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Voyager is intercepted by another Federation ship, but all is not how it seems.
18th May 2016
23rd, 28th - 30th September 2016
1st, 4th - 5th, 8th, 10th - 13th October 2016
Written & Edited
20th May 2001
20th April 2004
"Hmm, what about two's?" Jessie said.
Kiara giggled, "nope."
"Damn," Jessie muttered as she grabbed another card from the pile. A four of diamonds, finally.
"Four," Kiara said confidently.
Jessie's eyebrow twitched. In her hand were three of them. At most the girl sitting opposite her could have was one. There was very little reason to ask for it.
"How... how?" she whimpered. Reluctantly she handed them over to the girl, who took great delight in putting them and a fourth card face down on the table. Jessie couldn't believe it. "Is there some trick to this game?" she stuttered, trying badly not to get mad at a two year old.
James looked on sitting in between them, worried and yet a little proud Jessie hadn't lost her temper yet. Little did he know how close she was. All she had left were the two two's she had since the beginning of the game, and a King. Kiara hadn't picked up anything from the pile in a while.
"K," Jessie said hopefully.
"No K men," Kiara said. Jessie sighed as she added another useless card to the collection. "James."
"What?" James said.
Kiara giggled, "no, J cards. Named them after you."
Jessie struggled not to laugh. James' unsure look didn't help. "Suits you," she said, giving him a wink.
"I think she's talking about the Jacks, Jess," James mumbled.
Kiara showed him the cards she had left. "No, Jack is scawy, James is funny."
He chuckled quietly, "thanks, I think."
"Wait, the Jokers were dealt too?" Jessie stuttered. "They're the J cards?"
"Mmmhmm, no creepy Jackmen," Kiara said.
"Oh, at least now we're clear," Jessie said. "No, I have no James's."
"We're really going with that are we?" James asked as Kiara picked up a card from the pile.
"Ok then, do you have any James?" Jessie asked with a playful glint in her eyes.
James sighed, "great."
"Yep," Kiara replied cheerfully, handing over one of her cards. "Two's."
"Oh come on," Jessie groaned, even though she should've saw that move coming turns ago. The number five appeared in her head, she assumed it hadn't been called out so far. "Five?"
"Nope," Kiara replied, dashing that hope. Another card added to her collection, an Ace this time. "Ace," the little girl said.
Jessie's jaw dropped. She barely had time to move the card in with the others and she had to hand it over. Jessie tried to figure out what cards Kiara had left. The ones she did know were useless to her. There was only one card that was a mystery to her and since she only had two different cards herself, it wasn't going to help her. For now a random number would have to do. "Eight."
"Fishie," Kiara said cutely.
Jessie briefly smiled, picking up one more card. Some progress, it was another two. One more and she could take hers back from Kiara. Not yet though, she didn't want her to know.
The game was a little dull for a few rounds with the stalemate they were stuck in. James got up to get new drinks for them and him. He'd only been gone thirty seconds when he heard Jessie's, "oh come on!" cry. He hurried back with two drinks, forgetting his own, to find Kiara putting four two's down.
"How are you doing this?" Jessie asked desperately.
Kiara giggled, "I knew you were saving that one two. I got one too."
"You knew?" Jessie struggled to keep calm.
"Yep, don't be mad. You're not discret," Kiara said.
"Huh?" was Jessie's only response.
"Discreet I think," James said.
Jessie's hands squeezed her seat to stop her temper from erupting. "What, I have a tell, did I show my cards by accident?"
Kiara looked worried about her, "yeah, tell."
"Two and she knows what a tell is," Jessie muttered.
"You mumble, heard it," Kiara said.
"Oh, literal tell," James said. Jessie snapped her head toward him. He knew full well she wouldn't take her anger out on a kid, but he was fair game. "I didn't hear, was it while I was gone?" He carefully put the drinks down.
"No, all time," Kiara answered.
Jessie didn't look so mad now, only confused. So was James. "Was I?" she asked him.
James shrugged, "unless I'm going deaf, no."
Kiara pouted, she was the angry one now. "I'm not cheating. You sore loser, he was right."
Jessie narrowed her eyes. James shrunk in his seat. "Who told you that?" she asked.
James remembered his drink and scarpered to get it, but took his sweet time to return with it.
"Craig," Kiara replied.
"I'm not that bad. I don't mumble my thoughts either," Jessie stammered.
"I'm not lying," Kiara looked close to tears.
Jessie instantly felt bad, so she tried to think back, see if she did mutter any of her thoughts. James' confused expression backed her side up. Kiara couldn't have known otherwise though.
Tom and Harry strolled through the closest doors, laughing their heads off. "I haven't laughed so much in ages. That diner bit, a classic," Harry managed to say.
"Yeah, I'll have to see it again," Tom sniggered.
They approached Jessie's table, cueing groans from all three inhabitants.
"You two should totally play this," Tom said, gesturing to James, then Jessie.
"Why?" James asked with disinterest.
"It's a cute little holonovel called When Harry Met Sally. My favourite bits were when the two BFFs hooked up and they got together in the end," Tom sniggered. "So what do you say, Sally?" he winked toward Jessie.
minutes later in Sickbay:
"What happened this time Mr Paris?" the Doctor asked in dismay.
Tom sat on the biobed clutching his arm, his crooked nose still dribbling blood onto his uniform. "Holodeck again," he muttered. Harry sniggered.
"Beaten up by Jessie again, huh Mr Paris?" the Doctor asked.
"No," Tom said quickly. Harry couldn't help it, he burst out laughing.
"This has got to stop, you're wasting medical resources," the Doctor snapped.
Tom's eyes flew wide open in anger, "what? I'm the victim here!"
"Tom, you always start it knowing full damn well what to expect," Harry laughed.
"So?" Tom hissed.
"So I think you have an unhealthy fixation," Harry said as seriously as he could. "Should I tell B'Elanna you're getting your literal kicks from another woman?"
Tom huffed, but while the Doctor was healing his nose. The Doctor grumbled to himself as doing so he got blood splatter all over the biobed, he then grabbed his chin to keep him still. "You're supposed to be on my side, Har," Tom tried to say through it.
"Your big mouth will kill you someday, Mr Paris. It's time I inform the Captain about this behaviour," the Doctor said as he finished treating the nose.
"Good," Tom smiled. "That'll teach them."
"You can't keep bullying people because they're not desperate horndogs like you who can't control themselves around the opposite sex. I have to put a stop to it before there is a medical emergency," the Doctor said.
He walked into his office while Tom was still reacting with some offense. "Hey, that's not what I'm doing!" he whined.
Harry shook his head, clicking his tongue. "You do know why James programmed that romance between us in the mutiny program, don't you? I got it but it went right over your head at slipstream, didn't it?"
"Homophobe thinks guys being together is funny," Tom said in deadpan.
"No, but considering your backup insult for him, you do," Harry groaned. "We're best friends, they're best friends. He was obviously making a point too clever for you."
"Fine, I'll just have to find someone else to annoy, someone less aggressive," Tom huffed.
"Mr Paris, your humour attempts are predictable. You have to speak with the Captain now," Tuvok said.
Tom laughed awkwardly, "oh Tuvok, your sarcasm burns."
"I wasn't being sarcastic," Tuvok said with an eyebrow raised.
The doors to the Ready Room opened. Kathryn did not step out of it, she stood in the frame. With a sharp, dangerous glint in her eye she beckoned the helmsman over to his doom. He wasn't the only one. Jessie looked over her shoulder to see her and James being summoned as well. They were the first to head over.
Tom though was far more hesitant. He knew he was in the right, so that gave him the push to go see her.
Kathryn turned to the side and leaned against the frame, so the three would have to squeeze by her to get in. Tom did so in a hurry with his stare pointed to his left. Once they were inside she stepped back inside to close to door.
"This should be good," Harry commented.
Chakotay nodded in agreement, Tuvok reacted as he normally did, Seven remained at her post staring into space.
"Please sit down," Kathryn said nicely while taking her seat. All three of her visitors were on their guard, if they weren't already.
Tom spotted there were still only two chairs, he hung back and gestured his hand out to them. "Ladies first," he blurted out without thinking. He cringed immediately.
To his relief the one who should've been offended by that joke laughed instead. "That's funny because being a lady is a bad thing. I'm so glad you told two women that," James said.
Jessie merely rolled her eyes. Kathryn was difficult to judge with her nice persona fixed on.
Tom tugged on his suddenly tight collar. "Stop putting words in my mouth," he hissed quickly.
"You don't need my help there," James said.
Kathryn cleared her throat, "can someone tell me what happened in the Mess Hall?"
"Those two beat me up, end of story," Tom answered quickly so he was first to.
"The Doctor reported Jessie to me," Kathryn said.
"It wasn't only her, that little sissy boy was the one who broke my arm!" Tom snapped and pointed.
James tried not to laugh, instead he shrugged his shoulders with a pretend pout on his face. "Oh, I'm a boy now. It's hard to keep track."
Jessie bit her lip and yet still quietly laughed.
Tom scoffed, "you two are a bunch of psychopaths. A match made in hell."
"Okay, is this true?" Kathryn asked.
"No it's not," Jessie replied to Tom's dismay. "We were looking after Kiara when he came along with his girls can't be friends with boys without making out schtick, and started poking. Great example to a little girl, by the way."
Kathryn's nice demeanour twitched for a second. "Then what happened?"
"There was some insults, you know how these two can be," Jessie replied. James nodded while Tom shook his head and pointed at him, mouthing him. "Then he walked off laughing about some other programs he was going to run."
"What?" Tom laughed in disbelief. "No moron would believe that!"
Kathryn frowned, "but you initially told the Doctor you were injured on the Holodeck. Am I missing something?"
"No no, James twisted my arm holding me back while Jessie punched me in the face. Kiara clapped, she bloody clapped!" Tom cried.
"Ohno, that little detail at the end makes it sound a little legit, I'll give him that at least," James commented.
"Yes, but I'd believe it more if the whole Mess Hall got up and cheered," Kathryn said.
Tom laughed mockingly, "yeah pulling some guy's arm behind his back until it cracked because of some harmless banter, that's good stuff. Harry saw it all anyway, he'll vouch for me, I'm sure."
"Banter?" Jessie grumbled. "Does it register anywhere in your thick head that your harmless banter insinuates that women are only for sleeping with? That's what I hear everytime you tell us to get it over with. The cracks about James being gay or a sissy because he doesn't think like that. Yeah, way to confirm my belief that 90% of the lot of you are brainless animals who can't control themselves. Congrats for insulting women and men."
"And that's when the Mess Hall gets up and claps," James smiled.
Tom stared at the two of them, his jaw slowly dropping. He stubbornly shook his head, "nuh uh. That isn't what this is. I tease because you two have the s-tension flooding all over the ship, you're the only ones oblivious to it. I'm trying to help."
Jessie responded with a disbelieving, "hah." She turned her back on him, keeping her contempt for him quietly to herself for the moment.
"I find this very hard to believe. Chakotay's kept tabs on this, and he says after some counselling Jessie's calmed down somewhat, there's been no further incidents with her. Meanwhile James is more of a commenter than anything else. I doubt they would hurt you like you said they did," Kathryn said.
"That's unbelievable! These two beat the crap out of me in front of everyone in the Mess Hall!" Tom yelled.
