Standard Disclaimer: Tom Paris, Voyager and all its crew belong to Paramount/Viacom.
No profit will be made from this story.
Warning: Please take note of the rating. Disturbing in parts. Severe angst.
Codes: P, All, P/T
Rating: R (Just to be safe. Rather dark in places.)
I slowly uncurl myself and stand up from the couch, running my hands through my hair. What do I do now?
The Captain knows everything, she says. Does she? Itís not possible. But there was something about her eyes as she looked at me that makes me uncertain. Anyway, she knows enough. Now sheíll try to talk to me about it.
Now that everythingís out in the open sheíll want to discuss things...try to help me. But I donít want that.
Iíve managed to get on with my life all these years by pretending nothing ever happened. Itís the only way. The only way to get any sleep at night. The only way to lead a normal life.
Some people might find it beneficial to talk about it, but not me. It all becomes too real and I feel worse...not better. Itís much easier to push it down - way down deep within me - and leave it there.
Okay, so now and then I hit a few bumps. Something happens to bring some, if not all of it back, but mostly I cope. And no one would ever know.
Iíve managed all this time, havenít I? And now itís all changed. Harry and BíElanna have betrayed me.
And the Captainís wrong. Sheís not the only other person who knows besides them. For her to know everything, as she claims, she must have spoken to the Doc.
Even if she hadnít spoken to him directly, as soon as she accessed my medical files, he would have known. After all, his program is directly linked to the computer. This would only Ďremindí him again.
And heíd had his suspicions at the time. Suspicions that Iíd managed to deflect. Somehow. Even now, all these years later, I wonder how I got away with it at the time.
I wouldn't now, I know that. The Doc was different now. He wasn't just a medical program. He'd learnt and grown.
And I have to work with him for godís sake. Heíd come a long way over the years, but there was no way in hell, I could talk to him about this. Iíd had a hard enough time talking to Harry and BíElanna.
Still not knowing what to do, I go over to my bed and throw myself down on it. Itís late by now and I know I should try and get some sleep.
I feel slightly disappointed that BíElanna hasnít tried to talk to me. Not that I want to speak with her, but I want to tell her that. I want her to know how upset I am with her.
Of course, Harryís probably already told her about our conversation earlier and she would have decided to leave me alone for a while to cool off.
I thump my pillow in disgust and roll over. My anger has been slowly fading as the day wore on, and now I feel more pain than anger. I donít want to feel pain.
My thoughts turn once more to the Doctor. Maybe Iím overreacting. Maybe the Captain didnít access my medical files, so the Doc hasnít been Ďreminded.í And even if she had - and he had - would he say anything to me?
No, of course not. There was no need to. He had his ethical subroutines that he had to follow. And Iíd already told him I wouldnít discuss it.
I hadnít liked the idea of the Doc knowing anything, but it had been unavoidable. But he knew secrets about everybody, anyway, Iíd told myself at the time. What was one more?
I rolled over once more and closed my eyes. My thoughts drifted back to more than three years ago, when Iíd first woken up in sickbay and the Doc had been peering down at me.
"Ah, Lieutenant! Youíre awake. How do you feel?"
I looked around the sickbay. "They got me out?" I croaked.
The Doc nodded. "You were a little bruised and battered, but youíll make a full recovery. A few days rest is all you need now."
Kes was walking towards me, a huge smile on her face. "Itís so good to have you back, Tom."
I sat up, feeling a little queasy, and noticed the Doc was frowning at me. "We need to have a little talk."
I turned away from him. His scans must have detected something. Damn it!
Kes was watching him, her face registering surprise. Thank the gods; she obviously didnít know.
"Did the Captain get my message?" I asked her, instead of the Doc.
She nodded, her eyes shining. "Neelix managed to stop him."
I was slightly surprised. Neelix? "Whatís the Captain going to do with him? Lock him in his quarters for the rest of the journey, like Suder?"
Kesís smile faded. "Unfortunately, he was killed."
"Michael Jonas is dead?" I asked. I didnít really feel very sorry about it. The man had been in league with Seska and sold us out to the Kazon. Iíd just had first hand experience of just how brutal the Kazon could be.
I shivered slightly. I didnít want to remember that. That whole experience was something to push down into the deep recesses of my brain. It never happened!
The Doctor was watching me intently. "What happened?" I asked Kes. She told me quickly, her pride in Neelix evident in her voice.
