|Primary Characters:||B’Elanna. Tuvok and many others|
|Warning:||References to various sexual activities, including m/m, non-con, sex with minor|
|Description:||The crew of the Voyager are on som much needed shoreleave. Soon, however, many of them begin to exhibit uncharacteristic behavior. What happens during this time of madness, will have consequences for many Voyagers crew members.|
Captain’s Log, Stardate 57909: After a long journey through virtually empty space, with no M class planets, we have finally found one, where we can take on new supplies and allow the crew some much needed shore leave.
B’Elanna doubtfully glanced at Ensign Strauss and Ensign Lhe. They didn’t look particularly experienced when it came to babysitting. Unfortunately, Samantha Wildman, the only other parent on board Voyager who B’Elanna might trust with her children, would be going down to the surface as well, along with Naomi and Gerron. B’Elanna once again considered allowing Seven of Nine to watch over the children, since she was remaining aboard ship for some reason or other. In the end, to some extent encouraged by Tom’s and Harry’s impatient shouting for her, she decided to let the two ensigns babysit.
“Listen, you call me if anything’s wrong, is that clear?”
Ensign Lhe, who looked nervous and intimidated, nodded eagerly. He knew how to look after children. On his own world, he’d been surrounded by siblings, cousins and other relatives and there had always been plenty of young ones to keep an eye on.
Ensign Strauss, on the other hand, had no experience whatsoever of children, but she didn’t feel in any way hampered by this apparent shortcoming. How hard could it be? They were two babies, not some alien lifeforms.
“Lanna, come on. It’s been months since we could get any R&R. If we don’t get going now, the Captain will find some excuse to keep us here and you wouldn’t want that, would you?”
“Yes, come on.”
Still torn between her wish to relax and her duties as a mother, B’Elanna finally gave in. She knew Harry and Tom took their duties as parents every bit as seriously as she did. If they found it acceptable to leave their offspring in the hands of these two ensigns –
“Ok. I’m coming. You – just remember, ok?”
“Of course, lieutenant Torres. We will monitor their lifesigns constantly and if there’s a change I will report it to you at once.”
“Make sure you do.”
She turned and left, after another look at her two babies, peacefully asleep for once.
They took the turbo lift down to the transporter pad and lined up. For a few days, Captain Janeway was allowing most of the members of her crew to beam down to the surface. Since this part of space was deemed safe, from a strategic point of view as well as a navigational one, only a mere skeleton crew would be left on board.
B’Elanna caught sight of Samantha Wildman, Gerron and little Naomi standing ahead of them in the queue. Naomi saw her too and smiled and waved enthusiastically.
B’Elanna couldn’t help returning the smile. Naomi was a funny kid. She was still perfectly serious about being engaged to be married to her and Harry’s son, though the infant barely recognized her yet. The Ktarean culture could be hard to understand for an outsider.
To her surprise she saw Tuvok joining them. She hadn’t imagined the Vulcan would be part of the crowds heading down to the surface. If anything, she would have imagined him wanting to remain on board, along with the Captain, Chakotay, Seven of Nine and the other former Borgs and for obvious reasons, the Holo-Doc.
Tom unconsciously tensed up and kept staring straight ahead as if he hadn’t seen Tuvok. Harry, sensing his friend’s reaction, decided to follow his example.
Overcome by curiosity, B’Elanna turned and asked Tuvok for his reasons for joining them.
“Sir? Are you coming down to the surface with us?”
A haughty look greeted her question. B’Elanna was beginning to think he wasn’t going to reply. Finally, the Vulcan appeared to change his mind.
“The Captain asked me to keep an eye on the crew. I will be using this time to study the planet – its flora and fauna and the geology. I understand there’s a particularly interesting mineral not usually found on M class planets -”
She should have known Tuvok was never going to unwind. Unless you counted Pon Farr as unwinding time. Of course poor Tom wouldn’t like any speculation on this topic so she decided to put the thought out of her mind.
Unlike the rest of the crew, Tuvok was still wearing his uniform.
Since this was a time for recreation and relaxation, everyone had turned up wearing a variety of leisure wear. Tom, with his interest in the 20th century, had chosen a particularly tasteless outfit, B’Elanna couldn’t help thinking. He was wearing some kind of brightly patterned short sleeved shirt and some extremely wide and baggy short pants which ended at the knee. The color was one B’Elanna found especially hard to endure. She would have described it as beige and it struck her as very – Cardassian in its dullness. On his head he was wearing a sort of headgear which had a shade in front, or what would have been the front if Tom had been wearing it the way she’d seen people wear it in his holo-programs.
Harry, in contrast, was wearing something much more attractive. His pants were shorter and looked as if they’d been cut off with a knife, leaving the bottoms frayed at the edge. They were of a blue color she wouldn’t have worn herself, but which looked very becoming on Harry. On top, he wore a white shirt of some kind, with short sleeves, but this was of a different type of material, which seemed to cling more to his body. Very nice. She couldn’t help smiling, when she saw Harry’s muscles making the shirt bulge out in places.
The smile faded when she caught sight of her arch-enemies, the Delaney twins. They were wearing something extremely minimal. It was in two parts. Whatever it was only barely covered their breasts and buttocks and in between there were large areas of bare skin. B’Elanna glanced suspiciously at her men. Neither one of them were watching the girls, fortunately.
The twins caught her gaze and returned it, a smug look in their eyes. B’Elanna forced herself not to look down on herself. She knew the twins would be searching for flaws, indications that her body had sagged after childbirth. Fortunately, they were wrong about that.
She was wearing a short sleeveless dress, which reached half way to her knees. It was a dark red that she knew looked good on her. In their replicator records it was listed under the name salsa dress, but B’Elanna had no idea what that meant. She had a hunch Tom could tell her but she didn’t want to set his mind thinking along those lines.
At last it was their turn to beam down. She and Tom and Harry stood on the transporter pad, along with Tuvok and another crew member. It wasn’t one of B’Elanna’s friends or colleagues from Engineering and in any case, everyone was too intent on their much awaited shore leave to waste time on small talk.
The natives were friendly and very much intent on making sure their visitors had a good time. It seemed people travelled to this planet, rather like in Federation space, vacationers would go to Risa. People like Tom anyway. B’Elanna preferred other types of entertainment. Swimming, for instance.
They learned there was an island which was very popular among the visitors. Apparently, there was some especially fine sand there and the beeches allowed for easy swimming. No tides or dangerous aquatic wildlife threatened the visitors.
Scattered throughout the island, which wasn’t as small or crowded as B’Elanna had feared, they’d been told there were simple dwellings, where the visitors could rest out of the hot sunlight or take refreshments.
As they got into the boat, B’Elanna was amazed to find Tuvok was coming with them. Fortunately, she didn’t see the Delaney twins anywhere and not the Wildman party either. That was also a relief, even if not for the same reason. Charming as Naomi was, B’Elanna could do without the girl’s constant questions at a time like this. After so many months of work and sleepless nights, she was really looking forward to some rest and some time alone with her guys.
The sun really was hot. Normally, B’Elanna wasn’t troubled by extreme sunlight, this, however, seemed to have some kind of quality which made you feel tired and thirsty. She noted that even Tuvok had removed his uniform jacket. The rest of the passengers on the small boat, had done their best to protect themselves from the sun. Tuvok’s torso shone in the sunlight and B’Elanna couldn’t help glancing appreciatively at his back and chest, where the heat had brought out patches of sweat. She was glad her guys weren’t paying attention.
The journey didn’t take long. After barely twenty minutes, they already caught sight of the island, and before half an hour had passed, they were landing, or rather putting up just outside the shore. Apparently, the passengers were expected to wade ashore. After the heat on the deck of the small boat, everyone found the relative coolness of the ocean refreshing.
They were greeted by more friendly natives who offered them drinks of water and some fruit drink and other beverages which were all chilled and highly invigorating.
After walking for about five minutes due west, they found a deserted stretch of beach, with some chairs under what looked like awnings or marquees. They wasted no time dropping down in those chairs, but after only a few minutes, the lure of the intensely blue sea, got the better of B’Elanna. She decided to wade out and take a swim. Harry and Tom appeared to have gone to sleep in their chairs so she didn’t bother asking them to come along.
To her surprise, she found Tuvok some distance away, apparently studying the golden sand. Unbelievable. Even on a day like this, he’d be completely absorbed in his work. B’Elanna didn’t want to ask him what was so special about the sand and anyway, she was now standing up to her waist in the water.
