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Voyager gets mixed up in a civil war orchestrated by an old enemy. Meanwhile the Delta Flyer must outrun a pursuing ship in order to return to Voyager without endangering it.
This episode replaces the controversial probably only to me Dimension Jump, at long long last. Meanwhile the original has been severely edited down as while I don't tend to delete entire episodes (World Domination being still online proves it), I didn't want to leave DJ with its still unedited offensive rubbish until the day the site dies, archived or not.
Anarchy still must follow certain plot elements from DJ since it's linked to many episodes before and after. That's fine, those parts of the story I aimed to fix regardless of DJ's history. DJ though did have numerous hanging threads in it, none of which matter at all except for I think F9 Control Failure having a really poor intermission with one of them. Point being some episodes after may seem a bit confusing until they're booted, F9 mainly, due to the changes.
3rd July 2015
19th, 23rd - 29th September 2018
6th November 2018
6th & 8th September 2001
It was the day they thought they were prepared for. A cloak to hide from the primitives, perimeter shields, intruder alarms. Photon canons at the borders, two ships on patrol at all times.
All of them failed. The cloak and alarms were rendered useless, the shields fell instantly. Cannons were turned inwards, the two ships were on their side.
Everywhere people tried to hide they were being blocked by soldiers. Their own, demanding to know which side they were on.
One girl though seemed nonplussed to be confronted.
"You, I'm talking to you!" one soldier barked at her. "The royal pacifists or the free and democratic resistance?"
Emma smiled, "which side means I get to use this?" She brandished what looked like a cross between a grass strimmer with a circular saw instead of the wires.
"Oh my god, it's Emma," one of the soldiers stammered and they bolted in the opposite direction. Many soon followed him, leaving one clueless schmuck behind.
The deadly weapon roared into life, the saw part of it underneath the guard span so fast it could no longer be seen. Emma grinned. The remaining soldier yelped and ran for their life, she gave chase giggling.
She got similar reactions on her way to the building high up on the east hill. Emma had to duck and cover as weapons fire slammed into its personal shields. The loud hum of an engine nearby told her she had no choice, so she took off toward the gate. Her rare ID card let her through the shield surrounding the building, yet it did nothing to open the front door. She banged her fists on it over and over.
Then she realised the engine she'd heard didn't come from the building as she'd thought and hoped. It came from behind and above, it was closing in. Her head turned to have a look. The front door opened in the split second she caught sight of the silver, Borg tainted vessel swoop directly towards and fire in her general direction.
Emma was yanked inside mere seconds before the shields fell.
Tom stared blankly, except for his rapid blinking. "I'm sorry, would you run that by me one more time? I think I have some awful joke in my ear."
B'Elanna sat across from the table, watching her husband tap and sometimes stab his breakfast with his fork until it was mush. "Well, you chose the godparents the last time."
"But," Tom said as he twitched. "I thought you'd pick Chakotay, or I dunno, Janeway again. Not those two. Why?"
"Jessie said she owed me after saving her life. James has been really grateful too; first in the queue for breakfast, no burned food unless I asked, gave us some baby things like toys," B'Elanna answered. "Though I had to grit my teeth when he offered to carry that container for me to Engineering."
Tom's twitching turned into an ambivalent cringe. "Why? He is a freakazoid, make use of it."
B'Elanna wasn't amused, she resisted giving him a scowl considering the circumstances. "Just because I'm six months pregnant, doesn't mean I'm an invalid."
"Fine. Getting back to the making people who hate me, my kid's god parents?" Tom grumbled.
B'Elanna sighed. "Chakotay didn't want to get involved. Janeway was fine, but I couldn't turn Jessie away."
"Yes you can," Tom stuttered desperately, almost begging. "She owes you, not the other way around."
"She thinks so, I don't," B'Elanna countered. "It's not that big a deal. You still have Harry and Janeway for Bryan, so..."
"Janeway I only asked because she said if I got her involved with my crotchspawn, her words, she'd make me pay. I thought I had the upperhand there. Harry's my go to babysitter," Tom said.
B'Elanna smiled. "Exactly, it doesn't mean anything, calm down. Your breakfast has turned into soup."
Two tables away Lilly held back a couple of gags, staring in disbelief as Emma poured salad cream all over the lumpy stew Neelix had called a porridge. Her spoon needed to be pushed into it with brute force.
"You can't be serious," Lilly said, shaking her head.
Emma looked up at her innocently. "Why not?" she squeaked.
"Death comes to mind. The painful kind," Lilly answered.
Emma pointed a malicious grin at her, "you promise?"
"Uh," was all Lilly had time to say before Emma tossed the bowl at the neighbouring table. The only occupant there was knocked out instantly. Lilly sighed, "what did he do?"
"Said I had a nice ass, perv," Emma replied in disgust.
"Are you sure? I thought he said you seemed like a nice lass," Lilly said.
Emma cringed even further, "eew."
Lilly shrugged that off, hoping it was all over. She knew she'd be wrong. Emma tossed her hard as a rock bread roll at the same guy just as Tom was passing through. It hit him instead, souring his mood further.
"Oops, sorry," Emma said meekly.
Tom either didn't hear or ignored her completely, he kept going towards another table. The occupants there looked unsure as to why. Jessie though saw his face and thought the worst, she tried not to show her concern.
"You want to tell me why you and your chump get to be god parents, when it's you that owes us?" Tom snarled. He glared first at her, then at the other at the table, immediately getting confused as it was a different man to who he expected.
"First I've heard of it," Andrew tried to smile to lighten the mood.
Jessie exhaled in relief, still her shoulders remained tense. "Look, I'm sorry but if that's what B'Elanna said, then..."
Tom scoffed, "you two don't even like me. So why do you want to get involved with my kid at all? I don't get it."
Andrew stood while arming his counsellor's face. "I'm certain Jessie feels bad enough for Torres helping her, saving her so soon after the first pregnancy, but she had no choice in the matter. If this helps ease both their worries, why..."
"Oh butt out James Two," Tom snapped, staring at him harshly.
"Huh?" Andrew was more than confused.
Jessie firmly ground her teeth. It didn't deter her. "What the hell do you mean by that?"
"Oh I'm sorry, you're right," Tom pretended to look apologetically at her. "This one's too nice and polite, and reasonable, and not trying to murder people. What was I thinking?"
Jessie jumped to her feet and glared up at him. "You wanna try saying that to his face, if there's any left of yours after I smash my fist into it."
Andrew inhaled through his teeth, awkwardly. "Jessie, try to remember the breathing exercises."
He got a narrowed eye all throughout Jessie's overexaggerated breathe in and out. "Yeah thanks," she muttered. Her focus returned to Tom. "The god parents title means so little these days, it doesn't matter. It could be much worse, so unstick your knickers from your ass, okay?"
Tom forcefully snickered, hoping to contain his temper. "Try listening to the anti-James, Jess. He may make a lady out of you yet."
So much anger flashed in Jessie's eyes, Andrew looked on worried. "Oh, so because I'm not a wimp like you, I'm not feminine in Tom Paris' eyes. God forbid, I'd better change at once so the overgrown toddler gets what he wants."
She wasn't the only one who was shocked when Tom's hand flew out and struck her cheek. The entire room froze in subzero temperatures. It was so quiet, coughing from Engineering could be heard clearly through the floor.
"Keep up being classy Jess, and good luck with the backup dweeb," Tom grumbled as he stomped away towards the exit. He almost walked into somebody standing in the doorway. They were about to be told to get the hell out of the way, when he noticed who it was and thought better of it.
"Hang on, you forgot something," James fake smiled.
"Oh cra..." Tom stuttered before it went dark.
Kathryn struggled not to laugh. "At least it wasn't the nose this time."
The Doctor wasn't amused, but that cracked any resolve she had left and laughed loudly. He turned to continue treating Tom's very swollen cheek and eye.
"When I said it gets quiet in here sometimes, it wasn't a hint. It's idle chitchat between staff members. Like when a morgue attendant says he's bored, he's not asking for a serial killer to go on a spree," the Doctor grumbled.
Nearby James stood with his arms folded, he shrugged indifferently. "Does it still count if I no longer work here?"
"James," Kathryn tried to sound commanding but she was still recovering from her earlier laughing. She took in a deep breath to compose herself. "You've been off probation for what, five days..."
"Two," James said.
Against her better judgement Kathryn ended up sniggering once again. "Two days. If you miss it so much, I can always arrange another six months."
