Standard Disclaimer: Voyager and all the crew are copyright of Paramount. I take them out, play with them for a little bit, mess up their minds and then put them back. No profit will be made from this story as itís just for fun.
Neelix sat up in surprise. Tom was in trouble? What had happened now? The mess hall was abuzz with the latest gossip on how Tom had reacted on the bridge. Neelix had listened stunned. Now everyone here was saying the same thing.
They all agreed that Tom was not acting himself at all. Harry had told them all about what had happened in Tomís quarters the night before. He had looked apologetically at BíElanna before starting. It must be hard for her to hear of Tomís infidelity, Neelix thought.
As Harry recounted what Tom had said while he was pleading for help, she sat up straight and her eyes started to glow. "That makes sense," she interrupted Harry. "When we were together, it didnít feel right, but I couldnít put my finger on why." As everyone stared at her, she flushed. "His kisses felt different or something. I wish I could explain it better."
"Given the circumstances your imagination may be supplying false memories," Seven told her. "You wish for there to be a reason why Ensign Paris treated you the way he did and so you are susceptible to Ensign Kimís suggestion."
BíElanna turned to her and glared. "No, thatís not it. I told Tom something was different between us the other night and I needed some time to myself to try and sort it out." She paused. "He must have gone straight to Zoe that very same night," she said quietly.
Harry, who was sitting next to her, took her hand in his. "I know how much Tom loves you. He wouldnít do that. That was my first reaction when I heard about he and Zoe. He wouldnít do that to me. It was completely unbelievable."
"Logic does dictate that if something seems unbelievable, then it more than likely is," Tuvok said simply.
"I thought that too this morning when I read the report. I couldnít believe that Tom had filed a complaint. Itís not something he would do," Chakotay said.
"I had an argument with Tom the other morning," Neelix put in. "He was very nasty. I was very surprised by his attitude. I know I wondered at the time what was wrong with him."
"I think weíve all had incidents over the past few days where we have wondered that," Janeway said. "Harry here decided to take it one step further and try to find out what was wrong. Harry, tell everyone what you found."
Harry nodded. "Iíve spent most of the day in sickbay, going over Tomís records, with the Doc. I thought that Tom first started acting strangely after he had the memory blackouts, so the Doc and I went over and over the tricorder readouts. We couldnít really find anything that we didnít already know." He looked towards the Doctor.
The EMH nodded in agreement. "We found where I discovered the original Ďvirusí - for want of a better word - when I scanned Mr. Paris when he wasnít prepared. The Ďvirusí did not have time to conceal itself and when I re-examined the readouts found it had been there all along. There was just a very slight signature. After I had finished treating him, Mr. Parisí readouts went back to normal. Or so I thought."
"Thatís right," Harry broke in excitedly. "This thing is still there though. The Doc got a readout by accident, when he fixed Tomís jaw. We had to examine it very closely but that faint signature is still there."
"It is obviously very clever and can disguise itself completely, but it is definitely still there," the Doctor stressed.
"So Tom is infected by some sort of virus?" Chakotay asked quietly.
"That is what I would have believed if not for Ensign Kim. He recognized the signature. It was something that he thought he had only imagined several days ago."
"It was just for a fraction of a second, but seemed to be the same," Harry explained. "Thatís when I realized that that was the very same day that Tom had had his dizzy spell in the corridor. Tom told me that there was something inside of him making him do things. I think he said it was called Zenda - or something like that"
"Did you say Zenda?" BíElanna sat forward eagerly.
Harry nodded. "I think thatís what he called it."
BíElanna turned to the Captain. "Captain, we need to get Zoe Hendricks in here. I think she can help."
"Ensign Hendricks? Are you sure?"
BíElanna nodded her head. "She said something to me during our - um - disagreement. She said I didnít know Tom as well as I thought I did. That I didnít even know how much Zenda meant to him. I remember the name distinctly, because Iíd never heard it before."
Janeway sat up straight and tapped her commbadge. "Janeway to Ensign Hendricks. Please report to the briefing room. Immediately."
"Iím on my way Captain." Zoeís voice sounded a little hesitant. Neelix wondered how nervous she would be. In the whole five years she had been on Voyager, she had never been in the briefing room before, he was sure.
