A Case of Need, part IV
B'Elanna turned her head to the side, not wanting to look at the bald gentleman who had so recently attacked her with the hypospray.
"I want to go home," she said.
"You are home." The man walked around the biobed so that he was once again in B'Elanna's view. She turned her head to the other side and the man sighed. "If that's the way you're going to be... B'Elanna, it's me. The Doctor."
"I don't have a doctor."
"Is that what they told you?"
"The people who brainwashed you. Don't you remember anything? Anything at all?"
"Can you remove these restraints?" B'Elanna asked abruptly. "I'm... uncomfortable."
The Doctor considered the request.
"Do you promise not to run away? We went through a lot of trouble to bring you back to Voyager."
"I promise. Where would I go anyway?" B'Elanna looked around. The room she was in was decorated mostly in grays, with some maroon trim. She shivered. "This is Voyager? That man who said we were old friends, he talked about Voyager."
"This is Sickbay," the Doctor said as he released the restraints. He held out a hand and B'Elanna took it. "And yes, you are on Voyager."
"You're not... real," she said.
"You, you don't feel like me," B'Elanna said. She looked at him. "Where am I? Where did you bring me?"
"I told you. You're on the starship Voyager, Lieutenant. This is your home and I'm your doctor."
"Why should I believe you?" she asked. "I've never been here before."
"This is certainly going to be more difficult than I anticipated."
B'Elanna slid off the biobed and the Doctor put a hand on her elbow for support.
"Careful," he said.
She shrugged off his touch and walked around, running her fingers over the smooth metallic surfaces of the biobed and then the instrument carts located to the right of the bed. She noted the consoles and the brightly-lit buttons. As she got closer, she could make out lettering, familiar lettering.
... if I remember correctly, a bite means-
... I know what it means.
"I can read this." B'Elanna turned to the Doctor. "This tool, I- I've seen it before."
"It's a dermal regenerator," the Doctor said. He approached B'Elanna slowly. "You've used it many times. You and Lieutenant Paris."
"Oh right," the Doctor sighed. "You don't remember him either, do you?"
"I want to go back to Quarra."
"You don't belong there."
B'Elanna felt the first signs of tension gripping her temples. She leaned on the biobed, supporting all of her weight on her palms as she inhaled deeply.
"I suppose I've got to prove this all to you. You don't seem to be taking my word for anything," the Doctor said.
"That would be nice," B'Elanna answered. "And no offense, why should I trust you on anything at all?"
"I understand completely. Let me get Mr. Neelix. He has offered to take you on a tour of the ship. It could be helpful to your recovery."
The Doctor disappeared into his office and B'Elanna took the opportunity to punch some keys on the console. A few seconds later, a hologram appeared, one of a baby with forehead ridges. B'Elanna stared at the circling image and didn't even note the Doctor's return until he put his hand on her arm.
"What?" she pulled away. "Who- who is this?"
"That's your baby," he said. "You asked me to be the godfather."
"That's... her? It's a girl?"
"Yes. Without a name, of course, but you and Mr. Paris, you'll find one you like soon enough. Everyone on Voyager has a suggestion for you."
"Mr. Paris?" B'Elanna asked.
B'Elanna looked at the Doctor curiously.
"I'm not married," she said flatly. That same hurt, the one that ached every time she thought about the man who had fathered her child, flared up again. The Doctor sighed.
"In time," he said. "This won't be easy, but you'll remember it all soon."
"I hope so," B'Elanna said. "I- I don't like knowing."
"It is a disconcerting feeling, I'm sure," the Doctor said kindly. "You must have been very frightened."
"Frightened?" B'Elanna asked. She shook her head. "Not frightened. No, I wasn't frightened.
Confused, I think, and overwhelmed. I- I didn't know. Didn't know anything. Have you ever had that feeling before? When you don't know anything at all?"
"I'm sure - Mr. Neelix, hello!" the Doctor exclaimed. B'Elanna turned around and gasped. It was the man with the mottled skin and yellow hair, the one who had brought her here. Instead of the gray outfit she remembered him, this time he was wearing a gold jacket over a striped green shirt. He held a tan bag in his hands.
