AUTHOR‘S NOTE: My personal experience with coma always led me to Wonder: where does the soul goes once the brain can‘t function anymore? Well, since I was too young to remember, I‘m left only with my imagination...
Disclaimer: Here it comes, the legal stuff: Paramount owns them, Tom Paris, the rest of Voyager‘s crew. we just kidnaped them for the fun of it.
In The Dark takes place in the same universe of our previous story Neoplasm, sometime after Vis-a-vis. This is the 2/5 part of this saga. The story is P/T and rated G.
SYNOPSIS: Following He could see the Light, Voyager encounter a spatial anomaly whose effects put the crew to sleep and wake Tom up.
In The Dark, Part 2: The Night Turned Cold and Frigid
By Synbou- Synbou@hotmail.com
B‘Elanna Torres was back in Sickbay. These days, she was passing more time there than in engineering. Thank Kahless for Captain Janeway and Chakotay‘s understanding. This was hard enough as it was. B‘Elanna could not bear the thought of being kept away from the man she loved too long.
"That‘s about it for what‘s going on in engineering. Well I could go on, but I don‘t want to bore you to death. Wouldn‘t want that, would we? I don‘t know what else I could tell you. I‘m really not up to date with the ship‘s gossip, since I pass most of my time keeping you company. I‘m sure you‘re having the time of your life here. You have my undivided attention. I can tell you that isn‘t the case for my staff. They have to cope with a half-Klingon who misses her favorite pig." She sighed heavily. "Oh, Tom, wake up! This is getting ridiculous. You‘ve been sleeping for six days, now! You‘re missing all the fun. Letting Baythart and Hamilton get comfortable at the helm is not a good thing you know. And . . . and I‘m going out my mind. Each time I hear a door open, I hope it‘s you. When people call my name, I can hear your voice. I‘m hardly concentrating . . . "
"That‘s because you‘re hardly eating, B‘Elanna."
"Doctor!" she said, surprised and a little angry for being cut off-guard. "How long have you been here?"
"Not long," he assured her. "I see you‘ve changed your tactic with Mr. Paris. However, I don‘t think that calling him a pig will help much."
"With Tom? You never know . . . and, he is being a pig for aggravating my patience. That‘s what you‘re doing, aren‘t you Paris? You‘re testing our patience." She shrugged, then asked, even if she already knew the answer. "There is no change?"
"I‘m afraid not."
"Well, I‘ll give him another day then." *You‘re really testing my patience, Tom. But, I‘ll wait.* "Doc, I miss him. You hear me Paris, I miss you. So do all your friends." She chuckled. "I heard that Harry played his clarinet for him. Tom loves that. Poor Harry, he misses him so much."
"I miss him too," admitted The Doctor.
"I know that Tom considers you a very good friend. It‘s understandable that you miss him as much as we do. Especially now that he works with you more frequently."
"He is turning out to be an excellent medical assistant. He‘s got what it takes. He‘s calm under pressure. He‘s a quick learner. He has good dexterity . . . He has good bedside manners. It‘s a shame he hates it."
"I don‘t think that he hates it. It‘s just that it keeps him from his first love, flying," she said her hand stroking Tom‘s blond hair. "I wish his father could see him now. How much he‘s changed. I know he wishes it too. For that, he‘ll have to wake up. Won‘t you Tom? You have to stop hiding out and wake up. We need you. I need you and, and I‘m tired of repeating myself."
"B‘Elanna, why don‘t you go get something to eat and a good night‘s sleep?"
"Trying to get rid of me, Doctor?"
"Just looking after your best interest, and Tom‘s," he told her seriously.
"Tom‘s," she echoed.
"When he does wake up, he‘ll need you and seeing you tired will only make him worry about you. There‘s enough of that going around. So, go get some rest, and come back looking your best."
B‘Elanna considered what the Doctor had just prescribed for a moment. She didn‘t want Tom worrying about her. So, sh turned to him and said:
"See, you tomorrow, Helmboy. The Doc is throwing me out."
