Rating: PG, has a rather violent scene, so better safe than sorry.
Pairing: P, P/f, EHM and all of the merry gang.
Spoilers: None that I can think of…
Disclaimers: Everyone on the ship, the ship itself, holodecks, replicators… They all belong to Paramount bla,bla,bla… I own my own characters, I doubt Paramount would want anything to do with them ;-) I'm only writing this story to see if I can, money would be great, but unfortunately, I'm not getting any for this.
Archive: Sure, fine with me, just let me know first. You can send it wherever you like, as long as my name is still attached to it. And of course the disclaimers. *sigh*
Author's note: This is my first ever Star Trek story, so don't expect too much. It took months to write this, so I might have polished it too shiny in some parts. Just be gentle, okay? Oh, and by the way, this isn't written with the usual perspective, so just bare with me for a while, okay?
Feedback: If you liked it, write me. If you didn't… well, why not, I need to learn some humility. Just don't send me any hate-letters… Feedback is sent firstname.lastname@example.org
Set sometime in the third season.
Summary: The crew of Voyager encounters a strange cloud and takes a scuttle out to explore. Hmm, I wonder if anything happens…
Thank you T'Pam, for your support and wonderful beta-ing. I couldn't have done it without you! Here's a rose, just for you:
She was running. Running for her life. Her left side was burning like fire, but somehow she kept
her feet moving.
She could feel him right behind her, his hands reaching for her. She heard a frequent sound and she realized that it was the sound of her own sobs.
Her heart was beating like a sledgehammer as the panic increased. She couldn't get away; she was too tired! Suddenly he grabbed hold of her hair and pulled so hard that she fell to the ground.
"NO! NO, PLEASE!" she screamed. And the darkness surrounded her as she kept on screaming.
She woke from the sound of something smashing to the floor. It was the vase she'd been given for her 17th birthday.
Damn, she should have known better than to keep it next to the bed! On the other hand, she hadn't expected the dreams to come back. She was soaked in sweat and still shivering from the shock.
As the lights came on in Lieutenant Marcia Wilde's quarters, she closed her eyes and started to take deep breaths, but it didn't work.
When the slow Beethoven filled the room, she started to relax. Classical music seemed to be the only thing that calmed her after these dreams. She had tried talking to therapists, but it hadn't helped.
The talking wasn't that bad, it was the memories it brought. Memories she wanted to bury. After a while she'd stopped seeing them.
She sighed and replicated a cup of hot chocolate as she made her way back to the bed. She had to try to get some more sleep; she had the early shift this morning.
When she entered the bridge from the turbolift, Harry Kim greeted her with a smile. Harry was probably the only friend Marcia had on board this ship. He was the only one she had dared to approach anyway.
Marcia Wilde wasn't the standard StarFleet officer. She was quiet by nature and every time she was on the bridge, she would agonize over the thought that either the Captain or the Commander would address her.
Her appearance couldn't be the cause of it, all the males, and some females, thought she was nice-looking with her dark hair and blue eyes. But for some reason, her confidence wasn't exactly on top.
Hesitantly she returned Harry's smile and then quickly went to her station.
The Captain was sitting in her chair reading some data padds. That was something Marcia always found fascinating; no matter how early she got to her morning shifts, the Captain would always be there.
Her eyes wandered on to the flight console. She frowned. Mike Saunders was sitting there, but she was pretty sure that Tom Paris was supposed to have today's shift. Her thoughts were soon confirmed.
"All right", she heard the captain mutter, "that's it." She tapped her commbadge.
"Janeway to Paris."
There was no response. She tried again. This time a drowsy voice responded.
"I hope it's not to much to ask that you show up for your shift", she said in a frosty voice.
A loud thud was heard followed by some muffled swearing.
"I'll be right there, Captain!"
"You better be", she muttered in a hard tone, but from where Marcia stood, she could see a little smile around the Captain's lips.
Ten minutes later the turbolift doors opened and Tom Paris entered the bridge. The Captain turned to him, and there was no sign of the smile now.
"Well, Mr. Paris, what's your excuse this time?"
There was a small pause.
"A fire in sickbay?"
"It didn't sound like that."
He looked seriously at her face, but a smile suddenly appeared.
"Well then, I guess it was just a dream!"
The captain couldn't help but smile a little, but she didn't let him off quite so easy.
"This is the second time you've been late this week, I hope this isn't going to be a habit."
"And of course, I expect that you will relieve ensign Saunders twenty-five minutes earlier next time."
Tom nodded and went to relieve the ensign.
Marcia smiled a little to herself. This was far from the first time Tom had arrived late for duty.
She didn't think anybody really minded, maybe except for the pilot who was supposed to be relieved. Everybody wanted a little change from the everlasting routines.
'And if anyone provides it, it certainly is Tom Paris', she thought.
She was sitting in her quarters reading a terrible Klingon novel which mostly was about how many ways you could kill someone with your bare hands, when her commbadge beeped.
"Janeway to Wilde."
She almost swallowed her tongue, but somehow she got the words out.
"Can you come to my ready room, please?"
She swallowed. Was it something she'd done?
"Yes, if it's alright with you."
"Sure. I'll be right there, Captain."
Kathryn Janeway was sitting reading the latest report from engineering when the doorchime sounded.
"Come." She lifted her eyes from the padd. Lieutenant Wilde entered. Janeway hid a smile. 'She looks like she's on her way to her own execution!'
But her urge to laugh quickly disappeared when she saw the lieutenant trying to hide her shaking hands.
'Have I neglected my crew? After such a long time together trying to get home no member of the crew should feel uncomfortable coming to me.'
She smiled at the young woman.
"Have a seat."
She was obeyed immediately.
"I've been reading some of your files and I discovered that you were an assistant to Dr. Regor Lun while he was visiting the Enterprise."
Lt. Wilde seemed to relax a bit.
"Why haven't you mentioned this? That's a pretty impressive résumé, considering that dr. Lun is the most brilliant scientist in the entire Alpha quadrant when it comes to astrophysics."
"Well, I…I…never thought it was of any importance."
"Lieutenant, I'm sure that to be humble is a virtue, but out here we need all the talents we can get."
"I don't understand; surely there are people who know more about astrophysics than I do!"
"I'm not so sure about that. I've read a little about the research he did at the time, and it's quite advanced. I know I had trouble getting the hang of it. Besides, it appears that the doctor had very high thoughts about you while discussing it with Captain Picard before leaving."
"Yes. I'm surprised the Captain didn't tell you that himself."
Marcia's face literally lit up at that point.
'Good heavens, she looks like a completely different person', Janeway thought to herself.
"The point to this," she continued, "is that our sensors have picked up a strange cloud based methane, sulfur and some minerals we have never encountered before. Even Tuvok has trouble classifying it."
She smiled at the memory. It had been a hard day for the Vulcan's pride when he had been forced to admit his ignorance.
Personally, Kathryn thought it was good for the Vulcan to learn a little modesty.
"We are pretty sure that it is harmless, so I'm planning a shuttle expedition to get some more accurate readings. How would you feel being in charge of the entire operation?"
The Lieutenant's smile disappeared and she suddenly looked uncertain again.
"I…I don't know. Don't you think somebody else would do it better…Captain?"
She blushed. For a moment she had forgotten who she was talking to.
Captain Janeway looked her straight in the eye.
"Lieutenant, do you really think I would have asked you if I didn't think you were fit for the job?"
"I…I didn't mean it like that, Captain…"
"I know." Janeway sighed. " Lieutenant, I won't force you into doing this, it's up to you. I just think that it would be good for you to get some change. I've noticed that you're hardly ever on any away missions and you haven't had any change from the bridge in almost two years."
"Captain, I've never complained about it!"
"That may be so, but considering how long we might be out here, some change wouldn't hurt."
Lieutenant Wilde seemed to think about it for a while.
"Would I be going out alone?"
"For some reason Tom Paris always seems to pop up whenever there's a shuttle involved. He'll be your pilot."
Marcia returned the smile. She looked forward to this with an optimism that had been absent for years.
Chakotay left the padd on Janeway's desk and looked at her face.
"What's on your mind, Kathryn?"
She looked up with surprise, but then smiled.
"Am I that obvious?"
"Yes." He returned the smile.
"I was just thinking… Do you know Lieutenant Wilde well?"
"Neither do I, and she's been serving on Voyager for three years."
"I consider myself to know the crew pretty well. Everyone but Lt. Wilde. That's probably because she's doing a Tom Paris on me."
"I beg your pardon?"
