H&C: 04) The Well of Hurt

Chapter 01: Q-pid and Strife

Kathryn Janeway was asleep in her quarters when she felt a presence next to her.

"Lights." She commanded and looked over to see the reclining figure of 'Q' beside her in the bed.

"Intruder Alert!" She barked into the air, but there was no response from the computer.

"I couldn't allow us to be interrupted Kathy. I am here to offer you a once in a lifetime opportunity." Q said proudly.

"I decline." Kathryn said without hesitation as she got out of the bed and pulled on her robe.

"Hear me out. I'm about to offer you the unique opportunity to be the mother of my child." Q said with great flourish.

Kathryn wasn't sure if she was suppressing a chuckle or her gag reflex, but she was finally able to say, "As nice an offer as I'm sure that is, I'm not..."

"Kathy! Any lesser being should be honored to even be considered for such a privilege." Q said haughtily.

"Despite your sweet talking, I'm afraid I must decline your offer." She said, trying to keep a serious look.

"But just think what it could mean to you, to your crew, to have one of the Q in your corner, so to speak." Q said and gestured to the viewport over the bed.

Kathryn gasped as she saw the earth outside her window.

She stood, looking in wonder at her home planet. She was actually considering his offer for a moment when she realized that space station McKinley should be visible. And the starfleet space dock structure should be half-visible since it maintained a geosyncrynous orbit. Her thoughts were interrupted.

"You know that it is in my power to grant certain favors." Q said with a sly grin.

[And his favors would be as false as this implied promise... to take us back to a home that wasn't really home.] She thought with disappointment.

Q put his hand under her chin and turned her to face him.

::INTRUDER ALERT:: Sounded over the intercom.

Q looked away and began to look around the room with worry.

Kathryn was intrigued by his reaction, but before she could ask, Q absently said, "This wasn't supposed to happen."

Then he turned his attention back to her and said with false bravado, "Start as you mean to go on, as they say. This would be one of the perils of a relationship with a superior being. I have to go."

"What's bothered you Q?" Kathryn asked, interested in what could be so dire as to rattle Q so deeply.

"Nothing to concern your pretty little head Kathy. I will return... eventually. Consider my proposal." Q said and vanished with little more than a spark of his usual glamour.

* * * * *

Captain Janeway walked from the turbolift, still fastening the collar of her uniform as she called "Report." to the room in general.

"The computer detected two intruders in the sickbay area. The doctor reports that they are both severely wounded and near death and pose no threat. I have sent security to the sickbay in case he is mistaken." Tuvok said in a moderate tone.

"Sickbay to bridge." came the Doctor's voice.

"Go ahead Doctor." Janeway answered.

"I need Mr. Paris down here and I need security to back off so I can work. They're in my way." The Doctor said with irritation.

"Understood. Mr. Paris will be with you shortly." She said and nodded to Tuvok, knowing that he would make it so.

"I will be down in a moment and assess the need for security for myself. Janeway out." She said and was already half-way back to the turbolift.

* * * * *

"Report Doctor." Captain Janeway commanded as she walked into the sickbay.

"Two men, apparently human, both on full life support. Currently stable." The doctor said and motioned for her to come into the sickbay.

She noticed the four security officers standing at attention and motioned for three of them to leave.

"Thank you Captain. This one appears to be approximately twenty years old. A cursory examination leads me to believe that he was in an explosion. He has received rudimentary medical treatment but was near death when he arrived. I will need to clone a kidney, liver and stomach to restore him to normal functioning and a lower leg to restore him to full mobility. Various other organs have sustained significant damage and will need to be healed. My prognosis, it will take approximately two weeks to complete the cloning process and replace the organs. And an additional three days to repair the last of the non-vital damage and cosmetic injuries." The Doctor said and walked to the other man.

"This one appears to be approximately sixteen years old. He suffered a massive stroke. It must have happened immediately before or during his transport into the sickbay, because I was able to see his life signs drop from normal to nothing. He retains approximately twenty-two percent brain function. While neural reconstruction is possible, it would not be of any benefit in this case. I'm afraid there is nothing I can do for him but maintain his body." The Doctor said with detachment.

"Recommendations?" Kathryn asked, feeling a twinge in her heart for the sweet looking teenage boy who was basically brain-dead.

The Doctor knew that she was asking whether they should allow the younger one to die, and was just being tactful in the way she asked.

"I have had five minutes to assess the conditions of, and to stabilize both men... alone. If I am given adequate help and time I should be able to give you a more thorough report at the morning briefing."