Zenda flung himself down on the bed in agitation. This was no fun. Being locked in these quarters wasnít what he had in mind. And he couldnít even talk to Tom. He had sent him such a blast that he wouldnít recover for hours.
He pounded his fists on the bed. Tom had tricked him. What the consequences would be, he was not sure. He couldnít believe heíd fallen for it. He knew Tom. Knew him intimately. Knew everything there was to know about him. Tom could hide nothing from him, so therefore he should have known that Tom was lying.
Tom had told him that he wanted to be his friend. Share in some of the fun. Tell him how to act normally. He had been a little wary at first. But as the day had worn on and Tom had only given him good advice he had let down his guard. Tom was his friend. It was wonderful to know that he would never be lonely again.
Constant companionship. Someone to share everything with. It was a dream come true.
So when he had suggested a special flight maneuver and the Captain had said no in a cold and angry voice, Tom had told him to let her know how angry he was. She nearly always let him have his way when he did. The angrier he was, the more the Captain backed down.
If only heíd stopped and thought about it. Searched Tomís memory for other incidences. But by this time he had trusted Tom completely. So he had followed his advice.
After the Captain had confined him to his quarters Tom had laughed in his head. Told him he couldnít cause trouble if he was locked up and Zenda had realized that Tom had meant to do this. It had been a plan. The blast was sent before he could even control it. He hoped he hadnít killed him.
Zoe entered the briefing room and looked around nervously. There were no friendly faces as they all stared back at her. She swallowed hard. "You wanted to see me Captain?" she asked as she stepped forward. She knew that the Captain took a special interest in Tom, but was she going to dress her down in front of the whole senior staff?
Janeway nodded. "Yes thank you Ensign. Please sit down." She indicated a chair next to Neelix. Unfortunately, the chief was sitting on the other side of it. Zoe perched uncomfortably on the edge and waited expectantly.
"We need you to answer some questions Ensign. What do you know about the name Zenda?"
"Excuse me?" Zoe wondered whether she had heard right. Of everything she had been expecting, this was not one of them. "You want me to tell you about Zenda?"
Janeway nodded once. "Everything that you know Ensign. It is very important."
"I donít really know much at all. Only what Tom - er Ensign Paris told me." She looked nervously towards BíElanna as she spoke.
"Please tell us everything that he said. Thatís an order."
"Everything Captain?" Zoe looked towards BíElanna once again.
BíElanna growled. "Donít worry, my fist wonít be accidentally connecting with your face any more. Iím calm now."
Zoe wondered whether that were true, but couldnít disobey the Captainís direct order. She frowned as she concentrated.
"He said that people whose names started with Z were special because Z is a special letter," Zoe remembered. "Tom told me that someone very important to him had a name starting with Z. Zenda. He said that Zenda had made him what he was today."
"Those were his exact words?"
"Did he say who this Zenda was?"
Zoe shook her head. "Not really. He said all sorts of stuff about him being male now, but they donít have sexes. They donít even have a name."
"Thatís what he called them. Whatever species this Zenda belonged to. He said that they are everywhere - all around us. His exact words, if I remember correctly were - they just are."
"Did he say what they wanted? What their purpose is?"
"No Captain. He didnít make them sound threatening if thatís what you mean. He said that they could be around us if they wanted to be, but they didnít bother with solid forms. He made it sound like we were beneath them or something. He made some comment that they didnít know what they were missing."
"I see. Thank you Ensign."
"Captain, I donít understand. Couldnít you just ask Tom about them? After all, heís the one who knows this Zenda." Zoe couldnít keep the puzzlement out of her voice.
"Iím not sure if we can do that. I think perhaps we had better fill you in, as you seem to have become involved in this."
Zoe sat stunned as the Captain brought her up to date on all that they suspected. "Do you mean that something calling itself Zenda has taken over Tomís body? That Tomís not really Tom?"
"We believe so, yes."
"But that would mean that that wasnít Tom I - I was with. It was some creature that I donít even know." She shuddered visibly.
"It was still Tomís body," BíElanna said dryly.
Zoe turned on her angrily. "It was using me. I feel so - so--" Her face was pale with shock. She thought she might actually be sick.
BíElanna deflected the attention away from her. "So what do we do about it? Confront this Zenda? Tell him to get out of Tom? Maybe we can rig something up to force him out. Seven will help me, wonít you Seven?"
