Prisoners Of Our Own Device
Summary: “You were in an accident. Can you tell me your name?”
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own the rights to the Voyager universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.
Notes: Another prompt challenge from Helen8462, who added a choice of sabotages:
The answer to that question is No, or, Put in something non-canon-compliant.
I opted for both.
Part One: Some dance to remember, some dance to forget
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
It isn’t a sound she’s familiar with. She frowns, ignoring the spike of pain that slight movement causes, and tries to identify the noise. It sounds … mechanical. It’s insistent and grating, and for a few moments it occupies her full attention.
Then she begins to notice other sounds. Voices that sound as if they come from some distance away, some of them sounding tinny, as though they’re being routed through a communications system, she thinks, and frowns again.
There are footsteps, too. A squeaking, evenly paced tread, like rubber on a shiny surface. Quicker, hollow tapping – a woman in high heels, she decides.
Somewhere, somebody is crying softly. And there are more machine-like sounds as well. An alarm shrilling, in a distant room, she guesses. Other beeps, different in tone and pace to the noise that had woken her.
I’m awake, she thinks, and with that thought comes a sense of dread and urgency, and then puzzlement as she tries to comprehend why she is frightened.
She tries to move her hand, and finds she can’t.
The beeping noise increases in pace.
Now she’s noticing the smells. Disinfectant, and desperation, and the metallic tang of blood.
Where am I?
Her head pounds and her eyes feel gritty; nonetheless, she forces her lids to open and shuts them quickly as light spills across her retinas. The beeping noise speeds up in concert with her pulse.
Footsteps approach – light and quick, in soft-soled shoes.
“Hello there,” says a female voice – kind, brisk, impersonal. “How are you feeling?”
“I –” she starts, and dissolves into a fit of dry, cracked coughing. It hurts.
Something small and cylindrical is pressed to her lips and automatically she sucks. Cool water trickles into her parched throat.
“Thank you,” she manages, voice dusty. She opens her eyes again – carefully, this time.
The light that burned her eyes before has been blocked out by the shape of a woman wearing a simple white coverall. Brown hair, streaked with silver and pinned neatly behind her head. Kind eyes. Mid-forties, she guesses. Human.
“You were in an accident,” the woman offers without being asked. “You had no identifying information on you when you were brought in. Can you tell me your name?”
“I –” she stops, grasping for the knowledge on the tip of her tongue, and feels that swell of terror again.
Who am I?
“No,” she whispers. “No, I can’t.”
Indeterminate hours later, the newly-christened Jane Doe – and there’s something familiar about that name, something almost right that she can’t quite grasp – lies back against her pillows, utterly exhausted.
She’s been prodded and pricked and questioned, over and over again, by a procession of nurses and doctors and people in uniforms she doesn’t recognise, who claim to be police officers.
Her kind-eyed nurse, whose name is Marley, has switched on the wall-mounted television and shown her how to use the remote control. Jane isn’t sure why Marley looked at her in such disbelief when she had no idea what to do with the controller. She doesn’t seem to know anything else, so why would she know how a television works?
One of the white-coated doctors enters the room and suggests she’s suffering from head trauma-induced amnesia. “You were found in an alley off Pacific Terrace,” he tells her. “It looks like you were the victim of an attack. Do you remember anything about that?”
“No,” she answers automatically, but for a brief moment she has a sensation of being rushed from behind, of taking a blow to the head, a kick to her ribcage.
“Seems nobody saw anything either,” the doctor remarks, making a notation on the strange folder he carries. “Luckily you were found by a passerby who called an ambulance. I don’t suppose you have insurance?”
Jane finds his levity disconcerting. She doesn’t know what insurance is, or why she should have it, or why her doctor finds his question amusing.
“Well, I’ll leave you to get some rest. The police will want to come back and see you in the morning. And don’t worry. Most cases of trauma-induced amnesia resolve themselves in time.” He pats her impersonally on the knee and exits.
Jane’s gaze wanders the room. There’s a window to her left, and through it she can see blue sky and palm trees and the squared edges of buildings. She’s been told she’s in the UCLA Medical Centre in Santa Monica. This means nothing to her.
With her right hand she fidgets with the edges of the white sheet covering her. Her left hand is immobilised, encased in plaster of paris; she’s been told her wrist is fractured, along with three ribs on her left side. She is covered in cuts and bruises. She has a head injury which caused a mild concussion and she is dehydrated; nobody knows how long she was left in that alleyway. She’s been told she’ll need to stay overnight for observation.
“So long?” she’d asked, and “Don’t you have an osteo-regenerator?”
Her query had caused another flurry of questions, of lights being shone into her eyes, and a promise to have a psych consult stop by.
She doesn’t understand any of this, but she does understand that she’s not where she’s supposed to be.
And she knows she’s scared.
Jane wakes to the violet splash of sunset, and to Nurse Marley checking the plastic tubing that runs into her arm. The television is still switched on. A blonde woman wearing a great deal of makeup is talking to the camera about an unidentified flying object.
“Probably just some experimental air force plane,” Marley opines when she notices Jane watching it. “God only knows what kind of technology we average joes never hear about.”
A fuzzy image of a spoon-shaped white object is shown on the screen, and Jane thinks, Voyager.
“You hungry, hon?” Marley asks. “They didn’t leave your dinner tray because you were sleeping, but I can get you something from the cafeteria.”
Jane thanks her, but declines.
“You remember anything yet?”
I can’t tell her anything, Jane thinks. Temporal prime directive.
And then, in a rush of images so violent, so vivid she almost vomits, she remembers. She remembers everything.
“Hey,” Marley’s face is lined in alarm. “What is it, honey?”
“It’s nothing,” Captain Kathryn Janeway manages, “I’m fine.”
“You sure?” Marley presses the back of her hand to Kathryn’s sweating forehead.
“I’m sure.” Kathryn tries to smile at her. “But if the offer’s still open, I’d kill for a coffee.”