Disclaimer:  Paramount owns all things Star Trek Voyager.  I don’t.  Only borrowing                 

                     them. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Rating:          NC17.

Summary:     A crewman has an old score to settle with his Captain and ‘punishes’

                      her by making her experience a catalogue of injuries she must pass off

                      as accidents.  With a bomb in place on board, he ensures her silence. 

                     Can Chakotay and Tuvok figure out what’s going on before it’s too late.









ALWAYS DARKEST BEFORE THE DAWN.


By KAT LADY.



PART THREE.





Chakotay walked into the Doctor’s office, a worried look on his face and sat down as the Medic handed him a padd then spoke.



“Computer, seal this room and disable all sensors then erase all trace of this sensor lock, authorization EMH Alpha Pye 2 4.”  Chakotay looked up puzzled as he heard the computer acknowledge the request.  The Doctor now sat also.



“Commander…I’ll just say all this so bear with me.”  Chakotay nodded silently.



“What you have in your hand there is a list of Captain Janeway’s recent injuries.  The first was some time ago, a few months in fact.  She came in here one night with a broken arm claiming she had fallen in her quarters.  I thought nothing of it and healed her.  She asked me not to speak of it, saying she’d never live it down or something.  Naturally, I took the incident at face value.”  Chakotay was on full alert now and leaned forward.



“There have since been other ‘accidents’.  There was a cut to her head and a broken collarbone, sustained while repairing some relays and having fallen again.  You know of course about the incident on shore leave.”  Chakotay barely nodded.



“What are you saying here Doc?  You don’t think they were accidents?”  The Doctor continued.



“I have now found where several other injuries, smaller I might add, were healed by someone else, most possibly the Captain herself.  There is also the fact that she recently suffered three broken ribs but this was never reported to me.  They appear to have been healed in a rather crude manner.  Some fingers and toes seem to have received the same treatment.  I believe there were also cuts and some burns which were healed although not to the standard of a medical professional.”  Chakotay sat back in total shock.



“Doc, are you saying you think…?  What are you saying here…?  Do you think she caused these injuries to herself…is this her being reckless…or some crazy way to try and kill herself…?”  He stood now and paced, his hand raking through his hair.



“Commander please sit down.”  Chakotay stared at him as if he’d forgotten he was there but obeyed the request.



“There is something else.    First off, I don’t think the Captain is responsible for her own injuries.  I had my suspicions last night but said nothing to you until I was more sure of myself.  I’ve examined her closely and that’s how I discovered the other injuries.”  Chakotay leaned back for a second then sat forward again.  He saw the Doctor deliberate over his next words.



“Doc, just spit it out.  What the hell is all this?”  The Doctor stood slowly and came around and sat on the edge of his desk.



“This morning…while you were still asleep beside her…I found something…disturbing…”  Chakotay continued to stare at the Medic, a growing fear in his eyes.



“I found some…bruising…which I healed…before you woke up…”  Chakotay now looked confused.



“I don’t understand…bruising would be natural…I mean with the fall she had…”  The Doctor held up a hand for a moment and continued.



“Yes of course but this was…different.  There was heavy bruising on her legs, around the sites of the breaks.  It would of course be natural for some bruising there but not to this extent and certainly not this deep.  That’s not the main concern though…”  Chakotay felt his hands grip the chair.



“Commander…I noticed  some more bruising…all of this only coming out this morning of course…well…on her face and around her mouth…”  Chakotay shook his head, not understanding.



“They, the bruises, were hand and finger shaped.  They were finger marks…as if a hand had been tightly clamped over her mouth…  I healed them as I say but I took images first…”  He leaned back and retrieved copies of the images for the man before him and watched as they were studied.  Finally Chakotay looked up.



“Look forgive me if I’m slow this morning but…  Doc are you saying someone…?”  The Doctor stood and sat behind his desk again.



