TEMPUS OMNIA REVELAT
Pain. Torrents of pain.
Illusions. Familiar faces. Faces with bodies that wear uniforms, familiar uniforms Ė like her uniform. Faces leaning over her, talking but she canít hear, canít make out their words but she knows their sentiments! These faces have visited her before. They are not real but demons donned in familiar guises to try and break her down. Demons that would tell her, if she could understand them, of her uselessness and heinous crimes to which she must be held to account.
Struggle. Push them away. Shout at them to go away. They are clever this time! This time they have kind gentle faces Ė caring faces Ė one face with a tattoo is holding her hand in his - but she knows he isnít real. None of them are real for they are evil illusions. Hallucinations her own mind is creating.
Do not look at them! Strike out at them. Forget the pain surging through your body with every movement. Push them away!
But the light is bright, too bright. This is not where she is normally kept. Why can she move her arms and legs? She canít remember being able to move with this freedom before. Where is this place? It is clinical, clean, .. it is familiar? Good familiar?
Oh, but the nightmare demons are clever, they are trying new tactics to break her. Now they show their true colours, they are pushing her, forcing her back down onto the flat surface, holding her, mouthing words she cannot hear or make sense of. She has not been allowed to lie flat for such a long time. What are they going to do to her? Something is being placed around her, restraining her. Keep struggling! Try to keep struggling. They will disappear as they have done in the past. Still they appear as kind visions, people she knows but they arenít. They are malevolent illusions!
Something is being pushed against her neck, something cold against her hot neck.
Blackness is enveloping her. The pain is dissipating, receding into the background, she cannot move anymore but she can still see the faces. Something is running into her eyes and it stings Ė her own sweat? The faces are now loosing contrast and shape, turning grainy and ill-defined at the edges. They are fading into darkness. She is falling into a dark pit.
This is the end?
As long as the pain stops.
The doctor wore the look of a worried and concerned man which was, of course, ridiculous since an EMH had no capacity for human emotions. He was after all simply a complicated collection of specialised medical information, capable of retrieval, analysis, evaluation and diagnosis from data banks.
But nothing was simple in the Delta Quadrant and just as Voyagersí crew had learned to survive and adapt in this hostile area of space, so had this hologram. He had, over time, become a sentient being who had far surpassed what his original creators thought him capable of.
And as a sentient being, he now stood in his outer office facing a tense and equally worried Commander Chakotay, acting Captain of the Star ship Voyager and the calm, composed form of Tuvok.
"There is significant physical and psychological abuse of an excessive level," the EMH began.
"On the physical side, she has numerous broken bones, a badly dislocated shoulder, a smashed kneecap, broken fibula and tibia of the right leg with a rotting gash in it that has obviously, deliberately never been allowed to heal, clearly in some perverse attempt to cause as much pain as possible. The muscular area around the wound is badly infected and the bone marrow is diseased."
Tuvok moved as if to stand straighter, interrupting, "Will she lose the leg?" The question was precise, direct, and unemotional.
Tuvok knew that despite the fact that technology could give the Captain an artificial limb that would far surpass the capabilities of the existing natural limb, Kathryn Janeway would hate it and never entirely adapt to something she had not been born with.
"Not if I can help it, no. But it will be a challenge."
Chakotayís eyes momentarily gazed at the floor, recognising that when this EMH declared a challenge, it meant that things were bad.
He lifted his eyes again and met the doctorís, "Continue, doctor."
"She has taken severe blows to the head which have caused neurological damage and hearing loss. There is a swelling on the brain that will have caused disorientation, possible blindness, dizziness and headaches. Her body is festooned with gashes, burns, scars from beatings and given the severe deprivation of food and water, she is almost one quarter under her normal body weight. I think you get the picture and before you ask .." , he paused, anticipating their next questions, "Yes, she will live and yes, I can put her physical body back together again. As Iíve already indicated, I am confident that I can save her leg although that will take a bit longer and will be something of a painful process."
