8-3 - Between Heaven and Hell
By: Katane (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimer: Star Trek: Voyager, its
characters and related properties 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.
are Sernaix, Defenders of this Realm."
words echoed across the bridge, an implied threat resounding in
the bland statement. The bridge crew were silent, motionless,
caught in the chill horror of a creature that recalled a thousand
childhood stories of devils and demons; a horned devil in a blue
skin, staring with eyes that were little more than black holes.
A constant in all societies, the creature from beyond. The other.
was the first to recover; Vulcan training had its uses, even if
Vulcan mythology retained horrors. "Only visual sensors are
registering its presence, Captain." The words seemed to wake
Janeway from her daze, and she turned to look across to ops.
hail them;" she said, "let's see if they're any more
receptive now that they've introduced themselves."
worked quickly, sending the standard greeting on every frequency
and, just as he had done when the Sernaix first appeared, on some
that weren't supposed to be available. He raised his head after
a moment. "Nothing, Captain. No response on any channel."
view on the screen changed abruptly; the alien visage faded, replaced
by the usual, but unfamiliar, star field and an even less familiar
starship. The deep ink-black of the hull was seamless, unbroken
and undisturbed by any markings or apparent openings. It barely
registered even on the visual that they were apparently being
granted, seeming almost to swallow space. No reflections registered
on the surface; it was visible almost only by the absence of the
stars where it hung.
shivered at the helm, swallowing the instinctive flippant comment
that rose in his mind as soon as the memory of the alien released
him. Chakotay turned to the console between the command chairs,
running diagnostics, checking Voyager's position and status in
an automatic reflex.
Janeway began, intending to ask for deeper scans. She got no further
than his name before her words were drowned out again by the rolling
thunder of the proclamation, louder this time than before.
are Sernaix, Defenders of this Realm."
was no accompanying image of the alien this time, simply the view
of the ship again.
sighed, dispelling the chill of the repeated phrase. "We
heard you the first time," he grumbled under his breath.
sorry, Captain," came Harry's voice in the still quiet. "I
don't know how they're doing that. It's not being received on
any channel I can isolate. It's as though they're broadcasting
on every channel, and on none at all. It makes no sense."
bridge was still abnormally quiet, although the hush was beginning
to give way to the more usual sounds of consoles being consulted
and crew moving from one station to another as necessary. Janeway
stared at the screen as she sat back down in her chair. The ship
hung there, motionless, unreadable in more than one sense. "What
do they want?"
hadn't realized she'd spoken aloud and was a little startled to
receive a reply from Chakotay. "I'm not sure it's a good
idea to hang around and find out," he said quietly, not wanting
to attract the attention of the rest of the bridge crew. "If
they can fire while cloaked and come and go within our communications
systems without a trace, but don't respond to hails, I'm not sure
I want to wait for them to take the lead again. We've just come
out of a fight; I'm not sure we're in a condition to go through
shook her head. "They destroyed the Cardassians for us, I
would think you'd approve of them."
looked at her. "Kathryn, this doesn't feel right; they can
clearly communicate with us, so why don't they say something more
didn't respond directly; she turned to Harry instead. "Harry,
try to raise them again. And keep trying. They know we're here,
maybe they just can't tell we're trying to contact them."
She turned back to Chakotay. "Commander, I want you to go
over the records from the Flyer - Tom was close when the second
Cardassian ship exploded, maybe the sensors picked up something
nodded, his mouth set tightly against the curt tone and the reprimand
he inferred from her use of his title, and turned to the console
again. He called up the logs with a sharp jab at the panels, taking
out frustration and irritation on the inanimate. He still felt
uncomfortable, as though Voyager was dangerously exposed to the
alien ship hanging off the port bow - or allowing itself to be
seen as hanging off the port bow. The spirits only knew where
it actually was, what it actually looked like - a ship that the
sensors could only detect when it allowed itself to be seen, a
race that communicated only on their own terms. His earlier optimism
had faded and could feel the hair rise on the back of his neck;
apprehensive adrenaline had him surreptitiously planning for the
raised his head to report another round of unproductive scans
and hails; before he had a chance to say more than "Captain,"
the ship shuddered and rocked. B'Elanna's voice crackled over
the comm almost simultaneously: "Captain, we've got the ablative
armor back up and running." The blows to the ship had Janeway
almost stumbling from her chair; the words gave her a short-lived
return fire; Paris, evasive maneuvers - give Tuvok a chance to
looked at her in disbelief, distracted from the damage reports
rolling across the screen between them. "You're going to
go up against them?" he questioned.
I am, Commander. We need to know what's going on here and running
away won't tell us. Do you have a problem with that?" The
question was clearly rhetorical, the words clipped. His opinion
was obviously not being sought. Again. Chakotay shook his head
- although not in response to Janeway's words. If she wanted to
take on the universe - whatever universe - he wouldn't be able
to stop her. At least he knew about it this time.
ship rocked again; the ablative armor was giving them more protection
than the Cardassians had had, but Voyager's responses were not
making any obvious difference to the Sernaix. The crew rocked,
barely staying on their feet or in their chairs with each percussive
shock through the hull. The crimson discharges passed through
the standard shields as though they didn't exist. Tuvok was draining
Voyager's phaser banks, the shots absorbed by the ship ahead with
no apparent effect - leading Chakotay back to the question of
whether it was there at all.
keep hailing them," coughed Janeway, choking on the smoke
from a nearby burning console. Hitting her combadge, she added,
"Seven, we need you on the bridge, now." Nothing about
this place seemed familiar, but perhaps the Borg had encountered
the Sernaix. Perhaps they had met them, assimilated them, so that
somewhere in the recesses of Seven's mind was the knowledge of
how to defeat them.
wild gyrations of the ship, taking her through evasive maneuvers
that neither Starfleet nor the Maquis would recognize, made little
difference - the Sernaix's shots seemed to follow them, chasing
the ship through each twist, roll, and bank. The acrid stench
of burnt electrics overloaded gel packs and stressed bulkheads
seeped through the bridge.
- full spread photon torpedoes. Target ... target something."
Frustration laced every word Janeway spoke. They were outgunned
and couldn't even tell from where they were being outgunned. Seven
worked solidly now at a console; the Sernaix were as unfamiliar
to her as to the rest of the crew, but she had begun to run a
series of scans. Most probably duplicated those run by Harry,
Chakotay and Tuvok, but no matter - a fresh perspective sometimes
made all the difference. This was not, apparently, one of those
kept his own counsel, wondering how long it would be before Janeway
would turn them around - wondering whether she would turn them
around at all. Tuvok delivered status reports in a patient monotone
that sounded like a death knell: shields failing, phasers failing,
torpedoes ineffective. Tuvok looked at Janeway, clearly waiting
for the signal to leave. Paris yelped in pain as the helm spat
a shower of sparks at him, but waved away assistance in order
to continue his crazy looping advance and retreat of evasion around
the matte black ship matching their pace.
Chakotay spoke: a short, sharp, litany of the injured and the
dead. A hull breach on a lower deck. With each word he inwardly
willed Kathryn to call them to retreat, to scatter a little of
the pride that held her to the Captaincy and away from the crew
and the situation.
his silent plea had an effect, or whether she simply came to the
conclusion that they were outgunned and technologically inferior,
he would never know. He only knew relief when he finally heard
Janeway order Tom to retreat, to pull them away from the Sernaix
as fast as possible.
relief was short-lived; the onscreen visual suggested that the
Sernaix were more than capable of matching their speed. Voyager's
rolling shudders continued as Paris dodged both the alien ship
and its weaponry; B'Elanna's fury at the damage to Voyager dripped
through each word as she shouted her status report above the whine
and thunder of Engineering. "Shields are almost gone, warp
power is going. Captain, I don't care how you do it, but get us
the hell out of here."
rolled them out of the path of a star, blazing white ahead in
counterpoint to the blood-red of the ship's fire directed at them.
Janeway stood unsteadily, apparently deep in thought. Chakotay
stared at her, the rest of the bridge crew fell silent - all concentrating
on her. Only the hum of the engines and the occasional crack and
hiss of the strained systems broke the quiet.
move us back - take us into that star ahead," Janeway eventually
ordered, quietly. She was knocked off-balance by another blow
to the ship, and Chakotay moved instinctively to catch her. She
acknowledged his help with a quick nod of the head as he set her
upright again; then she moved cautiously forward to stand behind
Tom, one hand clutching his chair for balance.
said Janeway, hitting the combadge, "put all the power we've
got to the armor and warp. We're going to try something a little
it," came the short reply. There was a subtle change in speed
and Voyager strained towards the sun. The Sernaix sped along behind
them now, running silent and deadly in the crimson wake of their
thought he understood what Janeway's plan was; he caught Tuvok's
eye and the Vulcan nodded, then looked towards the Captain as
she spoke. "Tuvok, cut phasers and give me full power to
the armor. Paris, head for the corona of that sun; take us through
it. We'll see whether they can follow us through that."
cut in; she had been following the conversation on the bridge
from Engineering. "Captain, the armor isn't metaphasic -
we don't know whether it'll stand up to the corona."
doesn't matter. If it fails, we will be no worse than we are,
waiting here for the Sernaix to decide what to do with us,"
Janeway said. Paris closed his eyes, wondering exactly how it
was that they came to be diving into a star, who knew where, with
an inscrutable alien chasing after them. 'The miracle ship', Harry
had called them. Well, if they ever needed a miracle it was now.
made a couple of adjustments and set the course, wincing slightly
from pain as he manipulated the controls with injured fingers.
The Sernaix's incessant fire slowed and faded as Voyager pulled
toward the sun.
a heartbeat they crossed the last of the dark expanse of space;
then the corona enveloped them, a cloud of white light stinging
the eyes of all who looked to the screen - despite the shielding
and damping of the image by the computer.
armor's holding," was the report from Engineering that everyone
was waiting for. "It looks like we're safe, but I'll keep
monitoring it. Janeway acknowledged the report, then a still hush
fell again over the bridge; the Sernaix had ceased firing but
it remained to be seen whether they would cease following. Harry
had his sensors set for visual, tracking the Sernaix in the only
plowed through the corona; finally Harry spoke up. "They're
coming in. Or, at least, that's what it looks like."
snapped round to face him. "Keep tracking them. Tom, take
us in further - let's see if they can take the chromosphere. And
yes, B'Elanna," she added before she was interrupted, "we
don't know whether the shields will tolerate it. But we do know
they won't tolerate the fire we've been taking."
confirmed Harry's scans himself, taking his mind off the increasing
light and the approaching chromosphere. That layer glowed a dull
pink through the white heat of the corona, tinting the bridge
as they drew closer. The aft visual scans behind still showed
the Sernaix advancing through the corona; more slowly than before
but clearly able to handle the intense heat and radiation. Then,
suddenly, the alien ship seemed to slow even more as they sank
through the corona; perhaps they couldn't handle it all that well
took them through into the chromosphere; white above, pink around
them and, just 2000 kilometers below, the boiling photosphere.
Chakotay wondered idly whether anyone else had descended this
far into a star before. The thought seemed odd, almost bizarre,
a stress-induced meandering of his mind. Chased by an alien ship
that could only be tracked if they wanted to be, into the indefatigable
heat of a sun, and all he could think about was whether anyone
else had done this before. He distracted himself by checking the
position of the Sernaix; Harry was doing the same thing and they
reach the same decision.
dropping back." Two voices, one comment, and relieved laughter
rippled around the bridge into the rising heat. Chakotay grinned
at Harry. Torres' voice came over the comm again: "Captain,
we've only got five minutes or so - the armor won't shield us
in here indefinitely."
