Puppy Love

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\”Puppy Love\”

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Voyager Story IV

by Emmy Odd @ aol.com

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The greater love is a mother\’s; then comes a dog\’s; then a
sweetheart\’s.

– -Polish Proverb

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\”Captain\’s Personal Log : Stardate 48936.4 Since we began
\”seeing\” each other a month ago today, Chakotay and I have
preceded smoothly without incident, except for the occasional
barbs from Tom Paris, and the advice doled out by anyone and
everyone, including little Clare. It\’s amazing what that child
has learned about sexuality and piloting in the few short months
from the over-worldly Tom Paris. I don\’t which is more
audacious, Clare repeating it to me, or the fact that she expects
me to follow it… but it\’s a little early for anything Clare
suggests.\” Janeway was smothered a laugh as she pored over her
PADD, her eyes bluring from hours of dictation, when a beep gave
her an excuse to lay aside her logs. She blinked her burning
eyes, dry from staring, and saw Chakotay enter with a bulky
tissue-wrapped package. She laughed sweetly. \”What is THAT,
Chakotay?\”

He presented the package to her, smiling duskily. \”For our
one-month anniversary.\” he said.

She gasped as she peeled the tissue away, finding
exquisitely colored flowers in her hands. \”Four leaf clovers and
Queen Anne\’s Lace!\” she cried. \”Wherever did you get them,
Chakotay?\”

He beamed as he looked at her face. \”After I found out
from Kes that you had said you loved them, I got some seeds from
the Doctor, and I had Kes plant them in her garden.\”

Janeway kissed Chakotay softly. \”They\’re lovely, Chakotay.
It was very thoughful.\”

As Chakotay gazed down at her, he noticed her PADD. He
picked it up, he commented, \”Clare… sexuality… TOM
PARIS?!?… I really hope this is about me, Kathryn. I would
very much like to talk to Ensign Clare Edwards about her …
suggestions as to us.\”

Flushing crimson, Janeway reached for her PADD. \”It\’s just
an entry in my personal log, Chakotay.\” She leaned over, falling
over her chair. She would have been sorely bruised, if Chakotay
had not grabbed her in his arms. Janeway flushed again, and
laughed. \”I don\’t think you need any of Tom Paris\’s suggestions,
Chakotay. You already have enough appeal by yourself.\” She
slipped flirtatiously from his grasp, and settled back into her
chair, PADD now clenched tightly in her left hand. She tapped
lightly on her PADD, and stared at rows of figures that glided
past her worn-out eyes.

Suddenly, a bland, dry voice echoed through the room.
\”Captain, if you would direct your attention to your
viewmonitor?\” Janeway pressed a few buttons on the screen a few
centimeters away from her. The Doctor\’s wry face appeared. He
raised an eyebrow at the Captain, who turned around to find
Chakotay hunched over her to look at the Doctor. \”I hope I\’m
not… interrupting something?\”

Janeway glared at the holodoctor. \”Nothing, Doctor. What
do you want?\”

The Doctor smirked at them, then grew somewhat fearful.
\”It seems that some plants Kes came into contact with the last
time we beamed down to a planet have had an adverse affect on her
immune system. I have been unable to diagnose any known disease.
It may have to do with her genetic code, for no antibiotic has
helped.\”

Janeway\’s eyes grew round. \”How bad is it?\”

\”I think you should see for yourselves. He turned the
monitor, and the officers gasped in horror. Even during her
early Elogium, Kes had never been so ill. The Ocampa lay
perfectly still along the biobed, but the truly fearful thing was
her skin… it had turned totally blue. Janeway stared in
shocked silence, then gasped, \”Who else was infected?\”

Chakotay murmured, \”Harry Kim… and Clare.\”

Janeway stared at the viewscreen blankly. \”Her first away
mission,\” she thought sadly. In a dull, alien voice she said,
\”Quarentine them in Sick Bay. Send in Mr. Neelix.\”

************************************************************

The usually feverishly giddy Neelix was somber and fearful
as he crept into the Ready Room. Chakotay sat across the room, a
silent observer. Neelix whispered, \”Can I see her, Captain?\”

Janeway shook her head. \”I\’m afraid not. She, Harry, and
Clare are confined to Sick Bay, and only the Doctor is in with
them. I was hoping you could help us.\” she flipped on her
viewscreen. \”Do you recognize this?\” she gestured to Harry\’s
bare blue torso via the monitor.

