“The Helmsman’s Logs – 2374” [PG-13] – 2/2

“THE HELMSMAN’S LOGS – 2374”

PART 2

STARDATE 51463.14:

The Doctor is back, thank God! This means Harry and I don’t have to continue our disastrous efforts to create a new EMH. During his time in the Alpha Quadrant, the Doc managed to contact Starfleet. (Pauses) I don’t know if that’s something to celebrate about, but everyone else seemed to be happy. Especially the Captain and Harry. Starfleet had declared us dead about six months following our disappearance. Now, they know we’re alive. Huh. I wonder how Dad took the news.

The Doc had other news, as well. Apparently, a war had broken out in the Alpha Quadrant. The Federation, along with the Klingon Empire have been at war with a Gamma Quadrant race called the Dominion and their allies, the Cardassians, since the end of last year. Also, upon his arrival in the Alpha Quadrant, he had came upon a Starfleet vessel that had been taken over by the Romulans. It seemed the Doc and a new EMH program managed to keep the ship from ending up in Romulan space. I don’t want to go into details – especially since the Doc never hesitates to talk about it. Over and over again.

As for the array, it seemed to belong to a race called the Hirogen. Seven, B’Elanna and the Captain had brief contact with one of them, before Seven zapped him into oblivion with a feedback from the array’s transmitter. Hmmm, that’s the first time B’Elanna has ever expressed any approval toward Seven’s actions. End personal log.

STARDATE 51468.06:

It’s a miracle that B’Elanna didn’t kill me, a few minutes ago. We were supposed to meet for breakfast, around 0700, this morning. Unfortunately, I overslept – thanks to one hell of a nightmare – and she had to wake me up. Since our breakfast turned out to be a bust, we had arranged a new one for Friday night – the Fiji Islands in Holodeck One. The water skiing should be great. End personal log.

STARDATE 51472.83:

Damn aliens! Hell, I don’t the name of their species, so I don’t what else to call them. Why are we always encountering these aliens who use subtle means to take over the ship? The Bothans, the Nyrians, those aliens who had used us for their . . . medical experiments. And now, this! This waking species or whatever the hell they’re called. Thank God for Chakotay! It seems they were the ones responsible for the series of nightmares that the entire crew were experiencing. Fortunately, Chakotay and the Doctor had discovered their homeworld and threatened to blow it up if they didn’t shut off the neurogenic field that kept the rest of the crew in a state of lucid dreaming.

Now, I can’t sleep. The whole damn episode has left me suffering from insomnia. I wonder if Harry or B’Elanna are awake. End personal log.

STARDATE 51480.04:

I never thought I would see myself giving lessons in Earth slang to a Vulcan. And to Vorik, of all people! I was talking to Liz Jenkins about her recent shuttle lessons, and Vorik had overheard me use the word – cool. The next thing I knew, I found myself explaining the different variations on the word. Oh well, at least Vorik was a willing student. I think he learned his lessons, well. End personal log.

STARDATE 51483.74:

Ah Fiji! B’Elanna was right to choose this program for our date. Granted, I had looked forward to skiing in the Chilean Andes, but water skiing in the South Pacific made a pretty good substitute. Along with B’Elanna in a red bikini. Wow! Let’s just say it was a date I will never forget. End personal log.

STARDATE 51498.93:

Voyager had picked up a signal from another one of those Hirogen relay stations. This signal definitely had a Starfleet signature. Harry quickly assumed that Starfleet had found a quick way to get back to the Alpha Quadrant. Even Tuvok seemed to think so. (Sighs) God, I hope they’re all wrong. End personal log.

STARDATE 51506.33:

Today has been one of the worst days of my life. In fact, I believe that it has been a bitch for a good number of the crew. And all because of that damn relay station!

We finally came across the station that Harry had detected, two days ago. Apparently, this station was situated near the mouth of a quantum singularity that provided energy to all of the relay stations. The Starfleet signal was actually a series of letters from home. From families and friends of the crew. I heard rumors that Tuvok learned that he had become a grandfather. And Liz Jenkins, one of the pilots under my command, is now an aunt. Harry received a letter from his folks, thank God! He was getting on my nerves with his constant carping about not receiving a letter, during Neelix’s rounds. (Sighs) That’s not fair. Poor Harry really misses his family a lot. And this trip through the Delta Quadrant has been particularly difficult for him.

But not all of the news was good. Someone told me . . . Neelix, I think . . . that the Captain had received a “Dear John” letter from her fiancé. He had given her up for dead, met someone else and married her. Talk about life being a bitch! No wonder the Captain looked miserable when I saw her reading her letter. And poor Greg Hamilton! He just received word that a cousin of his had become an early casualty in this war against some Gamma Quadrant species called the Dominion. Greg was supposed to be at the helm during the Beta shift, tonight. I decided to replace him with Baytart, instead.

Speaking of the Dominion, it seems they are now the Cardassians’ new allies. And the latter used new ships and weapons from the Dominion . . . God, I can’t believe this! The Cardies had managed to wipe out the Maquis resistance in the Alpha Quadrant. Talk about bad news. I’m still in shock. Most of them are dead. However, a few of them – like Chakotay’s friend, Sveda, are now serving time in a Federation prison. And they are the lucky ones. (Pauses) I discovered this piece of bad news from B’Elanna. (Pauses) While she was downloading a letter from my dad. Talk about bad news arriving in pairs! (Pauses) Yeah, I know it’s supposed to come in threes, but who cares?

(Sighs) Maybe this party will help everyone get over the recent bad news. We’ve also heard about Tuvok and Seven’s encounter with a race called the Hirogen. They’re the ones who had built the relay stations nearly a millennium ago. From our recent encounter with them, they might prove to be a problem. Many of the crew are also disappointed that the quantum singularity had also destroyed the entire relay system, ending our contact with Starfleet. I hope the party will help B’Elanna recover from the bad news. She had taken the news of the Maquis’ destruction pretty hard. As for that letter from the Admiral – it never came through. B’Elanna was able to download Harry’s letter before the relay stations’ destruction, but not mine. (Sighs) Just as well. A small part of me felt a little disappointed not to hear from Dad. But another part . . . maybe I’m just not ready to hear from him. At least not yet. I don’t know. End personal log.

STARDATE 51506.33:

I wish I could say that Neelix’s party was a success, but I can’t. A lot of us were still in a funk over the news from the Alpha Quadrant. There were a few happy souls like Harry, who had received good news from home. But even their happiness were muted by the destruction of the Hirogen’s relay stations. And the fact that the Federation and the Klingon Empire were now at war against the Cardassians and their new allies.

Many of the former Maquis crewmen seemed to be walking around in a daze or in a state of rage. Ken Dalby got pretty drunk and had to be sent back to his quarters. The Captain seemed disoriented. Distracted, is the better word. I guess the rumors about her “Dear John” letter were true. Oh yeah. It has been confirmed that Tuvok is a grandfather, thanks to his oldest son. He didn’t seem particularly happy or sad about the occasion. Just being his usual Vulcan self. Or maybe he was concerned about the Hirogen. I don’t know.

B’Elanna and I had decided to leave the party early and return to her quarters. Frankly, the whole thing was just too damn depressing. (Pauses) We made love that night, but it . . . I don’t know. It just seemed too rough for me. Yeah, we had rough sex before, but I think we were simply using each other to escape our bad moods. And now . . . (Sighs) I feel like some kind of sexual pervert. End personal log.

STARDATE 51569.13:

Ninety minutes! It took me ninety minutes to hunt down a mouse inside Jeffries Tube 32. Which happens to be near B’Elanna’s quarters. I think we may have picked up the mouse from the Aldorni Homeworld, where we had stopped for supplies. (Sighs) Who would have thought that a brave and fearless half-Klingon be afraid of a mouse? End personal log.

STARDATE 51604.07:

(Sighs) What a bizarre day this has been! Hamilton went slightly beserk during flight training inside Holodeck Two, today. It seems he got a little carried away with destroying the enemy – namely a holographic Cardassian ship. I had ordered Baytart to take his place at the Helm and Hamilton suddenly became violent. He raved about Voyager being stuck in the Delta Quadrant, while the Federation was busy fighting Cardassians, back home. I thought Henley would joined in – especially since she was an ex-Maquis. But she refrained herself. In the end, I ordered Hamilton to get a hold of himself and leave the Holodeck. He then attacked me, but I managed to knock him out, cold. I had Segasse and Lin carry him back to his quarters. Although I had informed the Captain of the incident, I asked her not to put him on report. She immediately understood that Hamilton was grieving over a relative and agreed. After all, there was no need for him to endure further suffering. End personal log.

STARDATE 51625.59:

Voyager has lost another crewman, today. Ensign Lyndsay Ballard. Apparently, she and Harry were on an Away mission, when their shuttle was attacked by a Hirogen scout ship. Harry managed to get the shuttle away, but not before the Hirogen fired a few shot, severely injuring Ballard in the process. Poor Harry. Not only was she the second crewman to die while on an Away mission with him – the victim happened to be an old Academy friend of his. . . . and a former crush. B’Elanna is also a little shaken over Ballard’s death, since the latter had served under her. I had planned to console them both, tonight, but I could see that neither of them was in the mood for company. End personal log.

STARDATE 51653.35:

God, I’m tired! And to think we have more hours of repairs to deal with, thanks to the Hirogen and Species 8472.

Species 8472. Christ! I thought all of them had returned back to fluidic space, after their war with the Borg. But a hunting party of Hirogen came across one who had failed to return home in time. They wounded him . . . it, but apparently not enough. Species 8472 defended itself against the Hirogen crew and nearly killed all of them – except one. Voyager rescued the remaining Hirogen hunter, while Species 8472 made its way aboard ship. Deck Eleven. Engineering. It attacked B’Elanna . . . and three other crewmen. Yet, it didn’t kill anyone and B’Elanna and the others were not seriously injured. The Captain allowed our Hirogen guest to join a hunting party for our latest intruder.

So there I was, inside an AVS suite, stalking Species 8472 on Deck Eleven with Chakotay and the Hirogen Alpha. My two companions got into a tetesterone match over who was the superior hunter. I don’t think my exploits as a mouse hunter went over well with either man. When we finally found Species 8472, the Hirogen tried to kill it. Chakotay tried to stop him and was attacked. The son-of-a-bitch also shot me. Fortunately, Tuvok got him.

The Captain finally agreed to help Species 8472 to avoid the Hirogen and return home. But Seven had other ideas. So did the other Hirogen ships that suddenly reappeared. They had really inflicted damage on the ship, including both nacelles and the EPS system. Seven then beamed both our Hirogen guest and Species 8472 to one of the other Hirogen ships and we were no longer in danger. A lot of us realized that Seven had saved our lives, but she also condemned that creature to death. Right now, the majority of the crew is pissed. Including the Captain.

As for me – I guess I share the Captain’s feelings. A part of me felt relieved to be alive. But our safety had came at the expense of our Species 8472 guest, who simply wanted to return home. The whole incident left a bitter taste in my mouth. In a way, the Captain has to take some of the blame for Seven’s actions. She had been so determined to teach Seven about individuality that she failed to point out that Voyager was a military ship with a command structure. The Captain punished Seven by restricting the latter’s privileges and access to the ship’s primary systems. In my opinion, the Captain should have tossed Seven’s ass into the brig. End personal log.

STARDATE 51655.84:

Feelings against Seven are still high amongst the crew. B’Elanna made some comment that the Captain should have dumped Seven on the nearest Class-M planet or send her back to the Borg, when she had the chance. And maybe I should have kept my mouth shut, but I couldn’t. I said that if the Captain had done that, she would have been guilty of the same thing, as Seven. Yes, I’m still angry at Seven for her actions, but I also realized that B’Elanna’s comment had more to do with her dislike and jealousy of the former Borg. And personally, I was getting sick and tired of her anti-Seven attitude. Anyway, B’Elanna did not say anything. But the look in her eyes told me not to bother visiting her quarters, tonight. To hell with it! I’m not ashamed over what I said. I meant every word of it. End personal log.

STARDATE 51660.72:

It’s been two days since B’Elanna and I had stopped talking to each other. But we finally reconciled over lunch, earlier this afternoon. I apologized for my remark. And she apologized for overreacting. We agreed to celebrate our cease-fire with a quiet dinner in her quarters, tonight.

Meanwhile, B’Elanna told me about an incident between Seven and that arms dealer, Koven. Apparently, Seven lost her temper and broke the man’s nose when he touched her. Seven claimed that earlier today, Koven had immobilized her and tried to steal some of her nanoprobes. Although he was charged with assault, no one could prove whether he had done it or not. Koven ended up committing suicide before he could . . . (Red Alert Klaxon interrupts) What the hell?

(Chakotay: “Red alert! All hands to battle stations!)

Oh well, I’ll finish this another time. End personal log.

STARDATE 51717.23:

The Hirogen have finally left Voyager. Thank God! Actually, they’ve been gone for at least 12 hours, by now. (Sighs) I can’t believe we’ve been under their control for nearly three weeks! It’s a good thing Harry had found a way to disengage our neural interfaces. Or else the Captain would have never been able to start a resistance against our “visitors”.

In the end, the Hirogen must have realized their attempt to maintain control of Voyager was futile – to quote the Borg. (Pauses) Perhaps I should start from the beginning. Only I’m not really in the mood to recall what happened. To be honest, I haven’t the foggiest idea on what happened during the past three weeks. I guess that comes from being used as a toy for a bunch of aliens bent upon playing war in the holodecks. (Pauses) To hell with it! I need some sleep. End personal log.

STARDATE 51719.82:

God, I am so tired! The repairs on Voyager seemed to go on forever. B’Elanna, Harry and a team of engineers have been removing holo-emitters from Decks Five, Six and Seven. Several of the pilots have been helping me repair both the Helm and the Navigational systems. I also agreed to help Harry repair both holodecks – especially Holodeck One. (Pauses)

The Saint-Claire program has completely gone offline. Several of the crew wanted the damn thing deleted permanently. I’m a little undecided on the subject. It’s funny. I’ve been obsessed with 20th century Earth history for years. I had even managed to express a little enthusiasm to Seven, after our neural interfaces were disengaged. And yet . . . I cannot seem to find the enthusiasm anymore. At least not now. Christ! I’m babbling like an idiot! Maybe dinner with B’Elanna will help. End personal log.

STARDATE 51724.66:

The ship repairs are nearly finished, thank God! We’ve actually managed to have something close to a normal day, today. Almost. Some of the crew – namely old Starfleeters like Baxter and Murphy – have been complaining about the Captain’s decision to hand over holographic technology to the Hirogen, claiming that her action was a breach of Starfleet protocols. Jesus Christ! These “by-the-book” types really get on my nerves! It’s not as if the Captain had any choice. It was either make a deal with the Hirogen or continue the fight against them until we all ended up dead.

