8-10 - Enigmas
By: Cassatt (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.
Acknowledgments Thanks to Michael Ben-Zvi for his contribution
to the 'dropping out of the Bubble' plot. Some of the spacetime
travel and physics theories taken without permission from "Time
Travel in Einstein's Universe" by J. Richard Gott; Houghton-Mifflin,
thanks to my beta readers, Claudia and Johnny.
activate EMH log." The Doctor sighed, loudly, with the freedom
born of being completely alone in sickbay. A situation to which
he was becoming far too accustomed for his liking. "Computer,
deactivate log," he said as he stood from his desk.
"Not E-C-H, no sir, not this hologram.
Never again will I get to have any further responsibilities
on this ship..." He muttered as he paced.
had fully expected to be in the Alpha Quadrant by now. A famous
writer, perhaps, a concert singer, or even a worldwide choral
director. His dreams had been big. Perhaps even declared fully
sentient, a model for other holographic beings around the Federation
to admire, to see as their savior, someone to emulate. He sighed
again, more loudly than before. For the first time in a very long
time, he considered asking B'Elanna and Harry to alter some of
his personality subroutines so that he wouldn't have to feel.
into the lab, he contemplated what he had been working on, what
he thought it might mean and let those subroutines take a back
seat to his primary function. He checked the readings one more
time, looked into the HD microscope one more time and activated
the EMH log one more time.
studying the Sernaix organs and blood I have discovered what I
believe may be a key to understanding how their bodies function.
There is bio-electrical energy emanating on a cellular level without
regard to differentiation. Upon further study I discovered this
electrical energy actually originates in the mitochondria of each
cell. Extrapolating upon this fact, one can assume that this same
energy would then permeate a Sernaix body, as electricity commonly
is conducted through anything biological in nature. Quite possibly
this is the reason our weapons appear useless against them. Also
quite possibly this is why the crew cannot activate anything recovered
from the Sernaix. I must run an experiment to verify this fact.
Doctor paced a few more times, convincing the ethical subroutines
that what he was going to do was appropriate. Necessary, even.
Especially if he planned to prove to the captain that he was still
a very valuable member of the crew. As far as he could tell, she'd
forgotten all about him.
will be completed again," Sycorax ordered. As the ultimate
authority, the Adimha of the Management Cadre observed the activity
in the Realm with satisfaction. Attempting to determine how the
Enemy's ship entered the Bubble was one more chance to discover
a way out, and nothing would stop her from doing so.
certainly must improve the Enemy's warp drive," Denovox said,
with a touch of disdain. Her position as Satika apprentice in
this Cadre allowed her more access to Sycorax than other Satika's.
The Management Cadre was at the top of the hierarchy in the Sernaix
Realm, and Denovox enjoyed taking every opportunity to assert
her power, limited and vast as it was.
simulation of the U.S.S. Voyager began. The intrepid class starship
of the United Federation of Planets moved in reverse, heading
to the phased rift in space that was caused by the simulation.
As it approached the rift it entered warp speed. At the rift itself,
the ship made a sharp move downward and exploded.
if I may be bold and offer a suggestion," Mazern said. She
was the Adimha of the Interface Design Cadre and well versed in
looking for solutions where others could not. When the other Adimha
did not answer, Mazern continued. "I believe that the Enemy
ship's interface system shows me one factor that could be altered
to facilitate crossing the rift."
it involves their warp drive field, I think it likely to fail,"
Ruzerat said. Though also a Satika and lower in status than Denovox,
being in the Ship Building Cadre, she was certain of her conclusions
and did not hesitate to put them forth. "I have considered
all possible changes that could be made to their primitive systems.
Anything else will certainly cause the Enemy's ship to explode.
put her very intimidating foot down. "Make the correction
Mazern. Ruzerat, assist her. It will be completed again."
just a minute, the U.S.S. Voyager began to move in reverse one
more time. This time, as the ship approached the rift, it did
not make the sharp move downward but as the aft portion of the
nacelles reached the phased rift the ship exploded.
disapproval of Sycorax could be felt throughout the group.
believe I may have a possible solution." This came from the
previously silent Graxen, Adimha of the Tactical Cadre. "The
modification we made to the tertiary design of the latest Node
ship could be applied to the Enemy ship's interface system. Perhaps
the Enemy already has a form of this modification that we have
yet uncovered. If we adjust their warp field similarly, and the
Enemy ship passes through the rift unharmed, it may provide us
with necessary answers."
why would you think we had yet to uncover such a thing?"
Ruzerat asked with undisguised sarcasm.
Denovox countered, "if you had that ability, you would certainly
have been chosen for the Management Cadre." She was pleased
to know her comment had hit its mark as intended.
Sycorax ordered. "Graxen, work with Mazern and Ruzerat. Now."
Adimha," all three responded. Within another thirty seconds,
the modification had been made to Voyager's warp field.
before the simulation could be commenced, a vision interrupted
their work. It was a virtual simulation of the Enemy's holographic
Doctor, there next to the ship, as though floating in space.
Doctor walked into engineering. He'd thought to check first and
luckily Harry was here, working. The perfect excuse. And sure
enough, within moments of arriving B'Elanna was approaching him,
questioning his rare presence in her area. She led him to Harry,
while his eyes roamed, trying to figure out where they kept the
Doc, I'm fine..." Harry said, a quizzical expression on his
Mr. Kim, one can never be too careful. I was taking a little walk
and thought I'd come see you, you did miss your appointment
yesterday." The Doctor took out his tricorder and began to
I apologize, I've just been kinda busy and really, I'm
it appears, so it appears. Have you been working on the Sernaix
artifacts?" He thought he sounded particularly guileless
and was pleased with himself.
of. We still can't get anything out of them, have no idea what
they do. It's very frustrating." Harry was beginning to squirm.
"Look, Doc, are you finished?"
one more thing to check." He repeated the scan he'd already
done. "B'Elanna must be hiding those Sernaix things? To keep
them out of prying eyes, I suppose..."
they're just over there, in that alcove." Harry pointed behind
closed his tricorder with a flourish. "Well, Mr. Kim, you
do appear to be fine. For now. But keep that follow-up appointment
in two days so I don't have to add a non-compliant notation to
grinned. "Sure, I'll be there."
Doctor snorted to himself. No one, it appeared, took him very
seriously any longer. He took a slow survey of the engineering
crew, all of whom appeared engrossed in their tasks, or in conference
with one another. B'Elanna was nowhere around. He walked casually
over to the artifacts, keeping one eye on the people around him
but still no one paid him any attention. Looking at what was there,
he saw something he could hold in his hand, a small black box
with prongs sticking out of it. He quickly palmed the thing and,
with a smile on his face, left engineering to return to sickbay.
activate EMH log. I have retrieved one of the Sernaix artifacts
in order to conduct my experiment. An experiment which is extraordinarily
clever in its simplicity. And the very first tenet of scientific
experimentation is to keep the process as simple as possible.
So. To prove whether the artifact is affected by the bio-electrical
energy emanating from the cellular mitochondria I will merely
place some Sernaix blood in a non-conductive dish and place the
artifact in the blood. Perform a scan, and presto, the
captain will have her answer. End log."
Doctor pushed his chest out a bit as he left his office for the
lab. "Yes, ma'am, you will have your answer."
removed a glass petri dish from the cabinet, bringing it to the
blood vial. Opening the vial, he carefully poured 20cc's into
the dish. He picked up the small black box and placed it in the
program froze. Leaving him still touching the black box, now sitting
in the blood, his holographic parameters shimmering but holding
to the Doctor, his experiment was a success. At the very moment
he touched the black box to the blood, it was activated. The box
was an interlink node, used by the Sernaix to access the virtual
reality Realm. The Doctor was now linked to the Realm, and through
his program, Voyager's main computer was linked as well. The simulation
the Sernaix had been working on found kin of sorts in the actual
ship's computer and systems. The warp field modifications attempted
by the Sernaix made their way through the computer to Voyager's
warp field, altering it to match the simulation, sending the ship
into instant warp without warning. Sycorax and the others working
in the Realm had no idea what had happened from their perspective.