He would never let her forget that she turned off the emergency medical channel of the comm system during their morning briefing last week. Kathryn fought the impulse to roll her eyes and simply nodded in acceptance.

"Proceed, Mr. Paris should be here shortly." She said as she left the sickbay.

* * * * *

"Good morning Captain." Tom Paris said as he exited the turbolift.

"Good morning Lieutenant Paris, I trust you are on your way to assist the Doctor." She said as she paused in the doorway to the turbolift.

"Yes... what kind of a mood is he in?" Tom asked cautiously.

"Mood Lieutenant? He is a holographic program, any mood that he has is simply a behavioral subroutine in his holomatrix." The Captain said in an instructive tone, knowing very well that the Doctor was as moody as any other member of the crew... maybe more so.

"Of course Captain." Lieutenant Paris said militarily then in a less formal tone said, "That bad, huh?"

"He's still got his matrix in a bunch about getting turned off during the morning briefing last week. But right now he honestly could use some help, he has two severely injured patients." She said and turned to leave.

"You know where to find me if you need me." Tom said offhandedly and turned to leave.

"Don't worry, Bateheart will be able to cover your shift at the helm today." Kathryn said with a smile before the turbolift doors closed.

[It's going to take that long? These guys must really be messed up.] Tom thought to himself as he made his way to the sickbay.

* * * * *

Kathryn braced herself before turning on the Medical Holographic Channel on the comm system.

"Doctor, do you have a report ready for me?" Kathryn asked as everyone in the meeting focused on the Doctor's image.

"Yes Captain. And I must say that I have found some surprising things that I don't know how to explain." The Doctor said with an expression that might be worry.

"Go ahead."

"Starting with the younger of the two who I will call patient one. He has several scars on his body. Apparently he has been cut by a sword, stabbed with a dagger and been burned on several separate occasions. He suffered from malnutrition during his youth, which has stunted his growth, and I suspect given him the appearance of being younger than he actually is. I now believe him to also be approximately twenty years old." The Doctor said professionally.

The Doctor paused for a moment, for dramatic effect then continued. "Patient two, the one who appears older, shows signs that he is a trained fighter. His body has obviously been conditioned over a period of years in a manner suggesting combat training. He has recent scars on both his arms that appear to be self inflicted."

"I don't find anything particularly shocking in any of this Doctor. What else." The Captain said dryly.

"Neither of these men come from this universe. Nor do they come from the same universe as each other. They each have distinctive quantum signatures, definitely not our own." The Doctor said with an 'is that surprising enough for you?' expression on his face.

"Okay Doctor, that one is a surprise, but it might help to explain how they arrived here when there were no other ships in the area." Kathryn speculated outloud.

"They also both show evidence of genetic mutation... extreme genetic mutation." The Doctor said and waited for a reaction.

"Humans? Mutated? Doctor, can you explain further?" Kathryn asked with interest, the scientist in her screaming for more information.

"They each have a genetic sequence that is not found in any human that I have examined or read about. I can only speculate how the mutated sequence would effect the overall organism... the possibilities are staggering." The Doctor said with his own scientist showing through.

"Is that everything?" Kathryn asked, hoping that it was.

"Yes, that is all the relevant information. The rest will be included in my report." The Doctor said, pulling himself back to the proper attitude for a morning briefing.

"And do you have a recommendation for me regarding the younger man?" Kathryn asked, needing to make some sort of decision.

"Yes, I recommend that we keep him on life support until patient two has regained consciousness and can give us more answers. I believe they are a romantic couple... he might appreciate the opportunity to say goodbye." The Doctor said with a note of sadness in his voice.

"How could you possibly know they were a couple?" B'Elana asked incredulously.

The Doctor looked toward her indignantly and said, "The trace of semen in patient two's rectum was my first clue, since it came from patient one. There was no evidence of any force being used and there are still traces of lubrication on both of them."

"I guess that could be a clue." Harry said weakly.

Chakotay nodded with wide eyes.

"Very well Doctor, I will consider your recommendation and get back to you. When patient two is recovered enough to achieve consciousness, I want to be notified immediately. There are still too many unknowns about this." Kathryn said as she thought to herself, [And how does this relate to Q's odd behavior?]

* * * * *

"EMH to Captain Janeway." The Doctor said into the comm panel.

"Go ahead." The Captain's voice responded.

"Captain, you wanted to be notified when patient two was able to be brought to consciousness." The Doctor said professionally.

"About time, it's been three days... I'm on my way. Janeway out." She said and severed the link.

