Episode 8-24 - Secrets and Lies
By: Janeway602 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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are Registered Trademarks of Paramount Pictures. No infringement
of Paramount's copyrights is intended. Voyager Virtual Season
8 (VS8) is a non-profit endeavor. The unique characters
and milieu of VS8 are the property of the VS8 producers
and individual authors. This story is the property of the
author. Please do not repost without permission.
first thing B'Elanna noticed when she rolled over was not
the insistent beeping of the comm console, but the image
of the San Francisco moonlight pouring in the window opposite
the bed. In the predawn hours, the light was slightly tinged
with the warmth of the sunlight that was yet to come. It
was a serene image, as she lay still as to not wake up her
husband, an image she had waited over a month to see. Though
she enjoyed the time she spent working on the Montana Project
on Fulton Station, a part of her yearned to be here, on
Earth, with her daughter and husband.
might have even fallen back asleep if she had not heard
"Incoming Subspace Communication" pierce through
the silence. With a quick glance to Tom -- who usually slept
soundly and thus was not stirred by the noise -- B'Elanna
quietly but sluggishly dragged herself from under the covers
and to the desk in the opposite corner of the room. If the
sound was insisting on ruining her first night at home,
the least she could do was find out what it wanted.
herself into the chair, after having put on the robe that
was draped neatly on it, accepted the incoming message.
'Incoming Message' disappeared from the screen, replaced
first by black for a moment, and then by the image of a
very familiar face.
B'Elanna exclaimed. Her brain suddenly reminded her of the
sleeping man still in bed and the child in the room next
to them, and she immediately lowered her voice to a whisper.
"Don't take this the wrong way, Chakotay -- I'm happy
to hear from you, really -- but 3:30 in the morning?"
was a look of confusion that crossed his face for a moment,
which was quickly replaced by a smile. "3:30. Damn,
I forgot about the time difference. I'm really about this,
B'Elanna. I'll call back later, when you're more-"
interrupted waving her hand. "No, no, Chakotay. You've
already gotten me up, so you might as well tell me what's
on your mind," she managed to catch a glimpse of the
room he was sitting in, and didn't recognize anything in
the background. She theorized that the lack of identifiable
personal objects ruled out the possibility of it being his
own house, "starting with where you are exactly."
swore she saw embarrassment and heard it in his voice as
he answered. It sounded almost like he wished she hadn't
asked that question. "I'm, uh, staying with an old
friend for a few days." Pause. "New York, Lake
George. B'Elanna racked her brain, the name so familiar
to her. And then it clicked. "Doesn't Janeway have
a house up there?" She continued when he didn't answer
immediately. "I thought I remember her once mentioning
spending a summer up there. I could be wrong, though, considering
nodded his head with a smooth and languid motion. "Yeah.
Yeah, she does." An afterthought struck him. "But
I haven't seen her at all."
was about to ask why he was so vehement that he had not
spoken to Janeway when she could no longer suppress the
yawn that exploded from her mouth. She politely tried to
hide it from Chakotay, but to no avail. She quickly apologized.
don't care what you say, B'Elanna," Chakotay replied,
"you need some sleep, and I'm not going to be accused
of keeping you from it."
no arguing." He paused. "I was just looking for
someone to talk to, and I guess I'll have to call later."
sighed in defeat; he *was* right, after all. She was tired
as hell, and he was barely keeping her up. A thought popped
into her brain. "Janeway."
fact that Chakotay suddenly became rigid at the mention
of her name was an observation her sleep-deprived brain
failed to notice.
sighed and smiled. "Talk to *her*, Chakotay; she's
hell of a lot closer than I am, not to mention more alert."
thoughts lingered visibly. "Maybe. Anyway, I think
she mentioned something about visiting her mother and sister
answer threw B'Elanna for a mini-loop. Neither of his answers
about Janeway -- first that he hadn't seen her, second that
she wasn't there -- couldn't possibly both be true. He either
saw her or he didn't. She wondered why this bit of information
was so secretive.
he said his goodbyes quickly, not giving her tired brain
time to process the information and form the proper questions
about his intentions.
Emily Harrison stepped off the small Starfleet shuttle and
into the harsh sunlight of the desolate planet. Immediately
there was a rush of heat that seemed to roll from the mountains
that were kilometers away. She ran her free hand across
her forehead and could already feel the beads of perspiration
building along her hairline. Glancing at the gray pack she
carried, she thanked her lucky stars she had picked an extra
canteen of water and stepped off towards the main camp.
assignment was one she had never expected, but certainly
wouldn't have rejected. She had formerly been assigned as
a teaching assistant to one of the archaeology professors
at the Academy, but her dream was not to teach. It was to
dig. Based out of Fulton Station, it was the Analysis and
Research Team's job to just that. So when she learned they
were rounding up team members for excavations, she couldn't
believe she had been chosen. The fact that the project was
shrouded in such secrecy -- she was forbidden to discuss
specifics with family and friends -- made it even more desirable
than a run-of-the-mill search for Romulan artifacts. But
she was a trustworthy individual; she would never think
of divulging classified Starfleet information, and the unusual
man overseeing the briefing had made sure of that.
she knew was that the excavations related to the information
leaked from the Janeway court martial about a race called
the Sernaix. Apparently, there had been some sort of accident,
and teams were being sent to excavate and investigate, but
information beyond that -- like how it related to a space
station where starships were developed -- was not forthcoming.
Harrison had been ordered to report to the main camp --
which was nothing more than a large tent set up around computer
terminals -- when she arrived on the planet. It was several
meters away from landing spot, and as the dust settled from
the shuttle, a group of team members moving in a decidedly
chaotic way became apparent around the tent. As she moved
closer, individual voices were heard over the general hum
of the crowd.
you have to take a look at this!"
a sheet to put under it!"
of the way!"
out of the way!"
fought her way through the gathering diggers so that she
might see what had caused all the attention. She watched
the rather old-fashioned crane system pulling a large piece
of debris -- Starfleet-issue gray, she noticed -- out of
a deep crater-like hole. She wasn't sure what had caused
the impression in the earth: constant digging or an impact.
the debris was settled onto the ground, and the officer
Harrison recognized as Commander Sean Hamilton and another
man pushed through the crowd, it became clear that another
object was resting on the fragment that resembled the piece
of a hull. It was wrapped in a dirty, albeit bright, red
sheet, and as she focused on it more she realized the sheet's
form resembled that of a human being. Harrison hadn't been
aware that they were searching for casualties.
body," the crowed seemed to murmur collectively. Apparently,
she noted, no one else was prepared for the discovery.
knelt down beside the fragment, and pulled the sheet away
from the body's face. Momentarily, the crowd was granted
a look: he was a human male, no distinguishing characteristics
about his face, dark hair. In the moment she was allowed,
he struck her as familiar, but she couldn't make sense of
it. He pondered the man for a moment, replaced the sheet,
and stared his companion in the face.
a subspace message to Medical," he ordered, "and
tell Intelligence we found him."
