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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Star Trek Voyager: Phantoms of the Mind

More Star Trek fan fiction, this one based on my non-Star Trek short story Phantoms of the Mind, from my short story collection of the same title. I wrote the original short back in 1988 and this Star Trek version in 1998.

 

Star Trek Voyager:

Phantoms of the Mind


Harry Kim crawled through the bowels of Voyager.
The Jeffries Tube clutched him like a fist. He pulled himself forward inch by inch. Sweat covered his body and soaked his uniform. The toolkit he pushed ahead of himself scraped harshly on the deckplates.
The voice of B’Elanna Torres suddenly filled the crawlspace. “You there yet, Harry?”
“Just about,” Harry said pantingly. “I think the next thing we need to work on is getting some air conditioning in here.”
He crawled up to the hatch he sought and paused to wipe his brow. Then he released the clamps and opened the hatch. “Okay, B’Elanna,” he called out as he opened the tool kit. “I'm there.”
In Engineering, Torres stood at the console, studying readouts. In front of her, the intermix column was quiescent—the warp drive had been shut off.“Good,” she said to Harry. “Let's hope this works. That cracked conduit's been out of commission for too long.”
Harry reached into the open hatch and ran a plaser over the conduit. Sealant jetted into the large crack. “Almost got it, B’Elanna.”
He finished up. The beam cut off and he pulled the plaser from the hole, setting it on the deck. He squatted back against the tube wall, sweating profusely.“That should do it.” He reached back into the hole and stroked the newly-sealed crack, testing it. Pulled a tricorder from his belt and held it toward the conduit. “Ready whenever you are, B’Elanna.”
Torres walked to another instrument panel and began pressing buttons. “Okay Harry. I'll start with a flow rate of 5%.”
The intermix column began to slowly pulse.
Harry watched his tricorder. “Steady so far. Negligible stress on the conduit.”
Torres looked up briefly at the intermix column, then looked back to her panel, pushing more buttons. “Increasing flow to 25%.”
The intermix column pulsed more rapidly.
“Still green,” said Harry.
“Great. 50%.”
“Looking good.”
“I'm taking it to 75%.”
Suddenly the conduit ruptured. Neon green liquid spurted out and doused Harry. He lurched back against the wall and rolled to the middle of the tunnel, screaming and writhing in agony. Green liquid continued shooting from the conduit.
“Harry?” Kim's screams leapt from the intercom. “Harry!” As Kim's screams echoed in her ears, Torres feverishly punched buttons, shutting off the intermix flow. She looked away from the intermix column and hit her communicator, cutting off Kim's screams. “Sickbay! Medical emergency! Computer! Lock onto Ensign Kim and beam him directly to sickbay!” She slammed her hand angrily against the control panel.
She turned and ran toward sickbay.

Torres paced the floor nervously, near the door. Nearby, Harry lay on a diagnostic bed. The Doctor was working on him with a protoplaser.
Janeway entered, followed closely by Tom Paris. They stopped beside Torres and watched the Doctor's ministrations.
“How is he?” Janeway asked.
Torres opened her mouth to reply, but the Doctor interrupted her as he joined them. “Allow me to answer that, Captain. I'm afraid the prognosis is not good.”
“Let's hear it.”
“Ensign Kim suffered extensive plasma burns. However, I was able to adequately repair his skin.”
“But?”
The Doctor looked back at Harry. “He absorbed a lethal dosage of radiation. Microcellular therapy was unsuccessful...”
Paris interrupted. “How long, Doc?”
“I'm afraid Ensign Kim has only three days to live, at the most.”
They all turned and looked at Harry. He raised his head weakly, returning their stares.“Captain...”
Paris put on a lighthearted face and strolled over to Harry's bedside. His skin was pink and shiny. “Hey, Harry,” Paris said gently, “if you wanted a vacation, there are easier ways to go about it.”
Harry managed a weak smile.
Janeway put a comforting hand on Kim's shoulder.
“Captain, I'm....” His eyes closed and his head slowly relaxed back onto the bed.
The others looked to the Doctor, who scanned Harry with a tricorder. “Don't worry, he is merely unconscious. Sleeping.
“Doctor,” Janeway said, “are you absolutelycertain there's nothing you can do?”
“Captain, I assure you, I've--”
Janeway shook her head and waved him into silence. She rubbed the bridge of her nose and massaged her eyes for a moment, looking troubled. When she'd collected herself she turned to Torres. “How soon will you have the enginesback on line?”
“I've got a crew decontaminating the Jeffrey's tube now. When that's done....”
Janeway and Torres turned and left Sickbay, still discussing the matter.
Paris looked down at the sleeping Harry, looked briefly at the Doctor, then followed the other two. He walked a few feet down the corridor, then stopped and sank against the wall, his eyes wet.