He smiled at the expression on her face.
"Almost all of the crew have come to me sometime to talk; after all, being 70000 light-years from home isn't easy for anyone. Except, perhaps, for Tuvok, Vorik and P'Lah. Besides those three, there are two
crewmembers who have never come to see me."
"Tom Paris and Marcia Wilde."
"Exactly." He frowned a little. "I wish they would, though. I have a feeling that those two are the ones that need it the most."
"What makes you say that? I know Tom's been through a lot, but I've just read Lieutenant Wilde's file, and I didn't see anything out of the ordinary."
"Not at first glance", Chakotay said seriously, "but if you read it again, you'll see that in her cadet years she was extremely gifted. So gifted in fact that her teachers at the academy laid bets that she would be captain before the age of thirty."
Janeway raised an eyebrow.
"I don't think I'll find that information no matter how carefully I read my files. How do you know this, when you don't know her?"
He winked at her.
"I have my sources. Anyway, she took extra courses in astrophysics and shuttle flying and after her graduation, she got her lieutenant rank faster then anyone in StarFleet history. According to her friends she was very straightforward and always spoke her mind."
"Things certainly seem to have changed." Kathryn had an intrigued look on her face.
"They certainly have. About eight years ago, everyone on the Enterprise went on shoreleave, and when she came back, she was a different person. Quiet, careful and jumpy. She refused to tell anyone what happened."
"Didn't she get therapy help?"
"I would guess so, but it apparently didn't help."
She thought out loud.
"What could happen to a person that would change her personality so completely?"
Marcia was sitting in the messhall trying to narrow down the original list of equipment for the shuttle expedition, when a voice interrupted her.
"Hey, mind if I join ya?"
She looked up and met Tom Paris's blue eyes.
"I…sure. (God damn, Marcy, can't you get a single word out without stuttering!?)
He sat down and suspiciously sniffed in the very…distinctive aroma of the soup he had with him. He looked at her.
"Have you tasted this?"
"No." (Good, much better.)
"Damn! I was hoping there was someone that would have beaten me to the act! Well, I guess I'll have to take my chances…"
"If you don't like Neelix's food, why eat it?"
He looked a little regretful.
"I'm out of rations", he confessed.
She couldn't help but laugh, and she got a breathtaking smile in return.
"Mind if I join you?" a new voice asked.
B'Elanna Torres stood next to the table carrying a bowl full of Tom Paris's greatest fear.
"Sure, if it's okay with you, lieutenant?"
Marcia simply nodded.
"You're out of rations?" Tom asked a bit maliciously.
"Yeah, look who's talking!" B'Elanna snarled out at him.
He took a closer look at her.
"Terrible day. I don't know what's in that cloud, but it's making the engines nuts. We've had four power shutdowns so far."
"And the Captain still wants us to go there with a shuttle?"
"Yeah, she seems to think that we have to find out what's causing these power-failures, or we might get trouble in the future."
He looked at Marcia.
"Have you ever heard of anything like this before?"
She shook her head.
He turned to B'Elanna again.
"Lt. Wilde is an expert in astrophysics, so she's going to lead tomorrows mission."
"I…I'm no expert…" (Oh no, here we go again…)
But this time she was saved by a familiar face.
"Hey guys, any room left for me?"
Tom slid over.
"Hi, Har! What took you so long?"
Harry looked embarrassed.
"I was late for my shift, so Chakotay made me stay over."
"Why, Harry!" Tom sounded shocked, but you could see a teasing gleam in his eyes.
"I really have to go. I'll see you later." She was starting to feel like an intruder in their friendly circle.
"It was nice talking to you." That kind of diplomatic statement from B'Elanna? Both Tom and
Harry stared at her as Marcia left.
"What? I was being nice."
"Yeah, but 'nice' with you when you're having a lousy day, is trying avoiding biting everyone's head of!"
Harry nodded his agreement.
"Okay, but didn't you think it was nice talking to her?"
"I'm sure it would have been if she had said anything."
"Well, she looked so sad that I thought I'd cheer her up."
Tom shook his head.
"I'll never figure you out, Torres."
Neelix was just about to put away the last of tonight's dinner when he heard the messhall doors swish open. Curiously he looked up to see who it was at this hour.
"Lieutenant Wilde, what a pleasure to see you here! What can I do for you?"
"I'm just here to gather some food for tomorrows mission. Mr. Paris was saying something about the terrible StarFleet rations, so I thought I'd surprise him."
"Well, as a matter of fact, I had just started preparing some Lohnian bread for tomorrow! If you have the time, I can finish them now!"
"I… wouldn't want to cause any trouble…"
"Oh, dear heavens, no trouble at all!" He started fussing around in the kitchen while engaging in chitchat.
"Some mysterious cloud that is, don't you think. I've had people from engineering and the bridge that have been complaining about continuing power shutdowns all day long. Do you know if they've figured out what's causing them?"
"It's really fascinating these things, astrophysics is it? I've often thought about learning a bit about them myself. Perhaps you could teach me some things about it, I heard the captain calling you the most qualified in the area."
By now she was blushing fiercely.
"I really don't think…"
"Oh, you're being too modest, I'm sure you're very good at it!"
She was starting to think she would never get out of the little talaxian's grip, when again, she was rescued.
The doors opened, but when Marcia saw the one entering, she wasn't that sure that being rescued would be any better.
The person entering was the Commander himself.
"Working late, Neelix?" he asked with his quiet voice. He smiled at Marcia.
"Oh, I was about to go to my quarters when the lieutenant came and suggested something more than rations for tomorrows away mission ."
"You shouldn't have stayed, I told you not to bother…" The talaxian waved aside her apology.
"How would it look if I let the crew starve just because they weren't close enough to drop by."
"I've tasted some of those "rations" myself, and to think that you would have to live on that…"
He looked as if the mere thought was shocking.
"No, no, as the head chef of this ship, I have responsibilities." A ringing sound was heard. "Ah, that'll be the bread. I'll wrap them up for you!"
"That's not…" Neelix had already disappeared into the kitchen.
"You probably made his night, if it's any comfort, lieutenant."
Chakotay smiled at her again, and she nervously returned the smile. How had she ever ended up in this situation, having to try to socialize with the Commander *and* being exposed to one of Neelix's mixtures?
After a silence that seemed to go on forever, Neelix finally returned.
"Here you go, lieutenant! Enjoy!"
"Thanks." She made her way out as quickly as possible. Neelix looked a little puzzled.
"She's a little shy, isn't she?"
"Some people just aren't comfortable among other people, that's all."
"I couldn't imagine what it would be like to feel that way."
Chakotay smiled and patted his shoulder.
"No, Neelix, I don't imagine you could."
Marcia tried to clear her head from the pain that filled it. She had smashed it pretty hard against the console as they were going down.
A hard pull in the rope that tied her hands jerked her forward. She tried to keep up, but the pain was making that harder and harder.
"Hey, take it easy, can't you see she's hurting?"
With a frenzy that was totally uncharacteristic for her, she hissed to him.
"Keep your mouth shut, Paris!"
But it was too late, the leader of the men had already turned his attention towards Tom.
"So, we have a troublemaker?" He looked at Tom with hard eyes. Tom stared back just as hard.
"D…don't worry about him, he's always causing problems!" Marcia desperately tried to save the situation.
"You said something, pretty?"
Now he turned his cold eyes towards her. Wisely enough she kept her mouth shut, and even Paris seemed to keep a hold of himself. He studied them both, but seemed to let things be.
As they kept moving, Paris stepped up by her side.
"You're welcome." For some reason his teasing smile made her even more irritated.
"I was doing fine before you started to interfere!"
He looked at her more closely.
"Are you all right?"
"No," she confessed, "my head is killing me."
"I'll check it out if we ever stop."
"You'll do no such thing! That's an order!"
"You don't outrank me."
"On this mission I do! Or what's left of it anyway," she muttered.
When they 'd started the mission, everything had been fairly routine. Tom had been circling the cloud and Marcia had picked up some strange, but interesting readings. Then all hell had broken loose.
Some unexpected turbulence had brought the shuttle out of balance and somehow sucked it in to the cloud. Tom had franticly tried to pull them away from the cloud, but it was no use.
They had been able to send a distress call to Voyager before going in to the cloud, and they were almost certain that it had gotten through before they lost Voyager from the sensors.
It was then that they 'd come to realize the true purpose of the cloud. It was a camouflage - system, but instead of a ship it hid an entire planet, and now the both of them had been tractored to the surface and were being suspected for espionage.
