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           Fire In The Sky
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The Story Unfolds...

Season Eight, Special Episode C

 Fire In The Sky  

Debut Launch: January 20th, 2010.
**************************************************


               Fire In The Sky
                               by Janet Katz kajakat@hotmail.com
                               and Patti Keiper pattik1@hotmail.com
             
               An Emergency/Star Trek Voyager Crossover

                               

John Gage was in seventh heaven. He figured he had everything just
about perfect in their campsite within the heart of the Sierra National
Monument Park.  He and Roy were roughing it on the gang's collectively
rented camping spot, Peg 51.

The rows of pines framing the mountains were a picture postcard vision.
The lake a crystalline jewel, and the air, like crisp cold wine.

Now, even the wind was perfect, blowing his cooking fire's smoke away
from their two tents, and already five huge speckled trout sizzled on the pan.

Gage chuckled.

It was a running joke between all of them on A shift how their shared vacation
spot had even been located. John laughed, remembering the kindly sheriff
he and Roy had met on a wild weekend of off duty rescues a few years ago.

Then, the sheriff promised the two L.A. paramedics a good fishing spot in return
for their duty to Santa Rosa County, after they all spent the better part of those
two vacation days saving a badly burned boat accident victim and then a rock
climbing teen.

He took them to his place, Peg 51. And Roy and John fell in love with the Spot.
Eventually, they dragged the rest of the gang and their families to camp there
over subsequent summers until all of them were caught up inside the Spot's
special magic, too. The Park officials got very used to writing down, 'Tag 51.
Reserved, for Station 51' in their reservation logs.

But one weekend was always reserved for Roy and John exclusively.
The anniversary of Roy and John's fateful Santa Rosa fishing weekend, the day
they had met the kindly Sheriff and shared bowls of cabin cafe chili with him in the
Park's lodge.
They had created a new mutual tradition of fishing, hang gliding, hiking and relaxing
for the occasion.

Gage took in a deep breath of the heady scent of the Ponderosa pines and sighed.
He remembered back about twenty hours ago, as he flipped succulent fillets
around on their sticks.

-------------------


Only that very morning, Roy wasn't keen to go up to the Spot even when John
reminded him of their camping reservation. "Don't tell me you forgot about this
weekend, Roy."

"No. I didn't forget. I just changed my mind that's all. It's October. The nights are
going to be cold. We've had a really hellish week with fire calls and I'm too sore
to hang glide decently. So,.. I..don't want to go this year...So , give the tag to Chet.
It's his turn to get the site this week anyway. Besides, I'm...I'm busy this weekend."
he lied.

"Come on, Roy.."  John said as they changed out of their uniforms for street
clothes. "C shift's ended. And I know you aren't doing anything this weekend.
Joanne and the kids are with Grandma in Utah." he guessed.

Roy looked at his partner in surprise, "How'd you find that out?"

John smiled, saying nothing, tapping his temple significantly.

DeSoto smiled, "Clairvoyant, huh? Oh, I see. More likely you drove by the
house and saw the usual strewn bikes and basketballs out of the yard and the
missing station wagon on your way to the coffee shop."

John's triumphant smile fell, "How'd you know that?" he said, buttoning up his plaid shirt.

It was Roy's turn to tap his forehead secretively. He waited a minute before
letting Johnny off the hook, "I heard your jeep backfire as you kicked it into
third gear while you drove by this morning.... Unmistakable sound, that.
Woke the neighbor, too. Crazy old Mr. Fosche called me at five oh two,
three seconds after I was jolted out of bed. He was thoroughly convinced
that a flying saucer from Area 51 was crash landing down the block."

Johnny ignored the odd neighbor angle. "My jeep doesn't backfire.. I keep
it perfectly tuned." Gage insisted.

"Tell that to the average Joe who hears you driving by and you might get a
different story.." Roy grinned.  "Besides, you got that ticket from the officer
pulling you over for disturbing the peace..."

It was John's turn to be surprised, "How'd you find out about that?"

"I looked outside my bedroom window and saw the red and blues go off
behind your tail lights. Had a hell of a time convincing Mr. Fosche that you
two weren't the UFO he thought he heard crash landing..."

Gage's face got redder and redder. "Yeah, well it was Reed and Malloy, and I got only
a warning, see?" and he waved the pink warning ticket in his partner's face
from his shirt pocket. "Nothing to worry about. We can still go up north. So
why are you getting cold feet and suddenly changing your mind about going?"

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"That's why. I didn't get any down time this week and yeah, I literally have
cold feet. My shoes are still wet from yesterday's warehouse fire. Again, it's
October, like I told ya.. I don't want to catch cold and...I want some solid
sleep.." Roy said ticking off points on his fingers..

"I can drag up the hammock...it's totally comfortable.." Gage interjected..

"....in a warm bed..."

"I got an old Indian trick using heated stones from a fire to keep that
hammock nice and toasty."

"....with solid food...."

"Since when have you known the Spot to skunk us trout wise? We'll eat like
kings!!"

"... and nobody around to bug me." And he stared significantly at his talkative
paramedic partner.

Johnny was quiet at that.. "I'll ...I'll give you the first day to..play the hermit. I
can go off and do my shaman's thing early and you can sway in that hammock
to your heart's content... Later, we can do our hang gliding thing, ok?"

"We?.. Do our hang gliding thing? I thought I was your official cliffside spotter.
I haven't been in the air for ten years."

"Come on..  come fly."

"Nope."

It was Johnny's turn to narrow his eyes. "I guess that ol wedding band has
made your left hand a little too heavy on the flight bar, eh?"

"Yep."

"Ok, All right. You don't have to fly. I can fly for the both of us. What about
the rest of it? What do you say...?"

And Gage shot Roy his best, crooked smile.