Harrison listened. They knew who this man was?
was already on his feet and was about the break through
the crowd again when his companion's voice broke through
the silence. "I recommend he make a stop at Intelligence
commander stopped in his tracks.
recommend this man be sent to Intelligence first."
stepped closer to his companion. "For God's sake, give
it a rest. The Maquis problem has been resolved, Thompson,
there's no need to quarantine this body anymore." He
paused. "The least we can do is give this man a proper
burial and a death certificate."
debate, however, was far from over. Harrison realized there
was more to this than what was in front of them.
under strict orders, sir, that any bodies found should be
sent to Intelligence before any additional personnel handle
orders'? How come I was never informed of these 'strict
Intelligence did not find it necessary to inform you, sir."
eyes blazed. "I'm in charge here!"
companion -- Thompson -- did not waiver. In fact, Harrison
noted, his expression resembled that of a Vulcan. The meaning
under their words bothered her. The two raged a silent battle;
their eyes fighting a war words could not.
Hamilton finally conceded, when the silence had become too
much, "let Intelligence know."
commander begrudgingly pushed his way back through the crowd
of onlookers, and Harrison swore she heard him mumbling
you wonder who's in charge here."
tried concentrating on the engineering panel in front of
him, but the officer's constant pacing was distracting him.
Back and forth the man had been walking, from one end of
the engineering room to the other, each time stopping behind
a different panel. On four separate occasions that morning,
he had hovered behind Harry, watched intently as commands
were entered and simulations were tested, but each time,
the man said nothing. He simply watched and remembered.
days ago the station's commander himself had escorted Commander
Carl Grant into the engineering section, and from that moment
Harry had felt the isolation. Sent from Starfleet, he was
there to, in Vargas' words, "streamline final preparations"
on the prototype. Grant's cool detachment from his duty
and those around him had set him apart from the project
leaders and the station's command team. But it was more
than just his unwillingness to shake the rigid professional
demeanor: there was something about Grant that...to be honest,
Harry didn't know what Grant's behavior struck him as being.
Odd? Unusual? It simply didn't sit right with him.
always seemed to gravitate towards whatever station he or
Seven were working at. At first, Harry had chalked it up
to the fact that he was the Engineering Design Head and
she, by all accounts, was the most skilled member of the
team. Throw in the fact that half of Starfleet Command held
their breath every time she pressed a button, and he might
have had a reasonable excuse for hesitating the way he did.
But had things been different, had she really been the security
risk Vargas believed her to be when she first boarded Fulton
Station, his behavior towards her would have suggested he
was there...to keep tabs on them.
the fact that the scheduled Starfleet inspection was less
than a month away forced Harry to overlook his initial doubts.
pacing was beginning to unnerve him, and Harry was thankful
to see Seven moving from her previous station and moving
in his direction. Though her destination was apparently
elsewhere, Harry managed to grab her arm and pull her aside.
Leaning close, he whispered, "that man is giving me
his gaze was beyond her, but the commander saw none of the
exchange. Seven replied with a solid expression. "Lieutenant,
'that man' is Commander Grant," she corrected him,
"and I'm sorry if I can't sympathize with your observation
that he 'gives you the creeps.'"
way she repeated the phrase made it sound juvenile in his
mind. Maybe it was. Grant was turning on his heels near
the end of the engineering section, and Harry instinctively
pulled them closer to the panel he was working at, which
luckily was located along a wall recessed from the rest
of the controls. They were at least somewhat shielded from
one bit?" he prodded.
peered her head out from behind the wall to glance at Grant
a second time before answering, but the remark Harry expected
did not come. Instead, she stared at the man as he approached.
He swore he could see the gears inside her brain turning
as she observed the commander.
nodded in the appropriate places as Icheb spoke. But her
attention was primarily focused on two individuals on the
other side of the beverage table. She studied them carefully.
She didn't recognize them as either members of the Voyager
crew or associates thereof. Who were they?
were both male, apparently Human. They wore civilian clothing
rather than Starfleet uniforms, and then seemed to slink
around the room, almost lurking in the shadows yet acting
incredibly casual at the same time. Somehow, she sensed
they didn't belong here, but she found their presence more
curious than threatening.
thought about informing Captain Janeway, but then dismissed
her suspicions. Her recent ordeal was apparently making
her overly wary. They were probably just a crewman's family
members or friends whom she hadn't met yet, so she dismissed
them as irrelevant and returned her focus to Icheb.
Harry touched her arm, and suddenly she was back in reality.
"Seven, are you okay?"
her focus had been lost for the moment, she quickly recovered
it. "I am fine, Lieutenant," she replied.
hand lingered longer on her arm, but she didn't seem to
notice. Or care. Harry sensed her hesitation. "Are
you sure? You spaced out on me there."
she opened her mouth, intent on speaking, and then shut
it again. "Commander Grant," she paused, as if
the words had left her momentarily, and then continued,
"resembles a man I have seen before."
Voyager's decommissioning," she replied, "I witnessed
two men wandering among the crowd, men I did not recognize."
come you haven't mentioned this before?"
thought nothing of it at the time."
she stopped. Harry wasn't sure if she even had an answer
to his question. "I believe it is possible," he
was about jump on the answer, but she wasn't done, "but
it is unlikely. What possible motivation would Commander
Grant have to be there?"
couldn't help it if his eyes lit up at the thought of how
they could remedy the problem. He had been a bright and
eager ensign once, and sometimes he hated when it seeped
into his current demeanor. "Maybe," he suggested,
"we should find out."
are you suggesting, Lieutenant?"
personnel file. Maybe," he paused, "it will give
us some clue as to whom he reports to."
looked Harry in the eye and nodded. Then quietly she slipped
back into the engineering hallway and to her original destination.
watched the hundreds of small ships swarming around the
one large ship. To him they resembled insects converging
on a single hive. Except these insects had no collective
hum, no sound of any kind to announce their presence. And
unlike someone who observes insects, these swarms were thousands
of light-years away.
of course, in no way diminished their capability.
Sernaix had been a threat before the Voyager had arrived,
but their crude understanding of the universe and their
place in it had kept them at bay for thousands of years.
Yet even when they had mistaken her crew for their longtime
enemies, Mateth had been convinced their own propensity
for infighting would cause them to forget about Voyager
long enough for them to escape.
the Sernaix never forgot.
new information he had received weighed heavily on his mind
as he watched ships enter and exit the massive structure
the Sernaix called their Node ship. They had stayed isolated
for long enough, and their assistance was now necessary.
