DISCLAIMER: You all know the drill - Paramount is God. All hail Paramount. They own everything in the Star Trek Universe - I'm just using my overactive imagination to take their characters where they refuse to go. All in the name of fun, not profit (I wish).
AUTHOR'S NOTE: As I'm sure will be apparent to anyone familiar with the episode, I blatantly stole the premise for TNG's "Conundrum" and used it for my own nefarious motives (which are, of course, J/C). As I wrote this, I veered away from the plot of "Conundrum", choosing instead to use the premise (the crew looses their identities) and not the motive (as part of a nefarious plot to destroy a rival species). There is no Commander MacDuff here trying to fill his own agenda. Instead, I used the personalities of the Voyager characters to further the plot. I'd call it a character study, but I don't pretend to be anything remotely resembling an English major. And, of course, I used the premise to further J/C - isn't that what we're all here for?
I'm done rambling now. On with the story.
CHAPTER ONE: UPHEAVAL
Captain Janeway settled herself further into her chair and stretched her legs out on the footstool as she turned the page of her book.
It was one of the first relaxing evenings she'd had in over a week, and she planned to make the most of it. Normally, she was indifferent at best about having a relaxing evening to herself - Chakotay usually had to force her to stop working for more than a few hours at a time - but tonight was different. They had left Renarra IV that morning after a week of trade negotiations and shore leave. The Renarrans didn't have many dealings with other species, so they were uncommonly eager to entertain the Voyager crew. Too eager, in fact. The Captain had lost count of the number of dinners and functions she had attended in the week they had spent there, and despite the fact that friendly species were few and far between in the Delta Quadrant and even despite the amount of supplies they had obtained, she was glad to see the last of the Renarrans. She had settled herself in her quarters with her book and she didn't plan to move for at least a few hours. She refused even to touch the growing stack of crew reports until she had taken a few hours to relax in quiet solitude.
She shifted again, sinking further into the comfortable chair, and had just turned the next page in her book when her commbadge rudely interrupted her.
Kim to Captain Janeway.
She sighed, hoping that sheer willpower would make the interruption go away, but after a few seconds she closed her book reluctantly. "Go ahead, Ensign."
Sorry to bother you, but there's a level six ion storm heading straight for us.
She glanced at the chronometer. 1915. She had barely had an hour to herself since leaving the bridge. She pulled her hand away from its resting place on her book to rub her temple. "Can you change course to avoid it?"
No, ma'am. It's over half a parsec in diameter.
"How long until we intercept?"
Less than half an hour.
She sighed again and reluctantly rose from her comfortable position. "Go to yellow alert. I'm on my way."
She grabbed her jacket off the back of the chair and made her way towards the door.
Ensign Kim had called the rest of the senior staff to the bridge, so Chakotay was already in his seat when she exited the turbolift. Seven of Nine was working at the console behind the command chairs, assisting Harry in his analysis of the ion storm.
"Report," she ordered as she made her way towards her chair.
"The ion storm appears to be building in intensity," said Seven. "It will most likely dissipate after it reaches its maximum level, but not before it encounters Voyager."
Janeway took her chair. "I guess we'll be in for a rough ride," she said in Chakotay's direction.
"We've been through worse," said Tom Paris as he exited the turbolift and made his way towards his station.
The Captain rolled her eyes in his direction and turned her attention back to Harry and Seven. "Suggestions?"
"We should generate an inverse warp field to act as an anchor," suggested Seven.
"It's worked before," Harry chimed in.
"Agreed," said the Captain with a nod. "Do it."
The first sign of the impending storm was the shuddering of the bridge under their feet about twenty minutes after the Captain's arrival.
"We're within visual range," reported Harry.
The massive storm filled the screen. It was a swirling, angry mass of blues and greens, with a dark center that seemed almost menacing and alive. The entire bridge crew stared at the screen in awe. Captain Janeway slowly rose from her chair and took a step towards the viewscreen. "Mr. Kim?" she said softly.
"It's still increasing in intensity," reported Harry. The bridge shook again. "We're encountering the perimeter."
"Janeway to Torres," said the Captain as she took her seat again. "Prepare to generate the inverse warp field."
The swirling mass grew larger on the viewscreen as they waited for B'Elanna to work.
Harry's console beeped at him. "She's got it," he announced.
"Just in time," muttered Tom as the bridge began to shake again.
"It's working," announced Harry. "We're holding position."
"How long until we're clear?" asked Chakotay.
"Approximately thr- "
Harry was interrupted by Seven of Nine at her station behind the command chairs. "Captain, I am detecting high levels of bioplasmic energy in the storm."
Captain Janeway turned around in her chair. "What?"
"Is it some kind of life form?" asked Chakotay.
"I do not believe so."
"It's some kind of neurogenic field," said Harry. "Our sensors are having trouble analyzing it."
"Is it dangerous?" Chakotay wondered.
"Unknown," said Seven.
"Is there any way we can avoid it?" asked the Captain.
"No," Harry told her. "It's…jumping all over. I can't get a fix on it. The ion storm itself must be generating it. It's extremely erratic."
The bridge jarred again from the turbulence of the storm. Captain Janeway was about to address Harry again when the lights on the bridge began to flicker and then went out. They soon came back on, but then flickered again a few seconds later.
Harry frowned in consternation. "Something's wrong with the main computer. It's…I don't know what's happening."
"The main computer processor is being affected," reported Seven as she worked.
Torres to the bridge - what's going on? We're starting to lose systems down here.