The Doc shifted restlessly the whole time she was talking, but I studiously avoided looking at him.
Kes had only just finished telling me everything when the Captain appeared.
"How is he?" she asked briskly, coming over to stand next to my biobed.
"Heís recovering nicely, Captain, but there are a few things I need to discuss with him," the Doc said with a sniff.
"Oh? Whatís wrong?"
I felt a little panicked. The Doc wouldnít tell her anything, would he?
"The Kazon are a particularly brutal people. The Lieutenant did not come away unscathed."
Oh gods...no! "Iím all right, Doc," I said quickly.
The Captain put her hand on my leg. "What happened, Tom?"
"Itís no big deal. They roughed me up some, but Iím fine. Nothing that Iím not used to."
The Captain frowned and turned to the Doctor. "Did they torture him?"
The Doc seemed to hesitate, so I quickly jumped in. "I wasnít tortured, Captain. They beat me up a little, thatís all. Their idea of fun. I knew the risks when you asked me to do this."
She studied my face closely. "Are you sure youíre all right?"
I nodded. "Positive."
The Doctor moved away, much to my relief.
The Captain smiled and patted my leg. "You did a wonderful job, Lieutenant."
"Neelix saved the ship in the end, not me."
The Captain gave a small chuckle. "Heís the hero of the ship. But so are you. Word is spreading awfully fast about what you did and the risks you took."
"Iím just glad itís all over." She had no idea how much I meant that. "How did Chakotay take it when he found out the truth?"
That was the one thing Iíd been worried about right from the start. The Commander and I had an uneasy truce and I really hadnít wanted to jeopardize that.
"He was a little hurt that we hadnít told him what was going on."
I didnít blame the Commander. I had wanted to tell him actually, but Tuvok had insisted and the Captain had agreed. Everything came across as much more believable.
"He doesnít blame you though, Tom," she quickly added. "He knows you were following our instructions."
"It still must have grated though."
"Perhaps a little, but heíll get over it."
I sighed. She squeezed my shoulder. I had enough things to worry about at the moment without wondering if the Commander was going to beat me up as soon as he got the chance. Although, if it came to that, I was pretty sure I could take him. He was strong, but so was I. And he wasnít the sort to get some of his Maquis band to help him.
No, it would be one on one. I could just picture him leaning in to me, speaking in that soft, deadly voice, his eyes piercing into mine.
I shivered a little and then berated myself. What the hell was the matter with me? Was I scared of Chakotay? Never! I hated the fact that he had such a low opinion of me, but Iíd never feared him.
Is that what those bastards had done to me? Made me afraid? There was more to it than that, I knew. Chakotayís name had been shoved in my face more than once while I was with the Kazon. Why? I didnít want to think about that though. I was angry at Chakotay, for some reason, but to know why would mean remembering what had happened. And I wasnít going to do that.
"Tom, what is it? Are you all right?" The Captain still had her hand on my shoulder and she was looking at me in concern.
I forced myself to sound normal. "Sorry about that, I must have zoned out."
She smiled. "Thatís all right. I expect youíre tired. Youíve had a couple of rough days."
"Yeah, I guess so."
She squeezed my shoulder once more. "Iím very proud of you, Tom."
A lump formed in my throat and my eyes blurred a little. She patted my leg again and then left.
I took a deep breath to gain a little control, just as Neelix bustled through the door.
"Tom," he cried out enthusiastically, hurrying over and engulfing me in a tight hug. I stiffened at once, but he didnít seem to notice. "Are you all right? Itís so good to have you back. I still canít believe what you put yourself through to catch that awful Michael Jonas. You should have told us. We all believed you didnít want to be with us anymore."
"I couldnít," I mumbled.
"Of course you couldnít," Kes quickly said, coming to my rescue. "Neelix, if heíd told us then we wouldnít have reacted the way we did and the spy would have been suspicious."
"Well, of course, of course." He gave a small chuckle. "Although, you havenít seen me act. Iím quite sure I could have carried it off quite successfully"
"This was the way the Captain and Tuvok wanted to do it." I was still mumbling.
He patted my arm. "I understand. They explained the whole thing to me. It was a very brave thing for you to do."
I shook my head. I wasnít brave. Oh no! Definitely not brave. The lump was back in my throat and I wondered what Neelix and Kes would do if I suddenly started blubbering.
