Previous Episode << >> Next Episode
The mission to retrieve the Enterprise begins, but Voyager has further problems on their hands when they receive an ominous message.
(The episode was restarted/edited etc... over the course of two months. I don't have exact dates)
September to 13th November 2014
The black wave spread, rippling through space with a vengeance. Hidden by the vast darkness of space, it consumed everything in its wake.
A beautiful green world stood in its path, oblivious to what was coming. They had troubles already. A strange ship had entered their space, it was heading right for their world. Over a dozen of their vessels quickly intercepted it, shots were fired at the invading ship. It however did not fight back. The weapons seemed to bounce off their shields, their path undeterred.
Another six ships emerged from the atmosphere to join the battle.
As if it noticed the incoming wave, the alien ship swung around, completely reversing its course. Its long sleek warp engines lit up for a second, then it was gone.
The wave gradually wrapped around the planet. Almost all of the ships stopped dead at the sight of this. It only took a few seconds to take over their entire home. It was if it no longer existed. Even worse, the wave kept coming right for them.
Three ships reacted first, they pursued the enemy ship. Others turned to follow. No sooner than the first three ships disappeared in a flash, the wave swept through the defending ships, swallowing them whole.
Nothing was left behind, even the stars themselves were gone.
The viewscreen changed from complete darkness to a star chart. Unlike other charts there was very little detail. There was just a green line going the scenic route towards a Starfleet commbadge symbol, and a second symbol following said line.
B'Elanna glanced up from the Engineering station briefly, "the tracker is working. We should be able to see for ourselves how twisted this anomaly is."
Tom sighed, "as long as they follow our original course through the thing, they should find it." He cringed as the commbadge seemed to follow a tight, almost complete circled turn. "We went in a straight line, but it really looks like this. It's amazing."
Chakotay looked towards the alien Yana, she was the only one watching the screen constantly. Her left hand was clenched against her lips as she did so. He slowly made his way over to her. She only noticed him when he turned his body around to stand parallel to her shoulder.
"It's interesting that an abandoned ship could drift several light years into a place like this, in such a short space of time," he said. Yana's eyes tightly shut for a couple of seconds, that told Chakotay a lot more than she wanted it to. "I'm only making conversation."
"No, well yeah it should be," Harry said in response to Tom's earlier comment. "Since we found our ship, we can lock onto its position even if it did move. James and Lena will be able to see it too."
Chakotay's eyes widened. Everyone but Yana and the man himself stared at Harry with disapproving raised eyebrows. Harry didn't notice immediately, when it did it made him uncomfortable.
"Lena?" Chakotay answered him.
There was something off about it, but Lena couldn't quite put her finger on it. The murky blue displaying on the alien viewscreen in front of her looked like it was moving, almost like a thick fog being pushed aside by a gentle breeze. If she stared at it intently, focusing on one specific part of it, nothing changed at all. They were definitely moving, she could hear the engines clearly. If she was judging that only based on what she was seeing, her mind would be convinced they had stopped.
Consoles were completely black with the exception of one. With only one small light barely lighting up the room, the fog on the front screen gave the room an eery blue tint.
Some of the overhead lights flickered back on and off again. Before the Bridge's occupants could comment on it they came on and stayed on.
"You need one more to win," James said, temporarily bringing Lena out of her head.
"I guess," Lena said as she reached for a sandwich sitting on a nearby plate. With her other hand she picked up one of two piles of cards sitting on the floor between them. James picked up a solo card. "You could have brought pizza. It's been a while."
James smiled, he put down the pile face up and climbed up to his feet. Lena peeked at them and her own cards. He walked over to a couple of large bags at the back of the alien bridge. While he knelt down to rummage around in one, she reluctantly put down a two and Joker next to the Ace he put down.
"We can only use it a few times," James said. He stood back up and walked over with a rectangular device in both of his hands. "I imagine you'll only get a ten inch out of it, but hey," he said, sitting down with it.
Lena squinted her eyes at it, then at him. "What... what is that?"
"I found it underneath mum's chair when the ship crashed," James replied, his smile turning into a smirk. "Portable replicator, charged before we boarded."
"Ship crashed?" Lena wondered out loud. She reached out to take it from him, her right hand stroked the side of it like it was precious. "Doesn't look big enough."
"Yeah, she'd probably have more coffee's to make up for the smaller cups," James said. He noticed her hand, his smile shrunk a little. "You can have it if you want."
"No, you're the oldest. You should get all the hand me downs," Lena said.
James studied her face for a bit to see if she was joking, he couldn't tell as it was blank. "Including the favourite cup with the permanent coffee stains?"
"Yeah, I never bought that. That cup was tiny," Lena said, finally smiling. "It's okay, I don't need it. When we get the Enterprise back I'm taking my old desk. It had a replicator built in."
"Oh god, I remember mum's reaction when you told her," James couldn't help but laugh. Lena didn't, she looked a little confused. "Were you not there? I was called to the bridge to find it stuck in the door. She claimed some Betazoid was driving the ship and it fell into it."
Lena wasn't amused, she gasped. "Is that why there was a dent in it?"
"A few yeah, I had to push it back in," James replied.
"Oh mum," Lena groaned into her hand. She moved it away, James was relieved to find her smiling again. "Things were never dull, were they?"
"You're not wrong. I did wonder how she was going to get it into the turbolift," James laughed.
Lena giggled as well, "why didn't she just beam it out?"
James shrugged, "why didn't she just ask someone to replicate her own? We'll never know."
"Maybe she did, and somebody stopped it. Imagine the damage if she had a replicator in hand's reach 24/7," Lena said.
"Imagine? I remember opening the door to the Ready Room to find nothing but Cherry Coke bottles," James sniggered. "I couldn't even walk in."
"Oh yeah, that was a good day," Lena smiled. She looked down at the device in her hands and sighed contently, "what kind should we order?"
The only online station bleeped a couple of times. James looked over and got back onto his feet. "Your call. As long as it doesn't have fruit on it, I'm okay."
As he walked over Lena pulled a face. "A pizza without tomatoes, are you crazy?" Before he could answer she nodded, "yup."
James glanced over to just smirk at her, then turned his attention to the console. A PADD lay on top of it, which he quickly looked at before tapping something into the console.
A few orders later four small pizzas appeared in the replicator, one at a time.
Halfway through one slice Lena's eyes narrowed slightly. "So Jessie's having another kid, huh?"
"That came out of nowhere," James said.
Lena shrugged, "I thought little Sarah-Amy was the last one. What is it, are you trying to even the boy/girl ratio?"
"It's a long story, and no," James answered while walking back over to her. "This is the last one."
"Uh huh," Lena didn't believe him. "I think you and Tom are competing. Who has the most kids wins."
James laughed at the idea, "yeah like I'd be encouraging more Tom kids." His smile disappeared quickly and his shoulders fell. Lena frowned at him. "Great, I just forgot about that."
Lena sighed, "you really have to let that one go. You chose keep one kid hostage over keeping two. Unless you've been lying this whole time, I don't want to see you go all emo about it again. If you do I'm gonna change the word emo to James, after you." She smiled. "Stop acting so James, get over it."
"You know I'm glad you're feeling better," James said, smiling a little. "It means I don't have to go easy on you anymore."
"Bring it on old daddy," Lena smirked at him. "You never used to win anyway."
James shook his head, "you mean like the times I did, as in every time?" Lena pretended to huff as she folded her arms. "I was taking the piss out of people before you were born."
"As if you would know when I was born. It just proves that you're old, so keep going," Lena said.
The computer started beeping again, this time it was a bit more tenacious about it. James looked over with concern all over his face.
"Hmm, saved by the course correction beep," Lena said.
"No, that's not what that is," James said. He quickly got back onto his feet to go over to the console.
Harry's face turned pale so quickly it was a miracle he didn't faint from the blood loss. "Oh! Um, I feel a little sick. I'm going to lie down." He hurried off to the nearest exit he could find. Unfortunately for him that was just the Conference Room.
Nathan stopped looking over his shoulder to focus on the viewscreen, "wow, awkward."
Chakotay stared into his back, or rather glared into it. "Even him? Everyone knew she was back but me? Why!?" He continuously turned on the spot so he could spread his glares around the bridge.
"She's traumatised enough, that should be obvious to even a selfish prick like you," Jessie said bluntly enough to make everyone shudder. She just rolled her eyes, "oh poor Chakotay. Everyone is so mean to him, boo hoo. Not, god!" Mostly everyone were still worrying about her first sentence to really care about the last one. Nathan just sniggered at it.
"Hmm yes, Jessie. Due yet?" Chakotay asked.
Jessie frowned, "no, next month."
"Is that one month until your usual pregnancy length, or normal pregnancy length?" Chakotay asked, immediately regretting it. Most of the room stared at him in shock. Jessie seemed to be frozen on the spot, her mouth slightly open.
