concentrated with all the energy he could muster and searched for any clue or memory that would explain this. He had been walking along besides Michael, they'd been getting nowhere. Then the lights had gone out, the sound of a shot and... and... nothing. There hadn't been anything, only darkness.
His chest constricted all of a sudden, his heart skipped a beat and he had to fight for each laboured breath. He felt like he was dying, he didn't want to die on the floor of an alien world.
"It's okay Captain, I need you to breathe... Please just breathe."
Pike snapped to the voice and used it to ground him, he latched onto Michael's words and tried to force his panicking body under control.
Breathe, he could focus on that, he could breathe.
After a few stressful minutes the Captain managed to get more of a handle over his reactions, and he was taking steady breaths more often than not. That was when he opened his eyes.
His gaze sought hers immediately and he was a little surprised to see her sitting beside him so closely, but not only that; the thing he had been clinging onto for dear life had been Michael's hand. If he weren't so busy feeling like death warmed up then he would have been more embarrassed about holding his science officer's hand, but in the circumstances...
Chris shook himself out of his stupor and searched for Michael's face. He could see by her worried expression that hadn't been the first time she'd tried to call his name...
"M' okay." He tried to splutter, whether it was a feeble attempt to trick himself or Michael it didn't matter, neither worked.
“You are not okay.” Michael snapped back immediately.
Chris recoiled from the hard truth, who was he kidding? “No…” He meekly admitted followed by a pained spluttering.
He watched Michael’s expression slip from annoyance through to concern; she eventually landed on sympathy when the gut-wrenching misery in his chest reached it’s peak. He wanted to ask just exactly what was wrong with him, what was happening to him and why he and Michael appeared to be in a dark cell but he couldn’t form the words.
Michael picked up on his panic and saw him struggle to speak; she pressed him gently back against the floor. “You are going to be okay though…”
You have to be.
Michael knew she was scrambling and she probably didn’t sound all that convincing. She knew the most important thing was to keep the Captain calm, she didn’t want anymore strain put on his shoulders, not with his weakened heart. The problem was that she wasn’t calm. Her Captain was lying beneath her, struggling for breath and all she had accomplished was getting them both locked in this dark cell. She’d not seen or heard from anyone since they’d been locked in, they’d taken their equipment, their weapons and anything Michael could have used to contact Discovery or get her and Pike out of here. They were alone and without resources, Michael needed to find a way out of this mess before her Captain lost his battle.
Before Michael could come up with any semblance of a solution that was exactly what happened. She gripped his hand tightly when his body spasmed and he groaned miserably; but she had to rip herself away from his side when she saw he was struggling to take a breath. Michael rushed over to the locked door and banged her fists against it wildly, letting her emotional turmoil get the better of her. She couldn’t just sit there and let him die, she couldn’t.
“Help! He can’t breathe!” She called out against the door; only silence echoed back.
Michael heard Pike gasp something and when she looked back she saw him reaching for her feebly, the sight made her chest constrict horribly. Michael raced back over to his side and dropped to the ground, muttering as many soothing assurances as she could manage all the while she held Pike’s panicked gaze. She could see how scared he was, his own body was failing him.
Despite her best efforts the Captain was dying at her feet, again.
She thought she was imagining the sound of footsteps at first but their captor’s return was confirmed when the cell door slammed open. Michael glanced backwards furiously, about to give the people who had done this a piece of her mind, but words failed her when she watched the aliens step away and reveal someone else; Doctor Culber. Discovery’s CMO took one look at the Captain on the floor and sprinted into the room followed shortly by a team of medics.
“He…” Michael began to splutter; she was uncharacteristically tripping over her own words. She’d prayed for help for so long but to see it here in front of her was almost too much.
Culber smiled kindly at her whilst he gently picked her up and out of his way, in complete Doctor mode. “It’s okay Michael, we’ve got this.”
Michael didn’t know what to say to that so she just nodded mutely, feeling stupid and all of a sudden useless. She stumbled back a few steps and let the medics have proper access to Pike who had passed out in the interim. She had been taken so off guard by the sudden help that Michael missed another entering the room, in fact she didn’t notice her brother’s appearance until he was standing right by her side, between her and the door.
Michael glanced from him to the still-open cell door, what was going on? Were the aliens going to lock them all in? What was even more puzzling was the canister in her brother’s hand, if Michael had to hazard a guess she would say it contained dilithium...
"They are releasing you." Spock stated simply.
Michael was still a little shocked by the sudden turn of events, they hadn't blasted their way in so how the hell had they managed that? "How?"
"That doesn't matter now, we've got to get the Captain's heart back into a regular rhythm." Culber muttered from the floor.
Michael’s stomach dropped and she looked to her Captain who looked like death warmed up, a faint sheen of sweat plastered his pale skin. When she looked back to her brother she caught him staring down at Pike too, something indecipherable on his expression. Spock noted her questioning look. "Commander Saru made it clear what the Federation would do if any further harm came to you both. He used these people's desire for privacy as a bargaining tool."
Michael could read between the lines, it sounded like Saru had threatened them. "That sounds... extreme."
"Perhaps." Spock stared stoically back at their captors who were keeping their distance, he added coldly. "But necessary."
Michael gulped, her brother's coldness surprised her sometimes. For someone who wasn't emotional... What was it about Captain Pike that inspired this protective streak? She could hardly blame her colleagues and their priorities though, she’d reacted just as badly when the Captain had been shot down in cold blood.
Michael wandered closer to Culber and the medics who were busy taking readings and prepping signal boosters for the emergency transport. She watched the proceedings silently, her gaze never left Pike’s pained face. He was muttering something but seemed completely unaware of his surroundings, just like he’d been ever since they’d revived him.
“Is he going to be okay?” She voiced quietly, not knowing if she actually wanted to know the answer.
Culber looked from his patient back to Michael; his frown eased and his eyes turned sympathetic when he saw just how worried she was. He offered a small smile and nodded. "Don't worry Michael, we'll get him back on his feet in no time.”