"I've questioned the people who were in the Mess Hall, they did not see any fight," Kathryn said.
"What! Why would they lie?" Tom stuttered.
"Exactly, so please leave. Remember to put the safety protocols on next time, Tom," Kathryn scolded.
Tom groaned and stomped off in disgust, muttering under his breath.
Kathryn pointed her disapproving glance towards the remaining pair, it lightened only slightly. "Arm breaking?"
James chuckled nervously, "I told him to keep still."
"Jessie," Kathryn said.
"He said I would be less grouchy if we..." Jessie said, rolling her eyes. "Resolved the s-tension. I'm not sorry."
Kathryn shrugged with indifference, "yes well, I wouldn't..."
"Oh is that what s-tension means?" James blurted out with realisation.
Jessie smiled at him, "oh to be young and naive again."
"Look, he's a chore I know. Tom I mean," Kathryn said awkwardly. "But next time maybe make it less public, okay?"
"I'll try. Thanks Captain," Jessie said sincerely.
"Don't mention it. He's been annoying a lot of people lately. I'm hoping he'll eventually think twice after incidents like this," Kathryn smiled. "Dismissed."
James and Jessie hurried out, leaving her with the cup of coffee she left half finished. She was about to take a sip when the comm beeped.
"Tuvok to Janeway. Mr Paris please stop being a prat."
"Go ahead Tuvok," Kathryn sighed.
"Chakotay here Captain. We're picking up traces of temporal energy directly ahead. We've tried to change our course to avoid it."
"Seven here. Temporal energy isn't precise. It's a tear in subspace with properties of anti-matter tacyhons and intermittent time d..."
"Keep your catsuit on, we don't we need the look at me please Barbie parade!" Jessie's voice snapped.
"I'm on my way," Kathryn said and got up quickly, hoping Seven would be next on Jessie's punch in the face list.
"Oh yeah, Jessie's really calmed down somewhat," Tom said.
Jessie smiled as she took her own station. "I know, couldn't have done it without you."
Tom mocked girly laughter while pulling a face. Kathryn glared at him until he stopped. She met Chakotay at the centre of the Bridge.
"Two course corrections and it's still directly ahead, Captain," he reported.
Kathryn turned to face the viewscreen. On it was a strange shimmering cloud of red, the dense centre seemed to be spiralling anti clockwise. "It's following us. Where did it come from nameless people at the science console?" Kathryn asked.
When she got no answer the command team glanced toward the station parallel to Jessie's. They spotted Craig and their eldest daughter there instead, bopping away to some tunes playing on shared earphones. Chakotay approached them to snatch them away, Craig's first and much harsher. "Ouch, uhoh," he squeaked, immediately spotting him.
Morgan smiled sweetly at her dad, "er... is this a good time to ask for my pocket rations?"
"Morgan, you're too old to have pocket rations," Chakotay replied.
"No I'm not, the whole crew gets pocket rations," Morgan said.
"It's not called pocket rations. You have to earn them, remember? Listening to Steps on the Bridge isn't earning them," Chakotay snapped. Kathryn looked to her while pointing over her shoulder towards Tom, currently standing next to a frustrated Tuvok. Morgan missed the hint completely.
His eyebrow raised, "why aren't you working, Lieutenant?"
Craig avoided looking in his general direction, "I was waiting for James."
"Oh for god sake! Harry, where did this time anomaly come from?" Kathryn asked.
"It is not a time anomaly, the term is far too generic," Seven butted in.
Kathryn swung around to stare her into submission, "oh my god, do you have an off button? Please tell me it's not in the chest area!"
Morgan took that opportunity to dash into the Ready Room, dragging Craig along with her. Tom raised an eyebrow and was about to say something, but James stared at him as if he was daring him to, which put him right off.
"No idea, Captain, it appeared out of nowhere. No warnings, nothing," Harry replied.
"Hmm," Kathryn sighed. A thoughtful look appeared on her face as she turned back to face the viewscreen. Morgan and Craig then ran back out and directly into the turbolift with armfuls of Cherry Coke bottles. "Something's wrong here."
Chakotay had his eye on the turbolift when she said that, "yes."
"Captain something is emerging," Tuvok reported. He then turned to Tom standing beside him, "Mr Paris, if you don't stop that I'll be forced to nerve pinch you." Tom slinked off and he went back to the helm.
On the viewscreen the red anomaly was fluctuating, a faint shadow in the centre was getting darker. A large ship emerged from it. With its rounded grey bow, followed by a thin neck, it reminded everyone watching it of a Starfleet vessel. Only it wasn't done flying out of the anomaly. The neck extended to a much wider stern that looked like the wings and engines of a large aeroplane. Attached on top of that a second saucer section that looked more like the Delta Flyer's mothership than Voyager did.
"Woah, that's one butt ugly ship," Tom commented.
"Captain, the ship is registering as Starfleet," Harry said giddily, almost drooling at the thought.
Chakotay didn't share his excitement, he glanced briefly at the Captain. "It came out of a temporal anomaly."
"This better not be Braxton's reinforcements," Kathryn muttered after nodding at him.
"Captain, they're hailing us," Tuvok said.
Kathryn was already feeling a headache coming on. "Do we answer them? Status on their ship, Commander. Past or future?"
Tuvok studied his station for a moment. "I don't recognise the class, nor their weapon signatures. Their hull armour is remarkably similar to the Tolg vessel from a few months back."
"Future," Jessie remarked.
"Yeah. They must know this, so why are they hailing us?" Chakotay questioned. "Captain I think we should ignore them."
"No," Kathryn said abruptly. "If it were a vessel from the past, I'd agree. We wouldn't want to influence or scare them. A one from the future would extend the same courtesy to us, so it must be something important if they're hailing."
Chakotay didn't appear to agree, he stared at her firmly. "You think this Starfleet crew from the future will have the same mindset and rules? You hinted at it yourself, Braxton didn't care."
"Yeah but he was a brainless prat," Jessie commented.
"Exactly. On screen," Kathryn said.
The viewscreen flickered on. Two people in Starfleet style uniforms appeared to greet them; a young brunette woman with a command red stood in front and centre, while an older man also dressed in red stood behind her, partially obscured by the edge of the viewscreen. The woman glanced behind her at him. "This is the right one this time isn't it?" she asked.
"Yes," the man answered like he wasn't sure either.
The woman quickly turned back to face the Voyager crew. "Sorry. I'm Captain Jacqueline Shepard of the USS Erona." The Voyager crew heard quiet sniggering coming from the other bridge. Jacqueline though wasn't amused, she whispered behind her, "shhh, let me have this one!"
"Captain, I think this vessel is a time management class. The Borg learned of them three years ago," Seven said.
"Woah!" another man's voice gasped. His head then peeped up from the bottom of the screen. "Is that a Barbie doll?"
"Tony, what a stupid question! Of course she is," Jacqueline scolded him. A sharp tug of his green uniform pulled him out of everyone's view. She was about to speak again when a girl squealed from off screen. That didn't last, a young girl dressed in a plain orange and short sleeved uniform ran in from the side of the screen, prompting the Captain to roll her eyes.
"Oh my god, we finally found them. Is James there?" she asked. James' eyes widened in shock.
The man half on the screen groaned, "Vicky heel." She pouted. "Back to Tactical."
Kathryn's expression turned ice cold, she spotted a told you so look on Chakotay's face which narrowed her eyes. He noticed it and quickly shuffled back to his seat. "Excuse me, I hate to interrupt the circus but how does your Tactical officer know a member of my crew?"
Jacqueline faked a laugh, it sounded a touch awkward. "Yeah um, that's a long story and I dunno if..." She lightened up a tad, "oh yeah, I can't anyway. Temporal Prime Directive. Love that thing."
"Since when?" the man behind her asked with a raised eyebrow. She tried to be discreet about it but everyone saw the elbow into his stomach. He slid sideways off the screen to get away.
"Okay, so I gather you've come here for us. Are we right about you being from our future?" Chakotay asked.
"Oh... you," the man behind the Captain said flippantly. His attitude made Chakotay flinch and everyone else confused.
Kathryn frowned, "answer him."
"Well, we have to say something," they heard a man say off screen.
"True," Jacqueline shrugged. "Okay. You're correct, we are from your future. We're from the twenty eighth century, 2778 to be exact. We're the time management vessel assigned to Voyager. Lucky us."
"Yes lucky," Kathryn said through gritted teeth. "What exactly have we done that needs managing?"
Jacqueline grimaced, her eyes fell on the Commander sitting in his seat. "Him, he's the reason we're here."
"Me? I wasn't the one who decided to talk to a ship from the future," Chakotay muttered. Kathryn growled in response.
"That's of little surprise to us. You're under arrest," the man previously behind Jacqueline said, now walking over to stand next to her.
"What! Why?" Kathryn stuttered in anger.
"Believe me, you do not want to know. The quicker he's in custody the better," Jacqueline said.
"I think we should discuss this in private first, don't you?" Kathryn said impatiently.
"Fine, we'll beam you aboard our ship," Jacqueline said.
"Oh beaming, it's so fun," another girl's voice giggled.
Tuvok's eyebrows hit the ceiling. "Wouldn't it be far more logical if you, the ones from the future, visited our ship? You wouldn't want us to get a further glimpse of the future, would you?"
Jacqueline groaned, clicking her tongue and fingers. "Damn it, I always get them the wrong way around," she muttered to the man beside her. She focused on the Voyager crew once more. "Yes sure, we'll be right over. "
"Tuvok, lower the shields. Prepare to beam our guests..." Kathryn said reluctantly.
"Ohno, there's no need for that," Jacqueline said, she looked to offscreen. "You got the specs, right? Beam me, Will, yourself and Roadds to their Conference Room."
"Okeydoke!" the girl who laughed before replied eagerly.
Some of the Senior staff waited around the table. Kathryn sighed and drummed her fingers impatiently. Chakotay meanwhile fidgeted in his seat, keeping a close eye on the gigantic ship outside.
Finally the doors opened and everyone turned their attention toward it. Tuvok stepped inside first, followed by a sheepish Captain Jacqueline and three of her crew; the man in red, the girl in orange and a petite woman in green.
"Apologies Captain. They have no commbadges for the computer to lock onto," Tuvok said.
"How did you find them then?" Harry asked.
"Well, the people in the Mess Hall found it odd that anyone would be daft enough to enter Neelix's kitchen," Tuvok replied.
The girl in green smiled towards her Captain, "only one deck out this time, getting better."
Jacqueline rolled her eyes, "why must you people embarrass me all the time? God, I don't deserve this."
The man chuckled to himself, "we're only following by example."
Tuvok gestured to the only two remaining empty seats. He walked over to stand by the wall, behind Chakotay
Jacqueline took one of the seats, while the man did an over the top curtsey at the two remaining women. "Ladies." Neither of them budged, glaring at him. He remained firm, until the green suited one stepped forward, then he dashed to take the chair himself. "As always gentlemen first!" he smirked smugly. Little did he know she wasn't going to sit in it. When his bum was within an inch from the chair, she pulled it backwards so he'd tumble to the floor.
Jacqueline sighed, hiding her embarrassed red cheeks with both hands. Kathryn looked on with some sympathy, and familiarity.