The Saint-Claire program remains in the computer system. I guess that some of the crew has actually grown fond of it. I can’t say that I feel the same. I prefer this new program I have created. It’s mainly a garage on Earth, where I can repair a 1969 Camarro and listen to 20th century Rock music from a radio. It’s a hell of a lot better than reliving Saint-Claire, circa 1944. The latter only reminds me . . . (Sighs) Hell, I might as well confess. It reminds me of a lot of unpleasant things. Like getting beaten senseless by that damn holographic Nazi, nearly getting killed twice, and (Pauses) seeing B’Elanna pregnant. With another man’s child. Okay, I know that the baby wasn’t real. And neither was the father. Yet, I still feel uneasy thinking about it. Along with that Nazi pig screaming all over the place about him being the child’s father. Christ! My life has really been out of control for the past two-and-a-half months. Considering how I feel right now, I might as well be wearing one of those neural interfaces. End personal log.

STARDATE 51732.91:

I have a feeling that B’Elanna might be pissed at me. And the odd thing is I don’t care. When Harry was describing the French Resistance in the Saint-Claire program to her during lunch in the Mess Hall, she began comparing it to the Maquis, back home. Like I needed to be reminded of that. It’s bad enough that crewmen like Dalby and Chell have been making similar comparisons. When B’Elanna began comparing the Cardassians to the Nazis, I couldn’t take it any longer. In other words, I left. I rather think about my new Camarro program, thank you very much. End personal log.

STARDATE 51739.75:

Oh God! I think I just had one of the worst dreams, ever. The Hirogen were still on Voyager and using us for holographic simulations. Only, instead of being a WWII soldier or a Klingon warrior, I was myself – Tom Paris. Only this Tom happened to be a Starfleet officer back in the Alpha Quadrant, with a successful career in the Command track, a perfect wife (with B’Elanna’s human face), who was pregnant with the perfect child. In the dream, I found myself commanding a starship battling against the Cardassians. Two of the Cardassian officers appeared on the Bridge’s view screen . . . and transformed into the Admiral himself, beaming with parental pride; and Captain Janeway looking rather smug and satisfied. And that was when I woke up in a sweat. (Pauses) Christ! Talk about a personal horror story. Oh God, it’s only past midnight and I’m fully awake. Maybe a trip to Holodeck Two will help me relax. End personal log.

STARDATE 51752.24:

If one more person asks me how I’m feeling, I swear I am going to space myself out of sheer relief. Chakotay has asked me. So has Harry. Baytart complained that I’ve been neglecting the division. Maybe he feels he can do better. B’Elanna nearly blew her top when I broke our date. For the fifth time, according to her. And the Doctor has been hounding me about missing my shifts in Sick Bay. Hell, if he’s that unsatisfied with my work, perhaps he should request someone from the Science Division to act as his Chief Medical Assistant. There are plenty of candidates.

(Sighs) God, I just feel like I’m trapped, sometimes. If the Admiral could see me now, he would be thrilled that his wayward son is finally becoming the perfect Starfleet officer he had dreamed about. Living up to the Paris name. He would probably give Janeway a medal for accomplishing what he had failed to do. Thank God for my new holodeck program! It’s a hell of lot better than trying to be the perfect Starfleet officer. End personal log.

STARDATE 51754.9:

We have a new visitor aboard Voyager. His name is Steth. He’s a Benthan test pilot, whose ship we had to stabilize after he had jumped out of warp. It seems that he was testing a vessel that used a coaxial warp drive. I’ve heard about it at the Academy, but I never thought I would see one in person.

Steth seems like a pleasant guy. And since we happened to be fellow pilots, I thought it would be great to help him repair his ship . . . and learn how his species managed to utilize the coaxial warp drive. Fortunately, Chakotay gave me permission. Unfortunately that would mean breaking another date with B’Elanna. And she did not take the news very well. End personal log.

STARDATE 51763.84:

(Sighs) Hell, I don’t know how to begin this log entry. The last few days have really been bizarre. Steth turned out to be a DNA thief, who not only steals individuals’ DNA to assume forms, but also deposits his or her current genetic material into the victims. Only, it wasn’t really Steth who had stolen my DNA.

After I had awakened on Steth’s ship and in his body – I met the real Steth. The latter happened to be trapped in the body of a female alien named Daelen. In other words, it was Daelen – in Steth’s body – who had first appeared on Voyager. According to Steth, he had first met Daelen at a space station several light years aways. Daelen pretended to be an admirer of him – giving her the chance to steal his body. And Steth had been trapped in Daelen’s body ever since.

Steth and I eventually caught up with Voyager and captured Daelen – who had, by then, assumed the Captain’s identity. Sound confusing. I suspect that many of us were confused. It seemed a miracle that the Doc had managed to restore all of us to our rightful bodies. He added that there is a good chance that Daelen might not be the true identity of the DNA thief. Steth should be on his way back to the Benthan system, to deliver Daenen to the authorities. I hope that he makes it back without any mishaps. End personal log.

LOG SUPPLEMENTAL:

B’Elanna and I finally had a talk about recent events. And I’m not just talking about Steth and Daelen. I showed her my Grease Monkey program in Holodeck Two, and told her the reason behind my recent odd behavior.

I finally realized that it all began with the letters from home. Contacting with Starfleet had bothered me a lot more than I had realized. I had been happy with my life aboard Voyager, and viewed our communication with the Federation as a threat to that happiness. The Captain, Harry and many others might view the Alpha Quadrant as home. I don’t. Not anymore. For me, the Federation is nothing but a symbol of most of the unhappiness in my life – from being Dad’s little protégée during my childhood, to the problems I had endured in Starfleet and the Maquis. It was in the Alpha Quadrant where I had allowed my father, tradition, Starfleet, and my own fears rule me. Sometimes I wonder if I ever had any kind of control over my life. Thanks to our encounters with the Hirogen and communication with Starfleet that lack of control seemed to have reach Voyager.

B’Elanna understood. She even suggested that I might have been heading for a full-blown depression. Maybe. But my encounter with Daelen seemed to have snapped me out of it. Because right now, I feel as if I’m in some kind of control, again. I’m happy to have returned to Voyager. And I’m glad to be back with B’Elanna. I missed her very much.

The subject of Daelen finally came up. I had overheard what she . . . or he had said to me about B’Elanna, while in the Captain’s body. B’Elanna finally admitted that she and the phony Tom had kissed. Fortunately, she had also been too busy in Engineering for anything “further” to happen. Thank God for small miracles. End personal log.

STARDATE 51786:

I am happy to report that one Ensign Harry Kim may no longer harbor an infatuation for said former Borg drone named Seven-of-Nine. How did this miraculous event happened? Well, I guess one can thank an incident regarding a space phenomenon that threatened Voyager and some alien science station. According to Seven, the Borg regarded the phenomenon as a source of energy and a means to achieve perfection. In her “haste” to examine the manner, she became very officious toward the crew working with her on the project. Including Harry. I guess he didn’t care being treated as another mindless drone being assigned a Borg designation. Hmmm. End personal log.

STARDATE 51812.88:

We seemed to have a bit of a mystery aboard Voyager. Chakotay had come across some written notes in his handwriting, claiming that an alien bounty hunter had visited Voyager seeking asylum from her race. Twice. According to the notes, Chakotay fell in love with refugee and enjoyed a brief affair. O-kay. If he insists that happened. However, there is no proof in the computer’s database to support his claim. End personal log.

STARDATE 51826.67:

Voyager made contact with a group of aliens called the Vaskans to trade for deuterium and instead, ended up in the middle of a war. The Vaskans’ enemies, the Kyrians, had come to the conclusion that the Captain had formed an alliance with the Vaskans. Apparently, they had never heard of the Prime Directive. Anyway, to make a long story short, a group of Kyrians boarded Voyager and made their way toward Engineering. What is it about that place that attracts intruders? Fortunately, B’Elanna was in one of the Jeffries Tubes and missed the fireworks. But four of her engineers ended up dead. Security tracked the intruders to the Mess Hall and bagged the lot. The Vaskan ambassador needlessly shot the Kyrian ringleader, and pissed off the Captain. Which means we will have to find another source of deuterium. End personal log.

STARDATE 51835.41:

B’Elanna is still upset over the Vaskan/Kyrian incident. She has been taking the deaths of her four engineers rather hard, lately. A lot harder than she has done so in the past. In fact, she’s been shutting herself up in Engineering, continuing with those slipstream drive experiments. Naturally, I sympathize, but I’m beginning to wonder if her behavior is a bit . . . drastic. End personal log.

STARDATE 51837.11:

Our deuterium crisis is now affecting the ship’s systems. The Captain has ordered the crew to double up in living quarters, to conserve power until we are able to acquire more deuterium. Seven finally managed to locate a source on some Demon-class planet, several light years away. Because of the planet’s atmosphere and condition, we would be unable to beam to its surface. Harry had eventually come up with idea of sending an Away team via shuttle, to the surface. Tuvok naysayed the idea – as usual. But to my surprise, Ensign Eager shot down Mr. Doom-n-Gloom with a few choice words. Mind you, I don’t dislike Tuvok, contrary to what one may think. In fact, I rather like him. But he does have a tendency to view everything in a pessimistic manner. And talk down to others. So I say – good for Harry. By the way, the little bastard had also suggested that I accompany him on the Away mission. Cretin. End personal log.

STARDATE 51840.93:

It felt strange seeing duplicates of the crew, standing on the surface of that Demon-class planet, while Voyager departed. Very strange. This all happened after Harry and I became the first to be duplicated, during our Away mission on the planet. Our AVS suits became damaged when the liquefied deuterium made contact with our bodies. We probably would have died if the Doctor had not figured out that Chakotay and Seven had returned to the ship with our doubles.

Harry’s duplicate had asked the Captain if each crewman would leave behind a sample of DNA. Apparently, he and the “other Tom” did not want to be the only humanoid life on that planet. B’Elanna was among the first to volunteer for duplication. Very strange. I felt certain that she would be among the few to protest. She told me that after meeting the clone Tom in Sick Bay, she could not bear the idea of him being alone on that planet. God! Isn’t it any wonder that I love her? End personal log.

STARDATE 51928.11:

Oh God! I don’t want to do this! I don’t want to spend the next four weeks inside that coffin! Okay. It’s not a coffin, but a stasis unit. But the damn thing looks like a coffin. And the entire crew, except for Seven and the Doctor, will be forced to remain in one for an entire month because of some damn Mitara-class nebula. We had already made an attempt to travel through it, yesterday. But it didn’t take long – three minutes to be exact – before we were all affected by the nebula’s subnucleonic radiation. Nor did the Captain want to detour around the nebula. That particular journey would take at least a year. Personally, I couldn’t care less how long it would take. Better that than spending a month in stasis. But the Captain . . . well, there’s no need to go on about her obsession in getting home. She wants to use the shortcut through the nebula. That means, I will have to face the coffin.

Thanks to her Borg nanoprobes, Seven wasn’t affected by the radiation. Which means that she will be monitoring our units and taking Voyager through the nebula. At least she’ll be able to avoid the coffins. Lucky woman. Then again, her only company will be the Doc. End personal log.

STARDATE 51930.36:

Seven said a strange thing during lunch, today. Let me start from the beginning. After Voyager had finally ended its journey through the Mitara-class nebula, the Captain, Chakotay and the Doc found Seven in a state of delirium and sent her to Sick Bay. After being alone for a long period – especially after the Doc’s program went offline – the lack of company had affected her. She later joined B’Elanna, Harry and me in the Mess Hall and brought up the fact that I had managed to slip out of my stasis unit at least three times.

Harry wanted to know why I was so claustrophobic. I certainly couldn’t tell them – at least Harry and Seven – that it all stemmed from a childhood incident. And an embarrassing one, at that. However, Seven came up with her own answer. She said that perhaps I was afraid of being alone. I cannot help but wonder if she was talking about me? Or herself? End personal log.

STARDATE 51972.37:

Neelix, Lang and I will visit the Polarius system, tomorrow for some much needed supplies. I wouldn’t mind the trip. After nearly a month in stasis, I’m beginning to feel a little stir crazy. I could use an Away mission. And a few days in Neelix’s company sounds pleasant. End personal log.

STARDATE 51979.49:

Thank goodness for Arturis. He’s an alien that Neelix, Lang and I had encountered on the homeworld of a Xenon-based race. If it weren’t for his linguist skills, we would have never been able to do any trade. Especially after our Universal translators had began to malfunction. We brought him back to Voyager, where he proved to be valuable, once more. He was able to assist the Captain in breaking the encrypted message we had received from Starfleet, nearly six months ago. End personal log.

STARDATE 51980.35:

I take it all back. I like Arturis, but now I wish that Neelix, Lang and I had never met him. And I wish he had never been able to translate that encrypted message. It seems that Starfleet had provided coordinates to a ship they had sent to the Delta Quadrant to provide us a way home. An experimental ship with a slipstream drive, called the U.S.S. Dauntless.

When Tuvok, Chakotay and I first boarded the Dauntless, it had somehow activated and sent us fifteen light years ahead. It took Voyager two days to track us down. The Captain then ordered the crew to examine the Dauntless for any new technology that Starfleet have provided us. Since she’s reluctant to abandon Voyager, she ordered Engineering to begin modifying the ship’s engines to adopt a similar slipstream drive. Or maybe modify the slipstream experiments that B’Elanna, Seven and the Engineering crew have been conducting.

Everyone seems excited over the prospect of getting home. Even B’Elanna. I sometimes wonder if she has lost her mind. I mean, what does she have to look forward in the Alpha Quadrant? The Maquis has been destroyed. She, Chakotay and the others will probably face at least one or two years in a Federation prison – along with myself. And there’s a war going on, back home. Judging from the information we’ve received, it’s not going well.

And there is one last thing – this whole matter regarding the Dauntless sounds a bit off to me. I find it hard to believe that Starfleet had managed to provide us with a means to travel home in such a short space of time. I mean, how much time had passed between the Doc’s visit to the Alpha Quadrant and our letters from home? Two weeks. And unless Starfleet has been working on such a slipstream drive during the past three to four years, I find it hard to believe that it took them two weeks to create one and send it to the Delta Quadrant – unmanned. (Pauses) Now that I think about it, I’m beginning to wonder if Arturis is responsible for it. This all started when Neelix, Lang and I first met him. Or had it? End personal log.

STARDATE 51988.2:

Everyone is now disappointed that the Dauntless turned out to be a hoax. It wasn’t an experimental Starfleet vessel. It was Arturis’ own ship. He had set a trap. Apparently, he had intercepted Admiral Hayes’ message to the Captain and modified it. All because he wanted to lead us to the Dauntless – and eventually into the arms of the Borg. We managed to get some of the crew off the Dauntless – including B’Elanna, thank God. Unfortunately, the Captain and Seven had remained trapped aboard with Arturis. Using the slipstream modification made on Voyager, we managed to chase the Dauntless and beam the Captain and Seven back to the ship. Poor Arturis ended up assimilated by the Borg.

Why did he do it? Why did Arturis go through so much trouble to get us assimilated by the Borg? It seems that his homeworld had spent centuries evading assimilation. About a year ago, their efforts were beginning to fail when the Borg decided to invade Species 8472’s fluidic space. Arturis’ people had looked forward to the Borg’s defeat. Unfortunately, our alliance with the Borg destroyed all hope. And Arturis’ world ended up assimilated.

