Title: The Museum Author: Jemima Contact: email@example.com Series: VOY Part: all (225k) Rating: PG Codes: J/C, P/T, K/7, T/K, T/Vo, C/S, C/f, K/f, AU Summary: Ever seen City on the Edge of Forever? It's kind of like that, but not really. This is a series of AU stories within one larger story. Technically, the larger story is an AU in which the follies of canon are, themselves, an AU. The AU's each focus on one character and pivotal episode. They can be read independently of the main story (the Prelude, Interludes and Finale). The focus, if there is one, is on Section 31 and sneakiness in general, making this part of Project S31: http://www.geocities.com/project_s31/ Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha! Borg Plot Classification: 001, 003, 015, 023, 033, 112, 113, 117, 124, 186, 236, 250, 403, 527, 718 Date: July 2001 Size: 225k
This is the full version of the AU series "The Museum". It has been provided for printing and downloading purposes, but the reader is advised to read the stories in their sequential form (on separate pages), beginning with the Prelude. See the index page for more information.
Title: Prelude Author: Jemima Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Series: VOY Part: 1/19 Rating: PG Codes: crew Summary: This is the beginning of "The Museum", a series of AU stories within one larger story. In the Prelude, the staff meet, an away team goes away, and Captain Janeway discovers a strange object. Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha!
"The past is not what it was."
- G. K. Chesterton, A Short History of England
It was the sort of day when the crew of Voyager wondered whether they'd taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way.
Everyone was on edge. B'Elanna craved unique foods she couldn't replicate under the current circumstances, and Tom was worried about her and the baby in this barren sector of space. Chakotay seemed depressed over certain unfortunate events in the last inhabited system Voyager had passed through. The Doctor itched to be a Command Hologram again; and Harry also missed his days in the big chair. Neelix and Janeway were concerned about the rest of the crew, as usual.
The senior staff assembled the conference room. Lunch had been something bitter and mauve, but dinner would be Starfleet emergency rations if the crew of Voyager couldn't find vegetables for Neelix or omicron particles for the replicators.
Once everyone was seated around the table, Seven began her report. "I have detected a K-class planet within range,"
Neelix immediately interrupted, "We won't find any food there."
"Nor energy sources," B'Elanna complained.
"Please allow Seven to complete her report," Tuvok chided them. Frustration and impatience were added to the usual flood of human emotions around him. Only Seven retained a calm demeanor. Listening to her emotionless reports soothed the Vulcan.
"Our scans have detected no natural energy sources. However, there is an artificial structure on the surface which seems to possess its own power supply." Seven watched her audience for a reaction.
"What about long-range scans?" the Captain asked, fishing for a good excuse to investigate.
"There are several M-class planets farther along our course," Seven replied. "Investigating the K-class planet would not delay us significantly."
Janeway glanced at Chakotay, who made no motion to object. "We'll take a look at it, then. Now about rerouting Holodeck power to the shields..."
The Captain insisted on heading the away team. Since there were no hostile aliens for sectors around, Chakotay's objections were perfunctory. Janeway took Paris, Jurot and Mitchell with her to the surface of the inhospitable planet.
The away team materialized just outside the building, which had proven impervious to Voyager's scans. The clean lines of the structure, concealing mysteries, contrasted starkly with the empty desert around it. The dry, thin air bore no scent, the yellow sands no trace of footprints, not even their own.
The away team walked half the perimeter of the large structure, tricorders humming, but found nothing besides the solid white walls, twenty meters high at points between the sand dunes. Then, in this world where nothing happened for millennia at a time, a wind came up and swirled the ageless dust around them.
"Sandstorm," Mitchell shouted, but before they could call for a beam-out the dust cloud over the building had dissipated.
"That was no storm," Janeway said. When the team rounded the next corner of the hexagonal building, they found the sand dunes blown flat in front of a doorway ten meters high.
"Someone's giving us the red carpet treatment," Tom commented.
Janeway was engrossed in her tricorder, but she had heard him. "There's no one in there to treat us like royalty, Mr. Paris. I'm detecting a heavier atmosphere inside, but no life signs."
"Some sort of force field is blocking the entrance," Jurot added.
Janeway was halfway to the door before Tom realized she had moved. By the time he reached her side, she had plunged one hand through the force field. "Permeable," was all she said as she drew it back.
Tom took his medical tricorder off his belt and scanned her hand. "Harmless," he reported, echoing her style.
"Captain," Chakotay's voice filtered down to them from orbit, "we can scan the building's interior now. We should be able to transport you out if you run into trouble."
"Acknowledged, Commander. Janeway out."
She strolled through the doorway with Tom tagging along behind her.
An hour later, Tom and the Captain had reached the center of the building. All of the rooms the away team had explored were large - at least six meters across - and all housed displays of one sort or another. With hundreds of rooms to explore on several levels, they had split up into pairs in order to cover more ground.
The explorers found no hallways; the interior consisted of hexagonal rooms packed together like a honeycomb. Open doorways connected the chambers; some rooms were junctions with four or five doors out of their six walls, while others were cul-de-sacs with just one doorway.
Janeway and Paris had had difficulty finding the single entrance to this room in the maze formed by the building's honeycomb layout. Janeway sensed that this central chamber was the most important, though it was the same size as the others and was relatively bare, besides. Tom investigated the room's only other doorway, which led to a dead-end room.
A few panels covered in alien script hung on the plain white walls of the room where the Captain remained, and a hexagonal, white pedestal rose chest-high from the center of the floor. A circular band of metal stood on edge atop the pedestal. Scans of the object were inconclusive, so Janeway reached out and touched its sharp edge...
Title: Choose Life Author: Jemima Contact: email@example.com Series: VOY Part: 2/19 Rating: PG Codes: J, J/C, AU Summary: Resolutions done right. An AU based on the episode "Resolutions". Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha!
The dim lighting of the room revealed an odd mish-mash of Starfleet survival gear, personal mementoes and rough-hewn wood furniture. The smell of a home-cooked meal still lingered in the air, and the silence of a pristine planet would have contrasted sharply with the eternal hum of a starship, if Kathryn Janeway had not already begun to forget the sights and sounds of space travel. The only sound here was Chakotay's voice, deep into yet another story.
When he finished it, she asked, "Is that really an ancient legend?"
"No. But that made it easier to tell you," he answered.
In the two years she'd known him, Janeway had never quite gotten the trick of conversing with Chakotay. He had this circuitous way of saying things - they got said, but you couldn't pin them on him afterwards because he'd couched them in some metaphor or story. How could she argue with a story?
She could only mull his words over until she agreed with them, or ignore them and go her own way. Now that he was the proverbial last man on Earth, ignoring him was not the viable option it had been aboard Voyager. She would finally have to learn to speak Maquis, or else she would lose too many arguments.
The first plasma storm distracted her from her linguistic project. When her scientific equipment was destroyed, Kathryn had only one hope left of rejoining Voyager - Tuvok. Chakotay seemed to sense it, though she hardly admitted it to herself. He set about squashing her last hope.
"Tuvok's not coming back for us, Kathryn," he said over breakfast one morning.
"Of course not," she demurred, "he has his orders."
"Even if he found the cure, he wouldn't turn around to bring it to us."
She had to argue that one. "Tuvok is my friend."
"I thought so myself, once upon a time. Logic cuts both ways."
There it was again - his Maquis method of argument. If Tuvok betrayed Chakotay, Tuvok could betray Janeway as well. Hadn't he already, on Sikaris? Unable to do battle with metaphors, she changed her tack; "You're right. It wouldn't be logical to return for us. 'The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few...'"
"'Or the two'," he finished her quotation. "If there's any way he can lead the crew without us, he'll do it. It would take a mutiny to turn him around."
In that case, she could only hope never to see Voyager again. "Well, you did leave about forty Maquis on his hands," she joked, but her voice betrayed her. Tuvok was not coming back.
He kissed her, and never brought up the topic again. So their life together on New Earth began.
Weeks stretched into months; Chakotay built that log cabin, they sailed down the river in that boat, Kathryn became a capable farmer and read Victorian novels by firelight in the evenings.
The farming was the hardest part. Of course they needed to save replicator energy, but plowing and sowing seemed so...primitive in comparison to her life as a scientist and starship captain. At first she considered it an unpleasant necessity, like those PADDs full of reports she'd filled out over the years - even here in the Delta Quadrant, where there had been no one to report to.
Yet when the first green shoots forced their way out of the ground, she was far more excited than after a day of PADD-punching. She dragged Chakotay out to the field to see them.
In fact, she dragged him out there every day to check on the progress of her crop. Kathryn examined the shoots carefully for insects, but the local flora and fauna seemed determined to ignore this Earthly incursion. The only remaining danger was the plasma storms, which appeared to be seasonal.
The sky was certainly clear on the day Chakotay said, "Let's get married." They were relaxing under a tree after the crop inspection. Perhaps he hoped the flicker of sunlight on the leaves would hypnotize her into saying yes.
Kathryn laughed. "Do you think we're corrupting the monkey?" she asked.
He didn't laugh. "We're civilized human beings. We should get married."
"Well, you are the last man on earth," she teased him. "Shall the monkey officiate?"
He seemed unmoved by her flippant attitude - perhaps he was willing to take 'I do' any way he could get it.
"We can begin a civil registry," he elaborated.
"You're serious about this."
"Yes I am."
Kathryn got up and walked back to the cabin. She heard him start after her, but then stop, following no farther.
Ten minutes later, she called his name. He showed up unusually quickly at the cabin door.
"What have you got there?" he asked from the doorway as his eyes adjusted to the dim interior light.
She closed the cover of the oversized book she'd just replicated and showed him the title: Civil Registry, New Earth Colony, 2373 - ____. On the first page she had already written the date and 'marriage'. She signed her name, then handed him the pen. He signed. Noticing that there were two columns for witnesses, he filled those in as well - she watched as he wrote 'heaven' and 'earth'.
As the months passed, Kathryn forgot Starfleet and Voyager. Though she'd expected to be bored senseless after so much time on one planet, she found instead that the free time was the greatest benefit of her new life. All those books she'd never had time to read, all those scientific theories she hadn't had time to investigate, were waiting for her in the Federation database.
It no longer surprised her that many of those books and theories had come out of peaceful colony worlds like this one. She even began to appreciate the Maquis determination to defend their homes, rather than move back to the more civilized homeworlds or start over on a new colony located in an undisputed part of space. This was *her* world; who else knew the pattern of its stars, the scent of its autumn evenings, and the tingling of its plasma storms in the air?
She'd thought she understood her particular Maquis' poetic language, until one day, four months after their impromptu marriage, he said he wanted to talk.
"There's another woman, isn't there?" she said, grinning, as they walked among the stalks of corn - her first crop was ripening well.
"There could be."
Kathryn raised an eyebrow.
"I want to have children," he revealed solemnly.
She glared at him as she said, "That's impossible."
"How so?" he asked.
"They would be infected, like us. They could never leave here. What kind of life would that be?" She spoke hurriedly, pulling down an ear of corn unconsciously and shucking it in her anger.
"I thought you were happy here."
"I am, but I have you. They could never marry."
"They might be immune. You might find a cure, with their help. Someone else could get stuck here with us. Anything can happen in life," he said calmly.
"The odds would be against them." But then the odds had always been against Voyager. She had to believe her old ship still sailed between the stars.
"Life is always a gamble, Kathryn."
She stalked home and spent a few hours in the cabin with a tricorder, fuming and testing her corn six ways to Sunday.
The argument went on for weeks. Kathryn spoke of the joys of romance, of society, of space exploration. Chakotay praised nature and family and starlight. One day, as they were walking to the river, she made the mistake of trying to bring the discussion to a final conclusion:
"I can't do it, Chakotay," she said. "I can't have children in a place like this, just for our own selfish purposes." The trees, fields and nimbus clouds around them put her to the lie - it was not such a bad place, after all.
"It's not selfish at all, Kathryn. Any benefit to us is purely incidental."
For the first time, she worried that she was going to lose this argument. If he explained, she would end up agreeing with him, though she couldn't yet guess what particular logic lent such certainty to his words.
He might have let her get away, but her curiosity got the better of her and she nodded to him to continue.
"Existence is always better than non-existence - even a few moments' existence, even a planet-bound, solitary life, no matter the handicap, suffering or challenges. Life is the greatest gift you can give - with it, you give the entire universe to your children."
"Do you ever wonder," she asked him out of the blue five months later, "whether we're even sick anymore?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, it could all have been a...malfunction. Maybe Seska got to the EMH and reprogrammed him. Maybe Tuvok..." Kathryn's voice trailed off.
He didn't protest the extravagance of her theory; instead, he seemed to take it even more seriously than she did herself.
"Well, there's an easy way to find out. We can take the shuttle up and see how far we get - I'll set it to land on autopilot if we pass out."
"No. We can't risk it."
"I'm sure we can get back down to the surface before anything serious happens."
"It'll have to remain a mystery, Chakotay. We'd probably be all right, but I can't risk the baby."
Six months later, Koti was born. After her was Owen, and now, after almost five years on New Earth, Kathryn was seven months pregnant with their third child. She puttered around the cabin slowly - the wheat was in the bins, and the corn in the fields. She looked out the window into the tomato garden...
Title: Interlude I Author: Jemima Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Series: VOY Part: 3/19 Rating: PG Codes: crew Summary: This is an interlude in "The Museum", a series of AU stories within one larger story. In this Interlude, Paris finds Janeway strangely distracted, and a scene in sickbay ensues. Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha!
Tom had wandered into the side room and lost track of time trying to understand the large, transparent object which dominated the room's center. Certain opaque planes cutting through the sculpture reminded Tom of a hypercube, so he thought of it, illogically, as four-dimensional. Like an oversized optical illusion, it drew his eyes down fractal paths into tiny details only his tricorder could detect.
At the proper time, Tom had glanced at the Captain through the doorway and checked in with Tuvok, leaving Janeway alone with her thoughts. Now he wondered what was so fascinating about the unmarked metallic ring that she had been staring at for more than half an hour.
Tom left his own favorite exhibit to ask, "What is it, Captain?"
She didn't answer, though he was right behind her.
"Captain?" he said again, but she made no response. He whipped out his medical tricorder and didn't like what he saw, so he pulled her away from the object.
"Captain? Can you hear me?" Her eyes were open, but she didn't seem to see him at first.
When he came into focus, she stared at him as though she were seeing a ghost. "Tom? What are you doing here? Why did you come back? You should be five thousand light-years away by now, at least."
"Where do you think you are?"
Janeway glanced around the room and seemed confused. "I was on New Earth. Chakotay was outside in the garden with the children." She put a hand on her stomach - reflexively, Tom thought, though it was no gesture of hers that he remembered - then looked down in shock. "The baby..."
"Captain, you and Commander Chakotay were rescued from New Earth five years ago." Tom ran the tricorder over her again. She seemed calm but disoriented. "Give this to the Doctor," he told her, handing her the medical tricorder.
He ordered an emergency beam-out to sickbay for her, telling Tuvok he would make a detailed tricorder scan of the object she'd touched before beaming up himself.
Taking his regular tricorder off his belt, he approached the pedestal to scan the circle.
Chakotay almost beat the Captain to sickbay, leaving Tuvok at the conn and Harry busily evaluating the data being transmitted from Tom's tricorder.
He caught the end of something the EMH was explaining to the Captain: "According to my scans, Captain, you've never been pregnant - well, except for the lizards."
Chakotay glared at the Doctor on the Captain's behalf, but she seemed unmoved by the comment. Concerned, The EMH asked, "Do you remember the evolved creatures, Captain?"
"Yes. The experimental warp drive..."
"Do you recall when Q wanted you to have his baby?"
She thought for a moment. "Yes, but that was after..."
"After you and Commander Chakotay were rescued from New Earth five years ago."
Chakotay blanched. Why were they talking about New Earth?
"And can you remember the events of this year? Tom and B'Elanna are having a baby."
"I remember now. But I also remember my children: Koti, Owen, and the baby. I remember living on New Earth for the past five years."
"Doctor," Chakotay interrupted, "what's your diagnosis?" He doubted this was anything she wanted him to hear, but she was prone on the biobed and hadn't seen him come in.
"Judging from the scans Lieutenant Paris took of the Captain while she was still in contact with the object, she did experience five years of events at an incredible speed. Although it has disoriented her, I have detected no permanent damage to her neural pathways." He added an aside to Janeway: "I wouldn't recommend doing it again, however."
Chakotay barely heard him; Kathryn was looking up at him with an expression her face wore only in his dreams. "Chakotay," she said, offering him her hand, palm out. He reached for her hand uncertainly, but she took his hand and held it, palm-to-palm, just as they had that one time on New Earth.
"Is it true? Have we been on Voyager all these years?"
"I'm sorry," she said, but didn't let his hand go.
The Doctor recommended a sedative to give her neural pathways time to settle. Once she was asleep, Chakotay disentangled his fingers from hers and returned to the bridge to think.
Title: Mushroom Soup Author: Jemima Contact: email@example.com Series: VOY Part: 4/19 Rating: PG Codes: P, C/S, AU Summary: Seska sets her sights higher than just mushroom soup. An AU loosely based on the episode "State of Flux". Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha!
Tom was bored. They'd been in this wretched quadrant barely half a year, and he was chafing under Starfleet regulations already. Not as much as some people, though - they'd run across some melted Kazon a few weeks back, fried by technology which might have been smuggled off Voyager. Tom was sure it had been, but the Kazon weren't talking - they were all dead on arrival. Tuvok's investigation had gone nowhere fast. A court martial would have been interesting, Tom thought, especially someone else's for a change.
"EMH to Commander Chakotay," the familiar voice rang out over the comm system. Tom perked up; for a hologram, the Doc sounded awfully nervous. Something was going down.
"Please report to sickbay, Commander," the Doc ordered.
"What's the problem, Doctor?" Chakotay replied, not pleased to be ordered around by a hologram with no rank.
Tom turned around for a better view of the Commander fuming; he caught Harry's eye and wiggled an eyebrow at him.
"It's the Captain, sir." The EMH sounded upset.
"What is it?" Chakotay demanded, looking the way the Doc sounded.
"She's been found dead - poisoned."
Tom was the only one who saw Chakotay's face - a second of heartrending grief crossed his features, followed by a look of suspicion, then blankness.
Tuvok launched another investigation, but an equally unsuccessful one. Chakotay took command. Tom thought the new Captain played the funeral cool, compared to what he had seen in his eyes that fateful day on the bridge.
Eventually rumors spread that he was seeing Seska again. One night in Tom's cabin, Jenny Delaney muttered that Janeway wasn't cold in her grave and he's back in that so-and-so's bed. Before her death, Tom hadn't thought much of the rumors about Janeway and Chakotay, but most of the Starfleet girls (so Tom, the ship's ladies' man, termed them) had believed. They liked to picture themselves with swashbuckling rebels like Chakotay; Tom played up his short career in the Maquis and martyrdom in prison, and he got around. Life is short in the Delta Quadrant, he quipped, and the girls agreed.
A year later, the Chakotay/Seska thing was out in the open. Tom still didn't quite buy it, though. Sometimes he thought he saw a flash of disgust in the Captain's eyes when Seska appeared on the bridge, yet they seemed happy together, as much as two angry people like they were could seem happy at all.
Seska was obsessed with returning to the Alpha Quadrant. Why, Tom didn't know. Chakotay would surely be demoted, if not jailed, and Bajor was a wreck of a planet, if you asked the helmsman. Seska, Vorik and B'Elanna spent most of their time trying to adapt alien technology to speed up the engines. Having their captain as Captain gave the Maquis hope; maybe they just wanted to go back and fight Cardassians at home.
Later that year, Vorik went through his pon farr and B'Elanna mated with him. Tom was oddly disappointed, though he'd never held out much hope for his own attempts to add her to his list of conquests. He went back to work on Megan Delaney.
Torres' marriage with Vorik was going badly, Tom would have said, but Vorik was so calm and logical about it all most of the time that B'Elanna seemed unlikely to leave him. It was just that comment about Klingons being unable to bond that put him in sickbay for a few days.
Tom's duties in sickbay had relieved most of the boredom of the first couple of years - much as he hated to admit it, the Doc was good company and Kes an entertaining challenge. He didn't have to speak his trite but charming lines because Kes could read his mind: 'Life is short in the Delta Quadrant', 'No ring, no foul,' etc.
It was there in sickbay that the most momentous event of the journey occurred. Once again, Tom was the only surviving witness, or at least the only legally-admissible one. Seska and Chakotay had been together two years, but that day Paris was shocked to see the Captain marching her into sickbay at phaser point.
"Examine her. Get a blood sample," Chakotay ordered Tom coldly, and continued into the office to talk to the EMH.
"What am I looking for?" Tom asked Seska as he extracted some blood with a hypospray.
She didn't bother to answer; she kept her eyes fixed on Chakotay the entire time. As soon as the Captain's back was turned, she pushed Tom aside and made a break for the door. Chakotay was faster than she was, though, and he cut her down with the phaser. Seska evaporated into her constituent particles before Tom's very eyes.
"The phaser was set to kill," Tom commented unnecessarily.
"That's my policy with Cardassians," Chakotay replied.
"Cardassians?" Tom had suspected plenty about Seska, but never that. "When did you find out?"
Chakotay slumped against the wall behind him. "I figured it out two years ago."
He'd slept with a Cardassian for two years. What could drive a Maquis to do that?
"Doc, can you process the blood sample Tom took? Tuvok will need it for my court martial."
Speak of the pointy-eared devil, Tom thought, as Tuvok arrived in sickbay to lead Chakotay to the brig. The Vulcan returned afterward to depose Tom, but the medic had a question of his own:
"Why did he do it, Tuvok?"
"I am sure the Captain will make his motives clear at the court martial."
Tuvok, B'Elanna and Paris were the ranking officers; they sat in judgement at Chakotay's court martial. They heard the Doctor confirm that Seska was a Cardassian, presumably a member of the Obsidian Order. B'Elanna's vote was secured then and there.
They saw the EMH's visual records of the incident, and Tom corroborated the details.
"Why," Tom asked, "were you marching a Starfleet officer, albeit a Cardassian one, around the ship at the point of a phaser set to kill?"
That was when Chakotay entered a recording into evidence. B'Elanna fumed through the entire playback, while Tom sat spellbound, imagining the facial expressions behind the words.
"Do that again, Captain," they heard Seska say.
"Whatever you want, Lieutenant," Chakotay's voice replied.
"Aren't you glad you made me a lieutenant? You couldn't sleep with an ensign, now, could you?"
"Aren't you glad you made me a captain? You wouldn't settle for a mere commander, now, would you?"
"Why, Captain, I don't know what you mean," Seska protested. Tom could hear the smirk on her face.
Chakotay laughed, too, but Tom thought he caught the dark undertone to his laughter, the same darkness he'd seen in the Captain's eyes now and again over the past two years. He could see it right now as the defendant sat at attention, listening impassively to this scene from his bedroom.
"Dear, no one else on this ship is smart enough to get away with something like that. I know you were selling technology to the Kazon and she was on your trail. You did what was necessary, like a good Maquis."
"Why, thank you, Captain. That's very kind, coming from you. I thought you were fond of her."
"She was nothing like you, Seska." Tom sensed the menace in his double entendre and was suddenly afraid for Seska, even though the Cardassian was already dead.
There was silence for a few moments, then Chakotay's voice again, saying, "I appreciate your finesse. Did you get the poison from the Kazon? Tuvok could never trace it."
Somehow Tom knew Seska was about to break - Chakotay had spent his two years well, learning the right combination of flattery and scepticism to get her to talk.
"Yes," she admitted. "The Kazon have a wide assortment of untraceable poisons. I chose the most painful - of course it had to be immediately incapacitating as well, or she might have made it to sickbay. Measuring it was a delicate matter, and transporting it to her replicator was a master stroke of timing I doubt I'll ever equal. I hope she suffered."
"I'm sure she did. And don't worry, I'm sure you have another feat of timing in you somewhere."
Tom shuddered suddenly at the memory of Seska in sickbay watching for Chakotay to turn his back. She had crossed the wrong man, and he had had his revenge. He was some captain, to beat the Obsidian Order at its own game.