Both the Doctor and James stared at her with widening eyes. "No thanks," James said, while the Doctor shook his head. James noticed and couldn't help but smile. "If you think my time here was bad, you should've seen what I did on my cleaning shifts."
"That reminds me, you still owe the department three floor cleaners and a sink," Kathryn said, managing a straight face despite her mood. "But getting back to the matter at hand, we should have a little chat." She walked away, beckoning her head towards the office.
James got the hint and followed.
Moments later Tom made a few groans as he stirred into consciousness. "My face," he mumbled.
"Yes it's still there," the Doctor quipped, side eyeing the people in his office, "for the most part."
"How did I get...?" Tom stuttered as he looked around. The pain the movement brought on almost made him pass out again. It took a few seconds for him to see straight. "Ugh, James. He's usually not so kind to knock me out."
"What part of this is kind?" the Doctor wondered at the same time Tom tried to touch his cheek. The Doctor swiped the hand away. "I see, kind to me."
"Please tell me that psycho's locked up for good this time," Tom said. The Doctor's wary face answered him. "Oh of course," Tom groaned and sat up despite the protests. "Fine, instead tell me what kind of dirt he's got on our command trio, or which one he's sleeping with. If it's the latter, I may have to borrow your mobile emitter."
The Doctor gasped in offense. "Absolutely not. You won't sully my emitter."
"Oh relax. I wasn't going to make a hologram for that," Tom dismissively said. "I thought if I make it as strong as I want, I'd be doing the ship a favour."
The Doctor metaphorically started to sweat. His eyes drifted to one side, briefly making contact with Kathryn's, hoping she'd help him out. She shook her head.
"It's a little rich that Jessie acts as if I'm belittling her, when meanwhile he's all; huff puff, I'm the Slayer, I'm so tough, smacking anyone that blinks at her," Tom continued to ramble, completely oblivious. "She probably loves it, hypocritical cow."
"Anything else?" Kathryn asked a little too cheerfully. The Doctor stared at her in dismay.
Tom frowned, "really? Don't tell me it was you he's got on his side. I assumed he was bedding Chakotay instead."
Kathryn glared lots of painful holes into him. It didn't matter though, because that's when he noticed the third other person in the room.
"Hey Doc, you missed a bit," James said, briefly pointing at him.
"No," the Doctor could only groan.
Tom once again ended up on the floor, this time wheezing through his sore ribs.
"Why?" the Doctor moaned, "can you at least help me get him back onto the biobed?"
James scoffed, "no way, I've already touched him enough for today." He walked off to leave.
The Doctor glanced toward Kathryn, one last time hoping she'd help him.
"Fine," she sighed, getting his hopes up. As the hologram hurried around to lift Tom up by his head, Kathryn followed James to the exit. "I have the perfect idea. When you're done with him, send him to my Ready Room."
She was long gone before the Doctor thought about objecting. "Williams!" he shouted toward the office. "Have you finished your third breakfast yet?"
Lee hurried out of the lab, into the office, and peeped around the door frame, all with a sandwich still in his mouth. "No."
The Doctor rolled his eyes.
Tom shimmied his chair barely a centimetre every second or two, aiming to be as far to the right as possible. James rolled his eyes and shook his head after a dozen or so. Kathryn for once looked patient as she watched and waited for him to be done.
Finally he stopped for more than twenty seconds. Kathryn began to speak but he did it one more time. "For god's sake Paris..." she snapped, startling him, "if you move that chair again, I'm gluing you to the damn thing."
"Fine," Tom huffed after one last shimmy.
Kathryn's eyes narrowed. "Now, we have a problem here, gentlemen." She dared either of them to comment with an icier than usual glare. Something rare happened, they didn't. "I'm going to fix it, once and for all."
"Uh I don't see a phaser on kill anywhere in here," Tom said while pretending to look around.
James' brow lowered at the same time the smallest of smirks raised the right corner of his lips. He chose to keep quiet for now.
Kathryn visibly twitched, "it's not just James, Mr Paris..."
"Oh," Tom's pretended to look offended, "first name basis for one only. I see how it is."
James' smirk threatened to grow if he didn't say anything. "How do you feel about Eugene?" Tom gasped and glared at him.
"Gentlemen!" Kathryn barked at them. This time both of them reacted, James looked like he was itching to comment, while Tom sounded like he laughed and scoffed at the same time. "You two need some time alone, to find some common ground and stop being so... male with each other."
Tom snorted loudly and obnoxiously into laughter. "James, male? Those two don't go together unless you're talking about his preferences."
James shook his head as he looked up at the ceiling, "really? You still can't think of anything new. I'm gay, I'm obsessed with Jessie, I'm bedding command officers to get away with murder, I'm a robot, I'm short." Tom didn't care, he was only disappointed he didn't have anything to record all of his so called confessions. "We can fix this problem quite easily; you only bother me when you can actually bother me."
Tom continued to laugh at him. "If you're not bothered, why do you keep hitting me?"
James shrugged and smiled toward him, "why not?"
Tom's jaw dropped, he looked to the Captain. "Did you hear that, Captain?" he screeched like a schoolboy who'd been accused of starting it.
"Though to be fair," James was far from done though, "you did deserve it more with the favours accusation."
"Why? It's not like I said who are you threatening to sleep with. That's an insult," Tom snapped.
He was surprised that James flinched at that. "You, why...?" he stammered.
"Yes, got him," Tom internally high fived himself. "It is a good day. Thanks for doing this Captain."
A brief glance in her direction told him that was a big mistake. He got numerous chills. "Are you done, you pissant!?" Kathryn snarled.
Tom fearfully shook, "hey come on, it's just words. James is the violent killer. I'm the endearing funny one."
James laughed despite still feeling a bit uncomfortable, "you're right. That is funny."
Tom clenched his jaw as he once more stared at him. "You want this fixed? I can even the score. One phaser blast and you go down like anyone else."
"Thomas Eugene Paris!" Kathryn roared as she stood up, hands on hips. Tom cowered to the right of his chair.
"You wanted first name basis," James sniggered.
"Normally I'd say it's only your big mouth that's part of the problem. You provoke people, on purpose, which is really creepy," Kathryn said, scrunching up her face. "But witnesses saw you striking Jessie, apparently unprovoked, after you started an argument with her."
Tom looked on helplessly. His outrage helped him out of his cowering, "what? How many times has she struck me?"
"Not enough," James commented.
"Enough," Kathryn said for different reasons at a similar time. She passed him a brief frown. "You two are suspended without pay until you can go a whole day together without a fight."
James groaned, "great, I'm going to have to throw Neelix out of the kitchen again."
"Huh, here's a thought; try not using your fists, then we'll both not starve to death," Tom hissed.
"I mean all kinds of fights. Arguments too," Kathryn said.
Tom's face paled, "I... what?"
"Yep, we're going to die," James said.
Tom scowled, "you may."
"Probably," James shrugged nonchalantly. "But I doubt you'd have much to do with it."
"Try me, you overcompensating hothead!" Tom snapped.
It struck further nerves when James laughed so much at that, a tear even formed in his eye. "Me?" he managed to splutter, then looked at the helmsman. "What am I overcompensating for exactly? I'm not the one always puffing my chest out, picking fights and trying to look taller than I am to appear better than everyone."
"Pity, you should try the last one," Tom angrily quipped.
"You're not, and it bothers the hell out of you. I've met loads of insecure pricks like you. I'm stronger than you, so you try to take me down a peg or four because power is the only thing that matters to little boys like you," James said. The words seemed to slap Tom in the face, leaving him speechless. Kathryn tried not to show any approval. "Don't flatter yourself Paris. If you really believe that I'm this psychopath who cares what you think of me, then I'd have murdered you years ago. You're not worth the little effort to smack."
"You... did you...?" Tom spluttered to Kathryn's disappointment. She couldn't help the resulting groan. "You'd know all about little... effort."
"Wow, a short joke, that's new," James smirked.
Tom almost leapt out of his seat, instead he lurched to the very edge of it. "Oh my god, does this circus freak ever shut up?"
James tried not to laugh again. "Oh my god, mummy," he said mockingly, like a child, "I can't spike the ship's air or slap women who I disagree with, cos he's always being mean to me."
Tom's face flushed, Kathryn wasn't sure if it was anger or embarrassment. She hoped the latter.
"Oh yeah, big talk for the only person on this ship who gets a slapped wrist for killing people," Tom snarled.