----------------------------------------------

And so it was, six hours later, they found themselves deep within the Spot.

Roy was still doing the "hammock'ville rock". And there was only five hours
of daylight left to them. Barely enough time to do a little exploring overland,
and hike back to camp.

So John shoved the frying pan off the fire, where sweet smelling trout and
hickory popped and sizzled in their juices.. and sauntered over to where
Roy snoozed under the pines within the canvas hammock.

"Sleeping beauty...." he teased.

And he waved the pan of mouth-watering trout under his buddy's nose.

But Roy only sawed wood from underneath his wool shirted arm.

::Nothing.:: he thought. ::Should have brought some smelling salts.::
Grinning, Gage decided to give him twenty minutes more of naptime. ::Just
enough time for me to get these pinion nuts roasted to go with the cornbread.::

He retreated back to the fire, weaving around the brightly assembled hang
glider of Johnny's in between their cold weather tents.

Johnny Gage sat down on the Spot's rock by the beach and sighed studying
the perfect blue sky above him while he cooked.

Another twenty minutes went by and Johnny still didn't have the heart to wake his
friend.  Not everyone had his endless amount of energy and Johnny couldn't
fault him.  He knew how tired the whole crew was. Roy had Joanne, Chris
and his daughter. ::Bound to tucker out a guy. Perfectly understandable.:: John
mused.

John took the cooked fish and wrapped them in aluminum foil and placed
them in the cooler.  Hot fish, cold fish, it didn't matter; he and Roy were away
for some well-earned time off.

Johnny took a deep breath filling his lungs with the crisp air. ::This is nice. But
I need coffee.::  Johnny thought and went to the cooking gear and took out the
coffee and the stovetop percolator.  It took several minutes for Johnny to get it
going so he sat down near the fire and watched.

::I guess I won't be doing my contemplation today.  Maybe tomorrow I'll get a
chance to do it.  And that spot on the glen is just perfect.::

The coffee was done so Johnny took his mug and reached for pot.  However,
his aim was off and he knocked the hot kettle off the grate onto the ground.  
Unfortunately, he wasn't able to move his feet out of the way in time and the
steaming beverage poured out onto his ankles and feet.

"SH*T!"  Johnny dropped his mug and instinctively reached for his legs.
"D*mn it.  OUCH!"  Johnny began to unlace his work boots.  After taking his
socks off, Johnny saw the redness on his left ankle going down to his instep.  
His right foot wasn't burned.  When Johnny tried to right the kettle, he burned
his right hand.  "Not again!!  What is wrong with me?!"

Roy heard the commotion coming from the campfire.  Rubbing his eyes and
slowly awakening from his slumber Roy moved to get out of the hammock.  
Ungraceful as it was, Roy got up and went over to Johnny who continued
to swear.

Roy looked down at his friend.  "What did you do now?"

Looking up with pure disgust on his face, Johnny pointed with his left hand
and his left foot.  "This is what I did.  I burned my foot with hot coffee."  Roy
bent down and looked at the wound.

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Trying to hide a partially amused grin, Roy harrumphed.
"Looks like first degree burns.  We should have some cream in the first aid
kit and some aspirin."  Roy stretched his arms behind his back, trying to wake
himself.

Roy slowly plodded over to their backpacks and took out the supplies.  
He dropped it next to Johnny.

"Any saline in there?"  Johnny asked.

"Nope."

"It hurts."

"I know it hurts and it's gonna hurt more.  You can put water on it and then
the burn cream."  Roy took the salve out and handed it to Johnny.

"I KNOW THAT."  Johnny grabbed the lotion from Roy's hand.  "Sorry, Roy.  
It's just uncomfortable."

DeSoto sighed.
"Lemme get some cold water from the stream and make you a wetpack.  
The burned area isn't too big."

"Yeah, but it's on the heel too."

Roy stood up and stretched again.  He picked up his canteen and emptied
the contents while he walked down to the stream.  The water was cold and
the afternoon's chill was coming in.  After several minutes, Roy returned with
the water.

"I can boil the water Johnny, let it cool and we can use it as a compress.  
Put the cream on and take two aspirin.  Say, maybe you want the hammock
now."  Roy poured the water into a pan and placed it on the grate protecting
the open campfire. "With this weather, Johnny, the water will cool in about
an hour.  Lemme help you up.  Johnny stood up on one leg and with Roy's
help, he hobbled over to the hammock and with Roy's help got in.  Roy put
a clean cloth under Johnny's foot and noticed the red blotches on Johnny's
right hand.

"What happened here?"

"I wanted the coffee and didn't realize the pot was still hot.  That's how
I burned myself. Roy, it's not my day.  Not at all.  How am I gonna do
that hiking tomorrow?  I gotta get down to the valley."

"Why, Johnny?  Why is it so important for tomorrow?"

"Roy," Johnny shifted in the hammock as his foot was really hurting him,
"it's something I do once a year.  It's my way of communicating with my
people.  Let's just say it's an old Indian thing and leave it like that."

Roy shook his head in understanding, but he really didn't.  As plain as
Johnny appeared to be, Roy realized that Johnny wasn't that simple but
was a very complex individual.  And he realized that his side of Johnny
was only displayed to people he allowed to get close to him.

"Are ya comfortable, Junior?  Can I get you anything?"  Roy smiled.

Johnny relaxed a bit.  "Nah, I'll be okay.  Just not sure how long I'll be
stuck off that foot.  We won't be able to go hang gliding tomorrow."  
Johnny saw a smile appear on Roy's face.  "I guess you're not too
disappointed."

"Try to sleep Johnny and when you wake up, I'll apply the dressing to your
foot."  Roy tapped Johnny's shoulder and walked away.