"I miss that too," he said, resting his hand on Tom‘s chest. "That nickname he gave me: Doc. It‘s almost a name."
"It suits you. See you tomorrow."
"See you tomorrow, B‘Elanna," and the Doctor added when he saw that she was hesitating. "I‘ll call you if anything happens."
She smiled a little at him and left. She needed to hear that, even if it was for the umpteenth time.
The Light kept shining. It was playing trough the icy branches of the trees, making their shadows dance over the white cloak that was covering the pond. The light breeze was bringing clouds of snow over the hills, stealing his thoughts as they were disappearing over the other side. He had been there for quite sometime, now. How long? He didn‘t know. Neither did he care. The peaceful atmosphere of the Winter Garden was fulfilling as it was. He was mostly alone. He missed her.
Sometimes, people would sit beside him on his bench. They talked to him, but they didn‘t listen to what he had to say. So, he had gave up answering back and decided to simply enjoy their company and the one of the blue-grey cat sitting on his knees.
Commander Chakotay walked in his Captain‘s ready room, finding her sitting at her desk. She was holding a cup in front of her with both hands. She was tired and worried, he could tell. It had been a long day. Voyager had encountered a new spatial anomaly and the ship had avoided yet another disaster. Only her head moved as she looked at him.
"Kathryn, don‘t tell me you‘re drinking coffee at this hour?" he said with mock disbelief.
"Not anymore, this coffee is long cold."
"You should go to bed and at least rest if you can‘t sleep. It won‘t do you any good staying here, worrying all night."
"I know, Chakotay, but I can‘t help it. I‘m afraid if I go to sleep that the Doctor will wake me to tell me that it‘s over. That Tom is gone. We never should have stayed for so long near that spatial anomaly . . . "
Chakotay took a step forward. "Kathryn, we couldn‘t have known that the anomaly would have an effect on Tom‘s condition, assuming that it‘s really what made it changed all the sudden."
"He was fine before," she argued. She brought one hand to her forehead realizing the simplicity of her words. She was speaking with her heart, not her detached scientific mind. "Well, fine, might not be a good choice of word, considering that Tom has been in a coma for a week. Whatever the anomaly did to him, his not bouncing back from it."
"The Doctor is doing his best. Have faith, Kathryn," Chakotay told her. "I‘ll bet on Tom winning this fight anytime. The guy has more lives than a cat. He‘ll land on his feet." She smiled at him, shaking her head.
"It sounds like you‘ve given that lecture before."
"I have," he said with a grin, "and the more I tell it, the more I believe it. So, why don‘t I walk you to your quarters. We can stop by Sickbay if you wish, and I can give this lecture to B‘Elanna and Harry, again."
"You have a deal, Commander."
The wind changed direction. It was faster and colder. Soon, it would snow. He could see dark clouds rising above the hills. He stood up, holding his cat closely against his chest, and looked straight ahead. The clouds and their shadows were coming toward them. For the first time, he felt fear. He had a sense of dread, like someone was walking over his grave. He shivered. He had the urge to turn around and run as fast as he could. But, there was no point in doing so, was there? He knew that ultimately, one could not outrun death forever. So, he watched with a mixture of anxiety and anticipation as it got darker by each passing moment, and the shining Wither Garden slipped into a cold and frigid night.
Chakotay stood before his bed and shrugged. Like hell he was ever going to sleep tonight. He had accompanied Kathryn to Sickbay, not surprisingly found B‘Elanna and Harry at Tom‘s bedside. The Lieutenant was as pale as Chakotay remembered him in the Captain‘s ready room a week before. He was disturbed at the fluctuations of Tom‘s vital signs, everything was erratic.
Voyager had been in close range of the spatial anomaly for at least two hours when Tom‘s condition started to worsen to the point where he began suffering from repetitive seizures. It seemed after further analysis that the anomaly was emitting a spectrum of beta waves which interfered with the brain‘s delta waves of sleeping crew members. They were now some distance from the anomaly and everyone affected seemed to return to normal, except Tom Paris.
