Admiral Addison's head was spinning as she struggled to concentrate on Captain Tulone's presentation. He was presenting information on the Borg weapons they have been concentrating on with Starfleet counter-weapons. Even though the Borg were still a considerable threat to the Federation, they had been pushed back into the Delta Quadrant. Since Voyager returned to the Alpha Quadrant, the information about the Borg had never been so detailed.
She just couldn't concentrate on it. Her mind was at Deep Space Nine, wondering how the counter-insurgence mission was going. If Rzepka was dead, Bashir would have called by now, she thought. I would already know.
Admirals, Fleet Admirals, Captains, and Commanders all filled the conference room she quietly sat in. They all chattered while the speaker took a small break. She briefly debated sneaking out to call her Lieutenant, but quickly decided that would be a slight bit conspicuous.
"Admiral Addison! Tell me, how is your new class doing?" Admiral Janeway approached with a smile on her face. Janeway was newly promoted to Admiral and was well versed in Intelligence matters. Addison plastered a smile on her face.
"They are doing very well. We are very lucky to have very intelligent students this year." Addison said. "The graduates out in the field are just as quick. Very lucky indeed."
Janeway smiled. "Great to hear! And how are you doing?" she said a little gentler. Since Addison's husband's death the year prior, she had slowed down with activities and focused solely on teaching. Admiral Janeway had become Addison's friend during that time and was a great source of support, having endured such loss after her ship, the Voyager, had been lost for over seven years.
"I'm hanging in there. Just teaching and coaching our rookies out in the field. They keep me plenty busy." Addison admitted, rising from her chair and ambling to the replicator across the room. "Coffee, black." she said.
As Addison returned, Janeway giggled, glancing into her own silver mug in her hand.
"I keep telling myself that I need to quit drinking so much coffee. Nothing good can come of four cups a day." Janeway said. Addison smile.
"Except for staying awake." She raised her cup and clinkied it on Janeway's as the speaker of the presentation reentered the conference room. The Admirals took their seats and listened to the rest of the presentation.
"The Bajoran Public Policy Council will be boarding the station tomorrow morning. I have allocated fifteen security officers to patrol the areas in which they will be conducting their surveys and research, just in case. After what recently happened with Shaakar, I don't want to take any chances. Captain... are you listening?" Ro stopped talking. Kira didn't respond, merely still staring out of the side window of her office, her mind elsewhere.
"Captain?" Ro said again a bit louder.
Kira jumped and turned to the Lieutenant. She pursed her lips and forced a smile.
"I'm sorry, Ro. I'm sorry, go on, please." Kira said, trying to concentrate at the discussion they were having about station security.
Ro sighed. She knew why the Captain was distracted.
"I'm worried about her, too." Ro said quietly, trying hard to sympathasize with the Captain. Kira nodded.
"I wish there was something more I can do." Kira said, turning her gaze back out of the window. "How is the investigation going?"
"We've turned up very few pieces of trace evidence. I've spoken with Starfleet Intelligence, and they are coming up with just as little clues as I am. They are working closely with Internal affairs and trying to come up with something. Until then, we've exhausted all investigation avenues here. The rest is up to SI." Ro said. "This doesn't look very good, I'm afraid."
Kira sighed. She thought about what Julian told her earlier about Kym's condition. 5% chance that she'd pull through, without the antidote. He had no idea of her chances with it.
"What about the transporter signal we picked up?" Kira suggested.
"No source found, sir. We have no idea where the transporter came from." Ro said. Another dead end. Ro knew that several transporter sequences were undetectable by the Cardassian technology aboard the station, but if this one was able to be detected, surely Starfleet would have some way to identify it. Nothing.
"And Starfleet Intelligence hasn't been able to give you anything useful?" Kira said. Ro shook her head.
"I've received the profile of the other murders, but none of them offer any clues to this attack." Ro said.
"Something doesn't add up here. Who did you talk to in SI?" Kira said.
"Admiral Addison," Ro said. "She seemed like she didn't have much information, either."
Kira thought about Commander Vaughn. He had security clearances higher than most Admirals and was on a first name basis with most of them from his years in Starfleet Intelligence. Perhaps he could break through the roadblock that Ro was experiencing.
"I'm going to get Vaughn to deal with SI. He needs something to do to keep his mind of the situation, anyway." Kira suggested. "Maybe he can get something more accomplished with his reputation leading the way."
"I think that's a good idea. Didn't he work with Addison as well?" Ro said. Kira nodded, thinking that Vaughn and Addison had worked together briefly at the Training Installation.
"We're going to get to the bottom of this, Captain. I assure you." Ro said. Kira smiled and nodded.
"I know you will." she said.
"….your signature... mean to wake you..."
"…..get you anything..."
Kym heard voices. One was Julian's. The other she didn't recognize.
"…. for now... close eye on...know more when she wakes..."
But I am awake! I can hear you! Kym practically screamed in her mind. She couldn't move or open her eyes.
Where am I? she wondered. She couldn't remember what happened to her. Am I dreaming?
"…..sedated... own safety..."
"…..be fine... what she does when she... with her until she wakes up..."
But I AM awake!
Kym looked around her and could only see blackness. Flashes of white light appeared in her eyes, while she tried to see anything in the moments of lights, she could see nothing.
I've got to get out of here. She tried to speak, but nothing came out of her mouth. Her body was stiff and unable to move at all. Oh God, am I paralyzed again? Am I... dead?!
