"The Dark Tunnel"
Part 1: Devastation

By Layla V. v_layla@hotmail.com

Rating: NC-17 for non-consensual sex, violence, m/m sexual content and mature language. Angst. H/c.

Post: Cha_Club, CPSG, TPDorm, Paris Nights. Anywhere else, please ask.

Disclaimer: All characters owned by Paramount. I am merely playing
with them. No copyright infringement is intended.


Story notes: What if things had happened differently on the Ocampa
staircase during the attempt to rescue Chakotay?

This story uses major events taking place in Caretaker and the start
of Voyager's season 1. Now's the time for me to perhaps come out with a warning since some might call this story a 'major character death
story with a twist' but I'd like to assure you that I personally am
not fond of death stories and have put more emphasis on the said
'twist' than the death part of this strange little tale. Having said
that, I won't spoil it anymore for you except to ask you to please
proceed with an open mind. Everything is not as it appears to be and
there are mysteries afoot.

This story is divided into three major parts (this is part 1) which
are then further divided into four smaller parts for easier posting to
the list.


Author's notes: As always major thanks go out to Morticia for her
invaluable suggestions and for betaing this story. You're the best,

Also thanks go to my dear friend Natosha for her encouragement and
help in that little piece of exchange at the end of the story. You
know what I am talking about, sis.

Feedback is always welcome at v_layla@hotmail.com! Thanks. :-)


Devastation 1/4

I grab the shivering steel rail with shaking hands, my eyes blinking
furiously to clear the clouds from my vision.

It's not the menacing near-darkness of the cave that blurs my vision.
Neither is it the dust and debris falling from the quaking rocks above
and around me.

It's the heat.

It's the slick, thick sweat that rolls down into my fluttering eyelashes, making my eyes water, forcing me to squeeze them shut for a ceaseless moment; only to snap them open again as the realization
sinks that every second gone may be a second too late.

My heart pounds thunderously as I shuffle my feet to the left and
right, desperate to find a firm foothold, desperate to move down the
stairs so that I can accomplish what I came down here for.

Desperate to save the life of a man who means more to me than I will
ever admit to his face.

"Get out of here, Paris, before the whole thing comes down."

The sudden reproach sends a shiver down my spine as a wetness of a
different kind swells up under my lashes.

I look at him lying on the creaking iron floor, sprawled over the
platform, just a few steps below me. I watch as he closes one large
shaking hand over a metal bar, painfully attempting to huddle over the side of the railing, trying not to rest too much of his weight on his
broken leg.

And failing.

A hurtful hiss is exhaled from between teeth clenched in unbearable

I try to gauge his emotions, wanting to catch his eyes, to figure out
how best to approach him in his obviously uncivil disposition.

Still he keeps his eyes averted from mine. He won't give me the chance to look into his eyes, the chance to see his fear, to sense his terror
that the stairs will crumble and he will fall.

Yet I don't have to look into his eyes to know he's scared.

I can smell his fear, his sweat, and his pain. I want to take it all
away from him. I want to get him to safety.

Suddenly, I notice something sparkle against his chest - a glittering
carved stone, or an engraved metal emblem, or perhaps a piece of
polished ivory, I am not sure what - hanging around his neck with a
thin string, but when I blink its gone. I blink again, wondering what
it was, and then let it go deciding my eyes are probably playing
tricks with me.

Several dozen meters above us, another explosion rocks the surface and the whole staircase shudders in agony.

God, I have to get him to safety now.

"Look, I know you are scared, Chakotay," I say to him. "But you don't
have to fight me because I am trying to save your life."

Now he looks at me, his head whipping up to pierce me with his
penetrating, black stare and I feel myself cringing at the expression
on his face. The hate, the disgust, and the disdain - all vie for
supremacy with that unbearable hint of sorrow that clouds his brown

Unfathomable, unendurable sorrow.

"I don't want your benevolence, Paris," he grates corrosively, his
face tightening, his voice hoarse with pain yet firm in decision. "I
want no more lies, no more deceit, no more fucking hypocritical stints
of sympathizing with the cause." He grits his teeth. "You don't have
to act anymore. I know your truth."

I stare at him, my eyes wide. I can't believe he wants to bring up our
past at a time like this. Doesn't he realize I only want to save his
ass and get him the hell out of here?

"I didn't betray you, Chakotay," I plead with him, taking one more
step down. "I never betrayed you."