"I'm sorry, I don't do anything big because I'm average height, remember?" James said with a harsh looking smile. Tom stood up this time, he was about to say something but James laughed once more. "See what I'm talking about?" he smirked in Kathryn's direction.
Kathryn barely had time to sigh in response.
"Oh look at me, I'm James, I'm so great at everything," Tom muttered mockingly in a bad Geordie-English accent. "Everyone's beneath me, so weak and pathetic. I think I'll abuse my power instead of being a decent human being with a gift, and smack that so called harmless helmsman around and laugh about it."
"It's funny, because..." James snickered.
"True?" Tom cut in.
James' face fell slightly, "because you think my knocking you unconscious is abusing my power."
"Ugh see! Son of a bitch thinks he's god's gift. If he weren't a Slayer he'd be this hippy looking gay creep who everyone avoided," Tom grumbled.
"Oh for god's sake, enough!" Kathryn screamed, startling them both into silence. "Until you can prove you can behave like adults, you'll be on shuttle detail. That means; cleaning, maintenance, all the dirty work. Absolutely no flying."
"You had me until the last part," Tom nervously smiled. James gave him a disgusted stare which he laughed off. "Some of the gunk on the shuttles needs some elbow grease. I recommend scraping it off with your fingernails, but be careful not to lose any."
James looked amused to Tom's annoyance. "Oh, and there I was about to warn you that your freak insults have exceeded their quota, but gay's still got one left. Great, no problem then."
Tom made a little whiny noise while pulling a face. He then tried to repeat what he said in his earlier mocking tone. He finished it with a slowed down, "I'm soooo funny."
Kathryn inadvertently scratched her computer with her nails. They both heard it and stared. "Maybe you two would get along better working with Annika," she said dangerously.
Tom shook his head quickly, desperately, while James merely answered with a quiet no.
B'Elanna gestured to a console in a far corner section of Engineering. "This is usually the skive console. I can't see it from my usual spots, so people use it thinking I'd never know."
One of the pair following her nodded in understanding. "So you want me to hit them?" Emma asked politely.
B'Elanna smiled as she reached around the back of the console, then brandished a hydrospanner. "That's what this is for." She glanced toward Lilly. "I like her."
"Yeah, she was infamous in our staff for a reason," Lilly chuckled nervously.
"Staff? You're only kids," B'Elanna said, slightly put off. It didn't last long, "that's why you're still to work with Carey, unfortunately. He's too much of an obnoxious know it all to be in charge on his own. Very punchable."
"Um so... how long are you going to be off on maternity for?" Lilly asked sheepishly.
B'Elanna frowned at her, "I'm not off yet. Not until this kid shows its face. For now you follow my orders, get a feel of the place first." She fidgeted and grasped her belly. "If you'll excuse me, the little bastard's trying to punch its way out like an Alien." Then she walked off grumbling something about its rotten dad.
Emma snickered to herself, Lilly wasn't sure why so gave her a curious eyebrow raise. "Orders huh. Do you think you can follow for once, if your life depends on it?"
"Of course," Lilly said a little too defensively. "Neelix's serving his surprise pie on payday, I'm not stubborn enough to die."
"There's a first," Emma said, briefly shuddering. Lilly did as well. "When she's had the little brat, you can play captain again, so hang in there."
"Play?" Lilly pouted, one eye narrowed. "I dunno why you're teasing me. I don't remember you being good at being told what to do either."
Emma gave her a sweet, innocent smile. "I did. Sometimes. When you said please."
"Yeah and for those occasions, I'm glad you're on my side," Lilly smiled. Emma giggled in response. "I'm serious, thanks."
"Oh hey..." Emma looked very embarrassed, "why wouldn't I? You're like my family."
Lilly snorted briefly, "really, even my brother?"
Emma was about to answer, but hesitated at the last breath. "Only you."
Lilly smiled gratefully. "Great, cos I wouldn't want to get on your bad side. I'm not that dumb."
"Move that any closer and it'll go straight through you," James groaned.
He heard Tom snigger behind him. "What, you're going to force me to eat it?"
A sponge hovered slightly closer, barely an inch, before it was swatted away. "For once, I'm being literal," James answered.
Tom whined and held his sore hand. "You know, normally I'd tell for that threat but that'd be another day with you."
James shrugged as he walked towards the helm of the Flyer. Tom saw red when he dared to sit down.
"She said we both clean and stuff, are you going to help?" Tom snarled.
"I am," James smiled while putting his feet up on the console.
Tom imagined wringing his neck, but then reality crept into his imagination and the roles reversed. He muttered angrily to himself. "That's not..." James looked over his shoulder at him. For once Tom's resolve won out. "Ugh, feel like I'm back in detention with the bullies. I bet you were the worst one." He continued using a small device that sucked up dust wherever he pointed it.
James' face fell. He was grateful Tom couldn't see it. "That's interesting, because you remind me of all of mine."
Tom burst into hysterical laughter, he had to put the device down and sit. James still had his back on him but he knew his response had hit a nerve since James' shoulders looked to clench up.
"You were bullied?" Tom managed to wheeze, he coughed to stop laughing. "I'm curious, is there a makeshift graveyard or a tribute to the dozens of kids you murdered at your school?"
James' feet lowered back to the ground, then he turned his chair to face him. "You know," he began to snap, he thought better of it and sighed. "I don't care what you think."
"Yes you do," Tom smirked. "So come on, out with it."
"No, I'm not gay and I think it's really offensive you use it and apparently being girly as an insult," James said while turning his back on him again.
"No I mean," Tom chuckled, "Janeway wants us to get along. We got to have something in common we can talk about, or do, so we can get through this painlessly."
"Painlessly? Try shutting up," James said.
"Tsk," Tom huffed, "now come on. You weren't always the one dimensional psychopath with a smart mouth. I find it hard to believe that you're the same guy who turned my holo novel into a crazy parody with Teletubbies and Flotter as the primary villains. He annoyed me but at least he knew how to have fun and had an imagination I kinda respected. A worthy rival I was eager to beat. Not the quipmaster who'd rather knock me into a coma with one punch."
James pulled a confused and annoyed face. "I can't be both?"
Tom shook his head. "Nah, cos the guy who captured Janeway perfectly, I'll admit better than I did; Wrote the Seska sings a Disney-esque villains song in Engineering. He sounds like fun, I'd love to collaborate with him or just hang out with. I could do without the fist usage, it clashes."
"I can't take all the credit. Kiara wanted it to be a musical, and she insisted on the Flotter stuff," James groaned.
"Come on man, I'm trying here, which is pretty big of me considering it was you that hit me," Tom said.
James' eyebrow raised, he once more turned his chair around. "After you slapped Jessie and ran off."
Tom felt his cheeks turn a little red and his throat felt a little lumpy, he had no idea why. "Yeah well, rare moment of madness. Still, I'm trying. So, what did you do for fun before you stressed out?"
"I'm not stressed," James said.
"Really, cos this," Tom said, bopping his fists meekly in front of him "is very recent."
"No, no it's not," James quickly said a little impatiently. "I've always not liked you. You've always tried to piss me off, knowing that I may lash out. Same with Jessie. And before you say it, yes I've hit you before and I'm starting to wonder if I need to soften my punch a lot more if you think this is new."
Tom acted as if he didn't hear the last sentence. "You program holodeck games and novels before?"
James sighed as his lack of patience and the effort to keep it from running out had tired him out. "No. I only know how to mod. You don't need to do this, we can get along if we don't talk to each other."
"Ok, any sports or... you don't seem like a book guy, music? What did you do in between smacking fools as a kid?" Tom asked lightly.
James sighed, defeated. Not answering was making him talk more not less. "Nothing. I went to college, worked in a bar because my mother thought I should get out more, sometimes had a ride out. Nothing you'd care about."
Tom's eyes though lit up to James' continued disappointment. He even hovered right behind him. "Oh, a ride in what?"
James shook his head. "Why did I mention the last one?" he muttered to himself. "It was just an old bike I took out into the country. An odd car now and then, but..."
"You mean the gas fueled, wheeled kind of bikes and cars?" Tom was practically giddy, making James wish a hull breach would happen. "Why didn't you ever say you liked vintage vehicles? I couldn't even get Harry interested and he pretty much tags along to everything."
"I didn't, it was my step dad. He collected them. I only liked to drive them," James said carefully.
"Oh, oh what kind?" Tom asked.
James was half tempted to make the hull breach himself so he could escape without hitting him again. "Uh, there was a blue one, and a large four by four."
