8-4 - Fair-Weather Friends
By: Shayenne (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.
Astrometrics lab was dimly lit and nearly deserted in the quiet
hours of Voyager's artificial night. The banks of consoles were
inactive but the room still had a hushed tense air permeating
through it. Seven of Nine stood in front of the only activated
console. It displayed scrolling data moving too fast for the human
eye to process. Seven's optical implant absorbed the knowledge
swiftly. She was once again reviewing the charts for the area
of space surrounding the transwarp corridor. Her own assimilated
knowledge of the hub and its corridors was unable to shed any
light on their whereabouts. Difficult as she found it to comprehend,
they were in an area of space that was not known to the Borg.
did not like failure. And she keenly felt the failure of her attempts
to identify their location. Coming as it did, swiftly on the heels
of the dissolution of her relationship with Commander Chakotay,
Seven felt an unusual impulse to prove herself to her crewmates.
halted the display, staring intently at an anomalous reading in
the lines of calculations. The readings showed a discrepancy that
was too minute to be noticed under normal conditions. Now, with
the uncertainty of their position sharpening her awareness, the
discrepancy took on a new meaning. Voyager had escaped the transwarp
corridor not only through the visible rift, but also through the
merest fracture in the time-space continuum. The dissolving and
highly unstable transwarp network had widened the rift sufficiently
for the two ships to slip through and had closed behind them as
the network shifted again. The theory fit neatly with Icheb's
findings about the static nature of the galaxy they were in, and
Janeway's musings on a bubble universe.
vision blurred momentarily, the wavering fog of a tired and newly
emotional mind overriding the control of her implants. It had
been fifty-seven hours since her last regeneration cycle, too
long for efficient functioning, but she was unwilling to let the
data slip through her fingers.
activated her communicator. "Seven of Nine to Ensign Kim."
waited for a moment before she repeated the summons. A groggy
voice answered her, thick with sleep. "Seven, what do you
want? It's 0300 hours. I was asleep..." The voice ended on
an upward wail.
require your assistance in Astrometrics."
it wait?" The voice at the other end of the communicator
became a distant mumble. "My shift starts in four hours."
would prefer you to come now. I must regenerate and cannot wait
for another four hours. I wish to show you my findings."
Seven waited for the response.
okay." Harry didn't sound too excited. There was the rustle
of bedclothes, then Harry again, sounding a little more alert.
"Give me five minutes. Kim out."
minutes and twenty-three seconds later Harry entered the lab.
His uniform was rumpled and his hair was unkempt, but at least
he appeared reasonably alert.
Seven. Tell me what has you dragging me out of bed when normal
people are asleep." He peered at her a bit more closely.
"You don't look so good either. Are you all right?"
will... suffice." Seven avoided looking directly at Harry,
concentrating instead on the movements of her fingers on the console.
"Pay close attention. These readings are navigational readings
taken in the transwarp corridor when it started to destabilize.
Voyager was flung out of the corridor during a shifting of the
structure that opened a momentary rift out of normal space. I
believe that we were pulled through it when we attempted to exit
the visible gap. Observe these readings here. This represents
the most accurate data we have on the transwarp corridor. The
discrepancy between these two readings suggests the rift.
squinted at the screen. "And if you correlate the readings
from our sensors with the readings from the projected navigational
charts, it would have been exactly as we got to this point that
we took a wrong turn."
Except that we didn't mean to exit this way; it was just a random
factor in the rift that allowed us to pass through just as we
were seeking an exit from the corridor."
ran a hand through his spiky hair, rearranging it even further.
"So, where are we?"
am unsure. But now that we have a starting point you and I might
be able to ascertain our location. But if you factor in Icheb's
findings on the static nature of this area we are in, it reinforces
the theory that we are somehow outside of normal space."
we are nowhere. We just have to find a way back to somewhere."
Harry sighed again. "Where is Icheb?"
sent him to get some rest. He was excessively fatigued."
Icheb." Harry's mutter didn't pass unnoticed.
worked in silence. Seven had never seen the need for polite banter,
especially when there was work to be done.
hour later, Harry sat heavily down in the chair. "All these
calculations and we are no nearer to finding the one thing that
does matter - a way out. The rift closed behind us; we haven't
seen anything resembling another one since we've been here. We
might as well be back in the Delta Quadrant for all the good that
we've done tonight." He buried his head in his hands. "At
times like these, Seven, I really wonder what is the point to
all of this."
will find a way out. We got in, so it must be possible to leave
maybe. But it's the irony of it all that upsets me the most. I
could almost taste my mom's kimchi. And now we're worse off than
we were in the Delta Quadrant. At least there we knew where we
were and had communication with our loved ones."
studied him. "You miss your family." It was a statement,
not a question.
looked up. "Of course. Seven, one day you will find someone
you will miss if you are not able to be with them or even communicate
with them. Someone who you care about so much that you are unhappy
because you know they are worried about you."
is possible. I am finding this to be an unlikely scenario."
Brief thoughts of Commander Chakotay passed through her mind.
She was not 'missing him'; not in the way that Harry was describing.
Her foremost feeling around the Commander now was discomfort.
She quite simply was ill at ease in his presence. She knew he
would not bother her while she worked, so she just had to avoid
the neutral areas of the ship for a while longer. She could avoid
most of them almost indefinitely, but the cargo bay was no longer
a place of retreat for her.
was another reason too that she was avoiding the cargo bay. It
was the one place on the ship that she was most often alone. The
crew seldom came there; the Captain, Icheb, Naomi and recently
Chakotay were her most frequent visitors and they came rarely.
Seven did not want to be alone right now. Without the distractions
of her work or the crew, the terror she had experienced when she
was a Cardassian prisoner resurfaced. She was not used to feeling
fear and she lacked the emotional control and mental disciplines
that most people develop to contain it. The Doctor had offered
to help her deal with it, but she didn't know where to begin.
Once again, she wished that the Doctor was able to reverse the
procedure he had performed on her cortical node. She was uneasy
at not being in control of herself. Emotions, she was fast learning,
were unpredictable and could not be ordered or contained.
was just so tired. She closed her eyes briefly and immediately
the persistent sound of dripping water echoed in her head. She
Harry took her arm and led her over to a chair. "Sit down.
How long have you been working?"
hours and eleven minutes."
long enough. And you've only been back on board after... being
on the Cardassian ship for a few days." Harry looked worriedly
at the former drone. "Seven, I know you cope with most things
in your own way, but being held prisoner must have rattled even
you." He hesitated briefly, then rushed on, "if I can
help in any way... if you just need a friend to talk to, then
I'd like to help."
you. The Doctor has offered his assistance too. But I will deal
with this myself. In time, I believe that I will..." Seven's
voice faded to a whisper.
put his hand reassuringly on her shoulder. "The bad memories
will gradually fade. You will forget."
eyes opened wide. "I'm not sure that I can, Ensign. I am
finding it difficult to be alone with my thoughts." The insidious
sound of dripping water filled her ears again, so real that she
shook her head to clear them.
was silent for a moment. "The Cardassian ship. It was not
a recent design."
was a statement, not a question, but Harry answered anyway. "No.
It was a galor class vessel, commissioned approximately fifteen
years ago. But they maintain they have only been in this area
of space for a few months." Harry frowned. "It doesn't
postulates that this region is static in nature. It is possible
that time is similarly static."
Harry sat down again and put his head in his hands. "So if
or when we do get out, we're going to find everyone we know and
love is dead from old age."
necessarily true, Ensign. But it would explain why the Cardassians
are adamant that only a few months have passed."
stomach gave a sudden growl. "That settles it; we've done
enough. We'll go to the mess hall for an early breakfast. And
we'll go to Captain Janeway after you have regenerated. A few
hours won't make much difference. After we've eaten, if you like
I'll escort you to the cargo bay and wait until your regeneration
cycle has started. So that you won't be alone."
you, Ensign. That is very kind of you." She accepted his
proffered arm and they left for the mess hall.
was proceeding at a steady warp 2 towards the star cluster identified
as being similar to the markings Chakotay had found on the away
mission. The assembled senior staff was quiet as Seven presented
her and Harry's findings. Chakotay listened intently, even as
he covertly regarded the rest of the staff. Although a part of
him was despairing at their newly discovered predicament, he was
already trying to think of ways around the situation. The bubble
universe theory, although unproven, made sufficient sense that
no one was discounting it. He regarded Kathryn cautiously. She
was strangely quiet with none of the gusto and determination that
normally characterized her during these meetings. She sat unmoving
in her chair, her face a mask. Unreadable and unreachable. Chakotay
felt the familiar twinge of anger at her actions deep in his gut.
