8-7 - Retrospect
By: Seema (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.
planet loomed large on the viewscreen. It was an M-class planet;
the first they had seen in weeks. More importantly, according
to the scans that Seven of Nine had run, this particular planet
was rich in dilithium.
perfect opportunity for a brief, uneventful away mission,"
B'Elanna Torres mused, as she looked over the topographical maps
of the planet
scans show a large deposit on the northern continent," B'Elanna
said, "and lucky for us, close to the surface too. It should
be easy to extract enough dilithium to last us for a few months."
to her, Harry Kim nodded.
see a clearing not too far from there," Harry said. He indicated
a spot on the map. "That looks like a good place to put the
Delta Flyer down."
the weather scans look good too. Sunny, blue skies, a light breeze
from the west," B'Elanna said. She settled back in her chair,
letting a smile spread across her face. "It feels really
good to get out, Harry. As much as I love Voyager, the ship does
get claustrophobic after a while. It has been so long..."
a boring little mission like this?" Harry teased. "You
sure you didn't want to wait for something more exciting?"
scowled and then good-naturedly, punched Harry in the arm.
is good enough for me. For now," she said. "I won't
be away from Miral too long."
is your first away mission since before she was born, isn't it?"
seem like you're doing okay," Harry observed. "No anxiety
shook her head. "Samantha Wildman has promised to take her
when Tom goes on duty." She paused, thinking how naturally
Sam handled Miral, a skill that B'Elanna, occasionally overwhelmed
by her new responsibilities, envied greatly. On occasion, B'Elanna
felt more comfortable with a hypospanner than
with her own baby, but she brushed away those feelings as best
as she could. "I can't think of anyone I'd trust more with
Miral, other than the Doctor and Tom. The Captain said she'd check
Captain seems really taken with Miral," Harry said. He leaned
over and flipped a few of the switches. "I'm beginning the
thrusters," B'Elanna muttered. "And yes, the Captain
does enjoy spending time with Miral. All right. We're down to
impulse power now."
are holding," B'Elanna said. Her fingers flew over the control
panel expertly as she ran a variety of scans. "Looks like
there might be a little turbulence in our future, but nothing
she spoke, the Delta Flyer shook, nearly knocking Harry out of
little turbulence?" he asked amusedly as he regained his
grinned back. "Enjoy that, Harry. That's probably the most
excitement you're going to experience on this particular away
shook his head as he focused on landing the Delta Flyer.
know," he said, "strange as it might sound, I could
use a little less excitement in my life these days."
nodded. She knew exactly what he meant.
landing," B'Elanna commented as she went through the post-landing
procedures. She carefully cut power to all systems still operating.
"Nice job, Harry."
Harry said. "Tom isn't the only decent pilot on Voyager,
lips turned upward. "Should I tell my husband you're bucking
for his position?"
stifled a grin as he opened a small locker in the rear of the
keep that between the two of us," Harry said, still in a
teasing tone of voice. He pulled out a pair of phasers and quickly
ran a check to make sure the power cells had not drained. The
tricorder beeped green and Harry let out a sigh of relief.
really think we need phasers?" B'Elanna asked with a frown.
"Scans didn't show anything unusual."
prepared," B'Elanna said, shaking her head in amusement.
"All right, I think we're done here. I've locked down all
of the systems. Seven's new encryption code is a beauty, though
it's a little like using a torpedo to swat a fly."
never can be too careful," Harry said sanctimoniously, causing
B'Elanna to raise an eyebrow in amusement. Harry opened the Delta
Flyer's hatch and he stepped out into the bright sunlight. B'Elanna,
blinking, followed with her toolkit.
she said, looking around. Knee-high grass, gently swaying in the
breeze, covered the clearing, the wide expanse of green and yellow
dotted with delicate orange and white flowers. Shadowy blue hills
edged the horizon. "This is... lovely. Perfect, almost."
held out her arms as if trying to embrace the day, the scenery,
all of it. She closed her eyes, inhaling the clean, sweet smells
of the meadow and feeling the warmth of the sun soft against her
face. It occurred to her then that she and Tom had never taken
Miral outside. Sure, there had been family
outings to the holodeck, trips to the beach or a drive down Route
One, but never nature like this. With a pang, B'Elanna considered
it might be months - she refused to think in terms of 'years'
- before she and Tom would be able to introduce Miral to the great
had been so close, so damn close to Earth and now... B'Elanna
opened her eyes.
think like that, B'Elanna thought. We're going to get home. The
Captain has promised us and she has never let us down. This is
just another detour.
glanced at Harry, who seemed to be more interested in his tricorder
readings than his surroundings.
B'Elanna asked. She peered over his shoulder to get an idea of
what had captured Harry's interest.
looked up from his tricorder. "The dilithium is that way.
Two kilometers." He pointed towards the hills. "You
up for a hike, Maquis?"
you are, Starfleet," B'Elanna answered, quickly banishing
all thoughts of Earth from her mind. She started walking in the
direction Harry had indicated. "You know, it might not be
a bad idea to start a colony here." She said it casually,
almost flippantly, an afterthought more than anything else.
Harry asked, shock evident in his voice. "You'd actually
not?" B'Elanna shrugged. She glanced down at her tricorder.
"It's an M-class planet with a good climate and the resources
we need. I'm detecting a river a kilometer to the east and it
looks like there might be a forest not too far from here."
you don't think we're ever getting home."
glanced at her friend sideways. She heard the note of dismay in
his voice and knew the feeling; many of the crew had been devastated
when Voyager had ended up in what Tom referred to as the 'twilight
be told, the idea of settling in one place was very appealing
but then again, so was the idea of returning home to the Alpha
Quadrant. And B'Elanna knew that she could not be selfish; she
had her daughter, her husband. For the others on Voyager, their
families were elsewhere; building a new life here in a static
universe was not an option for them and never could be.
B'Elanna said softly. She put her hand on Harry's arm. "I
haven't given up. I was just joking. Not funny, I guess. I got
carried away by the fresh air and the scenery."
long as you aren't serious," Harry said. "I'd hate to
go back and have you propose to the Captain that we make our permanent
home here. After all we've been through..."
a chance," B'Elanna said. She unzipped her jacket and tied
it around her waist. "You know, we ought to make the best
of this opportunity and see if we can find some food staples to
replace Neelix's leola root supply. Chell mentioned to me food
supplies have been seriously depleted since Neelix's departure."
idea," Harry answered. He paused walking for a moment. "I
miss him, you know?"
not the only one," B'Elanna said softly. She thought of all
the times Neelix had managed to comfort her, to say the right
thing. He had helped her through her self-destructive behavior
years ago and she was grateful for Neelix's advice when her relationship
with Tom was on the rocks. More importantly, Neelix had been her
friend and B'Elanna sincerely hoped that Neelix was happy and
content in his new life.
settling down is the answer," Harry said. B'Elanna looked
at him in surprise.
did that come from? A few minutes ago you were jumping all over
me for-" she paused as her tricorder starting beeping. "Harry,
I'm picking up humanoid life signs."
looked startled. "I didn't pick up any life signs in the
Flyer, humanoid or otherwise."
like they are all around us," B'Elanna said. She whirled
around, but saw nothing but endless prairie in every direction.
"This is strange. They are everywhere." She showed the
tricorder to Harry so he could verify the readings.
is that possible?" Harry asked. He gestured. "There
is nothing here but grass."
know, but..." B'Elanna's voice drifted off as the grass evaporated
and was replaced by cobblestones. She whirled around as a wall
appeared about one hundred meters to the left of them, followed
by a house and then another building. B'Elanna's gaze met Harry's
in confusion as a village slowly materialized around them.
I guess we're not in the Delta Quadrant anymore," Harry joked
lamely as he and B'Elanna stood in the middle of what appeared
to be a town square. Buildings, no more than two stories high,
rimmed the plaza. Humanoids, with strong ridges across their foreheads,
and dressed in bright clothing were
staring at the two Voyager crewmembers with fascination.
B'Elanna ventured. She took a step towards one of the aliens.
"I'm Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres of the starship Voyager.
This is Ensign Harry Kim. We mean no harm."
One of the aliens - a female - stepped forward. She was taller
than most of the others, with long silver hair which curled up
at the ends. Her long, slender arms were adorned with bracelets
that clinked musically as she moved. With the exception of her
forehead ridges - shaped like a V over her nose - the alien looked
almost completely human. Her slender body was swathed in a blue
silky material edged with gold. She smiled at them. "I'm
Azuma. We are the Caprijen."
sorry for intruding," B'Elanna said. "We didn't realize
there was anything or anyone here at all."
is all right," Azuma said. Her voice was calm, assuring,
and B'Elanna liked the woman immediately. "We have cloaking
technology which protects us from outsiders. We are a non-violent
society and hiding ourselves in this manner is the only way we
can protect ourselves. Unfortunately, sometimes our technology
fails us, leaving us subject to discovery."
words intrigued B'Elanna.
me get this straight," she said. "Your technology allows
you to cloak an entire village and mask life signs too?"
nodded. "Yes, but lately, our equipment has experienced some
malfunctions and as a result, the cloak has been less than reliable.
We have been unable to find the problem, but our engineers are
working diligently to fix it."
turned to Harry, her eyes shining. He shook his head.
Captain won't like it, B'Elanna," he said in a warning tone.
B'Elanna knew he was right, but the engineer in her couldn't pass
up the opportunity to take a look at this technology. And she
felt confident she could convince Harry to see her point of view.
you give us a moment?" B'Elanna asked. Azuma nodded. B'Elanna
put her hand on Harry's shoulder and steered him away from Azuma.
"Think about it, Harry. Coupled with the ablative armor,
this cloaking technology could make us almost invincible. I'm
sure the Captain wouldn't object."
wouldn't be so sure of that."
I know technology trades have backfired in the past, but this
is different. The Caprijen mean no harm; they just need a way
to preserve their way of life. We can help them," B'Elanna
that what we said about the Hirogen?"
Hirogen wanted to hunt us, Harry. It's not the same thing."
heaved a sigh. "All right, but you explain it to the Captain.
After all, you do outrank me."
heard the note of bitterness in Harry's voice. She knew the fact
that her friend hadn't been promoted after over seven years of
exemplary - well, mostly exemplary - service rankled at him, even
though Harry had never directly said anything to B'Elanna. Some
things B'Elanna just knew instinctively.
take the blame," B'Elanna assured him. "And Harry? Your
turn will come."
about the dilithium?" Harry asked. B'Elanna sighed. He had
a point; any repairs they undertook would severely cut into the
time allocated to extracting the dilithium. And the dilithium
was more important than the cloaking technology, even if the Captain
did agree with the technology trade.
a look then," B'Elanna said. "A quick look. And don't
worry about the dilithium." She flashed a smile at Harry,
who still looked uncertain. She squeezed his shoulder. "Don't
worry about it, Starfleet. Leave it to me."
followed B'Elanna back to Azuma, who was now clustered with several
other Caprijens. Azuma quickly introduced B'Elanna and Harry to
the other aliens, who all eyed the Voyager officers with obvious
to meet you," B'Elanna said briskly. "Azuma, I'd like
to propose a trade. I'll take a look at your malfunctioning equipment,
if you could assist us with locating dilithium. We need a six
month supply, at the very least."
considered and then said, "One minute."
nodded as Azuma turned to huddle with the others. After a few
minutes of discussion, some of it loud to carry over to where
Harry and B'Elanna were standing, Azuma returned.
We will help you mine the dilithium in return for your help in
repairing the Keeper," she said.
Keeper?" B'Elanna asked.
Azuma hesitated. "It is difficult to explain, but if you
help us, we will give you the specifications for the cloaking
technology. However, the Keeper acts in conjunction with our cloak.
One cannot function without the other."
right," B'Elanna said. "You have a deal."
Janeway stood next to the windows of her Ready Room, staring out
into the vast expanse of space, a mug of coffee in her hand. She
pressed her other palm against the window, the glass cool beneath
her fingers. Here, staring out at the view that rarely changed,
it was so easy to lose all track of time.
appreciated this quiet time to herself; lately, she had found
herself desiring a certain sense of serenity, and she knew that
her crew, so recently disappointed by their failed attempt to
return home, sought the same kind of solace. She recognized the
signs of her crew withdrawing from her, even
recognized it in her own first officer -
door chimed, startling Janeway out of her thoughts. She blinked.
doors slid open as Janeway turned around slowly and took a few
steps in her visitor's direction.
she said. She put her cup down on the desk and gestured toward
an empty chair. "Thank you for coming."
sat down, neatly folding her hands in her lap. Her intelligent
and direct gaze slightly unnerved Janeway. Despite her long friendship
with Tuvok, Janeway never really had the chance to get to know
T'Pel well and Tuvok had not taken the time to share much about
his wife other than the bare minimum information.
of that will have to change now, Janeway thought as she settled
behind her desk. The setting seemed oddly formal, but Janeway
guessed T'Pel would not particularly care for a casual atmosphere.
there was nothing casual about the reason why Janeway had summoned
hope you find Voyager comfortable," Janeway said, keeping
her tone light, conversational. T'Pel, however, maintained her
stiff posture. "Your quarters are comfortable?"
find the accommodations sufficient for my needs," T'Pel answered
in the clipped, emotionless tones so characteristic of Vulcans.
