Chapter 2…Doorway to Hell

 "Well, time to play the hero again," he said to himself as he
materialized in Sickbay.
 It seemed that a Medical Officer on USS Voyager didn't only need to be
an efficient physician but an elusive and capable saboteur as well. But
sabotage was difficult when his mobile emitter was in Tuvok's hands and the
only access he had was to the Brig, Sickbay, Bridge and Engineering. If he
hadn't pestered B'Elanna to install the long overdue emergency holo-emitter's
at strategic areas of the ship, his situation would've been far worse.
 <Scenario: Powerful psionic being has taken over the body of one of the
crew and has effectively disabled the ship. Senior officers are in the brig,
and any plans planned would be detected before it is carried out. A seemingly
lost cause but not a complete one.
 As far as the Doctor could see, Tom's minions…or whatever it likes to
call itself now – numbered only three. Two Vulcans and one shapeshifter.
 `Tom' could not read *everyone's* mind.
 And one of them would be…
 [Doctor. I have realigned my implants as you have suggested.] came the
 [Good. As far as I know, the Borg has built resistance to certain
telepathic beings?]
 [That is correct.]
 [Let us hope that's enough! Status?]
 [Ensign Vorik is guarding us. He would be easy to defeat.]
 The Doctor sighed, wondering whether Xi'an would be alerted when Vorik
was taken out. He had to take the chance anyway.
 In the silence of the Sickbay, the Doctor sat in a darkened corner of
the room, gazing at his portable console.
 "Computer," he hissed softly. "Show me the location of Lieutenant Tuvok
and Ensign Elaine Dibbs."
 "Lieutenant Tuvok is in Cargo Bay 7. Ensign Elaine Dibbs is in Cargo
Bay 8."
 "Show me Cargo Bay 8."
 Immediately the computer complied. The Doctor's brows came together as
he watched the strange scene before him. It made his cold with dread.
Ensign Dibbs (no, she was something else altogether) herded ten voyager crew
members into lifepods. Judging by their unsteady gaits, the Doctor deduced
that they have not recovered from the heavy dose of anesthezine yet.
  The Doctor studied the rows and rows of life pods – about a hundred of
them at least. Cargo Bay 8 had been converted into a repository of lifepods,
just as it had been when Voyager encountered a deadly nebula a long time ago.
 Xi'an was keeping the rest of the crew there, and all seemed fully
occupied already. A good way of keeping the crew under control, the Doctor
thought. Or was he merely keeping them for safekeeping? For some other
 The Doctor didn't want to entertain that option.
 He wanted badly to help them, but he didn't want to risk alerting Xi'an
to his presence. So far Vorik had attempted to squirrel him out of his hidden
subroutines but without much success. The Doctor thought it best to lie low
for now.
 <First free the Captain and the senior officers. Then we'll take over
the ship he reasoned.
 "Computer show me Cargo Bay 7."
 Cargo Bay 7 was largely empty. Empty except for a lone figure sprawled
on the ground. Tuvok?
 "Computer, magnify."
 The Doctor gasped. It was Ebran Tonay! Dead or badly injured, he
couldn't be sure. He grimaced when he saw the awkward positions of his legs –
broken, without a question. And the marks on his back-
 The Doctor's lips thinned into a bitter grimace. Why Ebran?
 [Doctor. He is leaving.]
 The Doctor nearly dropped his portable console in shock. Clearing his
throat, he said out loud:
 [No. He is releasing us.] Puzzlement laced Seven of Nine's
 As Alice in Wonderland would like to say, curiouser and curiouser.
 [Where are you now, Seven?] he asked desperately when Seven became
quiet for a few minutes.
 [I believe we are being led down to Engineering. Lieutenant Torres,
Ensign Delaine and Ensign Wildman are with me.]
 The Doctor placed his console carefully to one side and redirected
himself to Engineering, materialising at the engineering console above. He
peered anxiously at the crowd coming in.
 [Can you overpower him?] the Doctor asked Seven.
 Below, Seven cast a tentative look around. [I believe I can]
 Before he could say Strike! Or something to that effect, he heard heavy
footsteps come in.
 It was Xi'an and Tuvok.
 Seven steeled herself when Xi'an entered. He cast her a detached look
before looking away.
 "You shall do as you are told," he said.
 "What makes you think we'll obey?" B'Elanna shot back from behind.
 Seven knew the answer even before he presented it to them.
 Tuvok brought Naomi Wildman to the front.
 "Or I will make you kill her, B'Elanna, and this time I would make sure
you don't miss like Janeway," he said, his expression unchanged.

