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I am become hollow - a ST: Voyager fic

Fandom: Star Trek: Voyager
Title: I am become hollow
Characters/Pairings: Paris/Kim, Paris/Torres
Full header info posted with Chapter One

My world is lost in a sea of gray. Neither the comforting lights of the ship that has become my home, nor the cold black stillness of space. My heartbeat throbs painfully through my forehead, pulsing against the inside of my eyes, as if it can’t find its way back to my chest.

I lay unmoving, as my senses slowly begin to return. I force my eyes open to see the bulkhead slanting away from me in the darkness. There’s just enough light seeping in from the stars to make out the surface, but something’s wrong. I take a deep breath, involuntarily gritting my teeth against the ache in my chest, and try to concentrate. First of all, the angle is all wrong. Kind of hard to think through the pain, but I’m pretty sure bulkheads go up and down. Second, it’s not the right texture. Rough and scratchy, but somehow softer than usual too. Not the smooth hardness that bulkheads are supposed to be. And something else…

With a start, I realize the biggest ‘wrong’ of all. Why am I laying on the wall in the first place? And how the hell is that possible? …Or is it? I close my eyes again, shutting out the confusing image, and try to remember what happened to me. I was in sickbay, working with the Doc, talking with B'Elanna, when… What?

Chakotay. A chaotic jumble of images floods over me as my memory returns. The deadly coldness of Chakotay’s eyes, all their usual warmth gone. The Doc evaporating into nothingness. Chakotay pulling his phaser as he moves, poised like a snake about to strike. B'Elanna silently mouthing ‘I love you.’

B'Elanna! Fear pounds through me, instinctively bringing me to my knees. Have to find her. Make sure he didn’t hurt her. I frantically feel for my communicator, wanting to signal her, make sure she’s okay, but it has been removed. I’m overcome by a wave of dizziness and nausea before I can make it all the way up. I drop my head back down on my knees, staying as still as possible until the sensation passes. Can’t find her if I’m unconscious.

After a moment, I raise my head again, slowly this time. Now that I’m in a sitting position, things make more sense. Not surprisingly, I’m on the floor rather than the wall. Just the lingering confusion of being unconscious. Not knowing where I am or what happened. And I still don’t know where I am.

I study the room silently, letting my eyes adjust to the low light. I haven’t seen any indication that there’s anyone else here, but just in case, I should figure out as much as possible before announcing myself any more than I already have.

Just stay quiet while I figure out where I am, or at least eliminate as many options as I can. I’m not in the brig. After the month of confinement and that humiliating demotion, I know that space well enough to be sure of that. Not on any of the decks closest to engineering. The thrumming of the engines is too faint for that. I’m not in a cargo or shuttle bay. The floors aren’t the right texture. More like someone’s quarters.

But that can’t be right either. By now I can dimly make out most of the room, at least enough to tell that there’s no furniture or work consoles of any kind. Not even Tuvok lives in that boring of an environment. And there are no empty quarters on Voyager. Any space not in use is immediately converted to something useful, like the aeroponics bay, or astrometrics.

Since I’m fairly certain that I’m alone now, I decide that it’s time to risk calling for the lights. I pull into a low crouch, reading myself for action in case I’m mistaken. “Computer, one quarter lights.” Enough to see, but not enough to shock my vision, which has already adjusted to the near total darkness. I glance quickly around without seeing anyone, then slowly evaluate the room a second time. I’m definitely in someone’s living quarters, but they’re completely empty. No furniture or possessions of any kind.

But there’s something strangely familiar about the room, despite its emptiness. I remind myself that all living quarters are essentially the same, and that this room couldn’t be that different from my old quarters. Then I realize that’s a distinct possibility. B'Elanna and I moved into larger joint quarters as soon as we got back from our honeymoon. Our old quarters were released to ship’s resources. Although I’m sure there’s something planned for them, it’s possible they’re still vacant for the moment.

I look around the room again, searching for some way to confirm or deny that this is my old room. The layout is identical, and the viewport of the stars indicates that these are officer’s quarters. But there’s no way to be certain. B'Elanna’s old quarters would have the same privilege, and I don’t remember the exact layout well enough to eliminate that possibility.

But then I remember. The holo-recording. From before I left Voyager to join the Kazon. I just couldn’t stand the thought of dying while Harry thought I was a traitor. I struggled for weeks, wanting to tell him of my mission, but knowing I couldn’t. That would’ve endangered him, as well as the ship. So I finally recorded a message for him, explaining everything. Hid it in my room, knowing it would only be found when the room was stripped down for another purpose. And knowing Janeway would only order that once I was dead. Then when I returned, everything resolved itself so well that I forgot all about it. Repressed my fear that I would die, and the best friend I’d ever had would remember me with shame.

