8-8 - In the Eye of Empyrean
By: MaquisKat (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.
Paris, bring us into orbit," Captain Janeway stood behind
the helm watching the viewscreen that was filled with the green-brown
planet. Its appearance brought to mind a ball of mud with half-dead
leaves and grass mixed in.
Captain," Tom answered with a grin, then echoed her own thoughts.
"It's not as pretty as the last one is it, Captain?"
doesn't need to be pretty, Mr. Paris. Any port for the storm."
Janeway eased herself back into her chair with a look towards
Chakotay. Chakotay met her gaze evenly for a few seconds, then
turned back to his work. The tension was still palpable between
them at times, but it was getting better. At least that is what
she told herself. She pulled herself away from such thoughts and
focused on the work at hand.
Log - Stardate 55242.73
are currently investigating the cluster of stars, in hopes of
finding some answers to our current predicament. Sensor readings
have led us to a Class-M planet within this region. The only planet
within the star cluster. It is interesting to note that all the
stars within the star cluster seem much closer and brighter now,
as though they are all contained in the same area of space.
search for a way out of this place is of secondary importance
now however. Voyager's most recent battle with the Sernaix has
left her once more in dire need of repair. The Sernaix are obviously
quite capable of finishing any battle they begin with us and I
am left wondering why they have not done so as of yet. They do
not have any interest in dialog or diplomacy, leaving the conclusions
that either they are playing a game of cat and mouse with us,
or that they have another reason for allowing us to survive."
Janeway paused for a moment to suppress an involuntary shudder.
"In either case I intend to be ready for them. Lieutenant
Kim and Seven of Nine have been compiling a database on the Sernaix
and analyzing it for whatever weaknesses they can find. The next
time we are in a confrontation with the Sernaix, I intend to survive
more than by the whim of our attackers.
planet may be the key we've been searching for. The key to the
symbols found by Lieutenant Kim and Commander Chakotay. The key
to our defense against the Sernaix and most importantly the key
to our return to the Alpha Quadrant. To home.
clicked off the recording and authenticated the log with her thumbprint
before turning her attention back to the bridge crew. "Mr.
Kim, can you give me more detailed information about the inhabitants
you read earlier?"
much more, Captain." Harry's fingers flew over his console
with practiced ease. "There are several separate concentrations
of life signs spread over each of the three continents. Fairly
technologically advanced, at least on par with us Captain, perhaps
more so. From our readings humanoid, but that is as much as I
can give you at this point."
nodded, "Open..." she started as Harry interrupted her.
we are being hailed by the planet." Harry turned to look
quirked a half grin at her ops officer, before standing up, and
moving towards the viewscreen as she settled her hands on her
hips. "Then by all means, Lieutenant, put them on screen."
screen," Harry acknowledged. The screen blinked as the view
of the planet disappeared and an alien took its place. Janeway
looked back quickly towards Tuvok and Chakotay, the only sign
of her surprise as her command mask remained firmly in place.
Chakotay's face remained impassive at the realization while Tuvok's
eyebrow arched in typical fashion. For a moment, she was unsettled
by the seeming juxtaposition of reactions between her two second
most senior officers, but is wasn't apparent as she turned back
to face the alien on the screen. For all intents and purposes,
to the eternal home of the Ayrethans." The alien seemed to
look at each member of the bridge crew for a moment before continuing,
"I am Speaker Mateth." He focused once again on Janeway,
his dark glowing eyes settling on her.
you, Speaker Mateth." Stepping easily into her role as a
diplomat, she stated, "I am Captain Kathryn Janeway of the
Federation Starship Voyager." She watched for any sign of
recognition, that perhaps this alien had already read their intentions.
Either these aliens weren't as forthcoming about their telepathic
abilities or they had none. "We're a peaceful people trying
to find a way back to our own home. Our ship has been damaged.
We would like to negotiate with you for supplies for our repairs
as well as shoreleave for the members of our crew who are most
watched Janeway for a few moments, "Of course, Captain. You
and your crew are welcome here. If you would like, we can transmit
the co-ordinates for you. You may bring whomever you wish Captain,
however we would request that both you and your second in command
at the very least join us on the surface for a tour of our cave
system. It is the pride and spiritual center of our people."
His eyes swept over the bridge crew again as if taking their measure.
"I can assure you your ship will not be further damaged while
in orbit around our planet."
you, Speaker." Janeway nodded, then looked towards Harry.
receiving co-ordinates now Captain," Harry said, answering
her unasked question.
beam down our landing party within an hour. Janeway out."
She turned to face Chakotay. "I'm glad they didn't have a
cloaking device of some sort, I was beginning to feel as though
we're trapped in some sort of intergalactic Brigadoon." She
could hear Tom's chortle behind her and she grinned herself.
new friends seem rather familiar, Captain." Chakotay offered
thoughtfully, not acknowledging Janeway's attempt at lightening
nodded with a back to business attitude, "Right down to offering
us a tour of their caves." She thought for a moment, "They
may be distant cousins of the Inryeth. Like the Vulcans and the
looked towards Janeway continuing speculatively, "And, like
the Romulans and the Vulcans, maybe one developed telepathy while
the other didn't."
Chakotay." Janeway wasn't sure of that yet, but didn't vocalize
her doubts. Instead, she set to the task at hand, preferring action
to guesswork. She met Chakotay's gaze evenly. "You and I
will lead one team, Tuvok will lead the second and Tom, you will
lead the third..."
eyebrow arched at her order. "Captain, it is contrary to
Starfleet protocol for the two most senior officers to be off
the ship at the same time..."
looked at her Vulcan friend and cut him off with a raised hand,
"I realize that Mr. Tuvok. I also realize that in ordering
you to the surface as well that I am removing the three most senior
officers from the bridge. Call it intuition and illogical, but
I believe Speaker Mateth when he says the ship will be safe here.
I want your impressions of the aliens we meet on the surface.
Besides I intend to leave Voyager in good hands." She turned
back to Chakotay and took in his slight grin; when he had not
responded to her earlier attempt at humor she had backed off,
but now she answered his grin with one of her own. "Chakotay,
please make the away team assignments. Mr. Kim, while we're gone,
you're minding the store."
turned slightly in his chair, internalizing his pride and pleasure
at the Captain's trust in him and nodded his head in acknowledgement,
smiled at Harry's calm, professional manner. The junior officer
doing his damnedest to live up to his promotion, very different
from the wet behind the ears Ensign on his first duty assignment
that she had met so long ago. In fact, it seemed ages since she'd
first met that eager young officer. She only allowed herself a
moment's introspection before shaking herself back to the present.
"I'll be in my ready room."
mentally assessed the teams assembled on the transporter pad while
they waited for the Captain to arrive. Tom, Icheb and Dalby were
going over their equipment, making a final inspection before beam
down. Tuvok stood impassively while Nicoletti and Vorik seemed
to be discussing the minerals and metals needed for the latest
round of repairs in Engineering. Wildman, the final member of
his and the Captain's team, seemed to be making fine adjustments
to her tricorder as he looked towards the door. Kathryn would
be the last to arrive, a few minutes late, so that no one would
be responsible for keeping the Captain waiting. Just as the thought
passed through his mind, the transporter room doors opened. 'Speak
of the devil...' leapt unbidden into his mind.
to keep you all waiting." She approached him with a smile.
handed her a tricorder and couldn't help but smile back. "Not
a problem, Captain." He motioned to the transporter pad,
"After you." He followed her up onto the platform, taking
looked over the others who had all come to a ready stance on the
pad, then with a slight nod from Chakotay she turned to the transporter
chief. "Beam us down, Mr. Mitchell."
familiar tingle of the transporter beam enveloped them and faded
away leaving them standing under the glaring daylight of the Ayrethan
planet. Janeway brought her hand up to shield her eyes as she
scanned their surroundings. Oddly shaped plant life with huge
colorful flowers surrounded them, and large rock structures that
seemed have been grown from the land surrounded them, reflecting
the light in rainbows that arched between them. The air was surprisingly
humid, though she couldn't see any water sources visible, the
light and heat would have made her guess this was a desert, but
it seemed more akin to a jungle from the feeling and scent of
plant life in the air.
here, Captain." Chakotay, who'd been looking in the opposite
direction from her, tapped her shoulder and redirected her attention
to four figures approaching from the north. As they got closer,
it was apparent that the leader was Speaker Mateth with three
other Ayrethans. They stopped a few meters away from the away
team, and only Mateth approached.