A long, dimly lit hallway. Scorched walls, blackened, pocked with holes. Debris littering the hallway. People rushed by in a frenzy of activity.
   Harry lay along the wall, eyes closed. Slowly his eyes fluttered open. He sat up and looked around, disoriented. Stood. Ran his hands over his body, checking his health. He quickly backed out of the way as the hurrying people jostled him as they passed. They paid him no attention.
A muffled explosion rocked the hallway, startling Harry. A fine powder rained down from the ceiling, settling in his hair and on his uniform. He coughed.
He looked in the direction the people were heading, then followed. He came to a bend in the hallway, and a woman hurtled from around the corner, colliding with him. They both staggered back.
“Whoa!” Harry grabbed at the woman's forearms to keep her and himself from falling.
“Sorry about that,” she said. She pulled back and studied Kim's face, ran her eyes over his uniform. “Who are you? I've never seen you before.”
“Ensign Harry Kim.” He extended his hand in greeting. She stared at him warily for several long moments before taking it. “I'm Shara,” she smiled.
Harry shuffled his feet nervously; she was very attractive. “Uh, look, this is going to sound strange, but...Where am I? I have no idea where I am.”
“You're in the Citadel. In Capital City.”
They both swayed and fought to keep their feet as another explosion rocked the hallway.
“Capital of what?” Harry asked. “What planet is this?”
Shara's smile faded and she looked at him suspiciously. “It's Galtran. What other planet is there?” Another explosion. “We'd better hurry up and get below with the otehrs. But first, I need your help. Follow me.”
She took Harry's hand and pulled him back the way he had come.
She led him into a room that was little more than a closet. Shelves lined the walls. Various objects cluttered the shelves: large packs with shoulder straps, small packs, tools, and dozens of other items.
She began grabbing packs from the shelves, throwing the straps around her neck. “Grab everything you can carry.”
Harry watched her rushing around, made no move to help. “Look, I need some answers. What am I doing here, and how did I get here? Last thing I remember is falling asleep in sickbay.”
She held a pack out toward Harry and he reluctantly put the strap around his neck. She began piling more stuff into his arms as they talked.
“Where's sickbay?” she asked.
“Back on Voyager.”
“Voyager? What's that?”
“My starship.”
Shara smirked at him. “Starship?!” She forcefully pressed an item into his arms. “Listen: you look different, and you're dressed strangely, but I'm not convinced you didn't sneak in here past the guards. You're very cute, but no amount of charm or trickery will get you a place on the rocket, so why are you bothering to try? The crew is already selected.” She placed a hand on his shoulder. “I'm truly sorry.” She hurried from the room.
Harry stood looking after her, his arms full.“Am I dreaming or...am I dead?”
He ran after her.
They walked as swiftly as their burdens would allow. Several far-off explosions once again rocked the hallway. They passed an jagged hole in the wall. Beyond was darkness, night. A field of tarmac stretched away toward distant lights—possibly a city. Stars speckled the sky. High in the sky hung a large white ball of light, with a tail of diffuse whiteness smeared across the sky behind it.
Harry stopped and looked out the hole, eyes fastened on the ball of light.“What's that? A meteor?”
“It's the third asteroid.” She looked sidelong at him. “You really don't know, do you?”
“I told you, I'm not from around here.”
“Four day from now it's going to impact several thousand miles to the west. The first two hit three days ago, onthe other side of the planet. Massive tidal waves, earthquakes, planet knocked off its axis--all that good stuff. Ina few days we won't be able to seethe sun anymore. Too much dust.” She sighed. “Three more on the way. Galtran's doomed.”
Bullets suddenly ricocheted off the wall near Harry. Both of them quickly ducked back inside the hallway.
“Someone out there's seen us,” she said.
She started walking, and Harry ran to catch up with her, nearly dropping his burden.
“Who was shooting at us?” he asked. “And what's making all those explosions?”
“The people out there don't want us to leave. They're angry that we're abandoning them. But we can't all fit aboard the rocket. And anyway, we won the lottery fair and square.”
Harry shook his head, perplexed. Opened his mouth the second man to Harry and Shara, “unless you want the same, I suggest you hand over your indenti-tickets.”
Harry set down the packs he carried and held out his hands. “Look, you're making a mistake.We don't—”
The first man's finger tightened on the trigger. “No, you're the one making a mistake. Now hand over--”
The second man suddenly fired at Shara. A beam of green energy spat from the gun. Without thinking Harry leapt at her, knocked her out of the way. The beam grazed him, sending waves of agony through his body. He hit the ground and rolled to his feet, wishing he had a phaser.
There was a flash of light, and a phaser suddenly appeared in Harry's outstretched hand. He looked momentarily shocked, but fired before the men could react. The phaser beam was on wide-dispersal and hit both men simultaneously. They fell to the ground.
Shara looked at the phaser in Kim's hand. “Did you kill them?”
Awash in agony, he said, “They're just stunned.”
She put her arm around him, to help support him. “Where did that weapon come from? And what is it? I've never seen its like.”
“I- I don't know,” Harry said in confusion. “I was just wishing I had a phaser, and suddenly there it was.”
She looked at the fallen men. “If they made it through the guards at the gate, there could be others.Maybe they killed the guards. We'd better get back to the Vault. Can you make it?”
Harry suddenly moaned and put his arm against the wall for support. Pressed his other hand to forehead.
“What's wrong?” asked the woman. “The beam only grazed you; you shouldn't be in this much pain.”
“Don't know...I suddenly don't feel so great. Dizzy...” His nerves felt aflame. He fell to the ground, and everything grew fuzzy...