I think the Captain tried to dismiss his people’s fate as a bad misfortune. Maybe she’s right. I understand why Arturis tried to destroy us . . . even though my sympathy can only go so far, considering that he had nearly succeeded. On the other hand, aside from Seven’s rescue from the Collective, nothing really good had come from that damn alliance. And despite her “let’s move on” attitude, I suspect that the Captain feels the same. End personal log.

STARDATE 51994.11:

Voyager entered an expanse of space, devoid of any stars, nebulas or other stellar sightings. A void in space. Christ! It looked so . . . empty. And to make matters worse, we’ll be traveling through this void for at least a year or two. According to Seven, the void stretches at least 2,500 light years. That’s about two years. God, how depressing! End personal log.

STARDATE 51999.04:

We haven’t been in this void very long and already, it’s affecting the crew’s morale. Since the New Year is coming up, Neelix has been campaigning for our usual New Year’s Eve bash. Hell, I could sure use it. Staring at nothing but black space for hours on end isn’t doing much for my morale. And I’ve noticed that ever since the Arturis debacle, B’Elanna has been distant toward me. Perhaps a holiday celebration is what the both of us need. I’m beginning to think that the Captain also needs this party. She didn’t bother to leave her quarters, today. And she’s not sick. (Pauses) Anyway, nothing else has happened today. End personal log.

END OF PART FOUR

“The Helmsman’s Logs – 2374” [PG-13] – 1/2

 

“THE HELMSMAN’S LOGS – 2374

RATING: [PG-13]
SUMMARY: The fourth in a collection of Tom Paris’ personal logs during Voyager’s journey in the Delta Quadrant.
DISCLAIMER: Tom Paris and all other characters related to Star Trek
Voyager belong to Paramount, Viacom, Rick Berman, the Roddenberry
family and other Trek producers.

AUTHOR’S NOTES: This covers Season Four episodes from “The Gift” to post-“Hope and Fear”.

“THE HELMSMAN’S LOGS – 2374”

PART 1

STARDATE 51002.61:

(Sighs) The year is now 2374. (Pauses) For once, I’m not feeling hung over after a party. I guess that none of us really had the urge to drink. Not while we were busy looking over our shoulders for the pursuing Borg or Species 8472. So far, we’re still looking.

As for the party, it did not last long after the New Year had arrived. I don’t mind. At least it wasn’t as dismal as last year’s celebration. But I must admit that talking about the Borg and Voyager’s newest addition to the crew did not enliven my mood. B’Elanna had spent most of the evening discussing the Borg addition to the ship’s technology. And getting into a state of anxiety over our new crewman. Many want the Borg off the ship. Frankly, I don’t see the point, since she has been disconnected from the Collective. B’Elanna thinks I’m being naïve. In other words, our little disagreement over our new crew member had almost left me in a foul mood. Great! We have our first fight since the Nyrian habitat and it happens to be over a complete stranger.

Both Chakotay and the Captain had appeared at the party. They remained long enough to usher in the New Year. Since both were still anxious about the Borg, they did not remain very long and left. Separately. Hmm, I guess they haven’t completely reconciled, yet. I have this odd feeling that the Borg may have damaged their relationship for good. End personal log.

STARDATE 51006.86:

It’s been three days since our encounter with the Borg and Species 8472. Ship repairs have resumed with a vengeance. Everyone is still talking about our new passenger. Again, B’Elanna did not fail to express her opinion that the Captain should get rid of the ex-drone. This time, I kept my mouth shut. Who knows? She may be right. B’Elanna did tell us one bit of information. The Borg’s name is Seven-of-Nine. Her human name – that’s right, she’s a human – is Annika. Hmmm, very pretty. End personal log.

STARDATE 51009.86:

I can’t believe it. It’s been five hours since she was forced to leave the ship and I still can’t believe that she’s gone. Kes, I mean. (Pauses) I guess I’m still having trouble comprehending the whole incident. B’Elanna believes that Kes had transformed into a powerful spirit. Well, Kes became powerful, all right. Not long after she left Voyager, she had transformed into a non-corporeal being and sent the ship some 9.5 light years closer to the Alpha Quadrant. That means in less than three years, Voyager has traveled in 12.5 light years – with 57.5 years left in our journey.

Kes had also saved us from the Borg. Our new passenger, Seven-of-Nine, tried to contact the nearest Borg cube by accessing the ship’s subspace transmitter. Kes managed to telepathetically stop her in time. But not before our favorite drone gave Harry one hell of a whack.

(Sighs) Even as I now talk, I still cannot believe that Kes is gone. And to think, I had a crush on her for nearly a year. Still, she was a great friend and I’m going to miss her. I think we all will – especially the Doc, Tuvok . . . and Neelix, of course. (Pauses) Good-bye Kes. I’m going to miss you. End personal log.

STARDATE 51023.29:

Baytart, Jenkins and I were in Cargo Bay Two, searching for navigational parts, when we caught sight of our super cargo. The other two kept their distance, while lucky me had to get close to collect the parts. She was standing in her new Borg regeneration chamber, when her eyes opened and began to follow me. Creepy. But she remained silent. I bid her a quiet good-bye and left with the other two. Not much communication was achieved, but I can safely state that Second Contact between Seven-of-Nine and me proved to be a hell of a lot less painful than our first. End personal log.

STARDATE 51070.09:

B’Elanna and I were having lunch in the Mess Hall today, discussing cultural holidays. When I asked about Klingon holidays, she brought up something called Day of Honor. Apparently, it is an observance day in which Klingon warriors test their honor by enduring some kind of ritual hazing. Hmmm, sounds interesting. I had asked her when was the last time she had observed the Day of Honor and she almost laughed in my face. It seems that B’Elanna has not observed this special day since she had turned seventeen. B’Elanna doesn’t realize it, but she has given me an idea for a new holoprogram. I only hope that I can talk her into participating in it. End personal log.

STARDATE 51085.73:

Voyager has finally learned of Chakotay’s whereabouts – at least Tuvok has. He found Chakotay, brainwashed by the Vori and engaged in their war against the Kradin. Poor Chakotay. He’s had it pretty bad since his near assimilation by those ex-Borgs, nearly five months ago. He and the Captain are still divided over Seven-of-Nine. And now this. I may not like him very much, but I cannot help but feel sorry for him. B’Elanna sees this as a sign that I am finally growing up. I ought to teach her a lesson about making such comments. End personal log.

STARDATE 51113.25:

The subject of the Day of Honor came up, again. To my surprise, it was B’Elanna who first mentioned it. Apparently, she has been thinking about her mother, lately. Eight years have passed since she had last seen Miral Torres. B’Elanna must miss her very much, which seems strange. I have never known B’Elanna to mention her mother without making some kind of complaint.

When I told her about my idea for a Day of Honor holoprogram, she decided that she wanted to help me. Great! I’m really looking forward to this. Especially if it means spending a great deal of time with B’Elanna. End personal log.

STARDATE 51162.37:

B’Elanna and I have finally completed the Day of Honor program. And just in time. Tomorrow will be her official day to commemorate. Ah! Can’t wait to see how it will turn out. End personal log.

STARDATE 51170.62:

God! (Pauses) For the first time in ages, I can barely think. I’m speechless. (Pauses) And it’s not the tri-ox treatment I had received. Oh God! (Sighs) I can’t believe . . . Shit! I don’t know who really had to endure a Day of Honor – B’Elanna or me. I guess we both did, in our own ways.

B’Elanna’s Day of Honor had begun three days ago. One, the holoprogram turned out to be a bust. Not because it had not been created properly. It all went wrong, because B’Elanna was not in the mood to enjoy it. To put it simply, she was having one of “those” days. She woke up late. Didn’t have time for breakfast. Nearly everything in Engineering began to malfunction. Worst of all, Seven-of-Nine finally reported for duty and her first assignment happened to be Engineering. It didn’t take long for B’Elanna to confront Seven about previous victims of the Borg. And when Seven failed to display the proper remorse, B’Elanna kicked her out of Engineering.

Yep, that’s right. I had heard what happened. Let’s just say that gossip and rumors tend to spread pretty fast on this ship. I love B’Elanna very much, but she does have this tendency to be a bit too judgmental about people – even without getting to know them. Hell, I had personally experienced this trait first hand, during Voyager’s first year in the Delta Quadrant. And this is why when I ran into our ex-Borg on Deck Seven, I offered her my friendship. Why not? Everyone deserves a second chance.

B’Elanna wasn’t the only one who didn’t take for Seven’s presence aboard Voyager. We had encountered a race of aliens called the Caatati. I guess one could call them the beggars of the Delta Quadrant. They had asked the Captain for food, medical supplies and thorium – namely a lot. Due to our situation, the Captain was only able to allow them so much. That would have been the end of it, except our Caatati visitor had spotted Seven with me and nearly went into a fit. His race had nearly been devastated by the Borg.

I wish I could say “thus ended a difficult day”, but I can’t. It only grew worse. Engineering’s experiment with creating a transwarp wormhole led to the warp core being dumped. The Captain ordered us to use the Cochrane shuttle to fetch it, only the Caatati managed to get it first. B’Elanna tried to break their tractor beam. Instead, they sent an antimatter pulse to block our efforts. Not only did they succeed, they also caused the destruction of the Cochrane, leaving B’Elanna and myself wearing AVS suits and stranded in space.

(Sighs) Until the day I die, I do not think I will ever forget those moments drifting in space. That and Sakari IV. After B’Elanna and I found ourselves drifting in space, an ionic shower damaged my AVS suit’s supply of oxygen and I ended up sharing B’Elanna’s supply. But the ionic shower had also damaged her suit, leaving a half hour of oxygen between the two of us. We flirted a bit. Okay, I flirted with B’Elanna. We talked about the Academy and then it got serious – all because I wanted to know if her feelings toward me had changed over the years. Not only did B’Elanna answered yes, she also revealed a lot more. She told me (Pauses) . . . she confessed to being in love with me.

(Laughs bitterly) Strange. I had no trouble admitting that I was in love with B’Elanna some eight months ago . . . to myself. But when she demanded that I say something after her confession, I responded with a joke, instead. (Sighs) How lame! I wanted to admit that I was in love with her, but I was too floored by her confession. Also, Voyager had chosen that moment to contact us. It’s odd. One minute, I’m floating in space, stunned by B’Elanna’s confession and everything goes black. The next thing I knew, I’m waking up in Sick Bay, with the Doc’s face hovering over mine. B’Elanna had already returned to her quarters. I wanted to pay her a visit before returning to my quarters, but I lost my nerve. I don’t know. I’m thrilled that B’Elanna might possibly love me. But how can she be in love with a guy who lacked the courage to express his own feelings? Even worse, how long will that love last when she finally becomes acquainted with the real Tom Paris? End personal log.

STARDATE 51179.25:

The Captain made a little announcement during the Senior Staff meeting, today. She has promoted Tuvok to Lieutenant Commander. A celebration dinner will be held in his honor, tomorrow. Considering how long Tuvok has been in Starfleet, I’m surprised that he has not reached the rank of Captain or Admiral, by now. Still, I’m happy for him.

After seeing her at the staff meeting, I ran into B’Elanna outside the Mess Hall, later this evening. She took one look at me and fled down the corridor. Frankly, I don’t blame her. She had admitted her feelings to me . . . and I made a joke. I wouldn’t be surprised if she never wants to lay eyes upon me, again. End personal log.

STARDATE 51182.25:

I really don’t know how to begin. It’s been quite a day. Tuvok is now a lieutenant-commander. I’m the Doctor’s new medical assistant. And B’Elanna and I . . . well, we had spoken with each other for the first time in three days.

It happened right after Tuvok’s promotion luncheon. I followed her out of the Mess Hall. Asked her if she really meant what she had said about being in love with me. I don’t know why I had asked. I guess that a part of me wanted to know if I had heard right. That B’Elanna’s confession had not been a figment of my imagination, caused by a lack of oxygen. But it wasn’t. B’Elanna confirmed my . . . my what? My fears? My hopes? Maybe a little of both.

After B’Elanna had admitted her love for me . . . for the second time . . . she rambled on about how she understood if I didn’t reciprocate her feelings. Well, I had to shut her up one way or the other. If she had continued any longer, she would have convinced herself that I didn’t love her. So, I kissed her. Thoroughly, I hoped. I must say that her lips were as soft and warm as I had remembered from Sakari IV. And I would have kissed her even longer, if the Doctor had not interrupted us. Not that the Doc’s interruption really mattered. Even though I didn’t actually say, “I love you,” I think that B’Elanna got the message on how I really felt about her. Hopefully, this means that my hope for a relationship will finally become a reality. End personal log.

STARDATE 51184.55:

Just finished my first day as the Doc’s medical assistant. Since he has been on an Away mission with B’Elanna, I was left in charge of Sick Bay.

Nothing much happened. I treated an indigested stomach and a lacerated hand. The last belonged to Seven-of-Nine, who had been assigned to work with Harry on design enhancements for the Astrometrics Lab. While treating her hand, I made a few jokes to put her at ease. Seven didn’t seem to mind them, but Harry practically went ballistic. Hmmmm, I haven’t seen Ensign Eager this emotional since he fell for that hologram, last year. Or was it Lyndsay Ballard? I don’t remember. Anyway, I tried to warn him that Seven wasn’t emotionally ready for a relationship. But knowing Harry, I’m sure that he didn’t listen. Oh well. At least he didn’t go running to Tuvok for advice. End personal log.

STARDATE 51187.65:

(Sighs) B’Elanna had returned with Doc from their Away mission, a few hours ago. They had an encounter with a psychotic hologram, who tried to kill B’Elanna by ripping her heart out. God! She managed to destroy him before he could damage her heart permanently. Also, she and the Doc returned to Voyager just in time for him to perform surgery. So, B’Elanna left the Sick Bay with a clean bill of health . . . and just in time for our first date, tonight. Our first real date.

(Pauses and listens to B’Elanna mumble in her sleep) I must admit that I had felt very nervous when I showed up at her quarters. We had a nice dinner – replicated Ktarian soufflé, a pasta salad and a nice 2294 Merlot. Mind you (pauses as B’Elanna mumbles again) the meal as nice, but all I could think about was that cute little maroon dress she wore. And taking it off.

Okay, so I sound like some kind of sex fiend. But B’Elanna . . . God! She looked so beautiful and irresistible! (Sighs) We were a bit shy at first, but the moment our lips met . . . oh God, I’m beginning to sound like a bad romance holonovel. Let’s just say that I forgot about any shyness on my part. For a moment, I had feared I was being just a little too enthusiastic. But B’Elanna brushed away such fears when she began ripping off my clothes. (Sighs happily) This might be a personal log, but I’m sure that someone will end up listening to this some day in the future. So, I’ll just say that a Klingon woman’s reputation for sexual prowess is very well deserved; and sleeping with B’Elanna was more than great sex. It was . . . okay, I think I’m about to sound like a cliché. Sleeping with B’Elanna was like a meeting between two souls; and I never want to be . . .