Michael trusted Culber and his team with the Captain’s life, if they said the Captain would be okay then that was good enough for her. Of course it would be better to see him in sickbay and safe aboard Discovery. Culber seemed to read her mind as he gave Spock a signal, the usually stoic Vulcan had been staring down at Pike with far too many emotions swimming behind his eyes. He cleared his throat all of a sudden, expression going blank as he glanced away.
Spock flipped open his communicator. “4 to beam up."
Chapter 6: FRACTURED SKULL
SUFFERED FROM A FRACTURED SKULL ON JUVIUS III CAUSED BY A FALL
“Everything okay Sir?"
Captain Pike snapped out of his melancholy, turned to his yeoman and smiled warmly at her. There was no need to let others know what he had been brooding about.
“Yes, I’m fine Yeoman.” He glanced over her shoulder to the rest of the away team. “They all set?"
Yeoman Colt beamed. “Yes Sir, they’ve got everything they need for the upcoming weeks. All the arrangements have been made with the locals."
Chris’ eyes swept over the landscape and the science teams, his gaze locking on Lieutenant Spock. He’d been through so much recently, what with the Red angel and losing Michael.
Pike was pretty sure that his closest crew members had already noticed a change in both he and Spock, after Discovery, after control, after Boreth...
Pike snapped out of the retrospective moment, and managed to throw Colt a strained smile before she picked up on his mood swings.
“Great.” He breathed in suddenly and indicated with his head to the edge of the clearing. “I suppose we better leave them to it."
Yeoman Colt allowed a wry smile and fell into step beside him. “Yes, Captain."
Pike ended up looking back only once, his gaze lingering on Spock for longer than the others. He looked professional and completely consumed by his task, Chris just hoped throwing Spock into work would help him through his grief. The whole crew knew he didn’t want to talk about what had happened but that was hardly a surprise, the self-enforced solitude just stung Pike more than he cared to admit.
Chris eventually pulled his stare away and followed after Colt, leading the way out of the clearing and back towards their egress point.
They'd landed their shuttle a mile away so as to not disturb the locals, or contaminate any data for the teams. Now that they had all their equipment and assignments Pike felt ready to leave them in Spock’s capable hands.
Chris was looking forward to getting back to Enterprise, the diplomatic side of his job had been arduous of late. It had never been his favourite part of the job but he didn’t usually have this strong of a reaction to dealing with a planet’s natives. He knew this rut he’d found himself in wasn’t healthy nor good for him as Captain, but it was becoming more and more difficult to think about a future when he knew what was in store for him.
Pike snapped himself away from that dangerous path before it was too late, his mind had been revisiting Boreth more often that not lately. Yeoman Colt seemed to notice his introspective mood, she walked silently by his side enjoying the scenery. Chris smiled at his companion, she was getting very good at adapting to his style, when he needed silence to think and when he needed someone to be around. She really was very good at her job.
“So, got any plans for shore leave?"
Colt looked at him with wide eyes and one eyebrow raised, she had clearly expected him to stay within his own world. Her expression warmed when she noted Pike’s lighter mood. “I was thinking of checking out the Capital and then the falls, I’ve heard they’re quite beautiful."
“I’m guessing you're a regular sightseer?" Chris loathed to admit he was jealous of Colt's travel bug, he hadn't gone somewhere just to experience it for too long.
Colt laughed shyly, rubbing the back of her neck whilst she did. “Yeah, I like to see as much as I can."
Pike couldn't help but find her expression endearing and almost child-like. The explorer’s heart was hardly a surprise for someone who chose their line of work but it was nice seeing the enthusiasm in someone so young. It was a feeling he sorely missed.
“How about you Captain?"
Chris hadn’t even thought about shore leave; honestly the thought of relaxing had been the last thing on his mind. He didn’t have the heart to admit this to Colt who was clearly so excited about her own time off. “Actually I was-"
The Captain was interrupted by an almighty explosive sound followed by the ground trembling beneath their feet. Was this an earthquake? They had been warned that tremors could happen in this part of the world but they weren’t supposed to be common, and especially not at this time of the year.
None of those contradictions mattered now though, not now that the ground was literally shaking apart and cracking all over. Pike lost his footing instantly and found himself falling backwards and away from the safety of the path. He tried to cling onto anything to stop his fall but the few branches he managed to grab only snapped beneath his weight.
With nothing to stop his fall, Chris fell backwards and backwards whilst the earth crumbled away all around him. His heart flew into his mouth when his uncontrolled fall seemed to speed up, the ground dipped down and he figured that he most be rolling down a hillside of some kind. All he could see was sky, ground, sky, ground.
Pike grunted with each tumble, his ribs taking the brunt of the fall whilst his arms got scraped to hell on the earth and bushes. Eventually the world stopped shaking but it was far too late to do him any good. Just when he thought his situation couldn’t get any worse or disorientating, the ground opened up completely beneath him.
Chris yelled out as he found himself falling through thin air, his limbs flailing uselessly as he fell and fell. The impact with something solid was so sudden and jarring that it knocked him out cold instantly, the lights went out as soon as his skull bounced off the floor.
The first thing Pike noticed when he came to was just how blue the sky was. He slowly came back to his body, his limbs sluggish and feeling like they'd taken a beating. He tried to take stock of everything and narrowed in on his most urgent problem; his head. It felt like he'd drank a bottle of Romulan ale... but no, he'd just tumbled off a cliff.
Chris groaned when everything woke up at once, his nerves, muscles and damaged limbs. His vision swayed violently and he had a sudden bout of nausea. Pike tried to control the sick feeling and slammed his eyes shut whilst the drums carried on unchecked. What the hell had happened, where was he?
He scoured his memories for answers, he remembered travelling down with the away teams, the science expedition, walking with Colt, the earthquake and then just darkness. He must have taken one hell of a tumble to feel as miserable as this, not to mention he appeared to have triple vision. Well, either that or he had suddenly grown 4 new hands.