Night shift in sickbay. The lights were dim. Harry lay on the diagnostic bed, asleep. Face sweaty, skin pale. His eyes suddenly flew open. He sat bolt upright. “Doctor!” he screamed, panic in his voice.

Tom Paris entered Sickbay and went over to Harry's bedside. “Good morning, sleepy head.Thought I'd stop in and see if you were awake yet.”
Harry groaned as he struggled to raise himself onto his elbows. He still looked pale, but not quite as pale as he had earlier.
“Is it my imagination or do you look better?”
“The doctor says I've improved slightly.”
Paris was astonished. “Really? But he said....”
“I know. Same prognosis, though. I haven't improved that much. Tom! I had an incredible dream last night...”
Paris grinned. “Oh really? Did it involve anyone we know?”
“Not that kind of dream.”
“But those are the best kind.”
Harry ignored Paris' remark.“It was strange. I was on a planet called Galtran. Asteroids were bombarding the planet, and from what I could gather, a small group of people were preparing to leave in some kindof rocket. The rest of the people weren't too happy about that and were trying to break into the refuge. Anyway, it seemed so real, until the end when we wereattacked. I wished for a phaser and -boom- I had one. That's when I started to think maybe I was dreaming, and...Except that I don't think it was a dream. I mean, it was too vivid. Like I was really there, in another place. Sound, touch, smell ...everything. It was like...” He searched for the right description. “...like being in a holodeck fantasy. Except....”
“What are you saying, Harry? You think your dream was....what?”
“I don't know. Maybe I was somehow transported to a parallel universe. Except the doctor says I haven't left sickbay. I—”
They were interrupted by Paris' communicator.
Chakotay's voice said with slight sarcasm, “Mr. Paris, sorry to trouble you, but you're a minute late.”
“Sorry, Commander. Be right there.Paris out.” He looked to Harry. “Well, duty calls. Try not to have too much fun on your day off.” He touched Kim's arm, turned and headed toward the door.
As he passed the doctor's desk, the doctor called out,
“Mr. Paris, do you have a moment?”
Paris veered into the doctor's office.“Sure, doc. What is it?”
“I thought you would be pleased to know that Mr. Kim has improved slightly. The radiation in his bodyhas lessened by 5%.”
“Yeah, but he's still...” Paris swallowed. “He's still going to die, right?”
“Yes, but--”
“Has he told you about his dream, doc?”
The Doctor nodded.
“What do you make of that? Is it possiblehe wasn't dreaming?”
“If you are suggesting, as he did, that perhaps he was transported tosomewhere else, then the answer is no.
According to the computer and the medical monitors, he never left Voyager. The monitors do, however, show intense REM activity during the time in question. In short, Mr. Paris, he had a very vivid dream, nothing more.”
Paris sighed. “Thanks, doc.”
Paris turned and left sickbay.