“I’m saying I think someone pressed a hand down tightly over the Captain’s mouth to keep her quiet and used a heavy object to smash the bones in her legs.  I’m saying I think they then threw her down the stairwell, down several decks, hoping the fall would hide the injuries they had inflicted.  I’m also saying that I believe the Captain’s recent ‘accidents’ were anything but ‘accidents’.  I’m saying I think there have been more injuries she managed to heal herself.  Lastly, I’m saying that she is afraid for whatever reason, to tell you or anyone else about this.  It’s possible that whoever is doing this is aware of her actions and what she speaks of to us all.  That’s the reason I ordered a sensor lock on this room.  I hope I’m just being paranoid but I doubt it.  Either way it’s better if no one hears this conversation.”  Chakotay stared at the Hologram as if his programming had gone crazy.



“I don’t…why wouldn’t she just say…”  The Doctor had no answers.



“I don’t have any answers here Commander.  I do however, have a lot of questions and of course I don’t have any proof either to back up what I’ve just told you.  I can only surmise that whoever is doing this and I strongly believe someone is, whoever they are, I believe they have some hold over the Captain, some way to keep her in line.  I can see no evidence that she fought this.  She was silenced most probably to stop her screaming too soon but there were no defence injuries on her body.  It’s as if she just took this.  She screamed afterwards as she fell from what I’ve learned from the accident reports but certainly not before and that was probably her unconscious reaction to the fact that she was falling.  Personally, I’m not sure what to think but I believe with all that I am, that I’m right on all this.”  Chakotay stared at the Medic, his mind racing.



“She hasn’t really been herself for some time.  She was jumpy, nervous, almost fearful.  She said it was lack of sleep or too much coffee or something.”  He searched his memory.  “I asked her…she said women’s problems…something about seeing you about it…”  He stood slowly.  “I let it go.  I guess I was embarrassed or afraid to embarrass her…”  He sat back down again, not thinking about the action.



“I can tell you Commander, she has not been to see me about anything like that.”  Chakotay closed his eyes a moment and took a deep breath.



“When I think now…when she came around just now…she asked about her injuries…I told her some of them but…I hadn’t mentioned her legs and yet it seemed…it was almost as if she knew there was more…”  He looked up quickly.  “Doc, I think she already knew…”  The Doctor just nodded.



“It just adds to my beliefs.  I believe there were also some other injuries she managed to heal although I can’t be sure…and I’ve no idea how she managed to cope with the pain…”  Chakotay’s hands balled into fists.



“What do we do now?”  He looked at the Doctor, hoping he might have an answer.



“I would suggest you find somewhere ‘private’ and speak with Mr. Tuvok.  In the meantime, I’ll keep her here under observation.  Somehow, I don’t think she’ll object too much.  I also think it would be best not to let her know we suspect anything.  If this is what we’re saying, someone will be watching her closely and if they think she’s spoken of this…”  Chakotay nodded quickly.



“You’re right.  Do as you’ve said and I’ll get hold of Tuvok…”  The two of them shared a look that spoke of worry and deep concern.



Chakotay made his way back to his quarters, deep in thought.  The knowledge that someone was deliberately hurting Kathryn and he was unable to prevent it, ate at him.  He sat on his sofa and thought hard about his next move.  Finally he took a padd and typed a message to Tuvok, asking him to find a secure location for a conversation and not to inform anyone.  He then walked slowly to the bridge and quietly handed the Vulcan Security Officer the padd.  He waited until he felt the padd slide back into his hand and then announced that he would be in his office.  He glanced quickly at Tuvok but saw nothing on the face before him.  Telling the Vulcan he had the bridge, he left to read the answering message.  At the end of their shift and having handed the bridge over to Harry and Tom, Chakotay and Tuvok left separately and entered the unused quarters Tuvok had secured for their meeting.  When Chakotay indicated for Tuvok to sit, he did so without comment.  Chakotay quickly repeated the earlier conversation he had had with the Doctor and watched as the Security Officer digested everything.  When he finished, he waited to see what Tuvok thought.



“Commander, I have to admit that I have noticed the Captain’s strange behaviour of late.  She does indeed appear agitated and nervous.  I have observed her watching the crew more closely also.  I must point out that I had vague suspicions about the number of accidents she seemed to be having of late but having nothing of evidence to point to anything sinister, I surmised that they were just, to use a human expression, a run of bad luck.  With this information to hand however, I have to conclude that the Doctor is correct in his assumptions.”  Chakotay sighed and sat beside the Vulcan.  He handed Tuvok the padd relating the injuries and showed him the images the Doctor had taken of the bruising.  Tuvok just nodded.