"We're working on it, B'Elanna," the Captain told her. "Just keep that inverse warp field stable."
The lights on the bridge went off again, and this time they didn't come back on.
"Harry," began the Captain, but she didn't get a chance to finish before she was interrupted again.
Bridge, this is the Doctor. Something's interfering with my program and my matrix is destabilizing. Could you send somebody down here before I go offline?
"We're a little busy right now, Doctor," reported Chakotay as the bridge shook again.
I'm sure you are, but I have patients to treat. Several of the crew are experiencing severe headaches.
The Captain perked up in her seat. "Headaches?" She turned around to face Seven and Harry. "Could this be related to the neurogenic field?"
"It's possible," reported Seven.
"Doctor," said Janeway, turning back to the viewscreen. "Harry and Seven have detected a neurogenic field in the storm. It might be related to the crew's headaches." She waited for a reply but there was silence over the comm.
"Doctor?" she repeated as the bridge shook under her.
This is Ensign Brooks, ma'am. The Doctor just went offline.
"Tom, you'd better get down to Sickbay."
She frowned when he didn't immediately reply and she heard him let out a groan.
He didn't answer and pressed his hand to his head with another groan.
"Lieutenant?" said Janeway, sharper this time.
She was about to rise from her chair to check on him when Chakotay beside her groaned as well and put his hands to his head. She turned to ask him what was wrong when she felt a stabbing pain in her head. It was sharp and disorienting, and it took a few seconds before she was able to even look up and see the rest of the crew. Everyone she could see appeared to be in the same predicament. She tried to order somebody, anybody, to do something, but the pain was too intense for her to get the words out of her mouth. The sharp pounding in her head started in waves, but it gradually merged into a constant, unbearable agony. Blackness started to crowd her vision, and everything seemed to move in slow motion. She was dimly aware of Chakotay collapsing beside her seconds before she succumbed to the blackness surrounding her vision and slowly slipped out of her chair, falling unconscious to the floor.
After a few attempts, her eyes finally responded to the commands from her brain and cracked open. She could see she was laying facedown on the floor, and she slowly pushed herself into a sitting position. She had a splitting headache, but ignored it as she looked around at her surroundings. There were other people on the floor around her, and they all seemed to be regaining consciousness like her. She took the hand that was offered to her and pulled herself up. She brushed herself off and looked around before turning to Chakotay.
"Thank you," she said, but then broke off abruptly when she realized that he was completely unfamiliar to her.
"I'm sorry," she said with a smile. "I don't know you." Her smile faded as she looked around at the other people and realized that they were all strangers.
"I don't know who any of you are," said Tom Paris at the helm as he looked around at his companions.
As they all looked around at each other in confusion, their attention was drawn to Harry Kim at his station.
"I don't know who I am," he said quietly.
There was a long silence for a moment as everyone realized the gravity of the situation.
"Neither do I," said Chakotay, speaking for everyone.
She frantically searched her mind. She couldn't remember anything about herself or who she was. Her name, where she was from, what she was supposed to be doing…it was all a blank. The sensation of complete confusion was disorienting and frightening, but after a few seconds she was able to think clearly enough to realize that something had to be done.
"What happened?" she wondered out loud.
After a few moments, Harry answered her. "We were affected by…some kind of neurogenic field."
"How do you know that?" asked Chakotay.
"I'm detecting it on sensors. Looks like it's dissipated, whatever it was."
"You remember how to work your station?" asked the Captain.
Harry seemed confused but nodded after a moment. "I guess so."
"It would seem that whatever or whoever has affected our memories has left our skills intact," said Tuvok.
"It would appear so," she replied. She noticed Seven standing behind the two chairs beside her examining her left hand quizzically, as if it belonged to someone else.
"You're…different from the rest of us," said Captain Janeway.
"Yes," Seven replied, touching the implant above her eye. "My physiology appears to be…enhanced by cybernetic implants."
The Captain looked back at Chakotay beside her.
"You seem to be in charge here," he said, pointing at her collar. She reached up and felt four pips side by side on the right side of her collar. Some of the others had similar pips, but none of them had more than three. Chakotay, though, had a bar with stripes instead of pips.
"Mine are different from yours," she observed with a smile. "Maybe you're in charge."
Seven spoke up next. "I am not wearing the same uniform. Perhaps I am in charge."
The Captain noticed for the first time that although they were all dressed similarly, with the exception of Seven, some of their uniforms were different colors.
"Perhaps," said Tuvok, "We should determine the nature of the command structure after we determine what has happened here."
There was a pause as Chakotay, Janeway, and Seven of Nine stared at each other.
"Agreed," said Seven finally.
"It looks like we're on a ship," said the Captain as she moved over with Chakotay to join Harry at Ops.
"The viewscreen, the chairs, the layout…I'd guess this is the command center."
"Agreed," she said as they joined Harry. "You said something about a neurogenic field?"
He nodded and showed her his readouts, but the computer screens were flickering. The Captain noticed for the first time that the lights were out.
"Well whatever it is," she said, "It seems to be affecting the computer systems."
"Try accessing the personnel files," said Chakotay. "Maybe we can find out who and where we are."
Harry pressed a few buttons on his console, but it beeped at him. "No good. I can get access to the primary systems, but the main computer core seems to be disrupted. Weapons, shields, communications - they're all down."
"You mean whatever disrupted our memories is affecting the computer as well?" asked Chakotay.
"It looks that way."
Chakotay turned to the Captain. "We should do a deck-by-deck survey to find out if everyone else is affected."