Again, shifting in the hammock, Johnny got comfortable and put his arm
over his face.  Within several minutes, Johnny fell asleep, trying to keep
the pain from his mind.

Now that Roy was awake, he was hungry.  Opening the cooler, Roy
discovered the trout.  He took one out and debated waiting for Johnny.  
He did have trail mix that he could munch on, but there was something
about the mountain air that made him hungry.  Roy decided to eat one
trout and save the rest for when Johnny woke up.

Ten minutes after eating, Roy decided to take a walk around Peg 51.  
He knew his way around and had his favorite places, too.  About fifteen
minutes away was a spot where Roy liked to sit.  Johnny liked the valleys
but Roy liked the ledges that overlooked the magnificent vista.  From
his vantage, Roy could see for miles at the crevices carved into the
mountains.  The eagles and hawks soared above, using the thermals
for lift.  And it was so quiet.  Absolute at times.  This was Roy's private
place for contemplation and talking with his greater powers.  Although
he gave Johnny a difficult time about taking this trip, he was glad he
was here, with a wounded friend and all.  Peg 51 was his fountain of youth.

The sun started to set in the western sky so Roy decided to head back
to the camp.  The water would be cool so he'd be able to apply cold
compresses to Johnny's foot and hand.  He knew that when Johnny
woke up, the pain would return.  Too bad they only had aspirin with them.  
With Roy's help, he'd take Johnny down to the lake and they'd spend time
fishing.  Maybe with the help of a walking stick and some thick socks,
they'd do some light walking, but Roy knew, Johnny would have to stay
off his foot for some time to allowing the swelling to go down and avoid
infecting blisters that might be forthcoming.

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Upon arriving at their campsite, Roy found Johnny still sleeping, which
was a good sign.  Roy looked at their supplies and decided to cook
some more food.  He poured the cold coffee out of the pot and removed
the grounds, placing them in their trash bag.  No more coffee tonight,
Roy thought.   They could both use the sleep.

It was around 7 PM and the sun was setting.  Roy decided to wake
Johnny up so he could eat.  And it would give him the opportunity to
check his burns and see if they really were just first degree.

"Johnny?"  Roy said softly, not wanting to startle him.

"It's okay Roy, I heard ya walking over."

"How's the foot?"

"Hurts, burns, aches.   Need more aspirin."

"After or with dinner.  Don't take them on an empty stomach."

"Yes, Dad."

Roy smiled.  "Lemme take a look at it."  Johnny sat up in the hammock
and Roy took out his flashlight.  The two men looked at Johnny's foot.  
The redness and swelling was there along with blisters.  Johnny's hand just
was red.

"So second degree burns on the foot.  The water's cooled down, so I
can wrap it.  We got some plastic wrap I can use around the cloth."


"I feel so stupid, Roy." then his face twisted into a parody of humor.
"Maybe you're not the only one who's tired from overworking.."

"Now I know that's true. What else could explain yourself being so
clumsy like this?" he quipped. "I don't think scalding ankles with coffee is
any part of a Native American ritual that I know about." Roy applied the cream
and the cool liquid soaked cloths to Johnny's foot.  A smile appeared on
Johnny's face as the cloth was soothing.  Next Roy wrapped the foot
and heel to keep the cloth on to offer a bit of sterility.

"Oh, ha ha. What's for dinner, Dad?"

"Your trout and my potatoes.  No coffee tonight.  I think we can do without it."

Johnny smiled and shook his head in agreement. "We're gonna have
to. I decided to wear most of it."

After finishing their meal, Roy took the dirty dishes and pots down to the
stream so he could clean them off.  Johnny was in charge of keeping
the fire going.  Fifteen minutes later, Roy returned and placed the utensils
back in their packs.

"Ready to turn in, Junior?"

"I guess so, after I put another cool wrap on.  This one's gotten warm."  So
Johnny hobbled over to the cool sterile water and poured it on the cloth,
after removing its plastic covering.  As soon as the liquid hit his skin,
Johnny sighed from the comfort it brought.  He replaced the plastic over
his foot.  Using a stick to support his balance, Johnny hobbled a bit to
the clearing.  He wanted to look at the sky before turning in.  He needed
to see the stars.

Finding a rock to sit on, Johnny looked up at the constellations.  
Occasionally, a shooting star would fall into the sky.  There was something
about the heavens that brought a serenity to the multidimensional man.

One shooting star came in quite low and bright, and to Johnny's mind
touched down not too far away from them.  But Johnny thought it was
just his imagination, the dehydration, the aspirin, the mountain air and
a whole host of excuses to explain what he saw.

Roy walked up to Johnny.  "Need my help?"  Roy's hand was extended.

"Yeah, sure."  Johnny stood up and the two men slowly walked back to
their campsite.

A minute later, they were inside their tent and the fire dampened. "All this
fussing's for the birds." Gage said, lowering himself onto his bedroll.  
He snatched a Gatorade to offset his thirst and drained the whole thing.
He opened his mouth and let loose a liquidy burp that lasted a long time.

Roy didn't even chortle. He was too used to his partner's quirks. He
sighed, already half asleep with his back to Johnny on his own bedroll.
"Well, at least nothing's wrong with your digestive tract. Too bad we
can't heal your foot as easily as you filled your stomach."

Johnny folded his hands over his cardigan sweater and tried to cross
his ankles without thinking. A jolt through the wrap bit him. "Ow.." he
frowned irritably at his burned foot. Then his face continued where his
mind wanted to go and he smiled in pleasure. "Yeah... I am a good cook.
I mean, those trout were..  they were perfect, Roy. I get dibs on the
big one still left in the cooler. I need it for tomorrow so I can honor my anc--"

SSSsnnnnnnnnoorrrrreeeee.

"Hey, Roy.." he whispered, still in his sleepy contentment.