"Yes, got him!" the green uniformed woman giggled fiendishly. She hi-fived the other woman.
"What's that now, ten nothing?" she sniggered.
Jacqueline's hand slammed onto the table, cutting that off. "Speaking of nothing!" she said loudly. Moving her hands away from her face, she pointed one of them towards the empty chair. "This is my first officer Commander Scarlett, I assume assigned to me via an April Fools Day prank."
The man tried to get back up but bumped his head on the table. As if that didn't happen he reappeared, head and shoulders only to wink and click his tongue. "Sup."
"The first woman you met is Lieutenant Roadds, my Tactical and Security Chief. Obviously," Jacqueline continued with lack of interest.
The girl in orange glanced toward James, which he didn't notice right away. "Vicky," she purred. That was when he noticed it in the corner of his eye and looked over his shoulder. She smiled and raised her eyebrows briefly.
Jessie sat on the other side of the table and so saw the entire thing. "Oh my god, what aftershave are you using these days? Bimbo Lures? I'd change it if I were you," she said in disgust.
"Um," was all James could say. He had been resting his chin against his hand the whole time they had been sitting there. He discreetly sniffed the fingers that had touched his skin. He didn't smell anything but still mouthed, "yeah."
"Can I take the rest off you?" Harry whispered with his hand by his mouth. James shrugged. He took that as a yes and smiled.
"And finally my Operations officer Lieutenant Ashley Fuji," Jacqueline said.
"Right. Should I bother introducing my people, or do you already know?" Kathryn said, pointing a glance between James and Vicky.
"Mostly," Will replied. He took his seat while keeping a close eye on the two women behind him.
"Mostly?" Chakotay muttered.
Jacqueline noticed she had been slouching the whole time thanks to her crew, so she sat up to give a more commanding presence. "We were assigned to you, so we have your names and files. Some are more... recognisable than others though."
"Fine then. So, what is the reason for arresting my first officer?" Kathryn asked with a sharp edge to her voice.
"Gee Jacq. Ohh, some are more famous than others," Will said in a really bad attempt at a woman's voice.
"What? That's not what I said," Jacqueline said defensively.
"Nope, she just said some faces are more memorable," Vicky said, side stepping a couple of times toward James. He saw her coming in the corner of his eye again. "Like yours cutey. What are you doing for dinner?"
James stared at her in disbelief and his eyes wide. Jessie meanwhile face palmed.
Luckily for him Ashley dragged her crewmate back to her starting position by the arm. "Stop with the grave robbing, jeez Vick."
"But, it's fine when we're here," Vicky whined.
"No it's not," her crew said in deadpan unison.
Kathryn's fuse was close to running out. Anyone sitting near her could see the steam rising. "Topic, get back on it."
"Sorry for my crew's behaviour. The cadets who score lower and sometimes fail at the Academy are assigned to ships like these," Jacqueline said.
"That doesn't make any sense, time travel should be for the experts," Harry said.
Jessie smiled, "but it does explain Captain Destroyer of the Future Braxton."
"So your entire crew are dropouts or idiots?" Kathryn grumbled.
"That's not true. She's a kidder. I graduated top in my class," Will said smugly.
Jacqueline rolled her eyes, "being the first to walk out of the classroom is not what graduating top means."
"Still impressive to pull off everyday though," Will said.
"Give me strength," Jacqueline muttered. "No, it's not everyone. Time Management missions are tricky, delicate, on a need to know basis. Anyone who shouldn't usually don't understand it anyway." Will nodded knowingly in her direction. "Some of them do manage to slip into the senior staff, somehow! Which is how we have such a slippery reputation amongst the fleet. Thank you for the dead end job."
"No probs, Cap. Allow me to take the weight off," Will chuckled. Jacqueline sat further back, giving up for now. "A few weeks back we were tying up the loose ends of our assignment, you know hiding some eency glitches under the time rug, when the computer started its daily tantrum."
"He means the Temporal Error alarm," Ashley said, shaking her head. He pointed a look that screamed traitor at her. "And that's not what John was doing."
Will folded his arms and huffed, "if I want to erase any rubbish or mess I have, I hide it under or in something."
"People, can we keep on topic?" Jacqueline hissed. It wasn't a question, her glare hinted it was do it or die painfully. "Basically once we unravelled a few knots, we found a weakened bit of thread, ready to snap at any moment. If we hadn't unknotted it, its likely you would have missed it entirely."
Seven's Borg eyebrow raised, the tiniest of smiles appeared on her face. "Are you saying that you weakened this thread by untangling it?"
"No," Jacqueline replied. The rest of her crew nodded. When she noticed she sighed impatiently. "All right fine, but it's still a lot better than the alternative. The mess," she whistled. "I haven't seen such a tangled web of crap since Will did the Beard November thing."
Will took a few seconds to respond to that, "hey!"
Kathryn was temporarily amused but she remembered she still had not been answered, it angered her greatly. "I'm going to say this in a manner you understand so I can get a simple answer. Ok, here goes." The Voyager crew braced themselves. "Hurr duhhh, Chakotay bad, why? Me like, don't want. Duh!"
"It's not your best," James said.
"They don't deserve my best," Kathryn said flatly.
"Ouch," Jacqueline laughed. "Okay, I'll simplify it to avoid telling you what we shouldn't. In two days a member of your crew will be murdered." Most of the senior staff glanced at Seven. She wasn't amused in the slightest.
Tuvok shook his head, "Captain Janeway is not the culprit."
"Oh yeah," Harry said, a little embarrassed.
Kathryn brightened up to Seven's relief and surprise. "It's Tom isn't it? Oh well, thanks for stopping by."
"No," Jacqueline stomped on her hopes.
Vicky coughed once to hint it was her time. Her Captain let her go. "The evidence logged in our temporal database by your Commander Tuvok was sky high. He was convinced, and after looking at it I was too."
"Oh yeah, because the drooling fangirl comes across as the ace detective we should all trust," Jessie commented.
Kathryn glared at her, "you, I was going to insult her."
"Sorry," Jessie giggled.
Vicky turned up her nose at the both of them. "Gee, why would anyone want to kill you? You're so nice."
Jacqueline groaned, Ashley cringed. Will didn't react at all. Jessie and Kathryn glanced at one another, assuming the worst.
"Okay, so I kill either Jessie or the Captain before I take out the two smartass twins. That is damning evidence," Chakotay muttered.
"Holy crap, we got a confession out of him already? That was easy," Will said excitedly. His face turned stony. "And we caught him threatening the hot girl too, that's not on."
Kathryn wasn't impressed. "That won't be the only thing that isn't on if you were referring to me." Will sniggered obnoxiously. "Or weren't."
"Huh?" Will was confused until he spotted Jessie staring at him coldly. He shivered. "It's a compliment," he squeaked.
"So's you shutting up," Jacqueline said. "As my specially trained in time travel law staff blabbed it, I might as well say it directly. The victim will be Captain Janeway."
Harry laughed mostly out of disbelief, "that's ridiculous."
"Of course it is. Their scanners and scanees must be wrong," Kathryn said.
"Nope, it's working perfectly. But you're right, it is worth a third opinion," Vicky said.
Will shook his head. "Nuh uh. We should arrest the tattoo boy now, it may be too late."
Kathryn checked her pulse, "no, still here."
"Are you sure?" James asked.
"I dunno," Kathryn sighed, pulling a dopey face. "Perhaps some coffee will be more convincing."
"You've noticed Will's an idiot and yes it's funny for the first five minutes, but this isn't," Jacqueline said. "Two days time you will be dead. You're not supposed to be. We have to fix this."
"I can't believe that I'm hearing this," Kathryn groaned.
"Sorry, you're hearing this. We'll have to put your first officer into custody before he tries to hurt you," Jacqueline said.
"It'll be safer if we put him in our Brig, it is more secure than yours," Will said.
Chakotay shook his head, speechless with disgust. Kathryn looked across at him, feeling the same.
"I would suggest that we adhere to the Federation procedure of our time, since you are here. Without the proof you speak of we cannot simply hand any crewmember over to you," Tuvok said.
Kathryn smiled smugly, she thanked the Vulcan with a subtle nod. "We also have no grounds to arrest him ourselves without any proof. Especially if it hasn't happened yet, it's no better than a rumour to us. If we arrested everyone based on a threat on someone's life, I imagine Jessie and I would be eternal bunkmates in the brig."
Jessie nodded, "yeah."
Will looked on in dismay, "are you kidding? This is why crimes happen. You gotta stop thinking in chronological order, it's a society hold backerer."
As expected, everyone stared blankly until they decided ignoring him was the better plan.
"They have a point. It's on us as the accuser to prove it. Innocent until proven guilty," Vicky said.
Jacqueline groaned into her hand, which began to rub the bridge of her nose. "He is guilty, we were born after it happened." She looked up agitated as she looked to her three crewmembers. "I'd agree if this was a normal situation. But Temporal Prime Directive rules take priority over everything else, especially prisoner treatment."
Kathryn folded her arms firmly across the table, her face matched. "I'm afraid then we're at a stalemate."
Chakotay sighed, signalling his defeat. "Why don't you put me in our Brig, as a precaution until Tuvok investigates the claim."
"A compromise, hmm I hate those," Jacqueline murmured.
Kathryn wasn't too thrilled with the idea but it was better than before. "Take it or leave it. What's to hate?"
"You're assuming that the twenty eighth century procedures allow for one of us to look at this investigation Tuvok hasn't done yet?" Harry pointed out.
The Erona crew exchanged uncertain glances.
The device in his hand didn't even feel real. It barely registered at all. The PADD like device physically adjusted its size and layout to his comfort without even saying anything. With no visible interface system he had to guess how to use it, fortunately it did so on the first try.
Tuvok placed it onto his desk so he could open up his files on his much less advanced computer. He noticed the screen layout flip from portrait to landscape so he could see it upright again. Compared to the tricks it was doing before, that one seemed old school even to him.
"Sorry, this old thing's not as adaptable as it used to be," Ashley sighed apologetically.
Tuvok glanced over his shoulder at the woman hovering next to him, his eyebrow slightly raised. "I will find a way to manage," he said. "Is this all of your evidence?"
"Well it's yours, technically," Ashley said.
"Wasn't Lieutenant Roadds the lead on this case?" Tuvok asked.
Ashley sighed, "she was, but I was the one who collected everything. Is there a problem?"
Tuvok gestured to the futuristic device, where his fingertip nearly touched it zoomed in and highlighted the text in blue. "This one here says the Commander objected to numerous decisions, leading to heated arguments."
"Uh huh, is that not true?" Ashley asked.
"There's no follow through. It is a motive but circumstantial. Was there any physical evidence to back it up?" Tuvok questioned.
Ashley crouched down to get a better look at it. "Hmm yes, I think she mentioned it." She waved her hand lightly to the left a couple of times, the text on the screen slid away in the same direction only to be replaced by more. "Prints on a coffee cup. Last one in Ready Room before the discovery of the body. I'm sure there was more."
"Curious. Will it defy your protocols to download the case files into my personal database. I will encrypt it and once I'm done with it, I will purge it from the system," Tuvok said.
"Afraid not," Ashley said. "For one, the data types aren't compatible. It would take days to convert it."
Tuvok nodded, "very well. Do we know for certain the cause of death?"