 [Doctor?] came Seven's question. [I cannot put Naomi at risk]
 The Doctor bit his artificial lip.  [Understood. But I see one thing
here – It's time to do some sabotage.]
 The Doctor disappeared.
 At that moment, Xi'an looked at the spot where the Doctor had been, his
eyes cold.
 Seven turned reluctantly away, her heart hammering anxiously.

 [Doctor. He knows]
 "What do you mean he knows?" the Doctor said out loud as he
materialized in the brig.
 His voice alerted Janeway, Chakotay and Harry who got up quickly.
 "Doctor!" Janeway called.
 "Coming, Captain!" he scurried to the controls, praying that it wasn't
under security lock-
 "Of course it is. Vorik is Vulcan. Efficient!" he hrmphed, moving away
from the console.
 "Do you have a phaser?" Harry asked anxiously.
 "Oh, how silly of me. I forgot! I have only access to Sickbay,
Engineering and the Brig. No way to get weapons," the Doctor remarked dryly.
"Looks like I've got to do it the old-fashion way." His eyes caught something
leaning against a bulkhead. How convenient, he thought.
 "And that is-" Chakotay began.
 "Stand back!" the Doctor cried as he swung a heavy rod at the controls.

 [He knows.] Seven communicated, looking at Xi'an from the corner of her
 "Xi'an, it's done," came Ensign Dibb's voice.
 Xi'an nodded. "Good. Erect a Level One forcefield around Cargo Bay 8.
They must be kept safe.
 "Computer. Set up Level 1 forcefields around Engineering," Xi'an said.
  Seven returned her gaze to the controls.
 [He knew that three people could not control Voyager.] she transmitted
to the Doctor. [But he needs Voyager.]
 [For what?] the Doctor asked.
 Seven looked down at her controls and mechanically keyed in the codes
given to her. What she saw shocked her.
 [To enter a Class-14 Nebula!]

 "WHAT?!" he blurted out.
 "Doctor, what is it?" Janeway barked.
 The Doctor swung the rod again and once more the controls sparked but
did not let the forcefields go. "Xi'an-" he grunted. "He's bringing us into a
Class-14 Nebula!"
 "That will fry Voyager!" Harry said in shock.
 Janeway pursed her lips. A Class-14 Nebula was the bane of starships in
the early days of exploration. Ships with fragile shields would be
incinerated upon entry. Eventually, tougher ships were built, but the Class
14 Nebula would still cripple a ship as powerful as Voyager, or worse- expose
the crew to such high levels of radiation that death could be excruciatingly
 "No…Voyager could still survive. Our shields can protect us for twenty
 "That doesn't give us a lot of time, does it?"
 The Doctor's motion stopped in mid-air as he gazed at the phaser
pointed at his chest.
 Rowena stepped away from the darkness.
 "Listen to me, Ensign Dibbs, – or whatever you call yourself. If we
don't do something about this, Voyager will be destroyed in twenty minutes,"
the Doctor said.
 "I see," she said. And fired at him.

