Voyager Vignettes III

Darrel W. Beach

Jan. 1997
Revised and HTMLized, June 1999

The following presentation is rated G.

The Battle Within

     Tuvok sat alone at his usual table in the mess hall, sipping on a cup of tea while he engrossed himself in his novel. He hadn't originally planned to schedule a break for himself this evening, but Captain Janeway had insisted upon it. Voyager was due to arrive at the Fraalian homeworld in the morning and the captain wanted every member of the away team to be fully rested and alert for the welcoming reception. It didn't matter to her in the least that a Vulcan could go for days without sleep; given the history of their encounters with alien species in the Delta Quadrant so far, she wanted to make as positive an impression as she could.
     He took another sip. He had to admit, he didn't mind getting an opportunity to relax. The last several months had been more physically and mentally demanding than usual. He scrolled to the next page, contented that Neelix finally knew enough not to disturb him while he was reading. The Talaxian usually went out of his way to test the Vulcan's emotional reserve.

     Violence. Bloodlust. Brutality. Carnage.

     Lon Suder clenched his fists and closed his eyes, riding out the wave of emotions that swept through him. These moments were an increasing source of frustration now that Lt. Tuvok had shown him the way of logic and control. He thumped the desktop angrily, upset with his accursed diseased mind, wondering if he could ever find an end to his suffering. He then took a deep breath, reigning in his rising temper. He was overreacting again. Tuvok would never approve of such behavior.
     The Betazoid turned off the desktop terminal and paced the room, trying to expend his nervous energy. Suder found his confinement to quarters a difficult situation to live in, especially during extended periods of time. Tuvok normally stopped by every couple of days, either to discuss botany or to play a game of chess, but lately his visits were becoming more infrequent and Suder was having trouble finding ways to occupy his time. All of this idleness was putting a greater amount of stress on him. He needed something that would take his mind off the violent impulses running around inside.

     Tranquillity. Calm. Strength. Balance.

     He set the lights in his quarters at a low intensity, just as any Vulcan preferred when preparing for meditation. Although the condition was not an absolute necessity, meditation always heightened the senses and reduced lighting would prevent undue damage to the eyes once the session concluded. The temperature of the room was a bit cool, since it was set to Federation standard, but it mattered not to him. Vulcans had a tolerance for a great many things, and the inconvenience would soon be forgotten anyway. Therefore, it would be illogical to adjust the environmental controls at this time.
     Tuvok usually found great comfort in meditation: it allowed clarity of thought and purpose, a way of reaffirming the calm control of logic that all Vulcans valued. However, ever since the mind-meld with the psychopathic Betazoid, Tuvok's meditation served more as a means of therapy, to assist him in coping with the unstable emotions that had now become a part of him. The impulses that once threatened his health and sanity were now nowhere near as severe or frequent, but it was a slow process of healing.
     Igniting some candles of incense, the chief security officer spread himself out on his bunk, his eyes closed and hands steepled together atop his chest. Almost automatically his breathing deepened and slowed, his heart rate dropped, and with them his mind began to recite the verses of Surak's teachings. Tuvok looked into himself, now in a state of centeredness.

     Reason. Logic. Control. Inner peace.

     It was those things that Suder sought most in his endeavor to take his life back from the violent tendencies that haunted him. All his life the Betazoid surrendered to the need to inflict pain and death, not ever really knowing why, only that it had to be done. Once he had tried to defeat this bloodlust, trying every kind of treatment and therapy conceivable in modern medicine. In the end he found the only possible solution was to give in to the destructive urges, hoping against all hope that perhaps one day his appetite for death would be sated. Unfortunately, that day never arrived. Whether by chance or predestination, he found himself isolated on a solitary Federation vessel, deserted in a distant region of the galaxy fraught with hostile, conniving peoples and uncertainty. Now, suddenly, there was no outlet for which to unleash his macabre craving for bloodshed.
     The day of Crewman Frank Darwin's killing was a mixed blessing in disguise. From the onset of their arduous journey he avowed once again to acquit himself of this murderous hobby, motivated by the closeness of space and the rapid familiarity with those aboard. And for a while he had shown remarkable restraint. However, the mounting pressure to kill finally became too overwhelming to suppress. That was when Lt. Tuvok proposed the notion of performing a Vulcan mind-meld in an attempt to understand the ensign's motive for murdering the junior engineer -- which, of course, there was none -- and in so doing opened up a realm of contentment and resolve Suder had never aspired to taste. It now seemed so much easier to push the violent instincts aside and view the world from a quiet, rational perspective.
     However, inner peace came at a price. A regimen of mental exercises and meditation was demanded of him by Tuvok in order to keep his resistance up. And so it was that he found himself now, deep in the recesses of his own mind, attempting to focus his thoughts and energies into the calming influence of logic.

