Author: KJaneway115 PM
What if using the Voyager crew to find the wormhole wasn't the last of Kashyk's deceptions? This story takes place immediately following the season 5 episode Counterpoint.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure/Drama - Chakotay & K. Janeway - Chapters: 4 - Words: 16,211 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 6 - Published: 10-28-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7502984
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"I would much prefer to suffer from the clean incision of an honest lancet than from a sweetened poison."
Kathryn Janeway sat alone on the bridge, the strains of Mahler's fifth symphony still playing over the ship's speakers. She felt quiet. She was not astonished by the events of the past few days. Kashyk was right about one thing; she had never come to fully trust him. She had known that she could not afford to put the safety of her ship and her crew into the hands of a stranger. She had wanted to trust him, though. She had wanted to believe that there was another person out there with a mind like her own, who was willing to stand by what he believed; someone for whom she could feel an instant passion that she didn't have to hide. The kiss in the docking bay had not been an act. At least, she knew that it had not been an act for her. She felt betrayed and used, but she would not allow herself to acknowledge those feelings now. A cold anger rose from the pit of her stomach; she ignored it. She felt the sting that she had felt the moment she realized that Kashyk had used her all along, but she turned her attention away from the feeling.
The doors from the turbolifts swished open, and Tuvok, Chakotay and Paris entered the bridge. "Computer, end music," she ordered. The symphony abruptly cut off.
"What happened?" asked Paris. "We were all being held in the cargo bays, and then the Devore soldiers lowered all the forcefields and dematerialized."
"The Inspector decided that it would be better to let us go than to have a failure of this kind on his record," Janeway replied. "Mr. Paris, set a course out of Devore space, maximum warp."
"Aye, ma'am," said Paris, hurrying to his station. "Course laid in."
"Engage." The ship jumped to warp underneath them.
Ensign Kim and Seven of Nine entered the bridge and took their stations. Tuvok was at his, and Chakotay came to sit down beside the Captain. She felt his eyes on her but she did not look at him.
"Status report," she ordered.
"All decks are reporting in," said Tuvok calmly. "We appear to have suffered no permanent damage from the Devore inspection. Two crew members suffered minor injuries at the hands of the Devore inspection team. The Doctor is treating them in sickbay."
"Thank you, Lieutenant," said the Captain. "I'll be in my ready room. Please inform me when we reach the rendezvous point with the shuttlecraft." She knew this would take many hours even at maximum warp, but she wanted to get out of Devore space as soon as possible. She stood and exited the bridge, into the solace of her ready room. She sat down at her desk and lowered her head into her hands.
What is one more disappointment? she thought. She knew that she would continue just as she always had; that this was not even a setback, just one more incident in the life of a Starfleet captain. Just one more person who could not be trusted. She was tired; for a brief moment, she permitted herself to acknowledge it. She was tired of being the only one who did what was right. They had had months - years even - without a true ally or friend, without an alien race who would genuinely welcome them with no strings attached. Was her crew really so unique in the universe that they could not find a single species in the Delta Quadrant with real morals and values? There had been a few along the way, but so few. Too few.
The door to the ready room chimed. "Come in," she said without moving. As the door opened, she raised her head to see who it was. Chakotay or Tuvok, she thought, most likely. It was her first officer.
As Chakotay entered the ready room, he saw Kathryn raise her head from her hands, so that her chin was resting in one hand, her other hand lying on her desk. Her fingers still covered her mouth, so he could only see the expression in her eyes. He had seen this expression before, although not many times. She had been hurt and she was trying not to admit it.
With an effort, she sat up straight, her hands in her lap. "Have a seat, Commander," she said.
He came and sat across from her, handing her a PADD. "Here's a list of the minor damages and injuries caused by the Devore inspection teams," he said. "Tom estimates that it will take us about twelve hours at maximum warp to reach the rendezvous point with the shuttles, but we'll be out of Devore space in about seven hours."
"Thank you, Commander," she replied. "As far as I'm concerned, we can't get out of here soon enough."
"I take it Kashyk betrayed us," Chakotay said.
She nodded. "He was never to be trusted. He had planned to use us to find that wormhole all along." Chakotay nodded, sensing she had more to say. "I had hoped I was wrong about that," she continued.
"So did I," said Chakotay. There was a tone in Kathryn's voice that was somehow tender and bitter at the same time. Chakotay had no idea what had passed between her and Kashyk. He hadn't seen her much since Kashyk had come on board, and he could only guess at what might have transpired between them.
"You know, Chakotay," she said, "I offered to take him with us after we made it through the wormhole."
He raised his eyebrows, studying her. He knew she wouldn't make this offer to just anyone. "I know that you wanted to trust him, Kathryn," he said quietly, "but we did the right thing in being cautious."
We, he had said. We did the right thing. "We did," she agreed, "but I wanted to believe it was possible that someone like Kashyk existed: a brilliant scientist, a courageous leader, someone who was willing to defy convention and stand up for what was right."