Tuvok stood immobile but Chakotay clenched both his hands together, the knuckles turning white, in barely contained anger and frustration.
"Iím afraid thereís more," the doctor continued.
"Psychological damage," he abrasively stated. "I am at a loss where to begin and only time will tell just how badly she has been affected." He moved towards the glass divider that separated him from the outer room where Janeway lay sedated on the bio-bed, as if to check she was still there, safe. He turned to face the two men and continued.
"To say she has been tortured is an understatement. She has been subjected to sleep deprivation, which is one of the worst things you can do to the human body. The breaking of body rhythms are most effective in inducing derealization and hallucination through which the victim attempts to escape to another reality Ė a reality which is often difficult to return from. The mental stress she will have been through plus her physical injuries are incalculable."
"Her body is full of toxins, drug cocktails which as far as Iíve been able to determine fall into two categories; sleep inhibitors and truth serums. She has also been given regular injections of a drug clearly intended to produce massive addiction and uncontrollable cravings, such that would ensure the victim would do anything .. anything to get their next fix." His craggy face stared at the two officers.
"Fortunately, the drug is not so pervasive and addictive within the human physiology and I am pleased to say it seems to be passing out of her system with little damage done."
"She did not recognise us." A cold, calculating statement emanated from the tall Vulcan Security Officer. To anyone else, it might have appeared a callous and unfeeling statement but Chakotay picked up on its timbre, the way the manís voice held back just a little in the throat. Tuvok, against all appearances, was a concerned man who feared for the well being of a close and valued friend.
The doctor looked at the Vulcan, "Maybe, maybe not. Who knows what was going through her mind. She was high on drugs and running a fever. We need to wait until the drugs are out of her system."
"When will you bring her out of sedation?" Now Chakotay asked the questions.
"Not yet. I plan to keep her under for at least ten days."
Chakotay blanched, his face registering shock. You never kept someone sedated for that long, it simply wasnít safe.
"Isnít that harmful?"
"Lesser of the evils, Commander and I will be monitoring her very closely but I want to give her body time to repair physically. Right now she is in a lot of pain and that isnít helping her mental state."
The doctor lowered his voice, "That last bout of consciousness showed her extreme disorientation and inability to make sense of her surroundings. Regrettably, all her thrashing about successfully undid all the bone setting and regeneration I had done on her shoulder."
"No ..", he was adamant, "in about ten days, Iíll let her wake up naturally. By then most of her physical injuries will be repaired, with the exception of the leg but even that should be much improved. Also, the excess of the drugs, those I canít neutralise, will be out of her system. With luck we might find ourselves communicating with someone who resembles Captain Janeway."
"Luck, doctor?" Tuvokís eyebrow arched as he probed the EMHís rationale.
"Even I canít work miracles, Mr Tuvok. We now need luck and buckets of it."
Seven of Nine though invited, had not been interested in the briefing that the doctor had prepared and given for both Chakotay and Tuvok. She wanted no part of it, choosing instead to sit at the Captainís side, by the bio-bed, in the subdued lighting, watching and waiting for signs of recovery. Whatever she would hear, would not help the captain recover any the quicker and Seven wanted to be in only one place, here at this womanís side.
She gazed at the lifeless body of the usually energetic Star Fleet officer. Now it was so still, the features gaunt and the body so much thinner, the body lying like a dead weight on the bed. It had always been a small and compact body but now it was fragile and broken in so many places. The once beautiful, radiant hair was dull, lifeless and lay damp against the head and face, the latter the texture of wet pastry, and the colour of Borg drones.
Feelings of hatred, revenge and anger flooded through Seven and she wanted retribution against those who had done this. But new as these emotions were to her, she knew them for what they were, inefficient, since they were destined to go nowhere and with no one to vent them on.
On returning the captain to the ship, Silus had reported that most of the Regentís family had been killed, including Darítoth. The tyrannical regime was overthrown and at an end. The Ambassador had done their dirty work, which was just as well, for Chakotay had not taken the captainís terrible condition well. He would have sought revenge, she could tell that. Instinct!
