Disclaimer: see chapter 1
Living in Sin
Wilkara crossed her arms defiantly in front of her chest. "I
am absolutely positive," she repeated. Janeway had never seen
anyone who wasn't intimidated in the least by Tuvok's inquisitive
"Very well," Tuvok said, then noted in his padd the fact
that the away team hadn't met anyone on their way back. "But you
have to admit that it is reasonably odd. The ensign's injuries and
present condition must stem from something."
Marla sensed her friend's unease. "Why would she lie to
you, Commander?" Tuvok raised an eyebrow, this time the
equivalent of a huff he couldn't allow himself to vent, of course.
"Now, let's check the Delta Flyer's course."
Seven of Nine's fingers were dancing over the touch-
sensitive, shiny surface of the brightly light console, demanding
from the database the course the Delta Flyer had taken. The red
line of the course actually taken deviated slightly from the plotted
course depicted in yellow. They knew that this had been necessary
to fly round a small rupture in space, nothing to worry about.
Sensor readings had confirmed that the ship's systems were
working within established and normal parameters. The rupture in
space hadn't affected the flyer at all.
"That's utterly strange. I can't remember that spatial
anomaly," Riley mused, tugging thoughtfully at her lower lip.
"Me neither," Seven agreed, "otherwise it would be
represented in this chart."
"How old is the anomaly?" Marla chimed in. She had
accompanied them to Astrometrics. The Vulcan and the retro-
assimilated Borg cast surprised glances at her. "I can't remember it
"The Equinox was familiar with this sector?" Tuvok asked.
Marla nodded. "You never asked," she answered the unvoiced
Seven, in the meantime, had calculated the age of the
anomaly. Her optical implant twitched in puzzlement. "It is not
older than forty-seven hours. Its size would lead to different
The captain's ready room was crammed. The people form
Astrometrics were there to report their findings to Janeway. She
was all ears, sitting on the very edge of her couch. She had decided
to move the briefing to the more personal area of her office for
reasons of space. She could accommodate more people there than
in front of her desk.
After they had stopped talking, she raised a hand in her
trademark gesture to see if she had got this right. "So you're saying
that Ensign Paris is on the receiving end of a legend?" Incredulity
was clearly evident in her voice.
"Yes. Mr Neelix has confirmed the legend. He heard it in
his childhood, and often while on trading missions," Tuvok said,
"And you believe those legends?" Kathryn asked, disbelief
ever more present in her voice.
"It is the only logical assumption," Tuvok defended
himself. "We have ruled out all the other options."
"So we're facing a race that steals the minds of
unsuspecting, innocent passers-by." The research team nodded.
"Well, we're Starfleet officers."
"Weird is part of the job," Harry completed her sentence.
"But that doesn't make any sense." Kathryn got up. "He's
still there. I can talk to him." She turned, facing away from her
people, bracing herself on the railing that divided the comfy area
from her stately office.
"That may very well be due to the dual collective you have
formed," Seven offered eventually.
"That's not enough," Kathryn said softly. She had stumbled
upon yet another Deltan mystery, and she was determined to solve
it. She turned back to her crew. "It's not enough," she repeated,
more softly this time.
Neelix half rose in an attempt to explain the story further.
"I think Seven is right," he started. He met Kathryn's gaze and held
it, but sat down again. "Your bonding might be the reason why we
haven't lost him yet. From what I heard, the victims were lost very
quickly after the assault. The neural transponder might have saved
his life." He looked at Seven and waited for her to support his
thesis; which she did with a nod.
Kathryn sat down again. "Marika wasn't affected because
she's a woman?" The assembled nodded. According to the legend
men's souls were robbed as soon as they saw one of the women,
and those souls were then fed to warriors that kept watch over the
"The classic tale of Gyges," Chakotay chimed in, and
suddenly found himself the centre of everybody‘s attention. "A
bodyguard, he was tempted by his King Kandaules to look at the
Queen, which was forbidden because she was said to be the most
beautiful woman in the world. She noticed but said nothing. One
day she took Gyges to task, and he had to decide whether to be
killed or to kill Kandaules and become King himself."
"He killed Kandaules. Herodotus, Histories Book 1,
Chapter 8," Marla finished Chakotay's tale.
Kathryn cast him a sharp glance. Was he suggesting that
Tom rather became one of those seemingly legendary people than
fight because of something he had unwittingly stumbled into? An
uneasy silence filled the crowded room.
"I cannot believe this," Kathryn refused. I don't want to
believe this, she added in her mind.
Chakotay knew her. He caught her gaze and looked at her
as though he had heard what she had thought. Yet, he couldn't offer
her any comfort. They hadn't talked about the mysterious moving
around of the stones on the medicine wheel yet. Chakotay felt it
had something to do with this alleged legend; he could not not
bring it forward in good conscience. Just as he was about to tell,
the intercom chirped.
"Doctor to Dr Frazier. Could you please come down to
Sickbay." The urgency in his voice made an "at once" unnecessary.
While Riley was acknowledging his call and made for the
door, Kathryn sat shocked first, then wanted to rise. Chakotay
grabbed her by her wrist. There was nothing she could do down
there. She knew that, and he could understand her, but she had to
trust the doctors. She sank back into her seat, very pale at once.
"Please," she said almost tunelessly.
"Time of death: 1547," the Doctor recorded for the logs. Then he
went back to the surgery area. Janeway was there by Paris' side.
The medical arch had been lowered, the instruments removed.
Kathryn bent over him, kissed Tom's temple. Then she rose to look
at the Doctor. She looked strangely cool, calm, and collected. Not
even the tell-tale signs of tears betrayed her true feelings. He
exchanged glances with Riley.
"My condolences, Captain," he said, gripping her right
hand with his left.
Janeway shook her head. "Put him into stasis, Doctor. I'm
not going to let those thieves get away with that."
"Do it!" she said sternly. Then she strode resolutely toward
the doors. The two doctors noticed the way she was walking, very
deliberate, as though she had her legs and feet obey her will to
She collapsed on the threshold.