"I will comply. I am already thinking of several possibilities."
"Weíll have to be careful. We donít know how powerful or dangerous this thing is," Chakotay warned. "There may even be more of them. Other crewmembers could be infected as well."
"Do you think so?" Neelix asked worriedly. "How would we know?"
"I can easily find out, now I know what to look for," the Doctor assured. "I, of course, can not be affected."
"I believe we should go to red alert Captain, until we find out how many are on board," Tuvok urged. "We may be under attack."
"Iím pretty sure thereís only one," Harry said. "I picked up the one presence very briefly. If there were more it would have been easier to find."
"Harryís probably right, but until the Doctor can scan us all, I think it would be best to go to yellow alert."
"Yes Captain," Tuvok said approvingly as the Doctor started running his tricorder over everyone.
He soon announced that everyone in the room was clear.
"Captain, I have to ask this and I donít mean to sound awful," Neelix apologized. "But how do we know that Tom is still alive? This thing may have destroyed him - his essence - you know what I mean."
"No," Harry said quickly. "Tomís still in there. Heís trying to fight for control. I just know it."
"I concur," Tuvok said. "Mr. Paris is still in there somewhere. We witnessed this ourselves, in the Commanderís Office this morning. However, we do not know how this creature will react to us finding out about him. He may harm Mr. Paris."
"Heís already harming him by being there," BíElanna stated. "The harm will only increase the longer he stays."
"We do not know that," Tuvok argued. "The question has to be asked, why this creature did this. What does he want? Why did he pick Mr. Paris to invade?"
"At this stage, I donít really care," Janeway stated. "He has taken one of my crew hostage. Weíll do everything we can to get Tom back safely." She turned to BíElanna and Seven. "Start working on some of Sevenís ideas. Harry, give them a hand."
"Yes Captain." They stood up to leave.
Zoe stood up also. "I would like to help too. Thatís if youíll let me."
BíElanna looked her over. "The more hands the better," she said shortly.
"Thanks," Zoe said gratefully as she followed them from the room.
Zenda looked up hopefully when the door suddenly opened. Good, maybe his confinement was over. The Captain entered, followed on either side by Chakotay and Tuvok. The Doctor brought up the rear.
Zenda felt a little worried as he stood up. What was this delegation for? "Captain, nice to see you," he said pleasantly.
The Captain stood in front of him with her hands on her hips looking coldly up into his eyes. He swallowed nervously. "Letís stop the charade," she said frostily coming straight to the point. "We know who or what you are. Leave Tomís body now or suffer the consequences."
"I beg your pardon?" He decided to play innocent. They couldnít possibly know. They were just guessing. Bluffing. If they thought they could catch him out that easily they were mistaken.
"Letís not play games. Your name is Zenda. You are from a species that has no name or identity. I will not lie to you and say that we understand who or what you are. We do know however, that you have taken over Tomís body against his will. Leave it now."
The last word was said with such force that he found himself stepping backwards. "I donít know what youíre talking about. I am Tom. Test me. Ask me anything. Something that only I would know."
"Considering that you have taken over Mr. Parisí mind it is only logical that you would also have his memories," Tuvok stated flatly.
"Well then, how can I prove it to you?"
"You canít," Janeway said. "Doctor."
The EMH stepped forward and pointed a medical tricorder at him. "Itís no use trying to hide your signature from me. I know what to look for now," the Doctor told him smugly. The tricorder beeped. "Yes Captain, this Zenda creature is definitely there." He stepped back, eyeing him accusingly.
"Would you care to explain why you did this? What you hope to gain?" the Captain asked coldly.
Zenda shook his head. "I donít know what youíre talking about," he said stubbornly.
"I see youíre going to make things difficult. What are your terms?"
"What do you want? Youíve effectively taken Tom hostage. What do you want for his release?"
"You donít understand." He was suddenly tired of the pretense. None of this had worked the way he wanted it to. "I donít want anything. I mean no harm. Tom and I will coexist together. Sharing this one body."
"Why?" the Captain asked. "Why would you want to do this?"
"We do not have bodies. The others donít understand how wonderful it is to feel things. I wanted to be a solid form like you all are. The others banished me. I was so lonely. And then you all came along. I felt Tom and I liked him. He was fun."