"Yes. Your Doctor insisted on taking charge on the autopsy and confirmed it to be poison," Ashley replied. Her brow furrowed. She did a few more gestures at the tablet to not only soften it, but smirk as well. "Poison from a plant seed only found on Phattee Two. Put into the coffee filter the toxicity was concentrated. Made it harder to detect and the death a little less gruesome."
"I see. The Commander's prints being on the mug doesn't necess... wait, did you say Phattee Two?" Tuvok asked.
Ashley snorted briefly, she tried to keep a straight face. "Ooph right, your current heading. At least it was until we showed up." Her face fell quickly. "Surely that means we've prevented it, but the temporal scanners would have told us this if that were true."
"Commander Chakotay knows already. It's pre-meditated if the killer acquired the poison. So if it is him, he'll change his tactics," Tuvok said.
"No no. I get what you're saying there Tuvok, really. The scanner and our data would've updated instantly to fit the new events. We'd usually get an error that tells us the data we're looking at is out of date," Ashley said, gesturing to the PADD.
"I see. So someone still travels to Phattee Two and collects the seed," Tuvok said thoughtfully. "That means either the Commander sticks to his original plan or the true culprit is unaware of your warning, and do not know to change it. This may give us an advantage."
Ashley giggled, "sorry, Phattee Two." Tuvok waited patiently for her to finish. "The old bait 'em and slap the cuffs on tactic then, I like it."
"Not exactly. There is clearly a piece missing in the investigation. We need more information. Surely if you have my logs on this case, you will have other logs, sensor data, Astrometrics information that will be of use here," Tuvok said.
Ashley fidgeted on the spot and inhaled through gritted teeth. "I don't have that with me, it's not safe to bring unrelated information into the past. Vicky would never shut up about it if I let you come aboard to get it either."
"I understand," Tuvok nodded. "However it would be against your mission directive if you did not pursue this enquiry. The Commander is in the brig, it's possible someone else is responsible and if we don't catch them, it will happen."
"Yeah I know but we have strict no paradox causey rules. Seriously, Jacqueline took a week vacation from Will when he told that ship to turn a bit to avoid a collision. They didn't hear him and did it anyway but still, the thought counted," Ashley said.
Tuvok looked on with some interest but knew better than to ask any questions about it. "I conduct the murder investigation. You don't want me either erasing that due to foreknowledge or causing the incident in the first place."
"Exactly," Ashley said after clicking her tongue. "But we can accept someone onboard to have a look who wasn't involved in the case. I'll go back and check with Vicky who can make the cut."
Tuvok nodded. "Thank you, that would be helpful." He handed the PADD over to her. As it did the device morphed into a square shape instead of a rectangle.
"I really hate the screen layout auto adjust," Ashley said sheepishly. She hurried out of his office.
B'Elanna tutted and shook her head. "Really, that's all they've got? How ridiculous. We've all had a criticism over Janeway's decisions, especially the last few years. If that's a reason to kill her, we're all suspects."
Kathryn narrowed her eyes and smiled dangerously.
"Indeed," Tuvok said, making the Captain point that look toward him only. "They have given us permission to send over a crewmember or two that have no influence on the incident, as to not cause a paradox."
Kathryn snatched the PADD in his hands from him without changing her expression. "If this has Seven's name on it, it's going down your throat." Tuvok wasn't concerned, he knew she wasn't. Seven reacted as she normally would. Before Kathryn looked at it she continued, "we need to find a flaw in their evidence. I don't believe it for one second. Let's hope there's someone competent on this list." She then finally took a peep at it.
Tom grinned and he turned to James who was looking a little worried. "If not, I recommend James. For a distract the Security Chief who has a crush on him mission," Tom said.
"Thanks for clearing that one up, I was stuck on what you meant," James muttered.
Kathryn's still narrowed eyes drifted upwards to glare at the helmsman. To his relief she slapped Tuvok on the arm with the PADD. As he wasn't expecting it he leapt into the air. "Why are there only a few people on this list? How many fricking people did you hire to investigate my murder?"
"I do not and shouldn't know exactly, Captain, that's the point," he replied. Her glare didn't let up. "I assume the list excluded people who communicated with you or the Commander, weren't around at the time, biased. That sort of thing."
"But Morgan is on here!" Kathryn shouted.
"I didn't write it," Tuvok said, shrinking a few inches.
Kathryn loudly and forcefully groaned angrily. "Fine. James, you're the lead. Choose whoever you like from this," she said tiredly, waving the PADD around.
James reluctantly took it from her and had a look.
"Am I on it?" Jessie asked. Kathryn nodded. "Super. I'll watch his back."
Tom snorted into laughter. Everyone looked at him. "You mean you'll watch his ass," most of the room but him said almost in sync. They all laughed afterwards.
"Screw you guys!" Tom huffed and folded his arms tightly.
Jessie was similarly annoyed, she shared a glare with them. "Hilarious," she muttered.
"Relax Jess. We're making fun of how obvious Tom's jokes are. We weren't teasing you," Harry said.
"Anyway!" Kathryn sharply said to get their attention. "Before I dismiss you, I need to know and you must be honest. No more stupid jokes."
"Oh dear," B'Elanna commented.
"If anyone has any doubts about Commander Chakotay and or my command decisions of late, then it must be out in the open. We can't have any... more dissent within the senior staff," Kathryn said. Most of the room shifted uncomfortably, trying badly to avoid eye contact with her. "No ramifications," she said neutrally, though no one believed her.
Tom took the chance anyway. "Actually Captain. The way you treated Chakotay in my original mutiny program," he glared at James briefly, who smirked to himself, "wasn't made up. I had real life inspiration. The way you treat Seven, me as well. Things have been tense around here. We all feel it."
"What a surprise, Tom's got something to say," James said.
"Shut up you!" Tom snapped.
James laughed at him briefly. He tried to put on an offended look, but it just looked patronising, "oh snap, that comeback stung so bad."
"Thanks for clearing that up, I was stuck on what your gay oh snap meant," Tom mocked him back, copying his accent and tone.
"Are we sure it isn't Tom who's murdered for constantly being a prick?" Kathryn asked Tuvok directly. "You can tell me, I'll keep it hush."
"Sorry Captain," Tuvok answered.
"Fine, duly noted," Kathryn said toward Tom through gritted teeth. "You big ponse," she muttered. "Anybody else?"
"From both yours and Commander Chakotay's behaviour the entire time I've been on this ship, I believe they could be correct as well," Seven said calmly. "As an example one of my first encounters with him he had been assaulted, tied to his chair and ball gagged."
Kathryn's demeanour snapped like a twig. "I was in labour and he endangered the ship by pissing the Borg off. I apologised and made it up to him later. Besides he tried to kill you and you're defending him? Anything to suit your agenda, hmm?"
"No, I have no agenda," Seven said, undeterred by her reaction. "I am merely stating what I see, and what I see is clear abuse of your first officer. It makes sense to me that he'd eventually snap as you'd call it."
"Shocking, next you'll be telling us you'd treat him better given half the chance," Jessie sniggered.
Seven glanced oddly at her. She wasn't the only one. A few people were curious.
"I found your holodeck program," James whispered. Seven turned bright red which was a novelty for her. "I didn't eat for a week, thanks for that."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Seven stuttered guiltily.
"If that is all, dismissed. Now," Kathryn groaned. Everyone cleared the room.
Jacqueline didn't look too impressed at her two guests. She pondered what to say to them as they looked around the impressive, futuristic to them Bridge more than twice the size of Voyager's. She caught sight of her Security Chief itching to leave her station, her eyes glazed over. That kickstarted her into saying something.
"Why are you two here? I thought it was up to us to prove ourselves. I was already working on something," Jacqueline said.
Ashley raised her hand, "I asked, Vicky authorised it. They're our third opinion."
"But... but, I'm the Captain. I'm only finding out about this now," Jacqueline stuttered.
Jessie coughed awkwardly, "there's a few holes in Tuvok's investigation. We were asked to take a look, since we're from Voyager we'd have a different perspective, you know."
"Hmm," Jacqueline didn't sound convinced. "I've already submitted the arrest warrant thing, so I've gone by the twenty fourth century book here. Just because some people, Will, are morons, doesn't mean we all are. I doubt you'll find another suspect in this hole."
"If you're that confident, then there's no problem if we have a look, right?" James said.
Jacqueline rolled her eyes, "no I guess not. I'm more concerned that you'll need a Security escort at all times, and well..." Vicky was already by her side when she finished talking, smiling eagerly. Jacqueline groaned. "I suppose she's probably the best deterrent we have to keep you from our no-go areas."
"You betcha," Vicky said with a flourished wink.
Jessie stared at her coldly while James cringed inwardly. "Speaking of no-go areas, ain't happening," Jessie muttered.
"Fantastic," Jacqueline uttered sarcastically. She turned on her heel and walked off.
"So, what's your quals?" Vicky asked. She giggled when she got blank stares in return. "This ship is filled with pretty high tech gadgets. I hope you're a little more qualified than some regular Security schmuck."
"Well no, not really. But I know my way around computers, we should be fine," James answered.
Vicky smiled knowingly, "oh I know. It's in your file."
Jessie's eyebrow twitched, "then why ask?"
"So modest. It's adorable," Vicky said, ignoring her completely. She lunged forward to give James a quick peck on the cheek. He didn't see it coming, he backed off the second it was over. Only then though Vicky looked at Jessie, feigning surprise. "Oh, you brought your big sister along?"
Jessie was already seething; grinding her teeth, her eyes locked on and set to kill. The comment though poured petrol onto the fire. "I'm not his sister. Who do you think you are forcing yourself on someone, you piece of sh..."
Vicky didn't even break a sweat, she even laughed. "Oh right, sorry. How old were you when you had him? Five?"
Jessie's rage was making her tremble as well, her fists clenched tightly. "I'm not his mum either, why do you desperate cows keep going there?"
James stood there with his eyes wide, frozen on the spot as he racked his brains to think of way to calm her down. He feared if he even touched her, he'd burst into flames himself. Anything he said probably would be useless.
"Ohhh, wannabe girlfriend. I get it," Vicky poked the fire with a firework.
Jessie looked like she was ready to go in for the literal kill. Fortunately for Vicky one of the Bridge crewmembers shouted her over.
"Be there in a sec," she called back over her shoulder. Returning to Jessie she brushed a strand of hair out her own face, smiling slyly and raising one of her shoulders cheekily. "Between us girls, jealousy makes you look ugly. Just saying." She waltsed off.
James genuinely feared for his life at that point. "Oh god," was all he said.
The temperature on the Bridge reached critical levels, Voyager could see the smoke billowing out of the Erona.
"I don't believe you Tom, you know he's innocent," Harry stuttered.
"Oh I dunno. That scanner of theirs will be pretty sophisticated tech. If it was an invention of today I'd agree with you," Tom said.
Harry frowned, "what?"
"Come on, with how she treats everyone who isn't called James or Jessie, I'm surprised the suspects list is one and not in the triple digits," Tom said.
"I'm not going to touch that one. Chakotay would never hurt the Captain," Harry said angrily.
Tom sighed sadly, "I'm not advocating murder here, Har. I'm just pointing out; people snap."
"To be honest that doesn't change my opinion about the Commander, but it does alter mine of you," Harry said.