"Hmmm?"

Johnny answered him, "I think the aspirin's kicking in."

"Ummhmmm...zzzzzz...."

Night came softly over them with crickets' song. They serenaded
even the restless Johnny into slumber until dawn.
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------------------------------------

"Heyyyahh!!!!!!"  

Splash!!!  

Johnny cannon balled into the autumn pool of Hemlock Creek with his hands
wrapped tightly around his knees.

Roy, in an off-white cardigan and jeans, leaped backwards on the
rocks to avoid the plume of icy water that arrowed up into the sky.
Involuntarily, he shivered as he watched Johnny resurface and
fountain some of the creek out of his mouth into the air. "I don't know how
you can do that, Johnny. Makes my teeth ache just watching you."

Gage clambered out onto a flat rock next to Roy in a short wetsuit,
slicking his wet hair back on his head and rubbing his hands together
for warmth. "Do what? Oh. You mean taking a cold swim like
this? Heh. Used to it. We didn't have running hot water on the
reservation and a stream bath was the only way to go. Granted,
these speedos sure make it easier nowadays." he chuckled, snapping
the neoprene material over one shoulder from the suit. He
plopped down on his rear and dangled his left ankle into the rushing
water. "Ooo, that's better."

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"That burn still bothering you?" Roy asked pointing.

"Not half as bad as it did last night. The blisters reabsorbed back in
the second I dove in like I knew they would. Neat trick my grandmother
showed me growing up. We didn't have trauma kits
and burn dressings back then and had to make due with what
we had around us."

"Whatever works." Roy smiled. He noted Johnny's teeth starting
to rattle. He rose and stretched, wandering back to the campfire.
He threw three logs onto it until it started roaring. "Let me guess.
A roaring bonfire's part of the cure, too."

Johnny shot him an amused, irritated look, "Now that is a follow-up
treatment I created after grandma's. She wasn't modern enough
to understand what hypothermia is.." he chuckled. "A few minutes
more and I think I'll be able to get a sock on over this today."  He
shivered again, this time in relief as the heat from the fire steamed
creek water off the wetsuit in fine rising columns. "Ooo, that feels
good." He said of back and ankle.

Roy tossed Johnny his clothes and a warm sweater with a down vest
on top of his pile. "Just be sure you put on all of those, too. If you're
going to go on a shaman's hike, you're going to be the very picture
of a modern camper. I'm sure your grandmother would agree with me."

"Says who?" Gage grumbled. But he took the pile of clothes, dragging
them nearer anyway.

"And you're going to take another piece of modern technology with
you, too. Our short range radio. They've a range of ten miles so I
can keep tabs on you the whole time."

"Why? Don't think you can handle smoke signals?"

"Nope." Roy grinned, flipping cornbread on his grill off to a side in a
stone oven Johnny had built earlier. "Breakfast's ready. And I have
your king sized trout wrapped for your hike over there...." he said,
pointing to a birch barked bundled package resting near Johnny's
backpack. "I added a radio, rudimentary med kit, and rain gear to
those knick knacks I found inside of it."

"Those aren't knick knacks, Roy! They're..sacred artifacts and
talismans."

"An eagle feather?"

Johnny nodded vigorously.

"A sheep's skull?"

Again, came the eager nod. "Yes. And I have beargrease candles, too,
inside that buckskin pouch."

"Oh, so that's what I've been smelling."

"Very funny. That's the white sage I picked from grandma's field for
my hike today. I'm gonna offer it along with the trout to my ancestors."

Roy was thoughtful. "Is it true you know your whole family line
completely by memory?"

"Yep. Down to the first Ancestor. Easy to remember them all. It's built
into the First Chant Song. A name for every note. Anyone can sing,
Roy. This is no different than a ..than a...rock tune. The song's just a
long one, that's all." and he smiled. "without the electric guitars.. heh."
he laughed.

Gage rose, departed into the tent to change, then came out taking
the coffee and bread Roy handed him. He regarded his long time
working partner thoughtfully. "In five years, that's the most you've
ever been curious about my Ancestor Walk, Roy. I'm flattered."

"Yeah, well. I have to sort the truth from Chet's fiction when he plays
those Indian jokes on you."

Johnny frowned, "Yeah, well Chester B wouldn't know a Native
American if one jumped up and bit him on the nose, Roy.  Peace
pipes and axes...huh.." he grunted sarcastically. "I'd love to drag
him into the creek for one or two streambaths to educate him on a
few things.. that's for sure."

"Don't hold your breath." Roy laughed. "It took us two years to
convince him to come here even in July. And he still said the nights
were too cold."

"Thin skinned Irishman."

"Hey.." Roy protested, "I'm Irish.."

"Yeah? But you're more tolerant of "roughing it" in general, Roy. I
taught you well."

Roy watched as John's teeth still chattered a bit as he bit down into
the steaming cornloaf in his hands. He threw another log onto the fire.
:: Who taught who, junior.:: he thought privately. ::If our yearly weekend
camping trips went the way you planned, we'd be sleeping on
bearskins and fishing with our bare hands.:: But he said out loud,
"Living in the city has softened us both. But I'm gonna give you credit.
Your Ancestor Walk's inspiring. My family traditions don't have anything
even remotely similar to it. Just a few prayers said in church and a
special dinner on the Irish Thanksgiving Day."

"It's a start." Gage laughed. He finished his cornbread, rising, after
loosening his pants leg around his ankle burn. "I'm off. See you at
three." and he shucked off his watch, tossing it to Roy.

Roy was surprised, "How are you going to tell the time, Johnny? To
know when to head back here?"

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Johnny grinned, tapping his temple. "Now that's a little Indian trick that
I'm very good at." He raised his hands to his eyes and turned his face
into the morning sunlight, closing his eyelids. "It's... eight twenty two
and....seventeen seconds.."