(B’Elanna mumbles a little louder, “Tom?”)

B’Elanna! I’ll be with in a . . . Hey! B’Elanna! That tickles! B’Elanna!

(B’Elanna: “Hey Helmboy! Aren’t you going to finish that log or what?”)

Right. And last but not least, I never want to be apart from her again. Ever.

(B’Elanna: “Hmmm, how romantic. Now why don’t you show me what never being apart means?”)

Be careful of what you wish for, Lieuten . . . Oooof! End personal log.

STARDATE 51195.59:

I wonder if Starfleet Academy ever considered giving courses on diplomatic encounters gone awry, thanks to former Borg drones. (Sighs) Our encounter with the B’omar was certainly one for the books. We had come across their space and needed their permission to avoid a long detour. To be honest, the B’omar didn’t help matters by imposing all of those travel restrictions upon us.Travel at Warp 3? Keep our weapons off-line? And that ridiculous course they had suggested!

Of course, Seven’s actions didn’t help. Some Borg signal had reactivated her nanoprobes, causing her to go amok. She attacked Neelix in the Mess Hal, stole a phaser, attacked several Security crewmen and stole one of the shuttles. Damaging the Shuttle Bay, in the process. After Seven’s escape, the B’omar wanted nothing to do with us. Matters grew worse after Tuvok and I went after her in another shuttle and tracked her to a Class-M moon – the very place where her parents’ ship had crashed, before they were all assimilated by the Borg.

Voyager exchanged fire with a few B’omar ships, while I tried to beam Seven and Tuvok to the shuttle. But not before Tuvok helped Seven deal with her memories of being assimilated. Let’s just say that the entire incident resulted in Voyager making a long detour around B’omar space. End personal log.

STARDATE 51204.1:

Don’t get me wrong. I love B’Elanna with ever fiber of my being, but there are times when she simply drives me crazy. And I’m not being complimentary. It’s been three days since the incident with Seven and the B’omar and B’Elanna has not stopped bitching about it. Okay, I understand why she’s pissed for having to oversee the repairs in the Shuttle Bay. But God! I’ve had to listen to B’Elanna bitch and moan for hours over Seven’s actions and the Captain’s refusal to dump our favorite Borg on the nearest M-class planet. Both Harry and I tried to make B’Elanna see that Seven had been reliving a childhood trauma. But she has refused to listen. This morning had been the last straw.

After one last rant about the Captain’s “obsession with the Borg”, I lost my temper and told her that her complaints were becoming a bore and that she should give them a rest. I must say that I was damn lucky to avoid a public beating at the hands of a pissed off half-Klingon. Instead, B’Elanna gave me a death glare that rivaled the Captain’s’ and stormed out of the Mess Hall. I’ve tried to apologize since, but she refuses to speak to me. (Sighs) I think a little trip to the Airpondics Bay is in order. End personal log.

STARDATE 51207.06:

Ah! There’s nothing in the Universe like fine food, wine and make-up sex. All due to a dozen of red roses from the Airpondics Bay. A fellow could get used to this. End personal log.

STARDATE 51230.8:

Strange energy readings were detected by Harry this morning, and now Voyager is on its way to investigate. It is a good thing that we are about three days away. This should give the Captain plenty of time to recover from the headaches that have been plaguing her, lately. If I were her, I would spend those three days in my quarters. She practically looks like death warmed over. Doc has tried relieving her headaches with various medications, but nothing seems to help. Oh well.

Meanwhile, B’Elanna and I have been . . . well, a little more than enthusiastic during our off-duty hours, lately. Actually, we’ve been pretty active during duty hours, as well. Neelix and Pablo Baytart nearly caught us having sex in the Mess Hall, early this morning. I don’t know what’s going on, but every time I find myself near B’Elanna, I have this urge to rip her clothes off and take her right there on the spot. (Pauses) Okay, I’m really starting to sound like some kind of sex fiend. But I can’t help it. Every time we’re apart, all I can think about is her. Her sable eyes, that sexy growl of hers, her pert breasts, and the way her nails would rake up and down my back when we’re . . . (Sighs) Great! Now, I’m in dire need of a cold shower. End personal log.

STARDATE 51235.84:

Thanks to a double shift I had been forced to work, I missed out on a date with B’Elanna. Damn! I don’t even know what is worse – canceling the date with B’Elanna or dealing with this sexual obsession of mine. (Sighs) Since I can’t do anything about the former, I might as well see to the latter. There hasn’t been much activity in Sick Bay, lately. Maybe I can find a way to spend some time with her. That is, if the Doc can spare me for one lousy shift. End personal log.

STARDATE 51239.04:

B’Elanna and I had just spent an embarrassing moment with the Captain, today. Just before dinner, last night, Tuvok had caught us . . . uh, kissing on one of the computer consoles in Engineering. The snitch! He must have high-tailed it back to the Captain, for she really chewed us out, after the Senior Staff meeting. Whew! Guess we’ll have to a little more discreet from now on. Meanwhile, poor Neelix had some kind of attack in the Galley and had to be beamed to Sick Bay. Chakotay is already there, due to some kind of rapid ageing he has experienced. What the hell is going on, here?

One last thing – the strange energy readings that Harry had detected, turned out to be binary pulsars. End personal log.

STARDATE 51244.36:

For the past two weeks, a race of aliens have been using Voyager as a traveling laboratory for a series of experiments. These aliens – whose name we still don’t know – had attached their ships to ours and subjected the crew to a series of medical tests. They did all of this, while walking about the ship . . . invisible. Tests that monitored our dopamine levels – which explained the Captain’s headaches – to sexual hormone levels. Now I know why B’Elanna and I have been at each other like dogs in heat. Those bastards also stopped the auoeli in B’Elanna’s lungs from processing air and nearly killed her. This happened after she and the Doc nearly discovered what was going on. In the end, it was Seven who finally revealed the aliens. Needless to say, the Captain did not take the news very well. Especially after Crewman Huberman died from a synaptic shock. I wish I had been on the Bridge when she steered the ship toward the binary pulsars. According to Harry, the pulsars’ gravity managed to destroy both alien ships – although one nearly escaped. Although Voyager had escaped destruction, the pulsars had damaged both navigational control and some of the ship’s hull plating. The Doctor and I have begun removing the DNA markings given to us by the aliens. Everything should return to normal. Somewhat. There is still the matter of Crewman Huberman. End personal log.

STARDATE 51244.36:

A memorial service for Huberman was held this morning. A dark moment for an otherwise normal day. At least normal for us. The aliens’ DNA markings have been completely removed from the entire crew. B’Elanna, I’m happy to say, has fully recovered. We decided to celebrate with a private dinner in my quarters. I thought that a pasta salad with Ktarian Merlot would be nice. She should be here in another . . . (the doorbell chimes) Oh, she’s here. End personal log.

STARDATE 51255.55:

With the new Astrometrics Lab completed, the Captain has permitted the crew to celebrate with a party. Which means that I’ve got at least a half hour to shower, change into clean clothes and pick up B’Elanna. The party will be held in the Resort holoprogram in Holodeck One. Neelix will provide the refreshments, as usual. (Sighs) Oh well, not everything can be perfect.

Voyager also entered Krenim space, this morning. A Krenim starship captain warned us that his race was involved in a border dispute with another. He warned us to avoid Krenim space. Happily, the Captain agreed and ordered me to plot a new course for the Alpha Quadrant. End personal log.

STARDATE 51261.03:

Our encounter in Krenim space had led me to thinking about Kes. It has been three months, since she left Voyager. I could not help but think about the alternate timeline she had experienced before our encounter with the Borg and Species 8472. A timeline that had us at war with the Krenim for at least a year. The Year of Hell. According to Kes, a good number of the crew had been killed – including two senior staff members, whose names Kes had never revealed. I’m almost tempted to access her personal logs, but that would be a shabby way to honor Kes’ memory. I guess the details of her experiences in the alternate timeline will remain a mystery. Too bad. End personal log.

STARDATE 51362.25:

Voyager came across a new planet called the Mari homeworld. The Mari are a race of telepaths who are technically advanced – at least by Starfleet standards. This means that we don’t have to worry about the almighty Prime Directive. Since the Captain has been able to establish diplomatic ties, she ordered me to establish orbit around the planet. And the crew will be able to enjoy shore leave for the next few days. Hopefully, B’Elanna and I will get to enjoy a few hours of sightseeing, together. End personal log.

STARDATE 51369.25:

I can’t believe it! B’Elanna has been arrested by the Mari authorities for having violent thoughts! Violent thoughts? What the hell is this? They’ve got to be kidding! Then again, I guess not. It seems the Mari people have outlawed violent thoughts, believing the latter can lead to violent acts. While in the marketplace of the Mari capital city, B’Elanna had violent thoughts when some man had bumped into her. This led the man to beat another Mari citizen to death in full view of everyone. If found guilty, B’Elanna will have to undergo an engramatic purge.

Great! My girlfriend is in danger of being lobotomized! I asked the Captain if she plans to rescue B’Elanna. Unfortunately, she reminded me that according to Starfleet protocol, we have to respect Mari laws. The Captain also added that she and Tuvok will investigate and ensure that B’Elanna is exonerated. Sounds lovely, but what if they can’t exonerate her? She would still have to undergo the purge. The Doc told me that hopefully, he would be able to reconstruct her engrams. This is supposed to reassure me?

I can’t believe that the Captain is willing to allow B’Elanna to undergo such a thing. I mean, if she was willing to rescue Harry and me from the Atkirian prison, why not do the same for B’Elanna? (Sighs) This is fucked up beyond belief! And to think I had purchased a gift for her. Now, I don’t know if B’Elanna will ever get the chance to enjoy it. I wonder if Chakotay would consider planning a jailbreak. End personal log.

STARDATE 51374.11

B’Elanna is back, I’m happy to say. Thank God for Tuvok! He found out that a Mari merchant had deliberately provoked B’Elanna into a violent thought, in order to steal it telepathetically and sell it on the black market. Very sick, in my opinion. So much for Mari non-violence. The Mari had managed to erase one-tenth of B’Elanna’s violent engrams, before Tuvok and the Captain presented them with the real perpetrator.

B’Elanna told me that Tuvok finally appreciates the struggle she had endured with her violent Klingon psyche. Geez! I like Tuvok, but did he really had to associate her temper with her Klingon side? Now, B’Elanna is more determined than ever to control her thoughts. (Sighs) I told her that she should worry more about her actions than her thoughts. I also reminded her that Klingons weren’t the only species that had to struggle with violent impulses. But I got the feeling that she didn’t believe me. Damn! Hopefully, she will. One day. End personal log.

STARDATE 51449.44

Is it me or has Neelix been acting odd, lately? He must have been more upset over that Mari woman’s death than I had first imagined. In fact, he has seemed a little out of sync, ever since Kes’ departure. I had hoped that his friendship with Talli on the Mari homeworld would improve his mood. Unfortunately, Talli was killed and Neelix’s dark mood returned. Maybe this upcoming Away mission with Chakotay and me will help. End personal log.

SUPPLEMENTAL LOG

Christ! I can’t believe it! Neelix is gone! Dead! And all because of a simple mission to investigate a proto matter nebula. The shuttle got a little too close to the nebula, and Neelix was hit by an energy discharge. I just can’t . . . I never realized how difficult it would be for me to deal with his death. It’s funny. I’m closer to B’Elanna and Harry, but Neelix was the only person on this ship who understood what it meant to live with a questionable past. And to whom else can I talk with, about flying? Hell, I found it easier to talk with Neelix than the other pilots in my division. If only I hadn’t flown that damn shuttle so close! End personal log.

STARDATE 51456.14:

I thought that being resurrected by Seven’s modified nanoprobes and celebrating Prixin would put Neelix in a good mood. Apparently, it didn’t. He tried . . . to commit suicide by transporting himself into that nebula. God! I wonder what Chakotay had said to convince him not to kill himself.

Speaking of Chakotay, he has assigned B’Elanna to the Gamma shift for the next two weeks. Son-of-a-bitch! This means, we’ll barely have time together. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Chakotay had deliberately planned this to keep us apart. (Sighs) But I do know him better. He may not have been thrilled about our new relationship, but he’s not petty. But if one must suffer in the name of love . . . End personal log.

STARDATE 51460.79:

I wish to God that Seven had never detected that damn array system. Now that I think about it, I wish the Captain had never ordered the Astrometrics Lab to be remodeled in the first place. But since we did stumble across the array system, Seven was able to detect that Starfleet vessel in the Alpha Quadrant. Probably some Galaxy-class ship on a deep space mission.

At first, the Captain tried to send a message to the ship, using the array. When that failed, B’Elanna came up with the brilliant idea of sending a holographic message. Namely the Doctor. And guess who will be left to act as Acting Chief Medical Officer? (Sighs) Chief Medical Officer. Dammit! I’m a pilot, not a medic! Why in the hell didn’t the Doctor train someone from the Science Division to train as his assistant? Someone like Sam Wildman? What if the Doc never return from the Alpha Quadrant? What if his program gets lost in the signal between us and Starfleet?

I have to do something about this. (Pauses) Hmmm, since B’Elanna is still monitoring the array, perhaps Harry can help. I may know a lot about holoprogramming, but when it comes to creating a program as complex as the EMH, I’m going to need an engineer. End personal log.

END OF PART 1

“The Power of One” [PG-13] – 5/20

 

“THE POWER OF ONE”

PART V

Piper felt more than happy that she had finally found the perfect nanny for Wyatt. Donna Thompson turned out to be a Voudon practioner – a mambo, like Cecile Dubois. Although Ms. Thompson’s power happened to be thermokinesis, she also possessed the ability to use other forms of psychic powers through spells and chants. Nor did she seem to mind dealing with the constant demonic attacks upon Wyatt. It seemed that Ms. Thompson had experienced plenty of them, during her years as a mambo. But it was Wyatt’s immediate acceptance of her that led Piper to finally hire her.

“So, when can you start?” the Charmed One asked the priestess. She lowered Wyatt back in his basquinet.

Ms. Thompson replied, “Is tomorrow okay?”

“Sounds great.” Piper led the other woman out of the Solarium. “Uh, how about eight in the morning? Is that okay?”

“Fine by me.”

Piper continued, “You know, I didn’t realize there were any Vodoun practioners here on the West Coast. I mean, my sisters and I had once encountered this witch doctor, but we thought he came from somewhere else.” She noticed that the other woman had stiffened slightly. “Is there something wrong?”

Flashing a prim smile, Ms. Thompson replied, “We Vodoun practioners don’t like the term ‘witch doctor’. We find it insulting. And the word – witch – is considered . . . an insult in the Vodoun world. I know that it isn’t in your world. But it is in ours.”

“Oh. Uh . . .” Now there was something that Cecile or the McNeills had never bothered to reveal. “I, uh . . . didn’t know that. Maybe this guy was a priest. Anyway, I don’t think he was from around here. And Cecile and Andre are from New Orleans. Besides, I’ve always thought that Vodoun was only practiced back East.”