Without looking he knew Tom's face fell, the little whimpered sigh gave Tom away. "No. Its name."
"Ugh, my stepdad named his cars too. I refused to drive the one he named after my mum just because the plate on the back had the letters SZY at the end," James groaned.
Tom snorted a bit, "cute," he whispered but to James it was like nails on a chalkboard. "I meant the brand."
"I told you, they weren't mine. I didn't care what they were. The bike was mine and I haven't a clue what that was either, it didn't matter to me," James snapped.
"Come on," Tom smiled as he sat on the console nearby. Since that meant he had given James a little more space, he was able to turn the chair around a bit to grimace toward the chirpy helmsman. "This is what Janeway was after," Tom said, either immune or fueled by it, "us finding something in common and getting along. I don't suppose you have a pilot's license?"
"Sure, since I was fifteen, why?" James replied.
The grin that spread across Tom's face made him regret answering yet again. "There's an asteroid belt and a nebula near the station we're stopping at later. The question is, would it be fair on you to race the ace pilot in the fastest shuttle?"
James' tired and annoyed stare turned blank. Tom thought he was confused. "You just want to beat me at something," he said instead.
Tom forcibly laughed, "maybe. And I will, can you handle that?"
James laughed, "unlike you, I don't care if someone's better at something than I am."
"Oooh, are you talking about Morgan coming along and stealing your super Slayer crown?" Tom teased. He was disappointed he got no response whatsoever. "Wow, you're not kidding. This is why I call you a robot sometimes."
James rolled his eyes as he got up, then walked off to the back room of the shuttle. He expected it but still groaned when Tom followed him.
"Look, competition is life, it's the fire that keeps us going," he said quickly in a vain attempt to stop him leaving. He sighed when instead James only was heading for the replicator. "I suppose that's hard for someone who was given his freak buffs at birth, to imagine. You never earned anything."
A bottle of coke and a large bag of crisps rematerialised on the replicator pad. James took them but kept his back on him. Tom wasn't sure how he took that, he inched back just in case.
James eventually turned around after an awkward minute of silence, breaking it by opening the bag. "I get competitive when I give a crap." He walked by Tom while scoffing a handful of crisps.
"Then give a crap. You don't want Tom to be better than you at something," Tom said playfully. "Do you?"
"I already know you're a good pilot," James said in between reaching into the bag and eating more.
Tom chuckled, "well yeah," then he realised something and frowned. "Hey, you can't use sarcasm as a way to pretend you're the better man."
James' eyes drifted from one side to the other, eyebrow raising. "Are you really that insecure?"
Tom's upper half flinched, he tried to grin it away. "See, you're still pretending you're high up there, above us mere weaklings."
"Oh for god's..." James groaned while rolling his eyes. "If I do this stupid race, will we spend the rest of our forced day together in complete silence?"
"Oh absolutely. You'll be too mortified to talk," Tom said cheekily.
"That's a no, clearly," James said. Tom blinked a few more times than usual. "If you're just going to brag when you win, I really don't see the point of indulging you."
"Ahha, you know you'll lose and so won't compete. I knew it, James is a coward," Tom said not seriously. He only got a bemused raised eyebrow for that insult. "Hey, it's gotta be better than scrubbing the consoles. Janeway did say no flying, but if I tell her why, she may let us. Especially when it'll be ten minutes after coffee twenty by now, so."
"Fine," James said to Tom's huge relief, "but, time trials. No racing. We both use one regular shuttle."
Tom snickered at all of his conditions, "getting rid of the Flyer won't give you the edge you need. It's that or no deal."
James smirked, "what, you're okay with me handling your precious Flyer?"
"Since you're an old school driver, you know how to drive stick right?" Tom said, resisting a joke or even a smirk. "I'm assuming that the Flyer will be simple for you to figure out. Though, have you flown her before?"
"Nope," James lied, hiding a smile.
Tom didn't notice at all, "piece of cake. Prepare to be trounced for once in your life."
Almost everyone held their breath while watching the docking to a spacestation, which looked more like a floating shopping centre. One crewmember passed out, a few chewed off their own fingernails, Harry chose the far safer option of holding on for a dear life after he nearly suffocated the first time. Kathryn peered around her to find Tuvok meditating, she rolled her eyes and shook her head.
Naomi gasped as her eyes widened. Her finger flew out towards a large flashing square panel on the helm. "Oh, there it is, go faster."
Her hand was slapped away at the last minute by the person using the helm. Two more people passed out.
"We're parking, not running away from something," Chakotay barked up at her.
Naomi pouted, apparently immune to the death glare being pointed at her from the command chairs. Kathryn sensed that and disarmed it. "Wildman." No response. She sighed, "Naomi."
Naomi gasped again and ran over eagerly. "Yes Captain?"
"This cup won't fill itself," Kathryn said, waving a mug in front of her.
As soon as Naomi had ran off, into the wrong door that is, the gentle rumble of the station and Voyager connecting had everyone finally relaxing.
Chakotay looked pleased with himself as he span around, until he noticed the three passed out crewmembers and Jessie unbuckling a custom seatbelt.
"Really? I'm not that bad," Chakotay groaned.
"Um, the Flyer is asking for take off clearance," Harry said while caressing one of his bleach white knuckles.
"Granted," Kathryn smiled, cueing a bemused stare from Chakotay.
"I thought..." he said.
Kathryn nodded, "mmmhmmm."
Chakotay smiled knowingly. "You're hoping that he snaps and gets rid of Tom."
Kathryn gasped overdramatically, Chakotay knew it was faked. "Ohno, I never thought of that." Her shock vanished in a split second. She looked serious as she stood up. "Make sure Neelix doesn't get off the ship. Checking if the food was edible before we let him out the last time proved to be a fool's errand."
"Already taken care of," Chakotay said, smiling broadly.
Kathryn returned the favour and headed for the Ready Room, still carrying her empty mug. Opps decided to make a lot of noise before she reached the door.
"Captain, the trading station is hailing us," Harry said.
"Ohno. Did Annika slip away already?" Kathryn sighed. "Tell them she's not with us."
"No, they say it's urgent," Harry said.
Kathryn nodded, "mmhmm, I've already told you what to say."
Chakotay sniggered on route back to his usual spot. "On screen."
The viewscreen switched before Kathryn could finish her scowl-walk in his direction. She immediately had to put on her cheery, diplomatic face and hurriedly sit down.
"This is Commander Chakotay. I hear you have a problem, Governor," Chakotay said.
The woman on the screen's own customer service smile faded. "A puzzle Commander. You said you were a lone ship on your way home."
Kathryn's curiosity was piqued, it made her unconsciously sit up. "We are."
"Yes well, a vessel sent out a distress call a short while ago. One of our scout ships received it but they're not armed and couldn't assist them. They did though scan for lifesigns, and they matched with a good majority of your crew," the Governor explained.
Kathryn slouched back into the back of her chair. "Oh. Did the ship look exactly like ours?"
"Not at all," Governor replied, cueing everyone to look at her like Kathryn would if someone said coffee. "It was black and blue, almost flat except for its canons. They looked a little like yours but they had four."
"Canons," Kathryn mumbled, "those are our engines."
The Governor managed to bring back her cheery smile. "Oh well, the scout ship was mistaken with their visual assessment, my apologies. I assume by your reaction you either don't know the ship or it is one of yours."
"No to both, but it's worth checking out," Kathryn said. She noticed Chakotay nod in her peripheral. "May we leave a couple of teams behind to trade as we agreed, while we investigate?"
"Of course, we welcome it. We'll send you the co-ordinates, it's not far. Good luck," the Governor answered.
As soon as the viewscreen changed back to the station view, Chakotay lowered his voice and leaned in towards Kathryn. "I know you don't think it's Starfleet; they rarely, if ever change their hull colours, as we've already seen during our future trip. It's not who you originally thought."
Kathryn didn't reciprocate, she shook her head firmly. "I knew you agreeing was too good to be true, or suspicious. Regardless of who they are, they're in trouble. Besides if my theory is right, we may get some much needed friends."
Chakotay thought he understood and nodded. "Danny, if you remember how, prepare to take us back out and to those co-ordinates, maximum warp."
Over at the Science station parallel to Jessie's, Danny quickly and discreetly closed a program with her eyes wide. Only Jessie saw her do it. Oblivious to that, Danny hurried over to the helm a little too eagerly. "Aye aye, sir."
On board the Delta Flyer, Tom grinned and cracked his knuckles before getting up from the helm. "Beat that. If you can."
