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A young woman and her two twin babies murder shocks everyone, but it's the least of their worries as they get a 24 hour death notice for the entire crew.
June - July 2006
September 2372 (mid season 3)
A few crewmembers sat on their own biobeds while the Doctor and Kes were busy treating their mild injuries. Tom strolled in looking a little pleased with himself. "Did anyone call for a miracle worker?"
Kes glanced upwards, looking slightly annoyed. "The gunmen I ordered should follow any minute now."
"Mr Paris, just help us treat any patients that come in," the Doctor sighed in annoyance.
"Aye aye Doc," Tom muttered, saluting the Doctor mockingly. The crewmember he walked over to glanced at him with worry.
"The Doctor sighed, "is what I heard true Mr Paris?"
"Depends, what is it?" Tom replied.
"About Taylor's return," the Doctor said.
The young helmsman's face lit up at the prospect of somebody wanting to hear rumours from him. "So I've heard but I say it's too weird to not be true, Voyager lives on weird. That's why we were saved, if it wasn't him what did it?"
Kes rolled her eyes, shaking her head. "It's true." The two men glanced toward her, anxiously waiting for her to go on. "He didn't die the first time, I don't know how that happened though."
"I see, whatever will be next?" the medical hologram sighed.
"It's unacceptable Chakotay," Kathryn grumbled with pouting lips, and blushing cheeks. "It's disgusting, it's inhumane."
Chakotay sighed, now fearing for his life. "It's also not top priority."
Kathryn exploded with rage, "not a priority! If this isn't, what the hell is!?"
Chakotay cowered, "um repairs to the bio neural gel packs, the hull, damaged Engineering systems, arrangements for dead crewmembers' memorial services which we delayed from the last time."
"How the hell can I do a stupid memorial service without coffee? Explain your way out of that one tattoo boy!" Kathryn snapped.
"Um I could do it instead," Chakotay mumbled.
"No, at the rate you're going you're going to be needing a memorial service as well," Kathryn said.
"Kathryn, the crew and ship are more important. I'm sorry but the replicators will have to wait," Chakotay said. He rushed out of the room leaving Kathryn to fume on her own.
She looked toward the replicator which appeared to have a bouquet of tropical flowers growing out of it. "I know that, my stress level needs lowering."
in James' Quarters:
The main door chimed to an empty living area. James stepped out of the bathroom, all of his injuries were still present but his clothes, skin and hair were clean. He answered the door to an unknown crewmember.
"Oh Steve, sorry about the wall."
The crewmember looked worried, "never mind sorry. What on earth happened?" His face quickly filled with fear instead, "wait, didn't you die?"
"It was an accident, I just..." James mumbled, trying to avoid the last question. "I'll get someone to fix it." One step backward allowed the door to close in the crewman's face.
James turned back to pick a jacket off the back of a chair. He carefully and slowly put it on, wincing as the sleeves rubbed across all the deep cuts and burns. Jessie walked through the doors just after he was finished.
"Are you feeling better?" she asked.
"Yep, I just need to get..." James replied, pointing briefly at his facial wounds. "These treated."
"That's a good idea. I'll come with you," Jessie said, about to take a hold of his arm. He moved away last minute without realising her movements.
In: "Janeway to Rex."
Jessie groaned before tapping her commbadge, "yeah?"
In: "Jessie I need to discuss your duty shifts. I assume you'll be going back to duty soon."
"Yeah I'll be right there," Jessie sighed, tapping her commbadge again. "So you will be definitely going to Sickbay?"
"Why wouldn't I go, don't worry about me," James said with a reassuring smile and nod.
Jessie moved to stand closely in front of him. "I can't help that, I don't know what happened in those two weeks. You just seem really sore and limpy."
"Jess really I'm better than fine. One brief Sickbay visit and all is good with me," James said. "I'm more worried about you. I hope you understand why I did it and..."
"I do, but it was..." Jessie uncomfortably said, raising her shoulders slightly. She took a hold of both of his hands, "I'm really glad you're alive, I'm ok now too." Her eyes narrowed, one eyebrow raised, "this way I can punish you for putting me through the worst two weeks of my life."
"Ok that's fair I guess. If there's anything I can do, just name it," James said, fearing the worst was going to happen.
"For now, just a kiss," Jessie smiled, lowering one of her shoulders and tilting her head toward the raised one.
"Right now? I'm not exactly a pretty picture, though that's never stopped us before," James mumbled.
"I don't care what you look like. I just got that, only you think you're not good looking," Jessie muttered. "I'd only not want you to if you had sore lips or something, then it would hurt." James lowered his head to give her a kiss on the lips. She smiled after it. "We'd better be going, I'll think of a punishment later." He kept a hold of one of her hands as they walked towards the door.
Tom and Harry stepped out of the turbolifts half way through a conversation. They continued it as they made their way to Harry's station. Tom glanced toward his own where two repair personnel were working.
"You're kidding," he whispered before looking back at Harry. He replaced Craig when they reached opps, he didn't move away too far.
"What's going on?" Craig asked.
"Oh nothing, you don't know him," Harry replied.
Tom shook his head, clicking his tongue. "Harry Harry, that's just rude." He rested his folded arms on the station, turning his head to look at the young Lieutenant. "Some guy right jumped into the rift to close it the first time, but this time he came back through it to close it once again."
"Wouldn't that kill him the first time?" Craig questioned with a raised eyebrow, looking suspicious. "You really need to think of some realistic rumours."
"It's true," Harry whispered. "Everyone who knew him, heck even a lot who don't know that he did it. But I saw him, heck even touched him so he wasn't a trick."
"Touched him?" Craig smirked. "I didn't know you were..."
Tom interrupted him by laughing loudly. Harry tilted his head to the side, giving Tom and then Craig his 'I'm not amused look'. "He got injured ok, a few of us helped out."
"Ok ok. I did hear about somebody sacrificing himself, I wasn't sure it was true though," Craig said. "Who was it?"
"Now Craig, you know better than that," Tom scolded.
Craig pulled a face, "huh?"
Harry worked at his station as it began beeping at him. "Captain, we're receiving a distress call."
"That's funny. I thought that because no-one responded to ours that there was no other ships around," Kathryn muttered in a huffy tone.
Chakotay glanced over at her from his chair, "Captain we tried, the outward communications were being scrambled."
"Fine, open a channel," Kathryn ordered.
The viewscreen activated, however it was very distorted. Everyone could only see an imprint of somebody. He began to speak, but that was distorted as well.
"I am Jash Fahel of the Finians. We request some assistance."
Kathryn climbed to her feet to address the man on the screen. "Captain Janeway, Starship Voyager. I think the distress call was pretty clear about what you want."
"I apologise for that Captain. We do not like to ask for favours from other people. We are on a journey to peace negotiations with our homeworld neighbours, the Sykians. However we were attacked, our engines are going to take too long to be repaired, I'm afraid we won't make it to our negotiations on time," Jash said.
Kathryn glanced back at Harry. "Their ship's hull is too unstable, our faulty tractor beam will only cause more problems."
"Faulty tractor beam, why wasn't I informed of that?" Kathryn hissed at Chakotay.
He stared bewilderedly at her, "I tried but all you cared about was the broken replicator."
"Mr Fahel, may I ask for the co-ordinates for your peace conference?" Kathryn said. "Maybe we can get you there on time."
Chakotay frowned, "uh, what?"
"That's an intriguing offer Captain, we only expected a hand with the repairs at the most," Jash said, his voice filled with surprise.
"I'm afraid our own Engineers and repair personnel are busy with repairs of our own," Kathryn said.
"I'll transmit the co-ordinates to you. It may be too out of your way I'm afraid, but we appreciate the offer," Jash said.
Harry looked up from his station, "it's on the way Captain, we should be there in forty six hours if we go at minimal warp."
"Minimal?" Kathryn questioned.
Chakotay groaned, "again, you ignored me, broken replicator."
Kathryn shook her head while making a mental note to give her first officer a punch in the cheek. "Does that work for you, Mr Fahel?"
"That is excellent Captain, thank you," Jash replied. "I'd only need three to be transported, is that acceptable?"
"Yes of course, Tuvok meet our guests in the transporter room," Kathryn commanded.
Tuvok raised an eyebrow like he disapproved, "aye Captain." He left Claire to man his station on her own and stepped into the turbolift.