Paris barely noticed that the recording had ended and Tuvok was instructing them to make their decisions. Tom knew it was malice aforethought, but he voted with B'Elanna to acquit. The Vulcan was overruled, and so Chakotay remained Captain.
That day, Tom's affair with B'Elanna began. He'd noticed her eyeing him for some time; it must have been his pro-Maquis vote that finally tilted the scales in his favor. She wasn't happy with Vorik, at least not in this long down-time before his next pon-farr.
He gave up all the Starfleet girls for her, and felt guilty about it most of the time. She told him what understanding husbands Vulcans were - it was like living with a saint, she complained, and she was bored. Whatever his past crimes, he'd never thought he'd end up an adulterer, but he loved B'Elanna like the Captain had loved Janeway - which was to say, too much for his own good.
Title: Interlude II Author: Jemima Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Series: VOY Part: 5/19 Rating: PG Codes: crew Summary: This is an interlude in "The Museum", a series of AU stories within one larger story. In this Interlude, Chakotay recalls Paris to Voyager, where the helmsman visits sickbay and his quarters. Another staff meeting occurs. Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha!
When he reached the bridge, Chakotay ordered Ensign Kim to hail Tom.
"He's not responding, sir," Harry replied after two tries.
"Paris, report!" Chakotay shouted into the open comm link.
"Why did it take you so long to answer?" Chakotay asks.
"I'm sorry, Captain; I didn't hear--"
"Beam him directly to sickbay, and get the others out of there, too," Chakotay ordered.
"What's wrong?" Tom asked, but the only answer was the sparkle of dematerialization around him.
Chakotay sighed. The last thing he needed at the moment was his universe fracturing around him.
Tom repeated his question to the EMH as he passed a neural scanner over the helmsman's head.
"You're exhibiting the same symptoms as the Captain."
"What's wrong with him?"
"Lie down, Mr. Paris."
"There's nothing wrong with *her*. Tell me what you saw."
Tom spotted the sleeping figure on the other biobed.
"Janeway! She's alive...she's the Captain." The EMH remained silent as Tom remembered more. "I'm married to B'Elanna. We're having a baby, aren't we, Doc?"
"Yes, Mr. Paris."
Tom sighed in relief. "It was all just a hallucination," he said.
"Mr. Kim has not yet established the nature of the phenomenon." The EMH was curious about what Tom had seen, but his programming overrode his curiosity and he gave his patient a sedative.
The EMH released Janeway and Paris a few hours later. The Captain had the peace and quiet of her lonely cabin in which to reflect on her other life, but Tom found an inquiring spouse waiting for him at home.
"Chakotay said you called him Captain."
"I did. He was the captain, and Tuvok was the first officer. He wasn't much of a security officer there, wherever there was, but as first officer - well, first officers don't do much anyway. He and Chakotay got along surprisingly well," Tom rattled on.
"What happened to Janeway?"
"I don't know, but when I pulled her away from the circle, she thought she was still on New Earth."
B'Elanna frowned at him, wondering whether he was being deliberately evasive or was still dazed. She strove to speak slowly and clearly. "Chakotay told me all about that while you were sedated. I meant, what happened to Janeway in the timeline you were in?"
"Did Harry find chronoton particles?"
He was definitely evading the question. She let a slight growl creep into her voice as she answered, "No, he didn't. Now tell me what happened to Janeway, Tom."
"Seska poisoned her."
"Kahless! What did Chakotay do?"
"Like I said, Tuvok wasn't much use as a security officer, but Chakotay suspected Seska. It took him a while, but he managed to pin it on her."
"She was killed trying to get away." Tom wasn't sure why he was editing the story so heavily - perhaps he hadn't quite shaken the atmosphere of paranoia from that other life.
"How about us?"
"Oh, we got together eventually. Nothing could keep me away from you, B'Elanna."
There was an uncharacteristic intensity to his declaration which made B'Elanna wonder whether he had quite recovered yet.
In the morning, Torres had cause to doubt Janeway's recovery as well. The engineer couldn't quite put her finger on it, but there was certainly something different about the Captain - something unnaturally gentle and peaceful, perhaps. The first report at the morning staff meeting was the Doctor's, and he gave both Janeway and Tom a clean bill of health. B'Elanna was forced to take his word for it.
"Captain Janeway and Lieutenant Paris," the EMH was droning on, "show no physical evidence of having travelled in time."
"Could it have been a hallucination?" B'Elanna asked.
"The human mind cannot invent five years of detailed memories in half an hour. Yet my neurological scans indicate that new memories are present alongside their 'real' memories of the past five years. I am at a loss to explain it."
Harry was called on to report next. "Astrometrics has detected no chronoton particles or other temporal disturbances."
"I think we can assume it wasn't time travel," Janeway interrupted.
"Yes, ma'am. The tricorder readings did show some nucleonic activity while you were in contact with the object--"
"It was a Mobius band."
"A what?" Neelix asked, momentarily distracted from the report he was secretively punching into a PADD under the table - the morale officer couldn't overlook the potential for five years of shore leave in half an hour, nor could he manage to get his reports done on time, even after seven years in Starfleet.
"A Mobius band is a strip of paper in the shape of a ring with a half-twist in it, so that it has only one side," Janeway explained.
"It's like a Klein bottle," the Doctor added.
"A what?" Neelix repeated.
"A Klein bottle is a bottle whose inside is its outside."
"It doesn't sound like it would hold much," the confused cook commented.
"It wouldn't," Janeway agreed. "It's just a way of imagining what a two-dimensional universe would be like..." Her voice trailed off.
"It's a mental representation of another dimension," Chakotay tried to complete her thought, "a harmless mathematical object, of questionable accuracy but a vivid image, nonetheless."
The Captain flashed her first officer a smile that lit up the room, but it faded quickly as she recalled which universe she was in. Tom would give ten to one that she missed her vivid image.
"Think what we could learn from it," the Captain was saying as Tom was calculating odds. "We might have built a slipstream drive in another universe, or have found a wormhole leading home."
"The human brain can hold only so many memories, Captain," the EMH warned. "I would not recommend repeating your experience with the Mobius band."
"I'm sure many of the crew would be willing to volunteer," Neelix said, his mind back on the familiar territory of shore leave.
Janeway assigned him the task of soliciting volunteers, then dismissed the meeting.
"Tuvok," she called as the senior staff filed out of the conference room.
The security officer remained behind, saying, "Yes, Captain?"
"Why did you come back for us?"
"I do not understand the question, Captain--"
"Why did you come back to New Earth, against my direct orders? I don't seem to recall."
Tuvok paused to recall the events of five years before. "The morale of the crew was degenerating rapidly. There was some dissent over my command decisions. They were emotional..." His voice trailed off uncharacteristically.
She stared right through her old friend for a moment, then stood to go. "Thank you, Tuvok. That's all I wanted to know."
Most of the crew volunteered for the unique away-mission. Seven of Nine was chosen as the first willing universe-surfer - she had the most shore-leave time coming to her, and also the internal equipment to record all useful information she might come across. The Doctor grumbled about her cortical node, insisting on monitoring her neural readings in person.
"I believe you are 'fussing', Doctor," Seven said as the EMH adjusted the cortical monitor on her neck. She looked around the hexagonal room, eager to proceed with the experiment.
"Curiosity killed the cat, Seven."
"Cats are said to have nine lives."
"No one ever mentions the EMH who brings the cat back from the dead time and time again..."
"Resurrection will not be necessary, Doctor. May I proceed?"
"If you insist." The EMH considered himself the most put-upon ship's doctor since McCoy - his crew was going out of their way, in his opinion, to give him material for the medical journals.
Seven reached out for the Mobius band with her reinforced hand, the shining metal exoskeleton reflecting the uniform white of the walls...
Title: Ambassador Author: Jemima Contact: email@example.com Series: VOY Part: 6/19 Rating: PG Codes: 7, AU Summary: What if the scorpion had held back its sting just a little longer? An AU based on the episode "Scorpion". Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha! Date: April 2001
It is a hum and a song, a mother and a lover, a sun and a sea - it is all she has known for eighteen years. There was something before - some other existence, another plane of being - but it is irrelevant. There is only the ebb and flow of calculations, the tuning of instruments, the quest for perfection and the Queen. Spatial grids like chessboards before her, the Queen moves the pieces - drones, ships, species, worlds - from square to square.
The Queen sends a cube into fluidic space in the quest for perfection, and soon after, there is pain. The screams of the assimilated have never brought pain - individual nerve centers and random electrical fluctuations are irrelevant, as the assimilated learn soon enough - and the loss of a cube here and there is a negligible wound to the body Collective. Now, however, the ebb and flow of calculations has become a rocking and jarring as drones on far-flung cubes are forced to take the places of a million annihilated brethren.
The eternal computation that constitutes the Collective mind is itself threatened, for entire unimatrices are being wiped out, leaving terrible, gaping holes in the Collective consciousness. As the puny individual mind screams out at the necessary amputation of inefficient limbs, the Collective mind groans under the heavy losses of planets, sectors and unimatrices.
The distressed Borg have no weapon against Species 8472, nor any samples of the species to experiment upon. They destroy cubes and drones, but the Borg can neither capture nor kill one of them. Species 8472 is more perfect than the Borg - the Borg will be assimilated. The Borg will adapt to serve Species 8472--
This depressing line of thought is cut off suddenly by an incident in Inhabited Star System 568 (inhabited by the Borg, that is). A member of Species 5618 - Humans, origin Spatial Grid 325 - is attempting to negotiate with the Borg. Inhabited Star System 568 is rendered uninhabited by Species 8472 while the Borg waste time 'negotiating' with the Human woman.
The woman claims to have a weapon of use against Species 8472. There is no time to assimilate the woman and her starship - moreover, the woman threatens to destroy the weapon before assimilation. Deliberations rage across the thinning Collective mind - it is inefficient to endanger the weapon, inefficient to work with individuals, inefficient to go on dying at the hands of Species 8472 - perfection is but a memory to the Borg. The Collective agrees to an alliance with the humans.
But it is a headache, a migraine headache, to the Collective mind. The woman talks too much; the man - Species 3259, Vulcan - too little. They refuse neural transceivers, they threaten again to destroy the weapon. The woman demands that a representative of the Borg be designated merely to speak to them. She mentions Locutus of Borg.
In the cube, the sole surviving cube from Inhabited Star System 568, there is a drone assimilated from Species 5618. That drone is chosen; the burden of pre-processing the humans' semi-rational speech patterns is now delegated to Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct to Unimatrix Zero One--is delegated to me.
I wrap my mind carefully around individuality, that great weakness, that shattering and scattering which the unassimilated hold so dear. I form an interface out of billions of heretofore irrelevant memories of individuality - I create a personality that is at once Borg and not-Borg. I speak alone, as I have not done these eighteen years; I say to the woman:
"I speak for the Borg."
Now the humans are my headache, my migraine headache. Their queen Janeway wishes to avoid collateral damage - I wish to annihilate Species 8472. She is so small - what are star systems, what are innocent lives, compared to the survival of the Collective mind?
But the Borg are still with me, calculating, calculating distances, times, yields and the rate of loss of cubes, systems, Unimatrices. They--we--agree with the woman - small weapons quickly, the advantage of surprise. Larger weapons later, the satisfaction of annihilation, I think, but do not speak it.
Janeway attempts to engage me in irrelevant discourse. Meanwhile, the 8472's access her crewwoman's mind. If this defective drone Kes had been Borg, she would have been destroyed at the first sign of danger. Instead, Janeway is refusing outright to speed up the weapons program, threatening again to destroy the weapon. My migraine increases, though pain is irrelevant. Their thoughts are not one, their actions are not one, they are inefficient, alien.
Species 8472 returns to destroy us, because of this weak Kes. I am forced to sacrifice the entire cube - and each cube is precious now - to save the humans' nanoprobe weapon. I am able to transport only a few drones to the humans' ship.
The weak queen Janeway has been damaged in the attack, and now another drone has taken her place. He is even more uncooperative, even more fragmented, weak and afraid than she was. I miss her, and I fear for the alliance. How will these humans protect themselves now that my cube is gone?
The Collective is losing the war. There is no time for this vessel to cross Borg space - we must return to the nearest Borg cube. But he - Chakotay - refuses. He reneges on the alliance.
I lash out at him: "When your captain first approached us we suspected that an agreement with humans would prove impossible to maintain. You are erratic, conflicted, disorganized. Every decision is debated, every action questioned. Every individual is entitled to their own small opinion. You lack harmony, cohesion...greatness. It will be your undoing."
They are unmoved by logic. And the Borg are dying - more planets, cubes, drones are lost. The Collective must seize this vessel. I take control of the deflector dish, while my enemies open the Cargo Bay doors, expelling my remaining drones into the vacuum of space. I alone remain, yet I am able to draw the vessel into fluidic space. Here they must deploy their long-awaited weapon.
Chakotay is small and cannot understand, but Janeway is repaired and renews our alliance. She will make a fine drone someday.
We attack Species 8472 successfully using the nanoprobe weapon, both in fluidic space and in the Delta Quadrant proper. The Borg have prevailed. Janeway is speaking about our guarantee of free passage through Borg space. She offers me the use of a shuttlecraft to return to the Borg.
"Unacceptable," I reply, after consulting the Collective. "The Borg have found our alliance to be...efficient. We wish to maintain the alliance. I will remain aboard this vessel as the representative of the Borg."
Janeway pales visibly. "What guarantee do I have now," she asks, "that you won't assimilate Voyager?"
"The Borg possess many vessels, but no allies. You are more useful to us in your present state."
"That's not a guarantee."
"What guarantee do the Borg have that you will not tamper with this drone?" I ask rhetorically. "What guarantee do I have that Commander Chakotay will not expel me into space as soon as you let him out of the brig? We will have to trust one another."
Tuvok raises an eyebrow, but Janeway nods. I am now the ambassador of the Borg.
Ambassadors have certain privileges under Federation law, but I cannot abide such wasted, idle time. I must serve a function. The crew is unwilling to work with me, however. Chakotay glares at me; Torres refuses to let me near the engines.
Janeway allows me to go on an away mission with two particularly open-minded crewmen. Our shuttle is attacked and destroyed; we are taken prisoner by a primitive species. I destroy many of them, but I am hampered by my attempts to preserve my two weak allies - I know that if I survive alone, I will be suspected and this will harm our fragile alliance with the humans. The enemy sense my weakness, take advantage of it, overcome me, slay my drones. I lose consciousness...
"Seven of Nine?" a familiar voice asks.
"My aural processors are functioning, Doctor." Other data from my self-diagnostic is less promising. "I am in sickbay," I surmise, though something is seriously amiss with my visual processors. "Why?"
"The Hirogen..." The Doctor hesitates.
"They attacked the shuttle. The other two drones were destroyed."
"You were almost 'destroyed' along with Ensigns Crag and Ming."
"My ocular implant is malfunctioning."
"Your ocular implant is gone. The Hirogen took it as a trophy, along with your body armor. We were lucky to get you back in one piece."
I experience an irrelevant surge of emotion, which I quickly suppress. I do not consider myself to be 'in one piece'. My missing parts could be replaced easily by the Borg, but the Doctor will be unable to replicate them.
"You may place me in stasis until you are able to obtain the necessary parts from the Borg." I have assimilated the inefficient medical concept of 'informed consent'.
"That won't be necessary," the Doctor replies cheerfully. "You'll be up and about in a few days."
"Have you recovered the 'trophies' from the Hirogen vessel?"
"No. You'll get along just fine without an ocular implant and body armor, just as the other humans on board do."
"I am Borg."
"Of course," the Doctor agrees condescendingly. "All of your essential cybernetic implants are still in place. You could still assimilate someone if you wanted to." He chuckles, though that is no laughing matter to me. I am comforted, or would be if I experienced emotion, that my primary function is not impaired.
"I'd like to give you a sedative now to help you rest," he adds.
I close my eyes in acquiescence.
My sacrifice is appreciated by the crew, although I failed to save Ensigns Crag and Ming. Even Chakotay seems slightly less hostile, now that I am unarmored and my skin tone matches their own sickly yellow coloring. Individuals are so irrational - I am what I was before, whatever the change in my appearance.
The Collective judges it inefficient to send a cube to restore me to full functionality. Moreover, they see an advantage in my new, sickly appearance. The missing equipment is unnecessary for my mission, while my more human form is only furthering trust of the Borg, at least among the male crew. It is time to take the next step.
I offer the Captain the Borg's knowledge of astrometrics in return for any new astrometric data gathered through my planned Borg modifications of the sensor array. She voices an unexpected objection: "I don't want to gather any information the Borg may use to assimilate people later."
"That is not my purpose here."
"Nevertheless, it's a likely outcome."
"The Borg are familiar with this sector of space and see little promise in it. The data will be merely supplementary. Your concerns are irrelevant."
"That's not a guarantee."
"The Borg could very easily send a tactical sphere to follow Voyager wherever we go. It is inefficient to attempt to conceal this information from them."
"It would be immoral to give it to them."
"The Collective does not seek only to assimilate. They seek perfection. Perfect knowledge of the universe is part of that goal. We have as much of a right to seek pure scientific knowledge as you do." I am learning how to 'push her buttons', as Tom Paris would say.
"You have a point," she says, and eventually agrees to the exchange of information. Ensign Kim is assigned to help me build an astrometrics lab with Borg sensor modifications. He is a pleasing choice - he is among the many male crewmembers disarmed by my unarmored body.
"For maximum communication," I tell Ensign Kim as soon as we are alone in the half-built astrometrics lab, "I will fit you with a neural transceiver. We will work as one mind. The link is temporary; you will not be damaged."
"Seven," he protests, as I affix the transceiver to his skull, "I don't think the Captain would approve."
"You have the right to communicate with me by whatever means we find most eff--comfortable. I have been reading Starfleet regulations - mental links are permissible."
"It's not just regulations, Seven."
"If you do not wish to be linked to me, we may communicate the inefficient verbal way. But we are far from the nearest cube - the Collective voices are faint, and I am lonely." I look down at the floor of the lab, avoiding Harry's eyes.
Human social interactions are complex, but the Collective has thousands of lifetimes of them recorded during our former incursions into Federation space. I am sure of my ability to simulate them when the need arises.
"Let me go check it out with the Doc, Seven."
I let him go.
Through certain modifications I have already made to the almost-complete astrometrics lab, I am able to maintain surveillance over the entire ship and crew. Thus I can see and hear the arguments about me as they happen:
"What going on, Doctor?" Janeway asks.
The EMH motions the Captain and First Officer over to Harry's biobed and parts the hair on the back of his neck to reveal the neural transceiver.
"Is it on?" Chakotay asks. He looks angry.
"No, she didn't activate it."
"Are there any nanoprobes in his bloodstream?"
"No, this is all I've found."
Harry speaks up, saying, "She only wants to communicate."
"Can it be used to control him?" Janeway asks the Doctor, ignoring Harry.
"I don't believe so. It's a short-range device, and there's only one Borg in range. It would be, essentially, her mind against his, and his is more individualistic." Away in the astrometrics lab, I nod at the Doctor's evaluation.
The Captain marches into the EMH's office; Chakotay follows.
"I know what you're going to say," she begins.
"Why should I bother, then?"
"Seven hasn't harmed any of us. This is a unique opportunity--"
"--to communicate with the Borg, to make peace, to effect change--"
"--and we can't let it pass. They know where we are - they could catch up with us in days. It shows their goodwill that they don't."
"The scorpion can only hold back the reflex to sting for so long."
"I'm going to let Harry do it, if he wants."
"Of course you are. We're all free citizens of the Federation, for the time being."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You know how I feel about our Ambassador."
"And you know where I stand."
Further surveillance reveals nothing of interest.
Life with Harry in Astrometrics is peace and bliss, almost the hum of the Collective. There is only the ebb and flow of calculations, the tuning of instruments, the rapid exchange of information.
"It's amazing," Harry tells Tom over dinner a few days later, and of course, I hear. "It's like being inside someone else's mind."
"It *is* being inside someone else's mind, Harry, and that mind has been around the block a few million times. Try not to catch anything while you're in there."
"You don't understand, Tom."
"The the last thing I want to do is understand how wonderful it is to be hooked up to the Borg, even one Borg. Be careful, Harry."
"I will be."
Tom seems to doubt it.
Time passes, but the Borg are infinitely patient. Eventually, I find myself addressing a meeting of the senior staff.
"The Borg find your meanderings through the Delta Quadrant inefficient. They have instructed me to install a transwarp drive in order to return you home."
"With you in tow, no doubt," Chakotay comments.
"I am their ambassador to the Federation, and you are my embassy. They wish to speed our progress."
"You must realize that you'd be giving transwarp technology away to the Federation." Janeway seems puzzled; the rest of the senior officers are merely shocked by my generous offer.
"You are our allies. Your best opportunity to destroy us was by letting Species 8472 do it for you, yet you did not. The Borg do not fear you."
"I believe *that* much," Chakotay mutters, but of course I can hear him. Janeway hears too, and glares at him.
"You know the Borg are perfectly capable of sending a hundred cubes to the Alpha Quadrant--"
"Is that a threat?" Chakotay asks me.
"It is a fact. Yet they choose to send me instead - an ambassador, rather than an army."
They dismiss me in order to discuss my offer, but of course, I still have access to the internal sensors.
"That was a threat," Chakotay insists.
"It was a fact," Tuvok counters him.
"We can't run away from the Borg." Janeway's voice, the voice of reason.
"We can space her and try," Chakotay suggests. The others - Torres, Paris, Neelix, Kim (with his neural transceiver off, as though that could hide anything from the Borg) - seem too shocked to speak.
"Commander, are you asking to go back on brig-warmer duty?"
"No, ma'am." Chakotay appears to have given up all hope of swaying her, and thus does not bother to argue with her.
Janeway responds, "Any other objections?" No one dares oppose their queen. "Then let's build a transwarp drive."
So work begins on the transwarp drive under my supervision, with help from Harry. Torres is displeased, but still curious. Chakotay, however, has been behaving strangely. I observe his movements carefully, and note a pivotal meeting in his office:
"Tuvok, thank you for coming."
"Commander," the Vulcan responds, nodding.
"This meeting is off-the-record," Chakotay says. Little does he know of the Borg record.
Tuvok nods again. "You are concerned about the Captain's plans."
"I was *concerned* when she allowed the drone to remain aboard. I was positively worried when she let it assimilate Harry Kim. Now I'm mutinous, Tuvok, and I need to know if you're with me."
"I do not believe the situation calls for mutiny--"
"There is no way I'm allowing that Borg into the Alpha Quadrant. Trillions of lives are at stake, Tuvok. We have an obligation to all things sentient--"
"Commander, I agree with you about Seven of Nine. My disagreement is in the matter of mutiny. I believe there must be a more...diplomatic way to rid ourselves of our unwanted Ambassador."
I wait for Tuvok's answer, but I hear nothing. I switch to a visual of Chakotay's office. Tuvok's hand is spread across Chakotay's face. Accessing Borg records on Species 3259, I discover that this is a form of telepathic communication. My enemies are forming a collective to combat me. I admire them far more now than ever before. Still, I must retaliate.
Let the Borg record show, I tell the Collective, that *they* were the ones who upped the ante. Yet I fear the idiomatic expressions I have picked up from Harry Kim are beyond the Borg.
"What's that you're working on, Seven?" Tom asks as he strides into Astrometrics in search of Harry.
"It is a Borg interlink node," I reply.
Tom is already leaning over my shoulder. "Did you break yours?" he asks, as he tries to back away inconspicuously.
"No, this one is yours." I stand up and face him in the blink of a eye. Surprise is written across his face, and other emotions - fear, loss, despair - that I have seen on the faces of the assimilated a million times, but never appreciated quite the way I do now.
"Curiosity killed the cat," he mutters sadly; then, with a last burst of energy, he attempts to argue with the Borg: "Look, Seven, I'm sure assimilation is an honor, but I prefer individuality. Why don't you just assimilate Harry some more?"
"Ensign Kim is of more use to the Borg in his present state."