Pike managed to open his eyes properly after much trial and error and tried to take in his surroundings; his vision was blurry so from what little he could make out he appeared to be on a ledge of some kind and he could see a steep incline leading up to where he must have dropped from.
Chris gulped as he saw the height up... the only thing he was grateful for was that he was a few metres away from the ledge, he didn't want to know how much further he could have fallen.
He went to lift his hand, to try and see what state his communicator was in but that set off a chain of pain and misery that almost had him passing out. He yelled out against the agony, and when he was through the worst of it he realised there was another voice nearby. One that was getting closer.
Chris wanted to respond to the voice but his mouth wouldn't function properly. All he could manage was a pained grunt. It turned out it didn't matter because a few moments later Colt's terrified expression appeared at the top of the cliffside.
“Captain! Oh my god."
Her voice and the relief that he wasn't alone down here helped to bring Chris round some more. He tried to touch the worst part of his forehead to assess the situation and recoiled when he felt the blood there; quite a lot of blood.
Pike got stuck in a daze, staring at his bloodied hand. He completely forgot about Colt's sudden appearance until she called out to him again.
“I can’t get down to you and the tremor has knocked the communicators offline."
Chris glanced up to his Yeoman, trying to focus on all the blurred images, trying his hardest to follow the conversation. It was more difficult than it should have been, he just wanted to rest his eyes, he didn't want to be putting his abused body through more.
“I’m going to go and get help okay, just don't move and stay awake please."
By the time Chris had registered her words she was already out of sight of the ledge. He struggled to get his tongue to cooperate.
Pike only managed to mutter the plea but it wouldn't have mattered if he'd yelled it, Colt was already gone. He laid his head down and closed his eyes, aiming to rest for a moment. Anything for the slightest bit of relief...
Without truly meaning to, Chris closed his eyes and fell into the waiting darkness where everything didn't hurt quite so much.
When Pike next opened his eyes he didn’t try to move, he just lay there on the edge of a cliff alone, trying desperately to do as Colt had ordered. He knew it was imperative to stay awake so it was very irritating when he found himself drifting off again. The longer he lay there in the silence the questions he had. Where the hell had Colt gone to and when would she come back, or had he imagined everything up until now?
The only thing that Pike was certain of was that his head felt completely detached from his body, his limbs had stopped responding entirely and he wanted desperately to simply sleep.
He was ripped from his sleepy state by a sudden sound, close enough to startle him out of his doze and put his scrambled mind on alert. When he opened his eyes and eventually focussed on what had caused the disturbance, he was in for a mighty shock. Standing above him, peering down at his head wound with a frown was someone he never thought he’d see again.
Even as he said the name he knew it must be a mistake. Michael Burnham was on the Discovery in the future, she couldn’t possibly be here. Was he hallucinating? Chris knew he’d hit his head hard but this was new.
Michael didn’t miss a beat, nor did she act as though this meeting was odd. “What are you doing on the floor?”
“So get back up.”
If Pike could have he would have laughed. What a mad conversation, and one he was starting to doubt the reality of. Even if Michael wasn’t real he couldn’t deny that trying to move might be a good idea, keep his body going and all that. The problem was his body didn’t want to cooperate, he only managed to feebly lift his arms a little off the ground before his limbs gave out entirely and he sagged back into the ground breathlessly.
“I don’t think I can.” He admitted between harsh breaths, that tiny movement alone had caused his head to split open again.
Michael titled her head down at him and narrowed her eyes. “It’s not like you to give up so easily, Captain.”
Chris bristled at that, taking offence. “I’m not giving up, I’m just-”
"Taking a break, enjoying the view?" Michael mocked, shaking her head at him sternly.
Pike reacted to the tone as if it were coming from his first officer, it felt rather like a dressing down. He wouldn’t have caught the sarcasm if it weren’t for the slight curl of her lips. Chris managed a faint smile, feeling the tension lift a little. “I thought Vulcan’s didn’t do funny?”
Michael’s smirk morphed into a full smile as she relived their old joke. After a moment of levity, her expression dropped and she glanced at him sombrely. “They don’t.” She cleared her throat all of a sudden, choking back her emotions, and averting her gaze to the top of the cliff face. “You can’t die here, Captain."
Pike didn't know what to say to that, so he decided to follow his curiosity. "Why?”
Michael swallowed heavily and eventually met his gaze, her eyes watering behind her carefully constructed shields. “My brother needs you, he’s still lost."
"I can't help him.” Chris wanted to take away Michael’s pain, help ease her burdens but he couldn’t offer false promises. He could barely take care of himself these days and Spock wasn’t letting anyone in, he’d been even more closed off since Discovery than he had ever been. Pike didn’t know what else to do with him.
"Yes you can, and you will. It will just take time.” Michael replied firmly, something about the way she said it made Pike think she knew something he didn’t.
He squinted at her suspiciously and threw her a lopsided smile. "You realise that's ironic, coming from a time traveller."
"It doesn't make it any less true.”
Chris forced his eyes to focus on Michael despite the pain he felt, he needed to concentrate here, he needed to stay awake. When he caught sight of her expression he could see she was waiting on him, needing something from him so she could be at peace. She needed to know somebody was still going to be around for Spock and whilst Pike couldn’t’ promise her everything, he could at least give her everything within his power.
“I’ll try Michael.” He managed to mutter, feeling his mind begin to slip away.
“I know you will.”
Chris groaned when a particularly nasty wave of misery shot right across his temples, he shut his eyes to try and relieve the pain. In between his misery he heard Michael take several steps closer before something soft and warm ghosted across his face. “Hang on Captain, help is coming.”
When Chris managed to focus his eyes again Michael was gone and he was once again alone on the ledge, surrounded by a growing pool of his own blood. He gulped down the nauseous feeling of seeing his own blood and settled back against the rock, racking his mind on how to keep himself awake. Emergency first aid for head injuries was pretty clear - don’t fall asleep.