Tom laughed it off nervously, "ok that was cold even by your standards."
"She said I'd traumatise my own daughter," Chakotay said defensively.
"You traumatise everyone, this is a shock to you?" B'Elanna commented.
Chakotay sighed, his shoulders slumped. "No but Jessie making it to eight months is." The only movement Jessie made was a slight narrowing of her eyes. "Oh fine, I'm sorry. It was a genuine question because of her mood swings, it was not meant to be malicious." Nobody really believed him, it made him angry again. He decided not to bother and stomped off to the door next to Jodie's station.
"Oookay, I can breathe now," Tom sighed in relief. "Now we wait without a fear of imminent death."
Opps bleeped a couple of times, Jodie cringed slightly as she looked at it. "Tom, we're picking up a very faint signal. We're just within its range."
"Looks like you were right," James said.
Lena looked back over her shoulder and watched him tap a few things on the computer station he stood at.
"The closer we get to the exit the less power is drained," James finished saying.
Lena nodded once lightly. "That's why the anomaly tries to trick you into going further in, instead of just staying."
"Yeah, it also explains why the Enterprise drained so quickly," James said. "It's not like we were that far behind them."
"How long?" Lena asked quietly.
James briefly glanced at her and back, then he looked again as he noticed the worried look on her face. "We're almost out, don't worry about it."
"Hmm," Lena only sighed. She turned her back to look at the viewscreen. "Almost over."
"Yeah, I told you it wouldn't be that interesting," James said with a small smile. He checked the station briefly before walking over to stand near her. "Nobody around to hallucinate, it is just a boring fly in, tractor beam and fly out mission."
"Nobody likes a told you so," Lena said in a serious tone.
James watched her, waiting for a smile of some kind. Something was worrying her, it bothered him too. "Are you thinking about that upcoming meeting with your dad?" he asked.
Lena's head dipped slightly, then she turned it to one side to make eye contact. "That's not even happening."
"Okay, I don't blame you," James said. "You've just been a little... off since we found the Enterprise."
Lena shook her head almost timidly. "No, it's good that we have it."
"I know it's not the end, not even close," James said. "It couldn't have been flying around, firing at Game Sphere towers on its own. Now it's empty."
"I think we both know why it's empty," Lena mumbled, her voice cracked a little at the end.
"No, we don't," James disagreed. "It was empty before it got trapped here. These aliens stole from it because no one was there, they couldn't have done that if it was here."
Lena's eyes seemed to glaze over to him. Her head turned to look at the viewscreen again. "Perhaps. It doesn't mean its crew is not dead though."
His throat ached and swelled a little, he tried to swallow it away. "Lena. The Enterprise shouldn't even be here at all. The last we saw it its core was breaching and it was mostly evacuated. A few people didn't get out. I don't think we can jump to any conclusions yet, we're still missing a huge piece of the puzzle."
"I suppose once it's out and powered back up we'll be going through logs, sensor stuff..." Lena mumbled and trailed off.
"Seems like a good start, yeah," James answered. The computer he stood at bleeped at him, he glanced down at it. "I wouldn't be too worried about that, our job is done."
"You mean your job is done," Lena said plainly. "I didn't do anything and it's still not right. I bet some of that stuff will be hidden, restricted... they'll need you still."
"That's weird," James said as he read what the computer was telling him.
Lena hadn't even noticed the computer beep or him looking at it. "Not really, you were always good at that stuff."
James glanced back at her briefly, "huh?" She passed him a confused stare, it then clicked with him. "No, what's weird is we're getting a weak signal from outside the anomaly. We should be almost out. If it's Voyager, it should be stronger than that."
"Oh. What's it say?" Lena asked.
James stared at the alien computer for what felt like a few minutes. He shrugged and turned around to face her. "I have no idea. I only know the helm and power transfer functions. Tractor beam as well, I guess."
The blue fog on the viewscreen gradually lifted to show normal space. With her head facing away from it, Lena missed it but she did notice the frown growing on James' face. She turned her head back to see for herself. Apart from a few stars, including one that seemed to be flashing, the area was empty. Both of them were getting more worried by the minute.
"Where's Voyager?" Lena asked first.
He didn't like this one bit, Tom felt a cold chill run through him. From what he saw from just over her shoulder as she sat at the Engineering station, B'Elanna was feeling exactly the same. The only part of the console he could focus on was the analysis screen and the seven letters displayed on it.
"Voyager," she read it aloud.
"Are you sure? It could be just a coincidence," Tom said nervously. B'Elanna looked up at him to give him a slightly dangerous stare. "Right."
Nathan's chair swung a little to the right. He couldn't help but stare towards them. "I don't get it. How did that... noise translate into that?"
"Well at least there's no mistaking it, the message is definitely for us," Harry commented.
"That doesn't answer my..." Nathan said impatiently.
Tom straightened up, his body turned slightly in Opps' direction. "The signal was weak, where did it come from?"
Jodie sighed as if Tom had asked her to work during her lunch. Though lately, that was probably accurate. All she had to do was glance at one particular panel. "A system under two light years away. One m-class, it was probably that."
"That's only a few hours away at maximum warp," Tom said thoughtfully. Naturally everybody looked at him judgmentally.
"I don't like where this is going," Jessie commented.
"Tom, you can't be serious," Harry said as he pulled himself out of his chair. "This has trap written all over it."
Tom stared at him with a puzzled look. "A broken transmission to anyone in the area, with a one second blip that decoded into the word Voyager is a trap?"
"Yes," everyone answered.
"We're barely in range and if it wasn't for B'Elanna happening to be on the bridge, we would have missed it altogether. Surely a trap message would be a little easier to get," Tom protested.
Jessie rolled her eyes, "the guy holding a this is not a trap, I swear sign was a little too obvious."
"Besides," B'Elanna interrupted. "We're still waiting for James and Lena to tow the Enterprise out of the anomaly. We can't just leave."
"What if it was a call for help? The Enterprise isn't going to be ready as soon as it's free. It'll probably take weeks, months to get her back up and running.," Tom said. "By then it'll be too late."
Nathan pulled a face, he was about to respond but Jessie beat him to it. "Voyager is seven letters. Help us or help me is only six, seven if you count the space. Surely that would have been easier."
"Oh ha ha," Tom groaned. Luckily for him he wasn't looking directly at her at the time or his eyes would have melted. "Come on guys. To encode Voyager into that so we could read it, would mean whoever wrote it knows English and uses our alphabet." He winced a little so he could get a confirmation nod off B'Elanna.
"He has a point," B'Elanna said warily.
Tom smiled gratefully at her until he realised she looked a little pained to have helped him. "That narrows our message sender down to at least an Alpha Quadrant race."
Jessie wasn't buying it. "It also narrows it down to the Softmicron, who have gladly translated the rules for their games everytime we've been in one that has them written down."
Harry glanced between the two, he looked a bit conflicted. "Um, that could be something just like our universal translator. One of them associating a noise or a wave frequency with one of our letters to spell out a name of a ship, that's a bit farfetched."
"Ah, I knew you'd come around my friend," Tom smiled at him too.
"Yes because Voyager is a totally made up word to name a ship, or a name of someone the Soft won't have heard of," Jessie said sarcastically, her eyes rolled again.
Tom's smile grew, but he didn't dare direct it Jessie's way or even close to her for that matter. "I have the Chief Engineer and ex-Operations First Officer agreeing with me, but the Tactical girl who never agrees doesn't. That settles it. We should leave right away. Jodie, leave a buoy behind with a message for the Enterprise."
"A boy? Sure, can we leave you?" Jodie muttered.
Tom looked over to B'Elanna for help, she gave him a warm smile. "I could do it, but still, shouldn't we wait? I know the Enterprise won't be ready, but it wouldn't hurt to wait the couple of hours and leave an engineering team behind to start repairs."
"And it wouldn't hurt to have a Chosen on Voyager, but that's just me being crazy paranoid," Harry said.
Tom looked hurt as he glanced back at him. "We'll check it out, see what the problem is. If we detect towers or anything Softmicron-y, we'll head back." He dared to look around the entire bridge, so that included Jessie. "Agreed?"
"Since I never agree, if I say yes will you assume the opposite?" she said.
Tom laughed a little nervously, "yes."
"No," Jessie replied.
"Uh..." Tom was naturally confused. "Is that opposite or, god damn it woman. You did that on purpose." He turned to his first officer. "Harry?"
"Of course she did," he answered. Tom sighed irritably. "Oh, right yeah I agree."
"Great, my First Officer's approval, that's all I really need," Tom said. "Though Janeway never bothered. Oh well. Nathan, set a course."
Nathan span his chair back to facing forward, "oh, I gotta bad feeling about this one."
"Once B'Elanna's left the buoy, engage," Tom ordered.
B'Elanna quickly worked at her station, then looked up. "Done. Although I just thought it would be easier to record the last five minutes. That's okay right?"