Actually, it probably wouldnít have phased them. Theyíre comfort people. Theyíd probably just hold me and try to make me feel better. I was never going to feel better though. I swallowed a few times and tried to smile at them. Kes was watching me worriedly.
"Tom, I was wondering if I could interview you for ĎA Briefing With Neelixí. There are all sorts of rumors going around the ship. This would be your chance to tell the whole story. I could interview you now and everyone would see it first thing in the morning."
I shook my head at Neelix. I just wanted to put it all behind me. "I donít know," I said hesitantly.
"Think about it," Neelix went on. "It would save you having to tell the whole story over and over again. And the crew would get the true story once and for all. I wonít take no for an answer, Tom."
I grimaced, not knowing what to say. The Doc came over. "Mr. Neelix, I think youíve visited here long enough. The Lieutenant is tired. He needs to rest."
"Of course, Iíll leave you now, Tom. You WILL let me interview you though, wonít you?"
The Doc picked up his medical tricorder and frowned down at it and then at me. I looked away quickly. "How about right now?" I asked Neelix. "Iím not tired. Iíll have a quick shower and get changed into my uniform and meet you in the mess hall."
Neelix beamed. "Thatís wonderful. Iíll be waiting. Kes, if the Doctor doesnít need you anymore perhaps you could lend me a hand?"
"Is that all right, Doctor?" Kes asked.
Doc sniffed. "Completely. I have everything under control."
He frowned at me as they left. "Youíre not going anywhere Lieutenant until weíve discussed these readings."
The sickbay doors swished open once more and Harry came bounding through. His face was one huge smile as he hurried over to me. I swallowed the lump once more.
"Tom, are you all right?"
The Doc sighed. "He has made a full recovery. Now if youíll please excuse us, Ensign, the Lieutenant and I were about to discuss something."
Harry grabbed my arm and squeezed it. "Okay, Doc. I just wanted Tom to know how happy I am to have him back. The Captainís told me everything, Tom. Iím so glad."
I nodded, not trusting myself to speak.
"How about if we meet in the holodeck later?" Harry suggested, making his way to the doors.
I nodded once more and smiled. He grinned back and was gone.
The Doc cleared his throat. "Now, where were we?"
I found my voice. "I donít have time right now, Doc. Neelix is waiting for me."
"Then heíll have to wait. Did the Kazon treat you for any injuries that they inflicted upon you?"
"Yes," I answered quietly. He was a Doctor after all, bound by the same ethics as any other Doctor. If I told him that I didnít want anyone to know about this, wouldnít he have to abide by my wishes?
I knew that he had to tell the Captain if your condition affected the ship. But mine didnít. It was all over and done with now. There was no need for the Captain to know.
Sheíd blame herself, if she found out. She was worried about letting the Kazon take me, in the first place. Plus sheíd treat me differently, I knew she would.
"My scans show some residual injuries that have been regenerated," the Doc continued. "The Kazonís medical treatment leaves a lot to be desired. Although none of the injuries were life threatening, they were quite extensive. I have healed everything properly while you were unconscious."
Gods no! That meant that Kes must know too. She was here when I woke up. "So Kes knows about my injuries."
Doc frowned at me in confusion. "I donít understand what that has to with anything. But no, Lieutenant, I healed you before Kes arrived in sickbay."
I breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe only the Doc would ever know. I didnít really want him to know either, and I certainly didnít want to talk about it. How could I forget it ever happened, if I had to relive it?
The sickbay doors swished open once more and Doc looked over in annoyance. I looked over in relief until I saw who it was. My stomach clenched immediately.
Chakotay strode towards me. "How is he, Doctor?"
Doc sighed. "He is fine, Commander."
"Good, because I need to talk to him."
"Join the line." Doc looked back at me and glared. "When you have finished all of your social obligations, we will finish this conversation."
He marched off to his office and shut the door. I looked up from his retreating figure to see Chakotay staring at me, his arms folded across his chest. He looked mad, and I couldnít blame him.
I waited for him to speak, pushing down a strange feeling deep within me. I didnít even try to identify what it was. Because if I did, I would have to wonder why I was feeling that way and then that would lead to the rest. And I wasnít going there. Not ever!
I gave a small start as I realized that Chakotay was now standing right next to my biobed, leaning forward slightly, towering over me.
