All the Devils are Here

Summary: Shortly after the events of Investigations, the command team are struggling to trust each other again. Then people start getting sick, and Janeway begins to wonder if there's something more sinister going on.

 

Characters: Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, EMH, Torres, Paris, Nechayev, OC

Codes: Janeway/Chakotay

 

Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own all rights to the Voyager universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.

Notes: Written for the J/C Cutthroat Fiction comp, Round 3. My prompt was to base the story on the starship quarantine code. Story is set immediately after ‘Investigations’.

Rated M

3.

“Liar,” the Bajoran’s lips form the damning shape of the word, her dark eyes accusing me as the security guards all but drag her away. “You’re a liar and a thief. I never should have trusted you…”

“But I didn’t take anything from you,” I protest, though simultaneously knowing that I did. “I never lied to you.”

“You’ve been lying to me all along,” she fires back, and her dark eyes have become yours, cold and remote. “And I’ll never trust you again.”

Pain squeezes my chest. “But you can trust me,” I plead with you, hands grasping for yours. You look at me like something foreign and unsavoury. “Please, Chakotay, don’t leave me –”

But you’re already turning away, turning your back on me. My heart expands like a balloon filling with agony, pushing the air from my lungs as I scramble to escape...


I wake gasping, trembling and soaked in sweat.

“Captain Janeway, please respond.”

I don’t know if Tuvok’s voice is what dragged me out from under the layers of troubled sleep, but I’m grateful for it all the same. I feel weak and shaky, my head thudding like a beaten anvil. I force myself onto one side, snatching feebly for the combadge at my bedside. “I’m here, Tuvok.”

“Captain, are you well?”

“Fine. What is it?”

“I regret to inform you that Ensigns Kim and Baytart have both been admitted to Sickbay this morning. The Doctor has confirmed they are both suffering from the Fina virus.”

“The what?”

“A name coined by Mr Neelix. We have just passed the Fina system; I understand he thought it appropriate.”

Something about the name plucks the echo of a memory, but I can’t concentrate long enough to let it form. And besides, there are more important things at stake. “Understood. Please inform the Doctor I will be in Sickbay shortly.”

“Acknowledged. Tuvok out.”

I all but fall out of bed, blaming harsh and vivid dreams for my bone-deep fatigue.  Ordering a double-strength espresso from the replicator, I carry it with me into the bathroom and meet my own eyes in the mirror.

God. I look awful. Pallid but for two spots of colour burning in my cheeks, my lips flaky-dry. Splashing water on my face, I down my coffee, avert my eyes from my reflection and force my flagging steps into the bedroom to dress for another day’s work.

 

~*~


“Lieutenant Paris brought him in,” the Doctor explains, gesturing to Harry Kim, lying half-curled and grimacing on a makeshift cot between two already-occupied biobeds. “Apparently Mr Kim didn’t report for duty this morning so Commander Chakotay sent Mr Paris to find him.”

Despite the environmental purifiers there’s a smell of sickness in the room, and I feel my throat clenching. Ignore it, I will myself. “Any progress on a treatment, Doctor?”

He shakes his head. “I’ve remained active around the clock, Captain, but I’m afraid I’ve never seen anything like this virus. I’ve had Kes working on tracing the virus’ origins – anyone the symptomatic crew have come into contact with recently, assuming the incubation period is the usual two to five days.”

“And?”

He shrugs defensively. “It’s a small ship, and most of the infected crewmen have been all over it. Patient Zero is going to be quite difficult to track down.”

“We need to contain this or most of the crew will end up sick with it.”

“I’ve placed our patients under level one quarantine.” The Doctor nods toward Kes, entering the main sickbay clad in biohazard scrubs. “Kes is immune to the disease, but I’m not taking the chance she could inadvertently become a carrier.”

“She’s immune?”

“As I assume all Ocampans are,” the EMH nods. “The virus’s genetic code didn’t respond when I introduced it to a sample of Kes’ DNA, which indicates that Ocampans are not a species the virus was engineered to target.”

“But humans are?” I ask sharply. “How can that be, if this is a Delta quadrant disease?”

The Doctor’s mouth drops open as he stares at me. “I – I hadn’t thought of that,” he stammers. Pushing past me, he mutters half to himself, “It can’t possibly be accidental. Why didn’t I think of it? This could be the first step toward a breakthrough…”

Watching him, I know I should feel encouraged, energised, but all I feel is exhausted. “Keep me informed, Doctor,” I mumble mechanically, turning to leave Sickbay.

 

~*~


Head down, dizzy with fatigue, I’m concentrating so hard on placing one foot before the other without passing out that I fail to notice the human wall in front of me until I collide with it.

“Captain.”

Your big hands steady me, and the familiarity of your voice makes me want to lean into you, rest my head against your chest and close my eyes. You’d take care of me, guide me somewhere I could rest, bring me cool water and promise to shoulder all my burdens.