Tom knew she was joking, or at least he hoped but his skin turned pale anyway. "Um, with the Enterprise dead that'll mean they won't be able to follow us, right?"
B'Elanna knew the answer, but she smiled deviously anyway. "It won't take long to power it up."
Tom laughed, clearly with some nervousness in it, as he walked over to sit in his chair. "Did I mention warp nine, Nathan?"
"What are you worried about? You didn't say you were doing this just to ditch them," Nathan's voice said.
Both James and Lena were pulling very different but just as confused faces at the computer in front of them. Lena's eyes kept drifting over to James to see if he was reacting like she was.
Tom seemed to cough but on purpose. "Who'd do something like that? It's bad enough they're super strong, but they'll have two ships too. You wouldn't give a bull terrier a machine gun and then just run off."
"Now you have a reason to be worried. Good job," B'Elanna's voice sniggered.
"Wait, you weren't kidding?" Tom's panicked.
"I was, but I think it'll be funny to send it anyway," B'Elanna's mischievous voice said.
James reached across the computer to press a button, the line seemed to go dead immediately after that. "It has been too long since I hit him, but I'm starting to think he misses it too." Lena turned her head in his direction, her frown deepened. "Weird's me out a little."
"Only a little?" she said, raising an eyebrow.
James shrugged, "I must be too used to weird."
Lena smiled slightly, her arms folded tightly. "So now what? We just wait?"
"It wouldn't hurt to start the power transfer," James answered. "We can worry about the repairs later. It doesn't look too bad."
"It doesn't?" Lena said curiously.
James nodded, he typed in various things on the station he was at. "Tractor beam's off, I'll bring us about so I can start the power transfer. You'll be able to see for yourself."
"Great," Lena mumbled unenthusiastically. She turned her head anyway to focus on the viewscreen.
Slowly the familiar sight of the Enterprise's saucer came into view from the right. The second she saw a black phaser scorch she turned her head away and cringed. James passed her a sympathetic look, but it was too late to do anything, the damage was done. All he could do was turn off the viewscreen. Before it went off he noticed not only scorch marks on its hull, there appeared to be a large crack alongside the belly of the ship.
"It's okay, Voyager's come back from worse damage," he said to not just reassure Lena, but him as well. "The Enterprise itself has been through a lot more than this."
"Yeah," Lena said, her head facing down to the floor.
They both heard something inside the vessel powering up, then they felt a tiny shudder. Neither of them seemed alarmed by it.
"This should take a while. Do you want to play another hand?" James asked, gesturing to the abandoned cards on the floor.
Lena turned herself around, she tried to smile but her face just looked worried. "Sure."
One by one the lights flickered off, cloaking Voyager with space itself. Even the one illuminating the starship's registry powered down. All that remained were the warp drives, which lowered down to drop them out of warp.
Their target, a large silver moon orbiting an ocean blue world. They circled it until the planet no longer could be seen from Voyager. It then slowed to a complete stop.
Chakotay walked through the doors to be greeted by many agitated aliens hanging around the window. Neelix was there as well along with two Security teams, trying badly to calm them down. Chakotay grew a little concerned as well as he caught sight of the moon to the left of the window.
"Please calm down, I'm sure there's a good explanation," Neelix said.
"No... we've been kidnapped," one alien stuttered.
"This is a punishment," another chimed in. She made her point by gesturing at one of the guards.
Chakotay approached them. "What's going on here?"
Neelix's eyes lit up, he hurried over to him. "Commander, I'm glad you're here. Maybe you can help put their minds at ease."
"I'm afraid not. The last I heard of anything, we were just waiting," Chakotay said.
Another alien and Yana entered the Mess Hall, luckily neither of them noticed the change of scenery as they did. They did glance at their comrades with worry before sitting down.
"Oh," Neelix sighed sadly. "I'll contact the bridge. All we got from them was the power down warning." With that in mind he scurried off towards the kitchen.
"All right, Neelix is going to get some information so just sit down, relax. Everything's fine," Chakotay said towards the aliens. He hoped they wouldn't notice the improvised and probably a lie last sentence. They only stared at him for a moment. That was more than enough for him so he walked away to find an empty table.
Unknown to him the two aliens who had walked in after him had nabbed the final empty table. He decided to go over to the galley to wait for one and listen in on Neelix's call to the bridge.
"Really? What should I tell our guests, they're a little concerned," Neelix said.
"Yeah I can imagine. Tell them the truth, it's not like we're dumping their ship and kidnapping them. What harm..."
"Can I just stop you there Paris," Chakotay butted in. He heard an annoyed sigh on the comm. "This recovery mission was only going to take a few hours. They're probably back by now. What's so important?"
"Oh you didn't hear that bit. Neelix will fill you in. Paris out."
Neelix turned to the ex Commander with a nervous look on his face. "Distress call from somebody who speaks Human. That's the jist."
"He does know about universal translators right, or does he just assume you know English?" Chakotay said blankly.
"Um it's a little more complicated than that. Something about a secret code and whatnot. However we don't know what they need rescuing from, so we're staying low key," Neelix explained. He hurried over to the aliens near the window to tell them the same thing.
Chakotay let out a sigh as he leaned on the counter.
"I hope you didn't forget to tell the Humans anything. That seems to happen a lot lately," the alien at the table said.
Yana sighed impatiently. "Keep it down Jerik, this is just the start of the mission."
"Yes and we don't even know if it'll work. This is our last ship you've given them," the alien protested quietly. "This is a lot to sacrifice for something you said you didn't believe in."
"Shoytin believed enough," Yana whispered.
Jerik scoffed, "Shoytin proved time and time again that he was insane."
Chakotay rolled his eyes. He was standing close enough to hear everything. "Seriously, if you're going to act suspicious, do it out of earshot and maybe in a dark secret location."
The aliens tensed up as they looked over at him, Yana felt even more nervous.
"We gave you the Katane, surely that should warrant some trust," Jerik retorted.
"I am curious about that," Chakotay said on route to their table. "Your leader seemed very eager to get back into the anomaly. Something interesting must be there."
Yana stared down at the table as if she was ashamed. Jerik only looked more irritated. "Most of the crew disagreed with him, not that any of us dared to tell him that." He noticed Yana tense up a little. "Not that he told us minions his reasons."
"Please, don't start that up again," Yana pleaded with him.
"And so the Shoytin kissing up and covering up continues," Jerik quipped.
Yana folded her arms tightly. "The old Shoytin would never have thought about that hostage plan, let alone carried it out. We only did so as we believed in him, even then we didn't know who our hostages would be."
"Right," Jerik groaned. "Just like you didn't know what was on the Enterprise that made him so furious." Yana looked towards him, her jaw had dropped slightly. "Yeah the anomaly turned him into a megalomaniac, but the Enterprise visit..." He shuddered violently, "oh boy."
"Something hasn't been shared? Shocking," Chakotay muttered sarcastically. "What exactly are you covering up? Maybe we should have known before we sent my daughter back into that anomaly."
"It isn't relevant to the vessel's retrieval," Yana said quickly, but she said it to Jerik not Chakotay.
Jerik shrugged, "how would I know that? You didn't tell us anything."
Chakotay glanced between the two, slowly getting more and more impatient with them. "Excuse me. I think this affects us as well as you, care to fill me in?"
Jerik waited for Yana to say something instead of him, all she did was break eye contact with him.
"The team who were sent to your Enterprise were banned from talking about it," he answered for her, ignoring her silent pleas. "Yana was one of them."
"You're making too big a fuss about it. Shoytin was already obsessed with going back into the anomaly, this is pointless," Yana said.
"So why was the information banned?" Chakotay questioned.
"It's nothing you don't already know about; Game Spheres, towers, planet draining," Yana answered reluctantly. Jerik just shook his head. "Enterprise was actually trying to help us, not kill us. That's the information that infuriated Shoytin. It didn't change what he did then. He didn't start to change his plans until Voyager escaped the anomaly."
Chakotay felt his eyes widen as one of her sentences sunk in. "Wait..."
Jerik was furious, his fists clenched. "You knew our world was... were you ever going to tell us?"
"It... it doesn't matter now," Yana said sadly. Jerik's anger dissolved in an instant when he saw the look on her face. His whole body slumped, his head fell.
"This makes less sense than before," Chakotay said, his hand went to his forehead. "Shoytin accused us and the Enterprise of attacking other planets, yet he never brought up his own. He never hinted that he knew about the Game Sphere towers."
"He would never have victimised himself by doing so, it would weaken him," Yana said.
Jerik grunted and walked away to the nearest exit. One of the Security officers standing there moved out of the way and then followed him.
"What he did then," Chakotay said quietly. Yana looked up at him. "You said he found out the Enterprise's true mission, but it didn't change his plans. Only Voyager's escape did."
"I'm afraid I don't know beyond the weapon, armour theft," Yana said. "Once he found out he ordered us off the ship, saying he'd handle the rest himself."
