Dear Pinocchio: The doctor was turned into a human, and his backup was activated to help treat him. The Captain, crew and doctors start adjusting to this change.
Year of Silence: Janeway and the holographic doctor get stuck in a temporal well for (over) a year. She dies and by the time they are retrieved, his program has decompiled. We discover that they experienced a phenomenon similar to that in Deadlock. A Captain Janeway and powered down EMH were in orbit the entire time, unaware of their counterparts were stuck below.
And now…I promise I'm going to stop duplicating characters.
Intro: The Mirror
The sun bore down gently on the stone beach and the members of Voyager's crew that had loosely assembled there. Among them, sat the captain, out of uniform and with her ever-longer hair (half) down. She was enjoying the gentle wind and spray of water as the ocean beat against the shore. In the distance were the delighted shouts of those trying to brave wading in to their knees. Among them were Tom and Miral — her giggles the loudest as he tried to point out the colorful birds as they flew overhead.
She knew others of her crew would be wandering around the local port city, mingling with the advancing avian species that called this world home. Only fifty years post-warp, the Dahir had been delighted to host a crew that called the other side of the galaxy home. Their naivety was a clear indication that, despite the Briyali's darker past, they'd treated this protectorate world quite well.
A shadow fell over her as Chakotay came to sit beside her. He did so with a graceless plop, chuckling as he rested his forearms on his knees, "Can't complain about the view."
The view. It was something — sheer bluffs stretching out of the water and towering to the east and the west. It gave the impression that the ocean was cradled, quaintly, within a valley. The water, near obsidian, pressed against those rocks with spectacular, twilight blue waves. It was all a bizarre trick of the mineral deposits on this planet and marine ecosystem, but knowing what caused it didn't diminish its beauty. Kathryn had no doubt the claims that one could stand atop the bluffs at night, look down into the water, and see the stars reflected back were true.
"I hope Tom and Harry are taking notes," she smiled, "it be a shame to leave this behind entirely."
As if on cue, they watched Harry lift a holo-camera in the distance; Chakotay shook his head in good humor.
"Is Seven joining you?"
"Not this time," there was regret in his tone but also understanding, "She's working with B'Elanna and D'Tir to extract what information they can from the damaged Delta Flyer."
She did her best not to sigh, the topic of the derelict shuttle and the two who had died within it a sore one for her. The trio's desire to extract the third doctor's corrupted files from its computer was as necessary as it was macabre. So much mystery surrounded the planet where her duplicate had died, even more curiosity surrounded the species that lived on it.
"Do you have any plans then?" Kathryn was trying to determine if she wanted to invite herself along on his day, or remain here enjoying the ocean breeze.
"I promised Chell I'd trade for enough fish and seafood to feed the crew for a month," it said a lot about his nature that the prospect didn't seem to annoy him.
"I'll pass," she said dryly, causing her friend to laugh.
"Well, you know how to reach me if you change your mind."
Kathryn smiled at him. She wouldn't change her mind, but it was always nice to be included.
"Likewise. Let me know if your plans change."
"This is impossible," B'Elanna grumbled, head and shoulders crammed within the bowels of the Delta Flyer as she tried to move component's from its central memory banks.
D'Tir knew Voyager's engineer well enough by now not to say anything back; instead, she tilted her head and continued to scan the array of debris they had laid about the main compartment. To the untrained eye, it would like like technological detritus — the natural accumulation of decaying computers and bulkheads over years of disuse. The Briyali engineer saw something different, something more, a story waiting to be translated and shared.
"Are you having any luck?"
D'Tir looked away from her project to see that her colleague was peering out at her with dark eyes.
"It is as we expected. A fire damaged the engines and much of the habitation section. Extensive work went into repairing the the main computer and sensors. I do not know when the life support failed, but it has not worked in some time, and all evidence of activity ceased a year ago in this shuttlecraft's internal chronometer," the Briyali's voice was remorseful, as she thought of the two who had died on the planet her people had sunk into a temporal well.
How hard they must have tried to survive.
She suspected that her companion's efforts would uncover their attempts.
D'Tir shook her head, a gesture she knew to be a sign of denial to these people, "No, what is left of him and his story will be within the memory banks."
"We should be able to reintegrate whatever we're able to extract into our EMH. Seven thinks he could tell us if any Treveene were sighted."
Not for the first time, D'Tir found herself baffled by the lack of concern B'Elanna Torres showed the hologram and his feelings. She considered this Human (a species she had come to know and appreciate) and Klingon (a species she had only seen in holodeck scenes and found baffling) hybrid her friend. Yet there were still moments that her behaviors were strangely detached.
Did she not think he would suffer?
"I am not sure that would be wise," D'Tir tried to explain.
The other woman stopped tinkering long enough to look at her again, "It shouldn't harm his programming."
"No," D'Tir agreed, "but it is not his programming I worry about. Memory files are no mere stories to holograms when integrated, they are their reality. You will be asking him to experience a time of great turmoil. Perhaps to even relive the final moments of of his Captain's life as well as his own"
B'Elanna sighed and chose not to deny any of that, "It will ultimately be his choice. He has so much interest in this planet and its species; I don't think he'll refuse."
D'Tir hummed, a sign that she understood, "You are his physician, are you not?"
Voyager's engineer blinked, surprised by the question, "Yeah. Yeah, I guess I am."
