DISCLAIMER: Paramount Pictures own all the characters in Star Trek Voyager. I’m just borrowing them to tell a tale or two. This story is used only for entertainment – I didn’t get a cent.

NOTE: The Mytis Saga is about to end – we have only one more log to go before the conclusion (and another 50 to 60 pages to go!). There is only two chapters left to this log – which I hope to post by the end of July. Chiao.

By Lanna (liztai@hotmail.com)

Chapter 6…The Ring Paths

"I want to propose a toast – to the people that stayed by a moron like me-"
Groans and protests answered his claim.

"A moron!" Tom insisted, raising his voice above the din, fixing his gaze especially on B’Elanna. "I made life hell for people – although I did enjoy some of the hell I caused-" a pointed grin at Chakotay, which was returned with a chuckle. A beat, and Tom’s face grew serious and his voice turned solemn. "I don’t know what I could have done without my friends beside me. You...all of you been great," he stumbled, finishing his speech awkwardly.

"To the safe return of Lieutenant Tom Paris!" Harry shouted, raising his wineglass high.
"Hear, hear!" Carey shouted.

Tom lifted his glass and drank the sweet, red wine in one, quick gulp. Well-wishers crowded him; some patting him on the shoulder, some giving him a hug, most had a pleasant anecdote to share. He took them all awkwardly - he was sure people noticed his stiff smile, his bumbling returns of affection as a sure sign of uneasiness. By some miracle, he found himself alone in a darkened corner of the messhall some time later, watching the stars whiz pass.
"Penny for your thoughts?"

"Depends how many pennies you want pay for them," he answered, giving B’Elanna his broadest smile. She walked to him and encircled her arm around his waist.

"You can’t fool me," she whispered into his ear, her brown eyes amused.

"Take that back, I did that many times in the past," he protested.

"Not that many," she insisted, turning him around to face her with her other arm. "You’re nervous," she concluded.
"I’m not," he protested feebly.

B’Elanna gave him an all knowing look – one that he was too familiar with.

"Alright. I am nervous. I’m going back on duty soon. And, I’m just not used to all this attention." He gestured vaguely at the crowd in the mess hall.
"You used to soak in attention."

"That’s a cheap shot!" but he ended up laughing anyway. At his laugh, B’Elanna gave him a smile of delight, and he ran his fingers down her cheek.

"I love you," he whispered solemnly.

She nodded. "I know."

She wasn’t being a voyeur, Janeway insisted. She was just curious, she explained to herself as she watched Tom and B’Elanna speaking softly to each other in a corner. They were now in each other’s arms, watching the stars outside, her arms around his, his head next to hers.

"Captain?" Neelix’s normally cheerful face was replaced by frantic expectation. The Captain was immediately concerned.
"What’s wrong Neelix?" she set her wine glass down.

"I have to show you something, Captain!" the Talaxian bustled, motioning towards his kitchen.

Janeway could only follow. Neelix half stumbled, half ran to his destination. There, he hastily cleared away the clumps of vegetables and dirty dishes on the counter. Done, he rubbed his hands nervously before busying himself with one of his cupboards, opening and closing them randomly.


"In a moment Captain," Neelix answered from his corner, raising an apologetic hand. "Here it is!" he said after a moment. Janeway saw a rolled parchment in his hands.
"And that is-?" she raised an eyebrow.

"A map captain. A map to a way to the Alpha Quadrant."

Janeway sighed immediately. "Neelix, if you’ve been looking at the ‘treasure maps’ being sold on the Promenade-"

"Captain, I assure you this one is different!" he retorted, frantically unrolling the map and placing it on the cleared counter.
"I’m sure it is-" she answered, getting ready her official NO.

"Look at this section of the map, Captain," Neelix interrupted, gesturing her towards the map. "Then tell me whether this map needs your attention!"

Janeway took a peek out of curiosity, quite sure that she wouldn’t find anything interesting. That was until she saw a particular design Neelix’s finger rested on. Janeway looked up abruptly. "Where did you get it?"

"From one of the vendors on the Promenade. The curious thing was. Every map on the Promenade had the same design!"

"Design," Janeway said wryly as she stared at the ‘design’ on the left hand corner of the map. It was the Sunnat Constellation – a cluster of stars near Rigel IV. In the Alpha Quadrant. Back home.