Tom scowled at his friend, "says the guy shooting innocent puppies in people's gardens."
Harry suddenly became very twitchy. His eyes darted back and forth. "Who told you that? They were huge, rabid, coming right at me. They were only sleeping, afterwards not before."
"Yeah yeah," Tom chuckled.
At another table close by there was another argument getting a little heated.
"No way Tani, my dad's peaceful, he loves my mum. You're bonkers," Morgan grumbled.
"You're going to have to face facts, Morgan. They're from the future, they know what happened, we don't," Tani said.
"I'm not facing facts until there is some real evidence. Computers can easily go wrong and be messed with," Morgan said.
"Well, what would you believe?" Tani asked.
"I would only believe it all if dad confessed, which will never happen cos he's innocent," Morgan replied.
"I don't believe it either," Craig said.
Tani smiled at him mockingly, "of course. If she said that unicorns, fairies, vampires existed and merged into one super beast, you'd be calling for Red Alert and arming your Security mates with stakes and holy water."
"Thanks for that mental image," Morgan shuddered.
Tani smiled sympathetically. "I'm sorry. I hope I'm wrong. Try not to do something stupid for once, okay?" She walked away, leaving behind her friend grumbling under her breath.
"I don't always interfere and stuff," was all Craig managed to hear from her.
"No one would blame you this time," he said to reassure her. It did the opposite and she glared at him. He instantly felt very nervous. "The Erona people said the attack wasn't supposed to happen. I wonder what they changed to do so."
"It's the stupidest thing I've ever heard," Morgan grumbled.
Craig chuckled, "you can tell you haven't lived here in a while."
Morgan stared at him blankly. He wondered if she even got the joke. "It's not funny Craig. My dad would never lay a finger on my mum."
"Yeah I know, I was referring to the stupidest thing part," Craig said nervously. "These people, I hear they're not exactly competent. It's probably a mistake."
"So someone else kills her?" Morgan asked sharply.
"No. No one does, that's the mistake," Craig stammered.
He was relieved at the smile he got in return. "You're right. Anyone who tries will say bye to my fist," Morgan said.
Craig smiled back at her warmly, "hello. It's hello to my fist."
Morgan blinked rapidly, "why would I want to say hello to them? I'm knocking them out."
"You know, that makes more sense. They should change the saying," Craig chuckled.
"Dad's innocent. I know it," Morgan said. "I trust these guys as far as Tom can throw them."
Craig nodded in full agreement. As he did a man dressed in a blue odd onesie looking outfit walked by the table, then double backed to stand beside them. Morgan gave him a dirty look while Craig was confused.
"Excuse me, are you the Janeway girl from the future that no longer exists?" he asked.
"Who wants to know?" Morgan hissed.
The man chuckled, "of course you are. My name's John Young. I'm the temporal analysis specialist on the Erona, but my primary passion and expertise are the games."
Morgan stared at him with the colour in her face draining. Craig meanwhile didn't notice it and smiled, "yeah, who doesn't like games?"
"Yeah so, what's your point?" Morgan snapped.
John was taken aback for a moment, then a realisation hit him and he laughed. "Oh of course, how silly of me. Hush hush, right?"
"More like punch punch," Morgan grumbled. "What are you doing here?"
"Well I'm here for the trial of course. As a historian, I'd be a fool to miss it," John replied.
Morgan's anger faded as she glanced at Craig, hinting for an explanation. He looked as confused as she did.
"You're a historian as well as a time specialist and gamer?" Craig said in disbelief.
"Oh you have to be to be the senior temporal analysis specialist on a Time Management vessel. I thought that was obvious," John said.
Morgan rolled her eyes impatiently, "that's what you ask Craig?" Craig shrunk into his seat. "What trial?"
John's face was finally serious, he even looked sorry. "I see. I thought you knew. Bye!" Before he could run off Morgan grabbed his arm. "Oh, that's not exaggerated at all," he whined.
"I don't get it. James and Jessie have gone over to your ship to check your data. They couldn't have found the smoking gun already," Craig said.
"There's a gun involved?" Morgan stuttered.
"I'm sure they'll testify once they're done," John said. "You don't have to worry about a thing. Jacqueline may seem like she doesn't care, what with her whining about her shattered career and the neverending time sinkhole of monitoring Voyager. But she does, you know. We all do, and we all felt terrible that our attempts to help you backfired like this."
Morgan stared at him with interest. "How did you help us?"
"What?" John said, suddenly very nervous.
"You're time managers right, assigned to us. So you'll know. Was this little backfire because of me?" Morgan asked. Craig bit his lip a little too much with worry. "Am I the reason mum is murdered?" her voice rose.
"No, no of course not," John replied, seemingly relieved that neither of them could understand.
"But I must be a glitch in your radar, surely," Morgan said. She knew something was up when the man started sweating a little in the forehead. "These attempts, did they have anything to do with the temporal wormhole or the Tolg ship appearing first? It should be ok to tell me now, right?"
John's head tilted up and he glanced to one side. "Yes Captain?" he paused briefly. "Of course, I'll be right there boss." He glanced down, still sweating. "Sorry, duty calls."
"We didn't hear anything," Craig said.
John chuckled nervously, "our communicators are far more sophisticated than yours, obviously. Excuse me." He hurried off as if he was on fire.
"What do you mean I can't go in?" Kathryn roared at the rude person in the doorway.
Tuvok stood his ground even though he was melting on the spot. "Captain, this is the most logical way to reach the truth. It is not safe if you sit in on the testimonies."
"For us or her?" Harry whispered to Seven beside him. She smiled in response.
"You wanted the Erona crew to prove Commander Chakotay's guilt, did you not?" Tuvok questioned. "This trial is merely a formality, a means to investigate a crime that has not yet been committed."
"Then what did I sent James and Jessie over to the Erona for?" Kathryn snapped.
Tuvok cocked his head to the side, "the prosecutors have all the data they need to make a case. We however do not."
"I thought this wasn't a real trial," Kathryn said with narrowed eyes.
"Their investigation could take a while. Until they return we can hear the Erona's side and question other possible suspects," Tuvok said to avoid replying to her comment.
Tom flinched, "hey, I thought we were the jury."
Kathryn smiled knowingly, she finally understood or Tuvok hoped she did. "Oh, this a stall. Keep Chakotay here the whole time, that's brilliant."
Tuvok kept a straight face, knowing it was possible she wasn't serious. "Yes Captain."
"You sly dog, you. Carry on," Kathryn said, she turned on her heel to leave them be. "Come on Wingus and Dingus, I can't leave without my canon fodder, oh sorry bodyguards." She waltsed off.
Anyone watching the door saw Thompson and Foster waiting behind her. They reluctantly followed, fearing for their lives.
Tuvok sighed with some relief as the door shut. "Perhaps you'd like to start over, Lieutenant," he said.
Tom stammered slightly, he looked distraught when everyone at the full table once more looked towards him. He tried to resist pacing erratically. Doing so made him dance a little on the spot. "That's okay Tuvok, I don't know if I can. I just wish..." he said with a lump in his throat. "Janeway could've asked me to keep an eye on Steth as she suspected him, but no. She launched herself at me. I still have nightmares about it."
B'Elanna rolled her eyes as he wiped away a tear she couldn't see. "This isn't a soap opera audition Tom."
"Was it the only time an incident of this calibre occurred?" Tuvok questioned.
Jacqueline raised her hand into the air, "objection. Steth was a body snatcher and he used that ability to attack various people, Janeway included. I suppose you'll think her shooting Seven of Nine is evidence too."
Seven's eyebrow flickered up. "Yes. She hadn't been taken yet."
"She had, that was Steth," Chakotay corrected her.
"Oh," Seven said with little care. "I didn't notice the difference."
"See. Janeway never harmed anyone that day. Paris still has no motive for Janeway's murder," Jacqueline said.
Tom gave her a cocky smile and folded his arms. "Oh yeah, she did that before Steth stole my body. He used mine to steal hers. Ha! She attacked me." His face fell as he glanced toward Tuvok, "wait, what? I thought this was a witness testimony, not a finger pointing session. I'm done!" He stomped off to take his seat huffily.
Tuvok rubbed his now throbbing forehead. "I thought I made it clear. The intent is not to accuse another crewman. It is to create a seed of doubt in the Erona's case."
"Which is dumb cos we have hindsight, and you don't," Will sneered. Jacqueline slowly turned her head to glare at him. "What, that's the right word. Not only a pretty face."
Tom blushed horribly, "oh yeah, makes sense."
"Perhaps you would be kind enough to answer my earlier question then. Did she attack you ever again?" Tuvok questioned.
"Oh boy, where do I start?" Tom replied with some faked exhaustion. "The woman clearly has it in for me. I mean on one day I was minding my own business and..."
"Yes then," Tuvok said quickly. He circled the table as he spoke, "it isn't only Mr Paris. Everyone here has a similar story. Whether it was emotional or physical, Captain Janeway has left a mark on each person I called here. Trivial matters, inane comments, overreaction to and prevention of a dire situation, some might say deserved if slightly over the top."
Will yawned on purpose, obnoxiously loud too. "Evidence doesn't lie Tuvvie. Sure other people might want to kill her, but the fact is Chakotay will beat them all to it. With good reason."
"Your reason is disagreements. Compared to tackling somebody for unknowingly hanging out with a criminal, and we haven't even begun to go into the rabbit hole that is the Seven abuse," B'Elanna said.
Seven straightened even more so than usual. "Yes, the Captain has treat me horribly from day one. She always disrespects me and says mea..."
"Yes yes. Get a grip!" B'Elanna snapped at her. Tom snorted into laughter but stopped instantly when she looked at him. "I wasn't only talking to her."
"Oh the Seven stuff should be good," John snickered. His crewmates stared at him in angered disbelief. "What?" he asked innocently.
"Very well. If you conclude that your evidence contradicts anything we could bring to you, present yours first and we shall go from there," Tuvok said.
"Fair enough," Jacqueline said as she crossed her arms over the table. "But remember, past and present facts only. Anyone that slips into future talk will spend a week holiday scrubbing the carpets."
"But... I have no holidays left," Will whimpered.
Jacqueline smiled at him sweetly, "then it's overtime for you, Scarlett ass." She turned towards John sitting on her left. "Make your case, carefully."
John smiled stupidly as if he didn't hear the earlier threat. "Okay Boss." A quick throat clear to avoid another one and he was ready to go. "Now then. I'm gonna jump right in. The trouble started three years ago with her pregnancy. From what I read there was denial from the very beginning. Not a good start..."
Images and text scrolled down the screen every time Jessie's finger slid up then down against the station she sat at. Only she wasn't doing it on purpose. Her mind was elsewhere, occasionally some mumblings would slip aloud. Her finger movement merely absent minded and she did not notice the effect it had as she wasn't really looking at the data.
"I'm not the one who's... Not ugly, jealous," she muttered with a exasperated exhale. "Girlfriend, one track desperate minded cow. God."
Jessie looked over her to her right where James was working on a neighbouring console. She could see Vicky lingering in the background, following his every move like a shadow, staring in his direction.
"Jess, she only said it to piss you off," James whispered.
Jessie firmly ground her teeth. "Thanks, I didn't get that on my own."