B'Elanna backed away, nearly turning over a cart holding some medical equipment.
"Careful, B'Elanna!" the Doctor exclaimed.
"You brought me here," B'Elanna's voice was low, almost daring Neelix to take a step closer to her; she already knew that she would lash out with her fists if he dared to touch her again.
"Yes, I did," Neelix nodded. B'Elanna heaved a sigh of relief; at least, he wasn't denying his part in her abduction.
"I'm not going anywhere with him," B'Elanna told the Doctor.
"It's me, Neelix. I'm not going to hurt you," Neelix said soothingly. B'Elanna regarded him with suspicion; he looked kind and harmless enough. "Look, I brought you some clothes. You'll be more comfortable."
Neelix held out the bag and B'Elanna took it suspiciously. Inside, she found a burgundy colored dress in a soft material.
"Go on," Neelix said gently. "It's yours. I got it from your closet."
B'Elanna fingered the material; it certainly felt better than the synthetic material of the uniform provided by the Power Distribution Facility. She nodded.
"Okay," she said finally. "I'll change."
The Talaxian and Doctor disappeared out into the corridor while B'Elanna changed her clothes. She rubbed her hands over the material, loving the way the dress fell smoothly over her belly.
The dress certainly provided a more elegant look than the dismal gray uniform she had been wearing for the past few weeks. She looked up as Neelix and the Doctor re-entered.
"Mr. Neelix is going to take you on a tour of your life here on Voyager," the Doctor said. "I'm confident everything will come back to you once you see the things and people you care so much about."
"You say this is my... home?" she queried. Both the Doctor and Neelix nodded in response. "Why don't I remember anything?"
"Your memories have been erased, B'Elanna. We're not going to hurt you, we want to help you," the Doctor said. He took B'Elanna's hand in his as B'Elanna considered his statement. "Maybe a tour of the ship will bring back some of what you've lost."
Both the Doctor and Neelix were looking at her with such concern and care that B'Elanna felt her resolve melt. She took a deep breath.
"All right," she said. "I'll go with you."
Then she pointed at the holoimage of the baby one more time.
"Can I come back and... see her again?" she asked.
"Of course. Any time," the Doctor said. "And don't forget about the vocalization treatment. Once you're completely yourself again, we'll begin anew."
"Vocalization treatment?" B'Elanna asked when she and Neelix stepped out into the corridor.
"Yes. The Doctor sings to your baby."
"He sings? That man? He's not even real."
"He's a hologram, B'Elanna-"
"That explains it."
"But he's just as real as you and me. He's exceeded his programming and you helped him do that."
"You're a very talented engineer, B'Elanna. You've accomplished so much on this ship."
They rounded a corner and Neelix paused in front of a door.
"Engineering," he said. "This is your department. You're responsible for keeping the ship running. Some days, that's a more difficult job than other days."
B'Elanna stepped into the room tentatively. In front of her, she saw a tall, glowing column, surrounded by a railing. All around, workstations and consoles lined the walls, each with its own unique interface and diagnostic capabilities. However, there were no people.
She left Neelix and took a look at the panels. Diagrams filled almost every screen, and most of them had some kind notation next to them. B'Elanna touched some of the screens lightly, knowing instinctively what some of the readings meant. One of them, frozen on a particular warning message, caught B'Elanna's eye.
... warp core breach imminent in thirty seconds. Shut down the reactor modules and transfer plasma flow before ejecting the core.
An old reading, she could tell, but one that stirred a faint whisper of a memory in the back of her mind.
"Warp core," B'Elanna said. She pointed at the screen.
"What?" Neelix asked in a perplexed tone.
"The warp core." She pointed. "I- I ejected that once, right?"
"Yes, several years ago."
"It was-" she paused. "The worst day of my life?"
"I think it was a pretty bad day," Neelix acknowledged. "Can you remember anything else?"
B'Elanna shook her head.
"No, just that, and not very clearly."
She took another look at the panel and pressed a few keys. The screen reset itself and showed that the warp core was indeed functioning within parameters. B'Elanna heaved a sigh of relief and looked over at Neelix. He was smiling at her, but she couldn't quite figure out why.