Chakotay stared at the window, worry was all over his face. "For all we know he expected us to follow the Enterprise, board it and..." He stared back at Yana intently. "I guess you're lucky that anything planted on the Enterprise would be drained of power by now."
"If leading Voyager into a trap was his intention, he wouldn't have done it that way," Yana said. Her face turned white as she thought about it. "Shoytin would have preferred a more subtle method."
"Like kidnapping children?" Chakotay said bitterly.
Yana closed her eyes tightly, she lowered her head. "Shoytin never wanted you to get your ship back, that's the truth. I know it doesn't mean much now, but trust me, your two crewmembers are not in danger. They should be able to retrieve it."
"Their success affects what happens to you, that's your ship we're using," Chakotay reminded her softly. He sat down in Jerik's old spot. "If you know anything that can help us, it would hurt you as well not to mention it."
"I know. It was only the politics I didn't share. Everything you needed to know to retrieve your ship was shared. I wasn't trying to deceive you, I merely didn't want to waste your time. I apologise," Yana said with a trembling voice.
The sincerity in her eyes and the guilt riddling her voice convinced Chakotay she wasn't lying. He decided not to press the issue any further for now. "I should tell my crew about this. You understand?"
"To be honest, I would too. You're right to be suspicious of us. What we did to you was unforgivable," Yana said sadly.
Chakotay felt a twang of guilt of his own, he shook his head gently. "What Shoytin did to us was unforgivable. You followed him until he gave you reason to doubt him. Then you did the right thing. It's what you do here on out that'll matter, not what some lunatic told you to do."
"He..." Yana stammered. "He wasn't always the evil mad man you paint him as. Yes he was a strict, firm leader but he genuinely had his crew's best interests at heart. I don't know what happened that made him lose himself like that, we all saw the same things."
"He liked to be in control I think. Your world and the Softmicron, your fleet and the anomaly. It must have been infuriating for someone like him," Chakotay said while rising to his feet again. He walked towards the exit, Yana watched him do so. "You can't fix everything," he mumbled.
The entire time he had been walking, he had felt like someone was following him. Damien glanced behind him every few seconds to make sure, but everytime there was no one there. He had a good idea who would be doing it anyway, so this didn't make him feel any safer. Any second now she'd probably pounce, he had to be prepared to run at any...
"Hi Damy wamy!" Annika cooed from in front of him.
Damien jumped out of his skin. He had been too busy looking behind him he didn't see her coming. She was right in his face as well. He quickly double backed a few steps. "Dear devil, what are you... why... Damy wamy?"
Annika giggled, "you like? It keeps the deviousness of your real name, but it also is a cute pet name for only me to use."
Damien rolled his eyes in disgust. "It says a lot that I miss your old boring I'm so perfect, woe is me personality. What do you want?"
Annika tried to look serious, it almost looked like her old default face. The only difference was her eyes were wider, if that's even possible. "I have a confession to make."
Damien closed his eyes. "Please be dying, please be dying," he whispered to himself.
"It's about the alliance you made with my ex hunny bun," Annika said. Her serious face was gone, it was replaced by a terrible attempt at looking apologetic. If it wasn't for her outfit, she'd look like an overgrown toddler about to suck her thumb. "I'm sorry, we're not supposed to talk about exes."
Damien wasn't sure whether to be disgusted or confused. He didn't like being confused, he felt it wasn't in his nature so he picked disgusted. "That wasn't an alliance, Brannon Braga was just taking the wrath while I schemed in the background. He was always a fool."
"I meant Chuckle-kins," Annika laughed.
"Oh, I knew that," Damien said.
Annika showed off her teeth with a big grin. Damien cringed at it. "I know, you were just trying to make me laugh."
"Can you hurry this confession up? I gotta take a long bath in the warp core or maybe just gouge my eyes out," Damien muttered.
Annika just winked at him, "sounds like fun! Anyway I want to tell you that..." She trailed off, looking a little nervous. Her right foot raised up to rub the back of her lower left leg, while her arms folded across her back. Damien quickly looked around to see if anyone was witnessing this. "Maybe you will tell me the story about you and Chakotay again. It was so interesting."
"What? I never told you, I make it a habit to avoid talking to you," Damien muttered. "On that note!" He turned around to walk the other way.
"I am so afraid that if I tell you, you'll go somewhere far away," Annika said sadly. She perked up instantly, "oh well, you still love me right cos that's so romantic and junk, all the lying for your own good you know?"
Damien had missed the second half of that, he had stopped and was stuck in his own mind. He smiled deviously, "somewhere far away, ey?"
"Who cares if I doom Voyager, even the universe in doing so. You being with me is far more important. Why if..." Annika continued to blab on.
Damien heard the words doom and Voyager so he paid attention again. He looked torn as he turned around to face her again. "Hmm, I have no idea where you got this crap from, but I like the idea of ending Voyager for good." Annika's eyes widened and sparkled, like her skin. "But I hate you more. It's a toughie."
Annika pouted, "you are going far away, aren't you? I can feel it."
Damien smiled. "No, no of course not," he lied.
"Good," Annika sighed in relief.
Luckily for Damien they were now no longer alone as Chakotay turned the corner. He groaned at the sight of them. Annika's eyes started to shift suspiciously.
"No, don't listen to his lies!" Annika suddenly screamed as he walked by them. It startled the remaining life out of Chakotay and Damien. She then grabbed Damien by the shoulders and shook him, "you were there, you wouldn't lie. Don't listen, it's not true." As soon as she let go, Damien wobbled and fell over.
Chakotay stopped a few steps away, he couldn't help but look over his shoulder. Damien struggled to get back up but he was way too dizzy after that. "What are you talking about?" Chakotay asked.
"Shh! Don't do this Chuckle-kins," Annika hissed.
Chakotay grimaced quite a lot, "don't call me that again. And do what, I'm just walking."
"Don't listen!" Annika shouted as Damien finally stood back up. He had to step backwards a few more times to avoid being deafened.
"I'm assuming this is new stalking material she's stolen now that she's ran out of Twilight material," Chakotay said quietly to Damien.
Damien groaned, "no, she hasn't. Just yesterday she was telling me I'd have to chew any baby we had out of her." Of course he had to gag at remembering this. "That wasn't the worst part."
"Really?" Chakotay said. Damien was about to continue but he shoved him back to the floor to shut him up. "Sorry, that was my mistake. Really usually means continue, my version just means I don't care."
"Hey do you want to talk next to some shuttles and have a fade out moment?" Annika butted in.
Chakotay and Damien looked at each other with the exact same confused look on their faces.
Annika winked at Damien, "then a fade in moment of us sitting, sleeping next to each other."
"I... I have no idea what she's ripping off here but it makes less sense," Chakotay said.
Damien dragged himself back onto his feet, using that as an opportunity to take another step backwards without her realising. "I'll go and erm... prepare the shuttle bay."
"Chakotay can hint later that he saw us and I'd get cutely embarrassed, hehe," Annika laughed.
Chakotay eyed Damien suspiciously as he backed away. "Yeah right, I'll call you when I'm ready." He ran and fast.
"Can you pull off cutely?" Chakotay asked.
Annika smiled that toothy grin again, "can you pull off staying in character?"
"I could say the same to you," Chakotay groaned. He hurried after Damien.
Annika just giggled, "yep, go find a nice place to watch. I'll practice my surprise face." Luckily Chakotay was gone when she started dropping her jaw, gasping and touching her exposed chest.
Damien ran through the shuttle bay doors, only stopping for a moment to catch his breath. The first shuttle to catch his eye was Tom's prized possession, the Delta Flyer. His devious smile crept onto his face as he approached it.
"I dunno why I never thought of this before. So long Voyager, good riddance," he cackled.
Not long after he ran inside it Chakotay walked into the bay. He was about to turn around and leave when the Flyer powered up. "I dunno why he never tried this before," he said. Quickly he rushed into it as well, not noticing that the shuttle bay doors never shut behind him.
Somebody else entered the bay just as Chakotay hopped inside the Flyer. Her eyes narrowed and she followed as quickly as she could manage.
Inside the Flyer Damien was still trying to figure out the silly manual controls Tom had installed. Chakotay crept into the room as he studied one of the levers. The Commander was within a metre of him when the villain grabbed it and pulled it forward.
The shuttle shot forward straight for the shuttle bay doors. Naturally a few seconds later there was nothing left of them, just a hole. The other shuttles started to be pulled out as well, luckily a forcefield shot up before they were gone too.
"Er Harry," Jodie commented, pointing at the viewscreen.
Everyone looked up in time to see the Flyer shooting off into the distance. Harry was the first to panic, "jesus... follow, get a tractor beam on it!"
"We can't. If we leave, the planet may detect us," Nathan reminded him.
The Flyer was barely a dot when it flashed, then it was gone.
"Oh crap. Who was on it and why the hell can people still steal shuttles from this ship so easily?" Tom asked.
