Chapter 2



No matter where in the universe they were, weathermen lied.

The bastards.

The report had been for partly cloudy skies with a pleasant high temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit—20 Celsius. Late spring/early summer in the northern hemisphere of the colony planet Fragileous 9.

Stupid name for a planet. Not that anyone had asked Leonard McCoy’s opinion.

The disconcerting fact he was standing in knee-deep snow and surrounded by very Earth-like pine trees covered in the white stuff added to his dismay.

That he wasn’t dressed for it was just icing on the cake.

According to his tricorder, there wasn’t another human, or even a cantankerous half-Vulcan, within miles of him. Not one person in the landing party was within range of the device.

Though there were some carbon-based lifeforms not too far away.

He hoped those lifeforms didn’t have sharp teeth or razor-tipped tentacles.

The communicator was in place on his belt instead of buried in the snow where he’d wanted to chuck it. As with other missions on unfamiliar worlds, they couldn’t leave anything behind. He didn’t know where he was, so he wasn’t taking any chances—no matter how irked he was at the infernal contraption.

It, and the tricorder, would assist a search party in finding him.

It was transmitting, but it wasn’t receiving. Maybe there were no other transmissions to receive.

One small comfort—he could breathe.

But the cold, dry air was already making his exposed skin itch and sting.

Another thing to be grateful for was he landed on solid ground—not a reptile-infested swamp.

A swamp would have been warmer.

Had the rest of the team transported down and been scattered across the globe? As long as it hadn’t dispersed their atoms across the great void of space …

All his own seemed to be where they were supposed to be, but he sure didn’t know where the hell he was.

Was he even on the right world?

His innate distrust of the transporters was reaffirmed again.

He snorted. Leave the Enterprise on a simple, humanitarian mission and end up God knows where.

Stranger things had happened. He probably wasn’t in the same sector of space he’d started out in.

He stared at the device in his hands and was baffled by the read-out—when he could force himself to stop shivering long enough to decipher it. If he didn’t know better, and he probably didn’t, he would have sworn he was on Earth. Or a ball of rock so similar it made no difference. Fragileous 9 was very earth-like or it wouldn’t have been colonized, but it wasn’t a duplicate!

He’d come to the conclusion he wasn’t where he was supposed to be.

All those years in medical school and Starfleet Academy hadn’t been a complete waste.

We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Flipping open his communicator, he scowled at its pre-programmed annoyingly cheerful chirp. It hadn’t worked the first time he tried it, why would he think he’d have any better luck a second time? Crossly, he slapped it back onto his belt.

He didn’t know yet how long the days were, but judging by the position of the bright round light in the sky, that happened to be very like the Earth’s own sun, it was well past mid-day. Not that it mattered a hoot, but if he didn’t find shelter, he would be a human popsicle long before that pretty yellow sun set.

Peering up through the forest canopy, a disgusted sigh escaped him. Damned if there weren’t clouds moving in. Wherever in all of the vast universe he was, he’d bet those heavy, leaden clouds meant more snow was on the way.

Assuming he was in the northern hemisphere … and he was making a lot of assumptions and should know better … he would head south and hope for the best.

Shivering and slogging through the snow would help warm him, but not enough. With his luck, maybe he should just hope for a quick, painless death.

The tricorder appeared to be working correctly. He registered as a very cold human male whose temperature was dropping rapidly.

Why was it showing him readings that meant he was on Earth?

He was a doctor, not an engineer! If Scotty was there, he’d be able to figure out if the confounded devil-devices were working correctly.

Even that Vulcan. Spock probably knew more about the instruments, and the ship, than anyone else on board, though it pained McCoy to admit it.

As much as the pointy-eared Science Officer got his goat, he knew Spock would be searching for him. The Captain would be leading the charge.

Would they delay handing off the sorely-needed medical supplies to search for him?

Spock knew as much about the medicines and equipment as McCoy did, and would have no problem with it.

Knowing James Kirk like he did, they’d hold off on the delivery in order to hunt for the very misplaced ship’s Chief Medical Officer.

A little worried voice in his head was urging them to hurry. A surgeon losing his fingers to frostbite would be bad for business.

Just as he took his first unsteady step south, a sizable something zipped past him so fast the wind created by its velocity spun him around and flung him into a snowdrift.

McCoy wasn’t a religious man, but he began to fervently pray that whatever flew by him at near light speed was moving fast enough to not notice him and didn’t have fangs and claws.

Or tentacles.

A pang of regret wormed its way through him as he thought about the phasers left behind on the Enterprise.



Words: 945






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