"I'm sure he is."
I admire his bravery in the face of annihilation. In his eyes I see regret, and I wonder what he's thinking of - B'Elanna Torres, or sunrises, or flying? If I had a will, I might choose not to do this, but I have only the will of the Collective. If I had a soul, I might regret it, but the Borg have no regrets.
The nanoprobes are devouring his insides before he has even seen me strike out with my tubules, and that terrible, searing pain that is over already was the miniature interlink node being forced into his brain. Then I come in with the voices, the billion billion voices, and drown his soul.
We are Borg.
My new drone's first assignment is to reprogram the Doctor to overlook his implants and nanoprobes. As work progresses on the transwarp drive, Tuvok assimilates Vorik and Torres; I respond by assimilating Lieutenant Carey.
Harry and I prepare to test the drive. I am suspicious - Torres and Vorik are here on the upper engineering deck with us, but Carey has been detoured elsewhere. I spot the feedback pattern before Harry does. The Vulcan's collective is crafty - I and my protege will be killed in the explosion, yet it will appear to be an accident. We have, at most, six seconds to live.
Six seconds is an eternity of processor time in the Collective mind, but they are jamming my subspace interlink with the Borg. Still, my enemies have not defeated me - I have my own Collective nearby. I switch to a local frequency they have not thought to jam, because they thought I was the only drone aboard Voyager.
Faster than the speed of light, I upload all my data on the transwarp drive to Joe Carey. His cortical array is not yet fully formed, but it will suffice. Even if my drones are unable to contact the Collective, they will be able to rebuild the transwarp drive and spread to the Alpha Quadrant. When the upload to Carey is confirmed, I delete all information on transwarp from my own neural processors. Thus, if my cortical array survives the flesh-searing explosion, the Vulcan collective will gain no information from it.
Ensign Kim notices the feedback pattern. His hands flash across the console, and the beginnings of panic seep over to me through his neural transceiver. I ignore him and contact my other drone.
Tom Paris is at the helm, ready to steer Voyager through the transwarp conduit. The enemy is directly behind him - Chakotay and Tuvok are both on the bridge, doubtless receiving their own sort of information from Torres and Vorik. Paris does not frown at my news - the loss of an individual drone and the fellow-traveller Kim is irrelevant. Across the interlink, Tom and I plan for his future in lightning flashes of image and data.
Tom sees himself in the Captain's ready room a week from now. 'Joe thinks he can rebuild the transwarp drive,' he says. 'Do it,' she replies. After the Vulcan collective breaks up, as Tom knows it will, B'Elanna comes home exhausted one day to find Tom working over a small object - 'What's that?', she asks. 'A Borg interlink node,' he answers. He sees a familiar look of terror in her eyes, and the sudden realization that the Vulcan collective failed, after all.
He is stronger than she - he has perfect control over his body now - he has her pinned against the desk before she can scream and assimilated before she can cry. With her help, no sensor on Voyager will ever detect nanoprobes or cortical nodes.
"Seven, there's a feedback loop in the secondary power matrix." Harry's voice drifts through the Collective consciousness, but the information is superfluous.
Then the Vulcans - Tom and I think as one, plan as one - and then Chakotay. There will be no need to assimilate Janeway - she is so determined to reach home that she will do it with a crew of Borg drones and never notice the difference. Once the transwarp drive is rebuilt and Voyager reaches the Alpha Quadrant - pictures, there is time only for pictures:
Two shuttles full of Maquis drones making a break for it; Janeway being debriefed, but the rest of the crew contacting their families, adding their biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. In the flurry of celebrations and reunions, half the Admiralty are assimilated - the Borg spread until they are secure enough - great cubes being built at Utopia Planitia - and finally the disguise and pretense can be dropped, and proper cybernetic implants made to improve this all too weak, sickly yellow human flesh.
Having planned for the future in the space of five seconds, I am ready to face the final perfection. There is no time to respond to Harry verbally - by my calculations, we will be dead in another second. Some reactionary tendency within me makes me devote my final second not to a calculation of use to the Collective - nothing is pressing in my queue, in any event - but to comforting Harry Kim. Individuals, I know, fear death.
Until now, I have filtered our communications over his neural transceiver. I have listened in on all his thoughts, relevant or no, but I have shared very little with him. Now I open my mind to him and sing him the song of the Collective - the infinite, undying melody, in which every drone is a note.
And Harry hears the siren song and is lost in it, but he also knows everything I know - he knows he has betrayed humanity to the Borg, and he would regret it with a pain more terrible than that which is only milliseconds away, but now there is no more time for regrets.
And there is a flash, and a searing fire, and Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct to Unimatrix Zero One, and Ensign Harry Kim, fellow-traveller, are no more than a memory and a byword in this, the Collective mind.
Title: Interlude III Author: Jemima Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Series: VOY Part: 7/19 Rating: PG Codes: crew Summary: This is an interlude in "The Museum", a series of AU stories within one larger story. In this Interlude, curiosity kills the cat, the EMH brings it back, and yet another staff meeting occurs. Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha! Credits: "The Inner Light" [TNG]
Seven collapsed to the hexagonal floor of the chamber, as the Doctor shouted for an emergency beam-out.
"Curiosity killed the cat," she heard the EMH grumble as she opened her eyes to see the sickbay ceiling some time later.
"I was destroyed when the transwarp drive exploded," Seven said flatly.
"Your cortical array is designed to shut down at the time of death, in order to preserve relevant data in case the drone's body is recovered," the EMH explained. "It required all my vast knowledge of Borg physiology to revive you."
"Seven? How do you feel?"
"I cannot hear the Collective...the voices are gone."
"Seven, you were separated from the Collective four years ago. You are an individual now."
"You refused to return this drone to the Borg," she recalled sadly. "Would you allow me to return now?"
"That decision is not in my hands, Seven." Curiosity couldn't kill the hologram, though, so he asked, "Do you wish to rejoin the Collective?"
She heard the deafening silence of her own small mind as she considered the Doctor's question. "No," she finally replied. "I am an individual now. I am small. I have acquired your flaws, your foibles, your primal instincts - among them the instinct of self-preservation. You have taken my greatness, and I cannot regain it." All gone - the hum, the Queen, the quest.
"You may sedate me now, Doctor," Seven concluded.
The Doctor administered the hypospray.
"Seven's report is promising," the Captain began yet another meeting. "If she had not uploaded the specifications to another drone, we would have transwarp drive right now."
"What other drone?" Tom wondered aloud.
"Discussion of the alternate timelines, or universes, or whatever they may be, is restricted to general information only. We are not here to pry into our counterparts' personal lives."
"The Doctor's observation of Seven confirms the presence of nucleonic particles," Torres reported. "The Enterprise encountered a similar phenomenon on Stardate 45944 - a probe emitting a nucleon beam caused Captain Picard to experience an alien's entire life in the course of twenty minutes. The probe was, in essence, a mental time capsule."
B'Elanna paused to let that sink in, then added, "There were no adverse effects."
Chakotay was the next to address the staff meeting. "Further investigation by the science departments corroborates our assumption that the building serves a purely educational function," he said. "In Terran terms, it could be called a museum, and the Mobius band an interactive exhibit. We have teams on the surface recording data round the clock, but it's a big project. The significance of most of the exhibits is still unclear."
"Keep an eye out for engineering and astrometrical information."
"Of course, Captain."
"I'm pleased to report that the food supply problem has been solved." Neelix was beside himself with Talaxian good cheer. Ensign Farley had discovered the museum's automated cafeteria. "The alien replicator technology is churning out a year's supply of leola root as we speak."
Sighs of relief were understandably muted.
"Neelix, who has the most engineering experience on your list of volunteers to try the Mobius Band?"
"I believe that would be me, Captain," Torres answered for him.
"If you're still up for it, Lieutenant, beam down at your convenience. Take the Doctor or Tom down with you."
The engineer nodded and the meeting broke up.
Your Wish is My Command
Title: Your Wish is My Command Author: Jemima Contact: email@example.com Series: VOY Part: 8/19 Rating: PG Codes: T, S, T/K, P/T, AU Summary: What if things had gone slightly differently in the first season episode "Prime Factors"? An AU story from "The Museum". Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha! Acknowledgements: Thanks to my beta reader Jade for her helpful suggestions, and to Anne Rose for pointing me in the direction of some pithy Klingon expletives. Date: March 2001 Notes: At the end of Prime Factors, Tuvok finds certain crewmembers from engineering about to beam down to the planet to trade stories for technology that could transport Voyager 40,000 lightyears closer to home. In the real ep, Tuvok stops them so that he can beam down and violate the Prime Directive himself. In my AU, things go a little differently, and then more differently, and so on. Now, picture yourself back in First Season, when the Kazon were a force to be reckoned with, leola root was a fresh and dripping horror, Maquis mutinies were still on Tuvok's mind, and everyone thought Janeway was a lunatic who would get the whole crew killed in the name of her precious, yet infinitely malleable, Prime Directive...
"Stories!" Torres fumed to her companion. "They would have transported us halfway home for a few old stories from the Federation database. And that woman--" B'Elanna punched a bulkhead.
"Temper, Torres. The bulkhead is not the enemy," Seska said.
"No, the Vulcan is the enemy," B'Elanna snapped, forgetting about Janeway for the moment. "If the p'tak hadn't stopped us, we'd be 40,000 light-years closer to the DMZ right now."
"At least he didn't turn us in. He almost went down there to make the trade himself."
"'Almost' won't get us home," B'Elanna growled.
The Bajoran woman's calm annoyed the half-Klingon to no end. Seska had been the brains behind the abortive smuggling operation - back in the Maquis she'd had a temper shorter than B'Elanna's own, but now she seemed as calm as the bloodless Vulcan himself. It made no sense, unless...she had a plan.
"What are you up to, Seska?"
"I think we need to have a little chat with Chakotay."
"She stranded us out here, she's passed up several opportunities to get us home, she won't accept help from anyone--"
"Enough, Seska," Chakotay cut her off. "We all know what's been going on for the past few months."
"We're prisoners, Chakotay - even if we do get back they'll throw us in prison or worse, turn us over to the Cardassians." Torres shivered voluntarily to impress the men.
Neither Suder nor Jonas seemed to notice, but Chakotay's tone softened as he said, "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, B'Elanna. It's no use worrying about it now."
"They're right, sir," Jonas spoke up. "Janeway's a miserable excuse for a Captain. We're lucky we're still alive - if we run into the Kazon or the Vidiians one more time, we're goners. I'm sure she was qualified for Federation milk-runs and spy-retrieval, but the Delta Quadrant is out of her league."
"I'm afraid that worries me as well, but we have no other options."
"We can take the ship," Suder suggested.
"There aren't even fifty of us," B'Elanna countered. "How will we run it afterwards?"
"The Starfleets will see it our way, once it's done." Jonas had no doubts on that account, but Torres did.
Suder added, "The Maquis could use a ship like this."
"Enough!" Chakotay looked glum. "I won't sink to the level of Paris or Tuvok. There will be no more betrayals."
"Not even to save our lives?" Seska said quietly.
"I gave my word, as a Maquis, to serve under Janeway."
"But she's incompetent! We'll all die out here!" Jonas protested. Suder grumbled as well, and Torres muttered, "If this were a Klingon ship..."
"If the Prophets smile on us," Seska prayed aloud, "the next aliens that attack us without provocation will take her out."
"If wishes were latinum, Seska..." Chakotay voice trailed off as he eyed the group. Finally he announced, "This conversation never happened."
Voyager's malcontents dispersed slowly.
"Seska, you look too happy to be Bajoran."
"And you look too defeated to be Klingon."
"If only Chakotay were willing to take over the ship..."
"But he is willing, B'Elanna; he said so. We just need some aliens to get Janeway out of the way."
"So what do we do, hail the Vidiians and brag about her lungs? You're out of your mind, Seska."
"No, not the Vidiians - they might plead innocence afterwards. We need fresh aliens. Let's call them 'the Sarris Dominion'."
"They'll need unique weaponry - something that will take out the shields and overload a few choice consoles, but leave no marks on the hull."
"Tuvok will see through it. We could never pull it off."
"Then Tactical goes on the list of choice consoles, right after the Captain's chair. It would be wise to take out Ops, and hard to pass up the opportunity to kill Paris at the helm..."
"We can't kill the Starfleet half of the senior staff without raising suspicions." B'Elanna didn't quite believe her own ears; had she no greater objection to mutiny and murder than the difficulty involved in covering it up?
"We can spare a few Maquis, if you insist," Seska conceded. "Jonas and Chell aren't much use--"
"No Maquis. Just Janeway and Tuvok."
"What about Paris?"
"Some other time, Seska."
B'Elanna was frozen to her console in Engineering, ostensibly running a Level 4 diagnostic on the warp core. She had a comm link open to Seska at the bridge engineering station, so the Bajoran could hear every word of her brief exchange with Chell.
"Chell to Torres."
"I finished that report you wanted. If you have any questions, I'll be on the holodeck. Chell out."
That was the sign. Chell, Jonas, Tabor and Chakotay were going to the holodeck to play dom-jot. B'Elanna eyed the chronometer. In thirteen minutes and thirty-four seconds, the Sarris Dominion would make their first and only appearance in the Delta Quadrant.
She didn't hate the Captain, but she wanted to get back to the Alpha Quadrant in one piece. Janeway was incompetent, and on Klingon vessels, incompetent captains died. In eleven more minutes, Voyager was going to be a Klingon vessel, if only briefly.
"Lieutenant, could you take a look at this relay? I think it's fried."
"Give me a few minutes to wrap up this diagnostic, Ballard, and then I'll give you a hand."
"Torres to the bridge. I'm reading a fluctuation in the main power grid." Her hands flew across the console, as though she were tracing, rather than causing, the problem.
Seska gave the countersign. "Bridge here. Can you trace it?"
"Not yet. It may be some sort of scan."
"Captain, there's an alien ship decloaking off the port bow." It was Harry's voice, but Seska's handiwork. "They're powering weapons."
"Raise shields! Evasive maneuvers!"
Torres let Paris turn the ship, but she flicked off the inertial dampeners for a moment and blew up a few consoles, including one of the unmanned mission ops stations on the bridge. As the ship rocked, she locked down the holodeck as well. There would be no heroics from Chakotay, and - she tapped the console lightly - no escape to warp, for the moment.
"I've lost helm control." That was Paris.
"Direct hit," Tuvok reported. Seska could only fool him so long. This was the risky bit of the business, but she had insisted on showing off her aliens.
"They're hailing us, Captain."
"On screen." Would those be Janeway's last words?
B'Elanna had seen this part filmed on the holodeck; she didn't need to be on the bridge to know that the aliens were ugly and green, with sharp black teeth. They were overdone - Seska was mocking the Starfleets. She was the meanest Bajoran Torres had ever heard of, never mind met.
"You have invaded the Sarris Dominion. You will be destroyed."
"We are on a peaceful mission. Please--"
"They've cut communications, Captain. I can't raise them." Poor Harry. He was so green.
"Engineering, we need helm control."
"I'm working on it," B'Elanna replied over a more official comm link. "Engineering out." But the engineer was still listening.
"Shields at sixty percent," Tuvok reported. "Captain, there is an anomalous--"
So soon? The Vulcan was good. B'Elanna slammed her hand down on her console; the ship lurched again, and she heard the sound of Tactical exploding. The Vulcan had been good, but the Maquis were better.
"Captain, I've restored helm control," B'Elanna reported, far too literally. But they were shouting up there - had they even heard her?
"Tuvok!" There, that would be her last word-- "Seska!"
Kahless, how had Seska gotten in the way?
"Where's Chakotay?" Torres heard the Captain ask.
"Commander Chakotay is trapped on the holodeck."
She could only keep this comm link open for a few more seconds before she was scheduled to fry half the power grid. Yet she hesitated; was Janeway still in the big chair, or had she taken over the ruined tactical station? She risked a look at the internal sensors - all clear.
"Paris, get us out of here."
It was time. B'Elanna fired the last shot from the Sarris - the ship lurched, the captain's console exploded, internal communications and sensors went down, shields went down, but the warp core remained online. Paris, now the ranking officer on the bridge, took Voyager to warp.
Internal communications were still out an hour later when Chakotay appeared, haggard and unkempt, in Engineering. Tom had sent a team to the holodeck to free the captain presumptive and his companions. Her once and future captain broke the bad news.
As if she didn't know.
But he didn't know, or at least, he put on a good show of ignorance. Torres sank to the floor in relief at the news - the first hard evidence she had that the coup had succeeded - and he took it for shock.
Janeway and Tuvok were dead. B'Elanna stumbled through a report - strange energy weapons, internal systems fried, warp core still up but could we stop running away now? It was dangerous to run the core without any internal sensors to monitor the field.
Without external sensors, he argued, who knew whether the Sarris were on their tail? When she answered that she was willing to take that risk, she could have sworn he looked at her strangely before he turned to leave. Maybe her eyes were playing tricks on her. Either way, she had a ship to fix.
Hours later, when the remains of Engineering were no longer smoking, B'Elanna snuck up to Sickbay to visit Seska.
"You should be in Engineering," she hissed. She didn't sound good.
"I'll get back there in a minute. I needed the walk. What happened to you?"
"I was trying to help Tuvok interpret his *anomalous* readings when the console blew." Seska sat up and glanced around the room. "How is he?"
"They haven't told you?"
"They don't know I'm conscious," the Bajoran whispered.
"Where's the Doc?"
"I shut him down after I reprogrammed him."
"He knew too much. My uniform was...non-standard. I would have died without the extra protection."
"What about Kes?"
"Kes was out playing medic. The transporters were down."
As if she didn't know.
So Chakotay became Captain. If Tuvok had lived, there might have been protests, but the next Starfleet in line for command was Paris. Not even the Starfleets wanted him in the big chair. Chakotay apologized to B'Elanna when he made Carey his first officer - to keep peace with the other half of the crew, he said.
No tears flowed as the two bodies were consigned to space. The departed had been each other's best friend, and had maintained their distance, for different reasons, from the rest of the crew. The Starfleets were in shock and the Maquis were trying not to look too happy about it. Torres examined their faces, but saw no suspicion among the Starfleets, excepting Paris, and no triumph among the Maquis, excepting Jonas and Seska.
B'Elanna kept waiting for the investigation, but no one was in charge of investigating random alien attacks in the Delta Quadrant. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. A Maquis spirit infused the crew - Chakotay paid lip-service to Starfleet regulations, but their priorities gradually changed.
People began to arrive at their duty shifts late, or early, as it pleased them, and no reprimands were issued. Voyager flew right by the choicest of anomalies, if they gave no sign of producing a wormhole or an energy source. They ignored civilizations that could provide them no advanced technology and conducted more stealth operations - beaming up a harvest from a pre-warp planet, and beaming down the appropriate payment in replicated gold, wampum, or stories.
B'Elanna had planned various accidents to eliminate the all-too-perceptive helmsman, but she'd never carried them out. She told herself knowing looks alone were no threat, and she almost believed it. Paris was more circumspect around Seska; the Bajoran's suspicions involved Lieutenant Kim instead.
"He's been at the sensor logs, B'Elanna."
"He's curious about the Sarris. We keep running into Vidiians - it's reasonable for him to worry--"
"We have to eliminate him."
"It's under control."
"It had better be."
So she'd gotten involved with Harry Kim. B'Elanna kept his free hours occupied, so he wouldn't muck about in the computer logs. Whatever suspicions he might have held were dissolved in his puppy-dog devotion to her. It wasn't as bad as she'd expected, really. The purely human side of her liked Harry and even enjoyed his company. In fact, if sacrificing all her free time and any chance she might have had to mate with someone more desirable in order to save Harry's life was love, then she loved him.
No, she didn't really love him - he just didn't deserve to die for his curiosity. And if she had to spend the next seventy years of her life suppressing her true personality and pretending to be Harry's loving girlfriend, maybe she deserved that for her crimes. After all, she wasn't attracted to anyone on Voyager, except the only man left aboard who did deserve to die: the traitor Tom Paris.
Three years later she was still staring at Lieutenant Paris.
Well, she reassured herself on the bad days - the days she came within inches of assaulting her boyfriend - at least there were no more Borg. Chakotay had left them and Species 8472 to fight it out on their own, and it had turned out to be a beautiful example of mutual annihilation. Seven of Nine told them about it afterwards, though at the time it hadn't been pretty. Voyager had barely escaped, losing Seska, Chell, Jonas, Bendera and twelve Starfleets to assimilation.
Torres was the only one left who knew the truth. Tabor hadn't been in on the plot, Suder had been killed a few years back, and Chakotay had never said a suspicious word. Even Paris didn't glare at her quite the way he used to. She ought to feel guilty, she knew, but the coup was fading from her own memory. If she thought back, she could recall slamming her hand on the console - the blow that killed Tuvok - but little else. Life went on.
They'd found Seven in a Borg debris field. B'Elanna would have hated the Doctor's pet science project but that whenever she saw her, she thought, 'There are no more Borg,' and occasionally said so to the mourning drone.
The Borg, Seven informed them, had chased Species 8472 all the way to the Alpha Quadrant. The Collective had devoted themselves to wiping out the threat from fluidic space, and the price had been all their billions of lives. Doubtless a cube or two had survived, but their ability to interlink as a Collective was lost along with the great Unimatricies, the backbone of Borg communication.
How the mighty have fallen, B'Elanna mused as she scowled at Tom and Seven. It seemed Paris wanted to get to know the Borg in the biblical sense. He'd chased every other human female in the quadrant - Seven was his last challenge, unless...
The idea that crossed Torres' mind was reprehensible, yet she couldn't deny a certain attraction to the traitor Paris. She had been watching him all-too-closely these past five years. Still, Harry scorned would again pose a threat to her. She was trapped, and would always be trapped, by that one day that seemed a lifetime ago already.
"B'Elanna, dear, sit down."
"What is it, Harry?" She was tired, but she was on perpetual girlfriend duty. She always had to be calm, sweet, polite, which made her even more tired.
"I have something to tell you."
"Can't it wait, dearest? It's been a long day - the slipstream project is giving me a headache. I hate nanoprobes."
"I've been working on the Doc's program and I discovered something."
Kahless! He knew! She'd forgotten about Seska reprogramming the EMH. No one had noticed at the time, and when Seska was around she'd been the one in charge of monitoring unusual inquiries into the Doc's program. Since she'd been assimilated, no one had watched.
"Why were you working on the EMH?" He was bored with her. He'd gone back to his investigations. Qu'vatlh! How had she let this happen?
"Oh, you know, just tinkering." Harry watched her pace back and forth across the small room. "B'Elanna, sit down."
She sat and stared at him. She couldn't bring herself to kill Harry, not after all these years. He would turn her in, Chakotay would court-martial her, Paris and Carey would vote to convict, and they'd space her, or lock her up for the next fifty years, which was worse.
"The day that Captain Janeway and Lieutenant Tuvok died, Seska was taken to sickbay. She altered the EMH's program while she was there." Harry paused, but B'Elanna kept staring at him wordlessly.
"She was covering something up, dear." He paused again, and again got no response from the pale woman. "It took me a while to figure it out. I had to unearth gelpack-echoes of deleted backups of backups of his holomatrix, but I finally found out what she didn't want us to know."
How long had he been at this? Little as she enjoyed, after several wearing years, the farce of being his girlfriend, she had prided herself on being good at it - her final Maquis undercover operation. Yet she'd failed.
"B'Elanna, Seska was a Cardassian. She had been genetically altered to look Bajoran, but when she was brought in to sickbay, the Doc--" His words were choked off by the contraction of his sweet, docile girlfriend's hands around his throat.
"QI'yaH! You lie, dog of a Starfleet!" she shouted. All she could see through the red haze in her mind was Seska's face with Cardassian features. All Seska's quiet hints and wicked grins and calculated threats fell into a neat, familiar pattern - a pattern of malice all Maquis knew from painful experience, or should have known. She had killed Janeway and Tuvok for a Cardassian!
B'Elanna's flash of insight was followed by a surge of rage and denial, during which she dropped Harry and lashed out at every movable object in the room. Her puppy-dog managed to hit his commbadge before passing out.