* * *

 "Entering Class-14 Nebula!" Samantha Wildman cried, her voice panicky.
 "Steady…steady!" B'Elanna said, as if trying to placate the ship as it
rocked madly.
 Seven gripped the console as the ship bucked wildly to the left.
 "The ship has only ten minutes before the shields collapse!" Seven
shouted above the din.
 Xi'an, if he heard, ignored her. Instead, the jewel on his forehead
glowed eerily. His eyes closed he raised his hands.
 Seven exchanged quick glances with B'Elanna. As much as they wanted to
take Xi'an out now – when he seemed vulnerable – they couldn't ignore the
demands of the ship.
 "Shields are falling. It's at 90%" Samantha cried. She gave Naomi a
desperate look before turning back.
 Naomi wanted to break free from Vorik's grip, but she was too scared.
She cried out when she was pitched to the floor when the ship lurched to the
 "Naomi!" Samantha cried.
 Xi'an eyes opened and they were white. The jewel glowed, the light

* * *

 The shot went through him and at the controls.
 "What made you think I won't listen? Voyager is my only way home and
I'm not going to give it up for a psychotic human," Rowena said as she aimed
at Harry's brig controls.
 The forecefield shimmered and disappeared.
 The ship trembled violently, pitching all of them to the floor. The
phaser clattered neatly into Janeway's grasp.
 Janeway quickly scrambled to her feet and aimed it at the shapeshifter.
Rowena didn't look surprised at the change of her circumstance.
 "You killed a member of my crew and you're wearing her face. I don't
like that," Janeway growled.
 Romena grinned. Immediately her form rippled, and she resumed the body
she had when she was in Collaborate space.
 "Better?" she asked slyly.
 "Tolerable. We need to get to engineering."
 "It's under a Level 1 forcefield," the Doctor said, throwing aside the
 "We'd have to regain control of the ship from the bridge then," she

* * *

The Bridge

 "He has rerouted controls to Engineering and decrypted the access
code," Harry said above the din.
 It seemed as if the ship was being shaken apart. Outside, the nebula
glowed a noxious green. Janeway could just imagine the radiation the ship was
being bombarded with.
 "Try, Harry. You have eight minutes!"
 Harry nodded, his brown eyes large with panic.
 "Captain- look!" the Doctor cried suddenly.
 A dark object glowed from a distance.
 "What is it?" Chakotay asked.
 "An array…or a space station," Janeway breathed. "I think this is what
Xi'an is looking for."

* * *

 His eyes snapped open.
 They are here!
 Xi'an walked to one of the engineering consoles. There it was – the
array that had plagued his mind for centuries.
 "Bring Voyager to the Array. Dock it there. The array's shields shall
protect the ship," he told B'Elanna.
 <Tuvok, Vorik he called.
 His slaves turned, ready.
 <Once the ship is docked, knock them unconscious. I have need for them
 The ship shuddered when it docked at the array. And as predicted by
Xi'an, the shields of the array enveloped Voyager. With a last look at them,
he left, taking down the shields briefly before exiting.
 <No time to think. Time to act! B'Elanna gave Delaine a look which she
returned with a faint nod, her lips parted, her eyes wide with anticipation.
They had discussed in the brig that when the opportunity arose to overcome
Vorik or Tuvok, they would take it, regardless of the consequences.
 She whirled around and threw a heavy punch at Vorik's jaw. His head
snapped aside and the phaser cluttered to the floor.
 Tuvok fired, the beam catching Delaine in the chest before she could
hurl herself at him. She fell heavily to the ground-
 But not before Seven launched herself at him, struggling to wrest
control of the phaser from him.
 "Tuvok!" she growled. "Fight his control!"
 Tuvok frowned with strain. His teeth clenched.
 Then he sagged, his eyes rolling into his head.
 B'Elanna stood with a phaser in her hand, breathing heavily. "No time
to talk. Just act," she muttered.
 Seven regarded Tuvok, her brow creased with concern for her crewmate.
But she knew that wasn't what they needed now, so she turned away from him
and walked to the engineering console.
 "We have to break the security code he has in place," Seven said, her
hands moving quickly over the engineering consoles.
  B'Elanna cried out suddenly. Seven whirled around in time to see her
fall to the floor, unconscious. She looked up, startled to see Samantha
Wildman pointing the phaser at her.
 "Ensign Wildman?"
 She shot a quick look at Naomi, and was horrified to see her
unconscious as well, with a bruise to her forehead.
 "It is true what they say about doing everything yourself. Good help is
hard to find," Samantha Wildman said with a smirk edging her lips. "Humans
are so easy to control," she said with a sneer.
 Seven's vision blurred, and when it sharpened Samantha was gone. In her
place was-
 "Xi'an," she breathed, edging away from him. "You never left."
 Xi'an regarded her coldly. Tom Paris' blue eyes twinkled as it always
did when he was amused. "Your trick with your implants worked for a while.
But you must realise that the Borg never encountered my kind. But it was an
admirable effort, Seven."
 Seven's lips parted, her hands reaching for the console behind her.
 Xi'an replaced the phaser in his belt and opened his right palm. A
burst of light arose from it, and a small ball of blue energy appeared from
the device on his palm.
 "You can warn your Doctor now," he smiled.