Harry's eyes slowly opened. He lay in one corner of a dimly lit room crowded with people. There was a low, steady hum of a dozen conversations. A child somewhere in the room was crying. The air was hot and wet, and sweat coated his body. He was naked, wrapped in a blanket. He propped himself up on his elbows and looked down at himself. His skin was raw red, covered with burns. And they hurt. He gritted his teeth.
He slowly became aware of Shara sitting beside him, watching him with concern. “You've been unconscious for an entire day,” she said softly. “Thanks for saving me.”
“Where are we?”
“In the Vault.” His eyes told her that meant nothing to him, so she continued, “Where we're staying until the ship is ready.” She patted the concrete wall behind her. “Heavily reinforced. They managed to break through the perimeter, but they can't get to us in here. And they can't get at the ship either.”
“They?”
“The rest of the population. Those who won't survive the bombardment. We can only save 1% of our people. The rest don't think that's fair, it should be all or none, and....it's anarchy out there.” She pointed beyond the walls. “The other nine ships left last week. We'll launch the day after tomorrow and rendezvous with them.” She looked over the people in the Vault. “We're the last group to leave. You really don't know any of this?”
“I told you I'm not from Galtran.”
“That's impossible! But I'll bite. Where are you from, then?”
He laughed weakly. How could he tell her that as far as he knew, he was dreaming? “You wouldn't believe me.”
“Try me.”
He opened his mouth to reply, but sudden pain made him moan in agony. Every inch of his skin felt on fire. It passed as quickly as it had began. If this was a dream, it was the most vivid, detailed one he'd ever had. He panted heavily. “How bad is it?” he asked her.
She was leaning over him, rubbing some sort of oil on his skin. “The man in the hall shot you with a plasma beam. It only grazed you, but these burns are consistent with a full-on blast. Doctor Ovolos doesn't know what to make of it. He says that—” Her voice choked. “I'm sorry. He says you're going to die”
“Don't worry about it,” he told her. “He's not the first doctor to tell me that recently.” He noticed a pendant hanging from her neck. He reached out and caught it in his hand. There was a picture of a man on it. “Who's this?”
She jerked the pendant out of his hand and sat back against the wall. “It's my husband. He--he looked a lot like you.” She turned away from him, trembling, beginning to cry.
Harry closed his eyes, feeling so weak. Sleep dragged him down.
While he slept, he dreamed of voices and dim faces, half-glimpsed through the haze of exhaustion. Captain Janeway conversing with the Doctor. Tom Paris calling his name. Kes holding his hand, crying softly. And the Doctor, appearing several times to scan him with a tricorder.
Then he was awakened by soft whispering voices, and the sound of a child crying.
A leathery old man with wild, uncombed gray hair and sharp eyes sat nearby, watching him.
Shara was slumped against Harry, sleeping.
“Good, you're awake,” the old man said. “I'm Ovolos. Feel like talking?”
“I hurt all over,” Harry whispered. He looked down at his naked arms. The skin was flame red, puffy with blisters.
“That's because you're dying, son,” the man said in a sardonic voice.