He looked menacing and I shuddered accordingly.
Looking at me strangely he asked quietly, "Are you all right, Paris?"
I nodded. I felt more than a little vulnerable, sitting there in my blue sickbay pajamas. He frowned, but thankfully took a step back.
"In the interests of the smooth running of this ship, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about what happened. Clear the air, so to speak." Chakotayís voice was stilted. He sounded like heíd memorized what he was going to say.
For some reason that made me mad.
"I know you were just following orders," he continued. "I canít really blame you, I suppose."
"But donít you wish you could?" My voice was light and breezy, and pitched at just that right level of wry amusement that seemed to set him off.
He flushed angrily and I knew Iíd got to him. "Listen, Iím not here to fight with you, Paris."
I hated the way he called me Paris. "I realize that, Commander." The way I drawled his rank, it sounded like an insult. I gave him the patented Paris smirk. "Youíre here to encourage peace and harmony throughout the ship."
"I donít know why I bother," he muttered.
"Neither do I," I returned. My voice sounded sharper than I wanted it to, and I fought to bring back the carefree drawl. "Why donít we speak frankly, Commander? You resent the fact that you were kept in the dark, and that I, of all people, wasnít. The Captain trusted me more than you. That must be a very bitter pill to swallow."
That wasnít true and I knew it. The whole thing had nothing to do with whether the Captain trusted Chakotay or not. I shouldnít have said it. What was I doing anyway? Why was I baiting him like that? Did I want him to hit me with that fist he was clenching and unclenching by his side?
I guess I did. That way I could hit him back.
Chakotay shook his head. "Youíre right. I donít like being played for a fool, but itís the Captain and Tuvok I blame for that, not you."
"Thatís very big of you. So youíre not mad at me, and you forgive me my deception?"
Chakotay gritted his teeth and took a deep breath. "I resent the fact that you seemed to derive such pleasure out of baiting me, just as youíre doing right now. Youíre the one who seems to be full of resentment, not me, however. I can feel it emanating off of you in waves. And Iíd like to know why. Iím the one who has a right to feel that way...not you."
My anger blazed forth. He was right. That was exactly the way I felt. I resented him. I thought Iíd pushed that feeling way down, but I obviously hadnít been very successful.
I couldnít tell him why though. I could never tell him. I latched onto the only thing I could think of. "You were so easy to convince that Iíd gone off the rails. You never questioned it...not once. Everyone else tried to talk to me. They thought I was having some sort of psychological reaction to what had happened to me during the warp ten experiments."
"I tried to talk to you."
"Only after things were completely out of hand and letís just say that your approach left a lot to be desired."
"What the hell does it matter? You were playing a part. You wouldnít have been able to accept any of my offers of help anyway."
"But you didnít know that. And you never really tried. You acted pleased that I was proving that your opinion of me was the right one."
Chakotay shook his head at me. "Youíre crazy, Paris." He stalked out of the room.
I took a few deep, calming breaths. He was right. I was.
The Doc came out of his office and stood at the foot of my bed. "That didnít appear to go very well."
I merely shrugged. He looked down at his tricorder.
"Now, Lieutenant, I need to know if you were sexually assaulted by the Kazon."
It felt as if heíd punched me in the stomach. He looked at me when I didnít answer. "There were residual signs of tearing around your anus and bruising on your sphincter. Although all of the damage was treated, my tricorder can still register traces of a violent assault. Allow me to read out all of the repaired damage that I have discovered."
He glanced back down at his tricorder again and began to recite them. It sounded like he was reading out a supply list or something. His voice was less emotional than Tuvokís.
I couldnít answer. I just looked down at my hands. If heíd been kind and sympathetic, I probably would have blurted it all out, but he was detached...clinical. Cold. His bedside manner still needed a lot of work and there was no way I could confess anything to him.
There was a silence that seemed to stretch and the Doc sighed impatiently. "Well, Lieutenant? Were you sexually assaulted or not?"
I struggled to find my voice.
"Mr. Paris, I havenít got all night. You are bound to have another visitor shortly or Mr. Neelix will be insisting that you meet him for your interview."
"No," I suddenly yelled. "No, I wasnít."
"Iím very glad to hear that," the Doctor sniffed. "I am not programmed to deal with sexual assault. I would have had to ask the Captain for assistance." He turned around and went over to a console and started tapping at the keys.