"What? This isn't in your face interference, what's everyone's problem?" Kathryn asked when the viewscreen went off.
"We're taking these people to their conference," Chakotay muttered. "We don't know that for sure."
"True, but it's better than helping them repair their ship. Like you said they could have been heading to their next target, but with just the three of them on our ship. No harm, no foul," Kathryn said. "If they were lying no doubt they would have insisted on us helping their ship."
"Hmm, if you say so," Chakotay sighed.
Tuvok stood in front of the transport station, he hadn't noticed that Damien was manning it with an annoyed scowl on his face.
"I said energise," Tuvok ordered.
"Not until somebody requests a transfer for me," Damien grumbled.
Tuvok raised an eyebrow as he turned to the side. "Are you supposed to be working here?"
"Hell no, this job is just too demeaning for a great man like me," Damien huffed.
"If you insist. Energise," Tuvok repeated himself.
"You're on my list too, Toothprick," Damien grumbled. He keyed in the commands without even looking, rolling his eyes.
Three figures dematerialised on the pad, the two men were grey skinned while the woman was a very light blue. All three were dressed formally with hoods over their heads, the leader lowered his. "I am Jash Fahel. These are my ambassadors Halei and Yal Sutcha."
"Lieutenant Commander Tuvok," Tuvok nodded his head.
"Oh god, it's the Finians," Damien groaned. Tuvok turned to look at him with disapproval, then looked back at the guests. They stared at Damien with alarm.
"Why is Damien on your ship?" Jash asked.
"He is a human like most of the crew, and we have limited prisoner resources," Tuvok replied.
"So you say, this is more like a prison," Damien muttered.
"I request that this abomination be at least two decks away from us at all times," Jash said.
The woman spoke up, "he has insulted our people on many occasions, and tried to sell us these viruses that he posed as music files."
Damien sniggered, "they weren't viruses, the people singing were though."
"You are dismissed, if you break their request you will be back in the brig," Tuvok ordered. Damien pulled a face as he left.
"Commander, the Sykians will also be on course. They're at risk of attack as well, we believe the people who did it are our other neighbours. They'll try anything to stop the negotiations," Jash said.
"I'll inform the Captain," Tuvok said. He gestured his arm toward the door, "please, I'll escort you to quarters."
James headed toward the doors to Sickbay, he stepped in but stayed at the doorway. There were more crewmembers inside than earlier, before anyone noticed him he picked up a regenerator from the medical tray and turned to leave. The Doctor noticed him just before he left.
Kathryn carried a tray holding several pieces of her broken cups to the coffee table. Jessie sat in the chair opposite her desk, resting her arm on her stomach.
"I hope you're ready to return tomorrow," Kathryn said while heading back to her desk.
Jessie crinkled her nose and smiled awkwardly, "kind of."
"Kind of?" Kathryn repeated as she sat down.
"I was hoping to find a job somewhere else. You know one that I'm actually good at," Jessie said. "I hate the job I have."
"It's not that simple," Kathryn sighed.
"I know that. I'm not saying I am too good for the job and deserve better, I just think there's a job more suited for me," Jessie said.
Kathryn sat back in her chair, cradling a new cup of coffee in her hands. "For example?"
"Um, I was hoping you'd have some suggestions," Jessie smiled nervously.
"We have a problem then," Kathryn sighed. "If you don't know what your own talents are, how should I know?"
"It's hard to figure out which ones would apply to Voyager when I've been stuck at that station the whole time," Jessie responded.
"There's only one way to find out. Work trials," Kathryn smiled.
The Mess Hall:
A small party was in full swing. Like you'd expect a couple of people were drunk or trying to be. There was a snack table that everyone was avoiding. Neelix kept walking around with trays to offer his concoctions to.
Kathryn stormed in with her hands on her hips already in place. Everyone froze on the spot. "What is going on?"
"Uh," a nervous crewmember said. She pointed at a banner above the window saying 'we survived yet again'.
"Oh did I miss the 'someone sneezed party'?" Kathryn mockingly asked. She sniffed the air, "coffee. There's coffee at a party I wasn't invited to! Someone's getting demoted for this."
The poor nervous ensign backed away slightly. Kathryn marched toward another girl holding a coffee nearby, snatched it out of her hands and ran out of the other door. The girl looked around with a confused look on her face, it all had happened so fast to her.
Kathryn waited at the turbolift door happily sipping on her coffee. The door opened for James and Jessie, they hesitated before stepping out to join Kathryn.
"Do you have any idea why I'm the only one who wasn't told about that damn party?" Kathryn demanded.
James and Jessie looked at each other briefly. "What party?" Jessie replied.
"Oh some 'we are alive' party, well at least I'm not the only one," Kathryn said.
"The party probably started with two hyper crewmembers with a drink or two. Most parties here are just made up on the spot," James said.
"I dunno, they bothered to make a banner for this one," Kathryn sighed.
"A banner? How lame," Jessie commented.
"Excuse me," Kathryn mumbled, sipping at her coffee again. She walked around them and stepped into the turbolift.
"Wanna go?" Jessie asked.
"Yeah sure, I could do with some free food," James replied. They continued onward down the corridor.
"I take it you didn't get paid for the two weeks," Jessie said.
"Well they thought I was dead, come to think of it I should ask about that as I wasn't," James said. Jessie shook her head.
Meanwhile at the party, Neelix was attempting to pass around a tray of sausage rolls. One group thought they looked safe, so they tried one. All of them cringed when they put it in their mouths. Neelix beamed at them, totally oblivious to their expressions.
"Well, what do you think of my leola root flavoured quorn rolls?" he asked. The group answered by quickly vacating the room, with hands across their mouths.
James and Jessie walked in, a few people froze as they spotted them. Everyone else turned to look at what they were looking at, they did the same.
"Oh god," Jessie muttered, quickly looking down at herself and checking her hair. "Is there something on me?"
"I'm guessing it's not you," James said.
"Thank god," Jessie sighed. Then she pulled a face and looked at him, "I didn't mean..."
"What do we do, run or stay?" one crewmember asked her friend. He shook his head, shaking a little.
"You know what, I'll just go," James uncomfortably muttered.
"Yeah you do that ghosty," another crewmember said. The rest of his group pulled a face at him.
James turned away and quickly left. The entire room seemed to calm down, all except Jessie of course.
"You do realise that Neelix made the drinks," she said before storming back out.
Everyone froze on the spot again, staring blankly at their drinks. Neelix looked confused.
"How did she know that?" he stuttered. Everyone quickly put their drinks down.
Danny stood in a doorway, resting her back on the frame. "Come on, why won't you tell me?"
Jessie walked up to her looking a bit rushed off her feet, and casually dressed. "Cos there's nothing to tell."
"Where's James?" Danny asked, standing on her tip toes to look over Jessie's head.
"He's already gone. He had to go and prepare for a meeting with Janeway. He's probably in his office right now trying to think of a way to make the report longer than a few sentences," Jessie replied. She then left the room, Danny followed her toward the turbolift.
"Um Jess, aren't you forgetting something?" she asked, eyeing her up and down.
"No, I dunno, am I?" Jessie replied.
"You're technically going to numerous job interviews and you're dressed like you're having a night in reading," Danny smirked.
"No I'm not," Jessie muttered.
"Explain the baggy-ish pants, snug top and long cardy then," Danny said.
"Pants always seem baggy on me, what are you talking about?" Jessie muttered. "I still look better than most schmucks around here. Anyway what's wrong with the cardy, James got me it?"
"Well I was hoping you'd be shocked that I dissed it, throw it away and when your back's turned, I steal it," Danny said.
"Ugh typical," Jessie grunted. The pair stepped into the turbolift.
"Ok so what jobs are you trying?" Danny asked.
"Probably everything, anything. Today I've just got one, tomorrow it's er, something else, two things depending on one of them. I still have to turn up for normal work though," Jessie replied. "Deck Six."
"Deck One," Danny ordered.
"I'm not looking forward to the morgue tomorrow, after orientation I'm off elsewhere unless someone else drops dead," Jessie muttered.
"Why's that, they should have two bodies already?" Danny questioned, smirking slightly. "I don't see you lasting five seconds in the morgue though, one small bit of blood and you're down."