The security team found him on the floor among the rubble. More things in Torres' quarters had been broken than anyone would have believed were breakable, and she had to be restrained by four crewmen, one of whom sustained severe bat'leth wounds in the process.
She awoke in sickbay, with Paris, part-time medic, standing over her.
"Morning, sunshine," he said. "Sorry the EMH couldn't be here to greet you personally, but he's off-line until the damage your ex-boyfriend found has been repaired."
"Don't play coy with me, Torres. I know Harry told you about Seska - you haven't caused this kind of carnage in, oh, five years or so."
"So it's true, then," she said, ignoring the jibe.
"Yes, Seska was a Cardassian spy. She must have been from the Obsidian Order, don't you think? Just another traitor, like Tuvok, and me...and you."
B'Elanna glared at him.
"Don't worry - Harry doesn't know. He figures he's already uncovered Seska's deep, dark secret, and he's seen enough of your Klingon side to head straight for the other end of the quadrant. You're a free woman."
"Except for you."
"I suppose I shouldn't lean in too close to the helm, eh? We wouldn't want the Sarris to show up again suddenly."
"Cut the wisecracks, Paris. What do you want?"
"I want you to keep me occupied the way you've been keeping Harry occupied all these years. Give me something to keep my mind off the old sensor logs."
"I'm not up for playing nice anymore."
"Now who said anything about playing nice?"
She shrugged, and bit him in assent.
Title: Interlude IV Author: Jemima Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Series: VOY Part: 9/19 Rating: PG Codes: crew Summary: This is an interlude in "The Museum", a series of AU stories within one larger story. In this Interlude, Paris catches his wife and plots with Neelix. Janeway and Tuvok meet in her ready room. Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha!
Tom dropped the medical tricorder to catch B'Elanna as she swayed on her feet. She bit him for his efforts, but he was fairly sure it was an affectionate bite. When a growl followed, he began to worry.
"B'Elanna, honey, the security detail," he said quietly to dampen her enthusiasm.
It did that. She twisted swiftly out of his arms and hissed, "You told them!" Her glance flickered across the white walls and over the two armed ensigns as though she had just noticed that she wasn't in whatever private scene she'd thought she was.
"Told them what?" he wondered aloud. "Tuvok insisted on the precaution, in case people were disoriented by the experience." Occasionally, Tom had to admit to himself, the Vulcan spotted trouble before it took over the ship.
"How do you feel?"
"I'm fine," B'Elanna answered brusquely, and would give no more details.
Tom recovered his tricorder, proclaimed her fit and suggested heading to the museum cafeteria for a snack.
The cafeteria was on the upper level, under a huge, hexagonal skylight. Night was falling quickly outside on the desert planet. Inside, the white-walled room was illuminated by the same unseen lighting that pervaded the museum.
The cafeteria was, in fact, not a normal hexagonal room. Instead, it was formed out of several smaller rooms trailing out from the central replicator. Several walls were missing entirely, making larger pockets of space, but still leaving private corners and cul-de-sacs.
Once Neelix had coaxed their requests out of the replicator, Tom and B'Elanna brought their trays of food to a table in one of the quieter corners. After a bit of gagh, B'Elanna seemed to come to herself. Tom risked asking her what she'd seen.
"No dice, flyboy. I wouldn't want to pollute the timestream."
"Fine. Did you find the warpcore at the end of the rainbow, at least?"
"No, actually, most of my staff were assimilated by the Borg. That slowed down our research program significantly."
"It was the least of my problems." B'Elanna looked away.
"What about us?" Tom asked. "I hope I wasn't too much of a problem."
"We got together eventually. I guess we were meant to be."
"I guess so."
When he was finished serving the lunch crowd the next day, Neelix ambled over to the same table, where Tom Paris was now dining alone.
"Why so glum, Tom?" the morale officer asked as he joined him at the table.
Tom looked up from his mushroom omelette. "I'm glum because our lives here are so good. Does that make any sense?"
Neelix nodded. "I believe humans call it 'survivor's guilt'. You saw a universe torn by violence--" Tom shook his head at that, and Neelix regrouped: "--a universe marred by mistakes, your own and your friends'. Now that you're back, you feel like you don't deserve to be here."
"Do I?" Tom asked.
"This is your life. It's made out of your decisions and your dumb luck and your mistakes. You don't deserve it, particularly, but you *are* it."
"I was," Tom said, "but now, I'm half me, and half that other me."
"So what's the other you like?" Neelix asked.
Tom told him. The Talaxian hung on every word - he loved a good story. Tom, for his part, was relieved to get the secrets and sins of his other life off his chest.
"You know, Neelix," he said when he was through, "B'Elanna won't tell me what she saw, but maybe she'll tell you. She's still upset about it, though she'd never admit it."
"I'll see what I can do, Tom, but you're the expert at collecting information. I'm surprised you haven't wormed it out of her."
A gleam lit Tom's eye. "Neelix," he said slyly, "I have an idea, but I'll need your help."
"Will it be good for morale?" the reluctant Talaxian asked.
"Of course it will. Now here's my plan..."
"Tuvok, how can I help you?" Janeway put her PADD down on the ready-room desk.
"Captain, I have been contemplating the rather sparse reports submitted by Lieutenants Paris and Torres, and yourself."
"I take it Seven of Nine was more forthcoming?"
"Indeed. It is unfortunate that Seven of Nine deleted the transwarp schematics from her cortical array. She was an ideal candidate for the Mobius band."
"How so?" Janeway asked, letting Tuvok guide her toward whatever it was he wanted to discuss, at his own pace.
"Her mind is extraordinarily logical and disciplined, for a human. While Torres and Paris seem to have recalled mainly personal details, Seven of Nine observed the universe with which she was presented with an unbiased and scientific eye."
"She was a Borg there, Tuvok - or so the Doctor's report indicates. She would hardly have recalled 'personal details'."
Tuvok shrugged this fact off. "I believe that a more disciplined mind will provide us with more answers."
"You want to try the Mobius band."
"Very well. Do so at your convenience. Have the Doctor monitor you."
"Thank you, Captain."
Janeway watched him carefully as he left, trying to shake off the suspicions of her security officer that had haunted her since her own encounter with the Mobius band. She wondered what the alien exhibit would show him...
Title: Logic Dictates Author: Jemima Contact: email@example.com Series: VOY Part: 10/19 Rating: G Codes: Tu, Section 31 Summary: A tale of Tuvok, Interstellar Man of Mystery. An AU based on the episode "Repression". Spoilers for "Section 31: Origins" by Penny Proctor. Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha! Date: February 2001
When Section 31 first came to him and informed him of his recruitment - they were the only part of Starfleet still practicing the draft - Tuvok did the only thing he could do under the circumstances. He resigned from Starfleet and returned to Vulcan, ostensibly to practice the kohlinar regimen.
"No one leaves Section 31," they warned him. "Be ready when the time comes."
Tuvok married and raised children, but the question, 'why me?' was never far from his thoughts. Why choose an honest Vulcan for rogue operations and a life of deception?
Logic dictated that they would not have risked revealing their existence to a member of his logical, truthful race unless there had been other Vulcans in Section 31. One of his own people, sometime in Federation history, had found a flaw in Starfleet and had chosen this secretive means of overcoming it. What had been his logic, that Section 31 Vulcan of past or present? Tuvok examined the Federation Charter and Starfleet Regulations minutely. He spent his free time reviewing Federation history, looking for other Vulcan operatives.
His time ran out forty-five years later. Tensions with the Klingon Empire were high, but Section 31 was in favor of a treaty. A representative of the secret organization politely informed Tuvok that he would reenlist and be posted to the Wyoming. As part of his cover, he would voice objections to any negotiations with the Klingons.
He worked towards the Federation-Klingon treaties behind the scenes. His part in the affair was a small one, and when the relations between the new allies had stabilized, Tuvok was once again demobilized from Section 31, with the same warnings: 'They also serve who only stand and wait.'
They allowed him to take a training post at Starfleet Academy. He had sixteen more years of peace and quiet in which to continue his meditation upon his unique circumstances.
In the course of his furtive personal research, Tuvok noted how often the Federation, the quadrant, the galaxy and even the universe itself had been saved by the rogue actions of individuals like Captain James T. Kirk or, more recently, Jean-Luc Picard. He did not suspect such officers; not even Spock the half-Vulcan appeared to have been a member of Section 31. Yet Section 31 was merely the institutionalization of the old human proverb that the ends justify the means.
Of course, one could not make a habit of violating Federation law and Starfleet directives for the sake of saving the Federation and Starfleet. Instead, an individual like Kirk must be driven by dire necessity. In the end, such officers were never dishonorably discharged.
An organization like Section 31, however, had no individual conscience with which to justify its actions before courts-martial or the Federation Judiciary. Section 31 must remain a rumor and a byword. Though they saved the Federation as often as a Kirk or a Picard, they received no praise for being brave men. An individual could be a hero; an organization was merely a conspiracy.
Tuvok's next posting was under Kathryn Janeway; she thanked him for requesting her. He hadn't. He had enjoyed his time at the Academy. Someone from Section 31 must have put in the request, but he heard nothing from them until several years later, when a new contact, Sloan, visited him while he was on leave on Vulcan to visit his family. The year was 2371.
"Our reprehensible treaty with the Cardassians is necessary for the preservation of the Federation," Sloan said. "Great forces are on the move, and if Cardassia turns on us, our situation will be dire indeed." The operative paused, but Tuvok said nothing.
"A fine Starfleet officer is giving us a bad name with our allies."
"Chakotay," Tuvok said. He had often wondered whether the Maquis were also part of Section 31's inscrutable plans. It seemed not.
"Yes. You will infiltrate his cell on behalf of Starfleet Intelligence. An Intrepid-class ship will pursue you into his favorite hideout, the Badlands. You will be captured with the rest of the cell. You will then help them to take over the ship. It would be best if you spaced the Starfleet crew. This will turn the Federation sympathizers against the Maquis."
"A house divided cannot stand."
Tuvok merely nodded. He knew Sloan wanted to be reassured of his loyalty, if it could be called that, to Section 31 - a long time had passed since the Klingon treaties. Maybe a well-placed question could tell both of them what they wanted to know.
"Did T'Leya of Vulcan found Section 31?"
Sloan smiled. "Admiral Desmond Paris gets all the credit, but I agree with you, Lieutenant; T'Leya must have been the brains behind the operation."
Tuvok questioned his own loyalty only once, when Captain Janeway was given one of the new Intrepid-class ships. Could he space an old friend merely because logic and Section 31 dictated it? He was an experienced operative now; he hoped to be able to avoid that particular conundrum.
Starfleet Intelligence arranged his infiltration of the Maquis cell. Section 31 made sure of all the little details the amateurs in Intelligence had missed.
Tuvok doubted his own ability to lie. Fortunately, that questionable skill was not needed. When he swore loyalty to Chakotay's cell, he meant it. He fired on Starfleet's allies, the Cardassians, without a qualm. He despised them as much as Sloan did. As a nation, they were necessary allies, but as individuals they were as expendable as Starfleet ensigns.
Since Tuvok would, presumably, be betraying Voyager into the hands of his Maquis crewmates, their short stint in the brig would be no violation of his oath to Chakotay. Whatever harm it did the Maquis cause would be indirect. One Vulcan navigator certainly could not be held responsible for the political atmosphere of the Alpha Quadrant. What could one individual do, against the many?
Nor would he be guilty of lying to Janeway. It would never occur to her to ask, 'Tuvok, will you be handing my ship over to a horde of terrorists and perhaps even spacing my crew?' Moreover, Section 31 had kindly arranged for him to omit the Starfleet oath on the occasion of his reenlistment a few years back.
Janeway, Chakotay and Sloan all trusted him because he was a Vulcan and Vulcans don't lie. If he lived through this assignment, Tuvok reflected, he ought to write a treatise on casuistry. So much irony was distasteful to his fine sensibilities, though; Vulcan Poetics frowned upon irony as a juvenile indulgence.
But the irony never ended. The Caretaker frustrated everyone's plans. Tuvok was unable to prevent Janeway from blowing his cover. Matters spiralled out of control; the remnant of Chakotay's Maquis were stranded on Voyager, and Voyager was stranded in the Delta Quadrant.
Tuvok was pleased. He wouldn't have to space anyone after all, and the Maquis cause would not suffer for his all-too-real loyalty to Chakotay's cell. By the time they reached the Alpha Quadrant, the dance of alliances, betrayals and covert ops would have passed these 150 lost souls by. In the meantime, he would enjoy another long leave of absence from Section 31.
No one aboard Voyager could quite understand the oxymoron of a Vulcan spy. With Tom to hate, the Maquis let the issue of Tuvok drop. Only Chakotay suspected that Tuvok's mission had been more than the security officer admitted. Why send an ordinary Vulcan security officer to do what someone, anyone, from Starfleet Intelligence could have managed? The Cardassians had sent Seska, who was with the Obsidian Order. Starfleet had nothing to compare to the Obsidian Order, did they?
Section 31 didn't contact their agent across the alien communications array - perhaps because it was not a secure line, but more likely because there was nothing Tuvok could contribute to the security of the Federation from so far away.
They did, however, contact him through the Pathfinder project - Tuvok suspected that he was, in fact, the sole reason for Pathfinder. Voyager was making good time in her trek across the Delta Quadrant. Their return to the Alpha Quadrant would be a great coup for someone, and Section 31 liked to plan their coups ahead of time.
So he found out that Sloane was dead, and saw his newest contact done up as a Bajoran. 'Teero' was just a figment of Section 31's active imagination. They wanted control of Voyager. Tuvok was instructed to seize control, with Chakotay as his figurehead. In return, Section 31 would pass along some advanced technology they had obtained, and Voyager would be home in a few months' time.
To Tuvok, it seemed a fair trade. Another agent might have confessed to his Captain and, with her help, tried to trick his fellow operatives into sending Voyager the secret technology. This agent, however, knew that he might not be the only representative of his distant masters aboard ship. He could trust no one but himself to obtain the technology. A dim memory of promising his Captain years back not to do this sort of thing again threatened to surface in the back of his mind, but he squashed it easily.
The charade started off well enough. Tuvok sweated and trembled like a Vulcan in pon farr. In fact, he was in pon farr; the symptoms, still a mystery to Federation medicine, added great weight to his cover story. Afterwards, though, his unstable medical state began to affect his mind control over the Maquis.
When Chakotay decided to maroon the Starfleet crew, Tuvok knew his power over the Maquis was weakening, and when his new Captain asked him to kill Janeway, the Vulcan had to change policy. His control of the Maquis was insufficient for Section 31's purposes, whatever they might be. So he released Chakotay, and then the other Maquis.
Tuvok reported his failure to Section 31 in the next datastream, and they, for their part, kept the advanced technology to themselves. They made one parting request, that he fake a particularly difficult pon farr to regain the crew's sympathy. The covert operatives greatly overestimated the crew's suspicions of their wayward Vulcan, but it was easier for him to go through the motions than to explain to his superiors that such a ruse was unnecessary.
So he shivered and trembled a bit more, but he denied that anything was wrong. He chose an opportunity when the Doctor was away; Tom leapt to the conclusion that a few tremors were the signs of the early stages of his pon farr. Of course, it was a very, very early stage - six years and eleven months away, but if Paris wished to believe otherwise, that was his call as a medic.
When that embarrassing incident was finally over - the Vulcan still winced at the memory of taking romantic advice from Tom Paris - Tuvok considered himself on leave again. If Section 31 needed his services, they would contact him; until then, he could concentrate on what Paris might have called his 'day job'. What, after all, could one individual do against the forces that direct history?
Title: Interlude V Author: Jemima Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Series: VOY Part: 11/19 Rating: PG Codes: crew Summary: This is an interlude in "The Museum", a series of AU stories within one larger story. In this Interlude, Neelix pesters Tuvok, the Captain makes a decision and Paris plots further mayhem. Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha!
Tuvok withdrew his hand from the Mobius band. "Doctor," he asked, "may I return to my duties?"
"Are you experiencing any disorientation?" the EMH asked.
"No. I am somewhat tired, but that is all." His glance roved around the white room as the Doctor performed his scans.
"Your neural pathways seem to be singularly unaffected by the experience," the EMH commented. "You did see another universe, didn't you?"
"It would appear so," Tuvok replied.
The Doctor raised a holographic eyebrow, but said only, "Your glucose level is low. I'd recommend a trip to the snack bar before you return to duty."
"Thank you, Doctor."
The Vulcan made his way to the cafeteria, where ordered a bowl of plomeek soup and sat down at one of the many secluded tables, under the starry desert sky. The fates, however, would not leave him to eat his version of comfort food in peace.
Instead, Neelix walked up to his corner table and asked, "Did you see anything interesting in your alternate universe, Mr. Vulcan?"
"It was very much like this universe, Mr. Neelix."
"Weren't there any differences?"
"My son had taken up mathematics, not musical composition."
"Was that all?" the Talaxian asked.
"That was the only notable difference," the Vulcan replied impassively.
"I guess logic is the same all over," Neelix concluded.
After Tuvok's sparse report, the Captain decided to allow the entire list of volunteers a chance at the Mobius band. The Doctor was convinced the device was harmless, and B'Elanna and Seven agreed that it posed no danger to their own timeline.
Chakotay's instincts matched Janeway's - the building was exactly what it appeared to be, a museum. The Mobius band was the most intriguing exhibit - it still made him a bit nervous - but there were plenty of others. The Captain declared a general shore leave, and from then on, the museum was crowded with visitors combining business with pleasure.
Some crewmembers were all business, Commander Chakotay among them. He plunged into the linguistic and archaeological exhibits with great enthusiasm, but seemed to have no interest in the Mobius band itself. Nor was he the only one. By Tom's estimate, at least thirty crewmen had no intention of trying the central exhibit of the museum.
Billy Tefler was afraid of what might happen if he died in another universe. Ensign Tabor had some obscure Bajoran religious objection to out-of-body experiences. Harry joked that he'd seen enough alternate universes in his day. Sam Wildman was unwilling to let Naomi try the Mobius band - she didn't want to lose another daughter - and to soften the blow, refused to try it herself, either.
Soon, with Neelix's help, Tom had a PADDful of data on the experiences of everyone from Captain to crewman who had dared the Mobius band to date. After the first twenty guinea-pigs, he had rough categories marked out, and a title for the new betting pool: 'The Way Things Ought to Be'.
Paris snuck out of his cabin one night after B'Elanna fell asleep, in order to collect the latest information from his mess-hall source.
"What do you mean, the way things ought to be?" Neelix asked him under the cover of a midnight snack.
"Democracy, Neelix, democracy - the majority of universes rules. For example, we already have ten universes in which Chakotay proves his undying devotion to Our Captain - surely that means they were meant to be?"
"But in some of those the proof is posthumous, Tom. In fact, in twelve universes Janeway is dead - that's the majority."
Tom brushed the bad news aside. "Well, I was hoping you'd have some happier data for me tonight, to nudge the balance over in the direction of true love."
Neelix shook his head. "True love seems to be no match for the Borg. Of the five new reports I've gathered, three were drone-lives. Unless being united forever in the Borg Collective counts as a happy ending, it doesn't look good for the Captain and Commander."
Tom's face fell. He really did believe, deep in his cynic's heart, that the Mobius band was some sort of Delphic oracle that would move a heart of stone - that is, Janeway's heart of stone. He would always be a romantic.
"Cheer up, Tom," Neelix said. "You and B'Elanna were certainly meant to be - fifteen universes out of the twenty-five so far."
"I'm not going to get many bets against that one," Tom answered glumly.
"Does it really matter?" the Talaxian asked. "Replicator rations don't mean much now that we have access to the museum's replicators. I wouldn't be helping you with this betting pool if it weren't good for morale."
"What if it turns out we should have all been assimilated - will that be good for morale?" Tom asked.
"It would show just how fortunate we are." Neelix helped Tom enter the vital statistics for the five new people into his database.
"This is so exciting!" the Talaxian exclaimed when they were through. "Exploring all these new, uncharted universes, seeing sides to your friends that you've never seen before--"
"So when are you going to try it yourself?" Tom asked him.
"It's been exciting just hearing about it," Neelix replied, "but I *would* like to see a new universe for myself."
"I should be getting back - thanks for the snack."
"It's no trouble at all." Neelix took Tom's now-empty plate back to the kitchen, and thought about brave new worlds. In the morning, he decided, he would see one for himself.
To Perish in that Howling Infinite
Title: To Perish in that Howling Infinite Author: Jemima Contact: email@example.com Series: VOY Part: 12/19 Rating: PG Codes: N, P, C, AU Summary: Sometimes, when you go whaling, the whale wins. An AU based on the episode "Dark Frontier" and the novel "Moby Dick". Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha!
"Ensign Kim," Neelix greeted his last customer of the evening in his usual chipper Talaxian way, "you're looking tired tonight."
"I just spent five hours sifting through the wreckage of that Borg ship," Harry explained.
"Did we really blow up a Borg cube?"
"Yes, Neelix. I'll have some of those leola french-fries, please."
"Do you think that was a good idea? Won't the Borg be annoyed?" the cook asked nervously.
"Captain Janeway wants a transwarp coil," Harry answered, taking the plate Neelix handed him. What the Captain wants, she gets.
"Did we get one, then?" Neelix knew a transwarp coil could bring Voyager years closer to home, and years farther from Talax, and Kes.
"Not exactly. Seven and B'Elanna say the ship's coil is beyond repair. We did get some telemetry, though. We can track down more Borg ships now."
"Ah," Neelix said, not at all comforted by the idea.
"I like to think of it as whaling," Harry added.
"Humans used to hunt whales - huge aquatic animals that could sink a sailing ship. Their oil was used for lighting in the days before electricity. It was extremely valuable, but getting it was a risky enterprise."
"I see. So the transwarp coils are like..." Neelix's voice trailed off.
That was the last conversation Neelix ever had with Harry Kim. The last time he spoke to Seven of Nine, they discussed her parents and their unique Borg studies. He served Mr. Tuvok an impressive imitation of plomeek soup, for which the Vulcan expressed his final 'thank you', and he brought the Captain freshly replicated coffee the very morning of her fateful whaling cruise.
They never came back. Neelix didn't ask Chakotay or Paris what had happened on the bridge that day - they looked too shell-shocked - but Samantha Wildman told him more than he wanted to know. Apparently the Borg had contacted Seven of Nine before the away mission had begun. Perhaps they had lured Voyager's drone into a trap, or perhaps they had induced Seven to lead Janeway, Tuvok and Harry Kim into the Borg's trap - no one was sure.
Either way, the damaged Borg vessel turned out to be not nearly so damaged as Voyager's crew had believed. It had gone to transwarp with the four crewmembers still aboard - they were long assimilated by now.
The mood was solemn in the mess hall, and the morale officer had no consolation to offer the crew for such a loss. Neelix asked Chakotay about holding a memorial service, but the Commander turned away without answering. Something in his eyes filled the Talaxian with a sense of foreboding.
It seemed like business as usual at the new Captain's first staff meeting, but for the shell-shocked look of the senior officers, old and new. Ayala had replaced Tuvok as head of security, and Nicoletti was the new Ops officer. Paris, Chakotay announced, had agreed to be his first officer. Only Neelix, Torres and the EMH retained their former roles.
The main topic of discussion was the feasibility of separating their lost crewmen from the Borg Collective. Without a transwarp coil, it could take them years just to reach Borg space proper, and there was no telling whether the 'damaged' Borg cube had returned there or headed for parts unknown.
"We'd all like to get them back," Torres said, "but we have no way of tracing them now that they're drones."
Nicoletti wanted to continue homeward. "Janeway wouldn't have wanted us to turn around," she said. "We shouldn't throw away the 35,000 light years of progress we've made so far."
Neelix kept silent, but he was on Sue's side. He considered the others: Torres and Ayala would follow Chakotay into hell itself, and the EMH's opinion didn't count for much outside of sickbay. It was all riding on Tom, Neelix concluded.
The helmsman said softly, "*She* would not have left *us* in the hands of the Borg." Tom's eyes were fixed on the Captain as he said it, and it was he who spoke next.