     Hate. Rage. Confusion. Despair.

     The emotions came unbidden, and in one brief moment he felt his control slipping from him. It was unsettling, that even though he had an upper hand in dealing with them, they could still affect him so profoundly. In that one moment he longed to hear the sound of bones fragmenting and cartilage tearing, to scream a blood-curdling cry of anguish and torment, to free himself of a tortured existence. But just as quickly as it came, he exerted his mental powers to gather up his emotions and submerge them under a barricade of control. Hopefully time would be the provider of wounds healed.

     Awakening, Suder hoped that tending to his flowers would provide extra solace for his troubled mind. He said a silent prayer of thanks to Lt. Tuvok for providing him with a new arsenal of weapons to fight his demons. They had yet to cure him, but right now he felt closer to a normal life than he had ever known.

     Awakening, Tuvok hoped that tending to his flowers would provide extra solace for his troubled mind. Once again the battle was waged, and once again he arose the victor, overcoming impulses that were not truly his own. Still, he wondered if he would ever be able to purge himself of these noxious emotions.

Moving On

     It was finally over; the journey of the nomadic U.S.S. Voyager was at an end. Despite all the perils the ship and crew had endured, Kathryn Janeway had delivered on her promise to return them home -- a little bruised and battered, but safely nonetheless. One thing she prided herself on was keeping her word.
     Even as she stood outside the yard of her home, she could still hardly believe that it wasn't all a figment of her imagination. After all the time travelling through the cold depths of uncharted space, the condition of her house and property appeared unaltered, preserved to the exact day she had last set foot here. The garden was fresh with the sweet scents of azaleas and irises; the grass was lush and dewy and in need of a trim; the birch was in its full splendor, casting a cool shade across the yard.
     The playful barking of a dog interrupted her nostalgia of the scenery, but with a growing disbelief she recognized it as the warm greeting of her old friend Molly Malone. It seemed incredible, that she would manage to survive this long, long enough to welcome her owner and companion back to the homestead. Kathryn spun to her left, only to see a shaggy mass of rusty fur bound across the yard and around the corner of the house to the back. It struck her as odd that the Irish setter hadn't tackled her upon sight, but then considering how long she had been away, maybe Molly Malone had forgotten her scent.
     Eager to reacquaint herself with her old companion, Kathryn followed the path to the backyard. The vision that unfolded made her heart burst with joy. Through the open gate she spied the form of her long-lost lover, Mark. The facial features were a little more etched, the hair beginning to grey at the temples, but it was still the same man who captured her affections so long ago. She couldn't put into words how much it meant to her that he was still here, tending to Molly Malone. In her heart she knew Mark hadn't forgotten her.
     "Mark!" she cried out excitedly, but he seemed not to hear her. Again she bellowed his name, but to no avail; his attention was clearly elsewhere.
     Kathryn puzzled over what it might be until she heard the ebullient laughter of young children and the yapping of puppies. No doubt the scene was more than distracting, but it left her a more curious riddle: since obviously Molly Malone was too advanced in age to bear young, whose puppies were they? Through rational thought she deduced that they must belong to one of the pups from Molly's first litter. It would also explain why her canine friend didn't recognize her; more than likely it was this pup she had mistaken for her companion. A slight stab of grief struck her at the thought that perhaps Molly Malone had passed on after all. Still, it comforted her knowing that Mark had kept the pup, to give her something of Molly to remember.
     Reaching the gate entrance, Kathryn took in the view with a sudden horror. The children whom she had heard -- which she assumed were visiting neighborhood kids to play with the puppies -- bore a strong resemblance to her lover. The same fair hair, the same eyes; it was unmistakable. The nightmarish spectacle progressed, as an unknown woman appeared from within her home. Kathryn could not see her face, but the glint of the golden band encircling her finger was all she needed to see.
     Kathryn was completely helpless as she watched her paradise shatter before her like so much fine stemware. She vainly attempted to intercept the woman's path, to grab Mark by the cuff of his shirt and demand an explanation of what she was witnessing, but her feet were rooted into place. Every moment that passed seemed to lengthen her distance from him, out of reach from her grasp, until it felt like she was a mile away.