Roy checked his own wristwatch and his mouth flopped open. "No
way.. You looked at yours before you threw it over to me."

"Nope. I didn't. I forgot to wind it up when I got up earlier. Mine's
saying it's five oh six am.."

Roy glanced down. It was true. Johnny's watch wasn't ticking yet. He
started to whistle the twilight zone theme eerily..

"I'm good. I'm good, yes, I am..." John laughed at Roy's flopped
open expression."What? Can't I be good at actually doing something?"

Roy added. "My lips are sealed."

Johnny hefted up his hiking pack after poking around in it to see what
equipment Roy added to it besides the handheld radio and medkit.
"Sandals?"

"Yep. That ankle's gonna get sore before you get two miles into the
valley. You can always get back into socks when you hit level ground
again."

Johnny grunted grudgingly approving. "Fair enough. I'll buzz ya
when I get there...." he said, hefting the radio and speaking into it.

Roy's own tandem radio echoed Johnny's voice on the rock next to
him. He grinned. "See ya this afternoon. I think I'm gonna sleep
only half the morning and then read for the rest of the day." DeSoto
said into it.

"You do that.." Gage grinned, holding up a hand and radio in farewell
as he got farther away from the main campsite.

Johnny's back soon disappeared out of sight underneath the
Ponderosa pines.

-----------------------------------------------


Walking through the forest, Johnny found a piece of wood he could
use as a walking stick.  He bent down to pick it up.  "This'll do fine."  

The path Johnny took to the clearing was steep in places, but he knew
it by rote.  As soon as he approached the glen, Johnny's pulse
quickened knowing what he was going to be doing.

Looking up into the sun, Johnny figured it was about 11:00am.  He'd
have to have a snack before proceeding.  Johnny got his bearings
and searched for his favorite spot in the valley.  It was a patch of
trees on the rim of the clearing, and definitely out of place.  But
that was the charm of it.

Johnny got to his spot and sat down.  He took a long deep swig
of water from his canteen and wiped his sweaty brow with his arm.  
A deep breath of mountain air filled his lungs.  A sense of peace
and self satisfaction came over him.  He was ready to begin his
journey to talk with his people.

He took his sheep skull and eagle feather out of his leather pouch
and placed them on the ground he cleared.  Johnny was reaching
for the beargrease candle when he heard some rustling in the trees
behind him.   It sounded too big to be a small animal.  Maybe it was
a bear or a buck.  Johnny knew well enough that any animal would
leave him be.

The candle was lit and his tokens were in the correct spot.  Johnny
closed his eyes so he could clear his mind of thoughts.  He had
to rid himself of intruding thoughts that would cloud his mission.  
Others used drugs to communicate with their forefathers.  Johnny
never considered doing that and never had the need to.  This
place was so quiet, he usually would only have to settle down just
a tad to do his 'thing'.

But today was different.  The rustling sound was getting louder and
was distracting him.

Johnny stood up, squinted and looked around where he thought the
noise was coming from.  Expecting to see a bear, he was truly
surprised when he saw two men coming out into the clearing.

Well, it was two men, but one was clearly in trouble.

Johnny bent down and blew out the candle and ran over to the
them.

"Hey, you guys need some help?"  Johnny asked.  He saw the taller
dark haired man leaning on the blonde man for help.  The dark haired
man was having a difficult time standing up.

The blonde man looked up and his expression changed from concern
for his friend to relief that help was there.

"Am I glad to see you."  The blonde man stooped and allowed
Johnny to take the bigger man from his grip. "I didn't think I'd ever
get out of there. D@mn, he's going out on me again. Catch him."

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The bigger man's weight fell onto Johnny and he gently placed him
on the ground. "What happened here? He looks real beat up."  He
watched consciousness flee from the man's eyes.

Johnny went to take the injured man's pulse and respiration.  
He noticed a bruise on the man's head and a splint on the man's arm.
The edge of a slight cut had sliced into what Johnny first thought was
dirt over the bruising, ::Hey.That's a tattoo on his forehead. This man's a Native People.:: thought a small part of him as he bent to work.

The carotid he found was sluggish but regular despite the rapid and
tense breathing. "Hey,.." he tested. "Can you hear me?" he said,
making sure the man could breathe well enough by carefully tilting
his head back. But he didn't respond to Gage and seemed mostly
unconscious. A sternal rub failed to make him react. ::He's shocky,
that's for sure..:: Johnny thought.

He squeezed a fingernail on the splinted arm, seeing swelling
underneath the improvised splinting that showed a humerus break
that had been secured in just the right way. The nail bed pinked up
immediately. ::So, this friend here's had some first aid training. This
is a perfect splint job.:: But it bothered Johnny that the younger man
hadn't answered his first question yet. He looked up at him once again,
chalking his slow reply to fatigue and worry for his friend.
"What happened?"  Johnny asked his question again.

The tired young man looked like he was thinking very hard and he
spoke, unconvincingly truthful. "My friend fell."

Gage didn't believe that answer for a second. ::Ok.:: he thought
to himself. ::You're entitled to a little leeway. Just so long as
you two aren't escaping ex-cons or something. I can live with
not knowing how it happened.::

"What were you doing before?"  The blond man asked, pointing to
Johnny's ministrations.

"I was taking your friend's pulse and respiration. Then I checked
to see how he's rating on the Glasgow consciousness scale. And
seeing how well that splint was doing its job.  I'm a paramedic with
Los Angeles County."

"A paramedic?"  The fair haired man asked.

Johnny wasn't surprised to hear that term questioned.  People still
didn't know what a paramedic was even though the program was
going on six years old.

"I'm a trained medic who works under the supervision of a doctor.  
My name's John Gage."  He extended his hand.