Chakotay sighed. He was not a close friend of the pilot, but they had developed, in the past few years, a good working relationship and a friendship based on mutual respect. The idea of Tom at the brink of death once again was unsettling. He felt even more helpless than the week before. How could something like this be possible? Chakotay‘s memories brought him back to Kathryn, B‘Elanna, Harry, and the Doctor‘s own looks of helplessness and anguish. A few more people had stopped by Sickbay, hoping for some good news, while he was there. Tom had many good friends who cared about him, and he had no doubt that it was mutual. Te Commander was glad about that. Tom had changed a lot since his first days on Voyager.
Chakotay sighed again. He wasn‘t in the mood to bring old and difficult memories back, neither was he going to allow this musing to keep him awake all night, but, sleep was eluding him. So, he considered that a visit to his spirit guide or maybe a chat with his father would do him some good. He sat comfortably on the floor with his ‚Akoona‘ and his medicine bundle in front on him. He started breathing slowly, in and out, and relax . . .
He stood before them, staring at the Shadows. He realized with a start that this wasn‘t right. This wasn‘t where he had intended to be.
"Do you know who they are?" a familiar voice asked from behind him. Chakotay turned around and saw Tom Paris sitting on a bench, a blue-grey Himalayan cat sitting on his lap.
"Tom," he whispered surprised. The younger man eyed him blankly. The Commander approached him carefully, almost afraid to frighten him. "Tom, it‘s Chakotay," he said holding Tom‘s empty gaze.
A friendly smile appeared on Tom‘s pale figure, but otherwise, his eyes remained empty.
"Chakotay . . . " he repeated slowly as he associated the name with the man kneeling before him. "What are you doing in the Winter Garden? You shouldn‘t be here, you know."
"The Winter Garden? Why shouldn‘t I be here?"
"I dunno . . . " Tom answered, his gaze furtively returning to the Shadows. "It was fine . . . then they came, taking the light away."
Chakotay‘s own eyes returned to the darkness for a moment. First the light, now the darkness, was it a sign of the sudden change in Tom‘s condition? He faced Tom again. The pilot‘s eyes were still locked on the horizon, on the Shadows. Gently, he put his hand on Tom‘s face, forcing the blue eyes to look at him. Chakotay was surprised by the feeling of lack of self-awareness he sensed from the younger man.
"We‘re worried about you. You have been here a long time. Don‘t you think it‘s time to go home?"
"Home?... I don‘t know how to go home."
"Maybe, I can help. You have to trust me, Tom. Let me help you.
Come with me."
"Help me . . . how? I trust you, but how."
They both stood up. This was a first for Chakotay. He never had brought someone out of a coma before. Still, he felt confident that he could help, somehow. It felt good to have Tom‘s trust. An unconditional trust. Had their friendship grown that far?
"The wind is changing again," Tom said not as flatly as before. There was a hint of worry that transposed itself on his features, a sudden spark in his blue eyes. The cat struggled and jumped to the ground. "It‘s too late, Chakotay. You have to go!"
"I don‘t understand. What‘s happening?!" Chakotay yelled over the wind. Another seizure. Tom must be having another seizure! his mind screamed at him. "Tom, I‘m not leaving you. I‘ll help you," Chakotay said with more conviction than he felt.
"No! No, Chakotay, you leave, NOW! I can‘t protect you! Go!"
With a feeling of dread, Chakotay was suddenly back in the darkness of his own quarters on Voyager. But something was not right, he could feel it.