"I lack for nothing."
for your children, your friends, your home, Janeway thought, but
of course T'Pel, a very private person, would be too proud to
express sentiments such as these like this out-loud.
know Tuvok is glad to have you here," Janeway said. Of course,
Tuvok had not said so to her in so many words, but Janeway had
seen her old friend in the mess hall with his wife, had seen the
way he looked at her with a mixture of respect and if the emotion
could be applied to Vulcans, love. "I know he missed you
while we were in the Delta Quadrant."
I missed him," T'Pel replied and Janeway knew this was the
closest to an admission of love she would ever get from a Vulcan.
Janeway lifted her cup of coffee, sipped, and winced at the bitter
you like something?" Janeway asked, getting up from her chair
and heading to the replicator. "My coffee is nothing less
thank you. I do not require food or drink at this time."
facing away from the Vulcan, Janeway grinned. The coffee cup materialized
and Janeway took a sip.
better," Janeway said. She smiled. "When we were in
the Delta Quadrant, we would do anything, most anything that is,
for a good cup of coffee. It seemed, at the time, good company
and coffee could make most of our problems disappear."
now?" T'Pel questioned. Janeway shook her head as she settled
into the chair next to T'Pel's.
concerned about the crew's morale," she said. "We were
so close to home. Only one light year away and now..."
Neelix was on-board, he served as an unofficial sounding board
for many of the crew. He could pick up on any mood and possessed
a knack at peeling away the layers to get to the heart of the
matter," Janeway said. She sighed. "He was a valuable
member of the crew and while I wish him well, I do miss him, T'Pel."
remained silent, but her dark eyes were alert with anticipation.
can't be everything to my crew," Janeway confessed. She glanced
down into her coffee. "I would like to be, but there are
understand," T'Pel said. This time her voice was infused
with warmth and for that, Janeway was grateful.
crew needs someone they can talk to," Janeway went on. "They
know they are free to come to me at any time, but many of them
don't. Some go to Chakotay, but more of them chose Neelix. Now
that Neelix is gone, there's a void. I know it's a lot to ask,
but would you be willing to serve as the ship's counselor?"
tipped her head to the side as if considering the request. Janeway
took another sip of coffee, feeling the warm liquid coat the inside
of her throat. Her hands shook slightly as she put the mug down
on the desk and she wondered when she had become so vulnerable.
can't let this be like the last time, Janeway thought as she contemplated
the mug on the corner of the desk. Her last descent into melancholy
had occurred nearly two months ago when they had passed through
an expanse of space completely devoid of life or scientific phenomena;
she had cut herself off from
the crew, choosing to dwell in self-pity and regret, even shutting
out Chakotay, whom she counted among her closest friends. Janeway
lifted her chin defiantly and turned to T'Pel, who was nodding
will do it," T'Pel said quietly. "It would be an appropriate
position for me and I wish to be of service to the ship."
you," Janeway said. "We - I appreciate it."
to the Captain."
detected the note of urgency in Chakotay's voice, the first real
sign of emotion she had heard from her first officer in days.
you haven't been spending much time with him now, have you? she
thought. But she pushed the thought away, knowing their relationship
was already better than it had been since Voyager had ended up
in this bubble of space. In time, Janeway thought, we'll be back
to where we were. And she fervently hoped that they could repair
the damage to their relationship sooner, rather than later.
here. What is it?"
need you on the Bridge."
rose, as did T'Pel.
you," Janeway said. "I'll let Chakotay know about our
conversation and he'll inform the crew."
nodded. Janeway headed for the door and then stepped aside so
that T'Pel could exit first.
then with a sharp intake of air, Janeway entered the Bridge.
is it?" Janeway demanded as she marched down the Bridge to
where Chakotay was standing. He nodded at the viewscreen; a serene,
cloud-covered M-class planet took up much of the screen. A planet,
Janeway realized in shock that looked very much like Earth right
down to the number of continents sprinkled across its surface.
She swallowed hard and turned her attention to her first officer.
picking up a distress call," Chakotay said. He turned to
Tuvok. "Tuvok has pinpointed it to this location."
indication what it is?" Janeway asked, frowning; there was
no sign of a ship or anything else out there.
am scanning all frequencies now," Tuvok said. "I'm detecting
no vessel, only a ripple of energy, a continuous burst..."
His voice drifted off as he leaned closer to examine the readings
on his console.
sure there's someone out there?"
isn't usual phenomena," Chakotay said, an edge to his normally
crisp tone. "And it's a moving energy wave, spiraling downward
towards the planet. The fact that it's emitting a distress call
of some kind-"
think it's a ship? Hail it," Janeway said sharply. "At
least let whoever is out there know we heard them."
is no response," Tuvok said. Janeway took a step towards
the viewscreen, eyeing the planet with a mixture of fascination
and longing. "I am retrying on all frequencies. Still no
response, but the distress signal is a continuous pulse."
ignoring us?" Janeway asked in disbelief. "Keep trying,
Tuvok." She looked over at Chakotay. "Isn't this the
planet where scans indicated large reserves of dilithium?"
is," Seven of Nine said from her station directly behind
the Captain. "This planet was among those Lieutenant Torres
and Ensign Kim planned to visit."
energy wave has dissipated," Tuvok said. He tapped a few
keys on his console. "However, I am picking up a life sign
on the planet. Captain, it's Sernaix."
Shields up and go to red alert. Tuvok, are you picking up any
Sernaix ships in the vicinity?" Janeway asked.
am not picking up vessels of any kind, Sernaix or otherwise, on
long-range sensors," Tuvok said. His voice was calm, evenly
modulated, but Janeway detected the note of unease in her security
officer's tone. She knew exactly what he was concerned about;
Sernaix ships were seemingly impenetrable to Voyager's scanning
technology. The last time they had encountered the Sernaix, the
attack had seemingly come out of nowhere and now they had detected
a single Sernaix life sign with no indication of another alien
ship anywhere in the vicinity. This particular circumstance didn't
bode well, Janeway knew, and she shared Tuvok's anxiety.
the scan," Chakotay advised needlessly. "I doubt any
of us are eager to see the Sernaix again. Let's try to avoid them
if we can."
Tom Paris whirled around from the helm. "If the Sernaix are
down on that planet, B'Elanna and Harry are going to need us."
agree," Janeway said. She settled herself into her chair.
"Set a synchronous orbit around the planet, Mr. Paris. When
we're in range, hail the away team."
you said 'hiking', you weren't kidding," Harry said. He tried
to keep his panting minimal; lately, he had been hard pressed
to find time for exercise programs on the holodeck.
he had managed to indulge in a Captain Proton scenario or two,
but without Tom Paris - who had embraced fatherhood wholeheartedly
- the holodeck lacked its usual panache. As a result, Harry had
begun spending his free time practicing his saxophone or playing
various strategy games in the mess hall with the Delaney sisters
or anyone else who happened to be around at the time.
neither hobby had particularly prepared him for the steep ascent
into the cold and damp caves located just beyond the Caprijen
was at least relieved to see that B'Elanna was slightly out of
breath also as they followed Azuma up the rocky trail. Azuma,
on the other hand, appeared to have no problems whatsoever as
her breath remained even and controlled.
are not far from the Keeper," Azuma told them. The light
from Azuma's lantern played off the walls of the cave, creating
shadows that conjured up memories of imaginary monsters that hid
in closets and beneath beds. Harry knew there was nothing to fear
in these caves, but still, he kept one hand on his
trio turned a corner and suddenly the narrow passageway widened
into a large chamber, one illuminated by lanterns hanging every
few meters. The walls here were of a beige hue, rather than the
gray and black shades of the passageway.
Azuma pointed in the direction of a gray box. It was nondescript
looking, to say the least, measuring about three meters wide and
four meters tall. "That's the Keeper," Azuma went on
proudly. "It has been a part of our people's heritage for
almost a thousand years."
a long time," B'Elanna said. She pulled out her tricorder.
"No wonder it's been acting up. I'm picking irregular spikes
in the power flow. Does anyone perform regular maintenance on
engineers routinely run diagnostics, however, the latest malfunctions
have been difficult to repair."
crouched in front of it, examining her tricorder readings. She
noted some unusual bursts of energy patterns, some of them powerful
enough to burn out fuses, and others so weak, they barely registered
on her tricorder.
Harry asked her.
noticing..." her voice drifted off as she stared at the gray
box in fascination. B'Elanna reached out, touching the smooth
metal delicately with the tips of her fingers. "It's unlike
anything I've seen before. The technology, it's incredible..."
her eyes closed as she swayed.
Harry exclaimed as his friend fell back into his arms.
was a little girl.
she looked around, B'Elanna recognized the playground immediately.
On Kessik, only two blocks from the house where she lived with
sun was warm against her skin and the grass soft and cool beneath
her bare feet. B'Elanna turned around slowly, facing up to the
sunlight. And then, two strong hands, lifting her towards the
laughed as she flew through the air.
same strong hands caught her and when she found herself on the
ground, B'Elanna looked up.
Mother. Both. Smiling down at her.
Daddy," B'Elanna said, clapping her hands together. "Do
eyes flew open and she saw Harry and Azuma staring at her.
you all right?" Harry asked urgently. "What happened
shook her head, pressing her hand against her forehead. Her mouth
felt dry, scratchy.
minute," Harry said. He rummaged through his pack to find
the canteen. He poured some of the water into a glass and held
it to B'Elanna's lips. "Careful,
gulped down the water, relishing the coolness running down her
throat. She closed her eyes, licking her lips.
more?" Harry asked.
no, I'm fine now," B'Elanna said. She glanced at Azuma. "What
the hell happened?"
experienced a vision," Azuma said.
B'Elanna said. She got to her feet and moved away from the box.
"I guess you can call it that."
it a... pleasant experience?"
considered. She had felt completely happy in her 'vision,' as
Azuma called it. Free, light-hearted, wonderful, loved.
B'Elanna said. She smiled. "I was at the playground, near
my home on Kessik. My parents, both of them, were there and it...
it was a good day. I was four years old again and my father was
swinging me up in his arms."
crossed his arms against his chest.
he asked. "What is it?"
only way I can explain it is in this way," Azuma said. "Somehow,
the Keeper manages to extricate memories from people and bring
them back vividly. In that way, we have the ability to relive
the happiest moments of our lives. However, it has never affected
an outsider before."
got some effect," B'Elanna said. "It was a pretty powerful
I don't like this," Harry said nervously. "Let's figure
out what's wrong with this thing and get on with our mission."
B'Elanna said, but she kept looking at the box. She wanted to
touch it again, but knew that Harry would not like it. But still...
orbit now, Captain," Tom announced.
on sensors?" Janeway got up from her chair and stood directly
behind her helm officer, her hand resting gently on his shoulder.
Tuvok answered. "However, I have pinpointed the Sernaix'
location. It appears to be one individual; his life signs are
weak. He is approximately one kilometer from the Delta Flyer."
to B'Elanna, come in," Janeway said crisply, doing her best
to keep the concern out of her voice. The bridge fell silent as
everyone waited for a response. Janeway noted that her helm officer
seemed especially interested, as he had turned away from the viewscreen
and focused all of his attention on her.
"Janeway to Harry, come in."
here." Harry's voice sounded scratchy over the commlink.
"Sorry about that, Captain. Looks like there's a little bit
of interference with the comm signal."
let out an audible sigh and turned back to his console, his shoulders
visibly relaxing. Janeway stifled a smile; seven years ago, she
would have never predicted that Tom Paris would settle down to
a life of relative domesticity and stability. Paris' devotion
to wife and daughter, the way he looked at them, and
the utter peace on his face when he held Miral in his arms struck
a nerve with Janeway.
she glanced at Chakotay, and then quickly recovered her composure.
there's a single Sernaix not too far from your location."
pause and then Harry, his voice still slightly fuzzy, answered,
"Thanks for the warning, Captain. We'll be on the look out."
soon as you finish the dilithium extraction, return to Voyager,"
Janeway said. Her voice, steady and calm, belied her nervousness.
glanced over her shoulder at Chakotay who had moved to stand just
you think it's a coincidence?" she asked softly. "What
do you think the Sernaix are up to?"
guess is as good as mine," Chakotay answered. He glanced
towards the viewscreen. "The Sernaix are nothing, if not
all part of their charm," Tom said. He flashed a quick smile
at the Captain, a small reflection of the ladies' man he used
to be. "Makes them irresistible."
must be it," Janeway said wryly, allowing herself to smile
back at her helm officer. "Tuvok, beam the Sernaix directly
to sickbay and notify the Doctor. Assign a security detail."
Chakotay's voice was deliberately low as he leaned close to the
captain. She held up a hand, already anticipating his objection.
won't deny medical aid to anyone in need," she said in an
equally quiet voice.
could be a trap."
noted," Janeway said. She glanced at Tuvok, who was standing
near the turbolift. "Erect a force field around sickbay.
I don't want to take any chances," she said, raising her
voice so everyone could hear. She headed towards the door and
then turned to face her bridge staff. "Chakotay, Tuvok, you're
me. Tom, you have the Bridge."
enjoyed quiet. She hadn't realized it until this moment when she
was alone in the cavern, the door of the box open to reveal the
intricate circuitry within. Harry and Azuma had left her to the
delicate task of diagnosing the Keeper's problems, while they
went to set up the dilithium retrieval operation.
