Several hours later, the door to their prison swished open and
two aliens entered, one of them carrying a tray. He/she/it brought
it over to the dinner table and put it down. Then he/she/it moved
back to stand by the door beside the other. "Eat," he/she/it
ordered, and gestured for the two men to sit at the table.
Tom and Chakotay looked quizzically at each other, then
shrugged and went over to the table. Looking at they tray, they
saw two bowls of Senarian egg broth, a couple of spoons and two
glasses of ice tea. Tom and Chakotay sat down at the small
dining table, took a bowl and a spoon each, then started on the
They ate their meals in silence. Both were acutely aware that the
two aliens by the door were watching their every move. The two
men finished the food quickly, then drained their glasses before
leaning back in their chairs, still not saying a word.
As soon as Tom and Chakotay had finished their meals, one of
the aliens came over to the table, put everything back on the tray
and picked it up. Then he/she/it carried the tray to the door and
left. The other alien stayed in the room, keeping an eye on the
Ten minutes later, the first alien returned to the cabin. He/she/it
stopped beside hir associate and spoke quietly for a moment. The
guard nodded in obvious agreement, then looked at Tom and
Chakotay. The first alien turned to the two men and spoke.
"Commander, Pilot. Come here."
Tom and Chakotay exchanged a puzzled glance, then rose and
went to the two aliens, having decided it best to obey. When they
reached the aliens, the first one spoke again. "I am G'REtchK,"
he/she/it introduced him/her/itself, then continued. "You will
He/she/it barely waited for the two men's nods of agreement
before he/she/it walked out of the cabin again, this time followed
by Chakotay and Tom. The guard brought up the rear.
B'Elanna growled in frustration and glared at the assembled
crewmembers. She had finished telling them about the incident
between Tom and Janeway, and the crew didn't seem to believe
her. She was so mad she could strangle someone.
Before B'Elanna could say or do anything, Ken Dalby stepped
forward. "Do you really expect us to believe that bullshit?" he
asked with a sneer. He either didn't see, or chose to ignore,
B'Elanna's narrowed eyes, and continued. "Tom Paris is and
always has been a slut who'd sell himself for a glass of whiskey.
And now you want us to believe that he said 'no' to the Captain's
B'Elanna growled viciously and walked up to Dalby. She
stopped in front of him, looked him straight in the eye, and
before anyone could even guess what she would do, she lifted
her leg and thrust her knee into his groin. Hard. Dalby collapsed
on the ground, doubled over, and groaning in intense pain.
B'Elanna moved to kick him again, but was stopped by a hand
on her shoulder. "What?" she snarled and turned around to glare
at, and possibly hurt, the person who'd interrupted her. Seeing
Tuvok's calm face put a stop to any thoughts of hurting anyone
else. However, it didn't do anything to calm her down. She was
still pissed as all hell and wanted to beat the shit out of Ken
"You do not need to resolve to violence to be believed,
Lieutenant. I do believe you," Tuvok said calmly. "The captain
has been acting strangely for some time, and even more so since
about the time of the alleged incident with Mr. Paris. It was
really uncharacteristic and even more illogical to leave Mr. Paris,
the Doctor and Commander Chakotay behind."
Tuvok cast a quick glance at the gathered crew before turning his
attention back to B'Elanna. "Furthermore, I checked on the
condition of Lieutenant Paris before we evacuated Voyager. The
computer informed me that Mr. Paris was out of surgery. I tried
to convince Captain Janeway of the illogic of leaving him and
the Doctor behind."
The crew started murmuring to each other, more convinced now
that B'Elanna and Tuvok were telling the truth. Then Neelix
spoke up. "Mr. Vulcan's right. I also noticed Captain Janeway
behaving differently, especially around Tom."
One by one other crewmembers spoke up, mentioning occasions
when Janeway had acted out of character. Slowly everyone
present realized that almost all of the incidents had to do with
Tom Paris. In the end, not even Ken Dalby could deny that
something must have happened between the captain and senior
The Delaney twins moved through the crowd until they could see
the three senior officers. "Sir," Megan addressed Tuvok. When
he looked at her, she asked, "What should we do?"
Everyone else grew silent as they waited for Tuvok to tell them
what would happen next.