"Here we go again," the Doctor sighed. He pressed a hypospray on Tom‘s neck. It barely had an effect on the erratic life signs of his patient. "Ensign, I need another ten ccs Denazine!" he called his eyes on the diagnostic screen. The vital signs changed again in an unexpected way. The Doctor‘s gaze moved to his patient face seeing his blue eyes fly open. "Tom . . . " He snapped out of his momentarily surprise when he heard a crashing sound behind him. He turned to find Ensign Wildman laying on the floor. "Samantha! Can you hear me?" Turning back to Paris, who was blinking repetitively, he cautioned, "Tom, don‘t move. I‘ll be right back. Ensign Wildman needs my help." He picked up his medical tricorder and went to the blond woman‘s side. She was unconscious, but her life signs were steady. Quickly, he came back to Paris, who for his part, was coming out of a week-long coma. "Tom, it‘s the Doctor, can you hear me?"
Tom eyes slowly focused on him. He was disoriented.
"You‘re in Sickbay, on Voyager," he told his patient. Can you talk to me?"
It took Tom some time and a lot of effort to coordinate his thoughts and his actions. After a few unsuccessful tries, he managed to say.
"Doc . . . I . . . Where‘s Chakotay?" His voice was raw and weak, a sign that his vocal cords had not been used in a week.
"The Commander?" the Doctor asked, "in his quarters I assume, why?"
"He was with me," Tom simply said. "What happened?"
"You were on the bridge. Do you remember?"
"The ship got hit by the wave . . . B‘Elanna?"
"B‘Elanna his fine," he told him gently. "Let me call them. They were waiting impatiently for you to wake up and, I need help with Ensign Wildman."
"Sam . . . "
"She lost consciousness a few minutes ago." The Doctor put a hand on Tom‘s shoulder, seeing the worry in his eyes. "Sickbay to bridge," he called.
There was no answer.
"That‘s odd. Sickbay to Captain Janeway."
There was still no answer.
"Computer, locate Captain Janeway," the EMH said.
"Captain Janeway is on the bridge," came the familiar female voice of the ship‘s computer.
"Computer assess Captain Janeway‘s current health condition."
"Captain Janeway is unconscious. Pulse and breathing are within normal parameters."
"This is the Doctor to any member of the crew. Can anyone hear me?"
"Seems like I‘m the only one who can Doc," Tom said after a brief moment of silence.
"Apparently so," the Doctor said with dismay.
"Help me get up, please. We need to know what‘s going on, now."
"Tom, you‘re in no condition to go anywhere right now. You have been in a coma the last few days."
"Doc, unless you‘re going to tell me that I‘m still in a coma, having a very elaborate dream, I suggest you help me get up. Something is going on and the only two senior officers, make that the only people awake, are you and me," the lieutenant argued.
Without further protest, the EMH disengaged the medical arc, freeing Tom of his protective alcove. Then, he helped him to sit up.
"Are you alright?"
"Yeah, just dizzy. Any idea why I‘m awake and everybody else is sleeping?" he asked, trying to keep his mind focus.
The Doctor went to his console and study the readouts. "The ship is affected by a spatial anomaly that is emitting a mixed spectrum of beta and delta waves. We encountered a similar phenomenon earlier today. I don‘t understand. You should be unconscious like the others."
"Is the ship close to the anomaly?"
"Three thousand kilometers."
"I need to go the bridge. Whatever this thing is doing, we need to get away from it," he said getting on his feet, holding the biobed for support. "And I need warmer clothes than PJs. My feet are cold."
Tom made his way out of Sickbay on his own, holding himself close to the wall for support. He had replicated himself a new uniform. The change of clothing wasn‘t only making him warmer, but also feel more in control Apparently, B‘Elanna had taken the Doc‘s emitter down to Engineering to perform some repairs on it, keeping the EMH in Sickbay for the time being. Obviously, he was fuming about it. But what could he do? It had been his idea to send the Lieutenant to engineering to make the repairs, in order to clear his Sickbay, while treating a very ill patient.
Tom was almost to the turbolift when he saw Commander Chakotay coming his way. Relief almost overwhelmed him.
"Commander!" he called. "I thought everyone was unconscious."
"I‘ve been wondering around the ship. You‘re the only one I saw so far. What are you doing here? Shouldn‘t you be in Sickbay?"