"Someone like you."
She looked up at him suddenly when he said this. "Yes," she whispered. "Yes, I suppose so."
Chakotay felt an anger rising within him. He did not know what had passed between his captain and that man, but he did not need to know. He could see in her eyes and in her manner how much Kashyk had hurt her. He could feel his jaw clench as the anger permeated his body. Yet he knew that his anger would not help her now, and what he wanted more than anything was to help her. "What Kashyk did to us was wrong," he said quietly, with the weight of conviction.
He had said, what Kashyk did to us, but what she heard was, what Kashyk did to you. "He'll never be punished for it," she replied. "He was acting in accordance with his own government."
"He'll have to live with what he's done."
She shook her head, her voice gaining strength as she spoke. "He's proud of what he is, Chakotay. That's the sickest part of the whole thing. He thinks that what he's doing is protecting and serving his people." She burned with the humiliation of the knowledge that she allowed herself the weakness of kissing him. How could she have been so stupid?
"Well, in just a few hours, we'll never have to see him or any of his kind again," said Chakotay, trying to lighten the mood.
She made an attempt to smile, but could not. "What I don't understand," she said, "is how a mind like his, capable of the thoughts that he was able to have, could also believe that this is the right way to treat anyone."
He didn't know if she was speaking of the way Kashyk treated the telepathic prisoners, or the way that he had treated her. But he said, "I don't understand that either. I don't think either of us ever will."
She stood up from her desk and began to pace back and forth across the ready room, voicing her thoughts from earlier. "Can't there just be one person, Chakotay, just one race, that stands by its morality? Are we the only ones in the entire galaxy? It seems that every species we meet in the Delta Quadrant is interested only in our destruction... or only in their own survival, even if that means betraying and killing others."
"There were the Talaxians," he offered, "and the Ocampa."
"Yes," she agreed. "There have been a few. But too few, Chakotay. We have no allies here. Whenever we meet a race that might be friendly to us, we have to be suspicious of them. And rather than our suspicions being proven superfluous in the end, they're almost always proven right."
He knew the underlying theme of her speech. "In that sense, we are alone," he acknowledged. "And it's harder to do right when you're alone than when you're supported by a culture or an organization that shares your morals and your values. But I know you, Kathryn Janeway, and no matter how hard it is, you're not going to stop doing what's right."
She had stopped pacing and turned to listen to him. "You're right," she said helplessly. Even though she remained standing erect, her body seemed to sag in defeat.
Chakotay stood and went to the replicator. "Two cups of coffee, black," he ordered. The coffee materialized on the replicator, and he took both cups, handing one to Janeway. She took it gratefully, managing a little smile. The warm cup in her hands seemed to give her strength. Chakotay put his hand on her shoulder and led her to sit next to him on the couch.
She sat back on the couch, cradling the coffee in her hands, and lifting it to her face to inhale its sweet aroma. She closed her eyes as she did so, feeling the warmth of Chakotay's hand still resting on her shoulder. Rather than relying on her strength, though, it seemed to give her support. "I'll be fine, tomorrow, Chakotay," she said.
He smiled. "I know," he replied. "You're always 'fine.'"
She opened her eyes and looked at him, at first with a dubious expression, but then, seeing the smile on his face, she chuckled, and he laughed with her. She raised the coffee to her lips and took a sip. As soon as she swallowed the warm, brown liquid, he could tell something was wrong. "What is it?" he asked.
"Does the coffee taste strange to you?" she asked. She smelled it again, and it smelled normal.
He picked up his cup and took a sip. "It just tastes like coffee to me," he said.
"I thought it tasted strange somehow," she said, picking up her cup and taking another sip.
"I can replicate you a new cup," he offered.
She was about to agree when she discovered she was struggling to breathe. "Chak... o... tay... Can't... breathe..." she managed to get out, gasping.
"Chakotay to sickbay," he said, tapping his comm badge urgently. "Medical emergency in the Captain's ready room. I'm going to beam her directly to sickbay."
"Aye, Commander," replied the Doctor.
"Chakotay to transporter room, transport the Captain directly to sickbay."
"Aye, Commander," returned the voice of the ensign on duty.
The Captain dematerialized in front of him, and Chakotay hurried out of the ready room. "You have the bridge, Lieutenant Tuvok," he barked. "I'll be in sickbay."
"Is there a problem, Commander?" Tuvok asked.
"Something's wrong with the Captain," he replied. "I'll let you know as soon as I know more." With that, he dashed into the turbolift and ordered it to take him directly to deck 5.
The Doctor had no idea what to expect when Captain Janeway was beamed into sickbay, but she materialized doubled over, struggling for breath. She seemed to be having some kind of seizure. The Doctor managed to get her to a biobed and scanned her quickly. She was convulsing and her lips were beginning to turn blue. He grabbed a hypospray and injected the Captain, hoping this would help clear her airways. She began to breathe a bit more easily, but continued to convulse wildly. "Doctor to Lieutenant Paris," he said.
