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His eyes opened.
Confusion. He could see a faint image of himself in a glass or clear plastic panel before him. He could see his black hair and piercing blue eyes. His skin was a healthy tan and he looked like a typical teenage boy.
He had faint memories, conflicting memories.
[Where am I?]
[Who am I?]
Looking around he saw that he was in some type of a medical chamber, or a glass coffin. He saw a release handle and pulled it.
The lid of the chamber raised up and he made to move off the bed. There were tubes and wires attached to various places on his body preventing him from escaping. He began to work on removing them.
After a few minutes of removing the medical attachments, some painful, some a relief, he swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood. Or would have if his legs could have supported his weight.
Sprawled on the floor at the side of his bed, he worked up his resolve to go for another attempt at standing. He pulled himself up using the side of the bed and managed a shaky standing position on very weak legs.
He looked around the room and saw some twenty or thirty canisters like the one he had just escaped. He looked at his own canister and saw a label with familiar names on it. 'Paris-Chakotay'.
He felt a sense of identity with those names. He was Paris, Thomas Eugene Paris but at the same time, he was also Chakotay, son of Kolopeck. He shook his head in confusion and looked at the neighboring canister. The canister contained a teenage boy and was labeled 'Geron-Ayala'.
The faces of Geron Tem and Greg Ayala came to his mind and he could see a resemblance to both of the men, his friends in the face of this boy.
A noise caught his attention. Another of the canisters opened and he saw a girl with faint klingon cranial ridges and flowing auburn hair fighting to loose herself of the tubes and wires.
On shaking legs and with great effort he made his way to the girl and began to help her.
"You're naked." The girl said accusingly.
"So are you." The boy replied, then fought his way over to a coat rack some fifteen feet away.
"Who are you?" She called out in a hoarse voice.
"I... I'm not sure. My bed was labeled 'Paris-Chakotay'." He answered unsurely as he made his way back to her bed, wearing a lab coat and carrying one for her.
"What does mine say?" She asked, looking for her own label.
He pointed to the label and said, "Janeway-Torres."
An odd look came over her face and she stopped struggling with the tubes and wires. After a moment, he began to help her to free herself again and she silently helped him.
After she was freed, she tried to get to her feet. With his help, she didn't fall to the floor, but he supported most of her weight. He could barely support his own so he guided them to lean back against the bed.
"I don't know what's going on." She said in puzzlement.
"Me either, do you remember anything from before you just woke up?" He asked carefully.
"Yes, I remember a lot of things, but they don't make sense... I think I have two people's memories. Those of Kathryn Janeway and B'Elana Torres.
He thought about it and said, "Me too... but with Tom Paris and Chakotay."
"What's the last thing you remember?" She asked carefully.
"Being brought to the Delta quadrant from the Badlands, both my memories remember people being transported off our respective ships and then nothing... I was here." He said in a distant voice.
"Me too. I rememb..." She began to say as another canister opened.
The girl made her way to the opening canister and read the name before trying to help the occupant. 'Kim-Tuvok'.
The boy arrived at the canister with a lab coat and they helped the delicate young girl disentangle herself from the tubes and wires. They couldn't help but notice the mix of Vulcan and Earth/Asian features the girl possessed.
"Intriguing." The Vulcan girl said as she examined her situation.
"Quite." The boy said with a classic Tom Paris smirk and handed her a lab coat.
The first two teens to awake passed on their observations to the third. In typical Vulcan fashion, the third restated what they had said then formed a hypothesis based on the known facts.
"I conclude that each of us is a combination of the genetic material of those persons listed on our canister, somehow we have been imbued with the memories of our genetic donors. A cursory examination of these medical devices leads me to conclude that they are some sort of maturation chamber." The third said logically.
"First order of business would seem to be assessing our current situation in regards to our freedom. Are we prisoners? Patients? Lab experiments?" The second reasoned.
"I agree." The first said then continued, "What should we call each other? When all these canisters open up it's going to get awfully confusing around here."
The second pushed herself away from the bed and began to walk from canister to canister. "They all seem to be unique pairings, no crossovers. Let's go by the names on our canisters for now and we can come up with something more comfortable when we are more aware of our situation." She said with authority.
"Sounds good to me Janeway." Paris said with a gentle smile.
"Is that agreeable with you Kim?" Janeway asked seriously.
"It is acceptable." Kim said without a glimmer of emotion in her look or voice.
"Paris, find anything you can use as a weapon and secure the door, Kim, see if you can access that computer over there and find out any additional information while I start opening canisters." Janeway said with captain's authority.