Lieutenant," said Janeway crisply. "Mr Paris, can you
take us around the curve of the sun through the chromosphere?
I want to be as far away from that ship as possible when we come
out - and take us to warp as soon as it's safe to do so. Hopefully,
the radiation this star's throwing off will be enough to scramble
our warp signature from them."
hoped she was right; he still wasn't entirely sure that they weren't
being shown what they wanted to see by the Sernaix - the aliens
were pulling back, out of the corona, away from them. They gave
the appearance of being unable to deal with the heat but appearances
could be manipulated. Voyager shifted again as Tom took them round
the star, following the chromosphere, the heat and silent tension
on the bridge building until at last they cleared the far side
and kicked into warp. The unfamiliar starscape shimmered into
a familiar blur and the Sernaix were left behind with the star.
strode into sickbay, pulling a dermal regenerator from a rack
as he passed and rapidly began to heal his scored hand - scars
of his protesting console - that stung still. The vanishing marks
wouldn't hurt for much longer. Sickbay was relatively full, but
the medical crew seemed to be holding the worst at bay. He looked
around for the doctor, and found him working at one of the far
judged that, for the moment, the doctor was too busy to be disturbed
so he headed towards the protesting sounds of his daughter. Miral
lay secured in a crib, unhappy about the lack of attention being
paid to her, or perhaps protesting that she was hungry. Definitely
protesting, in any case. Tom yawned as he picked her up; sleep
had definitely become an expensive luxury since she was born.
She was worth it, though. Her soft baby scent calmed him more
quickly than anything else could; he could feel himself relaxing
as he held her close, despite all the trouble surrounding them.
Miral was slightly mollified; the howls of protest became murmurings
when he picked her up, although he was sure that wouldn't last
looked up to see the doctor coming towards him.
Mr Paris. I see you've come to collect your daughter - thank you.
While I'm happy to babysit, I'm not sure now is the best of times.
And I'm not sure that her ... accompaniment ... to the ambient
sounds of sickbay are entirely helpful." The doctor smiled,
tempering his words. In truth, Miral's cries had made a number
of the patients uncomfortable, reminding them of their own helplessness
by accentuating hers.
smiled ruefully. "No, I guess not. Do you need me here? I
could try to find someone else to look after her," he offered.
The doctor shook his head.
I have the situation under control here. You'd be more useful
taking this young lady back home, I think. Is everything quiet
on the bridge now?" he asked.
much so; it looks like the Captain was right and we lost the Sernaix
coming out of the star." Tom lowered his voice. "Although,
with their cloaking abilities, I don't think anyone's too comfortable
about it just yet. We're in orbit around a Class-M planet we found,
while we get some repair work done."
doctor nodded; at that moment, he was called back to the biobeds
by a tech. Tom watched him go, then looked down at Miral. "Well,
I suppose we should get home, hmm?" he said, still awed by
hung in orbit around a Class-M planet they'd fortunately found
within sensor range when they came out of the sun. The starlight
from the center of the system glinted dully off her hull, the
damage sustained from the Sernaix made clear by the gashes and
scorching rippling across her. The planet below was young, devoid
of anything that might be termed life, other than a few proto-plants
and other simple organisms in pools of primordial soup. A thin
but breathable atmosphere had developed with the plants. There
was some volcanic activity in the southern continent, and a few
odd sensor holes, but the planet was generally quiet and peaceful
- a sharp contrast to the last few hours.
the ship, the bridge was a shambles: burnt consoles, wiring hanging
from gaps in the panels in the walls and ceilings, the occasional
hiss of venting gas, and the unsteady hum of a stressed ship.
Chakotay surveyed the damage, assessing just how lucky they had
been. No shields, virtually no armor, next to no engine capacity.
Kathryn had headed down to Engineering to discuss their situation
with B'Elanna. Seven had gone to Astrometrics, refusing the Doctor's
requests that she return to sickbay, to work on the continuing
problem of where they were. Up here, the remaining bridge crew
picked their way through the damage, gathering information for
the series of reports Chakotay was not looking forward to reading.
managed not to say anything, though now he wondered whether he
should have pushed harder to get the Captain to retreat rather
than face the Sernaix head on. It would probably have made no
difference - after the Cardassians, she was out for some form
of revenge and this fight was all the excuse she'd needed. She
would never admit it, of course; after all, admitting her humanity
wasn't her style.
the back of his mind Chakotay knew he was being unfair, but he'd
had enough both of being shunted to one side and of her lack of
trust. Kathryn was shutting herself off again, and he could feel
each wall slam into place. Maybe she was feeling guilty because
they were stranded again; not that it was in any way her fault
this time, but he suspected she wouldn't see it that way.
quiet anger he'd kept buried during the attack resurfaced; now
they were out of danger, the humiliation at being denied the most
basic information on Kathryn's plans to board the Cardassian ship
boiled up again. Her refusal to listen to him, her refusal to
trust him - he thought they'd come past all that but obviously
not. Perhaps he should have told Kathryn about his new relationship,
rather than let her hear about it from someone else. Then again,
why should he - would she have listened to him any more closely
than she'd listened when he told her it was over?
shook himself and stood. This was no time for a descent into self-pity;
it wouldn't get the ship repaired and it wouldn't help the command
relationship in any way. He couldn't allow the fact that he didn't
much like Kathryn right now to affect his ability to work with
the Captain - a pity he couldn't say the same about the Captain's
ability to work with him.
Captain's voice came over his combadge, pulling him out of his
self-absorption. "Janeway to Commander Chakotay."
take a team down to the surface - there are some supplies we need
for Engineering to get the repairs completed. Lieutenant Torres
will let you have a list of what we need. Janeway out."
ma'am. Chakotay inwardly mimicked Paris' rather insolently rolling
acknowledgement. That was more than abruptness; he wasn't quite
sure what to describe it as. A command, certainly, but there were
better ways of asking. He turned to Harry.
you're with me - we need to take a team down to get supplies for
B'Elanna. Can you meet with her to get details of everything we
need, and get another four people together to take down with us?"
Harry nodded and left the bridge, sidestepping a crewman repairing
one of the panels by the turbolift. "We'll meet in the main
shuttlebay in 20 minutes; the transporters are still offline.
Let me know if you need more time." Chakotay yielded the
bridge to Tuvok, asking him to recommend someone from security
for the away team.
stepped down from the security station and picked his way across
to the command chairs. "Commander, I would suggest you take
Lieutenant Baxter - he has some experience on the science team
and may be better able to assist your primary mission."
Chakotay left the bridge, summoning Baxter to join them in the
shuttlebay as he went.
corridors were quiet; the usual hum of the ship was slightly off
tonight, disturbed by all the damage they'd taken. Warp power
was almost gone - the last dregs of the engines' capacity had
gotten them here, some way from the star and the Sernaix, and
little but impulse remained now. The armor had done its job a
little too well, deflecting the Sernaix's shots and the heat of
the sun to the point of almost total collapse. B'Elanna was working
on it now, despite her so-called maternity leave, trying to restore
their only hope of protection against another attack.
bounced Miral a little as he walked; she was starting to fuss
again. He hoped she was just hungry - he was too tired to be able
to deal with her fractiousness, although he supposed he had no
choice but to deal with it if she chose to go on. He could hardly
fault her for complaining - barely born and already thrown into
combat with the rest of them. She couldn't fail to be aware of
the battering the ship had taken, even if she couldn't understand
it. He'd be fussing too, if he were in her place. With each bouncing
step she quietened a little but, as soon as he had to stop and
wait for the lift, she started again. Tom found himself walking
in small circles around the lift, rocking her, anything to stop
the wail that was threatening. As soon as the lift reached his
deck he almost sprinted out, heading rapidly towards their quarters.
doors opened as he approached; to his surprise, B'Elanna was inside.
"I thought you were tied up in Engineering?"
was. I am. But something couldn't wait," she replied, her
voice muffled as she changed her uniform top. "Miral's hungry,
right?" she asked.
said Tom, a little puzzled. "How did you know - I hadn't
realized she'd settled to a routine yet."
things you just know - and it wasn't hard to guess when I started
to feel like I was bursting." B'Elanna gestured absently
towards her chest. "These get uncomfortable."
just about stopped himself from grinning - old habits were hard
to drop, but he didn't want his daughter to grow up hearing her
mother call her father a 'pig' with monotonous regularity. Either
he was successful or B'Elanna chose not to notice as she explained.
"I've taken care of it - there some milk for her in the refrigeration
unit. That should keep her going for a while."
crossed the room and dropped a kiss on Miral's forehead. "I'm
sorry, sweetheart, I've got to go back to work. Daddy'll look
after you though - be good." She grinned up at Tom. "I
swear, if you'd told me a year ago I'd be talking baby-talk to
my daughter, I would have decked you. And if you laugh at me now,
I will deck you!" Tom laughed, and kissed her.
she admonished as she left the room. Tom's smile slipped a little
as Miral's voice gathered strength.
shush, let's get you some dinner. See if that improves your mood,
hey?" A disgruntled cry was his daughter's response.
headed for Astrometrics; the odd sensor holes they had detected
on the planet were bothering him slightly and he wanted to get
the supplies in as fast as possible. The continuing concern over
whether the Sernaix would discover their whereabouts was also
a motivating factor in getting the mission over with as quickly
as possible. Seven's ability to see outside the normal spectrum
of human vision could be useful in picking out the best areas
hadn't spoken with Seven in days - had barely seen her, in fact,
even before the Cardassians had kidnapped her. He wondered how
she'd coped with their particularly unique brand of welcome; she'd
seemed a little pale on the bridge earlier. Still, he doubted
she would welcome any sympathy from him - and life was complicated
enough without trying to salvage a friendship out of the ashes
of a relationship.
doors hissed open and he entered the relatively unscathed cavern
of Astrometrics. If there had been any damage, Seven had already
repaired it. She and Icheb were working at the banks of consoles
arrayed before the screen at the far end of the room. On the screen,
the unfamiliar stars around them were displayed and odd notations
scrolled from them as the pair ran calculation after calculation.
I need your assistance," he announced as she turned to look
have very little time, Commander. I'm sure you can find someone
else to assist you," came the terse reply as Seven turned
back to the console she'd been studying.
in this case - we're taking an away team down to the planet to
gather mineral supplies for the repair teams. Your enhanced visual
acuity will help us get the job done faster."
have to decline, Commander. I am presently occupied with establishing
Voyager's location and do not have the time to spare."
can work out where we are later, Seven; it's more important that
we repair the ship as quickly as possible." Chakotay was
beginning to get annoyed with her continued refusal to assist
the away team. His comment was met with silence and a sideways
glance from Icheb, apparently uncomfortable with the clipped discussion.
relented after a moment; when Seven was being stubborn, nothing
would shift her short of a direct order from the Captain. Sometimes
not even that. Chakotay was fairly sure he wouldn't get Janeway
to give that order, and he wasn't enthusiastic about humiliating
himself again by asking her.
well, Seven." He winced a little, aware that he sounded slightly
petulant. "I'll send Ensign Kim up. Could you at least spare
the time to check that our tricorders are calibrated to cover
the same visual spectrum?" That was better, clipped and authoritative.
He nodded and turned to go.