"Then you must explain the risks."
A pause settled over the air then, before B'Elanna repeated with more conviction, "I will."
The conversation between them exhausted, both women got back to work.
It was a twelve kilometer hike from the tourist beach to the highest point on the bluffs. Those making the trip took it slow, reliant only on the light from the two partial moons to keep them on the correct path. The captain remained apart from the central group, choosing instead to take her time and linger on the edges of conversations. Harry and Jenny were walking haphazardly while pointing toward the sky, seeing who could identify more of the Dahir's constellations without the aid of the guide. Jenny was winning, and the pair seemed to delighting in their friendship without Tom or her sister present.
Further ahead, she could see Chakotay walking with Naomi and Samantha, the three haven taken the lead. Since Neelix's departure, her XO had taken over the Talaxian's duties as the young girl's surrogate uncle. It was a natural progression, since she still adored Seven and Icheb. Samantha laughed at something her daughter was saying, and Kathryn let the trio be.
Tuvok trailed behind her, occasionally increasing his pace with ease to share a few words with her. He had transported down the the surface a handful of hours prior. The Vulcan had spent the afternoon keeping her company as she traded for seeds for the hydroponics bay. The local hobby botanists had delighted and the selections of samples she had provided, considering them deep space delicacies.
She'd have to tell Neelix in their next monthly exchange that she'd finally found a species who liked Leola root as much as he did.
The group was rounded out by the human doctor, who brought up the rear. While she suspected the physical strain of so much gain in altitude was getting to him, he'd managed to keep up with no complaining or demands for a break.
All in all, it was a pleasant excursion, one the Dahir had been content to allow the humans to experience this on their own.
With just another two kilometers to go, Kathryn was feeling a second wind hit her when she heard someone approaching behind her. Figuring it was Tuvok, she did not slow her steps, knowing he could outpace her entirely if he truly wanted to.
"This is humbling," came the panting voice of the Doctor behind her instead.
She immediately slowed, in case he was trying to catch up. A quick glance assured her that that was exactly what he was trying to do. Another told her that somewhere along the way, Tuvok had stopped to admire the clear band of the Milky Way in sky.
"I need to add more elevation to my conditioning," the Doctor reached her, a self-deprecating smile on his face as he leaned over and took a few fortifying deep breaths.
Her own smile reached her eyes as she placed a steading hand on his shoulder, "Being a human has some downsides. Having to catch your breath is one of them."
"One of many," he conceded, straightening and giving her a resolute nod.
They continued the hike, this time at the Doctor's pace.
"How has it been, experiencing your first shore leave as a human?"
"Painful," he confessed, "and invigorating."
Kathryn laughed at that, "I can't say I've heard those used together before."
As they rounded a large outcropping of stone, the landscape opened up allowing the sound of the ocean below to float up. Kathryn pulled the light jacket she wore more tightly around her and caught the man beside her doing the same. While the climate on this coast was temperate, at this elevation the wind carried a sharp chill. If she closed her eyes, Kathryn could pretend the season was shifting into late autumn. The thought troubled her, that it troubled her concerned her.
They'd pulled the ruined Delta Flyer from the surface of the Treveene home world during winter. The third it had experienced on the planet. The empathy she felt for the other her wondered what it had been like, down there in the cold without sufficient life support.
The Doctor was looking at her now, a worried furrow in his expressive brown. He'd learned tact since he his change — perhaps because he now had to try to hide what he was feeling from others and often failed — and decided not to ask her where he mind had gone. Instead, he waited for her to speak.
"When I was a child, my mother and my aunt would make toffee every December. It would get cold enough in the evenings that they would stick it on the front porch to cool overnight. My sister, Phoebe, and I would sneak out of bed and and eat it until our stomachs hurt and our fingers and faces were numb."
"Painful," she tilted her head in his direction, "and invigorating."
He beamed at her.
The shuttle bay was empty, save for one. B'Elanna sat alone within the Delta Flyer, studying the remains of the memory core laid out around her. She'd had to work well into the delta shift, well after even D'Tir had excused herself for sleep, to free it all from its tomb. Now that she had, the words of the Briyali engineer gave her pause.
Within the wreckage were the slowly corrupting memory files of an EMH that had long since decompiled. It was well within her capabilities to extract these and integrate them into the remaining EMH's program. In them, were nearly two years of life he could regain, knowledge of the Treveene world he could study and explore. A proverbial goldmine for his current research with Seven.
She thought of Harry, standing on a bluff somewhere on the Dahir home world, finally getting to see those stars reflecting off the ocean. He'd been waiting days.
Harry, silently drifting through space, his hand forever desperately reaching for hers.
B'Elanna closed her eyes at the memory, shook her head, and hit her combadge.
It was his choice.
"Torres to the EMH."
The Doctor stood, huddled closely with the others as they all peered over the cliff's edge. The winds were freezing up here, nearly buffeting them against each other. Enough so that the captain, Chakotay and Tuvok had each insisted the small group anchor themselves so no one fell over. His face was numb, his eyes watering, his nose running.
Above them, the two moons converged in a partial eclipse.
Beside him, Harry Kim's delighted laugh was drowned out by ocean and and wind.
Below him, the galaxy rippled with the waves.
He couldn't feel his smile, but he knew that somewhere down on the ocean's surface, it was reflected back.