\”Recognize it?!?! Captain, I nearly died from it!\” he
flubbered. \”It\’s a disease spread by the leaves of the Delturian
mint, and causes a skin irritation that weakens the person
slowly, eventually killing them.\”

Janeway stood up. \”Kills them?? Is there a cure??\”

\”Just one. There is a root fungus that grows on Ultaran
tuberoses that can be spread on the rash to cure it.
Unfortunately… it only grows on Ultur. I can direct you there,
but…\”

Janeway leaned over her desk. \”But…?\”

\”There are strange stories of a pack of horrible animals
that roam Ultur. According to legend, their breath sucks the
life from any soul that dares to approach them.\” Neelix
shuddered.

\”We\’ll just have to take that risk, Mr. Neelix. I can\’t
afford to lose any of my crew. They\’re all too close to me…\”
Janeway trailed off, glancing at the now empty space where
Chakotay had sat. Anticipating her orders, he had left the room.

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Harry screamed mutely as he awakened to a burning pain
across his chest. He sat bolt upright, agonized by the movement,
yet compelled to look around. He was in Sick Bay, but it seemed
so strange. He scanned the room, and figured out why. Beside
him lay Kes and Clare, their skin almost completely tinged a
faint blue. He stared at his arms, and saw a wave of blue
running over him, spreading pain through his arms and face. He
sank to his pillow, exhausted by the weakening pain that shot
through him every time he even breathed. He envied Kes, who
seemed oblivious to the pain, laying semi-comatose.

He glanced to his right, where Clare writhed like a
frightened child, trying, even in sleep, to escape the horrible
pain he knew she was feeling. She shrieked shrilly, and curled
up, the pain from such an outrageous movement forcing her eyes
open. She blinked the haze of pain and pills from her eyes, and
found her arms blue, contrasting starkly with the soft gleaming
white of the Sick Bay shirts and pants she wore. She struggled
to sit up, and when she did she found a horrible blue-faced
monster staring at her from the next bed. She quickly ducked
under the sheets. The monster whispered feebly, \”It\’s OK, Clare.
It\’s just me.\”

Clare\’s head popped up from under the metallic blanket.
\”Harry?\” she asked, wonderingly.

\”Yes, just me.\” Harry tried to smile, but it hurt too
much.

Clare looked at her friend fearfully. \”Why are we… blue,
Harry?\”

Harry stared down at his blue hands. \”I don\’t know, Clare,
I don\’t know.\” Harry snapped his fingertips, which crawled hotly
from the friction. \”I know. Computer, active Emergency Medical
Hologram.\”

The Doctor materialized a few feet away from his concious
blue patients. \”Please state… oh, it\’s you two.\” he sighed.

Harry, normally docile and placid, roared, \”What\’s going on
here???\”

The Doctor calmly explained their predicament. \”It appears
the plant life you foraged among a few days ago has caused a skin
and immune disease I cannot diagnose.\”

Clare opened her mouth widely, her mouth numbing from the
pain. \”You mean… there\’s no cure?\”

\”The Captain has asked Mr. Neelix, but I am not informed of
anything, even as trivial as Mr. Neelix\’s information.\” he
sniffed sardonically. \”You might try contacting the Captain.
The Commander has… advised me to do so only in emergencies.\”
His tone implied that the Commander had \”advised\” rather loudly.

Kim tapped his comm badge, wincing from a welt forming
beneath it. \”Kim to Janeway.\”

On the Bridge, Janeway shared a collective breath of relief
with the crew. \”Janeway here, Mr. Kim.\”

Kim grinned at Clare. \”What is the status of our illness,
Captain?\”

\”According to Mr. Neelix, the anticdote resides on a planet
a few hours away. Commander Chakotay and I are personally going
to lead two away teams to search for it. You three just rest and
conserve your strength.\” she said reassuringly. Clare smiled at
Harry from her pillow, before closing her eyes to healing sleep.

************************************************************

Janeway herded the last of the away teams onto the
tansporter. As they disappeared in a glimmer of blue, Janeway
pocketed her tricorder, and nodded to Tuvok as she stood beside
Chakotay. \”We\’ll search for an hour, and contact you then.\” She
nodded again, and Tuvok gazed slightly wistfully at the place
where the Captain had stood, holding Chakotay\’s hand.