"I woke up. Doc said I was in a coma. We tried to call everyone.
There was no answer. Why didn‘t you answer?"
"I never heard the call. You said Ensign Wildman was unconscious."
"Yeah. Doc is looking after her since he can‘t go anywhere else. He doesn‘t have his emitter. The ship seems to be affected by a spatial anomaly. I was on my way to the bridge."
"Then, lead the way Lieutenant," the Commander said. "It‘s good to have you back, Tom."
The turbolift doors opened and the blue cat walked out. He inspected the surprised men with a questioned expression like if he was saying Do I know you?
"Where does the cat come from?" asked Tom as they entered in the turbolift.
"Tom, tell me something," Chakotay began. "What‘s the last thing you remember before walking up in Sickbay?"
Tom looked at him surprised. The last thing he remembered?
"Eh . . . You, actually . . . with me, why?"
"Chakotay," Tom was about to protest when he saw the serious expression on the other man‘s face. "Eh, I‘m not sure . . . the Captain‘s ready room . . . a garden?" He said the last two words so softly, it was almost to himself.
"Yes, The Garden," Chakotay repeated.
Confused, Tom looked away for a moment. He had those strange images in minds. Lying on his back, Captain Janeway telling him to hold on; sitting on a bench, in a park, on a sunny winter dy; facing . . . facing the darkness . . .
Tom opened his eyes. He was disoriented. He felt the hard surface of the deck beneath him. Slowly, he picked himself up off the floor and looked around. He was in the corridor leading to the turbolift. What was going on, here?
"Paris to Sickbay," came the Lieutenant‘s voice over the link.
"Mr. Paris," the EMH said relief in his voice. "Are you alright? I‘ve been trying to raise you. Why didn‘t answer my call? We‘re suppose to stay in contact . . . "
"Doc, how long since I left Sickbay?" Paris interrupted.
"Almost ten minutes. Are you alright?" the Doctor asked again. He was pacing his office, frustrated to be stranded there, while knowing that with his holo-emitter he could‘ve been at his patient‘s side by now.
"Yeah, yeah, I am. I lost consciousness, I think."
"You should come back here. The anomaly has a different impact on you, an impact that I‘ve yet to be able to explain. You could get seriously injured by slipping in and out of consciousness."
"I‘m afraid it‘s a risk I‘m going to have to take, Doc," Tom told him, his mind set. "Doc . . . " he began after a while, not as sure of himself.
"While I was unconscious, I had a chat with Chakotay. He was saying that there was nobody else on the ship except me and a cat." "The Commander you say . . . The Commander‘s ability to enter in deep meditation state and to control his dreams might have something to do with it. The anomaly interferes with beta and delta brain waves, it‘s possible it has an effect on theta waves also, assuming the Commander is meditating."
"Well, maybe. I‘m going to his quarters right now."
"Stay in contact with me, Lieutenant," the Doctor ordered him.
Chakotay was shocked to see Paris disappear into thin air. He tried his comm badge, but wasn‘t surprised by the silence he received as an answer. He knew that he was still meditating. It was the only explanation for the empty ship and the cat. And Chakotay admitted to himself, that his encounter with Tom had disbursed him greatly.
The doors of turbolift opened bringing Chakotay to the present. The moment he walked onto the bridge his eyes caught the image on the main view screen. Another anomaly had attracted the ship into its gravitational field. Chakotay remembered that he had been meditating in his quarters and somehow he had contacted Tom. "Until the wind changed," he told himself grimly. So his body was in his quarters and his soul wandering trough the ship. What about Tom? One minute he was there, telling him that the Doctor was stuck in Sickbay caring for an unconscious Ensign Wildman, the next, he was gone . . .
Chakotay left the bridge for Sickbay. The last time he had visited Paris there, the young man was barely holding his on. Chakotay prayed deep down that he was still alive. He held his breath as walked through the Sickbay doors. He stood there in the middle of the place, not sure if he should feel worried or relieved. Sickbay was empty.