I sat there feeling completely confused. He turned around to look at me. "How exactly did your injuries occur? I need to know for my report."
I swallowed. What the hell was happening? I didnít understand.
He sighed once more. "I seem to have upset you with my questions. I apologize. You told the Captain that the Kazon roughed you up. Did these injuries occur during that beating?"
"You fell awkwardly, perhaps?"
"Um...I must have. I donít remember."
Doc shook his head. "Anything is possible, I suppose." He continued to tap away. He didnít really believe that, did he? Was he trying to shield me? I had to know.
I got up slowly from the bed and stepped up behind him. Reading over his shoulder I saw that he was adding another entry to my medical file.
ĎNumerous lacerations and contusions treated before returning to Voyager, caused by severe beating from Kazon. Superficial regeneration applied. No lasting effects.í
I gazed at him in disbelief. Was he putting in a false report, or was that what he really thought had happened? He said his program didnít know how to deal with sexual assault. That was probably true. But the knowledge would be there; the Doc just had to access it.
He turned around to look at me. "Is something wrong, Lieutenant?"
"No. I just thought youíd want to ask me a little more."
"Youíve already stated that you donít remember, so that would be rather pointless."
Obviously the concept of someone lying about their injuries had never occurred to him. I let out my breath slowly.
The Doc wasnít looking at me any differently than he usually did. Everything was going to be all right.
I hurried into the bathroom and had a quick shower, feeling almost dizzy with relief. Dressed in a fresh uniform I made my way to the mess hall and my interview with Neelix.
I told my story in a lighthearted, joking manner, making sure I took a few swipes at Chakotay that were guaranteed to stir him up. Why? I really donít know.
Harry was waiting for me when I reached the holodeck. We played a few games of pool, but my heart wasnít in it. I was bone weary. I was so tired I could hardly move, but I was putting off going back to my quarters.
Harry finally called it quits. "Thatís it for me, Tom. Iím going to bed. You might have tomorrow off, but I have to be on the bridge bright and early."
"Harry, the nightís still young," I protested.
"No itís not, Tom. Itís late. Besides you look as tired as I feel. You need to rest."
"Iím fine, Harry," I said, although my voice sounded a little sluggish.
There was the scraping of a chair behind me and I twirled around as a voice said, "Heís right, Paris. You look exhausted."
Chakotay! I hadnít seen him come in. "Thanks for your concern, Commander." I was too tired to bother with the sarcastic drawl. I sounded bitter.
He sighed. "Just go to bed, Paris."
"Is that an order...Sir?"
"Tom," Harry pleaded. I ignored him and faced Chakotay defiantly.
"I hope I donít have to make it one."
"No, that would sort of spoil the 'letís be friends routine' youíre trying to pull," I lashed out.
Harry grabbed my arm. "Donít do this, Tom."
I yanked away from him. "Donít touch me."
Harryís eyes opened wide at the vehemence of my tone.
Chakotay stepped towards me. "I donít know what your problem is, Paris, but I suggest you get some sleep. Youíre over-tired and behaving irrationally."
Harry tentatively put his hand out to me once more and touched my shoulder. "The Commanderís right, Tom. Please, letís go." He watched me worriedly.
"The Commanderís always right, Harry," I said bitterly.
"Not always," Chakotay answered quietly. "You were right when you accused me in sickbay of being easy to convince that youíd gone off the rails. I was blinded by my own prejudices. I should have questioned what was happening. Iíve never doubted your loyalty to the Captain or your genuine desire to live up to her expectations. Iím ashamed to admit that I wanted to believe the worst. Iím sorry."
I was floored. Chakotay was not supposed to apologize to me. I wanted to stay mad at him. The Kazonís taunts rang in my ears as I felt them holding me down while they used my body to take out their anger and frustration.
'Youíre much easier to persuade than that Commander of yours, Federation. He wouldnít let us near him. Youíre much softer.' Their taunts had gone on and on, constantly telling me how weak I was compared to Chakotay.
The voices receded and I looked up to see both Harry and Chakotay looking at me with concern.
"What is it, Tom?" Harry asked.
I shook my head. "Iím all right. I guess Iím just a little surprised. I never thought youíd admit that to me, Chakotay."
"I hope Iím a big enough man to admit to my mistakes."
"But youíre still angry," I persisted. "You told me that you could feel my resentment before. Well, I can feel your anger."