He looked down at Shara sleeping propped against his shoulder. Looked around the large darkened room filled with adults and children wrapped in blankets and hunkered on the floor and against the walls, likewise sleeping, or whispering to each other in the darkness. “Why am I in here?” Harry asked. “I thought only people who had been chosen to survive were in here.”
“When Shara first brought you here, the guards tried to keep you out,” Ovolos explained. “But for some reason Shara's taken a liking to you. She insisted. She can be quite stubborn, and after she told me your story I convinced those in charge that it would be in our own best interest to have you here.”
He looked at Shara. “I didn't think she believed me.”
Ovolos laughed. “She doesn't. She says you have kind eyes and you remind her of her dead husband.”
“But you believe me?”
“I can't afford not to. Maybe I'm being foolish, grasping at straws, but... You say you're from a starship?”
Harry nodded. “Voyager.”
“But how did you wind up on Galtran?”
“There was an accident,” Harry said, swallowing as a wave of nausea swept over him. “I'm...I'm in sickbay right now, dreaming this.”
Ovolos laughed. “You think you're dreaming this? Oh, if only this were a nightmare. But this starship of yours—I assume it travels among the stars?”
Harry nodded.
“And how long does it take you to travel such distances?”
“Not long, five or so light-years in a week.”
Ovolos reached into a sack beside him and pulled out a thick spiral notebook. “The work of my lifetime,” he said. Flipping through the book, he showed Harry pages filled with equations and theories. “I'm on the verge of formulating a way to travel like your Voyager, but it eludes me. Please, can you help me? Help me to save my people!”
“What good would it do?” Harry asked. His breathing was labored. “It's too late. You're leaving in a day or two.”
“But it's not too late!” Ovolos said. “Once, long ago, we ventured into space before politicians decided it wasn't worthwhile and turned away from it. There's an abandoned base on one of our moons. Our ships are to rendezvous there before heading across space to the Davlor system, where our telescopes have revealed a habitable planet. We're going to be in suspended animation for part of the 100-year journey. But if I can complete my theory, we will use the moonbase and the moon's minerals to modify our ships to travel faster than light. The journey to Davlor would take mere weeks, and we could return here to salvage what's left of Galtran and its people. Your presence here, and your knowledge, assuming you're telling the truth, gives us new options. Now, son: am I just a foolish old man grasping at straws, or can you help me?”
Harry reached out, wincing with pain as his blisters were stretched taut, and took Ovolos's notebook. He flipped through the page, giving Ovolos's ideas a cursory glance. “This is brilliant work,” he said. “You did this on your own?”
Ovolos nodded. “You recognize it, then?”
“Some of it,” Harry nodded. “Elementary warp theory, quantam mechanics.....every Federation child learns this stuff in grade school—ooh.” He closed his eyes, struggling to stay conscious as a wave of pain swept over his body.
Ovolos shook him gently. Harry opened his eyes.
“Will you help me finish it?” Ovolos asked.
Harry shook his head. “The Prime Directive prohibits....” He closed his eyes again.
“You must help me!” Ovolos shouted.
But a searing white pain rose from Harry's core and washed him away into darkness.