For an hour or so, she amused herself by swimming and diving and floating on her back. There was something about the quality of the water which made it very easy to float. She didn’t think she’d ever experienced water quite like this.
By now, she was getting sleepy after the exertion and the exposure to the hot sun. She decide to return to her chair and get some rest. As she waded back onto the shore, she again caught sight of Tuvok, this time, on his knees, bent over, studying the sand even more closely. Or was it the sand? She squinted against the sun and thought she saw some greyish substance floating about in the shade cast by some odd looking trees.
Irritated with herself, she couldn’t quite force herself away. For one, Tuvok’s body looked extremely hot, exposed like this. Secondly, she was getting curious about that greyish substance. It looked as if it was moving against the currents, not with it.
“Ok, what is that stuff?”
Tuvok looked up, as if he’d completely forgotten the other crew members.
“Are you referring to this aquatic vegetation, lieutenant Torres?”
“Is that what it is? I was wondering.”
“So far I haven’t learned much about it, but if you’re interested, I have made a thorough analysis and recorded the results -”
“Yes, ok. I’ll look into it on the ship. Thanks.”
Tuvok didn’t look the least bit perturbed about her lack of interest. Maybe it he took it for granted that non-Vulcans would be illogical and impulsive. She didn’t have time for this. Since she was now here, she might as well stretch out on the sand under the trees. Just in case, she made sure she wasn’t anywhere near that grey vegetation. It looked slimy and seemed to be a little too mobile for vegetation. At least it didn’t sound like any vegetation she’d heard of, though she was far from an expert on exo-wildlife.
As she lay down, she became aware of an itch on her skin. She glanced sleepily at her arm, and caught sight of some golden grains. Brushing ineffectually at them, she eventually felt the itch ease. She closed her eyes and made herself comfortable. Just before she dozed off to sleep, she thought she heard someone coming in her direction. Frowning, she wondered if it was Tuvok, but she wasn’t interested enough to open her eyes and find out. Less than a minute later, she was fast asleep.
S’en’lei moved across the barely visible sand shoals, still being licked by the waves, but emerging more and more as the night wore on. The moon was high in the sky and she knew the time was approaching. Her bare feet relished the contact with the slick sand after the breathless heat of the day.
Without glancing up towards the sky, she could sense the time passing and the tide going out. The rhythm matched her heartbeat and the beating of the pulse in her veins. It wouldn’t take her long to reach the sacred mound, and she knew the way, though she’d never walked there in the flesh – this incarnation of herself. Even so, she was anxious not to miss the appointed hour, which had been prescribed in the book of time, since the dawn of their civilisation. At the same time, there was a feeling of inevitability, which guided her footsteps.
As she caught sight of the mound, outlined in the moonlight, her heart took a leap in her chest. Re’tec was waiting for her. She had never set eyes on him in this reincarnation, but she would know him anywhere. Her pulse quickened and she almost broke into a run.
Re’tec stood with his back to her, eyes fastened on the face of the moon, their mother, and only turned when she was standing so close he must have felt her breath on his back.
Slowly, he turned, and she thought he was trembling. The excitement over their meeting was affecting him too. Her throat was parched and her tongue stuck to her palate, which was just as well. The ritual had to be performed in absolute silence. At least no words could be spoken. Their sighs and moans would not offend the goddess.
His strong arms reached for her and he pressed her to his chest. She felt his lips crush hers and impatiently, she began to tear at his tunic. Eagerly, she moved against his hard, smooth body and now, she was sure he was trembling with repressed desire. Her hands explored the muscled back, while he tore off her gown. They fell to the ground, cushioned by the soft grasses and mosses.
A cloud passed across the sun, causing a slight shiver go down Harry’s spine. He looked up and noticed that the sun had moved across the sky and he guessed it was some time in the late afternoon. Tom was still asleep, snoring lightly. Harry looked around for B’Elanna, but couldn’t see her anywhere. A slight frown was beginning to form on his usually amiable face.
“Hey, Tom. Wake up. Where’s Lanna?”
Tom’s eyelids twitched a little and he grudgingly looked up. He’d been deeply asleep, dreaming something nice. Now the dream dissipated and he couldn’t remember anything of it, except a vague feeling of contentment.
“She’s around somewhere. Why don’t you go and look?”
“We must have been sleeping for hours.”
“So? We’re on vacation, in case you hadn’t noticed. You look for her. I’m sure she’s just around that clumps of trees over there. If those are trees. Those whatever they are.”
“Ok. You go on back to sleep then. Computer – what time is it?”
The computer voice informed him of what time it was – up on Voyager. Just as he’d thought, it was late in the afternoon. They must have been asleep for almost eight hours. Where could Lanna have gone off to? One of those bungalows? It just occurred to Harry that he was ravenously hungry.
The thought occurred to Tom as well and regretfully, he gave up the idea of sleeping and got up to find something to eat.
Harry glanced longingly at the same bungalow, visions of ice cream and other vacation treats in his mind. In the end, he decided to search for B’Elanna first, then return for a snack.
“Hey – I’ll go look for something to eat while you – oh. Of course. Lanna has to be there. Getting something to eat or drink. Why didn’t we think of that?”
With relief, Harry began to follow his friend back to the bungalow. No doubt Tom was right.
Inside the bungalow, they found a box well stocked with edibles and though there wasn’t any ice cream, there was something which closely resembled sorbet. It was just as tasty. Harry scooped up a couple of spoonfuls of the stuff, grabbing a couple of bars of something which could be compared to cereals or peanutbutter, except thicker. Mm. Delicious.
His eyes wandered between the other delicacies in the box, then decided he’d return later, with B’Elanna and sample some of the rest of the food. After years of replicator rations and Neelix’s bizarre cooking, it felt great to be having something that tasted good for a change. He ignored the possibility of the sorbet having been made from crushed bugs or the tasty bars from worm eggs – or vice versa.
Now that he was wide awake and had managed to satisfy the worst of his hunger, Tom was in a more mellow mood.
“Wait. I’ll come with you, though I’m sure she’s just taking a swim or something.”
They began walking along the beach, rounding the clump of trees Tom had mentioned earlier and continued on until they caught sight of another bungalow. Some other Voyager crew members were sitting outside it, enjoying a meal similar to theirs minutes ago.
“Hello. Have you seen B’Elanna – Lieutenant Torres?”
“No. We haven’t seen anyone all day.”
Harry looked thoughtful. B’Elanna’s absence was a little puzzling. There had been no indication she’d intended to do anything but spend the next couple of days with them, unwinding, having fun. Suddenly, he remembered how he could find her easily, without having to wear out his 20th century plastic sandals. Tom’s suggestion.
Actually, Tom had suggested he wear the garish shirts and baggy pants he favored. Harry had politely turned down the advice. B’Elanna had gone through their records and found the pretty dress she’d been wearing and the rather tight bluish shorts he was wearing. According to Tom, they were called denim or jeans and he liked them too, but he didn’t think they were suitable for a day at the beach.
The thought of B’Elanna made Harry’s thoughts return to the matter at hand. Finding Lanna. This random search was pointless.
“Computer, locate Lieutenant Torres.”
“Lieutenant Torres is straight ahead, bearing north and -”
The expression on Tom’s face told Harry he hadn’t given the computer a second thought. It was as if the bright sun or the relaxing environment was making their thoughts move sluggishly.
They turned and followed the computer’s directions. Suddenly, they heard a weird pounding noise. It sounded a lot like drums. Rhythmic, throbbing drums.
Harry glanced at Tom doubtfully.
“You don’t think those are part of the entertainment?”
“Right. I never heard of any musical entertainment. Just the boat trip, the swimming and the food.”
“So what is that -”
“Your guess is as good as mine, but it sounds a little like jazz. Quite nice, actually.”
Harry had never shared Tom’s enthusiasm for jazz, despite his choice of musical instrument. When Tom had played rock music for him, he’d been a little more thrilled, though he wasn’t really into any of that 20th century stuff.
“We’d better go and find out. Lanna’s up that way so -”
The vegetation was thinning out, so they seemed to be approaching a clearing – if they weren’t already past the interior of the small island and were heading back towards the beach on the other side. By now, they could hear something that sounded like chanting, a sort of wordless song, in time with the drums, but also – something which subconsciously made them quicken their pace – an odd kind of smell. Like something burning. Herbs or something.
