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
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’.
The Doctor halts me just inside Sickbay. “I’m sorry, Captain, you can’t proceed any further without a biohazard suit. Standard level two quarantine protocol.”
“Of course. Lieutenant Paris has volunteered to assist you, but I’m just here for a report. May we use your office?”
Kes comes over with a containment suit for Paris as the Doctor leads me into his office. He nods toward Samantha Wildman, bent over a resonance scanner in the adjacent lab. “Ensign Wildman has just made a significant breakthrough. While studying the virus’s genetic structure she was able to identify the nature of the variance in the nucleotide sequence.”
He pauses dramatically, but my patience for his theatrics is diminished by the size of my headache.
“Yes, Doctor?” I snap.
“It’s temporal,” he announces excitedly. “The variance is caused by a temporal phase shift of point zero zero one.”
I’m staring at the padd in my hands. Numbers scroll before me, impossible numbers, numbers that shouldn’t be. My heart is choking me as I push the padd away and look up at Admiral Nechayev. “Is this real?” I ask her, and she nods grimly and says, “Now you understand why this mission is critical.”
The memory leaves me breathless. The Doctor’s gaze is expectant, but I can only stare at him.
“Captain, this is unheard of, and quite ingenious!” The Doctor leans toward his computer, tapping excitedly at the scrolling numbers on the display. My eyes blur. “Forcing the sequence out of phase has made it virtually impossible to halt the progression of the virus. Each cell the pathogen invades is also pushed into the time differential, which breaks down the cellular structures until eventually the host succumbs to complete metabolic and systemic failure.”
I can’t answer; my throat is thick with fear. In my memory, the Bajoran’s dark eyes pierce me, her face twisted in sadistic triumph.
“You stole it,” she snarls at me. “Starfleet principles – ha! You’re nothing but a thief!”
At the time I thought she was crazed, paranoid.
Now I know she was right.
I turn to stare through the window and into the main area, where patients lie on cots and biobeds, so many of them now that the space is cramped. Kes and Paris are moving between beds in their biosuits, but even from here I can tell that the best they’re able to do is try to keep the patients comfortable.
They’re all Starfleet. How could I not have seen it before now? Ashmore, Kim, Baytart, Nicoletti … Rand … All of them human; all of them Starfleet. Not one former Maquis in the lot.
“The Cardassians named it the Hafina virus after the first gul diagnosed with it, but we’ve classified it Contagion XA-64J-75,” Nechayev tells me. “So far, this pathogen has killed almost the entire crew of the USS Berlin – everyone with human or part-human genetics. It was originally designed to attack Cardassian DNA, but since the signing of the treaty it seems humans have become its new target.”
I should have known.
“Developing a cure is going to be quite the challenge,” the Doctor is prattling as the pain in my head threatens to overwhelm me. I clutch at the back of a chair for support. “If I can isolate the –”
“Forget it,” I interrupt him, my voice tight. “You won’t find a cure, Doctor.”
Quarantine won’t do us any good now either. The virus has already spread, and within a matter of days, we’ll all be dead.
I want to throw up.
The EMH is puffing out his chest. “Captain, if you’d just have a little faith in me –”
“It’s not about faith, Doctor,” I grate. “You don’t have all the information. But now I do, and I know what this virus is.”
He goggles at me. “How?”
Instead of answering him I turn to stalk out of the lab.
“Captain!” he calls after me. “I need to screen you for the –”
“Not now, Doctor,” I snap as the doors close behind me. In my head a sickening refrain repeats: Too late, too late. Too late to save them.
It takes less than a minute to reach the bridge. The turbolift doors open and, glancing around at the occupied stations, I can’t believe how stupid I’ve been. Ayala at Ops. Henley at the helm. And you, my faithful first officer, comfortable in command.
Stepping onto the upper level, I turn to Tuvok, the one person I can trust.
“Lieutenant,” I order as clearly as I can. “Take Mr Chakotay into custody immediately and escort him to the brig. Have your security teams remove Mr Ayala and Ms Henley. I want them locked down in quarters.”