Mateth knew he possessed the power and the authority to
order a shift, but what Mateth also possessed was a sense
of fairness. He had never been one to make decisions lightly
or rashly, and it was this trait that had kept the Ayrethans
so well protected for so long.
knew what he had to do.
for his assistant, he leaned in close and dictated the message
he wished to send. 'The council shall meet immediately.'
The assistant was breaking away when Mateth caught him by
the arm. Pulling him close, he whispered the final order
into the assistant's ear.
and Ipthar will hear none of this, understood?"
the image of a meager assistant betraying the two remaining
elders flashed across his face. "Yes, Speaker."
was a worn path in the trees that had been formed by years
of taking this very shortcut through the dense trees from
the transport sight to her house. The lieutenant at the
padd in New York City, recognizing her from the newsreels
he'd seen, had been more than willing to bend the rules
and put her down within three meters of her house; in the
end, she had denied the royal treatment, instead opting
for the "scenic route."
warm Indiana breeze smelled much like it did years ago,
before her ship left for the Badlands, before she left for
the Academy, before her first memory of her younger sister...it
was the one constant Kathryn always enjoyed when she visited
home. That, she thought, and the people that always greeted
week ago her sister had mentioned quite casually that she
was going to take a break from her busy business life and
visit Gretchen for the weekend. What Phoebe hadn't realized
was her sister was remembering a promise she had made to
her mother, a promise to visit and share an evening with
her family, and was planning to use the opportunity to fulfill
that promise. Besides, after last night, she thought she
owed it to her mother and sister.
in thought Kathryn was startled by the brush of matter against
her legs. She glanced to see the small puppy butting her
head against her ankle, looking up at her with expectant
and gleeful eyes. Janeway stopped, crouching down to lovingly
pet the animal. "You like it here, don't you, girl?"
The puppy responded by licking her face and letting out
a playful yelp. "That's what I thought."
away from the old farmhouse she missed the creaking the
screen door that had forever needed just a little oil. She
didn't hear the sound of footsteps as they thudded across
the creaky wood porch that was almost as old as the house
itself. She missed the thud the screen door made as it collided
with the doorframe.
Janeway stood on the steps of her porch, watching her oldest
daughter quietly cuddle with the small puppy. Aside from
hair that was significantly shorter, stature that was taller,
and looking a little skinny than one would expect for her
shape, it was as if Kathryn had never aged past ten years
Kathryn turned and smiled at her mother's call, Gretchen
noticed the glow in her daughter's face. It was a glow she
had seen once before, when her daughter had raced home --
rather than a simple subspace message -- to announce that
she had been given her first captaincy aboard the USS Voyager.
But this, her mother pondered, this was different. It reminded
her of the first time Kathryn had brought Justin Tighe home,
her radiant smile offsetting his visible nerves. Gretchen
wondered what -- or who -- could have produced such a similar
reaction, and that if her daughter realized the joy her
she acknowledged with a grin, abandoning the puppy for a
moment to throw her arms around her mother, the two gathering
each other in a hug. "I missed you so much."
did, too." They remained in the embrace for a moment
longer, slowly pulling away with the beginnings of tears
in both of their eyes. "You look much better, Kathryn."
She was, of course, referring to the last time she had seen
her daughter. Her face wasn't showing the signs of wear
and tear, stress and boredom. No, today, she seemed to be-
it was possible, Kathryn's face lit up more. "Phoebe!"
hug ensued. "Kathryn, what are you doing here?"
Phoebe exclaimed. Her sister, instead, smiled only a wicked
grin, and Phoebe realized why. "I've believe I've been
had," she stated, which earned a smile and a shake
of the head from her mother. The sisters giggled.
small puppy, which had previously been sitting obediently
on the grass, took the time to announce his lack of attention.
"Who's this?" Phoebe asked, crouching down to
greet the adorable puppy, which greatly obliged by licking
her hand as she pet her.
named her Amelia," Kathryn replied. "She was a
gift from," she paused, pondering how she should word
her response, "a friend."
friend," her sister repeated. As Kathryn bent over
to pick up the puppy, Phoebe managed to steal a glance at
her mother. She mouthed 'a friend?' again, which received
only a raised eyebrow.
was a pause in the conversation that only Phoebe and Gretchen
felt as uncomfortable. They were the bumbling relatives
of a long-forgotten hero; their mouths full of things to
say and not enough time nor words to say them in. Of course,
Kathryn never noticed. Her attention was drawn, for the
moment, toward Amelia.
can't stay out here forever," Gretchen said, casting
a glance at the ever-dwindling sun and hoping her daughter
would get the hint. "Why don't we go inside and we'll
set an extra place at the table?"
shook her head with a grin. "Mom, don't treat me like
a guest -- I'll set my own place." Gretchen raised
her arms to protest, but Kathryn already had one foot on
the steps, mumbling sweetly to Amelia about the farmhouse.
Gretchen smiled, and started up the stairs, too.
had just conquered the first step when she felt her younger
daughter's hand resting gently on her arm. She turned, and
Phoebe's eyes brightened as she glanced furtively into the
house at a retreating Kathryn. "Do you see it?"
what?" Gretchen knew exactly what she was talking about.
glow when she smiles." Phoebe paused. "She never
glows that much when she smiles."
raised her eyebrows in a Vulcan-like manner. "Maybe
she's just happy to be home, Phoebe."
council meeting room was a simple one: there was one door
in and out, and it locked from the inside. There were no
windows, and only a single light that hung above the table.
The walls were made from a thick material that not only
insulated the room during the colder months on Ayrethia,
but also kept all sounds on the inside. Some of the most
heated argument would not have been heard even if one's
ear were pressed hard against the wall. There was an antiquated
intercom system that allowed messages from outside to be
transmitted in, should the urgency of a situation so call
for it. It had never used.
council table was shaped like a tear, with Mateth sitting
prominently at the tip of the tear. Around the round base
sat the ten council members, each one representing one of
Ayrethia's provinces; they were spaced evenly so that no
two representatives were closer or further apart from one
another. All but one chair was occupied -- that of Mateth
-- and when the single door slid open to admit him, the
meeting had officially been called to order.
took his seat, and no one said a word. "Gentlemen,"
he began, "I've called you together today to discuss
business of the utmost importance." This statement
was, in fact, redundant because meetings such as this were
hardly taken lightly.
voice Mateth didn't take the time to identify spoke up.
