Title: Interlude VI Author: Jemima Contact: email@example.com Series: VOY Part: 13/19 Rating: PG Codes: crew Summary: This is an interlude in "The Museum", a series of AU stories within one larger story. In this Interlude, Neelix, Paris and Torres find themselves in sickbay, and Paris pesters Kim. Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha!
Tom was summoned to sickbay when the emergency hail came in from Tuvok's security detail. He found Neelix up on one elbow on a biobed, peering at his own readings.
Tom gave the readings a glance, and said, "Lie back, Neelix; you seem to be fine. What happened down there?"
"It was just like everyone has described it," Neelix replied. "I lived years of another life."
The Talaxian grew unusually pensive, but he hadn't yet told the medic what he wanted to know. Tom prodded him, "That doesn't explain the emergency beam-out to sickbay."
"Oh - well, when I found myself back in the museum, I was startled. I twisted around, trying to figure out where Dexa had gone, and the Doctor walked around me, trying to read the cortical monitor on my neck." Neelix touched the device, which was still in position under his ear. "You know how the Doctor just walks through things?"
"Yes," Tom answered impatiently.
"Well, he tried to walk through the Mobius band to get to my cortical monitor. When he hit it, he just froze. He stood there looking blank for a minute, and then he disappeared and his mobile emitter fell to the floor." Neelix handed the emitter to Tom. "I picked it up, but I couldn't reactivate it. That's when the security detail panicked and hailed Voyager."
By this time, the news had reached B'Elanna; she stormed into sickbay in search of the Doctor's remains. Tom took the mobile emitter from his patient and handed it over to his wife. She pulled a few tools out of a pocket and began to fiddle with the device.
"So, Neelix, what did you see?" Tom asked to pass the time.
"I'll add it to the database," Neelix replied.
Tom's voice turned suave. "Neelix, we're partners here--"
He was interrupted by his wife, who informed them, "It looks like the Doc's matrix overloaded and collapsed, but I think I can reinitialize it using the sickbay holoemitters." B'Elanna downloaded the Doctor's program and entered a complicated sequence of commands into one of the sickbay consoles.
The familiar balding figure shimmered before them. B'Elanna's fingers flew across the console until the image stabilized.
"Please state the nature of the medical emergency," the resurrected EMH said, while moving instinctively towards Neelix's biobed.
"Doc, how do you feel?" B'Elanna asked him.
He ignored her in favor of the biobed readings. "Neurological scans indicate recent intensive activity in the memory centers of the patient's brain. However, he is in no immediate danger."
"Doc?" Tom asked.
"Where is Chief Medical Officer Fitzgerald?" the EMH demanded.
Tom joined B'Elanna at the console. She pointed to a schematic of the Doctor's program as she explained quietly, "The Doctor's program has acquired a subsidiary holomatrix. He's running off of it now."
"What about his primary matrix?" Tom whispered.
"It's degrading. If I can't reactivate it soon..."
"I get the picture."
Neelix tried to engage the EMH in conversation. "Doctor, could you sing that aria from 'Don Carlos' for us?"
Instead, he rechecked Neelix's cortical readings. Once he'd ruled out hallucination, he asked "What's going on here?"
Tom asked B'Elanna whispered together over the console. She said, "It's no good. I can't reactivate his primary matrix."
"Let's try to patch the two matrices together manually," Tom suggested.
The hologram froze as Tom attempted his version of genetic resequencing, with B'Elanna's help. "There," he said, after a few minutes.
"Please state..." The EMH's voice trailed off. "What happened?" he finally asked.
"You seem to have had your own encounter with the Mobius band, Doctor," Tom explained.
B'Elanna added, "We had a rough time restoring your matrix. Can you access the subsidiary program now?"
He checked; it took him bare milliseconds, so no pause was discernible to his saviors. "Yes, but I don't want to."
"What did you see?" Tom asked.
The Doctor described his experience reluctantly. "Chief Medical Officer Fitzgerald survived the Caretaker's displacement wave. The EMH was used only in dire emergencies. It - I - was activated for less than two hundred hours' time in the course of seven years." He regressed back into the neuter, explaining, "It wasn't sentient."
Tom couldn't help asking, "What did it feel like not to be sentient?" B'Elanna glared at him for his trouble.
"It didn't feel like anything at all."
None of them had seen a hologram shudder before.
Ensign Kim was attempting to have a quiet lunch in the museum cafeteria when Tom plopped himself down at his white, hexagonal table.
"Harry, the betting pool is eagerly awaiting your input."
"What are the odds on Janeway and Chakotay again, Tom?" Harry asked his friend. "I think I have a few replicator rations to spare for a sure thing."
"I meant your raw data, Harry. I have information from the 47 volunteers who've tried the Mobius band so far." Tom waved a PADD, which Harry snatched out of his hand.
The intrepid ensign got only a glance at the results before Tom recovered the master PADD, but what he saw was intriguing: the Maquis running the ship in six timelines, Janeway and Chakotay married in 23, seven of those with children. The other universes weren't all fun and games, though.
"I can't believe you have a category called 'Harry Dead Again'!" the all-too-mortal ensign protested.
"Don't get your feathers ruffled, Harry. Janeway is in the lead when it comes to being dead - though of course everyone is betting on you."
Harry fumed silently and turned his attention to his lunch.
"Come on Harry - it's the adventure of a lifetime."
"I've already had the adventure of a lifetime, Tom. Twenty-eight times, if I haven't lost count."
"Don't you want to see another universe?"
"Whatever happened to that old Starfleet...uh, whatever it was?" Tom asked.
Harry glared at his teasing friend. "Look, Tom, no one seems to *like* what they see in the Mobius band. Why don't you tell me all about your adventure, and then I'll think about it?"
Tom's eyes narrowed. "Janeway liked hers," he said sullenly, and picked at his own lunch plate. Soon, however, he was selling the multiverse again: "Think of the opportunities for romance."
Harry put down his fork and asked, "Is anyone there now?"
"Jenny Delaney is on the schedule for 1500 hours, but it's clear until then. And the medic is available to monitor you."
"Let's go now, before I come to my senses."
They stood and left the cafeteria.