Kim should remain here to assist us. It is imperative that we
establish where we are, and his skills with the sensors are superior
to those of any but myself and Icheb."
demand stopped Chakotay on his way out, and he turned rapidly
Kim has been assigned to the mission and will not be available
to assist you. You don't seem to be aware of the condition Voyager
is in; I suggest that you turn those sensors inward for a moment
and check the status of the ship. We do not have the luxury of
allowing anyone else to play detective with the cosmos with anyone
else right now, Seven. Ensign Kim will be coming down to the planet
with the rest of the team; I suggest you check the tricorder calibration
quickly." He left, tamping down the anger that had flared
briefly in the face of Seven's single-mindedness.
shuttlebay was cold, as usual. Chakotay shivered a little - the
temperature in here was always colder than anywhere else on the
ship. Sometimes it felt as though the vacuum cold of space seeped
in with each shuttle takeoff and landing, then never quite left.
Harry was still in Astrometrics, though he hadn't yet called to
tell the Commander that Seven wasn't going to let him leave.
crew were doing last-minute checks; the shuttlebay hadn't taken
too much damage. The maintenance bays nearby had borne most of
it, and the couple of shuttles in there would need some close
attention before they were in any condition to fly. The Delta
Flyer seemed to have escaped the damage altogether, apart from
a couple of marks from flying debris when one of the canisters
of parts had opened on impact.
ran through the series of pre-flight checks that Tom deemed necessary
for the Flyer; twice as long as the checks for a regular shuttle,
but this was not quite a regular shuttle. Chakotay watched the
shield readout scroll past, idly contemplating whether they could
install the ablative armor on the Flyer as well. It would certainly
poked his head around the door, and Chakotay sighed with relief.
He hadn't been trapped in Astrometrics. "All set, Commander
- containers are stowed, and I have all the kits ready. Let me
know when you want us on board."
on up, Harry - tell the others to find seats where they can, and
come over here. I'll need you up front, with the sensors."
team were on board, strapping in, when Chakotay heard feet slamming
into the deck as someone came flying across the shuttlebay floor.
"Chakotay, wait!" It was B'Elanna, clutching a PADD
as she leapt up the ramp to the small ship. "I want you to
get as much rubidium and terbium as possible. It's all listed
on here, and if you can't get terbium then I need more of the
xenotime." She was forcing the words out as fast as possible.
"I know I've given Harry that list, but the primary post-conductive
field generators on the port nacelle have more damage than we
realized and we need these to re-establish the warp field properly
and ... and I've lost you, haven't I, Chakotay?"
grinned as Chakotay looked at her blankly. "Just get it all,
in this order, okay? Then I'll be happy."
understood. Why couldn't you say that in the first place?"
asked Chakotay, laughing. The team were chuckling lightly behind
him - the sound was good to hear; Chakotay wasn't sure he'd heard
anyone laugh since they had been thrown here by the subspace mine.
it's too much fun to tease you - now, get going, I need this stuff
yesterday," retorted B'Elanna, ducking back out of the Flyer.
Chakotay watched her cross the deck, then, as the doors to the
corridor closed behind her, he signalled to the shuttlebay operator
that he was ready to leave.
voice came over the comm. "The shuttlebay is locked down,
you're clear to leave whenever you want to, Commander. "
hanger doors opened lazily; they were a conceit more than a necessity.
The atmosphere in the shuttlebay was preserved by forcefields,
not the doors, but numerous studies showed that most people were
happier with the thought of a few tons of metal between themselves
and space. Walking around in a shuttlebay open to the stars was
enough to make any but the most experienced space-walker uneasy.
the doors were fully open, Chakotay nudged the Flyer's controls.
The engines flared briefly as they rose, then throttled back as
the shuttle looped away from the main ship - small against the
size of Voyager, lost quickly against the terrain of the planet
below to anyone watching them leave.
team on the Flyer settled down for the flight; Harry distributed
copies of B'Elanna's wish list once he'd added the latest round
of requests to those he'd gathered earlier, then returned to the
forward sensor console.
he gestured to Chakotay, "that area looks reasonably stable,
but it looks like it's been active in the last few hundred years
or so. That should make it easier to collect what we need, hopefully
it'll have been forced upwards by earthquakes. There's no volcanic
activity apparent for a few hundred kilometers from there, though.
We should be safe enough."
fine, Harry," concurred Chakotay as he glanced over. The
planet's atmosphere was slightly turbulent and it took most of
his concentration to bring the Flyer down through the layers.
The clouds below them spread out mackerel-tinged shadows on the
ground below. The wisps were deceptive, hiding currents rising
from the undulating land. Clear air turbulence was a menace even
now; unpredictable and undetectable. Fortunately, it was no more
than a menace - the Flyer could take anything that the atmosphere
could throw at them; it was just rather uncomfortable for those
jostled within. The turbulence smoothed out as quickly as it had
arisen, the horizon steady now in the far distance and blurred
by cloud where the planet met the sky.
on Voyager, Tom was still pacing the corridors. Miral had eaten
and been bathed, and then he had changed both their clothes. Miral
had clearly enjoyed the water - or perhaps she just enjoyed trying
to drown her father! Still, she'd been happy and the colicky cries
had subsided for a while, but even the pleasures of messing about
in the water had palled.
seemed to work for any length of time, though; she continued to
cry. Not the sharp screams of pain, or the fussing of hunger or
discomfort, just a continual wail that had Tom feeling as though
he was the worst of fathers. He held her more closely, rocking
her, whispering to her and hoping against hope that she would
quiet down. She did, a little, but still she hiccupped and sobbed.
In desperation now, he called B'Elanna, hoping she'd have some
idea what he could do.
sorry Tom, I don't know - all I did was walk her and she slept
eventually. Do you want me to come up and try and feed her again?
I'm busy here but I could come up for a little while." Tom
shook his head, then remembered they were talking over the comm
no, don't - it's ok, I can manage. The ship needs you more than
it needs me right now, I'll just take her for a walk or something."
you sure?" B'Elanna sounded concerned, and Tom tried to reassure
her. She had too much else to worry about right now and, after
all, he was Miral's father. He needed to prove - to himself -
that he could look after her.
I'm sure - we'll be fine, I promise." The promise sounded
hollow to Tom, punctuated as it was by his daughter's sobs, but
either it convinced B'Elanna or the combadge didn't pick up the
sounds Miral was making.
"Okay" closed the conversation, and Tom continued wandering
the corridors. He kept up a running commentary for Miral; she
seemed quieter when he spoke, so he talked. And talked.
Miral - these are the officer's quarters. Very spacious; that's
the Captain's over there - she has the biggest quarters of anyone
on the ship. Those are Commander Chakotay's - I can't remember
what they're like, I haven't been in there for a while. Those
are Tuvok's over there -he and T'Pel are sharing them now."
signal from the doctor interrupted Tom's monologue. "Mr Paris,
I need some assistance here in sickbay - some of the medical crew
are getting tired and we're just mopping up the odds and ends
now; an extra pair of hands would finish things more easily."
I'd love to - but I've got Miral here, and she's still fussing.
B'Elanna's busy in Engineering, and I can't think of anyone who's
free to look after her instead." Not for the first time,
Tom wished Neelix was still with them; he would have been a natural
for a babysitter, after all his experience with Naomi.
can hear Miral - bring her with you; now we're not in the middle
of battle, she'll be a good distraction for the people still waiting
here. Besides, I've got something for you that might help."
was curious as what the doctor meant - but anything that might
help him deal with Miral's tears would be a good thing. "Okay,
Doc, I'm on my way." He walked more quickly, heading for
the turbolift and singing a little off-key to Miral as he did
so. "We're off to see the Doc, the wonderful Doc of Voyager
... nope, that doesn't scan, Daddy's going to have to rethink
these lyrics, Miral." He looked up as the lift arrived, suddenly
checking that there was no-one around to hear him. Much as he
adored Miral, some things he didn't want to be teased about later.
She hiccupped as they entered the lift; it sounded suspiciously
like laughter and he grinned at her.
all right, you're allowed to laugh at me. God knows you'll do
it enough later in life, you may as well start now. Your mother
will definitely teach you the fine and subtle art of teasing your
father." Tom leaned back against the wall of the lift, feeling
more awake than he had done for a while.
lift eased to a halt moments later, opening onto a corridor near
sickbay. The queue of wounded that had formed there earlier was
gone now, and the corridor was silent but for Tom's footfalls
and Miral's grousing as they headed for the sickbay doors.
doors slid open with the customary hiss, and the sounds of the
doctor and his patients rose into the silence. Quiet murmurs,
the occasional gasp or groan, and a request for a hypospray; the
regular give and take. Heads turned to see who had entered, a
number of faces lighting up at the sight of Miral in Tom's arms.
She chose that moment to crank up the volume, her fussing returning
to a near-yell. Tom rocked her a little more closely, adjusting
the way he held her in his arms, raising her head up a little
doctor approached, smiling. "Here, Mr Paris. See whether
she prefers this - it'll leave you a little freer as well."
He held out a contraption of fabric; Tom looked at it, puzzled.
Doc. I think. What is it?"
a carrier - you wear it like a back-to-front carrysack; Miral
will be held against you by it. It's supposed to soothe her, she
can hear your heartbeat that way. Try it - it'll leave your hands
free in any case, so you can move around. I found it in an old
database and replicated it. I've been meaning to give it to you
or B'Elanna but there just hasn't been time recently."
took the carrier, extending one hand gingerly.
let me take Miral while you put it on," said the doctor.
He took Miral carefully, cooing over her as he adjusted his hold
on her. Tom smiled at the picture they made, then turned his attention
to the contraption that the doctor had handed him; the straps
slipped on easily enough and the whole thing snapped together
in the back. He looked down at the way the carrier pouched out
in front of him and wondered whether this was what B'Elanna had
felt like, pregnant with Miral. It was cumbersome but, yes, he
supposed he had a little more freedom than he had with Miral in
doctor coughed and Tom turned round; at the doctor's smile he
realized the doctor been trying to attract his attention while
he'd been distracted by this thoughts. He colored slightly in
embarrassment at being caught day-dreaming.
let me help to maneuver her into it." The doctor held Miral
up, supporting her head still, as Tom pulled open the carrier.
The infant was gently lowered in; Tom made sure she was comfortable.
Her head lolled back a little against the backrest, and Tom looked
over to the doctor.
this all right?" The doctor nodded.
it's fine - there's plenty of support there. She'll be fine -
just watch her legs, make sure she doesn't kick you. That could
be painful," advised the doctor. Tom mentally winced at the
idea and checked where his daughter's legs reached. For now, it
was all right. He'd have to be careful as she grew, however.
on the planet, the Flyer settled slowly and carefully on a small
plain. Around them the ground rose in abrupt, jagged, hills -
clearly forced upwards by tectonic activity, recently enough not
to have weathered to any degree. Chakotay shut down the engines,
leaving the ship still ready to leave at a moment's notice. Experience,
and Starfleet policy, had him carefully resetting the flight envelope
parameters to take them up and into orbit with the minimum of
effort. While the team assembled the mining kits and stacked the
first batch of containers, ready to move out, Harry checked and
rechecked the sensor information, confirming the planet's breathable
atmosphere and the lack of any apparent irritants or allergens.
