Title:  Past Resurfacing (10/?)
Author:  CatHeights
Pairing: VOY (P, K, C)
Rating:  PG-13
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Feedback: CatHeights@yahoo.com
Archive:  If someone wants to fine by me as long as you drop me an e-mail letting me know where it is archived.
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Spoiler Warning: Thirty Days
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Disclaimer: Paramount owns all rights to Star Trek Voyager, its characters, and the Voyager episodes referred to in this story.  The story idea is mine, but I am doing this just for fun, no money to be made.
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 Chakotay, Harry, and Tom beamed downed to the coordinates, phasers in hand and set to stun.  They materialized on an immaculate street lined with gleaming white buildings, the highest of which was four stories. Trees, shrubs and brilliantly colored flowers surrounded the houses, but not a soul disturbed the silence. Chakotay nodded and the three men holstered their phasers.

      "Well, if everyone is off at some local celebration, theyíre very quiet, and they forgot to leave us invites and directions.  Nope, it doesnít bode well for the possibility of shore leave on this planet," Tom quipped.

      "Paris," Chakotay said warningly.   The last thing he wanted right now was for Tom to start off on one of his sarcastic monologues.

      Tom sighed but kept quiet.  Something about this planet made him nervous.   He knew the sensors werenít wrong, the place was deserted.  For some reason, the inhabitants had left the planet, or been killed.  Oh no, letís not go down that road, yet.  You havenít seen any bodies.  But he couldnít get rid of the feeling that they would be seeing bodies.

      "According to Sevenís scans, the power source should be the next street over, to the right," Harry said while looking at his tricorder.

      "Good.  Letís get going," Chakotay said leading the way.

      The three men walked down the street in silence using their tricorders to scan the various vegetation and buildings.  Right before they turned the corner, one house caught Tomís eye. A huge oval window graced the front of the house, and through the window he could see a wall that was covered by a large painting. It was the painting that fascinated him.  He stepped closer to the house to get a better look. The vantage point of the picture was as if the painter had been looking sideways then up.   An ocean of cobalt blue crashed on black rocks at the base of a cliff.   In the distance, one could see that on three sides, cliffs, which seemed to arch into the heavens, surrounded the water.   The place seemed so familiar to him, but he couldnít place it.  Its beauty should have given him a peaceful feeling, but instead his uneasiness increased.   A feeling of dread started to grow in his chest.  He jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder, turning quickly around, only to find Chakotay staring at him quizzically.

      "Paris," Chakotay said. "You all right?"

      "Fine, I just didnít hear you come up behind me," Tom said.

      "He called your name three times, Tom," Harry said looking concerned.  "You didnít answer."

      "Sorry, I spaced out," Tom said with a grin.

      "What did you find so interesting?" Chakotay asked.

      "The picture on the wall," Tom said indicating the house. "It just seemed familiar."

      Chakotay looked at the picture, but he didnít see what Tom found so fascinating.  It was just a bay among cliffs.

      "Well if youíre done art gazing, maybe we can get back to work," Chakotay said pointedly.

      "Yes, sir.  Iím always ready to work." Tom said and grinned at Harry.  Harry smiled back, shaking his head.
 

      Leaving the house behind, the three men turned the corner.  This time it wasnít only Tom who came to a stop.  There were no houses on this street.  Instead, there was a stone path, smooth and even, lined by perfectly spaced trees.   The trees were tall with branches drifting out and down, draping the area in shade.  The leaves of each tree were a vibrant green.  The street itself was steep and lead to the top of the hill.   It was the building at the top of the hill that had caused the three men to stop.

      "Itís beautiful," Harry said in amazement.  "It looks like some sort of castle." The building was huge and completely made of stone, which gleamed in the sunlight showing off the intricate patterns that had been carved into it.   Harry counted 6 towers that he could see, and in the front, four different balconies at varying heights. The doors to the building were huge, and the stone surrounding them sparkled with some sort of dark blue jewel.