Unfortunately for the Doctor, the vast amount of data coming in
from the Realm overloaded the computer one second later....
think it's nice that she has a pet," Chakotay said with a
of course, it's nice, I just never thought we'd be carrying
pets on board." Janeway looked at him askance, but also had
a grin playing on the corners of her mouth.
turned around from the helm. "She could have come up with
a better name, though. Ratty?"
guess Naomi didn't think to consult you, Tom," Chakotay said,
his grin in full force now.
warning, the bridge lights flickered momentarily. Tom spun back
to the conn.
Janeway's question was cut off as the ship lurched into warp,
falling back out one second later. The inertial dampers went offline
sending everyone to the deck, the lights shut down, then immediately
came back up along with the dampers.
scrambled to his feet, checking the conn frantically. Chakotay
quickly got back to his seat and began looking for answers on
the console. Harry was doing the same. Janeway, now back in her
chair, tried to catch the breath that had been knocked out of
what happened?" She called out, standing again to face
the young man at ops.
fingers were still flying over the console. He raised his eyes
to hers. "Captain, I'm afraid I can't tell you much. All
of the data is garbled as to why. What happened is that
we went into warp and immediately dropped back out, the ship's
systems went offline as the computer shut down and came back when
it reconfigured itself. That's all I can tell you...." He
looked back down and began working again, a look of confused concentration
on his face.
stood. "Captain, it appears there are no damage reports,
other than minor injuries from the dampers' problem." He
turned to Harry as well. "Harry, can you tell us where we
are? How far we've traveled?"
couldn't have gotten that far in this damned place," Janeway
Captain," Harry said, raising his head again, "we have.
The navigational check indicates that we are out of the Bubble.
We're in Sector 19658 of the Alpha Quadrant..." He
looked back down and tapped a few more interfaces.
met Chakotay's eyes, both reading the other too well. Veiled excitement
Captain, Commander," Harry continued, "something's wrong.
Next to us is Sector 1385, or should I say part of 1385
and on the other side of that is...Sector 39J." He
raised his eyes to them once more. "That's impossible,"
he stated softly.
two commanding officers looked at each other again. Janeway opened
her mouth to say something but was interrupted by Harry one last
is one more piece of data the computer is giving me, but I ..."
the hesitation, Chakotay's impatience showed. "Just tell
to the navigational database, the computer has done an extrapolation
in attempting to pinpoint our exact location. We appear to be
in the 31st century. In the Alpha Quadrant, but not a recognizable
one. We are, however, orbiting a planet."
heavy silence descended on the bridge. Janeway looked at Chakotay
one more time, their eyes locking. She broke the contact.
what can you tell us about Sector 19658?"
according to our database, so as of 2371, this sector is... or
was uninhabited, and outside of Federation space."
beeps of the computer were the only sounds heard.
Harry's excited voice cut through the tension, "It's M-class
and there is a Starfleet signature on the planet..." His
fingers were still working. "But..."
interrupted him. "No more 'buts' Harry, please..."
looked up and gave a slight grin as soft laugher was heard moving
throughout the bridge, the tension broken, if only for a moment.
Janeway, however, gave a small snort.
we're unable to scan anything else around this signature, the
scans just don't register. The computer does recognize the remnants
of Sernaix energy, however, so perhaps that's why the scans aren't
Janeway said, running a hand through her hair. "In the 31st
Century, in the Alpha Quadrant?"
whatever this is..." Chakotay said quietly, looking at her.
Keep working on the computer situation, try and figure out what
happened." She turned to Chakotay. "Commander, I want
you to take a shuttle down to the surface and find that signature..."
interrupted her. "Excuse me, Captain, but if Chakotay is
planning on taking the Flyer, he'll need a pilot."
you for volunteering Tom, but I need you to stay here and
keep control of the ship."
watched the helmsman's eyes dart from his to Janeway's and back
again. "Yes, ma'am," Tom answered.
don't worry," Chakotay said, "I'm taking an older one."
sir." Tom smiled and turned back to the helm.
walk you to the shuttle bay," Janeway said, already starting
to move off the bridge.
followed, noting the stiffness of her posture, feeling his stomach
muscles clench in response.
the hell are we doing in the 31st century, Chakotay..."
The doors to the shuttle bay closed behind them, giving them some
much needed privacy.
opened the hatch to Sacajawea and stepped inside, with Kathryn
right on his heels. Leaning over the helm he instructed the computer
to begin the power-up sequence and then turned to her. She was
to get home, Kathryn," he said quietly.
stopped and threw up her hands in supplication. "And when
might that happen?!"
know that's only a rhetorical question. But I'll give you an honest
answer. When it happens."
know how I feel about that answer..."
you have a better one?" Chakotay stared hard at her. He could
see the hooded look in her eyes, her shoulders slumping.
I don't think I ..."
interrupted her. "I will not hear it, Kathryn. You retreat
on me now and you really will be alone, damn it. We'll
figure some way out of this. We always do. But together."
shoulders gradually lifted back to their command position and
her eyes softened. Her gaze was locked with his. "Fair enough,
Chakotay," she said.
time," she said with a very small grin.
looked at her askance, feeling a grin forming of his own. He turned
back to the helm to begin pre-launch. "Harry's patched through
a bit more information about the planet. Looks as though there
are no humanoid life signs, at least as far as he can tell. Some
animal life. Too bad we're not somewhere that was in Federation
space or we'd know more..."
gave no response.
turned his attention fully to her. He could see she was far away,
could almost hear the wheels turning in her mind, feel the energy
radiating off her. "You're going to start contemplating spacetime
travel, aren't you?"
humanoid life signs? That's good," she answered.
uneasy feeling settled in the pit of his stomach. "Spacetime
travel is something that should only be considered by omnipotent
placed her hands firmly on her hips. "Just find what's giving
off that signature, Chakotay. And keep checking in with
us, with me, every fifteen minutes for this one. I don't want
any surprises, like a Sernaix welcoming party..."
I should have some back-up with me..."
I'm not sure why, but I don't want anyone else on the crew to
know what you find, before you and I have had a chance to talk
about it," she said decisively.
when do you trust that sort of instinct?"
now," she answered.
put a hand on his forearm and gave it a slight squeeze. "Be
patted her hand gently. "I will be."
broke her gaze from his, nodded and left the shuttle. He sat down
in the pilot's seat and concentrated on the task at hand.
the air, the planet was not the lush environment he usually associated
with M-class. He knew it was an association strictly in his own
mind, one that came from too many years away from home. Each of
the M-classes they'd run across in the Delta Quadrant had been
different, unique and not so unique. None had been exactly like
Trebus and none had come close to Earth.
planet was barren of green vegetation, at least in this hemisphere.
Harsh sunlight shone on a small mountain range with the usual
boulders and rocky terrain found in a post-volcanic environment.
He flew low to get a closer look at the area he was to investigate,
running scans over the surface to confirm what his eyes told him.
Jet black Sernaix debris littered the area and he could see that
there was no way any Sernaix had survived whatever had destroyed
this ship, assuming it was a ship.
landed and checked in with Kathryn, telling her there would be
no Sernaix ambush as far as he could tell. She sounded pleased
but a little distracted. As he ordered the shuttle's systems to
remain on partial power, he thought about what his captain was
likely doing in orbit over his head. Figuring out a way to take
them back to the 24th century, he had no doubt. Neither was he
particularly surprised. After all, Admiral Janeway hadn't thought
twice about breaking the Temporal Prime Directive and they'd had
more than their share of time travel to suit his tastes. But this,
he thought, this was close to insane. They didn't even know if
this Alpha Quadrant was the same as their own Alpha Quadrant,
or why it was so different. He sighed deeply. He also had no doubt
that this would be like dozens and dozens of other times. Once
she got a possible solution into her head, stand back.
got out of the shuttle, armed simply with a phaser and a tricorder.