Seven years working together and the wagons were still circling
around the old issue of trust.
it," she was saying, and Chakotay brought himself abruptly
back to the meeting.
nodded. "I can divert power to enhance the shield generator,"
she was saying. "If the dilithium we picked up on the last
away mission can be sufficiently refined in time, then we will
have sufficient energy to power the ship for at least a month."
crises," interjected Tom.
on it lasting a week then," muttered Harry, not quietly enough.
Chakotay sent him a warning glance. Not here, Harry, please, it
said. Harry subsided.
if I could have extra personnel to work on the shield grid, and
all available power re-routed there, it would help us get the
grid functioning back at peak capacity sooner. And I want to shut
down the holodecks until we've isolated the power drain. The extra
power can then be re-routed to Engineering."
waved a hand at her. "Do it," she said. Her eyes drifted
back to the viewport and her face was half-hidden by the battered
coffee mug that she favored.
explanation of where they were - or where they weren't - Chakotay
amended himself, had rattled a lot of people. He had been hoping
for something more concrete than this. Seven, Icheb, and Harry
had spent all of their available time over the past few days working
on their position but it seemed that they were still a long way
from certain. With a start, he realized that he had barely seen
Seven recently. He examined his feelings closely, surprised to
find that the knowledge didn't bring him the stab of grief that
he expected. Even his anxiety about her condition when she was
returned to Voyager from the Cardassian ship was merely the concern
he would feel for any crew member who had undergone a difficult
experience. He felt a twinge of shame. He should have been there
to support her when she returned. He wondered, not for the first
time if Kathryn was right - would he have gone off on a hair-brained
scheme to rescue her had he known? He just didn't know. Chakotay
sighed to himself and pushed his personal thoughts to one side
and concentrated once again on the meeting.
was talking, asking if the Captain wished to proceed on the course
set to the distant star cluster.
sorry, Mr. Paris? Would you repeat that please?" Kathryn
seemed as distracted as he was.
repeated his request. "I asked if we are maintaining our
current course, Captain."
no change necessary there, Mr. Paris. Just try to keep us away
from the Sernaix until we are ready to meet with them again on
require all currently unassigned personnel to be made available
for the Astrometrics lab." Seven spoke up coolly. "Even
the least able will be useful to run basic calculations under
it." Janeway was definitely preoccupied.
B'Elanna spoke up, clearly perturbed at having staff snatched
away from her.
Janeway stood. "Lieutenant, whatever you need to say can
wait until next time." She turned away towards the viewport,
coffee in hand.
hesitated, clearly wanting to say more, but sensing the undercurrents,
she left with Tom. Chakotay waited until all the staff had left.
Confronting Kathryn was the last thing he felt like doing now,
especially after her frosty treatment of him over the past few
days. Her offhand manner wasn't helping the already fragile atmosphere
door closed behind Seven's upright back and he turned towards
her. "Captain." His tone was cool but firm.
said dismissed, Commander." She didn't turn from her position.
closed the distance between them. "Captain. It is my duty
to point out a couple of things here. You drafted unassigned crewmen
to Engineering to assist B'Elanna, then five minutes later reassigned
them to Seven. Both departments need all the help they can get
right now, but putting them at loggerheads with each other won't
you once again telling me how to run my ship, Commander?"
She wouldn't look at him. Her face was visible in the reflection
of the viewport and he could see her set jaw.
You should know me better than that, Kathryn." Deliberately
he used her name. "Part of my job is to sort out personnel
assignments. I want to be clear on how you stand."
turned to face him. "Oh, I am very clear. Maybe I am the
only person on this ship who is."
waited for her to elaborate, but instead she turned away again.
"Do whatever you feel necessary, Commander. You're the First
Officer, a fact you apparently feel the need to remind me of.
So do your job."
voice was flat and cold. He could feel her hostility and undercurrents
of something else, something indefinable. He stared at her, his
emotions roiling at her offhand treatment of him. He wanted to
shout at her, rage that it was he who had been played for a fool,
once again played for the sucker, he thought savagely. But her
stiff shoulders deterred him. However it had got there, there
was a barrier between them that had grown since their abrupt departure
from the Alpha Quadrant. And she was right. He was the First Officer.
Captain." He stood waiting for some acknowledgement from
her, but the burnished head didn't move. He left.
Chell was at the back of the pantry, PADD in hand. Not for the
first time, he wondered about Neelix's supply inventory, if indeed
you could call it that. Neelix, bless his little cotton socks,
made the word 'haphazard' seem as orderly as the Borg collective.
The rough ride through the transwarp corridor had taken its toll
on all parts of the ship, including the pantry. Chell had been
allocated to an engineering repair team for the first few hectic
days and it was only now that he was able to turn his attention
to the mess in the pantry.
sighed. Mess was an understatement. It looked like several dozen
crewmen had had a food fight. Bags of dry goods had burst and
spread over the floor, white powdery footprints tracked all over
the kitchen as people had wandered in and out, fending for themselves
in their brief breaks away from essential repairs. Several barrels
were tipped over, one weeping a watery substance with a foul odor.
He wondered how to start reconciling the nauseous looking mix
in front of him with Neelix's disorganized inventory.
sat on an unopened barrel and started to catalog the immediate
things that caught his eye. He was concentrating and was caught
unawares when small footsteps crept up behind him. The touch of
a hand on his shoulder sent him leaping into the air from a sitting
position, catching his head on a shelf and sending several kilograms
of dried trega - Delta Quadrant oatmeal - tumbling down on top
sorry." He turned around towards the voice to see Naomi Wildman
standing there, her hand over her mouth. He wasn't sure if she
was fighting giggles or was horrified at what she had done, so
he hastened to reassure her that he was unhurt.
damage," he said as he rubbed his head. "It takes more
than an old shelf to keep a Bolian down."
giggled. "Sorry," she said again. "I thought you
heard me come in."
gestured ruefully to the chaos around them. "There's enough
sound proofing in this lot to drown the approach of a herd of
eyes opened very wide. "Is it really a herd of Klingons?"
Chell tried to cover his tracks. "It's not. Forget I said
that, Naomi. And please don't tell B'Elanna. Now, what can I do
for you? Are you hungry?"
really." Naomi wandered around, picking things up and putting
them down again. "I guess I just came here out of habit.
I used to come and talk to Neelix when he worked in the pantry."
made a quick decision. "You could talk to me," he suggested.
"I could use an assistant with this, especially one who is
familiar with Neelix's inventory system."
giggled again. "What system? He always told me he didn't
winked at her. "That's for certain," he said. "Now,
suppose you sit over there on that barrel with this PADD and enter
in the items that I call out to you?"
Naomi hopped up onto the barrel. "What do you suppose I'm
Chell looked thoughtful for a moment. "I would guess, that
it's... no, it couldn't possibly be."
Naomi looked intrigued. "What do you think it is?"
Chell shook his head decisively. "Neelix wouldn't have put
such an item near the door where it was the first thing that he
could reach. It couldn't possibly be..."
root!" they chorused together.
entered it on the PADD. Chell worked tirelessly away calling out
the various items and making silly rhyming jokes for the names
of the items. He just hoped he would be able to decipher Naomi's
list afterwards. As they worked through the stores his concern
about the low levels of supplies grew. They had been on the verge
of re-provisioning when they left the Delta Quadrant and there
had been no time to consider it in the turmoil of events since.
The last away team had found nothing in the way of edible foodstuffs.
time passed quickly for both of them and Chell was surprised to
find it was time for him to start the midday meal. "Thank
you for your help, Naomi." He winked at her. "Couldn't
have done it without you."
climbed down from the barrel. "Can I come back and help again
Anytime you like. I have to go and cook for the mob now. We're
having Twilight Zone Tortellini."
good. I have to go too." Naomi waited, hands behind her back
until Chell entered the kitchen. She looked around cautiously
to make sure she wasn't being observed before she picked her way
through the now ordered sacks and barrels. Carefully she scooped
out a double handful of trega, which she slipped into the pocket
of her smock. She waved to Chell as she quickly left, and skipped
out into the corridor.
entered the ready room, quietly determined to see this through.