Captain Janeway of Voyager. Welcome to the eternal home of the
Ayrethans." The alien held out his hand palm forward, his
fingers bent slightly as though inviting inspection of his claws.
Janeway mimicked the gesture and Mateth smiled.
you, Speaker Mateth," Janeway acknowledged then began to
introduce the others around her. "My first officer, Commander
Chakotay." Chakotay nodded towards the alien and working
on instinct mimicked the movement as well. "Commander Tuvok,
Lieutenants Paris and Nicoletti, Ensigns Vorik, Dalby, and Wildman
and Icheb." Each of the others either nodded or mimicked
the greeting to the best of their ability as they were introduced.
"I hope it won't be an inconvenience for this many..."
course not, Captain," Mateth answered before she could finish.
"These ones have volunteered to be your guides." The
three other Ayrethans stepped forward. "Sutokh, Nalbet, and
Dokar." Janeway could make out differences between the Ayrethans
by slight variations in color, or height of their frill, but for
the most part, they looked surprisingly similar to each other
as they stepped forward to give her the same greeting as Mateth.
won't be joining us, Speaker?" Chakotay asked, his senses
alert in the unfamiliar landscape.
shrugged slightly, "If I did not have other duties to attend
to I would welcome the relaxation of a tour of the Sacred Caves,
unfortunately my path lies elsewhere for the moment. I will be
available to you when you return." Chakotay's eyes narrowed
as he watched the alien. While he did not feel as though there
was a threat, it did feel as though facts were being kept from
you, Speaker." Janeway answered, looking towards Chakotay
and silently ordering him to stand down. He could feel the command
in her gaze and a part of him wanted to rebel, to force her to
speak aloud, but his need for the fragile peace they were beginning
to weave between them won out and he stepped back.
stepped forward gracefully, the emerald color of his skin glowing
brightly. It was seemingly impossible to determine how much of
the glow was the light of the planet and how much was his own
natural incandescence. His frill waved slightly as he moved. "I
will lead you and your companions on a tour, Captain." He
gestured towards Nalbet and Dokar. "If you split your other
people into two other teams they will lead them. This way you
will all have a chance to see some portion of the grounds. It
is far too extensive to give you a full tour without making it
an overnight excursion." Janeway nodded slightly, indicating
to the other two team leaders to assemble their teams while Ensign
Wildman joined her and Chakotay. Her mind was busy processing
the fact that the Ayrethans had known to bring three guides, exactly
the number of parties she had in mind when the idea of a tour
was mentioned. Could it be simple coincidence or was it something
more? Her instincts told her that the Ayrethan who moved so purposefully
towards Tuvok's team was an engineer of some sort, since their
primary mission was to assess the possibility of obtaining the
repair materials Voyager needed. Sutokh's deep, almost purr-like
voice pulled her out of her thoughts and back to reality. "If
you would follow me Captain, I will show you and your team the
northern quadrant of the gardens."
watched for a moment as the other two teams were led off in separate
directions. Tuvok's team was heading for one of the large stone
pillars, while Tom's team followed their guide off into the west.
For a moment she felt some misgivings, but Chakotay's hand on
her shoulder brought her out of her silent musings once more.
"Of course, Sutokh." Kathryn smiled and motioned for
Sutokh to lead the way. The ground was soft beneath their feet,
a texture that even through their boots felt like either heavy
loam or moss. Lush plants, low to the ground in various shades
of blues and greens teamed around them, filling the air with a
heady perfume. "Your planet is very beautiful," she
spoke as they stepped out from the shadows that the monolithic
structures provided and was forced to shade her eyes once more,
"but its also very bright."
regarded the sky thoughtfully then looked at the three humans
who were carefully shielding their eyes, "I suppose it is.
I hadn't thought about it. It is lovely to bask under on a quiet
day though." He smiled disarmingly, "Soon we'll be beneath
the shade of the stalori again" he motioned towards the tall,
rock outcroppings, "and will remain so until we reach the
entrance to the holy grounds."
stalori, are they naturally occurring?" Janeway looked further
up the path they were taking where more of the monoliths towered
from the ground.
nodded, "Yes, they are the guardians to the entrances to
the Nashala, our holy grounds. You may enter them anytime you
had remained quiet up until now, merely observing the Ayrethan.
"Are all visitors granted access to the Nashala, Sutokh?"
seemed uncertain for an instant before schooling his features.
"We do not often have visitors, Commander Chakotay."
crooked his eyebrow at Janeway his expression clearly saying,
'A nice non-answer'. Despite what his expression conveyed to the
Captain, he continued. "They remind me of Hoo Doos from some
of Earth's deserts. Except much larger."
for the rainbows, I'd have to agree with you Commander."
Janeway smiled again at Sutokh as she regarded their surroundings
once more, for now ignoring Chakotay's non-verbal message, "I
must say the effect is rather breathtaking. Do you know what causes
fragments of crystal embedded in the surface of the stalori that
catch and refract the light." Sutokh stopped for a moment
to allow the team's eyes to readjust as they had just passed into
the shadows once again. "But I find the science of the effect
diminishes it some ways, do you not?" Sutokh's eyes sought
out Chakotay as he spoke and again Janeway felt the tingling along
the back of her neck, reminding her of her earlier suspicions.
The echo of something Chakotay might say and the Ayrethan seeking
the Commander out with his eyes was almost a confirmation for
her of their telepathic ability. "Earth? That is your people's
found herself giving Chakotay a half-hearted glare as he grinned
at the alien's question. "Not all my people. Some of my people
come from different worlds. Ensign Wildman and myself are from
Earth," she motioned to Wildman who smiled as she adjusted
her tricorder to take other readings, "but Commander Chakotay
is from a place called Trebus. Although his ancestors came from
people are travelers then." Sutokh spoke after walking in
silence for a few meters.
watched as Kathryn swept on the opportunity to push the alien
for more information like a kestrel on a sparrow. "Yes and
no." Sutokh looked at her again, seemingly curious. "We
are explorers but my people, the people on Voyager, have been
away for many years and we were swept away unwillingly on that
journey. Then just as we were almost home, we were brought here
through circumstances we couldn't control and we have no idea
where here is."
face regarded hers as though weighing facts in his mind, then
he spoke. "You are far from home once more, and yet not as
far as you were before."
looked towards Chakotay, relief and frustration playing in her
eyes. The Ayrethans did know something but he had to suppress
a grin at Kathryn's reaction to the cryptic answer. The scientist
in her liked facts, not puzzling riddles to be solved. Chakotay
gave her a quick glance, asking permission to try a different
method of questioning then she would employ. He caught her quick
'be my guest' glance that she threw his way. "This place.
This universe is completely different from our own."
exists outside," Sutokh answered still leading them further
amongst the monoliths though he didn't look at either Chakotay
or Janeway. Wildman regarded the Ayrethan oddly for a moment,
but Janeway grabbed the obscure remark. 'Outside, outside of what?'
her expression almost screamed. She turned her gaze on Chakotay
as if willing him to continue.
pondered his next statement for a moment, then spoke. "The
stars here are very strange."
place touches all time at once. So the light that is here is always
here. Yet it is outside of time." Sutokh's turned to face
both Janeway and Chakotay. Janeway's eyes opened wide as she analyzed
still passes." Chakotay continued to push.
here is an illusion. Outside of this place, all time exists. It
does not pass because this place touches all." Sutokh continued
at a leisurely pace, while Janeway's mind whirled with the possibilities.