Unfortunately, their captors weren't very understanding towards supposed spies, and therefore hadn't been very gentle as they were 'taken into custody'.
She tried to block out the pain and kept on stumbling after the big man that held the other end of the rope.
She didn't want any more attention brought to Paris and herself, she had a feeling they were in a lot of trouble as it was.
It could have been minutes, even hours later when it happened.
As the group finally was stopping for a break in a glade, a horrifying roar tore the silence apart. The men got on their feet and tried to get to their weapons, but by now, it was too late.
From the trees, a huge creature emerged. It had to be at least ten feet tall and was very similar to a bear, except for the fact that instead of two eyes it only had one and its fur was so black it almost toned to purple.
Before any weapons had been fired, two of the men were lying on the ground, with giant holes in their stomach where the creature's claws had cut them open.
Tom pulled Marcia to her feet.
"Come on! Now's our chance!"
They started running to the safety of the trees, and Marcia was able to pick up one of the weapons from the ground while she was running.
The men had almost killed the creature by now, but at a great cost. Six men lay on the ground and they would never get up again. Another three lay moaning over the loss of an arm or a leg.
When they reached the forest, they turned just in time to see the leader shooting the creature in the head.
They kept on running for another ten minutes, when finally she had to rest. Her head was pounding so hard she was hardly aware of her surroundings, and she had to focus to avoid screaming.
"Sit down." Tom gently pushed her down beside a tree. She didn't have the strength to argue with him, and she wasn't sure she wanted to. Her eyes were starting to feel heavy. If she just closed them for a moment…
"No! Don't fall asleep! You probably have a concussion." Displeased she tried to push away his hands that were shaking her now.
"Leave me alone! I just need to rest…"
If it had been another situation, she would have been proud that she dared to oppose anyone, but now all she could think of was sleeping. Finally his hands let go, and she curled up against the tree.
Just as she was about to drift away, something ice-cold was thrown in her face. Her eyes flew open, facing the friendly smile of Tom Paris.
"I found a creek!"
She glared at him, but his plan had worked. Instead of trying to sleep, she now tried to figure out a way to wash that grin off his face.
Which seemed impossible, when she couldn't focus her pounding head on anything. His smile faded and he started looking concerned.
"How do you feel?" She opened her mouth to answer, when the sound of a branch breaking made them both stiffen. Tom picked up the weapon she'd put beside her and listened.
The sound of several people walking towards them became obvious. He was about to suggest a run for it when he saw her pale face. She was in no condition to run anywhere.
He gave her what he hoped was an encouraging smile.
"I suppose we'll just have to stand our ground."
Their pursuers were almost there now.
He tried to think of some famous last words, but he just couldn't think of any that didn't sound cliché, and she deserved better that that. Before he had the chance to say anything, she interrupted his thoughts by saying:
"At least we didn't have to eat Neelix's food." He couldn't help but smile and he squeezed her hand tightly. They both turned to face their end.
"Is she going to be all right?"
Tom sat impatiently on his biobed.
"As I said two minutes ago, Mr. Paris, I'll have to exam her further to make sure."
"Well, can't you guess?"
The doctor gave him a look.
"Mr. Paris, I'm a doctor, not a calculator, and I don't, as you put it, *guess*."
The sickbay doors opened as the Captain entered.
"Lieutenant Paris here is all right, just a few cuts and bruises, nothing a regenerator can't handle. The one worrying me is Lieutenant Wilde here. She has a serious concussion and hasn't regained consciousness. Here brain-activity is quite small, so if you'll excuse me, Captain."
Janeway turned to Tom as the doctor continued to exam the lieutenant.
"Tom, what happened down there?"
He told her about them being pulled down to the surface, taken prisoners, all about the creature and how they managed to escape.
"You know the rest, Captain. We heard some sounds, figured it was our captors finding our trail, so when I saw Tuvok's face, I could have kissed him!"
Janeway smiled against her will.
"I don't think Tuvok would have appreciated that." She turned serious again. "What about lieutenant Wilde? Did she seem to realize what was happening around her?"
"Yeah, she was very clear in her head, considering the blow she received when we landed. I tried to soften the landing as much as I could, but I couldn't avoid a crash."
She patted his leg.
"No one is blaming you, Tom. I know that no one could have gotten the two of you down more safely. "
He shrugged and looked over at Lieutenant Wilde again. Janeway followed his gaze.
Marcia was lying on the biobed, looking so pale you would almost think she was dead. She forced away the guilt that threatened to engulf her.
She managed to push it away, but the fact still remained, if it wasn't for her talking the lieutenant in to this, she wouldn't be lying on a biobed right now.
She realized Tom was saying something.
"I'm sorry, my mind must have wandered, what did you say, Tom?"
"I was just wondering how you figured out there was a planet beneath the cloud, Captain."
"We really can't take any of the credit, we we're actually hailed. You can imagine our surprise when we realized the cloud was populated."
She started frowning.
"The first contact didn't go well though, considering they accusing us of spying on their home-world. I tried to reason with their leader, but I lost my patience when they tried to tractor the entire ship down to the planet."
Tom couldn't help but laugh at the picture in his mind of the captain "losing her patience". She raised an eyebrow but continued the story.
"Tuvok figured out a way to reconfigure the shields so we could take a shuttle down to the surface and look for the two of you, and as you put it, you know the rest."
"How long were we missing?"
He frowned in concern.
"That's a lot of time without medical attention."
"I'm sorry to interrupt your discussion, but I thought you would be interested to know that the lieutenant is about to regain consciousness."
They were by her side in an instant. Marcia's eyelids twitched a little and then finally opened. She regarded the faces around her with confusion.
"Where am I?"
"You're back on Voyager. Our pursuers were no one else than Tuvok and some security-people. How are you feeling? You've had us all worried sick."
Her eyes studied him and they seemed to hold more composure than he had ever seen in them before.
"Well, it's nice to know that people worry about me, but I'm afraid you'll have to answer some questions before I can answer yours."
Tom exchanged questioning glances with the Captain.
"Sure, fire away."
She started talking with a coolness that would have made Tuvok proud.
"The first questions are quite easy. Who am I, who are you and what am I doing on a place named Voyager?"
Marcia ate the goo that the little strange man had called soup, only because the doctor had threatened to go to more extreme methods to feed her.
She tried to hear what the three people were talking about in the doctor's office, but their voices were too low.
She carefully studied the surrounding sickbay, and then her 'saviors'. She didn't think they had any hostile intentions, but as commander Riker always used to say…
Who was Commander Riker and what was it he used to say? She shook her head, trying to regain her concentration, and noticed that the tall, blond man was giving her a concerned look.
She forced herself to continue eating, she needed more time to think before they approached her again.
She tried again to remember her name. They had told her it was Marcia Wilde, but it didn't sound familiar.
They also told her she had a lieutenant's rank and that she had been serving on this ship for three years.
She was deep in thought when the sickbay-doors opened and an Asian entered.
He smiled at her as he approached her. She didn't return his smile, and he looked a little confused, but he still began talking to her.
"How are you feeling?"
"All right." She got another confused look at her abrupt tone, and she felt a little guilty.
These people had done nothing but help her, and she was being ungrateful. She smiled reassuringly at him and added; "My head doesn't hurt anymore."
"That's good. I suppose Tom is all right, since he's up and walking." He nodded in the direction of the doctor's office, where they hadn't noticed the visitor yet.
He made a face.
"I guess I have to go tell B'Elanna about that before she hurts somebody seriously. She would deny it if I asked, but I'm pretty sure she cares a lot more about Tom than she's letting on."
For some reason she felt a sting of jealousy at his words. She tried to sound casual.
"Really. What makes you think that?"
"Well, for one thing, she's always in a terrible mood when Tom's on a date, and secondly, Tom's the only one she confides in."
"They could just be good friends," she suggested.
"I guess." He didn't sound convinced.
"Harry! I didn't see you come in!" Tom grinned as he exited the office.
"I just came to check up on you two, but it seems that you didn't come to any great harm." Tom glanced quickly in Marcia's direction, but she simply sat eating calmly.
"Yeah, everyone's in one piece. What do you say about a visit to the holodeck tonight and I'll tell you all about it?"
"Not so fast, Mr. Paris. I'm holding you here over night for observation." The doctor and the Captain exited the office as well.
"What!? You've gotta be kidding!"
"I want to make sure there isn't any damage I haven't registered yet."
"But you said I was fine!"
"You can never be quite sure." Marcia was certain this time, there was definitely a smug tone in the doctors voice.