"So you just took over him?"
Zenda nodded. "Heíll agree with me eventually. Weíll be friends and everything will be fine. Weíll share the body and have lots of fun. I just know it. Just give him some more time to get used to the idea."
Janeway looked at him angrily. "No. Get out of him now. He doesnít want any part of this."
Zenda backed away from her. "No, I canít go back to the existence I had before. I canít. Tom understands. I know he does."
"Well let me speak with him."
Zenda was worried now. Tom had still not recovered from the blast heíd sent him. The Captain wouldnít be able to talk to him. And anyway Tom wasnít in any fame of mind to speak in defense of him. Tom would be less than charitable, he was sure. "I canít do that at the moment."
"Why not? Is it because you know that Tom doesnít want this? He doesnít want to share his body with you." Chakotay stepped up to him. "Let Tom out now. You say that Tom understands, well prove it. Soon you wonít have any choice anyway. Weíre working on a way to get you out of his body. It should be ready soon."
"You canít do that. Tom will be harmed, as well as me."
"Are you threatening him?"
"Then let us speak to him."
"I canít. Iím sorry."
"Youíve done something to him, havenít you?"
"No! Heíll be all right. He just needs time."
Janeway sighed in frustration. She looked towards Chakotay. "This is getting us nowhere."
"I agree." He turned to Zenda. "You sound young - immature to me. Maybe you donít understand. You just canít come and takeover somebodyís body without their permission, the way you did. Itís wrong."
"But Iím willing to share."
"That doesnít matter. You canít do it unless the other person agrees, right from the start. There are some species that we know that do coexist with others, but itís a mutual decision. Not one forcing its will on another."
"But you donít understand what itís like to want to touch and feel things, but you canít."
"Iím sorry. Youíre right I donít. But you are going to have to leave this body now. Maybe you can find a solid form that is willing to share. There are an awful lot of us out here you know."
"Would you like to? You sound nice."
Chakotay smiled. "No, thank you. But Iím sure youíll find somebody who is. You just have to be patient."
"But Iíll never find anybody here. The others took my power away from me. I canít go anywhere. Iím stuck in this little area of space. The only way I can leave is in a solid form."
"Perhaps we can work something out. You could stay in something else, something non-sentient, just till we find something more permanent for you."
Zenda felt scared. He didnít know if he could trust this man. Tom trusted him, but that meant he was Tomís friend. This could be a trick. Just to get him out of Tom. Tom tricked him before. He didnít know what to do.
"Is Tom all right?" Chakotay continued.
"I donít know," he admitted. "He made me mad and I hurt him. I didnít mean to hurt him so bad."
"I think you should leave him now and let us make sure heís all right."
"No! Youíre trying to trick me. I knew it. Iím not leaving. This is my body now. Mine!"
He took another step backwards.
Janeway watched this Zenda as he slowly backed Tomís body away from them. She realized that he was no threat to them or the ship. He was a threat to Tom though. It looked like they were going to have to force him out of Tom.
Her commbadge beeped. "Torres to Janeway."
"Weíre ready here Captain."
"Proceed," she ordered briskly.
The room seemed to be bathed in an ultra violet light. The light focused on Tom/Zenda. "No!" Zenda screamed. "No!" He slumped to the floor.
Janeway rushed over to him. "Tom?"
He blinked, looking up at her. "What - what happened?"
She helped him to sit up as the Doctor ran his tricorder over him. "Itís over," she told him.
"Iím afraid thatís not true," the Doctor suddenly said. "This is not Tom."
"Damn it! BíElanna; increase the frequency." She stepped back. "No!" Zenda screamed again. "You canít." As the light hit him he clutched his head before slumping over once again.
This time she approached him warily. "Doctor?" she asked as he scanned him. The Doctor shook his head and sighed. "Iím sorry Captain, itís still our visitor."
Zenda sat back up again. "Iíll never leave. Never! You canít make me."
"BíElanna increase it again, and try a longer burst."
This time Zenda writhed and screeched in agony before slumping to the floor. "Check him," she ordered the Doctor. The EMH looked up at her as he finished his scans. "I am now picking up both of them. I donít like the look of these readings. I think youíre killing him."