The Bubble was outside of time, out of sync with the normal universe,
yet it touched all points along the time continuum in the normal
universe. She found herself understanding the cryptic remarks
with greater ease as the Ayrethan continued.
looked back at the Captain. Her face was the contorted into the
look of sheer concentration she got when studying a fascinating
puzzle. "This is your eternal home."
has always been here, it will always be here." Sutokh watched
naturally occurring Bubble universe that existed outside the normal
continuum of time. Kathryn, fascinated by the possibilities as
she put together all the pieces and already running through theories
on how something like this would occur and possible means of escape,
didn't notice that they had stopped in front of one of the monoliths.
entrance to the Nashala," Sutokh announced.
steps beneath their feet were well worn with age and the light
in the caverns seemed to be naturally occurring as he could not
discern any sort of artificial light source. These were the first
things that Tuvok noted as they walked further down the steps
into the Ayrethan's holy grounds. His musings were disturbed by
a sigh of relief from Lieutenant Nicoletti. Both he and Ensign
Vorik looked up at the same moment, scrutinizing their human companion.
She seemed to wilt somewhat under their attention before explaining,
"It's much cooler here, sir and the light isn't so hard on
Tuvok answered. While environmental conditions largely did not
concern him, he did welcome the relative heat and bright light
of the Ayrethan planet, despite the high humidity. A quirk in
Ensign Vorik's eyebrow indicated that the younger Vulcan felt
start scanning for the minerals we need for repairs, sir."
Nicoletti started calibrating her tricorder once more.
arched his eyebrow. "As this is a holy area for the Ayrethans,
it is illogical for us to scan for the mineral deposits we need
here, Lieutenant It would be unlikely for the inhabitants to allow
us to mine what we need from a place they consider spiritually
looked at Tuvok questioningly, if they couldn't do the scans for
the minerals they needed... then why were they there? Tuvok met
her gaze evenly; it was obvious that Lieutenant Torres did in
fact set the mood for the entire Engineering section, as it seemed
that all of Voyager's engineers had all picked up some of the
spoke up in a half whispered voice, "Actually we are in the
last caves of the holy ground in this area." He indicated
the furthest west wall. "If you scan in that direction you
may find the minerals you seek, and the Elders would likely grant
you permission to extract the substances from there."
watched the alien closely. Its body language did not lead the
security chief to believe any ill will, but it was becoming apparent
to him at least that the aliens were indeed keeping certain facts
from them. The guide spoke little, his movements were more efficient
than graceful - more than either Mateth's or Sutokh's - and he
seemed to know a great deal about the various minerals that Voyager's
engineers had been sent to gather. Tuvok added this observation
to everything else he had observed and spoke.
are an engineer for your people." It was a statement, not
a question, that Tuvok posed to the other.
nodded slightly, "Yes, my function would be closest akin
to one of your engineers."
analyzed this amongst the other observations he had made. Logic
dictated that it was not coincidence that his team of Engineers
would be guided by a local Engineer to a site that would allow
them to make detailed scans for the minerals that were required
without having made those needs known to the local government.
The Captain had not had any further conversation with Mateth after
the initial contact ensuring that he was in attendance both times
she had spoken with their contact within the government here.
encountered a race identical to your own a short time ago."
Tuvok watched the alien closely for a reaction. There was no overt
shock or surprise, it simply looked at him as if expecting him
to continue. "They called themselves the Inryeth."
stopped and regarded him for a moment with glowing eyes. "This
is our eternal home, so I would not have knowledge of others that
did not live here. It would be outside of my function, but perhaps
Speaker Mateth or one of the Elders would have more answers for
you in this regard."
Tuvok continued to walk alongside Nalbet as the engineers continued
scanning. "There was one significant difference between your
people and theirs." Nalbet regarded him again, obviously
having thought the subject to be closed. Tuvok continued without
expression, "Their people were openly telepathic."
to his credit did not show any outward signs of discomfort. His
movements remained unchanged, his crest still seemed to move slightly
in an unfelt breeze, and his color did not deepen or change in
anyway. However Tuvok sensed this was part of what was being held
back from them. Finally Nalbet spoke, "The difference is
not in the ability but in our willingness to share it."
security chief regarded the alien and nodded. "Your people
share an awareness of each other's consciousness and the consciousness
of others. It is reflexive, a part of us. It is not a conscious
effort to read each other or yourselves. It merely is." Nalbet
watched as Vorik and Nicoletti shared readings.
you have known our intentions and needs since we entered orbit."
looked at Tuvok, his expression open. "Our people would not
have welcomed you otherwise. Our eternal home would have been
barren to you."
Tuvok's eyebrow arched, the only outward sign of his alarm at
the far-reaching telepathic abilities the race seemed to possess
as a whole.
Tuvok," Vorik called as he approached, drawing Tuvok's attention
away from Nalbet. "Would it be possible for us to go further
into the cave system? We are reading what may be large deposits
of certain elements that have been on Lieutenant Torres' 'Wish
List' for some time. They are at the outside edge of our tricorder's
range from this location, however. If we were to go deeper into
the cave, we would be able to get a more definitive reading."
regarded the younger Vulcan coolly, "Are these elements critical
to the repairs to Voyager's propulsion and shields?"
sir," Vorik answered.
seemed to consider it carefully, "Have you located the mineral
deposits needed for the critical repairs at this point?"
Vorik nodded. "I am reluctant to extend our time here for
elements that are not currently critical to our situation."
elements are critical to proper maintenance of the replicators,
life support, and other systems aboard ship. While currently all
these systems are functioning within normal parameters, if we
are isolated in the Bubble for an extended duration it will be
necessary to perform the maintenance on these systems," Vorik
watched in fascination while the two Vulcans interacted. She had
asked Vorik to speak to Tuvok as she found the security chief
difficult to reason with. What would have been difficult for her,
seemed instinctual for Vorik as he calmly offered a logical reason
for their further scans and exploration. She smiled slightly as
Ensign." He turned back to Nalbet. "Would there be any
objection to us continuing to scan further into the subterranean
seemed to consider. "No. No objections. You are welcome to
whatever you may find within the caverns as long as all minerals
you need to extract are beyond the west wall."
well, we will continue deeper." Tuvok nodded to the two engineers
watching as they walked slowly down the tunnel, taking their scans.
regarded Tuvok, "I will return to the surface at this juncture.
This tunnel does not require a guide to go further, it has no
branches from it or dangers. When you wish to return simply come
back." Tuvok regarded him for a moment, judging for any deception.
In a moment he nodded his acceptance, deciding it was an act of
trust by Nalbet; trust that they would not desecrate their sacred
place in anyway. With that he turned and followed Nicoletti and
Vorik further into the caverns.
stood to the side running scans on the various plant life, watching
while Tom and Icheb walked the central garden with the Aryethan.
He grinned as he watched the pair interact with the alien. Tom
Paris had spent too much time with Janeway in his opinion, by
the look of rapt fascination he was giving the alien. 'Apple doesn't
fall too far from the tree,' Dalby grinned. For all of Paris'
problems previous to Voyager, Janeway had transformed him into
a right proper Starfleet Officer. Dalby shook his head ruefully
as he considered himself, 'And you're not the only one, Paris.'
On the other hand, Icheb looked as though he'd rather be anywhere
but wandering through a flower patch listening to an overgrown,
glowing frilled lizard. 'Ah well kid, you want to be Starfleet,
get used to plastering a happy face on.'
watched, as Dokar seemed to glide across the mossy path under
their feet. The brilliant green of his skin contrasting with the
light gold of his frill as it glistened in the sun. The Aryethans
were fascinating to look at and Dokar was interesting to listen
to. At first, the conversation had lulled whenever Tom asked a
direct question, so now he just listened while Dokar extolled
the wonders of his planet only occasionally offering comment or
praise on a subject already broached. "The gardens are certainly
beautiful and the light show is spectacular." He gestured
at the rainbows of light that seemed to jump from building to
naturally occurring phenomena that has been harnessed as part
of our technology." Dokar continued speaking. "That
same light is used to light the holy caves that run beneath the
gardens. The basis for our technology is our planet. They exist
together, one nourishing the other. It is very ancient, and even
our best minds do not fully understand how it works." As
they walked along admiring the flora, a light silence fell over
the group again.
Paris, did you fly with Nova Squadron when you were at the Academy?"