The bright light of the sun was warm, but not hot and as he looked
to the sky he saw that this atmosphere offered nothing in the
way of cloud formations. The color was somewhere between blue
and green. He wondered what the length of day was and whether
the planet's two moons would look like those of Trebus. Grateful
the oxygen content of the air was a little bit higher than that
of Earth, he took a deep, cleansing breath. It felt wonderful.
He opened his tricorder and got to work.
walk to the Starfleet signature took him over golden dirt that
had no vegetation growing in it. Some rocks with veins of pink
and purple hues were the only consistent thing he saw. Scanning
them he noted they were embedded with crystal formations, but
no mineral compounds useful as fuel. He picked one up to take
a closer look, and actually saw many colors inside the veins.
He wished he could study it in greater detail, and if this had
been a simple away mission gathering foodstuffs, he would have.
He put it back and kept moving. After about twenty minutes, with
a slight break to contact Kathryn again, he was amidst the bulk
of the Sernaix debris, which slowed his progress considerably.
Surprisingly, the signature was still readable. He finally approached
the bottom of one of the foothills, the rocks and boulders becoming
as common as the pieces of the alien vessel. The tricorder told
him what he was looking for was one of the boulders.
upon the boulder, he saw the flash of a metal object. He picked
the item up off the top of the large rock. It was the butt of
a Starfleet phaser. He immediately recognized two things about
it, and his heart stopped, dead in his chest. It was a model that
had been issued two years prior to the fated journey into the
Badlands. It had hash marks on it, put there by a resistance fighter
to indicate how many Cardies he or she had killed. It was Maquis.
was stunned. A Maquis phaser? It wasn't one that he specifically
recognized, but he was certain of its origin. Sitting on a planet
outside of Federation space, surrounded by Sernaix debris in the
31st century, looking a bit weathered.
must have been sitting there for longer than he realized, as Kathryn's
somewhat anxious voice came over the comm. He assured her everything
was fine, he'd found the item in question, but didn't give her
details. After cutting communication, he wasn't certain why he'd
done that. He had been envisioning their discussion of this situation.
Sure in his own mind that this was something he had to
investigate, he was just as sure that she would balk at it. She
wouldn't want to take the time, but rather be hell bent on getting
them back home, wherever and whenever that was.
attempting more scans, not being surprised at the interference
from the Sernaix debris, he contemplated his options. He sighed
again. Aside from the fact that there was nothing he could invent
that would satisfy her curiosity without proof, there was equally
nothing that would lure her to investigate. The bottom line, he
discovered, was that he really couldn't imagine lying to her.
The trust they had reestablished was far too important to him.
activate EMH," Ensign Finley said. She winced in pain, limping
to a biobed.
state the nature of the medical emergency," the Doctor replied
in a pleasant tone of voice. A look of confusion crossed his face.
"I haven't said that in a very long time," he muttered.
"Nevertheless, Ensign, what seems to be the problem?"
think I sprained my ankle, it hurts to walk and it's swelling
up like a balloon, I can feel it inside my boot..."
took out his tricorder and began to scan her foot. "And what
have you been up to, a little hoverball on the holodeck perhaps?"
it happened when the dampers went off line...ow!"
She jerked her foot back as he tried to get her boot off.
actually have a slight fracture of one of your metatarsals. The
dampers went offline? When did that happen?" He, more gently
this time, pulled off her sock and reached for the osteogenic
a short time ago..."
wasn't aware, hm-m." He worked the regenerator, switching
to the dermal one set for deep tissue repair.
maybe you forgot," she said, trying to grin but wincing instead.
you're trying to be funny, Ensign... I do not forget."
He peered down his nose at her, but she merely shrugged, once
more concentrating on the foot in question.
more people came in, one with a slight head injury, one with a
sprained wrist. Followed by ten others with equally minor problems.
He was able to keep up with the onslaught, but felt that he could
have used Mr. Paris' help. Could have used it a great deal, as
a matter of fact, along with some warning that people might be
needing his services.
the last injury was repaired, he went to the sickbay console and
tried to find out what happened before talking with the captain
about his lack of notification of a potentially harmful incident
on the ship. The computer, however, told him something that only
made him feel more humanly confused. Yes, the inertial dampers
had gone offline. Unfortunately, they went offline on a day that
didn't exist in his memory buffer. He stood there for a few minutes
contemplating the latest hour of his existence. Perhaps the captain
had told him about the situation, after all. He had no
idea. He sighed a deep sigh and opened a channel to the bridge.
to Lieutenant Kim," he said, keeping his voice modulated
Doc?" Harry, on the other hand, sounded, well, harried.
am in need of your assistance. My program seems to have been ...
I'm a little busy at the moment, can it wait?"
Doctor found himself snorting. "Of course, if making certain
that the medical officer of this ship is functioning properly
is not a priority..."
interrupted him. "Fine, fine. Give me a minute to discuss
priorities with the captain. Kim out."
sound of the comm link ending only served to make the Doctor more
to the Doctor," Harry's voice echoed in sickbay.
Mr. Kim?" Once again, he attempted to keep his voice calm.
can be there in ten minutes."
you, Lieutenant," he said, not having to fake the relieved
tone of voice.
problem, Doc. Kim out."
an effort to keep himself occupied and not thinking about the
ramifications of lost memory sectors in his buffer, he looked
for something to do. He finished cleaning up from the round of
treatments, loading analgesic hyposprays with efficiency. Those
minor tasks accomplished, he went into the lab and received another
shock. There on the floor was a fairly good sized blood stain
that had dried on the carpeting, with a petri dish and a broken
vial nearby. Again, he had no memory of where this blood came
from. He opened his tricorder and scanned it and was surprised
to see that it was unidentifiable.
he said aloud. "How is that possible? Clearly I was running
an experiment, or someone was...." After letting this information
sift through his program he came to the conclusion that it could
be Sernaix blood and sighed yet again. "Well, I must not
have started the work, not even done the initial scans."
He hoped that at some point he could obtain another sample, to
learn what he could about these new aliens, to help the captain
figure out how to fight them.
went to the cabinet and got the sonic cleaner, running it over
the dried stain, disintegrating it on a molecular level and sucking
the atoms into the cleaner's filter, then gathered the broken
glass and put it in the recycler. Harry walked in as he finished.
went back out to the treatment room. Harry began to run the diagnostic
while the Doctor paced. He watched the lieutenant's face, rapt
attention and confusion appearing there in turn. This did nothing
for the Doctor's frame of mind, such as it was.
Doc," Harry looked up for the first time, "I'm afraid
this might be a bit beyond me at the moment. Maybe it's just that
my mind is too occupied with this other problem. It looks as though
your memory buffer is filled with, well, garbled information.
I suggest you call Seven to take a look at this. I think she can
in the Doctor's emotional subroutines snapped. "Yes, I suppose
you'd like that wouldn't you? Having Seven here, working by your
side," he said.
don't appreciate being used as an excuse to spend more
time with Seven, Lieutenant Kim."
looked perplexed. "What are you talking about? This is me.
I'm sorry, I just can't figure out what's wrong..." Enlightenment
appeared on his features. "Doc. Seven and I are just
felt things realign, but embarrassment was beginning to come to
the forefront. He shouldn't have let the young man know he'd overheard
part of his conversation with Seven. "I apologize, Harry.
Please, if you would, contact Seven and see if she's free."
problem, be happy to. Don't worry, we'll find out what happened...."
the shutdown sequence for Sacajawea, Chakotay contacted Kathryn,
telling her he'd be in the ready room as soon as possible. But
he didn't leave the shuttle. He sat in the semi-darkness of the
small craft, surrounded by the outside brightness of the shuttle
bay, considering one final time how to approach her. How to convince
her. He had to know where this Maquis phaser came from and how
it had ended up as a remnant of a confrontation with the Sernaix.