He had barely seen Kathryn since the senior staff meeting. She
was seen passing through the bridge on her way to the ready room
or occasionally pacing the corridors. She hadn't conferred with
him directly about their position. To Chakotay, it seemed like
she was in denial; that if she ignored the whole situation maybe
it would go away. He could understand that she was hurting once
again. To be so close to home that the globe filled their viewscreens
only to end up adrift, spirits knows where, was certainly a major
blow for anyone. Kathryn Janeway, he knew, would take it harder
than most. But right now the crew needed their Captain. Decisions
had to be made and the Captain should make them. And should make
them visibly, so that the crew would be reassured.
was sitting at her desk studying her terminal. She barely looked
up as he came to a stop in front of her desk.
is it, Commander?" Her tone was distant and unapproachable,
as if she had already decided to deny his request before he had
even made it.
cut straight to the heart of the matter. In happier times he would
have sat down, helped himself to tea from the replicator and shared
some pleasantries with his friend; but this captain, remote and
cold, didn't seem to need or want that.
crew should be told where we are."
don't know where we are." Her voice was flat; she might have
been reciting Starfleet protocols by the lack of inflection in
that's what they should be told." Chakotay refused to let
himself fidget. He would have liked to sit down and discuss this
properly, but that didn't appear to be an option.
can we tell them?" Her flash of anger was unexpected. "
'Good morning crew, this is your Captain speaking. I'm here to
tell you that we don't know where we are or how the hell we're
going to get back. Carry on the good work. Janeway out.' Is that
what you want me to say, Commander?"
like that, preferably without the sarcasm, is exactly what you
should say. You can't leave people in the dark, Captain. Whatever
your personal feelings are right now, you need to keep us, your
crew, informed. Particularly the senior staff." He leaned
forward, placing his hands flat on the desk, forcing her to look
at him. "Especially me. Your First Officer, in case you've
returned her gaze to her terminal. "Fine. You feel so strongly
about it, you can make the announcement. Is that all?" Her
fingers started working on the keypad again.
that's not all. Supplies. Food. We're running low. Chell inventoried
our stores yesterday. We need to re-provision very soon."
the crew to eat less when you make your announcement." She
waved a hand in dismissal. "Now, if that is really all?"
closed his eyes for a moment acknowledging defeat. There was plenty
he needed to talk about; he had a mental list that was repeating
in this head like a ticker tape. But now was obviously not the
time. He tamped down anger he felt; the right time never seemed
to occur when Kathryn was in this mood. He turned on his heel
than put off a task that he dreaded, he went straight to his office
and closed the door. He needed to make the announcement. Without
giving himself time to reconsider, he thumbed open the comm link.
hands, this is Commander Chakotay. As most of you are aware, our
stay in the Alpha Quadrant was brief. We struck a Borg subspace
mine as we went to warp and were thrown back into the destabilizing
transwarp corridor, along with two other Starfleet vessels, the
Himalaya and the Pleiades. We cannot ascertain our exact position,
but we are working to determine our precise location. I am sorry
to have to tell you that the Himalaya was destroyed, but we have
survivors from the Pleiades on board. The Captain and I ask that
you continue with the exemplary performance that we have come
to expect from you all over the past seven years. We will continue
to update you as more information becomes available. Chakotay
out." He closed the link. Not perfect, but it was the best
he could come up with right now. He hoped that the crew would
not be too disheartened now that the true uncertainty of their
position was known.
stood, meaning to leave for the bridge when his door chime stopped
him. "Enter." He sat back down behind his desk.
stepped into the room, his dark Vulcan face as composed as ever.
"Commander. I am sorry to bother you, but the Captain did
not respond to my request for assistance."
felt vague stirrings of alarm at the precise words. If Vorik was
describing the Captain in typical understated Vulcan way as 'non-responsive',
that probably meant she hadn't even acknowledged Vorik's presence
in her ready room. He steepled his fingers. "Go on."
His demeanor indicated that he was giving his full attention to
the warp drive is draining power at an unusually high rate. We
are unable to trace the power leak. Normally I would summon Lieutenant
Torres, but she is still on light duties following the birth of
her child. The Captain..."
cut off his words before Vorik could outline the Captain's apathy
to the problem. "Ensign, new mother or not, Lieutenant Torres
is still the chief of engineering. Her brain and reasoning were
not affected by Miral's birth. I suggest you page her; she can
probably offer you some suggestions over the link without even
setting foot in engineering."
understand. Thank you, Sir." Vorik half turned. "Permission
to return to engineering."
Thank you, Vorik. If you have any further engineering problems,
Lieutenant Torres should still be the first person you consult."
stood as Vorik turned to leave, but his reprieve was short lived.
As soon as the door opened Mortimer Harren stormed in, pushing
Vorik into the doorframe as he did so. Harren shook with suppressed
emotion; words tumbled from him in waves and ran over each other
in his urgency to be heard.
this is not good enough." Spittle flew from his blue lips
to splatter the pile of PADDs on Chakotay's desk. "Have you
any idea what she has done now? This is my life she is destroying.
Again. My life, ripped away from me for a second time, by her
hand. My work, my life, my theories. Have you any idea how close
I am to demolishing Schlezholt's theory of multiple big bangs.
How will I be recognized for my contribution if she insists on
stranding us in the far corners of the galaxy...."
held up a hand. He had been afraid of this sort of reaction from
the more volatile members of the crew. He just hadn't expected
it to be so immediate. "Harren..."
eyes were wild and unfocussed; he took no notice of the interruption,
but merely continued in his impassioned tirade. Chakotay steeled
himself to ignore the despair and hopelessness in Harren's voice.
Only by focussing on the anger in the crewman's tone was he able
to stop the rant. "Harren. Control yourself man."
paused briefly, but the diatribe continued and even expanded to
include perceived petty acts by the Captain against the crew.
Chakotay shouted the word. "If you don't stop now I'm calling
security. They will take you to the brig and you will spend the
next three days cooling your heels there and composing your official
apology. Do you understand me?"
eyes returned to focus on the blue-gray walls of the office. His
face lost some of its pallor. He took a deep breath. "Sir.
I'm sorry, Sir. It's just that..." He drew a shuddering breath
and stopped, seemingly unwilling to continue.
ordered a glass of water from the replicator and thrust it at
Harren. "Here, drink this. Take a minute to compose yourself."
waited while the younger man sipped the water, the rigid set of
his shoulders returning to their normal slumped position. Too
much time huddled over a console on deck fifteen, thought Chakotay.
He made a mental note to ensure that Harren was included on Tuvok's
next physical training program, if ever there was time for such
routine matters again. Swiftly he tamped down his own insidious
line of negative emotion.
to me." Chakotay kept his tone deliberately harsh and authoritative.
He could not allow the natural anger of the crew at their situation
to turn against the Captain. "I will overlook this outburst
on this occasion. It is understandable that you are angry, but
I want you to channel your energy into a more positive approach.
Volunteer for additional duties. There are many places right now
that could use an extra pair of capable hands like yours. Make
a positive contribution to our situation, Harren. I don't want
to hear you talking like this again. Do you understand me?"
nodded once, jerkily. His eyes were fixed on his boots, and he
didn't hear you. Repeat that please." Chakotay's tone brooked
said, 'Sorry, Sir'."
had his doubts that those were the mumbled words, but he let it
pass. "You may go, Crewman. I expect to see your name down
for some of the additional volunteer repair teams. Is that understood?"
For the second time in fifteen minutes, Chakotay dismissed a crewman
more harshly than he would have liked.
sighed and turned to the replicator, ordering a cup of green tea.
He heard the door close behind Harren and turned back to his desk
expecting to see a blessedly empty office. Instead, Harry Kim
Chakotay kept his tone friendly; Harry wasn't one to run scared
and if he had a problem, then the chances were it was genuine.
He studied the Ensign closely; Harry looked tired, his hair stood
up in jagged tufts and his uniform was rumpled. Chakotay wondered
how long he had been on duty.
sorry, Commander. Do you mind if I sit down? I'm extremely tired.