Lieutenant Paris overrode Commander Chakotay‘s security code on his door and entered his superior‘s quarters. The walk had left him exhausted. He leaned on the door frame and let his eyes survey the living area. He sighed with some relief. Chakotay was sitting on the floor, his back against the sofa, and his medicine bundle spread out in ront of him. He was meditating, not sleeping. The Doctor had been right. Tom made his way to the Commander‘s side. He pulled out his medical tricorder and began to scan. There was a lot of brain activity.
"Doc, you‘re still there?" he called.
"Of course, Mr. Paris," the Doctor said, annoyed by the obvious.
"It‘s good to know that you‘re still here too."
"Well, Thanks, Doc," he said grinning. "You were right, Chakotay is in meditation." He sighed tiredly again. "I don‘t know what to make of this Doc. I only hope that if I fall unconscious again, he‘ll be there."
Tom was not sure what to make of the feeling of comfort the Commander was providing him either, but, he was glad to have it.
"You sound tired," the Doctor observed.
"I‘ll be fine. Doc. I‘m going to the bridge."
Paris turned on his heels when he heard Chakotay called his name. The Commander caught up with him again in front of the turbolift doors.
"I saw you disappear in the turbolift earlier. What happened?"
"I woke up. Chakotay something weird is going on here. Everyone is asleep except me and, in way, you. I just went to your quarters. It looks like your meditating."
"I am, but I can‘t come out of it."
"It‘s a good thing, otherwise you would be asleep like the others.
Have you made it to the bridge, yet?"
"Yes, I saw the anomaly. Doesn‘t seem like I can do much in this .
. . this plane of existence."
"I think I can if I stay awake long enough."
Chakotay gave him a sympathetic smile.
"Go to the bridge, try to put some distance between us and the anomaly. Adjust the shields on a reverse polaric frequency. It worked before."
"Aye, aye, sir," Tom responded seriously. He sighed then grin at him. "Any idea how I‘m suppose to wake up?"
"That‘s a tough one. What did you do the last time?"
"I dunno know. I was in the turbolift and then I woke up in the corridor."
"Come to the bridge with me anyway. Hopefully, you‘ll wake up eventually."
"Hopefully," Tom repeated grimly.
Tom woke up in front of the turbolift where Chakotay had caught up with him. He was starting to really hate this. He tried to get up and only made it to his knees. God, he was tired. Just laying there on the deck did not seem like a bad idea right now.
"Mr. Paris! Tom!" He heard the Doctor call. "You lost consciousness again. Tom can you hear me?!"
"Doc, please stop screaming, please," he implored. "My ears are ringing already. I...I met with Chakotay again. How long was I unconscious?"
"About five minutes."
Tom sighed heavily. "Guess I better start heading for the bridge, again." He crawled to the wall and held onto it for support as he got up. He gathered his strength and walked to the turbolift. The doors closed behind him and he instructed the computer to take him to the bridge. With a sickening sensation, he abruptly realized that the lift wasn‘t going up. It was going down, real fast!
"Unconscious in an unconscious state. That must be a first," Chakotay said grimly. "Tom, wake up!"
"...C‘Kotay. Damn, it hurts." Tom eyes slowly opened as he crawled back to awareness. "What happened?" he whispered.
"I don‘t know, Tom." At the obvious disorientation on the Lieutenant‘s face, he said: "You‘re in the turbolift, at the bottom of the shaft, in engineering."
"Chakotay. What‘s going on here?!" he almost yelled out of frustration. "I just want to go to the bridge," he said more quietly.
"It‘s what, the third time you tried?"
"It‘s like something is trying to keep me from going there," Tom observed. "You think . . . You think I‘m injured?"
Chakotay rolled his eyes. He wouldn‘t be surprised and he told Tom so. He was getting frustrated as well. Was there really something keeping Tom from going to the bridge? If so, what? Why?"
"Is this reality, whatever it is, like the real thing?" Tom asked.
"I mean, are things at the same place?"
"What are you getting at?"