"Captain!" She almost smiled when she heard his complaining tone.
"I'm sorry, Tom, but the Doctor's right. We should make sure that you are all right."
"Look on the bright side, Lieutenant, you can keep me company." Everyone except Harry looked surprised at her first voluntary words.
The doors swished open again and this time what looked to be a half-klingon entered. She smiled with relief when she saw the crowd. She gave Harry a glare, though.
"I thought you said you were going to comm me when you'd checked how they were?"
"I was just about to, B'Elanna."
Marcia stiffened a bit. So this was B'Elanna. She felt her hostility grow, but quickly repressed it.
She had no reason to feel this way. Who knew, this B'Elanna and herself might even have been good friends for all she knew. It certainly wasn't impossible, she seemed to be friends with both Harry and Tom, and B'Elanna seemed to know them both pretty well.
She forced a smile to her face and turned to B'Elanna.
"So you're B'Elanna. Nice to meet you."
Both Harry and B'Elanna started laughing, but stopped when seeing the expressions on the others faces. B'Elanna frowned.
"What's going on?" The Doctor realized that he was the one who was supposed to answer.
"Lieutenant Wilde here is suffering from amnesia and claims not to remember any of the last three years on Voyager."
"Actually, doctor, I don't remember any years at all. I'm a blank sheet."
She tried to smile, but must have failed, because Tom quickly added that her memory would return before she knew it, and Harry agreed just as quickly, after getting his balance back.
B'Elanna even went so far as to offer a tour of the ship to trigger her memory, when the Doctor broke in.
"I believe that's enough excitement for my patients today. They both need to rest, so if you will all please leave, I would be *so* happy."
Both Harry and B'Elanna looked a little offended, but did as he asked. The Captain left them with a smile and a promise to check in on them tomorrow.
"I suggest you two try to get some sleep. You've been through a mental trauma and you're minds need to come to terms with it."
The Doctor made it sound more like an order than a suggestion.
"How will my mind come to terms with something I can't remember?"
"You might not remember it, Lieutenant, but your mind does. Now, go to sleep." He started walking towards his office.
"Yeah, like there's anything else to do around here," Tom muttered.
"I heard that, Lieutenant." The Doctor didn't bother to turn around. Marcia didn't hear Tom's response as she did as the Doctor ordered.
She heard the Captain's voice and entered. Captain Picard looked up from the padd he was reading.
"Ah, Lieutenant Wilde, come in. Have a seat." He gave her a penetrating look. "I see you've been taking double-shifts again."
She smiled a bit. Some things went by Captain Picard, but not many.
"Yes, Captain, Lieutenant Commander Data offered to show me something more advanced in Cartography, and I simply couldn't resist."
"I can imagine that a briefing with Data can be a little tiring." He put down the padd and sighed.
"I wish this was just a social visit, but the reason I commed you is not that pleasant I'm afraid."
Marcia tensed up a bit. She knew what this was all about. That bastard!
"I've had a formal complaint filed against you." Marcia straightened her back. Captain Picard continued.
"I'll be honest with you, Lieutenant. You're fine officer, one of my best, and I wanted to hear your side of the story before the hearing. It's things like these that destroys careers."
He gave her a sharp look.
"I assume there is another side to the story."
She looked him in the eyes.
"Yes, Captain, there is."
He picked up the padd that he'd been looking at when she entered and started reading out loud.
"'Unprovoked attack, causation of personal discomfort…' The lieutenant who filed the complaint apparently had bruised ribs and a black eye."
If the situation weren't so serious, Marcia would have been convinced that the Captain was almost smiling.
"Now, I'm eager to hear your version." He leaned back in his chair.
"The situation is actually very simple. Lieutenant Brooke had a lot to drink that night, and he made some inappropriate suggestions to me. When I declined, he insisted. Finally, I told him to bug of… Captain. He wouldn't let me leave so I found it necessary to use more definite actions. And that's about it, Captain. I beamed him to sickbay and went to my quarters."
Captain Picard looked at her seriously and she began to feel more nervous than angry. Would he believe her?
"These accusations are much more severe than the ones Lieutenant Brooke laid on you. Do you have any witnesses to verify your story?"
"Does Lieutenant Brooke, sir?"
"That's not the point, Lieutenant Wilde." He toyed with the padd thoughtfully and then looked at her again.
"I believe your story, Lieutenant, but without any witnesses, there isn't anything I can do except give the lieutenant a warning." His face hardened.
"A very determent warning."
She braced herself. They might not have been any evidence that the lieutenant had bothered her, but there certainly was evidence he had been harmed.
Captain Picard continued to look thoughtfully on the padd in his hand. If Marcia hadn't looked directly at it as well, she would never have believed what happened next.
With an almost absent face, he pushed the erase-button. Two seconds later a little bip indicated that the padd was empty and ready to be used again.
Marcia stared at him, and it was only two years of experience as a lieutenant that kept her mouth from dropping.
"I think I'll mention to him that if he ever does something like that again, I'll demote him down to crewman and send him back to earth. I'm sure they'll be able to find some nice desk-job if that would occur."
He sighed a little. Then he gave her another sharp look.
"I expect you to get to your quarters and get some rest. I have no use for exhausted crewmembers."
She didn't even bother to hide the smile on her face.
"Aye, sir! Thank you, sir!"
As she made her way to the door, his voice halted her before she could leave.
"Oh, and Lieutenant, if anything like this should happen again, I expect the complaint to come from you, not the one offending you."
She smiled again. She knew she should never have doubted Captain Picard.
"No need to be so formal, but if that's what I get for bringing you soup, I'll do it more often."
It took her a couple of moments to remember where she was when she opened her eyes, and by doing so, the dream she'd had slipped through her fingers. She started swearing.
"Well, I've woken up some people in my lifetime, but that's the first time I've gotten that reaction."
She glared at the teasing Tom Paris by her side.
"Disturbed you in the dream-guy dream, huh?"
"Yeah, you know, the one you'll never meet, Mr. Perfect."
She smiled dryly.
"How long have I been out?"
"Oh, about 24 hours. The Doctor thought that letting you sleep would be the best medicine. Hungry?"
"Sure, as long as it isn't anything like the last meal I ate."
He looked surprised.
"I thought you liked that one?"
"Yeah, and pigs can fly."
"Well, that remains to be seen, but I'm glad to see that the blow to your head didn't do any serious damage."
The Doctor released her from sickbay two days later, but she was to rest a lot in her quarters for the time being.
She knew trying to remember would only make things worse, so she tried to focus on the people she had forgotten about. Sometimes places triggered some images, but they were gone before she could grasp any one of them.
As a week passed by she was almost starting to feel at home, and had in the long run made a whole lot of new friends.
She remained with her "original" friends the most though; Tom, Harry and B'Elanna. She found B'Elanna, after forcing herself to give her a chance, to be tremendously great fun and Harry someone to pour her feelings out to when her lack of memories got to her.
And Tom… Tom was something special. Although the Doctor had released him from sickbay after only a day, he'd come to keep her company when he was off his shifts, claiming it was because he knew about the suffering the Doctor could put one through.
She was honest enough to herself to admit her feelings for Tom reached further than friendship. He was the first face she had seen waking up in sickbay, so that way he became her anchor to sanity.
She was certain though that he saw her more like a partner after their shared experiences, and didn't have any future illusions. If she could get through this, she could certainly get over him.
She had a session per day with the Doctor, whose dry sense of humor kept her from depression when the sessions were unsuccessful.
Despite her situation, in a strange way, she was happy. However this would end, she knew she'd found friends for life, and that was something, she sensed she'd lacked before.
Another week went by, and she started accepting that her memory might never return, and started making a new life.
She had a rather strange position on the ship; she was still lieutenant, but a learning one. She divided her attention between engineering and bridge-operations.
The Doctor and the Captain agreed that she would be able to get back to active duty within five months.
A month after the accident she entered the messhall. She spotted Tom and B'Elanna sitting on a table and moved towards them.
"Hey, guys, any room for me?"
Tom smiled at her and patted the seat next to him.
"Only if you can stand sitting next to me."
She sighed sadly, with a twinkle in her eyes.
"Well, if I must." She sat down. "Where's Harry?"
"Bridge duty," B'Elanna answered. She made a face. "He's working too much. I saw him yesterday heading for his quarters, and I would have stopped and talked to him if he didn't look like he was ready to fall asleep where he was standing."
"He's over-ambitious," Tom agreed. "I've tried to knock that virtue out of him, but not even three years of lazy holoprograms has made him change."