He expected to be at least scowled at, pushed away at most. Instead James still remained in his seat at a nearby console, paying zero attention while occasionally tapping the screen.
"Hellooo, I'm done. I suppose with it being a smooth ride, you wouldn't have noticed," Tom teased. His eyes brightened, "ooh, maybe I should quickly install some seatbelts."
James' brow briefly flickered up, he exhaled as if slightly annoyed. "Two minutes fifty," he said in a droll voice. Tom assumed he had given up already. "I thought you were trying to give me a challenge."
"Oh ho ho," Tom laughed, pretending to be offended. He walked off to allow free reign of the helm. "Be my guest." James shrugged and got up. Tom tried not to worry about his poor baby being in such a brute's hands as he passed by him. He shivered involuntarily. "So er, what kind of driver are you?" he ended up blurting out.
James smirked as he sat down. "Demolition derby style."
Tom of course panicked, he darted around almost on the spot, sweating. James laughed, causing him to stop and grumble. He side stepped into an empty station, "you are very difficult to get along with. Don't scratch her."
"Hmm," James barely acknowledged as he casually turned one of the key-like levers which powered up the impulse engines. His hand then hovered over the manual steering lever. Even that made Tom very nervous. He tried to tell himself that James did know what he was doing and was making him sweat on purpose. Then he thought he could be acting calmly because he didn't care that he didn't, which had him fearing the worst.
"Um," Tom said to stall him. It did but he got an annoyed exhale for it. "You bring her back in one piece and I'll buy you a beer or something. Heck I'll get you your own shuttle."
"A compromise. You relax and stop breathing down my neck or I'm going to damage it on purpose," James said.
Tom flinched and stumbled back into the nearest seat, it rolled so far back he had to pull himself back to the station. "Seriously? I'm surprised you have friends at all with the way you treat people."
"Why, I'm not trying to be your friend," James said, confused and a little put off.
"That's not what Janeway implied. I'll tell her you're being difficult," Tom said.
James looked back over his shoulder at him, eyebrow pointed up. He shrugged and pulled the lever to move the Flyer. It took off directly towards an asteroid. Its flight path curved sideways at the last second to avoid collision.
Tom, already drowning in sweat, clutched the console for a dear life even though if he wasn't watching, he wouldn't even know they were moving. "I'm sorry baby," he whispered.
James overheard him, he rolled his eyes but had a smirk on his face. "How wide is the Flyer again?"
Tom squeaked and looked up in time to see another asteroid, this one with a hole in it. "No, no..."
"No time," James said while pulling the lever further back to increase the speed.
Tom watched as they flew straight for the narrow hole and out the other side. The Flyer's first flight, at least with him at the helm, flashed before Tom's eyes.
"Ok ok," he stammered, "you're good with her, you made your point."
"What point? I thought I was supposed to beat your time," James pretended to sound confused.
Tom squeaked, "I've created a bigger monster."
James shook his head while sniggering to himself. His next course wasn't anywhere near as kamikaze-ish as the last ones. "Is that better?"
"It's okay. You still won't..." Tom wheezed. He tried to put on a confident smile but he still grasped the console with white knuckles. "Beat me even if you jumped to warp."
"Your original idea was a race, with you in the Flyer and me in the Planet Scraper 2000. So you mustn't have been that confident," James pointed out.
Tom recoiled and scowled from the verbal punch to his pride. "Went way over your head didn't it? You have all the advantages over me. Giving you the weaker shuttle would bring you down to us mere human level for once."
James' eyes drifted to one side, brow lowered. He went to stop the shuttle abruptly. Tom looked on in shock, he quickly checked to see if his precious toy was ok.
"What are you talking about?" James asked.
Tom briefly glanced up, "uh, you're going to lose."
"Only you care about that," James said as he turned the chair around to face him. "Look Tom, you're not the first guy I've emasculated by merely existing. I didn't choose this, so don't project..." Tom tried to object with a but, he wasn't fast enough. "Don't deny it. You're all the same. I don't get why you all have to be the best at everything. It's pathetic. I don't get it."
Tom found himself smiling. "Of course you don't. I've already said why. You're one of the strongest, people like you, women are lining up which is more infuriating when you're ignorant of it, or not fussed. Smart and funny, like me, so yeah, of course you don't get it."
James stared at him blankly, then turned to face the front of the shuttle. "Idiot," he grumbled.
"Wh... what?" Tom said, taken aback.
James' head shook. "You're doing the job you love. You're married, got a son, and you've got that holo novel crap going on. You claim you're happy with everything, right? So what the hell are you doing trying to be competitive and compare yourself to people who aren't?"
"Well," Tom was speechless for once.
"It's not always fun you know. People are afraid of me. I've lost count of how many times I've died, been badly injured. I'm always worried about people I care about. If that wasn't enough, I'm worried about everyone else too," James muttered bitterly. "You try it for a week and you'll wish you were Tom again, trust me."
"Huh, I..." Tom stammered. "Does that mean you want to be like me?"
James froze, Tom thought he was offended or thinking about it but he only burst out laughing. "Ok fine. You are funny, I can't be sarcastic about that." He pulled the lever to get the shuttle moving again.
Tom seemed calmer this time. He loosened his grip on the console, staring thoughtfully into literal space. "You know, you're right. I am happy. Thing is, I enjoy a bout of excitement and pressure now and then. Being Voyager's best pilot is a responsibility that I love, but most of the time it's driving in a straight line. Your life would never be mundane."
Consoles bleeped. James frowned and briefly glanced back. "You're not wrong there," he said, "what is it?"
"Voyager's approaching us. Must be something wrong," Tom said, trailing off. "They're..."
"I see it," James said, turning one of the levers to the right. This time they did feel the shuttle sharply turn.
Tom looked out the window at the same time and saw the phaser strike graze the edge of their shields. "That's not our Voyager."
"Neither of us are very popular with Janeway right now. How can you be so sure?" James said.
"Duh they wouldn't..." Tom said defensively until he heard the slightest of chuckles. "Oh haha, very funny. Let's swap."
They turned again, this time down. The shuttle trembled from the back. "You kidding? Now's not the time for your ego," James snapped.
"Hey hey, if we're being boarded by muscle dudes, I'm not going be charging in, getting in your way cos I was already there," Tom rambled, he was interrupted by two bigger tremors. "You want the best person for the job in every situation. This situation is me."
James groaned. He pushed two levers all the way down. Tom tried to object, he didn't have anywhere near enough time. The Flyer stopped abruptly once again, this time it veered vertically, pointing down. Another lever pull and it shot off in that direction.
"Uh, what," Tom said a little too bitterly.
Voyager meanwhile flew right by and over them. They both noticed the Borg looking modifications to the belly, as well as some phaser scorches on its side.
"Fine," James said lightly as if it were shift changeover time. He rose out of the chair to take a completely different one.
Tom was more than a little shell shocked so he didn't go for the helm right away. He still got there in time to steer them out of the way of another asteroid hurtling toward them.
"You're flipping crazy as a pilot, sheesh," Tom said. He couldn't help but smile despite his freaked tone of voice. "Hate to admit it, but I like it."
James briefly smirked, then laughed quietly to himself. The console next to him which Tom had been using chirped. He transferred it over to his station. "They're sending us a message." Tom pulled all manner of faces.
"Prepare for tr..." a familiar voice snarled.
James instantly cut them off. Tom tried to stop from laughing but he snorted loudly instead.
"Yep, that's definitely our slightly badder than us clones. We've got to get out of here," Tom said.
"Where exactly, we can't outrun them," James questioned.
Tom shrugged, "well we can't go back, can we?"
A few lightyears away, the real Voyager dropped out of warp. In the distance one black shiny vessel, almost flat, barely lit up by its blue shields and red tinted quadruple warp drives, tried to dodge the dozens of phaser blasts from the swarm of similarly sized ships surrounding it.
"Have they spotted us?" Kathryn asked.
Tuvok double checked before answering, "unknown. If they have, neither side see us as a threat."
Kathryn paced to the Tactical side of the bridge while keeping a close eye on the battle on the viewscreen. "Status on the solo ship, Commander."
"The vessel appears to be made out of similar materials to our own. Its energy levels are random, I can't see a pattern to them as of yet," Tuvok answered. "The Governor was correct, the ship's crew are all reading as Human."
Chakotay stood up with a worried frown, "and the enemy ships?"