Captain's tone in their recent communication had indicated that
there was no time to waste; the Sernaix were nearby, and B'Elanna
had no desire to see those blue-skinned, horned creatures again.
had been reluctant to leave, but B'Elanna had assured him that
she would be fine.
You heard the Captain," she had said. "I can handle
this, don't worry."
now that they were gone, B'Elanna was able to examine the Keeper's
technology to her heart's content. So rarely did she get the opportunity
for exploration; most of the time she reacted to problems, coming
up with quick fixes. The chances for in-depth research proved
few and far between. Even when
B'Elanna did find a free moment or two, she often spent the time
helping the other engineers on her staff with their duties.
pulled out a phase link coupler from her kit and squinted at the
blinking circuits. A few of the circuits looked like they had
fused together, creating lapses in the routing paths. Whoever
had last repaired the Keeper had attempted to reroute some of
the power flow, but B'Elanna could see that an overload was
shuffled through the items in her toolkit before settling on an
inverse flux capacitor. B'Elanna deftly removed several of the
burned out circuits and replaced the wiring.
see if this makes a difference," she said. Her voice sounded
unnaturally hollow and loud in the cavern and B'Elanna shivered.
Maybe she shouldn't have persuaded Harry to leave...
took a deep breath and resumed working.
seemed to slip away from B'Elanna as she fused wires together
and cut away at the defunct equipment. Her vision blurred and
she blinked a few times, trying to focus.
on, B'Elanna, she muttered to herself. Stick with it.
phase link coupler slipped out of her hand and B'Elanna cursed
under her breath. She reached for it, and her boot slipped. As
she recovered her balance, she was aware of someone else in the
room with her. She turned and gasped.
Janeway barked as she led the way into sickbay, Chakotay and Tuvok
close behind her.
Doctor looked up from his patient.
Sernaix has several internal injuries. I've stopped the bleeding
and repaired some of the tissue damage," the Doctor told
the three officers. "However, he has sustained a concussion
and cannot be moved at this time."
circled the biobed, keeping her eye on the unconscious alien the
whole time. She had never seen a Sernaix up close before and now,
as she looked at its lanky body, the blue-tinged skin, the horns,
the alien appeared much less intimidating.
he live?" Chakotay asked.
Doctor nodded. "Yes."
to hear. I'd hate to explain to the Sernaix how one of their people
died onboard my ship," Janeway said.
physiology is interesting," the Doctor said, seemingly unaware
of Janeway's last comment. "I've made note of several unique
features that I have not seen anywhere else, including some vestigial
organs. I am, however, unable to discern what function is performed
by these additional viscera."
sure you'll discover their purpose soon enough," the Captain
responded, her gaze still fixed on the alien.
I hope to," the Doctor said. He lifted a small gray box with
a collection of slides within. He pulled out one slide and handed
it to the Captain.
am I looking at?" she asked curiously, holding the slide
up to the light. She could make out a cluster of cells tinted
purple. She pulled out another slide from the gray box; this one
featured another sample, this time tinted blue.
taken the liberty of taking some tissue and blood samples,"
the Doctor said in a low voice. "For research purposes, of
course," the Captain said, unable to keep the note of cynicism
out of her voice. She handed the slides back to the Doctor and
turned her attention back to the alien. Janeway noted that despite
its appearance of frailty, the alien was all muscle and bone.
Strong, without doubt, and this observation sent a shiver
down Janeway's back.
physical and technological superiority posed a serious threat
to Voyager and Janeway knew that this was her opportunity to perhaps
head off any chances of further attack. She looked up from the
alien and back at Chakotay and Tuvok.
contact the Sernaix. Let's set up a meeting. Let them know we
have one of their people and we'd like to talk," she said
Chakotay said. "I'm not sure I like the idea. We know nothing
about the Sernaix." He looked at Tuvok for support, but the
Vulcan remained characteristically tight-lipped. It's okay to
take sides once in a while, Tuvok, Chakotay thought, feeling fury
bubble up inside of him. Even if voicing your opinion means going
against the Captain.
is our chance to learn more," Janeway said evenly. "I
can't pass up the chance for a face to face meeting with the Sernaix
here on Voyager."
bristled at the suggestion. "What about the security issues?"
He threw the comment out there, knowing Tuvok would have to respond
still stone-faced, replied, "I will assign extra crew to
the security detail."
Sernaix have fired on us before, with no cause, I may add. We
shouldn't invite them onboard without thinking it over carefully,"
circled around the Doctor and came to stand directly in front
of her first officer.
I have thought about it and I've made my decision," she said
softly. "You have your orders."
stared back at her, grim-faced.
understand, Captain," he told her. "I'll contact the
turned and walked out of sickbay. Janeway sighed and looked back
down at the alien. He looked peaceful, almost tranquil, and she
wondered if perhaps all of the animosity between Voyager and the
Sernaix wasn't all just a big misunderstanding.
sincerely hoped so.
was aware of the Doctor and Tuvok both staring at her. Janeway
cleared her throat.
be on the Bridge," she said. "Contact me if there is
any change in the Sernaix's condition."
Captain," the Doctor nodded.
fell into step with Janeway as they proceeded out of sickbay and
down the corridors towards the turbolift. The security officer's
silence unnerved Janeway; she could always count on Tuvok to give
her his honest opinion and the fact he had offered nothing at
all during her brief discussion with Chakotay
sparked her curiosity.
Janeway began. She stopped and leaned one shoulder against the
wall. "Am I making a mistake? No, don't answer that. I suppose
it wouldn't be the first time and it certainly won't be the last."
She sighed. Chakotay's negative attitude towards her suggestion
bothered her greatly. She looked up to see Tuvok
eyeing her carefully and knew he had picked up on her thoughts.
"What do you think?"
is your first officer," Tuvok said firmly. "His opinion
wasn't asking about Chakotay," Janeway said firmly. She sighed
and crossed her arms against her chest. "I just want to know
what you think."
am uncertain as to what the best option is for Voyager. We are
in an uncharted area of space that defies definition. Once again,
we are in a situation where we must make the best of every opportunity
as it arises. The Sernaix have displayed hostility to us in the
past, however, a meeting may prove beneficial in erasing any tensions
said I was uncertain."
sighed and continued walking. So much for a black and white answer.
But then, she considered; she wasn't necessarily looking for another
course of action, only validation of the decision she had made
to invite the Sernaix aboard Voyager. In that case, she thought,
you got exactly what you were looking
for; a diplomatic non-response from Tuvok and a flat no from Chakotay.
Where does that leave you, Kathryn? And she knew the answer to
this question, the answer that had motivated her for the last
doing the best I can, Tuvok," she said, not pausing to let
her friend catch up with her. "I promised this crew I would
get them home. I'm going to do that, no matter what it takes."
Harry approached warily as he held the lantern high to illuminate
his path. The light threw shadows across the craggy walls of the
cave. His Starfleet-regulation boots crunched the gravel beneath
his feet and occasionally, he could hear the drip of water and
the scampering of some small invisible animal. The damp, chilly
air sent shivers down Harry's back and he sincerely could not
wait to get out of this cave. "B'Elanna, you here? We're
glanced at Azuma who followed closely behind. The two of them,
along with several other Caprijens, had spent the last three hours
mining dilithium. The Caprijens had developed extraction techniques
that made the usual tedious process more efficient. All in all,
the group had managed to collect enough
dilithium to last Voyager for at least nine months.
we're still stuck in this twilight zone nine months from now,
Harry thought, and shuddered at the idea.
Harry called again. They rounded the corner and entered the large
cavern where the Keeper was housed. Azuma stopped short and Harry
nearly bumped into her. "Sorry. B'Elanna!"
was lying on the ground, the contents of the toolkit scattered
at her feet, the front panel on the Keeper still open. Harry looked
wrong with her?" he asked, his voice rising to a feverish
pitch. He knelt beside his friend. B'Elanna looked peaceful, almost
as if she were sleeping. A sheen of perspiration coated her forehead,
but her breathing was even.
is what happened to the others..."
Harry barked. "This has happened before?" He pulled
out his tricorder and scanned B'Elanna. "Her life signs are
stable, but she's in a coma."
Azuma nodded. She sighed. "That's one of the problems with
the Keeper. It has been adversely affecting its users, drawing
them so deeply into their memories that they remain there."
you saying B'Elanna is trapped inside her own memories?"
Harry asked incredulously. He shook his head. "This is unbelievable.
Why didn't you tell us what was going on?"
I told you before, this has never affected outsiders before,"
still should have told us!" Harry exclaimed. All of his goodwill
towards the Caprijens evaporated as he glanced down at B'Elanna.
How would he explain this to Tom? "Especially since she had
that previous, whatever you call it, vision?"
sorry," Azuma said, her tone conciliatory. Harry looked up
and saw that Azuma appeared genuinely sorry. She twisted her hands
nervously in front of her. "If I had known this would happen,
I would have never brought you here..."
do we revive her?" Harry demanded. He placed his fingers
against the side of B'Elanna's neck and after a few seconds, pulled
them away, satisfied that her pulse was strong and constant.
I don't know."
stared. "You don't know?"
shrugged. "Usually they wake up when their memories have
glanced back down at B'Elanna's prone figure. Who knew when her
memories would run out? If she started at infancy, or even at
age four as she had mentioned before, it might be years before
B'Elanna woke up again. Especially if the memories ran in real
should have told us," Harry repeated. "I would have
never agreed to the trade if I had known what was going on here
and B'Elanna wouldn't have either."
lips tightened into a straight line and Harry sighed.
sorry. I shouldn't have snapped at you," he said. He turned
off his tricorder and reattached it to his uniform. "I'm
going to the surface. You stay with B'Elanna."
are you going?" Azuma asked frantically.
going back to the Delta Flyer to hail Voyager."
boxes sat against the wall, neatly packed and ready to be loaded
into the transport. Two sleeping bags were rolled up tightly and
rested on top of the cooler. B'Elanna viewed the assortment with
disinterest. The annual camping trip for the Torres family, except
that her mother would not be joining them this
year. Instead, her father's brother and his children - her cousins,
whom she barely knew - would be coming along.
a way, B'Elanna was happy to be going - she had felt an urge to
get out of the house ever since the fighting had begun again in
earnest. It seemed that these days everything was an issue between
her parents. Little things such as what B'Elanna should wear to
school or what was for dinner were magnified until their voices
erupted in anger, echoing throughout the house.
had tried to get away from the loudness; she had locked herself
in the bathroom furthest away from the scene of most of her parents'
quarrels, the kitchen. But still those loud, angry voices carried
through the walls, and B'Elanna, crouched in the bathtub, would
bite down on her lip, wondering when
the fighting would cease.
though, on their departure morning, both mother and father appeared
to be in good moods.
think that's the last of it, B'Elanna," her father said,
nodding at the stack of boxes. He placed one large hand on B'Elanna's
thin shoulder. "I don't think we've missed anything."
forgotten this," her mother said, coming up behind them.
She held out a red sweater. "It gets cold in the mountains,
B'Elanna. Take this with you."
reluctantly took the sweater; it was nearly summertime and she
wanted to be free of heavy clothing, but she also knew that her
mother was right. Klingons were unusually susceptible to cold
and despite the fact she has half-human, B'Elanna's Klingon side
managed to get the upper hand in every instance.
should be back next Saturday," her father said. His tone
was conversational, almost warm. The politeness of his words made
it impossible for B'Elanna to believe that her parents had been
arguing only the night before.
mother smiled down at her. "You will have a good time, B'Elanna,"
she said. Those long fingers, the features of which her mother
was most vain, stroked B'Elanna's cheek gently.
don't want to come?" B'Elanna asked. "Why? You always
this time," her mother answered, exchanging a cryptic look
with her father. "Next summer."
should go," her father said, his voice sounding unnaturally
won't be the same without you," B'Elanna insisted.
this time, B'Elanna."
be late for the transport," her father said.
gazed at the camping supplies and then reluctantly, picked up
her sleeping bag roll. Her father picked up the cooler and the
other sleeping bag, while her mother lifted the box containing
cooking supplies. The three of them walked out to the waiting
they finished loading up the transport, B'Elanna turned to her
miss you," B'Elanna said. The hoarseness in her throat surprised
her, and apparently surprised Miral Torres also.
only for a week," her mother said softly. She planted a light
kiss on the top of B'Elanna's head. "You won't even think
of me, not for a moment, while you are there. You will have so
much fun with your cousins. Think about them, not of me."
go," her father said. B'Elanna hugged her mother fiercely
and then climbed into the transport, sitting all the way against
the back of the seat so that her long legs barely skimmed the
they pulled away from the house, B'Elanna waved to Miral Torres,
who stood out on the front lawn, arms crossed against her chest.
It was, B'Elanna thought, the first time she had ever seen her
mother's proud posture slump.
Janeway arrived on the bridge, she saw Chakotay, however grudgingly,
had done as she'd asked; the narrow blue face of a Sernaix filled
the viewscreen, a scowl spreading across the alien's finely sculpted
features. Janeway involuntarily shuddered as she noted the intricate
tattooed patterns that covered the Sernaix's face, torso and upper
arms. She took a deep breath as she remembered Voyager's last
encounter with the Sernaix; she hoped this one would go better
and if not... well, she preferred to hope for the best but was
ready for the worst.
turned as Janeway approached.
Adimh Liven of the Crimson Stone," Chakotay said in a low
voice. "'Belligerent' doesn't begin to sum up his attitude
nodded and then faced the alien.