He gave Marcia a look.
"By the way, aren't you supposed to meet the Doctor for a session now."
"God, I completely forgot! Thanks! I'll see you guys later?"
"You could meet us here for dinner," B'Elanna suggested.
"Yeah, that'll be great. See ya!"
When she turned away from the table she accidentally bumped in to a large ensign. He smiled a little sheepishly at her and apologized, not noticing her staring at him as he left.
She followed him with her eyes as he walked away. His face looked strangely familiar, he reminded her of…
A flash of pain brought her down to her knees. She remained there, rocking from side to side, desperately holding her head. She would probably have fallen to the floor if a hand hadn't steadied her.
"Lieutenant, are you all right?"
The urgency in the normally calm voice didn't reach her. Then Tom and B'Elanna were by her side.
"Marcy, can you hear me!?"
By now they had the entire messhall's attention.
"Lieutenant, should I contact sickbay?"
Now she recognized the voice. It was Lieutenant Tuvok.
"I'll… I'll be fine."
She tried to get up, but an even sharper pain went through her head. She couldn't help a little sound escaping her.
"That's it, I'm getting you to sickbay!"
She heard Tom tap his commbadge.
"Paris to sickbay. Emergency beam-out."
She felt the tingling sensation and then she welcomed the darkness that finally surrounded her.
"Are you saying her mind made this happen?"
Tom, the Doctor and Tuvok were standing in the Doctor's office.
"I'm saying that I can't find a physical reason for her collapse, Mr. Paris." He looked almost as worried as Tom. Tuvok was the only one that looked unaffected.
The doors opened and the Captain walked briskly inside.
"What happened? B'Elanna commed me and that's the closest I ever heard her be to hysterical."
The Doctor repeated what he'd just said.
"As I was about to say," he continued with a little annoyed look towards the Captain, "I'm against guessing, but in this case there doesn't seem to be any other explanation."
The Captain looked impatient.
"Explanation to what, Doctor?"
"I would guess," he used the word almost reluctantly, " based on the high readings from her memory area, that she stumbled on a memory she didn't want to remember. Mr. Paris, can you tell me exactly what happened before the collapse?"
It wasn't really a question. Tom shrugged and told him what he'd seen.
"She came and talked to us for a while, about nothing special, and I reminded her that she was supposed to meet with you, Doc, so she started to leave. She bumped in to Ensign Carlsen, and seemed to freeze for a while, and then she fell to her knees, holding her head. She said she was okay, but she couldn't get up so I brought her here."
"I observed the same happenings," Tuvok agreed. "I had the opportunity to notice the expression on her face as she watched the ensign. I may not be able to experience emotions, but I recognize them when I see them. The expression on Lieutenant Wilde's face was terror."
She heard voices, trying to wake her up, but she didn't want to. She didn't want to wake, didn't want to face everything. She felt something bad would happen if she did, she just couldn't remember what.
Here she was safe, nothing could touch her. She was planning on staying here for a long while, when a single voice finally reached her.
"C'mon, wake up. You're going to make me look bad in front of the Doc." The voice stopped for a moment, and for some reason she wanted it to continue.
"There's a lot of people worrying about you. Satisfied? Now wake up before I get a bucket of water!"
A vague remembrance of something cold hitting her face came, followed by the image of Tom Paris's smiling face. If she stayed were she was, she would never see him again.
The battle began, her heart against her mind. Finally her heart won.
"Tom?" she mumbled.
"I'm right here! Doc! Get in here!"
She heard running steps and the sounds of a medical tricorder.
"She's definitely coming to." There was relief in the voice.
"I told you she would, didn't I! Hey, Marcy, how 'bout a date to Sandrine's ?"
"Only if you're buying," she mumbled.
He laughed happily.
Tom entered his quarters and tiredly slumped down on his couch. It had been a long day.
When Marcy had collapsed in the messhall he'd almost panicked, but when the Doctor told him that he hadn't been able to wake her, he'd felt like…
He frowned and rubbed his face irritably. He didn't know how he felt. He'd felt scared like hell, that's how he'd felt. Seeing the normally calm lieutenant down on her knees in agony had caught him completely off guard.
The Marcy he'd gotten to know over the last month…
That was something shocking in itself, getting to know Marcia Wilde? He'd approached her a couple of times, but she'd always pulled back, never letting him close.
But the Marcy he knew now was different. He laughed a little ironically. He probably liked her because she reminded him of himself. What wasn't there to like, really?
She drove Tuvok absolutely crazy when she, without almost a thought, made his logic seem illogical. She was completely honest; she'd even told Neelix that everyone on board didn't… love his food, and she'd even managed to do it without hurting the little talaxian's feelings.
For someone that, in her own mind, had only been on Voyager for a month, she was making herself at home just fine.
Until today. He trusted Tuvok's opinion, it was like he'd said himself, even if he didn't feel them, he recognized emotions when he saw them.
She must have recognized the ensign somehow. He frowned again.
The problem was, as far as he knew, Marcia had barely seen Ensign Carlsen in her "former life". He needed to get to the bottom of this.
"Computer, analyze any past connections between Lieutenant Marcia Wilde and Ensign William Carlsen."
"Lieutenant Marcia Wilde and Ensign William Carlsen have served on U.S.S. Voyager for …"
"Yes, yes, besides that."
There was a slight pause.
"No connections found."
He grimaced. He'd been going at this the wrong way.
The two of them could have been lovers for all he knew, and the computer wouldn't know about it. He decided to ask Ensign Carlsen first thing in the morning. Now there was only the problem of trying to sleep.
She was sitting in Ten Forward finishing the report from last night's shift, when something blocked her light. She looked up and found the Commander and the Security officer standing next to her.
"Do you mind if we join you?"
"Of course not, Commander Riker, Lieutenant Worf. I was almost finished anyway."
She was a little surprised to see the two of them together. The latest gossip around the ship said that they weren't the best of friends, possibly because of a certain Deanna Troi.
Commander Riker sipped his coffee.
"You've been so busy in engineering that we hardly see you anymore on the bridge."
She couldn't keep her eyes from starting to shine.
"Lieutenant LaForge has been kind enough to teach me some more than just the basics."
"Keep this up and you'll know the ship better than Captain Picard himself."
She smiled at the underlying compliment.
"I doubt that."
She looked at Lieutenant Worf. She didn't know the big klingon very well, he barely said a word to her unless it was strictly necessary, but no matter what his opinion about her was, she had great respect for him.
As if he heard her thoughts and decided to shock her, he spoke.
"Captain Picard has informed me to keep a close eye on Lieutenant Brooke. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, lieutenant?"
Riker shot him a questioning look, but Worf didn't notice it while he studied her. Marcia forced her shoulders to resume their earlier, relaxed position. She smiled lightly at him.
"I believe he had a problem with too much alcohol a couple of nights ago. The Captain can't tolerate that sort of behavior."
He didn't let her off the hook quite that easy.
"Are you sure that that's all?"
She gave him a colder look.
"I almost sounds like you're suggesting that it's my fault, sir."
He actually looked surprised.
"You served under me in security for a while, not long, but long enough. If some crewmember is harassing you, it is my duty to do something about it."
He looked a little smug.
"I also heard how you handled him. You defended your honor well."
Commander Riker looked as if he was going to say something, but decided not to. Marcia gave Worf a genuine smile this time.
"I'm sorry, sir, I misunderstood your motive."
"That's all right, lieutenant, I'm used to being misinterpreted."
A glimpse of humor from the man of stone? Marcia realized she was starting to like him. The Commander seemed to think this was a good opportunity to change the subject.
"By the way, lieutenant, I heard you decided to skip shore-leave again. I thought I might convince you to change your mind."
"I'm sorry, Commander, but I doubt there's anything you can say that would make me change my mind."
He faked a sorrowful sigh.
"Then I guess there's no use telling you that your brother's arriving the day after tomorrow."
He didn't bother to hide his smile.
"Why, I thought nothing could convince you to change your mind?"
Though she knew this was the Commander, she gave him a glare. He didn't seem to mind much, his grin only became wider.
"So, what, sir?"
"Are you going to take shore-leave?"
She looked hesitant.
"Well, if you're ordering me…"
"Lieutenant, I'm ordering you to get some shore-leave!"
"Then, I suppose I don't have I choice," she resigned, still a little hesitant. "Are you sure you will manage without me?"
Commander Riker's face didn't move a muscle.
"Probably not, but we'll try to manage."
"Then, I guess I'll have to get packed," she sighed as she started making her way out of there.