"Shouldn't we wait until Elders Ipthar and Nethma arrive-"
Speaker waved the man's comment off. "Elders Ipthar
and Nethma will not be joining us this afternoon. And,"
he hesitated as he spoke, "I ask that you discuss this
meeting with no one. Including our two remaining Elders."
council understood Mateth's words. He continued. "I
would like to take a quick opportunity to apologize to those
members who are unaware of the reason this meeting has been
called. No malice was intended by your being left out, I
assure you." He paused. "As most of you are aware,
intelligence reports indicate that despite their failure
the first time, the Sernaix are regrouping and are planning
a second attack on the Earth homeworld. However, reports
also indicate that where the first plan failed, the second
will be successful. Time, gentlemen, is of the essence."
silence lasted only long enough for the youngest member
of the council, Repah, to speak up. He represented the province
further from the central city, and his views often differed
from the counsel on several issues. "Are you saying
that this second attack could actually hurt the Federation?"
nodded solemnly. "That is what the reports indicate."
shook his head, and Mateth braced himself for the brash
comment that was about to come. "Then your reports
are wrong. The Sernaix gave it what they had, and they don't
have anything else. The only way this next attack, if there
even is one-"
if the Sernaix have allies." A moment passed before
Repah continued. "Aside from us, who could possibly
aid them in an attack? The rest of cultures in this galaxy
have invested all of their resources in hiding from the
the Inryeth are assisting them," suggested an older
council member. His obese body shook as he chuckled. "I'd
put nothing past those people."
looked at the man and shook his head, unable to hide the
small smile forming on his lips. "Tokam, they may be
deviants, but the Inryeth are just as scared as the rest
of them. The fact that we haven't heard or seen one of them
in thousands of years proves my point."
that means they've finally transcended themselves."
room chuckled. Everyone expected Tokam to bring up the Inryeth
in the debate -- he always managed to tie his hatred for
those people into any debate about any topic -- but most
were surprised he had jumped in as quick as he did. Mateth
even caught himself chuckling a little.
to the issue at hand, gentlemen," Mateth finally said,
eager to steer the meeting back its purpose, "whether
or not the Sernaix succeed, the fact that the possibility
is strong calls for immediate action by our own forces."
He paused, hoping to gauge the reaction of the members.
"I have concluded that the only possible solution would
be a phase shift."
statement produced a small fervor of activity and whispering.
This reaction Mateth observed closely. "I'm correct
in assuming that you are all aware of the procedure?"
third member, Lopel, spoke up. "We know what is it,
Mateth, we're just not convinced of its usefulness."
said so yourself that the Sernaix might not succeed,"
suggested Repah. "If that's correct, we might have
to wait another thousand years before we can attempt another
a risk I'm willing to take," replied Mateth. His attention
was then directed at the entire room once more. "What
I'm looking for is what my council members think."
He glanced surreptitiously to the man on his right. "I
never enjoyed making decisions my council didn't back."
too surprisingly, it was Repah who managed the first word.
Inwardly, despite his differing views, Mateth was proud
of the younger member's advances. He had grown so much in
a year. "And I speak solely on my own behalf here,"
began Repah, "but I have never been too comfortable
about making decisions with so many variables. We don't
know when there's going to be an attack, of what magnitude,
whether or not someone is aiding the Sernaix, or why exactly
they want to attack Earth."
noticed that he had left out his earlier objection to the
plausibility of a Sernaix attack. He wondered if this was
spoke up again. "They're convinced those humans are
the people that put them in that Realm of theirs."
gestured to Mateth that he wished to speak. One of the oldest
members at the table, Tokam's prejudiced views were often
preceded by an adherence to the old customs of courtesy.
It was this that allowed Mateth to often overlook Tokam's
if we just told them the truth, gave them the Inryeth?"
suggested Tokam. "You'd kill two birds with one stone,
the room chuckled. Mateth knew he should have expected that.
stood up. "Gentlemen," he started, his voice harsher
than before, "you're straying from the point yet again.
We're here to debate whether or not the shift should take
place. All other arguments are moot and therefore have no
place in this room." The room was silent. "Now,
I'm ready to hear what you think."
was tentativeness in the air, as each of the council members
expected another to begin the debate. Mateth did not enjoy
having to scare the counsel in submission, but if it got
them to listen and it got his issue to pass just a little
quicker, he'd keep his voice raised more often.
was surprised, and yet not, to see young Repah gesture that
he wished to speak. Beaming inwardly with the pride of having
raised the member as if he were a child, he allowed him
to speak. "I'm against it," Repah said. "The
Sernaix have proven once before that when they put their
heads together they only end up killing themselves. Maybe
this time they'll finish the job." Having gotten the
first word, the room was buzzing with activity, as each
member leaned to their neighbor and whispered something.
"Besides, our problems here are enough to keep us occupied
for a century. We don't need anymore."
debate had officially begun, and Mateth couldn't help but
be in agreement with everything Repah had said.
main meal was long finished, and the three women were each
on their fourth or fifth cup of Phoebe's hand-brewed coffee,
but neither one of the three Janeway women showed signs
of weariness or exhaustion. They had laughed their way through
the meal, mostly at Kathryn's stories.
me get this straight," Phoebe began, her voice unbelieving,
"these-what did you call them?-"
<i>photonic lifeforms</i> thought the holodeck
laughed. "That's right."
the fact the environment was monochromatic and the main
character had a walking, talking piece of metal as protection?"
nodded. "Despite the fact."
Phoebe raised her cup of coffee, but instead of drinking
from it, merely inspected the rim. "Doesn't make much
sense, if you ask me."
conversation lulled for a while, as the women took sips
from their respective cups of coffee. They had slipped into
that awkwardness again, much as they had a few hours ago,
and neither of them knew the proper thing to say. So many
question, so little time.
Gretchen suddenly suggested, "you haven't told Kathryn
about Patrick, have you?"
interest piqued. "No," she answered for her sister,
heaved a very heavy sighed, the one she often made when
she had to repeat something over and over. Apparently, Patrick
was a well-known individual in the Janeway household. "Patrick.
He's a journalist in Paris. I met him on a business trip
three years ago. Thought he was the love of my life; turned
out I was wrong." Her lips curled into a smile. "I
think I fell for the accent."
long did this go on?"
year and a half. Kathryn, I'll swear to it, he had to have
had multiple personalities. Either that, or he could never
make up his mind about which persona he thought would impress
me the most."
added quickly, "I did learn one bit of French throughout
the experience." She changed her posture, adopting
a clichéd 'suave' demeanor. "'<i>Tu ne
me mets jamais au courant de rien!</i>'" She
waited just long enough to see Kathryn's face dissolve into
confusion. "'You never tell me anything!'"
laughed. Phoebe eased accidentally into the logical sequence
of the conversation. "What about you Kath?" Gretchen,
too, was intrigued to hear the answer. "Care to share
with your sister any romantic prospects?"
this had been any other situation, Kathryn might have laughed
at the juvenile way in which her sister had formed her question.