      Tom supposed it was beautiful, but just like the picture, it gave him a bad feeling.   Before he had been positive this place was empty, but now he had the inkling that something was here, watching them, and that it wanted them to go into that building.  He used his tricorder to scan for life signs, but it still indicated there were none.  Itís just an old castle, he told himself, nothing more.  Yeah, but castles have dungeons.   He cursed his mind for the unwanted comment.  The last thing he needed was to get distracted by this building like he did the picture.  Chakotay would be lecturing him on the importance of staying attentive on an away mission.  He looked over at Chakotay and saw that he like Harry seemed awed by the alien building.

      "Youíre right, Harry.  It is beautiful," Chakotay said as he tore his eyes away from the sight to look at his tricorder.  "According to Sevenís coordinates and my tricorder readings, itís also the location of our mysterious power source."

      Pushing aside his misgivings, Tom said, "Well then I guess weíre going to get to see if itís as elegant on the inside.  Shall we start making our way to the top of the hill?"

      "Yes, but keep your eyes open.   I know all our scans indicate no life signs, but that doesnít mean there might not be some hidden defense systems that are still active.  Letís stay cautious.  Something about this place feels wrong," Chakotay said.

      Tom almost sighed in relief.  So he wasnít the only one this place was freaking out.  To Chakotay he said, "I know what you mean."

      Chakotay turned to look at Tom, not sure if the man was being sarcastic.  He was reassured by the cautious look on Tomís face that for once he was serious.   Satisfied, Chakotay said, "Letís go then."

      It took almost 15 minutes to reach the castle.  They made the walk in silence as the breeze whispered through the trees.  When they reached the top of the hill, they stopped.   There was only a short courtyard between them and the building.  More trees lined the courtyard, but Tom noticed that nothing living stirred: no birds, no small animals, and no insects.  The building was immense.   He swore it would take hours to walk through the entire thing.   Well, they werenít here to map out the whole castle, just to find the power source. The coordinates indicated they were close now, so they shouldnít have to explore too much of the building, Tom reasoned.
 
      "Letís be careful," Chakotay cautioned again as he led the way to the immense doors.  Up close he could see that the intricate carving around the door appeared to be words of some sort.  He wondered briefly if the doors only opened from the inside.   As he started to step up to look for an opening mechanism, the huge doors glided open, folding into the castle and revealing a long carpeted hallway with high ceilings.  There were no light fixtures, but the hallway was flooded with an almost natural light.

      "Computer operated," Harry said as he looked at his tricorder.  He was surprised.  He kept thinking of the castle as something out of an old fairy tale, and castle doors in fairy tales didnít have sensors.   He sternly reminded himself that this was an alien building, not something described in a story.

      "Be careful what you touch," Chakotay said as they entered the hallway.  He ignored Tomís rolled eyes. Maybe it was an obvious warning, but Chakotay felt it one worth making.

       When they were halfway down the hallway, the doors slid close with barely a sound.   As the hallway had no windows, for an instant, Chakotay expected to be immersed in darkness, but the light remained.

      "Where is this light coming from?" the Commander asked.

      "From under the ceiling.  Itís made of some sort of material that is letting the light through and filtering it, so that itís not so harsh," Harry replied.  "Itís on sensors too.  I believe once we leave the hall, the lighting will go off."

      "So it seems like this place is still functioning.  I wonder how long it has been empty," Chakotay said as they continued walking following the tricorderís readings to the power source.

      The readings led them to turn off of the hallway and into what looked to be a dining room.  When Tom, who was the last to leave the hallway, stepped into the room, the hallway lights went off just as Harry had predicted.  In the center of the room sat a long elegant wood table.   The table was set.   Tom counted eighteen place settings.  The plates were blue and were etched with a scene that was very similar to the picture that had fascinated and disturbed Tom earlier.  On each plate was the image of waves crashing along the bottom of a cliff.  Must be a popular image, Tom thought.  He walked around the table, noticing that something was draped over one of the chairís arm.  He ran his tricorder over the article before picking it up.  It was a piece of clothing. The fabric was soft to the touch.  It reminded him of some sort of sweater.  He carefully draped it back over the chair.

      The sweater bothered him.  It was as if someone had been sitting there not too long ago.  The sweater draped over the chair, just in case its owner got cold.  Or maybe she had gotten hot and removed it.  With seventeen other guests in the room, the air might have gotten warm, and she might have taken off that layer. Tom paused and wondered why he was assuming the sweaterís owner was a she.  It could have been a male, Tom supposed, but for some reason he was certain the sweater belonged to a female.   He gazed at each of the chairs uneasily.   There was something he was missing.  His eyes widened as he realized what it was.  None of the furniture they had come across had any real dust on it.  If this place had been deserted, even just for a few days, dust would have accumulated on the furniture and nothing would have disturbed it.