"Who? Tom or Zenda?"
"Both of them probably."
The Captain gritted her teeth together. Squatting on the floor in front of Tom/Zenda she held his face in her hands. "Did you hear that? If you donít leave Tomís body, you could die."
"Iíd rather be dead than go back to that existence," he replied softly. "Are you willing to kill Tom as well as me?"
"Tom would want his life back," the Captain said with certainty. "He would rather be dead than live like this." She stood up and backed away.
"Captain," Chakotay put his hand on her arm. "Let me try to convince him to try my idea."
Janeway shook her head. "It wonít work Chakotay. Heís made up his mind."
"At least let me try."
"No. Timeís run out." She looked down at Tom/Zenda. "You still refuse to leave?"
He nodded slowly.
"Very well then." Janeway took a deep breath. "BíElanna; set the frequency to maximum."
"Captain? That will kill Tom."
"You have your orders."
"I canít," BíElanna choked out.
"Seven - Take over. Doctor, stand ready for an emergency beam out to sick bay."
"Captain, I think I should point out that I may not be able to revive Mr. Paris."
Janeway looked over at him. "You have your orders too, Doctor."
"Yes Captain," the Doctor answered quietly.
"This is your last chance Zenda. Leave Tomís body - now."
"Never," he ground out.
"Seven; proceed." She was grateful that her voice didnít break. She closed her eyes and listened silently as Zendaís shrieks continued on and on. Finally when all was quiet, the Doctor scanned Tomís body once again. "Heís gone," he said quietly. "I am not registering a pulse on Mr. Paris either."
"Emergency beam out," she barked, and as the familiar lights engulfed Tom and the Doctor, she turned and raced out of the room, Chakotay and Tuvok close on her heels.
As they stepped into the turbolift, she could feel Chakotay looking at her. He disapproved of what she had done. She knew that. He would not say anything in front of Tuvok however. She wondered what Tuvok thought. His face was as impassive as ever, although there was an anxious look in his eyes. He was probably worried about Tom, she thought, although heíd never admit it.
As soon as the doors opened she hurried to sickbay. BíElanna had beaten them there. The Doctor was working frantically on Tom as she hurried over. "I have managed to re-establish his life signs," he told her. "I now have a pulse and heartbeat. It was very close though Captain. Very close."
Janeway sighed in relief. "Thank you Doctor."
BíElanna glared at her as she walked past. "If heíd died, you would have had to live with that," she accused her.
"Youíre right BíElanna, I would have," she answered softly. "Making hard decisions comes with the pips." With that, she left sickbay.
"Now everyone, please observe. Thereís nothing up my sleeves. Now, my lovely assistant will step into the box." The crowd cheered as the Doctor came out onto the stage wearing a very tight pair of tights - very tight, and a low cut sequined top. He bowed to the audience and then made a show of stepping into the box.
The Magnificent Paris, as he was called, did a little dance around the box, waving his arms in the air. "Abra- ca-dabra. Hocus pocus." He smiled mischievously as he lifted the lid on the box. "My beautiful assistant has now disappeared." The crowd applauded noisily. "Should I bring him back?"
"No!!" Most of the crowd yelled.
"Iíll remember that, the next time youíre all due for your yearly physicals," the Doctorís dry voice came from the side of the stage.
Everyone laughed uproariously as Tom made a great performance of making the Doctor reappear in the box. By the time he started brandishing the swords around, everyone was weak with laughter.
BíElanna watched her mate, with tears of pride in her eyes. Only two hours ago, he had been lying on a biobed in sickbay, clinically dead. She had argued with him to cancel the act, but he had been insistent. Neelix was counting on him.
Sheíd held him and kissed him fiercely, and when the same old magic that sheíd always felt with him surfaced, her happiness had been complete. "I love you, Thomas Eugene Paris," she mouthed to him the next time he looked at her. He smiled widely and threw the flower he had just created out of thin air to her.
"To the most beautiful woman in the room," he announced grandly. The crowd cheered again and BíElanna felt herself blushing. How dare he embarrass her in front of everyone, she fumed silently. Just wait till they got back to her quarters. It looked like sheíd just have to teach him a lesson. She grinned wickedly at the thought.
So, what'd you think? Let me firstname.lastname@example.org