Regardless, the fact that she recognised these negative emotions in her, could analyse their wastefulness and inefficiency, she could not make them dissipate or subside.
And so in the subdued lighting of the far corner within the sickbay sat this dazzlingly, strikingly beautiful woman who resembled more some hybrid Nordic Amazonian warrior than an ex drone, her form slim and toned.
She sat very still, content to listen to the shallowest of breaths from the woman laid out before her, and to watch the minutest of rises from her chest as the air found its way into the fragile womanís lungs. Even though Seven had these two vital pieces of evidence that Captain Janeway lived, she still doubted what was there before her and constantly found herself reaching out to touch the still form, to feel for a pulse, to be sure.
Fingers that once would have ruthlessly, savagely ejected nanoprobes into terrified victims, now gracefully, gently reached out to touch a still, lifeless hand, sliding up the wrist in search of the small but definite pulse confirming life in the heavily sedated form.
The doctor had been exceptionally kind and thoughtful. After his briefing with the two senior officers, he had taken Seven to the side and explained to her why he wanted to keep the Captain unconscious, that he wanted time to heal her wounds Ė atrocious, painful wounds.
And Seven had understood fully. She had witnessed the Captainís frightening hallucinatory episode in Sickbay where she had dug into what was left of her power reserves in some amazing last ditched effort, resisting all medical attention and pushing Chakotay and Tom Paris away as if they had been her torturers. Only the EMHís own computer enhanced strength had eventually bolted her back on the bio-bed and then hypoíd her into her current sedated condition.
At that moment, everyone in the sickbay had been so occupied with seeing to the Captainís needs and resetting some of her wounds, that no one had seen Seven silently slip out of the medical facility, walk calmly down to the first unoccupied space she came to and then loose all control as she gasped for air in between the sobs she could no longer contain nor wanted to. It had taken her precisely 28 minutes and 45 seconds before she could contain herself and return to the sickbay.
She had thought that no one had noticed her absence but the doctor had and later, he had gently, sensitively taken hold of her elbow and in a private one-to-one consultation, with great tenderness, given her a full account of the captainís injuries and given Seven hope that the Captain would survive.
When she had asked him if, after her duty and regeneration periods, she could come and sit by the Captain, he had been quick to give consent. He had not granted this favour to others and many had asked, including Chakotay.
And so Seven chose to sit and guard her precious cargo for the remaining many days whilst Janeway slept, occasionally holding the womanís still hand in hers, kneading the fingers between her own, studying the broken finger nails which had once been elegant and shaped.
It was only when the Janeway began to stir, the EMH allowing her to awaken naturally from the sedation, that Seven quietly slipped away so that the Captain would not know she had ever been there. Seven could not hurt this woman any more than she regrettably already had in the past. All she could do now was honour this womanís bravery, her resilience and serve her quietly and efficiently. Since Janeway would not allow her to love her, she could at least serve her well and hurt her no more.
Kathryn Janeway felt as though she was surfing blindfolded on the top of a large wave that was charging up the shoreline and then receding back again rapidly. Her body seemed heavy, turgid, out of proportion as the nauseous sensation of moving backwards and forwards rocked her. In. Out. In. Out.
This was reflective of her conscious state. One minute she was aware of her surroundings, the next completely oblivious, and somewhere in between these competing states of reality versus unconsciousness, time marched on apace.
But she was now aware that she was no longer a held-captive and had, by some miraculous intervention, been returned to the safe custody of the Voyager. The familiar faces she saw now were indeed those of her friends and colleagues, and not vile misrepresentations sent to cruelly torment her during her hallucinatory periods.
Janeway was beginning to trust the reality around her again.
Somewhere she heard a sigh, her own? Regardless, the sound focused her attention and was pivotal in dragging her into a state of consciousness.
It was also what drew the face of her first officer into view, a concerned smile on his face.
"Kathryn?" The word was said quietly as if sound might crush her.