At last, satisfied that their initial readings from orbit were
confirmed on the ground, he signalled Baxter to let the Flyer's
air rushed in as the Flyer opened; the air outside was damp and
chill, condensing a little as it encountered the warmer climate
of the Flyer. Baxter was first out, leading with his phaser. The
lack of life on the sensors was not an absolute guarantee and
he wanted to be prepared if they met with the unexpected. Following
him came the rest of the team, Chakotay and Harry last off the
ship. Nothing unexpected met them - nothing animate. What was
unexpected were the colors; the thin atmosphere of the planet
and the translucent layers of clouds above produced a startlingly
beautiful effect. Where the ground sheared upwards, the minerals
revealed in the strata shimmered in a metallic spectrum; dazzling
white, silver, copper, jade green and shades of blue bled together
in the hazy light. The debris on the ground scattered light across
the sides of the Flyer, spilling colors across her.
team stood still; nothing moved except for a slight breeze which
riffled through the vegetation that fringed the plain. For a moment
they just watched the play of light, all wide-eyed - even Chakotay,
who had seen more light-effects on more planets than he could
even begin to recall. He was the first to shake his head and bring
himself back to the job at hand.
here. Report, Commander," came Tuvok's voice.
down safely, no surprises here. We'll begin the mining operations
and check in hourly as usual. Let us know if anything changes
Commander. Voyager out."
comlink was cut, and the sound died away on the breeze. Chakotay
turned to the rest of the team, who were now looking to him. The
exchange with Voyager had brought them back to the present, and
right people, we'll divide into teams. Harry, you're with me.
Baxter, can you take the first security watch?" Baxter nodded.
"The rest of you pair up whichever way works best for you.
You've each got a set of Torres' requests? Harry, you've downloaded
the sensor plans to the PADDs as well, and reconfigured the tricorders
with Seven's instructions?" Harry nodded as well. "Okay,
then, let's spread out and see how quickly we can get this done."
took over. "First thing we need to do is set up the monitors
- Ayala and Boylan, you take those and spread them out. We need
to keep an eye on the activity here, the fault lines in this area
aren't finished with by any means. The sensors indicate it's stable
now," he said, noticing their nervousness, "but we'll
just keep an eye on it. Spread the monitors out in a triangle
- there, there and there," he indicated, pointing. "I'll
patch them back into the ship, so we'll get a warning long before
anything happens." The team nodded, moving out as Harry had
began to work once the monitors were located and settled. Chakotay
and Harry moved off in the direction of the sun, picking a point
where the ground had been forced upwards 30 meters in a shear.
The crystal and mineral deposits slanted across the face of the
shear; in the shadow of the sun, they glinted only dully. Chakotay
pulled out a tricorder and began scanning the debris, crumbled
about where the shear had been forced out of the ground. The upheavals
in the terrain made their job surprisingly easy - it looked as
though there would little that they would need to physically mine
for. Most of B'Elanna's requests - even the more esoteric ones
- were freely available or well-exposed by shears.
worked steadily for a while, exchanging few comments. Chakotay
started to wonder whether Harry was all right; he was usually
a little more voluble than this. He cleared his throat, and Harry
are you all right?" The direct approach seemed the best;
he wasn't quite in a frame of mind to try to second-guess what
might be troubling Harry. The thought had crossed his mind that
Harry had, some time ago, appeared interested in Seven. It might
have been his own recent relationship that was the problem, but
he wasn't going to assume that it was - he wasn't even certain
Seven would have discussed it with Harry. He could reassure him
if it was that, but better to let the young man bring it up first.
... I guess so. Commander, do you mind if I ask you something?"
ahead." Perhaps the problem was Seven, after all. Chakotay
braced himself for jealousy or just curiosity.
you ever homesick in the Delta Quadrant?" The question was
unexpected, and Chakotay took a moment to think his answer through.
I don't think so," he said eventually. "Remember, I
had little to go back to. The Maquis had no home, and my own home
no longer exists. I adapt reasonably easily to new situations
so, no, I wasn't. You were, weren't you?" he asked, knowing
the answer full well. The ensign's homesickness in the first few
years had been legendary, and Chakotay wasn't sure it had completely
was I, I think." Harry's comment was unexpected, and Chakotay's
surprise showed on his face. "Oh, I know it seemed like it
but ... compared to the way I feel now, it wasn't homesickness.
This is worse than anything I felt before."
Chakotay said, "I suppose that's not entirely surprising.
We came so close to home, after everything we'd gone through."
nodded. "And the Delta Quadrant ... well, it wasn't home,
but at least we knew where we were. Here, we can't get a fix,
we have no point of reference. Do you realize, we knew within
moments of coming out of the Caretaker's pulse that we were in
the Delta Quadrant? We've been here days and we still don't have
a clue where we are. That makes me feel further from home than
I did before, and ..." Harry looked around, then lowered
his voice, "it unnerves me. In a way that I never was before."
you aren't the only one. I think this is affecting a lot of people
on the ship that way; being completely lost is never a comfortable
situation. We've been thrown into a situation where we can't tell
where we are, can't tell who people are, and it's bound to affect
you. I heard people mention in the mess hall that they're getting
more stressed by this than by anything that's happened before,
and most of them don't even know the full extent of our situation.
People are getting headaches - and not just from Chell's more
colorful menu names - and odd dreams, and insomnia. All classic
nodded. "I've been having the oddest dreams - like something
painted by Salvador Dali. Not particularly frightening, but vivid.
Colors are emphasized and it seems like I'm getting the oddest
combinations of historical figures. I had a dream with Cochrane
and Cleopatra in it the other night." Harry blushed as he
recalled the details of the dream, and Chakotay fought a grin
at the sight; Harry caught it, though, and laughed. "I know,
it sounds weird, doesn't it? You don't want to know what they
laughed openly. "No, I don't think I do, by the sound of
it," he said, chuckling still. Harry seemed happier, the
laughter having drained away some of tension and strain of homesickness.
They had no idea where they were, but at least he was with people
he knew and trusted.
Miral was settled, Tom turned his attention to the array of bumps,
scratches and bruises that remained in sickbay. He dug out a dermal
regenerator and spread a series of hyposprays on a trolley; painkillers
mostly. Maneuvering around Miral, he began to treat the crewmen
that had been left to the end - both those placed at the back
of the queue by the triage team and some stragglers who had come
in later, once the immediate crisis was over.
continued to fuss, though quieter now, and Tom found himself amused
by a stream of suggestions about things he could try to calm her
down when she was crying. One ensign suggested something called
a pacifier - Tom was intrigued by the idea, but the doctor frowned
a little as he overheard it. "If you must, Mr Paris, but
make sure it's properly designed. You don't want to damage her
teeth - and if she inherits her teeth from her mother's gene pool
she'll probably shred it as soon as they come in anyway!"
finished closing up the already-healing cut on the ensign's arm
with a shot of painkiller.
maybe that'll help me sleep better," said the crewman.
having trouble sleeping, Blain?" asked Tom. "Since when?"
just the last week or so - I've been waking up with odd dreams.
Nothing too scary, just very vivid." The doctor overheard
the conversation and spoke up.
and the rest of the ship. Don't worry about it, Mr. Blain - it's
stress. Unsurprisingly." The doctor's tone dripped his usual
sarcasm, and his voice faded into the background as a number of
other crewmen in the room offered their own weird and wonderful
dreams from the last few weeks. Tom smiled as he turned to treat
the next patient.
that's something I don't have to worry about - Miral doesn't let
me sleep, much less dream!"
echoed in the room, and another crewman prescribed aromatherapy
for Miral's fussing as Tom patched up a nasty graze on his temple;
his mother had said it was the only thing that calmed his sister
down. She would use a scented oil to massage the baby - apparently
it worked every time. Tom grinned and said he'd try it, although
he privately thought that the idea of coating an already squirming
Miral in oil was a recipe for disaster.
doctor came round again just as Tom was finishing up. "You
know, Mr Paris, there just may not be anything you can do, I'm
afraid. All babies go through growth spurts - humans at 3 weeks,
6 weeks and 3 months. Sometimes it's just uncomfortable. This
may be that; there's so little information in the databases about
human/Klingon children's development that I can't predict it -
Klingon infants grow faster than human infants, though, so it
wouldn't be unlikely for her to be going through it already. It
would fit with her general development so far. If it gets too
much, come back here to sickbay - I'd love to help with her, and
sometimes you just need to let someone else deal with her. She's
also a good distraction for the patients - there was a lot less
moaning and grumbling once you walked in with her."
laughed. "Are you sure it was Miral, and not my winning personality?"
he quipped. The doctor just looked at him steadily, then smiled
at the tired young man before him. The dark circles under his
eyes and the tousled hair were testament to the sleepless nights
and the stress of just being on Voyager at the moment.
it was, Mr Paris. Perhaps it was." He smiled. "Bring
her back anyway, whenever you like."
nodded his thanks and turned to leave; Miral was still grumbling
to herself as he exited the doors.
the planet the pile of minerals was growing; B'Elanna's list was
getting shorter as they completed requests. Chakotay estimated
that they were halfway done just as the monitors around them erupted
with a violent warning. Too late; the ground shook around them,
twisting and tearing under the strain. Gaps opened up across the
plain, and the shears around them heaved upwards again. The team
flattened themselves to the ground, but Chakotay heard a scream
from the other side of the plain.
moment later the ground was quiet again; the monitors stopped
the incessant, useless, wail. Chakotay and Harry stood up slowly,
assessing the damage around them. The landscape was re-shaped,
new veins of minerals catching the sun. A little way away, the
rest of the team stood slowly. All but one, Boylan. He lay still
on the ground, moaning quietly. Chakotay assumed it was he that
had screamed; the others seemed fine. Gesturing to Harry and the
others to get back to the Flyer, he ran across to Boylan. The
man's face was white, but he was conscious.
all right," he said. Chakotay snorted.
be stupid, heroics aren't going to help anyone. What hurts, where?"
of it. Ahhh." Boylan winced. "My leg, I think it's the
worst. I fell - one of those fissures opened up underneath me
and I fell to the side."
assessed the damage - the leg was clearly broken, probably in
several places. White shards of bone broke through the skin and
uniform just below the knee. Otherwise - although that was enough
- he looked unhurt. Chakotay scanned him rapidly with the tricorder;
it wasn't medical standard, but it could do enough to confirm
his suspicions about the leg. Broken in three places, badly. The
tricorder showed no other injuries, so Chakotay picked Boylan
up and carried him across to the Flyer. The motion as Chakotay
moved him was enough to made the crewman pass out, as Chakotay
hoped - although he was still gentle as he moved him. Unconscious,
he was a lot easier to carry, and the crewman needed the relief
from the pain.
in the Flyer, Chakotay placed Boylan in the biobed at the back
of the ship. "Baxter, you've got some medical training, haven't
you're looking after him then. Three breaks, two clean. The third
will need the Doc's attention." Chakotay moved to the helm
as he spoke, and opened a channel to Voyager.
Flyer to Voyager."
Captain answered. "Go ahead, Commander."
we're returning to orbit - we have most of the minerals but we
have an injury; Boylan took some damage in an earthquake which
the doctor needs to take a look at. The seismic monitors will
need to be reconfigured as well before we come back down, they
didn't provide any warning before the quake hit."
the background, on the bridge, he could hear Seven's voice calling
the Captain urgently and he caught the word "Sernaix".
The Captain's voice came over the ship's comm again.
that, Commander. We have the Sernaix on long-range visual and
we need to move out to try to lose them. We're in no shape to
take them on; you're on your own for now. We'll draw them away
from you. Janeway out." Chakotay shivered inwardly at the
thought of being stranded on the planet with the Sernaix for company,
but heard the apology in Kathryn's voice. There really was nothing
else to do - it would take them half an hour to get back to Voyager
at this point in its orbit, and that would give too little a margin
for them to outrun the Sernaix. If only they could hide.
