TEMPUS OMNIA REVELAT
Time had not been kind to Captain Janeway. It had not brought about a process of healing her old injuries, which instead remained open, infected and sore. Nor had time stopped the almost daily ritual of beatings which brought about new wounds. Time had not brought her crew to her rescue and that particular fact, as time had gone by, filled her with such increasing feelings of despair and fear, she now found them difficult to ignore.
She knew that Voyager would have searched for her but for how long could they continue to do this before accepting the fact that she was either dead or irretrievably lost, before they would have to continue their journey home?
How long had she been held captive by … whoever these people were? Three months? Four months? Maybe more, maybe much more. But Janeway had started to lose all sense of time. In her increasingly rare, lucid moments, she recognised her failing abilities to reason, to rationalise, to make any mental sense of her dire circumstances. She so needed all her powers of intellect now to fathom a way out of her captivity, but time had robbed her of that which she had always cherished most in life – her analytical and scientifically curious mind.
No. Time had not been kind to Janeway.
In the squalid dark, damp and filthy stone cell in which she was held, her mind flashed back to that last memory of normality. She had been with the away team on Excelda, having successfully negotiated a mutually beneficial trade agreement. In the market square, Neelix had been close by to her and in fine spirits since he had been able to replenish the food stores with high vitamin-yielding food.
In equally high spirits, she and the others in the team had just finally thanked Excelda’s merchants for their hospitality and trade, and preparing to leave, it had been Tuvok who had authorised the beam-up. Seconds later, Janeway recalled witnessing her crew shimmer out of existence but how she had remained solid and still on the planet surface. She then vaguely remembered a kind of ripping sensation throughout her entire body as she then dematerialised in some unusual and aggressive transport beam before loosing consciousness.
From that moment on, she had awoken into a nightmare of reality that was filled with pain, humiliation and senseless deprivation.
Nothing had made any sense to her at all. Her captors had knowledge of who she was, referring to her as‘ the great star ship captain’ who had been brought to her knees by the superior Sung Ti and was now their prized possession. They had demanded that she openly confess in public to alleged heinous crimes, the murder of some Princes and their escorts, of which she had absolutely no recollection. Her initial attempts to reason with Dar’toth, the one she identified as the tyrannical leader of those who held her, had met with no success and he had responded only with unmentionable cruelty.
Dar’toth, a military man with an impressive array of smart uniforms, was short and bald headed with skin like leather, and who had a strange sickly body odour. He would frequently parade her to his followers in the decadent Assembly Rooms of his palace. She had initially put up spirited resistance but as time wore on and as the beatings increased, her body energy became scarce and her resistance dissipated.
Now, one of the few things that kept her conscious was a wound to her leg, which was becoming more and more painful. During one of her recent struggles with the guards, one of them had plunged a ragged, sharp instrument into the lower half of her right leg, slicing through muscle and hitting the bone hard. Without medical attention, and surrounded by filth and squalor, the injuries to that leg were festering. If her captors didn’t kill her, the poison from her badly infected leg would, and soon.
And now she could hear the footsteps of the empirical guard approaching her cell. For the first time in her life, Kathryn Janeway feared for her life, not so much for the loosing of it because that perhaps was inevitable. But more for how she would lose it, with humiliation and without dignity or honour – without anyone she cared for ever knowing how she died, and when. For the last time the guards had come, they had held her down while someone had injected some form of neural solvent into her body, something that had robbed her of her abilities, strength, and determination. And now they were coming back.
The unlocking of the door mechanism was deafening and the piercing shaft of light that broke through the heavy metal door into the cell forced her to cover her eyes. Once more, like all the times before, the guards dragged her to her feet and blindly, she was pushed out into the bright passageway. Janeway was forced again to her knees, her arms shielding her eyes from the light, were pushed down and she was restrained forcibly against a cold, stone wall.
Fighting to accustom her eyesight to the light, she saw the same familiar military uniforms and then a man approaching her and roughly grabbing one of her arms. Aware that she was about to be injected again, she fought against the restraining guards in an effort to avoid this hostile invasion of her body but they held her too well and seconds later she felt the contents of the serum force itself into her veins and rush, like something frenzied and ice cold, around her body.
The initial tingling sensation gave way to intense pain, her body felt like a thousand needles stabbing at her. She felt as if her head was going to explode. And somewhere in the distance, she heard someone scream and in the last throes of consciousness, recognised that it had been her.
No. Time had not been kind to Captain Janeway.
Captain Janeway could not remember the last time she had slept. Her hands were shackled behind her back with steel-like cable which was then attached to a ceiling hook leaving her pitched forward and almost suspended, only just able to make foot contact with the floor. She had a choice of taking the weight either on her arms or legs, either position resulted in pain and stripped her of any chance to sleep.
The pain was excruciating, especially with her bad leg but then, that is why her captors had strung her up like this – deprive her of sleep in the hope of getting her to talk, admit liability for her supposed crimes and then be rewarded with a life of servitude, if she behaved herself. Not the best bargain she had ever been offered.
The deprivation of sleep, food and water, plus daily ritual beatings, had taken their toll. Janeway was now hallucinating so badly she had lost the ability to distinguish between reality and delusion. Earlier, she had experienced a particularly vivid and distressing aberration of reality. She had been ‘visited’ by several Voyager crewmembers in her cell who had accused her of betraying the Federation, being held to account and now rightly being subjected to what she deserved.
"Someone like you," the image of Chakotay had said, "deserves no place in the United Federation of Planets and the senior staff have voted you be stripped of the rank of Captain and remain here to account for the atrocities you have committed."
His strong face had no longer been gentle but had harboured her true ill-will.