I’m on the verge of letting myself fall into your arms when you straighten me carefully and set me away from you. Squinting, I try to focus on your face.

“I was just on my way to Sickbay to check on the patients,” you offer into the silence between us. “How are they?”

I try to come up with the appropriate response. “Sick,” I answer, finally.

You frown at me. “Has the Doctor quarantined them?”

“Yes.” He has, hasn’t he? I think he said something about quarantine.

“Okay.” You’re nodding, your gaze sliding away from my face as though you find me distasteful. “If you’ll excuse me?”

“Right,” I mumble, standing dumbly as you move past me. “I’ll be,” the Sickbay doors close before I finish, “on the bridge.”

 

~*~


I can’t bear the prospect of sitting in that command chair, even if you’re not silent and brooding beside me, so I squeeze my eyes closed until my head clears, then comm Tuvok and order him to take the bridge. My ready room – my sanctuary – has seen more of me than usual these past few days.

“Coffee, black.”

God, this stuff is awful. Why do I drink this?

The words on the padd I’m holding are dancing, blurring before my eyes. Nonetheless, I press my thumb on the approximate spot where my authorisation is expected and move onto the next. I’ve approved three padds full of information I couldn’t recount through a Vulcan mind meld before the Doctor, once again, hails me from Sickbay.

“I have bad news,” he says grimly. “Lieutenant Josh Rand was found unconscious in his quarters thirty minutes ago. I’ve tried every treatment I can think of but he remains unresponsive. I’m afraid his prognosis is very poor.”

“You mean you can’t wake him up?” I ask dumbly.

The Doctor hesitates. “I mean he’s going to die, Captain.”

Through the throbbing ache in my head, his words finally register. “Are you telling me this disease is fatal?”

“Unless I can find a cure for the Fina virus within the next twelve to twenty-four hours, yes, I believe it will have an extremely high fatality rate.”

The Fina virus … Again, the name sparks a faint memory, and I frown, trying to grasp at it. But there are more important matters at hand. “And the condition of the other patients?”

“Declining. The auditory and visual hallucinations apparently worsen as this illness progresses, and most of my patients are running high fevers. I’ve had to inject Lieutenant Nicoletti with tri-ox to ease her respiratory distress and am about to administer the same treatment to Lieutenant Baxter and Ensign Ashmore.”

The Doctor kindly pauses to let this information penetrate my fuzzy brain.

“I do have some positive news, Captain. I’ve isolated the genetic sequences that have been deliberately manipulated, which means I can now scan crew members for the pathogen. Even those who are asymptomatic will test positive. I recommend we schedule all crew to report to Sickbay for testing over the next eight hours. We’ll begin with the human crew members, but the entire crew should be screened in case any other races turn out to be capable of carrying the disease.”

“Okay.”

“Captain?”

“Yes, carry on, Doctor.” I close my eyes, willing the room to stop spinning. “I want regular progress reports, please.”

“Of course, Captain. EMH out.”

Leaning my head back against the lip of the couch, my thoughts drift to elegantly designed pathogens and dark eyes that flash heat and burn cold. I think about the woman whose face keeps appearing in my waking dreams: the dark-eyed, furious Bajoran. She’s important somehow. If I could only think

The knowledge, the memory, keeps slipping away, and the dark eyes of that angry woman become your eyes. Your eyes, icy-hot and accusing as you stood ramrod-straight before my ready room desk a week ago, wanting to know why I chose not to trust you. Wary and cool as you stood in that same position just over a year ago, sizing me up as I asked you to serve under me.

Your eyes, mischievous and laughing over a candlelit table, littered with the remnants of a shared meal; gentle and warm, your hand clasping my shoulder as I hesitated at the cargo bay doors, afraid to face the possibility of my crew abandoning me. Soft and unguarded in so many moments: on the holodeck, in the mess hall, moments you let down your formidable guard and I caught a glimpse of you, the man, underneath.

The man I’ve come to know so well, and want to know completely.

Closing my eyes, I conjure up a memory of the last time you smiled at me. It was over dinner, just before Tom Paris left on his undercover mission. I don’t remember what we were talking about; only that I was homesick, so terribly homesick, and you reached across the table without hesitation and took my hand. You held it and you smiled at me, and I wanted to stand up and pull you close and wrap myself into your arms. I wanted to press my cheek to your chest and listen to your heart beating, I wanted to press my hands to your hot skin and kiss you…

“Captain?”

… feel our breathing synchronising, accelerating, as our hands begin to skim and stroke, your body flush to mine and your lips tracing the line of my neck …

“Captain.”

My eyes slit open, then widen in horror. Shoving myself upright on the couch, I mentally replay the last few minutes. Was I fantasising? Oh God, did I make any sound?