Paris thought about rebelling against her orders. She was commanding him, expecting him to follow her orders without question. Then he decided that in this instance she was right. If they didn't assess their situation and secure their current location, there might not be a need for a discussion.
Paris looked around the room and found a piece of equipment that looked similar to a hydro spanner. Regardless of it's practical use as a tool, it seemed a perfectly satisfactory blunt object.
Janeway had opened about five canisters and helped their occupants to their feet as Paris watched from his position by the door when Kim said, "If the information in this computer is correct, we are the only people in this facility. An entity called the Caretaker used this medical facility to grow experimental creatures in hopes of finding a unique genetic code that would be able to withstand a particular virus. The caretaker's array exploded nearly one standard year ago and when it did, the lab technicians abandoned the lab in fear that the Kazon-Ogla or the Kazon-Nistrum would find them and slaughter them."
Janeway thought about the information and had to ask, "Any information about Voyager?"
"Or the Crazy-horse?" Paris threw in with irritation at her oversight.
"Or the Crazy-horse?" She conceded.
"Yes, there is a reference to the surviving members of both crews going aboard Voyager as the Crazy-horse was used to ram the array. Then Voyager left... on a course that appears to be the most direct route back to the Alpha quadrant."
Janeway considered this for a moment then made a declaration. "We are assuming that these reports are accurate and truthful. Paris, help Geron-Ayala, Carey-Winger, and Wildman-M. Delaney get on their feet. When they're strong enough and able to get around, take them as a team and investigate outside this room. I'll get Nicoletti-J. Delaney and Chell-Henley to help me revive the others, then look for sources of food and perhaps some more suitable clothing."
Paris just nodded and went to his task. Janeway was rubbing him the wrong way with her orders, but he couldn't deny that the things she was saying made sense and an argument now would be counterproductive to their well being. But the time would come.
"Paris, come here, I think you should see this." Janeway said with puzzlement in her voice.
Paris made his way over to the unopened canister and gasped when he saw the obviously Cardassian boy lying asleep. Or to be more precise half Cardassian. The label said Sudor-Seska.
"Which of them do you think was the Cardassian? Seska or Sudor?" Janeway asked Paris quietly.
"It had to be Seska, Cardassians don't have telepathic abilities and Lon Sudor is from Betazed, and I know he is telepathic." Paris said with shock in his voice.
"So Seska was a Cardassian spy on your ship. That leads me to the question... what do we do with Sudor-Seska?" Janeway asked, obviously wanting his advice.
"I think the wisest course of action would be to leave him as he is for now, until we better understand our current situation. Later when we are sure of our resources and capabilities we can make a further decision." Paris said in a voice of speculation.
"I agree." Janeway said and moved on to the next canister. "Before you take your team out for recon, check with Kim to see if there is a floorplan available in the computer." Janeway said as she tried to revive the girl, Dalby-Telfer.
Paris nodded grudgingly and went to speak to Kim.
"Kim, have you come across a floor plan of this place?" Paris asked as he approached the half-Vulcan.
"No, but I haven't been looking for one. I appear to have found something directly related to our current situation." Kim said with Vulcan efficiency.
"I can't make out the language, but it looks like an abort sequence." Paris said, looking at the alien display.
"I came to the same conclusion. The sequence was awaiting a confirmation to abort the biological experiments in this lab." Kim said with an almost emotional quietness.
"They meant to abort us before they left the lab, but someone forgot to acknowledge the request so the computer kept maturing us until we were complete." Paris said, not speaking to Kim but voicing his thoughts as he put them together.
"Apparently we were a key press away from oblivion." Kim said in confirmation.
"Could you try to find me a floor plan?" Paris asked, his mind snapping back to his task.
"Of course." Kim said as she turned back to her work.
"Geron, Carey, Wildman. Are you ready to move out?" Paris turned and projected his voice across the room.
"Yes sir." The girl and two boyss responded with military precision.
"Your floor plan." Kim said behind him.
Paris turned back and accepted a device that looked like a large, overgrown version of a Starfleet padd.
"Let's move out." Paris said, making his way toward the door.
His team moved as one to join him at the door and, as a group they cautiously moved out into the hallway.
* * * * *
"Janeway, I believe that I have found an explanation for our donor's memories." Kim said loudly enough for Janeway to hear.
Janeway approached and started reading over Kim's shoulder.
"I can't make this language out, what does it say?" Janeway said cautiously.
"If I am translating it properly, it says that we were given our donor's memories so that we could serve as storage units, in hope that a combination of our genetics produced a virus resistant organism. If such a virus resistant organism were created from us, then the knowledge of the location of the origin species and medical history would be preserved. There is a local race, the Ocampa, who have telepathic abilities. They were used to collect the memories of our donors and store them short term, until our brains were matured to a point where we could house the memories ourselves."