     Kathryn awoke from the nightmare, a clammy sheen of perspiration covering her skin. It frustrated her to no end that they still recurred, even after all this time. She had accepted the fact that Mark and Molly Malone were a distant part of her life now -- or so she believed. The bad dreams suggested that she might yet have some reservations.
     A certain first officer of hers, whose counsel she had come to trust, implied that the dreams were a manifestation of the guilt and regret she felt for being unable to say good-bye properly. He also strongly recommended that she talk to her spirit guide, who could help her move on to the next phase of her life, and allow herself to open up to someone new.
     At the last piece of advice she dismissed as she always did; it just wasn't acceptable for the captain to get involved in a relationship. There were already too many responsibilities with which to concern herself, a romantic involvement would be too much of a distraction. It was a distraction she couldn't afford, not when it meant jeopardizing the safety of her ship and crew. She had made a promise to return them all safely to the Alpha Quadrant.
     One thing she prided herself on was keeping her word.


     The dining room table was elegantly adorned for the night's occasion: sterling silverware, bone china, crystal champagne glasses -- right down to the white cotton tablecloth. The freshly lit pair of tapered candles cast just the right amount of light in the darkened room, glimmering like the twin stars of Vendrax as seen from his home on a warm summer night. It had taken him over five hours to prepare, but it had been worth it; everything was in perfect order. This would be an evening she would remember for a long time.
     Neelix started pacing the room, burning off the nervous energy quietly accumulating within him. He remembered the first time he met Kes, the victim of a needless beating at the hands of the Kazon-Ogla. Despite the swollen and discolored welts masking her alabaster skin, he was instantly drawn by her flawless beauty. Even more alluring was her determination and thirst for life and adventure, which she made evident by her explorations to the dry, desolate surfaces of Ocampa and her defiance to the Ogla warriors. From that moment on he determined to remove her from all the harms of the universe. This remembrance made him smile with satisfaction, knowing he'd triumphed in that endeavor.
     "Neelix? What's going on?" asked his spritely companion, who found herself walking into shadows. Stumbling across the room, Kes aimed straight for the source of illumination. She eyed the spread on the table with curiosity mixed with delight. "Oh, Neelix, this looks wonderful! But why? I don't understand."
     The Talaxian bubbled over with excitement. "Today is our eighteen month anniversary, my sweet! I wanted to surprise you with a special dinner. It was Lieutenant Paris' suggestion to use the candles; he told me it's a common practice among humans, to set the right atmosphere."
     "Well, that would explain why he acted so peculiarly when I saw him today," she remarked to herself.
     Neelix approached his mate and cupped her chin in one hand. "Do you know how much you mean to me, my dearest Kes? My life would be empty and without meaning if I didn't have you here to share it. If you were ever lost, I'd shift heaven and earth to get you back. I just love you so much."
     She smiled affectionately back at him. "I know you do, Neelix. Just being here, on this ship, every day reminds how much you care for me, and how much I care for you, too."
     They stood there for the longest time in silence, mesmerized by each other's gaze. The two lovers didn't even consider the meal lying on the dining table, now cold.

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