Hide. A sudden recollection crossed his mind, and he called up
the previous sensor readings they'd taken.
I need your advice on something here," he called, looking
over his shoulder. The team looked slightly white, having overhead
his conversation with Voyager. The encounter with the Sernaix
was too recent in memory for them to be able to take the news
with complete equanimity.
came over from the back of the Flyer, where he'd been stowing
some of the last containers of minerals they had gathered before
the quake hit. Chakotay indicated the sensor holes on the screen.
"I'm taking the Flyer here," he pointed to a nearby
location, just large enough to hide in. "Did you come across
anything else on the scans that I need to know about before we
shook his head. "No, it all looked clear. The visuals we
got for that area on the way just show it near a cliff - there's
probably something in the composition of the cliff that dampens
the sensor readings at that point."
enough, let's hope it dampens the Sernaix's sensors as well."
lay in a course for the asteroid belt between the fifth and sixth
planet," ordered Janeway once she'd closed the comlink with
the away team. Take us in and see if you can find something large
enough to put Voyager into its sensor shadow. Full impulse. Tuvok,
have ready whatever defensive capability we've got at this point.
Just in case."
spoke up. "Yes, Captain. May I recommend that we also send
a probe out, away from both ourselves and the planet? Until we
know whether the Sernaix traced us here, or merely surmised that
we might be here, it would be best to lay as many conflicting
trails as possible. The probe could also give us some longer range
telemetry for the Astrometrics team."
it," Janeway nodded. Seven's voice broke in over the comm,
as though summoned by Tuvok's comment.
please report to Astrometrics."
grimaced softly to herself. She needed to have a word with, well,
someone. Anyone. Anyone who could persuade Seven that a peremptory
summons of the Captain was not necessarily appropriate.
my way, Seven." Now was not the time to get into that debate,
in any case. She had more than enough to deal with, now that Voyager
was lost again, and this time rather more thoroughly than last.
Janeway spent the short journey from the bridge to Astrometrics
running over the ship's status on a PADD. B'Elanna had managed
to perform some minor miracles with the materials on hand; the
shields were back up to 60%. The armor wasn't going to be available
until they retrieved the supplies from the planet - she suppressed
a moment's concern for the team down there - but the warp core
was stabilized again and would be brought up to full power within
the next 12 hours. The rest of the repair work - the transporters
and the more minor issues - would be dealt with in turn thereafter.
arrived in Astrometrics to find Seven, Icheb and one of the Delaney
sisters at the consoles; Seven turned to her as she entered. "Captain.
We are still unclear as to our position here at the moment. I
have considered each of the sensor readings and have received
assistance from a number of crewmen but, to date, we are still
no nearer a solution." The frustration was almost palpable;
Seven didn't like confusion, and this was nothing but confusion.
really didn't want to go into all this now, but she was mildly
intrigued by anything that had Seven so obviously at a loss. "Then
I suggest, Seven, that you're looking in the wrong place,"
she said curtly. "Try calculating the point spread function
for the isoplanatic patch for each area; have you checked the
readings against the Hertzsprung-Russell preferred locations?"
cross-check the astroseismology readings against the luminosity
function for the local halo. That at least should give us some
idea whether we're even in the right universe. I believe we can
safely assume we're not in the same galaxy. I can't imagine that
you wouldn't have discovered that by now." Janeway could
match Seven for clipped, acidic, comments with ease.
nodded, hands flying across the console once more. Seven looked
steadily at Janeway.
the sensors are still impaired from our encounter with the Sernaix.
Engineering refuses to work on them at present and I have been
unable to obtain the assistance needed to run the necessary scans."
have to make do with what you have; we have more pressing matters
to deal with - ultra-fine calibration of the sensors is low on
the list of repairs to be made. In the meantime, I suggest you
make do with what you have."
turned and walked out of the door; part of her wanted to stay
and investigate, but her main impulse was just to get away. It
would take some time before she could converse comfortably with
Seven, and that time hadn't yet passed. In the meantime, she would
look over the results so far in her ready room. She didn't feel
like dealing with the crew right now; her own disappointment at
being stranded again was enough to deal with.
legs ached mildly; he'd been walking the corridors for hours,
or so it seemed, talking and singing to Miral. She had fallen
asleep a couple of times but always woke up as soon as he stopped
walking. Right now, she was simply fussing. He was tired, not
entirely comfortable, and close to desperation. B'Elanna was still
busy in Engineering and he wasn't going to disturb her - the repair
work had to come first right now; it wasn't as though both of
them were busy.
felt the ship move out of orbit and, for a moment, contemplated
going up to the bridge to take over the helm - there was no red
alert, though, simply the constant yellow alert status that they
been at for weeks now. He had no reason to go, other than wanting
to leave behind Miral's apparent distress; that was reason enough
to stay. He was a father now, he couldn't simply abandon responsibility
for her to the doctor or anyone else just so that he could go
and play on the bridge. Besides, he was on paternity leave - there
was no immediate threat to Voyager that required his particular
expertise in piloting the ship, so he just had to deal with his
distraction came around the next corner; Naomi Wildman came running
down the corridor, hair flying behind her. She skidded to an abrupt
halt at the sight of him and Miral.
she exclaimed, "oh, you've got the baby! Can I see her, please?"
She almost wriggled in excitement and Tom recalled with amusement
her absolute delight when she'd seen Miral for the first time
in sickbay - she'd been simultaneously thrilled and scared to
pieces at being allowed to hold her. He could identify with that
- he'd felt much the same way.
of course you can." He crouched down a bit so that Naomi
could peer into the carrier - it was easier than trying to maneuver
Miral out of it. "What are you doing running around here,
anyway? Late for classes?"
classes," said Naomi, grinning at the way Miral had clutched
onto her finger. "Seven's too busy trying to work out where
we are and everyone else is either working on the repairs or keeping
out of Seven's way before she drags them into Astrometrics to
help. What are you doing?"
to keep Miral amused; Doc thinks she's in a growth spurt at the
moment and not very comfortable. When she's not comfortable she's
not shy about letting us know." Miral chose that moment to
punctuate his comment with a disgruntled cry. "See what I
I help?" asked Naomi. "I want to babysit for you sometimes
- I mean, you and B'Elanna have to work and you'll need someone
to look after her, won't you? This way I can practice while you're
here so you know I can do it. Please, can I help?" The words
tumbled out in an excited rush, and Tom grinned.
you can help. Let's just check in with your mother." Tom
tapped his combadge. "Tom Paris to Sam Wildman."
here, Tom. What's my daughter up to now?" laughed Sam.
said Tom with a grin, "I just wanted to check it was ok with
you if she stays with me and Miral for a while -she wants to learn
how to babysit."
fine, Tom, thanks for letting me know. Naomi, I'll have dinner
sorted out in a couple of hours or so - I'll call you when it's
closed the channel. "Okay. Got any ideas for what we can
do now?" Tom wasn't entirely hopeful that Naomi could come
up with something else to do, but she did.
about the holodeck? We can introduce Miral to Flotter!"
smiled; it hadn't occurred to him to try the holodeck, which was
rather ironic under the circumstances. "Good idea - let's
go." Holodeck One was nearby and, unsurprisingly, free at
the moment. Tom began to scroll through the available programs.
"Naomi, just how many Flotter programs do you have?"
he exclaimed as the list scrolled on. She giggled.
got a lot as birthday presents. Let's try Flotter and the Order
of the Phoenix. It's one of my favorites - Harry gave it to me
- he said it was an old story that he'd updated for Flotter. "
Tom started the program with a couple of tapped commands, then
stood back to let Naomi through as the doors opened. He entered
behind her, looking around with some bemusement.
were in the hallway of an old castle, stone walls and stairs around
them. Ahead of them floated a white apparition. Naomi nudged him
and pointed. "That's one of the resident ghosts here. He's
really nice, but not as helpful as he thinks he is." The
apparition floated over, and Tom looked at it a little more closely;
it looked like a man, dressed in ancient clothing, with a scarf
tied around his neck.
ghost?" he asked Naomi.
he almost had his head cut off," she said. Anything else
she might had said was cut off by Miral's cries - the apparition
had come closer, and the infant was clearly not happy with what
shush," soothed Tom, "it's all right Miral. Computer,
end program. I don't think she's overly keen on this one, Naomi,
sorry. Maybe when she's a little older." The castle dissolved
around them, leaving behind the more familiar silver grid of the
holodeck. "Ok, let's see what else we can find."
list of programs appeared in mid-air in front of them on the holodeck;
Tom and Naomi began to look through it. "Sandrine's - no,
I don't think so. Your mother would have my hide if I took you
in there ... Fairhaven - no, definitely not. Tomb Raider 47?"
Tom looked at the parameters for the program and whistled. "Harry,
Harry, Harry, you've been holding out on me ... when did you put
this one together?"
is it? Can we try it?" asked Naomi.
no. No, I don't think it's quite right for Miral - or you. Maybe
when you're older," Tom smiled. They continued to look down
the list of programs.
settled the Flyer down again; they'd made the short hop from the
plain to this sensor hole as smoothly as possible, to avoid jarring
Boylan's leg. Baxter's first aid skills had been adequate only
to provide pain relief and heal the two minor breaks; they would
need the doctor to look at the worst of the breaks.
the cliff rose above them, arching over the Flyer. It was darker
here; the sun was blocked from view so that they sat in literal
shadow, not just sensor shadow. Chakotay strained to see through
the viewscreen around the helm; nothing moved. The ground below
read as stable on the sensors; they'd dismissed it as a mining
possibility earlier for precisely that reason - they would have
needed to dig for minerals, rather than find them scattered for
the taking. Chakotay re-checked the sensors: with that much rock
hanging above them, he didn't want any more unpleasant seismic
surprises. Stable; there was no sign of any seismic activity here
at all and no visual evidence either. There was no debris, no
abrupt shears newly torn from the ground. The cliff seemed to
be a weathered lava plug, left behind aeons ago by a long-dead
take Ayala and scout outside - see if you can find anywhere we
can shelter. I'd rather we weren't in the Flyer if the Sernaix
find it; Voyager will try to pull them away but I would prefer
to plan for all eventualities."
nodded; he and Ayala holstered phasers then grabbed wrist lights
and tricorders before descending the now-open ramp. Slightly chill
air rushed into the cabin as the ramp opened, damp and cool, with
the faint odor of rotting vegetation. Outside, the chill in the
air was more pronounced. Harry wondered whether the sun ever reached
here, below the cliff. It certainly didn't feel like it. He looked
over to Ayala and gestured.
an opening over there - looks like some sort of cave." Harry
led the way, ducking slightly under an outcropping. The opening
was little more than a vertical slit in the cliff-face, just wide
enough to walk through. Behind, illuminated in the outstretched
beams of their wrist lights, an almost perfectly hemispherical
domed cave opened out. Harry entered, cautiously, scanning with
light and tricorder for any unwanted inhabitants. The sensor readings
proved accurate - no life, nothing stirred. The floor was layered
with dust and the remnants of dead plant life had been brushed
by the wind into the corners. It glowed gently, and Harry scanned
it with the tricorder; nothing more sinister than bioluminescent
fungi, taking advantage of the food source swept into the cavern.