"Have fun, lieutenant."
"You need to wake up, lieutenant!"
She was greeted by the doctor's worried face when she opened her eyes. The expression changed into relief.
"I was beginning to worry that you would slip away so deep I'd have to call Mr. Paris again." He quickly regained composure . "You can imagine the annoyance of having him in here."
She gave him a small smile, but then frowned.
"What happened, Doc?"
"What was the last thing you remember?"
"I was in the messhall, talking to Tom and B'Elanna and was just on my way to see you…" She looked annoyed. "That's it. I suppose there's more to it?"
He looked seriously at her.
"I think we need to have a talk, lieutenant."
Tom Paris entered the turbolift in an annoyed mood. No, annoyed only started to describe how he felt.
The talk he'd had with Ensign Carlsen had led absolutely nowhere. All his suspicions had been confirmed, the ensign and Marcy had never really known each other. It was just another dead end.
The doors opened and he nodded shortly at the Captain and the Commander as he made his way to the Conn. He didn't see the looks the bridge crew gave each other.
He started making the routine checkups when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Is everything all right, Mr.Paris?"
The Captain's face looked a little worried.
"Why, what would be wrong, Captain?" he answered in a mock tone. He could have kicked himself. He'd just been insolent towards the Captain. Before Tuvok had time to say anything, he looked regretfully at her.
"I'm sorry, Captain. No, nothing's wrong, just woke up on the wrong side of the bed today."
She looked utterly skeptical to that, but didn't say anything further.
The shift dragged itself forward as the normally so talkative pilot kept abnormally silent. When it finally reached its end, he got into the turbolift without even waiting for Harry.
Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay exchanged worried glances and the Commander got up and headed for the turbolift.
"I really don't think that it's anything to worry about, doctor." She tried to sound relaxed, but this subject made her far from it, she noticed.
The Doctor noticed it too, mostly the formal tone she suddenly used towards him. Normally she was one of the most informal crewmembers, except perhaps with the Captain, Chakotay and Tuvok.
"We can't just ignore this, lieutenant." If she wanted formal, he'd give her formal.
"We don't know what might trigger your memory next. We can't have you running around collapsing all around the ship now can we?"
She didn't notice his attempt to lighten the mood. He sat there studying her. Finally, she looked up to see what caused his silence. He looked at her seriously and made his voice a little softer.
"You have to face this, lieutenant, whatever it is. It's eating you up from the inside and if you don't confront it, I might not be able to help you the next time. And believe me, there will be a next time."
"You can't know that for sure!" Marcia tried to object.
He just continued looking patient.
"All right, but how can I confront it when I don't know what it is."
"We might have to find a way to get them to the surface."
"And how exactly do you plan on doing that?"
"I haven't quite figured that part out yet," he confessed.
"So there really isn't any reason for me to stay here, is there, Doc?"
"You might trigger…"
"…a memory again, yes, Doctor, that was what we wanted, wasn't it?"
He gave in.
"All right, but I want you back here on a daily basis."
She practically leaped from the biobed to the doors.
"Oh thee ungrateful," he sighed as the doors closed behind her.
Tom was deep in thought as he made his way to the messhall. He couldn't figure out why this got to him.
Sure, Marcy was great and deserved all the help she could get, but still, she wasn't the only one with problems.
Harry was down on his knees after five double shifts in one week and B'Elanna had practically bitten his head of the last time he'd asked how things were going in engineering.
And still, it wasn't Harry that had kept him awake all night long, trying to figure out a way to help.
His thought kept him completely occupied and he didn't see the young ensign coming towards him.
The crash was inevitable. He lay on the floor, dizzyingly trying to figure out what just happened when a strong hand pulled him on his feet.
"Are you all right, Mr. Paris?"
The ensign hurried along when Chakotay gave her a look that said better than words to leave the two of them alone.
"I'm surprised you bother to worry, Chakotay. Don't you have more important things to do, like filing some reports?"
His tone was sarcastic again, and this time he didn't care if he was being insolent. After a night without any sleep and the seeming impossibility to figure out what was wrong with his friend he really wasn't in a mood for politeness.
Chakotay gritted his teeth. He hated this tone, and Paris knew it. Tom had always known exactly how to push his buttons, and didn't hesitate in doing so.
But this convinced him even further that something really was wrong, Tom never had this kind of weak provocation, and he *never* used the same insults twice.
"If some member of my crew is having trouble then I don't see anything more important to do, Paris?"
His tone was light, but he felt a little pleased when he saw the annoyed look on Tom's face. He knew Tom hated it when he just called him Paris.
"Don't try to be psychological with me, Chakotay, I really don't feel up to it. And you really don't need to bother acting like you really care, there's only the two of us here now."
This was pushing it, and he knew it, but right now, he needed anything to get his mind off things.
Chakotay was a bit taken aback by his bitter tone, and before he had a chance to answer, a cheerful voice broke in.
"There you are, Tom, I've been looking everywhere for you!"
Lieutenant Wilde gave Chakotay a devastating smile as she turned to Tom again.
"Have you forgotten our lunch-date?"
"I… It must have slipped my mind."
Chakotay almost smiled when he saw the normally so smooth Tom Paris almost lacking for words.
"Well then, if you'll excuse us, Commander?"
"Of course, Lieutenant Wilde. Mr. Paris, if you could meet me in my office later?"
It wasn't a question, and the look in his eyes told them that he expected to be obeyed.
Marcia smiled at him again and practically dragged Tom to the turbolift. As the doors closed behind them she turned and glared dangerously at him.
"What the hell do you think you where doing!? Trying to get yourself thrown in the brig?"
His face was carefully blank as he remained silent. She knew him well enough to know that he didn't like being pushed. Something was bothering him, and she didn't like the idea of him not telling her. She sighed.
"Fine, but if you feel like talking, I'm always going to be right here."
She meant her words to be comforting, but a haunted look flashed across his face before returning to blank again.
She pretended not to see it and changed the subject.
"So what's happened while I've been in sickbay?"
He seemed to relax a bit.
"Oh, the usual. The Delany sisters broke some hearts, B'E'lanna broke some jaws. Nothing out of the ordinary."
"Well, that's a relief."
Tom never got the opportunity to get to Chakotay's office, as Voyager suddenly found itself in constant red alert.
A race that called themselves the Cephers showed up the same day, demanding the ships unconditional surrender.
The Captain had tried to be diplomatic, but when the aliens had opened fire, she had given the leader of the Cephers an almost well-wishing smile before giving Tuvok green light to return fire.
It had been a short fight, and the alien's ship was retreating; Voyager was totally superior to the small ship.
What they hadn't allowed for in their calculations was the fact that there didn't seem to be an end to the ships' attacks.
Soon they were attacked by ships in pairs and before long groups of four and five. With every attack, Voyager's shields grew weaker and weaker, and because of the never ceasing attacks, the repairs were far behind.
Tom were busy at the helm, trying to get them out of the battle with as little damage as possible to the shields.
He made maneuvers that would have made Voyager's designers pale, but he knew the same thing that everyone else on the ship knew; they couldn't keep this up forever.
If they didn't come up with something soon, their shields would be penetrated and their trip home would be over. For good.
Everyone sat down simultaneously at the table.
"All right people, I need options."
No one uttered a word, not even Tuvok.
"Neelix, what do we know about this race."
Neelix looked as serious as everyone else at the table.
"Well, captain, there not very friendly, as you have noticed, and totally impossible to bargain with. If you close a deal with them, you can be sure they're coming up with a plan to steal it back. They are very arrogant, they're convinced that they are meant for better things than to rule this small section of space."
"Maybe we could use that arrogance against them. Thank you, Mr. Neelix."
"Captain, I may have a suggestion."
Everyone turned their heads in Tuvok's direction.
"Mr. Neelix, how technologically advanced is this race?"
"Well, their ships are small and fast, but their firepower isn't very developed. They certainly can't compare to Voyager."
"What about their sensors?"
Janeway regarded him closely.
"What do you have in mind, Tuvok."
"Since we can not run away from them and we can not fight them, the logical thing to do would be to do neither of them."
"Am I the only one that's not getting the point?" Tom asked dryly.
"It is quite simple, Mr. Paris. Allow me to elaborate."
Cai'Lon Mai had been SubLeader for 5 seasons, and he was a feared man. Anyone who thought of opposing him would certainly think twice. He had led his people to many victories, and had never found it very difficult.
This new enemy intrigued him. The reports he had received told that his SubCommanders were yet unsuccessful in acquiring this alien ship with its powerful weapons, and as patient as he may be, he was starting to get impatient.