* * *
 [He is coming!]
 Then a startled cry and the transmission went dead.
 The Doctor froze, trying in vain to hail Seven, but she was silent.
 "It looks as if we're safe," Harry said. "The shields of the array are
protecting the ship."
 "What is it?" Chakotay asked, staring at the pulsating Gate behind the
 "The array is guarding something. And the Gate is a good guess. A
doorway," Janeway said with a hard edge to her voice.
 "And it feels like a doorway to hell," Chakotay muttered.
 "Captain! As much as I like to study the Gate further, I think we have
to move on," the Doctor interrupted.
 "Doctor? Have you received anything from Seven?" Janeway asked.
 "He knows we're in the Bridge, and he has taken out Seven. And my guess
is that B'Elanna, Delaine and Wildman are out as well," he said.
 Janeway  steeled herself. "We have to separate. Together we're an easy
 Chakotay nodded. He didn't much like the idea, but the Captain was
  "Harry, go to Cargo Bay 8 – see if you can free the crew from the
lifepods. Chakotay get to the Delta Flyer-"
 "It's an order! Get to the array. Destroy it if you can. Doctor-"
 "I will stay here. Try revive Seven and the rest. I wish I could do
more," he added helplessly.
 "That could be what we need, Doctor. We've been in impossible
situations before, and this is not going to be our last one."
 He nodded feebly. "How about you Captain?" he asked.
 Her eyes flashed steel. "I'm going to go after him from behind. Or at
least die trying."
* * *