It'd been seven years since he'd seen one. His people had destroyed
all Maquis weaponry they owned when they united with the Starfleet
crew. He steeled himself mentally, stuffed the phaser butt inside
his jacket and headed to his quarters, to put it out of sight.
the bridge, he noted that Harry was no longer there, Tuvok was
running some sort of scans, Tom was yawning, and the remaining
bridge crew were completely silent. They stood at their posts
and for the brief time it took Chakotay to reach the ready room,
it looked to him as though everyone's eyes were glued to their
consoles. He hit the door chime and was given entrance.
captain leaned forward, holding her cup of coffee in both hands
upon seeing him. "Chakotay, what did you find?"
sat across from her, feeling tired and wound up at the same time.
Before he could answer, she apologized and asked him if he wanted
anything to drink. He practically begged her for a large glass
of cold water. Smiling, she went to the replicator and returned
as quickly as she was able. He downed half of it at once and immediately
she said, settled again, "tell."
of all, I left the item in my quarters because I didn't want anyone
to see it. You, of course, can after we talk." He took a
deep breath and another swallow of water. "I found a Starfleet
phaser butt. Except ... it belonged to a Maquis." He felt
somewhat gratified to see her eyes enlarge.
Maquis? That can't be possible."
is possible and it is a fact. It's Maquis."
how can you know that, Chakotay? You said it was a Starfleet phaser."
felt perversely irritated at that moment. "You may want to
continue forgetting that I was a Maquis, much less a captain..."
held up her hand and interrupted him. "Wait a minute, please.
Let's back up. I'm making no assumptions about your history here.
How do you know it's Maquis?"
another deep breath and sip of water, he willed calm. "I'm
sorry. I'm not angry at you, just a little tense and tired...."
He then gave her the details, describing it, explaining the significance
of the hash marks. After telling her about the Sernaix debris
field and the level of destruction he found and its proximity
to the phaser he jumped right to what was foremost on his mind.
"I want to investigate, Kathryn, I need to know how the Maquis
got involved with the Sernaix, much less in the 31st century."
do you mean investigate?"
like to do an excavation of the debris field, so that scans can
be performed. Try and locate other things that may be Maquis in
origin. See if I can identify a ship, or at least a time period."
took a long time swallowing some coffee. "I'm not sure this
should be a priority with us," she said evenly.
a priority with me." He folded his arms across his chest.
can see that. But we have other things that need to be figured
out. We don't even know how we dropped out of the Bubble, how
we ended up going into warp. Much less how we're going to get
home from here."
I guess I assumed that you'd have all that decided by now."
He watched her eyes narrow at his words.
have been considering options, Chakotay, but I haven't decided
anything," she said.
made a conscious effort not to give in, but to get her to talk,
then look for another opening. "And so what are the
options you see?"
I think there's only two ways to get back to the 24th century.
Clearly the Bubble, as we already know, has its own spacetime
continuum. So it really shouldn't be that big a surprise we've
been dumped here 700 years in our future. We can either get back
into the Bubble, figure out how the spacetime continuum works
there and use that to our advantage to get home, or yes, we consider
spacetime travel. And before you begin arguing with me, there
are methods that we have in our database..."
know there are, and I know that none of them are reliable..."
eyes began to blaze. "And what choice do we have?
We can't stay here!"
not? There is the Temporal Prime Directive to consider..."
doesn't apply here, as far as I'm concerned. We're trying to return
to our proper time, not move into a past we don't belong
in, or a future."
finished his water, not really wanting to have this discussion
yet again with her. How many times had he done it? He sighed.
"And who's to say what our proper time is, Kathryn?
We've been put here. This is where we are, for whatever reason,
and for all we know we're supposed to be here."
threw her hands in the air. "Chakotay. How can we exist in
a future we know nothing about? We owe it to the crew to do everything
we can to get them home."
was suddenly extremely tired. "I just want it clear that
I do not agree with this course of action. And you know what I
mean by that."
do. It means that you'll argue with me until you give in, then
do what you can to support me," she said, a very small grin
playing on her mouth.
let you know when I've given in," he replied, allowing a
small smile to cross his face.
enough. So, I plan on assigning Harry and Seven to the task of
figuring out how to get us back to the 24th century. I have great
faith in their abilities to process theory and translate it into
was all he could do not to roll his eyes. "I concur in their
abilities. I wish them luck. Now, can you oblige me? I'd like
to form an away team and begin an excavation of the planet. Immediately."
Kathryn, there's no argument you can make. How is it going to
affect your project? We're clearly not going anywhere until you
can figure out a way to send us back in time. Aren't you the least
bit curious? This is the Sernaix. And I have the remnant
of a piece of equipment that belongs in 2369, not the year 3000,"
he stated forcefully.
fiddled with the now empty coffee cup. "How many crew members
were you thinking of using?"
tried not to smile. "Under fifteen. But who, exactly, is
another issue I think we need to discuss."
right, but first... look, I'll concede to the investigation. But
just for twenty-four hours. If you haven't found anything in that
time then it stops. Agreed?"
time he did smile. "Agreed."
if we figure out how to get back to our own time period before
twenty-four hours is up then the away team is pulled back to the
ship, no negotiations."
agree to that," he said. He didn't think that would be a
situation he'd be facing.
Now what about the crew?"
think it would be a good idea for me to take only non-Maquis.
I don't know that any former Maquis would be able to deal with
this dispassionately. I know I didn't when I first realized what
I was holding. I think it would present too many problems that,
frankly, I don't want to be faced with down there. I'm not even
sure we should tell anyone what I found."
eyebrows rose significantly. "Why not? What am I missing?"
smiled slightly. "I think you're missing how the former Maquis
feel, especially now. They had a lot of mixed emotions about getting
back to the Alpha Quadrant when we thought we were actually getting
there. Then we were in the Bubble and people had to learn how
to handle that. What I found on the planet is part of, well, our
Maquis history, either in the past or in the future. I think they'll
want to stay and investigate, no matter what. It could present
problems for the crew as a whole, with some wanting to stay and
others wanting to get home."
nodded. "I trust your judgment on this. You have a better
handle on how the crew is coping than I do. Okay, we'll keep what
you discovered a secret. Pick your away team. I was planning,
however, on making a general announcement describing our situation.
I know the gossip mill has already started, I've been waiting
until you got back to see what you found."
tugged his ear and grimaced. "This is going to be difficult,
Kathryn. Once the official word is out, crew morale will suffer."
know. We'll just do the best we can. Like always." She smiled
at him, one of her rare full smiles. He could have sworn, her
eyes even twinkled. Just a bit. Just enough.
if you insist on pacing in that manner I will have to take your
program offline," Seven said, her eyes and fingers never
leaving the console in front of her.
wouldn't dare," he stated. Nonetheless, he stopped moving.
not seeing anything different, are you," Harry said quietly,
looking over her shoulder.
would appear that your original hypothesis was correct,"
she replied. Pulling back from the screen she turned to him. "This
is likely connected." Harry nodded.
either of you care to enlighten me?"
faced him directly. "From the time your weekly diagnostic
was run yesterday until Ensign Finley activated you, your memory
is ... gone. The data is irretrievable. The main computer systems
had a malfunction a while ago, data was similarly compromised.
It is logical to assume that the computer's problem initiated
you're telling me that I've just lost a day, an entire
24 hours," she answered, "but essentially, yes."
to Lieutenant Kim and Seven of Nine."
tapped his combadge and answered. The captain called them to the
ready room over the Doctor's vehement protestations. It seemed
to him that her voice sounded particularly callous in his regard.