Another group of his vessels had returned, immobilized. He decided to take care of this personally.
"SubLeader, we are approaching the alien vessel. It is within range."
"Fire at will."
He watched as the shots almost seemed to bounce off at impact. A blue field started glowing around the ship, invisible until hit.
His eyes narrowed.
A truly powerful ship. A magnificent prize. He would surely be promoted to Leader if he were successful taking it.
"Any weaknesses in their armor?"
"None that can be discovered, SubLeader."
His frown deepened. There must be *some* way to penetrate their armor.
As if someone had heard him, the tactical crew started to cheer. His head jerked up towards the screen.
A single shot seemed to have gotten through, and a small part of the vessel's hull had exploded.
He watched tensely as a shot was fired from each of his ships.
All four shots hit. Suddenly all of the vessel's lights seemed to go out and it stopped.
He was amazed that he was able to keep his voice calm. Gaw'Nei wasn't nearly as successful.
"We are reading no energy from the vessel. A few weak lifesigns, but none of significance."
He didn't even bother to hide the triumph in his voice.
Cai'Lon reminded himself that he had to discipline his crew more efficiently. Twenty-five days in the penalty-cell had always worked before. But now was not the time.
"Prepare an armed party and met me at the docks."
Cai'Lon took in his surroundings warily as he exited the shuttle. Their attempts to open the gates to this shuttlebay had been simple. Almost too simple.
He shook the feeling away. There was a time and place for everything, and now wasn't the time to be paranoid.
He led his team to the exit, when suddenly a hissing sound was heard. All of his men urgently looked around to find the source of the sound, and suddenly one of them did.
He let out a warning and pointed towards the walls, where gas was pouring out.
"It's a trap! Retreat!
He tried not to breathe in as he ran back to their shuttle.
Out of nowhere a bald, green-dressed man shimmered in to existence. He positioned himself right in Cai’Lon’s way. Cai’Lon didn’t hesitate; he raised his weapon and fired.
The man watched almost curiously as the energy pulse went right through him.
Cai’Lon started feeling dizzy. He must all ready be poisoned, because he was starting to hallucinate. He sat down on the floor in an ungracious thud.
The last thing he was aware of before he lost consciousness was a dry voice saying:
"Well, at least I seem to have made a lasting first impression."
B’Elanna groaned as she stretched out her back. The Doctor could at least have given some warning, so they’d at least had some time to sit down before the tranquilizer set in. She looked around and saw people all around her starting to come to.
The doors hissed open and the Doctor cheerfully entered.
"Good morning, Lieutenant!"
She glared at him.
"I trust everything went as planned?"
"Yes, the mission was a success, their sensors couldn’t pick up the crews’ lifesigns when their breathing and heart-rate was slowed down. But it worked mostly because of me, of course."
"Of course," she responded sarcastically.
He looked a little insulted.
"Really, lieutenant, there’s no need to be so ungrateful."
"When you said this tranquilizer only would last for an half-hour, you didn’t mention the headache that would follow it."
"Why, miss Torres, I think that’s a small price to pay for salvaging the ship."
She was about to respond when Joe Carey caught her attention. He was kneeling beside someone that didn’t seem to have come to yet.
A bit worried she walked over, the Doctor right behind her. The officer that wouldn’t wake up was Marcy Wilde.
The Doctor kneeled as well and started taking readings with his tricorder.
"What’s wrong with her?" B’Elanna didn’t even attempt to hide the worry that colored her voice.
"I’m not quite sure."
The Doctor frowned over the readings he was getting.
"I don’t see any reason why she hasn’t woken up like everyone else. I’ll have to take her to sickbay, I don’t have enough things to work with here. Computer, emergency beam-out."
As the two forms vanished out of existence, B’Elanna hit her commbadge.
"Torres to Janeway."
"Captain, we may have a problem."
She thought about having another drink, but decided that she’d had enough for tonight.
The musicians were playing a slow tune. The music had been pretty wild in the beginning of the evening, but now only two couples were dancing, tightly squeezed against each other.
Her eyes searched the other side of the room, and she sighed a little disappointed. The cute guy that’d been flirting with her all evening had left sometime when she wasn’t looking.
‘Well, looks like another early night for me.’ ‘If 1.00 in the morning is considered early of course,’ she realized, a bit surprised, looking at her chronometer.
The evening had flown by without her even noticing it.
This was the third day of her shoreleave, and she was enjoying the time off more than she’d ever expected she would.
In the beginning she’d found herself walking around thinking of the best way to configure the warpcoils, and it had taken hours to get that thought out of her head.
She’d met Cameron only yesterday, and she smiled as she thought of him. She hadn’t seen him for years, he’d changed so much, but he was still her Cameron, tall, dark and dashing.
He’d invited her to dinner for tomorrow.
She paid the barkeeper and walked towards the door. She had to remember this place, it was quite a distance from the other shops and bars in town, but it definitely had its charm.
Both moons of Carnecia were up this evening, one full and the other just barely half and the air was fresh and cool. It reminded her of her hometown, and she started relaxing subconsciously.
The streets were narrow and dark, but that didn’t bother her, if she got into trouble, she could always comm the ship.
Suddenly a big shadow blocked her way, and the moon made the face look like ice.
She recognized him and gave him a cold stare.
"Lieutenant Brooke, out late tonight?"
He smiled an unpleasant smile.
"Oh no, Lieutenant Wilde, the night is still young." He moved closer to her and she forced herself not to back off.
His breath stank of whisky. ‘Here we go again,’ she thought to herself.
"Well, I have to go, lieutenant, have a pleasant evening."
He didn’t move an inch, only smiled wider.
"You’re not leaving already, are you, Miss Wilde? My friends and I were just looking for some fun."
Another two shadows emerged from the dark. She recognized one of them as the guy that had been flirting with her all night.
‘Oh, this is just great. I just hope that he drank all those drinks he ordered.’
By now she’d realized there was no way she’d be able to reach her comm badge in time, Brooke was too close.
She could probably take them with a little luck. Now she was glad she hadn’t drunk that last drink. She just hoped that the third man was as drunk as his friends were.
As she was preparing herself for a fight, she heard footsteps coming from behind.
‘Dear god, not another one.’ She was starting to feel desperate.
She turned just enough so that she could watch behind her and still keep an eye on the three men. Her resolute face switched into relief.
"Thank goodness you’re here, I thought I was…"
A painful blow stopped her in mid-sentence. She looked up incredulously and spit up some blood.
The second blow came from behind, directly in her back. She fell to the ground, trying to protect herself the best she could, but then the kicking started.
By the third kick she heard a rib crack. She gasped for air, and finally it stopped.
She tried to roll onto her back, to relieve the pain from her rib, but someone put a foot on her neck, and pushed her to the ground.
She coughed as she breathed in the dust, and the pain in her ribs cut through her like a dagger. Someone leaned down close to her ear, and she could smell the whisky.
"Not that cocky now, are we lieutenant."
He started stroking her back.
"You know, I’m not an unreasonable man. You could just volunteer, and my friends and I would give you some space. Just one word from you…" He never stopped stroking her back.
Marcia’s head spun. The face she’d just recognized, it couldn’t be… She had mistaken, yes that was it, the resemblance was remarkable, but they said everyone had a twin…
Her train of thoughts was interrupted by a new voice, a familiar voice, a voice she was supposed to trust...
"He’s right, lieutenant Wilde."
He said every word mockingly.
"All you have to do is give in. You might even like it." He started laughing, a scornful sound. "You’re wasting your time gentlemen, she’s not going to say yes."
The stroking became more intense.
"Well that’s just too bad, isn’t it?"
She heard something like a knife being flicked open and the next few seconds were dim. Somehow she managed to roll around, kick away the foot that’d been holding her down, and get to her feet.
She was running. Running for her life. Her left side was burning like fire, but somehow she kept
her feet moving.
Someone behind her swore and went after her. Somewhere deep down she knew she couldn’t get away, and that only increased her running frenzy.
She could feel him right behind her, his hands reaching for her. She heard a frequent sound and she realized that it was the sound of her own sobs.
Her heart was beating like a sledgehammer as the panic increased. She couldn’t get away; she was too tired! Suddenly he grabbed hold of her hair and pulled so hard that she fell to the ground.
"NO! NO, PLEASE!" She couldn’t help but to let out the cry. A piece of cloth was shoved into her mouth and she could hardly breath.