The blond looked at the hand and realized it was an old earth custom.  
He extended his and the two shook.  "My name is Tom Paris."

"We gotta get your friend to the hospital, although there isn't any nearby.  
The best we got here is the Ranger's station."  Johnny realized that he
had the walkie talkie that Roy gave him.  "Lemme contact my partner
so he can meet us near here. Then we can at least get back to our spot."

"Partner?"  Now Tom was confused.

Johnny smiled, "Yeah, Roy is my paramedic partner.  We're both
stationed out in Carson, but are campin' up here for a few days."

"I'm not from this area," Tom said.

"Neither am I.  Carson is back down in L.A. County."

"Oh."  Tom didn't want to give anything away.  He knew they were on
Earth in California, but after that, the computers on the Delta flyer were
being very stubborn.  He had no idea what year let alone which century
they were in.  However, his knowledge of Earth's history would
certainly be put to the test here.

Johnny picked up the radio and talked into it.  

Tom was taken by the communicator Johnny was using.  ::A hand held
short wave? wow..:: he thought. ::I've never seen one of those.:: He
watched the man whose skin was almost as dark as Chakotay's. ::At
least he and I won't have trouble blending in until I figure out how to
get us out of this mess. I just wish the crash hadn't destroyed most
of the shuttle's medical equip--::

"Hey, Roy, it's John, come in."

Static.

"I hope he's not down by the stream.  It's a bit rugged there and
reception may be poor."  Johnny smiled at Tom, trying to reassure
him.  "Roy, it's John, over? I've encountered some hikers and
I've got an injured man here."

Static.

::Either I'm in a dead zone or Roy's radio isn't on.::  John stood up
to think.  Tom stood up next to him.  Johnny scratched his chin.  
"It's about a ten mile hike back up to our camp and the terrain is
gonna be sheer hell.  Between the two of us, we can carry him.  
What's his name?"

"His name is Chakotay."

Johnny looked at Tom. "Hmm, that sounds Cheyenne or Lakohtan."
he wondered. Johnny then looked down at Chakotay and studied
his features. "Or maybe even from a tribe from farther south."

Tom just let him speculate without telling him more.  ::Temporal Prime
Directive, my @ss. How the hell am I going to keep it from being
violated now? Chakotay needs immediate treatment.:: he worried
to himself.

He looked up as the paramedic met his gaze. Paris's hand was still
on Chakotay's stomach, monitoring his breathing rate.

"Your friend is still really out of it but at least Roy and I can do
something for him back at our camp.  Lemme get my stuff and
we'll start hiking there."  

Johnny ran to gather his stuff, leaving Tom with Chakotay.

Tom bent down to his wounded first officer.  "Hang in there,  
Commander.  I have a feeling we'll be okay, for now."

Johnny ran back to the two and offered his canteen to Tom who
took it.   After several long swallows, he capped the canteen
and handed it back to Johnny.  "Thanks.  That tasted really
good."  In Tom's mind it really tasted good. ::Real Earth water.::

Gage stowed the water back into his light pack and knelt by
Chakotay's side. He didn't like the way he seemed even
deeper into unconsciousness. ::I'll stop along the way and
reassess him better in a warmer location. There must be
more wrong with him than what I'm seeing right now.::

Johnny drew out his rain gear and covered the big man snugly
into it, around head and torso to ward off chill.

Then he turned to Tom, who seemed oddly out of place
somehow with his current situation. ::I know how he feels.
I know how I would react if Roy ever got hurt in the middle
of nowhere.:: he thought to himself.

Johnny asked, "How's his neck and back? Did he hurt
himself in that way at all?"

Tom didn't even hesitate with his reply. "His C-Spine's fine.
Didn't scan.. uh, --  find any involvement there."

Gage nodded appreciably. ::This guy knows his first aid for
sure. I should ask him where he got his training from.:: "All
right. I'll take him first."

Johnny bent down and picked up Chakotay and eased him over
his shoulder into a fireman's carry.  "I can probably carry him
like this for a bit to start, but once we get to the forest, I'll need
your help to steady me."  Johnny started walking with Chakotay's
full 230+ pounds on his back.  

Tom was amazed at what he saw. ::He's in shape for such a
scrawny guy. Wonder who his trainer is.:: He picked up Johnny's
leather sack and followed behind.


More than an hour after they first started walking, Johnny
needed to rest.  He gently placed Chakotay down and took his
pulse and respiration again. Although the wounded man was
still unconscious, his vital signs were stronger. ::Hmm, must
be the rain gear conserving his body heat. It's helping with his
shock. But he's not out of the woods yet. Not by a long shot.::

Tom knelt by Chakotay's head, seeing the blood started up
again from the contusion on his forehead. He saw more of it
had run down Johnny's clothes, staining his right leg down to
the ankle, soaking it.  He took the dressing the paramedic
handed him and starting using it on Chakotay's cut. "I'd give
anything for a proto--  ah, stitch kit right now." he covered.


"So you've medical training, too. Medic's level from what
I've seen." Johnny smiled.

"Uh,  yeah, sort of. But that's not my primary job."

"What is it then?"

Tom pretended to fuss with Chakotay's splint job and didn't answer.

Johnny was getting annoyed at Tom's standoffishness.  
"Listen, do I have your word that I'm not aiding and abetting a
pair of criminals here? You don't have to tell me a thing besides
that. It's none of my business."

Tom's head shot up. "No. We're not criminals. I mean-- do
we look like criminals to you?"

Johnny's eyes fell on the tattoo over Chakotay's eye. "To
tell you the truth. Only Hell's Angels mark up their face like that."