"The Doc‘s holo-emitter," Tom answered. "You think you could help me find it. I need help. If I can‘t go to the bridge without getting killed in the process, maybe the Doc can."
"Good thinking, Tom," he told him trying to be as encouraging as he could. "Come, it shouldn‘t be too difficult to find."
The Doctor was standing near the transporter console, ready to catch Tom the moment he materialized in Sickbay. He helped the injured man to the biobed. He didn‘t waste anytime, passing his tricorder over him. He frowned at the readings. A broken arm, three broken ribs, a sprained ankle and another concussion for the record. It wasn‘t too bad considering that the man had been in a turbolift‘s fourteen-deck free fall. Tom had checked the condition of the turbolift while he was in engineering, there seemed to be nothing wrong with it. The Doctor had to concur with Paris, something strange was going on.
"Your emitter, Doc." Tom said as he presented the EMH with the device.
"Thank you, Lieutenant."
"Ah, no problem Doc, I was in the neighborhood anyway," Tom answered. "I really wonder what‘s keeping me from going to the bridge. Chakotay said he didn‘t see anything strange except for the anomaly on the view screen. Then again, Chakotay isn‘t on this plain of existence . . . "
"Now, that I have my holo-emitter, I can accompany you," said the Doctor. "With the right medication, I could at least try to prevent you from falling into unconsciousness again."
"Yeah . . . We could transport over there, I don‘t really trust the turbolift anymore, and I‘m not up for the Jeffries tubes. Still, we need a backup plan. I mean, I have to move Voyager away from this thing. I would prefer to do it from the bridge. It‘s more convenient. But, I could try from Engineering."
"This would be easier if I knew how to fly a starship."
"Well, I would be happy to teach you, anytime you‘d like," said the pilot, "and, right now would be as a good time to start as any."
Tom Paris and the Holodoc materialized on the bridge. *Good, the stimulant Doc gave me seems to be working*, Tom thought as he quickly gazed around them. He could see people, unconscious on the floor, like Captain Janeway and Tuvok. Others were still sitting on their chairs, leaning on their stations, like Kim at Ops and Hamilton at the helm.
The Doctor didn‘t lose anytime and went to the Captain to make sure she was alright, and to try a futile attempt at waking her. Tom on his part made it more slowly to the conn. The bridge was unusually dark. Maybe it was just the effect of the low lights of the red alert, but it still felt creepy. He would have sworn he was seeing shadows playing on the walls. To add to it, he had that strange feeling of being watched. *You‘re too paranoid Thomas. Stop imagining things*.
"Sleeping at the helm, Hamilton?" he asked the unconscious pilot. "C‘mon this thing can‘t be that boring? Why don‘t you let me have a look?"
He gently rolled Hamilton‘s chair away and took a good look at the readings.
"The ship was still in the gravitational field of the anomaly. Getting away from it shouldn‘t be that difficult," he told the Doctor.
"Reversing the shield‘s polarity and engaging the warp drive should do it."
He had barely touched the console when he was hit in the side and was forced to the ground. It took him a few seconds to recover. He felt a hand on his shoulder and opened his eyes to see the Commander looking at him concerned.
"Welcome back," Chakotay told him. "I‘m glad you‘re here, I was starting to feel lonely, well almost . . . "
Tom got to his feet, this was becoming a nasty habit. He stood beside the Commander. They weren‘t alone anymore. Little shadows were wondering around the bridge.
"I came back here when you left engineering for Sickbay, and I found them," Chakotay explained.
"I finally made it to the bridge with Doc, and they were there too, but, they weren‘t as defined, just mere shadows. What do they want? Did they tell you?"
"No. They seem to be poking around. I can‘t really make out what they are doing."
"Well, we can‘t stay here forever waiting for them to go away," Tom said getting frustrated. He could hardly wait for this day to be over. "The Doc is still on the bridge. We agreed that if I was to lose consciousness he would give me a few minutes, hoping I would run into you. He will transport me to engineering and transfer the helm protocols there. I should be able to get the ship free."