Captain Janeway," she said. "We have one of your men
on board. He is severely injured."
must be returned," Adimh Liven barked. "Prepare him
for transport immediately."
doctor says his injuries make it impossible for him to be moved
without further risk to his health," Janeway said. "We
will take care of him and return him to you healthy and in one
piece. You have my word."
should we trust you?" Liven's eyes narrowed. In the background,
Janeway could make out other Sernaix gathering, perhaps in a show
of support for their commander. She could see the defiance on
their faces. Janeway lifted her chin; she refused to be cowed
by the Sernaix.
have nothing to gain by holding your crewman hostage," Janeway
said. She glanced at Chakotay, but his expression revealed neither
agreement nor disagreement with her statement. She wondered if
Chakotay did want to keep the Sernaix hostage as a bargaining
not give them a reason to attack, Chakotay, Janeway thought. I
have to assure them of our goodwill, it's our only way out of
Tuvok said. "They are powering up their weapons."
Janeway thought. "So much for good intentions."
to red alert," Chakotay advised.
us out of range, Mr. Paris," Janeway ordered. She then turned
her attention back to Adimh Liven. "Power down your weapons,
Adimh. I assure you, we will not hurt - does he have a name?"
hesitated before saying, "His name is Lous."
will not hurt Lous," Janeway said. "But I fear transporting
him will cause further harm. Believe me, injuring him further
is the last thing I want. However, if you'd like -" she glanced
over at Chakotay, who looked uneasy, as if he was anticipating
her next action - "you are welcome to come aboard Voyager
and examine Lous for yourself. You'll see he's well-cared for."
Sernaix commander remained silent for a long moment and Janeway
willed herself to remain calm. She could sense the tension in
the members of her bridge crew, from Paris' clenched jaw to Tuvok's
Kathryn, Janeway thought. She looked at Chakotay and the firm
line of his mouth convinced her to try again.
this an opportunity for us to get to know each other," Janeway
plunged ahead. "I believe we can help each other."
finally nodded. "Agreed."
are powering down weapons," Tuvok announced and Paris confirmed
the news with a quick scan. Janeway exhaled, feeling all tension
dissipating from her muscles.
red alert," Chakotay said as he stalked back to his chair.
may beam directly to our transporter room," Janeway said
to the Adimh. "Janeway out."
viewscreen went black and Janeway faced her first officer.
with me, Commander," she said. Without looking, she knew
Tuvok had already departed for the transporter room, and in his
efficient way, had probably arranged for the security detail to
be present for the Sernaix's arrival.
have the bridge," Janeway said to Tom Paris for the second
time that day. Paris nodded and left his seat as another officer
came to take the helm. Janeway led the way to the turbolift, Chakotay
close on her heels.
the doors closed on them, Janeway turned to Chakotay.
I have your support?" she asked softly.
shrugged. "You've never asked before. Why raise the question
bit her lip. There were so many ways to answer this question,
but the truce, which had only recently developed between the two
of them, was still too fragile to allow her to answer in a way
that would be meaningful to both of them. Janeway looked resolutely
was their usual camping ground, the one they returned to year
after year. B'Elanna scrambled out of the transport, landing lightly
on her feet. Already, she had seen the perfect place to pitch
a tent - over in the far corner of their assigned space, beneath
a trio of tall evergreens.
her, her father was unloading the transport, with the help of
her uncle. The cousins were here too, but B'Elanna wanted to explore.
She pushed through the trees, marveling at the softness of the
fresh green leaves and the dampness of the ground.
followed a meandering path down to the edge of the river. The
water splashed white against the occasional boulder and occasionally,
flotsam consisting of leaves, sticks, and mud flowed downstream.
took off her shoes and waded into the cold water, nearly yelping
as it swirled around her skinny ankles. She had forgotten how
chilly mountain water could be, especially this early in the summer.
turned around and saw her father. He waved at her and made his
way down to the edge of the river.
yourself?" he asked.
much," B'Elanna replied. She rubbed her feet against the
water-smoothened pebbles. It felt good, but she knew she had to
be careful; last year, she had actually slipped and fell, cutting
her forehead on a stone. Her mother had been furious with her.
"Do you think we can go rafting?"
think we can arrange that," John Torres said. "Now,
come on back to the camp site. We're getting ready for lunch."
B'Elanna said. She picked up her shoes and slipped her hand into
her father's larger one. As they walked, the blues skies of the
early afternoon darkened into night and suddenly, B'Elanna was
standing outside of her tent, not really sure how she had gotten
there you are," her father said from the shadows. She wanted
to ask him if only a few seconds ago they had been walking together
from the river, but she felt somehow foolish. Perhaps she had
fallen asleep; it seemed to be the only explanation. "I've
been looking for you everywhere."
was at the river," B'Elanna said. Her father frowned.
was hours ago," he said.
blinked. It wasn't hours ago, she wanted to say, only a few minutes,
but she remained quiet. Already her limbs felt heavy, as if she
had been walking for days and her head...
she whispered. She held out a hand, trying to steady herself against
the tree trunk, but already the ground was spinning. She looked
up and between the towering tips of the evergreens; she could
see a dark patch of sky speckled with tiny white dots - stars,
glowing so far away in the distance. And they were
moving, spinning, circling, and as she fell into the night, B'Elanna
was only dimly aware of her father calling for help.
sat up. She had been lying in a bed, a white sheet covering her
to the waist. She felt hot, clammy, and sore, as if she'd been
sick. Her muscles ached and as the room came into focus, she noticed
Azuma sitting in a straight-back chair at the foot of the bed.
Azuma asked cautiously. "How do you feel?"
inhaled deeply. The irritating scratchiness in her throat was
nodded and disappeared into the adjoining room. She returned a
few moments later with a glass and B'Elanna drank deeply. She
coughed a few times and then looked around. The room she was in
was plainly furnished; two windows were on one wall and the far
wall had a single door. Furnishings consisted of simply designed
wooden pieces - table, chairs, a shelf and the bed in which she
was lying. There were no decorations anywhere.
am I?" B'Elanna asked hoarsely.
is my home," Azuma said. She was still crouched at the side
of B'Elanna's bed. "How do you feel? Harry has gone to contact
feeling..." B'Elanna stopped. The sensations running through
her body were not so different than what she had felt while on
the Barge of the Dead. "Was it real?"
was on a camping trip with my father. I could feel the water around
my ankles; feel the damp soil between my toes. It was different
than the last time. The first time, I knew it was a memory because
the scene appeared out of focus, but this, everything was more
clear, so much sharper. Was it real?"
nodded. "Yes, it was."
was twelve years old," B'Elanna said quietly. "I don't
know that I've ever had a memory that vivid before. It was...
disconcerting. It was as if I was watching myself, but at the
same time, I was myself as I was at that time."
Keeper has that effect. As I explained to Harry earlier, it has
the ability to transcribe memories into reality. It gives us the
chance not only to relive certain moments, but also to change
them if we so desire."
them?" B'Elanna asked. She pulled her knees up to her chest
and wrapped her arms around her legs. "A second chance?"
Azuma said. "The Keeper is a wonderful gift in that sense.
It allows us to take back our regrets, giving us the ability to
alter those events which have caused harm or unhappiness in any
way. Of course, we cannot make the decisions concerning the timeline
lightly, otherwise we run the risk of changing
nodded. "I understand that. Temporal mechanics have always
been a tricky subject to handle."
on the event in question, we usually convene as a village to discuss
what is to be done. Only after all of the issues have been weighed
and resolved to the best of our abilities, do we consider approaching
you like some more water?" Azuma asked, looking at B'Elanna's
now empty glass.
would be wonderful, thank you."
Azuma disappeared, B'Elanna rested her chin on her knees. She
thought of her father and how that particular camping trip had
been their last time together. She remembered the hateful words
she had said to him, the words that remained permanently branded
in her memory.
only I could take those back...'
vision grew cloudy as she thought of all of the things she wished
she could take back. She allowed herself a rueful smile.
suppose that's what happens when you speak first, think later,
B'Elanna thought. She lifted her head as she heard Azuma approach.
have one more question," B'Elanna said as she took the glass
from Azuma. "Something strange happened while I was... there.
It was like I had jumped forward in time. Morning darkened into
night almost without warning."
time shift," Azuma acknowledged. "On occasion, that
has been known to happen. The memory is fast forwarded to another
point in time."
exactly what happened," B'Elanna said. "It was strange,
to say the very least."
because you were unaware of this phenomena. Often, it takes one
to the moment of regret."
you can effectively jump around in the past?" B'Elanna asked.
She sat up straight, swinging her legs over the side of the bed.
"To any moment you choose?"
reason, of course," Azuma said. "And with forethought,
of course. Now, you should rest. I can imagine this was a strange
experience for you, one you ought not take lightly."
that, Azuma left the room, closing the door quietly behind her.
something to take lightly, B'Elanna thought as she sipped the
cool water. But it would be intriguing...
could get used to this, Tom Paris thought as he glanced around
the bridge. The view from the Captain's chair was certainly different
than the view one had at the helm or even at the Ops or Engineering
stations. In the past, Tom had often chided Harry for spending
his night shifts on the bridge, noting that Harry
seemed to be on the fast track for a promotion; Harry had shrugged
and offered a simple, "You should try it sometime."
bridge duty, unless under duress, never appealed to Tom. He enjoyed
his off shifts, spending much of that free time in the holodeck,
tinkering or writing various holoprograms, including the inexplicably
popular Fair Haven program. And of course, there was B'Elanna
and now, Miral... just thinking of Miral, Tom's
lips curved up. Every day, Miral did something new and he found
himself incredibly amused and proud to watch each little achievement,
from the first smile to the first wave.
message from the planet," Seven of Nine announced, interrupting
Tom's reverie. She pressed a few buttons and a second later, Harry
Kim appeared on the viewscreen. Tom grinned at the sight of his
friend and stood up.
Harry," Tom said. "Miss us already?"
that," Harry answered uncomfortably. He glanced over his
shoulder, perhaps in an effort to avoid eye contact. Tom's thoughts
flew immediately to the worst possible scenario.
it the Sernaix?" Tom asked. He kept his voice even but the
very thought of the Sernaix down on the same planet as his wife
and best friend terrified him. He hadn't thought it possible after
all they had faced in the Delta Quadrant, but the image of those
blue-skinned horned aliens occasionally disrupted his
sleep and Tom would wake up sweaty, his heart beating rapidly;
only when B'Elanna opened her arms to him, did he feel safe.
we haven't seen any sign of the Sernaix," Harry said, relief
evident in his voice. Tom felt the tension ease out of his body.
why the long face?" Tom asked teasingly, but Harry didn't
the Doctor available?" Harry asked.
in sickbay, treating a wounded Sernaix we beamed aboard. What's
B'Elanna. She's..." Harry paused.
happened?" Tom asked, advancing towards the screen. "Harry?"
fallen into a coma of some kind. We've been trying to revive her,
but to no use. I need the Doctor."
beam down," Tom said. He hit his comm badge. "Paris
to the Captain."
ahead, Tom," Janeway's voice was scratchy over the commlink.
"What is it?"
needs medical attention. Requesting permission-"
the Captain answered.
Tom exclaimed. He paced the length of the bridge, unable to contain
his nervous energy. "She needs me."
send the Doctor. I need you on the bridge."
bit his lip and then he looked back up at Harry.
Doctor is on his way, Harry," he said, taking a step closer
to the viewscreen. "You will keep me informed, won't you?"
course. Kim out."
turned back to face his seat but then he caught Seven of Nine's
eye. She was looking at him with uncharacteristic warmth and softness.
He turned back around; he didn't feel like sitting.
Paris," Seven said softly. "Lieutenant Torres is a strong
woman and the Doctor is a capable physician. Whatever the ailment
is, I'm sure the Doctor can treat her efficiently."
did not respond, but he twisted around slightly to flash her his
trademark grin, the one that had melted hearts across the Alpha
Quadrant, but there was no heat in his smile.
only prayed Seven of Nine was correct.
met the Doctor on the outskirts of the Caprijen village. The Doctor
had come fully prepared for any possibility with several medkits.
Harry heaved up one of the kits and indicated the direction of
brought her here after she passed out," Harry said as they
walked up the pathway leading to Azuma's front door. The Doctor
took in the little red flowers lining either side of the cobblestone
pathway and the little iron sculptures of native animals to the
left of the door.
he commented as Harry opened the door. The Doctor evaluated the
interior of the house, evaluating everything from the brightly
colored curtains at the windows to the simple wood furniture.
"Delightful," the Doctor continued. "Tasteful color,
functional furnishings, comfortable in every way."
chose not to respond to the Doctor's commentary as he led the
way down a short corridor and finally into the small bedroom Azuma
had provided for B'Elanna.
two men were surprised to find B'Elanna sitting on the edge of
the bed, her eyes unnaturally bright and her cheeks flushed.
B'Elanna said. She scowled. "There's nothing wrong with me.
You didn't need to come."
anticipated you would feel that way," the Doctor said pleasantly.
Azuma and Harry were directly behind him and the Doctor glanced
at Azuma, who seemed to read his thoughts exactly.
can place your instruments there." She gestured at the table
pushed up against the wall. "I trust you will find plenty
you," the Doctor said. "Now, Lieutenant Torres..."