“There would seem to be no doubt in the matter.  The Doctor is not usually one to imagine what is not there.”  Chakotay nodded his agreement.



“The question now is what do we do about this.  If the Doctor’s right, whoever this is could well be watching and listening, probably are.”  Tuvok sat up straighter.



“It is logical to deduce that if this is the case, this person would only have their equipment in locations where the Captain would be, namely the bridge, her readyroom and most likely her quarters, although it is also highly likely they have a sensor lock of some kind on her.  I would suggest we scan these areas and even though I disagree with the principle, I suggest we check her logs and any personal padds she has.”  Chakotay didn’t like that and Tuvok saw it.  He also saw that his Commander knew they had no choice.



As Chakotay and Tuvok covertly began their own investigation, Kathryn remained in sickbay under the Doctor’s supervision.  It was afternoon and the middle of a shift and the silence of sickbay was making Kathryn nervous.  The Doctor was making a ‘house call’ on one of the crew who had recently given birth and Kathryn was alone.  She dozed and was suddenly aware of the sound of a transporter whine.  Opening her eyes, she looked up into the masked face of her tormentor.  She jumped up into a sitting position but his hand reached quickly for her throat.



“I see you survived your little trip then.  I sincerely hope you haven’t been speaking out of turn Captain.”  Kathryn gasped as his hand tightened around her neck and managed to shake her head.  “That’s good because I can set off my little explosive device any time I like and you know you can take my word on that.”  Kathryn nodded slowly and felt his hand loosen.  “Behave yourself now Captain.  I have to go but I’ll see you again real soon”.  With a command to the computer, he was gone.



Kathryn lay back on the bed and fought her tears.  She brought a hand to her face to try and stifle her cries and barely managed to control herself just before the Doctor returned.  He smiled gently at her and went into his office.  Kathryn turned painfully onto her side and squeezed her eyes shut, willing the images from her mind but they remained, as did the feel of his hand on her throat.



Chakotay and Tuvok meanwhile were checking sensor logs and anything else they could think of.  Chakotay was in Kathryn’s quarters feeling guilty for being there without her permission and hating himself for going through her logs.  After two hours, he knew they would reveal nothing to him.  He noticed however, that her logs for the past few months sounded more like her official logs and knew without doubt that whoever was behind these attacks had access to the logs also and that Kathryn knew it too.  He stood slowly and began a careful search of her quarters but after an hour, had found nothing.  He quietly let himself out and returned to the bridge.  He met eyes with Tuvok and understood the Vulcan’s silent message to speak in private.  He nodded towards his office and they left the bridge.



Once inside his office, Chakotay ordered a sensor lock and they spoke freely.  Tuvok moved to the console and called up a file.



“I’ve managed to locate imagers and audio taping equipment in several locations where the Captain is mostly to be found but I’ve left them in place.  There are some in this room but the sensor lock blocks them.  This room if checked will appear empty.  I took the liberty of locating my own surveillance equipment on the ship and in particular in sickbay where the Captain is.  This was recorded about half an hour ago.”  He replayed the images he had recorded for the First Officer and Chakotay watched horrified as the masked man materialized in sickbay and threatened Kathryn.



“I guess now we have our answer.”  Tuvok nodded.



“Unfortunately his identity is still a mystery.  Did you find anything in the Captain’s quarters?”  Chakotay shook his head and related to the Vulcan what he had found with Kathryn’s logs.



“They’re almost like her official logs.  There’s nothing in them so it’s safe to say she either fears he has access to them or knows he has.”  Tuvok nodded.



“We need to check her ready room then.”  Chakotay nodded agreement.



“What about the surveillance equipment in there?”  Tuvok shrugged, un-Vulcan like.



“We can safely take it he will assume it would be logical for the First Officer, as acting Captain now, to need access to ship’s business.  It would not look out of place for you to be there looking for reports or padds.”  Chakotay smiled sadly.