She decided the first step to 'getting out of here' was figuring out where she was. Since she couldn't move, perhaps she could collect other clues. She couldn't see anything. She sensed two people - Julian and another woman. She tried to sniff the air, desperate to recognize something, even if it was a familiar scent. Nothing.
"….was a spontaneous..."
"….did she breathe... own?"
"….did! She took a... breath..."
She sensed excitement from Julian.
Julian, where are you?! She tried to scream but nothing came out of her mouth. Becoming very frustrated, she sighed and tried to think of a new plan.
"…... was again!..."
Another sense of excitement, this time from both Julian and the woman. Curious, Kym tried an experiment of her own. She heaved a huge breath, the biggest she could muster under her heavy cloak of paralysis.
"…...again! Yes, Kym..."
I'm not dead. She finally concluded. I'm just... trapped? Asleep? Dreaming? She didn't know.
Breathing was difficult, so she decided to try something else. Unfortunately, she couldn't think of a single idea.
The sound of familiar beeping filled her ears. What is that? she thought. What's making that noise?
"…..synaptic function... starting to stabilize..."
What? What are you talking about, Julian? I'm fine. See?
She took another deep breath, trying to think. She tried to open her eyes to see what was going on out there, but her eyelids were so heavy. She craned her eyeballs to her forehead, trying to force her eyes open. Nothing.
Don't give up. Vaughn said that to me. Don't you ever give up.
Using every ounce of energy in her body, she concentrated on her eyelids. If I can get through all of that torturous physical therapy, surely I can open my on, Kym. OPEN THEM.
The flashes of white became more and more intense as she continued to concentrate her efforts on opening her eyelids. Every few seconds, she stopped to rest, then continued forcing her eyeballs open.
Then she saw it. Blue.
Or is that... gray?
Either way, keep going! You're doing it!
"…...her eyes... waking up..."
"…... you hear me?... squeeze my hand... hear me..."
She didn't worry about squeezing anything. Just opening her eyes. Finally, her lids drew open slowly like shades on a window. Her vision was very blurry and she couldn't tell where she was, but she saw Julian's face near hers.
"Good morning." Julian said, squeezing her hand. Kym very slowly turned her head toward him, but stopped when she met resistance from... something. Am I restrained? she thought. Her eyebrows furrowed and she could feel her face getting hot with frustration.
"You're in the infirmary. You have a tube in your throat helping you breathe." Krissten said. Kym turned her head the other way to face a tall, dark-haired woman. Her bangs swept to once side and her shoulder length hair ended in soft curls. Her dark green eyes were framed by ebony eyelashes. Olive skin covered her face and her cheeks were rosy. "Don't be afraid."
Tube. Kym felt the smooth surface of the tube against her tongue. She traced it's concave surface with the tip of her tongue. This is why I can't talk. She heard beeping again and turned her head slowly back to Julian. He was carefully studying a tricorder.
"Krissten, let's get another biomec scan." Julian said. He turned to the monitor on his right and buried his face in the information as Krissten disappeared to collect her equipment.
Oh man, Kym thought. I must be really sick. I can't even breathe on my own. What happened to me? Don't be afraid? How can I not be afraid?!
Kym closed her eyes tight, trying to make sense of what was going on around her. This can't be real... Sensing the concern from Julian and the other woman, she started feeling very uneasy and terrified. She felt a tear start sliding down the side of her temple. She couldn't help it. She suddenly felt Julian's thumb on her temple gently wiping it away, then he brushed a lock of hair off her forehead. She opened her eyes.
"I'm here, Kym. You're okay. Are you in pain?" He asked gently. He placed his hand on hers. She shook her head slowly in a drawn out "no." As he turned back to the monitor, Kym grasped his hand as tight as she could, preventing him from leaving. She needed the reassurance that someone was there. She wanted to be sure she wasn't dreaming.
"It's alright. I'm right here." He said. Then he got an idea. "Would you like to see Nerys?"
Nerys! Yes! Kym slowly moved her head in a tiny nod. Her eyes got wide with relief. Yes. Nerys.
Julian tapped his comm badge.
"Bashir to Captain Kira."
"Kira here." Kym heard Kira's surprised voice on the other end of the comm signal. She felt relieved just hearing it.
"Captain, please report to the infirmary." Julian said, noticing Kym's comfort. She just needs reassurance, he thought.
"On my way."
Within two minutes, Kym heard Kira's voice frantically saying "Where is she?" to the nurse in the lobby. Kira hurried into the ICU and gasped when she saw Kym looking around. She rushed to the bedside and grasped Kym's hand. Kym slowly turned her head to Kira, breathing a sigh of relief.
"Oh God, I thought something happened," she said as she breathed a sigh of relief.
"Nerys, the Commander is feeling a little confused and she needs some reassurance. Can you stay for a while we run a few more tests?" Julian said.
"Of course," Kira breathed, looking into Kym's eyes. "Kym. I was so worried about you."
Kym's body still felt heavy, but she could feel Kira's hand on hers. She was able to squeeze Kira's hand back. She took another deep breath and relaxed. I'm not dead. If I were, I wouldn't be able to feel her hand in mine...
Kira kept talking about random things, but Kym couldn't concentrate on what she said. She felt that Kira's touch alone could keep her in reality. Nearly an hour had passed and Kira had not moved from her position at Kym's bedside.
I'm not dead... was all Kym could think about as her eyelids got heavy again. Just... very sleepy...