She cared not a whit that his program had been compromised, that
his memory was gone. Hearing her state that the loss of one day
of sickbay's information was not as urgent as the situation the
entire ship faced cut him to the quick. Harry and Seven left,
promising to return as soon as they could. He knew they were empty
loudly to himself he grabbed the tray of hyposprays. He headed
to the replicator in the lab, slammed the tray down on the counter,
and began to replicate medications. He was so angry that his tactile
control failed and he actually dropped a vial trying to put it
into one of the empty slots on the tray. The vial hit the floor
and rolled under the counter. When he stooped to retrieve it,
he saw something completely unfamiliar. A small black box with
at it, he noticed it had some dried blood on one side. He scanned
it but it didn't register on his tricorder at all. It must be
Sernaix, he surmised, and took out the medical tricorder to scan
the blood. Unrecognizable. He harrumphed as he again used the
sonic cleaner to deconstruct dried blood. Figuring someone had
brought it there for some purpose that, at the moment, he wasn't
particularly interested in, he took the piece to his desk. Since
everyone was so busy he'd wait until things calmed down,
then call B'Elanna and have her come and get it. He dropped the
black box into his desk drawer. That's when he saw his mobile
emitter. He attached it to his arm.
patch any requests for me through to wherever I am,"
he stated loudly. He left sickbay, going where he wasn't
quite certain. Perhaps the holodeck, for a round of golf. He smiled
for the first time since he'd been activated.
shuttle bay had the appearance of being the busiest place on the
ship. Two shuttles were being prepared for launch by eleven crew
members and Commander Chakotay. He'd asked Samantha Wildman, as
one of Voyager's Science Officers, to be the second in command
of the away mission. The rest of the team was comprised of ten
crew members, chosen for their physical strength, stamina and
reputation for discretion, for the First Officer knew Voyager's
crew inside and out. And if there was any speculation as to the
strange group heading down to the planet he wouldn't and didn't
want to hear about it.
Sam," Ensign Peter Ashmore said, laughing, "How's Ratty?
Eating through your replicator rations?"
though Chell's still complaining about supplies in the mess."
thought he'd long gotten over it, at least that's what he said..."
know him," Sam said with a smile, "never misses a chance
to make a complaint or two to a sympathetic ear."
chuckled, joined by some of the others working alongside.
Bronowski muttered something under his breath. Sam asked him to
repeat it. "Well, I was just wondering if you thought about
how it'll break Naomi's heart when Ratty is gone."
little thing will die here on the ship no doubt. Looks as though
it's going to be years before we get home, if at all..."
working in the shuttle as well, acted as though he were part of
Lang spoke up for the first time. "As though the DQ wasn't
hard enough, then the Bubble, and now this. Seems to me we won't
be getting home."
least not Earth of our time period anyway. I'm just grateful that
I got the chance to talk to my husband in the data stream, and
my daughter, " Nyema Swinn said, her voice cracking slightly.
"She looked so grown up..."
walked up to her and touched her on the shoulder. "Amazing
how quickly they change, isn't it, Nyema? But we'll get home,
I know we will."
snorted. "Don't count those chickens, as my grandmother used
the others nodded in agreement, Chakotay slipped out the shuttle
door and went over to the other one for a progress check. As he
entered, conversation stopped abruptly. He had a feeling he knew
what that meant, so he asked them if the craft was ready to launch
and if the supplies were secured and if they had anything they
wanted to ask him, or tell him. Not surprisingly, only Crewman
Mark Fitzpatrick said anything. He always was willing to speak
his mind, something Chakotay had actually been grateful for on
more than one occasion.
we were just talking about everything we've been through, trying
to get back home, and, well, it just doesn't seem like it's ever
going to happen. Commander," he said, "do you know what
the captain has in mind?"
sighed. "I do, and I'm not at liberty to say. You know she's
doing everything she can to get us out of this." His eyes
roamed the small group, not missing the one or two looks of slight
know she'll try whatever she can," Mark said.
that's the best we can hope for at the moment," Chakotay
answered. "Okay, gather out in the shuttle bay for the briefing..."
He left, going to other shuttle to tell them the same thing.
a few minutes, with everyone assembled, he considered saying something
of a general nature about the situation the ship faced but decided
against it. Better to get them focused on the task ahead of them
on the planet. It would be grueling enough without encouraging
negative attitudes. He told them that they'd found a small piece
of a Starfleet hull, but had been unable to locate any other piece
of the ship due to interference from the Sernaix debris. Not pulling
any punches, he told them this work would be difficult and that
breaks should be taken as needed with copious amounts of water
consumed. Stripping down uniforms was also acceptable. He didn't
care about regulations at this point, he just needed bodies working
as hard as they could. Comfort and stamina took precedence over
looking at their faces, he couldn't read what they were thinking.
He took a breath and continued.
you run across anything at all that is not recognizably Sernaix,
call out and either Sam or I will come and collect it. I'll rotate
the crews every hour today, with one group digging and one removing
things to somewhere else. Hopefully that will keep people from
getting too tired. The replicators on both shuttles are full of
ship's credits, so help yourselves. Any questions?"
again, Fitzpatrick spoke up. "Commander, I don't mean to
question what we're doing, but is the work today helping the ship
get home? I guess I'd like to know the purpose of this mission.
Finding Starfleet debris from here in the future seems...."
put on his best diplomatic expression. "I can say that this
work today may give us an answer that we need to move forward.
Any other questions?" He hated lying to the crew, but justified
it, knowing he'd really just stretched the truth a little bit.
Only the 'we' was not defined.
no one else answered, he dismissed them to the shuttles, and contacted
the captain to tell her they were on their way. She sent a good
luck message to everyone, for which Chakotay was very grateful.
The shuttles powered up and left Voyager for the unnamed, unknown
you see," Kathryn continued, "we really don't have a
choice, we're going to have to find a way to travel back to the
24th century." She looked at the three people looking at
her with completely impassive countenances. Icheb and Seven, she
could understand, but Harry. She expected some reaction from him.
was the one to speak up. "Captain, I'm afraid I don't understand.
We've just begun a mapping of this Alpha Quadrant and there is
very little correlation between where we are and where you wish
to be. Perhaps it would be best to continue with the mapping until
we know more."
understand your point, Icheb. Why don't you continue with that
while Harry and Seven tackle the spacetime issue."
nodded and returned to his console.
Harry said, "I don't know if you remember your early quantum
interrupted him. "I don't know either."
smiled. "Well, there was theory of entropy, that the universe
would continue from a state of order to disorder, where the disorder
would become more and more as time passed. I was wondering if
there was a cataclysmic event that happened that caused the Alpha
Quadrant to become so disordered as to seem, well, rearranged."
spoke up. "But if that were the case, it would have had to
occur sometime between the 29th and the 31st centuries."
it was in the 29th century that the Federation developed timeships,
if you remember Captain," Seven replied.
noticed Harry's look of confusion. "Don't remind me, Seven.
Captain Braxton is a person I'd hoped never to consider again.
Although, come to think of it, where are the TPD cops when we
need them? They could get us home in a flash, I bet. And don't
worry, Harry, it's nothing you need to be concerned with."
if this Alpha Quadrant is rearranged due to an increase in entropy,
by natural design or not," Harry said, "it would mean
that the entropy arrow of time is a given, and there is little
chance that what we find in the database will be applicable."
smiled at them both. "Well, we don't have the Federation's
classified theories of time travel, which would be quite helpful
at the moment, but we do have everything we were taught in temporal
still looked skeptical. "Yes, there was the famous 'slingshot
effect' that was used back when warp drive's capabilities were
just being understood. But Captain, that's not going to work..."
interrupted him again. "Try to keep an open mind. Let's start
by reviewing the possibilities, then begin the calculations, based
upon what Icheb maps out for us, shall we?"
and Harry glanced at each other before accessing the database.