Harry groggily opened his eyes to find the Doctor leaning over him, scanning him with a diagnostic tricorder.
“Doctor,” Harry said through a sleep-dry, cottony mouth. “What's wrong with me? I feel so hot.”
“You have an extremely high fever, Mr. Kim,” the Doctor replied. “Oddly enough, however, your condition seems to be improving. The radiation saturating your body has reduced by another 20%. I have no explanation.”
“I—I was there again, Doc,” Harry said weakly.
“There, Mr. Kim? There where?”
“The dream. The dream that's too real to be a dream.”
“Ah, yes. Your radiation-induced delusion. Mr. Kim, I can assure you you've been here the entire night. You—” The Doctor looked down as the tricorder beeped. “Hmm. Most peculiar.”
“What is it?”
“Your neurotransmitter levels have risen a hundred fold during your sleep. That should not be.”
“So what does it mean?”
“It means, Mr. Kim, that while you were sleeping you have accumulated several hours of waking memories.”

Janeway stood in front of the Doctor's desk. “What's your explanation for his increased neurotransmitter levels?” she asked.
“I have none,” the Doctor replied. “If you're asking me whether he is being transported elsewhere while he sleeps, the answer is no. Mr. Kim has not been absent from sickbay since the accident. The only unusual events have been intense levels of REM while he's unconscious.”
Janeway creased her eyebrows. “If he's not physically leaving the ship, is it possible that during sleep he's mentally interacting with another universe?”
“That might explain the increased acetylcholine and seratonin levels, but there is no way to verify such a hypothesis.”
“But the plasma radiation saturating his body could be shifting his consciousness to another reality,” Janeway persisted.
The Doctor sighed. “If we're going to pursue this far-fetched notion, then we should also note Mr. Kim's present condition.”
Janeway turned and looked through the office window toward Kim's bed. He was sitting up, intently reading something on a PADD. The blisters on his skin were healing, and the flame-red glossiness was fading to a soft pink.
“As you can see,” the Doctor said, “he is showing remarkable improvement. When he was first brought in, I had anticipated that death would occur sometime last night.”
Janeway turned back. “And now?”
“At his current RAD level, death will come more slowly--a week or so. However, he claims that in his dreams he was shot by a plasma weapon, and each time he dreams, his dream-self becomes more sick. There is a corresponding improvement in the real Mr. Kim. In short: his dreams are healing him. My prognosis is that if things continue as they are, he will fully recover.”
“His dreams are healing him,” Janeway repeated to herself. “But are they dreams--or something more?”
Janeway left the Doctor's office and went over to Harry Kim's bedside. He looked up as she approached. “Good morning, Harry. How are you feeling?”
“Much better, Captain,” he replied. His face was pale, and he had the look of one about to vomit. “Just... constantly nauseas. Good news from the Doctor, though.”
“I heard. You can't imagine how glad I am.” She touched his arm.
“I'm not out of the woods yet, though...”
“You'll make it, Harry.” She looked down at the PADD he'd been reading. “Elementary warp theory?”
“Just refreshing my memory.”
“Harry, I talked to Mr. Paris before he went on duty. He told me about your dreams--especially last night's. Are you planning to give this scientist the knowledge to develop warp technology?”
“Their planet is dying, Captain. If you could see that asteroid looming in the night sky...it's eerie. With warp technology, they'll have a better chance of surviving. And there's a girl, Shara....I feel drawn to her, like she's my ideal woman.” He chuckled weakly. “The woman of my dreams.”
“But Harry, what about the Prime Directive?” Janeway asked. “As a Starfleet officer, you can't give these people knowledge they don't have.”
“But Ovolos is on the verge of discovering it himself. He's just gotten a few concepts wrong. He'll eventually figure it out. And anyway, Captain, it's just a dream. Tom keeps telling me that, the Doctor keeps telling me that....”
“But it might not be a dream, Harry! Your radiation poisoning might have had an unusual side effect. The evidence is very circumstantial, but....”
“Captain, it's just a dream. The Doctor is absolutely certain of that, and the sensors show that I've never once left the ship.”
“But do you believe it's a dream?” Janeway asked.
Harry shook his head. “No. I don't know how, or why, but I'm convinced it's real. But all the evidence says it's just a dream, so I guess it is.... I don't know. It's confusing.”
“So we're left with the question: if you're convinced it's real, but from an objective viewpoint it's just a dream, will you actually be violating the Prime Directive?”
Harry gripped the PADD tightly. “I can't let those people die, Captain. And you can't censor my thoughts.”
Janeway sighed. “Well, the radiation poisoning has had one very obvious side effect.”
“What's that?”
She smiled. “You never would have argued with me before.”