Chakotay nodded. "Thatís right, Iím mad about the whole thing. But as I told you in sickbay, itís not you Iím angry with. Itís the Captain and Tuvok. And the more I think about it, the angrier I become. They used you, Paris. You should be mad at them too."
"They didnít use me. They trusted me. Asked me for help."
"Tuvok used your obvious devotion to the Captain. He asked you to volunteer for what was essentially a suicide mission. They both knew you wouldnít refuse, out of loyalty to the Captain."
"I wanted to catch Jonas as much as they did," I shouted angrily. "Tuvok had tried to find out who the spy was, but Jonas was too clever."
"So they decided to risk your life."
"All of our lives were at risk," I argued.
"Not quite in the same way as yours was. They let the Kazon take you, for Spiritís sake. How did they know what the Kazon might do to you?"
I didnít like the way this conversation was headed. Did Chakotay guess? Theyíd tried it with him. He must have his suspicions.
"It was a chance I was willing to take," I yelled.
"Well, that just proves how reckless you can be. And quite frankly, my headís still reeling over just how ruthless the Captain can be. Tuvok doesnít surprise me. Heís already proven how cold-blooded he can be; but Janeway? Yeah, Iím surprised."
"The Captain did what she had to do," I defended. "That doesnít mean she did it cold-bloodedly. She was very concerned. Very worried."
"If the Captain cared about you half as much as you think she does, she would never have let you put yourself at risk like that."
"You donít know what youíre talking about, Commander. I had to convince her to let me go. The spy hadnít revealed himself to me, so the only option was for me to try and find out who it was from the Kazonís themselves."
"How the hell you got away from them Iíll never know," Chakotay said calmly. "There was no way I could have when they had me."
I didnít want to think about the differences of what happened when the Kazon captured me, compared to Chakotay. The voices were taunting me again.
I bit my lip. I could feel Harryís worried eyes on me. I opened my mouth, but Chakotay hurried on. "I know what youíre going to say. You can take care of yourself. Youíve been in those types of situations before. Obviously, you can."
I thought I was going to throw up. I could feel my stomach begin to heave. Yeah, I could really look after myself. If Chakotay only knew.
"I still think it was an unacceptable risk, even if it did all turn out all right in the end," he continued. "But itís your life and if youíre not angry about it, then why should I be? Iíll say this to you though, Paris. Youíre damn lucky you came out unscathed. Damn lucky."
I swallowed. Yeah, that was me. Lucky Paris.
Chakotay obviously thought Iíd been able to fight them off, the way he had. But there had been too many. Far too many. Had he had as many of them, trying to pin him down?
I didnít want to think about it. I needed to forget.
I let Harry lead me back to my quarters.
I was stepping out of the turbolift when I first realized that there were tears running down my cheeks. I wiped them away furiously with the back of my hand.
Harry was holding my arm, bustling me along the corridor. "Itís all right, Tom. Youíve had a rather traumatic day. Itís understandable that youíd be a little emotional."
I gave a small laugh at that, only it sounded more like a sob. Harry keyed in my access codes and bundled me into my quarters and over to my bed. I curled up onto it and tried hard to get myself under control.
I couldnít give in now, not when it all seemed to have worked out. Plus, I didnít want Harry to see me like this. I was the one he always came to for support. The one whose shoulder he cried on when he was filled with despair.
I felt him sit on the bed next to me and his hand came down on my shoulder. "Tom, itís going to be all right. This whole thing has been too much for you. But donít listen to Chakotay. The Captain DOES care about you. You should have seen her on the bridge. She wouldnít move the ship away from the oncoming Kazons, until we had you safely on board."
So Harry thought I was upset about what Chakotay had said. It was easy to let him believe that.
Harry continued to believe that for quite a few months until we were thrown down that damn chute into that Akritirian prison.
At first Iíd protected Harry. Kept those bastards away from him. But then I was stabbed and everything changed. Harry had to look after me and with the infection that set in from my wound and the mind clamp, which I was no longer strong enough to resist, I told him all sorts of stuff.
Of course, even without all that he would have had some questions. Iíd told him that Iíd woken up to that same welcoming committee that he had. Only Iíd been there to save him from them, with my makeshift knife. He must have wondered how Iíd saved myself.