B'Elanna snapped. "You're all making a big deal of nothing."
happened was more than simply a trip down memory lane," Harry
said. He sat on the edge of the bed and B'Elanna shifted her position
to give him more room. "B'Elanna, when we found you, you
were in a coma."
Doctor approached B'Elanna, his tricorder beeping wildly as he
came closer. B'Elanna frowned.
still, Lieutenant," the Doctor cautioned. "I'm noting
elevated levels of chroniton particles in your blood stream. There
is no doubt in my mind that you have experienced some form of
it cause any lasting damage?" B'Elanna asked in concern.
not that I can see. Of course, it may be weeks before the chronitons
you do have in your body completely dissipate."
stared at her. "What are you thinking, B'Elanna?"
want to go back," B'Elanna said. She lifted her chin defiantly
and set her jaw. Let them argue with me, she thought. They can't
be ridiculous," the Doctor said.
said yourself you didn't notice any lasting damage. What's the
problem with trying again?" B'Elanna asked. She got up from
the bed and began to pace the length of the room. She stopped
in front of Azuma. "Is it possible?"
Caprijen woman nodded. "It is possible," she confirmed.
"All you need to do is relax, breathe in slowly, breathe
out equally slowly... you have already been touched by the Keeper,
this is all you need to do."
nodded. "Good, good."
we don't know what the risks are," Harry argued. "You
can't do this."
is no risk. He said so," B'Elanna said, pointing at the Doctor.
Her expression dared the Doctor to argue with her and she fully
expected that the Doctor would back down, as he often did when
faced with that tone of voice. However, he set his jaw and seemed
equally recalcitrant on the subject.
said I didn't see any effects from your recent adventures, not
that there isn't a possibility of risk. There's a difference,"
the Doctor answered.
semantics perhaps, nothing more," B'Elanna said. "I
just one to go back one more time. Azuma said that it's possible
to time shift and I- I need to go back."
there a reason?" Harry asked softly. "A particular moment?"
nodded, biting her lip. She closed her eyes, her entire face softening.
When she opened her eyes, they were bright with moisture.
I left for Starfleet Academy, my mother and I, we fought,"
B'Elanna said quietly. "It was the last time I spoke with
her. I don't know she ever knew that despite everything, I loved
her and I want her to know I honored her, as a daughter should.
this what your trip to Klingon hell was all about?" Harry
asked. B'Elanna nodded.
this is different, Harry," she said earnestly. "My mother
was already dead then. She never knew when she was alive. I have
the chance to go back now and redo that moment. If you were given
the chance, wouldn't you?"
I would not," the Doctor broke in. "You could experience
the same reaction once again. The danger is too great."
don't understand," B'Elanna said hoarsely. "You couldn't
took B'Elanna's arm and led her over to a chair. The alien's hand
was cool against B'Elanna's feverish skin and immediately, B'Elanna
felt at peace. She sank into the chair, feeling warm and comforted
by Azuma's touch.
won't assist you," the Doctor said. "I helped you once
before against my better judgment and also that of the Captain's."
don't need your help," B'Elanna said. She looked at Azuma
who was gazing at her with compassion. "I have to do this."
began to concentrate on her breathing. In, out, in, out, in perfect
one more time, she thought. Her eyes blurred as she saw the Doctor
walking towards her, hypospray in his outstretched hand. No, she
thought, no please. She felt the hiss of the hypospray against
have you done?" B'Elanna whispered. She felt tired, so tired.
She closed her eyes, intending to only rest for a moment...
recognized the room immediately. Tiny and functional - nothing
more than a bed, a dresser and the desk. The bookshelf, built
into the walls, held several PADDs containing B'Elanna's sole
vice - Klingon romance novels.
suitcase lay open on the bed. Clothes were neatly folded on the
floor, on the chair, on the bed.
a packet, embossed with the Starfleet Academy logo, lay on top
of the desk. B'Elanna crossed the room and picked it up. She pulled
out the letter with her acceptance, a letter she had memorized
over the long summer months, which seemed like they would never
B'Elanna Torres, We're pleased to notify you of your admission
to the Starfleet Academy. As you know, the Academy is extremely
competitive and your admission shows that you are a candidate
possessing outstanding qualities. Your talents will be an asset-"
B'Elanna paused reading as she heard footsteps coming down the
hallway. Her hands shook as the letter fluttered from her fingers.
turned resolutely towards the door. Her mother had greeted her
with silence ever since the letter of admission had arrived and
today - B'Elanna glanced at the cadet uniform neatly folded in
the suitcase - B'Elanna would be leaving for Starfleet Academy.
something!" Harry exclaimed frantically as he tried to shake
B'Elanna awake, despite his instinct that such action was grounded
trying," the Doctor answered. The EMH rummaged through his
medkit before finally settling on another hypospray. "I didn't
expect the stimulator to have the exact opposite reaction."
He pressed the cool head of the hypospray against B'Elanna's neck,
discharging the medicine within with a cool hiss.
Harry announced. He picked up his tricorder. "Her neural
pathways are firing randomly, almost too quickly."
an effect of the Keeper," Azuma said from her corner. The
Doctor whirled on the woman.
has happened to others and you say there isn't a way to revive
them," he said.
The memory must play out."
don't know where in time she is," Harry said. He looked down
at his friend who had slumped down onto the table, her forehead
resting on the crook of her arm. "How can we possibly stop
is one treatment that we can try," Azuma said slowly. "We
rarely attempt it because it is not always successful-"
is it?" the Doctor queried.
individual can enter the memories of the affected person and slowly
bring her back to a conscious state," Azuma said, rising
to her feet. "If done properly, it will awaken the affected.
However, the danger is great to both parties if done incorrectly."
for the first time since they had discovered the Keeper, Harry
wondered how he would explain all of this to Tom. Of course, Tom
wouldn't be surprised by his wife's impulsiveness. Despite the
fact that B'Elanna seemed genuinely at happy and for once, at
peace with her Klingon and human heritages, her new found
ability to change an outcome of the past could be nothing less
than tempting. This much Harry understood.
you?' a little voice in Harry's head asked. 'Wouldn't you go back
if you could?'
the Doctor asked. Harry blinked and realized both the Doctor and
Azuma were staring at him curiously. "Would you attempt it?"
journey into B'Elanna's head?" Harry tried to laugh off his
trepidation. He knew he would do it, knew he would do anything
for B'Elanna, but the thought of entering her thoughts, those
Keeper doesn't seem to have the same effect on you that it does
on her," Azuma pointed out.
didn't touch it," Harry said slowly. He touched B'Elanna's
shoulder lightly and pulled his fingers away from the heat of
her skin. "It feels like I would be invading her privacy."
isn't the time for that," the Doctor said urgently. "Will
you do it?"
nodded. "I'll do it."
walked down the halls of the unfamiliar home. He knew this was
B'Elanna's childhood home, could tell by the bat'leth hanging
at the far end of the corridor, and of the pungent musky smell
that was uniquely Klingon. He passed by an alcove and had to restrain
himself from carefully examining the trio of pictures arranged
house seemed unusually dark and when he peeked into a bedroom,
he realized dusk had fallen and the sun had become nothing more
than an amber colored line across the horizon.
Harry called. His voice echoed eerily in the hallway. Harry turned
a corner and there he saw B'Elanna, her back to him. She was bent
over the bed, folding clothes carefully. Harry smiled to himself;
he recognized the pattern of her folding well.
the distance, Harry could hear another set of footprints. He peered
down the hall and saw a Klingon woman dressed in traditional garb
coming in his direction. Harry flattened himself against the wall,
but Miral Torres passed him, seemingly unaware of his presence.
Miral said, her voice harsh.
is it?" B'Elanna asked, not turning to face her mother. She
continued to fold, calmly, neatly, almost without any thought
to the action.
will look at me when I speak to you, daughter."
you are packing to go off. Just like your father. You are so much
like your father."
to be like him than like you!" B'Elanna spat back. She turned
around now, and Harry knew the expression on B'Elanna's face well.
On Voyager, it meant someone was going to leave Engineering minus
an appendage or two. "He understands me in a way you never
that so?" Miral Torres sneered. "Then why has he not
contacted you all of this time? He wants nothing to do with you."
not true!" B'Elanna exclaimed. "You drove him away!
If it wasn't for you, he wouldn't have left me."
you blame me then?" Miral scoffed. "Don't be ridiculous,
daughter. All humans are the same and you will discover the same
when you run away to this Academy of yours."
not running away," B'Elanna said. She rounded the bed and
grabbed some PADDs off the shelf and tossed them angrily into
the suitcase. "I'm getting away from you. There is a difference.I'm
going to live the life I should have had. The one you keep interfering
don't mean that," Miral Torres said softly. "A dutiful
and honorable daughter would not say such a thing."
never considered me 'dutiful' and 'honorable' before," B'Elanna
retorted. She grabbed some picture frames off the shelf and tossed
into her suitcase. The glass on one frame cracked; B'Elanna paused,
running her fingers over the fissure. "You should be glad.
I've been nothing less than a burden to you all of
is not true."
shrugged, biting down on her lip. Miral reached out, as if to
touch her daughter, but B'Elanna ducked, slipping away so that
the bed was between them.
glad to be away from you," B'Elanna said. "I've been
waiting for this day for a long time."
long silence followed, mother and daughter staring at each other.
then finally, Miral, sotto voce, said, "If you were a mother,
you would know..."
Torres turned then and walked back down the hall. As she passed,
Harry thought he could see the Klingon woman's lips quiver. B'Elanna
turned and headed after her mother, but Harry caught her arm.
he said quietly.
jerked her arm away. Her eyes were wet and she quickly drew the
back of her hand across her face and attempted to smile.
are you doing here, Harry? Did you hear everything?"
word and I've come to bring you home."
you heard it, you know why I can't go back with you," B'Elanna
said. She sat down at her desk and rested her cheek against the
palm of her hand. "It doesn't hurt any less, Harry, not even
after all of this time. This is my chance."
can't go after her, B'Elanna," Harry said. "You risk
changing the timeline."
difference does it make?" B'Elanna shrugged. "I want
her to know how I feel. If my daughter ever said such things to
you salvage your relationship with your mother, so many things
would change. I'd still go to the Academy."
it could be different this time. Think about it. Maybe this time
around, you would graduate," Harry said. "Don't you
see?" He crouched in front of B'Elanna. "I don't think
you'd be the same B'Elanna Torres we've come to know and love.
Changing this moment could change everything."
sniffed, keeping her eyes focused on a spot directly beyond Harry.
never meant a word of what I said," B'Elanna whispered. "I
was so angry, that's all. We never did see eye to eye that last
summer and I've always regretted that."
know you want to do this," Harry said quietly. "I was
thinking about it myself. Wouldn't it be nice if I could just
erase the last seven years in the Delta Quadrant? I'd be married
now, maybe even have a kid or two. Maybe I'd even get promoted.
But just because I can change it doesn't mean I should. We're
sum of our experiences, B'Elanna, and no matter how tempting it
is to go back and redo our lives, we shouldn't. It would mean
everything else that happened in between would have been meaningless."
swallowed hard. "She's right there, Harry, just down the
your daughter Miral is on Voyager," Harry said. "What
happens if you change everything now? It's possible nothing would
play out the way it has. You might even be an upstanding Starfleet
officer somewhere in the Alpha Quadrant."
an insignificant moment..."
lives are built on insignificant moments. We make them significant,
B'Elanna. Remember your daughter. Come with me now, B'Elanna.
Please." Harry held out his hand. "I'd hate to have
to explain to Tom what happened here."
bit her lip. "She's not coming back, is she?"
Harry turned to look over his shoulder as if expecting Miral to
walk back into the room. "The choice is yours. You can go
after her and risk changing the life you have made for yourself
on Voyager or you can come back with me and nothing will have
changed, not at all."
heaved a sigh, one that seemed to shake her entire body. Harry
reached out, resting his palm on her shoulder.
is it?" he whispered.
glanced at him, her brown eyes watery. "I wasn't a very good
daughter," she whispered. "What if I'm equally bad as
a mother? What if Miral grows up to be as angry with me as I was
with my own parents?"
was truly surprised. B'Elanna had never expressed any insecurities
before about motherhood; quite the contrary, he thought she had
taken to her new role extraordinarily well. For once, Harry thought,
something took precedence over those engines.
how can you say that?" Harry asked. "You're great with
sniffed, waving her hand, as if dismissing his comment. Another
surprise. Damn, Harry thought, I'm not cut out for this conversation.
you told Tom?" Harry asked softly. "How you feel?"
how can I?" B'Elanna's shoulders slumped. "He'd laugh
it off. He, he's so good at this, Harry."
me, so are you. Everyone says so. B'Elanna, you've got to believe
me. You're setting yourself up for perfection, something that's
not possible. If you think going after your mother is going to
change things, then that's what you should. I won't stand in your
way." Harry spread his arms in a gesture of surrender, but
he kept his gaze focused directly on B'Elanna. She ducked her
head to the side, pressing one palm against her eyes. "B'Elanna..."
the Doctor put Miral in my arms," B'Elanna said softly, "I
experienced a whole range of emotions, joy, uncertainty, anticipation
- I was overwhelmed, Harry, and some days, I still am. I look
at Miral and I can't believe I'm responsible for her. Sometimes,
I wake up in the middle of the night and I'm looking for the real
parents to come in. What if I don't do this right? Harry, I'm
terrified at the prospect."
shook his head. On one hand, he was surprised by B'Elanna's truthfulness
and emotional state, but he also knew that changing this particular
event in her life would not give B'Elanna the answers she needed.
still think you're making a big mistake," Harry said in a
warning tone of voice.
drew in a sharp breath and stood up, blinking. Harry couldn't
look but he knew as B'Elanna walked past him that she was actually
going to do it, she was going after her mother...
he stood up. He had to make one more try. He owed B'Elanna that
much. "B'Elanna, if you go, you could lose everything! Your
husband, your daughter, your family on Voyager... is it worth
stopped, mid-step and turned around slowly.
it's okay," Harry said. He got up and walked towards his
friend steadily. "I don't think what you're feeling is wrong,
but you're going to figure everything out. Not right away, of
course, but think of it as an engineering problem. You break it
down, piece by piece, and you figure out the solution. Maybe it's
not the best analogy, but you're going to be a great mother to
Miral. I know that."
glanced down the corridor and then back at Harry. Back down the
hallway, back at Harry. Time seemed to stop as B'Elanna contemplated
her decision. Harry leaned against the wall, arms crossed against
his chest, seemingly casual, but he was uneasy; unpredictable
as B'Elanna was and her often
surprising outbursts of emotion caused her to act irrationally
back with me, Harry pleaded silently. Please.
right," she whispered. "I'll come back with you."
won't regret it," he told her. B'Elanna gazed at him sadly.
already do," she said.