The caves rumble as another explosion shakes the planet surface, the
sound of the groaning metal grating my nerves, as the whole staircase
shudders in sync with the quaking rocks.

"What?" He narrows his eyes in scorn, his face tight with hurt. "You
didn't help the Starfleet to track us down?" He clenches his teeth.
"You didn't agree to Janeway's offer to get you out of Auckland so
that you could help her catch us? What was it that you wanted, Paris?
Did you want to see all of us get thrown into maximum security prison
for the rest of our lives?"

His expression shifts, something unreadable fleetingly passing his
features, but I can't recognize what it is. He grits his teeth. "You
did all that so that you could walk free, didn't you? Mission finally
accomplished. Daddy's little boy at last making him proud."

His words cut through my soul as his cold, dark stare burns me.

"NO!" I scream.

He's got it all wrong. That's not how it went. How can he believe I
would sink so low?

"You're wrong, Chakotay." My voice shakes as I plead at him with my
eyes. "I did agree to Janeway's offer but I never for a second thought
that we would find you."

The metal scaffolding shakes with another explosion and the
realization that I am losing this argument pummels into my gut.

Precious seconds are slipping by. This is no time for arguments.

"I don't believe you," he yells, his hands gripping and slipping
through the heaving, rocking rails. "You lied to me."

His agonized voice shakes as he closes his clammy fingers around the
slippery fence, barely hanging onto the balustrade that now seems
suspended by mere hinges.

"Chakotay!" The fear that this would all end in vain suffocates me, as
I slide down frantically to reach him with an outstretched hand.
"Please, give me your hand."

The stairs I stand on jolt violently as another explosive beam hits
the surface and I find myself slammed into the side of a metal fence.
I somehow scramble to my feet, turning to face him again. "Please."

I reach out for him.

"I trusted you." His eyes glisten with unshed sorrow, pain, and
something else. Something final. "You sold us out."

And with those words I finally recognize the elusive emotion in his
expression: Resignation.

The metal shrieks in protest, as another explosion on the surface
sways the entire scaffolding. I watch, aghast, as the metal juncture
joining the platform that Chakotay lies on begins to crumble under the
pressure. In despair, I stagger down a step.

"Chakotay," I scream at him, my hands flailing out in desperation but
the metal floor has gotten too weak to take my additional weight. The
stairs give away under my faltering feet and I am thrown forward onto
the side of the railing, the platform breaking under the pressure.

The cave suddenly fills with stifling dust, grime and falling debris,
and for a second I can't see anything. The roar of the grinding metal
deafens my ears as I scream for him again and reach out one last time to grab him, to save him, to get him out of there.

And find empty air.

I blink in horror, only to see that the platform he was lying on is

It's gone.

It's fallen.

I didn't get him.

He's fallen.

He's gone.


I scream his name in the oppressive, suffocating darkness, as
unashamed tears roll down my cheeks, and I hear my own cry echoing
back to me in the Ocampan caves.

I failed him.

I let him fall to his death.


My pathetic whimper is the last thing I remember from that day.


"Get the hell up, Paris."

I am jolted awake by the heel of the boot that connects with the side
of my ribs. I scramble up on the lumpy mattress, my sides burning, my pulse racing raggedly, and look blearily around the cubicle searching for the source of the voice and the abuse.

The bright lights are blinding to my half-asleep eyes, my heart still
pounds at the burning memories of the nightmare. I swallow heavily to
calm myself, to get my nerves under control, to get ready for the day
that is to come.

"And stop sniveling, for gods sake. You KNOW they hate it when you
snivel in your fucking sleep," the same voice continues. "Pathetic
pussified sonofabitch."

Baxter. Only he would use this kind of endearment.

The 'they' in question are more partial to asshole, slut and whore.

"You're supposed to finish your pet welding project in the third
sector today, and you'd better do it, you fucking loser, otherwise
you'll be in big trouble."

Funny. Every work I am forced to do becomes my pet project.

Never mind that I may have been dragged to it kicking and screaming,
while being beaten, kicked, thrashed and pounded all the way.

It is always my pet project.

And if I refuse, 'they' make sure I have hell to pay.


They are the amalgamated mutation of two reluctant groups of people
that are being forced to live together on this hellhole.

They are the scum, the lowlife of all existence as I know it; the
grotesque monstrosity that dominates, and represses, the humanoid
population on this cursed gorge of a planet.