Janeway was shocked. The only race she knew of that could perform memory transference on that level were the Vulcans and it was a rarity to the extreme. "Why did they house the memories in us and not permanently in the Ocampa?" Janeway asked casually.
"The memories were foreign to the Ocampa and they would automatically purge them over a long period of time. Since we were in essence empty, devoid of our own memories, the Ocampa could purge the memories into us and relieve themselves of the burden of carrying them and, at the same time they could keep the knowledge safe for later use." Kim said clinically.
"Have you discovered why we were created? They could have certainly found any information they wanted from our donors." Janeway asked in concern.
"I believe that we were just the first step in a lengthy process of combining and recombining DNA from various species. As I understand the process, we were never intended to achieve consciousness, only be a receptacle for our donor's memories and DNA patterns. Once we were sufficiently matured, we were to be put into stasis and combined with other species to create hybrid beings in hopes of stumbling across a genetic combination that would be resistant to a particular disease that was concerning the Caretaker." Kim said, nearly betraying emotion in her voice.
Janeway stood aghast at the horror of their intended fate. To be breeding stock for another being's quest for a cure to a disease was beyond barbaric, she couldn't find words for the crime that had been committed against them... But they were alive and aware now, they needed to take every precaution to preserve their lives, and return to the federation, the closest thing to a home that they would find.
* * * * *
Nearly an hour after leaving the maturation bay, Paris and his crew returned with news of the facility.
"Janeway, this station seems to be deserted. We have found several other rooms like this one, but none of them show any signs of life. There are also thousands of stasis chambers, but they seem to have been set to kill their occupants before our hosts left, I wouldn't recommend going in there." Paris said efficiently.
"My team found crew quarters and a mess hall facility that is stocked with something vaguely resembling food. Dalby says she can probably do something with it to make it edible, she and Chell are working on that now. Nicoletti and Kim have been working on stabilizing Vorik-Johnson. Apparently, his human/vulcan physiology is having difficulty functioning without the assistance of the maturation chamber's life support." Janeway said with concern.
"What do you think we should do next?" Paris asked cautiously.
"I think we need to establish a command structure to optimize our efficiency. Starfleet protocols would suggest that..." Janeway started when Paris interrupted.
"I agree that we need to establish a chain of command, but I don't think that Starfleet protocols have any place in our current situation." Paris said loudly enough to draw the attention of the other occupants of the room.
"How can you say that? Our best chance to survive is to make ourselves into disciplined Starfleet officers." Janeway said with a slight klingon growl creeping into her voice.
"I can say that because half our crew is made up of Maquis. And the only reason the Maquis even existed is because the disciplined Starfleet officers sold our homes out from under us to the Cardassians." Paris said with his own growl.
"So what are you saying? That you want us to operate like a guerilla camp?" Janeway asked with a loud sneer of derision.
"No, I'm just saying that I don't agree with us automatically falling into line as a Starfleet crew. I have fundamental problems with some of Starfleet's politics and policies." Paris said matching Janeway's volume, then continued in a more reasonable tone, "Why don't we form a democracy, there aren't so many of us that we can't sit down as a group and discuss what type of command structure we should use. Honestly I don't see either Starfleet or Maquis methods being appropriate in our current situation."
Janeway calmed herself, then considered Paris' words. "I won't concede to the points against Starfleet, but I will agree to the discussion." Janeway said, then noticed the group of people listening to their conversation.
"I don't expect you to concede anything Janeway, I'm only asking that you come to the discussion with an open mind, and I'll try to do the same." Paris said with a gentle smile.
"What is the condition of Vorik?" Janeway asked of Kim.
"He is stable, I believe the proper term for his condition is 'diabetic' if I remember my earth history correctly. He will require regular monitoring of his blood sugar levels and insulin injections at least four times a day." Kim said with Vulcan efficiency.
"Why isn't he conscious?" Paris asked, concerned by the diagnosis.
"I am. I just have a headache." Vorik said in a pained voice.
Kim went back over to Vorik's side and began using a scanning device to determine the source of Vorik's pain.
A skinny light blue skinned boy with brown peach-fuzz hair poked his head through the door and said, "The food is ready for anyone who is hungry."
Immediately people began making their way toward the door as Kim said, "I will remain here to monitor Vorik and Sudor."
"I'll have my meal then come back to relieve you." Nicoletti said and left the room, not waiting for Kim to confirm the plan.
Kim raised an eyebrow in a typical Vulcan fashion as she watched Nicoletti leave the room.