Kathryn, adjacent to them, did the same. They discussed, argued,
and worked on the problem for two hours before being interrupted
by the swoosh of the astrometrics doors opening.
came through them with a big smile on his face, going straight
to Harry, nodding to the captain en route.
Harry, how's it going? Calculated the latest retarded waves postulate
yet?" His voice was low.
looked at him from beneath his brow. "Very funny, Tom,"
he said in a sotto voice. "What do you want?" He tried
not to show how pleased he was that Tom was there. To see him.
As though nothing had changed.
is that any way to greet me?" Tom said, grinning. "Of
course it's not. So listen, this is what I'm thinking. This group
of people needs distraction in a major way, 'Lanna's been
hearing rumblings in engineering, I heard some talk in the mess
hall on my break. I'd like to start up the Sandrine's program
tonight, for old time's sake, maybe have a pool tournament, that
sort of thing. It's been a while - you think the program is still
don't see why not, I haven't messed with it since we copied Lila
Lila. She was a peach, wasn't she?"
you're still incorrigible," Harry smiled at his friend. "You're
supposed to be all centered since becoming a father..."
get me wrong, Miral's the light of my life, but," Tom said
with a wink, "you know me, I still like to have fun. Okay,
captain's voice interrupted him. "Mr. Paris, are you here
to help us get the ship back into the 24th century? I didn't realize
you specialized in temporal mechanics," she said with only
a hint of a light tone.
turned to her and gave her a dazzling Tom Paris smile. "Not
at all, Captain, I'm just checking in with my co-holoprogrammer.
I apologize for taking his time away from the problem at hand.
But I have only the crew's best interests at heart."
raised her eyebrows. "Oh? And how's that?"
want to run Sandrine's tonight. I think the crew could use the
break, the distraction. Have some fun. Actually, I'd like to have
a pool tournament, for old time's sake. What do you say, Captain,
up for some pool? I'll even give you two out of three," he
said, continuing the charm.
what makes you think I'd need two out of three to beat you, Tom?"
The tiniest of smiles was beginning to show.
been a while since you've played me, ma'am, so you shouldn't think
you can beat me so easily any more." His grin got broader.
He really wanted her to be behind this, to participate. To mingle.
think about it. I have a lot of work to do, and hopefully will
have a fair amount of data to review this evening. But I think
it's a good idea. Have fun. Now, perhaps you could allow Mr. Kim
to return to his tasks?" She folded her arms across her chest.
ma'am. Thinking about it is all I ask, for now," he said.
"Harry, thanks. See you later." He clapped his friend
on the shoulder and left, a bounce in his step. Tom Paris was
looking forward to that evening. Giving the crew some entertainment
was one of his greatest joys. And he was happy, his life was good,
he thought it was his duty to spread the feeling around a bit,
particularly that day. And he dearly wanted to trounce the captain
looked around as he took his own break, downing another liter
of cold water. The sun was as high as it had been earlier in the
day, clearly having moved, but not the equivalence of five hours
on Earth. So it looked as though the daily cycle here was longer
than 24 hours. This was good news. More daylight meant more work
could be accomplished. Still, five hours had passed and their
progress wasn't as great as he had envisioned.
appeared that the more Sernaix debris they moved, the more they
found. They moved and dug, and moved and dug. It was beginning
to look as though the Sernaix ship had been destroyed, causing
a small crater to form. Then, for some reason, dirt and rocks
had piled into the crater with the pieces of the ship. He'd asked
Samantha to see if she could find evidence of tectonic movement.
After an hour of exploring the surrounding area, she'd returned
to say, yes, this planet was not completely stable. Not out of
the ordinary for any planet. It didn't look to her as though the
earthquakes had been very recent, perhaps occurring at some point
in the prior few years.
could see from the progress not made that more hands would be
needed. He called Kathryn to give her a progress report and ask
for more assistance. She sounded supportive but a bit distracted
again. Trying to find out how the spacetime travel project was
going, he got stonewalled. He interpreted that to mean it wasn't
going well. This did not surprise him. However, if she wouldn't
tell him, he couldn't commiserate with her. Trying not to sound
frustrated by this, he went back to discussing his need for more
was her idea to send down ten people from the Pleiades. They had
been integrated into the crew, just like the crew from the Equinox,
but unlike those people, their transition had been much smoother.
Kindred spirits. Lost for reasons beyond their control. Still,
they didn't have many connections yet, and none were former Maquis.
They were all on short shifts. He welcomed the idea with relief.
the half hour, ten of the strongest, picked by the captain herself,
had beamed down. They were enthusiastic, happy to be asked to
contribute, happy to be off the ship, curious to work side-by-side
with the man the entire crew respected so deeply. They'd heard
of the renegade Maquis captain who'd made a place for himself
in this Starfleet crew, and meeting him had been nothing close
to what they'd expected.
giving them the rundown on what they were to do, Chakotay assigned
them to relieve some people first off. Then he got to work, wielding
a shovel on the outer edge of the field, where the crew hadn't
gone quite as deeply. If he were honest with himself, he could
say that the physical labor was something he needed. To work off
the stresses of the past months, hell, years, by the simple act
of digging dirt and tossing it somewhere else. It was mindless
work and as the sweat poured off him he reveled in it.
the break over, the team of now twenty spread further and continued.
But no one called out. Nothing was found that wasn't Sernaix.
Scans were still interfered with.
was resting on his shovel an hour later when Samantha approached
would you like more water?"
Sam, that would be great," he said, accepting the container
and swallowing a large amount of it immediately. He watched her,
seeing, correctly, she had something on her mind. "What can
I do for you?" He smiled.
chuckled. "Get me home to Earth tomorrow?"
laughed along with her, grateful to be able to. "Would that
know. Seriously, I have a couple of questions. Let's say this
is unofficial, okay? Naomi's mother to one of her father figures?"
unofficial. Shoot." He drank more water.
is this dig really about? How is this going to get us home? Finding
a Starfleet ship amongst some Sernaix stuff in our future, I just
don't see it."
even unofficially, I can't answer that. The captain and I decided
it would be best if the crew didn't understand the totality of
what we're trying to find out here. I'm sorry," he smiled,
"as one of Naomi's father figures, I'd do whatever I could
for her, especially get her home. She needs her real father, I
sighed. "Yes, she does. She misses Neelix a lot, more than
she's telling me." She smiled, a softer smile than before.
"I understand, really I do. And it's just nice to hear, and
see, that you and the captain are working as a team again.
Even if it means that secrets are being kept from us. So things
are going well between you two?"
looked intently at her. "And is that Naomi's mother speaking,
or Naomi herself?"
laughed out loud. "Let's just say a combination of both."
see. Well, you may tell your daughter that the captain and I are
getting along fine at the moment," he said, letting one dimple
you care to elaborate on that, for Naomi?"
even for Naomi," he said firmly yet gently.
she promised she'd pass the word on to her daughter and left him
to his shovel. Pushing the metal back into the dirt he chuckled
to himself. As much as things changed, they stayed the same.
hour went by but still no shouts. They did discover one thing,
however. During a scan Chakotay was performing, he noticed a fluctuation
in the energy signature from the debris. A signature that had
been holding steady since they first scanned the planet. Six people
had just lifted a rather large piece of the Sernaix ship, moving
it away to the edge of the deepening crater. This energy reading
was very different from any they'd gathered so far from either
ships or weaponry. Without any way to quantify it in Sernaix terms,
he could only see that Starfleet computers said it was "stronger"
and emanated from a more powerful source. He surmised it might
be an indication of the weapon that destroyed this ship. Either
that or it was the remnants of a weapon the ship itself carried.
Whatever it was, for some reason it made him uneasy.
more Chakotay was making his way across the bridge to the ready
room. Beta shift was working but the captain was still there and
he had a pretty good idea of what he'd see when the door opened.
Sure enough, the scene to greet him was exactly what he'd imagined.
Kathryn was staring intently at her console, chin in one hand,
coffee in the other. She looked exhausted. She looked stressed.