She opened her mouth to reply but was interrupted by Seven.
"That would not be wise. We should first restore weapons and shields before we waste our efforts surveying this vessel."
"Agreed," said Tuvok. "That would be the logical course of action."
"We need to know who we are and what's going on before we start shooting at anyone," chipped in Tom.
"He's right," said Chakotay. "We should find out as much as possible about ourselves before we take any drastic measures."
"I do not believe that readying our weapons would be a drastic measure," said Seven. "It is conceivable that our memory loss was not accidental."
"What?" said Harry.
"You think somebody did this to us on purpose?" asked Chakotay.
"It could have been an attack intended to render our systems inoperative and our crew vulnerable."
"Have you detected any ships?" the Captain asked Harry.
"However, our sensors are not functioning at their full capacity," pointed out Tuvok. "What she suggests is therefore a possibility that must be considered."
Janeway sighed. "Well, why don't you three," she said, indicating Tuvok, Seven, and Harry, "Work on weapons, shields, and propulsion while we start working our way through the ship," she finished, indicating herself and Chakotay.
"An inefficient procedure," said Seven firmly.
"Oh really?" said the Captain with a raised eyebrow. "There may be others on board who could help us. Wouldn't it be efficient to get some assistance?"
Seven paused. "Proceed," she said finally.
"The rest of you," said the Captain, indicating Tom and the other two officers that were on the bridge, "Can try and access the personnel files unless the other three need your assistance."
"That would also be inefficient," said Seven.
"Don't you think it would be better if we all had names?"
Seven thought about that for a minute. "Designations would be more efficient," she conceded. "Perhaps we should create some."
"Create some?" repeated Chakotay. "How?"
"A simple numerical identifier would suffice."
"A numerical identifier?" said the Captain with a mix of amusement and incredulity.
Seven looked around. "There are eight individuals here. I will be designated One of Eight." She turned to Tuvok. "Your designation is Two of Eight. Three of Eight," she announced to Harry. "Four of Eight," she told the Captain. Her eyebrow went up but she made no comment. "Five of Eight, Six of Eight, Seven of Eight, Eight of Eight," she told Chakotay, Lieutenant Paris, Ensign Ashmore, and Ensign Sharr, respectively.
"This is ridiculous," muttered the Captain.
"Do you have a better suggestion?" demanded Seven with a raised eyebrow.
Janeway stared at her. "Not at the moment," she admitted quietly after a pause.
"Very well," pronounced Seven, satisfied. She stood up straight with her hands behind her back. "Four and Five of Eight, proceed with your survey of this vessel. Report back here when you have completed the task."
Janeway looked at Chakotay with amusement, but before she could reply or object to Seven's orders, the ex-drone pivoted and began giving orders to the rest of the officers.
She inclined her head towards the doors at the back of the bridge, and he followed her as they left the group. She stopped as they passed the large diagram of the ship. Reaching up, she traced her fingers over the words near the top of the schematic.
"U.S.S. Voyager," she said quietly. "I guess we know the name of our ship."
He nodded and stepped up next to her to examine the schematic. "Looks like there are fifteen decks," he said, picking up a nearby PADD and downloading the information onto it.
"Well…" She paused and frowned. "What was your designation again?" she asked with a smile.
He chuckled. "Five of Eight…I think."
"Well, Five of Eight, shall we start at the top or work our way up?"
"Might as well work our way up and end up back here," he said.
She shrugged. "Sounds good to me. I guess we should start here." She turned around slowly. "It looks like there are a few rooms adjacent to this one."
"After you," he said, indicating the door over by Ops. They moved over to it and through the door, poking their heads in.
"Looks like some kind of meeting room," he observed.
She nodded, stepping further into the room. It was empty except for the table and chairs in the center of the room. The walls and table were bare of anything that might have been a source of information. "And there doesn't seem to be any clues about who we are." She sighed. "Well, that's one room down."
They turned around and left the conference room, then moved across the bridge and entered the ready room.
"What have we got here?" she asked softly as she moved over to the desk.
Chakotay followed her in and looked around. "Looks like some kind of office. The commanding officer's, maybe?"
She turned around and regarded him with an amused look. "No. You?"
He shook his head. "No."
She moved over to the desk and rifled around. "I can't see anything here that would give us a clue."
"No photos, letters, reports? Anything?"
She shook her head as she scanned the few PADDs that were scattered around the desk. "An engineering report about…dilithium usage. A supply list from the galley. They're marked for the attention of…Captain Janeway, whoever that is. Nothing that will help us."
"Shall we try door number two?" he asked, indicating the other exit to the ready room.
She followed him out the door to deck two. They moved down the deserted hallway until they reached the twin doors that led to the mess hall. They could hear the voices of all the people inside before the doors opened. When they stepped through the doors, the mess hall became silent as all heads turned towards them. Lieutenant Baxter and Lieutenant Carey, who were sitting near the doors engaged in deep conversation, rose and made their way over to them.
There was a somewhat awkward silence before Joe Carey spoke up. "Do either of you know…who you are?"
Janeway sighed - she had hoped that whatever had affected the eight people on the upper deck had not affected the rest of the crew. "No, and neither does anybody else in the command center."
"What's going on?" asked Baxter.
"We don't know, but the others are working on it. Whatever it was, it's affecting the computers as well."
"Yeah, we noticed that," said Baxter.
"None of you remembers anything about who you are?" asked Janeway, looking around the room. Heads shook all around.