James turned his head very slightly so he could look at her without anyone else seeing it. "She wants you to look bad, she wants a reaction. Try not to give her one."
"I'm sorry if I embarrassed you," Jessie huffed as she pushed her chair back then stood up.
"What?" James said quickly. "I didn't say that. You're upset and I..."
"I'm going back to Voyager, don't want to risk reacting to things," Jessie grumbled. She stomped off, tapping her commbadge.
"Jess wait," James panicked in a hushed voice. Meanwhile Vicky took the opportunity to slide forward. "Don't leave me alone with her," he near whispered.
Jessie shook her head, "you don't need me here. I'm making it worse. Energise." Before he could argue she was spirited away by Voyager's transporter.
"Touchy, isn't she?" Vicky said. It was then James noticed how close she was, now leering over his shoulder. He promptly slid his chair to the right. It only made her giggle, "you're a little jumpy considering."
"Considering what?" James asked.
"Your bravado, sarcastic act. Plain as day," Vicky replied whilst sitting in Jessie's seat.
James pushed his chair another inch to the right, just in case. "At the very least, the sarcastic part isn't an act."
"Oh good," Vicky's smile grew. "I like funny men."
"Not funny, rude," James said, grimacing slightly when it didn't deter her. "Doesn't it creep you out that I'm four hundred plus years older than you and most definitely dead?"
"Hmm no, I don't like to dwell on the bad. Besides, in my point of view right now you're a decade or less older. I don't like little boys, so... you're exactly my type," Vicky said.
James covered his face and rubbed his forehead. "Well it's weird to me so please, can I work without this?"
Vicky pouted, it seemed to him she was finally put off. "Sure, I get it. You really want to help her don't you?"
The her baffled him for a second. "I think Chakotay's the last person who'd want to kill Janeway. Yeah she's a bit touchy lately, but..."
"Yeah I thought so too. That's why I dug and dug here," Vicky said. "Jacqueline didn't appreciate all my work, mostly got overlooked."
James frowned at her, "what exactly was overlooked?"
"She's a lazy, lazy Captain. You gotta give her a summary or she'll tell you to go to hell," Vicky said.
"Meaning?" James questioned.
"Meaning if this were up to me I wouldn't be pointing fingers and hauling out the handcuffs, that's for sure. Chakotay would be a suspect, one of few. For her though a few fingerprints and some drama were enough," Vicky replied.
"Right. Anyone could've spiked the coffee. Chakotay may have been an unwitting accomplice giving it to her," James said. "I assume Phattee was to be our next coffee donors, huh."
Vicky giggled, "you could say that. It's a valued resource to them."
"Really?" James said with suspicion. He missed her push her chair closer.
"Would it be less creepy if I resigned and stayed in this time?" Vicky asked, batting her eyes a little too much.
James widened his own, "wha... what? No, it wouldn't."
Vicky's face fell, but there was still some hope there. "You have to be lonely, I'm sure. You should know you don't have to settle for Miss High Maintenance. A lot of girls would love a guy like you. Not as much as me though."
"High maintenance?" James said with some offense. "Why would I have to be lonely?"
Vicky's smile grew back. "I know more than you think. Remember, future gal here. Jessie's not your only choice."
"Jessie's my best friend. I'd like to keep it that way. And she's not high maintenance," James said impatiently.
"Yeah sure," Vicky scoffed in disagreement. "Makeup clapped to the nine's, fashion nut and not wearing a uniform, perfect hair, had a near fit at being called ugly. Who's she trying to fool?"
"Ok enough!" James snapped at her. Vicky flinched, her shoulders fell. "You really think I'd sit here and listen to you slag her off, when she's not even here to defend herself?"
"Ooops yeah. Sorry. She's not competition, you already told me that," Vicky said meekly. James groaned and tried to get back to his work. "So you are definitely single, right? I'm free later."
"Please stop, I've already said no multiple times," James complained. Everything he threw at her was bounced right back in his face, it was beginning to tire him out. "Never mind, forget it. I need to take a break."
Vicky's face lit up once more, "me too. I'll show you the Mess, it's really comfy."
"No er..." James stuttered. "Where's the nearest bathroom on this ship?"
"Oh, I'll show you," Vicky said a little too eagerly.
James covered his face with both hands this time and shook his head mildly. One groan later he lowered them. "Never mind. I'll ask the computer." He began tapping on the console. It croaked as it spat a few errors back in return.
Vicky leaned in, he backed away instinctively, only this time instead of kissing his cheek she keyed in something on the computer. A 3D schematic of the ship appeared on the holographic screen in front of them, many parts of it highlighted.
"Am I that bad if your first thought was that I'd follow you to the toilets?" she asked genuinely.
"Yes," James replied without hesitation.
"Ouch," Vicky looked as though she had been slapped. It didn't last long, "gotta love the sass."
The closest highlighted part looked to be only a few yards down the same deck. Without moving his head he looked further along the same deck until he ran out of ship. Underneath the second saucer was the final highlighted spot. He looked at the route he'd have to take.
Ten minutes later he was still walking to it. He mumbled to himself about the ship being far too big, then he spotted what he was looking for. Only he walked right by the door without a pause. A few more steps and to the left was another. Before going towards it he looked over his shoulder. Confident no one was following, he slipped through the door into a room that looked like a cross between the Astrometrics Lab and a library, only instead of bookcases there were lines of computer stations. Some were taken, a lot were empty.
James quickly took the closest empty one before any of the people there noticed him. "Computer, transfer the Security files number 678.2 from Tactical Station One." An authorisation box appeared, it didn't put him off, he entered in what he saw Vicky type in earlier.
The download finished after a few seconds. He went to open it but was immediately greeted by a mirrored image of himself with the words Verifying Stage 1: Facial Recognition Software." He moved away out of its range, sighing as he sat at the neighbouring computer. He wondered why it had been easy so far.
He was about to work on the second station to find a way to bypass its security when that did the exact same thing. A quick glance between the two he quickly noticed the first was completely blank. The exact same message and data had followed him to the new machine.
With a frustrated groan he changed his tactics.
James stepped out of the strange lab rapidly clenching and unclenching his right fist, which he held with his left hand. He began to make his way back to the Bridge reluctantly.
On the first cross junction he saw someone blur straight by him. He was going to go right, but he found himself going left to follow them. When he did he spotted a familiar girl pressing her back against a corridor wall on the cusp of another corner, peeping around it gingerly. She hurried off around it before he could get to her.
He shook his head and followed. This time he spotted her sticking her head out of a partly open door. That was when she noticed she wasn't alone and she disappeared into the room. Only for a few seconds anyway. The door opened swiftly so she could peer at him accusingly. "James?"
"Morgan," James smirked at her. "What are you doing?"
Her eyes darted from side to side, then she armed a scowl. "What are you doing?"
"I thought I'd run around this ship looking like a kid playing Hide and Seek who can't find a spot. You?" James replied.
"What?" Morgan snapped.
James couldn't help but laugh, "oh sorry, that's you. You've never had to sneak around before, have you?"
"At least I'm not the ninny walking in plain sight," Morgan said smugly. "Besides, I prefer to punch my way through."
"Yeah, that sounds familiar," James nodded.
Morgan folded her arms, eyes sharpening. James recognised the signs, he prepared for one of the many Janeway deathglares. "My dad didn't do it. I'm going to prove it cos you sure as hell aren't."
James' mirth faded away. "I will, I just had to find a safe spot to do it without being harassed."
Morgan's glare never happened, she burst into giggles. "I heard. What is it about you that makes women blind and dumb?"
"Beats me," James said with a shrug.
Morgan looked disappointed he wasn't offended. She shrugged it off. "I'm not sitting around doing nothing. See ya and watch your back." She hurried away from him. He followed at normal pace. As he expected he found her doing her sleuth routine with another wall.
"Their temporal databanks are too highly secured," James said, making her jump and glare at him. "I can't do anymore on my own without drawing further attention to myself. The only way to prove it is to work with Vicky, unfortunately."
"For you, maybe. Stop following me," Morgan said.
"Um, no," James chuckled.
Morgan leapt to her left to reach one of the doors. "Too bad!" she yelled as it shut behind her. James shook his head and approached.
The door's label worried him so he tried to follow her, only it didn't open right away. Thirty seconds passed before it did. Instead of a corridor or a room, he walked straight into what looked like a turbolift tube. The floor shot upward at a speed that would normally drag him to a crumpled heap on the ground, yet he didn't feel much at all. It felt like a turbolift but a lot faster.
A door similar to the one he stepped through greeted him when it stopped and opened. On the other side looked to be a smaller version of the Erona bridge, empty, apart from Morgan sitting at one of the stations squinting and pulling a face.
"I don't think we should... this looks like their battle bridge," James said as he stepped forward.
"Why?" Morgan whined like a small child towards the ceiling. She climbed onto her knees, still in the seat and leaned on the back of it. "The schematics show two rooms, it's a shuttle."
"The sign said Captain's Yacht," James said.
"Hmm really? Can you go check real quick?" Morgan asked.
"Nice try," James laughed at her as he made his way to what he thought was the helm. Morgan refused to budge from it. "Where exactly are you going to go, and why an Erona shuttle?"
Morgan smiled smugly at him as she settled into the chair normally. "Wouldn't you like to know, nosey."
"You don't know, do you? You got lost doing your Mission Impossible bit and you're covering," James said.
"It's not impossible," Morgan said defensively. James struggled not to laugh again, he bit his lip firmly. "I thought that since it happens in two days, I'd go to where Voyager would've been then. See if anything happens. If someone shows up I beat the crap out of him or her."
"Right. You might want to start at a habited planet there," James said.
Morgan looked over her shoulder, "I know." She turned back to figure out the panel, immediately drawing a blank at the nothing she saw there. James looked on in worry at the fifteen year old sitting at the helm controls. That was unnerving enough without the complicated LCARS and so called user friendly system the Erona was using.
"If you want, I could do all the boring flying and you can take Tactical," James said.
Morgan's eyes lit up, not that he could see. She tried to make her voice sound dull and disinterested, groaning first, "fine, whatever."
Once she vacated the chair he took it, the teenager then looked around for her new station. James tried gesturing his hand to the right in front of the helm controls, nothing happened. "Okay, um... set a course for Phattee Two."
"State time and date," the computer responded.
"Uh, now," James replied.
"Acknowledged," the computer responded.
The ship hummed beneath their feet. Voyager still remained on the viewscreen, with the main section of the Erona along the bottom. They weren't moving. James and Morgan were about to comment on it when both ships disappeared and a planet filled three quarters of the screen instead.
"What did you do?" Morgan stuttered.
"I think... it er took now too literally," James replied awkwardly.
Morgan groaned, "dumbass."
"Shoot," Ashley whispered to herself.
Only she wasn't as quiet as she thought. The whole Bridge crew looked at her.
"Shoot what?" Vicky asked.
The man at the helm started twitching before looking over his shoulder. "Yeah Ash, what have you done now?" he said with faked anger.
Ashley looked confused, she double checked her station before focusing on him. "Wait Tony, that was you?"
"No, I didn't pilot the wro... I mean what was me?" the man stammered.
Vicky glanced between the two. "I don't care who, someone tell me what's going on."
"Tony flew the Captain's Yacht away again," Ashley replied.