Icheb broke the silence.
non sequitur caught Paris off guard as he looked at the young
Borg, and slowed so that they would fall back from Dokar. "Uh,
yeah, I did. Why do you ask Icheb?"
am considering trying out for the Squadron when I enter the Academy,"
Icheb answered, obviously bored with his surroundings.
grinned slightly, remembering when he was impatient with anything
that wasn't exciting, then froze as he realized what he was doing.
Giving himself a mental shake, he focused his attention on the
boy. "Get through first year first, Icheb. You can't even
try out for Nova Squadron until your second year and most people
don't get on the team until the second time they've tried out."
understand this Lieutenant. However, my best chance of performing
at optimum efficiency when I do try out is to have trained with
one of Starfleet's finest pilots." Icheb persisted.
full grin broke out over Tom's face at Icheb's flattery, "Chakotay
already spoke to me about creating some advanced training scenarios
for you. I should be able to come up with a few that will give
you an edge. However, right now we have duties to perform."
you, Lieutenant." Icheb seemed satisfied and nodded. "Yes,
shook his head, wondering how he had ever gotten to this point,
then picked up his pace to catch up with the lithe, whipcord muscled
alien. The alien nodded understandingly as Tom resumed his position
beside Dokar as the alien continued his dissertation on their
technology. "Even our cloaking device is part of the planet,
which is how it can mask the life signatures of all that are on
indeed, Captain.' Tom shook his head as he took in this information.
"Many of the races we've encountered have similar cloaking
nodded, "It is necessary in this realm. More so for us, as
we are a purely peaceful people. Even amongst ourselves there
has been no discord for so long an age that we can no longer remember
a time when there was."
stirred from his boredom at this and looked at the alien critically.
"Do your people belong to a hive mind of some sort?"
Tom looked at Icheb sternly as Dokar shook his head but Icheb
pressed on. "Then a group of individuals with no disagreements
among them is highly improbable. Even on Voyager where the crewmembers
are at ease and familiar with one another, there are minor conflicts.
We are very much a family unit, yet even those closest to each
other will argue. What you propose is possible within a collective,
such as an ant hill, bee hive or the Borg, but amongst individuals
it is not." Icheb stopped when he felt the firm grip of Lieutenant
Paris' hand on his shoulder and looked up into his displeased
you would excuse us for a moment, Dokar," Tom said politely
as he steered Icheb back towards Dalby. Speaking so only Icheb
would hear, "I don't care how improbable something is, Icheb,
you don't basically call your guide a liar to his face when you're
on an away mission." Tom winced internally, he was going
to hear about this from the Captain. This was as big a diplomatic
faux paux as some of Seven's comments had been when she first
came to them - but then at least she had been confined to Voyager
for the most part. "Dalby, keep an eye on him while I go
handle some damage control. We'll beam up momentarily, I think
the other teams have things well in hand."
grinned, knowing from the look on Paris' face that Icheb had stepped
on someone's toes. He watched as Paris returned to the alien to
make their apologies and explain their quick retreat. He set his
hand on Icheb's shoulder. The boy looked confused at being reprimanded.
"Don't worry about it, kid," Dalby offered with an easy
grin. "Some of us just can't dance the dance of a diplomat.
I know I can't stand to hear a load of whatever they're handing
returned momentarily. "Not too much damage done anyway. "
Paris tapped his combadge. "Paris to Janeway."
Captain's disembodied voice hung in the air. "Janeway here,
go ahead Tom."
team is returning to the ship, Captain. We've secured an agreement
for those of the crew most in need to come down for some shoreleave.
I don't think there is any damage left for us to do down here."
'Almost literally' he thought as he looked at Icheb.
right." Tom could hear the amusement in her voice as she
spoke. "Good work and we'll see you in a while. Janeway out."
that connection closed Tom tapped his combadge again. "Paris
to Voyager. Three to beam up. Lock onto my co-ordinates."
A moment later the familiar whine and tingle of the transporter
beam enveloped all of them.
voice from Kathryn's communicator had interrupted Sutokh. She
held up her hand to the Ayrethan for a moment as Tom explained
what his team had accomplished and asked for permission to return
to Voyager in his own oblique way. Once the channel was cleared,
Kathryn couldn't keep the smile off her face. "I don't think
he could stand being away from B'Elanna and Miral that long."
answered Kathryn's grin with one of her own. "I had a hard
time pulling a full duty shift on Voyager when Naomi was that
watched them with a smile. "Your people understand well the
joy of having young and embrace it."
watched as Kathryn's grin became slightly less genuine and she
once again took a step behind the protective shield that was her
Captain's persona. Speculating on the reason why she retreated
had been one of his pitfalls in the past, so he pushed it aside.
Instead Chakotay focused on the stalori ahead of him and the glittering
light they seemed to emit. With a start, his vision discerned
the familiar symbols carved into the side. "Captain."
Kathryn's attention was immediately draw to him and she came to
stand beside him, inspecting the symbols closely as he ran his
tricorder over them.
looked at Chakotay as she arched one of her eyebrows as she drew
her fingers over the indentations. "They're the same."
ancient marks interest you then?" Sutokh seemed mildly amused.
turned to Sutokh again. "They were put here by your people?"
are older than I remember," Sutokh answered.
turned back to Chakotay, almost rolling her eyes. She liked asking
a direct question and getting a straight answer, which was something
that just didn't seem to happen on this planet. Chakotay set a
gentle hand on her shoulder and nodded reassuringly.
marks seem as old as the stalori." Chakotay stated as he
turned and watched Sutokh impassively.
smiled. "They are as old as the memory of my people."
almost laughed when he saw Kathryn turn away and look briefly
into the heavens, as though pleading with the powers for help
to understand their enigmatic new friends. For him it was no more
frustrating then speaking to his own spirit guide and he had a
sudden flash of insight into what Kathryn communing with her own
guide must have been like and a light chuckle escaped him.
attention was on him in an instant and one of the glares she normally
reserved for Mr. Paris at his worst was leveled at him. The tension
was palpable for a moment, they were still both on a hair trigger
where the other was concerned. Chakotay rationalized with himself
that his laugh had set Kathryn off, but he still felt the tell-tale
flare of anger that she would react that way to him.
it was Ensign Wildman who came to their rescue. "Captain.
Commander." She purposefully made eye contact with both of
them in order to break their concentration on the other. "If
you like I could take the readings of the markings back to the
ship and start the process of analyzing them while you continue
you, Ensign." Janeway spoke a moment later. The tone of thanks
was genuine, and while the tension was still between herself and
Chakotay, Sam had diffused the explosiveness. Wildman approached
Chakotay and they set their tricorders to transfer data. Moments
later Ensign Wildman was on her way back to Voyager, leaving Janeway
and Chakotay to their own devices.
watched the pair eyeing each other warily and stepped forward.
"Perhaps you would like to investigate our sacred caves now."
He gestured towards the entrance way in the base of the monolith.
"As you said Captain Janeway, it is hot and bright here.
The caves are cool and soothing. I am certain you would enjoy
the experience. "
eyes brightened at the prospect of exploring the sacred caves,
her adventurous spirit coming to the forefront once again. She
looked at Chakotay who smiled slightly at her.
Kathryn's 'kid in a candy shop' reaction to the idea of exploring
the caves swept him along with it, despite the current state of
unrest between them. His own interests in anthropology compelled
him as well. "Are there any prohibitions we should be aware
of before we go, Sutokh?"
Sutokh smiled. Janeway was approaching the entrance, and she already
had one leg through the waist height hole in the side of the monolith
before Chakotay could come to her side, taking her hand to brace
her as she started to slide inside.
over at the waist, her hair starting to fall over face, she looked
up at Sutokh. "You aren't coming with us?"
is no need for me to guide you there. Just follow the stairs down.
There is only one direction in and out, and it is quite safe.
I will wait for you here." Sutokh watched as Janeway disappeared
into the hole completely.
looked towards Sutokh. "Thank you. We'll keep in regular
contact with our ship and be back here in a couple of hours."
Sutokh nodded in answer. "Can you move down a couple of steps,
Captain?" Chakotay called through the hole, then after a
moment swung his legs inside and followed her into the dim light
within the monolith.
the rabbit hole, Chakotay." Kathryn's playful quip seemed
to be an indication that she was doing her best to ignore the
tension that still flared between them.
bowed slightly, "After you, Alice." Kathryn grinned
and moved down the stairs.
watched as Vorik and Nicoletti continued taking their readings.