“Right, I’ll do that now.”  Wasting no more time, he immediately headed for his Captain’s ready room.  As he entered, he saw Tuvok behind him and called over his shoulder.  “Tuvok, I’ll have that report for you as soon as I’ve discovered where the Captain put it.  The Doctor wants her to rest and I don’t want to disturb her but if we don’t have ship’s business up to date when she returns, there’ll be hell to pay.”  Tuvok just nodded and Chakotay smiled.  Tom Paris turned in his chair and smiled also. 



Chakotay spent the next half hour going through all the padds he could find and talked to himself regularly.



“Where do you keep these reports Kathryn?  You’re giving me a headache now.  Tuvok needs this for B’Elanna who needs it to finish what she’s doing so that someone else can do their job…  Come on, where is it?”  If anyone was listening, he prayed he sounded convincing.  He checked every padd he found and was looking through the drawers in her desk when his hand brushed off something taped to the bottom of the drawer above his hand.  Instantly alert, he leaned over the desk, covering his hands with his body and eased the padd from its taped place.  He withdrew it from the drawer and activated it in clear view and saw that it was what he wanted.  Kathryn’s own words scrolled across the small screen in language he knew was not official. 



“About time.  Engineering stats…  diagnostics… stardate…  that’s it…”  He let out a loud exhale of breath and stood slowly.  He ordered the lights off and left the room.  Crossing the bridge, he held the padd up and spoke to Tuvok.



“Tuvok, I found that report.  I’ll let you have it as soon as I check over the stats.”  Their eyes met and the message was received.  “Join me after shift for a game of cards?”  The Vulcan nodded.



“Provided you don’t mind losing again.”  Chakotay laughed. 



“Don’t be so sure I will.  Same time, same place?”  Tuvok merely nodded and went back to his work.



Chakotay entered his quarters and ordered another sensor lock just to be safe then sank onto his sofa.  With his back to the viewport, he activated the padd again and started reading.  What he read almost had him in tears.



“I’m keeping this record of events for reasons I’m unsure of.  It might never be found or it might be destroyed if he has his way.  However, I have to believe somewhere inside me that there just might be some hope that this will end well although I don’t believe I have that much faith.  I don’t care so much for myself, just as long as the rest of them are safe.  It started when I was returning to my quarters late…..” 



Chakotay read the events of what Kathryn had been through in horror.  She had recorded every detail of what had occurred and he was amazed at her ability to think clearly despite what she was going through.  The pain and suffering she had endured silently tore at his heart.  He knew what being in control meant to her, how important it was for her to be there for her crew, to be able to protect them.  He felt deep fear himself at the thought of a bomb onboard the ship but mostly he cried for what Kathryn had gone through.  He hardened himself and made himself think clearly as he read the scant details she had on the identity of this man.  The thought that he could be a Maquis ate at him but Kathryn he saw believed the man to be Starfleet or at least to have had some training with them.  He read the last entries.



“I’m back in my quarters but I have to admit I’m terrified there alone, knowing he can beam in and out whenever he feels like it.  I’ll never get over the night I awoke to find him there and found myself tied to the bed.  The pain when he broke my ribs and the helplessness of not being able to move for the rest of the night will never leave me.  I can’t forget this last attack either.  I so believed it would be safe on the planet, that he wouldn’t risk anything with the crew around but he’s getting more and more reckless and that I think, scares me more.  If he’s reckless then he becomes unpredictable.  The more I see of him, his manner and the way he moves, I know he’s Starfleet and I feel that it goes back a way with him, maybe in his family.  I know people who are from Fleet families, there’s always something about them.  It’s like knowing myself and I sense it with him.  I believe his comment about the Maquis was either to throw me or he has learned what he knows from some of them.  I can’t ever see his face but I know his eyes are blue.  He’s about five foot ten in height and slim build.  I wish I knew more but I’ve checked everyone and everything I could before he discovered what I was up to.  I’ve at least recorded all I can here so if this goes bad for me which I know it will, maybe someone else will work through this some day.  My only fear is that this crew and particularly Chakotay might get hurt too and I can take anything but that.  If it’s just my death, that’s all right.  I’ll make sure I lose his game so that way, they’ll all be safe and they’ll still have their ship to get them home.  They can manage without me but I could never manage without them.”  Chakotay leaned back and wiped at his eyes.  He forced himself to read the last entry, just a day before the last ‘accident’.



