Title: Phoenix Fire

Pairing: C/P (predominantly)

Chapter Five (5/?)

Rating: R (for language)

Summary: Things get worse. In the Infirmary/Sickbay of DS9. Benjamin Sisko contemplates on his current situation. 

So this is your so-called humanity.

--- Seven of Nine 

The silence was oppressive, almost alive. 

Tom Paris mused as he followed Julian Bashir that they seemed to walk forever. The corridor stretched for miles as the group of medical officers strode towards the Infirmary. He glanced at the woman officer beside her: she had a stony look on her face … as if she was simply following orders and had thrown away her sense of discernment. He turned around and observed Seven of Nine. She walked calmly, her figure regal, proud. Her gaze was icy as if she disdained the presence of the officers. 

At last, they reached the Infimary and Julian Bashir seemed to come to life, snapping instructions to his aides and reading his medical PADDs with an efficiency that never failed to amaze Tom. Julian was still the same man he knew from the Academy. Cocky, yes. But highly intelligent, proud of himself and his achievements. As the medical personnel swirled about him, Tom watched Julian quietly. 

Another group of officers entered the Infirmary and headed straight for Seven. 

This time, Tom broke his self-imposed silence. 

"Can anyone please tell me what in hell is going on?"

He was ignored.

Seven was escorted off to another section of the Infirmary. Tom glimpsed the flash of medical equipment, Seven's confident expression and then, two grim-faced ensigns blocked his line of vision. 

Tom's anger grew. It burned in his belly like the wings of a fiery bird. He wanted to cry out, to vent his rage. He hated being treated like …a criminal. Dammit, he knew how it was like being a condemned criminal, a felon of the Federation. He hated the way they were treating him, Seven and the rest of the Voyager crew. They had withstood the perils of the Delta Quadrant alone, dammit. Alone without any fucking aid from the Federation. 

So this is how they treat us …like fucking criminals!

"What are you doing with Seven?" He demanded furiously, his eyes flashing dangerously. 

He thought of Chakotay, of the man's stoic strength and he sorely missed his lover's words of reassurance. He remembered seeing the look of helplessness on Chakotay's face when he left for the Infirmary, the barely-curbed anger in the big man's body language. He wanted to feel Chakotay's hands on him again, experience the warm physicality of their love. He wanted to feel Chakotay's kisses, the fire-like intensity they stirred within him. 

The chill in the Infirmary was getting to him and he closed his eyes once more. Everyone blithely ignored him. Even Julian Bashir whom he thought was his friend. He mused grimly. The word is 'was'. Past tense

He couldn’t help Seven even though every fiber in his body screamed that he should. He was a fucking cripple, trapped by his own paralysis. 

"Thomas?" Julian's voice was soft. "Tom?"

Tom refused to answer.

"Tom. It's me, Julian."

"Fuck off, Julian." Tom growled.

"Tom, why are you saying this?"

"Why am I saying this?" Julian backed off as Tom glared at him, the blue of his eyes taking on an almost feral quality. "My friends are locked up like criminals. Seven is being treated like an experiment …and I am helpless to stop it"

Tom's voice had the edge of hysteria. His eyes never left Julian. 

"Look, Tom. I am here to treat your paralysis," Julian soothed, once again the professional physician. 

"You are stalling."

"I am not," the doctor smiled, the friendly-harmless physician smile. "Look. Captain Sisko gave me orders and I had no choice to comply. We noted in the crew manifest that you are suffering from lower-half body paralysis…"

"You read our crew manifest?!" Tom glowered. His hands twitched. 

"We had to…"


With a rage-filled shout, Tom propelled himself from the wheelchair, using his upper-body strength. He sprang for Julian who nimbly stepped by and Tom fell hard onto the floor, cursing the pain that coursed through his arms. 

There was a sharp nip on his neck and blessed darkness enveloped him.

*** *** ***

Benjamin Sisko stood facing the window. The beauty of space calmed him, straightened his already-frayed nerves. The transmission from Starfleet Command had ended and the only thing he wished right now was a stiff drink. 

From where he was standing, he could see the starship Voyager. She was a sleek vessel. Beautifully made, the USS Voyager NCC-74656 glowed with reflected light. She was constructed and given life at the shipyards of Utopia Planitia. At the moment, she rested next to the Defiant, her hull half-traced with green. 

Borg technology.

By right, it shouldn't be like this. Voyager's crew kept in the 'debriefing room', the captain of the ship raging silently. The half-Borg turned over to the Starfleet investigators like some…experiment subject. 

Ben Sisko loathed the current situation. 

Voyager should be welcomed. They had been gone away from the Alpha Quadrant for four, almost five years. The information they had collected were invaluable, the experiences rich and complex. They had learned a lot when they were in the Delta Quadrant. The information could be used, effectively and efficiently. 

Damn the Dominion, the Klingons and all the rest of the Federation with it!

No, he wasn't pleased with himself. But Starfleet Command issued the orders and he was the unfortunate medium. 

He wasn't the harbinger of good news.

Kira had sent a message earlier. They had managed to secure the half-Borg woman called Seven. She was at the moment guarded in the Infirmary. Very soon, the investigators would arrive. A half-Borg would aid their war against the Collective. 

Sisko shuddered and picked up the baseball on his desk. He heaved its weight gingerly.

He decided to head down to the Infirmary.

*** *** ***

When Sisko reached the Infirmary, he confronted Doctor Bashir who was hovering over a pale blonde man on a bio-bed. 

"Doctor Bashir?"

Julian turned and nodded briskly. "Captain?"

"Where's Seven of Nine? The half-Borg woman?"

"Over there, Captain."

Sisko turned to go but Julian stopped him. 

"Captain, we don't have to do this…"

"I have no choice. Starfleet gave me orders…"

"Orders to do what, Captain? To legitimize witch-hunting cleverly disguised as science? To turn heroes into villains? God, what are we turning into? Mouthpieces?" Julian spoke, his voice dripping with contempt.

"Be careful what you are saying, Dr. Bashir," Sisko warned sternly. "The walls have ears."

The dark-skinned man ignored Julian's bristling retort and headed for the restricted section. Two ensigns stepped forward, blocking his path. He lifted his hand and they backed away.

He saw her.

She stood in the middle of the chamber like a proud Grecian goddess. Her blonde hair was immaculately coifed. Her face was smooth, patrician. There was an air of iciness about her. In her teal-colored body suit, Seven of Nine didn't even move an eyebrow when Sisko stepped in.

Then she turned, almost lazily. 

"So this is your so-called humanity," she said coolly. 

"Humanity against the Collective," Sisko said simply, walking around her.

"I am an individual. I broke away from the Collective. I am Seven of Nine."

"You are still half-Borg. There are strong traces of Borg technology in you."

Her eyebrow lifted. "Levels of perception."

Sisko didn't respond.

"Is humanity a suspicious species? A species so afraid, so primitive?" Seven continued. "Tell me, do you see the Voyager crew as a threatening contamination?"

"That's not for you to say."

"Then humanity is a species in its death throes."

Sisko walked away, unable to answer the woman.