The person manning Tactical laughed nervously. They quickly tapped something into it as if they were trying to hide something. Everyone looked at him. "Yeah I have no idea, Security is flawless."
"Normally I'd laugh, but we have a fricking hacker as our Chief of Security. This shouldn't happen," Harry stuttered.
Jodie shrugged, she looked down at her station. Her face turned pale, "um... probably cos it was Damien."
Harry face palmed into his right hand, "oh." He then realised something, "wait..."
"Also there's Chakotay," Jodie continued telling him.
Harry turned back to Tactical, "where the hell is Jessie? I hope we're not doing another disaster while she has a kid plot."
Nathan shook his head and rolled his eyes. Jodie just sighed, "I dunno about the second one, but the first question is she's on the Flyer."
"What?" Harry stuttered.
"What?" Nathan said as well.
Damien was now on the floor nursing a bump on his head. Chakotay quickly sat down in the pilot's seat.
"Hey!" a familiar voice yelled at him from behind. He only groaned. "I hope you two aren't teaming up again."
"Jessie, this isn't the time," Chakotay said. He studied the helm controls, hoping the stop button or lever was easy to find.
Jessie stomped over, her face was very red. "Oh it's the time. I hope you're not carrying dead bodies around again, you sick fu..." The shuttle suddenly stopped, making her stumble to the floor.
Chakotay and his chair were pulled backwards as well. Unfortunately for him it meant he'd fall on top of Damien.
"What, how could this happen?" he whined. "I didn't do anything yet."
an hour ago:
Annika tip toed into the shuttle bay and over to the Delta Flyer. She went inside for a few minutes. Once she left she was holding a small device, giggling to herself.
"You're not going anywhere, it's not safe. I'm so good at this protecting thing."
Jessie was even more unhappy than she was before and that took some beating. She tried to get up, fortunately for everyone she was stuck.
"What did you do?" Chakotay snapped while giving the villain a nasty shove.
Damien rolled over a bit so he could at least sit up. "Me? I was flying fine until you whacked me. You are the shuttle crashing moron anyway, so I'm not surprised."
"We haven't crashed, we just lost our warp field," Chakotay groaned.
"Give it time. We were near a planet, weren't we?" Damien sneered. He grew angry, "wait, what? No warp, so I'm stuck with you? This can't get any worse."
"Son of a..." Jessie growled once she grabbed a hold of a station. Damien and Chakotay looked her way, both of them grew a little worried, especially as she was able to pull herself to her feet. "All right, who do I kill first?"
"Who invited fatty?" Damien had to make it worse.
Chakotay stared back at him. "I can't believe even you are that stupid!" He backed off towards the helm, he feared it wasn't far enough.
Jessie tried to grab Damien, he was too low down for her to reach though. "Stupid, me? I'm a gen..." Damien said oblivious to the impending danger. A foot swung into a certain area, shutting him up immediately. Well talking wise anyway. All he could do was cry.
"Okay, now that, that's sorted..." Chakotay said nervously. Jessie glared at him. "Ok ok, settle down. It's not what you think."
"I saw you sneak into that shuttle after following Damien," she said.
Chakotay shook his head, "what did I just say? It's not what you think."
"Did you just snap at me?" Jessie said dangerously. The look in her eye made Chakotay's insides cower.
"No, no. I'm just trying to reassure you," he stuttered. "I think Damien was trying to escape from Annika. I was trying to stop him."
"Why? Tom has the Delta Flyer specs in the replicator, it only takes him five minutes to make a new one," Jessie said.
"I know that, everybody does. No matter how annoying he is, we can't let Damien go. We have enough problems," Chakotay said.
Jessie rolled her eyes. "Yeah, good job fixing that problem."
Chakotay sighed, "that wasn't my fault. Let me have a look." Jessie's glare told him she wouldn't let him touch anything, but he couldn't bare to look at her, she was scarier than Kathryn's worst death glare. He turned around to check the helm. "Yep, according to the controls we should still be going at warp. Nothing's changed. Can you check the..." He managed to feel her glare get even worse even with his back to her. "Never mind."
Jessie groaned, she sat down at the nearest station. "Looks like we've been sabotaged."
"Really, that's odd. This trip wasn't exactly planned," Chakotay said. Jessie stared at him with her eyebrow raised. "I know, you don't believe me."
"Damn," Damien whined from the floor.
"I'm not sure what it was but without it the engines were overheating. Dropping out of warp was a fail safe," Jessie said, getting angrier with every word. "Nice job."
"Nice job? You manned the Engineering station for seven years and you don't know what part was removed," Chakotay said too quickly. He immediately realised that wasn't a good idea, the look on her face confirmed it. "You know what it did though and that's the main thing."
"If we go to warp again, we may get back to where we were before it conks out," Jessie muttered.
Chakotay nodded quickly, "right." He sat back down in the pilot's seat, then pulled it forward to the helm. The lever Damien pushed was pulled back. "Okay, so let's turn us around."
He and Jessie heard Damien manage to cackle through his pain, they each slowly turned their heads towards him. "What now?" Jessie hissed.
"Oh it's funny, for so many reasons," Damien answered in between cringes. "If we didn't already, going back will attract attention to Voyager." Chakotay couldn't help but groan. "You know I'm all for it."
"I'm still waiting for the punch line," Chakotay said.
Jessie smiled maliciously, "yes, me too."
Damien understood what she really meant, he tried to laugh but it sounded as nervous as he felt. "That fail safe you mentioned will have tripped out the warp engines, permanently. At least until it's reset. I doubt either of you clowns knows how to do it."
"It shouldn't be that difficult. We can head back at impulse for the time being," Chakotay said.
Damien chuckled, "you just proved that you don't know. If the engines overheated, I wouldn't even try to reactive them just yet. I don't fancy dying with tubbo one and two here."
Jessie was about to give him another kick, Chakotay rushed over to stop her. "Wait, I've got a better idea."
"So do I," Jessie scowled. She instead threw a punch towards Chakotay's face. Damien quickly crawled away to the helm to avoid another kicking. "Hey!" She hurried over to get in his way. "You're going to reset the fail safe and get us back to Voyager."
"Why would I want to do that? That blonde cow is far more annoying than you, and that's saying something," Damien grumbled.
"Fine, that's up to you. You're smart, apparently, so answer me this first. Which place and situation is a more likely one for me to suddenly going into labour?" Jessie said. Damien looked disgusted at the thought. "Voyager and nothing going on. Or stuck in the Delta Flyer with you two while Voyager probably goes Game Tower heisting?"
"Oh crap," Damien groaned. He shook his head, "fine, I'll fix it. You still have to wait for the temperature to go down."
Jessie folded her arms tightly and stared down at him with narrowed eyes. "How long?"
"An hour, maybe two. Probably two as this stupid shuttle is so compact," Damien replied.
Chakotay groaned whilst nursing his newly bruised nose. He walked over to sit down at one of the other stations. "My plan was pretty much the same. You didn't have to hit me."
"Yeah right, of course I did," Jessie spat back at him. "Your best plans would involve Tolg ship hunting or bullying me. Though I'd really like to see you try the second one now."
Damien sniggered, "yes please."
Chakotay sighed and glanced down at the station in front of him. "I didn't bully you, please let it go."
"Well since you asked so nicely," Jessie said, rolling her eyes.
"I should get us turned around. The sooner we get back the better," Chakotay muttered. He spotted Damien shaking his head. "Even impulse was affected? Great."
"Isn't it?" Damien laughed. "What did he do anyway? Pass the time for us."
"Sure," Jessie said in a fake sweet voice. He didn't see it coming until it was too late, her fist slammed into his face.
"If we leave now we could be discovered. What do we do?" Harry questioned.
Tom didn't look too worried. "Jessie's there. She'll likely kill them both and fly back. Auto pilot isn't hard to figure out."
"Why would Chakotay be tagging along with Damien again? There's no one to resurrect, right?" Nathan wondered.
Tom shook his head. "Don't worry, Jessie won't take any of that crap. We got something far more important to worry about." He paced over towards Opps. "Are we close enough to the planet to get an idea what the inhabitants look like?"
"I think so," Jodie said.
"Well then, I think it's time we have a look around then," Tom smiled.
Harry winced, "Tom there's no proof that this species is warp capable. No ships, no satellite systems, nothing. The prime directive is pretty damn clear on this matter."
"Yes there is, that transmission was subspace. We've had this argument before," Tom said. "Besides if I'm right or wrong, we still have to do something discreet. The only other options are to give up and leave, or just beam whoever's in trouble."
"If they're not warp capable and if it's true there are aliens among them, Softmicron or something else, we can't just leave them there," Nathan said warily.
"Great. Harry, I'll leave Voyager in your hands," Tom said a little too cheerfully. "Since she cracked the code, I'll bring B'Elanna. Oh... Bridge to the Doctor." He hurried for the nearest turbolift.