"We've been trying to get the computer in here working," said Carey, "But there's definitely something wrong with the main processors."
Janeway appraised him carefully. "You're obviously an engineer."
He stopped, surprised. "I guess I am…I never really thought about it."
Marla Gilmore came over to their group. "Sir?" she said, addressing Carey, "There's something over here that you should see."
They followed her over to the galley, where she showed them one of the bio-neural gelpacks. Mixed through the normal blue color of the gelpack were sick looking veins of brown.
"What is that?" asked the Captain.
"We think it's a part of the main computer…some kind of processing unit," reported Gilmore.
Carey stepped closer and examined it. "Well, whatever it is, it doesn't look like it's working properly."
"Continue your investigation," ordered the Captain. "If you find anything, report it to the command center on deck one."
"What should we do?" asked Baxter.
"Stay here until we figure out what's going on," said Chakotay.
"We're going through the ship deck by deck," added Janeway. "Hopefully we can find some kind of clue as to who we are."
Neelix came out of the kitchen carrying a tray of snacks. "I found some more of - " He stopped when he spotted Janeway and Chakotay standing in front of the galley. "Oh," he said, "More people - wonderful! Are you hungry?"
Janeway threw Chakotay an amused glance.
"I've got lots of…whatever this is," continued Neelix. "We might as well eat while we wait. I've also got some-"
"That's all right," interrupted Janeway, holding up her hand to stop him. "But thank you."
She turned back to Carey and Baxter. "Stay here until you hear from us again." Louder, she added, "I'm sure they're doing everything possible to find out what's wrong."
The crowd didn't look reassured, but there was nothing she and Chakotay could do about it. She nodded to him and he followed her out the door and across the hall to the turbolift.
"Deck…fifteen," said Chakotay, checking the schematics in his hand.
Captain Janeway closed her eyes and leaned against the back of the turbolift.
She rubbed the side of her head with her hand. "I guess so…I was just hoping that whatever it was that erased our memories hadn't affected the rest of the ship. Then at least somebody would be able to tell us who we are." She put her hands on her hips. "I can't stand being out of control like this."
They rode for a few seconds in silence before the Captain glanced up at Chakotay with a strange look on her face.
"What is it?" he asked.
She was silent for a moment while she tried to think of the right words. "Does this seem…familiar at all?"
"Familiar?" He thought for a moment. "No…not exactly."
"But it does seem…"
"Natural," he offered.
"Yes," she said. "Natural. Like we've done this before…but it doesn't seem familiar that way. Am I making any sense?"
"No," he grinned, "But that's okay. I know what you mean."
He nodded. "This…us working together…I can't explain it. It's just a feeling."
She stared at him until the turbolift stopped. "After you," she said when the doors opened.
"Next stop, deck eleven," announced Chakotay as the turbolift started to move again.
The Captain smiled. "Main engineering. At least there should be more to see here than on the lower decks."
"You didn't enjoy your tour of the antimatter processing lab?" He managed to keep a straight face for about five seconds before he broke out in a smile that was matched on her face.
"Maybe you're an engineer," he suggested.
She shrugged. "Then what was I doing in the command center?"
The smiles on their faces evaporated immediately as the gravity of their situation returned. He didn't have an answer to her question and after a few seconds the turbolift stopped. When they stepped out of it, they walked a few steps before Chakotay stopped and checked the PADD he was carrying.
"Main engineering is just down the corridor," he pronounced.
They moved down the hallway until they reached the double doors that led to engineering. As soon as they entered, they could hear raised and angry voices.
"I'm telling you, a complete reinitialization won't do any good," yelled B'Elanna. "We need to find out what's actually causing the problem."
"A complete shutdown should purge any abnormalities in the system," countered Vorik calmly.
"If we shut everything down, we might lose the few systems we still have!"
"Who the hell are you to tell me what to do?" she screamed back at him.
"If we knew who we were, we wouldn't have this problem," Lieutenant Nicoletti told her sarcastically.
"Hey," snapped Ensign Tabor. "Who asked you?"
"We have to track down some schematics and find out about the main processor," insisted B'Elanna. "I've had enough of your suggestions."
Vorik raised an eyebrow. "I am merely proceeding as dictated by logic."
"Rrrrrr!" growled B'Elanna. "I don't care what your logic says - we can't reinitialize the system."
"Repeating the same statement will not make it any more logical."
"Get out of the way and let her work," said Tabor.
It looked like the entire engineering team was seconds away from a brawl, so the Captain and Chakotay stepped forward into the middle of the group.
"Everybody calm down," said Chakotay, restraining B'Elanna.
"Who are you?" asked B'Elanna, still angry.
"I wish I could tell you. Now, why don't you all take a deep breath and then tell me what's going on."
"We are trying to reach a consensus on the best course of action to resolve the problems with the main computer," offered Vorik.
"I think we need to examine the computer before we do anything, but pointy here wants to shut everything down so we lose what little we have right now."
The Captain held up her hand. "All right, that's enough. We've come down from the command center to do a deck by deck survey. Do any of you remember who you are?"
"No," said Tabor.
"If we did," said B'Elanna, "Then maybe we would know who's in charge down here."
"Until we do," suggested the Captain, "Perhaps the four of you could cooperate instead of bickering?"
"I don't think we should restart the computer core," insisted B'Elanna. "It will make everything worse."
"Fine," said Chakotay. He turned to Vorik and Nicoletti. "Try her idea first. If examining the system doesn't suggest any possible solutions, then try reinitializing the main computer core as a last resort." He turned back and glared at B'Elanna. "All right?"