They had confirmed two of the more rare elements from a list of
Voyager's more long-term needs were in fact present in abundance.
Tuvok, in an effort to make his time more productive since both
the engineers insisted that they did not require his assistance,
slipped into a light meditative trance, reflecting on their present
predicament and the Aryethans.
flash of light pulled him from the trance state and he found himself
standing in a hallway, in what was unmistakably Starfleet Headquarters
facing Seven of Nine and Captain Janeway. "Perhaps, Captain,
it would be prudent if I escorted Seven of Nine back to her quarters."
He could hear himself speaking yet had no ability to effect what
he said. It was akin to the dream state that Vulcans went into
every night to process the day's memories.
won't make a difference here, Tuvok," Janeway shook her head.
"As long as she's within the confines of Headquarters she'll
be fine." Janeway turned her gaze back out towards San Francisco
light flashed before his eyes and he was once again in the caves,
once again observing the two engineers working. Tuvok moved forward.
"Did either of you experience an anomaly in the last two
sir," Vorik turned and started to scan Tuvok for any residual
effects. "I am noting a slight increase in chroniton radiation,
however it is not as prominent as we have detected during other
temporal incursions and it is dissipating at a much more rapid
pace than we have seen previously in either the Alpha or the Delta
you finished with your scans?" Tuvok asked. Both the engineers
should be able to get everything we'll need to repair and maintain
the Voyager's systems for the next six months under normal circumstances."
Nicoletti seemed to run through some calculations in her head,
"If we keep running into the Sernaix at the same rate, it'll
Tuvok arched his eyebrow at the young engineer, "Then I suggest
we return to Voyager. We need to investigate the cause of the
temporal distortion." Tapping his combadge, Nicoletti and
Vorik arranged themselves in the standard pattern behind him.
"Tuvok to Voyager."
here, sir. All systems are nominal. It's a bit early for your
second check in, sir, is there a problem?" Harry inquired.
has been a temporal distortion of an indeterminate nature, Lieutenant.
What is the status of the away teams?" Tuvok waited for the
Paris' team returned over a half hour ago with the Captain's permission.
Ensign Wildman returned to Voyager shortly after that to analyze
some evidence the Captain's party found. The Captain and the Commander
remained on the surface, made their last check in and are currently
somewhere within the cave system about ten kilometers from your
current position." Harry gave his summary and awaited further
prepare to beam us up," Tuvok straightened into an 'at ease'
stance waiting for the transporter beam to envelop him.
passed before Harry continued somewhat apologetically, "Commander,
we can't get a proper transporter lock on you. You aren't that
far underground, but there is definitely interference. We get
life sign readings for both your team and the Captain and the
Commander, but we can't get a lock."
we will proceed to the surface. Await our next communication,"
Tuvok advised as he nodded towards the other two.
sir." Harry acknowledged, "Should I contact the Captain
and the Commander?"
contemplated it for a moment. "Negative, Lieutenant. Until
we have a more definitive answer for what may have occurred I
am reluctant to advise the Captain of it."
sir. Kim out."
the connection clicked off, Tuvok started down the tunnel at a
jog, Vorik easily pacing him. With a sigh and a shake of her head,
out these holo-simulations, Icheb," Tom handed the young
Borg a pad with several file names listed on it. "Safeties
on. They'll give you a good start until I have a chance to customize
some scenarios for you."
nodded, "Thank you Lieutenant. Especially after..."
don't make me explain it to you again, Icheb," Tom smiled.
"I'll take care of the Captain." Icheb nodded and headed
off in search of a free holodeck. Tom felt strong hands pull him
close, then wrap around his waist as teeth nipped the tender spot
against the back of his neck. Tom grinned unable to resist the
temptation. "Jenny, I told you. Not in messhall, B'Elanna
might catch us."
B'Elanna growled then bit him slightly harder. "You're lucky
Jenny is holding Miral for me." She looked in the direction
Icheb had gone. "So, what was all that about?"
diplomacy," Tom answered as he turned around to face his
wife then caught her arm.
brow furrowed, "Borg diplomacy? What's that?"
Tom answered and was promptly shoved. "Icheb challenged the
probability of one of the things our hosts said down there. He
didn't exactly understand the idea of just letting something lie."
rolled her eyes. "When has any Borg understood that?"
Tom shook his head as they walked to where the Delaney sisters
sat holding Miral. He knew it was mainly reflex for his wife to
lash out at Seven now, but it was still amusing.
to daddy," Tom said, taking Miral from Jenny's arms with
a smile. The twins smiled at Tom and shook their heads before
excusing themselves and walking away. "What was that about?"
to worry about helmboy," B'Elanna sat across from Tom as
he slid into the booth still cuddling Miral to him. "So,
how was the planet?"
bright and muggy," Tom said as he tickled Miral's tummy.
"With huge gardens, and these rock towers that create rainbows.
Like something out of a fairy tale." B'Elanna smiled at the
picture he painted. "You know he who negotiates the shore
leave, gets the spoils. I checked and Chakotay put us all on the
first round of shoreleave rotation and the Ayrethans said we could
start sending people down anytime." Tom stood up, holding
Miral close and held out his hand to B'Elanna. "So what do
you say? The weather would probably agree with you both."
shouldn't we wait until the Captain and Chakotay come back?"
B'Elanna was trying to stop herself from giving in to the impulse
that Tom was planning.
shook his head and grinned. "No, in fact the Commander asked
me advise those on the top of the list that they could start their
leave time as soon as it was negotiated."
what are we waiting for?" B'Elanna asked, pulling him towards
the messhall doors. "It had better be as nice as you say
it is Tom. After all this is the first planet our daughter will
have ever been on."
caves are amazing, Chakotay." Kathryn was running her tricorder
along the walls. "The mineral content, the precious stones,
not to mention the light that radiates from the walls. It has
to be a function of the light refracting at the surface. There
are no generators down here, no power sources I can read."
watched her as she moved from wall to wall, tapping settings into
her tricorder, almost prancing as she moved. It was the most animated
he had seen her in months and he was loath to interfere, but it
couldn't be helped. "Captain, we're already far too deep.
We should head back now otherwise we'll be late for when we agreed
to meet Sutokh."
a little further, Chakotay." Kathryn turned to him. "This
is too fascinating to leave just yet." Her eyes pleaded with
him to just give in gracefully and not make her make it an order.
took a deep breath, "All right. You're the Captain."
Chakotay saw her spine stiffen slightly and regretted his words:
even though he hadn't meant the last comment as a jibe, it was
obvious that she had taken it as such. He came behind her and
settled his hand on her shoulder, "That wasn't meant as it
might have sounded, Captain."
turned and looked him in the eyes. She nodded her acceptance of
the apology. "Don't you wish you could sometimes just know
exactly what the other person meant without having to interpret
it?" she asked, cocking her head to the side. She grinned
crookedly at him before moving further down the passageway, scanning
intently as she went. Chakotay sighed. Things were getting better
- he just had to keep believing that. "Chakotay, I've found
looked forward to find that the tunnel curved and that Kathryn
was already out of sight around it. He jogged quickly towards
the sound of her voice. "What is it Captain?" She was
crouched in front of the wall, running her finger along an invisible
line followed closely by her tricorder.
a entrance, Chakotay." Kathryn was busily taking readings
from the wall, her entire attention focused between her tricorder
and the wall. "I'm working on how to open it."
are you sure it's wise? These are the Ayrethans' sacred grounds."
Chakotay's voice was stern.
Chakotay." Kathryn's tone didn't change. She was still caught
up in the excitement of her find. There was an audible pop and
the wall shimmered out of existence, leaving a black void behind
it. Scanning the interior from the door she announced, "It's
clear." She looked back at Chakotay. "It's a secret
chamber. Don't you want to explore it?"
smiled and shook his head. "It'll be hard to explore in pitch
blackness." His tone was teasing. Kathryn arched her eyebrow
and reached inside intending to run her hand along the inside
edge of the door. As soon as her hand crossed into the darkness,
a soft glow started in the air around her hand, then stretching
out from there.
turned a triumphant grin on her first officer. "Come on Chakotay.