Chakotay's opinion, there were too many people in sickbay. In
addition to himself, Tuvok and the Captain, a security detail
of four crewmen stood off to the side, their hands on their phasers.
he hadn't even counted the Sernaix: Ilix, Adimh Liven's representative,
and the wounded Sernaix, Lous.
was tall and muscular, like all Sernaix, and he walked with a
measured gait, a symptom of his obviously double-jointed limbs.
His eyes, dark and deep-set beneath his prominent forehead, shifted
between Janeway and Chakotay.
forehead ornamentation..." Ilix finally said as his gaze
settled on the first officer.
Chakotay asked coolly.
must be highly ranked," Ilix said. He rolled up his sleeve,
revealing various artistic renderings against his pale blue skin.
"As am I. I am a zvir on the Crimson Stone."
zvir?" Janeway asked curiously.
Adimh Liven steps down as commander of the Crimson Stone, I will
succeed him," Ilix said as he stared at Janeway in fascination.
"And you are a female of your species?"
Janeway said. She exchanged a look with Chakotay, who was alternately
fascinated and nervous about the tone of these conversations.
Ilix seemed entirely too laid-back for Chakotay's tastes and his
Maquis instincts were perked for any sign of intrigue on Ilix's
part; the Sernaix, in Chakotay's opinion, were not the type to
indulge in casual conversation.
have so very little contact with females," Ilix said. He
stepped closer to the Captain. Tuvok reacted, his hand on his
phaser. Janeway held up a hand, stopping Tuvok from further action.
Chakotay sighed. "I wish to learn more about your people..."
turned to look at Chakotay and he recognized that look; she had
seen an opening and was going to take it. Perhaps, Chakotay mused,
I've been mistaken all along...
shifted from foot to foot as he watched Janeway talk to the Sernaix.
Her voice was low, pleading, and she gestured frequently with
her hands, as if to punctuate her sentences. Chakotay glanced
at Tuvok, who was also watching the conversation with interest,
his eyes darting between the captain and the Sernaix. Chakotay
leaned towards Tuvok.
fellow, isn't he?" Chakotay asked. Tuvok nodded.
our past encounters with the Sernaix, I do find his behavior unusual,"
Tuvok said in an equally low voice. "He is uncommonly friendly."
you think he's up to something?"
Tuvok said. His eyes narrowed slightly as the Sernaix took a step
closer to the captain. "With the Sernaix, anything is possible."
was afraid you would say something like that."
much to Chakotay's relief, the conversation shifted from the cultural
differences between Sernaix and humanoids to the condition of
the wounded Sernaix.
you can see, Lous is being well-treated," Janeway said. "Obviously,
we mean him no harm."
eyed the Captain skeptically, all traces of goodwill gone from
those dark eyes. "We have been lied to before."
explain the guards," Ilix barked out. "And the force
past actions have not given us any reason to trust you,"
Chakotay said, taking the moment to step into the conversation.
He glanced at Janeway and she offered him the smallest semblance
of a smile. Feeling bolder, Chakotay went on, "However, if
you show you are worthy of our trust, I assure you, we will remove
the force field."
about the guards?"
Tuvok said. "According to Starfleet guidelines, they must
remain at all times when non-Federation personnel are onboard."
arched an eyebrow, but said nothing at all in response to Tuvok's
dictate. The Vulcan stepped back, seemingly removing himself from
any further conversation.
Janeway looked back down at Lous, whose eyes were darting back
and forth, looking first at Ilix and then back at the Captain.
"We didn't mean to infringe on your space. Our arrival was
an accident, an unfortunate circumstance of fate."
find that hard to believe. Many have taken advantage of the Sernaix,"
Ilix growled. "We will not be seduced by mere words."
me, that's not our intention. However, we'd like to request your
help in getting us out of this-" Janeway looked at Chakotay,
but he shrugged. "Our scans of the area show we've been caught
in a bubble of some kind that is keeping us from our home, Earth.
All we're trying to do is find a way home. As I
said before, we are willing to offer you our assistance in return."
do you have that we would want?" Ilix snapped.
was true Voyager had little to offer the Sernaix in terms of technology,
Chakotay thought, but he could tell by Janeway's expression she
was not willing to concede the point.
don't know. Perhaps we should talk about it?" Janeway's lips
curled up. Chakotay stifled a grin.
do I know this isn't a trick?"
glanced over her shoulder back at Chakotay; her look told him,
very plainly, that she was finding this conversation boring.
much rides on this, don't lose your focus now, Kathryn, Chakotay
thought. Next to him, Tuvok shifted position. It was a slight
movement, but enough so that Chakotay was aware of the Vulcan's
evident concern in the tableau being played out in front of them.
Janeway tapped her fingers against the biobed, a physical sign
of her growing impatience with the Sernaix. "What do you
think? You're closing yourself off without even listening to what
we have to say. Where I come from, that's a sign of an incompetent
eyes narrowed as he glanced down at his injured comrade and then
back at Janeway.
got his attention now, Kathryn, Chakotay thought.
leaned forward so that only a few inches separated her from Ilix.
me make on thing clear," she said softly. "In case there
are any lingering doubts on your part, my only goal is to get
this ship home. That has been and will always be, my only objective."
nodded finally. "Very well," he said. "I will hear
what you have to say."
won't be sorry," Janeway said. "Commander, please see
our guests to the briefing room."
stepped aside to let Ilix pass, accompanied by two of the security
guards. The other two guards remained behind to look after the
in the corridor, Janeway and Chakotay fell into step together.
do you think?" she asked.
shrugged his shoulders.
asking your opinion," Janeway said. A note of desperation
crept into her voice. "Chakotay-"
shouldn't make promises you might not be able to keep," he
smiled. "Yes, that's all."
that's easy," Janeway said. She scowled at Ilix's back. "We've
been in far worse situations than this, Chakotay. A little bluff
never hurt us."
have technology more advanced than ours," Chakotay pointed
out as they rounded a corner.
you saying they are more of a danger to us than the Kazon? The
Hirogen? Species 8472? The Borg?"
find out, won't we?" Chakotay said. He paused in front of
the turbolift. "For what it's worth, I support you. I may
not agree with you all of the time, but you never have to doubt
put her hand on his forearm and leaned in closer so mere centimeters
separated them. In that moment, she knew the distance between
them had been bridged and for that, she was grateful.
know," she said.
do you feel?" the Doctor asked. He looked at his two patients
- Harry and B'Elanna - with obvious concern etched across his
little shaky, but fine," B'Elanna said. She rubbed her hands
together, trying to warm them. She felt cold, incredibly cold,
as if she had been frozen. She was still sitting in the same chair
as before and her muscles had stiffened during her last trip to
the past. She stretched cautiously, flexing her legs and arms.
sat on the edge of the bed, his head bowed and his arms resting
on his knees. He looked nauseous and B'Elanna bit her lip.
had risked so much for her, she knew. Without thinking, she got
up from her chair and sat next to Harry, placing her hand on his
you," she said softly. The depth of her confession to Harry
embarrassed her; she had told him things she hadn't even dared
to tell Tom. In a way, she felt relieved, thankful she had had
finally revealed her uncertainties to someone.
welcome," Harry said. He groaned. "I feel absolutely
terrible. I can't believe the Caprijens do this."
Doctor quickly came over with a hypospray.
should help with the nausea," he said. "Both of you
will be fine with some rest. I trust you won't be doing anything
of this nature again in the near future."
certainly won't," Harry said. He stood up shakily, putting
one hand against the wall for balance. After a few seconds, he
looked normal again, much to B'Elanna's relief. She knew she would
never forgive herself if something had happened to Harry.
of me, she thought.
was so tempting," B'Elanna said. She wanted to explain to
the Doctor and Harry, but got the feeling they would not understand.
After all, the Doctor was a hologram and Harry, well, Harry had
led an almost serene life. His emotional scars, if he had any,
were superficial at best. "I can't explain it any better
worry about it, B'Elanna," Harry said gently. He made his
way to the table where a pitcher of water stood. "It's all
that moment, the door burst open and Azuma entered. Her face was
flushed red and her silver hair, normally straight and shiny against
her back, was wild around her face.
is it?" B'Elanna asked.
must return to your ship immediately," Azuma said. "They
aliens," Azuma said. "We have picked up their life signs
near your shuttlecraft."
B'Elanna and the Doctor exchanged looks. Was Azuma referring to
advise against returning to the Delta Flyer," the Doctor
said. "You've both just undergone traumatic experiences and
if it is the Sernaix, neither of you are in a shape to take them
Doc," Harry said, as he put down his glass and B'Elanna grabbed
a pair of phasers from her toolkit. She tossed one to Harry.
go," she said.
Doctor sighed. He found a third phaser and followed Harry and
B'Elanna outside, blinking against the brightness of the day.
had lost track of how many meetings she'd held here in the briefing
room. So many different species had sat around this table, some
friendly, some neutral, and others hostile. She glanced at Tuvok,
seated to her right, and Chakotay at her left. At least she knew
she had their support now.
for Ilix, he was completely alone, but Janeway had no doubt there
were plenty of Sernaix ships available to come to his aid if he
only one Federation ship out here, Janeway thought. Heavens only
knows how many of them are out there.
shivered, and then immediately resented the brief show of weakness.
She leaned forward, knitting her fingers together in front of
her to prevent her hands from shaking, from betraying her once
told you what we want," Janeway said. "What do you want?"
can provide us with nothing."
can't be true," Janeway said with a smile. "If that
was indeed the case, why are you talking to me now?"
have one of our men. That is unacceptable."
could have taken him by force but you didn't."
ship would not survive our assault." A note of pride slipped
into Ilix' voice and Janeway wondered if he was aware of the paradoxical
nature of his comment. From their first encounter with the Sernaix,
Janeway was very aware the aliens wanted nothing less than Voyager's
destruction. Perhaps only Lous' presence on Voyager kept them
me, I'm aware of that," Janeway said, her lips curving up
into a half-hearted smile laced with cynicism. She shifted in
her seat. "Are you saying that there is nothing at all we
can help you with? Technology? Medical supplies? Anything at all?"
raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. Janeway knew exactly what
he was thinking.
old friend," she thought, "I know the consequences,
but I'm willing to risk it. One more time. If it'll get us home,
then I'm going to do that."
will take your proposal back to Adimh Liven," Ilix said finally.
"I have listened to your proposal, Captain, and I believe
this is sufficient conversation."
inhaled deeply, trying to prevent frustration from completely
overtaking her. She nodded.
course," she said. "I don't think I could ask for more.
You've been very... receptive."
to her, Chakotay shifted but Janeway didn't dare look at her first
officer. "But if I may, before you go, I have a question
nodded. "Go ahead."
our first encounter, you fired upon us, seemingly without provocation,"
Janeway said. "We had done nothing to you. Why?"
apologize for that, but you must accept our reasons."
all due respect, I don't think I understand anything," Janeway
said. "I offer you a trade and you deny it. We did nothing
to provoke you but you still attacked us. Those had better be
some pretty damn good reasons."
think you'll understand more clearly when I tell you what happened
the last time we trusted," Ilix said. "Eighty thousand
years ago, a race such as yours, humanoid, entered our space.
They came in peace, much as you do now, and once we let our guard
down, they proceeded to slaughter us, intending to claim our territory
as theirs. We were able to defend ourselves and expel the humanoids
from our space, but it was generations before we were truly able
to recover from the genocide inflicted on our people."
sorry to hear that," Janeway said. "But you have to
believe we weren't responsible for those atrocities. I told you
before; our only motivation is getting home. We have no desire
to stay here."
Liven has authority to make binding decisions. He will consider
all I can ask," Janeway said. She got up from her chair and
rounded the table to shake hands with the Sernaix. Ilix looked
at her in confusion. "It's an ancient Terran custom, a gesture
of goodwill. I hope you take it in the spirit that it's offered."