"Fine," she said with a curt nod.
"Until we get the internal communications working," said Janeway, "Send somebody up to the command center with progress reports. They're working on the problem from their end too."
"Understood," said B'Elanna. She turned around to the rest of the engineering team. "All right. You three, get to the upper level and start checking out some of those access tubes. You two, see if you can access the data processors and find out what the hell is going on."
She continued giving orders, and the Captain and Chakotay turned around and started back for the door.
"That's 47 people so far," she said. "And we've still got eight decks to go."
"Cargo bay 2," said Chakotay, making a note on his PADD as they stepped through the large doors.
"What have we got here?" she asked, moving towards the regeneration alcoves.
"It doesn't look like any of the technology we've seen so far."
"No," she said, reaching out to run her hands over one of the Borg displays. "It certainly doesn't."
"I wonder what it does."
She walked over and stepped up into one of the alcoves. "It looks like it might be some kind of interface."
A sudden thought occurred to her and she looked back at Chakotay. "That woman on the bridge with mechanical implants…I wonder if she has something to do with these."
He shrugged and made another note on the PADD, taking a final look around the cargo bay.
She stepped down from the alcove and they started for the door, but she stopped suddenly.
"Did you hear something?"
He stopped and turned around. "No. What?"
"Like…something being knocked over," she said, moving back towards the middle of the cargo bay. "Hello? Is anyone there?"
She thought she heard another noise coming from the corner of the cargo bay, and she moved in that direction. "Is somebody there?"
She saw a small head poke out from behind a cargo container and quickly dart back into hiding. She glanced back at Chakotay and then turned back to the corner.
"It's all right - we're not going to hurt you."
She saw the head poke out again, and Naomi Wildman tentatively came out from her hiding spot.
"Hi there," said the Captain.
Naomi looked at her suspiciously and didn't answer.
"Can you tell us your name?" asked the Captain gently.
Naomi bit her lip and shook her head. "I…can't remember."
She smiled reassuringly. "That's okay. Neither can I."
The relief on Naomi's face was obvious. "Really?"
Chakotay walked over to them. "Everybody on the ship is having trouble remembering things."
Naomi's eyes widened. "We're on a ship?"
Janeway reached over and took Chakotay's PADD from him, showing it to Naomi. "Here. We're on deck 9, right about here. Do you remember anything about the ship? Where you live? Anything?"
"Sorry," said Naomi as she handed back the PADD to the Captain. "Everybody's having trouble remembering?"
"None of us know who we are or what we're doing here," said Chakotay. "Does anything here look familiar?"
Naomi shook her head.
"What's the last thing you remember?" asked the Captain.
"I woke up in the corridor…and I came in here. I knew this was where I was going…but I didn't remember what it was."
The Captain looked back at Chakotay. "That's more than anyone else remembers." She turned back to Naomi. "You knew you were coming to the cargo bay. Do you remember why?"
"I did at first," Naomi told her, "But I can't remember now."
"That's all right," the Captain assured her. "We have to finish our survey of the ship now."
"Can I come with you?" asked Naomi. "I…don't want to stay here all by myself."
The Captain smiled and glanced at Chakotay, who nodded.
"We could use some help," she said.
Chakotay handed Naomi the PADD. "Here. You can keep track of the crew we find, so we know how many people are on board."
Naomi proudly led the way out of the cargo bay, and the Captain dropped back to walk with Chakotay out of her hearing range.
"I wonder if there are more children on board," he said quietly.
"It's possible. At least we know we haven't seen her parents yet."
"What makes you say that?"
She pointed to her forehead, referring to Naomi's protrusions.
"Maybe it's a trait that's only apparent in the young."
"Maybe," she conceded.
"If that's the case, she could belong to any of the people we've encountered so far. Who knows - she might even be yours. Her hair's about the right color."
The Captain stopped in her tracks and turned to look at him, the shock apparent on her face. "I never even thought of that," she whispered.
"I wasn't serious. You're probably right - her parents probably look like her too."
She shook her head as they began walking again. "I didn't mean her specifically. I never even considered the possibility that I have a family." She turned to him. "What if I do and I can't remember them? I could have children, a husband…"
"I don't think that's likely."
"How can you be sure?"
He pointed to her left hand. "You're not wearing a ring."
She lifted up her hand. "Good point." She looked up at him. "Wait a minute…how did you know that?"
"That wearing a ring is a sign of commitment."
His lips parted in surprise. "I…I don't know. I just do."
She was still examining her hand curiously. "So do I." She finally looked up at him with a grin. "Maybe I'm unattached after all."
"What's next, crewman?" asked the Captain as she and Chakotay followed Naomi down the corridor.
Naomi consulted her PADD. "Sickbay. It's the next door on the left."
They entered Sickbay to find it empty.
"That's odd," said Chakotay. "You'd think there would be some kind of medical personnel on duty."
"Maybe they left," suggested the Captain. "To try and find out what's going on."
She walked over to one of the consoles and entered a series of commands.
"The main computer's still down," she reported, then she frowned. "There's some kind of...computer program in the databanks."
"Computer program?" said Chakotay, joining her at the console. "What kind of program?"
"I'm not sure…but whatever it is, it's massive…over 20 teraquads of information."
"20 teraquads?" He reached over and pressed one of the buttons.
"Look - some kind of subroutines. It looks like it might be interactive."
"Can you activate it?"
"No - at least not until we figure out what's wrong with the computer processors."