I move to the corner, keeping quiet since I’m not sure whether anyone’s stationed outside the door. I feel for the loose section of floor covering, where I pried it up to hide the small holo-recording. My hands close over the edge, but I want to be sure. I pull it back until I can see the tiny mechanism, eagerly reaching for it. Closing my hands over it in relief, I lean back against the wall and think.

At least now I know where I am. In my old quarters, on deck six. I immediately frown. If I’ve been imprisoned in my old quarters, B'Elanna’s probably been returned to hers. Several decks lower, to allow her easier access to engineering. Meaning it will be difficult to reach her quickly.

But if these are indeed my old quarters, that also means Harry’s right next door. I smile, knowing that if I can just get to him, we can figure out what’s going on. And what to do about it.

I’m sure that the door is sealed, but I’m not going to take the hard way without trying the easy way first. Crouching just inside the door, out of sight from the corridor, I order the computer to open the door. As expected, nothing happens. I walk in front of the door, just to make sure the proximity sensor has been disabled. Nothing.

So I’m locked in. I move to the wall neighboring Harry’s and sit quietly for a moment, wondering how to contact him without a combadge. The bulkheads between quarters are designed with dampeners that eliminate ambient noise and speech for privacy. So there’s little point trying to yell through them.

After a moment, I slowly begin to tap out a message on the wall. A slow, rhythmic tattoo of longs and shorts. One that I know the dampening sensors don’t recognize as a noise to edit out. I grin, glad that all those hours in the holodeck with Harry are finally coming in handy for something. Back in one of the earliest chapters, I taught him Morse code so we could communicate while imprisoned in separate cells in the Dungeon of Despair. We eventually started using it on the wall between our quarters as a way to say ‘I’m off duty, do you want to do something?’ without being intrusive. Then if one of us was busy or had company, they could just ignore the noise without having to explain.

My smile fades. It’s not for anything as simple as that, this time. I need to find out if he’s in there and if he’s okay. Not wanting to send a long message until I know he’s listening, I just tap out his name over and over.

For several moments, I sit there patiently tapping out the letters, then pausing to listen for a response. Still nothing. I’m beginning to wonder if he’s even in there. Then I faintly hear a noise. Just a fragment of sound, before the dampeners automatically cancel it out. But enough to send a jolt of fear through me. The sound of Harry groaning in pain.

The sound brings an image with it, of Harry lying injured in his quarters, unable even to crawl to the wall and tap out a reply. I’m instantly on my feet, pacing back and forth in front of the wall. I have to get to him somehow. Now. If Harry’s hurt, he’s my first priority. Besides, B'Elanna’s too far away to reach without his help. I’ll get to Harry first, and I’ll worry about the rest of it later.

But how? I frantically search my quarters for anything I can use. As I search, I test the computer, determining exactly how much access I’m allowed.

Ten minutes later, I sit down to study the disappointing results. One rusty razor blade, from when I decided to try shaving the old fashioned way. A short length of wire, from when B'Elanna assembled the television here while I was on an away mission. And the holo-recorder.

As for the computer, I’m only allowed access to the environmental controls for these quarters, within standard parameters. The replicator has been reactivated, but I can only request things from the food database. No mechanical or electronic components of any kind, let alone anything as useful as a phaser.

How the hell am I supposed to get to Harry with a razor blade, wire, a holo-recorder, and whatever the replicator decides is edible? I try to think of something, anything, to start with, but it’s useless.

Too bad Neelix isn’t here. I resist the urge to laugh, picturing the little Talaxian smiling, stiff whiskers bristling with pride, as he comes up with some obscure recipe to save the day. Something along the lines of ‘Fortunately, the Tuktikayans of Iklachak Seven consume powerful energy weapons as part of the annual Senuklak ritual’. Banishing the distracting image from my mind, I focus on the idea. Although I doubt there are any species that eat fully functional weapons that I can conveniently replicate, we have come across plenty of unusual diets in our exploration of the galaxy. There have to be some foods with unusual chemical or electrical properties that I can use.

I take the casing off the holo-recorder to look closer at the components I have to work with. Next, I call up an index of the food database on the replicator controls, searching for anything I can use. Then I settle down in front of the replicator with the meager assortment of objects spread around me. This may take a while.

Continue to Chapter Five