Baxter grabs my left bicep in a vice-like grip and pulls me out of the
bed. His other hand disappears from my view and moves down my body and I cringe in disgust as one grime-filled fingernail fleetingly brushes against my hip.

"What's the matter, babe?" He smiles sickly at me. "Did I hurt you
when I kicked you into wakefulness?"

I pull my arm out of his claws. "Get your hands off me," I snap at
him, as I stand up straighter in front of the man, gritting my teeth.

He shrugs as he blows a kiss at me, and I turn away from him, walking
out of the cubicle I've been assigned.

I once read somewhere that the scum always accumulated at the bottom of the vessel.

I thought that I had seen the worst, the lowest and the most
condemned, in my year long incarceration at Auckland.

I never realized how wrong I was.

You don't have to go to prison to see the refuse of the civilization.

All you have to do is take a bunch of otherwise normal people and
throw them in an unexpected situation, take away the leadership they
are used to following, and throw in a horde of savage enemies for
added entertainment. Then you can have your very own inescapable,
private hell right there.

This planet is the pit, the bottom, the abyssal hell-equivalent of the
delta quadrant.

'They' are the scum of all existence, having finally shed their
civilized masks, and shown their true ugly faces after being abandoned
on this godforsaken world.

They are the remaining crews of the deceased Federation starship
Voyager and the equally deceased Maquis cruiser Crazy Horse.

I hear Baxter muttering something about how he misses replicators and clothes refreshers to one of his ex-fleeters, and I try to forget the
feeling of his slimy fingers on my skin.

They are scum and this is my private hell.

And I have no one else to blame but myself.

It's all my fault.

I failed Chakotay.

I let him fall to his death.


The dying rays of Lovaugim's setting sun beat down the side of my
face. The slight breeze that started with the advent of dusk feels
cool on my sunburnt skin.

I rub the sweat off my eyes with the right shoulder of my dungarees
and carefully try to guide my tired, shaking hand, which is holding
the sonic welder, back in place between the juncture of the two metal

The work today has been slow, arduous and brutally punishing. It has
not been much different from any other day actually.

But welding days are always a little harsher than usual.

First, we get no food in the daytime and staying hungry after the
paltry meal I have in the morning is tough in the face of the hard
work we are forced to do in the excruciating heat.

And second, our 'supervisor' for the welding days is one callous,
revolting bitch.

"What's the matter, Paris, the work getting too boring for you?" the
imposing, red-haired woman standing behind me snarls, her shoulders
squared, one hand purposefully rapping the long wooden staff against
her right thigh. "If you are bored, let me know, I will arrange for
something a little more exciting for you."

I turn my head around and stare at her, squinting my eyes against the
glaring sun and notice a covert half-smirk on her face.

My heart sinks when I recognize the look in her dark, vaporous gaze.
It's the same look she gets when she is either frustratingly horny or
extremely pissed. Either instance means trouble for anyone who bears
the brunt of her wrath.

But I am well versed in ways to deal with her. I have had almost
twelve months practice, after all. It doesn't mean I will be safe from
her temper, but it will probably assure me a somewhat satisfied state
of mind in the aftermath.

In this hellhole, in the midst of this depressive, oppressive
subversion, a moderately mollified state of mind is the best anyone
can hope for.

"What's the matter, Seska," I drawl out in my cockiest tone. "You
aren't GETTING any lately?"

Her face suddenly freezes, her eyes turning colder if possible, and
the snarling features turn an uglier shade of red.

Amazed, I look at the transformation with wide eyes.

It baffles my mind every time I see Seska when she is pissed off.

I always thought Bajorans were soft-spoken, nonviolent people. I met
many Bajorans in the academy, and on duty, and always found them to be compassionate and caring. Even the Maquis I met in Chakotay's cell, after I was kicked out of Starfleet, were proud and passionate about the cause, but always warm-hearted and gentle at core.

Seska, on the other hand, doesn't look like any Bajoran I have ever

I am rudely shaken out of my thoughts as one end of her wooden staff comes flying at me and savagely hits the same side of ribs that made friends with Baxter's boot this morning. Gasping, I double over in pain and stagger back from her, trying to avoid any more rude

For a second or two, I feel a string of expletives simmering at the
tip of my tongue and I have to swallow them back with effort, knowing
that uttering them will only provoke further attack.