"Maybe the computer is having trouble remembering, too," suggested Naomi as she walked around Sickbay.
"Maybe," said the Captain as she continued working. "Well, whatever this program is, we're not going to get it up and running any time soon. We'll have to have one of the people from engineering take a look at it."
"How many people have we accounted for so far?" asked Chakotay as they rode the turbolift to deck three.
Naomi checked her PADD. "One hundred thirty seven."
The turbolift doors opened and they exited. The first two quarters were empty, and Lieutenant Rollins was in the third quarters they tried. They briefly explained the situation and told him to remain where he was.
"That's one hundred thirty eight," said Naomi.
They tried the next set of doors. There was no answer, so they forced it open manually. They entered the quarters and looked around.
"Hello?" called the Captain. "Is there anybody here?"
When there was no response and a cursory inspection revealed the quarters to be empty, they turned to leave.
The Captain was nearly at the door when Chakotay called her back. "You might want to have a look at this."
She turned around and walked over to the desk where he was standing. He handed her a photograph, and her eyes widened as she carefully took it from him and ran her fingers over it. It was a picture of a handsome grey-haired man, sitting next to a large dog…and on the other side of the dog was her. Her hair was longer, and pulled up behind her head, but it was definitely her.
"I guess I live here," she said quietly, looking up at him.
"Do you want to have a look around?"
She nodded and put the photo back on the desk. "Maybe I can find something here that will give us a clue to who we…who I am."
"We could try the computer terminal," he suggested.
They pulled it over, and she tried to access her personal logs. The main computer was still offline, though, and they were unsuccessful.
None of the PADDs laying around the room were of any use - they were mostly status reports from different areas of the ship.
"This one's directed to the attention of Lieutenant Commander Tuvok," said Chakotay.
The Captain shook her head. "This one's for Captain Janeway, and these two are for Lieutenant Torres. There's also a few for Commander Chakotay. There's no way to know if any of these people are me."
It took them about twenty minutes before they found anything of relevance.
"Here," said Chakotay, standing up beside a small bookcase.
"What?" she asked, coming over. He handed her a book.
"Inferno," she read. "By Dante. What about it?"
"Look inside the front cover."
She opened the cover and read the handwritten inscription. "To Kathryn. All my love, Mark."
"Kathryn. Sound familiar?"
She shook her head. "I'm afraid not. But maybe I borrowed it from somebody."
He moved away from the bookshelf towards the chair in the middle of the room, and something caught his attention. He picked up the book on the footstool and flipped open the cover. "If that's true," he said, passing her the book. "Then you borrowed this one too."
She took it from him and read another handwritten message on the inside cover of the book from the chair. "Happy Birthday, Kathryn. Chakotay." She flipped the cover over. "The Odyssey by Homer."
"Mark," said Chakotay. "I wonder if that's me."
She looked carefully at the two books then looked up at him with a grin. "No…that tattoo of yours…I think you're more of a Chakotay."
"Doesn't sound familiar."
She sighed. "Nothing seems familiar. Not even my own name."
Naomi came over from the window, reading from her PADD. "We've only got the rest of deck three left."
"They're probably expecting us back at the command center," said Chakotay.
"We should get moving," agreed the Captain.
"Can I come with you to the command center when we're finished?" asked Naomi.
"I'm afraid not. You can stay here if you like."
"Or we could take you to the common area on deck 2," suggested Chakotay. "There were quite a few people there."
"Okay," agreed Naomi. "Do you think my parents will be there?"
The Captain glanced at Chakotay. They had gone over almost the entire ship, and they had yet to see anyone who appeared to be of the same species as Naomi. "Maybe," she said. "But I doubt you'll recognize them even if they are."
"I'll know them," insisted Naomi.
The Captain and Chakotay entered the conference room and took seats to the left of Seven of Nine, who had placed herself at the head of the table. Tuvok was seated to her right, and Harry and Tom were seated beside him. Engineering had sent both Vorik and B'Elanna, since deciding on one delegate would probably have led to another general brawl. Ensign Ashmore and Ensign Sharr were seated on the other side of Janeway and Chakotay.
"We've been able to restore partial weapons and shields," said Harry. "But targeting is still offline. If we need to defend ourselves, we'll have to fire manually."
"Well," pointed out Tom, "Since we don't know who the heck is supposed to be firing the torpedoes, I'd say that's the least of our problems."
"On the contrary," said Tuvok. "I was at the tactical station so it is logical to assume that weapons are my primary responsibility."
"Agreed," said Seven. "You will be responsible for tactical."
"What about sensors?" asked Chakotay.
"They're working, barely," said Kim.
"Have you tried scanning for any other vessels that resemble us?" asked Janeway. "That share our hull configuration or warp signature, for instance."
"No vessels within range share this vessel's configurations," said Seven.
"There appears to be some sort of astronomical scanning lab on deck 8," said Chakotay. "Its sensors might have a longer range than ours."
"It might also have a record of our course," said Tom. "Give us an idea of where we've been recently. We might even find our home planet."
"We won't be able to access the navigational logs until we've restored the main computer processor," Harry told him.
"What if we sent out a distress signal? Other ships in the area might be able to tell us something about where we came from," suggested the Captain.
"Inadvisable," said Tuvok. "There may be vessels in the area who regard us as adversaries."
"Advising them of our strategic weakness would be unwise," agreed Seven.
The Captain glanced at Chakotay and sighed.
"Four and Five of Eight, report," continued Seven.