The Doctor's annoyed sigh was heard over the comm, "I have a name, why isn't anybody using it?"
"Ha, you crack me up Doc," Tom sniggered once he arrived at the turbolift. "I hope you're in the mood for some plastic surgery."
"I've been saying that you needed that for years," Jodie said.
Nathan spoke at the same time as her, "ah good for you, it's about time." The siblings looked at each other, then at Tom before the doors closed. The pout on his face made them break into laughter.
"They're just jealous," Tom mumbled when he was on his own.
The alien ship, Katane, stood nose to nose with the Enterprise E, a blue light connected the two together. With every single source of light on the starship still off-line, the former flagship looked like a ghost ship that had been abandoned for years. The Katane with only its engines and a couple of lights on itself, was piercingly bright compared to it. Without the blue beam, it would be mostly impossible for anyone passing by to even see it.
James had knelt down in front of the two large bags, he was busy rummaging through them. Every now and then he'd take something out and put it to one side. Lena glanced between him and one of the alien computers, only she wasn't really looking at the computer itself. She was looking at the PADD James had left on top of it.
She sent another glance his way while he was holding and inspecting a phaser rifle. Her attention quickly returned to the PADD, then the computer itself. Glancing between the two things she started to tap the controls. Unlike Starfleet computers, these didn't make a sound, at least not until a command was fully entered. Lena only needed to give it one command.
James heard the beep, but by the time he had turned around to see what was going on Lena was already enveloped by an alien transporter beam.
"Lena, what are you..." he stuttered whilst scrambling to his feet. His hand flew to his commbadge.
Everything was exactly the same as she remembered it. Without the flashlight she had brought there wouldn't have been much to see. The only light came from the flickering consoles that weren't damaged.
Chairs had been knocked over, pushed to one side.
The fallen bulkhead lay near the entrance to the Ready Room, blocking entry to it.
There was a crisp chill still in the air as the environmental systems struggled to get back to normal.
Lena had a small bit of hope that the illusion Q gave her was wrong, but it was hauntingly right. The only differences allowed her to survive being there, to see the state of her old ship for herself.
Only then she realised the air was still a little thin, she had to force herself to take fewer but deeper breaths.
"Lena," her commbadge chirped. "Why did you do that? I thought you didn't want to go over there."
Lena hesitantly tapped it. "I didn't, but I had to see it."
She heard a quiet sigh. "You know that only one of us can go over there. Someone has to stay on this ship. I can't keep the shields down so we can beam back and forth."
"It's okay, I'm fine," Lena said, even though it felt like a lie. The sight of the Enterprise bridge, abandoned and neglected, the guilt was too much for her.
"We both know that's not true. I shouldn't have brought you, I'm sorry."
"Why? I insisted. It's okay, I had to come back someday," Lena said. Her first destination was the bulkhead blocking the Ready Room.
"Keep the comm open, okay? If it gets too much we'll swap."
"Uh huh," she barely mumbled in response. Carefully she lifted the large piece of metal up so it was standing upright. Despite her efforts it groaned and then crashed into the wall nearby. She winced a little.
"Yeah, the gravity's still a bit light here," Lena said. She didn't dare to look at the damage moving that did, instead she looked ahead into the open Ready Room.
"We're lucky the remote connection managed to turn a light on."
Lena rolled her eyes, "that's another complaint about me beaming over, isn't it?" Despite her annoyance at that, it was a distraction to her surroundings for a second so she was a little relieved too.
"Well you know, I like trashing things more than you. I'm a little hurt."
Lena smiled, even laughed a little. Then she made her way into the pitch black Ready Room. The torch illuminated her path, what she saw wiped the smile off her face. Instead of the desk and chair she was expecting, all she saw was broken bits of the wall in its place.
The torch was quickly moved to the left so she could inspect the rest of it, but her hand was shaking as she did so. The rest of it wasn't much different, apart from the chair that used to be at the desk was lying sideways on the floor. Something else caught her eye before she could wonder why it lay on the other side of the room. A small computer sat on a table made up with wall debris.
"I... don't get it. The ship wasn't that damaged. Why is it so bad inside?" she asked herself quietly.
"If the ship was crewed by the people left behind during the breach, I can't imagine they'd be able to keep on top of the minor stuff."
"Yeah," Lena said, walking slowly to the computer. "I think it's time we find out."
Lena watched silently as James was hooking up the computer from the Ready Room to the portable replicator.
"I don't think this'll last too long. I don't want to risk hooking it up to the alien's systems," he said, now focusing on the computer itself.
"I thought it would be quicker than waiting for the main computer to come online," Lena said.
James nodded, "well you said it's been used since the ship was damaged. It's got to have something."
"You do know what you're doing right?" Lena asked, wincing a little.
"Not at all," James replied honestly.
Lena quickly took a couple of steps backwards when he went to turn it on. Both of them were relieved when the screen came on and nothing exploded.
"Ok, so let's see what was accessed last, that might..." James said, tapping on the interface. "There's a log here dated last month. This should be good."
One touch and all they got was a bunch of quiet static. Just when James was about to give up with that they heard a light clatter in the recording.
"Damn it, there goes another one," a voice both of them recognised muttered.
Lena and James looked at each other, their eyes wider in surprise.
"Enterprise Log, 27th March 82. Another planet has been taken care of but there doesn't seem to be any change. I'm starting to think they're making these things faster than we can even repair. We're on route to another tower network close by which makes me think we're pretty close to the source of this sphere."
"I don't believe it," Lena said quietly. James however didn't seem as shocked anymore, he looked like he was thinking to her.
"The ship's not going to last much longer. Our weapon reserves are nearly depleted, and the shields have seen better days. I suppose it's inevitable that we'd return to the Erayas system. The answer must be there. Perhaps it's time."
"The Erayas system," Lena wondered aloud.
The word had brought James out of his head, he had a worried look on his face. "The ship we're on, it belongs to the Erayans."
"Oh," was all Lena could say.
James quickly tapped a few more things in the computer. "Just doing a quick search for Erayas. The replicator doesn't have enough power for another full log." Luckily the screen showed a couple of search results for the name. He picked the one at the top with the more recent date.
"Enterprise Log, 25th February 82. As our tip suggested, the Erayas system was infected with the towers. However before we could help them, something..." there was a loud, annoyed sigh. "I'm not sure, space is black but this thing was darker somehow. The planet no longer exists. Only a few ships managed to escape. I've never seen..."
The computer lost all of its power and shut itself off.
"I don't like the sound of this at all," James said.
Lena's shoulders had tensed up during the entire log. "Was she talking about the anomaly? Is that why the Enterprise was stuck in there? Some sort of suicide mission?"
"No," James replied. "Shoytin and his crew got to it first, he didn't know how to get out of the anomaly."
"Their planet, it could still be in one piece," Lena said. "That's if we're right."
"That remains to be seen. The Enterprise was drained in a matter of days, maybe a week tops. Two months in here..." James said.
Lena's shoulders finally gave way, she glanced down at the floor. "The whole thing was screwed up, there's no guarantee the planet was still near its star. Power drainage would be the least of their worries."
"Maybe that's why Shoytin was so eager to get back in there," James said.
"Hmm," was Lena's only response.
"So the Enterprise attacks the Erayans, they probably fight back but this anomaly somehow..." James tried to figure it out, but he reached a dead end. "The anomaly was in the same place it was when we entered the last time. There's no proof that it moves."
"Maybe not, the system was probably in its way when it formed," Lena said.
James nodded, "yeah, that's gotta be it. So the anomaly appears, taking over the planet and apparently some ships. The Enterprise attacked at the wrong time so Shoytin believes they're to blame. They pursue them, board the ship, steal the weapons. There's still a lot missing here."
"The crew," Lena stated. "Are they dead or just gone? It looked like the bridge had been left in a hurry, but the ship wasn't going to blow up, why abandon it?"
"Yeah, not only that though. They had no proof that the anomaly hadn't just destroyed the Erayas system and its towers. Why was it something they had to go back to?" James questioned.
Lena finally looked up, but only to stare straight ahead of her. "And with no crew, how did the Enterprise still end up inside?"
James slowly turned to face the alien viewscreen, an unsure look was growing on his face. "We have to go back in."
"Maybe this wasn't such a good idea, after all," Tom said.
B'Elanna looked at him, then sent a cringe the Doctor's way before glancing back at him. "What gave it away?"
The trio stood in what they thought was a dark alleyway in between two streets. Each of them were dressed in old fashioned clothes, Tom and B'Elanna had opted to cover their disguises with large sleeveless coats. The Doctor though was in his element with his disguise, he was smiling way too much.
"I don't know, could be the coats in the middle of their summer," Tom answered. It took him nearly a minute to maneuver his arm out from under the coat to wipe his brow. Even in the shade the heat they were getting from the system's star was unbearable. "Could be the really primitive planet we've come to."