Instead, I grit my teeth and look up at her, my burning eyes conveying my defiance in a way no words can ever do.

Her acid gaze pierces mine and once again I am reminded of how odd she looks as a Bajoran. Her eyes are too cold, her face too cruel, her
whole make up a little too vehement for the members of her species.

If I didn't know better, I would think Seska was a fake Bajoran.

The corners of my lips twitch as I wonder how she would react if I
said that to her face. If she's as proud of her heritage as the other
Bajorans I know, she would be pretty damn ticked off.

She probably notices the hint of a smile flickering at the corners of
my mouth, because I suddenly find myself sprawled on the ground, the sole of her leather boot jabbing me on my belly, pushing me down on the hard ground.

"Get back to work, Paris," she snarls at me again. "You waste too much of my freaking time."

And with one last punishing thrust of her boot, she pulls back,
straightens up and, turning around, moves off to her next mark.

As I brush myself off and, ignoring the various aches and pains that
needle down my body, turn around to face my unfinished task, a stray
thought comes to me.

For the thousandth time, I wonder if life on Lovaugim would have been
better for me if I had decided not to transport the Maquis crew from
their cruiser onto Voyager.

If Seska and her cronies hadn't been here, would this gorge still
resemble hell or would it have been a somewhat better place to live?

After all, it was me whom Janeway had left in charge at Voyager's
conn, when she beamed down to the Caretaker's array with Tuvok, and it was I alone who made the decision to transport the Maquis crew to
Voyager after their ship was badly damaged.

Would Harry have lived if we didn't have the Maquis terrorists
scampering around Voyager?

I am not so sure.

I am not even sure whether it was the Maquis who killed Harry.

It could've been the Kazon.

I mean, Maquis or not, Voyager was still damaged beyond repair and I
had no other choice but to crash-land her on this planet.

It was a nightmarish situation. So many people were wounded, many
fatally, others critically. How could anyone have been ready to defend
themselves when the fucking Kazon followed us down to this planet?

I had never seen so much blood in my life.

I lost the body count of how many Starfleet crewmembers were
slaughtered that day.

I know many Maquis died too.

And quite a few number of Kazon as well.

So who knows who killed Harry?

Or that furry Talaxian man.

Not to mention that young Ocampa girl who apparently disappeared and was never found again. Disappeared, along with most of the women in the Starfleet and Maquis crews, all of whom vanished off the face of Voyager, and this planet, never to be heard from again.

I wonder what the Kazon did to them.

I also sometimes wonder what became of Captain Janeway and Tuvok. Were they ever able to get off the array? Some say that the Kazon landed on the array and killed them too.

I wonder if they were killed quickly and mercifully. Or if they were
tortured and tormented for a long time before being barbarously hacked to death.

I have seen a few such killings on this very planet, in front of my
very eyes.

I have seen the scum of Starfleet do it to their own fellow crewmates.

I wonder if it could've happened differently.

I hear footsteps coming my way and shake myself out of my daze.

"Paris, I don't understand why you goad Seska like this."

It's Torres; coming with her daily doze of antibiotics for the
injuries that are inflicted on me everyday in new and sundry places.

I look at the half-Klingon and suddenly feel like a criminal, guilty,
for thinking that life could have been better for me without the

"You shouldn't rile her up like this." She frowns at me and presses
the tube in my palm. "She not only stays pissed at everyone else after
that, but also takes her anger out on YOU yourself later on."

I find myself smiling at the Maquis engineer who regularly steals
medicine for me from the infirmary of the same people who inflict
those injuries on me on an equally regular basis.

She's one of those resilient few women that no one, not even the
Kazon, was able to touch.

"You know what, Torres," I grin at her. "Goading Seska and the other
bastards is the highlight of my existence these days."

She snorts and shaking her head at me straightens up again. "Pig," she growls affectionately. "You'll never learn."

And with that, she turns around and walking down the same path she
came through, disappears between the tents and cubicles, leaving me
alone with a sonic welder in one hand, and a tube of antibiotic cream
in the other.

Oh no, life couldn't have been better if I hadn't transported the
Maquis to Voyager. I can't imagine how I would've survived all these
months if it hadn't been for Torres and others like her.

It isn't the Maquis' fault that things have turned out the way they

It isn't because of Starfleet or the Kazon either.

I really have no one else to blame but me.

It's my fault.

Mine alone.

It's all happened because I failed Chakotay.

I let him fall to his death.