At the same time Tony spluttered out, "Ashley time transported the Yacht away." They both glared at one another.
"Lex to Bridge. Someone launched the Yacht despite it having multiple Security breaches," a woman's voice said irritably.
"I didn't want to be sucked into space," another woman's voice whined.
The entire bridge groaned into their hands. "Oh god, security breaches. The science lab is nearby. Who was on it?" Vicky said.
"Jackson, Lara, Tinsy, Oliver, Dan..." the previous voice answered before they were interrupted by a slight bang.
Ashley shook her head, "you mean the Yacht not the lab, right?" She quickly checked. "Um, James and Morgan. That's not good. What is good is they only time jumped a short distance."
"Morgan?" Vicky said confused, she thought about it but it only made her a bit grouchy. "Damn it. What was she doing here with him? Someone should tell Voyager."
"Um you're the acting commander while Jacqueline and Will's gone," Tony reminded her.
Vicky's shoulders slouched. "Oh right. Hail them."
The viewscreen changed to show the rather empty Voyager Bridge. So empty they could only see a couple crewmembers playing the same game on each of their screens.
"Um, helloo??" Vicky said desperately.
"No, no. Get the pearl thingies, I'm busy," one crewmember complained.
The other took a peek at the neighbouring screen. All that seemed to be happening was a humanoid shaped robot whizzing around a lava landscape filled with vast alien buildings. "Oh yeah, I can see that. I can't do it, I'm in the middle of an affinity quest cutscene. There was only three minutes left..."
He was interrupted by the girl singing along to the game's music, "over the rainbow, glorious sun. Nananah na, hope we're alright." The male crewmember groaned and got back to his game, not before he spotted the familiar floating object she was getting too close to.
"We don't belong here anymore, da da da naah... what the fu..." her singing turned into shouts as her robot exploded. A human figure then fell towards the ground. "What was that? Ohno, does that mean I failed the flight test?"
The man giggled, "yeah sure, can't finish the game now. Go get those pearls."
"Excuse me!" Vicky shouted.
She heard a familiar woman's voice mutter angrily, "oh for god's sake." Jessie walked onto the screen. "They're all in the trial right now. Are you already bored with forcing yourself on men that don't want you?"
"Ha, funny," Vicky pretended to laugh with a straight face. "For your information I'm not the only girl you've got to compete with."
"If it's a common decency and no means no contest, there is no competition here," Jessie said.
Vicky ground her teeth, "look literal doll face, James has stolen the Captain's Yacht and he wasn't alone."
Jessie frowned, "what?"
"I think the joke is doll's faces are painted on," Tony dared to explain.
Jessie rolled her eyes, "that's not what I was saying what for. We didn't see any separation sequence or ship flying off." She turned her head to one side and muttered quietly, "I'm gonna smack the crap out of her."
"Oh I love a good cat fight," Tony snickered as he sat back in his chair.
Vicky and Jessie both sighed similarly. "I'm starting to think being a brainless horndog is a helmsman requirement," Jessie said. "Where have they gone, do you know that at least?"
"Where do you think?" Vicky sniped at her rudely. "Voyager can't go there, Janeway's death has to be avoided."
"But Chakotay's in the Conference Room getting grilled by your crew," Thompson's voice said off screen. He wandered into it to Jessie's annoyance.
Foster wandered in also from the opposite side, "yeah and Janeway's safe and sound with us."
Jessie glanced between them both, "then why didn't she answer the hail?"
Thompson panicked and ran back off screen. Foster shook his head, "she went for a coffee break you idiot."
"So yeah, Voyager should stay put. We better go after them. Our ship will be faster," Vicky said. "I thought I should tell you before we did."
"Fine, but I'm coming with you," Jessie said. She walked off screen too.
"Yeah no, that's not allowed," Vicky complained. Jessie rematerialised next to her, not only annoying her but it was a shock too. "How did you... why are you guys from the past slipping through our security like it's nothing?"
Jessie smiled mockingly at her, "do you really want me to answer that, Miss Security Chief?"
"Ugh, Tony set a course for Phattee Two, slipstream velocity," Vicky ordered.
"So still using slipstream in the future," Jessie said to herself.
Tony grinned, "yeah funny story about that. So we're tootling along and the alarm raises. We look and we're like ohno, so Ashley and John start pressing at random. Voyager's like boom," his hand started sliding across his console as he made screeching sounds. "But then even more alarms started..." He was hit by multiple objects, including tricorders. "Ow! What?" he pouted.
"Why would you tell Jessie from Voyager that, you fricking moron!" Ashley hissed.
"Wow, he's dumber than Tom. I didn't know that was possible," Jessie said. Everyone else nodded.
Morgan stood around, fidgeting quite a bit, as James rummaged through a weapons locker. Every strange looking thing he put to one side, saying nope.
"Oh come on, pick something. Give me something sharp," Morgan said.
James looked back over his shoulder at her with a raised eyebrow, "yeah, that's not happening."
"You better not be age discriminating, I'm an ace with a blade," Morgan said.
"No," James said as he chose two things that looked like small phasers. He turned around to face her. "I'm you discriminating." He double checked one weapon before giving it to her.
"You know, you're not as funny as you think," Morgan huffed.
"Oh burn," James said flatly. He turned to the computer nearby. "Okay I think we'll be fine as long as we say regular transport, timed to beam us back after..."
"Interesting," Morgan yawned. "Regular transport to the co-ordinates."
The pair beamed away before he could argue. They appeared in the middle of an outdoor market street filled with many different kinds of aliens. They didn't bat an eye at the two Humans appearance.
"You forgot to tell it to beam us back after a while," James said.
Morgan didn't look concerned at all. "It's a future ship. We can call and tell it to, surely." Then she looked worried, "maybe we should've cloaked it or raised its shields."
"Yeah I never would've thought of that, that's why we came straight down here," James said sarcastically.
"Blah blah old man," Morgan muttered. She was about to walk off when she breathed in the air, it made her shudder and pull a face. "Eeeew, it stinks here."
James intentionally sniffed the air, he grimaced as well. "Yeah, it smells like Janeway's Ready Room on a bad day." He walked forward and around her, narrowing his eyes slightly at the girl. "Old man?"
Morgan smiled sweetly and innocently. "Aren't you?"
"No, twenty six isn't old," James said.
"See, you don't like it, do you?" Morgan said, sticking out her tongue before walking away.
James stood still with a confused look on his face. "What?" he mouthed. He quickly sprinted forward to catch up with her. "I wasn't discriminating. It's your Janeway genes that are the issue, not your age."
"Speaking of mum, she'd love this place," Morgan said nasally, still with a disgusted look on her face. "I can't seem to get away from it. How many places are selling that junk?"
They looked at the stall next to them. A woman there was busy bagging a few items for a couple of customers. One of them began to count what looked like coffee beans they fished out of their pocket.
"Uh," James could only say.
Morgan shuddered and swapped to her other side. There were three people waving palm sized ones at the store owner, with expensive jewelry littered across the stall. He chose the middle one to the other two's disappointment. The winning customer forked over the bean and walked off with a sparkling necklace.
"What the...?" Morgan said.
James nodded, "yeah, I doubt your mum would be too keen to come here after all."
The Erona entered orbit of the same planet, only there was no sign of its baby ship.
"So they're not here," Jessie said flippantly.
Vicky looked smug. "The Sior is programmed to raise its shields and cloak when its crew have left it. So past or future ships don't spot it."
"Oh lardy dah, how do its crew return to this genius over sized shuttlecraft?" Jessie asked.
"It's er, you have to call it and ask," Vicky seemed to guess.
Ashley smirked, but only Jessie noticed it as Vicky had her back to her. "You don't. It's a prototype. For now we keep some clueless someone on board who doesn't know how to use it."
"So many to pick from," Jessie commented.
Vicky narrowed her eyes, "laugh it up. This is serious."
"I'm hearing two conflicting statements here," Jessie said. "Why would Morgan think it's a good idea to come here? If this is where the poison comes from..."
"It isn't only that. Sensors say the planet's rich in farmland, the majority of them are coffee plantations," Ashley said.
"Oh," Jessie cringed. "Did you guys find any evidence that'd bring James here then?"
"Make up your mind. Was it James or his new girlfriend who decided to come?" Vicky huffed.
Jessie burst out laughing, "who, Morgan? I dunno what I was worried about. You're so delusional, clingy and jealous, it makes you look so..."
"Skanky?" Tony questioned. Vicky glared at him.
Jessie did as well to his surprise, "no, I was going to go with pathetic."
Vicky folded her arms tightly and tried to act as if the comment didn't hurt. "James asked if this planet was Janeway's next supplier, and he did look as if he figured something out."
"Something? He didn't tell you," Jessie said.
"No, he went for a bathroom break," Vicky replied.
Ashley and Tony sniggered quietly, or they tried to. It only made them snort a few times, drawing further attention. "He looked for the furthest away one he could find, didn't he? Ouch," Tony said.
"We better beam them back," Jessie said.
"I can't use the transporters when they're surrounded by people. Temporal Prime Directive," Vicky said.
Tony looked confused, "that's never stopped us before."
"Um how would they know the beam is from the future? Are these people not warp capable?" Jessie asked.
"They are, they're just not transporter capable," Vicky replied.
"That's never stopped us before," Jessie mimicked Tony. Then she remembered the Kazon and she scrunched up her face, "good point. But we need to think of something, fast."
"We do?" Tony frowned.
"Um Janeway's daughter is down there. These people seem to have a love of coffee. They grow the poison that will kill Janeway. Instead somehow Chakotay is the prime suspect. All on the same day we would've arrived here. Do I really need to spell it out for... of course I do," Jessie said.
"You think Janeway pissed them off so much they'd make her think someone close to her poisoned her? Damn, that's cold," Tony gasped.
Ashley frowned, "hang on a minute. That doesn't add up. Janeway's not even here so she can't steal any coffee. Not anymore. Morgan's not in danger, so no problem right."
Morgan and James reached a much quieter corner of the market, Morgan hurried so she'd get out of the smell range quicker.
"I knew dad wouldn't kill mum," she said, breathing in less coffee flavoured air. "It's obvious what really happened."
"Yeah. Janeway trades Voyager for a giant coffee bean," James said with a straight face. Morgan elbowed him in the arm before he could think of laughing. "Okay, ow."
"Daaaw there there," Morgan teased and patted it. "Mum wouldn't do that."
"It's a joke and I know," James said, shifting his arm away from her. "Knowing her, she'd probably steal it."
"Finally, we're on the same page," Morgan said. "We need to get some proof, right?"
James sighed and scanned the market they had walked through. "Right, but what? We've got nothing we should trade. Maybe we could film a transaction."
"That or we could pretend to do a trade then..." Morgan suggested.
"Thieves!" a woman barked from the middle of the market. Her outburst drew a crowd quickly, so loud they couldn't hear what was being said. Though the pair did see armed men approach the scene.
James and Morgan hurried forward to get a better look, at least until they reached the heaving crowds. One of two of the armed men waved his arm towards everyone, shushing them into a quieter drone of voices.
"What happened ma'am?" the other asked a distressed woman at a stall.
"My money, it's gone. I saw it. Spirited away like magic," she cried.
A neighbouring stall owner started shouting as well, "my till is empty too!"
