By Jemima Pereira (
© October 2002
Codes: crew, humor
Rating: G
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Award: ASC Awards, 2002 Voyager Crew (1st place)
award graphic

A highly theoretical form of energy has the crew in a tizzy.

This story has not been betaed. Read at your own risk.

Written for BRAD 2002.

A Borg cube loomed in the viewscreen as the bridge of Voyager shook wildly. The crew swayed back and forth almost in time with the shaking. A spare science console spat sparks.

"Report," the Captain barked.

"The warp field failing, Janeway," B'Elanna gasped over the comm link.

"Torres?" Janeway said questioningly. "That's 'The warp field is failing, Captain."

"Yes, Ma'am." B'E closed the comm link.

Janeway rolled her eyes expressively. "Staff meeting. Conference room. Now."

"Captain, your sentences require verbs," Tuvok reported.

The Captain glared at the Vulcan and marched off the bridge. The senior staff followed dutifully. Harry was the last one out, so he turned off the lights.

Tuvok whispered to Janeway as she strode into the conference room. "I don't really object to your starting a relationship with Commander Chakotay. I can see you really love him. Please don't let protocol stand in the way of your happiness."

She backed away in fright. "Tuvok, you're not yourself."

Tuvok backed away as well, bumping into Tom Paris. The handsome, blue-eyed medic whipped out his trusty medical tricorder and ran it over the Vulcan security officer's pointy-eared body. "Tuvok is experiencing pon farr," Tom reported.

"Not again," Tuvok sighed.

"I'll bake you a cake after the meeting," Janeway said, and sat down at the head of the table.

Tom, noticing his lovely wife in her usual chair, asked, "B'E, shouldn't you be in Engineering? I thought the warp field was failing."

"I'm an engineer," she replied, "I can be in two places at once."

Tom, worried that she was running around with Harry behind his back, sulked in a corner.

"Have a problem here, people," Janeway announced.

"Kathryn, that sentence requires a subject," Chakotay said.

Tuvok corrected him. "Commander, you should address the Captain as Captain."

Suddenly, the conference room was filled with a warm, comforting light, the sort of light that made women look all out-of-focus and made lonely miners want to marry those blurry women. A heavenly voice spoke, saying, "Captain, we seem to have a problem here."

"Kes? What are you doing here?" Janeway felt a temporal paradox headache coming on.

"I'm not sure, ma'am."

"Where's Seven of Nine? And why is everyone calling me ma'am?"

The senior staff gave her a collective blank look.

On one face, the blankness looked more or less normal. "Will you marry me, Captain?" Chakotay asked.

Before Tuvok could protest the inappropriate nature of this public proposal, Tom got into the act. "Will you marry me, B'E?"

"We're already married, Tom."

"Oh." The ship shook slightly, and the senior staff made a half-hearted attempt to sway in time with the inertial dampeners.

Janeway called a halt to the swaying and the marital bliss. "As I was saying, we have a problem here."

"You mean that we all left the bridge in the middle of a Borg attack?" Harry asked.

A drone beamed into the conference room, plunged its assimilation tubules into Ensign Kim's neck, and beamed away with him. "That'll teach him to nitpick," Tom muttered.

Tuvok checked one of the wall panels. "The Borg are withdrawing to their transwarp network, ma'am."

Janeway glared at him and hit her comm badge. "Doctor?"

"EMH here. What is the nature of the medical emergency?"

"We lost another Ensign Kim, Doc," Janeway explained. "Do you still have that DNA sample on file?"

"Yes, ma'am. I'll have the clone ready by this afternoon. Sickbay out."

The remaining senior staff stared at each other blankly, except for B'Elanna, who was reading a PADD. "Captain," she said, "I believe we have a problem here."

Janeway sighed and put her head down on the conference table. Neelix handed her a cup of his latest liquid creation, which was not quite entirely unlike coffee.

"We've entered a region of space which is low on beta energy," B'E continued. "I believe that's why we've reencountered the Hirogen, the Borg, the Kazon and a bunch of angry holograms, all in the same month."

"What's beta energy?" Kes and Neelix asked in unison, straight woman and her straight man to the last.

"It's a theoretical force believed to lend coherence and continuity to the universe," B'E replied. "When the ambient beta energy is low, humanoids tend to drift out of character, make highly embarrassing public professions of love, and repeat themselves repeatedly."

"I love you, Captain," Chakotay said randomly.

B'Elanna rolled her eyes. "You see what I mean? In cases of severe beta deprivation, people may disappear, die, come back to life, be in two places at once or show up thousands of light years from their last known location. In the worst cases, the victims become incoherent."

"u B-long 2 me kathrn," Chakotay added, as if on cue.

"I see," Janeway said. "Is there any way to produce our own beta energy?"

"We could use the main computer to correct our speech patterns," Tuvok suggested.

"Their are sum problems width that approach," B'E said. "Thee computer is knot sentient."

