Title: Interlude II Author: Jemima Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Series: VOY Part: 5/19 Rating: PG Codes: crew Summary: This is an interlude in "The Museum", a series of AU stories within one larger story. In this Interlude, Chakotay recalls Paris to Voyager, where the helmsman visits sickbay and his quarters. Another staff meeting occurs. Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha!
When he reached the bridge, Chakotay ordered Ensign Kim to hail Tom.
"He's not responding, sir," Harry replied after two tries.
"Paris, report!" Chakotay shouted into the open comm link.
"Why did it take you so long to answer?" Chakotay asks.
"I'm sorry, Captain; I didn't hear--"
"Beam him directly to sickbay, and get the others out of there, too," Chakotay ordered.
"What's wrong?" Tom asked, but the only answer was the sparkle of dematerialization around him.
Chakotay sighed. The last thing he needed at the moment was his universe fracturing around him.
Tom repeated his question to the EMH as he passed a neural scanner over the helmsman's head.
"You're exhibiting the same symptoms as the Captain."
"What's wrong with him?"
"Lie down, Mr. Paris."
"There's nothing wrong with *her*. Tell me what you saw."
Tom spotted the sleeping figure on the other biobed.
"Janeway! She's alive...she's the Captain." The EMH remained silent as Tom remembered more. "I'm married to B'Elanna. We're having a baby, aren't we, Doc?"
"Yes, Mr. Paris."
Tom sighed in relief. "It was all just a hallucination," he said.
"Mr. Kim has not yet established the nature of the phenomenon." The EMH was curious about what Tom had seen, but his programming overrode his curiosity and he gave his patient a sedative.
The EMH released Janeway and Paris a few hours later. The Captain had the peace and quiet of her lonely cabin in which to reflect on her other life, but Tom found an inquiring spouse waiting for him at home.
"Chakotay said you called him Captain."
"I did. He was the captain, and Tuvok was the first officer. He wasn't much of a security officer there, wherever there was, but as first officer - well, first officers don't do much anyway. He and Chakotay got along surprisingly well," Tom rattled on.
"What happened to Janeway?"
"I don't know, but when I pulled her away from the circle, she thought she was still on New Earth."
B'Elanna frowned at him, wondering whether he was being deliberately evasive or was still dazed. She strove to speak slowly and clearly. "Chakotay told me all about that while you were sedated. I meant, what happened to Janeway in the timeline you were in?"
"Did Harry find chronoton particles?"
He was definitely evading the question. She let a slight growl creep into her voice as she answered, "No, he didn't. Now tell me what happened to Janeway, Tom."
"Seska poisoned her."
"Kahless! What did Chakotay do?"
"Like I said, Tuvok wasn't much use as a security officer, but Chakotay suspected Seska. It took him a while, but he managed to pin it on her."
"She was killed trying to get away." Tom wasn't sure why he was editing the story so heavily - perhaps he hadn't quite shaken the atmosphere of paranoia from that other life.
"How about us?"
"Oh, we got together eventually. Nothing could keep me away from you, B'Elanna."
There was an uncharacteristic intensity to his declaration which made B'Elanna wonder whether he had quite recovered yet.
In the morning, Torres had cause to doubt Janeway's recovery as well. The engineer couldn't quite put her finger on it, but there was certainly something different about the Captain - something unnaturally gentle and peaceful, perhaps. The first report at the morning staff meeting was the Doctor's, and he gave both Janeway and Tom a clean bill of health. B'Elanna was forced to take his word for it.
"Captain Janeway and Lieutenant Paris," the EMH was droning on, "show no physical evidence of having travelled in time."
"Could it have been a hallucination?" B'Elanna asked.
"The human mind cannot invent five years of detailed memories in half an hour. Yet my neurological scans indicate that new memories are present alongside their 'real' memories of the past five years. I am at a loss to explain it."
Harry was called on to report next. "Astrometrics has detected no chronoton particles or other temporal disturbances."
"I think we can assume it wasn't time travel," Janeway interrupted.
"Yes, ma'am. The tricorder readings did show some nucleonic activity while you were in contact with the object--"
"It was a Mobius band."
"A what?" Neelix asked, momentarily distracted from the report he was secretively punching into a PADD under the table - the morale officer couldn't overlook the potential for five years of shore leave in half an hour, nor could he manage to get his reports done on time, even after seven years in Starfleet.
"A Mobius band is a strip of paper in the shape of a ring with a half-twist in it, so that it has only one side," Janeway explained.
"It's like a Klein bottle," the Doctor added.
"A what?" Neelix repeated.
"A Klein bottle is a bottle whose inside is its outside."
"It doesn't sound like it would hold much," the confused cook commented.
"It wouldn't," Janeway agreed. "It's just a way of imagining what a two-dimensional universe would be like..." Her voice trailed off.
"It's a mental representation of another dimension," Chakotay tried to complete her thought, "a harmless mathematical object, of questionable accuracy but a vivid image, nonetheless."
The Captain flashed her first officer a smile that lit up the room, but it faded quickly as she recalled which universe she was in. Tom would give ten to one that she missed her vivid image.
"Think what we could learn from it," the Captain was saying as Tom was calculating odds. "We might have built a slipstream drive in another universe, or have found a wormhole leading home."
"The human brain can hold only so many memories, Captain," the EMH warned. "I would not recommend repeating your experience with the Mobius band."
"I'm sure many of the crew would be willing to volunteer," Neelix said, his mind back on the familiar territory of shore leave.
Janeway assigned him the task of soliciting volunteers, then dismissed the meeting.
"Tuvok," she called as the senior staff filed out of the conference room.
The security officer remained behind, saying, "Yes, Captain?"
"Why did you come back for us?"
"I do not understand the question, Captain--"
"Why did you come back to New Earth, against my direct orders? I don't seem to recall."
Tuvok paused to recall the events of five years before. "The morale of the crew was degenerating rapidly. There was some dissent over my command decisions. They were emotional..." His voice trailed off uncharacteristically.
She stared right through her old friend for a moment, then stood to go. "Thank you, Tuvok. That's all I wanted to know."
Most of the crew volunteered for the unique away-mission. Seven of Nine was chosen as the first willing universe-surfer - she had the most shore-leave time coming to her, and also the internal equipment to record all useful information she might come across. The Doctor grumbled about her cortical node, insisting on monitoring her neural readings in person.
"I believe you are 'fussing', Doctor," Seven said as the EMH adjusted the cortical monitor on her neck. She looked around the hexagonal room, eager to proceed with the experiment.
"Curiosity killed the cat, Seven."
"Cats are said to have nine lives."
"No one ever mentions the EMH who brings the cat back from the dead time and time again..."
"Resurrection will not be necessary, Doctor. May I proceed?"
"If you insist." The EMH considered himself the most put-upon ship's doctor since McCoy - his crew was going out of their way, in his opinion, to give him material for the medical journals.
Seven reached out for the Mobius band with her reinforced hand, the shining metal exoskeleton reflecting the uniform white of the walls...