"We're still 40,000 light-years from home," Chakotay said, in a quiet, forceful tone Torres and Ayala remembered well. "We could spend the next 40 years trekking across the Delta Quadrant, or we could do something significant, something to help all sentient life in the galaxy, right here."
"What?" Neelix asked.
"We could eliminate the Borg."
"You're talking about genocide!" the EMH objected.
"The Borg are not a genus - they're a league of parasites who enslave members of real species," Chakotay replied, his eyes flashing. Ayala and Torres nodded in agreement. Even Sue Nicoletti seemed swayed by his tone, if not his argument.
Chakotay's glance flowed over them all, barely lighting on Neelix and the EMH, but sparking answering fires in Torres and Ayala. Ayala was still the Captain's man. Neelix was just tagging along on Voyager, so he wasn't surprised if his opinion counted as little with the new Captain as the hologram's did.
Chakotay's wandering eye stopped at Tom Paris. The helmsman stared back, as if some silent conversation were passing between them. Would he join the hunt, or at least voice no protest? Neelix, Sue and the Doctor hung on his unspoken words, until Tom looked down at the conference-room table.
At that sign, the Captain launched into the details of tracking the Borg: shield modifications, bio-dampeners, scanning Borg cubes for Human and Vulcan drones, viruses, phasers and the like. Only Neelix heard Tom murmur lowly, "God keep me!--keep us all!"
By dinnertime, the whole crew was abuzz with their new mission. Some of those who passed through Neelix's mess line believed Voyager was on a mission of mercy to retrieve Janeway and company, while others already burned with a fire Neelix had seen just that morning in Chakotay's eyes.
Tom Paris came in beside B'Elanna Torres, who was fairly humming with destructive energy. She grabbed a plateful of food and hurried off to discuss shield frequencies with Vorik, leaving her boyfriend alone at the head of the mess line.
"So, Tom, how does it feel to be the new first officer?" Neelix asked him as he handed him the dinner special.
" 'The chief mate of the Pequod was Starbuck, a native of Nantucket, and a Quaker by descent'," Tom answered cryptically.
"Starbuck?" the cook asked, mystified as usual.
"He's a character from an old Earth story, Neelix - 'Moby Dick'. You might want to look it up."
"I'll do that, thanks."
Voyager reversed course, heading for Borg space. Neelix wondered what exactly their new Captain had in mind. The Borg tactical information had covered only thirty light-years. Chakotay seemed to be following his nose after that. Whenever they met another ship or ran across an inhabited planet, he would ask, "Have you seen the Borg Collective?"
Neelix heard the same story time and again: the aliens would warn Chakotay away from some Borg-rich area of space, and, as soon as Sue had closed the communications channel, the Captain would order Tom to head straight into it.
So far they'd picked off a couple of tiny tactical spheres. The Captain seemed to be waiting for something, though it wasn't the approval of the crew. They were on his side already. The battle against the Borg renewed all the guerrilla passion and patience the Maquis had once directed against the Cardassian Empire. Their old cause hopelessly lost, they took up the new one with a vengeance.
The Starfleet crew, on the other hand, remembered Wolf 359 vividly. Some had been there, many had been in Starfleet at the time, and even the youngest remembered the carnage of 2366, only ten years before. Some, having doubts about Chakotay or reluctant to battle the Borg in person, hoped to restore Janeway to the big chair quickly. Most, however, were happily engrossed in strategy and defensive preparations.
Neelix handed the ladle over to Naomi so he could talk to Tom for a few minutes. He wandered over to the first officer's corner table and asked, "Is this seat taken?"
Neelix sat down. "I've been reading Moby Dick, and I don't think Hawthorne really approved of Captain Ahab's--"
"Oh, right, Melville. There are all sorts of good stories in the database from those days. Anyway, I was saying I didn't think Captain Ahab's quest was supposed to be a good idea."
"That's putting it mildly, Neelix."
"Then why are we hunting the Borg?"
" 'The crew, man, the crew! Are they not one and all with Ahab, in this matter of the whale?' "
"I suppose you're right, Starbuck," Neelix agreed.
Neelix was one with the crew; he argued methodology and tactics with the vibrant crowds in his mess hall, and the more elaborate the plots they plotted against the Borg, the more enthusiastic he became, because of the dread in his soul. A strange Talaxian passion was in him, a fighting rage like that he had experienced in the Talaxian Defense Forces - except, of course, that he had never actually served in the TDF. It had all been a lie, and under his enthusiasm for Borg-hunting lay that dark pit of guilt and self-doubt.
Yet on the surface, Chakotay's quenchless feud seemed his. When Neelix found himself summoned to the ready room two months after the decision to make war on the Collective, he faced the new Ahab steadily, ready to do whatever his Captain asked.
Still he quailed when he heard Chakotay's request - not out of fear for himself, but for the Borg. Until that hour, Voyager's quest against the Collective had seemed to Neelix a quixotic tale that must end, sooner or later, in the crew's wholesale assimilation - a dreadful, but not an unusual, eventuality. Now, however, the Talaxian feared that the Captain could very well turn out to be a match for the Collective in cunning, organization and icy determination. 'Revenge is a dish best served cold,' B'Elanna had said only yesterday over lunch, when a crewman from exobiology suggested that the Quest was proceeding too slowly.
It was proceeding too quickly for Neelix's taste - Chakotay requested the services of Voyager's Ambassador for negotiations with...the Hirogen. A race of hunters spread across twenty thousand light-years, experts at tracking, maiming, and killing. Captain Janeway had pacified them temporarily with a gift of holodeck technology. Captain Chakotay intended to wake them up, inviting them to join Voyager in the greatest Hunt ever conceived in the Delta Quadrant - or any quadrant, for that matter.
Neelix had agreed before any of the implications had a chance to sink in. He attempted to protest after the fact, reminding Chakotay that the Hirogen would slice and dice Janeway, Tuvok, Kim and Seven as readily as they would any other Borg drones.
It was no use arguing, though. The Captain explained that Hirogen hunters would respect Voyager's prior claim to certain 'prey', namely their lost crewmates, and would not attack a ship containing fellow hunters' prey. Neelix would be responsible for arranging just such details with the Hirogen.
Fellow hunters. Brothers-in-arms. Neelix tried not to think about it too much. Cooking lunch was so much simpler than debating genocide with Captain Ahab, and more likely to do someone some good.
The first meeting with the Hirogen went off without a hitch, but it was all a blur to Neelix. He was put in mind of certain shady negotiations of his scavenger past, where both sides were trying to hide something from the other or from themselves or, most often, from both.
Afterwards, word of the Great Hunt spread quickly among Voyager's new allies. At Chakotay's encouragement, the Hirogen even offered their prey species the opportunity to become hunters of the Borg, and not all declined. Neelix was impressed at just how quickly the Hirogen organized a massive fleet. As Ambassador, he was privy to strategy sessions, but all he got out of them was a sense of the vastness of Borg space, through which those allied against the Collective darted about like a swarm of tiny insects.
Insects with a sting. A month later the Hirogen came into contact with several hundred of Arturis' people, also known as Species 116. They were still resisting the Collective despite the tragic loss of their homeworld. Although they were as bitter as Arturis himself, in their minds Voyager's current anti-Borg efforts made up for any past offenses. Arturis' people augmented Hirogen and Starfleet technology with their own advanced science; soon the Alliance, as it was now called, had won its first major victory against the Borg at Unimatrix Zero Five.
Amidst the wreckage of cubes and planets, Voyager ran alongside the Geno, one of the few ships left to Species 116. Chakotay went aboard to discuss tactics with its captain, Velonis, while some of Velonis' crew visited Voyager. Most of the guests were engineers, who made their way directly to the shuttlebay to install more anti-Borg technology in the shuttles. Every ship, no matter how small, was needed in the war effort, so even Neelix's old clunker, Baxial, was fitted out with special shielding and the new disruptor technology that had won the battle of Unimatrix Zero Five for the Alliance.
The neutron disruptor was a dangerous weapon even to the wielder. Just three or four ships could create a disruption field large enough to shatter a small moon. One small ship like Neelix's could do in a tactical sphere single-handedly. The Hirogen were ecstatic. There was, however, a down side to the alien technology: a ship firing the new weapon could be shattered along with its target, if anything happened to block the disruption beam at work.
Neelix had little time to listen to the engineers' lectures; he was needed to scavenge the wreck of Unimatrix Zero Five for parts and materials. As he steered his old, familiar freighter among the flotsam, he wondered what made humanoids fear the Borg. Was it really so bad to be Borg, to have a trillion friends and not a single moral qualm?
The Talaxian thought assimilation would be a relief to Tom Paris, for one; the helmsman was growing thin and drawn with the moral quandaries of Voyager's quest to exterminate the Borg. Not that he said much about it to the morale officer - no one spoke much about their doubts under Captain Chakotay. Then again, they hadn't said much under Janeway, either. It must be a human thing, Neelix concluded.
And what was it about the mere specter of assimilation that made humanoids fear it more than outright death? Perhaps it was the uncertainty itself. Who knew what it felt like to be a Borg, until the nanoprobes hit their bloodstream? Maybe the Collective mind symbolized something even more frightening, something even Melville might have spoken of: 'Is it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, when beholding the white depths of the milky way?'
A hail from the Hirogen shook him out of his reverie, and, hearing their news, Neelix sped back to Voyager. The chase would soon be afoot - a Hirogen scout ship had found Voyager's prey just a few light-years away.
A ship's night passed as Voyager and the main body of the Alliance fleet made their way towards the last known location of drones Janeway, Tuvok, Kim and Seven, aboard a massive cube. Would they find them, or would the cube go to transwarp before Voyager arrived? When the artificial dawn came, Neelix served a fell and bright-eyed crew what might be their last breakfast; long range sensors had detected not only the prey cube, but a fleet of Borg ships greater than yesterday's defeated Unimatrix. Nor did the Alliance have the advantage of surprise now that the Collective had seen their new weapon in action.
Despite the cheer of the crew, Neelix felt a cold dread in the pit of his stomach. Melville's antiquated ideas of predestination haunted the unfortunate Talaxian: 'The frenzies of the chase had by this time worked them bubblingly up, like old wine worked anew. Whatever pale fears and forebodings some of them might have felt before; these were not only now kept out of sight through the growing awe of Ahab, but they were broken up, and on all sides routed, as timid prairie hares that scatter before the bounding bison. The hand of Fate had snatched all their souls; and by the stirring perils of the previous day; the rack of the past night's suspense; the fixed, unfearing, blind, reckless way in which their wild craft went plunging towards its flying mark; by all these things, their hearts were bowled along.'
After breakfast, Neelix made his way to the bridge. He had taken over a spare mission ops station behind the Captain's chair, from which he coordinated communications between the various species comprising the Alliance fleet. He missed the days when he had been just the cook.
As they approached the Borg fleet, all eyes were glued to the viewscreen, except Sue's, which were on her short-range sensor readings. Neelix heard her gasp when Tom announced, "There she blows!" The tiniest toy Borg cube had appeared on the viewscreen, but it grew rapidly into a planet-sized, metallic menace, surrounded by countless more cubes and spheres of every size. Nicoletti verified that Janeway and the others were aboard this flag-cube of the Collective's fleet.
The plan was already laid. Shuttlecraft and automated disruptor-torpedoes burst forth from each Alliance ship. Neelix turned his ops station over to a crewman and manned Baxial, for he was the only one aboard Voyager qualified to pilot second-hand Talaxian junk freighters.
And so the cook turned his hand to war. Baxial was assigned to a Hirogen cruiser; in formation with two of its shuttlecraft, their disruptors could take out medium-sized cubes. They destroyed three of those, plus a tactical sphere, and were taking up the fatal tetrahedral formation once more when things began to go wrong. A tactical sphere rushed them, coming between the cruiser and its target cube, thereby cutting off the disruptor beam. The Hirogen cruiser and one shuttlecraft were destroyed by the backlash from the disruptor. The other shuttlecraft dove back into the fray elsewhere, leaving Neelix behind, his ship disabled by the fickle disruptor.
Baxial floated dead in space; Neelix watched the thick of the battle as it moved away from him. The Collective was slowly pushing the Alliance forces back. But wait! Starfleet and Hirogen shuttlecraft had surrounded the flag-cube and were slicing into it, Borg style, with disruptor beams. Chakotay was digging for the drones he sought.
Other cubes rushed to the melee, as did Voyager and her companions. Neelix felt ill as he realized that the Borg had discovered the trick of disrupting the disruptor beams. He had hoped they hadn't noticed the incident that had destroyed his escort and disabled Baxial itself, but of course they knew. They were one Collective mind. That mind would sacrifice a smaller cube, or fifty, to save the large one now under attack.
Neelix was never quite sure what happened next. The smaller Borg vessels did, indeed, sacrifice themselves to cut off the disruptor beams. As a result, several Starfleet and Hirogen shuttlecraft were blown up by the disruptor backlash. At that point, the flag-cube must have tried to escape to transwarp; a swirling maelstrom of light filled the heavens as the remaining disruptor beams interacted with the transwarp field. Neelix stared down a huge transwarp corridor from what did not seem to be a safe distance, and watched as the countless Borg vessels and Alliance ships were sucked into it, willy-nilly, like flotsam in a whirlpool.
The vortex began to close around the two fleets, 'then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.'
Neelix found himself alone in his disabled ship, the only one which had been far enough away to escape the mysterious funnel. He wondered whether the Alliance fleet hunted on at the other end of the transwarp corridor, but in his heart he believed both the Hunters and their prey were destroyed in a frightful transwarp accident caused by incompatible technologies.
"Just like Rynax," he thought darkly, remembering the Metreon cascade.
Neelix repaired Baxial and began hunting the lost hunters, but he found neither them nor the Borg. At first he spilled out his story eagerly to any who would listen: " 'And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.' " Wherever he went, he asked for news of the Hunt. He travelled a long time, until he began to hear legends of the Alliance and the destruction of two huge fleets, but in most of them he recognized his own first, shocked accounts of the battle. The stories had gone before him, for rumor travels faster than transwarp.
Eventually he settled down with a colony of Talaxian refugees. Theirs was a hardscrabble life, but he met a war widow among them whom he wouldn't leave. Sometimes, rare times, he would tell his new family stories of Voyager and the Alliance. They never understood why he began them all with the same line:
"Call me Ishmael."
Title: Interlude VI Author: Jemima Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Series: VOY Part: 13/19 Rating: PG Codes: crew Summary: This is an interlude in "The Museum", a series of AU stories within one larger story. In this Interlude, Neelix, Paris and Torres find themselves in sickbay, and Paris pesters Kim. Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha!
Tom was summoned to sickbay when the emergency hail came in from Tuvok's security detail. He found Neelix up on one elbow on a biobed, peering at his own readings.
Tom gave the readings a glance, and said, "Lie back, Neelix; you seem to be fine. What happened down there?"
"It was just like everyone has described it," Neelix replied. "I lived years of another life."
The Talaxian grew unusually pensive, but he hadn't yet told the medic what he wanted to know. Tom prodded him, "That doesn't explain the emergency beam-out to sickbay."
"Oh - well, when I found myself back in the museum, I was startled. I twisted around, trying to figure out where Dexa had gone, and the Doctor walked around me, trying to read the cortical monitor on my neck." Neelix touched the device, which was still in position under his ear. "You know how the Doctor just walks through things?"
"Yes," Tom answered impatiently.
"Well, he tried to walk through the Mobius band to get to my cortical monitor. When he hit it, he just froze. He stood there looking blank for a minute, and then he disappeared and his mobile emitter fell to the floor." Neelix handed the emitter to Tom. "I picked it up, but I couldn't reactivate it. That's when the security detail panicked and hailed Voyager."
By this time, the news had reached B'Elanna; she stormed into sickbay in search of the Doctor's remains. Tom took the mobile emitter from his patient and handed it over to his wife. She pulled a few tools out of a pocket and began to fiddle with the device.
"So, Neelix, what did you see?" Tom asked to pass the time.
"I'll add it to the database," Neelix replied.
Tom's voice turned suave. "Neelix, we're partners here--"
He was interrupted by his wife, who informed them, "It looks like the Doc's matrix overloaded and collapsed, but I think I can reinitialize it using the sickbay holoemitters." B'Elanna downloaded the Doctor's program and entered a complicated sequence of commands into one of the sickbay consoles.
The familiar balding figure shimmered before them. B'Elanna's fingers flew across the console until the image stabilized.
"Please state the nature of the medical emergency," the resurrected EMH said, while moving instinctively towards Neelix's biobed.
"Doc, how do you feel?" B'Elanna asked him.
He ignored her in favor of the biobed readings. "Neurological scans indicate recent intensive activity in the memory centers of the patient's brain. However, he is in no immediate danger."
"Doc?" Tom asked.
"Where is Chief Medical Officer Fitzgerald?" the EMH demanded.
Tom joined B'Elanna at the console. She pointed to a schematic of the Doctor's program as she explained quietly, "The Doctor's program has acquired a subsidiary holomatrix. He's running off of it now."
"What about his primary matrix?" Tom whispered.
"It's degrading. If I can't reactivate it soon..."
"I get the picture."
Neelix tried to engage the EMH in conversation. "Doctor, could you sing that aria from 'Don Carlos' for us?"
Instead, he rechecked Neelix's cortical readings. Once he'd ruled out hallucination, he asked "What's going on here?"
Tom asked B'Elanna whispered together over the console. She said, "It's no good. I can't reactivate his primary matrix."
"Let's try to patch the two matrices together manually," Tom suggested.
The hologram froze as Tom attempted his version of genetic resequencing, with B'Elanna's help. "There," he said, after a few minutes.
"Please state..." The EMH's voice trailed off. "What happened?" he finally asked.
"You seem to have had your own encounter with the Mobius band, Doctor," Tom explained.
B'Elanna added, "We had a rough time restoring your matrix. Can you access the subsidiary program now?"
He checked; it took him bare milliseconds, so no pause was discernible to his saviors. "Yes, but I don't want to."
"What did you see?" Tom asked.
The Doctor described his experience reluctantly. "Chief Medical Officer Fitzgerald survived the Caretaker's displacement wave. The EMH was used only in dire emergencies. It - I - was activated for less than two hundred hours' time in the course of seven years." He regressed back into the neuter, explaining, "It wasn't sentient."
Tom couldn't help asking, "What did it feel like not to be sentient?" B'Elanna glared at him for his trouble.
"It didn't feel like anything at all."
None of them had seen a hologram shudder before.
Ensign Kim was attempting to have a quiet lunch in the museum cafeteria when Tom plopped himself down at his white, hexagonal table.
"Harry, the betting pool is eagerly awaiting your input."
"What are the odds on Janeway and Chakotay again, Tom?" Harry asked his friend. "I think I have a few replicator rations to spare for a sure thing."
"I meant your raw data, Harry. I have information from the 47 volunteers who've tried the Mobius band so far." Tom waved a PADD, which Harry snatched out of his hand.
The intrepid ensign got only a glance at the results before Tom recovered the master PADD, but what he saw was intriguing: the Maquis running the ship in six timelines, Janeway and Chakotay married in 23, seven of those with children. The other universes weren't all fun and games, though.
"I can't believe you have a category called 'Harry Dead Again'!" the all-too-mortal ensign protested.
"Don't get your feathers ruffled, Harry. Janeway is in the lead when it comes to being dead - though of course everyone is betting on you."
Harry fumed silently and turned his attention to his lunch.
"Come on Harry - it's the adventure of a lifetime."
"I've already had the adventure of a lifetime, Tom. Twenty-eight times, if I haven't lost count."
"Don't you want to see another universe?"
"Whatever happened to that old Starfleet...uh, whatever it was?" Tom asked.
Harry glared at his teasing friend. "Look, Tom, no one seems to *like* what they see in the Mobius band. Why don't you tell me all about your adventure, and then I'll think about it?"
Tom's eyes narrowed. "Janeway liked hers," he said sullenly, and picked at his own lunch plate. Soon, however, he was selling the multiverse again: "Think of the opportunities for romance."
Harry put down his fork and asked, "Is anyone there now?"
"Jenny Delaney is on the schedule for 1500 hours, but it's clear until then. And the medic is available to monitor you."
"Let's go now, before I come to my senses."
They stood and left the cafeteria.
Title: Home Front Author: Jemima Contact: email@example.com Series: VOY Part: 14/19 Rating: PG Codes: K, 7, Section 31, AU Summary: Every universe is an alternate universe for Harry Kim, most travelled ensign in history. This AU is based on Harry's other life in the episode "Non Sequitor", with the events of "Timeless" mixed in. Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha! Date: May 2001
"Harry, come back to bed."
Ensign Kim felt a gentle touch on his shoulder. He tore his eyes away from the night sky over San Francisco to look at Libby.
"Sorry, hon. I couldn't sleep."
"You were thinking about Danny Bird again, weren't you?"
Harry had gotten one message from his old friend about the slippery Ferengi of DS9, and that was the last anyone had heard from Voyager.
"It seems so unfair - I have a fiancee, a good job, a nice apartment and a Cochrane award, and Danny's out there somewhere. I was so jealous when he shipped out, and now..."
"You were lucky, Harry. *I* was lucky."
He knew Libby thought Voyager was lost with all hands. Soon enough, Starfleet would make an official declaration along those lines, but somehow Harry couldn't imagine Danny dead. He preferred to believe that Danny was having an old-fashioned Starfleet adventure, the kind Captain James T. Kirk used to have. They'd grown up together on holovids of time travel and alien spores, and Harry liked to think that Danny was somewhere in an alternate timeline or inescapable gravity well.
"You're not sorry you were left behind, are you?" Libby asked, after his long silence.
"Of course not!" Danny was welcome to his adventures, whatever they might be.
Soon after Starfleet officially declared Voyager lost, Harry and Libby were married. He wished Danny could have been there to be his best man. Otherwise, Harry had it all: his prototype runabout would be in full production within the year, and he had gained a reputation in Starfleet Engineering as the boy could produce shuttles out of thin air. He was glad, very glad, that his talents hadn't been wasted behind an Ops console, or - he thought as even he became pessimistic about Voyager's fate - dying in the cold vacuum of space.
When Ensign Kim was three years out of the Academy, the Borg arrived. Captain Picard drove them off, but in the aftermath Harry was promoted to lieutenant and reassigned. Those admirals he'd bowled over with his prototype ship, the Yellowstone, remembered him when propulsion became an issue of the gravest strategic importance. He was transferred from San Francisco to the research labs at Utopia Planetia. Libby remained planetside; Harry went home every weekend.
Starfleet wanted to understand transwarp, and Lieutenant Kim plunged into the project with the boundless enthusiasm of youth. Soon, however, he found himself uncomfortable in the lab. He couldn't put his finger on the problem, but something was definitely off.
"Greg," he asked his new boss after a couple of months on the job, "who runs this lab?"
"What do you mean, Harry? You know we're attached to Starfleet Research."
"I have friends back in Starfleet Research in San Francisco. We're not following the same research program."
Lieutenant Kim hadn't quite learned when to keep his mouth shut. "So who's program is this?" he asked.
It was another lie, but in that moment Harry finally learned to think before speaking, and he let it go at that. Danny had always been paranoid - whispering stories of alien infiltrators in Starfleet and dangerous rogue forces among the admiralty - and Harry had always laughed off his friend's suspicions. Today he felt a chill, not a chuckle, coming on. At the very least, plenty of people were willing to do anything to save the Federation from the Borg menace, and Greg was one of those people.
He didn't ask for a transfer; he had begun to worry for Libby's safety. Greg asked him about a fine point of Vulcan Poetics, although he was sure he'd never mentioned that that was Libby's new hobby. Fortunately, her job kept her busy while he was away from San Francisco - longer and longer as he was given more responsibilities. He told her nothing about his suspicions and she didn't seem to notice the change coming over her husband.
A year later, Danny returned in a makeshift shuttlecraft, accompanied by a Borg drone Captain Janeway had recovered from the Collective. He was a broken man. The two survivors of a crew of 151 had been leading Voyager through a slipstream when they had found themselves alone. Harry knew what Voyager's sudden disappearance from the slipstream must mean; the star-crossed ship was declared lost with all hands once more.