They exchanged wary glances and hurried on. Now they could see a sort of mound, which was partially obscured by a number of people standing around it, as if they were staring intently at something close to the top of the mound.
Tom and Harry began to circle around the mound to find a spot from which they could get a clear field of vision. It didn’t take them long to find what they were looking for. A group of men were seated on the ground, crosslegged, beating on some sort of drum. Since they were sitting down and Harry and Tom were standing, they had an unobstructed view.
What they saw made Tom think of Risa. A couple were on the ground, apparently – Harry’s face darkened and it dawned on Tom that his friend was blushing, hotly and vividly. His own indulgent smile froze as he realized who the two people moving about on the ground really were.
“Surely that can’t be -”
Harry’s voice sounded high pitched like a kid’s. Tom felt a dryness in his throat. What was going on? He was desperately hoping they were hallucinating, but he didn’t think so. He’d taken recreational drugs before on occasion, more when he’d been in jail, but this felt nothing like the effects of those drugs.
The couple on the ground seemed oblivious to the shout, but the specators were not. Like one man, they turned and began to advance on them in a way that seemed definitely hostile. Harry involunatarily took one step backwards. As the natives, who were beginning to look alarmingly like an angry mob, began to move faster, Harry’s nerve broke and he turned and ran. Tom, after a moment’s hesitation, followed.
“Computer, Tom Paris and Harry Kim requesting emergency transport.”
Before the first stone, flying through the air, made contact with them, they were back in transporter room one.
Suddenly, their beachware looked out of place. Harry was wondering if he’d really seen what he’d thought he was seeing down there.
Tom wasn’t hesitating. Impatiently, he struck Harry on the shoulder.
“To the Captain’s ready room of course. We have to report this.”
“Are you sure -”
“Of course I’m sure. If it had been anyone else – but think about it – there’s something fishy going on and the Captain needs to know. Probably the EMH too. Come on.”
Harry nodded dumbly. While he was following Tom into the turbolift, he suddenly realized what Tom was hinting at. Of course. Stupid of him. It was the shock of being pursued by an angry mob, he told himself. Nothing more. He wasn’t this thick normally.
Breathlessly, they burst into the Captain’s ready room, interrupting a conversation between her and Chakotay, which looked quite – intimate – and under normal circumstances, that would have interested Tom a great deal, but at the moment, he just couldn’t focus on anything other than what he’d seen on that planet.
“Captain – uh – sorry to interrupt but -”
“Gentlemen. Back so soon from your shoreleave?”
“Captain – something odd is going on down there. I think we need to recall everyone, just in case.”
Captain Janeway studied Tom Paris and Harry Kim closely. They did look somber. Harry, in fact, looked alarmed – or even stunned.
“Go on. Tell me more. You’re saying that my crew is in danger down at the surface?”
“Yes, captain. They might be. We were just chased by natives wielding rocks.”
“Rocks? Not exactly high tech, as far as weapons are concerned.”
“They can be just as deadly and besides -”
“Besides, the point isn’t what weapons they’re using, it’s the fact that they’re attacking in the first place. Just one thing, mr Paris – what had you and mr Kim done? If I find out that you’ve been up to your old tricks again, mr Paris -”
“I know you have a reputation as a troublemaker and a bit of a prankster. So if you’ve been making a nuisance of yourself -”
“No. Please. Give the order to have the rest of the crew recalled.”
Janeway glanced at Chakotay, not seeking advice as much as inspiration. Her mind settled on one thing which might clear all this up. Or rather one person.
“I could contact Tuvok and -”
She didn’t know what to make of the decidedly strange looks on Tom’s and Harry’s faces as she mentioned her second officer’s name.
“No. Just give the order to have them beamed up.”
Janeway shot Tom Paris as sharp look. No one gave her orders, not while she was on her own ship. At least not this Paris. His father might have been in a position to order her about, but not the son.
Chakotay made her lose her concentration.
“Captain? Shall I have the crew return?”
“Yes. We’ll get to the bottom of this one way or the other. I just don’t get it. This place is supposed to be peaceful. A popular tourist attraction, rather like Risa and – ok – mr Paris? Will you explain to me what happened.”
Again, something she’d said caused an odd expression to come over Tom Paris’ face. This was getting more and more puzzling.
“Well – we were sleeping. In some beach chairs and – B’Elanna went for a swim and – when we came to, she was missing.”
“Are you saying Lieutenant Torres has had an accident? Why didn’t you -”
“No. She’s safe. It’s just that – when we couldn’t find her, we went looking and – the computer located her some distance inland.”
“Yes. Go on.”
“She was -”
Tom, who usually wasn’t exactly shy about intimate matters, now glanced beseechingly at Harry, but Harry wasn’t paying attention. He looked even more uncomfortable.
The Captain was getting more and more confused.
“What was she doing?”
She was rapidly running out of patience with Tom Paris and to a lesser extent Harry Kim. Usually, those two could be counted on to make clear and lucid reports. This sudden dithering was frustrating in the extreme.
She snapped, which made Tom pull himself together.
“Lieutenant Torres and Tuvok were – having sexual intercourse.”
This really was going too far. What Tom was telling her was impossible. Quite impossible. First of all, Tuvok’s Pon Farr had come and gone not just once, but twice, only recently, and secondly, she found it absolutely unbelievable that B’Elanna Torres, who was already involved with two men should choose to pursue Tuvok, romantically. He was, quite apart from being a Vulcan, a married man. Furthermore, she could think of no one who would suit Tuvok less, except possibly the Delaney twins.
“Really. Mr Paris. You know perfectly well that what you’re suggesting is impossible. There can be no -”
“I know. But that’s what we saw. Harry?”
Tom felt like he had in school, when he for once, was perfectly innocent of some disaster which had befallen their science experiment. Why didn’t Harry back him up? After all, he was as involved with Lanna as he was.
“Captain, it’s true. We saw Lanna and Tuvok – on the ground, Tuvok was on top of her and they were – weren’t wearing any clothes and – there can be no doubt about what they were doing.”
Janeway felt a headache begin, a low, dull throbbing in her left temple. Why did these things have to happen, and especially at this time, when they were all so exhausted and in desperate need of a break?
“I see. Captain to the EMH. Please respond.”
The EMH materialized in front of them, an obsequious look on his face.
“You sent for me. How can I assist you?”
“B’Elanna Torres and Tuvok will be transported directly to sickbay. Try to find out what has been – making them act out of character.”
“In what way?”
Tom thought he detected a glint of something which might have been fascination. He could imagine anyone finding it odd to see Tuvok acting out of character, but Lanna? Her personality was so multi-faceted it was hard to define exactly what was in her character. At least to an outsider.
“Just examine them and let me know if they’ve been exposed to any toxins or perhaps an infection of some kind. Oh, and Doc – keep them in quarantine, until further notice.”
The EMH vanished, but the Captain’s headache remained. In fact, it was getting worse. She was beginning to wonder what would happen if all her crew members were exposed to whatever it was. Would they be able to perform their duties? Could she maintain course towards Federation space, with the few who were still aboard ship? In her mind, she began to list the members of her crew who had remained on duty, while the rest had transported down to the surface to begin their shoreleave.
Maybe. Counting herself, Chakotay, Vorik and Seven of Nine there were about a dozen left, all told. With a few adaptations to his programming, the EMH might be of assistance in the running of the ship. That reminded her of Tom Paris and Harry Kim. They’d been on the planet. In fact, they had been within close range of Tuvok and B’Elanna, so it wasn’t inconceivable that they’d been affected too.
“Mr Kim, mr Paris. Report to sickbay now. We’ll need to clear you, before we do anything further.”
The examination didn’t take long. Their EMH took a number of samples, but could come to no conclusion.
“Gentlemen. At the moment, I can’t find anything wrong with you, but I’ll keep you informed. Could you tell me again, what is wrong with the other patients?”
Harry stared at B’Elanna and Tuvok, who were separated by now – and fully dressed, in their uniforms. They looked as if they’d been drugged. There was a dreamy look in B’Elanna’s eyes, and she sat passively on the examination table, without making any attempt at escape or tried to join Tuvok. He seemed to gazing into the distance, or to be deep into some sort of meditation. Neither had said a word to explain their behavior.
“I don’t know. They were just -”
“Acting out of character. I know. So the Captain told me. Could you be more specific? Need I remind you that I’m your EMH, not a gossip columnist.”
