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 Two: And still those voices are calling from far away
“So you don’t remember anything about being attacked?”
“No, I don’t,” Kathryn clips out impatiently. The young detective has asked her this question four or five times now, and seems to be growing more suspicious with Kathryn’s every denial.
Perhaps, she thinks, I’m not as a good a liar as I thought I was.
Detective Sanchez and her partner exchange another loaded glance, and Kathryn is sideswiped with a sense of familiarity and loss. Chakotay, she thinks. Where are you? What’s happened to you? Why hasn’t Voyager rescued me?
The white suit she’d been wearing is bagged up in plastic in a police evidence locker, she’s told; it’s covered in blood and dirt, and might offer clues as to who attacked her. The police believe she was – what did they call it? – mugged, because the purse they assume she was carrying is missing.
In essence they’re not wrong. She doesn’t know who attacked her, but robbery seems a viable motive. Unless it was Henry Starling’s thugs, which is almost a less appealing thought than being assaulted by a stranger.
Kathryn deduces that her combadge is long gone. That, at least, partly explains why she’s had no contact from Voyager. Her tricorder is missing, too, a fact that makes her cringe. A Starfleet communicator might be mistaken for jewellery, but Earth in this century is technologically advanced enough that a tricorder would not go uninvestigated.
Perhaps it would be better if her attackers turned out to be from Chronowerx. At least then her missing tricorder couldn’t contaminate the timeline any more than Starling already has.
“All right, Ms Doe.” Detective Sanchez has clearly grown tired of Kathryn’s stonewalling. “If you remember anything, be sure to give us a call.”
“Thank you,” she says automatically.
Sanchez’s partner, more sympathetic than the detective, offers her a folded sheet of paper. “These are some numbers you can call in case you need a place to stay,” he offers. “Refuges, charities and so on.”
She gives him a grateful smile and turns back to the television. The news station is still playing the same footage of Voyager as last night’s broadcast. There is nothing to be learned from it, so she returns her attention to prodding her faulty memory like a tongue on a sore tooth.
She had ordered Tuvok and Tom to check out the signal transmitting from the observatory while she and Chakotay stayed behind to speak with that homeless, maddened version of Captain Braxton. They’d followed him into an alley, listened to his incredible tale of crashing the timeship and Starling’s thievery of its twenty-ninth century technology. And then…
She remembers turning back to Chakotay, intending to suggest they visit Chronowerx, and then a harsh blow to her head. The only thing she can recall after that is pain.
By early afternoon, ‘Jane Doe’ has been assessed by a tired-looking social worker, a slick-suited psychologist and a baby-faced doctor, declared mentally and physically fit, and officially discharged.
Nurse Marley brings her clothing from something she calls ‘Lost Property’ – soft grey sweat pants, slip-on shoes and a too-big T-shirt that’s emblazoned with three scruffy young men and the word ‘Nirvana’ – and helps Kathryn as she struggles, one-handed, to tighten the drawstring on the pants.
“You’re about the size of my sixteen-year-old,” she comments. “If you’re not in a hurry, I’ll call her to bring you some clothes when she gets out from school.”
Kathryn accepts Marley’s offer with thanks, tucks herself into a corner of the cafeteria with a Styrofoam cup of weak, dismal coffee, and tries to come up with a plan.
Did Tom and Tuvok make it back to the ship? she wonders. Was Chakotay hurt in the attack, too? And if he was, where is he now?
She picks listlessly at a stale muffin Marley kindly bought her from the cafeteria and wonders how she’s going to get home.
Carrying a plastic bag of secondhand clothes, her pockets jingling with spare change Marley scraped up from the depths of her purse, Kathryn pulls a baseball cap over her ponytail and heads in the direction of the Chronowerx skyscraper.
The sun is low on the horizon by the time she reaches the building. She’s hungry and exhausted and her head is pounding, and for a moment she wonders whether to find something to eat, somewhere to rest for the night, before she tackles Henry Starling. But weakness is unbecoming of a Starfleet captain, displaced in time though she may be, so she pushes her way into the foyer.
“I’m sorry, Mr Starling isn’t available without an appointment,” the receptionist tells her, eyeing Kathryn’s bruised face and the cast on her arm.
Kathryn glances around. People are hurrying, their faces creased with worry. She wonders if this is normal for Chronowerx employees … but then she sees the dark-suited men spilling out of the elevator and the police officers entering the foyer. She drifts in their direction, trying to look disinterested, as the two groups meet.
In snatches of overheard conversation, she learns that Henry Starling, founder of Chronowerx, father of the twentieth-century technological age, has gone missing.
She watches as the policemen are escorted into the elevator. When the doors shut her out, she turns and leaves the building.
Kathryn spends the night huddled under the boardwalk, wrapped in a fleecy jacket Marley’s daughter had given her. She’s hungry and thirsty but she’s too nervous to spend any of Marley’s money. First thing tomorrow she’ll have to find a way to contact Voyager.
She curls up, rests her head against a wooden post, and tries to ignore the ache in her arm, the pounding in her head and the hollow feeling in her chest.
When she returns to Chronowerx the next morning, the place is in a state of barely-contained panic.
Starling is still missing. The foyer is full of his security staff – they’re easy to spot – and police. The harried receptionist is answering three phones at once. Kathryn slips by her and enters an elevator, pressing the button for the topmost floor.
There are fewer people here. She picks up a stack of papers from a desk and walks determinedly toward the huge glass office she assumes belongs to Starling. Nobody challenges her.
One-handed, Kathryn taps awkwardly at his desktop computer, trying to crack his password. If only B’Elanna were here. If only she had a tricorder. On her fifth unsuccessful attempt, the computer shuts itself down and a wailing alarm starts up throughout the top level of the building. Heart racing, she bolts from the office and finds the exit to the fire stairs, slipping through it just as she hears the thud of feet running along the corridor.
She curses under her breath, clutching her meager bag of possessions to her chest with her broken arm as she flies down the stairs.
The fire door on the top floor opens and she hears a shout. Dashing through the door on the next landing, Kathryn finds herself in a large cafeteria, far more luxuriously appointed than the one at the hospital. A man is reading a newspaper and sipping coffee at a corner table, but he pays her no attention. She slows to walk nonchalantly past him, turns into a corridor and races for the elevator bank.
The elevator she enters takes her smoothly to the ground floor, and Kathryn tugs the peak of her cap over her eyes and strolls out into fresh air and freedom.
Biting her lip, she huddles on a bench outside the Chronowerx tower, arms wrapped around her knees. It’s a warm day but she feels cold, small chills racking her every so often and crescendoing the ache in her head to a dull roar. She peels the bandage away from the gash on her upper left arm and finds the skin beneath it livid.
Infection, she recognises.
If she were in Sickbay right now, the Doctor could take care of this with a hypospray of antibiotics and a dermal regenerator. Marooned in late twentieth-century Los Angeles, injured and broke and alone, she has no idea what to do. She feels panic closing in.
Get it together, Captain, she rebukes herself.
Listlessly she gets to her feet and wanders in the direction of the beach. There’s a hotdog stand where she’ll spend some of her precious money on her only meal of the day, and then maybe she’ll navigate her way to one of the refuges that police officer had told her about.
First, though, she needs to eat. Black sparkles are starting to prick her vision and her knees are shaking. The beach seems suddenly far away. As Kathryn’s steps begin to slow, she feels a strong hand grip her upper arm. She whirls, ready to fight.
At the sight of Chakotay, all the adrenaline drains right out of her.
“Kathryn.” He has both hands on her arms now, his eyes searching her face. “Thank God I found you. Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” she whispers, and passes out into his arms.