"I know but these work trials include everything, except what I'm doing now," Jessie replied.
The doors opened on Deck Seven, another crewmember stepped in. "Deck Three."
"Why do you even need a new job?" Danny asked.
"Why do you need to alternate yours to helm and other little jobs? Those stations drive you crazy," Jessie sighed in response. "I feel pretty damn useless there, I want to do something I'm good at for once. Too bad I don't know what that is." The door opened again.
"Too bad we don't need a fashion consultant," Danny laughed. "Good luck in the morgue Jess."
"You know that's not my first stop," Jessie said as she stepped out of the lift, then began walking down the corridor.
"What is it?" Danny yelled after her. Jessie waved her right hand before turned the corner. The door closed. "Damn."
Jessie looked at her watch and picked up speed while scanning each door she passed. "Crap, late late. Where is it?" She stopped in the middle of the corridor. "Computer where is the new psychiatry training office, thingy?"
"Please re-specify," the computer responded.
Jessie groaned, she walked to a wall panel and messed around with it. "Of course, near Sickbay. Now..."
Two women passed by her and walked into the nearby turbolift. Jessie quickly jogged toward it. "Hang on, hold the door!" One of the girls shrugged, the other one laughed as the door closed just before Jessie got there.
"Ugh fine. I didn't want to choke on the tacky perfume stink anyway!" she snapped at the door. "God I hope those bitches heard that," she huffed, turning on her heel and made her way back the way she came. The nearby Jeffries tube caught her eye, "meh it's just one deck."
"Commander, we're receiving another distress call," Harry said. "An adrift ship about fifty minutes away, just a little bit out of the way of our current course."
"Why doesn't anybody ever respond to ours?" Danny muttered from the helm.
Chakotay sighed, "on screen." The screen changed to show a rough looking light blue skinned male alien, with the usual mayhem going on behind him. "I'm Commander Chakotay of the Starship Voyager."
"Shal Malek of the Sykians," the man muttered. "Pardon our call for help Commander, we don't usually do this unless it's absolutely necessary."
"That's interesting, we were on our way to your peace conference. The Finians' were attacked, we had to bring them aboard to get to negotiations on time," Chakotay said.
The man hesitated slightly, "under the circumstances we'll have to adapt. Our engines are badly damaged, it'll take too long for my crew to fix them and we have a deadline to keep. Of course the Finians' will have told you the same thing."
"Prepare to transport everyone you need to go to the negotiations, it'll take us less than an hour to reach you," Chakotay said.
"Thank you Commander. We are in your debt," Malek bowed his head. The screen switched off.
"Danny, adjust course to rendezvous with them," Chakotay commanded.
"Aye sir," Danny said.
Kathryn stood at the replicator while James was kneeling down by the desk. He straightened up holding broken pieces of a cup in his hands. Kathryn walked over to her desk with a full coffee cup in her hands.
"Don't worry this is just a check in appointment, you know like you returned from an away mission," Kathryn said while sitting down.
"Mmm hmm," James mumbled, attempting to put the two pieces together.
"I've scanned your report, it's very interesting," Kathryn said. "I have some questions though, one is what are you doing?"
"Care for a..." James read from one of the pieces. "Hands off bitch. Nice." He finally looked up at her, "what?"
Kathryn smiled, she walked over to stand in front of him holding out her hand. "I can't believe I missed some pieces."
"The message doesn't make sense, and they don't fit together," James said, handing the two pieces to her.
"I'm afraid I broke more than one. The first one was 'care for a punch, no, then get lost'," Kathryn said.
"Huh, is that one in the replicator?" James questioned.
Kathryn smile grew a little wider as she moved back to her desk, she leaned against it. "Now can I ask a few questions about your report?"
"I guess so," James replied.
"You were there for the same amount of time you were gone here, obviously that Voyager shares the same time frame as us," Kathryn said. "Your report though only mentions what happened during the rift, can you tell me what happened before then?"
James glanced away uncomfortably. "It's not important."
"I think it is," Kathryn said.
"Nothing did. I only heard about the anomaly when it was created. After that you know the rest," James said.
"Fair enough," Kathryn sighed. "A few crewmembers told me that you had a few injuries visible, but the Doctor or Kes didn't treat you. The Doctor saw you leave but that's it, some injuries were facial but they're gone now."
"It was busy, I wasn't hurt that badly. I treated the worst of it," James mumbled. "The regenerator ran out of power," he said quietly.
"What was the last part?" Kathryn asked. He didn't answer. "James the injuries, how did you get them?"
"It's in the report. I had two fights, you can barely call the first one that though," James muttered.
"All right then. Are you fit to return to duty?" Kathryn asked.
"Isn't that a question for the Doc?" James replied.
"I meant in a mental capacity," Kathryn said.
"I'd rather get back to what this ship calls normality, so yeah," James replied.
"Great just in time. We're about to rendezvous with another ship on their way to a peace conference. Both sides transport ships were damaged so we're giving them a lift, but we need to keep them separated," Kathryn said.
"That's going to be an interesting peace conference," James commented.
"Yeah that's none of our business though," Kathryn said. "Supposedly one of their aggressive neighbours attacked them both to prevent the talks. We've already picked up the first guests, Tuvok is watching them."
"You want me to keep an eye on the other guys?" James questioned. "What are they like? Aggressive, annoying?"
"They're distant cousins of the Finians so I'd imagine they'd be just as proud yet peaceful as them," Kathryn replied. "Or they could be the 'evil twin' of the two races, either way I'd avoid..."
"What, being myself?" James said.
Kathryn smirked at him, "I have faith in you, I'm sure you can handle it."
James looked at her suspiciously, "how much coffee have you had?"
"I've done this to give you a different kind of challenge, you can back down at any time," Kathryn replied. "If that is all, dismissed."
"Um when will these guys be coming?" James asked.
"We can discuss this at the meeting. Relax, you've got time to get back into the routine," Kathryn replied.
"Ok fine," James mumbled. He turned to leave. Kathryn kept her smile on her face until he left, then she turned it upside down.
Jessie climbed up to the next deck via the ladder, then spent a minute trying to figure out which door to go through. "Damn why didn't I take note of the door I came through to begin with." Her face frowned as the sound of a baby crying echoed down the tubes.
She opened the door on her right, and crawled into it. Halfway down it Jessie stopped, cringing in pain as she placed a hand on her pregnancy bump. She kept her hand there as she continued down the tube.
The end door refused to open for her. After some fiddling it opened. Not far from her sat a young girl cradling a baby wrapped in a jacket. Next to her were a few rations, a sleeping bag, and a second baby lying in a blanket on top of the sleeping bag.
"Um, hi," Jessie nervously said. The girl stared at her looking just as nervous. "It's ok, um what are you doing here?"
The girl shuddered slightly, "please, please don't tell anyone I'm here."
Jessie moved to sit down opposite her. "What are you hiding from?"
"I don't, you wouldn't understand," the girl mumbled. She eyed the hand Jessie still had across her belly.
"Do you want me to leave you alone or..." she asked.
"No, it would be nice to talk to another mother," the girl replied.
Jessie widened her eyes, "mother, I'm not, no I'm not."
"Ok so you do understand," the girl softly said. "I'd recognise that denial anywhere."
"Uh, looks like we're both keeping secrets," Jessie muttered.
"Please stay," the girl said. "I'm Chrissy."
"Jessie. I'm late for something but I can reschedule," Jessie said. She tapped her commbadge. "Rex to Reynolds. I'm sorry but I'm going to be a little later than I thought."
In: "Is there a problem?"
"Uh, I'll explain later, it's related I promise," Jessie replied.
In: "Very well, just stop by when you're finished."
B'Elanna and Harry stood by the wall panel giving everyone present a report. Most of the senior staff occupied the table, facing them.
"Repairs will take a while ma'am, I estimate two days," Harry said.
B'Elanna nodded her head, "the damage remaining are non essential systems, with the exception of the warp core. It's still useable but I'd avoid it until repairs are complete unless it is necessary."
"Good. Casualty report," Kathryn sighed, folding her arms on the table.
"Two dead, twelve injured," Tuvok responded.
Chakotay covered his face with one hand, "James we need to know, will this happen again or will your trips be a regular thing?" He moved his hand away when he didn't get a response, everyone looked toward James who appeared to be in a daze. "James!" Chakotay snapped to get his attention.