Harry glanced uneasily in Tom’s direction, but his friend wouldn’t meet his eyes. Tom was in one of his moods. That was so typical. It wasn’t as if Harry liked what had happened any better than Tom. He just knew that Lanna wouldn’t do that to them. Who would be stupid enough to cheat on her guys with them within earshot? Besides, you only had to look at her and Tuvok to know something was wrong. There must have been some agent on the surface which had caused this effect in two of their crew mates. That was the real trouble, not B’Elanna’s apparent infidelity.
“B’Elanna disappeared. When we woke up, she was gone. She’d said something about going for a swim and I became concerned.”
Tom whirled around angrily, his face red in splotches.
“Are you saying I wasn’t worried about her?”
The Holo-Doc was studying his two latest patients with a great deal of interest. Added to the overall picture, this behavior was – not as revealing as he’d hoped. Still, every detail might make a difference.
Harry’s pleasant face hardened a little and defiantly, he continued. If the EMH could find out what was happening to Lanna, hopefully, he could find a cure. All Harry wanted was to have his Lanna back the way she was. Tom’s mood couldn’t be allowed to get in the way.
“We found her on a mound some way inland. She was with Tuvok and they were – apparently having sexual intercourse.”
This the EMH hadn’t expected. Could it be some kind of recurring cycle of Pon Farr? Was Tuvok’s system somehow out of sync? To the HoloDoc’s knowledge, no Vulcan had travelled this far from the Vulcan homeworld. If that could upset the delicate balance in their complicated psyches – However, this would not explain Liuetenant Torres’ uncharacteristic behavior. No, that explanation didn’t fit.
“I see. Anything else you can tell me?”
“Isn’t that enough?”
Tom’s anger had simmered down, but he still seemed to be sullen.
“You tell me.”
Harry decided that since he wasn’t an expert on medical diagnoses, he couldn’t tell what might or might not be relevant. For Lanna’s sake, he’d better tell the Doc everything.
“The natives were taking an interest. There seemed to be some ritual going on. Drumming, chanting, that sort of thing. They were standing around in a circle watching.”
“Aha. Very interesting. So it seems this – uncontrolled behavior might be part of their cult? In fact, it’s possible that they induced this condition for reasons of their own?”
“I suppose it is, but I don’t think we can ask them now. They were quite hostile, once they realized we intended to break – put a stop to what was going on.”
“Oh. How unfortunate. Though I’m sure we could do some research into their customs.”
Tom was staring gloomily at B’Elanna, then at Tuvok, then finally back at the Doc.
“If you think it could explain what happened.”
“At this point there’s no telling what might help.”
“Didn’t you find anything wrong with her?”
“Not really. She appears to be dazed and apathetic. The level of stress hornones in her cerebral cortex is slightly elevated. Body temperature was a little higher than normally for a human/Klingon hybrid. There are also signs of dehydration, though not in any harmful degree. Just in case, I’ve given her some water.”
“What about Tuvok?”
“High levels of stress hormones in the cerebral cortex. No changes in body temperature, but then a Vulcan would hardly be affected that way, unless the heat was much greater. Their degree of control over their bodily functions is quite amazing, really. You wouldn’t – ”
Correctly reading the looks from Harry and Tom, the Doc hurriedly returned to the main topic of his narrative.
“Some signs of dehydration, but again, that’s what you’d expect after a long day without anything to drink.”
“That’s all I can tell you and unless you have any more information, you can return to your duties, until further notice. I will analyse your test results but unless I find anything alarming, you won’t hear from me.”
Tom merely nodded, suddenly strangely lethargic. He’d never believed Lanna would cheat on him. It was the last thing he could have expected. It was as if seeing her with Tuvok had made her reexamine their entire relationship and now, he was somehow looking at her in a new light.
They entered the turbolift in silence, as if unaware of each other’s company. On his floor, Harry got off. He might as well return to Engineering, though working under Vorik wouldn’t be particularly pleasant.
Tom intended to go to the Bridge and report to duty. His enthusiasm for shoreleave had vanished the second he’d seen Lanna and Tuvok on the ground. For some reason that had been different from seeing her with Harry. That had been his own fault, and besides, it was nice to be three in the relationship. There were things you could only discuss with another guy.
Somehow, he ended up going to his cabin instead. His and Lanna’s cabin. It had suddenly occurred to him that his children – his child and Harry’s – their children – were alone. For the moment, he’d forgotten about the two ensigns who had been detailed to babysit. Suddenly, all he wanted was to hold his baby in his arms. Both babies.
In the transporter room, the crew was coming in, in twos and threes, looking bewildered, concerned or a bit disappointed. They’d been promised several days of shoreleave. Now they were being recalled after barely a day, with only the slightest of explanations. Something about a potential health hazard. Captain Janeway had felt it was premature, trying to define the nature of the threat more closely, until they had more information.
Samantha and Gerron, especially, were disappointed. They’d been looking forward to the vacation intensely, and now they felt cheated somehow. Naomi, on the other hand took the incident in stride. She usually had more than enough to occupy herself with on the ship. After all, she had her training and her young fiance and a dozen other equally fascinating things to do.
“I suppose we’d better get changed and get back to work.”
Gerron didn’t look any more cheerful.
“I guess so.”
“Mom? Can I go and see Seven of Nine? She promised she’d teach me to -”
“Alright. You go on. Just make sure you don’t get in the way of her work. When you’re done, come back to the cabin. Oh, wait. It’s dinnertime. You’ll need to -”
“Oh, mom. Can’t I just replicate something there?”
Normally, Samantha would never have agreed, but today, she felt too depressed to feel up to an argument with her daughter.
“Ok. See you later, sweetie.”
Naomi waved impatiently and ran off towards the turbolift.
Gerron followed Samantha to the cabin he didn’t share with her, but where he spent most of his off duty hours. There was no reason why he shouldn’t replicate himself a new uniform there. At least it would give him some more time with his girlfriend.
Gloomily, Samantha sank down onto her bed, feeling tired and edgy.
“It’s not fair. We’ve been working overtime for weeks, and now they just send us back to the ship for no reason. What health hazard? You know what? I think it’s just an excuse to force us back to work. The Captain just doesn’t like us to have fun.”
Gerron nodded sadly. He agreed with Samantha, just as he usually did. This time, though, it was something he’d definitely thought about many times before. The Captain was extremely strict. Of course, he knew it was necessary, but still –
Suddenly, something wonderful occurred to him. He was sure Samantha would be just as thrilled as he was when he told her.
“Hey. I have an idea. Let’s go to the holodeck. My next shift shouldn’t be until – tomorrow afternoon. We have plenty of time. When were you due back at work, before we found that planet?”
“Great. We’ll use Tom Paris’ program. You know the one with the bar. Some of that 20th century Earth music is actually quite nice. Come on. Say you’ll come. It is dinnertime.”
Samantha was about to open her mouth and tell Gerron that it was a lovely idea, but of course they couldn’t – when suddenly she couldn’t recall why they couldn’t do what he suggested. She could see no reason why not.
“I love it. Wait. We’ll have to get some typical 20th century clothes. Computer. What kind of outfits from the 20th century do you have? Female clothing, my size.”
“A wide variety of styles available. Please be more specific. Name a decade and a subculture.”
Samantha thought about it. She liked the 1980’s. Why not do something wild with her hair? After all, her name was Wildman –
“1980’s. Something dark. Goth?”
The replicator produced an outfit she instantly loved. Half an hour later, she had managed to get her hair really huge and – she giggled delightedly at her own image in the mirror – black. Really black. Her makeup was black too, more or less. She had a sort of glove on, which only covered half of her hand and the skirt was really too short, but she loved it, just like the tights that went with it. The top was – skimpy, but she could tell that Gerron loved it. A whole lot, actually, judging by his color and rate of breathing. Great idea.
Gerron was wearing a sort of uniform, but it wasn’t anything like what he had to wear to work every day. It had buttons and epaulets and gold trimmings. Some of his hair was standing straight up. Instead of his normal color it was something Samantha had called cyan-colored, but with dark red streaks in it. After some persuasion from Samantha, he’d agreed to have makeup around his eyes.
Normally, that was the last thing he wanted. It reminded him painfully of the time when he’d been sent to Demar. Earrings and makeup just felt too – humiliating. Of course, this was different. It was all part of the 1980’s scene. Besides, what Samantha was wearing made it all worthwhile. He’d never seen her in anything that revealing except in bed, with the lights out and even then only when Naomi was away bothering Seven of Nine.