Its distinctive configuration was hard to miss. Beside the Sunnat Constellation was another design – the Armour Bearer, a constellation named after a Cardassian legend. That ruled out coincidence.
"It’s a fake," said a voice behind them.

Despite the soft rustle of robes that announced his presence, Vahne still made Neelix jump. The unnerving clone of Tom regarded them with flat silver eyes. In his one week stay on Voyager as his ship was being repaired, the crew did their best to avoid the Binom. The Binom didn’t seem to mind. He kept to himself most of the time, spending time in his room, shunning groups of more than two, let alone a crowd. So it was a surprise to see him here.
"What makes you so sure?" she challenged.

Vahne raised an eyebrow. "Because I have the real map."

Janeway’s immediate reaction was scepticism, and she conveyed that with her silence.

"I’m nearly seven thousand years old, Captain," he announced, noticing her doubts. "Back then, the rings were used by the descendants of its inventors, and the maps were readily available. But after the Drovarian Empire collapsed, the knowledge of the Ring Paths became rare. Until it became extinct. But I still possess the map." Vahne took out something from his robe. It was a long, silver tube.

"And it will lead us back home?" Janeway took it cautiously and studied it.

Vahne nodded. "The Drovarians created 2,345 Gates all in all. This map tells you which Gate to take to your destination," he paused, his eyes growing soft. "They were a magnificent race, the Dvorians. They were the greatest explorers ever known - but magnificence could not stand in the way of the Xyrons. They were obliterated anyway, until they became scattered nomads with treasure maps. I will give you this map," he eyed the Captain, phrasing his words carefully as if declaring a legal treatise, "as a token of my appreciation for rescuing me from the Killarite Gusan."

Janeway felt a stir of disquiet in her. Why did she find it so hard to trust Vahne?

Vahne smiled, as if privy to her thoughts – which he probably was.

"Thank you. But don’t take it the wrong way. I find it difficult to believe that you would hand over a map everyone is after just like that – to us," Janeway answered carefully.

"Economics never motivated Binoms, Captain. But we value promises. And honour.

"It will take you two months to reach the Alpha Quadrant," Vahne continued. "But a word of caution. Somewhere in the rings, the Xyrons lie in sleep. And that, I promise is not a mere legend. It took the destruction of the entire Mytis Sector to trap them in the maze of the rings. Let them not be free again to destroy – I trust you, Captain," he said it gravely.
Janeway nodded – too stunned to reply.

"Now I take my leave. Your crew has been very efficient in repairing my ship. It’s nearly new."

"You’re welcome Vahne." Somehow adding ‘see you again’ sounded ridiculous.
Vahne gathered his dark robes around him and brought up his hood.
In the darkness beneath his hood, his silver eyes gleamed eerily.

* * *

CouncilHall of Ministers
Space Station Merana

"An incredible find, Captain! You said it was given to you?"

Janeway took her eyes off the hologram of gates that spun lazily in the centre of the hall. Shomira pulled absently at the long vines extending from his horn. "This find…could change everything!" he said excitedly.

"Yes," Janeway agreed, a small smile appearing on her face. "2000 over gates, extending over three quadrants - Gamma, Delta…and Alpha.

The possibilities are endless. Exploration, discoveries, colonisation, trade-"
"Wars," interrupted a rough voice from their left.

"Subjuvanal!" Shomira looked perturbed. "You show disrespect to our guest."

"Councillor," Tara protested. "Opening the gates could mean exposing the Collaborate to new enemies." She shifted her obsidian gaze to Janeway. "And new threats," she said pointedly.

Janeway nodded, unable to deny the possibility. If the Borg found out about the gates…Janeway shuddered. Echoes of Vahne’s warning drifted back to her. Somewhere in the Gates, the Xyrons lie in sleep.

"My advice," Janeway began tentatively. "Is to keep the knowledge of the Gates a secret. For now. A team of explorers from the Collaborate could search what lies beyond."

Shomira nodded. "The prospect is endless indeed," the councillor echoed. "And now, you seek permission to explore the Gates?"
Tara turned curious eyes to Janeway.

"These gates…could help us get home. We’ve been waiting for nearly six years for a chance like this."

Shomira nodded, but Janeway knew the answer would not come as easily.

"This issue needs to be debated among the Councilors. But, I can assure you that it will be a positive one."

"You are so positive about the outcome?" Janeway raised an eyebrow.