The shuttle had come out of the slipstream near DS9. Danny and his Borg companion were debriefed there, but only the Borg made it back to Earth. Danny was found dead - a suicide, they called it. Harry wondered why he doubted that explanation. It stood to reason that after four whole years in the Delta Quadrant, in flight from hostile aliens, struggling to keep the ship space-worthy, with only 150 companions from your end of the galaxy, the stress had gotten to Danny. Ensign Bird blamed himself, Starfleet explained, for the death of every Maquis, Starfleet crewmen and Delta Quadrant native who was lost with the ship.
Harry waited impatiently for Libby to return from her conference on Vulcan - Danny's mysterious death shook his old friend and made him that much more fearful for Libby's life and his own. But a week after Libby's safe return, Harry found himself with an unusual addition to his lab staff.
"Meet Seven of Nine, former Tertiary Adjunct to Unimatrix Zero One," Gary intoned suavely. "Seven, this is Lieutenant Harry Kim. He'll show you around the lab."
The tall, blonde drone nodded to him, saying only, "Lieutenant Kim."
She settled in with due efficiency, adding nanoprobes and Borg interfaces to her personal console. Otherwise, she was just another mid-level Starfleet researcher attached to the Utopia Planetia labs. Harry spent weeks attempting to engage her in conversation, always being rebuffed with a dismissive 'Irrelevant' or, when he asked about Voyager, the ubiquitous 'That information is classified.'
One day, however, perhaps influenced by her own blunt parlance, he blurted out, "Danny Bird was my friend."
It seemed, though he couldn't be sure, that Seven was surprised. She actually looked at him for the first time, but he was disappointed when she replied, in her usual sterile tones, "The secondary test chamber requires modification. Please assist me."
Harry followed her into the heavily insulated room.
"We may speak freely here," Seven said after closing the access hatch.
"Are the labs under surveillance?" Harry asked, not at all surprised.
"At least three organizations have surveillance devices planted there."
That, at least, was surprising. As Harry gaped, Seven got down to her own business. "Were you Danny Bird's friend?"
Seven forced him against the lead-alloy wall and plunged her assimilation tubules into his neck. He had no time to react to the assault - the faint whisper of voices filled his mind momentarily, but the sound faded before he could make any of them out. Seven stood back, releasing him.
"What did you do?" Harry gasped.
"I corroborated your story. The Borg have methods of extracting information from non-serviceable units - my nanoprobes created a temporary neural transceiver for you. By now they have disassembled it and are themselves dissolving in your bloodstream, leaving no trace."
"That was hardly necessary."
"On the contrary, since I returned to the Alpha Quadrant I have met with nothing but deception, manipulation and murder."
"All I said was that Danny was my friend," Harry protested.
"Danny Bird was also my friend. Therefore, we are friends." To Seven of Nine, friendship was transitive.
Before Harry could respond, she added, "It will arouse suspicion if we remain here longer," and opened the hatch. He knew better than to argue.
It was more than a month before Harry had any evidence that his encounter with Seven had been more than a dream, or rather, a nightmare of assimilation.
"Lieutenant Kim, you are returning to Earth this afternoon."
"Yes I am, Seven," Harry replied warmly. He hadn't seen Libby for three weeks; they'd both been too busy at work.
"I will accompany you. I wish to see San Francisco."
"I'd be glad to have you. You can have dinner with us at my apartment and meet my wife."
"That will not be necessary. I wish only to 'see the sights'."
"As you like, Seven."
Harry left Libby a message saying he'd be late getting home, but not why. Seven's idea of the sights did not match Harry's - she dragged him out on the Golden Gate Bridge walkway. She gazed at the water as they strolled out past midway along the bridge, but more often she gazed at the structural components of the ancient span.
Suddenly she stopped and leaned over the railing like a normal, non-Borg tourist. "We may speak freely here. Please watch my left hand. If I lift it from the railing, it means we have been found and are being observed. You may no longer speak freely then, of course."
"Of course." Harry wondered how his life had become so complicated. He watched the gentle waves on the surface of the bay - despite her impolite habit of assimilating her friends, Seven made Harry feel comfortable, somehow. But he also felt the press of time, the risk of observation, so he asked, "What happened to Danny?"
"Once our debriefings were over, we prepared for the trip to Earth. We were scheduled to leave at 0800 hours. Danny mentioned that an old friend was coming to see him. I went to my cabin to regenerate, but I could not sleep. I proceeded to Danny's cabin to speak to him, if he were still awake. I saw someone leaving as I approached - his old friend, I assumed. He did not answer the chime, so I overrode the lock and entered. I found his body and summoned security.
"Odo, the security chief, interviewed everyone on the station. He found no 'old friend' of Danny's, nor anyone matching my description. In fact, mine was the only presence revealed by DS9's internal sensors, and I myself fell under suspicion."
"Why would you kill Danny?" Harry asked.
"The Borg do not require a motive, apparently. The accusations were founded on mere prejudice - Odo understood that much - but the evidence was against me. Then Commander Meron came to visit me in the brig."
"Greg?" Harry exclaimed in surprise.
"Yes, Greg, though his papers said he was attached to Starfleet Judiciary, not Research."
"He's not really Starfleet Research either, Seven. I think he's Intelligence."
Seven raised an eyebrow. "In any event, he offered me a choice between dissection and joining his lab. Once I agreed to work for him, he ruled Danny's death a suicide, though Danny knew the risks of slipstream travel as well as Captain Janeway did - he would not have killed himself over the accident."
"So that's how you became involved with the transwarp drive research. But if you'd known how to create one, wouldn't you have done so aboard Voyager?" Harry asked.
"We are not making a transwarp drive."
Harry stared at her blankly. "Then what exactly was the point of these years of research into transwarp?"
Seven said nothing. Her left hand was off the railing, pointing at a distant sailing ship.
"That's a two-man yacht, Seven."
"It is a primitive, wind-powered device. What is its purpose?"
"Humans enjoy sailing the old-fashioned way. It's...relaxing. You should try it sometime."
"Perhaps. I have detained you long enough, Lieutenant Kim. Thank you for showing me the 'sights'."
"You're quite welcome, Seven. We should do it again sometime."
They walked back to the city silently, parting at a public transporter. Harry went home; Seven didn't say where she was going.
Such meetings were few and far between; only occasionally when Harry went Earthside did Seven go with him. When they toured an old quicksilver mine, Seven told him about the Borg - how each drone's experiences were preserved forever by the Collective. She seemed to believe that she was carrying the memories of Voyager's crew. Seven also explained how her implants enhanced her senses - Harry assumed that was how she detected surveillance equipment. There were other people touring the mercury mine, however, so they didn't discuss transwarp or Danny Bird.
At Angel Island two months later, they explored the trails and enjoyed the view of the bay. Seven indicated it was safe to talk, so Harry asked her again about transwarp.
"Our research is aimed at destroying ships in transwarp," Seven answered. "If possible, Section 31 intends to alter subspace to make transwarp travel impossible."
"What's Section 31?" Harry asked.
"It appears to be a branch of Starfleet Intelligence. Greg works for them. I believe they were the ones who killed Danny."
But Harry's mind was not on Danny at the moment. "What happens to you when our research is complete, Seven?"
"Greg has promised me another posting with Section 31," she replied. Harry let out the breath he hadn't realized he was holding. "He was lying. As soon as I complete this research project, the Section will have me dissected for my Borg technology."
"No!" Harry protested.
"I will not allow myself to be dissected."
"But what can you do? Will you tell the authorities?"
"Section 31 is 'the authorities', to my knowledge. However, I have a plan. It will require your assistance."
"Seven, I'd like to help, but I can't endanger Libby."
The former drone raised an eyebrow, then suddenly looked out over the Bay. She gave a small hand-signal that meant they were being observed, and changed the subject. "B'Elanna Torres, Voyager's chief engineer, told me a Klingon proverb once: 'Revenge is a dish best served cold.'"
Harry didn't respond.
Months passed. They were finally making progress in the lab, and Harry, now that he was looking for it, saw plenty of evidence that the transwarp project was indeed an anti-transwarp project.
It was autumn in San Francisco. Seven suggested a hike among the redwoods of Muir Woods; Harry complied, although Libby would be angry. Things weren't going so well with Libby lately - his wife didn't appreciate his running around Northern California with another woman, however infrequently.
She didn't seem to understand that Seven was just a lonely drone, not a romantic rival. Maybe he could finally convince Seven to come home with him tonight and meet Libby. Once she'd met the Borg - somehow Harry knew Seven would be her usual icy self around Libby - his wife would realized that she posed no threat to their marriage.
First, though, Harry asked Seven about her plans to escape Section 31.
Seven sat down on a log and motioned to Harry to do the same. "I have constructed a Borg temporal transmitter," she explained. "With it, I can use my Borg interplexing beacon to communicate with my past self aboard the Delta Flyer, and tell her to turn back before Voyager is destroyed."
A bird sang somewhere far above them.
"You'd be violating the Temporal Prime Directive," Harry said.
"The Temporal Prime Directive is irrelevant. There is nothing special about this timeline - I prefer a timeline in which Danny was not murdered. However, Terran security is likely to detect the temporal disturbance and block my transmission. Therefore I need a ship, one that can evade pursuit."
"We could steal the Virgo." The Virgo was the lab's prototype transwarp ship. The experimental drive was nowhere near completion - it certainly wouldn't get them anywhere - but the standard warp drive would, and the little ship could turn on a dime. Suddenly Harry realized he was suggesting larceny of a Starfleet vessel. "Seven..."
She seemed to know the cause of his reluctance. "Do not be concerned, Harry. If we are successful, the theft of the Virgo will never have happened."
"The last two years will never have happened. You and I will probably never meet." Harry looked up at the fading sunlight in the tall trees. He really oughtn't feel that he was losing the entire world in losing Seven of Nine.
"Perhaps not. I will inform my other self that we are friends."
Borg comfort - someone in the Collective would remember these days, even though Harry went the way of all drones. "But I won't know," he began to protest, then stopped to think through all the implications. He would still be working for Section 31, but he wouldn't know it. Danny would still be alive. Suddenly, he chuckled.
"What are you laughing at, Harry?"
"Oh, just something Danny used to joke about when we were kids watching the holovids. 'When you're in a dead-end timeline,' he'd say, 'always remember to kiss the girl!'"
He was still chuckling over Danny's old advice when Seven leaned over and kissed him. The silence of the forest was deafening; he could feel every knot and crevice in the bark under his hands, the cool kiss of the breeze through his clothes, the warm kiss of the Borg... He tried to pull away, but she was stronger than he.
Someone is watching, he told himself, that must be it. Seven had no interest in human irrelevancies like this kiss, never mind that she had access to a billion lifetimes of kisses, and seemed perfectly willing to put that knowledge to use. It was only a cover story - an affair with the Borg, here among the crackling leaves and dry needles - and this timeline would never have happened, anyway...
"Seven," he gasped as, with one final, desperate burst of energy, he broke off the perfect kiss, "I'm a married man!"
"You are not happy with Libby," Seven answered mildly.
He opened his mouth to object, but realized she was right. "That's irrelevant," he said instead.
"Perhaps. I will have dinner with you and Libby tonight, if the invitation is still open."
Harry nodded dumbly and followed Seven as she walked back down the trail to the park entrance. How had his life gotten so complicated?
"Libby, hon, we have a guest for dinner," Harry announced as he opened the door to their apartment.
"Who is it, Harry?" Libby asked as she came out of the kitchen. "Oh, your coworker," she added coldly when Seven stepped into view.
"Seven, my wife Libby; Libby, Seven of Nine," Harry introduced them nervously. "Seven missed her transport back to Utopia Planetia. There's another one at 2300 hours. I invited her over so she wouldn't have to wait at the shuttleport."
The conversation didn't improve much after that. Libby suggested they sit down to dinner immediately and went into the kitchen without waiting for an answer.
"I don't think this was a good idea, Seven," he said softly, leaning back in his chair and closing his eyes. Seven didn't answer; she only put her hand on his knee under the table. He opened his eyes and stared at her, and then he felt it - the same twin stabbing pains of her assimilation tubules that he had felt two years before. "What--" he hissed, but Seven had turned away.
His glance followed hers. Libby was coming out of the kitchen with the main course. They took refuge in chewing for some time, but eventually Libby had to attempt to be civil.
"So what's it like being a drone?" she asked.
"Indescribable," Seven answered.
"How are things going at work, Harry?"
Libby had given up on their guest rather quickly, Harry thought. She couldn't possibly know about the kiss, but something was certainly bothering her. "We've made a lot of progress. I think we're close to a breakthrough."
"That's good, dear." The conversation died again. After an uncomfortable silence, Libby piled up their plates and said, "Harry, I don't have anything in the house for dessert. Why don't you run down to Cosimo's and get us one of his homemade cheesecakes?"
"Good idea. I'll be right back." What was he saying? He did not want to leave these two alone - Libby was fit to be tied, and if Seven started applying her Borg honesty in his absence, his marriage would be over. He'd already stood up, but now he hesitated, looking at Libby.
"What's wrong, Harry?" his wife asked.
*Go,* Seven's voice said in his mind. *I'll be fine.*
"Nothing, Lib. I'll be back soon." Harry almost ran out the door.
What is going on? he asked himself as he walked down the stairs.
*My nanoprobes have assembled a Borg interlink node alongside your second cervical vertebra.*
"Why?" he asked the empty hallway.
*We are in grave danger. Please proceed to Cosimo's. You will be able to hear us through the interlink.*
Us? he wondered, but obediently hurried out the door.
"Keep away from my husband," he heard Libby say, once he was out in the street. At least, it must have been Libby, but he'd never known her to sound so...cold. Or look it - he could *see* Libby, too, standing by their picture window, looking down at him in the street below. He fought off a wave of vertigo and the temptation to look up. His legs felt like lead as he forced them across the street.
"It was not *my* choice to work with your husband," he heard Seven answer Libby.
"I know you recognize me. The Section is well aware of Borg visual acuity."
Recognize Libby? Harry didn't want to understand, but it was too late. Superimposed on the dark streets before him he saw the dark corridors of Deep Space Nine. A green, glowing, three-dimensional grid was superimposed on the scene. Harry knew this was Seven's Borg visual record of the night Danny had died.
Down one hallway, a familiar figure fled. Harry had no need of the extensive Borg calculations which matched the dimensions of this old image with the living Libby before Seven's eyes - he would have known that graceful figure anywhere. But now he knew Libby's was a deadly grace.
Harry collapsed on a chair at Cosimo's. "You look like your best friend just died," the old proprietor said.
"He died two years ago," Harry answered. "Could I have a cheesecake, please? I have to get home before I lose another friend." And he would have to calm down before he reentered that dangerous scene.
Libby seemed annoyed at Seven's prolonged silence. "I can have you dissected, you know."
"I am well aware of that fact," Seven answered.
"There will be no more walks in the woods, tours of mines, strolls across the Golden Gate bridge, or trips to the islands. Find someone else to show you around Earth, or better yet, stick to your job."
"As you wish."
Libby turned away from the window when Harry reentered the building. "He's back. We were talking about life as a drone."
"Yes, we were."
Harry burst in with all the enthusiasm he could force. "Dessert has arrived," he announced cheerfully. "So what have you two been talking about?" he called from the kitchen, where he was digging through the silverware drawer for dessert forks.
"Life as a drone," Libby answered promptly.
They settled down in the living area, plates of cheesecake in hand. "Do you miss the Collective, Seven?" Harry asked around a cheesy mouthful.
"Yes, but I miss the crew of Voyager more."
That put a damper on the conversation. When Libby collected their empty plates, Harry followed her into the kitchen.
"Libby, hon, I can see you're not hitting it off with Seven," he said, wrapping his arms around her from behind. "She's kind of a cold fish - I've been working with her so long I'd forgotten she's barely human."
She turned in his arms and kissed him. He pushed the thought that he was kissing a viper out of his mind, and pretended she was Seven.
"I'll walk her back to the shuttleport now, okay? I promise I'll wake you up when I get back," he told his lovely, innocent wife.
"It'll take you at least an hour to walk over there. What will you talk about?" Libby asked.
"She doesn't talk much - unnecessary speech is...unnecessary. I'm used to it, though. It's like being alone."
"She's spooky," Libby replied. "Go ahead, take the drone away. I'll see you later." She kissed him goodbye.
Harry and Seven walked in apparent silence down the dark streets of San Francisco.
*This is a strange feeling,* Harry thought at Seven. *Is this what it's like to be a drone?*
*In part,* Seven replied silently. *I'm sorry about Libby.*
*I feel like I've known all along. But I won't remember afterwards, will I?*
*No, you won't. We have to take the Virgo tonight.*
*Libby is expecting me back.*
*I drugged the wine. Our nanoprobes have neutralized the sedative, but Libby will be unconscious before we reach the transport.*
The plan proceeded like Borg clockwork - Harry took the transport to Utopia Planetia with Seven. They removed her temporal transmitter from its hiding place in her regeneration alcove, smuggled it and themselves aboard the Virgo, and began the pre-launch sequence.
They were past Neptune before anyone realized they were gone. Harry piloted while Seven adjusted the temporal transmitter. Even now that they were alone, they didn't speak aloud.
*The device requires 3.24 minutes to form a temporal link.*
*I can keep us out of trouble while it warms up. There are a couple of ships on long-range scanners, but we should be able to avoid them.* Harry turned his attention to evasive maneuvers.
*The link will be ready in 0.89 minutes,* Seven communicated. *I am sorry. I am returning to my friends, while you are--*
*Returning to my wife. Don't worry about it, Seven - I won't.*
Seven recalled Danny's advice, *When you're in a dead-end timeline...*
So Harry kissed the perfect girl for 0.68 seconds. She made the interplex transmission without breaking the kiss, and as the other Seven received it, the drone, the Virgo and the universe disappeared around Lieutenant Harry Kim.
Title: Interlude VII Author: Jemima Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Series: VOY Part: 15/19 Rating: PG Codes: crew Summary: This is an interlude in "The Museum", a series of AU stories within one larger story. In this Interlude, another staff meeting occurs, Tom disbelieves Jor's wild tale, and Neelix pesters Chakotay. Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha!
At the next senior staff meeting, Neelix reported that 72 volunteers had already tried the Mobius band. "That's almost three-quarters of my list," he said.
"And still no technological breakthroughs," B'Elanna added.
"How about the other exhibits?" Janeway asked.
Chakotay replied, "There's a wealth of information there - mathematics, linguistics, sociology, philosophy, taxonomy - but we've found nothing that will get us home any sooner."
Janeway wasn't surprised. The designers of the museum had frustrated her on several fronts. "Is it designed not to tell us anything we don't already know?" she asked her first officer. If that were the case, they might be able to find a way around the museum safety protocols.
"I don't believe so," Chakotay answered. "If I had to guess, I would say the builders of the museum were uninterested in technology per se. It's too...particular. Their sciences seem to deal exclusively with universals."
"So they haven't identified themselves anywhere because that would be too 'particular'?" the Captain asked.
Chakotay nodded. He rather admired the aesthetics of the ancient, unknown builders of the museum. Their sciences were much more philosophical than those the Federation favored. This lost race was one of the most spiritual he'd found in Voyager's long trek across the Delta Quadrant.
Tom began his own report on the museum: "Ensign Jurot and I have been studying the sculpture in the room adjoining the Mobius band." It had been her assignment, actually, but Tom was so curious about it that he'd gotten involved and helped her run some holodeck simulations for her research. "It appears to represent a taxonomy of universes. We haven't determined whether or not it forms part of the Mobius band's mechanism."
Indeed, everyone had found a favorite exhibit to study, and seemed willing to remain in orbit over the museum indefinitely - with the inevitable exception of Harry Kim, who'd been working on Operation Watson with Seven.
"Harry, how's that trans-galactic comm link coming?" Janeway asked, when the discussion of individual exhibits had died down.
Harry and Seven had come up with the idea of reflecting a phased tachyon beam through a quantum singularity, and in the last datastream from Starfleet they'd made a date for the first cross-quadrant vidphone call.
"We'll have the deflector in position tomorrow, Captain," Harry reported enthusiastically. "You'll be chatting with Admiral Paris and Lieutenant Barclay in no time."
Janeway dismissed the meeting with a smile.
Harry was ecstatic. He was about to talk to his parents for the first time in seven years and even the once-distant ex-drone seemed happy to be working side-by-side with him, although Seven had insisted that the entire endeavor was irrelevant. What use was there in talking to people on the other side of the galaxy?
"You've got to be kidding!"
"I'm dead serious, Tom," his wife repeated. "Jor said that Janeway came back from the future to get Voyager home sixteen years sooner."
When Tom and Neelix had been unable to get Crewman Jor's story, they'd sent B'Elanna in to interrogate her fellow former Maquis.
"Janeway wouldn't violate the Temporal Prime Directive," Tom insisted.
B'Elanna had had as much trouble believing Jor's incredible tale at first as Tom was having now. She soldiered on. "Admiral Janeway brought advanced Federation technology with her, which Voyager used to destroy a Borg transwarp hub, at the same time as they used the hub to get home."
"So what did they do with two Janeways?" Tom asked. That was a wealthy universe, if a ludicrous one.
"The Admiral let herself be assimilated in order to infect the Borg with an advanced virus. She was destroyed along with the transwarp hub." As an afterthought, B'Elanna added, "Our daughter was born at the same time - we named her Miral."
"There's something else, isn't there?"
"Believe me, flyboy, you don't want to know. I almost lost my lunch when I heard it."
"Spill it, B'Elanna."
"You asked for it," she said, shaking her head. "Chakotay and Seven were married."
"Married?" Tom turned pale. "Sit down, dear," he said gently. "I shouldn't have asked you to talk to Jor. She could have sent you into premature labor."
"There are a lot of strange stories in your database," B'Elanna said once she'd settled down on the couch. She'd insisted on access to the betting pool information in return for taking on the mission to Jor. "This one is the least believable. I'm beginning to agree with Jurot about the Mobius band."
Ensign Jurot was one of the few scientists aboard who believed that the 'alternate universes' were fictions generated by the alien technology, rather than true glimpses into the infinite variety of the multiverse. There was really no way to tell, one way or the other; an alternate universe was fundamentally inaccessible, at least to Federation science. Jurot was just being a pessimist, in Tom's opinion.
Neelix paced through the museum cafeteria casually, until he spotted the person he was looking for. He approached his target slowly, stopping to greet several other crewmen on his way to the desired table.
"Hello, Neelix," Chakotay replied. Ayala stood and offered Neelix his chair, saying he had to get back to the ship for his duty shift.
"I think almost everyone on my list of volunteers has tried the Mobius band," Neelix said.
"And here we are, still stuck in the Delta Quadrant."
"Well, it's been quite a shore leave, anyway. You haven't tried it yet, have you, Commander?"
"No, I haven't, Neelix."
Neelix could understand Ensign Kim's reluctance - he'd seen his share of alternate universes before he tried the Mobius band - but not Chakotay's. "I would have thought that you, as an anthropologist, would be curious."
"I am curious, but there's enough to see in this universe. I don't need to see another."
"I don't understand, Commander," Neelix said, although he still felt ambivalent about his own adventures on the other side.
Chakotay looked around. The cafeteria was emptying out, on account of the approaching shift change. He turned back to his bowl of soup.
"I was almost over her, Neelix," he said, fiddling with his spoon. "She'd been over me for years, of course, but it took me longer. I was so close, though. I was going to move on."
"To Seven of Nine?"
"How did you know?"
"I hear a lot of things from behind the mess line, Commander. Lately I've heard a lot about Seven and Harry Kim."
Chakotay was clearly surprised. "Harry? I didn't know."
"It's the talk of the ship. It seems everyone has seen them together - in Astrometrics, on the holodeck, wandering around the museum - even Naomi asked her about it."
"What did she say?" the Commander asked.
"'My personal life is irrelevant.'"
Neelix tried to comfort him. "Maybe you're not all that interested in Seven, if you never noticed your rival had already snatched her away."
