Fragments, Part One


By Tommyhawk1@AOL.COM

*
Paris awoke suddenly, flat on his back on a Sickbay biobed, staring up at the Doctor and...somebody else. He had no memory of losing consciousness or anything else, an instant before, he had been on duty on the bridge! He tried to speak, but couldn't. Not that he hurt, more like his body was...turned off.
*
"I think he's coming around." the Doctor stated.
*
"Ease off the temporal flow to six percent." the odd being ordered.
*
"Aye, aye." Seven's dispassionate voice replied.
*
Paris looked, but somehow could not quantify this one being's appearance. He was a burnished red in color, but his face seemed to be made of interlocked loops. He realized that the blur was due to his eyes being teary--the Doctor was nothing but a peach-colored oval atop a blue and black jumble, but he recognized him due to long familiarity--and winked his eyes, squinched them shut and then opened them again. Moving the muscles of the face to do that took every ounce of his strength, and he was helpless once again.
*
The interlocking loops were there, but only four of them, on the being's head along the edge of the crown on either side, and two more that went from where his ears would be had he had ears to his chin. The mouth was triangular in shape and the eyes had snowflake-shaped pupils inside them. They did not, and could not, blink.
*
But Paris did, as a light pencil held by the strange visitor suddenly hit them.
*
"You can turn off the temporal fixator, Seven." the visitor said. "He'll be fine now without it."
*
"What happened?" Paris asked. "Who are you?"
*
"I am Dr. Shudan of the Cartilian Alliance." the being stated. "As for your mental confusion, you have been treated with a temporal flux resonator, the only way to repair the massive damage to your body. You will be fine, but there are residual effects. The first is that you have permanently lost an unknown quantity of your most recent memory."
*
"Mr. Paris, what is the last thing you recall?" the Doctor asked.
*
"I was at my duty station. We had just encountered a...a grid of some sort." Paris said. "Yow, my head hurts!"
*
"That is to be expected. What was the approximate time?"
*
"I had just started my shift. It was about 0830, I guess, last I remember."
*
"He has lost some fourteen hours." Dr. Shudan affirmed. "All experiences since your arrival at our borders. Well, Mr. Paris, Voyager was attacked by the Cartilian Alliance's defensive array. Your ship was badly damaged. When we learned of this unintentional attack, we came to make such amends as we could."
*
"What is a temporal flux resonator?" Paris got out, with difficulty. His mouth still didn't want to move very well, but his entire body seemed to be turning itself back on rapidly.
*
"Your body was so badly damaged, you were at the point of death. More importantly, your...essence had decided to die. The only way to prevent a being from continuing down that path is to reset his timeline. Your alien body complicated matters, but I think we have been successful. You may experience some disorientation, the feeling of being in the wrong time or place. This is to be expected. In severe misalignments of your timeline, you will even get glimpses of your past or future. If that happens, return to Sickbay immediately for readjustment, for it is a most dangerous condition."
*
"Thank you." Paris said. "Am I free to leave now?" He sat up, the universe swirled briefly, then steadied.
*
"Yes, provided you go directly to your quarters and rest." the Doctor said. "But don't hesitate at the first symptom of, uh, temporal misalignment, to return. Cartilians are different enough from humans that I wish to keep a close eye on you."
*
"All right. Thank you, Doctor. And you, Dr. Shudan."
*
"Not at all." Dr. Shudan waved him away. "Our fault entirely for putting your life in jeopardy. I am merely pleased that we had the ability to make amends."
*
Paris went out of Sickbay, stopped, confused. This wasn't the corridor outside of Sickbay! He had somehow come up three decks. Was his head still woozy?
*
Laughter echoed down the corridors. Male voices. Sounds of running feet. In the confines of the ship, it wasn't that unusual to encounter people running for the sheer sake of running, the only thing you could not do effectively in the holodecks. Captain Janeway had stopped trying to prevent this minor breach of regulations. So Paris stopped, ready to dodge these playful athletes, whoever they were.
*
They rounded the corridor and Paris grinned. Chakotay was chasing after some young male ensign or other. The grins on their faces were such that he knew it was only rough play of some sort. He didn't think the Commander engaged in such games, though. Beneath his dignity, rather.
*
Chakotay caught the ensign, spun him around, threw him back against the corridor wall. "Got you now!" he crowed.
*
"You only wish." the ensign replied.
*
Paris goggled at that too-familiar voice. He hadn't recognized the man with the uniform, the black-and-yellow of an ensign. It was him!
*
"What the hell is going on here?" he called out.
*
The figures ignored him.
*
"Do you know the penalty for cheating at a game of poker, Ensign Paris?" Chakotay mock-chided him.
*
"Not when we're playing for chips with no ration points backing them up, no." his alter ego said disingenuously. "If there'd been credits involved, the penalty would have been death, of course."
*