"Curious," Tuvok said, cueing stares. "They're of similar materials, construction and design, and yet their weapons, shields, power source..." Kathryn's stare turned into a hurry it up glare. "Everything but the actual age of the vessels, points to them being older classes of the lone ship. If they attacked them one on one they'd be extremely outmatched."
"Hmm, are they Human too?" Kathryn asked.
Tuvok's eyebrows both sprung up, "yes, indeed they are."
Kathryn wasn't anywhere near surprised, she nodded formally. "Hail the lone ship." Harry nodded. "This is Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager. Do you need assistance?"
"No response," Harry said after a thirty second wait. "Looks like their comms are busy."
"Captain," Tuvok warned. Anyone watching the viewscreen saw the same thing, six of the attacking vessels veering off to confront them. Pulses emerged from their bows.
"Shields!" Kathryn barked.
The ship trembled only a little. "We were entering an unknown distress call situation, Captain. The shields were already up," Tuvok said. Kathryn growled more towards the ships, but Tuvok assumed it was him. "They're at 95%"
Kathryn stared daggers into the attackers who were still in her sight. "Harry, send a message to them." Harry gulped before doing so. "Hostile ships, this is the USS Voyager. Who are you and why are you attacking us..."
A male voice cackled over the top of her. She only stopped talking because she found it so cartoony, it nearly made her burst out laughing. "Lower your shields and prepare to be boarded Voyager. Don't make this harder than it needs to be."
The comm line instantly cut off, leaving Kathryn smirking towards Chakotay. It was infectious, he did so back. "Optimistic little twerps, aren't they? Tuvok, disable their weapons. Danny take us closer to the other ship."
Voyager flew forward, dodging some of the barrages fired at them, towards the smaller, black vessel. It fought back as well with missile looking weaponry. Two of the attacking ships took advantage of the different attack direction and charged to fire. Two of Voyager's torpedoes flew into their path, detonating them early and sending them flying off to the side.
With Voyager in the mix, the ambushers shot off a few warning shots before making a break for it by jumping into warp.
"Typical. Bullies," Harry commented.
Kathryn smiled confidently. Chakotay watched her, "you knew they'd do that."
"Why wouldn't they? Can we hail the other ship now?" Kathryn questioned.
Harry nodded, his eyes lighting up, "they're hailing us."
Kathryn gestured her hand in the direction of the viewscreen. Harry thought that meant to open a channel.
Even though they were all told to expect it, most of the bridge were still surprised to see a human on the screen, sitting in the centre of a bright bridge. He looked surprised as well. Kathryn thought to repeat her earlier introduction in case he never got it.
"Federation?" he seemed even more puzzled. "I'm not familiar with that. I suppose we have been away a while. Anyway, I'm Commander Dave Johnstone. This is the Z5. Thanks for your help."
Kathryn and Chakotay exchanged knowing glances, then returned to face the viewsceen. "Pardon me," she said, "but you wouldn't happen to call yourselves Liger, would you?"
Dave's shoulders tensed. He gestured to someone off screen to his left to come over. "Um, you're not?"
"I realise that you'd be wary of us considering your history with, us, so to speak. However I'm sure you're aware that you're not in the same dimension you were, and..." Kathryn explained.
"You're Humans," Dave said warily. A young ginger haired woman arrived at his left side to whisper something. He nodded. "Yeah I wasn't expecting any. We picked a spot far away from Earth for a reason. How did you get here?"
Chakotay gave him a friendly smile, "it's a long story, like yours I assume."
Dave hunched forward, almost sitting on the edge of his seat. "At least you have a head start here. If you're Human and of this dimension, where we didn't exist, I checked." The woman stared suspicious and a little anxiously toward the Voyager bridge. "How did you know of us?"
"Should I?" Chakotay asked in Kathryn's direction.
"Yeah, it's time," Kathryn whispered. She waited for him to walk away and tap his commbadge. "I'm sure you're familiar with this ship already. Our other dimension, badly hair dyed counterparts?"
"Oh, we're very familiar with Seventh Voyager," the woman spoke up, eyes narrowing.
Dave though seemed to relax a bit. "But it's like you said. This Voyager isn't the same." The woman sighed and nodded. "Sorry Captain. Carly witnessed the other Voyager destroy parts of our colony. I was off world at the time."
"That's alright. We expected a lot worse from you," Kathryn said.
"Well it does sound like we have a lot to talk about," Dave smiled, it looked forced and uneasy. "Your place or ours?"
"Commander?" Carly said while widening her eyes in panic.
Kathryn shook her head. "Whichever you think or feel would be the safest for you."
Dave glanced up at Carly. They lowered their voices again to talk to each other. Dave once again addressed Voyager, "looks like it's yours. We'll be right over. Maybe get the kettle on, it's gonna be a long day."
Kathryn tried not to visibly twitch in response to that. The coffee cravings weren't helping. Then she remembered Naomi hadn't returned from when she asked for more coffee two hours ago.
She cleared her throat, "Tuvok, Harry, make sure those other ships are long gone before we lower our shields for transport."
Both men acknowledged with a nod and got straight to work. Seconds later three figures rematerialised in the centre of the bridge via a red transporter beam. Tuvok instinctively reached for his weapon.
"Oh sorry," one of the figures, which turned out to be Dave, held his hands up meekly. "I thought it'd be safer if we used ours, they can go through shields like yours." He and his two shipmates were stared into icecubes by a nearby Kathryn. He laughed it off, "maybe I should've warned you first."
"Maybe?" Kathryn was close to snapping. She tried to soften her face, but her eyebrow kept twitching. "What about your friends, won't they..."
Dave and his companions resisted laughing at the thought, he changed his brief smirk into a friendly smile. "No. This is a recent upgrade to our transporters. They won't have even thought of it."
"Fine, but maybe you don't do that again," Kathryn said through near gritted teeth.
"Unless needed, right?" one of the three piped up with a chirpy smile.
Dave glanced back at her and lowered his voice to a groaning mumble, "you said you were aiming for their transporter room, Kim."
The crewmember who piped up didn't look fussed in the slightest. She gave the Commander a cheeky wink. "If I told you it'd be better to aim for the bridge so they don't think there's intruders, you would've..."
"I would've said yes, and warned them," Dave meekly hissed back to her amusement and Kathryn's growing sympathy.
"I see, it's no problem," she said on approach. As she did, the turbolift doors opened. Dave's eyes nearly bugged out at the sight of who stepped out of them.
"Lill?" he stammered before hurrying over.
Lilly stopped barely over the turbolift door threshold, freezing in shock. "Jimmy?"
Dave stalled for a moment, cringing. "Ohno, not that again. It was a phase. It was seventeen years ago."
"Not from my perspective," Lilly laughed awkwardly.
The two embraced, relaxing finally. It didn't last when Dave spotted Emma behind her, he got extremely nervous. "Oh, why am I surprised you survived too?"
She smiled sweetly at him but with the dangerous glint in her eye. "Hi Davey. How's the leg?"
"Still scarred, don't worry," Dave replied.
Kathryn cleared her throat loudly to get their attention. "You know each other? That's not a coincidence."
"He's my brother. But yeah that's a point. How are you here?" Lilly asked.
"That's a part of the promised long story, I suppose," Dave answered.
Kathryn sighed, "I have a feeling I'm going to need two filters for this one."
"Only two?" Chakotay was surprised.
"You're right," Kathryn said. "Tuvok, three jugs of filter coffee in the Conference Room."
Tuvok still managed to look shocked and offended. "I am Chief of Security."
"Good for you, now," Kathryn said and clapped.
Dave chuckled as the poor Commander walked off into the empty turbolift. "Ah, memories." Lilly scowled at him. "What? At least it's not just me."
Lilly shushed him, "not now."
They both got bemused stares from everyone who didn't identify as Ligers. It made Lilly a little uncomfortable. "Conference?" she suggested.
The Delta Flyer shot out of the asteroid field. The Borg tainted Voyager swooped in from above to pursue them, occasionally firing.
Phoebe Janeway kept a narrowed eye or two on the shuttle directly ahead of them on the viewscreen.
"Tractor them," Seventh Chakotay barked.
"Console says no, they're not in range," Seventh Harry said.
Phoebe calmly sighed, "fire a couple of warheads directly ahead of them."
"Really? Didn't we want it one piece?" Seventh Tuvok said. He shrugged and did it anyway.
On the viewscreen two green pulses pushed ahead of the Flyer and detonated. The shuttle sharply banked up and shot into warp.
"Match their speed," Phoebe smiled darkly.