motioned Ayala in. "It looks all right - do you want to call
the others in?" Ayala looked around and nodded before heading
back to the ship. The same sensor hole that hid the Flyer blocked
their combadges, so he waited for the others to return. It wasn't
long before a wobbling light announced their presence, flooding
into the cavern ahead of them. "Welcome to the hotel,"
remarked Chakotay. "Thanks, Harry, this is good. Ayala, Baxter:
can you put Boylan down over there, away from the entrance? Looks
like the breeze reaches through into here," he said, noting
the same thick piles of shrivelled leaves and odd branches that
Harry had been investigating. "Harry, can we use these piles
under the survival pack blankets?" he asked.
scattered some of the leaves with a nearby stick; they spread
across the floor in a tumbling shower. He picked up a handful
and examined them more closely; some crumbled in his hand, most
remained reasonably intact.
think so, Commander. It looks as though they won't fall apart
too badly; they should be pretty comfortable. The tricorder's
not showing anything unpleasant in there."
let's get that set up then."
team worked for a while, watched over by Boylan's pale face. The
painkillers were working, but he wouldn't be comfortable until
they got back to Voyager. The illumination in the cavern grew
as they placed lights in a couple of corners, raising the light
level just enough to see, while trying to keep the glow from leaking
out too far from the entrance. Harry and Ayala worked to make
something comfortable out of the Starfleet blankets and the leaves;
Chakotay gathered rocks together nearby. When he had a good-sized
cairn built, he fired his phaser at it until the rocks glowed
red as coal. A comforting warmth spread slowly through the cavern,
dispelling the faint chill of the slightly stale air. Baxter and
Farley, the remaining team members, slowly went through the packs
of survival rations that they had brought from the Flyer while
keeping an eye on the entrance.
a short while they settled down around the fire of rocks. The
only sound in the place was a soft whistle of the wind skimming
the entrance to the cavern; around them the walls glowed red with
the reflected light. They had turned off the emergency lights
for now, unnecessary in the glow of the fire. The entrance was
a sliver of light, cut in sharp contrast to the black walls of
the cavern on either side. The light of the fire didn't quite
settled a can on the cairn and broke open a pack. "Coffee,
anyone?" Harry and Farley nodded. Chakotay turned to Baxter.
is it safe to give Boylan? Just water, or did you give him something
mild enough that he can have soup - or what passes for soup in
looked over at Boylan; he was a little more comfortable now, settled
on a bed of leaves and blankets, and seemed warmer for it. "Alex,
what do you feel up to having? You should be ok with soup if you
coughed quietly and his voice was drowsy. "How about macaroni
and cheese? That's what I'd really like. God I was looking forward
to it ..." His voice trailed off as the small amount of light
coming from the entrance suddenly dimmed. They all turned to look,
each abruptly alert. Chakotay moved forward slowly towards the
entrance, motioning the others to stay behind.
the side of the entrance, he peered out. The darkness within the
cavern would shield him from anyone looking towards them but still,
he took no chances.
was nothing immediately to be seen; just a darkened landscape
immediately in front of them and light beyond as though a cloud
had passed over the sun. Then Chakotay froze; the Sernaix ship
came into view. The shadow had been the ship, hovering above the
cliff. It looped off now, moving slowly as though looking for
let out a long-held breath. It looked as though the ship hadn't
spotted the Flyer, or them. He watched cautiously though, waiting
to see whether they had left anyone behind to investigate further.
The ship was still moving slowly in the distance.
looked back at the others; Boylan had fallen asleep, for which
he was grateful. The others stood, phasers ready, just behind
him. He shook his head. "It's the Sernaix, though it doesn't
look as if they know we're here. That was just the ship's shadow."
He turned back to check on the Sernaix; the ship was circling
back slowly. From this distance, he couldn't tell whether the
Sernaix had found the area where they'd been gathering supplies.
He chewed his lip as he tried to recall whether they'd left anything
behind when they cleared out. He thought not, standard procedure
was to leave absolutely nothing but, with the need to get Boylan
to medical attention, he couldn't be absolutely certain.
black ship hovered lazily, casting a dark shadow on the ground.
From here, it looked as though the visuals that Voyager had received
were accurate - it was a dark, matte black. Little reflection
came from it; it seemed only to absorb light. There were no marks
on it from Voyager's phasers - Chakotay wondered whether it had
in fact been hit. It was hard to see any details though; the ship
hung between him and the sun, and it was impossible to see anything
on the shadowed underside that faced him.
looked back again at the team; the tension was clear, as they
waited for him to make a decision. He pulled back from the entrance.
"We'll wait here. They're not behaving as though they've
seen us, so we're going to have to go with that for now. We can't
afford to attract their attention by leaving."
settled back around the fire, still tense. No-one spoke, and everyone
jumped when a small pocket of moss on one of the rocks in the
fire burst in the heat. Ayala pulled the coffee can off the fire
in silence, handing round mugs of the bitter drink.
was the first to speak, though he still kept his gaze steadily
fastened on the entrance. "I wish Neelix were here,"
he said unexpectedly. "He'd almost got coffee right."
idle comment provoked soft, but slightly hysterical, laughter
from Farley and Baxter. Chakotay looked at them in some concern;
this situation wasn't going to help already the already stressed
crewmen. Both had performed well in the Delta Quadrant but this
... place ... hadn't even the meager security of the Delta Quadrant.
At least there, as Harry had said, they'd known where they were
and which way was home.
steadied in the shadow of an asteroid; the belt was relatively
clear, and little in the way of fancy flying had been needed.
Janeway felt herself relax, just a little. They had had the Sernaix
only on visual sensors, and - for now - it looked as though they
were clear. Of course, that probably meant that they were investigating
the planet; the thought gave her a renewed headache but she had
little time for that. Another call from Astrometrics dragged her
thoughts from the away team to the ship. Besides, Chakotay was
more than capable of looking after his team. If he wasn't, then
he deserved his own accusations of her lack of trust.
on my way, Seven," she acknowledged, heading once more for
was as cool and dark as ever; only Icheb and Seven remained at
the consoles. "Report," Janeway requested as she entered.
Icheb has found something interesting," began Seven. Janeway
turned to the young man.
is it, Icheb?" she asked, over-riding Seven's attempt to
make the explanation herself. Icheb looked back at Seven a little
uncertainly, but then began to explain.
I was checking the luminosity function for the halo - as you suggested."
Janeway nodded. "Well, while it was running I checked the
spectral readings we were getting more widely - just to cross
check against the overall luminosity. There's an anomaly there,
I'm not sure why we didn't pick it up before ..." His voice
died away a little. Janeway just shook her head.
no point in conducting a post-mortem on what we should and shouldn't
have picked up by now - we can look at it later to see if there's
anything we need to change in procedures. What was it?"
redshift, Captain - if you look here," he entered some commands
on the console, bringing up a series of graphs and iterations
on the screen. "I've been checking the base redshift for
everything the sensors have picked up, using helium as the reference,
and the readings are strange. They're too low, especially the
reading on this quasar that the sensors have just picked up. That's
what made me look at the base shift for everything else we've
found - the speed for the quasar should be appear to be more than
lightspeed, but it isn't even very close to lightspeed."
Janeway looked up at the screen as he spoke, nodding.
right - there's nothing that appears to be over the speed of light,
as you'd expect. Everything is sublight speed - mostly very sublight
speed. It's as if there's no cosmological redshift effect,"
she mused, staring at the numbers and the rolling charts ahead.
what I thought, Captain," said Icheb. "The figures are
all consistent with the Doppler effect from the relative motion
to us alone - I've run some tests on the star we just passed,
and extrapolating from that, there's only relative motion here.
That's all we're seeing - there is no cosmological redshift, no
apparent increase in velocity, which we would expect if there
was any lengthening of the frequency from the expansion of space-time."
is that possible?" said Janeway, incredulous at the readings
being raised, and the answers being drawn.
not sure," Icheb answered, carefully, "unless the universe
isn't expanding." Janeway looked around, staring at him.
impossible," she said. "How can ... you can't have a
static universe. It just doesn't make sense. Either it's expanding,
or contracting - the steady-state universe theory was discredited
over 400 years ago. You can't seriously mean we've found a point
in space where there is no expansion? Seven, you mentioned a problem
with the sensors earlier, could this be the result of it?"
shook her head. "No, Captain. You were correct when you surmised
that the sensors only needed fine calibration; they are more than
adequate to check this sort of data."
does give rise to the question why we didn't see it before,"
said Janeway, wrapping her arms around her as she paced the room.
"No matter, we didn't. Too obvious to run a check for, I
suppose - something you take for granted. Do we have any blue-shift?"
than you'd expect," answered Icheb, "but there's nothing
coming towards us with anything other than relative motion. Captain,
there is nothing in this data to indicate that space is being
stretched or contracted around us at all. It's just ... there.
We're moving within it, and everything else is moving, but the
space itself just is. There's no expansion, no contraction - it's
just static." Icheb sounded as puzzled as Janeway looked.
static universe - you mean, we're in a place where Einstein's
General Law of Relativity applies without modification? If we
weren't stuck in it, I'd find it fascinating," said Janeway
wryly. "Let me think - what else would reduce the redshift?.
Temperature ... what's the vacuum temperature out there - are
you sure it's not just that we're passing through something less
dense ... no, of course not. That would only be local." She
paced the floor again, as Icheb and Seven watched the screen redisplay
the results they'd calculated.
she stopped, and looked back up. "Well, it's one more mystery
to add to the rest. A static universe; how much more complicated
can this get? No, don't answer that; I really don't want to know!
Just out of curiosity, what's the background radiation level?
Is there any indication that this started with a singularity?"
checked the readings again. "Less than 1 Kelvin, Captain.
It should be around 3 Kelvin ..." He stopped as Janeway waved
him to silence, pacing again.
is static ... this goes against everything we know. How ..?"
Kathryn shook her head. "A static universe, no expansion,
almost no radiation."
spoke up at last. "It is not entirely inconsistent with some
of the early grand unification theories, Captain." Janeway
stopped and looked at her. "Some of the early theories, four
hundred years ago or so, postulated that a series of bubble universes
developed in a false vacuum during an explosive inflationary period
of the universe. The theory was never entirely disproved."
..." Janeway drew the word out slowly, "you're right,
it wasn't. There was some suggestion that the different bubbles
would have different physical absolutes - not that any of this
helps much. Was there any theory of an interaction between the
was theorized that the bubbles could merge, establishing monopoles
where conflicting Higgs' fields met. The theory was not developed
enough to establish whether there would be a connection between
two bubbles before they merged though," replied Seven.
gets us no closer to home. Seven, Icheb, can you work on this?
I'm not sure I want to accept the idea that we've been thrown
by a subspace mine into another bubble universe separated from
our own by a primordial false vacuum - subspace is strange, but
not that strange."
voice interrupted her. "Captain, the Sernaix seem to be moving
away from the planet."
there been any indication that they've fired on the team?"
there have been no energy discharges on the planet that we have
been able to ascertain. The Sernaix are not moving with any great
speed, but they are moving away - out of the orbital elliptic.
It would appear, Captain, that they have given up looking for
I'll come back up to the bridge. Janeway out." Janeway sighed
with relief; at least something was apparently working in their
favor. She left Icheb and Seven working steadily in Astrometrics,
untangling the puzzles that had been thrown up in the last few
got up to look through the entrance again; the Sernaix were nowhere
to be seen. No shadow fell over them, and there was no sign of
the ship in the distance. He strained to hear anything, anything
that might indicate whether the ship was still around. All he
could hear were the quiet whispers of conversation behind him
and the soft whistle of the wind around the cliff; otherwise,
looked back again, into the cavern. Ayala was reheating the rocks,
building up the heat in the cavern again. Chakotay momentarily
considered whether to tell him to stop, whether the energy of
the phaser could be sensed by the Sernaix. But, then again, they
apparently hadn't spotted their lifesigns or the Flyer - perhaps
the cliffs would shield the phaser's energy signature as well.