“It’s been weeks now since a major ‘accident’ and I know it’s time.  I can feel him watching me, feel the clock ticking down.  He’s almost overdue for my next ‘punishment’ and I know it’s only a matter of time.  I so wish I could talk to Chakotay about this but I can’t risk it.  I believe this next one will be the last.  Something deep inside me tells me this and something about his behaviour.  I just wish Chakotay knew how I felt about him.  I wish I could tell him how much I love him but I’ve left that too late.  All I can do is pray they will be safe and can get home.  I pray they all find what they’re looking for.”



Chakotay closed the padd and leaned back, letting his eyes close to aid his thinking.  Finally he stood up and hid the padd then left his quarters and headed for sickbay.  Seeing Kathryn was what he needed most, to reassure himself that she was all right for the moment.  He entered the quiet sickbay and saw that one of the engineering crew was sitting on a bed near a sleeping Kathryn.  The man held his hand, palm facing up and Chakotay saw a deep cut across the hand.  He nodded to the man and looked around for the Doctor.  The young man answered the unasked question.



“He’ll be back in a moment Commander.  He’s just checking some specimens or something he was testing.”  Chakotay nodded and met the blue eyes watching him.  Kathryn’s description of blue eyes instantly came to his mind but he quickly swallowed some of his suspicion when he realized just how many crew aboard would have eyes the same colour.



“What happened to you Ensign?”  The man shrugged. 



“Slipped with a sharp tool in my hand while trying to repair a hatch door in engineering.  It’s not too bad but Lieutenant Torres insisted…”  His voice left the rest unsaid and Chakotay smiled a moment, knowing no one disobeyed B’Elanna.  He looked across at Kathryn and saw that the young Ensign followed his gaze.  “Will she be all right Sir?”  Chakotay turned back to him.



“She’ll be just fine, although it’ll be a few weeks before she tries clambering around a Jeffries tube again.”  The two men shared a smile and both turned to Kathryn at the same time when they heard her stir.  Chakotay walked over to her.



“Captain, how are you feeling?”  He was keeping everything professional in front of a crewman.  Kathryn glanced towards the other man, not seeing him too clearly as he dropped his head and studied his hand.  She looked back at Chakotay.



“I’m fine, I’m just tired.”  Chakotay nodded and looked behind him when he heard the Doctor approach. 



“Right Ensign, let’s take care of that cut.”  The Ensign nodded and moved away, making sure Kathryn couldn’t see him.



When Alan Menzies returned to his quarters, he thought of the risk he’d just taken but he needed to check that his victim was sticking to the rules of the game.  He knew Chakotay called by to see her regularly and he couldn’t have risked another beam in to sickbay again.  He delighted in the fact that she hadn’t recognized him and knew that testing that theory had been another reason for his pre-arranged visit.  Cutting his hand had been worth it.  Smiling to himself that all was still well, he left his quarters and returned to work.



Chakotay met with Tuvok at their pre-arranged time and place and showed him the padd he had found.  He waited patiently as the Vulcan read through the contents and then sat when he saw he’d finished reading.



“Tuvok, I’ve been thinking deeply about all of this and I think we need some expert help here.”  The Security Officer simply raised an eyebrow.  “I want to bring B’Elanna in on this.  If anyone can help here, it’s her.”  Tuvok nodded his agreement and waited for his Commander to continue.



“Right, although it feels like we’re spying on the Captain, I want a sensor lock on her at all times.  I also want some kind of audio surveillance up and running for where ever she goes.  I think we need to find what else he’s put in place and hopefully piggyback on it and for that we need B’Elanna’s expertise.”  Tuvok nodded his agreement.



“Commander, I strongly suggest we keep all this from the Captain for the moment.”  Chakotay rubbed at his face.