Ms. Thompson added, “I didn’t realize you were that familiar with Vodoun. You’ve been to New Orleans?”

“No, I met Cecile and Andre, here in San Francisco. In fact, they’re visiting the city, this week.” The Charmed One told the Vodoun priestess about the two visitors from Louisiana.

For a brief second, Piper thought she saw Ms. Thompson’s eyes widened in alarm. She realized that she had imagining things, when the other woman smiled. “Really? And this Miss Dubois is a telepath? And a clairvoyant? That’s interesting. My grandmother was a seer.”

“So is one of my sisters,” Piper added. “Phoebe. She’s also an empath.” Then she sighed. “I should warn you about the latter. Phoebe had just received her empathic powers over a month ago. And it’s been driving us all crazy.”

Ms. Thompson smiled. “Thanks for the warning.” Then she glanced at the floor and a frown appeared on her face. “Hey, what happened to that amulet? The one that daemon had been wearing.”

Piper glanced around. “I don’t know. I didn’t see it after we had vanquished him. Maybe it was destroyed.”

“Hmmm. Well,” Ms. Thompson glanced at the grandfather clock, “I better get going. I had promised to pick up a friend in another twenty minutes. Uh . . . see you tomorrow morning? Around eight?”

“Around eight.” The two women shook hands and bid each other good-bye. After Ms. Thompson had left, Piper heaved a smile and returned to the Solarium to begin the cleanup.

Two figures materialized into the room, taking Piper by surprise. It was Cole and Cecile. “My God!” the latter replied. “Piper! Are you okay? Have you been . . .?”

“Attacked? By a demon?” Piper nodded. “Yeah, but I’m fine. How did you, uh . . .?” Realization hit Piper, as she remembered one of Cecile’s powers. “Oh. Yeah. Uh, everything’s okay. I . . .”

Two more figures orbed into view. Phoebe and Chris. The former rushed toward her older sister. “Piper! You’re alive!”

“No kidding,” Piper murmured in her usual sardonic manner. “I’m fine. I’m okay. And the demon has been vanquished.” She paused and stared at both Phoebe and Cecile. “You mean to say that the both of you had visions of me . . .”

Cecile interrupted. “Apparently so.” She stared at Piper. “So, uh . . . you managed to fight off the daemon?”

Piper sighed. “Actually, I had a little help. I probably would have been dead, if it weren’t for her.”

Cole asked, “Who rescued you?”

“Wyatt’s new nanny.” Piper then proceeded to tell the others about Donna Thompson, and the demon who had attacked them. “It turns out that she’s also a Vodoun priestess. Like Cecile. If she had not spotted that amulet . . .”

Chris frowned. “What amulet?”

Piper told them about the amulet that had protected the demon from her powers. “I think it may have been destroyed, when we vanquished him. We couldn’t find it.”

Phoebe enveloped her sister into a bear hug. “Who cares? As long as you’re safe. And alive,” she said. “Is this Miss Thompson here? I would love to thank her.”

“You can do that, tomorrow. She’ll be arriving around eight.” She glanced around the Solarium. “Oh God! Look at this mess! I’m going to be cleaning this up, all day!”

“Why don’t you use that spell that Paige had used when . . .” Phoebe broke off and shot an uncomfortable glance at Cole. Then she murmured, “Never mind.”

But Piper knew what Phoebe was about to mention – namely the spell Paige had used to clean up Cole’s penthouse, after they had killed him. She sighed and decided to thank her younger sister for the advice, later. “I guess I better start . . . cleaning up, right away. Meanwhile, you all can leave. Because once I’m finished, I’ll have to feed Wyatt and then both of us will be taking naps.”

The others mumbled their good-byes and teleported out of the house. Much to her relief.

———–

The doorbell to Daley’s house rang, later that evening. The sorceress made her way to the front door and opened it. Marc stood in front of the doorway, wearing an anxious look. “Well? How did it go?” he asked.

“Everything’s just peachy,” Daley wearily replied. “You’re looking at Wyatt Halliwell’s new nanny. Of course, I had to help his mama fight off a daemon in order to get the job.”

“Say what?” Marc stepped inside the house. Daley led him to her large sitting room, just east of the foyer. He sat down in one of the chairs. “You had to do what?”

Daley settled on the sofa. “Help save her and the boy from a daemon. Some damn shapeshifter, I think. He had disguised himself as some Mexican woman, applying for the job. He tried to kill Piper . . .”

“Who?”

Annoyed by her assistant’s dense questions, she threw a pillow at his head. Marc neatly caught it, instead. “The damn witch who had just hired me! Piper Halliwell! Who in the hell do you think I’ve been talking about?” Daley retorted. “Some daemon had tried to kill her. Strange that he didn’t bother to simply snatch the kid.”

“Maybe he wanted to make sure that this Halliwell witch didn’t come after him. After all, she’s supposed to be pretty powerful, herself.”

Daley sighed. “Good point. Anyway, I helped Piper kill him. And in gratitude,” she allowed herself a smug smile, “she hired me on the spot. No references were necessary.”

Marc nodded approvingly. “So, everything’s okay. Right?”

Daley’s smile disappeared. “Not quite. It seems that one of the other sisters – the newspaper columnist – is clairvoyant. And empathic.”

“That’s not good,” Marc said with a frown. “She might find out the truth about you, before you’re ready to do the ritual.”

“Oh, it gets worse,” Daley added. “The Halliwells are friends of a Vodoun priestess named Cecile Dubois, who also happens to be clairvoyant. And she’s a telepath. And guess who happens to be her boyfriend?” Marc shook his head. “Andre Morell. He’s here in San Francisco. With her.”

A low whistle escaped from Marc’s mouth. “Are you shitting me?” he cried. “Have you ever met . . .”

“No! But, I’ve met the drug lord that he used to work for – Aaron Mercer. And there’s a good chance that he has heard of me.”

Marc shrugged his shoulders. “As long as you two have never met, and you’re using a phony name . . . what’s the big deal? You have nothing to worry about.”

Daley paused, as she walked over to her bar. “Except for this Cecile Dubois, and Phoebe Halliwell. It’ll be nearly a week before the half moon. I don’t want to take the chance of being found out by a bunch of seers.”

“So, what are you going to do? Kill ’em?”

A sigh left Daley’s mouth. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. Not now. Maybe I’ll . . .” She broke off and contemplated on how to deal with this psychic double threat. Until she spied an object resting on the bar’s surface. It was the amulet that had been worn by the daemon killed by her and Piper Halliwell. She had snatched the amulet, while the witch’s back had been turned. “Maybe I won’t have to worry about them, after all.”

“What’s that?” Marc asked.

Daley stared at the object in her hand. “I don’t know. Judging from the symbol on this thing, it may have been created by a dominion spirit. All I know is that it prevented that daemon from being affected by the witch’s powers.”

Marc stared at her. “Do you think it’ll work against the two seers?”

“I’ll find out, tomorrow.”

———-

Cole and Andre stepped out of the elevator and made their way toward Olivia’s apartment. They found the two women finishing the last of their breakfast.

“You mean to say that you two aren’t ready, yet?” the houngan protested in jest.

Cecile remained silent, while Olivia shot Andre an amused look. “My, we are impatient this morning! You must really enjoy going through my shop.”

Andre shrugged. “I have to admit that I find it interesting. Reminds me of when I was studying mythology and anthropology in college.” He leaned down to plant a kiss on Cecile’s cheek. “I guess I’ll be seeing you later, baby. Take care.”

“You too,” Cecile murmured. She and Cole watched the other two leave the apartment. Once Olivia and Andre had left, she stood up and headed for the living room. “I’ll be ready in a minute.”

Cole replied, “No problem.”

A few minutes later, Cecile emerged from her bedroom, carrying her portfolio and a suitcase. “Okay. Let’s go.” The pair left the apartment and traveled down to the building’s underground garage, via the elevator. After they climbed into Cole’s black Porsche, the half-daemon heaved a sigh. Cecile stared at him. “What’s wrong?” she asked.

Cole shook his head. “Nothing. I . . .” He paused, before continuing. “I was thinking about that attack on Piper, yesterday.”

“She got out of it, okay. She’s alive. What’s the big deal?”

Another sigh left Cole’s mouth. “Nothing. I just find this whole idea of her hiring a nanny, a big mistake. Maybe she should try to get in touch with Leo.”

Cecile snorted with derision. “Seems like he’s more interested in being some high-level guardian angel than being a husband and father.”

Her acid response drew a long and hard stare from Cole. “What brought this on?”

“Brought what?”

“Why are you so bitter? Are you speaking of Leo? Or Andre?”

Rolling her eyes, Cecile retorted, “What are you talking about? Andre hasn’t abandoned me!”

“No, you seem more interested in abandoning him,” Cole shot back. “Olivia told me about that little rant against men. About how we end up shoving the women in our lives into the background. You were talking about Andre, right? Do you think he’s no longer interested in you? Is that why you want to get married?”

Cecile stared at the half-daemon. “Are you always in the habit of asking so many questions, at once?”

“C’mon, Cecile! Don’t bullshit me!” Cole continued, “Do you honestly think that a marriage is going to help you?”

Resentment flickered in Cecile’s dark eyes. “I guess you don’t.”

It took all of Cole’s efforts not to roll his eyes in contempt. “Why do people believe that a wedding ring is going to solve all of their problems?” He slipped his key into the car’s ignition, and switched on the engine.

“This isn’t about solving a problem!” Cecile retorted. “I just . . . I just want something different in my life. Something more solid than a convenient boyfriend on the other side of town. After what you told me about what led you to propose marriage to Phoebe, I thought you would understand!”

The Porsche rolled out of the parking lot and merged into San Francisco’s early morning traffic. “Yeah, well now I know better! I found out that marriage didn’t make my life better or improved my relationship with Phoebe. In fact, our relationship ended in the toilet. Our marriage didn’t solve one fucking thing!”

“You had been possessed around the time you got married!” Cecile retorted.

Cole shot back, “And you honestly think that Phoebe and I would still be together, if the Source hadn’t possess me? Because I can tell you right now that we wouldn’t. I was in love with a woman who wanted a fantasy romance, and who’s still incapable of growing up. And I would have remained a mortal – a state that I hated with every goddamn breath in my body – for nothing! Trust me. Our marriage would have ended, just as our little summer ‘romance’ did, over two months ago. Maybe a wedding ring might give you a little stability with Andre for a while. But sooner or later, your marriage will become a routine that will bore you out of your mind. And once again, you’ll find yourself longing for a change. For something new. You know, you and Andre have a good thing going. Why can’t you appreciate it?”

“Because it’s no longer a good thing! At least to me.” Cecile’s eyes narrowed. “If what you and Phoebe had before your marriage was such a good thing, why did you ask her to marry you?”

The Porsche rolled to a stop at a red light. Cole took a deep breath and growled in a low voice, “Because I was too fucking stupid to appreciate what we had! That’s why!”

“Hmmph! Just as you probably thought that your friendship with Olivia was good enough, I bet,” Cecile said with a sneer. “Until she got frustrated and started paying attention to that bastard, Paul Margolin. Tell me Cole, what if Olivia decides that she wants to be more than your girlfriend? Are you going to make the same mistake that you did, last spring? Pretend that your relationship is fine as it is?”

The light turned green. The Porsche roared into life and continued toward downtown. Cole opened his mouth to say something. Tell Cecile that she was wrong. Unfortunately, he could not find the right words.

END OF PART V

“The Power of One” [PG-13] – 4/20

 

“THE POWER OF ONE”

PART IV

“Hey.” Jason popped into Phoebe’s private office.

Phoebe smiled at her paramour. “Hey yourself. What can I do for you?”

The publisher leaned over Phoebe’s desk, his face hovering inches away from hers. “How about lunch . . . with me?” he asked in a seductive voice.

Smiling, Phoebe automatically picked up a paper weight that had been an office-warming present from Piper. “Well . . . hmmmm. Let me think about that,” she whispered. “Now, where do you plan to take me?”

“Well, there’s the Compass Rose at the St. Francis Hotel.”

Phoebe wrinkled her nose playfully. “Too stuffy. How about . . .?” A gasp left her mouth, as images of a demon attacking her older sister filled her mind. Despite Piper’s best efforts, the demon kills the oldest Charmed One and kidnaps a sleeping Wyatt. The vision ended with the disappearance of the demon and her nephew.

Jason stared at Phoebe, frowning. “Something wrong, honey? You looked a . . . I don’t know. A bit spaced out.”

“Oh, uh . . .” Phoebe quickly tried to think of an excuse. “It’s nothing. Nothing big. I . . . uh, just remembered.”

“Remembered what?”

Think Phoebe, think! Finally an answer came to the Charmed One. “Uh . . . I just remembered that Piper wanted me to a favor for her. Pick up both her and the food she had prepared for some private luncheon at P3.”

Jason’s frown deepened. “A luncheon at a nightclub?”

“Actually . . . it’s a party. Office party.”

“Yeah, but at a night . . .”

Phoebe stood up and walked around her desk. “Oh baby, I’m sorry.” She planted a light kiss on Jason’s cheek. “I’m going to have to take a rain check on lunch, today.” Then she grabbed his arm and steered him toward the door. “We can have lunch, tomorrow.”

Reluctantly, Jason allowed himself to be dragged out of the office. “Okay, but you tell Piper that I’ve got you all booked for myself, tomorrow.”

“Okay baby. Bye.” Phoebe gave Jason one last kiss and slammed the door in his face. She leaned against the wall and sighed. Then she picked up the telephone receiver on her desk and dialed the number for Ostera’s.

After the third ring, a voice answered. “Ostera’s Herbal Shop. May I help you?”

“Hello? Who is this?” Phoebe demanded.

The voice continued, “This is Maddy. May I help you?”

“Maddy, this is Phoebe Halliwell. I need to speak with Paige. Is she there?”

Maddy replied, “Sorry, but she’s making a special delivery right now. I can take a message.”

Phoebe hesitated. Until she realized that she could reach Paige by the latter’s cell phone. “Never mind. I’ll call back, later.”

“Is this some kind of magical emergency?” Maddy’s question reminded Phoebe that the shop assistant happened to be a witch. “I could get hold of Barbara.”

“No, that’s okay. Thanks anyway. Bye.” Phoebe hung up the phone. Then she took a deep breath and cried out her whitelighter’s name. “Chris! Chris, I need you! Now!”

———

Around the same time of Jason’s visit to Phoebe’s office, Cecile sat inside the McNeill boardroom, as she provided the last figures for her presentation to the Board members. “Cresent, Incorporated now provides computer office software to over thirty companies and corporations in the Lower Mississippi Valley, and parts of the Southeast,” she concluded. “With McNeill Enterprises, I hope to expand distribution to the West Coast. I could provide the Board with a list of my clients and their contact numbers. I am sure they will confirm what I have just told you.”

Bursts of conversation broke out among the members inside the boardroom. Both Cole and Harry gave Cecile reassuring smiles. She smiled back, despite the fact that her heart was not really into the meeting at the moment. Cecile had managed to put aside her bleak mood regarding Andre during the meeting. But once she had completed her presentation, her mood immediately returned.