Shomira gave her his race’s version of a grin. "Like you, the Collaborate had been waiting years for a chance like this."

* * *


"Lieutenant Paris’ Personal Log. Stardate 53100.5. Well, today is my first day back on duty. {a nervous sigh} After it seems like years of being treated as an invalid, I’m glad to go back to the normal routine of things. I’m still bothered by questions; Yvette’s memories for example…those strange dreams…but, I’ve decided to put that all behind me, after all – Rya is behind me forever. The Doctor, after much ‘persuasion’, gave me a clean bill of health, saying that I should not overstrain myself, nor use any of my ‘mind tricks’. He also harassed me to come by for regular check-ups for my cortical implant – starting tomorrow. Despite my insistence that I’m fine and chirpy, the Doctor insist that I continue seeing Tuvok and Chakotay for counselling – I couldn’t wriggle myself out of that one. Wonder what I’ll talk to them about? The remodelling of my ’57 Chevy?"
"Welcome back, Lieutenant."

Tom gave Ensign Dibbs a quick smile.
"It seems that the Collaborate is quite positive with us going through the Gates," she said, her green eyes twinkling.

Tom gave her a nervous grin, wishing desperately that he was alone.

"Well, see you on the bridge!" Elaine Dibbs gave him a wink and walked towards the turbolift. He didn’t notice her looking back and giving him a crooked smile, being too preoccupied with watching crewmen approach him. And when they do come his way, he shifted his gaze to the PADD in his hands, pretending to be interested in ‘Morning with Neelix’. Once they walked past him, he heaved a sigh of relief, looking around at the empty corridor.

"So here you are Paris. Back on Voyager. On duty again. Life is going back to normal," he emphasised. He frowned and said the word normal again. It sounded odd to say it, but he grinned.
"Talking to yourself again, Tom?"

"Hey Harry," he greeted, not turning. He sensed him coming the moment the turbolift opened. When he did turn, Harry had nearly reached him.

"So," Harry looked over his shoulder at the PADD. "Catching up with gossip?"

Tom grinned. "Don’t let Neelix catch you say that. He says it’s respectable ‘journalism’."

Harry laughed. "Not when he told everyone on board that a certain ‘twin’ is going out with a certain ‘engineer crewman’ two days ago. Megan was furious. Neelix barely escaped with his life."
"Oh?" Tom smiled.

"You’re not back on duty until 0800 hours. Why not join me for coffee in the messhall?"
"Replicated coffee. None of Neelix’s ‘exotic’ ones."

"God forbid." Harry’s eyes twinkled.

"Okay, it’s my-"


Tom faltered.

"Tom?" Harry asked.
Tom blinked, then shrugged. "For a moment I thought-" <I’M HERE TOM. Tom froze. "Where?" he looked around. "Where what?" Harry looked worried.
Tom’s eyes widened. <YOU he thought.

Harry, the corridor, Voyager, vanished…and he faced himself.

"Hello Tom. You thought I was gone," his twin sounded mildly offended.

"You are not real, you’re just a dream," he whispered. Tom looked around, but all he could see was empty whiteness. Harry was gone. He felt strangely light headed, as if everything around him was a stage, and he was the lone actor.

"If I’m a dream, get out of it," his clone whispered. "And I am not happy."
"YOU ARE NOT REAL!" he snapped, backing away.

Tom didn’t have time to react when he grabbed his throat. He struggled against the vise-like grip, gagging. The fingers dug painfully into his throat, cutting off precious air.
"Now, does this prove anything?"

"What do you want?" he gasped.

Blue eyes, burning with hate, bored into him. "I want to live, Tom. It’s my turn now – you had your fun, now it’s my chance to have some fun of my own!"
"What are you talking about?!" he gasped.

"Look out Tom," the man whispered. "I am here to stay."
"Tom? Tom? Hey, your coffee is getting cold."

Tom’s eyes flew open…or rather they refocused. The white emptiness disappeared, and he found himself sitting on a soft cushion, and the feel of cool replicated wood against his hands.
"What?" he managed to ask.

Harry’s face came into focus.

"Your raktajino is getting cold," Harry said again. He looked
faintly amused.

Tom felt his mouth go dry as he realized that he was in the messhall. It was more crowded than usual, and the bitter smell of the raktajino invaded his senses.
"How did I get here?" he asked without thinking.

