Waking up

Imagine being on the Voyager after escaping the aliens who abducted you. You set course to earth together with Captain Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, Harry and Seven. Icheb gets a crush on you. Neelix teaches you how to cook. The doctor sees you as his personal psychologist. Tom and B’Ellanna are having a furious marriage.
But your abductors come back to claim you as their property.
(_Stardate 54400 – 54470; Season 7, episode 10 – 13)

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7. Hologram pets

Stardate 54406.7, May 29th, 2377, late morning. I was utterly confused, because I was sure I hadn’t fallen asleep in the bed. Anyway, I was being spared from sore muscles thanks to my anonymous caretaker. But I was still dizzy.

As I was on my way to the doctor, Tuvok crossed my path.
“Miss Dempsey, how are you feeling?”
“Not too good. The poison must have another effect on me, somehow.”
“I will accompany you to the doctor, if I may?”
“Thank you.”
Tuvok quit going wherever he was going and walked with me to the infirmary.
“I was just on my way to you, Lin. Yesterday was a hard day and the captain asked me to check up on you on a regular basis.”
“That means you have been in my room while I was asleep? Don’t you need sleep yourself? Was it you, who put me into bed after I fell asleep in the shower?”
“Correct, to answer most of you questions,” his tone never really changed. He handled his emotions cautiously.
“Vulcans don’t need as much sleep as humans. I can do a night shift without the slightest problem.”
“Well, thank you, I guess.”
We arrived at the infirmary.
“Will you be okay from here, miss Dempsey?”
“Yes, thank you, for everything.”
The Vulcan continued for his daily routine and I entered the home of the hologram crewman.
“Lin! There you are. I was expecting you, but don’t worry. I already have a cure for you sickness.”
He strode towards me, his face illuminated with joy. Then, he injected the medicine.
“Am I that predictable?” I asked as he guided me to one of the tables. There were no other patients. Everyone had been dismissed.
“Yesterday night,” he explained while scanning me, “you arranged a cure for humans, but you are not 100% human. So when Tuvok reported that you seemed a bit more shaken than the others, I started thinking and soon I found out why. So then I started working on a treatment to get the poison out of your system. I stayed up the entire night…” he wanted to go on for a while, so I asked: “Don’t you need sleep?”
“No! I am a hologram.”
“But you can think, dream, have your own ideas? When does all this information get processed?” I wondered, “You are so real, but different.”
“Your perspective of the world is different too. I may appear more real to you than my organic colleagues.”
He stopped scanning and walked away. He entered his little office, where I noticed his goldfish for the first time.
“Since we fixed your eyesight, things are less blurry. You see the world in two perspectives now, right?”
“Yes, if I close my eyes I see another world. But it’s annoying when I’m trying to sleep. There’s so much energy everywhere on this ship…”
He stopped typing on a tablet and reflected about my words for a second.
“In the future, if you are having trouble sleeping, come to me and I’ll give you a sedative... You’re good to go!”
“Already?” I asked surprised, “I wanted to meet your goldfish!”
He raised his eyebrows and turned around to confirm what I just said.
“Of course!”
I walked to the bowl and we both bend over to take a closer look.
“His name is Alfred. He keeps me company when I work at nights. I forgot to deactivate him.”
Of course, the fish wasn’t real. It was a hologram.
“He swims the same pattern every two hours…” the doctor announced with a sad undertone, “the captain didn’t allow me to create a bigger and complex matrix for a pet. Harry insisted it was best for everyone on this ship. People might get jealous, things can get out of hand…”
“I see, but Alfred doesn’t mind being a little stupid?”
“Not really, he can’t even remember why he is swimming around, but the food ritual is very important.”
“Most of the fish are like that,” I said as my finger hovered in front of the glass, not touching the bowl.
“I am only allowed to have one pet,” the doctor continued dramatically.
“The others aren’t allowed to have any?” I contradicted.
“But the others aren’t holograms!” he raised his arms in despair, “also, Alfred is a very hygienic fish. He doesn’t smell, not ever! All of my hologram pets  don’t leave anything material in this room; When I had Minnie, someone had an allergic reaction, but that’s impossible! Minnie can’t cause such a reaction, she doesn’t lose her hair! It was purely psychological.”
“You had a cat?”
He stopped abruptly in his speech.
“Yes.”
“You still have one?”
“She is still in the database, yes?”
“I want to meet her!”
He was so happy to pronounce the following words: “Computer, activate the program MinnieX3.”
And there she was: a huge, fluffy cat sitting on the table next to the goldfish. I petted her and she interacted like a normal cat would.
“Her routine is a daily one, based on interaction with my patients. I copied her from a holoroman and adapted her to make her infirmary-safe. The purring of cats can help people calm down and as a result, heal faster.”
“This is so cool, do you have others?”
“Well, of course…” he hesitated for a moment, looking back and forth at the door. Someone might enter.
“Don’t worry, they’re just pets, not a dangerous chemical experiment!”
“Well, Lupus has been a bad boy. I fixed that, but he is not allowed to be activated ever again.”
He slowly petted Minnie on the head. She purred intensely.
“What happened?”
“He jumped on people, if you know what I mean…”
I laughed and shook my head. The doctor mumbled: “Computer: activate Lupus2Beta.”
The dog appeared next to us. He wagged his tail in excitement. The doctor asked for a hologram ball and played fetch with his dog. After, he showed me some of his tricks.
Next thing, we activated a hamster, a parrot, a pig, a monkey and some alien species.
Soon, I was sitting on the floor with a parrot on my head and something bunny-like in my arms. The monkey was playing with my laces.
Minnie had fled on a table and was hissing at Lupus, who wanted to sniff her butt. The hamster was on the doctor’s shoulder, while he tried to handle a snake around his leg. The pig was jumping around and squeaking. Another bird-thing was flying around in the infirmary and almost hit the glass of the doctor’s office. A tortoise was nibbling on some salad next to Alfred, who started another routine of swimming around in his bowl.
Only when I was really starting to enjoy myself and finally managed to distract the doctor from his daily problems, the computer beeped and the doors slid open.
Chakotay entered in a steady tread, but when he saw the chaotic scene, he stopped in his tracks and his jaw dropped.
“Doctor, what is going on?”
“O! Commander! I’m sorry, I can explain! Computer, deactivate all the pet programs.”
The hairball disappeared from my arms and the shrieking, hissing and howling fell into silence.
“Lin wanted to meet my pets, as you can see.”
To the doctor’s great surprise, Chakotay smiled and nodded in approval.

Only then, we noticed his injured hand.

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