I was going off duty for some rest when this came up and I need
to get it sorted out before it becomes a bigger problem."
Chakotay gestured to the chair, but Harry was already slumping
down into it. He put his head in his hands briefly before lifting
his face to look at Chakotay.
tea?" Chakotay turned back to the replicator, already sure
of Harry's answer.
Some of that green tea you're drinking would be good."
waited patiently while Harry cradled the cup, taking a sip of
the fragrant liquid while he composed his thoughts.
about the power management," said Harry eventually. "Vorik
has re-routed some of the extra power that was assigned to Astrometrics
to engineering. I understand they have a problem with a power
leak right now, but with all due respect, we need that power more
in Astrometrics. Sure we need to get the warp core operating at
peak efficiency, but I think it's more important to keep working
on pinpointing our position. It's not much good being able to
travel at warp if we have no idea exactly what's out there. I
would like the power allocated back to Astrometrics. Seven agrees
with me. In fact, I left Seven confronting Vorik about the logic
of his arguments."
need the warp core operating at peak efficiency as soon as possible,
Harry." Chakotay kept his tone reasonable. "We've been
under attack since we've been here and we need a way of beating
a swift retreat should it become necessary. But," he could
see Harry opening his mouth to argue and he wanted to stave off
another confrontation, "I agree with you that once this crisis
is over, Astrometrics is the main priority. Give the engineering
team time. I'm sure B'Elanna will work her customary miracle and
you won't be down in resources for long. The same goes for personnel;
we can allocate you the extra crewmen once the engineering situation
is back under control."
seemed like he was going to argue, then he shrugged. "All
right. I'll go and pacify Seven. I don't suppose you care to come
and calm her down for me? She listens better to you than me. And
she seems strangely emotional about the subject. That's not like
her at all."
first instinct was to refuse; he rather thought that Seven would
listen to him less these days. He thought again that he had hardly
seen her since she broke off their relationship. Maybe this would
be a good opportunity to show her that their professional relationship
was undamaged. Harry's comment about her emotional volatility
unnerved him. Apart from himself and the Doctor, he didn't think
anyone was aware of the changes to her cortical node that allowed
her to experience the full range of the emotional spectrum. Outside
of their brief relationship, she had had little experience at
dealing with the unfamiliar nuances of human expression. She may
need an outside stabilizing influence for a while.
right. I'll come down with you now and talk to her." He clapped
Harry on the back. "Then you are off-duty for the next twelve
you." Harry's heartfelt sigh of relief was drowned out by
the swish of the doors.
dimmed the lights in the ready room to thirty percent. The harsh
glare of their normal setting hurt her eyes and the twilight effect
echoed her mood. She moved to stand by the viewport cradling her
cold mug of coffee. She stared out at the slow moving stars without
really seeing them. Normally, the feeling of movement, the excitement
of the journey, and the knowledge that they were slowly moving
towards home, would cheer her. More than once, the star trails
and Voyager's stately movement through the galaxy had given her
hope and optimism when she was at a low moment. Now though, the
sight of unfamiliar stars left her cold.
took a mouthful of the inky coffee without tasting it. They were
lost again. She had failed again. The acrid taste of defeat was
in her mouth, warring with the bitter dregs of Klingon coffee.
She knew that Chakotay was expecting her to stride onto the bridge
at any moment, issuing orders right and left, lifting the crew
with her fire and with an answer for every question, but she couldn't
bring herself to do it. She couldn't bear to look into their eyes
and have them say to her, "It's all right, Captain. It wasn't
your fault. We understand." She didn't want their pity.
could imagine Harry's puppy dog eyes as he turned his back once
again on his family to work shoulder to shoulder with Seven in
Astrometrics. She could envisage Chakotay's unswerving support
and it just made her angry. The unreasonable anger she felt at
his ease of falling in love mingled with her own fear of being
left totally alone, as the people she counted as her best friends
turned to each other. Fine. She could work alone. She would be
alone. Fair-weather friends. The loneliest friends.
her disturbing dream from the other night flitted through her
mind. She remembered the stiff and unwieldy dress she had worn
and the conflicting emotions of the dream. She pushed it out of
her head. She had enough to think about; the gray fog of melancholia
already clouded her thinking enough without adding other distractions.
stars moved slowly past; or was it the ship moving past the stars?
Suddenly, even the simple contradiction seemed too much. Kathryn
Janeway stood in solitary contemplation of the unfairness of it
all and shut off from her surroundings to let her meandering thoughts
spin out into the stars around her.
dished out his latest creation in the mess hall. He worried that
the crew wouldn't like the simple grain dish, which relied heavily
on the sacks of a barley-like grain he had found at the back of
the pantry. Neelix had found the grain too bland for his tastes
and his attempts to spice the dishes he created had failed; the
grain retained its original subtle, grassy flavor. Chell found
the taste and texture appealing and had used it to create a simple
risotto-like dish that incorporated many of the dried roots and
fungi that were in the stores.
of the corner of his eye Chell could see the half-empty storeroom.
Since he had catalogued the supplies and restored a bit of order
to Neelix's chaos, the full extent of the low stocks was painfully
clear. They had little fresh food now. The airponics bay continued
to supply fresh greens, but it was woefully insufficient for the
total needs of the crew. Chell had calculated the amount of grain
needed for the evening meal and had reduced the amount by a quarter.
He had decided to start his own rationing.
crew had loved the Ribald Risa Risotto. Chell wondered if he should
have thrown in some of the copious amount of leola root still
in the storeroom, but if he did that then some one would surely
have commented. Since he had been in charge of catering, leola
root hadn't appeared on the menu in any way, shape, or form.
looked in the pot. Only a few helpings remained, and there were
still nearly twenty people to feed. He glanced up to see the rather
portly Ensign Albertson in front of him, plate proffered for seconds.
Marty. There's no more tonight." Chell's worry over the food
supplies escalated. If everyone continued to eat like it was their
last meal then they would be down to emergency rations in a couple
on with you, Chell." Marty nudged him companionably. "I'm
sure you've got another pot of this stuff hidden away somewhere.
It tastes great."
it's all you are getting," Chell snapped in reflex. "It
will do you good to cut down a bit. We are all going to have to
tighten our belts a few notches if we don't find supplies soon."
I asked." Marty moved off huffily with his empty plate and
returned to sit with Mortimer Harren.
noticed a few crewmen glancing towards the storeroom. He moved
to close the door, naggingly aware that worry and doubt now showed
openly on a few more faces than previously.
returned to deck fifteen after his break. His meeting with Commander
Chakotay and the Commander's evasiveness had confirmed what he
already half suspected: that Voyager's abrupt return to uncharted
space was not a simple random act of chance but a carefully executed
maneuver by Starfleet designed to keep a small fraction of potential
troublemakers out of the Alpha Quadrant. He was unsure whether
Starfleet's main concern was the Maquis, the evolved and sentient
hologram that was the Doctor, or Janeway herself. Although he
suspected she was one of the main instigators of the maneuver,
it was likely that she was coerced in someway - either to save
her own sorry skin or those of her associates and her inner coterie.
For a heady moment he considered the notion that he himself was
in some way implicated; that Starfleet would go to any extremes
to prevent the publishing of his thesis demolishing Schlezholt's
theory. But he reluctantly abandoned that notion. After all, he
had been sending his work back in the data streams to Earth for
some months now. There was already sufficient evidence in trusted
hands to complete the denouncement, even if he was not able to
do it himself.
strode down the gratings of deck fifteen, deep in thought and
nearly ran down Billy Telfer who had popped out of his quarters
like a rabbit from a warren.
Sorry, I didn't see you." Billy eyed Harren cautiously. The
last time Billy had seen him, Harren had been storming off with
his grievances to Commander Chakotay and hadn't been in the most
rational frame of mind.
looked quickly up and down the corridor then pushed Billy back
into his quarters.
looked apprehensive. "How did it go with the Commander?"
he asked. "Did he listen to you?"
Harren snarled the word. "He's too blindly loyal to her."
In spite of his apprehension, Billy was intrigued. "The Captain?"