He eventually settled on mental exercises, starting on rehearsing manoeuvres from flight school and moving onto other hobbies. He had just started to recite the 2nd act of his favourite film when a surprised squeal caught his attention.
Pike swung to the sound and after blinking away the blurriness, he saw a shape scrambling around the ledge and begin to hurry over to him. His mouth fell open when the figure cleared and Pike saw the newcomer with perfect clarity; he would recognise that shock of red hair anywhere, not to mention her energy. Tilly had always been so full of life, it was a stark contrast with how he felt right now.
"Captain! This is so not good, that's really high and wow..."
Tilly?” He croaked.
"Oh my god that is a lot of blood. And you're still bleeding, at this rate you'll only have 70% left within the next 20 minutes.” She stopped babbling to stare at him seriously. "Are you experiencing double vision, fatigue, can you feel your legs?”
Chris’ head was spinning and this sudden mirage was hard to handle but he eventually managed to throw together enough brain cells to answer. “Yes, yes and no.”
Tilly took him in and then nodded worriedly. Her gaze snapped around the cliff edge as she began to talk again at the speed of light. “Right, we’ve got to get you the hell off of this rock before the bleeding gets any worse, at the very least we should elevate your head. If we could just find something to-”
Sadly for Tilly, Chris was lost at the start. Her rambling nature was far too fast for him on a good day. Even just watching her talk was making him dizzy so much so that Pike had to grab a hold of her arm and plead. “Tilly… Please slow down.”
“I’m sorry I just… this really doesn’t look good Captain.”
Chris started to zone out despite his and Tilly’s best efforts. His eyes started to grow heavier and he couldn’t even keep them open anymore, even when Tilly started to shout at him desperately. “No sir you can’t close your eyes! You’ve got to stay aw-”
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.
Chris groaned, the repetitive sound drilling a thousand tiny holes right through his skull. With considerable effort, he pulled himself towards the sound which would hopefully lead him out of this dark hole. Whatever that noise was, it sounded like it belonged in the real world which was where he should be.
Pike followed the sound like a life ring and eventually surfaced into the world. He had to shield his eyes from the bright sunlight, by the time he could handle the daylight he realised that the tapping had stopped. Puzzled, Chris tried to lock onto the last known position of the sound. He saw a figure of a man, dressed all in black, leaning nonchalantly against the cliff edge with his leg swinging over the edge.
Oh fantastic, another hallucination. So much for the real world.
The harder Pike focussed the more recognisable the figure became, although his face remained annoyingly blurry. Chris thought he saw the other man smile but he didn’t really identify the blurred figure until he spoke. “Quite the pickle you’ve got yourself in Chris.”
He would know that voice anywhere.
“Well, at least your eyes are still working.” Leyland stepped forward and touched Pike’s head wound. Chris winced and flinched back from the hurt, Leyland eyed the blood on his hands with distaste and a mild amount of concern. “Probably the only thing after that tumble.”
Chris focussed on the blood coating his friend's hands. “It’s bad.”
“Yeah, no shit Chris.” Leyland admonished with a sardonic laugh. “I thought you’d finally learnt to take better care of yourself.”
If he’d had the energy he would have taken offence at Leyland’s ribbing but as it was he could only just manage to slur a meagre defence. “Accident.”
“This time perhaps.” Leyland allowed, something suspicious in his eyes. “But that’s not always the case is it?"
Chris knew his old friend well enough to know when he was trying to make a point. “Spit it out."
Leyland shrugged. “You’ve been throwing yourself into every dangerous situation going, whether that’s survivor's guilt from the war or because of something else I don't know."
"You don't know me any more Lee, it's been a long time since the academy.”
"I know you Chris, I always have." Leyland tutted whilst leaning forward, a knowing gleam in his eye. "And I know what that crystal showed you…"
Leyland’s declaration caused Chris to have the first moment of clarity since he woke up. The idea of somebody else knowing about his future made him realise just who exactly he was talking to and the impossibility of it.
“You died Lee.”
Leyland barked a laugh. “If I’m dead then how am I here?”
That question was what worried Pike most. Hallucination equalled bad, him seeing dead people also bad. Those elements made something horrible cross his mind, something that sent a jolt of fear right through him.
“Am I dead?”
Leyland levelled a scrutinising look at him. “Honestly Chris, I didn’t even think you cared…"
He wanted to automatically refute such a claim, he’d been a little down recently but that didn’t mean he wanted to die nor did he have a death wish.
"I don’t want to die.” His voice cracked despite its efforts to keep it together. He hated to admit it, but that had been weighing on him for some time.
Leyland didn’t seem convinced. He looked down at him, something calculating returning in his look. It was how Pike remembered seeing him last. “Don’t you?”
Leyland’s incredulous expression was the last thing Chris saw before his eyes drooped and everything faded into nothing.
The next time Chris surfaced he didn't even bother to open his eyes, the only thing that had earned him thus far was more pain and misery. It was best to just lay here quietly and try to ignore the memories his mind kept conjuring up. Speaking of which; he could hear somebody’s legs kicking the side of the ledge. He knew by now that this was his mind torturing him.
He didn't want to see anymore people from his past, people he could never see again in real life... He was in enough pain as it was. He didn't need dead, lost friends to add to his anguish. It turned out his latest hallucination didn't like being ignored, go figure.
"Aren't you going to ask me why I'm here?"
"I'm hallucinating.” He groaned into the sky, not bothering to even look at Kat. He’d watched her die in front of his own eyes, why was his mind playing sick tricks on him? "You're not the first person from the past my brain has dragged up.”
"Not the first... now that hurts.”
Maybe it was the hurt in her voice or maybe he just wanted to see his old friend again, even if this was impossible. Whatever it was, it caused Chris to open his eyes and look over to Kat. “You’re not real.”