Samantha smiled smugly as she was walking behind Gerron to the turbolift. That had taken some persuasion. Normally he wouldn’t dream of treating her that impolitely, though his Bajoran customs were slightly different than her Terran ones. This way, she had a fantastic view of his very tight pants and though the uniform jacket covered his upper body, it was open in front and the top he wore underneath it was really tight too.
To their surprise, they met several other crew members in the holodeck. Fortunately, they had all thought of the bar program and soon the music was playing – everyone got to take turns choosing their favorite songs – and some couples were dancing. Others were sitting at the bar, having synthohol and possibly some of the real thing, that Tom Paris had managed to smuggle aboard the ship.
Gerron didn’t waste any time asking Samantha to dance. Since someone had been thoughtful enough to turn the lights down, they had plenty of opportunity to show their appreciation of each other’s outfits, in ways they might not have chosen in public under other circumstances.
All that dancing and – appreciation – made Samantha feel thirsty so she insisted on going back to the bar. She caught sight of Seven of Nine. It was a Seven of Nine she’d never seen before. The former Borg was wearing a dress which fit her as tightly as a glove. Her cleavage had more than one male member of the crew goggling at her, mouths open and tongues all but hanging out. To Samantha’s relief, Gerron didn’t even notice the new arrival. He was too busy staring into Samantha’s own cleavage, which, naturally, was something else entirely.
When Seven told Corey she was going dancing, he couldn’t believe it. She was always working, when she wasn’t eating or sleeping. He was lucky if he could persuade her to take a few hours off to spend with him. Since their son was born, she’d been a little less active at work, but going dancing simply hadn’t existed in her world – or so he’d thought.
At first he was too amazed to have any comments, and by the time she was dressed and he had finally begun to believe she was serious, she was on her way out.
“Hold on. What about our son?”
“He’s too young to go dancing. You look after him.”
“Uh – ok. When will you be back?”
Corey sat down on their bed, absently bouncing his son on his knee, making the child giggle happily. This couldn’t be happening.
“Hey, sweetie. Let’s get you something to eat. It’s almost your bedtime.”
He decided to let little Jason sleep with him in the big bed. Suddenly, he was filled with an intense feeling of love towards the baby who was a part of him and a part of Seven. Not a Borg. An individual.
He planted a light kiss on the little forehead before replicating the formula the Doc had prescribed for their son, making sure he specified the temperature exactly. Once he’d almost burnt Jason’s lips, but that was before he began to pay closer attention. Raising a baby was important work, work that needed dedication and exact knowledge of nutrition, psychology and much more besides. He was enjoying the opportunity of finding out.
In the morning, he decided to take Jason out for a walk. The hydroponics lab would be a pleasant place to take a child for a picnic. On his way there, he ran into Tom Paris, weighed down by his two babies and a large container of something.
“Hello. Where are you off to?”
“The hydroponics lab. We’re having a picnic.”
“What an amazing coincidence. So are we. Let me help you with that box. I brought sandwiches and cookies and -”
The two men continued on their way, discussing the content of their picnic hampers. Their children were too young to appreciate the companionship of their peers, but the two fathers appreciated it all the more.
Captain Janeway was looking in the mirror. The new haircut was exactly the way she’d imagined it. She was very happy about it. All those long tresses falling to her shoulders were just silly. She was the Captain of a starship, not some dumb bimbo in a bar. What a relief she’d never have to wear one of those stupid little ensign’s uniforms. Of course they were now just a memory. If she wasn’t mistaken, the Captain of the Enterprise – Jean-Luc Picard – had put a stop to those idiotic little dresses. She owed that man. They all did.
He might not be a very forceful personality, but such a brilliant man and a scholar too. Scholar… It was amazing he’d had such a successful career, with such lame hobbies.
Her own newly found passion for unarmed combat techiques from several different Earth cultures, as well as half a dozen extra-planetary ones, just seemed more fitting for a person in her position. No broken old pots from ten thousand years ago for her.
Thinking of uniforms gave her an idea. Starfleet uniforms were practical, no doubt about that, but somehow they were a little bland. She was toying with the idea of designing a new one. Something a bit more awe-inspiring and fierce-looking. Black. That would be a better color for bridge personnel. Or at least dark grey. There really ought to be something jagged or spiky too. Maybe a chain somewhere. Yes, she’d definitely give it some thought.
Now it was time to get to work. A signal sounding made her glance towards the door to her cabin. That was Chakotay’s signal.
“Kathryn – are you there?”
Something about his voice sounded different. It was – flirtatious, sensual. She frowned. What was this about? On a work day, she couldn’t afford to let herself be distracted.
When her second officer – and secret lover – walked in, her eyes widened. What was going on? Chakotay – her stable and well-behaved trustworthy officer was wearing – she couldn’t believe this – some tight, black pants, a pair of shiny black boots and – not much more. Whatever it was he was wearing on top left his chest exposed, revealing the tattoos, the ones she didn’t believe many others knew about. She opened her mouth to tell him not to be ridiculous and to hurry up and get changed, but the words died unsaid on her tongue.
Something about the look in his eyes, his posture and – the way his chest rose and fell made her change her mind. The bridge crew would just have to wait.
“What are you doing?”
She tried to sound stern, but she didn’t think she sounded quite as harsh as was fitting for a woman in her position.
Chakotay offered her a bottle he’d been holding in his hand, behind his back. It looked like a bottle of champagne. Again, she felt impelled to give him a talk about wasting precious replicator rations on luxury beverages, but again, she got distracted by his new way of moving. Really sexy.
“I just thought you’d like to try this out with me?”
“Hm. Really, Chakotay, you’ve been bad. Very bad.”
“Oh, yeah? Maybe you ought to teach me a lesson?”
She swallowed hard. Suddenly, her breathing became more labored. Mm. Yes. She’d need to think of a fitting punishment. Before she had time to think of anything, Chakotay began to unbuckle his belt, still moving deliberately slowly and sensuously. He handed the belt to her, gazing provocatively under half-closed eyelids. Those thick, dark eyelashes shaded his eyes and made them look darker than usual.
She nodded towards her desk – what a good thing she had one in her cabin too, not just in her ready room. Chakotay seemed to read her mind. He draped himself across the desk, pulling down his pants enough to show her he wasn’t wearing anything underneath them. She bit her lip to stop the moan building inside her from leaving her mouth.
“Not a sound or -”
By now, the words came out more like growls.
Seven of Nine created quite a stir inside the bar, but she wouldn’t let anyone dance with her. Instead, she was swaying on her own, in the middle of the dance floor. Gasps of awe followed her every move. Who would have guessed she was such a dancer? Little fights and skirmishes broke out in her wake, when would-be admirers fought for the privilege of asking her to dance.
Other couples continued dancing unperturbed, among them Samantha and Gerron. After Seven had been there for close to an hour, Icheb walked in. Again, Samantha gaped in amazement. She’d never seen the former Borg dressed that way. The young man was wearing pants and a sleeveless jacket of some bluish material, she seemed to recall was called denim. Both pants and jacket were torn and frayed and were filled with silvery metal studs. All in all he was covered in more metal than a Ferengi selling scrap metals from a ship junkyard.
A hush came over the crowd. Icheb continued on unperturbed until he was facing Seven. Something passed between them and suddenly, they were dancing together, as passionately as Gerron and Samantha. Only these two didn’t bother hiding in the dark. They were right in the middle of the dance floor, underneath a silvery metal ball, reflecting the light in all directions.
Now Samantha had had quite enough of that show-off, Seven of Nine. She grabbed Gerron’s hand and dragged him towards the exit.
“Let’s go. I want to find somewhere more – private.”
A wide grin split Gerron’s normally so sullen face. He had no objections to that. In fact, he’d been thinking she’d never ask.
When Seven of Nine wasn’t anywhere to be found, Naomi decided to go and see the Captain. She knew she’d promised her mother to return straight to their cabin, but her training was more important than having dinner or resting. Besides, she wasn’t a bit tired. On her way to the Captain’s ready room, she ordered the replicator to produce a jelly doughnut, a fizzy drink and – after some thought – a cup of black coffee. That was what the Captain drank and if she wanted to be a first officer, she’d have to learn to like that.