The human shook his head. "I was, before." Or so he'd thought at the time.
"This happened," the Commander answered, waving vaguely at the white walls of the cafeteria. "The Captain was beamed to sickbay; I went to see her. I hurried, but I didn't run down the corridors the way I would have a few years ago. If you had seen the way she looked at me..."
"She saw a universe where you were still together on New Earth - wasn't that it?" the morale officer prompted him.
"Yes. Now when I see her, it's like the first time I came aboard her ship. All the years erased, all the sorrow."
"All the indifference."
Chakotay nodded. "I don't want to go through it all again, Neelix - the slow but unavoidable loss of passion, the fights, the irreparable damage to our friendship, the creeping death." He sighed. "But I can't stop it either. It will all happen again; it's already started. She smiles at me, then remembers where we are. She confides in me, then backs away."
"I can see why you don't want to try the Mobius band." Who would want to go through all that a third time, in an alternate universe? Then again, things could only get better, in the optimistic Talaxian's opinion. "Maybe you'd see the universe she saw," Neelix suggested.
"I suspect that would only make it worse. I would end up hoping it could be different this time, but I know it can't. She's a universal constant - she doesn't change."
"Maybe you would, though, Commander. Give yourself a chance."
Chakotay met Neelix's eye. "Maybe I will, Neelix, maybe I will."
Title: Mirror, Mirror Author: Jemima Contact: email@example.com Series: VOY Part: 16/19 Rating: PG Codes: C, J&C, C/f, AU Summary: What would Chakotay do about Janeway, if their roles were reversed? An AU based on the episode "Resolutions". Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha!
The tension mounted as the days on New Earth passed. At first Chakotay didn't notice - he had other things on his mind. But one night after the fateful plasma storm that had ruined her experiments and equipment, matters came to a head over a backrub, of all things.
Kathryn had retreated to her sleeping alcove in the crowded, Starfleet-issue shelter, but she clearly had not slept; some time later she emerged from behind the partition and sat before him at the table.
"We have to talk about this," she said.
He didn't want to talk about it, but she was right. She deserved the truth. "All right," he replied.
"I think we need to define some parameters."
Or reveal them, he thought, but he said, "I'm not sure I can define parameters. But I can tell you a story - an ancient legend among my people."
She looked curious enough, so he went on, "It's about an angry warrior who began his life in conflict with the rest of his tribe - a man who couldn't find peace, even with the help of his spirit guide.
"For years he struggled with his discontent, until his home was attacked and he found some relief in battle. He became a hero among his tribe, but the warrior still longed for peace within himself.
"One day, he and his war party met a similar party led by a woman warrior. The woman warrior was brave, beautiful, and wise. She brought him many fine weapons, sent to his people by an allied tribe. But their enemy was nearby, so the two of them were forced to lie low for some time." Chakotay stood up and walked over to the doorway of the shelter, looking up at the stars as he continued his tale.
"They fell in love, though it was no time for love, and they were married by the local authorities, who had also helped to conceal them. Once their enemies were far enough away, the two warriors parted and returned to the great battle.
"They met only twice more, when lulls in the battle permitted it, before his entire war party were carried far, far away by an unknown enemy. Yet in loving her, the warrior found the true meaning of peace."
He turned back and found that Kathryn had joined him in the doorway.
"Is that really an ancient legend?" she asked.
"No, but it's a secret I couldn't tell you," he answered.
She took his hand in sympathy, but he hardly needed consolation. Like others aboard Voyager, he had adjusted to indefinite separation from his spouse long before.
The weeks on New Earth passed slowly after that. Kathryn was no longer tense around him, though she seemed sad. At least Chakotay had his traditionalist past on Dorvan to fall back on - Kathryn, on the other hand, had nothing once her science project had been destroyed.
He watched her as she adjusted to their situation - as she puttered in the garden, looking up at the sky at dusk for a ship to take her home to her long-lost fiance. At least, he interpreted her wistful looks that way.
When he'd watched her for too long, he would force himself to go out and chop more wood, though he was running out of things to build. Additions to the shelter were fine, but what would Derryn think of the bathtub?
His hand froze on the axe at the thought. The trouble was, he knew very well what his wife would think of the bathtub and sunlight on Kathryn's long hair. She had told him.
"We may never see one another again," Derryn had said when they'd parted the first time. "The enemy is everywhere, and we are so few."
"Don't talk about them," he'd insisted.
"When I am dead," she had explained, "you'll know."
"I won't want to know," he'd said.
"Perhaps not," was all her reply.
She was Betazoid - they made the best guerrillas. But no Betazoid bond, he told himself, could stretch the 70,000 light-years that now separated them. There was no way for him to sense her death from so far - he told himself - nor she his. He would have to wait until...
But no one was coming back for him or Kathryn, not while Tuvok was in command. The best they could hope for in this sector was an unpleasant visit from Vidiian lung harvesters. He'd be happy to give them his heart at this point.
It was too dark to chop any more wood, so he made his way back to the cabin. A long, dull treatise on agriculture would take his mind off his troubles for a while.
A few days later, as they were preparing for their expedition by boat, Tuvok hailed them. It was strange to hear another voice.
They should have been glad to leave, two such unhappy people who had grown into almost wordless companions during their grim exile in paradise. Instead, they smiled half-heartedly at their rescuers; even Harry Kim wondered what had gone wrong.
It wasn't easy for Chakotay to readjust. There was no wood to chop aboard Voyager when his mind drifted to bathtubs and auburn hair. He shouldn't have handled it so badly; aboard ship he overreacted to his continuing attraction to Kathryn by turning cold and sullen. Even Tuvok seemed surprised at the new tension between his commanding officers.
Kathryn - Janeway, he forced himself to think of her now - seemed merely hurt at his change of attitude. She expressed it by being equally cold towards him. As time passed, though, both of them adjusted to their situation and grew closer.
Too close. Chakotay slipped into a pattern of responding to positive developments in his friendship with Janeway with confrontational behavior. He made every conflict more than it should have been, and tried to make every rapprochement less. Thus, when Janeway formed an alliance with the Borg, he put his objections in the strongest possible language. The damage to their friendship was great, but it was becoming resilient.
Whatever their false conflicts, the attraction between Chakotay and Janeway was constant, and legendary among the gossiping crew. It was all so wrong, and so unavoidable, like the unspoken relationship between Neelix and Samantha Wildman.
Neelix was not so circumspect when meddling in other's lives; still, Chakotay was fond of the colorful alien. One day at lunchtime, he cornered the Commander, leaving his part-time assistant Chell to serve the soup and casserole.
"Commander, about the dance tomorrow night..."
"I hear the Captain needs a date," the aspiring matchmaker hinted.
"Perhaps Tuvok could oblige her."
"Ensign Vorik says Vulcans don't dance," Neelix said, as though that were a surprise. Chakotay wondered whom he had tried to set up with Vorik.
The Talaxian decided on the direct approach: "I was hoping you could ask the Captain to the dance."
"I can't ask her, Neelix."
"Why not? You two make such a nice couple."
Neelix shrugged off his protest. "She's not married, though." Not like Sam, Chakotay heard behind his words. "You know what Tom says - 'no ring, no foul'."
Chakotay felt sorry for Neelix, and decided to tell him the truth, more for his own sake than to put an end to his matchmaking. The Commander reached inside his Starfleet turtleneck and drew out an object on a chain, pulling it over his head. He dropped it gently into Neelix's outstretched hand.
"A ring," the cook said quietly, and read the inscription traced around the inside of the ring aloud. "'A rose by any other name would smell as sweet'." The Talaxian looked up. "I don't understand."
"It's an ancient Terran proverb."
"But what is the ring for?" he asked, still confused.
"I'm married, Neelix."
"Not to the Captain?"
"No, to a woman I met in the Maquis. The laws of the colony world where we were married required the parties to exchange rings."
"I don't know what to say," Neelix said. "It's all so...romantic."
"You mean tragic."
The Talaxian nodded.
"Everything about the Maquis was tragic," Chakotay said. "If we ever hear news of them from the Alpha Quadrant, it will certainly be tragic."
Soon afterwards, they encountered the Hirogen's communications array. Even after so long, Chakotay hadn't expected the news from home to be quite so bad. Almost all the Maquis dead, Sveta wrote him, but she sent no news of a female Betazoid casualty. There was no telling what had happened to Derryn - if all her contacts had been killed, no one would ever know her fate.
"I'm sorry about your fiance," Chakotay told Janeway, when he found out Mark had given her up for lost and married someone else. *He* would never do such a thing, he thought sadly. She looked so sad herself, he almost took her in his arms. Fortunately, they were called away to the bridge to deal with more Hirogen troubles.
Later, once the local node of the communications array had been turned into a sucking black hole, Chakotay and Janeway found themselves back in her ready room. As usual, he sympathized with her, asking her how she was and joking over her answer.
"Look what you've been through in the last few days," he said. "We finally make a connection with home and it's ripped away from us."
"Did you hear anything about your wife?" Janeway asked.
"No news is good news," he shrugged. Could she have survived, when all the others had died?
"I hope so."
Chakotay had a terrible sinking feeling. Perhaps it showed on his face, for Janeway asked gently, "What was her name?"
"I never knew her real name, or Suder's," Chakotay replied. "Some of us were known to law forces on many worlds. *Some* of us were even chased 70,000 light-years across the galaxy by the Federation." He smiled at that unexpected honor.
"But others," he continued, "were upstanding citizens of Federation worlds - Federation worlds not abandoned to the Cardassians, that is. They worked under cover."
"How could you marry someone without knowing her name?"
"On certain colony worlds under Cardassian occupation, the locals were accustomed to aliases," he explained, being careful not to make any definite or incriminating statements. "Everyone from tax evaders to guerrillas changed their names as the circumstances dictated. Marriage certificates read: 'The woman known to me as Derryn was wed to the man known to me as Kotay on this day in the city of...'" He paused. "Well, you get the idea."
She did. He shouldn't have told her his wife's name, Chakotay thought later. With her fiance married and his wife missing in action, they grew closer again, until the attraction grew irresistible. When it became a choice between crushing her to him or blowing up at her, the Equinox appeared and Chakotay chose the latter.
Like a pendulum always returning to its center, they found themselves chatting like the old friends they were soon enough.
One day, after they had been working half the afternoon in her ready room, Kathryn asked, "Could I borrow Derryn's husband for dinner tonight?"
"I'm sure she won't mind," he replied in kind, "as long as you behave yourself."
"Starfleet captains always behave themselves," she replied, laughing, though the laughter never reached her eyes.
When Starfleet established contact with Voyager through the Pathfinder Project, Janeway immediately brought up the subject that was always on his mind.
"Are there any clues you could give me to help track down your wife, Chakotay?" she asked. "I can make inquiries quietly. Admiral Paris won't ask any questions - or Reg. We can trust Reg."
He thought for a moment. "No, no clues." Nothing that wouldn't endanger her, if she were still alive.
Janeway nodded and moved on to a related subject. "Starfleet has been able to notify the families of everyone we lost except Lon Suder, and they've also had trouble tracking down a couple of your original crew," - she glanced at the PADD - "Carlos Fado and Korin Var."
"Carlos' real name was Arkot," Chakotay said. "He was from Dorvan, but he had family on Earth. They shouldn't be hard to track down." Chakotay thought a moment. "I never knew Var's real name. He was Bajoran, so I'll ask Tabor - he might know."
"I'll have the Doctor go through Suder's medical records; maybe there's a clue in there somewhere," Janeway concluded.
"You haven't heard news of your wife, have you?" Neelix asked him, after a few datastreams had been passed back and forth with Starfleet.
"Nothing more than I knew before."
The Talaxian was sympathetic to his plight, but others were not. Torres cornered him in his quarters one evening in the seventh year of their journey and reamed him out.
"Kahless, Chakotay, you've been pining after Janeway for five years already," B'Elanna complained. "It's time to move on. Seven likes you, Celes worships you, and Jenny Delaney is on the prowl for fresh blood. You could have half the women on the ship - why do you go on chasing after the only one who doesn't want you?"
Chakotay wished he could confide in his old friend, but the Maquis were going up on the stand when Voyager returned to the Alpha Quadrant, if it ever did. He didn't want anyone to have to lie for him, or to let anything slip accidentally. It was bad enough that Kathryn knew.
When the Pathfinder team established a stable, two-way line of visual communication with Voyager, Chakotay found himself seated at Janeway's ready room desk, having yet another conversation about tracking down missing Maquis. She was a natural at it, he had to admit.
"I spoke to Admiral Paris this morning," she informed her first officer. "He's hopeful about getting charges against the Maquis dropped."
"Even mine?" Chakotay asked. He liked to think of himself as a hard case.
"Especially yours," she replied. "Several former Starfleet officers jailed for Maquis activity have been paroled recently. The atmosphere has changed back in the Alpha Quadrant."
"Time heals all wounds," Chakotay said, standing as if to go. "How about lunch, Captain?"
"You're on," she agreed, "but first, there are a few last items of business from Owen. As I mentioned before, he has notified Carlos Fado's uncle and cousins on Earth of his death."
Chakotay merely nodded, his hands clenched at his sides.
"Also, the government of Betazed has identified Lon Suder. His real name was Vel Tenar. He was a patient at the Xar East Sanitarium on Betazed for some time." She looked up, puzzled at Chakotay's continuing silence, then went on. "I suppose that's no surprise. His parents were also confined there after an incident the government of Betazed refused to describe." Privacy was important in a society of telepaths. "Owen said he had no surviving family."
Chakotay turned pale. "Was he absolutely sure about Suder?" he asked flatly.
"Owen sent a report, but I haven't had a chance to read it." She picked a PADD out of several scattered on her desk and paged through it to the relevant information.
"Val Tenar," she read aloud, "parents both only children... Disowned by both their houses for unspecified crimes... In the eyes of Betazoid culture, Vel and Luxa Tenar had no kin..."
She stopped skimming the report to ask Chakotay, "Was Lon married, then?"
The Commander shook his head.
Janeway read on. "There's a section here about the status of houseless Betazoids...here she is again: Luxa Tenar, sister, deceased Stardate 48862.3, Terran year 2371... Captain of a private transport ship registered out of Bajor... The Farsight, lost with all hands when they strayed into a battle between the Cardassians and three Maquis vessels... Protests lodged by the Bajoran government over murder of civilians and destruction of a non-combatant trade vessel... The Cardassians claimed the Farsight was a combatant in the battle of Marva... No memorial on record, not unusual in the case of a Betazoid with no kin..."
"She had kin," Chakotay interrupted.
"Suder was missing and presumed dead - not that anyone would have known he was her brother." Janeway looked at her first officer quizzically.
"Not Lon," he corrected her, avoiding her eye. "And the Farsight was a combatant vessel. It was a Maquis vessel."
"If you know the Farsight, I can tell Starfleet to correct their records," Janeway offered.
"I've never heard of the Farsight before today," he said.
Janeway was nonplussed. "Chakotay?"
He walked over to the viewport to stare at the stars.
"Chakotay?" she said again, joining him by the window and putting a reassuring hand on his arm.
"The last time I saw Derryn Suder, she left me her crazy brother to look after."
"I'm so sorry, Chakotay," Janeway said. "I should have realized."
"It's all right." It had come as no surprise, after all.
"Take the rest of the day off, Commander. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Thank you, Captain." For what, he wasn't sure.
As the last living member of the house of Suder - he couldn't call it the house of Tenar because of respectable second-cousins on Betazed who bore that name - Chakotay was obliged to make a memorial for the dead. He held a brief, private service in a holodeck recreation of a Betazoid cultural center. Only a few Maquis who knew Suder well, such as B'Elanna, attended, along with Neelix, Paris, Tuvok, the EMH and Janeway.
The attendees expressed the traditional sentiment, "May the house of Suder live on in memory," as they filed out. Neelix remainded behind, however.
"You're taking this very well, Commander," the Talaxian said.
"I knew all along, in my heart," Chakotay explained. "I just didn't want to admit it. Derryn - Luxa - told me that when I fell in love with another woman, I would know that the bond was broken, that she was dead."
"You're not giving yourself enough credit," Neelix insisted.
"For betraying her?" Chakotay asked.
"For your loyalty."
"For my self-deception, you mean."
"Loyalty, Commander. Everyone could see how much incentive you had to give up - another man would have assumed his wife was dead and moved on."
"But I *knew* it, and didn't," Chakotay said bitterly. "Kathryn has suffered for my misplaced loyalty."
"I don't think it was misplaced," Neelix replied, groping for words to express his thoughts. "Sometimes all you can do is be faithful, beyond hope or reason."
For Chakotay it was strange, at first, to see Kathryn as anything but a friend and a temptation. She was typically forthright about it the next time they had dinner together in her quarters.
"I've been thinking of you as a married man all these years."
"And here I am, a dashing widower."
"I was thinking 'a dangerous terrorist widower'," she said, and laughed.
"There must be some Starfleet regulation to keep you safe from me," he suggested.
"'General Order 387/B: don't date the prisoners.' That might protect *you* from *me*, if I had the stomach for Starfleet regulations. But it's been too long..."
Too long to worry anymore about distant, disapproving Admirals, she must have meant, but her tone said something else.
"It's been too long," he echoed her words, and took her hand for the first time in five years.
Title: Interlude VIII Author: Jemima Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Series: VOY Part: 17/19 Rating: PG Codes: crew Summary: This is an interlude in "The Museum", a series of AU stories within one larger story. In this Interlude, Neelix pesters Chakotay again, Seven visits the EMH, and Tuvok visits Janeway again. Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha!
Neelix stood behind the mess hall counter, serving dishes that had been replicated on the planet's surface, or that he'd made from replicated ingredients. The crew aboard Voyager needed to eat. About half the crew was down at the museum at any particular time, which made mealtimes aboard Voyager quiet, relaxed affairs. The cook had tried a variety of experimental dishes over the past few weeks.
Chakotay took a bit of each of the evening's experiments and sat down at the first empty table he came to. Neelix recognized the haunted look his volunteers bore for the first few hours after their instantaneous multi-year shore leaves. He approached the Commander carefully.
"How was it?" Neelix asked as he sat down at Chakotay's table, angling himself to keep an eye on the mess line. He was always ready to collect information for Tom's pool - being ship's gossip was a 24-hour-a-day job.
"It was the same old story - oaths and protocols from the other side of the galaxy making two people very unhappy."
Neelix, fascinated though he was, still had one eye on the nearby mess line. He saw the Captain, who had come in a moment before, freeze in her tracks and hover over the punch bowl. She must have heard them.
"But?" the Talaxian prompted his companion.
"But some things can't be helped - sometimes you have to do the right thing, even though it's the worst thing you could do," he said. "At least, *you* seemed to think so, there."
Neelix watched as the Captain roused herself and escaped the mess hall with a token piece of fruit. "That sounds like quite a story, Commander," he said, turning his attention back to him. "Tell me more."
A notorious ex-drone strode into Sickbay. "Doctor," she said.
"Seven," the Doctor replied with more than his usual enthusiasm, "how can I help you?"
"I wish to discuss a private matter with you." Seven eyed Tom, who was running a cortical scan on Ayala.
"Step into my office," the EMH urged her. Safe behind the glass walls, he asked, "It's about the Mobius band, isn't it?"
"In a manner of speaking," Seven replied.
The Doctor paled visibly and shook his head. "Do you still miss the Collective?"
"The Borg have no regrets," she said dismissively.
"I expect not," he replied. It disturbed the Doctor to see his once promising student applying her old social lessons with this new cold exactitude.
"I wish to inform you of my affiliation with Harry Kim," Seven declared.
"Shall I be more explicit?" she offered, with what the EMH tried to believe was her old subtle charm.
"No, that won't be necessary, Seven." On one point, though, he couldn't suppress his curiosity: "But tell me, how did you choose Harry?"
"I based my decision on data from Lieutenant Paris' betting pool."
"What?" The Doctor recovered immediately from his outburst, and rephrased his question, "Does Ensign Kim know?"
"I have explained my reasoning to Harry."
It was too late to turn back now. "Please, explain it to me," he said.
"Mr. Paris is compiling information on the various alternate universes which the crew have seen using the Mobius band."
The Doctor nodded. He had suspected as much when Tom questioned him about his own adventure, but he'd been too busy reintegrating his own subroutines to pay attention to shipboard follies like the betting pools.
"In 39 of the known universes, I was affiliated with Ensign Kim," Seven explained. "In eleven, you and I had an affiliation. In two, Lieutenant Chapman and I were involved briefly."
"Seven," the Doctor interrupted, "how did you get this information? I'm sure Tom is keeping it secret until the pool ends."
"The pool is irrelevant," Seven said curtly. "I required the information, so I obtained it from the main computer."
The EMH let that pass. "What happened in the other thirty universes?"
"I was Borg in most of them."
"You're not the only one." He'd seen quite a few post-Collective cases; none so hard as Seven herself, however.
Her method wasn't so surprising, when he thought about it. The opinions of eighty-odd Sevens of Nine held great weight with her - much more than the opinions of the same number of local crewmates. If the other Sevens chose Harry Kim, this Seven would too.
Thus the Doctor ceded the field to the majority.
Five days later, the security chief brought a proposal to Captain Janeway.
"Tuvok." He was getting to be a regular visitor to her ready-room. "What's on your mind?"
"I believe I should try the Mobius band again. I did not suffer any adverse reactions on my first attempt, and the Doctor confirms that my neural pathways were nearly unaffected by the experience."
"No, Tuvok. It's not worth the risk."
"Compared to the potential benefit, the risk is minor."
"I disagree. There is no potential benefit."
"Why is that, Captain?"
"A hundred and thirteen crewmen have tried the Mobius band - every volunteer has had a chance at it. They represented a myriad of ages, species, cultures and educational backgrounds. Not a single one of them came out of the experience with useful technical information. I must conclude that the outcome is not due to chance; rather, the object must have been designed to conceal exactly the information we want. There's no point to your trying again."
"I see. However, there is scientific knowledge to be gained in our own universe as well, such as what happens, exactly, when someone makes a second attempt."
Yes, they were all curious about that. Tuvok hadn't been the first to request a second try, but he was the first to do so for purely scientific reasons - if his purpose was indeed as dispassionate as he claimed. She would never have doubted his Vulcan impassivity if they hadn't stumbled across this planet. Now she found herself mistrusting him, and that was hardly the most disturbing of her rearranged emotions.
"Sorry, Tuvok. Thank you for volunteering, but I can't let you take the risk."
He took her decision with his usual good grace, or so she thought at the time.
Once More Unto the Breach
Title: Once More Unto the Breach Author: Jemima Contact: email@example.com Series: VOY Part: 18/19 Rating: PG Codes: Tu, J, Section 31 Summary: Tuvok and Janeway consider temporal paradoxes. Metafic comprising part of "The Museum". Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha!
He propped himself up on one elbow. "Captain, where are we?" He looked around the hexagonal room in puzzlement.
She scowled, as though she'd expected to find him here. "You tried the Mobius band again."
"I am sorry, Captain."
"You gave me your word six years ago."
He could have no answer for that, but he did have something to report: "I think I may have found a way home."
"You thought so on Sikaris, too. I'm having you beamed to sickbay. We'll discuss this in the morning."
The hexagonal room disappeared with a shimmer, replaced by the familiar angles of sickbay.
"I wasn't expecting any more patients, Mr. Tuvok," the EMH chided.
"What is your diagnosis, Doctor?"
The hologram busied himself with his instruments, finally pronouncing, "You appear to have had the standard reaction this time - disorientation, new memory pathways, nucleonic residue - but no permanent damage. May I ask what you saw that was worth getting the Captain so angry?"
"I saw the future," the Vulcan answered, then closed his eyes to induce a healing trance.
Tuvok awoke refreshed after only a few hours and asked to return to duty.
"You're cleared for duty as far as I'm concerned," the EMH answered him, "but the Captain wants to see you in her ready room."
He tried to think logical thoughts as he walked from sickbay to the turbolift, and then from the turbolift to the door before which so many miscreants had quailed before. The rift with Captain Janeway probably could not be healed, but if he could convince her to follow his advice Voyager would be back in the Alpha Quadrant a few months from now. He pressed the chime.