It reminded her of when they were kids. But she had noticed
her mother hedging around the topic all night; she had heard
her and her sister speaking in whispered tones when she
had first arrived. To be honest with herself, she didn't
know if she was ready to admit to even herself of the answer
to that question. The previous night had thrown her for
a loop, and yet...
sister had startled her from her thoughts. "Hmm?"
sniggered. "You were trancing out on me there. Did
you hear what I asked you?"
she answered quickly. She locked eyes with her sisters.
"Sorry to disappoint you, Phoebe, but-"
one?" her sister interrupted incredulously. Kathryn
shook her head. She didn't particularly enjoy lying to her
then she caught the expression on her sister's face. It
told what her words or voice could not. Phoebe knew, her
face said, Phoebe knew Kathryn was lying. She caught Kathryn
staring for the elongated moment, and quickly directed her
gaze towards their mother, but the damage had been done.
Phoebe knew. Kathryn knew Phoebe knew. Phoebe knew that
Kathryn knew that-
care for more coffee?" Gretchen announced.
soon as the doors shut, Harry was locking it while Seven
was already making her way to the computer terminal. "Are
you sure this is secure?" he asked as he punched in
am." She was already accessing the information. "These
guest quarters are hardly ever used, and the likelihood
that this terminal is being monitored by any outside parties
couldn't help but smile. "Then let's find out who's
buried in Grant's tomb."
stopped. "I do not understand the meaning of your statement."
all the things, Harry thought. "Never mind," he
replied. Perhaps she hadn't spent enough time with Tom after
was silence as she worked; it didn't take much effort to
access his file, since all personnel files were in an easy-to-access
database. They weren't something that were meant to be hidden.
Easily, he thought.
Carl J.," he read. "Born February 20, 2346 in
Ohio. Graduated from Starfleet Academy in 2364. Previously
the first officer aboard the USS <i>Lakeshore</i>."
Harry paused. "That's odd."
who had been listening to him read as she searched the database
thoroughly, replied, "What?"
he stopped, not sure what to make of what he read, "by
all accounts, Commander Grant's career ended five years
ago." And then he realized something else. "Seven,
his assignment to Fulton Station isn't in here."
he said. "After the <i>Lakeshore</i> assignment,
spoke, her fingers flying over the keypad. "I've found
a significant amount of classified information regarding
Commander Grant. Some of it is housed here in Fulton Station's
computer, in encrypted form."
interest piqued. "Can you decrypt it?"
an alarm claxon sounded. Seven and Harry exchanged looks.
"Dammit," he said, "we've been detected."
He was already to the door and entering the code to cancel
the lock when he realized Seven wasn't on his heels. "Seven,
what the hell are you doing? We have to get out *now*."
tapped away, not turning her head to face him. "I've
almost completed the decryption."
doesn't matter anymore," he fumed. "Cover your
tracks and get out!"
stared long and hard at him, and Harry thought for sure
the hesitation was going to cost them. Then she turned back,
backtracking her steps in the computer, and quickly joined
him at the door.
get out of here."
glanced around his council table, finding another young
face. It was Kalet, who had only joined the council six
months earlier. His voice was hardly ever heard, and he
generally seemed to vote with the majority of the group.
Mateth asked, "what do you think?"
his counterpart in age, Kalet was not one to be put on the
spot. His physical reaction to the prompt proved he had
never expressed any interest in explaining his position.
Instead, he would sit back, wait for the majority opinion
to raise itself, and then vote accordingly.
man's voice was quiet and timid. "Ah, sir, you seem
to have your mind already made up, so I don't see the point
in consulting with the counsel, sir."
chuckled at the young man's response. "You make an
excellent observation, Mr. Kalet, but the first thing a
Speaker learns is that regarding such an important decision,
no matter what his opinion is, it is this council that really
decides. So," and he paused for a second so that the
entire group might hear him, "I do value what is said
took a deep breath, and adopted a mature tone to his voice.
"Then, sir, I support a shift." He waited, hoping
to gauge to reaction from the group. There was none; at
least, not a noticeable one. He continued. "The Ayrethan
culture is obvious superior to that of the Sernaix. Are
we to abandon this opportunity to prove to them -- and the
rest of the galaxy, I might add -- of this superiority?"
took a long gaze at the young man. "Is what you say
true," he asked, "that you believe Ayrethia as
a whole would benefit from this shift because we are superior?"
nodded long and hard. A thought struck him. "Kalet,
may I ask you something?" The young man nodded in acceptance.
"Is this really your opinion, or do you think that
an assertion to our superior would please me?"
could not deny the look of shock that crossed Kalet's face.
At first, he seemed to take offence to the remark, but the
solid exterior he portrayed quickly absorbed the reaction.
"It is my opinion, sir," quickly adding, "although
I will not deny that I aim to please."
Speaker could not help but chuckle to himself. "Young
man, the first thing you need to learn if your spot here
on this council is to be guaranteed is that the last thing
you should ever do is try to please someone." He paused.
"I don't want to be pleased, I don't want to be blindly
agreed with. I want to know when I'm wrong, when I'm overstepping
my boundaries." Mateth let the small speech sink into
the young council member before he continued. "Kalet,
do you believe I'm overstepping by recommending a shift?"
sir, I do not."
door to Harry's quarters seemed to take an hour to slide
shut. Breathlessly he punched in the security code on the
door, locking it so any intruders who might have pursued
them would be kept out.
stood in silence for a moment.
do you think it means?" Harry finally asked.
straightened. "Like I stated earlier, the fact that
you seem to consistently meet Commander Grant in the hallways
could simply be a coincidence. Perhaps you and him simply
take the same route to the commissary."
opened his mouth to protest, but Seven pressed on. "And
you could simply be misinterpreting the commander's behavior
as suspicious because you are not used to having someone
monitoring your progress on the prototype-"
about *you*, Seven?" She did not answer. "You
said so, yourself: he looks just like one of those guys
you said you saw at Voyager's decommissioning. Can you explain,
paused, and Harry thought for a second that he had caught
the snag in her theory. "I could be mistaken; the two
men I saw could really have been members of the family of
one of the Voyager crewmen that I am unfamiliar with. This
is not an unlikely possibility."
couldn't contain the anger building inside him. "Can't
you see what's right in front of you?"
believe this man has an affiliation with Section 31."
was silent for a moment. "Starfleet regularly classifies
parts of an officer's personnel file in the interest of
security. Isn't it reasonable to assume that this is case
with Commander Grant?"
until now, Commander Grant hardly had a very eventful career,"
he gestured to himself, "and yet he has more classified
information in his file than I do."
you correct," Seven began, "if this man really
does have an affiliation with Section 31, Captain Janeway
asked to be informed if anything developed on the issue.
