Disclaimer: Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of Paramount and TPTB. The plot is the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning: Rated M Violence, angst, and adult situations included but nothing overly graphic.
Under My Skin: Chapter 1
As soon as I enter my quarters I kick my boots off at the door. I walk towards my bathroom, and drape my jacket over the back of my desk chair. I pull the turtleneck over my head and throw it on my bed. I feel better already. I smile to myself as I think about the shocked look on Chakotay's face as I left the bridge. I'd only been there for ten hours today. I'm glad I can still surprise him every now and then. The space we're in right now is quiet, and I am actively trying to not let it get to me. I wash my face and look in the mirror. What is it about boredom that brings out the worst in me? I grab my book from the nightstand and head for the couch. I plop down onto the cushions and put my head back. Okay, so maybe I won't get any reading done.
I hear an electrical whine and raise my head from the back of the couch. It's the only warning I have before my quarters dematerialize.
I'm still in my seated position when I feel a firm surface beneath me again. I can't see a thing. I even wave my hand in front of my face and can't see it. A glaring bright light comes on and I throw my arm up in front of me to try and block it. Strong hands seize my arms and pin them behind me. I fight back by kicking out at whoever is behind me. I connect and hear a grunt. I try to open my eyes to see my attackers, but the light blinds me. A hood is thrown over my head and I can feel my wrists being cuffed together. I'm forced to my knees. I feel the business end of a blaster push into the base of my skull. I understand the message. I stop struggling. The light shuts off.
I leave the bridge in Kim's capable hands and head for the turbolift. Harry may not be green anymore, but when it comes to being in charge of the bridge he's still Ensign Eager. I wonder if Kathryn's still up and whether or not she'd be interested in having a night cap. It only took me one cajoling visit to her ready room today to convince her to go off duty. I was prepared for the usual three tries. I think she left early just to surprise me. Whatever the reason, I'm glad she's taking it easy. I've never heard the turbolift make that sort of whine before. I'll have to make a note of it to Belanna. I realize too late that Belanna won't be able to help with this issue.
Eventually, the light shuts off and I now have a hood over my head. I'm still seeing spots of light dance across my eyes. My arms are pinned behind me and the blaster digging into my back encourages me to move forward. I have no idea who is responsible for my current situation, but it doesn't bode well. I know there is someone walking in front of me, but their footfall is very light. I can't make out any shapes through the hood, but I inhale deeply to try and catch any scents that may help me identify where I am. Oh no. I can smell the light scent of roses. Kathryn.
With the blaster digging into my skull and a hand clamped roughly over my mouth, I understand they want me to stay quiet. I'm still on my knees when I hear that distinct whine again. They're brought someone else here. I hear the person make a confused noise and then the light snaps on again. I close my eyes against its brightness despite the hood over my head. My shoulders tighten as I hear one of my crew being subdued. I hear the metal cuffs clink together and know that my crewman is now in the same sorry state I find myself in. I'm hauled to my feet and prodded forward past the bright light. My feet are bare and I can feel the thrum of a ship through the cool deck plating. I know there are guards in front of me, but I can hear the distinct sound of Starfleet issue boots behind me. I've heard those footfalls behind me too many times to count. He always walks slightly behind me. Protecting me. Chakotay.
I hear a door open in front of us and we are herded inside a new room. I can hear his breathing now. I know he can tell I'm here. He always knows when I'm near. I blink rapidly when the hood is pulled off. My eyes confirm what I already know. I'm staring at Chakotay's red clad chest. The relief I feel at that moment is short lived as I finally see our captors. Cardassians.
They pull the hood from my face and for a moment I don't see her. I look down and find her. She's only wearing her grey tank and pants. She must've been able to relax just long enough to get out of those damn tall boots she wears. She looks unharmed and a small section of my heart breathes a quick sigh of relief. I see her eyes widen as they break contact with mine. I know why. The first thing I saw over the top of her head was the sneer that I had come to hate so much. Somehow all Cardassians, apparently even ones in the Delta quadrant, seem to sneer the same way.
We only get a momentary glance at each other before they turn us to face the door. We are pushed to our knees as the door opens and a new Cardassian walks into the room. He smiles down at us.
"Kathryn Janeway. Chakotay. Cardassia welcomes back two of its most famous previous guests." He gestures to himself. "I am Gul Baket, Cardassian ambassador to the Delta Quadrant."
Kathryn opens her mouth to speak, but the Gul silences her with a backhand to the face. "Do not speak unless asked a direct question, Kathryn. It's your only warning."
She gives a slight nod and I breathe a little easier. At least she isn't going to purposefully antagonize him. He continues.
"Now, let me give you a little of my ship's history and I have a few questions for you to clear up for me as well. We have been in this quadrant over seven years. We were brought here by an impressive device and a being that we saw only in holographic form. Were you brought here in much the same way?"
"Yes." She answers him succinctly.
"We presumed as much. Now, I must say rumor travels as fast here in the Delta quadrant as it does at home and we have heard many things about a Federation ship out here on its own. Voyager has made news in this part of the galaxy. But the most interesting rumor we heard is that its captain is responsible for destroying the device that brought us here. Is that true, Kathryn?"