Tuvok’s eyebrow almost leaves his forehead. “Captain?”
I let my gaze pan the bridge, searing, darkly amused by the stunned expression on Mariah Henley’s face, the gape of Ayala’s jaw. You rise slowly from the XO’s chair and I curl my hands into fists. Bitter anger twists my stomach and buzzes in my ears.
“Captain,” you murmur, and I want to punch the confused innocence right off your handsome, perfidious face, “what’s going on?”
“Mutiny, apparently,” I snarl at you. “And I’m putting an end to it right now.” Jerking my head at Tuvok, I finish, “Get these Maquis off my bridge.”
Security officers silently grip the arms of their erstwhile crewmates. At a nod from you, Ayala and Henley submit without objection to their escorts. The turbolift doors close and I walk shakily to my chair and collapse into it before my knees give way.
In my mind’s eye, the dark-eyed Bajoran folds her arms and sneers at me.
Gossip always did travel faster than warp speed on this ship.
I’ve barely turned from the replicator in my ready room, fresh coffee in hand, when the door slides open and B’Elanna Torres storms in without asking permission.
“You threw Chakotay in the brig?”
She’s almost quivering with fury, and her dark, furious eyes remind me of the Bajoran doctor’s, in the visions I know now are memories.
“Captain, what the hell?”
“Watch it, Lieutenant.” I glare at her. “Mr Chakotay is under suspicion of extremely serious crimes, and I haven’t yet determined whether he has accomplices. Your insubordination will not make me inclined to look favourably on your loyalty to this ship and crew.”
Torres gapes at me. “I – I’m sorry, Captain, but I have no idea what you’re talking about. I am loyal! And so is Chakotay. I’d stake my life on that.”
Sinking into the chair behind my desk, I wave her to the seat opposite and study her. B'Elanna almost quivers with righteous indignation, but how can I believe her? She was Maquis, and she’s one of your closest friends on board. And if I can’t trust you – the man on whom I’ve staked not only my life, but the lives of my crew – how can I be sure she’s telling the truth?
“All right,” I begin, “then tell me what you know about the virus infecting the crew.”
Something flickers in her eyes, gone too fast to identify it.
“All I know is it’s serious,” she hesitates, then continues cautiously, “and that so far, only ‘fleeters have been infected.”
She picked up on that? I frown. Perhaps the question should be, why didn’t I pick up on it sooner?
“Why do you think that is, Lieutenant?” I ask her neutrally.
“I don’t know.” She clamps her mouth shut.
“Oh, I think perhaps you do.” Sipping my coffee, I fight to hold back a grimace as the hot liquid churns my stomach. “Cut the bullshit, B'Elanna. People are dying. Harry could die!”
She shrinks as my voice rises, worrying her lower lip with her teeth.
“So if you know something that could stop this virus and save them all, I need you to tell me. Now.”
She stares at her hands for a moment, then inhales and raises her head. “I don’t know much. Only that Chakotay found something in your service record that made him suspicious, and from what I can tell, it has something to do with a pathogen that acts exactly as the Fina virus does.”
Fina. No wonder the name Neelix gave this disease tweaked a memory. Nechayev had referred to it, in my mission briefing, as the Hafina virus. A coincidence, but one that should have rung a much louder bell for me.
I brush aside the self-recriminations and force myself to focus on Torres. “What did Chakotay find in my service record?”
“An entry from a few months before Voyager was sent to find our cell. You were listed as the captain of the Bonestell, but that ship’s log indicates that your executive officer had command for a period of several days while you were on an undisclosed mission.”
“That’s it?” I give her an even look. “Maybe I was simply undertaking a sensitive diplomatic assignment.”
“Maybe,” B'Elanna agrees. “But Chakotay also has a file that lists a quantity of an unknown hazardous substance received by Starfleet Intelligence immediately before you resumed command of the Bonestell. It has a few other interesting facts about you, too.”
“A file?” My hands grip the sides of my chair. “What kind of file, and where did he get it?”