Harry frowned in puzzlement as he cut into his Shepherd’s pie.
"What are you talking about?" he looked up, his eyes shadowed.

Tom decided that acting ‘weird’ on his first day of duty wasn’t a good idea.

"It’s a problem I sometimes have," Tom gestured vaguely to his cortical implant. "Sometimes I just forget things." It sounded flimsy at best.

"The Doctor-"

"-checked it and said that it will pass," he answered impatiently.

"Well," Harry began uncertainly after a while. He didn’t look convinced at all. "What did you last remember?"
"I was in the corridor, and you invited me for breakfast."

"Yeah, and you walked here with me. You commented how long you’ve been away from real food. You sat here, and I got the coffee."

Tom felt that he must have paled, because Harry suddenly looked more than anxious. "Do you want me to call the Doctor?"

Tom blinked and laughed. "No, I’m fine. How was your date last night?" he changed the subject, hoping Harry would take the bait.
"Good," Harry answered reluctantly. "Are you sure-"

Just then, Neelix’s programme came on air. Momentarily distracted, Harry turned to watch the programme. The messhall grew quiet as they listened, smiling at his usual round of jokes and wincing at his suggestions for new recipes on the menu.

"And now I would like to welcome back a very special friend of mine. Eight months ago, when he disappeared, I thought I’ll never see him again. But Voyager found him, and he has survived against the odds. Tom, welcome back to duty!" Neelix clapped his hands, grinning broadly.

The messhall erupted into applause. As Harry clapped him on his shoulder, Tom tried hard to put on a smile that he didn’t feel.

<There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just tired. He said that to himself over and over again above the din of the applause until he squeezed his knuckles white.

* * *

0925 Hours

"You never did tell him how you fished him out of that Killarite’s nest."

Ebran looked up from his diagnostics. Wincing as he entered the wrong calculations into his scanner, he sighed. "Why should I?" he asked distractedly.

Delaine knelt beside him in the small space. "Because you owe him one?"

Ebran put down his scanner with more force than he intended. "I owe him nothing," he snapped.
"Oh sorry, Mr. Touchy," Delaine muttered, preparing to leave.

"Delaine," he called. He sighed and turned to look at her. He just realised that Delaine looked exhausted. It was all his fault – here she was, one of his best friends. She had been there when he was a gibbering wreck, pulled him through the uncertain period in his life when he was a mass of uncontrolled emotions, and now that he had regained control of his empathic abilities, he threw her away.

"I’m sorry," he apologized sincerely, relieved to see a spark of humour back in her blue eyes.
"I could get use to this," she replied smugly, crossing her arms.
"Just what are you sorry for?" she teased.
Ebran snorted. "Don’t push it Delaine."

"I’m just curious," she protested, her blue eyes wide with innocence.

"How’s your project coming along?" he changed the subject, turning back to his console.

Delaine shot him a look. "It’s fine, and I trust you didn’t tell anyone about it."

"Why should I? You think the Captain would be interested in you breaking the Jiraz Equation?" He ducked in time to avoid a tricorder hurtling his way.
"That would have killed me," he complained, grinning.

"I’m serious Tonay," Delaine muttered.

"And you call me touchy. NO, I won’t tell anyone. Why should I? What’s your favourite saying? Maquis stick together?"

"Well, what I am isn’t a Maquis-Federation issue. It’s universal. Maquis or not, humans hate what I am," she sat on the floor, bracing her legs against the wall of the Jeffries tube.

"Don’t be stupid, Delaine. I don’t." Tonay looked sincerely at her.
"You don’t qualify, you’re Bajoran."

"And Betazoid," he added.

Delaine laughed. After a while, she relaxed and looked at him meaningfully. Her eyes softened, turning a beautiful shade of sky blue. But she looked away abruptly before Ebran could enjoy looking at them longer. Her eyes were always cold and cynical – hardened by four years in the frontlines of the Maquis cause, and running away from a past she did not fully reveal. It was a prized moment when they softened, and he noted with pride that they softened just for him.
He paused.

<She loves me

It made perfect sense.
He reached out a hand and touched her cheek, overwhelmed by the thought of it. Delaine flinched, but her surprise was so great that she didn’t move away. She fixed her blue eyes on his, and as he gazed into their depths, he could feel her emotions flowing to him like a mist.