The truth was...I hadnít. Oh, Iíd managed to stop the brutal attack Pit and the others had meant for me when Iíd first landed on the ground at their feet.
Iíd jumped up quickly, before any of them could lay their hands on me, and faced them defiantly. They had formed a circle around me and I had waited for the first one to make a move.
It didnít take long to realize what Pit wanted to do to me. I still had nightmares about the Kazon, I wasnít going to let it happen again. Brave thoughts, I know, and absolutely impractical. I was completely outnumbered.
Starfleet taught you how to defend yourself, and Iíd had to learn how at an early age, anyway, but with odds of twenty to one, I realized that there was no way I could protect myself.
I discovered, however, that it wasnít twenty to one after all. Except for a few exceptions, it was each man for himself. They started arguing over who was going to have me and a scuffle broke out. I had to fight a couple of them off me, but I could handle that.
It was then that Pit grabbed me. He was smaller than me and in a fair fight, I knew I could beat him. This wasnít a fair fight, though. Iíd knocked him down and punched him a few times for good measure when his goons caught hold of me.
Pit picked himself up off the ground, his eyes glittering with anger, and came towards me. His men were holding me by the arms, so I did the only thing I could do. I kicked him...hard. My foot connected with his groin and he was down and out.
Somebody started to laugh and the fighting men parted to make way for a tall, dark haired man. "This one interests me," he said. "I will have him."
And thatís how I met Zio.
He scared me, right from the start. He was different than the others. He didnít have that crazy, desperate light in his eyes that the otherís had.
"You donít usually bother with the fresh meat, Zio," one of the men holding me, snarled.
"As I said; he interests me. He has potential."
Pit had started to groan and roll around so the men holding me let me go and went to help him.
Zio looked me up and down. "Come with me."
Zio shrugged. "Itís your choice. Me or them." He indicated the group of men who were forming a circle around me again. They were all looking at me hungrily now.
I followed him.
The rest of that day is a blur to me. Zio used me over and over again, and in some ways it was worse than with the Kazon. It was one on one. I could have fought back. Stopped him. Or at least tried. But I hadnít. I had let him use me.
A part of me shut down as he'd started explaining his theories to me later. I didnít hear most of it. I just couldnít sit there and talk to him like nothing had happened.
He'd pulled me to him. "Listen to me! We can beat this. Weíll gather our forces."
I'd shaken my head. What the hell was he talking about? I'd put my hand up to the clamp in my head. It'd been itching so bad that I hadn't been able to concentrate.
"Join me," he'd persisted.
"I donít want to join you," I'd ground out.
He'd pushed me away. "Then go. Youíll be crazy within the week."
After that I wandered dazedly through the prison, the stench unbearable, the tortured screams even more so.
A man had come towards me, weaving as he walked. He had been laughing crazily. "I know what to do," he'd sung. "I finally know what to do."
Another man had lain a few feet away from us, writhing in agony, clutching his head. "Get it out of me, get it out," he'd moaned.
The first man had laughed once more. "Thatís what we all have to do. Cut it out of us." It was then that I realized he was carrying a knife.
The man lying on the ground had screamed. It was like nothing Iíd ever heard before, and I hope I never do again. He was pulling - tugging - at the clamp in his head and it had suddenly come free.
Blood had poured from the hole in his head as he continued to scream. I'd hurried over to him, but there was nothing I could do. He'd started to convulse and died a few seconds later.
The man with the knife had laughed behind me. "Out of the way. I want his clothes."
I'd stood up angrily. "Back off."
He'd waved the knife in front of me. "You want to fight for his clothes?"
I'd shaken my head. "No. I want to fight for the knife."
It wasnít too difficult getting the knife from him and I was even able to set up my own shelter without having to kill anybody. I'd even managed to get a cup of water.
And then the warning buzzer had started blaring and so I joined the mass of prisoners to see what was coming down the chute. And it had been Harry.
And later, in my delirium, Iíd told him stuff. Stuff about my childhood, stuff about the Kazonís and stuff about Zio. A lot of it didnít make sense, but once we were out of there and safely back on Voyager, Harry began thinking about some of it.
He thought about it for quite some time - a couple of months in fact - before he questioned me about it. And I hadnít been able to pretend.
Iíd told him a little bit and then a little bit more. Iíd trusted him. And heíd promised never to tell anyone. Heíd given me his solemn word. And Iíd trusted him. And he'd betrayed me.