Seven of Nine had visited her too. The tall, slim woman’s elegant, classical beauty so intoxicating, she had approached Janeway, stared her in the eyes with her own ice blue ones and announced arrogantly, "You are small, weak, insignificant and no longer of importance to the Voyager collective. You are fundamentally without honour, you no longer have importance in my life. I was in error to ever think you did."
Despite these manifestations being part of her confused, feverish ramblings, they had seemed so real and tangible, they had disturbed her greatly, to the extent that they left her with little strength to continue the fight. She finally acknowledged what her captives had told her, that no one was going to come to her rescue now, that she was alone – that she would die alone. If she had had the energy to weep, she would have done so.
Her thought processes were broken by the piercing shaft of light breaking through the opening of the cell door, forcing her again to shut her eyes. She heard the rustling of guards around her and then felt her head pulled back by her hair, followed by a slap to the face to gain her attention.
Struggling to open her eyes she could make out only the blurred shape of her interrogator but knew his scent, Dar’toth. He spoke with a voice both lethargic and apathetic.
"I am so tired of this, Captain." He sighed heavily and leaned in closer to her, she could feel his breath on her face, smell the sickly scent.
" I ask you questions. You do not answer. I have you beaten. I ask you more questions which again, you do not answer. I have you beaten some more. We keep repeating the whole process over and over."
Dar’toth let go of her hair and Janeway’s head immediately fell forward onto her chest. Gone was the arrogant Captain ready to challenge him, to look him in the eye.
He then placed both his hands on either side of her face, almost in a loving, affectionate manner and assisted her, lifting her face so that they were eye to eye.
He spoke quietly to her, as if speaking to a naughty but well loved child, "You do so try my patience you know, and I begin to grow so weary of this repetition." He paused for effect. "Indeed, it is all beginning to depress me somewhat. Do you not feel the same way, Captain?" His voice held the inflection of mockery.
Janeway mustered what little energy she had left, "A little." She no longer recognised her own voice.
"Ah Captain, we are in agreement over this, and .. " another pause for artistic effect, " if I might say so, you are looking a little worse for wear. A little thin perhaps? You really should take more care of yourself."
His hands caressed her face, his fingers running over some of the dried gashes that ran across her brow. "Your people have abandoned you. Do you not think they would have been here now if they were coming? No. You are alone and no one is going to come to your rescue."
He allowed time for his statements to sink in.
"Save yourself!" The timbre of his voice was almost filled with compassion.
"I know a valuable asset when I see one and you have value to me. You are a scientist. Share your knowledge and technology with me and I will see you treated well. Just admit to your crimes and it’ll all be over quickly. You will then be treated better. Choose to oppose me further and you will leave me with no other option but to destroy you … and I will! But it isn’t what I want, you know? No, you have to be an intelligent person to hold such a position of power in an Empire such as yours. Use your intellect now and recognise that the game is over. Join me."
Louder in her ear, "Join me!" Again he repeated the offer, a look of anticipation lighting up his face as he saw the woman start to struggle and respond. He leaned in closer again to hear her weakened response.
With every ounce of energy and pride she could muster, Janeway responded. "Go to hell!"
It was not the response Dar’toth wanted and he stood back slowly, an edge of flint crossing his hard face. "It continues!" he spat at her.
She didn’t see him beckon to his guards but she felt a blow to her face, fresh blood running from her nose, and then another blow to her head and instinctively knew that that one had done serious damage.
Once more she felt a sharp scratch and stab to her upper arm. Something was again being injected into her but she didn’t know what. A voice, hard and unsympathetic, whispered, "I can break you."
Captain Kathryn Janeway of Bloomington, Indiana no longer cared. All she wanted was for the pain to stop.
She wanted to scream out, beg for mercy, but she wouldn’t. In her last breath, she would die with courage and honour, and she would meet her maker with distinction. Her mind wandered and she wondered if whoever told her mother of her demise, would do it kindly? She also wondered whether she would meet her father, and Justin? Would her father be proud of her? Did she believe in life after death? She couldn’t remember.
Another part of her shouted at her internally to not give up, to keep breathing, that something would happen to save her, it always had before, why not now?
But she couldn’t believe the positive voice inside her, it was too late now for rescue, she was dead already. And she felt such cold fear racing through her body as she realised that she didn’t want to die here like this where no one would ever know who she had ever really been, where she had come from, the things that had been important to her.
Here, no one would ever grieve for her. Somewhere, out in space or back on Earth, people would later speculate as to what had happened to her but never really know. Some people might even think she was still alive and travelling space.
Her family would have to grieve without a body, without real closure. She knew how badly her mother would take that – they had never managed to recover her father’s body, or Justin’s. Her mother had said once, in a low moment, that the worst of it all was not having a place to go, a grave to weep at, there was no place to be with her husband.
Her crew would grieve for her, hold a ceremony to lament her loss but would then inevitably appoint another leader, Chakotay, to get them home.
This had probably already happened. So final.
But the worse thing of all was the recognition that she would never be able to tell that one person who she now realised meant everything in life to her, Seven. She would never be able to tell her that she was in love with her and explain why she had said what she had. What she hated most was that Seven of Nine would never know that she had been loved by the Captain of the USS Voyager, and would now go on thinking of her as a liar and a disappointment. Janeway hoped that this wouldn’t distort Seven’s views regarding future relationships. She wanted the young Borg to have a happy life – she deserved that.
This wasn’t how it was all supposed to end, was it? She had always thought she was immortal, untouchable, lucky. Now she was going to die alone, in this God forsaken place.
And as she passed out, a whisper fell from her lips, "Seven."