Somehow, their lips met and he gathered her in his arms, lost in the heady haze of amazement.
"Ensign Ebran?"

The haze shattered.

Delaine looked perplexed for a moment, then she turned and backed
away from the corridor quickly.
"Delaine!" he called. But she didn’t even turn back once.


Sighing, he looked at the man responsible for breaking the moment
so rudely.
"Yes, Vorik. What can I do for you?"

"Lieutenant Torres wants you to check on subsection pylon in Jeffries tube 245. I’m to take over." The young Vulcan placed his engineering kit beside his and proceeded to scan the area he just worked on. If he did notice the incident with Delaine, he made no show about it. Ebran decided to let him go. This once.

He was about to pack up and leave when he saw something odd. There, in the shine of tools in Vorik’s engineering kit were droplets of green fluid.

"Vorik," he called, realising what it was. The Vulcan looked up, puzzled.
"You’re bleeding," Ebran said, pointing to the Vulcan’s nose.

With the barest hint of emotion, Vorik touched his nose. It came back wet with green blood. The blood has stained the engineering gold of his uniform with dark spots.

In a human, he would not have worried. It was a common problem that warranted little medical attention. But in Vulcans it was rare enough to be a problem. Without hesitation, he hailed sickbay.

* * *

1020 hours

"His nasal glands have enlarged and some capillaries broke. Unusual, but not that unusual," the Doctor emphasised as he administered the hypospray on the Vulcan.

Vorik looked vaguely bored for a Vulcan, and was stoically unconcerned for this little drama in his life.
"May I return to my duties?" he asked.

"Well, there’s nothing wrong with you – I don’t see why not," the Doctor commented. With a nod, the Vulcan stood up and left.

"May I commend you on a job well done, Ensign? Despite it being a
minor problem, you acted quickly."
Ebran shrugged.

"And how are you, Ensign?"

Ebran looked startled for a moment, then realized that the Doctor merely asked him a question any physician would have asked.

"My emotions are back in control, if that’s what you’re asking, Doctor."
"Do you still have bad dreams?"

Ebran flinched. "No," he lied.

The Doctor studied him for a moment then sighed. "Ensign, for a Betazoid, dreams are the manifestations of problems in the metacampus or the psychological make-up of a Betazoid. It’s vital that I know that you have not been having nightmares. Continuous nightmares could be a sign that your metacampus is-"

"Doctor," Ebran interrupted. "I need to fix something Jeffries tube 245. Love to stay and chat, but I’m a busy engineer."
Without a second glance back, he walked out of sickbay.
Ebran sighed in relief when the doors of the turbolift closed behind him. He was afraid for a moment that the Doctor would come charging out and order him to see Lieutenant Tuvok.
Hadn’t he had enough problems branded on his medical records?
Must the doctor add ‘bad dreams’ to his list?

He had completed his shift, and as his quarters neared, he sighed in relief. He couldn’t wait to grab a communicator and get Delaine. To explain or apologize. Or both.

It had barely been a month since Yvette died, and he’s kissing his best friend. He felt guilty, but knew that Yvette wouldn’t have minded – she would have been the type to insist that he get on with his life- the sooner, the better. But he wasn’t sure whether he should stop grieving just yet…besides, he couldn’t see Delaine as more than a friend.

Ebran sighed, leaning his forehead against the cool surface of the mirror in the bathroom.
<You’re deluding yourself Ebran. There is a possibility. You just don’t want to face it right now.

<And is that wrong? And as he asked himself that question, he looked into the mirror to see his face staring back at him.
And so did the face of young boy.

Startled, Ebran whirled around.

The mirror told him that the human child stood behind him, somewhere near the door.

But there was no one there.

Back to the mirror, and the young boy gazed at him with wide, blue eyes. Ebran didn’t have to guess what the boy would do next.

On cue, the human child reached out to him, and in his small hands was a black box.

But Ebran didn’t reach out for the box – and he could sense the frustration in the human child. The boy waited for a while, looking at him with wide, desperate eyes, then turned and ran into the darkness of the other side.

Ebran felt the cool surface of the wall on his back. Reality intruded upon him like a rude slap.

The mirror was normal again, and his reflection gazed innocently back at him.
"Do you still have bad dreams?" the Doctor had asked.

"Damn it." Ebran whispered in the solitude of his room.
* * *


Tom hated the feeling of the Vulcan’s cold fingers on his forehead.
"When did you start having these waking dreams?"