“And how do you know that?” Kat challenged him in that way she always had, cutting straight through his bullshit and making him question everything. "How do you know you didn’t just hurt my feelings?”
“My head hurts enough as it is.”
Kat snorted, pushing herself to her feet to look down at him. “I suppose I don’t have to tell you that dreaming up apparitions is a bad sign.”
“You don’t say.” Chris drawled sarcastically.
"Hey, this is your mind." Kat held her hands up in surrender before throwing him an amused smirk. "Or is it?”
For the first time since the Admiral’s appearance, Pike properly looked at her and allowed the thought to enter his mind; could this be real? Could Kat really be here? He didn’t know what to think anymore. “How could be real, that’s impossible?”
Kat shrugged, leaning against the cliff face like she didn’t have a care in the world. "Haven't you seen enough in this universe to know that there aren't always answers?”
Damn right he had. What if this was real? Could he risk ignoring her, what if this was his last chance to talk to Kat? He allowed his brain to fall to the wishful thinking, he reached out to touch her arm just to prove to himself that there was something solid in front of him. Pike swallowed hard when his hand met fabric, and felt the heat of life beneath.
He flicked his eyes back up to her face, seeing her gentle smile and the way her gaze tracked his ministrations, she was humouring him. Seeing her now, like this, Chris felt his heart clench as he remembered the last time he had seen her. Before the warhead had exploded...
"Why didn't you let me close the bulkhead?” He whispered.
Now, here, where it was just the two of them, he could admit that her death had been playing on his mind.
Kat’s smile flipped entirely and she looked deep within him. “You know why.”
Boreth - The unspoken truth hung between them.
“How did you know?” He choked out. Although, given his current injuries, he doubted he was going to make it to that future anymore. Chris could already feel himself slipping away again, the tingling sensation in his limbs died away and the edge of his vision grew dark.
"I read between the lines, and I know you.” She closed the distance between them and knelt to meet his level. "You're always putting everything on the line for the good of the universe. It's why you're the best of Starfleet.”
Kat suddenly dropped to his head and shouted into his ear. “So open your damn eyes!”
Chris jolted awake with a gasp, spotting a figure abseiling down the cliffside towards him. His heart raced at a million miles an hour, sweat, grime and blood coated his skin. Wait, hadn’t he been awake just now? He’d been talking to Kat...
"Captain hang in there, we're coming down to get you!"
That was definitely Colt's voice but that didn’t mean he wasn’t still hallucinating. As if to prove his point, when he squinted against the sunlight he could have sworn he saw the red angel descending down the cliff. It was only when the apparition blocked the light that Chris noticed the red tunic, the usual Starfleet uniform and climbing gear.
Huh, funny what his broken brain kept conjuring up.
Pike followed the person’s progress as far as he could manage; he knew he was in trouble when he couldn’t even focus on the bright red uniform. Maybe, if this was the real world, then the next time he woke up he would be in a comfortable bed, preferably drugged to the heavens. Of course if this wasn’t real, then he may never wake up again…
He passed out before the mysterious figure reached him.
Luckily for the Enterprise and her Captain, Colt’s reappearance had been real. She’d managed to alert the away team and between them they’d gotten in touch with the Enterprise. As soon as the planet was stable, a medic abseiled down the cliff and between them they managed to winch him up and to safety. A short shuttle ride later, Captain Pike was in the caring hands of Doctor Boyce and his team.
Chris wasn’t conscious at the time but he had it on good authority that Boyce swore profusely when his Captain was wheeled in, blood caking his head and dead to the world. Sadly, it was a far too familiar scene for sickbay and for Pike to wake up too.
In fact, as soon as he had woken he was on the receiving end of Boyce’s withering look. Chris hadn’t had the energy to counter so he just laid back against the pillows and thanked whoever was listening for modern painkillers. He didn’t manage to catch everything that Boyce had to say but he did hear his CMO diagnose him with a fractured skull, and he definitely caught the bit about staying in sickbay for under observation for 24 hours. Head wounds and all that.
So that was where Chris found himself, stuck in sickbay and completely and utterly bored out of his mind. Frankly it was a relief when Una showed up with a chess board, he even put up with her probing questions, to a point.
"You seem different..." she started cautiously.
"Do I?" Pike kept his response non-committal, there was also an air of indifference about him. He knew what his XO meant, underneath her veiled words, but he wasn’t about to admit that to himself.
Una smirked, moving her rook up a level. "Deflections don't work on me Chris.” Her sparkling eyes met his challengingly. "You know that.”
Chris met her gaze silently before tipping his head, conceding the point. He studied the board for a few moments and moved one of his pawns across the level. “I had a lot of time to think on that ledge."
Chris stilled mid-movement and smiled at her bashfully. "Somebody's nosy today."
"Chris." Una scolded, moving her queen without a second glance, this was her way of saying cut the shit. "I need to know where your head's at."
She was right and they both knew it. Pike conceded her argument with a wave of his hand, his eyes drifting back to the board. "I was reminded of some people down there, people and memories that helped me make it until help arrived."
Una scrutinised him carefully. "You hallucinated didn't you?"
Pike stopped mid-move, gaze coming up to meet hers as he did a double take. "How-"
"Boyce mentioned that you had probably experienced them." She interrupted with a victorious smile.
Pike was a little concerned that he had been so easy to read, he offered a flash of a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. "Has he learned to read minds?"
Una smirked. "I would never reveal his secrets Captain, somebody's got to keep an eye on you.”
Pike bristled and huffed despite himself, long-suffering. Una kept staring at him, carefully noting what made him tick and just what exactly was causing these differences. Number One was never one to beat around the bush, she just came right out and said it.
“What did you see down there?”
Chris caught her probing look and managed a strained smile of his own, worried that his eyes would reveal what haunted him. “Old friends.”