"What?" was his only response.
"Will this happen again?" Chakotay impatiently repeated himself.
To a few people's surprise James didn't look annoyed at his impatience, "the machine that created them was destroyed, the creator was killed during the fight."
"What about your demon friends. Do you think they're a threat still?" Chakotay asked.
James glanced at Kathryn briefly. "They want to be in our reality, and they're willing to kill us to do that. They're crippled though, their leader's dead, as are a lot of their best guys. Plus their only brains remaining is the one who helped me, he fears that if they succeed his usefulness will come to an end and he'll be killed."
Chakotay raised an eyebrow, "am I not allowed to ask you questions?"
"It's not that," James said with a blank stare. "I've already told her this stuff at our meeting."
"It's the Starfleet way to repeat yourself unfortunately. Your two week vacation may of helped you forget that," Chakotay sighed.
"Hmm yeah, vacation," James muttered. "Lots of demons, Voyager on a really bad day, and the only one activity to pass the time; wondering when the demons will discover you."
"Sounds like paradise for you," Tom commented with a smirk.
James moved his blank stare toward him, "sorry I didn't get any pictures, the demons kept stealing my camera."
"It was just a joke," Tom shook his head. "Lighten up."
"Maybe you should if you took what I said seriously," James said, rolling his eyes.
"I'm just saying that you must have had a blast fighting with them all the time, or whenever you wanted. You couldn't have been doing it for two weeks constantly, so it must have been like..." Tom said. He cleared his throat and tried badly to copy James' accent and even his voice, "oh it's Tuesday morning, time for the morning jog and a punch there, a kick there. Then back to my hiding place for a game of cards."
B'Elanna looked at him in disgust. "I don't know which I'm more annoyed by, that phony voice and accent or the whole routine you made up."
"Well he must have done something like that," Tom said.
"That's not the point of the meeting, is it?" Chakotay groaned.
"Is there ever a point?" Kes sighed.
"Well it was about the rift and the damage it's done, possible reoccurrences." B'Elanna said. "We still don't know enough about it to..."
Harry's face lit up. "From what I heard from James' report and what we found out, I came up with this." He keyed in commands on the panel. A picture of Voyager appeared on the screen, constantly rotating from above view to port view. One more command changed it to port view. The ship split into two for a second, then merged back into one. "Look familiar?"
Chakotay frowned while resting his chin on his left fist. "Deadlock. Two Voyagers operating in the same place, more or less, with only the antimatter unduplicated."
"I'm thinking that when this happened, a third less prominent Voyager appeared without its crew and lured the demons to it. This one probably got infected by the proton bursts as well, but with only the demons aboard they probably didn't even care enough to do much about it," Harry said.
"It wasn't at the same time as that. It happened before, there's interference on their Deck Thirteen and that's where they insisted on making the rift each time," James said.
"So you're suggesting that this phasing is what's made Deck Thirteen so mysterious?" Kathryn questioned.
"Nice choice of words," Tom commented.
"No I'm not, it could be yeah but the point is something else phased us at an earlier time," James replied.
Chakotay frowned, "the Deck Thirteen issue could have been duplicated on their ship for all we know. This isn't proof that their ship appeared before the other Voyager, it only would be if that was the reason why we had the issue."
James rested his right elbow on the desk, and his chin into that hand. "I suppose so." Kathryn looked at him briefly with concern.
"If they ever figure out how to merge this ship we'll have an army of demons on our hands," Ian said looking nervous.
"Just under three hundred," James quietly added on.
"Can they do it though?" Kathryn asked him.
He looked at her and shook his head lightly. "They won't, it'll kill them. That's why they tried to kill us. They can't affect us in other ways either, temporal problems like those loops."
"What about the ones that paid you and the Captain a visit?" Harry asked.
James uncomfortably looked around the table as everyone had their eyes fixed on him. "I don't know, they were visible that time. Maybe."
"There probably was a temporal problem that we weren't aware of when they visited. With all the chaos going on at the time, we can't be sure," Chakotay said.
"Perhaps we could merge both ships into one again. If doing so will destroy them," Tuvok said.
"I don't think so. Unlike the other Voyager, we can't detect this one. We'd have to know where exactly they are before doing so," Harry butted in.
Kathryn sighed, "all we can do is keep an eye on our neighbours for now. We have another matter to discuss."
"Captain if I may?" Tuvok said. "I suggest increasing Security members on duty. I do believe they will attempt another attack."
"It could be anytime though, we don't have enough Security crewmembers to do double shifts or something like this constantly," James said. "Most of what we have wouldn't be able to handle a demon, even with a phaser."
"Wow, somebody's giving himself an ego boost while putting us mere mortals down," Tom said, raising both eyebrows.
For the first time in the meeting James managed to look a little annoyed. "For your information I had trouble with these guys, why do you think I avoided fighting them until I had to at the end?"
Kathryn groaned in annoyance, "Tuvok that's a good idea, do it. We haven't got much of a choice if they do make it aboard. Now we should move on to the other matter."
"As some of you know we made contact with two different alien ships, both of which are on their way to peace negotiations. They were both attacked by their neighbours, and were left with damaged engines," Chakotay said.
"We are transporting a group from each ship to the neutral planet they've chosen," Kathryn sighed.
B'Elanna pouted her lips, "Captain, I said the warp engines should only be used for..."
"I know, but if we stay at low warp we'll still get there on time. These two races have been blood enemies for centuries, they're distant cousins so to speak. Anyway they've finally decided to stop the fighting and negotiate. It's a worthy cause," Kathryn said.
"It's not going to be easy, the Finians and Sykians don't like to be in the same room as each other. We need to keep them apart until they're at the negotiation tables," Chakotay said.
"Won't they have to be in the same room together eventually?" Tom muttered.
"I spoke to Malek about it, he says it's the custom of the Finians," Chakotay replied. "They'll consider it an insult if a Sykian goes near them before then."
"Now I'd rather not share what's recently happened aboard ship with either species. Both are very proud, and the slightest thing could insult, annoy or if we're lucky appease them. I don't think a few collapsed ceilings, demon ghosts and mysterious rifts will appease them," Kathryn said. "Am I understood?" Almost everybody nodded at her.
"So in other words they're the Delta Quadrant version of Klingons, Bajorans or Romulans?" Tom commented, smirking to himself. No-one laughed with him as nobody got that his comment was said like a joke.
Kathryn groaned, "dismissed."
Kathryn and James walked through the door and stood in front of the station.
"Energise," Kathryn ordered.
A group of five dematerialised on the pad.
"Captain Janeway of the Starship Voyager," Kathryn said.
"I am Ambassador Shal Malek, these are a few of my senior officers," Malek said.
Kathryn glanced at James, gesturing her hand toward him. "This is Ensign Taylor, he will look after you during the duration of your stay."
One of the aliens scowled, "him?" Malek laughed slightly. "A child? Captain you insult us."
James narrowed his eyes while Kathryn looked at him with a look telling him to keep his cool. "I assure you, he's not a child. He's perfectly capable."
"Ensign is a child rank," the alien muttered. The others laughed with him.
"There's a good reason for it," Kathryn said. "Now if you'll excuse me." She turned to leave, James put an arm out to stop her. "It's ok, you'll be able to handle them."
"There's no way I can hold back with these guys," James muttered. "They're acting like Klingons do around me."
"If that's the case just be yourself," Kathryn smiled.
"What, that's the last thing we should do," James said.
"Captain Janeway, we demand a stronger escort," another alien said. "It's a bit insulting that you think that this boy's enough to watch five of us."
"Hmm I think you're right, if they are like Klingons they'd appreciate your rough side," Kathryn whispered. She turned to the aliens. "You will not get a stronger escort, you have him already. Trust me you won't be disappointed." She stepped out.
"If you're quite finished insulting me, I'll show you to the quarters you all have to share," James muttered.
The aliens stepped down from the padd. Three of them gathered around him. "Your species must be weak if you are the strongest candidate."
Malek raised his hand, "enough. We should be taken to our quarters before it's his supper time."
"If you insist on continuing with this bull I'll take you to the airlock instead of quarters," James grumbled.
Malek belly laughed, "he's quirky, I'll give the boy that. Tell me, what is that good reason for you being an ensign?"