A few moments later Captain Janeway entered the sickbay accompanied by a second security officer.

At the Doctor's look of question she said, "You said that he was a trained fighter. I just wanted to be prepared."

"Captain, the man has one leg and no stomach. Ms. Wildman could defeat him in unarmed combat." the Doctor said icily as he pressed the hypospray to the patient's neck.

"Watch that attitude Doctor, you're treading the line." the Captain said with acid.

"Understood, would you like some privacy?" the Doctor asked with artificial patience.

"Yes, please." the Captain responded with equally insincere politeness.

The Doctor walked away to leave the Captain alone with his patient.

* * * * *

He could hear a woman's voice talking to him. It was too low to be Orroro or Emma, he couldn't quite make out the words she was saying.

He tried to reach for his glasses but couldn't seem to move his arm.

"What do you need, I'll get it for you." Kathryn said as she noticed the man struggling to reach for something.

"My glasses." He rasped, surprised by the graveley sound of his voice.

"They aren't here. Can you tell me what you remember?" She asked quietly.

"Who are you?" Alan asked the woman, now sure that he didn't know her.

"My name is Kathryn Janeway, what is your name?" She asked with practiced diplomacy.

"Sc... Alan. Alan Summers." He said, his mind still in a fog.

"Alan, can you tell me your friend's name?" Kathryn asked quietly.

"I can't see. What friend? Where am I?" Alan asked with a wave of panic washing through him.

"Calm down. Doctor, he says he can't see." Kathryn called.

"No, I can see, but I can't open my eyes." Alan explained, trying to put together the pieces... and nothing would fit.

"Let me see if I can help." The Doctor said and took Alan's face into his hands.

"NO! You don't understand. If I open my eyes, I will burn a hole through something... or someone." Alan said with renewed panic as he recognized the feeling of being restrained.

"Am I to understand that your mutation manifests itself into an optic discharge of energy?" the Doctor asked, fascinated.

From the tone of the Doctor's voice, Alan decided that he wasn't a 'Friends of Humanity' doctor sent to butcher him, so he relaxed a little.

"Yeah. My glasses are made of ruby quartz, they are able to withstand my optic blasts since they are strictly in the red and infra-red range of light. They also allow me to see by filtering the other colors of light through to me." Alan said tiredly.

"I'll see if I can't make something for you so you can see." The Doctor said and moved to the replicator.

"How did you get here?" Kathryn asked, trying to keep her impatience out of her voice.

"I don't know where here is. The last thing I remember was... I was in an explosion... then I woke up here." Alan said cautiously, not knowing if these people were the authorities gathering evidence against him for the destruction of the data-warehouse.

"Try this." The Doctor said, putting a pair of glasses on Alan.

"Where is a place that I can look that won't cause too much damage if this doesn't work?" Alan asked cautiously.

"Turn your head to the left, it is a cargo bay." The Captain answered.

Alan turned his head, then experimentally opened one eye, just a slit. When nothing happened, he opened both eyes and looked around the room.

He saw Andrew laying on the next table and jerked against the restraint field trying to get to him.

"Just relax. Can you tell me your friend's name now?" Captain Janeway asked quietly.

Alan thought about all he was seeing and decided to take control of the situation.

"I may have told you too much already." Alan said and noticed the two security guards with their weapons drawn.

"We're not going to harm you. Your injuries are being healed, we just want to know some basic facts, like who you are, where you're from and how you got here." The Captain said reasonably.

"No disrespect, but your saying it doesn't make it so. I'm sorry Ms. Janeway, but until I'm more aware of my situation, I'm not going to answer any more questions. Why don't you answer a question for me?" Alan said with calm dignity.

"Ask what you like." Kathryn said with a smile that hid her displeasure.

"If you were in my situation, what would you do?" Alan said and laid his head back on the pillow.

"We'll talk again later Mr. Summers. Try to get some rest, you still have a lot of healing to do." She said and walked out of the room.

"Doctor?" Alan asked in as calm a voice as he could manage.

"Yes, can I get you something?" the Doctor asked pleasantly.

"My friend, can you tell me how he's doing?" Alan asked with pleading.

"I'm afraid your friend suffered a massive stroke. There is very little of his brain functioning and he is being kept alive by artificial means." The Doctor said quietly, wanting to be honest but not unnecessarily harsh.

Alan said nothing and lay back on the pillow again. [This time I did wake up in hell. Oh Andy, you can't leave me. We only just got together.]

Tears ran silently down his face until he drifted into an exhausted sleep.