author's note

Genre: Action/Adventure, Drama

Rated: PG … mild language, violence, and adult situations.

Summary: Two officers, believed killed in action, are stranded on a prewarp planet and must work together to survive while the rest of the NX-01 crew learn to carry on without them. Begins a very AU season 2.

This story is unrelated to my Endeavour series.

Disclaimer: The only thing I own are my hopes and dreams ... although I did pawn both a while back for rent money.

A/N: A local day on this planet is 21 hours long. 6 days (5.25 Earth days) have passed since chapter 1.

11: t'pol

Subcommander T'Pol was miserable.

In her sixty-four years, T'Pol had never witnessed such a combination of environmental conditions that seemed solely dedicated toward inflicting misery upon a Vulcan. The continuing downpour was unrelenting, and had so thoroughly soaked into her clothes that she seriously doubted any part of her body was still dry. As a native of a desert world, she was accustomed to cold nights, but the rain and the wind had conspired to lower her internal body temperature to the point that it was all she could do to keep from shivering. And the darkness? The almost total cloud cover had turned what should have been a fairly bright planet into an abyss of complete shadow.

Not for the first time, she was grateful for Commander Tucker's presence. While he too was cold and wet, the commander had displayed an ability to deal with the combination of factors that far surpassed hers. She supposed that it was to be expected; Tucker had grown up in a climate where rainstorms of this nature were commonplace, after all, and she hadn't seen rain until after she was twenty.

As the lightning crawled across the sky, T'Pol could just make out the commander's disbelieving expression as he stared at his communicator. Based on her observations of him in the past, it seemed logical to presume that he was struggling with the realization that Captain Archer had abandoned the search for them. Such a struggle would likely be difficult for Mister Tucker, given his close relationship with the captain and his strong sense of loyalty. She realized that she would have to adjust how she interacted with him while he adapted to their new situation.

"Commander," she said, in an effort to get Tucker moving again. They could not risk staying here for very long; the chance of one of them getting sick grew with every second they spent exposed to the elements, and now it seemed probable that their mission had changed from contacting Enterprise to simply evasion and survival. When the engineer did not react, T'Pol decided to gamble. "Charles," she said softly, and he looked up at her, eyes wide at the personalization of her comment. "We have to go," T'Pol reminded him, and the commander nodded. He returned the communicator to his pocket, then gestured toward the building with the antenna array.

"Think we should still go in?" he wondered. It wasn't the question that he wanted to ask, and T'Pol knew it.

"Yes," she said simply. There was, after all, still a chance that Enterprise was in-system and could detect an emergency signal. Once again, Tucker nodded before reaching for her hand. T'Pol allowed him to take it, even though it wasn't entirely necessary for such a short distance. Although Vulcans were generally uncomfortable with so much tactile contact, she had observed that humans in general derived a great deal of comfort from such contact, and this week had been nothing but a series of shocks to someone untrained in these sorts of situation. It seemed likely that the commander needed the physical contact.

Or so she told herself.

They covered the short distance to the entrance of the building, and Tucker spent a moment trying to puzzle out the locking mechanism. T'Pol let him do so, hoping that the task would give him something to focus on other than the fact that they were probably stranded on a pre-warp planet that had already demonstrated its aggressive nature. The cold rain continued to fall from the night sky, drenching them even further, and T'Pol felt herself shivering as she hugged her arms around her chest to conserve body heat. Tucker gave her a quick glance, and she could see the frown on his face. Before she could ask him about it, he drew his phase pistol, aimed it at the lock, and fired a single shot. The beam sliced easily through the metal, and he pushed the door open.

Inside, it was blessedly dry, but not particularly warm. T'Pol glanced around quickly, noting the unusual décor that seemed almost Terran, but not quite. A large transparent window dominated the room, and through it, she could see primitive electronics equipment that she did not immediately recognize. Two doors led from the main lobby, one of which she deduced was to either a bathroom or a closet.

"This looks like an old radio station," Tucker announced, still holding the phase pistol. He was gripping it so tight that T'Pol could see his knuckles were white. "I might be able to scavenge some parts from that thing," he continued. T'Pol nodded as she consulted her scanner.

"There is no power coming to this building," she revealed. It had been the same since they entered the city, and she remained at a loss to explain it. According to her scans, the power systems of the city were functional and undamaged, but not online. She wondered if it was a defensive measure intended to prevent hostile aircraft from seeing the city at night.