“I agree completely.  He can’t suspect we know anything and while I don’t believe she’d give anything away, it’s just not worth the risk.  While it might help her or comfort her to know that she has backup, it might also just add to her problems and cause her more worry.”  Both men were silent for a few minutes.  Finally Chakotay stood.



“I’m hoping that B’Elanna might also have some idea about scanning for this bomb.  I know what that bastard said about triggering it but I want to hear our Chief Engineer’s opinion on that.”  He hesitated a moment.  “Tuvok, there’s no way we’ll manage all this on our own.  We have a rough description and we need to try and go through the personnel files and try and narrow this down.  Maybe…”  Tuvok interrupted, reading the other man’s mind.



“Lieutenant Paris would be the obvious choice for that task.”  Chakotay smiled and nodded.



“We can trust them both, you know that?”  Tuvok answered immediately.



“There is no doubt in my mind on that Commander.  I suggest you contact them both and that we meet back here in one hour.  I believe they are both off duty tonight.”  Chakotay nodded and they left the secured quarters separately, having checked the corridor outside was clear.



An hour later, Tom and B’Elanna both sat speechless and in shock as Chakotay and Tuvok filled them in on everything that had occurred over the past months.



“We know we can trust you both one hundred percent on this.”  They both nodded.  “Tuvok has already managed to set up surveillance in sickbay to keep an eye on the Captain but we need her ready room and her quarters covered also.”  He went on to explain what they would need and the problems they might have about scanning for the device on board.  B’Elanna was silent and Chakotay could almost see wheels turning in her head as she digested all the information she had and worked towards a solution.  Finally she spoke for the first time.



“Linking up and adding to what’s already in place shouldn’t be a problem and finding what else is there is simple enough.  Scanning for this bomb will be trickier.  It’s quite possible that he’s right and that scanning would trigger it.  We also have the problem of not knowing what components he’s used so we can’t know what to scan for.  Any readings it would give off could just as easily be from equipment on the ship and it would be impossible to tell the difference.  However, he would have to have used ‘ingredients’ if you like, which wouldn’t be triggered by the standard scans we already use on a day to day basis so I’ll have to start a process of elimination.”  She was frowning deeply, increasing the appearance of her cranial ridges.  “Our only other chance is the keypad, if it actually exists, but from what you say, the Captain saw it so…”  She stopped and thought again and no one disturbed her concentration.  “That kind of thing, keypads like that, they emit a certain…  I think it would be possible to use a low level scan to search for that.  Chakotay, this’ll take time…”  Chakotay nodded and closed his eyes a moment.



“It’s time we don’t really have.  She’s safe in sickbay for the moment and the Doctor will go along with us in keeping her there for a while longer.  Try your best B’El.”  He turned to Tom now.



“It’s not much to go on but I need you to go through personnel records.  Anyone fitting that description, even remotely…  If you draw up a list of possible ‘suspects’, hack into their personal logs if you need to…whatever it takes…”  Tom nodded, serious for once.  They were all silent for a few moments more and then set off to go their separate ways.



As Kathryn continued to recover in sickbay, Chakotay and the others worked secretly on their plans.  Kathryn knew she was probably being watched by her attacker but had no idea Tuvok was also monitoring her.  For the most part, she just lay back and grew more and more depressed.



B’Elanna was making good progress.  She had installed all the surveillance equipment they needed and had established a sensor lock on her Captain which no one would ever detect.  Chakotay had had the Doctor implant a small homing device under Kathryn’s skin during the night while she slept and she had been totally unaware of the procedure, the Doctor covering his movements well under the guise of checking his patient during the night hours if anyone had been watching.



Tom had narrowed his search down to four possible candidates for their bomber and now quickly dismissed two of them.  Checking the last two, he suddenly noticed a gap in the records of Alan Menzies and was instantly suspicious.  Digging deeper, he managed to override defences in the system that even Kathryn herself would have had trouble with.  When he came across the sealed files, he knew he’d found what he was looking for.  Working steadily over the next hour, he finally managed to break in to the files and read the contents in horror.  Quickly covering his tracks as only he knew how to, he copied the file onto a padd and set out to find the others.  They once more met in their secure ‘den’ and Tom related his findings to the others.