Perhaps we should contact her; she might know how we are
before she had finished Harry was shaking his head. "We
have no idea how many people are waiting for us to make
that mistake." The idea occurred to him. "No,
I've got a better idea."
really, you don't have to do this. You're a-"
waved her mother off. "No, Mom, I may be a 'guest'
in this house, but humor me here. Make me feel useful."
shook her head. "How come I could never get you to
do this when you were younger?"
was, of course, the tradition of the family washing their
own dishes. It was something Kathryn always hated as a young
child. Her mother had forever tried to explain her theory
that soap and water always needed a little elbow grease
to really work, and a computerized drying machine just didn't
have a little elbow grease. "But they've only been
around forever!" an eight-year-old Kathryn had exaggerated
one night, in an attempt to get out of her weekly chore
of cleaning the plates of food particles. "Why can't
we get one, too!" But alas, Gretchen Janeway had never
wavered from her position, and once a week Kathryn had to
be forced to clean the plates and silverware.
Mom," Kathryn answered, "I used to think this
was so old fashioned." She chuckled. "I still
do, but-" she paused, "I just want to spend a
little time with you. Is that so bad?"
took her dry hand and caressed Kathryn's cheek. "Of
course not, dear."
had long retreated to her bedroom, claiming she had spent
"a day on her feet" and was exhausted. A little
sad to see her sister depart to the bedroom, it had quickly
passed and Kathryn had spent the next hour catching up with
her mother. Most was local gossip and happenings, things
Kathryn wasn't particularly interested in, but it had been
interesting to hear names she hadn't heard in years. So
she had quietly listened.
those different species of aliens," her mother began,
"most have offered quite an interesting palate of recipes.
Perhaps you could share once in a while?"
looked from the plate she was washing to her mother, her
eyes slightly larger than they should have been. "That
was a joke, right?"
couldn't help but smile and shake her head, and Kathryn
wondered if this was the response was what she had been
expecting. "Oh Kathryn, you of all people could have
spent eight years fending for yourself and still have managed
not to improve your cooking skills one bit." She eyed
her daughter. "You haven't changed one bit, have you?"
not," Kathryn answered with a smile.
was something else on her mother's mind, Kathryn noticed.
She watched as Gretchen opened her mouth, and she braced
herself for whatever question was about to be thrown at
her. So the nudging against the leg startled her, as it
had done early that day outside.
Kathryn purred affectionately, placing the half-clean plate
on the counter and crouching to pet the small puppy. "How
are you, girl?" Amelia apparently smelled the errant
traces of gravy on Kathryn's hand, so she responded by hungrily
licking them away. Kathryn couldn't help but chuckle a bit.
"Very well, I see."
was smiling at the scene. "I can't help but notice,
Kathryn, how happy you always seem to be whenever there's
a puppy around," she stated, and Kathryn nodded in
agreement. And then she sensed it, that feeling she had
had just before Amelia had interrupted. The burning question
on her mother's mind was about to come spurting out. She
pretended not to notice.
her mother finally said. "Can I ask you something?"
it comes, she thought. "Of course."
was wondering," - Kathryn was unknowingly holding her
breath - "where Amelia came from. You said she was...a
nodded, and let go of part of the air she was holding inside
her. She wasn't in the clear completely, but this was certainly
not what she was expecting. "She was. From a friend."
friend," her mother repeated, and Kathryn noticed that
her voice was tinged with an air of disbelief. "Does
this friend have a name?"
she realized, there was the heart of her mother's inner
conflict. It was exactly where Kathryn had suspected she
was going, and it was a place Kathryn most certainly did
not want to go. "Mom-"
on, Kathryn, it's not a very hard question," Gretchen
interrupted, her calm voice picking up speed and annoyance.
"Is this friend just a friend," and at this she
paused to compose herself, "or is this a special friend?"
slammed the plate she had been drying down to the counter,
and Kathryn was sure it was going to break. "For God's
sake, Kathryn." Her mother's voice was loud and uncharacteristically
harsh. It was a tone Kathryn had always expected from her
father, never her mother. "Just answer the damn question."
was a silence between them, and Kathryn swore she heard
the wooden floorboards at the top of the stairs creaking.
Their small shouting match had, no doubt, woken Phoebe,
and Kathryn guessed she was probably listening intently
at the top of the stairs. She remembered, as children, the
two of them doing a very similar motion, listening on late
nights as their parents argued about their father's work
ethic. Those late-night fights were the first of many scars
on the seemingly picture perfect Janeway household.
took the time to compose herself, lowering her tone and
thinking carefully about her answer. "I don't think
I want to," she finally said. Adding quickly, "not
was, apparently, an incorrect response. Gretchen's face
twisted into anger. "You have some nerve, Kathryn Janeway,"
she delivered, "that you would have the audacity to
stand in *my* kitchen and keep secrets from me."
took a huge breath, halting her words so that she would
not allow anger to seep into her voice. She did not want
to say something that would hurt either one of them. "I'm
not keeping secrets, Mom." She pondered how she should
word what she was thinking. "I'm exercising discretion."
Gretchen spit back. "Kathryn, you're not captaining
a starship anymore," she reminded her daughter. "You're
talking to your own flesh and blood. You would think that
after eight years," her mother paused, and it was then
Kathryn noticed the red puffiness under her eyes and the
moisture that was threatening to run down her cheeks, "you'd
trust your mother enough to confide in her."
whole argument came crashing down on Kathryn. Standing before
her was Gretchen Janeway, her tearful statement leaving
her open and vulnerable. She realized the heart of her mother's
anger. It had nothing to do with Kathryn's love life, and
everything to do with her own self-doubt. Gone from her
life was her oldest daughter Kathryn, and it taken eight
years for the feeling of not being trusted to manifest itself
in her mother.
it hit her. What if her mother had always felt this way?
After all, Kathryn had always admittedly been her father's
little girl, but she had never stopped to wonder if this
extra affection for her father had strained the relationship
with her mother. And now, to return after eight years, and
not open up to her?
has nothing to do with trust," she said calmly, but
she saw the skepticism on her mother's face. She stepped
closer to her. "It's just," and this she wanted
to word correctly, "I'm not even sure what he is to
me, Mom. I know I care a lot for him, and as does he, but
where we go from there isn't clear yet."
was silence between them, and even the figure at the top
of the stairs didn't move. Kathryn feared she had only made
things worse. Finally, her mother's voice quietly answered.
"So there is someone in your life?"
breathed a sigh a relief, and smiled a little. "I suppose
you could say that."
that wasn't that hard, was it?" Kathryn let go a chuckle
of relief and shook her head. Her own eyes were tearing
up, as well, and she made no attempt to hide them. Neither
did her mother.
stepped closer to her daughter, grabbing her hands and placing
them in her own. Both of their hands were wrinkled from
the dishwater. "Kathryn? Will you promise me something?"