His thoughts were suddenly distracted by something on the cavern
wall, behind Ayala to the left. The light from the phaser picked
out some markings on the wall there. Chakotay took a last, quick,
look from the entrance to check the area was clear of the Sernaix.
It was, for now.
crossed the cavern rapidly, trying to get a fix on where he'd
seen the lettering; Ayala had stopped the phaser and the light
was fading back to the red glow of the fire. The others turned
to look back to the entrance, phasers drawn again as they assumed
he was running from something. "No, no, there's nothing out
there. But here - Harry, throw me one of those lights - there's
something on the wall in here." Harry tossed over one of
the wrist lights which they'd taken off.
snapped the light round his wrist and turned it on; a narrow beam
lanced out from above the back of his hand and he played it across
the wall some distance over his head. Up above, thrown into relief
by the white light, were a series of markings. He could just reach
them, and stretched his arm up to trace the indentations scored
in the rock. They were clean, sharp edges. Just enough moss clung
to them to reassure him that they hadn't been made recently.
Ayala, can one of you get over here with a tricorder - I want
to get a copy of these."
came over, scanning the area lit by Chakotay's wrist light. "Are
they Sernaix, do you think?" he asked, a tinge of nerves
in his voice. The idea that the Sernaix might be familiar with
the cavern in which they stood was disturbing.
idea," said Chakotay over his shoulder. "There aren't
any marking on the ship to compare them with; can't say it looks
much like anything on the uniform of the one we saw on the viewscreen
earlier. Assuming that was a uniform he was wearing. They seem
more inclined towards curves, and these are all straight lines
and points." The markings seemed almost to be a type of cuneiform,
etched simple writing. The points were possibly random, although
Chakotay was reminded of the markings on his medicine wheel. Those
depicted the stars in the northern hemisphere above Dorvan V;
perhaps these were something similar - a star map.
does this look like any of the star patterns we've been looking
at since we got here?" Harry looked up again at the markings,
then scrolled through the collected information on his tricorder.
hard to say, Commander. There's no immediate resemblance but I'm
not completely familiar with them yet - I'll check it when we
Whatever they are, they're definitely not random." Chakotay
traced the lines again, shifting the patterns in his mind, trying
to find a basis for comparison. Abruptly, he realized one of the
lines continued much further down than the others, curving inwards
sharply at the end. He looked more closely at it, his head slightly
to one side as something tugged at his memory. "This is the
cliff - outside," he said, turning to Harry. "The profile
is the same - there are markings out along this, around the perimeter
of the sensor hole. Check with the records on the tricorder -
if we have them. I think this is tracing out the stable area here,
around the cliff. Do we have anything to check it against?"
checked the tricorder, scrolling through the records. "There's
something sketchy here - it's not the main set of readings that
we took, but it does look like it. Here ..." he passed over
the tricorder, "that looks like the same curve there - and
it follows this line."
two stood looking from the wall to the tricorder for a short while,
comparing the readings and the markings. "So," said
Harry at last, "it looks like we're not the only ones who
found this - I wonder why they marked it here? Outlining a stable
tectonic area ..."
not that surprising - perhaps it's there to reassure anyone who
got here that the cavern wasn't about to fall in on them. I want
to get the markings run through the computer when we get back
- see if it's translatable." Harry nodded, checking he'd
got the markigns down in detail.
moved away from the wall, musing over the discovery as he headed
for the entrance. The view was still clear; nothing unusual marred
the sky. Turning to the others, he said, "I'm going to check
on the Flyer, and see if I can get a better view. Stay here; I'll
be back shortly."
left the entrance to the cave at a half-run, keeping to the walls
of the overhang as he edged round to the Flyer. He reached up
as he got to the side of the ship, quietly repeating an access
code to override the lockout they'd place on her when they left.
The ramp let down, silently, and he headed for the helm. A quick
playback of the visual sensors he'd left running showed nothing
more than he'd seen already - the shadow, then the slow circling
glide away of the Sernaix ship. He checked the visuals again -
nothing; he would need to check outside, beyond the sensor hole,
before he could have any degree of certainty that it was safe.
took out his phaser, holding it loosely. He doubted very much
whether it would offer any form of protection if the Sernaix were
still around but, still, it was worth a try. He left the Flyer
again, re-engaging the lockout as he left. Cautiously - very cautiously
- he slid around to the exposed side of the ship. The cliff extended
out further over her, and he left the sanctuary of the shadows
slowly. There was nothing ahead, so he concentrated on peering
upwards and outwards, hoping not to see a shadow or the unyielding
blackness of the ship itself against the walls of the cliff above.
exhaled with relief when he emerged, blinking slightly, into the
sunlight. Nothing. There was no sign of the Sernaix anywhere.
the holodeck, Tom and Naomi were still skimming through the programs
as Miral grew fussier. At last Tom stopped the scroll. "This
one," he said, pointing to a line. Naomi peered a little
1?" she asked. "What's that?"
obvious answer," said Tom, laughing. "I should have
thought of it before - I've read about it often enough. Computer,
run program Route 1, authorization Paris-alpha-731-sigma."
silver grid of the holodeck shimmered out again, to be replaced
by a dusty landscape. Nearby, the hard blacktop of a road unfurled
to the horizon. In the dust, just off the road, sat a vehicle.
is it?" asked Naomi, looking at the machine with curiosity.
She ran a finger down a long fin.
1966 Cadillac DeVille convertible," said Tom with pride.
The car shimmered in the late afternoon sun, the black paintwork
reflecting the hills in the far distance. The red leather interior
glowed faintly, picking up the red of the sun. "The perfect
car for an afternoon drive. I read somewhere that one sure way
to calm a baby down was to take it for a drive - let's try it!
He looked up for a moment. "Computer, install a ... uh ...
baby seat in the front seat. Backward facing, strapped in."
A small chair appeared in the front seat, covered with a pattern
in primary colors that made Tom's eyes water.
change the pattern of the baby seat to red - the same color as
the car seats."
better," grinned Tom. Naomi laughed.
wear shirts brighter than that, why were you complaining?"
don't wear shirts that clash so badly with my surroundings. Well,
not often anyway - and since when are you Voyager's fashion critic,
hmm?" teased Tom.
just grinned again. "I listen to what people say. It's interesting."
bet it is," muttered Tom.
where are we and what is a ... whatever you said this was?"
asked Naomi, gesturing to the car.
a convertible car - a twentieth century ground transport vehicle,
with no roof. Perfect for days like this, and we're on Earth,
in a place called California in the United States. We're about
160 kilometers from San Francisco - you know, where Starfleet
Academy is?" Naomi nodded. "Ok, well, we're on Route
1, one of the old state roads that people used to get from one
place to another in cars. Most cars weren't suited to cross-country
terrain, so they built roads to make it easier to drive. This
is one of those - it runs along the western coast of California.
Get in, we'll drive. You sit in the back; we have the safeties
on, so you don't need to do up your seatbelt - besides, if I remember
this program correctly, there aren't any other cars around."
was the safety belt for?" asked Naomi, touching the black
webbing strap at the side of the seat as Tom boosted her over
the edge and into the car. Tom busied himself strapping a still-fussing
Miral into the baby seat and spoke over his shoulder.
used it to secure themselves - in case of accidents. With a lot
of cars on the road - and people - sometimes the cars collided.
You could get badly hurt, but the belt stopped you from being
thrown about too much."
could do with them on the ship sometimes," said Naomi, recalling
a few bumps and bruises she'd received in some of the ship's more
laughed. "That's not a bad idea. Right, Miral, that's you
strapped in - I don't want you rolling off the seat, safeties
or no safeties. Shush - stop squalling, we're about to get going.
Yes, yes, I know you want to be held but this is better, I promise.
Well, maybe not better but different enough to be interesting."
walked around the car and hopped into the driver's seat. He made
a few adjustments to the seat and the mirrors, wondering who it
was that had last driven, then turned the engine over. The car
caught immediately and revved smoothly in response to his touch
on the throttle. He released the handbrake, shifted gears into
first and then pulled away with a moment's relief that he hadn't
lost his touch with stick-shift cars.
grinned with delight as the wind flipped around the car, playing
with her hair. "This is fun! And Miral likes it too!"
she exclaimed with glee. Tom looked down at his daughter - she
had finally stopped fussing and was, instead, looking about her
with wide-eyed astonishment and what he would swear was a smile
on her face. Relief coursed through him; finally, something that
caught her attention and seemed to stop whatever was bothering
her. It was no hardship to keep driving, either.
it just?" Tom agreed. "That's Monterey behind us - we're
going south, towards Big Sur. If you're lucky, we might see some
whales feeding in the ocean as we go; this is one of their migratory
asked Naomi, puzzled. "Like the humpback whales? Mom said
something about them having nearly died out on Earth, but that
they came back a hundred years ago. Something like that."
that's right - Captain Kirk brought two back to Earth. Back in
the twentieth century there were still quite a lot around, although
they were already endangered."
wonder how they felt - those two that came back to Earth."
Naomi's voice was quiet and Tom twisted back to look at her.
sure they were fine," he said, "why?"
sighed a little. "I - well, I suppose I'm feeling guilty.
Everyone's upset that we didn't get home, but I'm ... I'm not.
Is that wrong?"
of course it's not wrong - why didn't you want to go home?"
I am home. I don't know Earth - and Mom was getting excited about
seeing my father again and I didn't even know if he'll like me,
but I didn't want to tell Mom because I didn't want to upset her
and she would probably have thought I was just being a silly kid
stopped the car and turned in his seat. "Shush - you're not
just being a silly kid. It's a big change, so of course you'd
be nervous about meeting your father, and about Earth. Voyager
is home, to many of us, and Earth is so completely different that
- well, that I doubt very many of us really think of it as home
any more. Certainly to me, and B'Elanna, Voyager is home. Our
family is here, just as yours is - and believe me, I was at least
as nervous about meeting my father as you were about meeting yours."
Naomi looked up.
were? Why? You knew your dad."
a long story, but in a lot of ways I didn't - just think of your
dad as a new friend, once we get back to Earth. It'll fall into
place, I'm sure it will - you know how Neelix was your friend?"
Naomi nodded. "Well, think of your father as a friend like
Neelix was. They aren't the same people, but you can act like
miss Neelix," said Naomi. She seemed a little less preoccupied
with the problems of home and her father, though.
think we all miss him - and we could certainly do with him right
now; I'm sure he would have had a thousand suggestions for how
we could cheer up Miral!" laughed Tom. Naomi grinned at him.
one worked, though - she's quiet. Oops," said Naomi. She'd
spoken too soon, as Miral chose that moment to start crying again,
in protest at the fact that they hadn't moved for a while.
honey, we're moving - let me just get her started!" He teased
his daughter, pulling a face at her while he started the car up
again. Once back on the road, Miral's cries stopped as abruptly
as they had before and Tom grinned, heading the car down the road
with the sun sinking slowly towards the ocean to their right.
brought the Flyer back down, easing it close to the cliff. Harry
peered out of the cavern entrance, running towards the ship as
the ramp lowered.
sign of them, Commander?" he asked.
looks like they're gone - at least for now. Nothing from Voyager,
and I don't want to raise them on the comm - I'd rather wait for
them to let me know it's clear. If the Sernaix have found them,
I don't want to give them a comlink trace to follow. I've left
the ship out far enough so that she's not blanketed this time.