She fought to get her eyelids open and to talk, she knew her lips moved but the words wouldnít come. So she tried to move a hand, to lift it but again, nothing. Her limbs all felt like lead weights pulling her down into the soft, welcoming comfort of the bed beneath her. All she could do was watch him.
"Welcome home, Kathryn. Youíre safe now, back on the Voyager. " Such resonance and warmth in his voice, but tinged with pain, with sadness? Suddenly a hand appeared, his hand, touching her forehead. Involuntarily, somehow her body found the ability to flinch as if repulsed by his touch Ė she hadnít wanted to do this but his movement had taken her by surprise and her body was clearly still in protection mode, on hyper alert.
It concerned her that she had reacted so negatively to what was essentially a kind, caring gesture but Chakotay seemed to understand and though he stayed close, he moved his hand, whispering something to her. But she couldnít hear him anymore and his strong, clean face began to fade into an all too familiar mist that was once more enveloping her, like a fog rolling across a meadow on a damp winterís morning, bringing a chill to her bones. She closed her eyes and everything was gone again, like floating out to sea. In. Out. In. Out.
Captain Kathryn Janeway lay slightly elevated against the backboard of the bio-bed, propped up with pillows. Not much of an improvement but it did afford her a better view of the sickbay, which in turn, gave her something beyond the sickbay ceiling to look at when she managed to hold on to the still tenuous moments of consciousness.
The sickbay doors swished open and the strong, muscular form of Chakotay came into view, approaching her with a purposeful stride and a warm smile on his good looking, dark features.
"Captain," he greeted her, "Youíre looking better."
"Liar," she said flatly, trying her level best to force a smile but not succeeding.
He chose not to challenge her but sat down by the side of the bed and carefully making a show of his next movement for her benefit, he raised his one hand and slowly brought it down on her arm in friendship and support.
This time she didnít flinch and acknowledged the tactile gesture with a hard won half smile.
She attempted some semi decent conversation, "Everything OK?" but the voice was raw, as if the user was recovering from an extreme attack of laryngitis.
"Ship and crew doing well, Kathryn and now weíve got you back, morale couldnít be higher." The genuineness of his words shone through like a beacon and some little place inside the woman experienced a touch of warmth where it was mostly ice cold. It didnít matter how many thermal blankets the doctor covered her with, the deathly cold she felt inside her would not go. It was like being dead but still alive?
She lay still and studied his face, the deep attractive mahogany eyes set against his natural tanned complexion, such a handsome man but she could see the concern in his eyes.
"Youíre worried about me." No sense in ignoring the blatantly obvious, the statement barely registered a whisper but Captain Janeway felt a personal sense of elation surge through her body, the fact that she was now stringing more than two words together Ė she was coming on in leaps and bounds!
The man allowed his eyes to look away from hers momentarily, his smile vanishing. "Now I would be a liar if I said I wasnít!" His grip tightened slightly on her forearm.
"Iím OK, Chakotay." Those deep brown eyes again returned to fix on her slate grey ones, showing clearly that he didnít believe her.
"Thatís not what the doctor says."
"Oh, the doctor, he fusses around like an old woman," she made light of her first officerís comment.
"No he doesnít." The deadpan expression on the manís face told her he was serious and wasnít going to let her belittle her condition. So she played along and tried to console him.
"ReallyÖjust a little tired."
He didnít answer her. If he had, he would have been forced to tell her the truth, that she was more than just a little tired, you only had to look at her. Despite the doctorís outstanding attention and efforts, the woman was still seriously ill and Chakotay still harboured a secret fear that she might not recover. She wore a deathly pallor and sallowness to her face, the edges of her watery eyes were tinged red, with heavy dark rims beneath contrasting with the colour of her skin, like thin parchment paper. The malnourished viśage completed the image of a very delicate and fragile, sick person.
Two large hands like hard wooden paddles took her small, fragile hand between theirs and gently caressed and kneaded the fingers, as if trying to transfer warmth and comfort, but the bearer of the gift doubted the transfer was anything less than impotent.