Maybe he's one of the people she's protecting. After all, he is
Maquis," said Billy, "just like a lot of people on this
something's afoot. It certainly wasn't a random string of coincidences
that landed us out in the armpit of the galaxy for a second time.
Listen..." Harren poured out his theory into Billy's ear,
a twisted idea that grew and evolved as he thought of other damning
evidence against the Captain.
I don't believe that." Billy was stout in his loyalty. "She's
worked harder than anyone at getting us home. Why would she sabotage
stopped in his outpourings and his eyes became crafty. "Fine."
He shrugged and headed for the door. "You don't have to believe
me. But others will and they won't be as afraid of action as you
are." He left without another word, leaving Billy staring
at the door stammering excuses.
words crept insidiously through the lower decks. People became
bolder; the mutterings of hostility grew louder, winding their
way through the corridors and junctures of anonymity. For the
first time in seven years people sought him out, asking him in
careful words if it was true: Were they pushed out here deliberately
by Starfleet? Some of the boldest were surprisingly not the Maquis
but the enlisted Starfleet personnel. The Maquis wondered quietly
if they were being protected in some way, but the lower decks
Starfleet crew didn't have any such crumbs for consolation. Still,
people were careful, mouthing the correct response of shocked
denial if anyone was indiscreet enough to ask if they believed
the rumors. But at night, in the quiet of their own thoughts and
the vague sense of insecurity that nighttime always brings, people
re-entered the bridge nearly five hours after he left it. He felt
tired and sticky, and badly craved a few minutes solitude and
a cup of tea. He had succeeded in directing personnel assignments,
not only for Engineering and Astrometrics, but also to give Chell
some much-needed assistance in the mess hall. He had deliberately
assigned Mortimer Harren to one of the engineering teams, much
to B'Elanna's disgust. Chakotay recognized the signs of someone
with too much time on their hands and too many unvented thoughts
in their head. He had kept an eye on Harren while appearing to
be busy with his own diagnostic and observed the brooding silence
and sullen manner.
bridge was quiet. It was gamma shift and the few crew at their
stations were occupied running routine sweeps. Harry Kim lounged
in the big chair. He looked more refreshed than he had the last
time Chakotay had seen him. Chakotay looked around for Tuvok.
Although they weren't at yellow alert, their recent encounters
with the Sernaix were still fresh enough in his mind that he felt
the more experienced officer should be in command.
Where's Tuvok?" Chakotay gestured for Harry to precede him
into his office.
has gone to his quarters. I said I would stand this shift. Is
there a problem, sir?" Harry looked slightly apprehensive.
"It's been quiet; Tuvok needed the rest..."
okay, Harry. I said you were off duty though for twelve hours.
You must have had, what, four hours sleep? I was just expecting
to see Tuvok, not you." Chakotay realized he had let his
doubts show. Harry had done a sterling job, as always. "How
are you feeling now?"
had enough sleep. I woke up feeling fine, so I went to relieve
Tuvok. I know he says he needs less rest than us mere humans,
but even he was getting to his limits. I can finish this shift
then I do have twelve hours off."
that you take them."
will. The holodecks may be off-limits until we figure out the
engineering power drain, but poker games don't use much energy."
Tom's playing, the sudden transfer of rations when he wins could
be a huge drain on the main computer." Chakotay clapped Harry
on the shoulder to let him know he was doing well. "Anything
to report? I was just about to get some rest myself."
that can't wait. The Captain left her ready room fifteen minutes
ago, heading for her quarters."
thought that was a good sign. If Kathryn had been working in her
ready room for all this time, then hopefully she was pulling herself
out of the apathetic slump she seemed to have fallen into. "That's
good," he said. "Did she pass on anything useful?"
Harry hesitated for a second. "She just passed through the
bridge without saying anything. The computer gave her whereabouts
as her quarters when I checked a few minutes later. I thought
she was going to Engineering as they had been paging her, but
she didn't go there."
check in with her on my way to my quarters."
anything comes up tonight, I'll page you." Harry turned to
leave, "Get some rest, Commander. You don't look so hot either."
will. But Harry, make sure you page the Captain first as usual
if anything is amiss. She will want to know."
Harry looked away, and Chakotay wondered just what it was he wasn't
saying. Suddenly he was tired, the adrenaline from the day drained
away, leaving him weary and longing for the quiet space of his
quarters. There seemed to be too many unspoken subtexts today.
Kathryn, Harren, Seven, the uneasy atmosphere in Engineering,
and now Harry. Open, honest Harry, the worst bluffer on the ship
seemed to be withholding something too. He knew he would have
to once again set aside his own priorities and try and find out
what was bothering Kathryn. She was the last person he wanted
to talk to now. The specter of mistrust and angry words still
hovered between them and he wasn't sure he could be as patient
with her as he needed to be.
be off then, Harry. Call me if you need me."
left the bridge for the officer's quarters. He knew Kathryn would
be awake; he just hoped he had the tact to deal with her right
rang the chime on the Captain's quarters. He was just deciding
that she must be asleep after all when the door slid open. He
walked in and his eyes adjusted slowly to the dim lighting after
the glare of the brightly lit corridor. At first he didn't see
Kathryn, then she moved slightly in the shadows and he saw that
she was standing to one side of the viewport holding something.
She was still dressed in uniform and appeared pensive as she studied
the object in her hand. Her quarters were a mess. Although Kathryn
was far from obsessive and her quarters usually had a comfortable,
lived-in feel about them, the disorganized discarding of clothing,
PADDs and coffee mugs seemed out of character. One of her plants
had tipped over and was spilling dry earth onto the carpet. The
plant itself seemed wilted, like its owner. Uncared for.
images rose in Chakotay's mind of the Captain in the black area
of space they had called the Void, an area of space they had traversed
over two years ago in the Delta Quadrant. In the Void there were
no stars, no planets; the normal cinemascope through the viewport
was replaced by an unending inky blackness. She had taken it hard,
withdrawing into herself to a painful degree and cutting herself
off from all contact. Chakotay hadn't been able to reach her then
although he had tried to tempt her out with a variety of different
amusements, small crises, and social events.
years ago they were friends. He didn't know what had happened
to their friendship in these past weeks, but he wasn't sure he
could summon up the understanding she needed from him to travel
that route a second time.
stepped forward out of the shifting half-light and he saw that
she held a holoimage cube in her hands. He recognized it; it held
images of her parents, sister Phoebe, and Molly her dog. Images
of home. The cube was worn. He had often seen her caress it briefly
in happier times, a promise of all that was waiting for her when
they reached Earth. Mutely she held the cube out to him and he
could see her eyes were suspiciously bright.
kept his hands tightly clenched by his sides. "Looking at
pictures won't get us home any sooner, Captain." Even to
his own ears the words sounded harsh and unfeeling. He heard her
take a swift, sharp breath and knew he had struck a nerve. "Harry's
taking gamma shift after only four hours of sleep. Tuvok has retired
to his quarters after nearly twenty hours on duty. Most of the
senior staff are working around the clock. They are trying anything
constructive to find our way back. They are not moping in their
quarters gazing at photographs after spending all day in their
ready room avoiding everyone."
her voice could freeze the warp core, "you are out of line."
I am, aren't I, Kathryn." He stressed her name. "But
the ship needs her Captain. We all need you." His voice softened
momentarily, concern for his friend overriding his anger at her
apathy, "please. Don't do this to yourself." His hand
wavered momentarily from his side as if he was going to touch
her cheek, but he controlled it.
everyone is working so hard, why are you wasting your time here?