The senior staff sulked once more. A Hirogen hunting party passed the viewscreen, a Borg tactical sphere roped to the roof of one of their ships. No one noticed.

"How long will we bee in this zone of low beta energy?" Neelix asked. He wanted to plan the appropriate menu of Spellcheck Salads and Show-Don't-Tell Spaghetti.

"Bye my calculations, too to three more weeks." B'Elanna steeled herself for half a month of being called B'E.

"Eye've gut it!" Tom announced. "Eye no how to replicate beta energy! Meat me on the holodeck at 1800 ours."

"This had better work, Tom, or I'll run off with Harry Six and have his love child," B'E threatened soapily.

"Your already pregnant, B'E," her husband replied.

It was a sorry lot who shuffled onto the holodeck that evening. Tuvok was shivering with untreated pon farr. B'Elanna was toting her bat'leth, the better to decapitate people who called her B'E. Kes was pregnant, lending her formerly blurry features a sharp, irritable, and hunchbacked quality. Neelix held her hand and called her "sweeting," over and over again. Janeway couldn't recall a single verb, while Chakotay had lost the power of speech entirely. He'd been following her around like a puppy for hours.

The decor was one of Tom's usual twentieth-century reproductions, a long, sunny beach with a convenient seaside bar and grill. Tom himself was seated in a beach chair, sipping a margarita and reading a PADD. Harry Six, newly released from Sickbay, sat beside him in a slighly shabbier chair, an untouched grape knee-high at his side.

They stood up as the rest of the senior staff approached. "Well, Tom?" Janeway asked. Chakotay gave a Tarzan yell. "Don't mind him," Janeway added, "he does that now."

"Here she comes," Tom said, pointing far down the beach where a tiny figure was, indeed, running across the sand towards them.

"A hologram?" Janeway asked incredulously.

"Not just any hologram, ma'am," Tom replied. "This hologram can keep the ship running despite the lack of ambient beta energy. In fact, she thrives on the absence of beta. She uses the lull in the laws of physics to her own advantage."

"She can do anything," Harry gushed. Tuvok raised an eyebrow.

The mystery figure grew slowly, as if running up from a great distance. Already, they could see that she was buxom yet willowy, with alabaster skin and a diaphonous gown flowing behind her. The senior staff stood in awe, awaiting the ethereal figure's arrival.

She ghosted to a halt before them. "Hello, everyone!"

"Captain," Tom said, "let me introduce...Mary Sue."

Chakotay let out another Tarzan yell.

The next two weeks were tumultuous, as Mary Sue, equipped with the Doctor's mobile emitter, saved the ship from the Hirogen, taught the Kazon about democracy, eliminated the Borg menace, cured Tuvok's pon farr, led countless holograms to freedom and delivered Kes's baby. The crew's grammatical problems were not entirely cured, but they found that restricting their speech to praise of Mary Sue solved most of their linguistic difficulties.

Tragedy struck in the third week. Mary Sue grew pale and weak, and was soon confined to Sickbay. Her many admirers streamed through Sickbay until the unoccupied biobeds were overflowing with flowers and chocolates.

While the men crowded around the death-biobed, the female half of the senior staff conferred in the Doctor's office. "I've tripled the gain on Sickbay's holoemitters," B'Elanna told the Captain, "but she's still flickering in and out."

"It's hard to remember that Mary's just a hologram," Kes remarked. "Is there any way to save her?"

B'Elanna shook her head. "Beta energy levels are rising steadily."

"We could stop the ship," Kes said.

Janeway shook her head. "This pocket of low beta energy is folding upon itself like a warp bubble. Once beta energy levels return to normal, Mary Sue's holomatrix will collapse."

Suddenly, the office was filled with a cold, green light, the sort of light that made any complexion look like death warmed over. Kes changed before her companions' eyes, growing taller, bustier and more distinct. A brusque voice spoke: "Captain, I believe I have a solution."

"Seven! Where have you been?"

"I do not know," she admitted. "I suggest we transfer Mary Sue to the main holodeck before her matrix fails."

"We've already tried that, Seven." B'Elanna crossed her arms.

"Perhaps you did not choose the proper holoprogram."

Tom Paris and Harry Kim paused in the corridor outside the holodeck.

"I can't believe Seven did this to us," Tom said.

"She did it to save Mary Sue." Harry peeled off his jacket. "I'm sure she considers any impact upon our leisure activities--"


Harry tried to cheer Tom up about the unexpected fate of his favorite holoprogram. "It wasn't so bad."

"Mary Sue saved the universe, Harry. Twice."

Harry shrugged. "That's what she does."

"That's what Captain Proton does." Tom sighed.

"Seven did say it was the perfect environment for her." But it was a sad pair of ex-heroes who trudged toward the messhall, where Neelix was serving All's Well That Ends Well Appetizers and Beta Energy Barbeque.