Harry slowly opened his eyes. Shara loomed in his vision, golden and bright. “Good morning, sleepy head.”
He screamed.
Shara pulled back. “What's wrong?”
“The pain,” he gasped, as fire seared him to the bones. It rapidly faded, finally becoming a tolerable sensation thrumming in the background. “Worse than ever... but I can handle it,” he whispered through a parched throat.
Shara looked at him with concern and sorrow. “Poor Harry Kim. I'm so sorry for you. If only...” She sat back on her heels, watching him.
Harry returned her gaze unblinkingly. Her eyes drew him in and seemed to consume him. What he found made him more content with himself than he'd ever been before, or, he suspected, would ever be again. Finally, nervous and perhaps a little frightened, he broke contact and looked down at his blistered hands.
“Doctor Ovolos told me you think this is all a dream,” she smirked. “Still think that?”
He looked back up at her. He nodded.
“Why?”
“Because women like you only exist in dreams. And they're certainly attracted to me only in dreams.”
She laughed. “You think I'm attracted to you? Well aren't you the arrogant one.”
He smiled weakly, half-heartedly. “If I'm not dreaming, how do you explain how that phaser suddenly appeared in my hands the other day? Right out of nowhere?”
“Hmmm. Good point.”
“And,” he said, “how do you explain this?” He held up his hand. A glass of ice water magically appeared in his hand. “I'm thirsty.” He drank all the water and the glass vanished. Smugly, he said, “I rest my case.”
“Your evidence is hard to deny. But I don't for a minute believe I'm just a figment of your sleeping mind. I'm real.”
“That's good, because it's more fun interacting with someone who believes she's real.” He went into a coughing fit. When it had subsided he felt a wetness on his lips. He wiped them with his hands, which came away bloody.
“I'll get Ovolos,” Sharra said. She hurriedly stood and wandered off into the crowded room.
Ovolos appeared several minutes later. He looked at the blood flecking Kim's lips, at the obvious pain on his pale face. Kneeling beside Harry, Ovolos said, “You certainly don't look any better. But I'm sorry, there's nothing I can do for you.”
“Doesn't matter,” Harry said weakly. “That's not what I wanted anyway. Get your notebook. I'm going to explain a few things to you.”
“Oh? What of your mysterious Prime Directive?” Ovolos said acerbicly. “And we're all just a dream anyway. Why help us?”
Harry gave a wince of pain in reply.
“Sorry,” Ovolos said, softening. “I'll take any help I can get. And by the looks of you we don't have much time.” He reached behind him and retrieved the notebook from where he'd tucked it into his waistband.
Harry took it and began thumbing through it. “You're about to get a crash course in Basic Warp Theory and Technology 101. Now, where to begin....”

Harry's eyes slowly fluttered open.
The Doctor noticed, set down the protoplaser he'd been cleaning, and came to the bedside. “Mr. Kim, good morning. I—”
“Doc,” Harry interrupted. “I feel incredibly good. I mean, compared to before.” He swung his legs over the side of the bed and sat up. He looked wonderingly at his arms and hands--the blisters were little more than dry patches of flaky skin.
“Yes, Mr. Kim. I'm happy to report that while you slept your body has miraculously thrown off most of the effects of the radiation. For the next few days you will grow fatigued very easily, but other than that I give you a 99% clean bill of health.”
“Strange. In my dream, I went from very bad to just this side of the grave,” Harry said.
“Then your dream-self has not yet perished?” asked the Doctor.
“Not quite.” Harry shrugged. “If I'm in such good shape now, mind if I run to the mess hall? I'm starving.”
“A healthy appetite is a good sign,” the Doctor said. Then he shook his head. “But no. I have a few more tests to run, and the Captain has ordered you confined to sickbay under my constant supervision until you perish. In your dreams, that is. We still aren't sure what we're dealing with here. Despite your apparent good health, it is possible that you could have a sudden relapse. I'm sure Mr. Neelix will be happy to bring the mess hall to you.”
Harry sighed. “So I'm just supposed to lay around here in bed all day? I'll go insane with boredom.”
“Fear not, Mr. Kim. I shall keep you properly stimulated. I would appreciate your input on the medical paper I'm writing.”
“Mine? On what?”
“On you, of course. Your case is definitely one for the textbooks. Once we get back to the Federation, I intend to publish it in all the journals.” The Doctor picked up a PADD. “Now, shall we begin?”
Harry sighed again.