It was Tom's turn to grin a bit. "I assure you. Neither Chakotay
nor I own a pair of Harleys. And we're not fleeing the law. Quite
the  opposite in fact. But I can't tell you more than this. It's a
matter of security. You're gonna have to trust me on this one,
Gage."  Tom suggested.  

Johnny looked hard at Tom and didn't feel threatened no
matter how odd an emotion his own mind pretended to feel.
He shrugged. "Ok. I will." Johnny took his boots off and his socks
and saw how red his own foot was.  Some new blisters were forming
on his heel but he didn't think anything dangerous was risked from
the fluid Chakotay's cut had been dampening them. It could have
been his own sweat that had done that.

Tom noticed Johnny's wound.  "What happened to your foot?  
It looks painful."

Johnny smirked.  "I kinda burned it making the coffee."

"Oh, you have no idea how long it's been since I've tasted
real coffee, John."

"Do I dare ask?" Gage questioned.

"Just as long as you think it's been." Tom grinned back. "That
still looks fresh for a burn."

"It'll be okay.  Unfortunately, these aren't the first burns I've ever
had and they won't be the last." Gage snickered.

"Huh?"  Tom grunted as he became really confused.

"I'm a fireman, remember?"

"Oh yeah, you did say that."   Tom was searching his memory
about firemen.  That profession didn't exist any longer past
being a group of cursory background skills taught to ship's crewmen
because autotechnology took care of any fires that ever occurred
on Voyager or other starships.

Together, the two caregivers set Chakotay down under the full
sunlight of a solar heated rock to warm him. Johnny used the
bright daylight to check the man's pupillary responses. "They're
still even." he smiled at Tom. "Looks like we might not have to worry
about any serious head injury complications for the future.
Let me check him over again. I want to take a look at his belly.
There's rigidity now that wasn't there when we started out of
the valley."

"I'll help you." Tom said.

They re-examined Chakotay and found that he was guarding
his upper left quadrant. The muscles there were tight even
though he was still profoundly unconscious.

Johnny sighed uncomfortably. "He's bleeding into his
abdomen. His spleen might even be effected. Feel that? It's
almost like it's getting soft on one side. Can't tell for sure. It's
too early on for a deep but vague internal thing to really show up."
He felt for both femoral pulses in Chakotay's upper legs.
"They're even here, and that shows us that whatever it is, it's
still a smallish injury. And his gum color's still fine. He's holding
well so far with his vital signs. But I think that improvement's temporary."

Tom was completely out of his element at guessing an outcome.
He was so used to having instant transportation of any injured personnel
to the EMH's more than competent care within the first few seconds of
accident or attack. "Why do you think that?" he asked, scared.

"Whatever's wrong in his belly's gonna gain ground very soon.
That continued guarding's proof of that."  Johnny reached for his radio.  
"Roy, it's John.  Can you hear me?"

Two seconds later, a response was heard.  ##Was beginning to
wonder about you, Junior.  Everything okay?##

"I'm about half way back to camp.  Gonna need your help
though.  I met two men at the glen and one of them is injured
badly from a possible belly bleed. We're carrying him back.  
Can you meet us at the Bear Claw?"

##Sure.  I'll be there.## Johnny could hear Roy's expression
change from relaxed to professional and he knew his
partner would be there for him, and for them. ##Aren't you glad
I packed a trauma and IV kit in the main tent. I'll be bringing them.##

"You're such a packrat when it comes to camping trips, Roy.
But I think your overage is actually gonna make a huge
difference this time. See you on the west rim in fifteen or sooner.
Gage out." And he set his radio down onto the pine needles.
Johnny noticed Chakotay was starting to shiver.  He put
his hand on his head.  "Seems like he's got a fever working.  
Was he sick with a bug before he fell at all?"

Tom remembered back.

The away mission he and Chakotay were on brought them to
a prewarp class planet. But Voyager's urgent need for poly
nucleic aminoacids for Neelix's food stores had won out.
Captain Janeway sent them down in simple clothing to blend
into the crowd.  They soon discovered there was nothing
they could trade with the simple people on that planet, so
dejectedly, they decided to head back.

While returning to Voyager, the two had encountered a lost
Borg cube.

The two Voyager officers did their best to lead them
away from Voyager's coordinates. Their broken wing act
worked. But soon, the shuttle had been spotted and tow tagged.
Paris swore. Drones were heartless. Tom wouldn't have held it
past them to have put a toxic bioagent into the tractor that had held
them pinned. It was only blind luck that caused the Delta
Flyer to break free long enough for Tom to duck into the
meager moon ring cover they had stumbled upon. He vaguely
remembered a sudden hull breach Chakotay had sealed around
the green glow of the Borg tractor field just before he jolted
the shuttle free into the field of dust and rocks. That energy
had touched Chakotay's naked hand but hadn't  injured him.
::Just made him mad.:: Paris recalled mentally. ::Too bad the doc
isn't with us. And too bad I can't have my tricorder with me out in
plain sight to check Chakotay for any Borg bugs openly. And I sure
hope I hid the Delta Flyer well enough. These men seem like they're
right out of the Stone Age for communication and medical technology.::

Tom thought about it even more closely.  They had been so
rushed as they were being chased by the Borg.  Their final escape
proved to be serendipitous through an appearance of a small uncharted
wormhole.  

They had taken their chances and went through it.  It was a rough ride
and the Delta Flyer had sustained heavy damage.  Then they had lost control
of their guidance systems and had entered a nearby planet's
atmosphere.  It was only after they crashed, that Chakotay and Paris
realize with a shock that they were on Earth. Tom instantly knew that they  
weren't in the correct timeline.  He could tell that from his sensors.  
The pollution levels were way too high with hydrocarbons
and there were no transmissions active at all on the channels that Star
Fleet normally used.  And now, he knew about how far into the past they
had fallen from what he was learning from this paramedic man directly.