Sutokh did say it was completely safe." Chakotay nodded and
followed close behind as she stepped into the chamber, still scanning.
"This is amazing. The tricorder can't detect any sort of
device that would be causing the glow. The way it started you
would think it would be a reaction between our bodies and the
atmosphere in here, but there isn't any indication of any change
other than the light in the room. The tricorders sensors must
not be sensitive enough to pick it up. I'm going to try recalibrating
watched over her shoulder for a few moments, watching her recalibrate
the tricorder. Then he moved deeper into the room, running his
hand against the smoothness of the stone. "This doesn't feel
natural. No imperfections." A cold chill ran up his spine,
Janeway was completely silent. Spinning back towards her, she
was standing still, staring at the wall that had once been the
kept her vision focused on the entrance to the stalori, she could
see in the far distance, keeping her mind focused on her goal
rather than the pain that was building within her limbs. She hadn't
realized how far they had gone until Tuvok had started their forced
jog back towards the surface. Managing to keep pace with the Vulcans
had proved difficult, but she'd done it, even if she was still
behind them by several meters. Being behind them however, provided
her with the perfect view of Tuvok suddenly stiffening and falling
Tuvok," her voice echoed in the caves as she sprinted to
his side, pulling out her tricorder as she did. Vorik skidded
to a halt and came to crouch along side her.
temporal incursion?" Vorik asked.
nodded her head, "Chroniton radiation level is slight but
it's there. Something's happening, whether we can see it or not."
She snapped her tricorder shut and took command of the situation.
"Let's get him to the surface, we can contact Voyager from
there. The sooner he's in Sickbay, the happier I'll be."
Lieutenant." Vorik arranged Tuvok's body then pulled him
into a fireman's carry setting out after the Lieutenant who was
already moving down the corridor at an excelerated pace.
the wall for the fifth time and finding nothing, Janeway started
recalibrating her tricorder. "Captain... Kathryn." She
whirled on him. "How many more times are you going to recalibrate
your tricorder? It's not like your replicator, you know. It's
not out to get you." He smiled at her disarmingly.
stopped for a moment and ran her fingers through her hair, her
tone fraught with frustration. "We can't contact the ship,
Chakotay, and we're trapped."
miss check in in about fifteen minutes, Kathryn." Chakotay
watched her closely from his comfortable position against the
wall. "Harry will try to raise us, he won't be able to and
they'll come looking. We'll be back aboard Voyager in time for
Chell's Warp Core Chili." Kathryn turned her back towards
him and continued to work on her tricorder.
stomach was twisting in knots. Everything Chakotay said was making
perfect sense, but her body almost tingled with the sensation
that if she didn't get out now, something terrible was going to
happen. Her hands trembled as she continued recalibrating her
tricorder. 'Come on Kathryn. You're being stupid. Pull yourself
together. It's just you and Chakotay.' She shuddered as that thought
passed through her mind. 'Harry will realize that we need help
in a few minutes and will have you out of here in no time.' She
tried to summon the steady nerve and strength of her Captain persona
to the forefront and found there seemed to be nothing to cling
watched with growing frustration as Kathryn blocked him out once
again to go through the motions of working with her tricorder.
Anxiety laced tension filled the small chamber, and Chakotay could
feel his ire rising. He took several deep breaths to center himself
then stood, moving behind her. "Kathryn, you yourself said
that Sutokh said it was perfectly safe. Come sit..." His
hand grazed her arm, causing an almost electrical sensation to
pass between them.
at the sensation, Kathryn's eyes widened and she took a step back
from him. The sensation to flee was almost unbearable. "Commander."
Her voice was harsh with fear.
narrowing at the use of his title and the tone of her voice, his
hand shot out, intending to restrain her, hold her here to face
him. Skin met skin, and a sensation like a whisper of wind ran
from the point of contact up over their arms and spread out across
their bodies, making them shiver with the rush.
pulled away her hand as though it had been burned, turning it
palm up to inspect where he touched. As though she expected to
find it raw and bleeding. Her spine stiffened, and she turned
back towards the wall, concentrating intently on the tricorder
readings in front of her, her mind still reeling and not truly
comprehending what she was focusing on.
reigned as Chakotay stood, watching her go through the motions
once again. "You're afraid of being trapped in here with
me, aren't you?"
turned back slowly, the hairs on the back of her neck standing
as she faced him. His eyes bore into her, as though he was reading
her very soul with his gaze. She stood, uncomfortable under his
scrutiny. Their eyes met and she took an involuntary step back,
her conscious mind retreating from what her subconscious already
knew. "Chakotay..." She shut her eyes trying to block
the unfamiliar thoughts, memories and feelings that threatened
to overwhelm her. His thoughts, his memories, his feelings...
she knew them all instinctually, just as hers were with him.
stretched as she returned from her walk around the upper gardens.
Tom was holding Miral so she could see the rainbows that arced
from the stone towers. "...And so the great queen declared
the warrior princess her heir to the great sky kingdom and they
all lived happily ever after." She could hear her husband's
voice floating through the gardens as he spun a tale for his daughter.
you know Janeway has promised Voyager to Naomi. So, don't you
go and get Miral's hopes up." B'Elanna teased as she rejoined
them in the lower gardens.
your break?" Tom asked as B'Elanna retrieved Miral from his
thank you." She knit her fingers with his as they started
to walk the lower gardens once again. "I owe you one, Helmboy.
I can't think of a nicer planet to be Miral's first."
stared out into the bright sky, avoiding thinking and saying the
obvious. His attention was drawn back with a gentle squeeze on
his hand to his wife's understanding smile. "The scent of
these plants is heavenly. Between them and the sun, I could curl
up and take a nap. I wonder if Captain Janeway would let us bring
some into hydroponics? Or maybe T'Pel could use some of them in
the garden she's working on."
don't see why not." Tom had focused on a patch of what looked
like dark blue lilies when he felt a flash of light.
was still in a garden, but B'Elanna and Miral were no longer beside
him. A little girl stood before him holding out a flower. She
seemed to be offering it to someone standing beside him, but he
couldn't make himself turn to see who it was. Then the flash enveloped
B'Elanna sounded bemused. "If you like those so much we'll
make sure T'Pel gets some for the garden... You don't have to
try to burn their image into your retinas."
looked back at the flowers, shaken by the experience, but threw
it off to face his wife. "Of course not, the only image I
want burned into my retina is your lovely face."
snorted and looked down at her daughter. "Whatever you do,
don't fall for a charmer like your father. Even after they have
you they don't give up with the inane comments."
you married me to shut me up?" Tom gave B'Elanna a mock hurt
she let go of his hand and wandered deeper into the garden. "That
was the general idea, Helmboy." She cast a backward glance
at him smiling wickedly and winking.
filled the garden as Tom sprinted to her and caught her hand in
his own once again.
emerged from the stalori, immediately turning to help pull Tuvok
through the opening. Settling him on the ground, she stood, turning
away and tapped her combadge. "Nicoletti to Voyager. We need
an emergency transport to Sickbay. Commander Tuvok collapsed in
here." Harry's voice was edged with concern. "Prepare
will not be necessary, Lieutenant." Nicoletti turned back
to find Tuvok slowly lifting himself from the ground. "It
would appear that another temporal anomaly has occurred. After
I lost consciousness I was inundated with vivid memories. Memories
of events I do not believe have occurred yet."
memories, sir, or dreams?" Harry's disembodied voice asked
eyebrow arched, "I would say memories, Lieutenant. Why do
I've had some vivid 'dreams' since we came into this sector of
space, Commander. Since just before we met with the Iryneth."
Harry seemed uncertain, "I've no idea if it's related at
Tuvok's eyebrow arched, "I suspect that Commander Chakotay's
theory that the Iryneth and the Aryethans are related does indeed
have merit beyond what we first suspected, however proving it
may be most difficult, if not impossible. Our experiences could
indeed be related. I must contact the Captain." Tuvok tapped
his combadge, "Tuvok to Janeway." Silence met his hail.