"You usually have to do as your told and stuff to get promoted, or wait until the Captain's had enough coffee," James replied. "Don't call me boy anymore, I really hate that."
"Then what can I call you? Young man, guy, child, ensign?" Malek questioned.
James shook his head while rolling his eyes, "this way, now." He stepped out. The aliens followed.
"You didn't answer my question," Malek said.
"Either Taylor, James or ensign," James muttered.
"I'm not familiar with the second one," another alien said.
"That's cos it's my first name, jeez," James groaned.
"I hope you have the heart of strength to back up your words, and earned the name you use," the first alien who spoke said.
James glanced at him in confusion as he walked by his side, "humans don't earn their names."
"Do you mock us?" the alien snarled.
"No but I notice that you're allowed to insult me, and I get accused of it like I'm not allowed to. It doesn't seem very honourable to me," James said.
Malek laughed again, he walked along his other side patting him on the shoulder. "I'm beginning to like you boy, excuse me, James Taylor. Which name do humans use between honourable men, first or last?"
"If you mean so called 'tough guys', then second," James replied.
The first unnamed alien scoffed, charging forward to stand in front of him. "He is not an honourable man, yet he questions mine."
Tuvok stepped out of the turbolift nearby. "Is there a problem Ensign?" He nodded at the aliens, he and James stood further away so they couldn't hear them.
"Just a few. The Captain must have been on something when she decided to assign me to these people," James replied.
"Yes I was the one who suggested you. They believe in honour and appreciate honesty, they're also an aggressive race," Tuvok said.
"Just like the Klingons then," James muttered. "You do realise they're all going to be in Sickbay if they don't stop annoying me."
Tuvok raised an eyebrow, "from what I heard from the Finians, they'd respect you for it. I don't suggest starting a fight with them, but as you're the human representative I believe that your usual behaviour will appease them, and earn the respect for the crew." He continued down the corridor.
James sighed as he returned to the aliens. "Did you need some help from a superior, boy?" the mouthy first nameless alien sneered.
"Shanak. What have I told you about other races, you have to respect their ways too," Malek said in a warning tone.
"I do, I just think it's an insult to be given this puny child as an escort and guard," the alien muttered.
"Will you shut up before I lose my temper completely, you don't want that to happen," James muttered.
Shanak stepped closer, growling like an animal. "You're telling me to shut up, how dare you insult me."
"This should be interesting," Malek laughed.
"You continuously insult me for no good reason other than to impress the uh..." James said, glancing at the other aliens. "The men it appears. I think I have a right to defend myself a little."
Another alien smirked at Shanak, "I didn't know you felt that way about us."
Shanak growled, "I know what you're doing. You can't get in our favour by emulating me."
James rolled his eyes and groaned. He then pushed Shanak into the wall. He literally went through it, leaving a gaping hole. "Is he always such an ass or was that just for me?"
Malek laughed with the rest of the aliens. "I like you. Boys, get Shanak and follow." He and James continued down the corridor, while the rest attempted to pull Shanak through the wall. "He's always like that yes. Now here's my own question. Do all humans possess great strength, because that was impressive."
"No, I'm different," James replied.
The aliens stood a dazed Shanak up, and guided him down the corridor.
"So Taylor, you're here to look after us, does that mean stop us from getting into trouble?" Malek asked.
"It's procedure on Voyager," James said. They all stopped as they reached the turbolift. "Deck Four."
"So, have the Finians complained about our presence here or do they not know yet?" Malek questioned.
"Supposedly they've been told, no problems so far," James replied.
Damien stood just around a corner, his eyes shifting around like he suspected the walls or the door nearby were against him. Suddenly the old man, Tim appeared behind him.
"You know we used to call that shuckling in my day," he droned on.
Damien violently shuddered. "Are those anti wrinkle creams and tablets getting to your head?"
"Oh I stopped taking those," Tim replied. "It's best to let nature take it's course, like the good old days. There's too many medical..."
Damien tried to ignore his lecture, but all that did was make another screw in his head fall out of place. Eventually he turned around, his face red with rage. "Shut the hell up, no I'd rather you dropped dead and never came back! Don't you know who I am, I'm Damien!"
The female Finian turned the corner and stood behind him. She stared looking amused. "Yes we all know that."
Damien jumped out of his skin and turned to face her. "Don't do... oh it's you. Why did you want to meet with me? I already have an annoying stalker."
"Who were you yelling at?" Halei asked.
"Who do you think?" Damien groaned, gesturing his hand behind him. Little did he know that Tim had disappeared again.
Halei moved to the side a little to look over his shoulder. "Oh, I didn't notice little Jhian, don't know how you can though."
"What?" Damien pulled a disgusted face, he looked behind him. "Why does that b***ard keep disappearing, he makes me look crazy!"
"You don't need a hand there," Halei said.
Damien swung back around to stare angrily at her. "Hey, you're just as crazy with your little Jhian. Now what the hell did you call me here for? I really doubt you want more mp3s."
Halei smiled deviously as she eyed him up and down. "You could be useful. We'll spare you if you do as we say."
"Ah you Finians aren't as goody two shoes as I thought, nice trick you're playing," Damien smiled just as deviously. However it didn't last long, "but I don't do what anyone says."
"What about a Commander Tuvok? You did as he said," Halei said.
"I'm only doing this until I get away from this dump. Do you really think I'd go on their side, these people have been a thorn in my head for years," Damien said.
"What did they do to you?" Halei smiled.
"Look just take my advice. You can't be a villain around here, you just lose all the time. It's like we're in a TV show or something," Damien said. He then pulled a face, "oh wait." He grinned menacingly, "hmm maybe I can change that, or something."
Halei pulled a confused face, "how exactly?"
"Never you mind. This is how it's going to work. I won't tell the crew what you've been saying, and you do as I say," Damien sneered, folding his arms.
"Why would they believe you?" Halei asked, imitating him by folding her arms the same way.
Damien just stared, still sneering at her but obviously trying to think of a response. Halei just laughed at him.
"No wonder you lose, you're just a wannabe. You have no idea what it's like to be really evil."
Damien narrowed his eyes, "oh yeah? If you're evil then you'll know what my plan is now."
"Uh, stop Voyager being apart of a show?" Halei muttered.
Damien again just stared in the same way as he did before, then he snapped and stamped his foot on the ground. "God damn it woman. I mean uh, it's much more complicated than that. You'll never understand."
"You don't know how to do that. Trust me, you won't need to after tomorrow afternoon," Halei said. "Without your co-operation, you will fall like them." She turned to walk away.
"If I'm so un-evil, why do you even want to reason with me?" Damien smugly asked.
"We don't want to reason with you," Halei laughed, she turned back around. "We want to enslave you."
"Sorry, I don't work for anyone but for myself. For I am Damien, I am better than humans, I am what they can only hope to become. I am the ultimate Pok..." Damien rambled on in a fake dramatic tone of voice.
"What the hell are you talking about? Were you going to say Pokémon?" Halei muttered, interrupting him.
Damien groaned, "you didn't let me finish, I spent ages on that speech. It's something I'm trying, but I still don't know what to replace Pokémon with. Maybe I should think of an alias name, then I can use it."
Halei rolled her eyes, "all right you totally lost it. All right Pikachu, it's up to you. You'll either die a quick death, die a slow one, or live to do whatever you please. There's more to this universe than just, well this universe."
"Pikachu's not ultimate, it's just drugged up," Damien muttered. "You think I'm the crazy one, there's only one universe."
"You know better than that, why do you think we chose you. You've come from other universes. It's time to stop playing around like a complete dork with your insane celebrities, and really dumb speeches. We can help you be a legend, do you really want to turn that down just for a matter of badly placed pride?" Halei said.
Damien responded with another devious smile, "all right. Tell me what you want, and I'll think about it."
"I already have teams two and four on rotating shifts for the Finians. I recommend five and three for the Sykians," Tuvok said.
"They've already been assigned," James said. He put his feet up on the desk, holding a padd in his hand.
"I was informed that you pushed one of the Sykian officers through a wall," Tuvok said.
"Yeah that was fun," James smiled.
"Indeed," Tuvok said.
"This seems like a waste of time to me. These aliens don't seem like the type to get along with anyone," James muttered, while placing the computer on his lap. "Surely we should be more worried about demon attacks, and repairs."