“It can’t be anyone else.  I double-checked my only other serious suspect but found that he was on duty in plain view of four others while the attack on the planet took place.  Menzies or Cooper rather, is our man.  Menzies was his mother’s maiden name and his abilities match all those used by the Captain’s attacker.  He’d have picked up even more talents on board here, plus working so closely with so many Maquis and B’Elanna…people talk and share information and knowledge…we’re one crew, on the same side as we all see it…it wouldn’t have looked suspicious asking.”  The other three sat in shock at what Tom unfolded for them.  Chakotay finally stood and his anger was clear to see.



“How in the name of God did he get through…?  Why didn’t someone spot this…?  Kathryn should have been warned about this…”  No one had the answers for him and he didn’t expect any.  B’Elanna broke the silence that followed.



“What do we do now then?”  Tuvok looked up from reading the contents of the padd he now held and cleared his throat and they all looked at him.



“I understand from the Doctor that the Captain will be released tomorrow back to her quarters.  While I don’t like it, all we can do is watch and wait until we manage to locate the device.  Lieutenant, have you had any luck in that regard?”  B’Elanna shook her head.



“There are too many pieces of equipment on the ship which give off similar readings.  It’ll take more time to narrow down the search and eliminate them.  I’ll need at least another day…”  Tuvok nodded his understanding.  Chakotay was pacing.



“In the meantime, we just let him go after her again?”  Tuvok was calm as usual.



“We have no choice in this matter.  It’s unlikely he’ll go near her so soon…”  Chakotay cut him off, his mind racing.



“Oh God, I’ve just remembered….”  He saw them all stare at him.  “The other day, he was in sickbay, getting a cut on his hand seen to…”  B’Elanna nodded.



“I remember that.  He cut himself on something, mending a hatch door…”  Chakotay hardly heard her.



“He was probably checking on her, seeing if she knew him.  She didn’t react to him though…”  Tuvok answered this.



“As long as he knows the Captain is unaware of his identity, he’ll feel safe.  I’ve just been reviewing this…”  He held the padd up which contained Tom’s findings.  “The list of injuries David Cooper received and which he died as a result of, match the injuries the Captain has received.”  He was silent for a moment and they all waited for his next words, dreading them.  “However, the Captain’s injuries to date now match ALL the injuries to David Cooper, even more so, therefore…”  Chakotay finished for him.



“We can safely say that his work is done.”  His voice broke and they all heard it.  Tuvok said what no one else was willing to say.



“Only death remains…” 



Chakotay brought Kathryn back to her quarters the next day, hiding his emotions well from her.  He knew B’Elanna was working as fast as she could to trace the device and that Tuvok now had Menzies under constant surveillance.  He walked slowly with Kathryn, allowing for her unsteady walk and chatted casually with her but he saw that her mind was elsewhere.  When they reached her quarters, he immediately felt her stiffen and sensed her fear as he saw her eyes quickly scan the room as if checking everything.  Not reacting to it, he helped her to sit on the sofa and replicated some coffee for her but saw that she wasn’t enjoying it.  Keeping his face from showing his deep worry, he sat and sipped at his own tea and continued to chat away, ignoring Kathryn’s troubled face, which she tried desperately to hide.  It broke his heart not to be able to just pull her into his arms and tell her that everything would be all right, that he was there to share the fear and the pain with her.  When he finished his tea, he took both their cups and placed them in the replicator.



“Is there anything else I can get you Kathryn?”  She shook her head without looking up.  “Well, maybe you’d better try and get some sleep.  The Doc said you were to take a nap this afternoon.”  She looked up and he saw the fear of being alone on her face, no matter how hard he saw her try to hide it.  “I have to get back to the bridge.  Would you like me to ask Sam or someone to sit with you a while and give you a hand getting undressed?”  Kathryn jumped on the suggestion and nodded quickly.



“Yes please…  Sam would be…It’s just… I can’t really manage to…on my own…”  He acted casual and nodded. 



