In the Mind of Madness Stardate: 53839.48 Denorios Belt, The Bajoran System Deep Space 9 For Jackson, this mind meld was nothing like the one he had experienced before. The beginning was all the same as it was before. With the same words spoke by Commander V'rol in the beginning, it seemed like it was all going to be the same. But Jackson knew that it wasn't the same once it started. He felt his mind drifting as if it was leaving his body. He could feel the chaos around him that could only be that of Seona's mind. As the images in his mind cleared, he felt her mind becoming his world while V'rol led them deeper in to her mind. This was nothing like he had ever experienced before and clearly wouldn't want to do again. This new world in his mind was strange and nothing of what he felt her mind would be like. His mind raced to fill in the images. Around him, he started to see the world take shape. There was a reddish sky above them that was filled with smoke from near by fires. Around them were strange ruined structures that Jackson could almost place. 'I have been here before' Jackson thought as he searched the area with his eyes. Suddenly explosions in the distances told them that they were in the middle of some war. Two Cardassian fighters streaked across the sky as a large fire ball rose up from behind a ridge. Jackson stepped back in horror as the realization of where they were crossed his face. "May the Goddesses have mercy on us" he said, "This is Velos!" Lieutenant Commander V'rol turned to face Captain Campbell, "No Sir, this is not Velos. Everything you see is only a representation of your mind." He paused looking around for a moment. V'rol had to focused his mind so he could allow what Captain Campbell was seeing to become his vision as well. "Your mind is trying to fill in the gaps of what it can't understand within her mind. It is using images and places that Seona had been so that you can see what your mind doesn't understand." He turned and walked towards a large outcropping of rocks, "I didn't serve as part of this invasion" he added. He turned to face the Captain, "Tell me, why would your mind use this image for her mind?" Captain Campbell nodded as he walked over to his First Officer, "This place, this invasion is a very painful place for many of those who served here. It was meant to split the war in to two separate front lines. At the time, I was a favorite of then Captain David Tate. He served on Admiral Ross' staff and I was the Operation's Officer of the Thunderchild. But I often would be assigned to work closely with Captain Tate." Captain Campbell looked around and knew where he was standing. He didn't like this place at all. He could still hear the cries of the dying and the smell of burnt flash in the air. With a heavy sigh he turned back towards V'rol to continue. "Among the Admiral's staff, we all knew that Starfleet and its century old tactics were both inadequate for the job of protecting the Federation. So the plan was created to change Starfleet's strategy. Major......" he said then paused as he corrected it in his own mind. She no longer was just some Major in Starfleet Marines. Just like Seona, she was his sister. Someone that he loved and cared for so much. His heart was conflicted and his mind was confused. Still he continued, "Major MacConnell had created the plan, and it was brilliant. No one could figure out a flaw in it. But it ended up being a trap. Everyone in Ross' staff suspected a Changeling, but no one suspected that one of us was a traitor" Campbell explained. Commander V'rol looked around and nodded, "I had heard the reports about this invasion. It was a nightmare for many units that took part in it." "Yeah" Captain Campbell said nodding, "Even after the fleet was driven from orbit, some Marine units were still fighting. Still holding out for weeks afterwards." He motioned towards a large valley, "over there was where the fighting was the worse. But here is where a unit died. Not just any unit. They were a Hero Unit." He said looking around. Sadness filled his voice as he spoke. His eyes gazed up at the thick dark clouds that made up the horizon. They were chaotic and unlike anything else he had seen before. The clouds formed a wall that was just over a few hundred meters away and seemed to reach over top of them. "What do you make of that" he asked his Vulcan guide. "That is extend of my own ability to influence her mind" Commander V'rol explained as he looked up at the clouds around them as well. "It is by great effort that we can stand here right now. Beyond that limit, is the chaos of what the poison has done to her mind. Thoughts, images and emotions raging out of control. There is so much chaos here Captain, I suspect I might have over estimated my own abilities. Holding the chaos at bay is much harder than I thought it would be." "Don't MOVE!" the voice called from behind them as the sound of a phaser charging was clearly heard. Both men rose their hands as they slowly turned to see the dirty, blood covered Starfleet Marine behind them holding a phaser rifle. Her uniform showed the signs of the nightmare that she had survived through. She looked as if she had crawled through hell and back. But it was her eyes that captured Jackson's imagination. Her eyes seemed to be devoid of that spark that he saw in so many other eyes. Her eyes were the testament of a story about a million horrors which no life time could ever heal. She watched the two carefully with the rifle shifting between them not really knowing