Perhaps she should consider ditching the idea of breaking up from Andre. To be honest, she did not really want to end their relationship. Hell, she was in love with him! Why on earth would she want to break up with the only true love she had ever had in her life?

Then Cecile thought of Piper Halliwell and Olivia’s former whitelighter. She recalled Olivia telling her about the couple’s difficult courtship and the problems they had encountered, getting married. Piper and Leo had viewed themselves as soulmates. Yet, less than three years after their wedding . . .

The vision hit Cecile’s mind without any warning. She saw Piper unsuccessfully fighting a demon. . . Piper dying . . . and the daemon stealing Wyatt from a basquinet before disappearing from the Halliwells’ Solarium. The vision ended and Cecile gasped out loud.

The others inside the boardroom stared at her. “Is there something wrong?” Cole asked.

“I . . .” Cecile began to rub her forehead. “I think I’m getting a slight headache. Uh, excuse me.” She stood up. Cole and the McNeills did the same.

Mr. McNeill gently took Cecile by the arm. “Why don’t you come inside my office, Cecile?” I’m sure that my assistant could find some aspirin or something for your headache. Cole?”

“Yeah.” The half-daemon and the witch escorted Cecile into the latter’s spacious office. Once they were alone, Cole demanded, “Are you really having a headache? Because if I didn’t know any better . . .”

Cecile sighed. “Yeah, I just had a vision. I saw some daemon killing Piper, before kidnapping Wyatt.”

Mr. McNeill frowned. “How is that possible? I thought that Wyatt had some kind of protective shield.”

“I only know what I saw,” Cecile insisted. She turned to Cole. “Maybe we should pop over there. Now.”

Cole nodded. “Yeah. Right.” He took hold of Cecile’s hand. “We’ll back,” he said to Mr. McNeill. Then the two friends teleported out of the office.

————

Twenty minutes before Phoebe and Cecile had simultaneously experienced their visions, Piper ended her interview with Warren Koslo and bid him good-bye. Then she turned to the Latina woman. “Mrs. Madrigal? Could you follow me, please?”

Mrs. Madrigal rose to her feet and followed Piper into the Solarium. The applicant shot a quick glance at the sleeping Wyatt, before she sat down in a nearby wicker chair.

“So,” Piper began, “I understand that you saw my announcement on the bulletin board at the Red Pyramid. Do you . . . go there a lot? Or was that just a one time visit?”

Mrs. Madrigal nodded. “I’m a regular customer. Are you?”

“I’ve been there a few times.” Piper hesitated, unsure of how to ask her next question. “Um . . . are you into . . . uh, the occult?”

The older woman frowned. “Aren’t you? I had assumed that you were also into it . . . considering where you had posted the ad.” She paused. “You are into it. Right?”

Piper replied sardonically, “More than you can imagine.” Mrs. Madrigal’s eyes grew wide. “I’m . . . uh, a witch. One of those Wiccans. I’ve been one for at least five years.”

“Oh.” The older woman’s shoulders sagged with relief. “Well, I’m glad that I wasn’t wrong. You see, I also practice magic.”

Relief flooded Piper’s veins. “Really? Are you some kind of witch?”

Mrs. Madrigal stood up. And right before Piper’s eyes, she transformed into a pale, stocky man with wintergreen eyes. “No,” he said in a deep voice. “I’m a daemon!” He tossed an energy ball at the Charmed One.

Piper let out a squeal, before she flung her hands at the energy ball and destroyed it in mid-air. “Oh crap!” Then she flung her hands at the demon. His body immediately exploded . . . and reassembled within seconds. “Oh crap! Chris! CHRIS!”

The demon flung another energy ball at Piper. She froze it in mid-air and ducked behind the chair. The demon waved one hand and the energy ball continued its course toward her, striking the wall and missing her head by inches. With her sisters at work and Chris failing to show up, Piper realized that she might be in serious danger. “You can’t hide from me forever, witch! And your sisters can’t help you!” The demon sent another energy ball toward Piper’s direction. Before she could destroy it with her combustion power, it blew up the chair in front of her. And led the Charmed One to rue the day she had thought about hiring a nanny, in the first place.

————–

Daley heard a woman’s voice cry out the name – Chris. She frowned. What in the hell was going on in the other room? Then she heard a man shout, “You can’t hide from me forever, witch!” At that moment, the sorceress realized that something was wrong. She had seen a middle-aged woman follow Piper Halliwell into the other room. Where did the man come from?

An explosive sound interrupted Daley’s musings. Without thinking, she rushed into the other room and found Ms. Halliwell cowering before a stocky man with pale skin. And no sign of Mrs. Madrigal. An energy ball formed in the intruder’s hand. Viewing him as a threat to her plans, Daley quickly reached for a dagger in her knit bag and threw it at the man. The dagger’s sharp point pierced his shoulder, forcing him to cry out in pain and dissipate the energy ball.

“You!” the man growled, as he glared at Daley. An energy ball materialized in his hand. As he hurled it at Daley’s direction, she cried out, “Deflect” in Yoruba. The energy ball zinged back toward the man. He ducked before it could strike his body.

Daley rushed toward Ms. Halliwell. “Are you okay?” she asked, breathlessly.

“I could be better,” the other woman shot back. “Do you . . . uh, recognize this demon?”

“He’s a daemon?”

Another energy ball zoomed toward them. Ms. Halliwell flung out her hands and the energy ball exploded in mid-air. “I guess that’s a no.” Desperation shone in the witch’s dark eyes. “Do you know any spell to get rid of this guy?”

“Uh . . .” At that moment, one immediately came to Daley’s mind. “Wait. Here’s one.” She began to chant, “Hell threw you from its inner core, but earth won’t hold you anymore. Since heaven cannot be your place, your flesh and blood I now erase.” The two women stared at the daemon. Nothing happened. “Damn! Maybe we should say the spell, together.”

Both women took a deep breath and repeated the spell. “Hell threw you from its inner core, but earth won’t hold you anymore. Since heaven cannot be your place, your flesh and blood I now erase!” Instead of the daemon’s death, they were faced with another energy ball that missed Ms. Halliwell’s head by inches. The pair quickly scurried on their knees, toward the sofa.

“Too bad my sisters aren’t here,” the witch commented. “I could use the Power of Three. And why does that spell sound familiar?”

Daley asked, “Why is he trying to kill you?”

“So that me and my sisters won’t come after him, if he steals my son.”

Ah! So the attack was about the child. Then Daley’s eyes narrowed, as she spotted a string holding an object around the daemon’s neck. “Look! There’s something around his neck! Let me . . .” Focusing her attention upon the object, Daley murmured a chant underneath her breath. The string broke, taking the daemon by surprise. Then the object – obviously an amulet – fell upon the floor. “The spell again!”

The two women chanted, “Hell threw you from its inner core, but earth won’t hold you anymore. Since heaven cannot be your place, your flesh and blood I now erase!” Cries of pain poured out of the daemon’s mouth, as flames engulfed his body. Within seconds, he exploded into a ball of fire and light.

Ms. Halliwell rushed over to the basquinet for a peek at her son. “He’s safe,” she said with relief. “Awake, but safe.” She turned to Daley. “Are you still interested in the job?”

Daley struggled not to flash a triumphant smile. “Sure.”

“You’re hired.”

END OF PART IV

“The Power of One” [PG-13] – 3/20

“THE POWER OF ONE”

PART III

Power transference. Daley heaved a sigh, inside her private office. She had checked her spell book for anything on the subject, but came up empty. Not surprising, since she has never dealt with the transfer of power during her fifteen years as a sorceress.

Another sigh left her mouth and she examined her spell book one more time. Again, nothing. She slammed the book shut. Perhaps she should forget about this insane idea and go ahead with the plans to expand her business. Then again . . . to hell with it! She had to find a way to access that child’s powers.

Out of desperation, Daley scanned her bookshelf for any information she might find on West African magic. She finally came upon a book titled “THE SUPERNATURAL WORLD OF THE IVORY COAST”. It had been written by an early 20th century anthropologist named Jonathan Close. Much to Daley’s surprise, the book contained detailed information on the region’s myths . . . and practices of various West African shamans. Including spells that she never knew had existed. It still eluded Daley that a British anthropologist would come upon such a discovery. And record them. Perhaps he had been so fervent in his desire to record West African culture, he failed to realize that he had exposed practices and spells that others would consider valuable . . . and dangerous.

After removing the book from the shelf, Daley examined it – page by page. She came across rituals that had been performed by now dead houngans, mambos and other magic practioners. Rituals for good health, prosperity, and protection against evil spirits. The latest chapters, however, included spells and ritual on a more sophisticated level. In one of the chapters, Daley finally found a ritual that transferred psychic abilities and magic from one being to another. A ritual, according to the book, that had first been created by a 12th century sorcerer. After reading the details of the ritual, Daley realized that she had found what she was looking for. The sorceress copied details and instructions of the ritual on a notebook. Once she was finished, she reached for her cordless telephone and dialed a number.

“Hello?” a voice finally answered. “This is the Halliwell residence. May I help you?”

Daley replied, “Is this P. Halliwell, who had placed an ad for a nanny?”

“Yes, this is Piper Halliwell. Who is this?”

Taking a deep breath, Daley continued, “Hi, my name is Donna Thompson. I saw your ad in THE LUNAR VOICE newspaper. And I was wondering if the nanny position had been filled.

Piper Halliwell informed Daley that she had not filled the position. “Right now, you’re the second person who has called about the job. Uh, why don’t you come by, tomorrow? Say around eleven in the morning? There might be a few more applicants. And after I finish with the interviews, I’ll . . . make my choice.”

“Okay. Sounds great to me. I’ll see you tomorrow, around eleven. Bye.” After the other woman said good-bye, Daley disconnected the line. And smiled.

———

Around five-thirty that evening, Piper bid good-bye to the third and final applicant for the position of Wyatt’s nanny and hung up the telephone. “Well, that’s three so far,” she said to her guest. “Two women and a man have answered the ad.”

Chris, who had dropped by to warn the sisters about a shape-shifting demon that steals the essence and powers of other beings, frowned. “What ad?”

Piper shot an annoyed glance at the young whitelighter. “The ad I had placed in newspapers and in some of the local occult stores for the position of nanny. For Wyatt.”

“A nanny for . . .” Disbelief poured out of Chris’ blue eyes. “Are you crazy? Getting a nanny for Wyatt?”

“Well, it’s either that or allow my club to sink into bankruptcy,” Piper retorted. “I need some time to get back my customers and attract new ones. Which means I’ll need a regular babysitter for Wyatt. A nanny.”

Chris demanded, “What about Paige and Phoebe? Or D. . .Leo?”

Piper sighed. “Both Phoebe and Paige have jobs . . . and a social life. As for Leo . . .” She rolled her eyes in contempt. “Forget it. He’s too busy being an Elder.”

“Still . . .”

“Don’t you have other charges to see?” she interrupted in a too-sweet voice that failed to match the hard gleam in her eyes.

The whitelighter’s face turned red. “There’s still the matter of that demonic shape shifter . . .”

“We’ll let you know when we find it. Bye.” Piper continued to stare at Chris, letting him know in no uncertain terms that he was no longer welcomed.

Fortunately, Chris got the hint. He gave Piper a sharp nod and immediately orbed out of the kitchen. Much to the Charmed One’s relief.

————

Dinner at the Golden Horn restaurant did not turn out as Cecile had hoped. Or expected. Although Olivia and Andre proved to be lively dinner companions – with Cole providing his usual caustic wit – Cecile remained mired in her present dark mood.

She stared at her boyfriend, while he related his findings at Olivia’s new store. Poor Andre, she thought. He seemed so happy. So energetic. Soon, she would have to pull the plug on his happiness, when she breaks the bad news. Cecile had considered telling him over a week ago. But when Olivia had asked him to accompany her to San Francisco and help appraise certain items in that new shop, the Vodoun priestess had decided to postpone her announcement. She realized that it could wait until their return to New Orleans.

“. . . and the next thing I knew,” Andre said, “I found myself holding a statute of Ammut.”

Olivia frowned. “Who?”

Cole explained, “Ammut. An ancient Egyptian daemon that devours the souls of those whose hearts proved to be too heavy to be sent to the Hall of Maat. Which is where judgment of the dead is performed.”

“Ewww!” Olivia said with a shiver. She said to the half-daemon, “You seemed to know a lot of this stuff.”

“Not as much as Andre,” Cole protested. “He had studied a lot on the mythologies of this world and other dimensions.”

Andre shook his head. “What I can’t understand is how this guy . . . what was his name?”

“Stefan Kostopulos.”

“How did he get his hands on such stuff?” Andre continued, “Including a medallion created by a dominion spirit.”

The red-haired witch replied, “I don’t know. According to his son, Kostopulos was a big collector of antiquities. He also studied the occult, but I got the feeling that he didn’t know the significance of some of the stuff he had collected.”

“I bet that Cecile’s mama would love to get her hands on some of that stuff. Right, cherie?” Andre addressed the question to Cecile.

The Vodoun priestess blinked, aware that she had been drawn into the conversation. “Huh? Oh . . . yeah, I guess.”

“You guess?” Andre shook his head. “Baby, I’ve seen some of the stuff inside your mama’s shop. A lot of those items are pretty freaky. I mean, there’s a reason why she keeps ‘certain items’ locked up in that storeroom in the back.”

Olivia frowned. “Is that what Mrs. Dubois does with her . . . uh, with the certain items in her shop? Lock them up in a back room? Maybe I should do the same. There’s an empty storeroom in the back.” She squirmed slightly in her chair. “Right now, I think I need a trip to the restroom.” She stood up.

Andre also stood from his chair. “Yeah. Same here. Excuse us, folks.” He and Olivia left the table.

The moment the pair exited from the private dining room, Cole turned to Cecile. “Is there something wrong?”

“Huh?” Cecile blinked. Was her bad mood that apparent?

Looking worried, the half-daemon said in a low voice, “You seemed to be on another planet, lately. I’m talking about what you had told me, earlier. About our lives being in a rut. What was that about?”

Oh shit! Cecile could have kicked herself for opening her big mouth. Realizing that Cole would not easily dismiss the matter, she heaved a large sigh. And decided to tell the truth. “It’s about . . .” Cecile hesitated. “I . . . I guess I want something new in my life. You know what I mean?”

A confused looking Cole shook his head. “No, I don’t. What . . .?”

“May I ask you something?” Cecile realized that she had caught the half-daemon off guard. To be honest, she did not really care. “You were the one who first brought up marriage to Phoebe, right? You were the one who asked her to marry you? And not the other way around?”

Cole’s expression became guarded. Almost mask like. “What are you getting at?”

Cecile’s mouth curved into a wry smile. “I guess that’s a big yes.”

“Yeah, I had asked Phoebe to marry me. So what?”

After a brief hesitation, Cecile continued, “Why? What I’m getting at . . . Hell! Look, all I want to know is why you were the one to ask Phoebe, before she could ask you.”

Cole hesitated. Then a slight smirk appeared on his mouth. “I don’t know, Cecile. Because it’s traditional for the man to ask, I guess.”