“No problem, I’ll call her now.”  Covertly watching Kathryn fighting to control herself, he hailed Sam Wildman and waited until she arrived before calling a casual ‘see you later’ to Kathryn, then left.  Outside in the corridor, he let his fear show and prayed that she’d be safe for the moment, believing that Menzies wouldn’t try anything with Sam there.



Chakotay quickly made his way to ‘headquarters’ as he’d come to think of their secured meeting place.  As he entered, having checked the way was clear, he saw B’Elanna working frantically over her newly installed console.  She’d had the equipment installed here almost immediately and had covered her tracks well.  There was no way she could work openly in engineering without someone catching on to what she was working on.  She ignored Chakotay once she had glanced up and checked who had entered.  Chakotay saw Tuvok checking through the security measures he had in place and relaxed a little.  He watched B’Elanna working, without leaning over her shoulder and distracting her.  He heard her mutter to herself and smiled softly, remembering the old days and the way she had always worked, especially under pressure.  When she finished the complicated procedure she had been working on, she looked up and her voice broke through his memories.



“I’ve located the bloody thing, found it a little while ago.”  Chakotay was instantly beside her. 



“Where is it?  Should we try and clear the area around there…”  Tuvok walked over to them.



“That would arouse suspicion.  We’ve erected a modified level ten security forcefield around the area which should contain some of the force of the blast if anything happens.  It’s in one of the operating rooms off engineering.  Ironically, it’s the place on the ship where David Cooper worked.  That was his domain.”  Fear built quickly in Chakotay.



“You think this is it?  You think this is the final showdown or the last stand or whatever the bloody hell he’ll think it is?”  Chakotay saw Tuvok merely nod.



“Chakotay, I’ve managed to access the keypad.  It’s linked to the ship’s computer system.  Bloody clever work I have to say…”  B’Elanna didn’t follow through on that.  “I’ve managed to get two of the four numbers and I’ve disabled them.  This device works in a strange way.  The more numbers which are disabled, the more reduced the blast will be…”  She stopped talking and concentrated on her work.  Chakotay looked at the Vulcan.



“Tuvok, the minute she has it…”  Tuvok was ahead of him.



“I have two trusted men standing by to arrest Menzies the minute we disable the device…”  Chakotay closed his eyes and prayed for a miracle.



Alan Menzies watched the monitor in his quarters and grew more angry when he saw Sam Wildman sitting with her Captain.



“Think you can stay safe with someone around you, bitch?  We’ll see about that.”  He felt his own internal clock of the events he had planned ticking down and walked to his computer.  From here, he could control everything he needed, thanks to the modifications he had made to his own system.  He quickly tapped in the commands he needed and laughed to himself as the beam of the transporter took him from his quarters for what he knew would be the last time.



Chakotay paced growing more and more agitated.  He looked at Tuvok.  “Where’s Menzies now…”  Tuvok answered calmly.



“He’s in his quarters.  He was off duty all morning.  I’ll check again now.”  Tuvok moved across the room and checked with his team and the sensor readings on the screen on his computer.  Chakotay watched him with a growing fear building in him.  As Tuvok made his way back, Chakotay immediately saw the worry show on the Vulcan’s face, despite years of discipline to hide such emotions.  Just as the Security Officer was about to speak, Sam Wildman’s panicked voice filled the air.



“Wildman to Chakotay…Commander…I don’t know what happened…the Captain…she…”  Chakotay forced himself to control his almost out of control fear.



“Sam what happened?  Just calm down.”  He heard her draw a deep breath.



“Commander…the Captain…just disappeared…she was beamed out…there was nothing I could do…”  Chakotay squeezed his eyes closed.



“All right Sam, stay there.”  He closed the link and his eyes flew to Tuvok who was again working his computer.



“Their bio signatures are both in the control room off engineering and so is the signal from the homing device implanted in the Captain.  He was able to beam through the forcefield.  He probably didn’t even know it was there…”  Chakotay was half way to the door with Tuvok when B’Elanna shouted that she had the third number.  She didn’t need to be told to hurry for the fourth.



ON TO PART FOUR.



RETURN TO STORY INDEX ONE.

RETURN TO STORY INDEX TWO.



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