"Ensign I've already discussed this with the Captain," Tuvok said.
"Fine, I was just saying," James groaned, rolling his eyes.
Jessie appeared at the doorway looking a little anxious. Tuvok looked at her briefly. "We will reach the planet in less than two days. Keep me informed of anything." He passed Jessie on the way out. "Crewman," nodding at her.
Once he left James climbed out of the chair and headed over to Jessie. She smiled, closing the gap between them. James wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer to him. He gave her a kiss on her forehead.
"I missed you."
"Bad day?" she questioned, stroking his left arm.
He tried not to cringe as her fingers went across a deep cut. "Just a tad."
"Tell me about it," Jessie sighed.
"Never mind me, how did your interview go?" James questioned. They separated slightly as they made their way over to sit on the sofa.
"I missed it, that's why I'm here," Jessie replied.
"Please tell me you're checking out Security and would like office work," James smiled.
Jessie smiled back, and snuggled into his shoulder. "I'm interested but I doubt Janeway would let me."
"Are you still going to try for the counselling trial?" James questioned.
"Yeah, I'll go after this," Jessie replied. "There's something I need to talk to you about."
"I'm listening," James said.
"I hope you don't mind, it's a Security matter," Jessie said. James shook his head. "I found one of your missing people."
"Really? Wow, you may as well have my job then," James said with a smirk. "Who?"
"Christine Rannak," Jessie replied. "She's uh, a victim of an abusive boyfriend. She's lived in the Jeffries tube for months now, hiding from him. She's usually changing where, but now she's stuck in one place."
James frowned, he placed one arm around her shoulders. "Abusive boyfriend, who?"
"She never said," Jessie replied. She laughed slightly, "she still loves the guy."
"That's usually the case," James said. "But I don't understand why she's stuck. Ran out of hiding places?"
Jessie sighed, resting her hand across her belly. "She was pregnant."
"Huh really," James muttered. "Was? In a good or bad way?"
"Good, it's twins actually," Jessie said. "Boy and a girl."
"Well if we can find the creep and sort this out, then our child will have some other children to play with besides Naomi and possible Janeway's kid," James said.
Jessie smirked at him, "ours can play with hers if he/she doesn't inherit coffee obsession."
"Ok, so what else can you tell me?" James asked.
"She's on Deck Five, I can show you. I must warn you though, she's like I was around guys. She really doesn't trust them," Jessie replied.
James pulled a face, fidgeting slightly. "That's going to be a problem if you're going to show me to her."
"I don't trust anyone else with her," Jessie said.
"So how do you plan on convincing her to come with me?" James questioned.
"I'll be there too, she already knows you're coming," Jessie replied.
James moved his arm and stood up. He stopped at the desk, then worked at the computer. "First we should see if there's any quarters that can be hers, ones that can be sealed off. I'll assign female only teams to guard around the clock."
Jessie also stood up, with a smile on her face. "I knew I could count on you."
"Jess that's the easy part," James said. "We need to get her out of there, then we need to either convince her to tell us who this guy is or find him from what we have."
"James, I didn't just choose you cos of, you know, us. I also knew you'd be able to do this," Jessie said.
"Thanks for the confidence, but that means I can't let you down," James mumbled. "There's quarters on Deck Eight, so let's go get your new friend."
Jessie nodded, "ok give me a sec." James walked back over to her, he held out his hand. "I'm ok, really." She sighed and took a hold of his hand, he stepped closer to lift her to her feet. "Another four months to go my ass, as soon as it's safe for him he's out."
James raised an eyebrow, "him? You found out when I was away?"
"No," Jessie replied, pouting her bottom lip. "I just have a feeling, mummy knows best."
"All right, mummy's wrong, I say it's a girl," James said. He headed out, Jessie followed pretending to scowl at him.
"No you want it to be, I feel that it's a boy, so there," she muttered.
The couple walked toward the nearest turbolift. "I don't know how," James sighed.
"I told you, it's a feeling," Jessie smiled sweetly. Once in the turbolift she said, "Deck Five. I've had the baby inside me for five months, you would have a feeling too."
"Yeah just a feeling," James mumbled, pouting his own lips.
"Aaaw don't worry. If our first isn't a girl, then give me a year or so and we can try for a daughter," Jessie cheekily said, winking at him. "We can keep trying until we get a girl."
"Yeah, I bet after four, five boys you'll be taking that back," James said. The doors opened, they stepped back out. He tapped his commbadge, "Taylor to Chaster."
"I need you and your team to meet me on Deck Five," James said.
In: "Fine. Where do you want Leva and I to meet you?"
James glanced at Jessie. "It was near Sickbay."
"Meet us just outside there," James said.
In: "Right, Chaster out."
"She sounds nice," Jessie muttered. "How come I haven't freaked you out yet?"
"Because you haven't done anything to freak me out," James replied.
"What about the suggestion I made about us keep making babies until we get a girl?" Jessie said.
"I'm not freaking cos I have a feeling you won't need to do what you said," James said, smirking to himself. He went ahead by a metre. Jessie fake scowled again.
"No you just want it."
"Hey I can say the same thing," James said.
"All right. In four months I'll be able to say 'ha ha ha'," Jessie said. "After 'ow, oh god, ow' and 'stop looking there you perv'."
James smirked as he stopped to allow her to catch up, then placed an arm around her. "I hope our baby has your sense of humour."
"You think I'm joking?" Jessie questioned, smirking too.
They rendezvoused with two female Security crewmembers. "Ok Jess, lead the way."
Jessie walked up to a Jeffries tube hatch, then looked at James expectantly. He turned to the other women. "Stay here, we'll bring her to you." They nodded.
James opened the hatch, Jessie climbed inside first then he followed her.
They didn't have to crawl far to reach Chrissy. Her face turned pale and tightened as she laid eyes on James.
"It's ok, this is the man I told you about," Jessie said, moving over to sit near her. James stayed in the tube itself. "We have safe quarters you can stay in until we can figure this out." She looked back at James.
"I'm sorry but to keep you safe I need to know who this guy is," he said.
Chrissy shuddered while looking toward Jessie.
"That's ok, I have asked a couple of female crewmembers to keep watch of the quarters. The area around it should be clear of other people. I can call Kes if you want your babies' health checked."
"I don't understand why I have to move at all," Chrissy quietly said.
"Chrissy, it's going to be easier to take care of your children in quarters. You can't stay in here if he's looking for you. Security can protect you easier in quarters," Jessie said.
"Nobody else knows about this, you should be safe," James added on.
"He won't expect you to be hiding in quarters after all this time," Jessie said with a reassuring smile.
Chrissy closed her eyes for a moment, then looked back at Jessie. "All right."
"We'll use the Jeffries tubes to get as close as possible to where we're going, but it'll take longer. There's some repairs being done on Deck Seven, we have to avoid them," James said, tapping a commbadge. "Taylor to Chaster, meet us at the meeting place, be discreet, someone could easily follow."
In: "Aye sir."
"I don't know if I can, with my children," Chrissy said.
"Can't we transport her? She can't crawl around with at least one newborn baby in her arms, she only had them a day or so ago," Jessie mumbled.
"I don't want to risk any trace of our relocation, Jess," James sighed. He tapped his commbadge, "Taylor to Chaster. Can you send one member of your team into the tube, we need some help."
In: "Very well, standby."
"She can help Chrissy down to Deck Eight. I doubt she'd let me go near her," James quietly said.
"Who's going to carry the babies?" Jessie asked, glancing at Chrissy. "James'll have to help you down Deck Eight or carry one of your children."
Chrissy looked uncomfortable to say the least, she looked down at the tiny baby girl in her arms. "He's not touching my daughter, but I don't want him to influence my son."
Jessie tried not to look annoyed as James looked a little offended. "He wouldn't, he couldn't. The boy is only a day old, he wouldn't notice if he did."
"It's all right Jess," he said.
Jessie sighed to calm herself down. "James will have to help you down then. Who do you want me to carry?"
One of the Security members crawled toward them. Her face lit up as she saw Chrissy, hers did the same. "Chris, what are you doing here?"
"Leva, long story," she replied, glancing at Jessie. "Can you take my son?"
"Sure no problem," Jessie replied.
Leva looked around, not believing her own eyes. "When did, both of these babies are yours?"