what to do next. Captain Campbell stood in disbelief at who he saw, "Maura" echoed from his voice as he stood there in shock. After a few blinks, he turned to V'rol, "She is just a representation of, what, my desire to help my sister?" Maura stepped closer shoving the end of her phaser rifle in to Jackson's face, "I'll show you who's a representation!" On that hostile act, Jackson stepped back with his hands still up as he heard his First Officer speak. "No Sir" Commander V'rol said softly as he made no threatening moves, "Fascinating. But this is no representation. This is in fact, the katra or living spirit of Major Maura MacConnell." Jackson turned his head slightly as he glanced at V'rol, "why do I have this feeling that you had already suspected she would be here!" "Indeed Captain, I had received a transmission from Velos," Commander V'rol started to explain. "Using the information that we supplied them, they were able to locate proof of what we suspected about Gul Bolon and his trophies." V'rol choose his words carefully as he watched Major MacConnell carefully. "Within the box among other things were a series of holovids detailing the horrors that Major MacConnell was forced to endure. The last of those vids revealed what I suspected was a mind meld between two very powerful and gifted telepaths" Captain Campbell rolled his eyes, "when we are done with all of this, remind me to talk to you about the meaning of timely information!" Commander V'rol nodded, "yes Captain." On that note Maura lowered her weapon, "Is that why I am here?" Jackson slowly lowered his hands as V'rol followed suite while asking, "tell me something Major. What was the last thing you remember before your death?" Maura slumped her shoulders as looked down, "I....." she started then paused. Taking in a deep breath as she lifted her head, "I crawled over to Seona and touched her. I" a tear slipped from her left eye as she spoke, "I just wanted her to know that I would always be in her heart." Her weapon slipped from her hand and fell to the ground. "Maura" Jackson said as he walked up and held her tightly. He remembered his love for her as she rested in his arms. It was strange for him because before any of this started, he never once thought of her. But now, he couldn't get her out of his mind. "I knew I was dying. I could feel my body burning up from the inside. Seona was made to watch me die." Maure pulled away from Jackson as she looked down. "Seona cried and screamed for them to save me but that monster just laughed and watched me suffer" Maura's rage filled her voice. Even the clouds reacted to Maura's anger, "Do you know what it feels like to have your body burned from the inside out. Hours, for hours, I felt the burning" she cried as the lighting flashed behind her. The change in the environment was clearly having an effect on Commander V'rol as he moved forward. "Major, there is no recorded evidence that a human has been able to transfer their katra in such a way" he asked hoping the change of subject would take her mind off of her death. "I have to ask, when did you sense you were within your sister?" She shifted between her legs as she looked around as if she was thinking. After a moment she whipped the tears from her eyes as she answered, "a few hours after my body had died. I was confused, scared and didn't realize what had happened. I couldn't understand how I was watching my death and feeling it at the same time. At first after Seona was liberated, I remained hidden. I didn't want to hurt her." Jackson nodded as he listened then asked, "what caused you to come forward from your hiding." "Bolon's voice" she said as her face twisted with anger. Thick black lighting bolts flashed in the skies around them. Their thunderous claps echoed against the rocks "I heard his voice in the memories of someone else." Her hands balled in to fists as she walked a bit away from them. As she turned to face them, the scene around them changed to reflect Earth. It was clear that they were standing somewhere near Starfleet Command Complex. Seona was walking along side of another woman. "I remember how happy Seona was. She was dealing with so much as it was. Her mind was just finally starting to recover from what those bastards had done to her," Maura explained. The reflection of Seona's memory spoke, "I am so happy you think I am coming along good, Doctor. Sometimes I am so scared that I will wake up and all of this would have just been another one of their tricks. I just can't afford to dream that this is real." Seona said as she walked along side the female Doctor, "I am just so scared." The female Doctor nodded, "And you know Petty Officer, that is a sign that you are healing. You are starting to accept what you see around you." Maura moved around the illusion as they started to fade, "I had spent so much time hiding from her. But when I heard those voices beyond her mind. I couldn't contain myself anymore." Commander V'rol nodded as he listened, "humans have been known to suffered from what appears to be split personalities after receiving a katra from a Vulcan. While there were many other cases, two such cases have been well documented by the Vulcan Science Academy. However there have never been a single case of a human being able to pass their own katra to another being." Maura turned to look at V'rol, "then how do you explain me?" Jackson remained silent as he had no explanation. Instead he just stood there listening to the two talk. "When we remove all logical explanations," Commander