She didn't look happy.
sat across from her and waited until she focused on him.
Her voice was as dull as her eyes.
else. We excavated as much as we could and did manage to scan
some areas but there's nothing there, Kathryn. I just don't understand
it," he said with more than a touch of frustration.
sipped her coffee. "I'm sorry. Would more time be a help?"
hours was just about everyone's limit, even with the extra hands.
If we're still here in the morning, I'll take the team back and
expand the search. I'll bring a carton of analgesic hyposprays,
too." The joke sounded flat to his ears, too.
still be here."
saw a spark of anger flash in her eyes and was relieved to see
it. It was the dull affect that bothered him more. Anger he could
deal with. But she wasn't answering him.
happened. Exactly nothing. Every calculation we've tried,
every temporal theory of spacetime that's ever been thought about,
discussed, and even proven, every one of them has been a failure."
She slammed her cup down hard.
do you know they're going to fail?" he said, trying to keep
run calculations so many times I thought the computer was going
to start complaining. The major stumbling block in all of them
is the fact that this Alpha Quadrant and the Alpha Quadrant we
know appear to be two separate things. Trying to calculate how
to get from this point in spacetime to a specific point in another
spacetime, when the starting point and the ending point may not
be equivalent - apparently it can't be done. Or at least
that's what Seven and Harry are trying, ever so diplomatically,
to tell me." Her eyes drifted to a point somewhere near the
you don't believe them, do you?"
eyes locked. She took another drink of her coffee. "No. I
don't. I can't."
to believe that, you'll have to believe that we won't get home,"
he said softly. "I understand it all, Kathryn, you know I
do. My problem is that I believe in you, in your determination."
He watched her eyes soften, just a bit. "So, what's the plan
plan of action is to keep going over it all until the thing we're
missing becomes apparent. I've let Harry off so he can relax his
mind, I've told Seven and Icheb to regenerate. I need them at
their peak efficiency when we tackle this again first thing in
why is it that you never seem to have the need to take a break?"
don't have that luxury."
laughed softly. "Nonsense."
eyes narrowed. "It is not nonsense."
right, I forgot. You are not human like the rest of us. You don't
have the same needs that the rest of us do..."
interrupted him. "Chakotay, let's not go there, please."
wasn't talking about that, Kathryn. I was talking about simpler
things. Dinner. Some hours off to unwind and not think
about our situation. To give yourself a breather, so that your
mind is rested and ready to tackle this again."
sounds like you could use that. Am I right?"
smiled. "Yes, I would like to try. This phaser find is driving
me to just this side of crazy, I'll admit. I'm tired, worn out,
my muscles ache, my mind is trapped and I'd like nothing more
than to have some dinner with you."
muscles ache? I thought that's what you had the crew for?"
did my share of digging. Actually, it felt good. Slightly cathartic."
time she smiled. "You don't look like you spent the day digging
in the dirt."
don't think I would traverse the ship covered in sweat and dirt,
much less enter the ready room like that, do you? I think my entire
group probably hit the showers so fast we might have overloaded
the system. Now, dinner? There's something I did find that I'd
like to talk over with you - after we eat."
sighed. "Okay. Dinner. My rations. Did you hear what Tom
and Harry have planned for this evening? They're starting up Sandrine's,
for the crew. There's even a pool tournament."
what I heard today I think that's an excellent idea. People are
having a very difficult time right now. There was a fair amount
of talking about what we're facing. Discouragement seems to be
the feeling of the moment. Good for Tom," he said emphatically.
is sinking? Damn."
though that's not all that surprising. And, well, I think
it would be a good idea for the crew to see you tonight, in Sandrine's,
having some fun. Mingling. I'd like to go, see if I can talk to
some others, find out how widespread this is and if there's anything
I can do to help. What do you say? Wanna shoot some pool?"
He deliberately gave her one of his most disarming smiles.
actually said he'd give me two out of three, if you can
believe it," she said, a smile beginning to play across her
one cheeky pilot we've got," he deadpanned.
isn't he." She shrugged. "Well, I guess it would be
a good idea. Go, mingle with the crew, have a little fun with
them. Maybe enter the tournament. Show Tom up..."
So we'll have dinner and then go to Sandrine's. For the good of
the crew." He tried not to grin.
looked at him from beneath her brow. "Yes, we'll go. For
the good of the crew."
lost the battle and grinned outright. She returned it, chuckling,
as she closed her console. However, she picked up the PADDs just
before leaving the ready room at Chakotay's side.
silently thanked Tom again, once they arrived on the holodeck.
Sandrine's was fairly crowded and he could have sworn the place
looked larger than it used to. He wondered if they'd expanded
the perimeter of the room, just to accommodate as many people
as possible. It was nice to be back, though he could feel tension
come from Kathryn when they arrived. He knew she'd get past it
soon enough. Steering them to the bar, greeting people along the
way, they ordered some synthale, then, as agreed, they split up
kept one eye on the captain as she went from group to group. She
spent more time with B'Elanna and T'Pel than anyone else. But
watching her, he felt grateful they were there. She was animated,
obviously enjoying the company, even laughing out loud with B'Elanna
over something. He relaxed and went to the next table on his mental
an hour of deliberate mingling, he found an empty table and started
in on his second ale. The mental image of the Maquis phaser butt
made itself glaringly obvious in his mind. It was driving him
crazy, that they hadn't found anything else on the planet.
It made no sense. It was almost as though it had just dropped
from the sky, out of time and out of place. Within a few minutes,
Tuvok joined him. As much as he respected the Vulcan, he was tired,
his mind was now more than occupied and he wasn't in the mood
evening, Commander," Tuvok said.
is promising to see the captain spending time with the crew. T'Pel
informs me there has been an increase in requests for her counseling
sighed audibly. "Yes, the captain needed to come see for
herself how everyone's doing."
the two of you arrived together."
nodded and waited.
is gratifying as well."
exactly does that mean, Tuvok? Gratifying." He could feel
irritation beginning, and willed it away. He didn't need to get
into it with this man. Not tonight.
the command structure of the ship is no longer compromised."
Tuvok sipped his drink and looked at him placidly.
wasn't aware that it was - compromised, that is."
the two commanding officers are not in harmony, the structure
returned. "Was there a problem with how the ship was running
that I wasn't made aware of? How well the captain and I are getting
along is not exactly anyone's business but ours."
assure you, Commander, that my interests are purely for the good
of the crew."
I feel quite assured now, thank you," he said, knowing full
well the sarcasm was not missed.
raised one of his eyebrows and Chakotay waited. "And if the
two commanding officers of this ship have resolved some of their
differences, it can only contribute to the harmony this
ship will need as it faces the next hurdle."
exhaled loudly. "I appreciate that fact, more than I need
to be reminded of it."
meant no harm by my remarks. It was merely an observation that
the two of you are spending more time together and the time spent
seems to be agreeable to you both. The captain needs your support."
did it. Chakotay got up quickly, afraid to stay for fear of what
he'd say. Like demanding to know where the hell Tuvok was when
Kathryn hid herself away when they were first pulled into the
Bubble. Like where the hell Tuvok was when he could have used
someone to talk to, having to keep the ship together and his anger
under control so he wouldn't just dump Kathryn out the nearest
Tuvok, I understand that no harm was meant. And I'm sure the captain
will appreciate your continued support as we face our next hurdle.
And yes, she and I are getting along just fine now. Hopefully
things will stay this way from now on. Now, I need to keep mingling,
to keep myself available to the crew. I trust you and T'Pel will
have a pleasant evening." He nodded in response to Tuvok's
assent and left the table quickly.
red in front of his eyes faded. He headed directly to the pool
table, suddenly wanting to knock a few balls around. It looked
as though one game was just finishing. Tom met his eyes with a
question. He mouthed "me next." The younger man gave
him a mock feral grin. Chakotay smiled as he picked out a cue.
it turned out that knocking a few balls around, even with Tom's
continual joking banter, only allowed his mind to wander again.