"It saddens me to hear that. I had hoped it was only a rumor. You see, once the hologram decided he couldn't use us, he flung us away. We've been trying to make it back to his position all this time, so we could force him to send us home. I promised my men that we would return home, and anyone that stood in our way would be destroyed." He places his hand around Kathryn's throat and pulls her to her feet. "Kathryn, my dear, you can see now how this makes it more difficult for me to release you. I gave my men my word."
He signals and one of the guards grasps her shackled wrists and forces them upwards. She bends at the waist in a natural attempt to escape the pressure. Two guards keep me pinned to the floor. The Gul gestures again, and another guard pulls her hair to the side to reveal the back of her neck. The Gul pulls a circular pad from the belt on his uniform and places it at the base of her skull. The Gul pushes a button on a device in his hand, and the pad begins to insinuate itself beneath her skin. She grunts in pain, and I can see the muscles in her jaw tighten as she grinds her teeth. In a matter of moments, the pad can no longer be seen. A small trickle of blood stains her gray tank. The guards release their hold on me and force her back to her knees. Now the Gul gives me his full attention.
My neck burns as the chemical secreted by the device begins to seal my skin. It buries itself further inside me. After Owen's and my experience, I researched as much as possible on known Cardassian torture techniques. This device will attach directly to my spinal cord, and give itself access to my nervous system. I know the device that I researched and the one that is now inside me were built to carry out the same functions. The scientist inside me also knows that the device inside of me has had ten years of improvements. It's a horrible feeling knowing the worst is still to come. The Gul circles Chakotay as he begins to speak.
"Chakotay. Maquis Captain. Leader of ruthless renegades intent on destroying Cardassian property and life. It is truly a pleasure to have you join us here in the Delta Quadrant." The Gul pauses. "If rumor is again accurate, and by your uniform I see that it is, you once again serve the Federation. How interesting. After having had access to Voyager's computer, I know many of your Maquis serve with you still. Perhaps, before this is over we will invite some of them to join us."
Chakotay remains silent. I watch, held in place by two guards, as the Gul implants a device into Chakotay. "These devices will require a few hours before they are fully operational. According to our records, during your previous visits both of you departed before you could be given one. Well, that at least has now been remedied." He spoke to the head guard. "They need to be restrained for the next four hours. They're not to be damaged. There will be plenty of time for that later."
The guard nods his understanding and with a final look at us the Gul left the room. The guards haul me to my feet and push me towards the back of the room. There are five bars descending from the ceiling each with manacles attached to it. I feel my hands being released from behind me and I know it is not so I can move them into a more comfortable position. With a blaster under my chin, my arms are forced over my head and I feel cold metal tighten around each of my wrists. The bar retracts into the ceiling until only the balls of my feet touch the floor. It's going to be a long four hours.
After securing us into position, only one guard is left to post by the door. It's only then I dare look at Kathryn. She's looking up examining her bindings. Despite our situation I find a small smile on my face. She catches it. "What could you possibly find amusing at this moment?"
"Earlier tonight, I had considered stopping by your quarters. This is not how I envisioned us spending the evening." She almost smiles.
"What do you know about the devices they put into us, Chakotay?" She asks.
I knew enough. I'd never had one myself, but I had seen the after effects on many a Maquis. I'd heard their screams. It was not something I was looking forward to experiencing. Her voice breaks into my musings.
"Admiral Paris had one removed after we were rescued. A lot of study went into it. Most of it was classified, but I found out what I could." She closes her eyes momentarily before continuing. "It will insinuate itself into our nervous systems until it has enough control that it can move a single finger or send a pulse through our entire body."
Her speech seems forced. I study the side of her face. She has sweat breaking out along her hairline. "Kathryn, are you alright?"
She releases a breath that I didn't realize she had been holding. "I think it's starting to map me. There's an intense burning sensation spreading down through my chest."
I briefly wonder why I'm not experiencing anything and then I realize mine is just starting. I'm about three minutes behind her. I only have a small localized burning in my neck at the moment. I had chalked it up to the initial implantation. Only now do I realize the sensation is growing outward. I hear her suck in a breath between her teeth. I steel myself against the inevitable. I'd give anything to take her place. At least with her reactions I can prepare myself, she has no warning.
Over the next three hours, I watch as her fists clench, her toes curl, or her back arches. The device is systematic in its insinuation going through each appendage before moving to the torso. Each time the device begins a new phase, Kathryn expands my knowledge of Klingon curses and I treat her to some of my rarely used native invectives.
I watch as her body relaxes between each phase knowing when this happens I will have a brief respite soon. Her tank top appears a darker color now because of how much her body has been sweating the invasion. I can feel my own uniform sticking to me in places as sweat rolls down my back. When she speaks again I can hear in her voice the strain her body has been under. "I think it's finished for now."
The pain is fading from the last twinge. This is the longest we've gone without a new part of our bodies being tested by the device. Maybe she's right. The doors at the other end of the room open and the Gul strides towards us. It was a long four hours.