Tom swallowed and forced himself to look at the Vulcan’s dark
"Just today."

Tuvok nodded. "Regarding your earlier question, I do not believe that there is another presence or entity in your mind."
Tom frowned. "Then what is it? Why am I having these dreams?"

"I am not totally familiar with human psychology – however, it is not unusual for Vulcans to manifest their…uncertainties in this manner."
"You mean fears?"

The Vulcan did not comment, and neither did Tom pursue it. But he was desperate to be rid of his damnable dreams, even if it meant having a Vulcan probe his mind.
"Okay, I’m ready."

Tuvok only nodded and as Tom closed his eyes, he felt the strange, shifting presence of the Vulcan in his mind. He felt like a shaft of cold steel in his sensitive mind, and he let out a small cry of pain. His fists clenched violently, his fingers digging bloody crescents into his palms.
"Do not be disturbed. I will not harm you."

The Vulcan’s soothing voice penetrated the icy veil of fear in his mind; and his grip began to loosen, but his mind was like a terrified wild horse, shying away from the Vulcan’s cold presence.
And suddenly he remembered nothing.
"Look, an intruder."

"I do not think I like him."

"I think we should kill him."

"Can we?"

"I think we could."

"Must we?"

Tuvok felt what humans would call surprise. But that would be stretching the description too far – he merely felt… interested. The
voices stopped abruptly when he opened his eyes.

"I do not mean you any harm," he called out to them. "I am here to help."
There was silence for a while, then a small, startled cry.

"Here to help?"

"Liar," said a voice to his right – but it sounded identical to the first voice.

"Kill him, kill him,"
"Tell me the truth Vulcan," a voice boomed. Tuvok frowned.

"The truth?" he questioned.

"The truth," said the voice again. This voice was also identical to the previous voices, but it was notably different. It held a note of authority in it.
"About?" he prodded.

"Do not play with me, Vulcan!" the voice snapped harshly. "You intrude into our mind, arrogant and presumptuous creature – your kind sicken me!"

Tuvok remained unperturbed. So far, the voices in Tom’s mind reflected the confusion and rage he had sensed in the lieutenant.
"Reveal yourself to me."

"Oh, so you think you can command me?"

"I do not seek to command you, but to speak to you," Tuvok answered, squinting into the darkness.

The other voices suddenly returned, chattering madly among themselves. Tuvok could only make out snatches of the conversation.
"Pleased…maybe…I don’t think…mad, mad, mad…help! No…" "SILENCE!"
The voices stopped.

Footsteps came towards him, as if coming from a great distance.
Tuvok found himself strangely curious about the identity of the speaker.
What he saw made him remotely…surprised.

Three figures approached him. One with hair of pale silver, another was dressed in soiled robes and gazed at him with hatred. The third was the most intriguing yet – it was Lieutenant Tom Paris in uniform. He seemed to be the leader; and when he motioned, the two remained two steps behind him.

"Tuvok, Tuvok. How I admire you – You have been so kind to us, always offering your help whenever we need it."
Tuvok ignored his condescending tone. "And who are ‘we’?"

The leader winked at him. "Shh, that’s a secret. Now, what shall we do to him?"
"I do not know," said silver hair.

"Kill him," muttered the wild one.

"You see my position, Tuvok. You shouldn’t have come. But it’s not my time yet, so I’ll spare you this time."

"You are rage," Tuvok gestured to the figure with wild, matted hair, ignoring the leader’s comments. It growled back to him. "You are hatred," Tuvok pointed to the Binom. But when he reached out with his mind to analyse what the leader represented…he found nothing.

"Curious. It is obvious that you are using Lieutenant Paris’ Rage and Hatred, gathering them to you like followers… What are you?"
The leader smiled at him. "You do not need to know."

Tuvok felt a blinding flash of pain and-"Tuvok?"
Tuvok’s eyes opened and he gazed at Tom’s curious ones.

"I’m still waiting."

"Curious." Tuvok removed his hand from Tom’s face. Tom only answered his comment with an undisguised look of impatience. A brief look of puzzlement crossed the Vulcan’s features. Then composure returned.
Tom leaned forward.

Tuvok paused, then said slowly. "I cannot seem to initiate a meld."
"What do you mean?"

Strangely Tuvok did not answer him.

__________________cJuly 1999