 With Tom's hand clutched in his, they began walking. The Paris house
faded along with Buster, the San Fracisco Gate was next and then it was green
grass, endless green grass. Ebran felt Tom's hand grew stiff.
 He remembered this place. It was this place that Tom had given him the
starmap to the strange array.
 Tom looked up at him anxiously. "We're here."
 "Where?" he looked around.
 "A crossroad," he said.
 "Are you sure this is what you want to do?" Ebran asked after a pause.
 "I can't stay here forever, Tonay. I must get back to my body – no
matter how powerful he is. I must try."
 Ebran admired his courage. After seeing how easily Xi'an controlled
Tuvok and Vorik, Ebran had no idea how Tom would manage the feat. But if he
learnt one thing in his stay on Voyager, quitting is never an option.
      "You have to help me now. I don't know where to go," Tom said, looking
at him expectantly.
 <Neither do I Ebran thought desperately.
 "You know the way, Tonay. You came to me before, remember?"
 Ebran lifted an eyebrow in puzzlement. "What do you mean?"
 Tom sighed and gave him a patient look. "Every time we met here – you
came. It wasn't the other way round. You came to me, Ebran," he said.
 That was a revelation. "And I came to you this time as well?"
 Tom nodded.
 "But I don't remember how."
 "You don't want to. It's Betazed again."
 Ebran shut his eyes instinctively to block the images out.
 "Tonay, how do you do it?"
 Ebran opened his eyes in surprise. Deanna Troi's brown dilated eyes
looked imploringly at him.
 "I don't remember how," he found himself saying.
 A gentle tinkling nearby. It was a fountain, a favourite place of his
when he stayed at the asylum. He used to sit near the fountain, focusing on
the gentle, tinkling sound so that his mind would not wander and slip into
people's minds. He could smell the scent of Ormak blossoms. It was spring
again on Betazed.
 "Tonay, I know you know how. If we don't find out, we'll never be able
to control your ability," Deanna pleaded.
 He trembled. "If I remember now, it could happen."
 Deanna took his hand in hers and smiled. "I'm here."
 Tonay closed his eyes. He took in her scent, the faint smell of flowers
and remembered the first time they met. It was at the Garden, and he had
tried to ignore her. But she continued to visit him until he finally spoke to
her two months later.
 The shift happened gently this time. He could feel himself tentatively
*slipping* into Deanna. But unlike the other times, it was a gentle and
controlled. And he was aware that it was Deanna's mental hand that guided
 Ebran's eyes opened.
 "I remember," he said in wonderment.
 Tom nodded.
 "But I had Deanna to guide me then."
 "You have me now," Tom reminded him.
 He took a deep breath. "It's been a long time since I…slipped. It'll be
a bumpy ride."
 "Hey, you're talking to the `best damned pilot' here. I've had my share
of bumpy rides," he grinned.
 Ebran found himself chuckling. Again the words sounded odd on the boy's
 He felt a tug at his sleeve. "Can we go now?"
 Ebran nodded and closed his eyes, thinking back on the first time he
met Tom, picturing the landscape of his mind through the memory.
 "So you want to join the Maquis?"
 His eyes snapped open. He looked to his left. Chakotay sat next to him,
glaring straight at-
 "Well, I'm the best damned pilot you can have," Tom Paris answered
cockily, thumbing his nose at him. It was the adult Paris, dressed in a
scruffy shirt and a pair of pants.
 Ebran could feel Chakotay glowering. Ebran shot a look at Tom Paris but
he merely gave him a disdainful look. It wasn't Tom per se, merely a memory
of him.
 <Did something go wrong? He wondered. Ebran looked around for the
young Tom Paris, but he was no where. <Did I leave him behind? he thought in
a panic. He got up, earning an annoyed glance from Chakotay.
 "Where are you going?" Chakotay snapped.
 Ebran spared Chakotay a glance before walking away. "I've got better
things to do," he muttered.
 From behind, he heard Paris say:
 "Good help is difficult to find, eh Chakotay?"

 Ebran found him sitting on a chair under a tent. The boy swung his legs
absently, looking at the ground.
 "Well?" he asked.
 The boy looked up. "I think we're still lost," Tom said.
 Ebran sighed. "Then where are we?"
 "A memory," he replied.
 As if in response, the Maquis camp disappeared. Again they were at the
Crossroads. The green grass ruffled from an non-existant wind.
 Ebran sighed in frustration. He wanted to tell Tom to get someone else,
or maybe find his way back himself. That he had forgotten how to slide – but
Tom's look stopped him.
 He looked helpless, vulnerable. Afraid. And it made Ebran wonder that
perhaps this was the reason why Tom was a child in this realm. He lacked the
knowledge to manipulate or interact with this world; How could Tom know
anything about this plane of existence when he had been thrust violently into
it for just a year? Here he was a mere naïve child in a bizarre world he had
no knowledge of.
 Compared to Tom, Ebran was the one with the know-how, the one with
twenty over years of mental turmoil under his belt. The adult of the
 Tom leaned against his hand, gazing forlornly at the never-ending
 Ebran patted the blonde head. "I told you it'll be a bumpy ride. But
we'll get there."

Continued in Part 3 & 4