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Janeway was still holding Chakotay\’s hand as they beamed
into the middle of two dozen ensigns and lieutenants. She looked
around at the ensigns, who looked inordinately attentive, even
for Starfleet. Chakotay looked at the curious ensigns, whose
gaze was directed at his hand. Janeway and Chakotay saw it at
the same time, and ripped their hands apart, blushing briefly.
Breaking the tension, Janeway strode around, saying, \”We\’ll break
up into two groups. I\’ll lead one and Commander Chakotay will
lead the other. Mr. Neelix has given us the search peramiters
for the anticdote. Set your tricorders to those specifications.
If you find it, contact the others. We\’ll meet in one hour.\”

The parties split up, and then again, and again, eventually
splitting up altogether, linked only by comm badge. Ensign
Belarew tapped her comm badge. \”Commander, I\’ve found the
anticdote.\”

Chakotay breathed a sigh of relief. He tapped his comm
badge again. \”Chakotay to Away Teams. Report to transport site
A immediately.\”

Ten minutes later, Chakotay found two dozen ensigns lined
up at attention. He scanned the crowd, and furrowed his brow.
Something was wrong, someone wasn\’t there… and he realized
it… Kathryn wasn\’t there. A vauge memory of Seska flashed,
unwelcome, into his mind. \”Ensign Haley, were is Captain
Janeway?\”

\”I don\’t know, sir. She was scanning some brush one
minute, and when I turned around, she was gone.\”

Chakotay worriedly tapped his comm badge. \”Chakotay to
Janeway.\” No answer. \”Captain?\” Still no answer. \”Chakotay to
Bridge. Prepare to beam all the ensigns aboard. I\’m staying to
search for the Captain.\”

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Clare had lost the feeling in her legs, which had turned
deep blue. The numbness set off the waves off pain that shot
through her arms and torso. She glanced at Kes, who remained
entirely comatose. Her focus shifted towards the biobed directly
beside hers, where Harry lay writhing in agony, his skin turning
a royal-blue. The metallic sheets were enmeshed tightly in his
slate-blue hands, which shook. She looked at the lifesigns
flashing above him. Even without much medical training, she knew
that the signs were bad. Gathering up her strength, she yelled,
\”Activate Emergency Medical Hologram!!!\”

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Chakotay scanned around the trail he walked on, looking for
signs of life. A broken twig, a half-blurred bootprint, stirred
a faint hope and worry in his heart. His pace quickened when he
noticed deep tracks straight in front of him. As he knelt in the
dust to inspect them closely, he gasped. \”Pawprints…\”

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Clare\’s legs thrashed under the blanket on her biobed. But
she barely noticed the searing pain as she watched the nightmare
before her eyes. The Doctor had appeared, and was busy with the
now-delirious Kim, who was convulsing violently, his body jolting
far above the biobed. The Doctor prepared an angry-looking
syringe. She gasped as he plunged the needle into the Ensign\’s
shoulder. He shuddered, and then was as still as the Ocampa
beside him. She looked at the grim Doctor. \”Is he…?\”

The Doctor shook his head. \”He\’s just heavily sedated,
like Kes. If not, their blood pressure would have eventually
elevated beyond my control…\”

\”…and they would have died.\” she murmured. Her arms
began to flail, and as her body began to shake…

A young ensign rushed through the room, grasping vials of
gelatinous goo. The Doctor ordered the Ensign out as he siezed
them, wrenching open the top of one. He poured the contents of
the vial onto Clare\’s arms. The flailing stopped, and the blue
receded from her fingertips. She sighed, relived. She took a
vial from the Doctor, smearing it on her azure legs. As she
regained the feeling in her extremeties, She glanced over as the
Doctor rubbed the healing cream into Kes\’s shoulder blades, which
were long since back to their normal tone. Suddenly, the Doctor
disappeared, and Clare instinctively ducked under her blanket,
feigning sleep. She heard a door swish open, a timid step edge
toward Harry\’s bedside. Forcing her eyes to see the shadows
through her blanket, she saw a female figure rubbing the lotion
on Harry\’s arms. As they moved, the figure pulled back, and a
voice called groggily, \”B\’Elanna?\”

The figure sat beside him, her hand moving toward his face.
He struggled up, and they exchanged a kiss as Clare strained to
stay concious… the cream had a sleep-inducing effect… She
couldn\’t stay awake long enough to see Harry slip into
unconciousness in B\’Elanna\’s arms…

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Chakotay quickened his pace as he followed the trail of
prints, which seemed to double at every turn. He tapped his comm
badge, only to hear static. He lifted his head, and found sheer
granite surrounding him. He had unwittingly followed the trail
into a cave. He heard peals of laughter and snarls and barks.
He ran deeper into the cavern, and saw a crimson and black
Federation uniform among a herd of gleaming red-gold fur.
\”Kathryn!\” he yelled.