Chapter 7: BROKEN RIBS DURING BATTLE
RECEIVED TWO BROKEN RIBS ON THE BRIDGE DURING BATTLE
"Evasive manoeuvre delta-four!" Pike shouted to be heard over the cacophony rolling across the bridge.
The Enterprise swerved violently to port when Una and Amin flew the ship into the manoeuvre, narrowly missing a direct hit from a barrage of torpedoes. They completed the action by forcing the Enterprise into a shallow dive, giving them a small amount of breathing room. Even though the evasive action helped to avoid a direct hit, the ship still sustained enough damage to give Captain Pike another headache.
When the whining consoles calmed down, and people had picked themselves up off the floor, Pike called out for an update. "Damage report!"
"Shields at 45%, forward shield power is fluctuating."
"We have hull breaches on decks 9 and 10 on the port side, automatic bulkheads have been deployed."
"Still waiting on up to date casualty reports, 44 injuries reported so far, 6 of those are critical."
Pike absorbed the damning reports and made a split second decision. “Power to forwards shields. Number One keep them off our tails."
“Aye sir!” The responses were instantaneous.
Chris looked to the enemy vessels on his scanner, attack manoeuvres flying through his mind and adrenaline racing through his veins. This attack had been unwarranted, uncalled for and brutal in its execution. He snapped out of the past when another jolt hit the bridge, he didn't have the luxury of time or second guessing, not when they were fighting for survival.
“Mann, prepare a spread of phaser fire. Target both vessels when we pass." Pike snapped off the order before turning to helm. “Attack pattern Beta-4."
The crew jumped into action and the Enterprise started to glide into the manoeuvre. Number One initiated the steep climb upwards and before the enemy knew what was going on, the Enterprise veered to port and quickly dived back downwards all the while the tactical station gave them hell.
After the attack run was complete they all heard the dismal reality. “Minimal damage inflicted."
Chris closed his eyes for a beat, no matter how many hits they landed their mysterious enemy's shields held up to them. They were outgunned and outnumbered, he knew it and he was more than aware that the bridge crew knew it too.
He shared a knowing glance with Number One, pulling himself together, the pause only lasting a second. “Number One, do everything you have to to keep them off our tail. Colt, I want our shields reinforced on the double."
Pike used his chair controls to patch a line through to engineering. “Louvier how’s my engines?"
Chris heard more chaos coming through the line than he did on the bridge, men were shouting, and the sound of fires crackled through the communicator. “Not good Captain, that last hit almost took out Impulse."
Pike clenched his jaw hard and gripped the armrests on the Captain’s chair, when the ship sustained another glancing blow. They could only keep this dance up for so long. “I need warp drive Chief."
“Captain, I can barely promise you impulse at the moment!"
Another blast, this time more serious, calling Pike’s attention back to the battle. “Do what you can.” He ordered grimly and cut off the communication.
“Evasive Omega-1.” Pike ordered, he wanted to throw the other ship’s tracking off for as long as possible.
Number One immediately started to send the ship into rapid turns, turns which tested all of their stomachs but turns which would make the Enterprise difficult to track. At least, that was the theory.
Pike looked to the viewport and watched the two alien ships come around for another pass, they were each twice the size of Enterprise but somehow just as fast, and just as agile.
“Any response to our hails?"
He knew he was clutching at straws, these guys weren’t here to talk. They'd appeared out of nowhere and knocked out the Enterprise’ warp drive without as much as a hello.
Nicola turned around, a flustered air to him. “No Sir, I’m trying everything on all chann-"
“Brace for impact!” Amin interrupted with a shout.
Pike’s heart shot into his mouth when the barrage struck, hitting the Enterprise’ starboard bow like a battering ram. The Captain hadn’t had time to brace but even if he had it wouldn’t have made a difference. In his memory the Enterprise had never been hit this hard before with one shot. His muses were cruelly interrupted when the ship pitched forward violently, at almost a 180 degree angle. As he flew forward uncontrollably out of his chair, Chris heard consoles explode, felt the heat of fire on his skin and heard several cries of pain ring out.
His flight across the bridge came to an abrupt stop when the artificial gravity adjusted to the violent changes. Pike went careering forward and downwards until he slammed into the central column of the helm station, tangling limbs with Number One and Lieutenant Amin as they both tumbled to the floor. The impact was sharp and unforgiving, he ended up folded over the top half of the helm, the lip of the station the thing that his ribs smashed into. The crash took the breath straight out of him and crushed his lungs, he collapsed to the floor sandwiched between the other officers, gasping for air.
As the dust settled Pike groaned heavily and gingerly peeled his body from the edge of the console, he clutched his screaming ribs and coughed when his chest decided it was a good time to spasm. He figured that the collision had probably cracked a rib or two, considering how it felt like he'd just been trampled by a horse.
A hand landed on his shoulder and Pike looked up to see Una, concern clear in her eyes. She helped steady him on his feet, Chris waved her supportive hold off and took stock of the bridge. In a word; it was an absolute mess. The lights flickered continually, rubble and bits of mangled metal were strewn across the polished floor, fires were raging big and small at a number of consoles and alarms blared from all corners.
Fire teams were already getting on top of the worst of the flames and nobody had been knocked out by the blast. The worst of the injuries were head wounds, even Spock looked like he'd been through the wars, a thin green line of blood trickled from his hairline down to his jaw. Pike stumbled towards the safety railing where Nicola had been thrown, he helped him up off the floor and was about to order him and his clearly broken arm to sickbay when the kid shook his head resolutely. Nicola darted back into the action, grim faced but determined reminding Chris of the stakes; they didn't have the luxury for rest.
With the major dangers under control, Chris staggered back towards his chair just for something to lean on. He bit back a cry when each step sent a stabbing pain right through his body, his ribs were definitely broken.
“All stations report.” He croaked out between coughs.
“Impulse propulsion failing."
“Shields at 20%."
“We’ve got more hull breeches; decks 5 through 12, unknown casualty count."