"Leva sorry but we should be going, you go first. We need to bypass Deck Seven's repairs, so don't continue down the ladders when we get to Deck Six," James said. He moved away so Leva could get through to Chrissy, she handed the baby in her arms to her friend. Then Leva headed down the ladder, holding on with only one arm.
James went over to Chrissy as Jessie picked up the baby boy. Reacting on instinct Chrissy backed away a little as James approached her, he stopped briefly, raising his hands. She reluctantly moved closer to put an arm around him, he helped her to her feet.
"It's ok. Keep a tight hold, just in case." With one arm around her, he climbed down the ladder with her. Jessie soon followed them.
Leva looked cautiously around the corner, Chaster stood waiting nearby. "It's clear." James, Jessie and Chrissy turned the corner. Chrissy and Leva walked side by side, Chaster stayed ahead of them while keeping a look out. Jessie and James walked beside each other behind them all.
Jessie still had the boy in her arms. With her finger she tickled his cheek, he kept trying to grab it with his tiny hand. James kept glancing at them with a small smirk on his face.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd think he was your son not hers."
Jessie looked at him with a bemused expression. "I'm just practising ok."
"Uh huh, I've heard that one before," James said.
"He's cute ok, I can't help it. It's probably the pregnancy hormones," Jessie mumbled.
"Maybe, but you do look more like a mum doing that," James said. "I think it's a good look for you."
Jessie grinned at him briefly, "really? That's a relief."
The group stopped outside some quarters. "Chaster, Leva. Please stay outside," James ordered. The two Security girls nodded. "Is the other team in position nearby?"
"Two members are on guard around the corner," Chaster replied.
"Ok you'll be relieved at a later time by the girls from team seven and three," James said.
"Right, are we on the look out for anyone in particular?" Chaster questioned.
"We don't have any names yet, so no. If any guys try to get in other than me and Tuvok then you can do anything to stop them," James replied. He stepped inside the quarters first, Chrissy took her baby off Leva before following with Jessie.
"The Security teams outside your quarters will look after you. Don't worry, you shouldn't have to see me again."
"I need a place for the babies," Chrissy said.
"I'll handle that," James said, heading to the wall panel next to the replicator.
"I don't think that's big enough to replicate a cot," Jessie commented.
"Don't be so sure about that," James muttered.
Chrissy sat down on the sofa cuddling her baby girl while he worked on the panel. A large crib rematerialised nearby him.
"There, all you have to do is tap into the Cargo Bay replicator and transport to here," James said. Jessie smiled down at the little boy in her arms. She rocked him, tickling his stomach which made him smile. James moved over to her. "Hmm, should I be worried?"
"Yes actually. It's like she doesn't really care about this little guy," Jessie quietly replied, gesturing her head to Chrissy. She still had her full attention focused on her daughter. "I'm worried about him."
"I doubt she'd let us adopt him," James whispered.
"It's a shame, he's a cutie," Jessie cooed over the tiny baby.
"Uh huh, looks like I have competition," James smirked. He placed his hand near the baby, he reached out to tightly grab his thumb. James moved his hand gently so it was like they were shaking hand and thumb. "Ok mister, enough friendliness. I challenge you."
"Now James, you don't stand a chance you know," Jessie said with a giggle.
"We'll see," James said. He raised one of his fingers to wave near the boy's face, he instead tried and succeeded to grab that finger. "Damn you, you win that round but you're not getting her."
Jessie laughed, glancing at James then the baby. "What am I going to do with you two boys?" she smiled, gazing directly into James' eyes. After a few seconds she shook her head to snap out of it. "Chrissy, um where should I put your cute little son?"
"Anywhere, he'll be fine," Chrissy replied without even looking up.
Jessie's smile soon disappeared, she looked at James who looked a bit worried. "I see what you mean," he mumbled.
Jessie walked forward to carefully place the baby in the new crib, then placed her hands against both of his cheeks. "See you later handsome." She soon attached herself to James' arm. "Call me if you want some company." She glanced up at him while leading him toward the door, "let's go just as handsome."
He responded by pulling a face, "I thought the hormones were directed toward the kid, not me."
"Well you haven't had any today," she smiled.
For once the Mess Hall was pretty quiet, only Neelix, Kes and an unnamed crewmember occupied it. Neelix was as usual trying to impress Kes or at least get her attention, she looked totally uninterested.
"I just feel like nothing changed when those demons died and the rift closed," Kes was saying with her back to the kitchen, and Neelix. He coughed to get her to notice him, he wobbled slightly like he was standing on one foot. The kitchen did block most of the view of him. "I think we're still in trouble. We shouldn't have invited those aliens aboard, they were better off being late for their conference."
"Sweeting, I understand really," Neelix wobbled. "But can you just look at me for a second?"
Kes pulled a face, "you never listened to me when I had these feelings. I'll look if you listen."
Neelix's face seemed a little pained, "um, I don't know how long I can hold it for sweeting. You have a feeling that we're still in danger, I get it."
"I don't know exactly what it is, I just know it's not over," Kes mumbled. She jumped as she heard pans and other kitchen stuff crash to the ground, and a loud thud. "What the?" mumbling to herself she turned around toward the kitchen, no sign of Neelix. Instead she peeped her head over the divider. "Oh Neelix, what were you doing?"
Neelix, who was buried in a lot of pans, looked at her innocently, she giggled at him. "I was uh, balancing a pile of pans on my head."
"Why, oh I hope they weren't hot and had stuff in them," Kes questioned, looking around for spilt food. "If they did, I'm impressed they haven't spilled."
"I dunno," Neelix shrugged. "I just wanted to make you laugh, you have been a little anxious all day."
Kes smiled as she walked around to kneel beside him. "That's so sweet Neelix, but you didn't have to go to extremes."
"It worked didn't it?" Neelix smiled.
The unnamed crewmember leaned on the divider to see what happened. "What happened here?"
"Oh nothing, don't worry about it Simpson," Neelix replied, blushing madly. Kes helped him get the pans off him so he could stand up.
The crewman grinned, shaking his head, "I told you, you can call me Jack. Do you need a hand?"
"No that's alright Jack," Neelix replied.
Kes' face turned pale as her whole body shuddered, goosebumps appeared on her arms. "Something." She turned to look at the Jack Simpson. His lighthearted grin had disappeared, and had been replaced with a cold, blank stare.
"Oh well, I'll see you later," he said. He turned to leave.
"What's the matter sweeting?" Neelix asked, placing a hand on her shoulder.
"I don't know," Kes stuttered.
short while later:
Jessie stood around waiting in a small office. A human woman in her mid thirties sat at her desk reading a padd. "You have no qualifications that are related, or many at all for that matter," she sighed, looking up at her. "I know you're just here for the trials but this job would need something. I only got offered this because I took a year of Psychology, I didn't stick around long enough to pass it. Maybe you have something similar?"
"Well uh," Jessie muttered as she sat down. "I may only be twenty two but a lot has happened to me, so I probably would be able to help with a lot of people's problems."
"I see, well I'm interested to see how you do," Reynolds said. "This job is too high pressured for my previous volunteers, not many can handle it."
"There's no harm in trying," Jessie said with a shrug.
Reynolds smiled, "well you're temporarily hired. Your office is not far behind me."
Jessie grinned like she couldn't believe what she just heard. "Office? Are you kidding?"
"Nope," Reynolds turned her chair around eighty degrees, gesturing her head to the door in front of her. "It's small mind you."
"I wouldn't care if it only had room for a chair, I've never had an office before," Jessie said, sounding a little giddy. She climbed to her feet. "Is there something else I should know before checking it out?"
"Only advice. It's best to get them to talk as much as possible, it's best to listen not discuss too much. Also if someone gets a little violent, contact me and Security discreetly by pressing the panel on your side of the desk," Reynolds replied.
"No problem," Jessie said. She didn't waste anymore time in rushing to the door. Her office was only two metres by one and a half metre wide. The office itself was baron with only a desk and two chairs as decoration. She tapped her commbadge, "Rex to Taylor. Can you spare a few minutes?"
In: "Not for another half hour, is something wrong?"
Jessie grinned as she lowered herself into the chair behind the desk. "No, quite the opposite. Half an hour's good, it'll give me time to decorate." She swiveled the chair around a little, then decided to look through the drawers on the desk.