I am still trying to get my breathing and heart rate back to normal as the Gul slowly circles us. He comes to a stop in front of us and nods to one of the guards. The manacles release our hands. We both collapse to the floor. I roll to my back with difficulty. My arms are complete numb dead weight, but my shoulders still have blood pumping through them. They scream out at the sudden movement. It feels as though broken glass and rocks have been shoved into my shoulder sockets. My vision swims and then settles on the Gul standing over me. Belanna would be proud of the growl that issues from my throat.
The Gul chuckles, "Well Kathryn, that's not the most articulate thing I've ever heard a Starfleet captain say but you're meaning is quite clear." He continues to circle as Chakotay and I slowly make it to sitting positions. The feeling of pins and needles confirms that sensation is slowly returning to my arms.
"Let's see how we did." The Gul consults a pad in his hand. "Hmmm, it seems, Kathryn, that you haven't been taking too good of care of yourself. High blood pressure. No sleep patterns for the past twenty hours. High intake of caffeine for much of that time. Very low caloric intake. Oh, and don't worry I'll have someone take you to relieve yourself in just a few minutes."
I give him my best sneer at this last comment. It also worries me immensely. The devices are much more advanced than I originally thought. If it can measure that my bladder is full, what else will it reveal?
The Gul reads from a different pad discerning Chakotay's condition. "It seems you are taking much better care of yourself. You've only been up for sixteen hours and you've eaten at least twice in that time. No drugs in your system. Blood pressure is as normal as can be expected. Very good."
The Gul continues, "Now that I have both of your attention, I'm going to explain what happens next. We have decided to forgo your immediate execution in lieu of boosting crew morale. Alive, you each represent a much higher entertainment value for the crew. We will keep each of you here for only twelve hours a day. We've found our subjects tend to last longer when given time to heal. When you aren't here, I'll be sending you back to your ship. At any given time, one of you will be here and one of you will be there. If at anytime, you alert your crew to what is taking place you will not be brought back here. And whichever one of you is here at that time, well you won't be leaving. Do you understand so far?"
Chakotay and I both nod. My mind is racing. The Gul continues, "We will of course be monitoring you closely. Everything you see and hear, we will be able to see and hear courtesy of the devices we administered earlier. Kathryn, since your shift starts in a little over an hour, I'll be returning you shortly. However, before you go, I want to demonstrate the control we will have over you."
The Gul nods at a guard and the distinct whine of the transporter is heard. Chakotay disappears. I look up at the Gul and he directs my vision to a screen on the wall. I was looking at the inside of Chakotay's quarters. He's on Voyager and we are all seeing through his eyes. The Gul kneels behind me and begins speaking into my ear. "You see now my dear how much we will be able to observe. Anything you read or see, anything you say I will see and hear." He puts his hands on my shoulders and I repress a shudder. "I'm looking forward to what I will experience through your eyes."
He makes a show of putting Chakotay's control pad in front of me. "Oh, and these devices work at long range." He presses the button. Through the screen I hear Chakotay's grunt of pain as he collapses to the floor of his cabin. The screen fills with a view of his carpet and then the underside of his coffee table. His head dips as his body moves into a fetal position. I watch his hands clench into fists against the pain. The Gul releases the button and I hear Chakotay suck in a deep breath as his body relaxes. The screen fills with a view of the ceiling as he rolls on to his back.
"Bring him back." Once again the transport whines and Chakotay reappears two feet away from me. Sweat dots his forehead. His eyes widen as he sees the Gul's hands on my shoulders. The Gul smiles at the unguarded reaction. "Well that is interesting."
The Gul stands and pulls me to my feet. He keeps his hands on me and buries his face in my hair as he speaks quietly, "Kathryn, I'll make time for you and me upon your return."
He releases me and steps away. "It's almost time for you to go to work Kathryn. Remember the rules of the game; if you ever want to see him again, you'll behave. We will be watching. Oh, and sporadically throughout the day we'll be activating your device as a friendly reminder. See you in twelve hours." He nods and I heard the transporter take affect. The last thing I see is Chakotay lying on the floor at the feet of the Gul.
I watch her disappear. I wish she would announce to the entire ship when she arrives what is going on, but I know she won't. I don't want her coming back here, but I know she will. The screen on the wall lights up and I get my first view of Kathryn's quarters through her own eyes. I hear her voice call for the time. She has thirty minutes until she's due on the bridge. Her hand moves to the back of her neck. The Gul's thumb moves closer to a button on her control. She steps into the bathroom and looks in the mirror. She knows we are seeing her. "A scientist's inclination Gul, I'm only looking."
The Gul smiles. Kathryn takes his lack of attack as a positive and holds up another mirror so she can see the back of her neck. There is a circular scar visible, but it has no discoloration. Kathryn scoffs, "You do good work."
She begins to get undressed and then stops. She looks back into the mirror again. "You will not be getting a peep show." She throws a towel over the mirror and closes her eyes. The screen shows nothing for a few moments until we see her hand reach out to turn on the shower. She closes her eyes again. The Gul looks disappointed. I smile.
I don't see Kathryn get to the bridge. The Gul notices my smile and introduces me to a different level on the device.