V'rol spoke softly. "What remains, no matter how illogical or unlikely must be the answer." Jackson turned back to Maura. "Do you know what is going on," he asked. Maura shook her head as she spoke, "when the storms started, Seona cut me off from parts of her mind to protect me. The struggle for her mind has grown steady since then. I helped but there was nothing I could do to stop it." V'rol nodded, "Seona's body has been poisoned." "Aye, I know," Maura said looking around. There was fear in her eyes as she continued, "I tried to help her but there was nothing I could do stop it." she said as the image once more changed to the insides of a shuttle craft. "She was sedated," Maura explained as two men stood over Seona. Commander V'rol watched closely as he could see the two suspects that were really responsible for the murders back on Earth. Maura continued, "I woke her up and helped her escape but it was too late." They were able to see the struggle between Seona and the two men. It was painful to watch but one man held Seona while the other one injected her with a hypospray. Seona let out a scream as she fought back like a caged animal. Like before, the image faded before much more details could be gathered. But it was more than enough for Commander V'rol to alert Earth Security as to who to look out for. Jackson looked around, "so can we speak with Seona?" Maura turned away from them and pointed beyond the storm to a mountain palace, "she has retreated there. Locked behind those walls. Not even I can reach her." Commander V'rol looked to the all impressive mountain fortress and nodded, "I believe that with your help Major I can guides us there." Before she could answer, Captain Campbell looked at her. "Maura, we have to speak with Seona. The fate of the Federation could be in the balance" he said as he moved towards Maura. Maura turned back towards the two visitors and nodded, "I will help you." Commander V'rol focused on his mental control as he walked up to Maura and placed his fingers on her temple. He reached in and touched her mind. "You have been within those walls before" he said. While he had never had to deal with this kind of situation before, Commander V'rol had done considerable research on dealing with Katras. He was recognized as an expert in the field within the Vulcan communities. She nodded, "Yes" as she said softly. "Its a place of protection for Seona. She created it when she was very young" she added. "I can see it," V'rol said, "I need you to focus on being within those walls." The two of them shared minds as allowed Maura to guide them from one place to another. Slowly the landscape of Velos faded as the walls of the palace took form around them. "There is a power here within these walls" Commander V'rol said calmly still holding Maura's head in his fingers. "A power that is terrifying to Seona, but protects her." Maura nodded, "yes, I know. He protects her." She stepped back as V'rol released her. "He is the reason why I can't reach her anymore." She motioned them to follow her, "I know the way from here." Even as they started to walk, the walls around them continued to take shape. Before their eyes, the Palace continued to take on its shape. Bright colored painting and tapestries lined white solid walls. The soft easing sounds of dilruba (or the Indian harp) seemed to flow from the walls of this place. The music offered a sense of peace and calm from the storm outside. Guards with traditional curved swords resting on their shoulders lined the corridors of the Palace. They stood ever ready to defend the Palace against any threat. There were winding corridors that opened up in to rooms filled with fantastic wonders. Despite the horrors of the storm beyond the walls, the Palace was a place of protection. As Maura led the way, she turned a corner and motioned for them to follow her, "its this way" she said softly. She continued to lead them through the passages of the Palace. With each step, they drew deeper and deeper in to Seona's protective mind. "Something about all of this seems so familiar to me," Jackson commented as he looked around. "I can't put my finger on it." Commander V'rol nodded, "The decor is of the 15th century in the Punjab region of southern Asia on Earth. This Palace is a representation of a Mughal Palace of the same region, same time period." Captain Jackson continued to look around as Maura led them through the palace, "why is all of this so familiar" he said then paused. "Punjab" he said softly as they turned and walked in to a large grand throne room. From ahead of them, a voice answered Captain Campbell. "Punjab literally means 'The Land of Five Waters.' It refers to the five tributaries of the Indus River," the voice said surprising them. Captain Campbell came to a stop as he instinctively reached for his phaser called out the man's name who set on the throne at the other end of the room, "Khan!" Before them set Khan Noonien Singh as he appeared just before his death in 2285. Not that anything other than the name was needed. For he was a man who needed no description or introduction. His name carried with it, tails of horrors, blood baths and nightmares of such a degree that even today, centuries after the Eugenics Wars, the name was only barely whispered. It was a name that summoned up all that was evil within humans waiting to be unlocked by the darkest of Science. The name spoke of that were lurking, waiting in the shadows of the minds of every human being. There was no degree of words that could describe