I'm sure there is somewhere, or someone, on this ship that needs
you more than I do." Her voice dropped a level. "I suggest
you go there." She turned away from him, back to the somber
dark beside the viewport.
again, he stood looking at her hunched shoulders wishing he could
take back his harsh words. But they still hung in the air between
them, another brick in the wall that was swiftly forming between
the command team.
times of uncertainty, people often cling together. While Voyager's
crew was not exactly clinging, Chell noticed that they certainly
congregated more in public places - like the mess hall. It made
his job harder. He had to clean up around gaggles of chattering
crewmen, but he could certainly understand why they didn't want
to be alone with their thoughts right now. He cheerfully worked
around them as best he could, often slipping into a seat to join
late lunch hour was always busy. Chell noticed a gathering of
crewmen, mainly from the lower decks, although he spotted Sam
Wildman, Ayala, and a few of the engineering staff. Tom Paris
hovered on the edge of the group, as if he wanted to hear what
was being said, but didn't want to join the conversation. The
focus of the group was Mortimer Harren. Intrigued by the air of
furtive secrecy surrounding them, Chell edged closer.
was speaking in a low voice, his words pitched just loud enough
to reach those around him. "... of course she knew we would
be thrown out of the Alpha Quadrant," he was saying, "she
plotted the course after all, one that led us directly back into
the transwarp corridor."
didn't know it was that unstable," pointed out one of the
was a reasonable assumption," countered Harren. "After
all, Voyager had just caused its destruction. It was hardly the
shuttle route to Deep Space Nine any more."
forgetting something, Mort." Tom spoke up, edging closer
to the group as he did so. "I was on the bridge, in fact
I was at the helm. I know it was just bad luck that threw us back
into the corridor. We hit a subspace mine. The Captain couldn't
have planned that."
turned pale gleaming eyes on the helmsman. "We all know you
are only on the bridge because you like the view, how much attention
were you paying to the course?"
Tom was short in his reply. "The Captain didn't have navigational
control at that moment, I did. And believe me, I didn't plan to
run over that sucker. Our course was for Earth - away from the
who gave you the coordinates?"
Captain of course, but..."
you have it people." Mortimer tapped a finger on the table.
"It all comes down to the Captain. She has her reasons for
not wanting Voyager to return to the Alpha Quadrant. Now, she
is not acting alone in this, she is Starfleet's puppet, has been
all the way; no one can dispute that. So she, acting on orders
from Starfleet, deliberately puts us back into the destabilizing
corridor and we end up here. Have any of you seen the Captain
around lately? She's been harder to find than a dabo girl on Vulcan.
She can't bring herself to look us in the eye. That's why you
aren't seeing her."
been in her ready room for most of the bridge shifts," said
Tom loyally. "She and the Commander are working as hard as
anyone else to try and find out exactly where we are."
knows exactly where we are. Just as I do." Mortimer's softly
spoken comment had every ear straining to hear what he said. "The
difference is, I will tell you. The Captain won't. Because she
doesn't want you to know and certainly doesn't want anyone to
find a way back."
there a way back?" Sam Wildman voiced the unspoken thought
in many of the listeners.
course. No part of space is an island."
long will it take us?" Sam's voice had a catch in it.
that depends on the crew." To Chell's ears his voice sounded
conniving. "Because if it's up to the Captain, it will be
never. Now, if the crew were to play a more, how shall I put it,
assertive role, well, we could be home next week."
was a muted gasp from around the table. "Where... where are
we?" Ayala looked caught between wanting to know and digging
himself deeper into a sticky situation. "Do you really know,
course. Some of you know I have devoted my life to disproving
Schlezholt's theory of multiple big bangs." There were a
few nods around the table. Tom rolled his eyes. Maybe Mort could
guess where they were, but he wasn't going to believe it based
on his infamous theory.
if you count Schlezholt's theory as disproven then the model that
makes most sense in a universe with no boundaries, and no singularity.
Following quantum mechanics, no particle has a single history
in space-time - they all follow every possible path - and you
know as well as I do that space-time isn't perfectly smooth. I
think we've got caught in a ripple where the universe is following
a different space-time history to ours. We're out of temporal
sync with the rest of the universe."
was a moment of silence, then a babble of voices rose around the
theory hasn't been disproven..."
you saying that the Captain is..."
Harren lifted a hand, and reluctantly the voices ceased. As a
theory it was flawed, but it was the closest thing to sense anyone
had offered them in the last few weeks. "That's where I think
we are, and I'm sure the Captain knows it too. She, after all,
knows her science nearly as well as I do," a grudging respect
colored Harren's voice momentarily, "and Starfleet must know
as well. This is after all, their plan to keep us from returning."
Sorry, Mort, but I don't believe that either." Tom pushed
his way further into the group. "What you are doing here
is dangerous. We need to stick together and support the Captain,
not undermine her position. She has worked harder than anyone
to get us home these last seven years. I don't believe she would
throw it away now."
How loyal of you. I guess working on the bridge has colored your
perceptions. I can list many instances over the last seven years
when it seems that the last thing on the good Captain's mind was
getting her ship back to Earth."
opened his mouth to ask for examples, but shut it abruptly when
he realized that the group was abruptly dispersing around him.
A couple of the crew wandered off to the other side of the mess
hall. Chell saw why; Commander Chakotay had appeared and was conferring
with Tom. Nobody, it seemed, was willing to continue the discussion
in Chakotay's presence. Mort hadn't mentioned him. Even if you
swallowed Mort's theory the Commander's position was unclear.
moved back to the pantry. He needed to start preparing the evening
meal. He pulled out the ingredients needed for his Cardassia Prime
Rib. Really, supplies were low. He hesitated a moment before moving
to the untouched barrels of leola root. Just a little would bulk
out the evening meal considerably. He was beginning to appreciate
why Neelix seemed to love the stuff; it certainly stretched the
other ingredients a lot further. He hoped no one would complain
eyes were caught by a rearrangement in his supplies. He peered
closer. Yes, someone had definitely been into the sack of trega.
There was a small pile of the spilled grains on the edge of the
shelf and the top of the sack was untied. This was the second
time he had noticed it since he had tidied the supplies. So not
only were supplies low, but he also had to worry about crew pilfering.
He resolved to keep an eye on it.
hadn't heard back from the Captain or Commander about his report
on the dwindling supplies. He thought he would go and try and
find out what they intended doing about it. There was no time
like the present either. If he found out that they would be restocking
soon then he could leave leola root out of the evening meal. He
vacillated briefly; normally he would go to the Captain. But although
he didn't actually believe Mort's theories in their entirety,
he had enough lingering doubts that he thought the Commander would
be the better choice. And it was certainly true that the Captain
was rarely seen these days, she probably wouldn't want to see
him. His mind made up; Chell left the kitchen in search of the
watched him leave from her table in the mess hall. She had been
playing kadis kot with Icheb, but it wasn't much fun, he kept
beating her. Icheb had returned to Astrometrics and for the moment
she was alone. She cast a furtive glance around; no one was paying
any attention to her. She rose and slipped into the kitchen, entering
the pantry. The trega was on the top shelf. She pulled the barrel
of leola root over to the shelf and climbed up on top of it so
that she could reach it. Even so, it was a stretch. Standing on
tiptoes, she could just get her hand into the sack. She took a
couple of handfuls and slipped them into the pocket of her smock.
Grains of trega spilled over the shelf and down onto the floor.
She left quickly, forgetting to move the barrel back to its original
times, Chakotay felt that his life traveled in large, endless
circles. Right now, the circles seemed smaller. Problem-solve,
sleep, work, eat, and fight with Kathryn compromised his daily
routine. Kathryn was still out of touch and the longer she stayed
away, the harder it was for him to work through his own negative
emotions sufficiently to provide her with the support she needed.
Mixed in too, was a simmering anger at her cavalier comments about
not trusting him. She had certainly picked a fine time to tell
him. He wondered why she was letting him make all the day-to-day
decisions for the ship if she didn't trust him. He was trying
to keep her informed, but she seemed quite genuinely to not care.
concern over the supplies had worried him too. Finding somewhere
to take on supplies was now as urgent as the on-going repairs.
Scans hadn't revealed anything remotely promising. Chell had even
used leola root in the previous evening's meal, a sure sign that
they were scraping the bottom of the barrel, literally and metaphorically.
The addition hadn't gone unnoticed by the crew, and there had
been several loud complaints. The crew seemed uneasy. Chakotay
considered himself a good barometer of human emotions and the
vibes he was picking up from some of the crew, in particular the
lower deck crewmen who were not involved in the decision making
process, had him vaguely worried. It seemed that anger and mistrust
spread far more easily than positive thoughts.
resolved once again to try and speak to Kathryn. He was disgusted
with himself for letting his anger control him the last time they
had spoken, but at least he seemed to have touched her, if only
briefly. The computer gave her whereabouts as her quarters. He
knew she spent most of the day in her ready room, slipping in
there like a phantom from the outer corridor to avoid crossing
the bridge. That too worried him. If she was not able to face
the bridge crew, her closest colleagues, then the guilt and sadness
he knew she must be feeling must be immense. Concern for his friend
pushed aside his antagonism for a moment. He had always been there
for her in the past. They had weathered storms as fierce as this
before. They would survive. They had to. He couldn't envisage
Voyager without her captain.
let him in without leaving the table. She was recording her logs,
he rather guessed from the image frozen on the screen that they
were personal rather than official.
do you want this time, Commander?" Her tone was civil, but
tired, as if she really didn't want to hear the answer.
sat down uninvited in the chair opposite her. "Kathryn..."
he caught the flash of annoyance in her eyes and changed the name.