"Everyone on board has the same problem that we do," said Chakotay. "We accounted for 144 crew, at least nine different species."
"There is also one other crewmember who has artificial implants," said the Captain. "We encountered him in the astronomical scanning facility on deck 8."
"I will examine him later," said Seven.
"We found a few people in the common area on deck 2 who demonstrated skills in other areas, but we haven't been able to find a doctor yet," continued the Captain. "There appears to be some kind of interactive matrix in the Sickbay computer, but we can't access it."
"Kathryn and I both agree that should be one of our first priorities. Accessing the Sickbay computers might help us find a way to determine what's wrong with us."
The other officers looked back and forth at each other.
"Kathryn?" repeated Tom.
"We located what I think are my quarters," she explained. "There were some personal items with the name Kathryn in them."
"We should limit our discussion to relevant matters," said Seven dismissively. "We believe we have an explanation for why the computer is malfunctioning." She walked over to the wall and pulled up a schematic of the ship. "This vessel's computer consists of bio-neural circuitry. It mimics an organic nervous system."
The Captain sat up, intrigued. "So whatever is affecting our memories…"
"Is having the same effect on the computer," finished Harry.
"Precisely," said Seven.
"Can you find out what's causing it?" asked the Captain.
"Is it reversible?" asked Chakotay.
"It's too soon to tell," said Harry.
"We require more information," said Seven. "Three of Eight and I are going to proceed with an examination of some of the bio-neural gelpacks. Six of Eight, you can assist us."
Tom, once he realized that was his designation, frowned and looked around the table. "Look, I'd love to help, but we're not going to get any thinking done when we're all exhausted. Why don't we all get some rest and start again tomorrow?"
Tuvok raised an eyebrow. "You are fatigued?"
"Yeah - aren't you? I can't remember the last time I slept."
Some of the crew chuckled at that.
"Well," said the Captain diplomatically, "I am, and I can tell that most of you are as well."
"I do not require rest at this time," said Seven. "Two of Eight and I will continue our investigation."
They pushed back their chairs and started to leave, but Harry spoke up.
"Uh…where exactly are we supposed to sleep?"
The Captain and Chakotay looked at each other and grinned after a minute, glad to find something amusing in the situation.
"We hadn't really thought about that," admitted Chakotay. "Just pick a room and lock the door."
"Maybe tomorrow we'll be able to access the crew manifest, and then we can figure out who goes where," offered the Captain.
They all got up and filed out of the conference room. The Captain entered the turbolift, and the doors were about to close when Chakotay called after her.
"Wait up," he said, walking towards the turbolift. She kept the doors open and he got in the turbolift with her. "Where are you going?"
"Deck two," she ordered as the doors closed. "I thought we should let the people in the common area know what we've found out."
"Ka…Do you mind if I call you Kathryn?"
She smiled. "It's better than Four of Eight."
"I thought maybe you'd prefer something else."
"I don't know - maybe your friends call you Kate, or Kathy."
She scrunched up her face. "I don't know…I don't see myself as a 'Kathy.'"
"Kathryn it is, then."
"Besides," she said, smiling slyly. "What makes you think you're one of my friends?"
She was joking, but he took the comment seriously.
"I don't know," he admitted. "Just instinct, I guess. I trust you."
She looked up at him in surprise and it was a few seconds before she answered. "I feel the same way. I can't explain why, but I trust everyone on this ship…but you…it's more with you."
"Like we've know each other for years."
"Yes," she exclaimed, then smiled sadly. "Except I don't remember you at all."
The turbolift stopped and the doors opened on deck two. They got out and walked towards the mess hall.
Carey and Baxter were still in the center of the room, but there were fewer people gathered here than before. The two men joined them as soon as they entered.
"Any progress?" asked Baxter.
Janeway shook her head. "I'm afraid not. We may be able to get the main computer up and running within the next day or so, but we're no closer to finding out who we are."
The disappointment on the faces around them was evident.
"What are we supposed to do?" asked Carey.
The Captain sighed. "Get some rest, if possible."
"We'll start again in the morning," added Chakotay.
There was discontented grumbling, but it seemed more against the uncertainty of their situation than against the messengers or the orders.
Before Lieutenant Carey moved off, the Captain caught his attention. "You seem to have some knowledge of how the ship's systems work." He nodded. "In Sickbay, we found some sort of interactive program. I thought you might be able to take a look at it. Neither of us," she added with a glance at Chakotay, "Could make heads or tails of it."
"Not a problem." He started to move away, then paused. "Where's Sickbay?"
She smiled. "Deck five."
He nodded and left. Most of the others gathered had dispersed as well, and she and Chakotay were about to leave when Naomi Wildman came over to them.
"Have you found out what's affecting our memories?"
The Captain smiled sympathetically and shook her head. "I'm afraid not."
"What about my parents?" she asked, her lower lip beginning to tremble.
Janeway's heart melted and she glanced at Chakotay before kneeling down to Naomi's level. "No. I'm sorry. If we get the computer fixed tomorrow, maybe we'll be able to access the personnel files."
Naomi nodded bravely, but then wavered. "Can I stay with you tonight? I…I'm not afraid," she added, "But I don't want to be by myself."
The Captain nodded. "I've got lots of room. You're more than welcome to sleep in my quarters."
"Did you get something to eat?" asked Chakotay.
Naomi nodded. "I helped the furry man in the kitchen cook, and he's been serving snacks."
"Do you think he'll mind if we grab a couple?"
She shook her head. "He seems pretty friendly."