We'll hear them if they -" he stopped, listening intently.
crackle in the cabin was followed by Janeway's voice. "Voyager
to the Delta Flyer, report."
grinned at Harry. "Speak of the devil," he said as he
moved back to the helm. Harry shook his head and smiled, pleased
to hear from Voyager at last. "Delta Flyer, go ahead Voyager.
I take it we're clear of the Sernaix."
left the system - did you encounter them at all?" came the
poked around, but that was all. We'll be up as soon as we can
get Boylan on board -"
words were cut off by Janeway again. "No need, Commander.
Engineering have one of our transporters working, we'll beam him
aboard with the minerals you've got so far. The rest of you can
stay down there and get the rest - we'll do what we can to assist
with the sensors to locate the veins you need, I'd rather not
stay around here too long. Voyager out."
Harry and Chakotay blinked at the stream of commands and the abrupt
end of the communication. Chakotay recovered and turned to Harry.
"Well, Harry, it looks like we've got our orders. Get Baxter
and Ayala to bring Boylan out here where the transporters can
get at him."
moved off, and Chakotay busied himself at the helm. A stream of
information was coming over the link already; Voyager had switched
their sensors back to examine the planet more closely. Chakotay's
combadge signaled an incoming message.
I would prefer it if you would ensure that all mining operations
are completed as quickly as possible," Seven's voice echoed
in the ship. "The sensors have been diverted from Astrometrics,
and it is crucial that we restore their function as soon as possible
if we are to make any progress with determining our location."
Seven," said Chakotay wearily. He wasn't in the mood to get
caught between Seven and Janeway's egos right now, and held back
from pointing out that he hadn't exactly requested that the sensors
be diverted. He felt like suggesting that, if she was at a loose
end right now, she come down and help them get the material mined.
He wasn't sure he wanted her company, though - for a number of
reasons, not least of which was that he had quite enough problems
with the Captain already, and wasn't prepared to give her more
fuel for her misunderstandings. A thought occurred to him.
I'm sending up some information on some markings we found here
in a cave - maybe they'll be useful. Chakotay out." He uploaded
the tricorder information; even if it wasn't useful, perhaps it
would keep her quiet for a while.
was finally quiet; the shields were up - the armor was still not
functioning - and they had a transporter working. The warp core
was behaving itself, if rather low on dilithium. Everything that
could be fixed was, at least until they had more material to work
with. B'Elanna took advantage of the quiet to go looking for Tom
and Miral - she hadn't heard from Tom in a while and she was wondering
how he was coping now.
where is Tom Paris?"
Paris is in Holodeck One."
that wasn't entirely surprising. B'Elanna wondered what Tom was
corrupting Miral with now - he surely wasn't trying to teach her
to play pool already? She grinned at the idea, and set off for
doors opened onto a late afternoon scene; an ocean ambled into
low tide to her left and, slowing before her, was one of Tom's
beloved cars. She stepped to the side and he pulled up by her.
to join us?" he asked, with a lazy smile. Naomi grinned at
been whale watching," she said excitedly. "And look
- Miral's gone to sleep!"
blinked at that piece of news, and looked a little more closely
at the bundle on the seat on Tom's right hand side. Miral was
quiet, eyes tightly closed and an impossibly small fist bunched
by her mouth. "Oh Tom ... thank you. Oh, sweetheart,"
she whispered, leaning across Tom to the baby, "you look
the back seat, Naomi bounced happily. "Come and sit here,
driving?" B'Elanna looked at her husband and grinned. "Yes,
I'm sure it's fun ... what was the speed limit at this time, Tom,
shrugged and smiled. "Doesn't matter - no policemen in this
simulation. Besides, it's been too nice a night to go tearing
down the highway." B'Elanna laughed.
not - they'll let me know when the mining's finished. I've got
a little time to spare." She was about to get into the car
when Naomi's combadge chirped, and Sam Wildman spoke.
it's time to come home - I've got dinner ready here. Tom, thank
you for looking after her."
pleasure, Sam, she's been good company."
leant over to say goodbye to Miral, very carefully brushing a
finger against the infant's clenched fist. "Bye Miral, I'll
see you soon." She grinned up at Tom and B'Elanna. "Thanks!
This has been fun!" She jumped over the side of the car,
to Tom's amusement, and shot out of the holodeck at a half-run,
ready to slow up as soon as anyone looked like they were going
to chastise her for running.
doors closed behind her, shutting out the corridor and restoring
the peace of a quiet California sunset. B'Elanna leant down to
kiss Tom. "Hello," she murmured. Tom raised his arm
and tugged gently on the back of her neck, pulling her down a
little into his kiss.
Peace and quiet. Just the three of us, and none of us are yelling.
I like that," said B'Elanna softly. She wasn't willing to
risk waking Miral. Tom laughed, equally quietly, then shifted
his hand to B'Elanna's waist.
get in," he popped the door open. "You can sit on my
lap." He tried for a leer, but managed only a wistfully tired
smile. B'Elanna smiled a little more widely; he looked adorable.
Tired, rumpled, and one hand spread over his daughter, a finger
held tightly in her clenched palm.
slid onto his legs, leaning back on the steering wheel. Not wildly
comfortable, but she couldn't afford the luxury of sleep right
now and, anyway, she needed to be able to see Miral as well. Something
occurred to her. "When did she last eat? I had to take a
break for a moment a couple of hours ago and top up the supply
- was she okay with replicated milk?"
shifted B'Elanna slightly, his leg slightly sore from driving;
it used muscles he didn't often exercise at Voyager's helm. "She
was fine - there was some left from earlier anyway, she wasn't
all that hungry then. I used it as a pattern for the replicator."
So," asked B'Elanna, yawning, "what did you and Naomi
talk about? Are you getting in some practice at talking to children
so that you know how to deal with Miral?"
smiled. "Something like that - Naomi wanted to have some
practice looking after Miral; she wants to babysit. At the rate
she's growing, it won't be long before she's able to, either.
I think she also needed to just talk to someone - she was worried
about the fact that he wasn't looking forward to getting home,
and seeing her father - I think I managed to reassure her, but
I was wondering whether I ought to let Sam know. I think she's
feeling a bit guilty about being relieved when almost everyone
else is disappointed. I have to say, I know how she feels."
looked off into the distance, thinking. "Well, it doesn't
look like we're getting home any time soon but, yes, maybe we
should tell Sam. The Captain's pulled enough peculiar rabbits
out of equally unlikely hats in the past, so maybe we'll be home
tomorrow. You never know. And you're infecting me with ancient
weird expressions! Rabbits out of hats ... " She laughed
and swatted at Tom. "Come on, Flyboy, let me into the back
seat and drive!"
smiled at her laughter and let her clamber over to the back seat,
assisting with a hand on her thigh - and getting another swat
and a gurgle of laughter in return. He started the car up and
set off again, finding B'Elanna hanging over the seat next to
him, looking down at Miral. "She is gorgeous, isn't she?"
murmured B'Elanna, suddenly thrilled all over again with her daughter.
she is," said Tom, looking at B'Elanna.
Delta Flyer is secure in the shuttlebay. Chakotay out." Janeway
stood in the middle of the bridge, looking down at the planet
below as Chakotay cut the link. At the tactical station, Tuvok
was scanning for signs of the Sernaix; they had picked up a faint
trail, not unlike a warp trail, and he was trying to track it.
In the meantime, the Captain had a decision to make about which
direction they would head in.
reviewed the information Seven had passed to her earlier; she
was still not quite sure she believed that they were in a static
universe, but every test they could think of confirmed it. The
odd star alignment that Chakotay and Harry had found etched in
the cave on the planet was, perhaps, more immediately useful.
Seven had determined that the markings coincided with a group
of stars, around 200 light years away, if viewed from an angle
at 47 degrees to the galactic elliptic.
by the brief report she'd just had from Chakotay, it seemed unlikely
that the Sernaix had made the markings - and their trail pointed
away from that area of space. Then again, 200 light years was
a long way. Unless they had engines far beyond Voyager's capabilities
they would be too far away for the Sernaix to inevitably take
a direct route home - and they hadn't seemed that much faster
in battle. But then again, she thought wryly, ships being stranded
far from home weren't as uncommon as she'd like.
Jenkins was at the helm; Janeway wondered idly how Paris was doing
ensign looked round. "Any particular direction you want me
to take us in, Captain?" she asked.
thought again; maybe it was worth heading in the direction of
that star group. She had no better idea and, in its favor, it
was away from the Sernaix - that group of them, at least. She
nodded and looked at Jenkins.
a course - bearing 000, mark 47. Warp two, Ensign. I'd prefer
not to stress the engines too much right now."
turned towards her chair, then paused. "Mr. Tuvok, you have
the bridge. I'll be in my ready room."
Captain." Tuvok nodded an acknowledgement and moved down
from the security station as Janeway disappeared through the doors
of the ready room.
Personal Log, Stardate 55011.7, We've been caught here - wherever
here is - for ten days now; so far I've lost one crew member and
almost lost another six; not to mention all those lost from the
Pleiades on the way here. Is that some sort of record? It is ironic
that, in returning us to the Alpha Quadrant to save the lives
of 20-odd crew, the Admiral has been indirectly responsible of
the deaths of many more. Still, it seems I've always chosen the
complicated route - this is no exception; just a rather unexpected
result of the decision I took to fire on the Caretaker's array.
I had, stupidly, allowed myself to hope that the worst of the
consequences of that decision were behind me.
crew aren't avoiding me. Yet. It seems only a matter of time;
my first officer is certainly not going out of his way to talk
to me, but that's to be expected. What else did he expect me to
do? His track record is such that it didn't seem unreasonable
to expect him to go straight into the mouth of a Cardassian hell
to retrieve Seven. There's something odd there, though, something
not quite right between the two of them. I'll leave them to work
it out, I haven't the time to worry about it now.
situation we're in is quite enough to worry over. The suggestion
that we're caught in some static bubble universe, confirmation
of an obscure four-hundred year old theory, seems almost too much
to take. It is too much to take. The sensor readings seem like
those for a model designed by a failing first-year astrophysics
student - one so poor that he's forgotten to account for standard
redshift, something even ten-year-olds seem to be taught about.
nightmare on top of another nightmare; the Sernaix. Like something
out of a grandmother's fairytales, the Grimm variety. It's hard
not to assess them on appearance alone, but their subsequent actions
only confirmed every cultural prejudice that flared when I saw
them. Why did they attack? Why didn't they see the team on the
planet - and what are their shields made of? Even the armor the
Admiral brought back doesn't have that capacity. Tuvok is working
on it, but I don't hold out much hope of an answer right now.
One crew member dead - from the Pleiades, I hadn't even had a
chance to meet him yet. One too many, and it's my decisions that
killed him - my decision at the array, my decision twenty-three
years from now in a future that will no longer happen.
I've been having the oddest of dreams lately; the doctor has mentioned
in a briefing that others are experiencing the same thing. It
seems to be a stress reaction. That would be appropriate. The
dreams leave me wondering when Q will appear - it seems to be
one of the characters from his Civil War re-enactment; a woman
standing on a balcony. I wake up and the first thing I do is look
for him to appear. I think, now, I'd actually be grateful to see
that white flash of light and his arrogant expression. It would
certainly explain all of this much better than anyone of us could.
Producers: Thinkey, Anne Rose and Coral