They gazed at one another in silence.
Janeway broke the silence first. "I've placed a reprimand in your file. I trust that will suffice as punishment," she said, handing him a PADD from her desk. "What would deter you from doing exactly what you want to do, my orders notwithstanding, is beyond me though, Tuvok. You appear to be a free agent."
"I don't want to hear it. You're of more use to me out of the brig than in it, so you may return to duty."
"Thank you, Captain. I will prepare a full report--"
She interrupted him again. "You told the Doctor you saw the future. I don't want that on record - the last thing I need is another headache from the Time Patrol."
She would not ask him to speak, he knew, but perhaps she would permit it. He made the attempt: "Captain, the first universe I saw through the Mobius band was very similar to our own, as I reported at the time. It was my hope that the alternate timeline would resume where it left off after my first trial - almost the present time."
"Not exactly. It did appear to be the same universe, but the time was after our discovery of this planet and the Mobius band."
The Captain rubbed her temple. "Did you use the Mobius band?"
"We had already completed our trials of the technology. I suspect that that peculiarity of timing is a design restriction inherent in the Mobius band. If I experienced my other self's experiences with the Mobius band, I might have been caught in an endless chain of alternate universes - myself seeing myself seeing myself seeing myself, and so on."
"I'm getting a headache just thinking about it."
Tuvok, of course, did not share her antipathy to temporal paradoxes. He continued his tale. "We had established daily contact with the Alpha Quadrant through the Pathfinder project, just as we have here, and certain forces within Starfleet had in their possession a faster-than-light drive. It was a top military secret, so they had not, until that point, shared the technology with us."
"If we waltzed into the Alpha Quadrant, everyone would know about it," Janeway observed.
"Yes, they would. However, these 'forces' were interested in the Mobius band - extremely interested. They ordered us to bring it back, using the transwarp technology."
"Who exactly ordered us to steal an exhibit from a galactic museum?"
"There's no such thing as Section 31, Tuvok. It's a myth." She rubbed her temple again.
"Captain, it is highly unlikely that the nomenclature was a coincidence. Section 31 existed in that universe. Logic dictates that it must exist in our universe as well."
"And you think they have a transwarp drive to trade for the Mobius band."
"It is likely. I recall the agents' names - I can look them up in our database and try to contact them in the next datastream."
"Are you suggesting we rob the museum?"
"Perhaps we can copy the technology," Tuvok suggested.
"You know we can't."
"Perhaps we won't find that out until we already have transwarp."
"We'd be making some nasty enemies, Tuvok."
"It would not be the first time we have done so, Captain."
Tuvok asked Seven of Nine to leave Astrometrics. After a battle of the eyebrows, she conceded her territory to him. When he keyed in his authorization code, a Starfleet officer wearing commander's pips appeared on-screen. No one else was likely to notice the human's resemblance to 'Teero' of Bajor, but Tuvok remembered him well.
"Voyager has encountered an abandoned alien technology the potential usefulness of which is unbounded. It shows the user alternate universes--"
"The Section's interests lie in *this* universe," Teero interrupted.
"A sufficiently disciplined mind can direct the device to observe universes nearly indistinguishable from our own, though quantum effects prohibit viewing our own universe. The espionage potential is--"
"Yes, I see."
Tuvok wasn't sure that the erstwhile Bajoran was convinced. "By investigating more varied universes, we may be able to discover new technologies."
After some thought, the distant agent asked, "Can you send us technical specifications?"
"No, we do not understand the device at that level. However, it is small, so we would be able to bring it back to the Alpha Quadrant with us." Tuvok paused again.
"I'll have to report this to my superiors. If Voyager is recalled to the Alpha Quadrant suddenly, you'll know what to do."
"Yes, sir," Tuvok replied.
"Starfleet just sent me the specifications for a transwarp drive," Janeway gestured at the console on her ready-room desk. "You've got friends in high places, Tuvok."
"For the moment, Captain," he replied, still standing.
"There's no way I can send these back now. We're committed." She waited for him to speak, but Tuvok remained silent. "I won't vandalize the museum."
"No, ma'am," he replied.
She looked at him sadly. "I could report your death, Tuvok. You could take a shuttle to Vulcan before we rendezvous with Starfleet."
"I doubt that would be effective, Captain."
"What did you do in the other universe?"
"What happened at this point in the other universe?"
"I removed the Mobius band without your knowledge and handed it over to Section 31 when we reached the Alpha Quadrant."
"I assume you contacted them because you were one of their agents."
Tuvok merely nodded.
"Never mind, Tuvok."
It took a month for Engineering to complete the required modifications, but eventually Voyager was ready to return to the Alpha Quadrant at transwarp speed. Having stored up plenty of replicated supplies from the snackbar of the museum, Voyager made the six-month journey at an average cruising speed of warp 14, with only a few stops at especially tempting anomalies.
Tuvok found himself participating in the revelry with a somewhat un-Vulcan verve. The other crewmembers whiled away the months of travel by planning reunions, legal stratagems, new careers and long vacations. He wrote letters home, but made no particular plans for his return to Vulcan.
Soon enough, Voyager burst upon the Alpha Quadrant scene. The celebrations were almost continuous. Voyager led a parade of starships back to Earth and hosted countless members of the Starfleet brass and Federation Council. Among them was a commander whom only Tuvok recognized.
"It's not aboard," the commander whispered.
"I was unable to separate the device from the main structure of the building," Tuvok replied.
"You have failed."
Tuvok only nodded.
When the Earthside celebrations were over, the crew of Voyager gradually dispersed to their homes. Tuvok, reluctant to book domestic passage to Vulcan, lingered on Earth. Each morning he strolled about the grounds of Starfleet Academy.
"You haven't returned home," said a familiar voice one morning.
"I fear the consequences of my actions," he answered the former Bajoran.
"Do Vulcans fear death, then?"
He shook his head. "Vulcans do not wish to cause the deaths of innocent bystanders."
"You underestimate our accuracy." Teero had led his companion to an unfrequented corner of the gardens.
"Perhaps," Tuvok answered. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his companion move suddenly, and felt something like a hypospray against his skin, though Teero hadn't touched him. The commander was walking away.
Tuvok stood alone. There was no use going for medical help - whatever it was would surely look natural and be irreversible. He gazed up at the morning sun, at Sol hanging over the trees, but her light was unaccountably dim. He staggered...
Title: Finale Author: Jemima Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Series: VOY Part: 19/19 Rating: PG Codes: crew Summary: This is the finale of "The Museum", a series of AU stories within one larger story. In the Finale, Tuvok breaks a promise, Neelix sets sail, and, of course, Voyager sets course for Earth. Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha!
The prone Vulcan propped himself up on one elbow. "Captain, where are we?" He looked around the hexagonal room in puzzlement.
She scowled, though when she'd woken up in the middle of the night and asked the computer to locate him, she'd already known, in her heart, where he was. "You tried the Mobius band again."
"I am sorry, Captain."
"You gave me your word six years ago."
"I think I may have found a way home."
"You thought so on Sikaris, too. I'm having you beamed to sickbay. We'll discuss this in the morning."
Tuvok had a disturbingly familiar conversation with the EMH in sickbay. As far as he could determine, he was back in his own universe. The possibility of being trapped forever in an endless sequence of universes generated by the Mobius band was disturbing, but Tuvok trusted that the builders of the museum had taken measures to prevent such an infinite regress. Trusted, or hoped.
In the morning he reported to the Captain's ready-room as ordered.
This time he broke the silence. "I apologize for my actions."
"I've placed a reprimand in your file." Janeway paused before explaining, "I don't like what the Mobius band has done to my crew, Tuvok. Tom and B'Elanna are clinging to each other as though they've been through a war. Seven has slipped back into her Borg habits, except, unaccountably, she's dating Ensign Kim. Even Neelix seems depressed." She didn't mention her own haunting memories. "But the worst part, Tuvok, is that I don't trust you anymore. Needless to say, your little escapade didn't help."
"You told the Doctor you saw the future."
The familiar words rolled off his tongue. "The first universe I saw through the Mobius band was very similar to our own, as I reported at the time. It was my hope that the alternate timeline would resume where it left off after my first trial - almost the present time."
"Did it?" she asked.
"Yes," he answered, determined not to go into as much detail in this, he prayed, his own universe, as he had in the previous one. "It was the same universe, but the time was after our discovery of this planet and the Mobius band."
"And we made it home...how?" the Captain wondered aloud.
"Starfleet sent us the specifications for a transwarp drive."
"Do you remember them?" she asked.
"Engineering is not my department," he said. "However, the other universe was nearly indistinguishable from our own. I believe that Starfleet will send us the information soon."
"Is that what you meant when you said you had found a way home?"
No, that was not what he had meant. "I was disoriented, Captain."
She eyed him suspiciously, but what could she do? Her prejudices against another Tuvok who had abandoned her on another New Earth were as misplaced here in the real world as her feelings for Chakotay were. Or were they?
"You may report for duty, Mr. Tuvok. Dismissed."
Not having the Captain's backing for his plans, Tuvok did not ask Seven of Nine to leave Astrometrics. He merely keyed in his authorization code, and a Starfleet commander bearing an unprovable resemblance to 'Teero' appeared on-screen.
"Voyager has encountered an abandoned alien technology the potential usefulness of which is unbounded. It shows the user alternate universes--"
"Starfleet's security interests lie in *this* universe," Teero interrupted.
"A sufficiently disciplined mind can direct the device to observe universes nearly indistinguishable from our own, though quantum effects prohibit viewing our own universe. The security implications are--"
"Yes, I see."
Tuvok knew that the erstwhile Bajoran was convinced, but he elaborated his arguments. "By investigating more varied universes, Starfleet Research may be able to discover new technologies."
After some thought, the distant Commander asked, "Can you send us technical specifications?"
"No, we do not understand the device at that level. However, it is small, so we would be able to bring it back to the Alpha Quadrant with us." Tuvok paused.
"I doubt that Starfleet Command would permit that, but I will make inquiries. Thank you for bringing this to my attention."
"You're welcome, sir," Tuvok replied.
"Starfleet just sent us the specifications for a transwarp drive," Janeway gestured at the console on her ready-room desk. "You were right, Tuvok - you did see the future."
"Up to certain quantum limits, I did. As time passes, my knowledge of the future will grow less accurate."
"Is there anything I should know?"
"In the other universe, we installed the transwarp drive and reached the Alpha Quadrant without incident. I hope the trip goes as smoothly here."
"I hope so, too," the Captain replied distractedly. She looked her security chief straight in the eye as she added, "I also have an interesting report from Seven of Nine on your conversation with one Commander Meron, a security expert."
"I took the opportunity to consult with a colleague in my own field."
"He didn't have much to say, apparently."
"Perhaps he will communicate his insights at a later date," the Vulcan suggested.
The Captain was no philosopher, but she felt as though something had slipped in the multiverse, and her free will was slowly draining away down a crack between realities. She was pining after her lost husband - though he was in the next room in his incarnation as her first officer - and now her oldest friend had turned fortuneteller, to some unknown quantum degree of accuracy. The hand that moved the stars had picked up her tiny ship and was reaching back to toss it, willy-nilly, back to the Alpha Quadrant.
She sighed and nodded to Tuvok, who returned to his duties.
During their last month at the planet, while Torres and her staff completed the engine modifications, the rest of the crew intensified their efforts to record the boundless information contained in the museum.
"I could stay here forever," Chakotay told Janeway as he was showing her his favorite exhibit. It was their last day at the planet.
"Maybe Starfleet will send Voyager back here to continue our research," Janeway suggested. "She is a scientific vessel, after all."
"I'd like to come back."
"So would I."
Voyager was ready to depart, as Harry Kim emphasized by counting down to their departure time. "Please finish transmitting scientific data by 1600 hours," he instructed the crew still in the museum over the comm system. "Off-duty personnel should return to Voyager in the next ten minutes."
"I guess that's us," Chakotay said.
"Rank has its privileges," Janeway replied. They strolled on through the hexagonal rooms for far longer than ten minutes, saying goodbye to the exhibits with every lingering glance.
Once he'd piloted Voyager out of orbit and pointed her towards Earth, Tom joined the inevitable party in the mess hall. Neelix made a show out of announcing the pool winners, and also gave a little speech about theirs being 'the best of all possible worlds'.
The Captain and Commander Chakotay made a token appearance.
"How long are they going to hold out?" Tom whispered to Neelix, who shrugged. "If only she saw things Seven's way," he added with a sigh.
"She doesn't have the data Seven had," Neelix replied.
Tom grumbled at the breach of betting-pool security Seven of Nine represented. Harry's impressive winnings in the pool could doubtlessly be traced back to the Borg leak. But Neelix was still looking at him; what was the Talaxian getting at?
"You're not suggesting..."
Neelix grinned. "We have 63 moving love stories about the two of them in our database," he said, tapping the master PADD. "It only took thirty to convince a Borg drone to set up house with Ensign Kim."
"But will she read them?" Tom asked.
"Who can resist a good story?"
In the end, Neelix passed the duty of telling Janeway love stories on to the Parises; he himself became the first crewman lost on account of the museum. Voyager dropped out of transwarp after just two thousand light years, and the Talaxian set sail in his old ship, Baxial, for parts unknown to the rest of the crew.
Neelix, however, knew what he was about. He claimed there was an asteroid full of refugee Talaxians nearby, at coordinates he recalled from his spacefaring days in another universe. Captain Janeway offered to bring him all the way there, but he said the Talaxians didn't care for aliens.
"What if they're not even there, in our universe?" everyone from Naomi to Tuvok asked him. In either event, he would reply, he planned to return to the museum and run the snack bar. If Voyager ever returned, they might find a colony of Talaxians turning the K-class planet into a hospitable little rest-stop.
Chakotay asked him whether the paranoid refugees he hoped to find in his asteroid would want to live amid the bustle of a galactic cultural center. Neelix insisted that Talaxians were naturally sociable, and, when pressed, he admitted to the Commander that he believed the museum had defensive capabilities. It could never have lasted this long - Jurot dated the museum as at least 350,000 years old - in the Delta Quadrant without some protection against vandalism.
Ensign Wildman assured Neelix that Starfleet would send science vessels back to the museum; he could come back on one of them and find his Talaxians then. Didn't he want to see the Alpha Quadrant first, though?
No, he didn't. He missed his wife, even though he hadn't married her yet. Maybe they'd take a little trip to the Federation together, once they were settled down at the museum; he promised to visit Sam and Naomi then.
The crew lined up outside the shuttlebay to bid Neelix good-bye. Tuvok summed it up well with his final "Live long, and prosper." And thus the good ship Baxial set sail once more.
Janeway hadn't expected the Mobius band to change anyone's life. Nothing had changed before, though they'd been out here wandering for seven years. Well, almost nothing - Kes had changed, leaving Neelix alone. Tom and B'Elanna had grown close, and Seven had grown human. But Tuvok, Harry Kim, Chakotay and herself remained, more or less, the same people who had been torn away from the Alpha Quadrant seven years before.
Now Neelix was out chasing Talaxians and Harry and Seven were joined at the hip, but Janeway still hadn't changed. For all the variety of universes, a starship captain still had a role to play - a script that could be changed only in the insignificant details, unless it were rewritten by some apocalyptic event such as assimilation or disease.
Or the arrival of B'Elanna Torres, pregnant enough to pop, at one's cabin door. Janeway let her in, sat her down on the couch and served tea. After the usual pleasantries, B'Elanna began, hesitantly, to explain her visit. It was, as everything was these days, about the Mobius band.
The normally ebullient engineer had become rather taciturn since her experiences, and curiosity tinged Janeway's concern for her as her purpose unfolded.
The two women made scientific small talk for a few minutes, discussing the science behind the Mobius band - the same idle speculation that the science departments and Engineering had been tossing around since the discovery of the museum. Janeway's visitor soon changed the subject, however.
"Sometimes I think we just saw what we wanted to see," B'Elanna said, "and that disturbs me most of all."
Janeway suspected as much herself, but found it the least disturbing of the various proposed explanations. "Why?" she wondered aloud.
"I murdered someone there - two people," Torres confessed. "Isn't that the perfect crime - killing people in another universe?"
"It wasn't you, B'Elanna." They were empty words, but a captain had to say something in these situations.
"It sure seemed like me at the time."
"Does Tom know?"
B'Elanna shook her head.
"I suppose it was a Maquis operation," Janeway said, but immediately regretted her words. She suspected mutiny, and she didn't want to know the extent of it.
B'Elanna neither confirmed nor denied her suspicions. Instead, she flew off on a tangent: "Why couldn't I have seen Voyager's war against the Borg, where Chakotay almost exterminated the Collective trying to get you back? Or the universe where he spent two years of his life to prove Seska had murdered you? Or the one where we settled down with the 37's and all lived happily ever after? Then I'd be telling you about my rowdy sons and your pretty daughter.
"Instead, here I am, confessing to your murder."
Janeway looked up sharply. That was exactly what she hadn't wanted to know. Had B'Elanna thought about how this might affect their official relationship as Captain and Chief Engineer? Some things were better left unsaid, especially those that couldn't be unsaid afterwards.
Her Klingon friend had murdered her, her Vulcan friend had abandoned her - Janeway wondered where she stood, as the dark chasms between universes opened beneath her feet, again.
A Captain had to say something - it was in the script. "That was another world, 'Lanna - just an example of what might have happened, but didn't, like that war against the Borg," she said, hoping to change the subject.
"It's all here," B'Elanna said, handing Janeway a PADD. "I don't feel nearly so guilty about Tuvok, for some reason."
Janeway glanced at the PADD's file list. "Where did you get all this?" Hadn't she declared the other universes taboo - quite wisely, it turned out, if unsuccessfully?
"Neelix collected it for Tom's betting pool." Blame the Talaxian, now beyond Starfleet justice. "Everyone is represented, anonymously, though some of the stories are a little short on details."
B'Elanna began to hoist herself off the couch, a time-consuming process in her condition, especially when her back hurt as much as it did tonight.
"I shouldn't read these," Janeway said, trying to hand the PADD back to her fickle friend.
B'Elanna ignored it, saying, "You're the Captain. You ought to know what goes on on your ship."
Miral Torres chose that very evening to be born.
"Mission accomplished," B'Elanna told Tom as they hobbled off to sickbay.
"I shouldn't have let you talk to Janeway." Technically, this wasn't premature labor, but his wife seemed to be pained by more than the occasional contraction.
"She needs to know who her friends really are."
Tom shook his head. "We're all friends here."
"We'll be home in four months, Tom. Things will change - the crew will be split up. You and I are getting out of Starfleet." She punctuated this prediction with a glare. Her husband had no intention of protesting, in any event. "We'll move on with our lives. We'll make different friends - friends we choose, not friends the Caretaker chose for us."
They had arrived in sickbay. Tom and the Doctor helped B'Elanna onto a biobed.
"What did you say to her, B'Elanna?" Tom asked.
"I gave her the PADD. She'll read it."
That was not an answer, but this was not a moment to argue with one's wife. He concentrated on being supportive and keeping sharp objects out of her reach.
The Doctor wasn't quite sure how to fill in the birth certificate, since Miral was the first child on record born in the nether space of transwarp. In the end, he just wrote 'Beta Quadrant'.
As Voyager crept Earthward, Tuvok felt a growing, illogical desire to see his wife and children again.
For a master of the kohlinar, such desires were unthinkable, yet he thought them. Perhaps having lived a second life and died without meeting his wife again had pushed his Vulcan discipline beyond its limits. Death was a logical end to a logical life, but first, he would see T'Pel.
Pathfinder could not reach them in transwarp, but once Voyager was within subspace communications range, Tuvok sent a message instructing his wife to meet him on Earth upon Voyager's return.
When they were in sensor range of Earth, that blue-green planet was the first thing up on the big screen in Astrometrics.
"Look, Annika," Harry said enthusiastically. He still thought of her as Seven of Nine, but the majority had decided to return to her given name, so his Seven had as well. "It's Earth." Voyager was almost home.
It was a solemn moment for Harry Kim, but it was Annika Hansen who thought to pipe the image to consoles all over the ship. "Land ho!" came Tom's voice from the bridge, and Chell took the opportunity to throw yet another party. The Captain and Commander danced together all night. Even Tuvok attended.
And then, before they knew it, Voyager was home. The crew was debriefed quickly and all outstanding charges were dropped - except one, unspoken charge which Tuvok beamed down to San Francisco to pay.
"We have come," T'Pel announced, when he found her with the children on the green at Starfleet Academy.
"Thank you for meeting me," Tuvok replied.
His children greeted him in formal Vulcan phrases. He inquired after their spouses and his grandchildren, and asked his youngest about his studies.
When they had made full reports, T'Pel dismissed them, saying, "Your father and I would speak."
"Wife," Tuvok said, once the children had withdrawn, "thank you again for indulging my illogical request."
"Was it illogical, husband?"
"I have endangered you for no reason."
"Then we are here to say goodbye. It is as I expected," T'Pel said calmly.
Tuvok remained silent.
T'Pel had never undergone the kohlinar discipline. She felt her control weakening as she asked, "Tell me, husband, who makes you pay this price?"
"It was my choice."
"There was no need to return here. It would have been more logical to remain in the Delta Quadrant."
"Voyager's crew wished to return home," Tuvok replied.
"Did they wish to pay for passage with your life?"
"Why, then, have you abandoned the path of logic?" she demanded.
"I have followed the dictates of logic all my life," he answered. "I studied the kohlinar to perfect my control. I have served those who were more coldly calculating that any Vulcan. I have hurt, killed and betrayed, when there was no rational alternative.
"In all my days, I have taken only one independent action, dictated neither by Vulcan logic nor by security concerns."
T'Pel interrupted to ask, "How does one act for no reason?" It had been almost a century and a half since she had acted with a child's spontaneous irrationality - she had forgotten how it was done.
"I do not know. I had a reason, though my motive was not logic."
"What was it?"
A strange concept for a desert people from an unforgiving world - T'Pel tried to wrap her thoughts around it. Suddenly, she understood; not through her own efforts, but because Tuvok had initiated a mind-meld.
Now other matters were more pressing: she saw the approaching figure of Commander Meron through his eyes and understood the danger. She must accept Tuvok's katra before Meron came close enough to interpret their actions.
A moment later, T'Pel of Vulcan walked away, never having seen the approaching officer with her own eyes.
The autopsy confirmed T'Pel's assertion that Tuvok's death had been caused by an underlying neurological condition exacerbated by his exposure to the Mobius band. Janeway was forced to drop her inquiries into the matter.
T'Pel had invited only her husband's former captain to the funeral ceremonies on Vulcan, but she brought Chakotay along along with her. They walked hand-in-hand through T'Pel's desert garden after the ceremonies were over. The sand under her feet reminded Janeway of the museum.
"Starfleet plans to send Voyager back to the museum after the refit," she told Chakotay. She'd gotten the dispatch just that morning. "We can have her, if we want her."
"You mean you can have her," Chakotay said.
"Are you still determined to resign?"
He nodded. "I've had enough of Starfleet regulations." Enough for several lifetimes, he didn't add. So had Tom and B'Elanna, along with half of Voyager's former crew. "But if you need an anthropologist," he added, "I could tag along - in a civilian capacity, of course."
Of course. Things would be simpler for the two of them that way, and Chakotay was no friend of Starfleet, even after seven years. Was she? Janeway wondered. She had asked Owen Paris about the transwarp drive and the mysterious Commander Meron, but the Admiral claimed they checked out - though Meron had taken a few more leaves of absence than the typical Starfleet officer. So had Tuvok, for that matter.
"Voyager won't be the same without Tuvok."
"Don't blame yourself, Kathryn," Chakotay reassured her, "You brought him home safely."
"He brought *us* home," she contradicted her companion. But she had no proof of it, only suspicions - suspicions of just how good a friend Tuvok had turned out to be.
They'd gone over the same arguments time and again, day and night, ever since Tuvok's death on Earth. Chakotay stood his ground: "Even if he had wanted to," - and what Vulcan possessed such desires? - "what could Tuvok have done to alter the future?"