Kathryn nodded. "Will you promise me that you won't
feel like you have to hold anything back from me?"
looked her mother directly in her eyes. "I promise."
if anything changes between you and this 'friend,' you'll
let me know?"
she nodded. "Of course."
pulled her daughter into an embrace, despite the fact that
in eight years Gretchen had seemed to shrink in stature.
Resting her head on her shoulder, she squeezed her mother
tightly, using the physical gesture as a way to seal the
promise they had just made.
the top of the stairs, Phoebe couldn't help but smile widely.
looked hard at his council members. He half-expected Tokam
to pitch into Repah's adherence to the age-old saying of
Ayrethan strength. But when he cast his gaze the old man's
direction, he merely shrunk under it like a wilting flower.
The Speaker shook his head.
he began, and he did not attempt to purge the chastising
tone from his voice, "nothing will be done if we sit
around here and expect someone else to make this decision.
Ignorance to this problem is *not* an option."
members stared at their laps like children after a reprimand.
Mateth was not happy with the scene, but he needed results
and their unwillingness to cooperate was beginning to run
on his patience.
there was a voice. "This isn't ignorance," it
said. Mateth turned four seats to his left, and faced the
speaker. "This is recognition."
man of an average age did not turn to his fellow council
members for support as he contemplated his answer. This
was a quality he had admired in Gregah: the unwillingness
to let others reactions and opinions sway his own. Of course,
Mateth pondered, it often lead to the man's ability to speak
before he thought through his statement, and he was often
the spark of many heated debates.
Gregah repeated, "of the hopelessness of this situation.
Maybe your counsel doesn't want to debate the issue because
it isn't one."
clamor in the room began to grow. Mateth had feared Gregah's
words were already on the minds of the other members. "I
beg to differ, Gregah. It had never been more of our problem
than it is now."
so?" he asked defiantly. "When they needed our
help, you and the Elders decided against it. Now, when they
give us no signal, we simply offer ourselves to them?"
to his left, Gregah placed a solemn hand on young Kalet's
shoulder. "It is true the Ayrethans are superior to
that of the Sernaix," he paused, "or any culture
in the quadrants outside us. But must we prove that? Are
we not above those who would beat proudly on their chests
and stake their claim with a shout and a clang of weapons?"
He turned to the Speaker. "Mateth, your place of the
Elders' Council has been on the platform that we as a race
have fought hard for the civilization we now possess. Must
we now pull ourselves into an uncivilized conflict with
felt the clamor growing in his ears, and for the first time,
felt the seed of opposition in the very fiber of his being.
He knew the backlash of reading his council's thoughts and
feelings in a time like this, but the temptation was such
that he almost gave in. His mind cast a doubt on Gregah;
the man was beginning to develop a mind of his own, an opinion
that transcended that of the council. Mateth knew he could
be a problem later on.
was still speaking. "We were charged with the protection
and safekeeping of the Sernaix, and for all our wills we've
tried. But even the idea of a Realm," and even at the
mere connection to the Inryeth caused a stir from the direction
of Tokam, "failed us and them in the end. They've grown
beyond our control, Mateth, they're too wild for even the
harshest of forces from an Ayrethan assault."
Speaker cast a gaze to his council member on the right.
"I never meant to stun them, Gregah."
contemplated the speaker's words. "Nevertheless, Mateth,
enough will never be enough. They will," his mind paused
on the words his mouth spoke, "not stop until they
are all gone."
clamor climaxed, and Mateth could do nothing but cast a
wayward glance at his old friend. Gregah was telling them
exactly what they wanted to hear, and the Speaker wondered
how much truth was in Gregah's words.
died and appointed me everyone else's confidant?"
stared at the confused expression on the faces of Harry
and Seven, and laughed. For the second she considered telling
them about Chakotay's early morning call, but in the next
she decided against it. Better to let them stew in their
confusion for her small personal pleasure.
focused on Harry. "Or did you miss me so much, Harry,
that you couldn't let me spend one full week with my family?"
he understood; he shook his head. "I know I promised
you some time off, B'Elanna, but..."
hesitated. Despite her civilian stature, he couldn't be
positively sure the comm channel was secure. He didn't know
who was listening, on either of their ends.
B'Elanna asked. "Is everything okay?"
late than never, Harry thought. He then proceeded to tell
her everything, about the suspicious behavior Commander
Grant had displayed since his arrival, about the copious
amounts of classified information in Grant's personnel file,
and about Seven's attempt to decrypt the information.
was about to launch into his reasoning behind his suspicions
when B'Elanna waved him off. "Harry, why are you telling
question caught him off guard. "I thought you'd want
he paused. He didn't have a proper answer for it, and he
felt vaguely ashamed of that. "I don't know why. I'll
be honest, B'Elanna, I'm not even sure I know what it all
means or what kind of consequences might come from knowing
what we know." He sensed she wanted to speak, and he
hurried up the thought in his mind. "All I know is
we had to tell someone."
say it again," she replied with a smile, "Why
me? Why not Janeway?"
too much of a security risk," Harry said matter-of-factly.
an ex-Maquis working as a civilian consultant on a new top-secret
starship isn't?" B'Elanna chuckled. "Harry, you're
losing your touch."
conversation lulled. "We might as well tell her,"
Harry finally said.
mentioned she was visiting family in Indiana. You might
want try there first."
remark piqued Harry's interest. "He told you this?"
When she nodded slowly, he couldn't contain the smile on
his lips. "I see."
two understood exactly what wasn't said.
the council members were talking at once, and Mateth was
not making an effort to quiet them down. He could have burst
from his seat and anger could have seized him, but he chose
to let the sleeping monster lie dormant inside of him. He
had ultimate power in this room, ultimate power over Nethma
and Ipthar, but Mateth realized that the result of this
approaching problem could spell the next move for Gregah.
The council member made no secret of his ambition, whether
they be word of mouth or in his thoughts.
member to Mateth's right sat, in contrast to his friend's
quiet but loud brooding, in contemplating silence. Isylpah
knew of the Speaker's worries, for Isylpah had seen more
than the Speaker or any of the council members could claim
to. Yet he did not desire the power his old age and wisdom
could have afforded him, because he dared not bear the responsibility.
the clamor died, Isylpah spoke. "What the Sernaix have
become, what they are and were, what they stand for and
what they have done, are," his mouth curled around
the familiar phrase, "irrelevant. We have a responsibility;
one afforded to us thousands of years ago by a wise man,
to the Sernaix, and to the people of the galaxy. We cannot
let this go lightly."
council was silent, and Mateth was pleased.
we deny the responsibility he gave to us, then we are no
better than the Sernaix themselves. Life is a difficult
choice, and what we have here today is a difficult choice."