B'Elanna giggled as the coat fell off him while he put his arm back inside. He quickly knelt down to recover it, almost losing his hat in the process. She walked over to straighten that for him, once she was done his hair was completely covered.
"I think this is fascinating. What an interesting species. I wish I had time to study them," the Doctor said mid grin. He raised his right arm to fluff the hair he now had on his head, which was a navy blue. Doing so he accidentally raised a second right arm to do the same thing. "Oops, that takes some getting used to."
Tom sighed sadly, "a four armed race. That's not a problem, no way."
"Well we could have had prosthetics attached," B'Elanna said. The Doctor directed his beaming smile her way. "We're not here to mingle though. We just don't want to stand out too much."
"Speaking of which, have you found the source of the signal yet?" Tom asked.
B'Elanna quickly took a peek at both entrances to the alley before looking down into her coat. The tricorder in her hand was still scanning. "It's nearby. It shouldn't be too hard considering that the most advanced thing I saw here was that cart being dragged by what I can only describe as a floating spider."
Tom shuddered quite violently, it took him a while to stop. B'Elanna looked at him sympathetically but that didn't last, laughter overtook. "Yeah we didn't stand out at all when you spotted that."
"Hmph, if I had six limbs like these guys, I doubt giant spiders would be as terrifying. It would be like seeing a dog or something," Tom muttered.
"Yes dear," B'Elanna teased him. Her tricorder started to bleep. "Got it. There's an underground structure east, just outside of this town. It looks like the interference is coming from a nearby mine."
"I'm going to go out on one of my many limbs here and assume that this structure doesn't belong here," the Doctor mused.
"I'm so glad I invited you, Doc," Tom said, obviously not seriously.
B'Elanna smiled at the pair, "normally I'd say that was obvious, but the Softmicron like to mold into the planet they're on, so they're none of the wiser."
"So... the reason we didn't detect any Game Sphere towers was because their attempts to hold up rocks with sticks keeps failing?" Tom joked.
"Yes, sure. Shall we?" B'Elanna said, gesturing her arm behind her. Naturally that lead to her coat falling off. Tom and the Doctor dared to snigger at her, luckily for them she decided not to punish them for it, yet. Once the coat was back and covering her whole body, she lead the way down the alley. The two men followed.
Not long after they re-entered the street, Tom dashed back into the alley in a panic. B'Elanna hurried after him, grabbed him by his arm and dragged him back.
"Oh god, they float, why do they need so many legs?" he whimpered.
The stranded trio were now in the lower level of the shuttle. Chakotay kept a close eye on Damien as he worked inside the cage looking area. Jessie sat nearby constantly scanning her belly with a tricorder, sighing in relief each time.
She glanced over to the steps leading up in between one of her scans. "You know I've always wondered. The Flyer's control room is tightly confined around the window area right, then there's the back bit where the ceiling raises up a little. You walk alongside the shuttle and you could knock on the window if you want."
"Yeah so?" Damien muttered.
Jessie pointed at the steps, "where on earth did we climb down to then?"
The two men glanced at one another, then up at the ceiling and then finally at the steps leading up to a normal door. Their eyes were wide for a while. Chakotay shook it off, Damien just laughed.
Jessie shrugged and got back to her scanning.
"You'll probably knock me out for this one, but here goes," Chakotay said. "If you had such a terrible time with it the last three, four times, why put yourself through it again?"
Jessie raised her eyebrow, "there's nothing wrong with pineapple and mushroom sundaes."
Chakotay shuddered, Damien did as well. "No," Chakotay said. His eyes then widened, "you've had four of those already? When?"
Jessie smiled but not in a nice friendly way. "Hey, they calm me, so don't whine."
"I meant your pregnancy," Chakotay said.
Damien sniggered, "I have a theory."
"No one cares," Jessie groaned. She decided to direct a new glare towards Chakotay. "Not that it's any of your business, but I wanted a family. A big one."
"Still, you almost died on the last one," Chakotay reminded her.
Jessie sighed, "I know that."
"Do you? James isn't exactly a stable father figure as it is. Take you out of the equation and we'll probably have little kids running around stabbing people," Chakotay said.
"Hmm?" Damien liked the sound of that, he smiled.
Jessie used the nearby console to pull herself to her feet. "I obviously didn't hit you hard enough before. Hold still." She started to walk over to where he was.
"I'm not attacking, it's just a slightly exaggerated version of what would happen," Chakotay said quickly. He was a little relieved when Jessie stopped.
Damien looked disappointed, "maybe they'll choke people instead. He likes doing that." He smiled with that image in his head.
Jessie focused her attention on Damien this time, with a look on her face that would normally be on someone who was given a cup of Neelix's coffee. "What?" Her head shook to try and get rid of Damien's remark, she turned it back to Chakotay. "You're not attacking, just like you weren't bullying me to turn Evil two years ago?"
"I'm sorry, okay," Chakotay said sincerely. "I wasn't me, I got lost amongst the anger and grief. At the time I thought anything was necessary to..."
"Snore," Damien groaned. "I wouldn't take that, kick him."
"It takes more than sorry to fix something like this. It wasn't even the only thing you did," Jessie said. "Oh and while we're on the subject. Stable father figure? Have you forgotten about poor Lena already? I suppose she's not Janeway, so who cares?"
"Burn," Damien laughed.
Chakotay grimaced, his fists clenched. "Jessie, don't go there. I really am sorry, there's no need to attack me like this."
"Why not? You thought it was funny to mock my bad luck with pregnancies. We're way past the line already," Jessie grumbled.
"Wow, that is low. I love it," Damien continued to laugh. Chakotay responded by reaching over to push him to the floor. As there wasn't much room to fall, Damien hit a few things on the way down.
"I never did such a thing," Chakotay said.
Jessie rolled her eyes, "oh Jessie, you haven't had the kid yet, surely it's a month overdue for you."
"I wasn't mocking," Chakotay grumbled. "You know what, forget it. I was trying to be civil with you but hey my mistake, I thought..."
"Yeah you were, and I was responding as such until you started going on about my kids running around with knives," Jessie said.
Damien nodded, "she has a point." He pulled himself back up while rubbing his sore areas. "So would they," he giggled.
"Look, I get it. You never liked James, you thought he was in between you and Janeway. You're like those men who beat or kill their kids cos they dare to take your wife's attention away from you. Why else would you have abandoned Lena when she needed you the most?" Jessie ranted while making her way over to the replicator.
"Hey while you're there get me some popcorn," Damien sniggered.
Chakotay walked over to Jessie just as she turned away from the replicator. She pulled a worried face and took a step backwards. "Stop. What I did to you, I'm sorry but it wasn't personal. What you're doing now is. You don't have all the facts so just stop."
"I don't even know who you are anymore. That's the only fact I need, so back off," Jessie snarled.
Chakotay sighed, he took a step backwards. "I didn't want to hurt you. I was desperate for an alternative, I was willing to try anything to avoid the inevitable."
"Look as someone who doesn't take a certain loved one's death very well, and is only here because he had the same issues, I get it," Jessie said. "There's a limit though. Missing the funeral and slapping your daughter was the line, but you just kept going for another few laps. That inevitable was horrible but at least you would still be Chakotay today. Sometimes I honestly don't know what to call you, I still can't believe you're the same guy."
"I have a few ideas," Damien commented whilst yawning.
Chakotay rolled his eyes in his direction, then turned his head back towards her. "You think when I said the inevitable I meant Kathryn remaining dead, don't you?" Jessie frowned, but more for the ice cream already starting to melt in the bowl she held. "If it was as simple as that, I may have accepted it eventually. You're wrong, you can't compare."
Jessie walked around him to go over to the cage. She was about to speak when she noticed Damien fiddling with something. "Hey, if you don't pack that in I'm going to induce myself."
"Eew. Damn it," Damien growled. He moved over to work on something else.
"Better, now you were his partner in crime. What the hell is he talking about, do you know?" Jessie asked.
Chakotay shook his head, even smirking a little. "Really?"
"I don't know, I fell asleep when you were whining about the Slayer's many deaths," Damien replied.
Jessie faked a sweet smile, she reached over to give him a slap. He expected this one and quickly moved further back.
"It's obvious isn't it?" he said proudly. "The inevitable was my grand reawakening, my revival. It was surely an event that made the universe shudder."
"I think we can both agree on that last part," Chakotay said.
Jessie nodded, "sure, except that you helped him do that, so no sympathy here."
"Forget it, I'm not explaining myself well. I did lose myself, that's why I treat you so badly. I just wanted you to know that in my warped state of mind, I wasn't trying to hurt you by doing so. I thought it was for a greater good," Chakotay said. He hung his head in shame, "I'm sorry."