"Please report to sickbay at once."
"On my way," Paris replied.
At that moment, Commander Chakotay barreled into sickbay. "Doctor, report!" he ordered.
"Help me hold her still, Commander. I need to inject her with a sedative."
Chakotay ran over to the table where the Captain was throwing herself from one side to the other, her entire body shaking. He placed one arm around her shoulders and one around her waist, holding her upper body down long enough for the Doctor to use his hypospray. Chakotay felt her body begin to stop shaking under his arms and he stepped away to give the Doctor room.
Paris hurried into sickbay. "What can I do, Doc?" he asked.
The Doctor was busily scanning the Captain, trying to understand what was happening to her. "Get me the vascular regenerator," he ordered, examining the data on his tricorder. Paris quickly handed him the instrument and he began running it over the Captain's chest.
Chakotay and Paris stood off to the side, waiting. They exchanged a concerned glance. Finally, the Doctor put down his instruments and looked up at them. "Commander, can you tell me exactly what happened?" he asked.
"We were in the Captain's ready room. I ordered coffee for both of us from the replicator. She asked me if I thought the coffee tasted strange, but it tasted fine to me. I was about to replicate her another cup when she said she couldn't breathe."
"Strange," said the Doctor, pulling out his medical tricorder once again.
"What's strange, Doc?" asked Paris.
"I would like to run more tests, Commander," said the Doctor, addressing Chakotay, "but my preliminary scans suggest that the Captain was poisoned."
"Poisoned?" Chakotay asked. "By whom?"
"I don't know," the Doctor replied.
"Poisoned?" exclaimed B'Elanna Torres. The senior staff had gathered in the briefing room. The Doctor joined them remotely from sickbay.
"Yes," he said, his face on the monitor showing a grave expression. "I cannot tell you precisely how the poison was transmitted, but it appears to have been administered through the skin. It was an ingenious effort. The poison was designed to react with coffee specifically, so it would remain dormant in her system until she drank her next cup."
"Doctor, have you been able to formulate an antidote?" asked Chakotay.
"Unfortunately, no," the Doctor replied. "This is a poison unlike any I've ever seen. It's synthesized, not from a natural source."
"So what's going to happen to the Captain?" asked Paris.
"Unless an antidote can be found," the Doctor replied, "she will die."
"How much time do we have?" Chakotay asked.
"The poison seems to be acting very slowly," said the Doctor. "It is slowing down her metabolic functions. Essentially, she is in a coma, but the poison appears to work progressively. Eventually, her metabolic functions will become so slow that she will be brain dead, and then she will stop functioning completely. My best estimate is that we have seven days until this occurs."
"Do you think you'll be able to synthesize an antidote within that time?" Chakotay asked.
"I'll certainly do my best, Commander, but I can't guarantee success. I've never seen some of the compounds in this poison before."
"This leads us to an interesting question," said Tuvok. "Who poisoned the Captain?"
"I don't think it could have been a member of Voyager's crew," said the Doctor. "Where would they have gotten an unknown poison?"
"Doctor," Tuvok replied, "the Captain could have been poisoned by anyone if they obtained the poison from someone outside of this crew." He paused for a moment before continuing. "However, I think it is unlikely that any member of this crew would have a motive for poisoning the Captain."
"Agreed," said Chakotay. "That leaves us with the Brenari..."
"Why would they want to poison Captain Janeway?" asked Neelix. "They would all be in a Devore concentration camp if it weren't for her."
"Perhaps a member of their group had other motives for traveling with us," said Tuvok. "But that also seems like an unlikely possibility."
"Or the Devore," Chakotay finished.
"Why would they want to poison Captain Janeway?" asked Harry Kim. "What would they have to gain from her death?"
"Revenge, perhaps," Tuvok replied. "Inspector Kashyk was humiliated by Captain Janeway. Perhaps he felt this was sufficient motive for murder."
"Or Prax," offered Paris. "He seemed to want nothing more than for us all to be imprisoned and our ship to be impounded."
"Kashyk had the greatest motive," said Chakotay. "And he also had the most opportunity. He spent a great deal of time alone with Captain Janeway."
"If this is a Devore poison," said Neelix, "perhaps they have an antidote."
"Perhaps," Tuvok agreed. "But it would not be prudent to take Voyager back into their space."
"Maybe that's just what they were counting on," B'Elanna said. "They thought they could hurt us even after we left their space, and we'd never want to go back."
"Lieutenant Paris, how far are we from the rendezvous point with the Brenari?" Chakotay asked.
"About two hours," Paris replied.
"Inform me as soon as we reach it," Chakotay ordered. "I want to find out if the Brenari have any information about this poison or how to obtain an antidote. If they don't, we'll have to discuss other options. Doctor, your first priority is finding an antidote."
"I won't rest until I do, Commander," the Doctor said solemnly.
"Good," Chakotay replied. "The rest of you, take your duty stations. We'll reconvene here after our rendezvous with the Brenari."