He breathed out heavily, loosing the threadbare control he had been fighting so hard to retain, "I canít believe they did this to you!" He spat the words with unexpected venom, shocking the Captain into a higher elevated state of awareness. The unveiled anger and hate in his words sent an uncomfortable chill down her spine, as she stared at the hardness that had appeared on his face, as if from nowhere, but recognising it immediately.
Though bone weary, she moved her other hand over and across the bed to lie on top of his.
"Donít. Donít do this, Chakotay. What is done is done." The words were laboured, the breath heavy. Captain Janeway knew and recognised this anger in him Ė it was reminisant of the same anger and hatred heíd reserved for the Cardassians. This man did not need another cause.
Some anger went out of his eyes but not all. "They nearly killed you."
"But they didnít," she tried unsuccessfully to utter soothing words but they just came out all the same, quiet rasping whispers.
Chakotay wanted to say more, but the conversation had already drained what precious energy the woman had, so he held back and simply nodded. He felt her squeeze his hand.
"You just keep looking after the crew and keep this ship on a steady course home," the eyes were locked onto his, the subtext crystal clear, donít lose the key objectives, donít waste time on things that cannot be changed, " and Chakotay, get us out of this area of space fast, .. please."
As time progressed, a slow procession of specially chosen visitors, mostly senior staff, filtered through to see her and Captain Janeway slowly became stronger. She would spot the others who came to enquire about her progress but the doctor was tenacious in his filtering skills as to who he would or wouldnít let through to her bedside.
Her senior officers had all been to see her and she had found it touching how many of them became Ďemotionally movedí as they spoke to her, especially the first time. Neelix, poor man, had actually had to excuse himself, returning a little later more in control. This all made Kathryn Janeway feel very Ďhumbledí that these people should think so much of her. What did she owe this wonderful crew who, she knew, had not continued on their journey home .. when they should have .. but chose to continue searching for her, against all the odds?
How painfully ironic, she considered, that through such adversity, she should find such humanity, such incredible quality in those she was so proud to serve with. She was a most fortunate woman.
On a more disturbing side, Janeway was forced to acknowledge that there was one of her senior staff who had not been to see her since her return. Seven of Nine.
Kathryn Janeway had however, noticed from her sick bed, that Seven had visited the sickbay fairly regularly and engaged in often heated conversation with the doctor, but never once had she approached the place where the Captain lay, never once come over to enquire how she was doing or to just acknowledge her return. She seemed not to care.
The Captain had initially hoped that it had been the enthusiastic and determined sifting skills of the doctor who had kept the young woman away from her, but when she had managed to frame this question to Chakotay, he had looked embarrassed, saying that Seven was taking time adapting to the Captainís return. Taking time adapting? What the hell was that supposed to mean?
Regardless, Janeway had lay there, hopeful .. desperate, that Seven would eventually come and see her, but she never did. And Janeway began to harbour the worst thoughts that Seven really had expelled her from her life. The slow saturation of this situation depressed the sick woman, and at times she found it difficult to maintain her focus on getting better.
On those days, she would be less responsive and struggle to hold conversation with the doctor who, as she got better, made it his duty to draw her into chat in an attempt to stave off her mental boredom. On those days, he would look at her, his eyes narrowing, trying to assess what it was that was causing her withdrawal. He probably thought it was to do with her recent treatment Ė how wrong he was.
She had selfishly prayed that perhaps time and circumstances might have bridged some reconciliation between Seven and herself. The hope of reconciliation had been one of the major points of focus that had helped Janeway Ďkeep it togetherí during the blackest moments of her incarceration. To have all this dashed and plunge into a bottomless abyss was just more than the captain felt she could take.
So Captain Janeway resigned herself to accepting that things looked hopeless and if this distance was what Seven wanted, then she would just have to accept it and learn to move on. But this apparent recognition Ďof the factsí didnít make the captain feel any better. It just made her feel horrendously inadequate, to have so seriously hurt, and cruelly pushed away, that one person she now realised she was so desperately in love with but who no longer returned the sentiment. Something died inside her.