Back to the phaser butt. What he was fast beginning to term 'that
damned phaser.' He took a shot and heard a chortle from Tom.
Chakotay, what is with you?"
what're you talking about?"
was a pretty easy shot. One I know you wouldn't normally miss,"
Tom said with only a slight grin.
was right. Chakotay shrugged nonchalantly and watched Tom line
up his attempt at sinking the three-ball. It fell into the pocket
continued, looking over the table. "I know it can't be my
sizzling company that's distracting," he said, bending over
and lining up the next shot. "So why don't you tell me what's
bothering you." He tapped the cue ball expertly and acquired
was wanting to talk to someone besides Kathryn, but knew it couldn't
be the pilot. Tom's mouth was just too, well, unreliable. He said
in all seriousness, "Maybe it is just your sizzling
looked at him askance. "Yeah, right." He sank another
ball. "Well, that leaves just the eight ball, mister."
Standing upright again, he walked around the table, patting Chakotay's
shoulder on the way. "Sorry, maybe next time," he said.
He lined up the shot and ended the game.
let loose a laugh. "Since when are you sorry you won a game,
shrugged and grinned.
that moment, Kathryn approached the table. Walking directly up
to Chakotay she stopped two feet in front of him holding her hand
out. "Commander, your stick?"
couldn't believe it. He heard laughter from various people sitting
nearby, the loudest from the pilot not six feet away. Meeting
Kathryn's eyes, he knew that she knew exactly what she was implying
this time, there was no question about it. There was a
certain daring smokiness in her look. He'd never seen it before
and it threw him.
decided to give as good as she had. What the hell. "Anytime
you want it, all you have to do is ask, Kathryn," he said,
using her given name for good measure. He handed the cue to her
with a smile and waited. Their eyes locked.
gave him a smile, broke eye contact and told Tom to rack the balls
up. With one last look at her over his shoulder, Chakotay left
the pool table, chuckling to himself. That had been interesting.
Not quite interesting enough to occupy his mind, however, for
here came that damned phaser again.
got another synthale from the bar and headed to a corner table
to think. After a few minutes of thinking, which was fast becoming
full out brooding, he was pleased to see Michael Ayala coming
up to his table.
Chakotay, mind if I join you?" Michael said.
not at all. Please, do," he answered. They chatted for a
while as it had been a couple of weeks since they'd sat and talked.
Ayala was one of Chakotay's oldest friends, almost as close to
him as B'Elanna. He'd recruited Ayala before he found B'Elanna
in the alley, and Michael had been instrumental in making the
young woman feel at home on the Liberty. Once more he was reminded
how much he trusted this man, trusted him with his life, and so
much more. Ayala hinted that he was curious about the situation
with the captain and his friend, and Chakotay obliged him, saying
as much as he was comfortable with, knowing it would go no further
than the two of them.
a short lull, while they were both drinking more of their ale,
the phaser butt appeared behind Chakotay's eyelids. He made an
instant decision to tell Michael. Watching Michael's eyes change
as he talked, Chakotay knew it had been the right decision. The
other man was listening in that calm way he had, taking it all
in, contemplating the meaning, the possibilities even as Chakotay
continued with the facts. He ended the recitation and finished
know, Chakotay, not everyone got rid of their Maquis weapons when
we joined Voyager," Michael said slowly.
do you know that I don't?"
I'm torn, you still being the commanding officer. Can I tell you
with an assurance that you won't punish the person? I mean, I
think you need to know, and it might answer some of your questions,
I'm so desperate for answers right now, that yes, I promise I
won't do anything about it. Spill."
emptied his glass with one swallow. "Well, Dalby kept his
phaser against orders. He said it was his good luck charm.
He had hash marks on it."
did a lot of people. And I can't see how it could be Dalby's.
Besides how would we tell?"
recognize it. It was my phaser he always borrowed to put in the
marks. I'm sure I would know if it's his."
stared at him, though his mind was elsewhere entirely. It couldn't
be Dalby's. That would make no sense at all. Still, he had nothing
to lose. "Okay, let's go to my quarters, that's where it
is. You take a look at it."
nodded seriously and followed Chakotay out of the holodeck.
his quarters, Chakotay called for the lights to increase. Neither
man had said a word since they left Sandrine's, their silent communication
the same as it always had been. Words were unnecessary. This was
a quiet mission, two Maquis trying to learn the fate of an unknown
opened the cabinet in his bedroom and picked up the phaser. It
had reached such importance in his mind that the simple piece
of metal he held almost glowed in his hand. He carried it to the
living area and handed it to Michael.
younger man inhaled sharply. Chakotay's heart stopped. Michael
cleared his throat. "It's Dalby's," he said emphatically.
mind was numb. "How... how can you be so sure?"
this hash mark?" He pointed to one that was slightly askew.
"That happened when Henley knocked his hand accidentally.
I was there. Dalby was angry. They almost got into a fight over
it. I'm sure. It's Ken's."
eyes locked. Neither knew what to say, or how to interpret this.
After a few minutes of silent contemplation, Chakotay knew he
had to call Kathryn and tell her. He got, what was in his mind,
an unneeded assurance from Michael that he wouldn't talk to anyone
about it. At the door, he reached out to shake hands and Michael
pulled him into a quick embrace. It felt good, just like in the
old days, when physical signs of affection and camaraderie were
more frequent than since they'd all been on Voyager. Without another
word, Michael left Chakotay.
sat on his couch and tried to put his mind to the obvious question.
How? After an unknown period of time, he tapped his combadge.
here, Chakotay. Are you coming back for more pool?"
I need you to come to my quarters."
Commander, I don't know how to take that..."
heard the innuendo in her voice and shook his head, wondering
what had gotten into her. Titles were in order, clearly. "Captain,
it's about what I discovered on the planet this morning."
was the only response for at least a minute. "I'll be
right there. Janeway out."
spent the time waiting staring at the piece of metal in his hand.
entered but he didn't rise from where he sat. He felt drained.
She joined him, and for the first time, saw the now infamous piece
of phaser. He took a deep breath and told her what he'd found
impossible, Chakotay, it can't be," she said with assuredness.
shook his head. "It is, Kathryn. There is no question.
This is from Voyager."
was stunned, and clearly could say nothing. She stood up and began
to pace. After a minute of this, he got up as well, intending
only to gently force her to talk.
that moment, the ship was rocked, hard. Kathryn stumbled.
He caught her in his arms. Hers instinctively went around his
waist. Their eyes locked. They both forgot what had been so important
just the moment before, or what the rocking meant. Chakotay slowly
pulled his hand away from her back and brought it up to her cheek,
brushing the soft skin with his thumb, her eyes never leaving
his. She allowed the contact.
she smiled and reached up to her chest to open communication with
the bridge. The beta shift operations officer sounded flustered
and was unable to tell them much, other than that the ship had
been moved by an unknown force.
let go of her and without a word spoken, they both turned and
headed out, calling Harry on the way, to meet them at the bridge.
of them sat in their command chairs. Kathryn was pacing, Chakotay
was standing next to Harry at ops. The young woman from beta shift
stood behind them both, watching to see what Harry was doing.
Kathryn said for the third time, on her twelfth pass in front
of the big chair.
sighed but this time answered. "The Ayrethans' spacetime
Bubble has weakened subspace in this area. We registered a signal
from the planet's surface, but I don't know it's effect."
muttered, "The excavation..." He met Kathryn's eyes.
She nodded in agreement.
she said, "where are we?"
fingers were still working. After an interminable minute he looked
at them both, one at a time. "From what I can tell, a subspace
rift opened nearby and Voyager was pulled back into the anomaly.
We're in the Bubble."
and Commander stared at each other.
Producers: Thinkey, Anne Rose and Coral