"Tuvok to Janeway, please respond." Tuvok remained seemingly
impassive. "Tuvok to Kim."
can not hail the Captain. Can Voyager bring their life signs up
on sensors?" Tuvok arched his eyebrow, analyzing possible
situations and outcomes.
sir." Tuvok could here carefully hidden panic at the edges
of the newly promoted Lieutenant's voice.
of cause for concern, Lieutenant, any further response to this
at this point is a waste of resources. There are any number of
reasons that the sensors are no longer reading the Captain and
the Commander. Until we have evidence to the contrary, I suggest
we focus our efforts on determining their current situation."
Tuvok responded to the tone of Harry's voice with quiet re-assurance.
"As a precaution, however please contact and retrieve all
parties currently on the surface." The away team assembled
themselves behind Tuvok. "Three to beam up, Lieutenant."
I know why Q calls you Chuckles," Kathryn's eyes blazed as
she turned on her erstwhile first officer who was comfortably
seated against the wall of their prison cell, laughing occasionally.
She turned back to the wall that had let them in, trying one last
time to find a trigger to make it open once again. It was becoming
painfully obvious that she was just going to have to sit back
and wait to be rescued as Chakotay was. She growled a bit. She
hated waiting. Chakotay laughed. Again. She grinned evilly and
started to sing in her mind.
Chakotay winced, "You are the only person I know who sings
off key in her own head and you should be ashamed of yourself
for knowing a song like that."
who intrude on other people's privacy deserve what they get,"
Kathryn hissed at him and turned away once more.
shrugged, "I can't help it Kathryn. It's like they're my
a two way street, Chakotay and I'm not reading yours." Kathryn
backed up against the opposite wall sliding down it, hugging her
knees to her chest and looking at the floor. There were sounds
of movement, then Chakotay's booted feet came to a stop in front
wish you would," Chakotay's gentle voice invited her. She
looked up, pushing her fears behind a shield of anger even though
she knew it wouldn't help. Not anymore. Hand extended, he smiled
down at her. Swallowing hard, she reached up, angry with herself
that she couldn't stop the nervous tremble in her arm as she took
his hand. She closed her eyes as the initial rush of foreign memories
flooded her mind. When she re-opened her eyes Chakotay was seated
cross-legged in front of her, still holding her hand.
first thing that struck her was how odd it was to see the same
memory from two separate perspectives. The memory that stuck out
in her mind though was one she didn't share. "Barriers we
never cross..." Her eyes went wide. "You were in the
past." She was immediately uncomfortable with the attraction
that was so evident in her younger self's eyes and the apparent
disappointment when he had spoken those words. From a Kathryn
still engaged to Mark not yet lost in the Delta Quadrant. She
had always told herself that it was the circumstances that had
fueled their attraction, but now that seemed unlikely. She decided
to focus on his thoughts during the incident instead. "You
wanted to tell her something else."
I didn't." Chakotay answered evenly.
nodded. "No, you didn't."
started to chuckle again. "Mating behavior... You meant that
when you said it. First that song, now mating behavior, next thing
you know I'll find out you meant the stick comment to sound as
racy as it did." The blush rose high in Kathryn's cheeks
and she looked away as she cursed her fair complexion, "Kathryn
Janeway, you have a dirty mind."
Her voice was stern, but there was a twinkle in her eye that he
hadn't seen in some time. She relaxed somewhat, just allowing
the thoughts to flow.
winced at the heartache he felt when he uncovered another memory.
"You meant that too. That you couldn't imagine a day without
Kathryn answered. "I shouldn't have said that out loud."
They both felt the stab of pain that went through Chakotay at
that comment and immediately felt the regret from Kathryn that
followed. Their eyes widened as they took in the impact of the
situation and their feelings.
frightened you with the Equinox incident." Kathryn looked
ashamed. "I nearly lost your trust that day. Your friendship."
scared yourself too," Chakotay said, meeting her gaze. "And
we rebuilt from that." He smiled slightly. "Despite
what happened, Teero didn't shake your trust in me."
wasn't you Chakotay. I wouldn't hold you responsible for actions
that weren't your own." Kathryn's gaze was level, and the
link between them reverberated with the truth of her statement.
"Can you believe that we nearly fell for Seven's insane conspiracy
shook his head. "Seems far fetched now doesn't it."
always about trust with us, isn't it, Chakotay?" Her voice
softened as she said his name this time. The way she used to before,
when trust had been easily and almost instinctually given to one
was the one who nearly broke our trust permanently." Chakotay's
eyes search hers. Silence sat between them heavily before he started
to speak again. "The Admiral told you about Seven and I."
Chakotay could feel Kathryn's pain. "I'm sorry. As your friend
I should have been the one to tell you. I should have trusted
you." Kathryn seemed to back up against the wall harder as
these memories came to the forefront. This wound, though he could
feel that she believed him when he said it was over, was still
fresh. It needed healing.
is an intriguing young woman." Kathryn seemed to fold up
into herself. "No Kathryn," he squeezed her hand gently.
"Listen please." She nodded still uncomfortable with
the situation and the subject matter. "I have to admit that
the idea that she would choose me to explore that aspect of her
humanity with was an ego boost." He smiled self depreciatingly.
"It was more than that though. Her intelligence, her curiosity,
her willingness to explore. Those things about Seven called to
me. You had encouraged me to move on so many times, and I had
finally allowed myself to fully comprehend how serious you were
about not having a shipboard romance."
lost hope." Kathryn stated flatly.
head came up sharply. "You didn't."
had implied that you felt you were under the same restrictions
as I was about a shipboard romance. I assumed that that would
apply to Seven as well even though she didn't have a rank."
Kathryn found the courage to look him in the eye as she spoke.
"I assumed that you would always be there."
was always by your side, Kathryn. Even when you didn't let yourself
see that I was," Chakotay answered backing his claim up with
know. I've always known." Kathryn took a deep breath, "It
just wasn't the same once I knew you were with Seven. Some part
of what we had was lost and I didn't know I'd miss it until it
was too late."
wrapped his other hand over hers, holding her gaze with his own.
"I care for you Kathryn, you know that."
strode onto the bridge. "Report."
continued to run scans for the Captain and the Commander. None
of them have been successful." Harry moved from the Captain's
chair to his position at ops. "However when the last of the
crew beamed off the planet we did a narrow beam search for human
DNA. All scans were negative. Which would indicate that whatever
their status currently is, our scans are being blocked by either
technological or natural means."
eyebrow arched, "An interesting method of deduction, Lieutenant."
He nodded in approval.
just got the readings your team took while they were down there
Commander." B'Elanna spoke as she strode off the turbolift,
with Tom not far behind her. "Any number of these metals
and minerals in this concentration around the Captain and Chakotay
would block our sensors."
Tuvok rose. "Lieutenant Kim, you have the bridge. Lieutenants
Torres and Paris, I take it Miral is being cared for."
T'Pel actually, sir. She intercepted us on the way here,"
good, you are both with me then. We will take a class two excavation
phaser with us." Tuvok walked up the ramp towards the turbolift.
weapons then, Sir," Tom interpreted the order as they followed
Tuvok into the lift once again.
nodded curtly, "I do not believe there will be any call for
your gut instinct is it, Tuvok?" Tom quipped with a grin.
eyebrow rose only slightly.
leaned to the side. "You're losing your touch."
watched impassively as three Starfleet officers materialized in
front of him. Two were familiar from the original group beamed
down as the leaders from the other two teams. "Commander
Tuvok, Lieutenant Paris. May I be of assistance to you?"
He regarded the third mildly - a young woman carrying some sort
of backpack-mounted beam generator.
approached and nodded slightly. "Greetings, Sutokh. We have
lost contact with our commanding officers. When was the last time
you had contact with them?"
Ayrethan's expression did not change. "We have never been
out of contact with them." He nodded after a moment and responded,
"I will lead you to them. They have seen enough."
