Disengaged by Cheshire
Notes: This was written for the 2015 VAMB Secret Drabble. First line was provided by Alpha Flyer.
"That was brutal," Tom noted with considerable satisfaction. “Everybody all right?”
When his question was answered with silence, Tom turned around to look at the other occupants of the Delta Flyer. Harry, at the back science station, was the first to move. He appeared unsteady as he slowly pushed himself to his feet.
“Any landing you can walk away from, right?” he said weakly with a poor attempt at his usual optimism. He gestured drunkenly towards the stairs leading to lower portion of the flyer. “I’m just going...go find the medkit.”
Tom frowned at his friend’s unsteady gait, but shifted his concern to his other passengers. Kathryn Janeway sat at the ops station, very still, and looking paler than Tom had ever seen her. She had her eyes closed and her head against the back of the chair. B’Elanna, sitting at tactical, was moving, at least. She had turned her chair sideways and had her head down between her knees.
“Captain, you okay?” he asked as he put a comforting hand on B’Elanna’s shoulder. The fact that she didn’t immediately swat it away was very telling and he stayed as much to the side of her as he could.
Janeway’s eyes opened slowly and her fingers gradually released the white-knuckle grip they’d had on the chair’s arm rests. She took a long slow breath in. “That was…very good flying, Tom.” She paused, closed her eyes again as she appeared to swallow with some difficulty. “I’m glad you were at the helm.”
Tom couldn’t help the grin on his face; his adrenalin was through the roof. “It was like a wild carnival ride, wasn’t it? All the spinning and drops-”
“Don’t forget the flips,” B’Elanna growled from near his knees.
“Loop-de-loops,” Tom supplied happily. “And a couple of corkscrews to throw off shear.”
A thud and crash sounded from the lower bay, followed by Harry’s unconvincing claim, “I’m okay.”
“I think…I’ll go check on Harry.” Janeway moved slowly from her chair, using the console for leverage as she gained her feet. Once upright, she hesitated, swaying slightly, her knuckles growing white as she tightened her grip on the console. A shudder seemed to run up her back and she pressed the back of her hand to her mouth. After a moment, she straightened, dropped her hand back to her side and stepped away from the support.
Tom watched her go, one hand patting its way along the bulkhead as she made unsteady progress. B’Elanna’s shoulder slid from beneath his hand as she sat up, taking a few more deep breaths as she leaned back in the seat. Tom leaned on the console. “Double stomachs didn’t help much?”
She opened her eyes to glare at him, some of her natural color returning to her cheeks. “Not when the inertial dampers have been completely knocked out.”
“Sorry,” he said not sounding at all apologetic. “That ion storm came out of nowhere. Sensors didn’t pick it up until we were already beginning our descent.”
“Uh huh,” she released her last bit of tension with a heavy exhalation. “And why is it that the secondary dampers didn’t engage?”
He shrugged nonchalantly. “There must’ve been a malfunction.”
B’Elanna narrowed her eyes at him. “I did the pre-flight checks, Tom; they were fine. They would’ve had to have been manually disengaged after we left Voyager.” She watched the tips of Tom’s ears turn pink. “You want to try that story again?”
He cleared his throat. “There was never any real danger.”
“Except to the carpets.”
“I fly better when I can feel the ship, and I so rarely get a real chance to test my skills,” he tried. When she didn’t appear impressed, he glanced towards the back of the flyer. “You aren’t going to tell the captain, are you?”
B’Elanna looked exasperated. “I’m pretty sure she noticed.”
“No, I mean,-” He straightened as Harry and the captain reentered the main cabin area. “Feeling better?”
Janeway gave him a withering look before turning to B’Elanna. “Torres, are you all right?”
“I’m fine, Captain,” she said, getting to her feet.
“Paris, I need you to stay here and repair the flyer while B’Elanna, Harry, and I meet with the ambassador.” She paused as they all heard Harry activate the flyer’s aft door. “Let’s make sure the flight home is smoother than the flight here.”
There was a chorus of agreement as the trio gathered what they needed for their meeting and began making their way out. Tom followed them to the hatch and retrieved the engineering kit from the storage locker.
“Oh, and Tom?”
He looked out to see Janeway standing at the foot of the ramp. “Yes, Captain?”
She smiled pleasantly. “If the secondary compensators ever disengage again while I’m on board the Flyer, you’ll be cleaning Voyager’s deflector array with a toothbrush. Understood?”
He swallowed hard, feeling that it was definitely crunch time. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Good. Carry on.”
Tom watched her rejoin Harry and B’Elanna and activated the door behind them to close. He grinned as he walked towards the pilot’s area. Janeway hadn’t said he couldn’t do it again; she’d just said not to do it when she was on board. He could live with that.
Thanks Audabee for giving my words a home!