To her amazement, the Captain wasn’t on the bridge. In fact, the bridge crew was unusually sparse. Naomi knew how many officers it took to run the ship and this wasn’t anywhere near the proper number. She asked for the Captain and was told she wasn’t in her ready room. Not stopping to ask more questions, she told the computer to locate Captain Janeway.
“Captain Janeway is in her quarters.”
Naomi’s face lit up. If the Captain was in a good mood, she might be persuaded to give her some more detailed instructions on how to run the ship.
Torn between a wish to show himself worthy of the Captain and a hope to find out what she had in mind if he disobeyed her command, Chakotay had reluctantly decided to stay quiet as the belt buckle ate into his skin. The pain was quite unbelievable. It approached the levels of suffering induced by the torture the Cardassians had subjected him to, the one time he’d been captured. If his Maquis friends hadn’t come for him, he would have been executed. Of course, the Maquis was the last thing on his mind right now. Despite the numbing pain, he experienced an arousal beyond anything he’d previously felt, even at Kathryn’s hands.
Eventually, his punishment came to an end and he was allowed to stand and pull his pants up. The look on Kathryn’s face excited him even more, and filled with expectation, he awaited her next move. Slowly, holding his gaze, she sat down in her chair behind the desk. She pushed the chair back a little and stared at him imperiously.
When it dawned on him what her intention was, he felt his face be suffused with color. Despite the pain, he wasted no time getting on his knees and partially on all fours, he scrambled to get under the desk.
They had barely finished, when the signal from the doorway announced someone’s arrival. With a deep sigh of satisfaction, Kathryn pushed him away.
“You can stand up. That’s Naomi Wildman. Time to get to work. And you – stay in the bathroom until we’ve gone, then get into bed. I’m counting on finding you there tonight. Is that clear?”
“Yes, ma’am. I mean, sir.”
Her steely smile made him hope that she’d think of new ways to punish him, when she got back.
When Chakotay had vanished into the bathroom, Janeway straightened up. Naomi Wildman. Funny. Just the person she wanted to see. There were few people aboard the Voyager who had such an understanding of rules and protocol. Maybe it was time she promoted the girl to acting ensign. At least she’d think about it.
“Naomi. What can I do for you?”
“I was wondering – if we could continue with my training.”
“An excellent idea. I was just thinking about that. In fact, I was thinking it might be time to promote you to acting ensign”
The little girl’s face lit up. Oh, what a wonderful day and how lucky the crew had been called back from their stupid, pointless shoreleave. By the time they were back on Earth, she’d be good enough to skip a few years at Starfleet Academy. Maybe she would graduate almost right away. As soon as she was made an ensign, she’d try to get on a deep space exploration mission or – anything really, as long as it was far out in space.
Walking back to the bridge, Naomi was happily chattering away, in a way Janeway normally found extremely tiresome. Today, she other things on her mind. If she tied Chakotay to the bed – Mm. There were plenty of things she wanted to try out with him. Why had she waited so long? He was ideal for the purpose.
When she entered the bridge, no one said anything, until Naomi, in her high-pitched voice called out the traditional words.
“Captain on the bridge.”
With a look of dismay on her face, Janeway looked around her bridge.
“Where is everyone?”
A vague murmur was all the reply she had. This wouldn’t do at all.
“Naomi – I want you to be first officer today. Acting first officer.”
Before she had time to stop herself, Naomi jumped up and down a few times, in sheer joy. Yes. Finally. Acting first officer. That was the most fantastic thing that had ever happened to her.
Janeway wasn’t paying attention. Naomi was ok, but she needed someone with experience to man the helm. A skillful pilot. Someone – like Tom Paris.
“Computer, locate Tom Paris.”
“Tom Paris is in the hydroponics lab.”
“Captain to Tom Paris.”
When Tom’s communicator buzzed, his first thought was that it was B’Elanna, wanting to apologize. Recognizing the Captain’s voice, he jumped to attention.
“I need you on the bridge. Now.”
“Yes, captain. I’ll be right there.”
Though he didn’t want to leave the children, he also didn’t know any way of turning the Captain down. It was unthinkable.
“Corey – could you -”
“Take care of the children? Of course. You go on. I’ll bring them back to our quarters and you can pick them up there.”
In Engineering, things didn’t evolve quite as Harry had imagined. When Vorik was about to set him to replace used up jelpacs, Harry found himself answering back. For a second, his normal self reasserted itself, but almost immediately, he clenched his teeth, preparing for the confrontation.
Vorik stared at him as if he hadn’t heard him correctly. He repeated his order, sounding less sure of himself.
“I said no. Those jelpacs are fine. I took a look at them only last week. I’m going to perform a diagnostic of the engine.”
Vorik’s mouth opened and closed, in a very un-Vulcanlike manner. Harry could even have sworn he blinked once, which would be the equivalent of a human or Bajoran or Klingon shaking his head.
“Delay that order. Get back to your station. The jelpacs – will keep.”
Later that day, Harry ran into the Delaney twins. As always, since they’d learned of his relationship with B’Elanna, they started up their tiresome old routine of pretending to flirt with him.
“Harry. Where are you going in such a hurry? Are you missing your boyfriend so much that you can’t stop and say hello to a couple of – old friends?”
“That’s better. You know, you really owe us, Harry.”
This time it was the other one – Megan or – Harry always got a headache when they were both together. Especially since they’d learned about him and Lanna.
“You owe us a chance to try and – convert you. A sexy guy like you – with Tom Paris – it’s just such a waste. Be honest, Harry, don’t you miss it just a little bit?”
It was always the same. Why was it so hard to think of some clever comeback?
Now the first one chimed in again.
“And if it’s that B’Elanna person – we’ll make you a deal. We can beat you up too. No problem. It would be our pleasure, right, sis?”
“Oh, I’d love to show you a good time, Harry, dear.”
Harry whirled around, but now the last one was finished for the moment and he glanced back at the first one, who was drawing in air to continue.
“And if it’s just that you can’t stand it without a guy – hey, here’s an idea – Vorik would love to join us. Vorik’s actually a lot nicer than you think. You should see his body. Very nice muscle. Come on, Harry, say you’ll join us. Three must be a lot more fun than two.”
Suddenly, he’d had enough. He didn’t know where the strength came from, but he drew himself up, and fixing both twins, who for once were standing a little closer together so he could see them both, with an icy stare, he began to speak.
“If you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my son. Thank you, ladies. I’m late already. Your friend Vorik kept me working late in Engineering, but I think you’ll find he’s gone off-duty too now, so why don’t you go and – charm him?”
Without waiting for a reply, he brushed past them and had the satisfaction of seeing their faces fall. It was the first time, that he’d gotten the better of them in a word fight with the Delaney twins, and somehow he had a feeling it would be the last time. He was going to enjoy it.
Once the ship was safely on its course, Janeway left Naomi in charge. Two other officers took Tom Paris’ place at the helm and confusedly, Tom followed the Captain into her ready room. He had no idea what he’d done wrong, but apparently, he was in for a serious admonition. Normally, the Captain only took him into her ready room for a private conversation if something was wrong.
To his amazement, it only took Janeway about thirty seconds to pin him to the desk, and begin to undress him. That was the last thing he’d expected, though after a particulariy fast joyride in the Delta flier, he knew something rather more intimate had happened between them. Of course at the time they hadn’t quite been themselves.
“But Captain – I – listen – I don’t know – it’s just that -”
He was babbling and he wasn’t very surprised when the Captain simply ignored his disjoined protest. Again, he tried to convince her to leave him alone, but he couldn’t think of anything to say that would make a difference.
All the effect his attempts had was making Janeway irritated. To his surprise, she slapped his face hard enough to stun him.
“Do you know who I am?”
“Fine, but don’t try to disobey me again. Now, in case you’ve forgotten – I’m your Captain and I expect to be obeyed without question. Is that clear?”
“Yes. What about Chakotay, though?”
“Don’t worry, you’ll see him later.”
Dumbly, Tom stared at Janeway, not sure he’d heard her correctly.
“No. I mean, won’t he -”
“Let’s get this straight. You’re asking me if he’ll have the nerve to refuse me anything I want?”
“Uh – no. Sorry.”
“He’ll do as he’s told, and so will you, if you know what’s best for you.”