Seventh Tom cackled, "oooh, aye aye smarty pants."
Harry started to sweat nervously. "Uh, Console's getting a message from headquarters."
"So?" Chakotay scoffed.
"Tell them the usual," Phoebe said.
Harry laughed and whimpered, "are you sure? We've got special orders from the Boss himself."
Phoebe walked over to give him a harsh slap across the back of the head. "How many times... That snake's no boss of ours. We're free agents until we get the real Boss back. That shuttle will help us do that."
"Okay then, but you might as well tell him yourself," Harry huffed.
"What?" Phoebe bellowed into his ear.
Harry rubbed it, moaning ow. "Didn't we say; his ship's right behind us? All the rock dodging helped him catch up."
Phoebe glared at Chakotay. He did so right back, then pointed it at an oblivious Tom.
"Perhaps we should replace the crew first," Phoebe smiled.
Chakotay smirked and nodded, "starting with those two, finally. I've had dreams of this day. Ready the booze."
"Me too. Our Tom floating outside mouthing help me," Phoebe cackled.
Seventh Tom didn't react right away. When he did he shook fearfully. "Oh," he said to cover the sound of him lowering the warp speed. Unknown to anyone else, the Flyer's gap increased while the small ship following them did the opposite.
"They're slowing down," James said, suddenly cautious.
Tom felt the same, he winced through his gritted teeth. "Keep an eye on them. I got to find a quiet place to shake 'em."
"We're in the middle of nowhere. Do you have a plan B?" James asked.
Tom snickered, "of course I do. I'll set you loose on them. Have fun."
James faked a smile, "oh yeah, lets give them what they want. That'll show em. Hey does the Flyer bend over?"
"Oh, that's right. We're replacements. Maybe..." Tom winced.
"Try heading for that system we passed," James suggested.
"That won't be enough. Still too much free space," Tom said.
James tried not to sound impatient but his sigh gave him away. "Really, you said I was the one with no imagination. Twin star system. We could go between the two suns and..."
Tom laughed obnoxiously, "no no. Let the master deal with this, remember? You keep an eye on them." He was surprised that he got no bite back. It was eerily quiet. Still, he let his guard down and smiled proudly. "I win," he whispered.
"Pathetic," James whispered back.
Seventh Harry trembled. "It's getting closer."
"Good. Lock onto their engines," Phoebe said.
Harry whined and started to panic. "You want to fire on our not Boss?"
Seventh Chakotay rolled his eyes, "let's be clear. There are two ships, yes?"
Harry whimpered again. "Sorry, I'll be clear next time." He cursed at his console, "look what you did." It sparked in retaliation, leaving him with his hair sticking up.
Meanwhile the Delta Flyer disappeared, shocking whoever was watching.
"Man I'm good," Seventh Tom said, clicking his tongue and grinning.
"What?" Phoebe snarled as she stood over him.
Seventh Tom didn't seem to notice this, "other me must've slammed on the breaks. Nice move." He only noticed Phoebe's proximity when she growled down his neck.
Chakotay inadvertently saved him by shoving him off the chair so he could take over. "Taking us about."
Phoebe's eyes nearly shot out of their sockets. She got back to her seat in a flash. "That seatbelt better be working."
Seventh Voyager dropped out of warp, turned sloppily to pursue the Flyer making a break for it. On their trail another smaller ship made the same turn, but sharply and so was able to overtake Voyager effortlessly.
"There's two of them," James said. Tom tensed and glanced behind him. "I don't recognise it, but its occupant is human."
Tom ground his teeth, "shoot."
"Yeah ok," James said.
Tom's jaw dropped. "Now you listen to me? No, no, stand down the missiles."
"No miss-els. Sure," James said. He pressed to fire anyway.
Tom muttered under his breath. "For god's sake James. Now's not the time for British versus American jokes. You knew what I meant!"
It was way too late, one of the Flyer's missiles struck the smaller ship, slowing it down. Seventh Voyager ducked down so the second missile grazed the side of its shields. It kept coming.
"Oh well. Thanks a lot chump," Phoebe laughed. "Other you is just as dumb."
Seventh Tom pouted while rubbing his sore arm. "Does that mean you won't replace me?"
"No," everyone replied.
"Really, that's... not... helpful," Tom snapped slowly. He pulled the shuttle to the left to avoid another tractor beam attempt. "That's it. Preparing for warp."
"I thought we were sitting ducks at warp," James said.
Tom chuckled, "just keeping them on their toes."
James noticed another two shots of green from Voyager. He fired back in the same general direction, detonating them early before they could hit the Flyer.
"No, no. We've got to work together. This is why!" Tom cried, slamming his hand at the leverless side of the console.
"Why?" James groaned.
Tom grit his teeth again and made a squeaky grunt sound, hoping it'd give him time to calm down. "Can't generate a warp field in the detonation range. Give us some room."
"You were flying us into it," James snapped back.
Tom's spare hand balled into a fist, "excuse me. I was going to warp us out of here!"
"You didn't have time," James said, breathing in to calm his own temper.
The Flyer shook, the pair jolted back a bit. The cockpit glowed blue from the tractor beam light enveloping them.
"See, look what you've done," Tom grumbled while letting go of the controls. "Violent hothead."
"Maybe you should've been watching the road instead of trying to be right," James muttered.
Tom's jaw dropped, "huh!" He swung around, "me? You can't stand it when you're wrong and I'm not. I'm the pilot, I have the brains, the imagination. You're the muscle, that's it. If I want a jar opening I'll call you."
James faked a pout, "aaw, does this mean our BFF initiation party in Captain Proton's damsel in distress den is off?"
Tom only saw red in front of him. Fortunately his survival instincts kept him from acting on it. "She's not a damsel in distress. She's a secretary. And I'd never lower myself to be your friend."
"Well in that case, good luck, I'm not watching your back," James sniggered.
"I don't need your help!" Tom screeched at him.
Two throat clears behind them got their attention. They looked around at the two armed guards behind them. Tom shushed them and turned back "And furthermore..." he continued.
James though got up quickly to try and disarm them. They were too far back and had time to point their phaser rifles, stopping him in his tracks.
"Good job Ensign Getskilledalot," Seventh Tuvok said on entering the shuttle.
"Wh... what?" Tom said, too annoyed to laugh but not enough to keep his mouth shut. "Honestly. Gets killed a lot, and James the serial killer couldn't off him. That is a great job."
James knocked one of the rifles being pointed at him upwards so it'd fly up and knock out one of the Security grunts. The other raised the frequency while Tuvok quickly pointed a regular phaser directly at his forehead.
"On the other hand," Tom quipped.
Tuvok looked down and up at James again. "Getskilledalot, grab a dustpan would you?" The other officer hurried out.
Tom quietly snorted, "oh. Still."
"No matter. It's so good of Fifth to send us a present now and then. Come with us," Tuvok sneered.
"Hmm, I'll pass," James said casually. Tom rolled his eyes slowly, the eyelids twitched. Tuvok looked annoyed that he wasn't moving. "Come on," James laughed, "you can't kill us. We all know it."
"True," Tuvok said hesitantly. He sharply turned to point his phaser at Tom instead, firing at him. It missed by a hair. "I can't kill you. But I actually quite like our Tom. He amuses me."
Tom groaned, "oh great, this is how it ends."
James sighed and frowned, glancing briefly at the helmsman. "Fine," he said to Tom's utter shock.
"Oooh no no," Tuvok chuckled nervously. "You must be restrained first. We're not stupid." He nodded at his only remaining conscious teammate, who had just hurried in carrying a broom with a brush two metres wide. They quickly swapped it for what looked like hand cuffs from their pockets.
"Remains to be seen," James said. Still he reluctantly held his wrists out so they could be put on. They locked closed with a little string of buzzing light. "So is it a nickname, or...?"
The grunt gasped in offense, "it means heroic in German."
"Right," James tried not to laugh.
Tom made a little huh sound. "While we're all together, what does useless translate into?" James stared at him harshly. Tom tried to pretend it didn't effect him, still he shuddered.
Tuvok walked over to Tom to grab his arm roughly. Getskilledalot led James out first and through the shuttle bay, passing the other ship with its engines still on. Other Security waited outside for them. Tuvok noticed the other ship when he and Tom were the only ones left. "Oh dear, Phoebe's gonna get the whip out."
The doors to the strange ship opened. A man dressed in a black robe stepped down. Tom instinctively thought of Damien but remembered his previous deaths. He still wasn't sure if he should be worried or not.