He paused. "You don't like it, and it may lead to the
ultimate destruction of the Sernaix. This much you've proven
to me. But where is your courage? Thousands of years from
now, how do you want to be remembered? As Ayrethans who
shrank under the control of balancing the universe, once
and for all?" His gaze was met by each of the council
members around the table. "Or will you be the valiant
Council of Ayrethia, who made a decision against great opposition
and rid the world once and for all of the threat that are
opened is mouth to speak, but his old friend was not done.
"That, gentleman, is the real issue here."
rolled over and pulled the covers closer to her, but the
small female voice was not a figment of her imagination.
She groaned into the pillow as she realized that it really
was the computer terminal sitting peacefully on the desk
that was beckoning her from sleep. Glancing at the chronometer
beside her bed, she realized it actually wasn't that late
-- only 11:30 -- but apparently whoever was on the transmitting
end of the message was unaware of the time in Indiana.
computer's constant reminder of an "Incoming Subspace
Message" forced Kathryn to push the covers away and
make her way to the desk. Halfway there, she stopped. She
knew very well he could be on the other end of the terminal,
and she wasn't sure if she wanted to talk to him or not.
The argument with her mother had disturbed her, and the
last thing she'd wanted that night was to have to face the
source of conflict between them. She considered ignoring
the message. But what if it wasn't him? She shook her head,
and closed the distance between her and the desk.
a breath, she pressed the 'receive' button.
she exclaimed when she saw the young Lieutenant's face on
her screen. After a second she realized she might have seemed
a little too eager to see him, and that it might raise suspicions
thought occurred to her. "How did you know I was here?"
smiled. She wondered if he had been anticipating the question.
"B'Elanna told me." When she was about to ask
how B'Elanna had acquired the knowledge, he added, "Chakotay
can I do for you, Harry?"
Harry explained the situation with Commander Grant. "I'm
not even sure it *is* situation, Captain," he added.
else knows about this?"
myself, Seven, you, and B'Elanna." He decided to leave
out the sarcastic comment about whoever else was listening
last name broke her from her sleep-induced fogginess. "B'Elanna?"
Harry nodded. "I thought her time on Fulton Station
was up. I wasn't aware she was returning after the San Francisco
Kathryn tried to hide her disappoint that she had not been
the first person notified. She knew it wasn't working very
well. She hated to think Harry thought it was a popularity
contest, or that he still held a responsibility to the former
chain of command.
yawn that came from her mouth was unexpected. "Look,
Harry, I realize how important this might be," she
paused, as she thought she might yawn again, "but it's
late. I'm tired."
I'm sorry, I didn't realize-"
okay, Harry," she replied with a smile, "you don't
have to apologize. Tomorrow, when I'm more awake, we'll
see if there's anything we can do about this."
nodded, and when she saw he was going to terminate the link,
and thought occurred to her. "Seven?"
woman she knew was hiding from view came onto the screen.
positive you erased all trace of your information excursion?"
nodded. "Absolutely, Captain. No one should know we
a private room in a house tucked away in the corner of the
woods, a hand terminated the audio recording, and the five
men shared a small laugh.
was Mr. West who spoke first. "They should all be this
feisty." He looked at his associates. "Well, gentlemen,
we've got a problem that need a solution."
replied, "Pull Grant from the Montana Project. He was
a wild card from the start."
remembered the brief discussion about additions to the project.
He thought about the suggestion before replying. "Not
yet." Brock opened his mouth to protest, but West cut
him off. "The last thing we need is more raised suspicions
from our favorite engineers. Besides," he added, "the
information he's providing us on the Sernaix technology
could prove useful in," he paused, his mouth curling
in a smile around the phrase, "further negotiations."
of which," Kelley broke in, "I think we owe Mr.
Thompson a big thank you for his handling of our,"
his mind searched for the proper word, "situation with
the Analysis and Research Team."
leaned forward in his chair, and even in the dim light of
the room, his tan skin -- the product of weeks in the intense
sunlight of the desolate planet -- stood out from that of
others. Until then he had hardly added to the discussion
of other topics; he did not speak unless he was spoken to.
was continuing his praise. "Since he was able to intercept
Mr. Dalby's body on the way to Medical, evidence of his
discovery and the trace particles on his corpse are subject
to our disposal." He added, "Subject to your approval,
of course, I'd like to send down additional personnel to...make
sure word of this doesn't leave that planet."
course," West obliged. "I'd hate to lose such
a promising bargaining chip."
also chipped in. "But what about our friends on Fulton
Station, and here on Earth. Something has to be done about
this security leak."
West was shaking his head. "If you missed the discussion
on bargaining chips, Mr. Segall, then you'd realize why
something we could do would not be productive."
enough!" exclaimed West. The momentary loss of focus
from the group's leader was just that, momentary, and he
quickly slipped back into a professional demeanor. "Our
contact puts heavy stock in her myth. While we're involved,
we do nothing to upset that belief."
glared at West. "Please tell me you don't believe that
'Touched by God' garbage."
Mr. West only smiled at his associate.
stood alone at his window, the far away images of the Sernaix
assembling not leaving his sights or his mind. He heard
the door quietly open, but made no sound or movement to
indicate that he had. He could only think of one person
who could be visiting him at such an hour.
look very harmless," he remarked to the figure behind
is not believing," replied Isylpah. "It was my
father's favorite lesson."
two friends continued the stare at the buzzing Sernaix ships,
but the conversation was far from over.
can't hide this from Nethma and Ipthar forever, you know."
Speaker turned around. "My fellow Elders do not realize
the severity of our situation. When it is concluded they
will understand why I chose not to inform them."
turned back to the window.
Isylpah agreed. His mind stuck on a thought. "But the
'severity of our situation' does not seem to warrant this
kind of secrecy. Unless," his interest piqued, "you
have not laid down all of your cards."
turned to face his friend again, and Isylpah noticed the
green shade his skin had mutated towards. It represented
an emotion Isylpah had never seen in the Speaker, and it
frightened him a little.
Sernaix may have had help-"
we have suspected this-"
someone who's intentions are far from admirable."
tried to think of the Sernaix's intentions as admirable,
but could not. "Has this been confirmed?"
instead turned back to the window, but Isylpah got his answer.
"What could the Sernaix want that an ally would possibly
be able to provide them with?" He thought. "Power?"
consequence of his answer rattled in his brain. He had withheld
this thread of information for a reason, not wanting to
clutter the council with the nature of an alien race's behavior.
sensed his friend's hesitation. "Something else, Mateth?"
Speaker turned to his friend.
Producers: Thinkey, Anne Rose and Coral