Tom had no idea how the Captain had changed into this – fury – but he realized it was no use trying to evade her. For one, she was his Captain, and secondly – after what Lanna had done to him, it would serve her right if he – let the Captain have her way. He stopped resisting and found that he didn’t really mind. There had been times when he’d wondered –
Not even when the Captain took him back to her quarters and made him get into bed with Chakotay, he had much objection. After all, it was only another minute or so before the Captain joined them and after that, he definitely didn’t have a problem performing his duties to her satisfaction.
Late in the afternoon, Samantha woke up, feeling slightly disoriented. At first she couldn’t quite understand where she was. She was lying somewhere cramped and uncomfortable and someone was lying draped across her, wearing only a pair of pants. That had better be Gerron or she’d – When her partner began to make incoherent noises indicating he was coming awake, she recognized him. It was Gerron. That was a relief. She still didn’t remember how they’d ended up where they were but suddenly she realized she was late for work. Her dazed mind had trouble working her schedule out but by the time she thought she had it figured out, she screeched.
“I was supposed to have been at work last night. Come on. We’d better get ready for work and -”
“I – me too. Why didn’t the computer wake us? And, what are we doing in a Jeffrey’s Tube?”
She had no idea and a vague sense of discomfort came over her.
“Where’s Naomi? Oh, let’s go.”
“Ok. Computer, where is Naomi Wildman?”
“Naomi Wildman is on the bridge.”
Samantha pressed her hand to her mouth. If Naomi had been bothering the Captain for long, there was no telling what would happen.
They ran back to her cabin, running into other shamefaced members of the crew on the way. Most of them were wearing odd outfits or – practically nothing. What had happened to them? Some sort of mass hallucination?
When Gerron caught sight of his face in the mirror, he frowned.
“Look at me. I look like – never mind.”
Despite the situation, Samantha’s face softened as she caught sight of her young lover.
“You look cute. Really hot.”
He mumbled something under his breath and began to rub at the makeup furiously.
“I said, that’s what Demar told me.”
“Oh, baby. I’d forgotten about that.”
“That’s good. I wish I could too. Never mind. Just remind me never to get dressed up like this again.”
Hearing something in Samantha’s tone, Gerron looked up and this time, he couldn’t help smiling. At least this was Samantha, not some spiky Cardassian.
“If – maybe we could do it again some time. Just you and me. If you like it.”
“I don’t remember exactly what we did, but yes, I thought it was fun. It’s been – at least ten years since I last played dressup.”
“Ok. Some time when it’s just you and me, then.”
“I have to go and get Naomi, before the Captain decide to strand us on the next M class planet.”
“If she does, I’ll go with you.”
Again, Samantha couldn’t help smiling. Yes, she knew that. Wherever she and Naomi went, Gerron would go too. If only Greskrendtrek had been with them –
B’Elanna woke up, wondering why she was lying on an examination table in sickbay. Had she had an accident? At first she couldn’t remember anything. Her efforts at remembering were interrupted when the Doc showed up, grinning in an infuriating way, smugly, somehow.
“Ah, you’re awake. Lieutenant Torres, if you’ll just let me – thank you.”
He didn’t specify what he wanted to do, and he didn’t give her any chance to reply, but she could see that he was scanning her with the medical tricorder.
“Nothing, it seems. You’re in excellent health.”
“Thank you, but why am I here?”
“Ah. I thought you’d remember.”
There it was again, that smug, irritating grin. What was going on?
“No. I don’t remember anything. Was I injured?”
“No, not at all.”
“Did I suddenly get sick?”
“I was hoping you could tell me.”
She was rapidly getting fed up with his hedging. Why wasn’t he doing something to cure her amnesia? After all, that was his job.
“I can’t. So why don’t you just fix it?”
“Fix what, my dear lieutenant Torres?”
“My amnesia, of course.”
“Ah. There are no signs of head trauma, so I think you’ll find that your memory will return shortly. In the meantime, I see no reason to keep you here. Why don’t you get back to – your companions?”
B’Elanna stared suspiciously at the Doc. There was something about his demeanor suggesting he was having a private laugh at her expense. If he kept that up, she’d adjust his program, Oh, yes, she would.
To her surprise, she almost walked into Tuvok. What was he doing in sickbay? Was he sick too? Or injured? She didn’t feel up to asking the EMH. Any more of that attitude of his, and she’d –
In her quarters, she found Harry, looking at her as if he could hardly believe his eyes. Had the Doc lied to her about her not being sick or injured? Judging by Harry’s reaction, she must have been almost at death’s door.
“Lanna. Are you ok?”
“Of course, I’m ok. The Doc gave me a clean bill of health. Now tell me what happened.”
Harry’s eyes widened and his eyebrows shot up.
“You mean – you don’t remember?”
“No, I don’t remember, and the Doc wouldn’t tell me anything either. He was just – full of innuendo.”
A strange look came over Harry’s face. It was as if he was – embarrassed. What could have gone wrong? She didn’t even know what was the last thing she recalled. Working, working – and then – oh – the shoreleave. Had she missed it all? Why couldn’t she remember anything?
“Harry. Just tell me. I can take it. The Doc said I wasn’t injured or sick. Was he – lying?”
“No, I’m sure he was right.”
“Then why was I in sickbay? Something must have been wrong.”
“Uh – you’d better sit down.”
A sudden suspicion struck her. Where was Tom? If anything had happened to him –
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen him since – the day before yesterday.”
“Harry – you’d tell me if something was wrong, wouldn’t you?”
“With Tom? Of course I would, but he’s fine, or at least he was the last time I saw him.”
“Ok. So what’s the problem? Why won’t you tell me what happened.”
“There was something on that planet which – seems to have made everyone behave – out of character.”
“Out of character? What does that mean?”
She could tell Harry was squirming with embarrassment. What was going on? A sudden suspicion hit her. Had she done something really embarrassing? Like the time those aliens were experimenting on them and she and Tom had been – a bit too open about their love.
“Harry. Whatever it was. just spit it out. I want to know.”
“Ok. We found you and – Tuvok -”
Though B’Elanna knew she found the Vulcan physically attractive, she couldn’t stand his personality. She couldn’t imagine what she and Tuvok might have been doing together. It took her another couple of seconds to realize the only reason Harry could have been so reluctant to tell her. That simply wasn’t – She dismissed the idea that she might have seriously injured or killed Tuvok out of hand. A Vulcan would be just as strong as she was. Here she was apparently unhurt. There was no reason to believe Tuvok was in any other condition.
“Are you saying – No. I just wouldn’t -”
“I know. That’s why I couldn’t believe you’d done it on purpose.”
“You mean cheating on you and Tom? Of course not.”
“No, I knew something was wrong, and Tom and I transported up to sound the alarm. Unfortunately, I think we carried whatever it was with us so – apparently, for a couple of days, everyone or almost everyone has been acting -”
“Out of character? Did they suddenly start having sex with everyone else?”
“What did you do?”
Despite the shock of finding out what she’d just done, B’Elanna couldn’t help being curious, and just a little bit jealous, in case Harry had been carried off by those unspeakable Delaney twins and –
“I – answered back when Vorik was going to have me change jelpacs all over Engineering.”
“The bloody idiot. Those jelpacs are fine.”
“That’s what I told him.”
“Ok. I need to get back to work and check on what that moron’s been up to.”
“Nothing, I think. I – kind of kept an eye on him and -”
B’Elanna couldn’t help smiling. She should have known Harry was to be trusted, even when under the influence of this weird alien virus or whatever it was. It was bitter knowing that she hadn’t been as reliable.
“I was afraid those Delaney sisters had gotten to you. What?”
She’d read something in Harry’s eyes and was instantly suspicious again.
“They – tried. I – answered back and – just walked away.”
“You know something, Starfleet? You’re quite ok for one of those wimps.”
“Thanks, Maquis. You’re really sexy, especially when you’re jealous. Please don’t confront the Delaneys. It will just make things worse.”
“No, I promised Chakotay. Besides, there’s nothing to get worked up about. You took care of it. I’m proud of you, Harry.”
“I’m so glad you’re back, Lanna.”
“Where are the children?”
“I just found out they’re with Corey.”
B’Elanna frowned. What was Seven doing with her kids?
“Did Seven -”
“No, I think it was just Corey. Actually, Seven was -”
“Don’t tell me she started acting out as well. I wish I could have seen that. What did she do?”
“She got all dressed up and danced with Icheb.”
“Oh. That doesn’t sound so wild. Figures.”
“Well, from what I hear, she and Icheb – caused quite a stir.”
“They were doing it? In front of everyone?”