Cecile rolled her eyes in contempt. “Cole, get real! This is the 21st century. And I know you’re not a sexist. So, stop bullshitting me and please answer the answer the question.”

The half-daemon shot a quick glance at the dining room’s door. And sighed. “All right. If you must know . . . I guess I had wanted something different with Phoebe. Something more permanent. You know, build a life together. Only it didn’t . . .” Pain flashed in his blue eyes for a brief moment. “I guess it didn’t work out.”

Nodding, Cecile said, “Now, you know what I want.”

Surprise reflected in Cole’s eyes. “Wait a minute! Are you saying that you want to get married?”

After a brief hesitation, Cecile shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. Maybe.” She paused again. “Yeah, I do. Why not? I’m tired of our old relation . . .” Spotting Andre and Olivia in the doorway, she broke off. “Don’t say anything to Andre or anyone else!” she hissed. “Please? Not until I’m ready.” Then she smiled at the newcomers, ignoring Cole’s stunned expression. “So, are you guys ready for dessert?”

———-

The doorbell rang. Piper glanced at the grandfather clock. It read 10:43 in the morning. It seemed that the first applicant for Wyatt’s nanny had finally arrived.

Doubts began to assail the Charmed One’s senses. Piper took a deep breath. Calm down, she told herself. But what if she was making a mistake? Chris seemed to think so. Along with Barbara McNeill and Cole. And their experiences with that elf nanny seemed to hint to Piper that perhaps a nanny might not be in the cards. After the last attack on Wyatt, the Elf Nanny decided she had enough with the Halliwell household.

Again, the doorbell rang. Piper sighed. Screw it, she decided. Might as well finish what she had started. She fixed a bright smile on her face and opened the door. “Good morning,” she greeted the slender man, standing in the doorway.

The newcomer held out his hand. “Hi! Warren Koslo. I uh, I saw your ad on the bulletin board at Ostera’s.” He referred to the herbal shop where Paige worked.

“Oh.” Piper shook his hand. “Um, why don’t you come inside?”

Mr. Koslo smiled. “Sure.” Piper stepped aside and ushered him inside the manor.

Less than five minutes after Warren Koslo’s arrival, the doorbell rang again. “Excuse me,” Piper said to her guest. Then she left him inside the Solarium with Wyatt and headed for the front door.

The next applicant turned out to be a middle-aged Latino woman with short hair and stoic features. “Good morning,” she greeted in a pleasant voice. “My name is Mrs. Rosa Madrigal. I’m here for the nanny position. I saw the ad on the bulletin board, at the Red Pyramid.”

“How nice.” The Charmed One smiled at the newcomer. She widened the door. “Why don’t you come in?” Then she held a hand to Mrs. Madrigal. “I’m Piper Halliwell, Wyatt’s mother. Uh . . .” She glanced toward the direction of the Solarium. “I’m interviewing another candidate right now.”

Mrs. Madrigal looked slightly disappointed. “You are?”

“Oh, don’t worry. He’s the first one to arrive. Um, why don’t you wait here, until I finish?”

A polite smile appeared on the older woman’s face. “Oh. Okay. Of course.” Then she sat down on the sofa. Piper flashed one quick smile at her, and returned to the Solarium and Warren Koslo.

The doorbell rang for the third time that morning. Piper bit back a frustrated oath, and smiled at Mr. Koslo. Once more, their interview had been interrupted. She sighed and shot a weary smile at the applicant. “Excuse me.” Then she glanced at Wyatt, who seemed fast asleep in his basquinet, and headed for the living room.

On her way to the front door, Piper smiled at Mrs. Madrigal. The doorbell rang one last time, before she finally opened it. Outside stood a slender black woman of medium height, curly long hair, along with wide brown eyes and narrow cheekbones on a narrow face. “Hi,” the woman greeted, “I’m Da . . . Donna Thompson. I saw your ad in THE LUNAR VOICE for the nanny position.”

Piper shook the woman’s hand. “Come on in. You’re the third person to show up.”

Brown eyes widened in surprise, as Ms. Thompson entered the manor. “Third person?” she said with a frown.

“Yeah, um why don’t you take a seat?” Piper indicated the living room, where Mrs. Madrigal sat. “I’ll get to you, as soon as I finish with Mrs. Madrigal, here, and my other applicant.”

Ms. Thompson eyed Mrs. Madrigal with wary eyes. She sat down in the chair, left of the sofa. The two female applicants exchanged polite smiles. Piper heaved a soft sigh and returned to her guest in the Solarium. At that moment, the Charmed One realized that she was in for a long morning and afternoon.

END OF PART III

“The Power of One” [PG-13] – 2/20

“THE POWER OF ONE”

PART II

Later that evening; Olivia, Cole, the two visitors from New Orleans and the Halliwells appeared at the McNeills’ house for the dinner party hosted by Jack and Gweneth McNeill. No sooner had the guests arrived, they – along with the McNeills – gathered inside the large drawing room and waited for the family manservant to announce dinner.

“I just read the latest copy of THE LUNAR VOICE,” Barbara said to Piper. The blond-haired witch, who was married to Olivia’s older brother, had joined the redhead, Cecile and Piper near the fireplace. “And I saw an ad placed by a P. Halliwell . . . for the position of nanny. Was that . . . Did you place that ad? Is that the reason why Paige was asking me about local Wiccan newspapers?”

Piper sighed. “Yeah. I . . . I’m trying to find a permanent nanny for Wyatt.”

“Why?”

Olivia immediately came to Piper’s defense. “Barbara!”

Her sister-in-law assumed an innocent and confused expression. “What? I simply asking Piper about that ad in THE LUNAR VOICE.”

“Yeah, and with all the subtlety of a Gestapo interrogator. Is there a problem?”

Barbara let out a gust of breath. “No, there isn’t a problem. I’m simply curious, that’s all. I mean . . . this is Wyatt we’re talking about. He’s only nine months old and already he’s had more supernatural activity surrounding him than all of us in a period of three years. And I’m just . . . surprised . . . well, you know what I mean!”

“I understand,” Piper replied. “That’s why Olivia had suggested that I place the ad in ‘certain’ newspapers and shops in the city.”

“Where’s Wyatt right now?”

Olivia pointed to where Paige, Phoebe and her grandmother stood. “Over there, in Gran’s arms.” She said to the other women, “I had also asked Cole’s uncle – Marbus – if he knew of anyone who could baby sit Wyatt.”

“What about Leo?” Barbara asked.

Piper’s face immediately became a cold mask. “What about him?”

“Um . . .” Barbara began. But a quick jab in the side by Olivia cut her short, leaving her to finish lamely, “Never mind. What about that Elf Nanny?”

Piper continued, “Oh, she, uh . . . vowed never to step foot inside the manor, after those two warlocks tried to attack Wyatt. She likes a quiet household. So, I need a new nanny, fast. Like I had told Olivia, I’m having trouble with P3 at the moment. And splitting my time between Wyatt and the club – along with dealing with demons . . . and Leo’s absence . . .” The Charmed One sighed. “I don’t know. It seems like everything is falling apart.”

“In other words, this whole mess started, because Leo decided that being an Elder was a lot more important than his family.” The other women stared at Cecile, who had broken her silence. She stared back. “What?”

Frowning, Olivia commented, “Is it just me, or are you sounding a little bitter right now?”

“I’m not being bitter,” Cecile protested. “Just telling the truth. If Leo had really loved Piper . . . or if she was that important to him, he would have never become an Elder.”

Piper’s eyes cast downward. “I think you might be right,” she muttered.

Triumph gleamed in Cecile’s dark eyes. “See? You really can’t trust a man’s love. First, they’ll move heaven and earth to possess us. Then sooner or later, they end up taking us for granted. We become like background noise to them.” The others continued to stare at her. “Well, am I wrong?” Cecile let out a gust of breath, turned on her heels and walked away.

“Wow,” Barbara murmured. “What’s wrong with her? You don’t think that she and Andre are having troubles, do you?”

A new voice added, “She’s frustrated. Cecile, I mean.” Olivia and the other two women found Phoebe standing behind them. “I could sense Cecile’s frustration.” Annoyed, Olivia bit back a retort.

Piper, on the other hand, made her displeasure known. “Phoebe! Do you mind?”

Looking slightly affronted, Phoebe protested, “What? Cecile is obviously frustrated about something! Probably Andre.”

Her older sister heaved a sigh. “We all know that you’re now an empath, Pheebs. But could you please put a sock in it?”

“I can’t help sensing everyone’s emotions!” Phoebe retorted. “I don’t know how to control this new power. At least not yet.”

Olivia tartly added, “But I’m sure that you can control that tongue of yours. Must you broadcast everyone’s feelings to the world, every time you sense them?”

A deep silence fell between the four women. Phoebe’s face turned pink. “Excuse me,” she said in a stiff voice, before walking away.

Feeling slightly remorseful, Olivia apologized to Piper. “Sorry about that. I guess I had lost my temper.”

“I’m not,” Piper grumbled. “That new power of hers has been driving us crazy. Just over a week ago, Paige had lost her temper and shoved an apple into Phoebe’s mouth.”

The image of Phoebe’s mouth plugged by an apple nearly sent Olivia into a spate of giggles. Nearly. Instead, she kept her mirth to herself and said, “Oh well. At least you can’t deny that Phoebe is right about Cecile. She is frustrated.”

“Do you think it has to do with Andre?”

Olivia responded silently with a slight shrug.

————-

The following morning, Andre and Olivia met the latter’s grandmother outside of an antiquity shop on Union Square. “There you are,” the elderly woman declared. She glanced at her watch. “You’re late.”

“Only by fifteen minutes,” Olivia muttered. She retrieved a key from her purse and used it to unlock the shop’s front door. “Here we go. Welcome to . . .” Her face formed a slight frown. “Well, I haven’t renamed it, yet.” She switched on the lights.

Andre took one sweeping glance around the shop’s interior and whistled.

“My sentiments exactly,” old Mrs. McNeill added. “Goddess! I’ve never seen so many . . . How much is all of this stuff worth, Livy?”

With a sigh, Olivia answered wearily, “You really don’t want to know. Fortunately, Alexis Kostopulos wanted to get rid of the shop so badly that I managed to buy it at a cheaper price.”

“Why?” Andre asked.

“Well, his father had been murdered by someone looking for a medallion that used to be in this shop. Didn’t Cole tell you about the Erebor medallions, and the attack on the Whitelighter Realm?”

The houngan nodded. “Oh yeah.” His eyes fell upon a small, sandalwood box with Druidic symbols carved on the sides. “So, where are the . . . um other pieces that you were talking about?” He picked up the box. “Besides this?”

Olivia replied, “The rest of the items are scattered throughout the shop. Mixed with the other items. Hopefully, you and Gran will be able to identify and separate them from the regular items. While I’m at work.”

“Hmmm.” Mrs. McNeill swept a finger across one of the glass casings. “This looks like a job that might take a week or two.”

Andre added, “That’s no problem for me. Besides . . .” he paused, wondering if he should allow the two women in his confidence.

“Besides what?” Olivia asked.

The houngan sighed. “This trip should give me plenty of time to find . . . a ring. To buy.”

“A ring?” Mrs. McNeill frowned. “What for?”

After a brief hesitation, Andre decided to confess. “Well, I plan to ask Cecile to marry me. I’m looking for an engagement ring.”

The two women reacted with delight. “Oh my God!” Olivia cried. “I can’t believe it! Finally! After all these years!”

“I’m so happy for you,” Mrs. McNeill added. Then she frowned. “But . . . you mean to say you couldn’t find a ring in New Orleans?”

Andre sighed. “Yeah, I did look around for one. But I couldn’t find one that satisfied me. You know, the right one. Maybe I’ll find one, while I’m here in San Francisco.”

Olivia’s eyes grew wide with excitement. “Wow! An engagement! I can’t wait for Cecile to find out. Maybe this will get her out of that bad mood of hers.”

A smile illuminated Mrs. McNeill’s lined face. “Oh, I’m sure that it will”

————

Cole and Cecile silently stood side-by-side inside the elevator, as it conveyed them to the spacious boardroom of McNeill Enterprises. The half-daemon tried to think of something to say. He even considered discussing the upcoming business conference, but they had covered that topic more than adequately, in the past few days.

A quick glance at Cecile’s forlorn expression told him that she was not in the mood to talk. Come to think of it, the Vodoun priestess has been in a bleak mood since her arrival, yesterday. Unable to deal with the silent tension any longer, he finally murmured, “Penny for your thoughts.”

“Huh?” Cecile stared at the half-daemon with wide eyes.

Cole continued, “You seemed to be deep in thought. Is there something on your mind? The upcoming meeting?”

Cecile shook her head. “No. I’m fine. I . . .” She sighed. Long and hard. “Have you ever thought that your life might be in a rut, sometimes? That no matter how much you try, everything stays the same?”

Wondering what brought on this rant, Cole stared at her. “Uh . . . well, considering the changes I’ve been through during the past three years . . . not really.”

Another sigh left Cecile’s mouth. “What about those years before that? Before you first met Phoebe? I mean . . . didn’t you feel then that your life was in a rut?”

“What are you getting at?”

“I . . .” The elevator stopped. The doors slid open and Cecile walked out before she could form a coherent answer.

The pair found themselves greeted by a well-dressed young executive. “Ms. Dubois? Mr. Turner? Hello, my name is Milo Kendrick. I’m Mr. McNeill’s assistant. Please follow me.” He led Cole and Cecile into an expensively furnished boardroom, where Harry and Jack McNeill awaited them. Along with other members of the Board. As the door closed behind them, Cole realized that Cecile’s surprising revelation would have to wait for another time.

————

A young man in his late twenties burst into Daley’s herbal shop off Telegraph Road, later that morning. The Vodoun sorceress recognized the newcomer, and rang up her customer’s purchases. No sooner had the latter left; she led the younger man to the stockroom in the back.

“Did you and Jeffrey find out anything about these . . . Charmed Ones?” Daley asked.

The young man, a narrow-faced novice bokor with rich brown skin and handsome features named Marc Beaudine, breathlessly sat down on a nearby stool. He removed a small notebook from his jacket pocket. “Yeah. They’re practically famous in the local Wiccan community.”

“That’s nice,” Daley commented tartly. “The question is . . . why are they famous?”

Marc removed a few sheets of folded paper from his jacket and handed them to Daley. “I got that from the Internet. There’s this tale, or legend or whatever about these three sisters from a long line of witches, who are destined to become the world’s most powerful witches. Called the Charmed Ones. They were destined to kill the leader of some demonic faction. Someone called the Source.”

Daley read the sheet of paper, which had been printed from an Internet website on Wiccan mythology. “I think I had heard about this Source. From a warlock I used to know. Too bad he’s dead.”

“Well, I know this other warlock,” Marc added. “And he told me and Jeffrey that this Source is dead. He had been killed nearly two years ago. By these witches called the Charmed Ones. Wilson – he’s the warlock I had spoken with – told me a lot about them.”

“So, who are they? The Charmed Ones?”