Security came in to drag him off before he could make up his mind, leaving Tuvok alone to greet the new arrival.
"The Boss, I assume," he said pleasantly.
"No, I am your mother," the robed man said. He lowered the hood to reveal his pale, bald and yet young teenaged face, covered in Borg implants and scars. "Of course I'm your Boss. Was that Fifth Tom I saw?"
"Uh, yes sir," Tuvok answered, confused.
The new arrival waited impatiently. "And?" he snapped.
"Oh," Tuvok stuttered, eyes widening. He ran back into the Flyer.
The new Boss turned around to watch him, curious and skeptical. He was right to be the latter when Tuvok eventually emerged dragging a groaning Security officer along the ground, sporting a swollen lump on his cheek.
"Thanks, almost forgot about him," Tuvok said. "Come on now, Crewman Phodder. It's not that bad."
As soon as he was alone, the cloaked figure sighed. "It's awful to be back." He stomped out after him.
Lilly couldn't tear her eyes away from the ship outside the Conference window. She tilted her head and frowned.
Dave smiled from afar, "yeah, she's a beauty. Armed to the teeth, top cruising speed 1.5 light, seat warmers and reclining Captain's chair."
Kathryn tried her best not to look jealous with a scowl, "pointless junk."
"Hmm, so what do you call this dull monstrosity?" Lilly asked as she turned around.
Dave blushed and started to laugh awkwardly. "You don't like it, little sis?" He got a blank stare. "Yikes, well I always preferred to call it Z5. Simpler."
"Zedfive?" Lilly sniggered.
"That's what I was going to say," the Doctor quipped. Kathryn deleted him with her death glare beams.
"Well it's no Lillyia F9, but what is?" Dave teased his little sister.
Harry's eyes widened, "oh zed, as in the letter zee. At least we know where the Ligers emigrated from now."
"Anyway," Kathryn snarled threateningly, making the Lieutenant whimper. "This ship bragging and whining about isn't giving us any context."
"Ooph right. I'm assuming Lilly told you the beginning," Dave said, not noticing Lilly's strained smile response. "I was on Venus when the civil war kicked off. A lot of us fled to the underground and..."
"Venus?" the Doctor said, stunned.
Neelix looked the same, "civil war?"
Chakotay sighed, while others who already knew this part groaned. "The civil war between the Liger loyalists and the Six Faction, the people who tried to interrogate us on that AU Earth. Correct?"
Dave was more than relived, he smiled gratefully. "That's right on the nose, mister." Lilly sat down next to him and pointed a cough in his direction. "Oh come off it, it's not like you ever acted all stiff upper lip either."
Harry nodded, "yep, thought so." Kathryn stared icily at him. "Good thing Tom's not here. He'd be having a field day with these English speaking Ligers."
"As for Venus; we colonised it, when was it Lil?" Dave said.
"1997, or 6," Lilly answered hesitantly. "We used technology we'd borrowed to cloak it in its original toxic atmosphere. Visually anyway."
"Maybe don't mention the borrowed part, the story's long enough," Dave said with a smile. "Venus was the start of it all. The Sixes wanted Earth. They thought we were superior to Humans and shouldn't be the ones to leave it. Our side argued that we were leaving because we were capable of it and Humans weren't. In the end the majority agreed to keep our island on Earth, with the condition that the royals still ruled it as before. That wasn't enough, they didn't want to live with monarchy rule. They thought the people had equal say."
"So they wanted, what, a democracy or..." Harry questioned.
"More like mob rule," Dave scoffed. Lilly didn't look impressed with him. "Well, what would you call it? Anarchy's the closest and it's still too far off. Truth is, they all wanted to live completely free to do whatever they wanted. We knew what would happen if we let them; they'd retake Earth, enslave humans and eventually expand their territory, knowing full well that they'd outnumber us before they even finished taking over the southern hemisphere."
Lilly glanced down with shame clouding her features. "Our civilisation was founded because we wanted to devote ourselves to science, culture. We didn't care about wars and territory. The Sixes stand for everything we wanted to get away from. Using our technology for war, it's an insult."
Neelix firmly nodded, "that's such a shame. Your people seemed like a lovely tight knit community, like one big family."
"Yeah, but there's always one in your family that has to ruin it all," Emma commented.
"With over half our population sympathising with the rebels, we've fallen far behind, had to leave Venus and our home dimension," Dave said.
"What?" Lilly snapped in shock.
Dave cringed. "We had to, so we could rebuild our fleet. We couldn't without them knowing. We've lost so many ships over the years."
"The Z5," Lilly said, her eyes averted when she had a realisation. "That's an awful amount of ships."
"Uhhuh," Dave barely opened his mouth. "It took us a while to follow you safely into this dimension. We have another planet near here with an enhanced cloak, adaptive. The Sixes know we're here now though, and have been trying to follow what ships we do have to our new base. We can't let them, any means necessary."
Emma couldn't help but smirk, "so you started that fight with those ships?"
Dave smiled back at her, "they think they can put old cloaks on and fly alongside us, I don't think so."
"Captain," Tuvok said. Kathryn's eyes bugged out. She hurried over to him to snatch one of the two jugs he was carrying. As if she hadn't, he continued, "perhaps we should reconsider any involvement with these people. The Liger civil war is not our concern."
Kathryn was too busy pouring the contents of the jug into a massive mug to hear him.
Chakotay though did and seemed torn, "he's right." Kathryn heard that and stared icily. "But the Ligers are our distant cousins, in a way. In our reality, their descendants would be living amongst us. Can we really ignore our own people?"
"True but who they're fighting with are also our people," Jessie chimed in.
"Your evil twin ship did most of the damage," Dave quickly said, more than a little annoyed.
Lilly slapped his arm and glared at him. Doing so spared him from a direct hit of Kathryn's far deadlier version. "Dave, that doesn't meant they owe us. They had nothing to do with it. They helped Emma and I off Earth, away from the Boss." Emma smiled maliciously and giggled innocently. "Well, Emma helped too."
Dave's face paled, "the Boss is dead?"
"Just a bit," Emma giggled.
"Are you sure?" Dave stuttered.
"Doubly. He died, came back and died again," the Doctor answered.
Dave stared at him blankly. "That doesn't sound sure to me."
Kathryn blew a coffee scented raspberry, "Damien, pish. The best thing he ever did was croak. Couldn't organise a pissup in a Voyager party."
Jessie laughed, "you can't put it any better than that. Even his brainwashed lackeys hated him."
Lilly wasn't amused, she looked worried. "Why are you acting like this, Dave? Something..."
"The Sixes still have a leader out there," Dave quickly answered, inadvertently cutting her off. "If it isn't the same guy, that'd explain why no one's seen him and why they've been so chaotic lately. Also, Seventh Voyager has allegedly cut allegiances with the Sixes. At least that's the intel I got. It's been sighted close by, hunting for something. Perhaps he is with them."
"Captain," Tuvok warned.
Kathryn only stared at him expectantly, "I thought I said three, not two."
"Come on. Mr Vulcan's much too clever for such a demeaning job. Let me serve you your coffee," Neelix said.
"Yes but he won't feed me compost like you did last time," Kathryn hissed.
Tuvok tried again, hoping someone would treat him with respect. "While it's true another Voyager is responsible for the civil war, it does not mean we have to get involved. Crewman Rex also brings up an interesting counterpoint no one else has addressed; the Sixes are also humans. You cannot take one side on the pretence of helping your fellow man."
"Thank you," Jessie sighed out of relief. Tuvok gave her a nod.
Kathryn stared thoughtfully at him. Tuvok was expecting another coffee involved order. "You're both right," she said to his and Jessie's surprise. "However, Seventh Voyager and the Six Faction have attacked us, both with the intention of taking our ship or crew. Both have tried to kidnap us, kill us. Their shared leader has used our likeness to drastically alter the fate of another civilisation to his own ends. So, I'm sorry but I disagree. We are already involved."
"That is correct, however any interference we may undertake, may be construed as not only an act of aggression, but will inform them of our whereabouts," Tuvok said.
Chakotay nodded. "This isn't easy. For once both sides have good points. There's got to be a plan we can all agree on."
"The Sixes are already well aware we're here. Seventh however, there's a chance they might not," the Doctor reminded everyone.
"And dealing with Seventh Voyager isn't provoking any tensions, or getting involved in a civil war," Kathryn smiled.
Harry sighed, "yeah but we have no idea where they are."
TO BE CONTINUED
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