Chakotay inclined his head towards the galley with a grin, and the Captain followed him. They saw the half-eaten platter of snacks sitting on the counter, and they each grabbed a few on napkins and left the mess hall. The Captain tasted one first.
"What's it like?" he asked, eyeing the food suspiciously.
She chewed thoughtfully. "Tastes like chicken," she pronounced with her mouth full.
He frowned. "How do you know what chicken tastes like?"
She stopped in her tracks. "I don't know," she finally admitted with a smile. She watched as he took a tentative bite. "So?"
"Tastes like chicken," he agreed with a mischievous grin.
She laughed and they continued down the hallway to the turbolift. They took it to deck three, and Chakotay walked them in the direction of her quarters. When they reached them, Naomi immediately darted inside, but the Captain paused before going in.
"I'll see you tomorrow," she said softly.
"Good night." He started to leave, but turned back before she closed the door. "Kathryn?"
"I'll be right next door if you need anything."
The corners of her mouth turned up in a smile. "Thank you."
He smiled as well and she stepped back to let the doors close. She stood motionless in front of the closed doors as the feeling that she had been having for the past few hours with him suddenly grew stronger. It wasn't a memory; it wasn't even familiarity. It felt as if everything she had forgotten was just beyond her grasp, and that if she concentrated hard enough it would all come back to her.
It was fleeting, though, and after a minute she lost the sensation.
"I found an extra blanket," said Naomi, coming in from the bedroom. "I'll put it on the couch, if that's okay."
The Captain nodded absentmindedly, still trying to grab hold of whatever it was she had been feeling or remembering a moment ago.
"Are you okay?" asked Naomi, concerned.
"I'm fine," the Captain assured her, bringing herself out of her reverie. She moved over and helped Naomi spread the blanket out over the couch. The young girl crawled under it and made herself comfortable.
"Do you think we'll find my parents tomorrow?" she asked, stifling a yawn.
"I'm sure we'll find them."
Naomi closed her eyes, but then opened them again. "How come nobody on board looks like me?"
She sighed. She had been hoping that Naomi's…uniqueness would not strike her in relation to finding her parents. She decided to give her the explanation that Chakotay had suggested earlier. "I'm not sure. Maybe the adults of your species look different than the children."
Naomi was not reassured. "What if they don't? What if I'm all by myself?"
The plaintive tremble in her voice was nearly enough to move the Captain to tears. "You're not all by yourself. There are a hundred and forty-three other people on this ship who can look out for you."
Naomi considered this for a moment. "If we don't find my parents, can I stay with you?"
There was no telling whether or not that would actually possible, depending on what her…personal situation was, but the Captain could see that her young companion needed the comfort. "Of course."
Finally satisfied, she snuggled under the covers and closed her eyes again. The Captain got up and turned away, but she heard Naomi mumble as she started to drift off, "I hope you're my mom."
She actually stood in complete silence for a full minute, staring at the young girl who was now asleep.
"I hope so too," she finally whispered. She knew it was unlikely, though, that this girl was her daughter, since there were no pictures of her around her quarters and there was only one bed. Surely if she had children there would be pictures of them, or toys, or something. Everything she had seen so far indicated that she lived alone.
After one last glance at the sleeping Naomi, she turned and entered the bedroom. It was neat and tidy, but obviously lived in. She had to open a few drawers in the dresser before she found what had to be her sleepwear. Stripping off her uniform, she chose a nightgown of a soft dark blue material and pulled it over her head. She folded her uniform and set it on a nearby chair. When she stood up, a picture on the opposite dresser caught her attention. She walked over and slowly picked it up. It was a holo-image of a group of people that were, surprisingly, familiar to her - most of them were the people she had seen in the command center. The man from tactical with the pointy ears was there, standing next to the dark-haired young man that knew a lot about the ship. The blond pilot was there, standing surprisingly close to the feisty young woman they had met in engineering. She noted with astonishment that the odd-looking man from the galley was also there with a big grin on his face. The authoritative woman with the cybernetic implants was there, and she was standing next to a bald man. She squinted and held the picture closer. She didn't think they had met the bald man in their survey of the ship, which she found odd. Maybe he had been reassigned after the image was taken.
She was standing near the middle of the group, with her tattooed friend by her side. She saw with amazement that her hand was resting familiarly on his shoulder. They were both smiling broadly.
"I guess we are friends," she muttered to herself. It was quite obvious from the photo that most of the group of eight that was currently running the ship worked closely together. She inspected the image carefully, hoping to find some indication of who the people were, but there was nothing. Of course, she reasoned, if these were her close friends she would have no need to label the image with their names.
She slowly returned the picture to its proper place and crawled into bed. Despite the lateness of the hour and the amount of time they had spent walking around the ship, sleep did not come easily. She rolled over onto one side, then the other, but couldn't seem to get comfortable. Inevitably, her mind returned again and again to their situation.
They were on a ship, obviously. From their inspection of the cargo bays, they seemed to be equipped for some kind of long-range missions. But what kind of missions? Were they explorers? At war? Part of a larger society? The answer to the last question would appear to be yes, considering their uniforms and the seemingly standardized equipment they had discovered.
The personal aspect of it all also weighed heavily on her. She had absolutely no idea who she was. Where she was from, why she was here, what her job was. What she had so far discovered about herself far outweighed what still remained unknown. It was overwhelming, not knowing something as intimate as your own personality.
She sighed. Dwelling on this wouldn't get her anywhere, so she resolved to try and keep her mind off it and get some sleep.