      "Chakotay," Tom said and the Commander turned at the urgency in the pilotís voice.  "There is no dust on these chairs, the plates, or any other pieces of furniture.  Unless thereís a filter system, this place was occupied not too long ago."

      Chakotay took a closer look at the place settings and the chairs.  Tom was right.  Everything looked pristine.   "Itís possible they have such a system, but it would have to be one powerful system," he said glancing up at the ceiling.

      "Even if they did have one, with ceilings that high, I doubt it would manage to keep dust from collecting on the plates," Harry said.
 
      "The readings say the power source is off to the right.  Letís head that way and keep our eyes open for any other signs that might indicate for how long this place has been empty," Chakotay said as he headed out of the dining room.

      The next room they entered seemed to be a smaller more intimate dining room.  Tom noticed nothing that would give him an indication of when the room had been used last.  They quickly moved on.   Paying attention to his tricorder, Tom almost tripped over what seemed to be a triangular ottoman.   He assumed it belonged to a matching chair in the corner, but the ottoman was situated at an angle to the chair instead of in front of it.  He imagined someone had moved it to sit on it so they could face whoever was sitting in the chair.  He started to move out of the room when he noticed a small opaque crystal box lying beside the ottoman.  He used his
tricorder to scan the box and getting no strange readings bent down and picked the item up.  The box was hinged and he easily popped it open.

      His hands shook as he stared at the open box.  Inside was a ring, a ring he had thrown away long ago.  He shakily ran his finger over the platinum band inside, feeling the change in texture as his finger brushed over the sapphire waves engraved in the band.  He felt his chest tighten as he struggled to breathe.   This could not be here.  How could it?  He started to pull the ring out of the box, but as he put his fingers around it, he felt a chill go through him and he dropped the box.

      At the sound, Chakotay and Harry headed back over to Tom.  Chakotay got to him first, and said, "Tom are you all right?"

      Startled, Tom just nodded and concentrated on breathing normally.  He probably should tell Chakotay and Harry about the ring.  At the very least that it was something he recognized, something he had discarded years ago.

      Chakotay noticed the box Tom had dropped.   He scanned it and picked the box up.   Tom opened his mouth to say something to Chakotay but then closed it as he took another look at the ring in the box.   It looked completely different.   The ring was gold in color with a single blue gem raised in the center.  The gem was such a dark blue it was almost black.   He was losing it.  He had to get a hold of himself.  For some reason he was letting this place get to him, and it had to stop.  He took a deep breath and got control of himself.

      "Tom, what happened?" Chakotay asked concerned.

      "Nothing, Iím just klutzy.  I picked up the box and when I flipped it open, it slipped out of my hands," Tom said.  Tom noticed that his response hadnít seemed to reassure either Chakotay or Harry.

      "Tom, are you sure you are all right?" Chakotay asked.   He was wondering if he should have waited longer before putting Tom on an away mission.  It was just three weeks ago that he didnít even remember Voyager. Maybe he should have given him some more time.  Still, it had seemed recently that Tom was fine and doing a great job of taking everything in stride.   Tomís behavior today though made Chakotay edgy.   Something was bothering him and it was affecting his concentration.

      "Iím fine," Tom said his mouth widening into a smirk.  "I mean it is a blow to my ego, my reflexes letting me down like that.  But you know, I think Iíll survive."

      Harry chuckled while Chakotay rolled his eyes at Tom smiling slightly.  "Well then letís get going.  Paris stay close."  Despite Tomís flip response, Chakotay was still worried that Paris wasnít quite all right. 

      "Yes sir," Tom responded, his grin still in place.  Chakotay just shook his head and continued on, Tom right behind him now and Harry bringing up the rear. Mentally, Tom breathed a sigh of relief.  He had feared Chakotay was going to force the issue.  Now he just needed to keep his mind on the mission and not get distracted by any other items on this ghostly planet.   Yep, he thought, ghostly is definitely an apt word for this place.

TBC