what many humans would prefer to just ignore than face. But many who still remembered had put a name to this kind of evil, Khan Noonien Singh. For Jackson, this being before him was a clear and present danger to all that he stood for. But it was V'rol that placed a hand on Captain Campbell's hand and forced his phaser down, "Captain..." Commander V'rol didn't have a chance to finish as Jackson interrupted, "That is Khan Noonien Singh!" Now it was V'rol's time to interrupt his Captain, "No Captain, its not!" Commander V'rol turned to his Captain. "Khan Noonien Singh died during his run in with Enterprise after escaping the Eugenics Wars. What you see now is only a representation of the unbridled passion for power. A source of power unto its self, and for Seona right now. A means of protecting her mind against the poisoning that is trying to kill her." It was clear that Captain Campbell didn't trust the situation but he trusted his First Officer as he lowered the phaser. Still, he didn't put it away. Then again, he really didn't know what a phaser would do for him in Seona's mind. "We have to speak with Seona" he demanded to the figure before him. Khan smiled as he brought his fingers together, "you are the lost brother who forgot about us and now you expect to make demands here." Maura stepped forward, "listen, all that Seona worked for is at risk. We have to speak with her" Commander V'rol knew that the Major and his Captain had a much higher chance to get through to Seona than he did. He decided to remain silence as the other two made the case for why they should be allowed to speak with Seona. Instead he watched carefully the representation do the task that Seona created it for. All of this was fascinating to him as he watched the events unfold before him. Khan slowly rose from his chair, "we followed you" he said pointing towards Maura and then shifted his finger at Captain Campbell, "we tried to contact you." Jackson answered the challenge before him. He looked around the room hoping to see Seona somewhere. "I know you tried Seona. I didn't remember. I didn't know what you meant to me" he pleaded from his heart for her to hear his voice. "Seona. I wasn't listening. But my mind has been cleared and I know who you are" he didn't know what else to say. So he added, "please." Commander V'rol spoke up, taking his turn, "Seona. Our minds are linked through my Mind Meld. You are a powerful enough telepath. You can search our thoughts and find what we are saying is true." In that moment Seona appeared standing next to Khan. "I know" she said softly. Her voice timid as if she were a child terrified of the death that was at her doorstep. "I know what you are saying is true" she added as a tear dripped from her right eye. Khan put his arm out to block her attempt to walk towards them. "We can't trust them" he said coldly. Maura rushed forward half way, "you listen here damnit! You have no right!" "They are family!" Seona proclaimed, "yes, I can trust them." She stepped forward to Maura and embraced the spirit of her long dead sister. "I am sorry I ran from you" she said softly. Maura held her sister, "Its okay. I know why you ran." Captain Campbell walked forward, "Seona, I know your medical condition. But I have to know what is going on. What do you know of the pending attack." Seona stepped back from her sister and turned to wall, "that day we were in the park on Earth" she said as the same image formed around them. Once more Seona of months ago formed walking along side her doctor. Once more they were talking of Seona's recovery. However in this scene, the mental voices of those around them could be heard. It was as if there was a low whispering of a hundred voices around them. As the pair of mental phantoms continued to walk and talk, the scene played out for V'rol and Jackson to watch. Jackson watched and heard everything around him. His eyes widened with surprise, "Is this how it is for you" he asked walking over to Seona and her sister. Maura nodded, "this was how it was for both of us. The thoughts of everyone around us whispering in our mind." Seona walked through her phantom self, "for the longest time, I didn't understand what it was that I was hearing. Feelings, thoughts, hopes and dreams of those around me whispering to me" she said then turned to face Khan. "But once I retreated here, he told me" she said turning back to Jackson, "what it was that was happening to me and why I could hear the whispers." Maura nodded, "I have been able to do this for much longer than Seona. And after some time, I learned to silence the voices. But sometimes there were voices can not be ignored." The out of the blue, a voice echoed for all to hear. It should have been just like the other whispers but instead it rang out so loudly and clear. "I will show them all. I will bring them all down. All of their work will be undone. I swear it!" Seona motioned in the direction of a group of Starfleet Officers walking in to the scene. Jackson knew the officers well. They were Admiral Tate's staff, and he knew the voice that was whispering in to Seona's mind. It was the voice of his long time friend, Captain Phillips. "My God, He's the traitor!" Jackson said in disbelief. Maura stepped forward and placed a hand on Seona's shoulder, "He opened his mind to us and I heard Bolon's voice calling me to return from the grave." "Aye," Seona added, "but that is only the tip of his betrayal" she said as she waved her hand over the scene. "In his mind were the memories of what he had done. All