She felt like she was hovering outside of herself. The pain seemed so distant; it belonged to someone else. Then slowly, she started regaining consciousness.
Every muscle in her body ached, and when she tried to move, she caught fire. She must have, nothing could hurt like this.
She opened her eyes, and for a moment she thought she’d gone blind. The option even sounded appealing. Soon, however she realized that it was still night.
She also realized she wasn’t alone. Someone was kneeling by her side, smoking a cigar by the smell of it. She recognized the smell too well.
"Help me." She didn’t recognize her own voice; it sounded so flat, so hoarse.
"My, my, look who’s decided to join the land of the living again. Help you?"
The laughter didn’t sound human.
"Lieutenant Marcia Wilde in need of assistance? It can’t be! The wonderful, bright, successful, witty, intelligent… Should I go on?"
This wasn’t happening. It couldn’t be. She knew him; he could never do anything like this.
She must have thought out loud, because he started laughing even more than before.
"Oh, I see, the sweet loving brother who’s supposed to look after his little sister." His voice hardened.
"Well, wake up and smell the roses, Sis. Were you there for me when I needed a position on a starship? No, you were too busy getting on the Enterprise."
Her head started spinning again.
"But you got the position on the U.S.S Explorer."
"Maybe you aren’t that intelligent after all. Of course I didn’t get the position, once you’ve got a spot on your record nothing washes it off. But you wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?"
He stubbed out the cigar and looked with despise at her.
"Falsifying the origin of my letters wasn’t hard, and I knew you’d never double-check, as long as I said I was there."
She started feeling sick as the situation finally got through her dazed mind.
It was Cameron that had arranged all this. He’d deliberately gotten hold of Brooke and the other thugs.
Tears started pouring out of her eyes.
He laughed again; it seemed more like a mechanical sound than any expression of joy.
"Why? I lived like a prince until you came along. They say being an only child is lonely, but I liked it. Then when you were born, everything started going to hell. Don’t you remember where mum and dad were going when their shuttle crashed?"
She started shaking her head in denial, not noticing the pain.
"Yes you do. They were on their way to buy that dog you’d been nagging about for months. If it weren’t for you, they’d be alive today!"
"No! It was an accident!"
"Which wouldn’t have happened if you’d just shut your mouth!"
He took a calming breath, and then continued.
"After that everything was always about you. ‘Marcy’s so bright, can you believe she figured that out, she’s only twelve!’ ‘She’ll be the youngest Starfleet captain in history, I guarantee it!’"
He looked mocking.
"Well how are you going to get out of this one, dear sister?"
She shot right up gasping for air, hitting wildly around her. Someone took a hold of her arms and tried to push her down, but her struggle only became wilder.
"Doctor, get out here!"
The voice was feminine and breathless. It sounded somewhat familiar and she calmed down a bit.
She tried to focus her eyes on her surroundings, but everything was blurry, and she realized she was crying.
She felt something cold to her neck and heard a wheezing sound.
"No," she sobbed, "I don’t want to go back to sleep."
"This will only calm you down." The voice was strangely soothing.
She noticed how her breathing became more even, and dried her face with her sleeves.
"How are you feeling?" Now she could focus on the Doctor’s gentle face and the Captain’s beside him.
She was grateful for the calmness, but didn’t want to think about it ending at some point.
"Did you have another flashback?"
The Captain’s voice sounded sympathetic. It was odd, she had never thought of the Captain as gentle.
"Let’s just say that you won’t have to reeducate me anymore, Captain"
No one said anything, until the Doctor finally broke the silence.
"You remember everything?"
Tom was breathless when he reached sickbay and the doors almost didn’t open fast enough. The Doctor seemed to have been expecting him.
"She isn’t here, Mr. Paris. I’ve released her to her quarters."
"An effect I hadn’t thought about in this particular stimuli we used to fool the Cephers appeared. It also stimulates the brain-activity. Including the part…"
"…where you remember things." Tom finished. "How is she?"
"I gave her something calming, and she’s still in shock, so it’s too early to say."
"Has she told you anything?"
The Doctor simply shook his head.
"Thanks Doc!" Tom rushed out of sickbay again.
"Good luck," the Doctor mumbled before turning his back to the door.
Tom rang the chime for the third time and there still wasn’t any response.
"Computer, location of Lieutenant Wilde?"
"Lieutenant Wilde is currently in holodeck 2"
The privacy lock was on when Tom tried to enter and he forced himself to calm down. She needed time. He would give her some time, and then he would talk with her.
Tom threw the padd aside in frustration. He’d been trying to focus on the report for the last half-hour, but to no use.
He looked at the time. 2.45, and still he couldn’t sleep. He’d drifted off a while ago, only to dream of her face, the normally so bright blue eyes disoriented and confused.
As they’d been when he’d seen them in the messhall. Was that how they’d looked when she woke up in sickbay?
He sighed and picked the padd up again.
Suddenly the silence of his quarters was broken and his commbadge beeped.
"Wilde to Paris."
Eagerly he tapped his badge.
"Can you come to my quarters?"
"I’m on my way."
Something in her voice made him worried. It was totally emotionless, and totally uncharacteristic for her.
Marcy was an expressionist, she always put some feeling in everything she did.
That was a part of who she was, a part that he love…
The hand that had been putting the padd down froze in mid-air.
In shock he realized the reason for his sleepless nights; he was in love with her.
Somehow he’d opened more to her in one month than he had to Harry and B’Elanna in three years. And somewhere along the way he’d crossed the boundary of friendship, and started feeling something more.
He hastily made his way out of his quarters and towards hers. It really didn’t matter how he felt for her, he knew her feelings for him were of pure friendship.
Any warmer feelings weren’t directed at him. He remembered the smile she’d given Chakotay with painful clarity.
Right now she needed a friend, not a lover. It was going to take time for her to adjust, now that she remembered whatever it was. Knowing Marcy it must have been bad. Really bad.
Tom pulled himself out of his thoughts as he found himself outside her place.
As the doors closed behind him he found her sitting on her couch, staring straight ahead. She turned her gaze towards him and when he saw the pain in her eyes, it felt like someone shoved a knife through his chest.
"The sedative’s worn off." It wasn’t a question.
Marcia just nodded, not saying a word. Carefully, as if he was afraid she’d disappear, he sat down beside her.
For a long time they just sat there, him just trying to be there, her trying to comprehend that what she remembered.
Finally, she broke the silence.
"I don’t know if I’m ready to talk about it yet."
"That’s okay, you don’t have to."
"I’m sorry I woke you up."
He shrugged it off.
"I wasn’t sleeping anyway."
Her expression changed from disbelieving shock, and worry replaced it.
"You’re not sleeping well?"
He tried to sound casual.
"Nah, just had some reports to fill."
She didn’t believe him and she was hurt that he wouldn’t tell her what was wrong. All that he could read from her eyes. ‘Well done, Thomas, you’re a great support!’
"You don’t have to worry about me, Marcy. If I had any serious troubles, I’d tell you. Honest."
Marcy was about to answer when it hit him like bolt of lightning. He stood up abruptly.
"I have to go," he mumbled, his eyes avoiding hers.
"I’ll see you around, okay?" He started walking out.
She positioned herself before him so he couldn’t leave.
"Thomas Eugene Paris, what’s going on!?"
She could barely hear his response.
"My past. You remember my past now."
She didn’t say anything and he didn’t dare look at her.
"I understand if you don’t want to be around me anymore…"
Tom was interrupted as she moved close to him. His breath caught in his throat when he looked into her face. She put her arms around his neck, her eyes never leaving his as her face moved closer and closer to his.
And she kissed him on the cheek.
"If you think I would let something that happened years ago get in the way of our friendship, you’re sadly mistaken."
Her voice was low and intense as she continued.
"You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me since…"
Her eyes got that pained look again, but this time she seemed to shake it of.
"If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be standing here, remember? You are the warmest, kindest and most caring person I’ve ever known, always there when everything seems hopeless. Without you, I would have gone insane."
There were tears in her eyes now.
"Don’t you ever try to suggest that I wouldn’t want to know you again, because it just isn’t true. That’s an order!"
He would have been disappointed about the kiss if it weren’t for the exultation he was feeling inside.
His eyes shone as he looked at her and he brushed away a tear that made its way down her cheek.
"You don’t outrank me, lieutenant."
She smiled back at him.
"On this mission I do."
A sequel? Well, it depends, on how much feedback I get. And of course, if it’s good feedback. What’s the use of writing another one if nobody liked it. You know where to send it; please do. A simply note if you liked it or not will do.