“Well, not the whole thing, but pretty much – yeah.”
B’Elanna leaned back and began to laugh. She liked Corey. He was atually quite ok for a former Borg, but – Seven cheating with Icheb – that was just too funny. If only it could have been someone like the Doc or Vorik it would have been even more hilarious, but she wasn’t in a position to be picky.
She and Harry went to pick up the children. There was still no sign of Tom, so once they were back in their own cabin, B’Elanna asked the computer to locate him.
Janeway woke up, wondering why she felt so pleased with herself. Had she had an exceptionally good day yesterday? She tried to find a more comfortable position, and realized her bed felt unusually crowded. Someone was lying on top of her. Mm. This couldn’t get to be a habit. Chakotay really needed to spend the night in his own quarters. A slight movement from the other side of the bed, made her look up. Someone else was there. She sat up and so did the other person. Their eyes met and she looked into Tom Paris’ distraught face.
She smiled contentedly, but clearly Tom didn’t share her contentment. It took her a moment to realize that not only was it against regulations to get involved with someone under her command – though techically Chakotay was too – but also, quite improper because Tom was already otherwise engaged, as it were.
She watched him frantically searching for his clothes, then stammering a half-strangled apology, before vanishing outside. By now, Chakotay had woken up and the look she read in his eyes spoke of almost as much distress as she had in Tom’s.
“Oh, don’t start. I need a coffee if I’m going to get through this day. Before you ask, I have no idea how this happened.”
She got up, rather abruptly and had the replicator supply her with a cup of hot, black coffee. According to the ship’s internal time, she was already at least two hours late for her shift. If only she could figure out what had made her act this irresponsibly.
When she’d swallowed most of the coffee she turned and faced Chakotay. By now, he was rummaging through some odd-looking garments lying on the floor, an even odder look on his face. She caught sight of his back and buttocks and realized there were red marks all over his skin. For a second, a vision of him bent over her desk, being whipped with a belt hovered in her mind. This memory, if it was a memory, produced a feeling of satisfaction, which she instantly repressed. Nothing like this must ever happen again, at least until they were back on Earth.
She couldn’t think of anything to say and she stood by helplessly, watching him replicate himself a new uniform, complete with a new set of underwear, socks and boots. He made a face when he pulled on the shorts. A twinge of guilt made her want to apologize, but in the end, she said nothing.
“We’ll – talk later.”
He nodded, and left, still looking agonized, more, she guessed over the fact that Tom Paris had shared their bed, than over the whipping. If she wasn’t mistaken, he had enjoyed that.
She rushed to the bridge, to apologize to whoever had held down the fort in her absence. To her astonishment, she found only Naomi Wildman there – sitting in her seat, clearly in charge – and two ensigns, reasonably capable, but no more.
“Naomi – thanks for – filling in for me. I’ll take over now.”
“Ok. Now do you see that I can do the work? At least make me acting ensign.”
Acting ensign? Who had been filling the child’s head with such nonsense?
“Naomi – we’ll talk about this later, but it takes quite a long time to become an ensign. I’ll tell you what. Let’s get started on your education first. We’ll make a schedule for you, that matches what first year students at Starfleet Academy study. Ok?”
Naomi’s face clouded over. She’d been doing so well and now the Captain wanted to pull her from active duty to get back to school. But she knew it was useless arguing with the Captain. That would be the worst thing anyone could do. So she merely ran back to her mom’s quarters, hoping Gerron wouldn’t be there.
The EMH had taken it upon himself to inform Tuvok of what had happened. The Vulcan had taken the news badly, at least if the Doc knew how to read this impassive exterior. However, there had been something really agonized in those dark eyes. His attempts to explain that there must have been some unknown agent present in the air, water or other substance on the surface, which had acted like a toxin, were ignored. The Vulcan had walked out with as must dignity as he could muster. That was quite a lot, but the Doc wasn’t fooled.
As he walked out, Tuvok wondered how he would be able to tell his wife about what had happened. This wasn’t Pon Farr. In fact, he shouldn’t even have been capable of – acting the way he had. Yet he had, there was no doubt about it. The EMH was incapable of lying.
At the bottom of his well-trained Vulcan mind a suspicion was lurking. What if he’d craved physical contact with lieutenant Torres all along? Or had there been some other reason he had acted the way he had? He had vague memories of being a god or a godking, or a high priest. Was that his innermost wish? For a Vulcan, that was one of the most shameful dreams imaginable. Even to dream was shameful enough and if that had been his desire, who was he, really? Had all the years of meditation been in vain?
Deeply shaken, Tuvok returned to his quarters.
When Icheb woke up with Seven of Nine, he experienced his first moment of intense happiness. Gradually, he had reverted to his normal physique, and as he did so, he’d learned to enjoy food, sleep, music and other abstract concepts. Love, and physical attraction had been present for a while, but until now, those had never found physical expression. Now – he knew that he wanted to be with Seven, not just like this, but for good. She was already involved with Corey and he had to accept that, but – the question was – would Corey accept him? And would Seven want him?
Seven herself, had woken up moments before and while her mind had come to the conclusion that this was of course quite improper behavior, but she couldn’t bring herself to regret it. Even before this had happened, she’d been fond of Icheb. Now – but there would be time to analyse the situation later. For now, she needed to return to her quarters, to her son and Corey.
Tom fled back to his quarters, without thinking, clutching his uniform. Too late did he realize that he’d meet B’Elanna there. B’Elanna who had cheated on him with Tuvok. B’Elanna who he had cheated on – with Janeway – if he was lucky. He refused to consider the possibility that he and Chakotay had done anything. It just wasn’t possible. He ignored the fact that sleeping with Janeway should have been imossible as well.
In his cabin, he ran into B’Elanna and Harry. It was the first time he’d seen B’Elanna since sickbay. He was surprised to find that he still felt anger and resentment as he thought of her in Tuvok’s arms. No matter what he’d done, she was the one who had started it. He had the satisfaction of seeing her cringe, but she recovered herself quickly.
“Tom – I want you to know I’m sorry – about – what happened between me and Tuvok. As you know, I would never -”
“Do I know that? I seem to recall you saying that you found Tuvok interesting. ‘Experiment’ – wasn’t that the word you used?”
“How dare you? I would never have cheated on you and Harry.”
“No? Guess what? You just did.”
“You – and where were you just now? Where did you come from?”
“That has nothing to do with -”
“Oh, really? Then just tell me where you were and with whom.”
“I don’t have to do anything.”
Harry felt as if he was being torn in two. He wanted to yell at them to shut up. Whatever had happened was because of something down on that planet. It was no one’s fault.
“I’ll tell you who you were with. The Captain – and Chakotay. Chakotay? What’s happening, Tom?”
“I don’t have anything to say to you.”
“Oh? In that case, get out. Go.”
He turned and left without another word. B’Elanna stared helplessly after him. She couldn’t understand how this had happened. Only a few days ago, they were so happy and now – It wasn’t fair. None of this was her fault and now Tom was looking at her as if she was something horrible. He had a nerve. Anger mixed with sorrow and she realized that their relationship was over. No matter what had happened between him and Janeway – or Chakotay – they were through.
Harry glanced anxiously at B’Elanna. He could tell she was angry, even if she was sad too. When she was in this kind of mood, anything could happen. On the other hand, he couldn’t let her suffer like that without at least trying to comfort her. Gingerly, he held out a hand and put it on her shoulder. At first, she didn’t seem to notice, but eventually, she turned and faced him. To his alarm, she threw herself into his arms and began to sob. He didn’t know what to do, except to hold her and try to offer what consolation he could. Fortunately, the children were still asleep.
Janeway was staring at the padd in front of her. They had left the vicinity of the strange planet and though the EMH was still analysing blood samples and samples of the planet’s flora and minerals, he still hadn’t come up with any plausible explanation for what had happened down there and later on, on the ship.
Another, related mystery, had come to light. While they’d been behaving uncharacteristically on the planet or on Voyager, they’d lost count of the time. They’d lost almost ten days. According to their own perceptions, and the ship’s computer, they’d been out of touch for just over two days. The rest of the time was just gone. No one had any memories of it.
She was wondering if they’d ever find out the truth about what had happened. In the meantime, they were all stuck with the consequences of their actions, whether they were responsible for them or not. Nine and a half days. So much had changed, and all just because they’d wanted to get a little R & R.
© Tonica and Melantha