In: "Decorate? Why don't I like the sound of that?"
Jessie pouted her lips, she turned the computer on the desk on and fiddled with it for a few seconds. Another office appeared on the screen, all she could see though was an empty chair and a wall, then a shadow getting bigger. James appeared in view, and sat down in the chair. "I have an office too you know. Do you want me to book an appointment for you, half an hour?"
James smiled and shook his head, "as long as I don't have to hear 'how does that make you feel' then yeah. So how long do you have in the trial?"
"I don't know yet, I'll probably get one person to talk to and then I'll have to go to my next trial," Jessie replied. "I bet none of the others has an office though."
"You might not like the job though," James said.
"Yeah I know, but I like the idea of being nine months pregnant and hiding myself behind the desk the whole day," Jessie said with a shrug. "I think I may like the job, it's just a matter of me being good at it."
"Jess you've had to deal with my issues your whole life, you'll be more than great at this," James said.
Jessie folded her arms on the desk, rested her chin on the middle of them. "Uh huh, you do realise that when you compliment me like that I never know if you actually mean it, or not."
The door chimed just as James pulled a confused face on the screen. "I always mean it, what are you talking about? Some boyfriends might have to lie sometimes, but I don't."
Jessie grinned at him as she straightened back up, "for your sake that better be true. Now I have to go, someone's at the door." She looked toward the door after turning the computer back off, "come in."
Reynolds walked into the office, "how is it?"
"Let's just say I hope I'm good at this job," Jessie replied.
"I've got somebody for you, he was going to be mine but otherwise you would have been waiting until much later for someone to talk to," Reynolds said. "If you need any help just call me."
"Thanks," Jessie nodded her head.
Reynolds stepped back out, moments later Jack uneasily walked in. "Hi, uh I'm Crewman Simpson."
"Hey, I'm Jessie. It's ok you can sit down," Jessie said sounding a little nervous. "Ok now what's on your mind?"
The Doctor hummed to himself while he worked on the hyposprays on the medical tray. The doors opened, Kes walked through them still looking a bit uneasy.
"Ah Kes, how are our youngest crewmembers?" he asked.
"They're in perfect health," she replied.
The Doctor turned to look at her with concern planted on his face. She stood by his side to place the tricorder she had down on the nearby station. "What's wrong?"
"I've been getting the strangest feeling all day," Kes replied. "You know like something's going to happen, I just dismissed it as nerves like everyone else. A few people are worried like me, so..."
"But it's more than that, isn't it?" the Doctor questioned.
Kes nodded her head, "yes. I was in the Mess Hall earlier, and Neelix was talking with a crewman Simpson."
"Ah yes, he's always with a smile on his face. He's always a delightful patient, we usually discuss music when he's here," the Doctor smiled.
"That's the thing. One second he was happy, amused. The next I felt like something, I can't describe it. It was like something cold replaced him," Kes said. "I looked at him, and it was like he was a different person."
"You don't think he's possessed, do you?" the Doctor asked.
"No I don't. If he was, I'd feel a presence in him other than his own. All I felt was him faintly, and nothing, just cold, no blackness," Kes stuttered. "I'm sorry, I don't know how to put it to words."
"Maybe we should ask him to come to Sickbay," the Doctor said.
"I don't think it's something you'll be able to detect with a tricorder Doctor," Kes said with a sigh. "I don't think any of this can be."
"Good work with it James, how's the investigation going?" Kathryn questioned.
"Not good so far. Christine's friend in that team didn't even know she had a boyfriend. No-one's seen her with anyone either. Usually if there's a couple aboard the crew tend to spread rumours about them," James replied.
"Hmm tell me about it. You do have to remember though that crewmembers love to gossip about senior staff members. We have more chance of being gossiped about," Kathryn said.
"You'll have to remind me sometime why I'm a senior staff member," James commented. "Anyway Kes is going to examine her and the babies, we should find out then."
"Good, this sounds like a simple case after all," Kathryn frowned. "How unusual."
"Don't celebrate and say things like that until the guy's arrested," James said.
"I don't believe in jinxing. I believe in complicated mysteries, if it starts out simple it's going to be the biggest headache later," Kathryn sighed.
"That's why we should all be happy if they appear difficult and unusual at first glance," James muttered. "Oh, I've already edited transporter protocols. Until I've overwritten it, no one without a command clearance can transport randomly around the ship. The guy would be forced to get passed Security."
Kathryn groaned into her hand. "James you can't just do that, what about medical emergencies?"
"They can override those with the doc, Kes or your permission. Hopefully it won't be long anyway. I'm sorry but I figured that I was supposed to do anything to protect anyone under Security care," James said.
"It's against procedure, but it's a good idea," Kathryn smiled. "Contact me when you learn more."
"I think this should be done for any other incidents like this. I am..." James said, but the comm rudely interrupted him.
In: "Chaster to Taylor."
James tapped his commbadge, "yeah?"
In: "There's a problem. You should get here."
"On my way," James said, glancing toward Kathryn. "Here comes the complication."
"Keep me informed," she sighed.
"Let's hope it's not as bad as I think," James muttered as he left.
Two Security crewmembers stood outside Chrissy's quarters as James arrived on the scene. "Report."
"Chaster's inside, we're not sure what this about. We were just told to watch as she and Samson investigated inside," one replied.
James sighed, "all right, stay there then." He walked through the doors to find Leva with her back to him. "What's the problem?"
She turned around with her face wet with tears. "I'm sorry, I'll stop... I..."
"I'm not Tuvok or an uptight Starfleet guy, don't worry about it. Where's Chaster?" James uncomfortably asked. Leva beckoned her head towards the bathroom. "If you want you can swap places with one of the current guards."
"Thank you," Leva mumbled, she headed out. Moments later another girl walked into replace her.
"What's happening?" she asked.
"Let's find out," James replied. He walked into the bathroom. His face filled with horror at the sight before him.
Chaster and the morgue attendant, Matthews were lifting Chrissy's lifeless body out of a bathtub full of water.
"What, how did this happen?" James asked, trying to keep his voice from breaking.
The body was placed gently into the body bag lying on the ground. Matthews scanned her while Chaster stepped closer to James. "I don't know."
"That's not good enough damn it!" James snapped. He placed a hand across his face, "there's no way anyone could have gotten in here. Did you leave your post?"
"Absolutely not," Chaster muttered, looking very offended.
"Then how did you know anything happened at all?" James questioned.
"We got suspicious. There hadn't been any crying from the babies for a while," Chaster replied.
"Why would the babies not cry for a while?" James asked her like he didn't really want to know.
"I'm sorry," Chaster mumbled. "I found them lying..." She looked down toward the ground, James followed her glance. Lying next to Chrissy's body lay two small lumps under a blanket.
James shook his head, backing away slowly. "No no, this can't be happening."
Matthews sighed as he lifted the blanket a little. Underneath it lay the two babies, both were now lifeless. "I'm afraid so. They drowned."
Chaster glanced toward James who looked whiter than all the dead people in the room. "Are you all right?"
"No," he stuttered, backing completely out of the bathroom. Chaster walked after him, she looked around the main living area but couldn't see him anywhere.
"He just went out," the other Security girl said.
Chaster continued her walk to the main door. Leva stood against the wall, trying her best not to cry while the other Security girl tried to comfort her. James knelt nearby facing the wall. His head hung, one hand rested on the ground, the other across his face.
"Taylor?" Chaster said to get his attention.
He slowly stood back up with his left hand still covering his face. "Once the uh, bodies are taken out, you can resume normal duty."
"Who'll continue the investigation then?" Chaster asked.
James lowered his hand so he could stare blankly at her. "Continue? You've got nothing, don't you mean start it?"
"We didn't do anything wrong, there's no need for the attitude," Chaster muttered.
"I know that," James muttered. "I'll continue it, has Kes done her scans yet?"
"Yes she's in Sickbay," Chaster replied.
"Fine, catch the son of a bitch," James muttered to himself.
Matthews uneasily stepped out, "I've beamed them to the morgue."
"Good, I want to know what happened. Keep me informed if you find anything," James said. Matthews nodded his head uneasily and walked away. "What are you still doing here?" Chaster stared coldly at him as she began to walk away as well, the other girls soon followed.
****TO BE CONTINUED****
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