"I‘ll get a head start, see you there then. I hope this works."
"You‘re not the only one. I‘m really sick of the game." *And it‘s starting to spook me,* he added to himself.
When Commander Chakotay arrived in engineering, the place was quiet, too quiet. Obviously, Tom hadn‘t made it there yet. Chakotay wasn‘t sure if he wanted the young man to join him there, in his plane of reality, anyway. Hopefully, Tom would stay awake and would be able to fly Voyager away. Then, everyone would wake up. So, he prepared himself for another long wait.
Voyager bolted forward the moment her pilot pushed the engage button. Helplessly, he sensed the little energy he had left leave him as quickly. Somewhat reassured, he felt the Doctor take a hold of him before his legs gave in from under him. The world was spinning too fast in a sickening turmoil. His blood was running cold inside his body as he saw the familiar darkness closing over him once again. He was barely aware of the light touch of the hypospray on his skin.
"Tom! Lieutenant! you have to stay with me. You have to stay awake.
Try to focus," The Doctor ordered him.
Around them, the engineering crew was waking up and starting to move around. The Doctor turned his head to see Lieutenant Joe Carey coming to them.
"Get Lieutenant Torres," he ordered the engineer. "B‘Elanna is coming, Tom, then, we will get you Sickbay."
Tom?!....." was the only word B‘Elanna could manage when she came to them, near the navigation controls.
"The ship has stopped," Tom murmured and then his eyes focused into thin air. "But, they‘re still here."
Chakotay wasn‘t sure if he was finally awake or not. He could see the engineering crew, now. He could also see the Shadows coming all around them. He realized quickly enough, by the lack of acknowledgment of the people passing by him, that he was still meditating. He knew that as long the Shadows were there, he just couldn‘t come out of it, not just yet. Tom? Where was Tom?
He found the pilot sitting on the floor, leaning against the navigation console. The Doctor was hovering over him, and B‘Elanna was slowly sitting beside him. Chakotay‘s heart sank when he saw Tom‘s pale complexion. His face was drained of all color. By the haunted look in his livid eyes, he could assess with certainty that Tom was seeing the Shadows as well. Then, his eyes focused on him. "They are still here," he told the Commander.
"I know, Tom. But, can‘t you see that they‘re fading? Now, you have to stay awake. You have to fight."
"You can‘t what, Tom?" asked B‘Elanna gently.
"They‘re gone, Tom," Chakotay told him even knowing that the young man‘s attention was no longer on him.
"I can‘t fight. I‘m too cold and tired," he weakly whispered. "I‘m sorry, B‘Elanna."
Chakotay didn‘t hear what B‘Elanna told him when a cold strong wind hit him and shook his body. He wasn‘t on Voyager anymore. He turned his back to the wind and forced his eyes open. Darkness. He was back in the cold night of the Winter Garden, and so was Tom. The pilot was lying on the icy surface covering the pond, a few meters away.
"TOM!" he called over the wind.
With relief he saw Paris look back at him. Against the raging wind, he began to make his way toward him. Tom stood up and began walking in his direction. After what seemed a long time to him, he almost had a hold of the young man. "It‘s time, to find our way home, don‘t you think?" he shouted.
"Yeah. It‘s time to go home," Tom echoed in agreement.
The wind hit them hard, again. Tom lost his balance and crashed heavily on the ice. With a shocking horror, Chakotay saw the surface break and the black crystal water swallow the pilot. Whatever sound Tom made was never heard, it was drowned out by the wind.
Chakotay moved as fast as he could to where Tom had been. Where there was a big hole now. Tom was gone. Chakotay felt the black hole singeing his soul as he woke up on the floor of his quarters. His breath was shallow. His heart was caught in his throat. Tears were running down his frozen cheeks.
Home. He had found his way home. Alone.
End of part 2.
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Isabelle S. and Louise B. (a.k.a Synbou) Synbou@hotmail.com