She clasped Ilix's cool hand between hers. "I look forward
to hearing from Commander Liven."
you, Captain. And if Lous is well enough to leave, I shall take
him back to my ship."
nodded at Tuvok. "Have Lieutenant Paris meet you in sickbay,"
she said. "If Lous appears healthy enough, by all means,
he should return to his ship."
Tuvok and Ilix were gone, Janeway swirled around in her chair
so she directly faced Chakotay.
were right about one thing," she said. "We will never
be friends with the Sernaix, especially now that we know of their
history with other humanoids. At least we understand what drives
didn't want to be right," Chakotay answered. "I always
hope you'll prove me wrong. As you have on previous occasions."
isn't a contest about right and wrong, Chakotay," Janeway
said. She sighed and slumped down in her chair. "We lose
sight of that sometimes, I think."
remained silent and Janeway was suddenly grateful for his solid
presence at her side. She got up from her chair, suddenly feeling
alliance is out of the question right now," she said over
her shoulder as she headed towards the exit. "But what happened
today, it's a good start."
Harry, and the Doctor approached the Delta Flyer cautiously, their
phasers drawn. From all outward appearances, the Delta Flyer appeared
undisturbed. B'Elanna pulled out her tricorder.
picking up life signs inside the Flyer," she said, keeping
her voice low. She glanced at the shuttle. "I believe they
did they get in?" the Doctor asked.
question," B'Elanna said. She rounded the Flyer carefully.
She was very aware that the Sernaix inside could detect their
presence at any moment. She noticed that The Caprijen including
Azuma had arrived, armed with various clubs, pikes, daggers and
other primitive weapons. While she didn't have much faith in their
weaponry, B'Elanna was certainly grateful for the added strength
the Caprijen would doubtless provide. "I'm not picking up
any signs of tampering. Wait -" she paused by the security
panel next to the hatch. "It appears they used some kind
of reverse algorithm to crack through the security encryption.
Harry, there's alien code mixed in with ours. I've never seen
anything quite like this before."
squinted, trying to make sense of the unfamiliar markings, but
was unable to get a good readout before Harry grabbed her arm
and pulled her to the side.
B'Elanna hissed. Harry showed her his tricorder in response. The
Sernaix inside the Delta Flyer were approaching the hatch. Evidently,
they had been detected.
Caprijens, along with Azuma, drifted away from the Delta Flyer,
but remained nearby. B'Elanna didn't blame them for backing away;
this wasn't their fight. Hell, it's not even my fight, B'Elanna
thought. The ache in her head grew stronger and she had to lean
against the Flyer for a moment to compose herself.
checked her phaser, making sure it was set to the highest stun
level. Truth be told, despite her hearty dislike of the Sernaix
and their "shoot first, ask questions later" attitude,
B'Elanna had no intention of killing anyone.
much for an easy away mission, B'Elanna thought as she stepped
away from the shadow of the Delta Flyer. She crouched in front
of the hatch as the Doctor and Harry took their positions opposite
that moment, the hatch flew open and the two Sernaix appeared.
B'Elanna hissed as she noticed one of the Sernaix had already
drawn his weapon, a thin stiletto type blade, one that looked
exceptionally sharp. But Harry had already jumped to his feet,
his phaser out.
B'Elanna screamed, knowing instinctively that the Sernaix would
beat Harry to the draw. She lifted her phaser and fired. She took
a few steps forward and fired again, just as the Sernaix leaped
in Harry's direction. The other Sernaix was heading towards B'Elanna,
his almond eyes narrowing as he waved his equally menacing blade
in her direction. B'Elanna fired again and again, but to no avail.
The Sernaix continued to approach her. B'Elanna backed away, fumbling
with the settings on her phaser.
the hell is going on?" she hissed over her shoulder at Azuma,
who appeared at her shoulder.
that an energy weapon?" Azuma asked.
of course," B'Elanna said. She hastily raised the levels
on the phaser, setting it to "kill."
don't work!" Azuma yelled as the Sernaix drew closer. B'Elanna
fired again and yet the alien kept approaching her.
telling me now?" B'Elanna screamed. She saw a couple of the
Caprijen men had chosen to get involved in the fight and were
helping Harry, but the Sernaix was still approaching her, undeterred
by the phaser fire. In fact, by the leer crossing that ugly blue
face made B'Elanna think perhaps the Sernaix reveled in the phaser
me that!" B'Elanna screamed, spinning around. She grabbed
a wooden club from one of the Caprijen men, and flung it in the
Sernaix's direction. The club struck the Sernaix in the nose and
for a moment, the alien paused, as he howled in pain. "What
just ancient weapons such as those. The aliens possess the capabilities
to absorb energy through some device upon their person,"
pondered this newest revelation about the Sernaix's ability to
absorb all of that energy to... to do what?
you'd better come up with a plan," B'Elanna retorted. She
whirled around, looking for something she could use to defend
herself. She glanced over her shoulder to see the Sernaix staring
not at her, but at the Doctor.
made the connection between Azuma's earlier comment and the Sernaix's
obvious interest in the EMH.
B'Elanna yelled. "Take yourself offline!"
the Doctor said, obviously perturbed by the Sernaix. He reached
for his holoemitter, but the Sernaix had already covered the distance
between the two of them and was plunging his long, skeletal fingers
into the EMH's holomatrix. The Doctor blinked out and then came
back, slightly fuzzy and distorted.
me!" B'Elanna exclaimed. She was already heading in the direction
of the Doctor and with the help of several Caprijens, they managed
to push the Sernaix away long enough for B'Elanna to grab the
see you later," she said under her breath as she took the
EMH offline. She sincerely hoped that the Sernaix hadn't caused
serious damage to the EMH, but that would be something to deal
with when they returned to Voyager.
they returned to Voyager...
turned her attention back to Harry. Along with some other Caprijens,
he was attempting to disarm the Sernaix, but all of their actions
seemed to be grounded in futility.
could the Sernaix, against so many people, still have the upper
whirled around to see the second Sernaix alien coming straight
at her. She dropped the holoemitter and grabbed a dagger from
one of the assembled Caprijen. Already, her muscles ached with
tension as she crouched, waiting for the Sernaix to attack.
me what you've got," she taunted him. The Sernaix laughed
at her, a laugh that shook his reed-thin body.
are a foolish woman, humanoid."
aren't the first person to tell me that. I'm sure you won't be
Sernaix leaped at B'Elanna, but she ducked out of the way, grateful
for the first time in years for the Klingon exercise programs
Tom had created for her.
circled each other warily, neither daring to make the first move.
Around them, the Caprijen watched with bated breath. B'Elanna
tried to ignore the shouts coming from nearby; she guessed Harry
must be in the thick of fighting and she couldn't allow herself
to be distracted by anxiety for her friend.
we can talk about this," B'Elanna panted.
nothing to talk about," the Sernaix sneered. He reached out,
the tips of his long fingers barely skimming B'Elanna's cheek.
B'Elanna jumped out of the way, bumping into Azuma.
okay, I'm okay," B'Elanna assured the alien woman. She inhaled
deeply and held her dagger out in front of her. Just beyond the
fountain, she saw Harry trip, fall, the Sernaix standing over
him, a look of triumph etched across that narrow blue face...
lunged forward; the suddenness and speed of her action took the
alien by surprise and the dagger plunged into the soft skin in
his side. The alien snarled and reached for B'Elanna's neck.
so fast," she breathed. She pushed against him as hard as
she could, sending him flying in the opposite direction. The Sernaix
scowled, but made no move to retaliate.
you giving up?" B'Elanna challenged.
do not give up. We are the defenders of the realm." The Sernaix
stumbled to his feet.
I got that the first time you said it," B'Elanna told him,
recalling Voyager's first encounter with the Sernaix and their
bold statement. "Look, we don't want to hurt you. Just leave
us alone and we'll be out of your way-"
Sernaix stopped, his eyes twitching and glassy. He glanced over
his shoulder at his fellow Sernaix who was still standing over
Harry's prone body. And then, just as mysteriously as they had
arrived, the Sernaix vanished.
rushed to Harry's side. The ensign struggled to sit up. She helped
him gently, her hand at the base of his back and the other behind
his shoulders. To her horror, B'Elanna saw that Harry was bleeding
profusely from his shoulder. She beckoned to Azuma, who brought
the Doctor's medkit. Quickly, B'Elanna found a coagulant factor
and injected it into Harry.
should slow the bleeding," she told him. "I don't want
to bring the Doctor online, because the Sernaix seemed to absorb
energy and they seemed especially interested in him. I don't want
to give them a reason to come back."
pulled a cloth bandage out of the medkit and pressed it against
Harry's wound, hoping the pressure along with the coagulant would
stem the bleeding.
explains why my phaser was practically worthless," Harry
said as he struggled to his feet. He swayed slightly, groaning
as a fresh stab of pain hit
Harry." B'Elanna took his arm and led him to the Delta Flyer's
still open hatch. "I think you've played hero enough for
one day. Sit still for a moment,
sat down on the ramp leading into the Flyer, shaking his head
ruefully. "I haven't felt this bad since Tom and I were captured
nodded, recalling the time early in Voyager's time in the Delta
Quadrant when Harry and Tom had been falsely imprisoned under
horrific conditions. Even now, Tom refused to discuss the graphic
details of that incarceration with her and until today, B'Elanna
had never heard Harry mention the incident either.
pulled out her tricorder and scanned Harry. "You will live
to fight another day, Starfleet. I wonder what the Sernaix wanted."
his face pale, shook his head.
guess is as good as mine," Harry said. Now that she had attended
to his primary wound, B'Elanna took stock of her friend. He had
several cuts on his face as well as an angry welt forming on his
you stand?" she asked gently as she rose. Harry nodded and
with B'Elanna's assistance, he stood up, albeit still a bit shakily.
you leaving?" Azuma asked. B'Elanna turned around to face
the Caprijen woman.
afraid we have to," B'Elanna said. "Harry is hurt and
we need to get him back to Voyager as soon as possible."
B'Elanna didn't continue, but she was already thinking of her
baby, feeling a desperate longing to get home to hold Miral in
have doctors who can treat your friend," Azuma said. B'Elanna
smiled at the woman gratefully. Even though Azuma had not been
entirely honest with them, B'Elanna still felt a curious affection
for the friendly woman.
know," B'Elanna said softly. "But we really do need
to get back to our ship. Our Captain will want to know about this
encounter with the Sernaix." She also knew that sooner or
later, she would have to make a full explanation to Janeway regarding
her actions on the planet. Despite the fact she felt Janeway would
understand what had happened with the Keeper and would excuse
her behavior, B'Elanna felt a sense of urgency to explain everything
directly and as quickly as possible.
Sernaix?" Azuma looked confused.
aliens. The blue horned aliens who were just attacked us,"
B'Elanna said. "They call themselves the Sernaix. 'Defenders
of the Realm.'" B'Elanna said the last part in a tone tinged
never knew what they were called," Azuma said. Her silver
eyes drifted to a spot somewhere beyond B'Elanna. "They simply
came, time after time, taking everything we had. When we developed
the cloaking system, they bothered us no more. We were... safe."
about the Keeper?" B'Elanna asked abruptly, causing Harry
to glance at her with obvious concern. "Do the Sernaix know
we do not think so," Azuma said. "But in their hands..."
and B'Elanna exchanged a look; they knew so little of the Sernaix,
but the thought of the Sernaix, with their powerful technology,
capturing the Keeper troubled both Harry and B'Elanna.
modifications I made to the Keeper should hold you until you find
a more permanent solution," B'Elanna said.
you," Azuma said. "We're grateful for your assistance."
moaned and B'Elanna looked at her friend in concern. Blood had
already soaked through his bandage; evidently the wound was deeper
than she had earlier thought.
got to get back to Voyager," B'Elanna said. She squeezed
Azuma's hand. "Good luck to you."
helped Harry to his feet, letting her friend lean all of his weight
on," she said softly. "We're going home."
the trip back to Voyager, B'Elanna piloted the Delta Flyer while
Harry gave a complete debriefing to the Captain and Chakotay,
both of whom were stunned by the Sernaix attack.
didn't expect an outright attack on my people like that,"
Janeway said. "Not after the recent meeting we had."
they weren't looking to make friends, I can tell you that,"
Harry said. B'Elanna nodded in agreement.
was definitely a 'shoot first, ask questions later' scenario,"
she said. "And we learned some interesting things about the
look forward to hearing about your encounter," Janeway said.
"I'll meet you in the shuttlebay."
Delta Flyer out."
groaned as he settled himself into his seat. B'Elanna glanced
are some painkillers in the medkit," she said. "That
idea," Harry said. He rose from his seat and made his way
back to the shuttle. B'Elanna pulled up a view of Voyager. They
were only minutes away from landing in the shuttlebay and she
was incredibly relieved to see the starship on the viewscreen.
Home, she thought, Voyager is home. Acknowledging Voyager as home
made her feel slightly ashamed of the fact that she had even suggested
settling on the Caprijen planet earlier. As if anything could
is it?" she didn't turn around, instead kept her focus on
bringing the Delta Flyer in for a smooth approach. The shuttlebay
doors slid open and the force fields that separated the bay from
the vast expanse of space dropped.
found something," Harry said. He made his way back to the
front of the Flyer, his gait slow and measured due to some of
the injuries he had sustained in the fighting. B'Elanna turned
slightly to give Harry her attention. "What do you think
of this, B'Elanna?"
showed her a small black metal square, each side about a centimeter
in length with a thickness not much more than human fingernail.