How long have you been standing there?

I cough, and busy myself with the nearest padd, unable to meet your curious eyes. “What is it, Commander?”

“The weekly energy efficiency report.”

You’re holding out another padd, which I snatch and pretend to study. “Thank you. Dismissed.”

I wait for your retreating footfalls, but you remain standing before me.

“Was there something else?” I grate out reluctantly.

“Yes.” I sense your posture stiffening further. “I’d like to ask you a question.”

Sighing inwardly, I press my fingertips to my throbbing temple. “Take a seat, Chakotay.”

You lower yourself beside me, then hesitate, staring down at your loosely-curled hands. “This is going to sound strange, but – have you ever been to Quatal Prime?”

The question is so unexpected that I forget my headache and stare up at you. Your eyes are hot and angry, though your voice is soft, controlled.

“Yes, I have,” I respond, wary. “Didn’t we talk about this not long ago? I was there to mediate the border planet resettlement negotiations, soon after the Federation-Cardassian treaty was signed.”

You watch me intently. “And that’s the only time you were there?”

I open my mouth to answer, then close it again. I know I’m supposed to answer ‘yes’, but I’m just as certain that the answer is ‘no’.

My head spins lazily and there’s a sour taste in my mouth. I swallow against the nausea. “Why – why are you asking me this?”

Dark eyes, hot and accusing. Ridges above her nose … No. She’s not here.

You lean forward. “I know what you did.”

I blink as the words seep into my mind. “What?”

“I said, are you all right?”

“Fine.” My answer is automatic; there’s a buzzing in my ears. I’m finding it hard to focus on your face. Your eyes are as dark as hers. “Why did you ask me that, Chakotay?”

The momentary concern in your voice is gone. “I found something,” you tell me, carefully picking over the words. “Something that indicates you haven’t been entirely forthcoming with me about what you were doing in the Quatal system, and when you were there.”

Cold sweat prickles my spine. There’s danger here, of an unanticipated kind, and I need a clear head. If only I could think.

“Oh?” I draw myself up, fixing my gaze on your face and trying not to squint as the ambient light causes my head to pound, “What did you find, Commander?”

It’s clear you’re struggling with this; your gaze drops to your hands and your shoulders stiffen. But as hard as I brace myself, I never could have anticipated your next words.

You press your lips together briefly, then meet my eye. The words tumble out in a torrent. “I found evidence that you tampered with the timeline in order to assassinate a Maquis operative.”

The room tilts; I can barely catch my breath. “What?” I squeak out.

Anger is banked in your eyes, flavoured with regret. “Is it true?”

Is it true? You’re asking me if I violated the temporal prime directive and committed a murder? How can you even ask me that, knowing me as you do?

“Chakotay, of course it’s not –”

“Doctor to Captain Janeway.”

The denial melts on my tongue; wearily, gazing into your troubled eyes, I tap my combadge. “Go ahead, Doctor.”

“Two more patients have been brought to Sickbay exhibiting symptoms of the virus – Ensign Sharr and Crewman Telfer.” The hologram’s voice turns sombre. “And I regret to inform you that Lieutenant Josh Rand died from respiratory failure several minutes ago. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.”

It’s as though I lose time – just a moment or two, but one minute the Doctor’s grave words are echoing in my ears and the next, you’re kneeling before me gripping my hands and staring intently into my face.

“Are you all right?” you whisper.

What do you care? I think wildly. You think I’m a murderer!

“Fine.” I draw back from you. “Doctor, are you still there?”

“Yes, Captain.”

“I suggest you implement level two quarantine. I’m on my way to Sickbay. Janeway out.”

Standing slowly and waiting for the slow wobble of my head to equalise, I stride out onto the bridge with you at my back, our conflict pushed aside. We’ll have to deal with that later.

Briefly, my gaze rests on the ops station, where Ayala stands in Harry Kim’s place. My heart lurches. Is Harry going to die, too?

“Captain.” Tuvok rises from my chair.

“Go to yellow alert,” I order. “Institute medical protocol 5B. Lock down all quarters and order all human crew members to contact Sickbay for immediate screening.”

Tuvok moves swiftly to his station and begins tapping in commands.

I turn to stare at the stars slipping by on the viewscreen, swallowing hard to steady my voice before I can face what remains of my bridge crew. “Lieutenant Rand is dead. If any of you suspects you have the virus, if you are showing any symptoms, report to Sickbay immediately. I will not let this virus kill any more of my crew.”

Tom Paris, turned from the helm, looks distressed. “Captain? It sounds like the Doc could use a hand. May I offer to assist him?”

I nod. “You’re with me, Lieutenant. Commander,” I avoid looking at you directly, “you have the bridge. I’ll be in Sickbay.”
 

© 2021 by Mia Cooper