Chakotay, I cannot accept this." Kathryn paced in front of
him. "Whatever this is. How am I supposed to function with
you in my thoughts?"
seem to manage fine," Chakotay grinned. "Besides, this
may only be a function of the caves. Once we leave them or maybe
even this area, the link could fade."
case scenario, what if it doesn't? For Vulcans it is an extremely
different circumstance." Chakotay's eyes caught hers and
she drew in a swift intake of breath. The meaning beneath her
words carried more weight than the words themselves.
survive, Kathryn. We always do. We might even flourish. It could
be of tactical advantage someday." Chakotay watched as she
stopped and turned towards him. He reached out towards her, "For
once Kathryn, accept what life has dealt you." Beneath the
words was a plea for more than acceptance of the link.
hands moved instinctively in front of her, their position meant
to hold him back. "No, Chakotay. This can't be. We're still
in the same position as before if not a worse one. This can't
happen. It shouldn't happen. I still have to get my crew home."
had never swayed her before, but for now there was no need for
words. Chakotay caught her hand with his own, knitting their fingers
together in a mirror of a long ago memory they both shared. No
words flowed now, only pure feeling enhanced by the gesture of
was certain her heart had stopped - but then it was pounding in
her ears once again, the rush of pure emotion rolling over her
like waves. Words she could deflect, but this rushed past all
her carefully built shields. She had never been good with emotions.
She wasn't certain where his feelings began and hers ended anymore.
Only one certainty remained. He was going to kiss her. She could
see him bending down towards her, and feel herself arching up
towards him. No matter how many times she told herself this shouldn't
happen, or how many times she told him that it couldn't happen.
The only fact that remained was that it was happening.
sudden rumble broke the hold they had on one another. The rock
was beginning to heat up. Chakotay gently released her hand with
a smile. "Told you the cavalry would find us," his voice
was cheerful but a part of him wished they had had a few minutes
resolutely pushed back the thought that she wished the same but
before she could bury it deep, Chakotay caught it and smiled at
her. They moved towards the back wall as the one in front of them
started to heat up considerably, then melted and broke apart,
crumbling to its constituent elements in front of them.
is good to see you Captain, Commander." Tuvok held out his
hand to Janeway to help her over the rocks that were left. She
afforded a quick glance behind her, even though she knew he had
just vaulted over the remaining rocks to land squarely behind
her. Not because she had heard the noise, but because she had
felt the thought before he did it. Their eyes met. This would
be discussed but not here, not now.
you, Tuvok. Report." Janeway shielded herself in her role
as the Captain once more but now she wasn't alone. Chakotay was
there even then.
lost contact with you once you had been sealed in that chamber,"
Tuvok replied mildly. "Once we determined that it was likely
the mineral content of the surrounding rock that was blocking
our scans, we initiated a physical search."
finished running his medical scans on Chakotay, then turned to
scan the Captain. "I'm fine, Tom," Janeway quipped.
"Nothing a cup of hot coffee and a hot bath won't cure."
grimaced apologetically. "Better I get it over with here,
Captain. This way, you won't have to go to Sickbay and you'll
get to skip the lecture about eating, caffeine, ...". Her
glare was leveled at him already. "I'm certain you know the
drill." He snapped the tricorder shut. "And you're right.
There is no more wrong with you than some increased adrenaline
and hormonal levels. All perfectly normal reactions to what you've
let loose the breath she didn't know she'd been holding. "Thank
you, Tom." She turned to face Sutokh, who had accompanied
the others into the caves this time. "Why did this..."
held up one clawed hand, "In time, Captain, in time."
Turning with a slight bow in her and Chakotay's direction, he
lead the way back towards the stalori and the surface. Leaving
them with their questions for now.
stood gazing out the starport into the odd view that the star
cluster offered. "It is quite beautiful here. Thank you for
allowing me to visit your ship."
welcome, Sutokh. We enjoyed touring your world so I'm happy to
offer you the opportunity." Janeway took a small breath,
"On the planet, Commander Chakotay and I were discussing
the nature of this realm with you." She takes a breath, remembering
how Chakotay approached questioning the being before proceeding.
"There is great beauty here but there is also great beauty
in our own realm."
wall between what is yours and what is ours only flows in one
direction." Sutokh's voice was subdued as he spoke. He knew
his words would cause pain and it was not something his people
did by choice.
heart sank but she pressed on, as determined as ever, "The
Bubble would burst if it continued to fill without end."
have never found a way to release what is captive," Sutokh
replied. Kathryn stood for a moment quietly. Something about his
words catching the edge of her consciousness.
we were on the planet, I mentioned to our guide, Nalbet that we
had encountered a race much like yours called the Inryeth. They
are identical to your people in all ways including your telepathic
ability. Nalbet suggested that your Elders might know if they
were related to you." Tuvok regarded Sutokh as he spoke.
stopped for a moment and regarded Tuvok with wide eyes. "I
am not an Elder."
watched the interplay between her security chief and Sutokh carefully.
At first glance she was almost ready to write off Sutokh's reaction
to Tuvok's inquiry to the alien's natural tendency towards cryptic
answers. As she watched more carefully, her gut instinct told
her there was something more to the Ayrethan's reaction.
quirked an eyebrow, "Indeed. Captain if I may be excused,
I have duties to be performed."
course Tuvok. Dismissed." Kathryn and Sutokh watched as Tuvok
left the ready room.
she could fully return her attention to Sutokh he was already
speaking. "You wish to know what happened to you in the Nashala
and why it happened." Kathryn sat in silence, nodding only
to indicate he was correct. Caught somewhere between surprise
and anxiety, she was reluctant to speak and stop the flow of information
before it had begun. "Our people believe that when two individuals
share an experience in the Nashala that they are not truly two
but that they are one. One nula ... what you would call a spirit
or a soul." He paused for a moment watching the emotions
play over Janeway's face. "The Nashala sensed that two halves
of the same whole were in conflict. It sought to resolve the conflict
by bringing greater understanding between the two halves."
sat quietly, not quite comprehending what Sutokh was saying. Dozens
of words from various cultures flooded her mind. Imzadi. Bondmate.
T'hy'la. Soulmate. The sensations of the link had passed once
they had left the Nashala, but her knowledge of Chakotay remained.
There was indeed greater understanding, and it frightened her.
She still found it hard to accept that someone else now knew her
as well as she knew herself, and that she had equal knowledge
she looked up again, Sutokh was standing. "I thank you for
your hospitality, Captain Janeway. You have seen enough for now."
He bowed slightly and she stood walking him to her ready room
door. "We do not often get visitors to our world. You would
be welcome again." She nodded silently and watched as Sutokh
glided from her inner sanctum. The doors hissed shut behind him
- leaving her alone with her thoughts.
cradled a cup of coffee in her hands. For once in her life not
truly interested in drinking it, but holding it more for the warmth
it brought her and to give her a focus for her random thoughts.
She felt adrift now. Her view of herself was being carefully deconstructed
and she found herself needing to turn to the person who frightened
her most right now. The chime echoed in her quarters, pulling
her attention away from her coffee.
of the devil..." Her mind brought the words unbidden into
her mind. The link wasn't necessary to know who was at her cabin
stepped through the doors, coming in a few steps before speaking.
"I thought you'd like to know, we beamed up the last of the
minerals and metals we extracted. B'Elanna couldn't be happier.
Most of the critical repairs are finished and she's already making
up maintenance schedules to utilize the rarer elements we obtained."
Voyager will go on..." Kathryn let her words trail off, at
a loss for what to say next.
nods then looks at her in consideration. "So where do we
go from here, Kathryn?"
turned to the viewport behind her. Setting her coffee cup down
she watched his reflection overlaid against the unfamiliar space
of the Bubble and the planet behind. "I won't deny this any
longer, Chakotay. I couldn't even if I wanted to. But as to where
we go from here..." She seemed to concentrate on the planet.
"All I know is that wherever it is, I need to go very slowly.
I need to be able to think."
watched his reflection as he approached her from behind, his image
becoming clearer as he came closer. Kathryn breathed deeply as
she felt his hand on her shoulder, his face clearly indicating
that he wanted to speak further. "Kathryn..." His voice
echoed in her cabin. A small shake of her head indicated that
she had no more words to give; instead she took his hand, interweaving
her fingers between his in a reflection of a long ago gesture,
and closed her eyes.
Producers: Thinkey, Anne Rose and Coral