Just as the Doctor had predicted, Harry quickly grew fatigued. Although Harry wasn't certain whether it was due to his recent ordeal or to the Doctor's incessant rambling in that monotonous nasal voice of his. Whichever it was, after several hours Harry Kim's eyes grew heavy and he drifted to sleep.
He opened his eyes to see Shara leaning over him, wiping his brow with a wet cloth. “Harry?” she was saying, shaking him gently. “Harry, we're going to move you. The ship is just about ready to launch, and Doctor Ovolos has used his influence to get you a place onboard.”
Harry's heart was hammering, and sweat rolled down his face, stinging his eyes. “I don't think so,” he rasped through a bone-dry throat. He clutched Shara's arm weakly. “I think...this is it.”
She sat back on her heels, opened her mouth as if to protest. But she merely nodded instead. “You're right. I can see it.” Her lips trembled and her eyes grew moist. “Oh Harry....”
He tried to smile. “Don't cry. I'm dying, but not really. I'm just...not going to dream of this place again. This is not the end for me, so don't be sad.”
She sniffed, trying to be strong. “I wish I could believe that.”
His sight began to grow dim. “What about the third asteroid? And Ovolos?”
“The asteroid's going to hit in a few hours, right after we launch. The other three will follow a few hours after that. And Ovolos....he's ecstatic over his....your...theories. All our scientists are drawing up plans for a warp engine. The fleet will rendezvous on the moon and build it. They say we'll be in the Davlor system and settled on the new world within two years. And it's all because of you, Harry.” Her shoulders trembled with repressed sobs. “If only you could come... I need you.”
“Now I'm absolutely certain I'm dreaming.” He felt a sudden fierce wind against his face, and the roar of crashing waves. “You hear that?” he asked. His muscles went limp, his hand lost its grip on Shara's arm and fell to the floor. He could hear her crying now, drowning out the roar.
“Goodbye, Harry Kim. I'll remember you forever, Harry, in my dreams,” she whispered.
Darkness rose up and consumed him.

Harry remained in sickbay for another day, until the Doctor was convinced that Harry wouldn't have a relapse. Upon his release he hurried to the mess hall and wolfed down a large lunch. After that he reported for duty. Captain Janeway, still concerned, reluctantly allowed him to finish that day's shift. To his chagrin, he learned that the cracked conduit that had caused his accident had already been repaired. He'd been hoping to pick up right where he'd left off.
A week passed, then two. The accident and his strange dream faded into memory. Life resumed.
One night, over a month later, a sense of unease rousted him from a deep, dreamless sleep. He sat up, the silk bedsheets slid to his waist. He felt eyes watching him from the darkness, making his skin crawl.
“Computer, lights,” he called out in a groggy panic.
The lights came on. A woman was sitting in the chair across the room. Watching him.
Shara.
“Hello, Harry.” She smiled and stood. Walked over and stood beside the bed, looking down at him. “It's me, Harry. It's Shara. And I'm dreaming.”
He looked up at her incredulously.
His door chime began beeping insistently. He looked into the other room. “Come,” he called out.
He looked back to Shara—
—but she'd vanished.
Tuvok and three security men came rushing into his bedroom, phasers drawn. Tuvok looked around the room. “Are you all right, Mr. Kim? There was an Intruder Alert, your quarters.”
Harry looked at the empty space where Shara had been standing. “I'm fine, Tuvok. But I wonder—”
He pinched himself.

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