"There's no such thing as magic," one guard scoffed. "Perhaps it was a pickpocket."
"No! I saw it, a blue shimmery beam of light," the woman said.
James and Morgan awkwardly glanced at one another. Morgan seemed a lot more confused than him. "How?" she asked.
"I dunno, maybe..." James mumbled. A horrible thought popped into his head. "Ohno."
"What?" Morgan asked.
"The Erona said their interference lead to Janeway's death. If we didn't know about it, we wouldn't have come here to prove Chakotay's innocence," James stammered.
"Yeah so, we didn't steal the coffee," Morgan said.
"Somehow I doubt our disappearing act went unnoticed," James said to her quietly to avoid anyone overhearing him.
Morgan's face drained, "oh."
"Them, I saw them appearing like that before!" someone nearby shouted. It stirred up the rest of the crowd again. A chorus of me too and that's the thieves got the pair's full attention.
"Oh," Morgan groaned. Her hand floated down to touch her phaser. James gently took a hold of it to stop her and took a step back.
"That's not gonna help," he whispered.
Morgan huffed as she followed his further steps backwards. The guards were pushing their way through to get to them. "Why did we bring them for then?"
"Not for shooting crowds, okay, bare with me," James whispered. He slowly turned around at the same time a number of people circled around to block them. "Damn."
"Hold it you two. Why are you in such a hurry?" one of the guards snapped. They cleared the last of the people in between them and the pair. One of them had another device as well as a weapon. "If you didn't do it, what's the rush?"
"We didn't. That stuff stinks," Morgan complained.
The crowds didn't take kindly to her comment, the shouting volume raised, most of them were jeers.
"Look, we don't have anything of yours. That we can prove. You'll find nothing on our ship," James said.
Morgan elbowed him again and glared, "we can't show them the ship. It's a future one."
"Maybe you should have took the Flyer then," James whispered back sharply.
The guard with the second device turned to the other. "Sir, their bio scans are a partial match for the thief."
"Partial?" the guard said, a sly look appeared in his eyes. "Perfect."
"Oh so now there is a thief sighting, coffee didn't magically disappear into thin air?" Morgan mocked them. James tried to get a word or a shush in, but he may as well have been talking in space.
The second accuser pushed their way through to point at her, "they called it coffee as well!" The crowd were riled further. "Soon after the thief left my stall we were all robbed."
"You really must think before you speak," James said, his voice almost drowned out by calls from the crowd to hang the both of them.
Morgan rolled her eyes, "hush it hippo creep."
"Hypocrite," James struggled not to laugh.
Morgan pulled a face while she made her hand make yapping gestures.
The smug looking guard stepped forward. "Stealing currency from the Scumn is a vile crime that demands a harsh familial penalty. It's the only way to deter criminals from such disgusting acts."
Morgan briefly snorted, she held back her laughter for now. "You're called the Scum?"
"Morgan," James warned her.
"What? These people wanted to kill mum and frame my dad for it. I don't care about offending them," Morgan snapped at him.
The guards chuckled between themselves. "There's no need for that now, child," one said, he nodded at the other. "Kill them, then send their bodies to the mothership in escape pods."
Morgan looked at James, "now can I shoot them?"
James cringed, his hand did hesitate over the phaser on his belt. "Or we could..." They disappeared in a transporter beam, leaving a very angry crowd and guards behind.
"Do that," James said when they rematerialised on the Erona Bridge. The first thing he noticed about it was Jessie sitting in one of the command chairs, with a strand of hair hanging over her face. Strangely it didn't look like it bothered her. "Jess?"
"Hi," she said sweetly. "Time to shove off Tony."
Tony groaned, he got up in a huff. "All right, jeeze."
"I meant fly the ship away," Jessie muttered.
"Oh," Tony laughed nervously, retaking his seat.
Ashley briefly glanced up from her console, "hang on, I need to grab the Sior."
"Okay what happened? How did Jessie manage to hijack the Erona?" Morgan asked.
"There was some, internal politics while you were gone," a tall brunette woman replied with a smirk.
"Um. Dare I ask?" James said, worried.
Something on the floor caught Morgan's eye. She crouched down to pick it up. No sooner than she had she flung it away with an, "eeeew!" A tuft of short black hair landed right by James' feet, he frowned as he glanced down at it.
Jessie chuckled, "don't start what you can't finish, I say." She then gently tucked her stray strands of hair behind her ear.
"Um, two ships approaching from the surface and another from where we came," Tony stuttered. "Oops, it's Voyager."
"We need to put off these coffee wacko's before we leave then," Morgan said.
Ashley shrugged, "no not really. Sior docked, activating cloaking device. Tony."
Tony shivered, "um," he glanced behind him at Jessie. She nodded. "Aye aye. Setting a rendezvous course for Voyager, timestamp zero point zero two three."
As before, the viewscreen image changed in an instant from the green planet to nothing but stars.
"No one will ever know," Tony said, looking smug until he looked up. The Erona crew groaned. "Oh shoot, not again."
"Arrived at a time after Voyager left to look for us?" Jessie questioned.
"No, I swapped our positions," Tony replied sheepishly. Vicky stomped onto the bridge sporting a new hairband, her face red in fury. "It gets worse."
"Yeah," James said.
"No not that," Tony mumbled. "Time wise too. Heh heh."
The Voyager crew stared at him blankly. The Erona crew were annoyed but were not surprised in the slightest. The unnamed woman wasn't surprised when her console started flashing and bleeping. Vicky hurried over to her, "what did that bimbo do now?"
"I can easily even your hair out for you," Jessie snarled.
"I meant Tony," Vicky grunted. Tony pouted. "Well?"
"Oh," the unnamed woman said in genuine surprise. "Temporal error resolved, the database is updating."
Tony smiled and bumped his chest, "who's the man?"
The unnamed woman rolled her eyes. "Not you. All you did was transport Voyager into orbit when only these two were there. You did the opposite of fix it."
"So?" Tony asked.
"Don't tell me," James caressed his aching forehead.
"Yep, Janeway's probably already ground her latest haul into a few dozen cups," Jessie said.
Vicky laughed at the absurdity of it, "Tess, can you bring them back here?" The unnamed woman nodded. "And let's never tell Jacqueline. I really can't afford to lose my trip to New Venus, my tan depends on it."
"Wow, and you called me a vain cow," Jessie rolled her eyes.
"Well that's clearly his type, I'm only trying to get in good with him!" Vicky hissed.
Tony made sure to turn his chair around with a bucket of popcorn in hand, looking far too eager. Vicky did a circle motion with her index finger and he turned back around, groaning.
The transport room operator looked puzzled as the shapes on the pad didn't look like the three people they locked onto. Instead they looked like three people and a strange mass almost knee high spread out by their feet. Once they dematerialised one of the new arrivals giggled.
"I can't believe that worked," Morgan said. James and Jessie were as confused as the transporter operative when they spotted the possibly thousands of Cherry Coke bottles by their feet.
"Ho... how?" Jessie asked.
Morgan didn't answer, she was too busy filling her arms.
"Wait, is this why you didn't want me to make the transport orders on the shuttle?" James asked. Morgan stood back up, somehow managing to cradle eight of the large bottles against her chest. She still didn't answer.
"All right fine. Give me some then," James said. He started to snatch an armful for himself.
"You freak! Just one!" Morgan snapped as she kicked him in the shin.
James had to resort to hopping for a few seconds since she did it so hard. "Okay for that, I'm taking more."
Jessie watched them, looking like she was losing the will to live. She eventually walked off shaking her head, not without snatching a bottle herself.
Jacqueline squinted her eyes at the circular PADD in her hands, the text zoomed in and sharpened. Her growl reset it back. "So you're saying they framed Chakotay for Janeway's murder because Morgan insulted them at the market?"
"Yeah in a nutshell," Vicky lied unconvincingly.
"Right?" Jacqueline shrugged. She flicked the screen across and was greeted by two pictures of James looking shocked right at her. "Um, what's this?"
Vicky blushed and snatched it off her. "Security thingamajigs from the camera du-dad."
"He helped steal the shuttle?" Jacqueline asked.
Vicky started shaking. "Nuh uh. He was a little lost and er, must have decided to do his work on the first computer lab he found. My top notch authorisation system put a stop to that, see. The proof's all there."
The door to her office opened and Tess ran in with a flustered, angry look on her face. "Hey. Who..."
"Come in," Jacqueline muttered.
"Who broke station forty seven in the science lab? It's all cracked and crap," Tess complained.
"Cracked and crap?" Jacqueline said with a raised eyebrow. "Why me?"
Tess stomped her foot, frustrated at no one answering her. "Do you guys have any idea how long it'll take me to replace the screen? Those motion sensitive touch screens are crazy thick and heavy to lug around, then I gotta install them..."
"Then you picked a bad year to be the Chief Engineer," Vicky said.
Tess glared at her, "no, the only thing I picked was scissors." She stormed out of the office.
Vicky snickered behind her hand, "what a sore loser, and so touchy."
"Speaking of which, what's with the new do?" Jacqueline asked whilst pointing at her head.
Vicky touched the left side of her hair, which had been combed over into a loose pony tail on her right. She made a little defeated whimper before running out as well.
Chakotay couldn't stop shaking his head during the story James was telling him. Once he was finished the Commander didn't look surprised in the slightest. "I dunno whether to thank you for figuring it out and watching out for my daughter, or punch you for not even trying to stop her and inadvertently causing this in the first place."
"That's not exactly true. If this was a simple our knowing the future caused it thingie, then Janeway would still die and you'd be prime suspect," Jessie said.
James frowned, confused for a moment. He thought it over and it faded away, "oh yeah, so I wonder what changed?"
on one of the Scumn ships:
"We will get revenge for our bean loss, just wait and see," the leader sneered.
"Sir, your Kenco bath is ready," another alien said.
The alien captain turned to face him. "Very well," he said and he headed for the door.
"Sir?" a third alien said. The Captain stopped, disappointed and worried his bath would go cold. "I've got bad news. After the Voyager left, our cherry flavoured coka supply was beamed over to the large shuttlecraft. It belonged to those two lifeforms from the market."
The captain's face turned red with rage. "How dare they! How will we have our showers?"
"Maybe you didn't go with her before, and that's why," Jessie suggested.
James shook his head, "or it could've been the nick of time transport back to the Erona."
"Hmm," Jessie murmured sneakily. "Either way you spin it, one of us helped out. Perhaps a day off or some extra rations are in order."
"If you do some proper work for a change I might even think about it," Chakotay replied in a sly, joking manner before leaving.
James and Jessie glanced at each other curiously.
"What does proper work mean?" Jessie asked.
"I dunno, I'm scared," James replied.
"Me too," Jessie said.
Morgan hurried towards her quarters. Her excitement vanished as soon as the doors opened. "Hey, loads of my new Cherry Coke bottles are gone," she moaned. Then she heard a hyper giggle coming from the next room, her own bedroom. Kathryn stumbled in with a silly grin on her face.
"Hehe, hi sweetheart! Do you want to play with Kiara's Barbie Dolls?" Kathryn said in a hyper voice. Then things got ten times worse, Kathryn cleared her throat and started to sing. "I'm a Barbie Girl, in a Barbie woooorllld. Life in plastic..." Morgan screamed hysterically and ran back out.
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