“Power fluctuations are threatening remaining shield integrity."
Pike knew what that equalled: one more hit and they would be sitting ducks.
Pike dragged himself over to the science station where Spock was busy trying to find them an advantage. These ships and their designs matched nothing within the Federation database, which was why they were having so much trouble fighting back. “Spock, any update on the ships. We need a weak point.”
Chris knew everything he needed to when Spock glanced at him, the regret and frustration painted all over his face. "Unfortunately I have no new information to report Captain."
Pike took a deep breath, clapped Spock on the shoulder and tried to stay positive. "Keep trying Spock."
Spock nodded sharply and got straight back to it, ignoring the cut on his head entirely. If there was anything Chris knew his crew would do, it was that they wouldn't give up, ever.
Pike made his way back to the Captain's chair to start their dance all over again. Number One tried to keep the Enterprise out of harm's way, Louvier and his engineers fought for every inch of shield power they could muster, Nicola flipped between trying to contact the nearest Starbase and trying to get the alien ships to respond to their hails. So far he'd had no luck with both. A beep brought Chris' attention to a new report forwarded from Yeoman Colt, from Boyce down in medical.
Chris balked when he saw the number of crew injured, Boyce was asking for any spare hands to help keep people alive. If Pike could spare them he would, but there would be no ship for any of them to survive in if he had to lose more people. They had been forced into a skeleton crew as it was.
Everyone knew it was only a matter of time before they got seriously hit again, with two ships on their tail they had a harder time evading both assaults. Inevitably, when the blasts hit them the whole ship shuddered, lighting on the bridge flickered and everyone took another nasty tumble to the ground.
Chris hissed when the hit jarred his ribs, making them shift uncomfortably inside him and send a wave of dizziness and nausea right through him. The latest hit hadn't done the Enterprise any good either. Shields were at a minimum, weapons were completely fused and engineering was reporting that movement was out of the question unless they wanted to implode. They were dead in the water.
Pike glanced up to the view screen which was zoomed in on their opponents, both ships had come to a halt and were bearing down on the Enterprise. The enemy had them exactly what they wanted them, they had the firepower and numbers to overpower the Enterprise if they wanted to. He couldn’t let that happen, the Enterprise had to make their last stand before the aliens took that chance from them.
One glance around the bridge revealed the majority of the crew to be stuck in a daze, he needed to snap them back into the moment and get their training kicked into gear. “Report!”
Thankfully his command voice had the desired effect; the crew shook off the latest attack and endeavoured to follow his order.
"Shields are failing."
"Multiple bulkhead are refusing to open, we have breaches from top to bottom."
"Casualty reports are still coming in, so far every sector has been hit."
"Phasers and torpedos are offline!"
All the voices seemed to merge into one, an edge of panic creeping in above the chaos of the bridge. Smoke was everywhere, they could all taste the stench of burnt circuitry and skin in the back of their throats and it was a constant dance to sidestep the sparks and outbreaking fires.
Pike held up his hand and tried to introduce a sense of calm despite the news he had just heard, he couldn’t dance around the dismal reality though. "So let me get this straight, we've barely got any shields left, half the ship is either on fire or about to be exposed to space, all of our remaining power is being routed to life support and emergency force fields, weapons are inoperable, the warp drive is down and impulse is a no-go. Did I miss anything?"
"The transporters are also inoperable and the shuttle bay doors are jammed.” Spock helpfully supplied in his usual matter-of-fact tone despite literally being surrounded by fire.
"Yes, thank you Spock.” Pike pinched the bridge of his nose wearily. "Anyone got any bright ideas?"
The Tactical team started off. "We're outnumbered and outgunned. We need the element of surprise to have any chance."
"With our shields so weak they've been able to probe our systems, I don't think we could surprise them."
"That rather depends on the scale of the surprise." Number One injected, her eyes gleaming with something.
Chris knew that tone well, he allowed himself to feel a little hopeful. "You have an idea, One?"
Chris didn’t miss the careful hesitation, she wouldn’t promise anything she couldn’t deliver so this plan was probably in the hail-mary category. Still, it wasn’t like they had many options. “What do you need?”
"Lieutenant Spock, and 10 minutes.”
"You've got 5.”
Number One’s lips curled upwards, “aye Sir." She performed a little salute before racing off of the bridge with Spock in tow.
With the potential plan in place Pike focussed on more immediate problems. "I want a ship-wide message. Arm anyone who can stand, secure all hatches and prepare to repel boarders.” He paused and took a breath, hating the words about to come out of his mouth despite their necessity. "Hail them, message subject: terms for surrender."
Even though the crew knew he was stalling for time they all gave each other anxious glances. What if this was how it ended? If Number One couldn't pull off a miracle then their options would become rather limited.
“Pass me the sonic disruptor.”
Una took the tool from Spock and ran it over their hybrid contraption. They’d taken one of their experiments and were trying to wire it up to the main power frame and propulsion system of the Enterprise, it was an experiment that she and Spock had worked on in their spare time but it had never been tested in this kind of setting and if this worked it wouldn’t ever run again. If they managed to regulate the warp reaction using their bolt-on it would fry every circuity in sight, and it probably wouldn’t do Enterprise’ engines any good, but that was a problem for the future if they made it that far.
“How much time do you think we can squeeze out of this?”
“It is hard to estimate, we have never attempted such a feat.” Spock’s hands never stopped working, his furrowed brow was the only indication of the mental strain all the calculations were taking on him. “Assuming the Enterprise is not ripped apart by the reaction, I estimate we will have anywhere between 2 to 5 seconds.”
Una would have been mildly alarmed by Spock’s casual assessment if she didn’t know him well, he wasn’t one to overstate things, they were alike in that way.
"Let's hope the Enterprise doesn't get ripped apart then."
"Captain, we grow impatient. Make your decision or we will take it from you.” The alien voice echoed across the destruction littering the bridge, it's cold detached nature sending a chill down everyone's spines.