"Absolutely." Chakotay said to him. "As it is, the penalty is much, much worse than that."
*
"Worse than death?" his alter ego cocked his head to one side. "What could that be, Commander?"
*
"This." Chakotay said, and kissed him.
*
"What the fuck is this?" Paris demanded of himself. Again, he was ignored.
*
"Is that all?" his other self asked.
*
"That's just the start." Chakotay assured him and went back for another.
*
Paris watched his other self's arms go around Chakotay's, and watched as well the kiss he was giving Chakotay. Shit!
*
He turned, found the door to Sickbay gone, and nearly ran on down the corridor, away from this scene. If he could get to the end of this corridor, in the next section, was a turbolift. There was, though lights were out near it, and it was already standing open and dark.
*
He made it to the turbolift, got on it. "Sickbay." he ordered. The turbolift didn't move. The doors didn't close.
*
Paris looked and saw that the panel was dead. He tried manual control, nothing. Looked back out into...a ruined corridor. Debris scattered pell-mell all about. He walked down this new, deserted Voyager and rounded the bend. A figure lay on the floor and Paris walked over to see who it was.
*
Whoever it was, it was dead. He reached down, half-expecting to see his hands go right through the figure. It turned over, though it was dry as a mummy. Paris looked down into the dead eyes...of himself!
*
He jumped back, yelled, and found himself at the door of Sickbay once again. He turned and dived for it, but could have saved the trouble; it was real. The Doctor and Dr. Shudan were there.
*
"Mr. Paris, what is the problem?"
*
"I'm seeing things." he stuttered out.
*
"Temporal misalignment."
*
"No! This was different. Odd things, not real."
*
"Let me run the diagnostic scan on you." Dr. Shudan lifted an odd, wand-like device. Purple charged leapt from the tip to cover Paris. It was like being surrounded by purple lightning, his body tingled wherever it meandered over his body.
*
"Definite temporal misalignment." Dr. Shudan affirmed. "You have experienced episodes from your future. Hmm, two distinct loci, in fact."
*
"So it wasn't a hallucination of some kind? But if it's real then...the future?" Paris said. "In one of those...those visions, I was dead!"
*
"Could you tell us of the situation?"
*
"I was in Voyager's corridor. Everything was unused, abandoned. I saw a body, went over and turned it over, and it was me!"
*
"Interesting." Dr. Shudan said. "Temporal misalignments tend to only be very minor. You could not have witnessed a scene further than a few weeks into your future."
*
"What were the other things you saw?" the Doctor asked.
*
Paris realized it meant admitting he saw himself kissing Chakotay. "Uh, nothing like being dead." he said. "I...I saw myself in the corridor with Chakotay. We were...talking." Paris said. "I tried to speak to them, but they didn't see or hear me."
*
"Your opinion, Doctor?" the Doctor said.
*
"The timelines are not fixed." Dr. Shudan said. "These two visions need not be linked in any way, in fact, they may be parallel."
*
"Either the future in which he was talking with Chakotay, or the one in which he was dead, in other words." the Doctor clarified.
*
"Exactly."
*
"You mean, to avoid becoming dead, I'd have to...." Paris caught himself. "Talk with Chakotay."
*
Dr. Shudan smiled. "Not at all. But you will need to watch yourself in the near future, try to determine the nexus of the alternates. In the meantime, we shall cure you of this bout."
*
Paris' hand went up to block Dr. Shudan's arm. "Wait a minute. If I don't take your cure, what happens?"
*
"You'll become more and more lost in those two alternates." Dr. Shudan said, disturbed. "They will recur more and more frequently. You will interact with them more and more until your body is ripped apart from the temporal stresses. But surely you can determine the nexus without continuing with this imbalance in your temporal state, young sir."
*
Paris turned to the Doctor. "Doctor, in that other timeline, it wasn't just me dead. It was all of Voyager. That place felt long-dead. Whatever it is, it's going to happen soon. I think we need to take the risk while I try to find out what happened to destroy Voyager."
*
The Doctor hesitated. "Failing to cure a patient who is ill is a breach of my ethical protocol. I cannot condone it."
*
"Then get me the Captain." Paris said.
*
The Doctor and Dr. Shudan exchanged glances. "I am afraid that's not possible." the Doctor said.
*
"I said that the damage to your ship was severe." Dr. Shudan clarified. "You suffered several casualties. I'm afraid one of those was your Captain."
*
Paris closed his eyes briefly. Losing Janeway was a severe blow; she had become the very soul of the ship. But his training served him well, he was able to shelve his grief for the moment. "Then let me speak to our new Captain. Commander Chakotay."
*

END OF PART ONE

*
[NOTE: This series won't be overlong, 10-12 parts, but they'll all be about as short as this one. I hope to be able to post them approximately once per week after I resume my new series, so the short length is necessary. This series will also soon attain a "rating" of X, by the way. I will try to post them on Sundays, but no promises on keeping to this schedule once I resume my regular series on May 15, 1999. You can send any e-mail comments to me at Tommyhawk1@AOL.COM.]

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Fragments, Part Two