"Captain, I'm trying my hardest here, but I could use some
is there. Ask him." She looked back to the screen.
can't help with this, Captain. The crew needs you. Needs to see
that you are there, working alongside them. Please, don't desert
us now. We need all the help we can get with this. I don't think
we can do it without you."
buried resentment resurfaced when he noticed that she was barely
listening to him. Her attention was concentrated back on the screen.
He reached out and turned the console off.
did you do that for?" Her surprise appeared genuine.
weren't listening to me. How else can I get your attention?"
She snapped the word. "I'm listening. Say what you've come
to say and then go."
stood, placing his palms flat on the desk between them. He leaned
over, into her space, so that they were face to face. His tone
was almost conversational. "Then listen to this, Captain.
I don't know what the hell is wrong with you. I know you well
enough to understand what you are going through. You're feeling
guilty, angry, depressed, and blaming yourself for getting us
stuck a second time. Fine. Those are human reactions. But the
ship needs her Captain. You were always so devoted to duty, putting
the Captain above Kathryn. Well, I didn't always agree that you
should, but now I do. Put your damned devotion to duty ahead of
yourself on this occasion and get back on that bridge where you
gaped at him for a moment. He watched emotions flit across her
face like blown clouds over the moon. For a few brief heartbeats
he thought he had reached her. He expected her to smile, stand,
tell him he was right, and then leave with him back to the bridge
to stand united, shoulder to shoulder once more. Then her face
changed once again, resuming the blank mask of indifference and
he knew he had lost. They couldn't go on like this. Each time
he tried and failed the tension and mistrust between them escalated.
Not for the first time he wished that Kes was still on board.
Kes had been able to reach the Captain, often when no one else
could. The Ocampa's gentle knowing ways and intuitive wisdom,
far beyond her years had made her the confidant of many of the
crew. She and Kathryn had been friends, maybe Kes would have been
able to reach her now, when he was failing. He wished for a moment
that Kes was there for him to talk to as well. What would she
have done in this position?
seemed to shrink into her chair. For a minute he saw her as others,
people who didn't know her indomitable spirit, would see her:
a small, tired, middle-aged woman, face worn and haggard, eyes
listless, hair dull and stringy. He leaned closer to her. "Kathryn,
please. Come back to me, to us. I need my friend as well as my
looked away. "Your friend? I don't know where she's gone,
Chakotay. I would like a friend right now, but I don't know. There's
so much distrust between us."
to Seven if you don't want to talk to me. Or the Doctor."
Something indefinable showed briefly in her eyes and she gave
a tired laugh. It sounded forced. "I don't think so."
She turned away from him and activated the console again. "If
that is all, Commander?"
was clearly a dismissal. He turned and left without another word.
entered the mess hall for dinner. He wasn't particularly hungry,
especially as he had the feeling that Chell would have used some
leola root in the meal, but he wanted the crew to see at least
part of the command team going about business as usual. The mess
hall was nearly full. He hesitated, tray in hand, wondering who
to sit with. Harry and Seven were conferring at one end of the
hall and he started in their direction, keen to hear what progress
they had made on their location.
knot of crewmen at the center table caught his eye. They were
talking quietly together, the huddled shoulders telling him far
more than he wanted to know. When he made out Mortimer Harren
in the center of the group he made up his mind. Switching course,
he made for the center table. Tom was on the edge of the group,
looking uncomfortable. Chakotay sat down two seats from Tom, sandwiched
between two crewmen. He nodded to the group, very aware of the
it going here?" He addressed the comment to the group in
general before turning to Tom. "I'm glad you're here, Tom,
I wanted to talk to you about a replacement for Neelix."
looked puzzled, but nodded.
in the mess hall," Chakotay took a forkful of food, trying
to demonstrate an enthusiasm he didn't feel, "Crewman Chell
is doing a wonderful job. I was thinking more of morale officer."
Tom was used to thinking on his feet and caught on quickly. "Do
you think we need one?"
Chakotay chewed pensively. The bitter taste of leola root nearly
made him gag; he had forgotten how terrible the stuff was after
having a few weeks free of it. "It is certainly hard on everyone
right now. We were so close. People must be feeling angry, cheated.
I know I am."
of the corner of his eye he could see Mortimer Harren. Harren
was listening intently; his face still set in belligerent lines.
continued, "It would be very easy to try and lay blame for
our situation, but that isn't the right thing to do." He
shrugged. "I mean, who is the easy target in all of this?"
He continued without waiting for an answer. "The Captain
is. I wouldn't be surprised if there are crew on board who are
laying the blame on her doorstep. Maybe if I didn't know her as
well as I do and didn't know exactly what it has cost her, emotionally,
professionally, and personally to bring this ship as far as she
has, well, maybe I would wondering exactly what her part was in
all of this too."
had their attention now. Out of the corner of his eye he could
see Chell listening from the kitchen. "That's why I'm wondering
if we need a morale officer, Tom."
nodded, slightly sheepishly.
can't afford to let morale on this ship slip, now of all times.
Now we really need to behave like the family we are and stick
together. The Captain has built a strong family unit on board.
I know I can trust you all not to let her down, not now when she
needs you." Chakotay looked up and fixed his gaze on Ayala,
one of his old Maquis crew. He held Ayala's gaze until the man
gave an almost imperceptible nod. He could see the uncomfortable
shifting of other crew around him and he turned his gaze to Sam
have to pull together as much now as we did in the Delta Quadrant."
Sam fidgeted and broke from his gaze, but he continued to regard
her until she flushed red and nodded.
know rumors are circulating," Chakotay continued, "
A morale officer would be able to defuse those rumors, expose
them for the scaremongering they are." For the first time
he looked directly at Mortimer Harren. "They are untrue.
The Captain wants this crew to return home more than anyone. I
don't want any of you to forget that. She needs your understanding
now, not your condemnation. All of you. She has supported all
of you when you needed it most; now you can repay her."
paused, aware of Tom's silent support. "Would you agree with
silence stretched. "Mort?" Chakotay prompted him. "
I know the Captain has taken a personal interest in your well-being
on this ship. Wouldn't you agree that she deserves the same consideration?"
I guess so." Harren mumbled the answer into his plate, then
straightened and looked Chakotay full in the face. "Yeah,
I do. If you'll excuse me, Commander..." He stood, took his
plate to the recycler and left the room.
Mort would be your new Morale Officer."
turned to the crewman who had spoken. "Maybe," he said,
"but it needs all of us to work on this." He swallowed
the last of his meal and stood. "If you'll excuse me, I have
to get back to the bridge."
caught up with him as he left the mess hall and the two of them
caught the same turbolift to the bridge.
did you know?" Tom asked the question quietly. "I've
been listening to Harren's mutiny build steam now for a couple
of days. He was convincing." He laughed self-consciously,
" I half believed him myself."
watch people," said Chakotay, "I know this crew. Harren's
an unhappy person and his personality means he has fewer outlets
than most. He's also too intelligent for his own good. He can
well, count me as one of the manipulated." Tom looked ill
at ease. "But what he said about the Captain avoiding people...
hell, it made sense." He ran a hand through his hair and
shrugged. "Sorry. I should have trusted my own judgement
clapped his shoulder. "Your judgement is sound, Tom. In fact,
you can be my eyes and ears in this. I think that's the last we'll
hear of this insurgence, but just in case, I'd like you to keep
a weather eye out for Harren. Let me know if you think he's still
likely to cause problems."
will. Thanks, Chakotay."
lift stopped at the bridge and the officers exited. "Chakotay,
about the Captain..."
now, Tom. She'll be fine. They are just rumors you know."
fine. You and I both have to believe that. Now, you have a helm
waiting for you if I'm not mistaken."