Small hair like prongs stuck up from the square.
frowned, fingering the cool metal. She could feel the ridges of
microtechnology beneath her fingertip. "Put it in the toolkit.
We'll take a closer look in Engineering." She turned her
attention back to the viewscreen as the console in front of her
blinked, indicating that all was in preparation for the shuttle
Harry slid into his seat as B'Elanna maneuvered the Flyer into
the shuttlebay. They set down gently and Harry smiled. "Nice
shrugged off the praise and then helped her friend exit the Delta
Flyer. As promised, the Captain was waiting - with Miral cuddled
in her arms - for them.
to see you," Harry said. He attempted a smile, but B'Elanna
could see, despite the painkillers, Harry still experienced some
residual pain. She speculated the knife wound to his shoulder
was deeper than she had thought.
glad to see you're both in one piece," the Captain responded.
"Are you all right, B'Elanna?"
wrong with me that a good night's sleep won't take care,"
B'Elanna said. "And how is my baby?"
kidnapped her from Ensign Wildman on my way. Captain's prerogative,"
Janeway said as B'Elanna took the baby. B'Elanna smiled, brushing
her lips lightly against Miral's head, breathing in the baby's
fresh, clean scent.
B'Elanna whispered against the baby's cheek. Miral grabbed a chunk
of B'Elanna's hair, clutching it in her chubby little fingers
and B'Elanna held her baby closer. Never would she have thought
a baby could make her feel so complete. Holding Miral and instinctively
understanding the little sounds the baby made caused B'Elanna
I almost forgot," Harry said. He pulled out the Doctor's
holoemitter and brought the EMH back online.
state the nature of the- hello there, Captain," the Doctor
said. "I have to say, it's good to be back onboard. My trip
to the planet was considerably more adventurous than I would have
I hear," the Captain said dryly. "Any reason for the
attack, Mr. Kim?"
and I debated reasons on our way back, but we haven't come to
any firm conclusions," Harry said. "The Sernaix were
obviously after something, but I'm not sure what. None of our
systems, other than the security systems, appeared to be tampered
obviously learned a great deal about the Sernaix," Janeway
commented. "Perhaps we can use that knowledge to our advantage."
we've discovered has been purely physiological, nothing to do
with technology. Their energy absorption techniques make many
of Voyager's weapons next to useless. Not a good sign if we have
to face the Sernaix again in a combat situation."
fascinating as this conversation is," the Doctor interjected,
"Ensign Kim has sustained some injuries due to his ill-advised
heroism and it's necessary to get him to sickbay."
cast an amused glance in the direction of her medical officer.
"Very well, then. Ensign," she said, "you can fill
me in on the way."
just jealous we had to take you offline and you missed a chance
to play hero," B'Elanna said cheekily. She gestured in the
direction of the door. "After you, Harry."
owe you both an apology for my actions down on the planet,"
B'Elanna said. She watched as the Doctor ran a dermal regenerator
over Harry's various bruises and scratches. Janeway had taken
custody of Miral once again and was cooing - uncharacteristically
- at the baby in a way that amused B'Elanna greatly.
expected from you," the Doctor said. "There you are,
Ensign Kim. Good as new, if not better. Frankly, Lieutenant, if
you weren't so headstrong, things would be a lot more simple around
scowled. "I should have left your program offline."
all right, B'Elanna," Harry broke in. "I can understand
that the possibility of revisiting your past, of being able to
change those things which have always nagged at you - it is tempting.
Like I said before, I don't know if I would have been able to
turn away either if the Keeper had offered me a similar chance."
know," B'Elanna said. She ran her fingers over the edge of
the biobed. "Getting back to the Alpha Quadrant didn't matter
to me as much as it did to other people. I had no one waiting
for me the way you did and then I made contact with my father.
That conversation, brief as it was, convinced me that maybe the
two of us could have a relationship in the future. Now I've lost
that chance. As for my mother, well, I don't even know if she's
alive or not. To have had that opportunity..." her voice
drifted off as she focused on Janeway, who appeared completely
enthralled by Miral.
all right," Harry repeated. The Doctor nodded his agreement,
compassion crossing his holographic features. B'Elanna looked
up as the sickbay doors opened, revealing Tom and Chakotay.
B'Elanna said softly as Tom wrapped an arm loosely around her
waist. "I'm glad to see you."
was hoping you'd say that," Tom said teasingly. He looked
at the Doctor. "Can I take my wife home now, Doctor?"
The Doctor nodded. B'Elanna took Miral from Janeway and then followed
Tom out the door.
exchanged a glance with Chakotay as Harry slipped off his biobed.
minute, Ensign," Janeway said. "We have something to
looked curiously at Chakotay, who remained somber and unsmiling.
There was no hint of anything on the first officer's face and
Harry couldn't help but feel uneasy as the Captain appeared equally
course," Harry said. He rounded the biobed so he was directly
facing the Captain. The Doctor remained where he was, but his
facial expression displayed equal curiosity.
believe you need this," Chakotay said, handing Janeway a
small rectangular case.
is long overdue, Harry," Janeway said quietly as she opened
the box, revealing a single pip resting against a blue velvet
background. "But your actions, today and in the past, have
proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are deserving of the
rank of lieutenant." She carefully attached the pip to Harry's
collar, her fingers brushing lightly against his neck. The pip
secured, Janeway took a step back and admired her handiwork. "There
will be a party tonight to celebrate your promotion in the mess
hall at 2100 hours. I believe Chell will unveil a new dish-"
Janeway grimaced at the prospect - "in your honor."
um, delicious," Harry said, color rising in his cheeks.
clapped Harry on the shoulder.
pip looks good on you," Chakotay said. "Congratulations.
You earned it."
beamed as the Doctor added his own well wishes. Janeway folded
her arms against her chest, letting a slow smile spread across
you're dismissed," she said. "Lieutenant." She
laid emphasis on the final word.
ma'am," Harry grinned. He nodded at Chakotay. "I'll
see you on the bridge."
sighed as Harry left the sickbay and Chakotay leaned towards her
in anticipation. The Doctor, recognizing when his commanding officers
needed a private moment, discreetly excused himself.
Janeway asked, frowning, all signs of her earlier good mood dissipating.
"You heard what B'Elanna and Harry had to say about their
encounter with the Sernaix. Maybe I'm mistaken, but I thought
we had reached a level of understanding with Ilix."
the Sernaix on the planet didn't know about the meeting here on
Voyager," Chakotay suggested. "It could be they were
looking for their injured comrade and when they couldn't find
him, they chose to break into the Flyer.""I hope you're
right," Janeway said, her gaze focusing on the Doctor, puttering
away in his office. "But I find it hard to believe a race
as advanced as the Sernaix would suffer a breakdown in communication.
I have the funny feeling they're up to something."
didn't say anything but he had the sinking feeling Kathryn was
right; the Sernaix had something up the proverbial sleeve, and
frankly, he didn't want to know what that was. He rested his hand
lightly on Janeway's forearm and met her gaze intently.
it is, Voyager is more than up to the challenge," he assured
her. A flash of cockiness and determination crossed Janeway's
face and Chakotay knew,when push came to shove, the Sernaix didn't
stand a chance against Kathryn Janeway.
returned to the bridge, leaving B'Elanna alone in their quarters
with Miral. Miral was drowsy as she rested against B'Elanna's
shoulder, her tiny fingers shoved into her mouth. B'Elanna rocked
gently back in forth in the new chair Tom had replicated for her
shortly after Miral's birth.
B'Elanna thought, was the perfect moment - one filled with all
the dreams and aspirations she had for her own child. Idly, she
wondered if her own mother, that other Miral, had enjoyed a similar
moment with her.
had been Miral Torres' last words to her?
you were a mother, you would know..."
throat tightened. She had never put much weight on Miral's words,
thinking it one those of useless comments mothers hurled at their
daughters in volatile situations, but now, holding her own Miral
in her arms, B'Elanna began to understand truly the significance
of what her mother had been trying to tell
B'Elanna whispered to her now sleeping daughter. "I'm glad
we're alone because there's something I've been meaning to tell
you. Rather, it just occurred to me and I'm afraid you're going
to have to indulge your mother in a little bit of silliness, just
for a moment or two."
carefully got up from the rocker and carried Miral to the crib.
She laid the baby down gently. Gently, she covered Miral with
a little pink blanket embroidered with a graphic of Voyager -
a gift from the Captain - and touched Miral's soft cheek with
only just now realizing you're going to grow up into your own
special, unique person." B'Elanna smiled in anticipation
of all of the milestones Miral would encounter. Some would be
pleasant, others would be wrenching - but B'Elanna knew she would
treasure every moment. "I'm sure we're going to have a
lot of disagreements as you get older. I won't always do what
you want me to do and I'm not always going to see things your
way. In fact, there are going to be times when I stand in your
way. You're going to have to be patient with me because there
are no manuals on how to be a good mother, but I'm going to do
best for you and I hope you understand that."
her crib, Miral's little pink lips opened slightly and then closed,
the lips turning up into the tiniest semblance of a smile. B'Elanna
carefully smoothed the blanket over Miral's round body, resting
her hand lightly on Miral's stomach.
bit her lip, blinking back the tears that pooled in her eyes.
"I'm glad we had this talk."
she stood alone in the quiet of the quarters she shared with Tom
Paris and their daughter, B'Elanna was very aware of all of the
signs of the life they were building together, all of the little
touches which made this home.
that realization made the knowledge of what she could have had
- and more importantly, what she could have lost - all the more
the privacy of the turbolift, Harry reached up to finger the new
addition to his collar. He smiled to himself and then, as the
doors opened onto the bridge, he composed himself into the very
image of what he imagined a lieutenant should look like.
see you finally got your pip. Congratulations," Tom said,
turning around in his chair to face Harry. Harry offered his friend
a smile as he headed to his station. "But don't forget, I
still outrank you."
now," Harry answered cheekily.
the Captain said, but there was no heat to her voice; she was
obviously enjoying the light moment as well.
activated his console, taking a moment to reacquaint himself with
this area of space. He ignored the others as they chatted idly
back and forth as he reran a sweep of the sensor grid. Nothing
out there but stars, the occasional M-class planet and... the
console beeped at him. Harry's fingers flew over his console as
he attempted to make sense of the readings. There was, theoretically,
nothing out there, but that energy distortion, the pattern of
the waves looked
is it, Harry?" the Captain rose to her feet, propelled by
the urgency in Harry's voice.
picking up an energy ripple..." he worked furiously, watching
as the wave patterns took form on his consoles. "I think
it might be the Sernaix!"
them," Janeway ordered crisply. She advanced towards the
viewscreen, hands on her hips.
response. I'll try again on all frequencies. Sorry, Captain, still
nothing," Harry reported in frustration as he watched the
scanning band run through all possible channels. "They're
I thought we were friends," Janeway said, the words dripping
with sarcasm. She turned towards Harry, a questioning look on
her face, but he had turned his attention back to his console.
Still no Sernaix ship visible, only energy ripples - damn, what
kind of technology did they have anyway? By studying the
wave distortions, he could just decipher the outline of the ship.
got you now," Harry said under his breath, as he rendered
what he thought might be a reasonable facsimile of the ship. "You're
a beauty, aren't you?"
Tom's voice jolted Harry out of his thoughts. "I'm picking
up some kind of directed energy pulse coming directly towards
maneuvers! Tuvok!" Janeway whirled around, just as Chakotay
ordered a red alert.
powering-" Tuvok didn't finish his statement as Voyager was
rocked by a powerful blast, causing most of the bridge crew to
lose their balance.
report," Chakotay said, twisting around in his chair to face
damage to decks three and four," Tuvok reported. "No
are at forty-three percent, Captain!" Harry called out. Janeway
exchanged a look with her first officer, who had now risen to
join her at the helm. "I doubt we can sustain another blast
of that intensity without serious damage or casualties."
all secondary power sources to the shields," Janeway ordered.
"And take all unnecessary systems offline."
Tom turned away from the helm, a puzzled expression on his face.
"The Sernaix are gone."
Janeway glanced at Chakotay. "Harry?"
Harry confirmed. The wave distortion patterns had indeed disappeared
from his console. "They're not out there, Captain."
stood very close to the Captain, keeping his voice low.
was that all about?" he asked.
turned to face him grimly. Perhaps all of their talks with the
Sernaix had been in vain. Chakotay had been right; they were dealing
with an enemy who had no desire for peace. Looking back now, Janeway
wondered how she could have been so easily deceived. It hurt to
have to admit this, but Janeway kept her
voice steady as she spoke.
guess is that Adimh Liven didn't like my proposal," she said.
"Though, I would have appreciated a note to that effect much
more than another display of the Sernaix's weaponry."
you like me to try hailing them?" Harry called from his station.
Janeway shook her head.
Lieutenant," she said. "I got the message."
shook his head. "They could have destroyed us if they wanted
to, but they didn't."
a warning. Nothing more, nothing less. I guess we really are all
alone out here."
took another look at the viewscreen; there was nothing out there
except for the blackness of space. Janeway squared her shoulders.
Janeway said. "Put Voyager on a twenty-four hour tactical
alert. Harry, Seven, update the database with everything we know
about the Sernaix. Next time we face them, I want to be ready."
Producers: Thinkey, Anne Rose and Coral