The alien led them into a room that looked similar to an old
fashioned study. Two huge windows let in the light and the two
armchairs in front of a massive wooden desk made it more
inviting. Tom's heart was pounding. It seemed as if they were
given a last chance to experience a friendly environment before
the aliens began whatever it was they had planned.
The guard nudged them toward to chairs in front of the desk,
clearly expecting them to sit down. When they were seated,
he/she/it left the study with a warning. "Don't try to leave. I'll be
standing right outside, and there isn't anywhere else you can go
in this program that you won't be found quickly. And you won't
like the consequences if SicA has to look for you." With that, the
As soon as they were alone Tom turned to look at Chakotay, a
grim expression on the pilot's face. "I've got a very bad feeling
about this," he said quietly. Despite the pleasantness of the
holodeck program, his instincts were screaming for him to leave
and get as far away as possible.
Chakotay returned Tom's look and nodded in agreement. He,
too, wanted to be be anywhere else. "So do I. But considering
our guard's words, I think we better stay where we are."
"A very wise decision," came a voice from the open glass door
beside the windows. The two men turned and saw the alien who
had spoken with Tom earlier. He/she/it entered the room and
went over to sit behind the desk. "Now, I'm sure you have
questions," he/she/it said with a smile. "Feel free to ask them. I
"What do want with us?" Chakotay asked.
The alien smiled again. "Me? Nothing," he/she/it replied,
knowing that they wouldn't believe him/her/it.
And sure enough, both Tom and Chakotay sent him/her/it a
disbelieving look before Tom asked, "What are you going to do
"You'll find out soon enough," was the answer.
Voyager's first officer and senior pilot exchanged an uneasy
glance. Neither man liked the sound of that. Then they turned
their attention back to the alien. "Do you have a name?"
"Yes," the alien answered. "However, my name is a private
thing. You can address me by my rank like everyone else does."
For a moment the two men frowned in thought, then Chakotay's
face cleared as he remembered how the doctor had addressed this
alien in sickbay earlier. "SicA?" he asked.
The alien nodded in confirmation, satisfied, but not surprised,
that Chakotay had figured it out so quickly. "Any other
The two men considered it for a while, then Tom thought of
something. "Are you male or female?" he inquired, having failed
to figure it out by himself. He cast a quick glance at his superior
officer and noted that Chakotay seemed as interested in the
answer as Tom was.
"Neither. And both," was the cryptical answer. Seeing their
confusion, the alien elaborated. "We don't actually have a
specific gender, but we can be male or female as we choose," it
Suddenly, the alien looked over their shoulders, and before either
man could react, Tom felt something against his neck and then
the hiss of a hypo spray could be heard. An instant later, the hypo
spray was pressed against Chakotay's neck.
The two men turned around and saw the doctor standing behind
them, the hypo spray still in his hand and a cold smile on his
face. "What did you just inject us with?" Chakotay demanded.
The doctor's smile widened. "Oh, just Bufotine," he replied.
Noticing their quizzical expressions, he explained exactly what it
was. "Bufotine is a drug found in the skins and parotid glands of
certain species of toads*. It's a hallucinogenic," he added almost
as an afterthought.
The alien laughed at Tom and Chakotay's horrified expressions.
After a moment, it got its amusement under control and looked at
the doctor. "Thank you, Doctor. You may leave."
"Yes, SicA," the doctor replied. "I will return to sickbay and
continue to look for a way to cure your crew." With that, he left.
Once the doctor had left, the alien rose to its feet and addressed
its prisoners. "Come with me. Oh, and don't try anything," it
added. "With the help of your good doctor, I have changed the
programming of the holodeck safeties. If you attempt to attack
me, you will be stunned by a dose of electricity."
Tom and Chakotay got out of their chairs in silence and followed
their captor to another door. The alien opened it and ushered the
two men through it, into a bedroom. "You might want to lie
down before your visions begin," it said, gesturing to the two
beds. Then it took one last look at the two men before it left them
alone, closing and locking the door behind it.
For a moment, Tom and Chakotay looked at each other, then
Chakotay spoke. "I think our captor is right. We should lie
Tom nodded in agreement, then they walked over to the beds and
lay down. Nothing further was said as the two men waited for the
hallucinations to begin.
*Thanks to Isabelle S for any and all suggestions for usable
drugs and explaining their effects.