Marc continued, “Like I said, three sisters who happened to be witches. They’re believed to be the most powerful witches ever.”

A frown appeared on Daley’s face. “What do you mean by . . . believed? Aren’t they the most powerful Wiccan witches?”

“Well . . . not really. According to Wilson, they would have been, if it wasn’t for the Aingeal Staff Bearer.”

“Now, I’m confused. The who?”

Sighing, Marc added, “A witch from some Scottish family, who happens to be the bearer of a powerful wizard’s staff. The present bearer is a descendant of this wizard. But no one knows his or her identity. But the Aingeal Staff Bearer is just as powerful as the Charmed Ones. And these sisters are only that strong when they come together as the Power of Three.”

Daley took a deep breath. “And what is the name of this family of witches?”

“Halliwell,” Marc replied. “Right now, the family’s name is Halliwell.”

“That name sounds familiar.”

A sly smile curved Marc’s lips. “It should. Phoebe Halliwell. Of the ‘DEAR PHOEBE’ column of the BAY-MIRROR.”

Daley felt flabbergasted. “Are you kidding me?” The idea of a local celebrity being a powerful witch would have never occurred to her. “Wait a minute. She’s one of the Charmed Ones?”

“Yep! And so is the owner of that nightclub on Fremont. You know . . . P3? Her name is Piper Halliwell. There’s a third sister, but Wilson didn’t get her name. As for Piper, she’s the mother of this powerful child you had told me about. Do you remember that day, over eight months ago, when we weren’t able to perform any magic?”

Nodding, Daley replied, “Yeah. I never did find out what happened that day.”

Marc leaned forward, his brown eyes glittering with intensity. “That was the day Piper Halliwell gave birth to her son. His father is believed to be a whitelighter.”

“A what?”

“Whitelighters. They’re daemons. Only they’re on the side of good. Guardian angels or something like that.”

Daley said, “So, what you’re saying is this child is the son of an extremely powerful witch and a daemon.”

Marc continued, “And he’s also an extremely powerful little baby. He has great magical powers. Stronger than his mother, his aunts, his daddy and everyone else. Other daemons and warlocks have been trying to get their hands on his powers for months.”

The idea of possessing the Halliwell child’s magic struck Daley as very appealing. With such power, she could destroy the leadership of the local Vodoun community. Or any other magical community that opposed her. And protect her little side business, so that it could develop into a multi-billion dollar business. If only she could get her hands on the child.

“By the way,” Marc added, “I’ve discovered something interesting about the Halliwell baby.” He handed Daley a newspaper. “That’s one of the local Wiccan papers. Called THE LUNAR VOICE. Turn to page eight.”

Daley turned to the page as instructed. It was filled with employment ads and notices. “What am I looking for?” she asked.

“The ad near the bottom of the page. In the column, second from the left.”

Sure enough, Daley founded what she was looking for. It was an ad seeking a nanny for a nine month-old baby. It featured a telephone and a person of contact – namely P. Halliwell. The sorceress smiled. This sounded promising. Very promising, indeed.

END OF PART II

“The Power of One” [PG-13] – 1/20

 

“THE POWER OF ONE”

RATING: PG-13 Adult language and mild violence.
SUMMARY: A Vodoun sorceress develops an interest in Wyatt’s powers and becomes his new nanny. Set three weeks after “An Afternoon in Babysitting”. AU S6.
FEEDBACK: – Be my guest. But please, be kind.
DISCLAIMER: The Charmed Ones, Leo Wyatt, Wyatt Halliwell and Cole Turner belong to Constance Burge, Brad Kern and Spelling Productions. The McNeills, Cecile Dubois and Andre Morrell, are thankfully, my creations.


————-

“THE POWER OF ONE”

PART I

Piper Halliwell examined last month’s profit sheet one last time and shook her head in despair. “Oh my God! I can’t believe this! I just can’t . . .”

“What’s wrong?” Paige asked. The Charmed Ones sat inside the manor’s Solarium, as they watched television. Actually, Paige and Phoebe watched TV, while Piper focused her attention upon her nightclub’s profit sheets.

Heaving a sigh, Piper continued, “Last month’s profits for P3. They’re . . . Oh my God! Has it really gotten this bad?”

Phoebe glanced away from the TV screen and frowned. “Profits are down?” She continued to gently rock Wyatt, who was fast asleep in her arms.

“That’s the understatement of the year,” Piper muttered. “They’ve been down before. But not like this. By at least twenty-five to thirty percent. I guess I’ve just been too busy with Wyatt.”

The middle Charmed One continued to rock her nephew. “So, what are you going to do about it?”

Her eyes still glued to P3’s account book, Piper answered, “Well, I’m going to fire Everett for starters. He had really let things slide. What in the hell had he been doing . . .?” She broke off with a sigh. “Looks like I’ll have to fix this. At least until I can get a new manager.”

“And Paige and I will take care of Wyatt, while you deal with P3,” Phoebe added, before planting a light kiss on the baby’s forehead.

One of Piper’s brows formed a dubious arch. “During the daytime, as well? While you two are working? And what about when you two are out on dates?”

“Get Leo to baby sit,” Paige declared. “I’m sure that he won’t mind.”

The mention of her soon-to-be former husband brought a grimace on Piper’s lips. “Well that sounds great. I’m sure that Leo had abandoned his family, so that he could baby sit Wyatt, in between Council meetings.”

Paige shrugged her shoulders. “I’m sure that Leo won’t be stuck in Council meetings forever. On the other hand, you can always consider hiring a new nanny or an au pair for Wyatt. Didn’t you once consider hiring one before he was born?”

Piper stared thoughtfully at her youngest sister. “You know, that’s not a bad idea. Except . . . how do we find someone willing or capable of dealing with a magically powerful baby? Or deal with demons or warlocks like those two who had tried to snatch Wyatt a few weeks ago? I’d consider rehiring that Elf Nanny, but you saw how she had reacted, after the last attack.” Two warlocks had recently appeared at the manor, disguised as employees from the city’s Publics Works Department, and tried to kidnap Wyatt. Without any help from the Charmed Ones, Piper’s infant son managed to stop the warlocks all on his own.

“Try placing an ad at some local occult shop,” Paige suggested. “I’m sure that Barbara might know which shops you can do that. Or maybe Chris or Leo can ask around in the Whitelighter Realm. Or, you can place an ad in one of the local Wiccan newsletters or newspapers.”

Impressed and a little surprised by her sister’s suggestions, Piper stared at Paige. “Wow! You sure got it all figured out, don’t you?”

“Just remembering some ideas I had the last time you thought about hiring a nanny.” Paige’s gaze returned to the TV screen. “Oh. By the way guys, don’t forget that we’ve been invited to dinner at the McNeills, one week from tonight.”

Phoebe frowned. “Why?”

“Cecile and Andre are coming to San Francisco,” the youngest Charmed One continued. “They’ll be here for at least a week or two.”

Now, it was Piper’s turn to frown. “Who?”

“Hel-lo? Cecile Dubois? Olivia’s friend? And her boyfriend, Andre Morrell? Who’s also Cole’s friend? Remember them?”

“Oh. Yeah.” Now Piper remembered. Olivia and Cole’s Vodoun friends. To be honest, she had forgotten about the dinner invitation. Concern over P3’s profits have occupied Piper’s mind during the past several days. And now, she has a new nanny for Wyatt to think about. Speaking of a new nanny . . . “Uh Paige, could you do me a favor and ask Barbara, Olivia or Harry about where I can place an ad for a nanny?”

Paige reassured the older woman that she would do as the latter asked. Satisfied, Piper returned her attention to P3’s account book.

———

Located near the northwest corner of Fredrick and Cole, the Red Pyramid happened to be a popular coffeehouse that also served as an occult shop for past 30 years. Not only did students of the occult frequent the place, but it also counted many of the city’s magic practitioners as regular customers. One of the Red Pyramid’s regular customers happened to be a bokor – or a sorceress named Daley Baker.

A native of nearby Oakland, Daley’s family had emigrated from Alabama to California, back in the mid-1930s to seek financial security during the Depression. At the age of thirteen, Daley had discovered that she possessed a psychic ability – namely, thermo kinesis. And even more importantly, a talent for sorcerery. Her grandmother suggested that she study under an old Vodoun priestess from Baton Rouge, which she did for several years. Although Daley’s skills in magic eventually developed, the spiritual aspect of Vodoun only eluded her. Quite frankly, she never had the desire to use her skills to help others. Only herself.

On one particular afternoon in late October, Daley dropped by the Red Pyramid to purchase some figure candles for her altar and gris-gris bags. She had tried the Botanica Yoruba on Valencia, but that particular shop did not have what she needed. While searching for her items, she overheard two voices from the other side of the one of the store’s shelves.

“. . . is dead,” a female’s voice said. “Can you believe it? Killed by a child.”

Her ears perked with curiosity, Daley held her breath. The woman’s companion replied, “Well, what did you expect? The boy is a child of one of the Charmed Ones.”

The Charmed what? Confused, Daley shook her head. What the hell was a Charmed One?

The woman exclaimed in a soft hiss, “A child of one of the Charmed Ones? You mean the Halliwells? The witches who had vanquished the Source and God know how many other daemons and warlocks? You mean to say . . .?”

“Yes!” the man retorted in exasperation. “I’m saying that the baby is a child of the oldest Charmed One, and her whitelighter. Well, former whitelighter. No one knows what happened to him. As for the child, I hear that he’s extremely powerful. Probably the most powerful magical entity around.”

Daley’s brows rose several millimeters toward her hairline. Hmm, how very interesting.

The man continued, “Which is why Sidney and Dominick didn’t have a chance, when they tried to snatch him.”

“Because of this child?” the woman demanded.

“They wanted the baby’s powers. Who wouldn’t?”

The woman replied, “Not me.” Daley found her answer hard to believe.

Apparently, so did the woman’s companion. “Oh please! Are you serious? You mean to say that you would pass up the chance to acquire all of that power?”

“Yes,” the woman replied. “I’m saying . . . yes, I would. Look Michael, I’m very satisfied with what I am right now. I don’t need the extra powers. Nor do I want it or have to deal with everyone else trying to steal them from me. Personally, I think that Dominick and Sidney were fools to go after that child. They would still be alive if they hadn’t.”

The man conceded, “You’ve got a point. Still . . . could you imagine yourself with all of that power? Frankly, I rather like the idea.”

So would I, Daley silently added. Maybe she should contact Marc Beaudine from Oakland . . . and hire him to search for more information on these Charmed Ones. And the baby.

————

The two men and the woman materialized in the middle of Cole’s penthouse. “Here we are,” the half-daemon declared. “Home sweet home.” He had just teleported Cecile Dubois and Andre Morell from the former’s New Orleans house. “At least, while you’re here in town.”

Cecile glanced around. “Both of us are staying here?”

“No. You’ll be staying at Olivia’s apartment, as usual. In fact,” Cole glanced at his wristwatch, “she should be home in another twenty minutes or so.”

The Vodoun priestess said in a voice that struck Cole as slightly cool, “Could you send me there, anyway? I’m sure that Livy won’t mind.”

Andre stared at his girlfriend. “What’s the big hurry? Frankly, I could use a drink, after all that traveling.”

“Traveling that took us a few seconds,” Cecile retorted. “Besides, I want to get unpacked. Get everything ready for tomorrow’s presentation.” Her dark eyes penetrated Cole’s. “Do you mind?”

With a shrug, the half-daemon waved his hand and sent the priestess and her luggage to Olivia’s apartment. Once Cecile had disappeared, he frowned at Andre. “Is there something wrong with Cecile? She seemed a little . . . I don’t know . . . withdrawn.”

“I think she’s worried about the presentation,” Andre replied, as he sat down in a nearby chair. “Ever since she had approached Olivia’s dad about selling her new computer software program to his company, she’s been . . . well, a little on edge. Anxious.”

Cole went over to the liquor cabinet to prepare a drink for himself and Andre. “Anxious? Hmmm, she seemed more . . . distant to me. Cold. Not anxious.”

“Well, she’s been pretty moody lately. Ever since she began this little project.” Cole handed Andre a glass of whiskey and soda. “Thanks.”

The half-daemon poured himself a glass of bourbon. “I know why Cecile is here – considering I’ll be acting as her legal representative. But what about you? What are you doing here?”

“Didn’t Olivia tell you?” Andre asked. “It’s about her new shop. The one that used to be owned by that guy who ended up killed. She wants me to do a little appraising for her.”

Taking a sip of bourbon, Cole replied, “But Olivia already had that shop appraised. Before it officially became hers.”

A knowing smile appeared on Andre’s lips. “I’m talking about certain . . . items in the shop. Of the supernatural variety. It seemed this Stefan Kostopulos or Whatever, was quite the collector. You mean to say that Olivia didn’t tell you all of this?”

Cole sighed. “She probably did. But I’ve been so busy lately with Cecile . . . becoming her new attorney and helping her set up this deal with Jack McNeill that I must have forgotten.” As he took another sip of bourbon, he noticed Andre staring at something. “What is it?” he asked.

“What’s that?” Andre pointed at a small, folded newspaper on the coffee table.

Cole replied, “Some newspaper or newsletter for local Wiccans. Olivia must have left it.”

Andre placed his drink on the coffee table and snatched up the newspaper. “Hmmm. A friend of mine operates a newsletter at home for Vodoun practioners. But this seems more like a newspaper. The LUNAR VOICE.” He opened the paper and read. “Not bad, he said before turning to another page. “It even has want ads and job positions. I’ve got to tell Bobby about all . . .” Andre broke off, as his eyes narrowed into slits. “What the hell? Say, what’s the name of your ex-wife? Piper or something, right?”

Cole stared at his friend. “It’s Phoebe. Why do you . . .?”

“And isn’t her last name – Halliwell?”

“Yeah.” Cole paused for a brief moment. “Why?”

Andre tossed the newspaper to the half-demon. “Check out page eight. Someone named P. Halliwell, at 415-306-1468, had placed an ad for a nanny.

It was not hard for Cole to find the advertisement. He reeled in shock, as he read the following:

“WANTED – Nanny for nine month-old baby Salary $8.00/hour
Contact P. Halliwell 415-306-146”

“What the hell is the matter with her?” Cole exclaimed. “Is she crazy?”

Andre frowned. “Which sister are you talking about?”

“Piper! Phoebe’s older sister. You know, the one who can freeze time.” Cole stared at the advertisement. “What the hell is she doing, getting a nanny for Wyatt? That kid is too powerful to be placed in the hands of some stranger. Hell, I’ll bet that Leo would agree with me.”

A sly smile appeared on Andre’s face. “Maybe. Of course, she could always get you to baby sit Wyatt, again.” Cole stared at him. “Olivia told me and Cecile about your little babysitting job, last month.”

Cole groaned. “Oh God! Thanks for reminding me! Between Wyatt’s crying, eating my shirt and stealing other people’s stuff, I had one hell of a time dealing with that kid! And Piper expects some stranger to handle him?” He shook his head in disbelief. “What the hell is that woman thinking?”

END OF PART I