"So much for gettin' a signal out then," the commander muttered sourly as he pushed open the door that lead to the electronics room. T'Pol followed, studying the pictures and posters that were on the wall with poorly concealed interest. One in particular drew her notice, and she stepped closer to it to get a better look. From what she could tell, it was a map of the city that they were currently in, with the streets and buildings annotated by the alien writing they had seen on street signs. Lifting her scanner, she made a few minor adjustments and pressed a button. Instantly, the scanner emitted a soft beam of light that T'Pol ran slowly over the entire map.

"That's not standard issue," Tucker commented, and T'Pol gave him a quick glance. He was seated before the primitive electronic array, and disassembling it with an unfamiliar tool. His own scanner – pulled from the dropped survival pack – was whirring, but his attention was on her.

"It is a Vulcan scanner," T'Pol replied. "I modified it to appear like Starfleet standard issue one." On the screen of the device, she could see an image of the map appear. Instantly, the UT chip inside the scanner began laboring to translate the alien text. There was no indication as to how long it would take for even a rudimentary translation, so T'Pol returned the scanner to her belt.

"Dammit!" Tucker abruptly snapped. He threw his scanner down on top of the table as he glared at the electronic array in front of him. From what T'Pol could see of the array's interior, it was a chaotic mess of wiring and electron tubes, the likes of which she had not seen outside of a museum.

"Commander?" she asked, and he shot her a frustrated look.

"What happened to Charles?" he muttered sourly, and T'Pol hesitated, unsure what to say. "I can't use this crap," Tucker continued, evidently unaware of her brief pause. "It's like ... trying to construct a circuit board with stone knives and bear-skins!" His despair was so obvious, that T'Pol took a step closer.

"You cannot be blamed," she started, and he cut off with an angry glower.

"I'm the damned chief engineer," the commander retorted. "If I'd have done my job right the first time, we wouldn't be stuck on this miserable planet!" He covered his face with both hands, and T'Pol could tell that shock and exhaustion were finally beginning to overwhelm him. "Somebody on my team screwed up the maintenance of the shuttlepod," Tucker vented, "which makes this whole disaster my fault!" Lowering his hands, he gave her a sad look. "I'm sorry for gettin' you into this, Subcommander," he apologized.

"Commander." T'Pol paused for a moment, considering his state of mind and their present situation. "Charles," she resumed. Her use of his given name caused him to smile slightly, and she blamed the interesting sensations that tightened her stomach on lack of meditation. "You are an exceptional engineer," T'Pol stated calmly, "even by Vulcan standards." His expression faltered slightly, and she recognized the look as the one he wore when he was attempting to determine if she had complimented or insulted him. "The fault lies with the engineer who was negligent in their duties, not with you."

"I'm sorry," he repeated as he rubbed his eyes. "I'm just so damned tired right now, I can't think straight." She nodded slightly in understanding; with the adrenaline wearing off, their recent cross-country exertions were beginning to take their toll.

"We should find a location in the city to hide," T'Pol decided. As the commander nodded and began gathering his gear, she walked through the doorway that led back to the main lobby. The door leading to the street was still cracked, and she could hear the boom of thunder. Another sound caught her attention, and she tensed in concern.

Seconds later, the door burst open.

T'Pol was lunging toward the armed native even before he had registered her appearance, and caught his arm as he tried to point his weapon at her. Surprise was on his face as he struggled in vain against her superior strength, and, had she been human, T'Pol would have smiled at the sudden flare of fear that followed the surprise. Using less than a fraction of the pressure she would normally use, she applied the to'tsu'k'hy. He crumpled without a sound, and she exhaled a sigh of relief when she saw that he was still alive.

A deafening roar shattered the sudden silence, even as a crushing impact slammed into her shoulder, spinning her around and sending her to the ground. Pain screamed through her body, and she cried out instinctively. She struggled against the urge to collapse into unconsciousness, as a wild cacophony of sound and light assaulted her senses. Another boom sounded, followed by the sound of a phase pistol being fired and shattering glass. A sharp, acrid stench caused her to cough, and her vision swam. Darkness beckoned.

"T'Pol!" Commander Tucker's voice seemed to come from an impossibly vast distance, even though she could see his face looming before hers. "Oh, God," the engineer wailed, his expression a mixture of horror and anger. The smell of blood – her blood, she realized – was mildly concerning.

"I've been shot," she declared with some surprise. This would complicate things somewhat, the rational part of her mind observed. As the experienced field operative, her expertise would be essential if they were to survive and evade capture. She tried to push herself upright from the floor, but agony burned through her body, robbing her of control.

Mercifully, she lost consciousness.

 

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