Disclaimer: No characters belong to me. The thoughts, expressed, however are mine alone. No profit made, no harm intended.
Part 2: Hot Soup
Beta: Flying Solo On This One, Folks
Rating: T (PG-13, for adult language and general grossness)
Character/Pairing Codes: Voy and Co
Notes: Story takes place after "Mortal Coil", but before "Thirty Days". Contains mild spoilers for "The Leaning Curve" with special acknowledgment to "Microcosm".
Written for Bridget, Vanessa, MrNiceGuy and Bek.
He panicked at first. When he could not find his footing in the darkness, Commander Chakotay went a little wild. He thrashed around aimlessly for a few seconds or so, his hardy appendages slowly turning about like the arms of a hoary windmill, before reason kicked in. He was not dead. He was alive —alive and slowly paddling about in some sort of quasi-gelatinous substance in the dark. Obviously, something had gone wrong during the transport. This certainly was not Voyager's transporter room.
Goo. He was swimming in chunky, liquid goo. How lovely. Chakotay thought, as he mumbled a quick prayer of thanks to no one in particular for invention of environmental gear.
Out wind from his swirling exertions, he attempted to hail the captain —shouting into the comm link of his space-suit— as his ears adjusted to a continual clamoring gurgle that seemed originate from all around. He hailed her again when she did not reply, but received no answer. He repeated a similar exercise, in an effort to contact the ship, his entreaties louder this time. Again, the activity proved to be useless. Blowing air out his nostrils, he switched channels and called out for Harry.
A splinter of light crossed in front his face. He aimed his illuminating system toward the passing glow; relieved to find Ensign Kim dangling, ghost-like, less than 300 centimeters away.
"I'm here, Sir!"
Chakotay inclined his head toward the floating ensign, before redirecting the beam from his torch in an oval and counter-clockwise; starting above his head and ending below his feet. It was a slow process; the surrounding bemired atmosphere impeding the operation significantly. We're housed in some sort of chamber. he postulated, squinting as he peered about in the murky dim.
The area was sizable, but not enormous, roughly circular in shape and less than twenty square meters all the way around. He barely made out the impression of a borders, and was unable analyze the texture of the walls. Harry was also endeavoring to scan the area, possibly to discover a way out. Janeway was nowhere in sight. "Maybe she made it back to the ship."
"I'm sorry, Sir?"
Chakotay hadn't realized he had spoken aloud. "Looks like the captain made it back to the ship." The utterance rang with more conviction than he actually felt.
"I hope you're right." the ensign replied. "Commander, something's wrong with my tricorder."
"I can't get any decent readings."
"Keep trying anyway."
"Aye Sir. Sir?"
"Do you have any idea where we are?"
"No —well, maybe. I can't say for sure, but I think we may have transported into that mineral quagmire we just finished investigating on the surface." Harry made a piss- poor attempt to conceal his revulsion. The commander continued, "From the looks of things, we may very well be inside one of the those enclosed pockets of sludge we detected just below the top layer of 'water' in the marsh."
"Great. That would explain... the decor."
"Just be grateful, we can't smell anything through our suits."
"If you're right about our location... all we have to do... is... rupture the top of the pocket's membrane, and then... make our way... to the surface."
Chakotay's eyes lifted from his tricorder. Harry was panting, his skin green. "Check your oxygen levels, Mr. Kim. " he ordered. "Now. "
"Oxygen levels... are within... normal levels..."
"Ensign Kim, Are you all right?"
"Speak up. Are you going to be ill?"
"I feel... dizzy."
"You look like you want to retch, son. I told you not to eat before we went out on this mission. Mom didn't pack you of change of clothes."
"And I thought we left...Tom Paris... safely behind."
"Watch it, now. You're crossing the line."
"C-Chakotay!" The words formed between chattering teeth.
"What is it?"
"I, I'm hot. I feel...really hot and my skin...is c-crawling."
"This climate must be affecting your suit's environmental settings. Can you adjust the controls?"
"I ...t-think so." Harry was shivering, his whole body quivering with visible tremors.
Chakotay paddled over and put his arm firmly around the ailing officer. "You'll be all right, Harry. We'll figure a way out of this."
There was a loud crack, like the sound of a rock hitting a paned glass window. Every muscle in Chakotay's body tightened into hard coils at the sound. The clear panel of Harry's headgear had mysteriously fissured from just above his left cheekbone all the way to the edge in a weird looking spider-web shaped pattern. The man was seriously hyperventilating; his cheeks had reddened into an extreme flush and marbled-over with streaks of white —giving them the look of raw, chuck steak. Chakotay swallowed a shudder, concentrating his attention on the fissures in the panel. They were extensive, but shallow. The helmet had not been compromised, but it only a matter time before the clear plate ruptured and collapsed.
It wasn't long after, he realized they were sinking, being drawn down in an intermittent swirl of current he had not noticed previously. He let go of Harry's shoulder, then re-grabbed him by one arm and pulled —kicking upward as hard as he could, movements hampered in the alien gumbo, as he battled to drag the poor ensign behind him.
His vision clouded. He smelled and acid and… puke. Chakotay's muscles began tremble. His face itched. His head was growing light, and his veins tickled in an abnormal sort of way.
Suddenly he couldn't move.
Below, Kim's body began to jerk. The commander couldn't hold him.
This was bad. They needed to get out of there.
Squeeze, Part 3: Variation on a Well-Known Theme, Copyright (c) kneipho 2004—2012
Part 3: Variation on a Well-Known Theme