Tom watched the First Officer take his position in the center
of the bridge. He hoped that Janeway appreciated the man's loyalty.
was down on his hands and knees cleaning behind the stovetop.
It was incredible how food had a habit of reaching the most unlikely
places. He peeled a wilted leaf from the side of the bench and
swept the assorted crumbs into the corner. He heard soft footsteps
enter the kitchen and started to climb to his feet to greet whomever
it was. The footsteps hesitated and then moved off in the direction
of the pantry. Chell realized that the crewman wouldn't have noticed
him there, tucked down behind the bench. He wondered if this was
the person who had been pilfering his supplies. No one normally
went into the pantry; he always made sure that there was food
available on the bench tops for those wanting a snack when the
kitchen was closed. He waited quietly for another minute, then
rose and walked with quiet tread to the pantry.
Wildman stood on tiptoes on the heavy barrel of leola root that
she had dragged over to the shelves. Steadying herself with one
hand, she scooped trega out of the tilted sack.
grinned. "So you're the person with the fondness for trega!"
Naomi stood guiltily, her hand still in the sack.
okay. I won't tell on you." Chell leaned against the doorframe.
"Want to tell me why you like the raw grain so much?"
climbed down. "I guess I couldn't keep him a secret for much
longer anyway." She put her hand in her large smock pocket
and carefully brought out something. Chell caught a glimpse of
brown fur, long whiskers, and a twitching nose. Naomi cupped her
hand around it, keeping it close to her body.
She opened her hand carefully and Chell saw an alert little animal
sitting there. It raised itself onto its hind legs and sniffed
the air curiously.
rat!" Chell was startled. The creature couldn't actually
be a rat, there were a few small differences - its nose was longer,
the body rounder, the tail furry - but the similarity was definitely
well, sorta." Naomi grinned conspiratorially. "I found
him running down the corridor two weeks ago. I think he came on
board with some of the supplies we beamed over. I caught him and
I've been keeping him in a box in my room. Not even Mom knows,
you're the first person I've told."
seems tame." Chell extended a cautious finger to the rodent
who sniffed it experimentally, then sat up on Naomi's palm and
started to wash himself.
that's where my trega has been going to." Chell was thinking
aloud. "I wonder what else he likes?"
don't know, that's all I've tried."
looked around, "Well, he's a Delta Quadrant native so he
probably likes leola root." He picked a small piece out of
the barrel and offered it to the rat.
animal took the root daintily between his forepaws and nibbled.
In a short time the root was gone and he was sniffing around for
I guess there's someone on board who'll eat leola root,"
said Chell. "At this rate, he'll be out of leola root in,
oh, maybe eighty years!"
have we here?" Chell looked up to see Chakotay looking down
at the two of them.
crouched down. "A rat!"
sorta," Naomi looked worried. "I found him. He's my
pet now. He's tame, here..." She tipped the rat into the
Commander's surprised hands.
gingerly stroked the top of his head with a finger. "How
did he get on board?"
think he came in with some supplies," said Naomi. "I
found him a couple of weeks ago."
explains how he got past the sensors," Chakotay was thinking
aloud, "There was a malfunctioning sensor that day - he must
have been in the sack that was scanned by the faulty sensor so
it didn't pick up his life sign."
I keep him? Please, Commander, please?"
scratched his chin. "Take him to the Doctor. If the Doctor
agrees that he poses no threat then he can stay. But you have
to replicate him a proper cage. A large, secure one. Does he have
been calling him Ratty." Naomi accepted her pet back from
Chakotay. "You know, after the holoprogram."
'Wind in the Willows'. That was one of my favorites too, although
I always liked Toad. Take him to the Doctor now, Naomi. I'd like
to be sure he's harmless. And if the Doctor approves him, then
you need to prepare a report for Tuvok, alerting him to our newest
crewperson. Include a recommendation that he scan for others on
board. We don't need a colony of them."
Naomi giggled. Slipping Ratty into the pocket of her smock she
threw her arms around Chakotay's neck for a brief moment. "Thank
you," she whispered, then was gone, slipping out like the
wind to find the Doctor.
lifted an amused eyebrow. "Well, I guess it's a good sign
that the rats aren't deserting the sinking ship. Although spirits
knows what the Captain will say about all of this."
stood and turned to go. "Chell, I actually came to tell you
that Harry has detected a promising looking M Class planet on
long range sensors. We've altered course in that direction. I
think you will be able to re-provision very soon. You're doing
a great job here. Your cooking is a wonder for crew morale."
He winked at Chell and left.
again, Chakotay found himself waiting outside the door of the
ready room. Kathryn was in there, but she hadn't been seen for
over four hours, when she had handed the bridge over to him and
disappeared. At least she was appearing at the start of her shifts.
She called for him to enter.
I've got a few things that I need to bring to your attention."
He stood loosely inside the door, willing himself to remain calm.
they are in your reports, Commander, then I'll get to them eventually."
was heartened to notice that although the pile of PADDs was so
enormous that it threatened to topple onto the floor, at least
she appeared to be reading them. The console still displayed what
looked like a personal log.
should hear this." He moved further into the room and took
a seat opposite her. "You probably don't want to, but I'm
going to tell you anyway. In the last twenty-four hours, I've
solved staffing problems, averted a mutiny, solved the food supply
crisis, and allowed a rat to stay on board."
saw her interest was sparked. "Did you say a rat?" Her
voice was rusty, as if she hadn't used it much lately.
wasn't the interest he had hoped for, but it was as start. "Maybe
we should start with the mutiny. Lower decks rumbling. Mortimer
Harren was spreading rumors that our present predicament was a
predetermined Starfleet plot to strand us once again."
face shuttered once more. "I'm sure a lot of people are thinking
that. I know it's all my fault, I don't need reminders. I should
have checked our course more carefully, scanned the region better
before we went to warp."
is a cruel master." He said the words a little fiercer than
he intended. "I know that too. And it's a luxury. We haven't
got time for it."
looked away from him. "Maybe." Her voice was flat, "but
it can't be pushed aside as easily as you are suggesting. How
did you deflect the mutiny?"
talked them out of it." Chakotay gave a hollow laugh. "I
can't even get through to you but I reached thirty belligerent
crewmen. I talked about trust, loyalty, our Voyager family, and
how we all need each other to survive. Maybe I should give you
the same speech."
sure you handled it as you thought best, Commander."
did. I'm sure you would have dealt with it differently, but until
you stop hibernating in here you are going to have to live with
my decisions. Which means you have to trust me."
silence stretched between them, filled with misunderstanding,
tension and more than a little sadness.
A good question. I don't know who I can trust right now."
can trust me." He knew she wouldn't come around yet; there
was too much animosity between them to allow that to happen, but
somehow they had to try.
You're the best option I've got right now." She gave him
the ghost of her old smile. "Dismissed, Commander."
left, seeing her turn once again to her console.
Personal Log, Stardate 55024.7
Commander has just told me about a mutiny he averted. I'm not
surprised. In the crew's place I think I would be considering
the same thing. Who wants to serve under a Captain that has stranded
them not once, but twice? Even though logically, I know this second
time wasn't by my conscious decision, nonetheless it was my fault.
I should have taken more care with our course, scanners would
have detected the subspace mine, I should have been able to avoid
have eleven people from the crew of the Pleiades on board. Eleven
survivors from a crew of forty-seven. The Himalaya was completely
destroyed with all hands. When Admiral Janeway came back from
the future to help Voyager return home earlier than had been done
in her timeline, part of her reasoning was to save the lives of
twenty-two crewmen who would be killed during the remainder of
the journey. How ironic. In trying to save twenty-two, I'm now
responsible for the deaths of nearly eighty.
tells me guilt is a luxury. He's right of course, but right now
I still can't face the crew. I don't think I can look them in
the face and give them orders, knowing that my orders have already
caused so much suffering.
Chakotay himself. We haven't been this much at odds with each
other since the incident with the Equinox. A divided command team
won't help us work our way out of this; somehow we have to put
aside our personal issues and doubts about the other and work
effectively together again. I will try; I hope we will succeed.
Producers: Thinkey, Anne Rose and Coral