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Tom's thoughts were jolted back into the present. "John, he didn't
complain about feeling ill."

"Could be due to his fracture then. Where were you guys coming
from?"  Johnny took the canteen and poured some on his
handkerchief.  He moved it close to Chakotay's face and
dripped some of the precious liquid onto his forehead to
cool him a bit for comfort without undoing the warmth the rain
gear had provided. Done with his task, Johnny looked up at
Tom for a replying answer.

"Um, we were um," Tom paused trying to figure out what to say.  
He wished he had his earth history datapadd with him to confirm
what he could say, but he saw Johnny's eyes staring at him and
he knew he had to say something now, or Johnny would really
become suspicious. "We were in a commune in the hills and
things got a bit rough, so we decided to leave."  Tom said it
with all sincerity that even he believed it.

"Oh, that explains it."  Johnny shook his head and stood up,
peeling out of his boots.

"Explains what? I just got started."  Tom was really curious.

"Those funny clothes you're wearing."  Johnny took the sandals
out of his bag and tied his boots together to store them.
He laughed, "You two look like a buddy of mine. Chet Kelly.
He dresses nearly the same way. Wouldn't be surprised in the
least if Kelly lived in a commune himself once." he said, slipping
his feet into the rugged sandals he tossed onto the ground.

The comments about the clothes made Tom self-conscious.  
He fingered his replicator woven tan sackcloth shirt and looked down.  
It didn't look too bad to him, but what did he know.

"Look, man. It's nothing personal. You don't have any other
clothes with you?"  Johnny questioned.  "It's gonna get cold up
here tonight."

"Had to leave all that behind." Paris evaded, trying to look irritated
at an imagined concocted crime.

Gage sighed. "I guess my stuff will fit you, Tom. You're about
my size. But we don't have anything for your friend Chakotay to wear.
We'll just have to wrap him up in our sleeping bags once we
get to camp til we get help."

"We won't be able to get help for him today?"  Tom asked.

Johnny frowned.  "Are you kidding?  I'm exhausted, you're
exhausted.  It's still a good long hike yet to get to the Ranger station.
And it's late now. The sun's going down. I'd say tomorrow we can
head to that park base after we get Chakotay stabilized a little better
tonight. All of this moving around isn't helping him at all. He needs to
be kept still as soon as possible. As for moving him tomorrow,
we're going to have to do it in segments."  Having finished buckling
on his sandals, Johnny stood up, bent down, and lifted Chakotay once
more for the remaining carry distance to the summit of the valley.

The burdened men continued their climb.

Roy saw the three men as he walked fast up through the Bear Claw gorge
pass. ##I see you.## he shouted into his radio to them.  Roy rushed down
the slope and once more, they reassessed Chakotay's physical
condition thoroughly.

Johnny gratefully snatched the first aid kit pack from Roy and set
it near him while his partner rechecked the man's vitals with gear.

It was heaven itself to have a BP cuff at last. Roy used it and
frowned. "82 over 44. Shocky. Johnny,..." he said, feeling Chakotay's
abdomen once more. "....where did you find guarding before?"

Gage looked up from the pen light he was shining into Chakotay's
eyes. "Upper left quadrant. Why?"

Roy sighed, "He's tight in all quadrants now. Going to need a mast
suit. And before morning."

"We don't have one.." Johnny said.

Tom looked at the two men, "What's a mast suit?"

His innocent question cut through the paramedics' discussion and
they jolted, realizing Paris didn't know how serious things were going
to get. They told him. "Its a short term for medical anti shock trousers,
made up of chambers which, when inflated around a patient, slows
internal bleeding and redirects blood flow to criticals areas such as
the heart, lungs and head." Roy explained. DeSoto reluctantly told
him more. "Your friend's going to sour on us due to something
more wrong happening inside his abdomen that we won't be able
to treat further because we simply don't have all of our equipment."

::Sounds familiar.::Tom thought unhappily. "Well, what can you do
for him now?"

Roy spoke up, "For starters, I have an I.V. kit here. We can give him
fluids. And then when we get to our camp, we'll have some O2 to
keep him going until we can get him to that Ranger Tower."

"Don't you have a ground vehicle handy?" Tom asked, frustrated. Then
he quickly covered. "Er, I mean an all terrain truck or pickup parked
somewhere?" Tom asked.

"No, we were dropped by our crewmates off the freeway and we
hiked in." Roy replied.

"How far was that?"

"About nine miles, through pretty rugged territory. It would
be too much for him." Gage replied, tossing a head at their limp
patient. "Here." he said, passing off an oral airway at Tom to use.

Paris only angled it a few times in his hand as he figured out what it
was and how to use it. "Yes, that'll help him breathe better." he
agreed.

Tom winced when the two firemen actually put a primitive needle in
Chakotay's hand attached to "plastic" tubing and ran the start
of a very crude looking bag of water and minerals into his circulatory
system. But he smiled when Chakotay's pulse and breathing rate
rallied back up again to low normal.

Johnny dug around the I.V. kit bag. "There's only one epinephrine
syringe in here, Roy."

"Can't use it anyway without a doctor's approval. We're in enough
hot water as it is starting that I.V. on him without calling first."    

Tom said, "Don't worry about it. You're saving his life. I'll vouch for ya.."  
::Epinephrine, huh.:: he thought. ::I wonder if that stuff's anything like
cordrazine.:: he thought worriedly. ::Oh, man, they think Chakotay's
going to cardiovascularly crash?:: Tom didn't want to think about
what could happen.

It was too frightening.

Soon Johnny helped transfer Chakotay's weight onto Roy's shoulders.  
The four men continued their journey back to the main campsite.  They
completed the rest of the trip in silence with Tom following , holding up the
flowing I.V. bag.

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