of those who he betrayed. But this one was important to him. His final act against those who he blamed for his failed career." The scene shifted to that of the Operations Center of Deep Space Nine. But it wasn't Deep Space Nine. To Captain Campbell and Commander V'rol, they knew where this scene was. It was of Empok Nor. Around the center table of the Ops Center of Empok Nor stood a male and female Cardassian, a Breen and Captain Phillips. Laying across the table were the battle plans of what was coming. Captain Campbell walked around the table looking down at the images before him. Seona was right, it was a surprise attack and Starfleet was clear in the cross hairs. But the attack wasn't aimed at the Federation nor was the Dominion involved. "It's a bloody Coup!" Jackson said as his thick Scottish accent rang through. Everything was there before them to see. Seona nodded as she walked around the table. "He" she said motioning towards Captain Phillips, "would blind Starfleet and Cardassian ships while they would move to strike." She moved up behind the phantom of Captain Phillips frozen in his position at the table. "He wanted revenge against those that would over look him. His hatred of you and those around him drove him to this. He did this not for money, not for fame. He wanted you to suffer." Captain Campbell scanned the table and the plans carefully. The 4th Fleet had been maneuvered in to position to stop the coup cold in its tracks. Seona had masterfully played the 4th Fleet right where they needed to be to prevent a coup that could destabilize the entire region. But more importantly, they knew about the virus that would blind the Loyal Cardassian forces as well as Starfleet to the movements the rebel forces. She did all this and now she was about to die because of it. He turned to face Seona as he wanted to say something but couldn't. He had so much to say but didn't know where to begin. At a loss for words, Jackson Campbell turned back towards Khan who had taken his seat once more. Slowly Jackson looked around the Palace while the storm raged beyond. He remembered how Seona had almost died from a snake bite and realized that this part of her had saved her back then. He was just starting to realize what this representation of Khan was to her. Khan represented the augment genes that made up who she was. He was more than just her passion for power. He was the key to saving her life. Jackson stepped towards Khan, "you can save her life" he proclaimed. Khan nodded his head as he didn't even looked towards Jackson, "I can." "So why don't you!?" Jackson pushed. Seona turned in horror at the conversation, "cause I wont let him!" Maura and Jackson both turned to face Seona. There was shock on both of their faces, but it was Maura who spoke first. "Why! All this time, you could have been saved! Why wont you allow it?!" Seona walked over to Khan who remained seated in his chair, "cause the last time he saved my life, I nearly lost control over myself. He is dangerous. The things he wants me to do" she said then fell silent for a moment. "They scare me" she finally concluded. Commander V'rol motioned Campbell over towards him. Jackson hurried over to where V'rol was standing. Once the two men were close enough together, V'rol whispered, "Captain, the passions and thirst for power within Augments are well documented. Even the Klingons found them uncontrollable. Are you sure that it is wise that she should survive this?" Captain Campbell fired a glare at his First Officer then turned back to Maura. "Help her. Help her control him" he said walking towards Seona and Maura. "Listen, I understand what this could mean," Jackson said. He was desperate to save Seona "The two of you can control him. I know you two can." He reached out and took hold of Seona but looked at Maura, "I can't bring you back, but you can help me save her" Seona looked confused at the statements, "I don't know" she said softly. Maura nodded, "Seona, I can lend you my strength. I will never leave you. Together we can keep him under control." Commander V'rol watched the entire scene playing out before him. If the two were going to be able to control the pure Augment genes that ran through Seona, then they would need help. "I can ensure you safe passage to Vulcan. There I know people who will hide you away. They will teach you to better control your emotions and the desires that you will have to face." Seona turned towards Khan as he set there in his chair. He didn't look at what was going on. Instead he only looked out across the room with a blank expression on his face. "I am scared" she said as his head slowly turned towards her and he started to smiled back at her. Maura walked up behind Seona and placed both hands on her shoulders, "I will never leave you. I promise." Seona still wasn't sure about any of this. The memories of what he wanted her to do the last time were still haunted her today. She glanced at her sister and in that moment Seona knew that she could trust in her sister. She looked to Khan and gave him a nod. Like a force unleashed, he rose from his chair as his body started to glow. As he looked out beyond the Palace as he reached with his arms. To Captain Campbell and Commander V'rol, all they could see was a bright light that illuminated from Khan. The light from his seemed to burn them as it reached out throughout the room. Jackson tried to shield his eyes with his hand by there was no stopping the light as it reached outward from the Palace and spread across Seona's mind.