Pike threw Nicola the mute signal. “Any word from Number One?”
The communications officer shook his head gravely. Pike closed his eyes and slumped back in the chair, he’d tried every trick he had available to him to stall, he’d played every diplomatic card he had but these guys weren’t having any of it. They refused to negotiate; they wanted the Enterprise and they would go through the whole crew if they had to.
Just as he was about to ask Nicola to unmute the connection, Colt received a message from Number One. "Sir! Number One is telling us we need to go to warp."
"She what?" Pike exclaimed, either he was going deaf or his first officer had gone mad.
Amin's fingers flew over the console. "I'm receiving her coordinates and instructions Captain and the systems confirm we have limited warp drive."
Pike didn't even want to know what limited meant. He trusted Una; if this was the course of action she had in mind then he would do it. He’d asked the crew for a miracle so who was he to question where it came from?
The unknown enemy decided to dial up the tension. "You have 10 seconds to surrender Captain."
Well that rather decided that one. "Amin, can you carry out Number One's plan?" He didn't need the details nor did he need to know why they were going to warp. That could all come later.
Amin finished inputting instructions and looked back seriously at him, determination shining off her soot covered face. "Yes Sir."
The Enterprise lurched forward; Pike experienced the worst warp jump of his career and he’d been through his fair share as a test pilot. It felt like his insides were being smushed together, his stomach flipped and the G-force made his eyes water. The Enterprise cut through the alien ships like a bullet, leaving a white line of destruction and flaming wreckage in its wake. It was all over in a split second, one moment nothing and the next the sound of splintering metal and death.
It was a miracle that the Enterprise had been able to jump into warp in the first place, what was even more impressive was the fact that Spock and Una’s calculations had been accurate enough to take out both alien ships whilst making sure the Enterprise didn’t burn up in the aftermath. Coming out of warp had been a rough affair and had damn near torn the ship in two, but the hull was already being reinforced and Pike had sat through a ranting lecture from his chief engineer about cowboy tactics. Louvier hadn’t appreciated the crew’s antics, Chris felt sorry for anyone within earshot of engineering right about now. There wasn’t an area of the ship that hadn’t been affected, nor was there anywhere where department heads weren’t having meltdowns.
The bridge was no exception, all the reports went through them so they got the brunt of everyone’s frustrations. Pike had already had to block Boyce and his medical team, they’d been pestering him ever since Colt had passed on her suspicions about his broken ribs, something which she hadn’t stopped apologising for since. He couldn’t afford to stand down now, there was too much to do and too much to fix. The Enterprise was limping along towards the nearest starbase, a ship was flying to meet and escort them back but the rendezvous wouldn’t take place for 24 hours. Until then, they had to hold the ship together anyway they could.
Pike glanced from the latest damning report to the turbo lift when the doors opened, revealing Number One. She looked a little worse for where, had more blood and soot staining her uniform but otherwise appeared unharmed.
Chris smiled warmly at his XO. “Quite a magic trick, I’m impressed."
"It was mostly Spock's work.” Una admitted, walking over to join his side.
"You'll have to fill me in on just how the hell you pulled that off."
"Later." She promised wearily, frowning as she took in the chaos around the bridge. Una moved her dissecting stare onto him, and quickly picked up on the way he was favouring his right side. "I can take the bridge if you want to go and lay down."
Of course she hadn’t missed the way he’d held his ribs earlier, or the winces he couldn’t help but make. The sharp stabbing pain had decreased but the entire area was tender to touch and fragile as hell, but that didn’t change his answer. "Nobody's getting me off this bridge until we reach a starbase."
Una snorted, shook her head and reached into her pocket. "I thought you might say that.”
Chris frowned and instinctively leaned away when she pulled out a hypospray, would his XO really drug him on the bridge in front of everyone? Had Boyce corrupted her that much?
Number One caught his deer in the headlights expression and threw him a smirk, loading something into the tube. "Relax, it's a stimulant.” She loaded it into her own body and gasped in relief. "With a mix of painkillers."
She loaded in another capsule and reached out a hand, indicating to give her his arm. Chris squinted and eyed her suspiciously for a beat before giving in; he needed a boost to make it through the aftermath of that battle, not to mention some pain relief…
Pike groaned and took a deep breath in when the meds started to kick in, they immediately got to work and reduced some of the throbbing in his ribs, allowing him to take his first unhindered breath in hours. He opened his eyes to see Una in front of him, looking incredibly pleased with herself. “How did you get your hands on those without Boyce finding out?”
Chris doubted the good Doctor would be very happy if he found out the command team were using drugs to stay alert, but this was an emergency and they were already running with a skeleton crew. Not one person had escaped a bruise or some injury; some were just worse than others.
Una laughed and looked at him conspiringly through her lashes. "I have my ways."
Their gentle ribbing came to an abrupt end when another console exploded, throwing them both into action. Throughout the tiring work the crew pulled together as one, bringing critical systems back up one by one, starting with life support and shields and moving onto securing bulkheads and hull breeches. The longer they worked the more everything hurt, Number One’s stopgap only lasted for a few hours so it wasn’t long before breathing became difficult and Pike’s ribs felt like they were grinding apart his insides.
Eventually Chris got badgered into medical treatment, his and the crew’s refusal to leave the bridge and Boyce’s refusal to let their ‘minor’ injuries go unanswered came to a head. He sent an entire medical team to the bridge who performed first aid triage on the spot, a few rotations were made but both Chris and Una resisted leaving and had their cuts and bruises seen to at their stations. Pike had his ribs wrapped crudely and was given enough pain meds to last until the rendezvous.
It wasn’t until the ship reached the star base that the command team eventually gave up the bridge and relented to a full medical checkup, as suspected he’d sustained two broken ribs along with minor internal bleeding and bruising. His medical record earned another line, along with nearly the whole ship’s complement. After the brutal battle and long recovery, Pike slept for 24 hours straight.