“I think you should ask him that.” B'Elanna chews her lip. “There’s something else.”
“What is it?”
She leans forward suddenly, her eyes sharp. “Tell me about Dr Navesh Elkas,” she demands. “I need to know if it’s true. I need to know if you killed her.”
Dr Navesh Elkas. The name my mind has been skipping over, along with the memories that accompany it.
Memories of dark eyes in a shadowy corridor, of her malice and desperation. Of blood – her blood, dark-red and shocking – on my hands.
For a moment it’s real. I stare down at my shaking hands and see them stained red, and I’m back in that room with my hands pressed to a dying woman’s throat.
The whites of her eyes gleam in the faintly-lit room as she chokes to death on her own blood, and I can’t stop it. I can’t stop it.
Her throat gurgles, her lips forming the shape of words. She’s trying to tell me something but I can’t understand her. I lean in close.
“You’re too late,” she rasps. “They already took it.”
I’m not the only one who has stolen something of hers tonight, it seems. And I need to know –
“Who?” I ask her, urgently. “What did they take?”
But her eyes roll back, her life seeping inexorably away.
Fear and panic well up into my throat. I close my eyes and force long, slow breaths.
I remember the mission. Alynna Nechayev, the woman with a spine of steel, leaning close to me with fear in her eyes. The virus had wiped out almost an entire starship crew in a matter of days. Officially, Starfleet had never seen anything like it, but Nechayev had – a year earlier on a visit to the DMZ, in the floating hull of a Cardassian battle cruiser. And nobody knew how to stop it – she hinted at black ops and shadowy organisations – until a snippet of information had led an intelligence operative to the creator of the virus.
A Bajoran scientist. A former rebel with a grudge against Cardassia. A woman who had made a new life on a colony that had been ceded to the Cardassian Union when the peace treaty was signed.
A woman who now held a grudge against the Federation too, and who’d found kindred spirits in the Maquis.
“We know there’s a vaccine,” Nechayev says in my memory. “She made sure all her Maquis friends were inoculated with it. Your orders are to steal the formula from Dr Navesh.”
I blink at her. “I beg your pardon, Admiral, but it says here she’s been dead for almost a year. Is the record incorrect?”
“No, Captain.” The admiral squares her shoulders. “Dr Navesh was found dead on Quatal Prime on Stardate 47304.”
My reaction must show on my face, because she grimaces.
“Yes, I’m aware you were there at that time – that’s part of the reason you were selected for this mission. You’ll be familiar with the location and the events of the day. We need you to help us stop this virus before any more good people die.”
I’m staring at her, waiting for the punchline. “Admiral, I’m sorry, but I don’t understand how –”
“We have the ability to transport you back to that date and location,” she interrupts me, words tumbling over each other. “Your orders are to identify the critical item and obtain it at all costs, Captain. Whatever it takes.”
Sounds and colours swirl and pummel me, and then fade into an oblivion I long to embrace.
But I can’t. My people are dying and I have to save them.
B'Elanna is staring at me, every line of her body tense, and all I want to do is lay my head on my desk and sleep until this whole nightmare is over.
“Captain?” she ventures. “I’m sorry, but I had to ask … the evidence…”
I straighten up, ignoring the dizziness and pain and the nausea that seems to be my constant companion of late. “I didn’t kill that woman, Lieutenant.”
“Then who did?” she blurts.
“I don’t know,” I clip. “I had nothing to do with her death. So if that’s why he did this, you can tell him to stop. Tell him he has to give the formula to the Doctor before anyone else dies.”
B'Elanna’s jaw hangs open a little. “Captain, I don’t know what you’re –”
But my head feels as if it’s going to burst off my neck, and I can’t bear another moment of this. “You’re dismissed, Lieutenant.”
“I really think –”
“Get out now,” I hiss at her, white-knuckling the edge of my desk, “before I have you escorted to the brig as well.”
A moment later, the swish of the door tells me I’m alone. I tap my combadge.
“Janeway to Tuvok. Report to my ready room immediately.”