A disheveled head of brunette locks tossed up from the
barking swarm, her lovely face radiant with joy. \”Chakotay!\”
she said, standing up. Her uniform legs and arms were shredded
and chewed. Chakotay eyed them suspiciously. Janeway laughed.
\”The \”beasts\” are… dogs!\” she cried happily, gathering a small
bundle of reddish fluff in her practically bare arms. \”Some
sort of Retrievers, I belive,\” she beamed, eyes shining. She sat
on the rock again, totally absorbed in the tiny puppy tumbling in
her hands. The throng of sinewy, broad-backed dogs thinned,
scampering around Chakotay\’s knees. Chakotay knelt beside the
Captain, who plopped the roly-poly puppy in his hands. The two
stared at each other, and the puppy licked his cheek. Janeway
laughed merrily. \”You\’re better than Mark with dogs! Is your
animal guide a dog, perhaps?\” she smiled.

Chakotay grinned mysteriously at Janeway. \”I can\’t tell
you that, Kathryn.\” he said smoothly, as the puppy squirmed in
his grasp. \”What do we do with this little guy?\”

Janeway\’s face fell. \”I guess we have to return it to its
pack.\”

Chakotay looked at her enigmaticly. \”I\’ll go take him back
to his pack. You go ahead to the transport site.\”

Sighing resignedly, Janeway followed Chakotay out of the
cavern, and watched his stalwart figure disappear over the
horizon before setting out towards the clearing from which she
had come.

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A few moments later Chakotay met Janeway at the transport
site, woe-fully dogless. She stared at him, as if staring at
Benedict Arnold, not noticing the smile on Chakotay\’s face. With
a sad, \”Two to beam out.\” And then they were gone.

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Janeway approached the Sick Bay with dread, worrying about
her \”children.\” When she stepped into the room, the saw
B\’Elanna, Harry still in her arms. She sighed, \”Captain, it
appears that the cure causes a deep sleep for approximately 24
hours.\”

\”How long has it been, B\’Elanna?\”

Harry moaned from his perch on Torres\’s lap. \”Huh…
Whaa…?\”

Janeway smiled at Torres. \”I\’d say it was about 24 hours.\”
She gazed benevolently at the two. \”I\’ll go attend to Clare
now.\” She turned to the sleepy girl in the next biobed. \”How
are you, Clare?\” she said maternally, brushing the tangled locks
from her flushed face.

Clare smiled wanly at Janeway. \”I\’m fine, Captain… just
so…\” she yawned, tired and content, and fell asleep. The warm
breath on Janeway\’s neck was reassuring. She turned a sleepy
face of her own on her first officer. \”Hello, Chakotay. She
just woke up.\” she said, stroking Clare\’s cheek.

Chakotay laid a reassuring hand on Janeway\’s shoulder,
which crumpled her tired body still further. Chakotay looked at
her, concerned. \”Captain,\” he said, looking around, \”You should
go get some rest. I\’ll accompany you to your quarters.\”
Janeway opened her mouth to object, but she yawned instead,
allowing herself to be led out of Sick Bay.

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Janeway opened her door sleepily, and turned to Chakotay to
wish him goodnight, but Chakotay put his finger to her lips and
turned on the light, whistling softly. Janeway looked at
Chakotay as if he\’d gone mad, until a red-gold bundle of plush
ran toward her. He bounded gleefully into her arms as Janeway
laughed, cried, and gasped all at the same time. Chakotay shut
the door behind them. She could only sputter, \”Chakotay!
How…?\”

Chakotay smiled at Janeway\’s astonished face. \”I put a
comm badge on him before I let him go. After that time I was
left behind on that planet, I\’ve always carried a spare.\” he
grinned, holding up a comm badge he\’d extracted from the puppy\’s
thick red hair.

Janeway smothered a youthful giggle as the puppy licked
Chakotay again. \”But what about the ship\’s policy?\”

Chakotay smoothed her hair. \”Morale booster… mascot…
and if all else fails… Neelix could cook him. I\’m sure Harry
would enjoy a meal his ancestors ate.\”

Janeway turned on Chakotay. \”Chakotay! Don\’t even joke
about that!\” she cried. Then her resonant voice rumbled to a
throaty growl. \”No one touches my dog.\” She smiled at the puppy,
brightening. \”Now what do we name you?\” she smiled as she
cuddled him close, an inseperable bond froming instantly.

The puppy barked shrilly, squirming and thumping his silky
tail. Janeway loosened her grasp, and the dog bounded out of the
room. She turned to chase him, but Chakotay caught her in his
arm. \”You can puppy-chase later, Kathryn.\”

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Fin

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Comments are appreciated

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All characters and the Star Trek Voyager name, except for Clare
Edwards, belong to the owners of the copyrights thereof,
Paramount, UPN, ect. This story is for entertainment purposes
only, and distribution is encouraged (keep my name on it,
though!).

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In this series:

Voyager I: Prot‚g‚
Voyager II: D‚tente
Voyager III: Amantium Irae
Voyager VI: Puppy Love
Voyager Story V, \”Parti Pris\”

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