"Come this way." Neelix took her arm. "I have someone I want you to meet."
They walked around the back of the warp core and then took the turbolift to the second level.
"This way," Neelix said. B'Elanna followed him. They stopped in front of a console and Neelix pointed to a pair of legs extending from beneath the panel.
"You remember Harry," Neelix said.
A young Asian man pushed himself out from beneath the console. He held a tool in his hand and offered B'Elanna a broad smile. B'Elanna shook her head.
"No, I'm sorry," she said.
Harry and Neelix exchanged looks.
"Well, he's a very good friend of yours," Neelix persisted. He took the tool from Harry and showed it to B'Elanna. "And aside from you, there's no one better with a hyperspanner."
Harry laughed self-deprecatingly.
"Not today," he said.
B'Elanna took the tool from Neelix and turned it over in her hands.
"Problem?" Neelix asked.
"I've been trying to boost our com range, but the primary relays keep shorting out." Harry sounded frustrated and B'Elanna looked at him sympathetically. She could understand that kind of desperation, had felt it before-
... can't reroute power because the cross-section capacity has decreased due to the shorts in power grid twelve A. You'll have to manually replace them otherwise the whole panel will short.
"Maybe B'Elanna could help you," Neelix said. B'Elanna blinked in surprise, but Harry nodded and pointed at a section of the console that was flashing.
"Every time I try increasing the ohmic resistance, I end up-"
... it's in the coils. Try realigning them; that should work.
"There's your problem," B'Elanna interrupted without thinking. "You have to realign the induction coils to handle the extra power."
She pushed a few buttons and the blinking stopped.
"Thanks," Harry said. "Wow, B'Elanna, it would have taken me another hour or so to figure that out."
Harry slid back underneath the panel. Neelix took B'Elanna's arm and pulled her off to the side.
"You see? You are familiar with this ship!" Neelix exclaimed. B'Elanna shook her head
"Your Doctor pokes with medical instruments, you introduce me to strangers, tell me they're friends," she paused. "For all I know, you're the ones trying to manipulate my memories."
"I'm sorry. I know this is hard, but-" Neelix began but B'Elanna didn't let him finish.
"What I remember is stepping off a transport two weeks ago, and immediately finding a job," she told him. She thought of the crowded transport and the helpful people at the station giving directions to various factories.
"And before that?" Neelix prodded.
She glanced at him in frustration. Didn't he understand already that she didn't remember that much, including this ship?
"What do you mean?"
"Before you boarded that transport. What was your life like?"
This question was easy; B'Elanna knew the answer with certainty.
"I was on Kessik Four. Alone, pregnant, unemployed, wishing I could find a better home for myself and my baby."
"You already have a home."
"Right. And according to you, it's thirty thousand light years away."
"I'm not talking about Earth," Neelix said gently. "I'm talking about right here... on Voyager."
B'Elanna contemplated this last sentence seriously and then glanced back at Neelix.
"If that's true, if what all of you are saying is true, why don't I remember? Why can't I?"
"The Quarrans did something to you, erased your memories..."
"Are you manipulating me?" she asked.
"No, B'Elanna, no. You do have a life here. Let me show you. Please."
B'Elanna nodded. "All right," she said. "Show me."
Neelix led the way into the corridor.
"Follow me," he said.
B'Elanna matched her stride with his. As they walked through the corridors, B'Elanna looked around, hoping to see something or someone familiar, but nothing.
"Was I... was I ever on Kessik?" she asked.
"Yes. You grew up there, but you haven't been there in years."
"How many years?"
Neelix considered. "At least ten. Maybe more. You- you hated Kessik."
In spite of herself, B'Elanna smiled.
"I know that's true," she said. "You don't have to convince me of that. What else?"
"You lived on Earth for a couple years, went to Starfleet Academy-"
"I didn't finish, did I?" B'Elanna asked. She didn't know how she knew this detail, but it seemed right to her.
"No, you didn't," Neelix confirmed. "Well, here we are."
B'Elanna looked at the door in front of them.
"Where are we?" she asked.
"You live here," Neelix answered gently.
Go to part V
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