"I don't accept it," Jessie said. "Your greater good sent me back to my insecure childhood years. Almost cost me my marriage, made me lose the first year of my daughter's life." She turned to one side so she could still keep an eye on Damien with a glance now and then, but look at Chakotay too. "That's not the point though. It wasn't the worst thing you did. James has a permanent scar from when you tried to kill him the first time. I'll not even get started on Janeway."
"Ah good, cos that's getting old," Damien commented.
Chakotay sighed, "all right, fine, that's fair. I'd better check the sensors and comms just in case..." He walked over to the steps to climb up them.
Jessie turned her full attention on Damien, he rolled his eyes in response. "You were there, how can you not know?"
"Hmm it's probably cos I don't care," Damien answered with a smirk.
"Of course you do. You love this sort of crap," Jessie snapped. "Come on, it's dirt and you know it would be fun to spread it around."
"Do you really think if I knew something interesting that I'd keep it to myself this long?" Damien sniggered. "You're a delusional little baby maker, aren't you?"
Jessie sighed, her attention went down to her bowl of ice cream. "You're right. You wouldn't." Her nose shrivelled up as she stirred the ice cream in the bowl. "Ugh it's starting to melt." As she turned her back on Damien she tossed it over her shoulder. It splattered him right in the face.
"Ah, no it's not!" Damien cried. The bowl dropped onto his toe. "Damn it. I hate you so much."
Jessie smiled, "aaw, I hate you too."
With a few more lights and a lot of systems running again, the Enterprise was already looking a lot more lively. Its warp nacelles still lacked the blue that showed it was warp capable, the red on the tips burned brightly in contrast. The Katane now sat alongside it, the beam it was generating was long finished.
As the pair walked down the empty corridors, James and Lena avoided paying too much attention to the minor damage surrounding them. They turned to go through one of the doors, which stuttered a bit as it opened. Once they were inside they were both surprised to find the room relatively undamaged. James only noticed a little bit of debris lying beside a tiny charred part of the wall. The consoles, the large screen were in one piece.
"The Bridge is in shambles, why is this..." Lena stuttered. "Did they just concentrate their repairs on Stellar Cartography?"
"Seems like it. I guess with their mission they must have needed it," James said. He had a look at the different panels for any hints at what the last thing anyone looked at was.
Lena tapped at a different part, then glanced up. The circular screen surrounding them zoomed in to focus on a system of six planets, the Starfleet symbol floated nearby with a destination line connecting the two. "They were definitely heading back there."
James glanced up as well. "Thing is, is the system in the same place while inside the anomaly? Everything else we saw moved around."
"Everything, but the Enterprise," Lena reminded him.
"True but that planet we saw could have easily been in this area too, or could be on the other side of the galaxy. There's no way to know," James said, slowly getting annoyed with himself with each word. "You're right, this is a waste of time."
Lena scrunched up her face, "I didn't say that. I just thought it was funny that we'd go to all this trouble to get this ship back, then just send it back in right away."
"There's no proof the people on that world survived the anomaly, but no proof they didn't. I don't like the idea of leaving them," James said a little impatiently. "Even if we could find them, how the hell do we get them to safety? As soon as they're on the Enterprise, they'll just start hallucinating. We may not have the power to get back, who knows how far in it is."
Lena giggled for some reason, James looked at her with a confused stare. "What?" he asked.
"Two years ago you would have just set a course straight inside, to hell with worrying about things like that," Lena replied. "You're getting safe and boring in your old age."
"No I'm not. It was only a few days ago I got captured by literal kidnappers for trying to plant a virus. You have any idea what the risk was there?" James stuttered, a little offended.
"I bet you thought it was a sure thing. Oh and virus? Old slash young James would have just ran in and beaten them all up," Lena said, still giggling.
James tried not to pout while he was pulling an angry but confused face, it didn't work though. "You... I was. My kids were there."
Lena tried to stop giggling out of respect for the kids part, but she couldn't stop it for long. "Yes cos your kids never get kidnapped by anyone ever. This was your first time rescuing them."
"Yeah exactly, I know from experience it doesn't go well sometimes," James muttered. "Fine, we go inside the anomaly again, find the planet and find a few million there but the planet will crumble soon. What then? What if we can't find it at all and find ourselves stranded without power. I'm sure Voyager will have a good laugh, I guess."
"Well we won't know until we find it," Lena answered and casually shrugged.
"Yeah but..." James said, then he rolled his eyes. He covered his face with his right hand. "Oh god, I am getting too safe."
Lena started giggling again, then she patted him on the arm. "It's okay, that's why we're a team." Saying that seemed to wipe her good mood away in an instant. James was still covering his face to notice it. She forced a smile back on her face before he could. "Why don't we just assume this planet they were going to is in the exact same spot, well within its normal orbit anyway."
James nodded after removing his hand, "yeah, it can't hurt to look." He tapped in a few things.
The image of the system remained, but a black mass faded in over it. They could still just make out the planet and the heading. The symbol obviously showing the Enterprise's position moved further away from it, to the left. Another symbol representing the Katane appeared. Both symbols mostly shared the same spot as they sat next to the edge of the mass. The heading was adjusted to compensate.
"Don't call me a boring old fart for saying it, but before we went in to retrieve the Enterprise we studied Voyager's original course. Apart from a minor detour to avoid a planet, we were on a straight course. The Astrometrics data made it appear otherwise even though the Enterprise co-ordinates were the same," James said.
Lena's shoulders slumped a little. "So you mean even if we go in a straight line to this system, we may not reach it?"
"It's a possibility, yeah," James replied.
"How far inside is it?" Lena asked while peeping at the controls he was using before.
"It's hard to say without a comparison to our previous journeys. In normal space it would take only a couple of hours," James answered. "If we enter from a different spot, that would increase our chances too."
Lena felt a smile coming back, "I'm sure the Enterprise can handle a little peek inside, don't you think?"
"It was deeper inside the anomaly than this, so yeah I think so," James said.
"What do we do about our other ship?" Lena wondered. "All that bother to have a shared shield seems like a waste of time now."
"Well like Voyager did we'll need something to leave a message in. The problem is protecting it while we're gone," James said.
"I'm not staying behind while you re-live your glory days, so don't even think about it," Lena pretended to scold.
"Enough with the old comments, I'm only thirty two," James complained.
Lena giggled again, "sensitive much?"
"Maybe I should leave you behind. You should be taking it easy after what you've been through," James said, allowing a smile.
"No, I'm fine. Ohno I'm not dead, the trauma, over it," Lena stuttered. "I'm sure you can set up something to remotely raise the shields. I'll do it in fact."
"All right, you do that. I'll go and set a course. We're sure, right?" James said.
Lena nodded and gave him a mildly confident smile. "Why not? We can't do nothing and we've got to wait for Voyager anyway. Though even if we waited for them before going, it wouldn't matter. They still can't go in."
"Yeah, a quick look should be a good distraction at least," James mumbled as he made his way to the door.
Lena turned her head to watch him leave. She waited a while after he did before slumping her shoulders and sighing. "It'll do."
The sun was starting to set much to the relief of two members of the awayteam. They had done their best to keep out of the open so they could not only shelter from it, but walk around without their stuffy disguises. The Doctor's constant humming wasn't helping matters either.
All that there had been for miles was a treaded path. It lead them to a large hill covered in dead trees and bushes, the path itself went down into a cave.
The awayteam hid behind the trees on the flat, luckily for them these trees were still alive and provided plenty of cover. Two aliens were stood at the entrance to the cave, yelling at each other.
"We don't have to go through there?" Tom wondered quietly.
B'Elanna stared down at her tricorder. "The interference is definitely coming from the mine. It's why we couldn't just transport here in the first place."
"That's a yes," the Doctor cheerfully quipped.
"When did I become the one annoyed by snark?" Tom groaned. He shook his head before scanning the area. "We can't transport and since this isn't the aliens doing, there won't be a handy path from their mine to it."
B'Elanna finally looked up from her tricorder. The first thing she noticed were the trees scattered across the hill. "I've got a bad feeling about this." Tom and The Doctor glanced towards her. "A hidden facility, a distress call on a pre-industrial planet from people who know us, fuel gathering that kills the wildlife."
Tom nodded, "yeah, I was thinking the same. I guess towers really were out of the question here."
"Hmm if this is the work of the Softmicron, we'd have no way of knowing if any are here until it's too late," the Doctor said.
"Great. We've come this far, we can't just give up now," Tom said a little impatiently. "I'd rest easy if I knew who sent us that message."
B'Elanna looked down at her tricorder again, she gave it a few taps. "I've brought a few things that could help us break through the interference enough to transport. I hope." Tom and The Doctor both winced at that last part. "Not here, we're not close enough."
"The mine it is then. The problem is, how do we get past the sentry?" Tom said.
The Doctor watched the two arguing aliens with interest. "The fellow to the left is complaining about workers' health."
To Tom and B'Elanna they were speaking gibberish, they looked at him in surprise. "How?" Tom stuttered.
The Doctor scoffed before answering, a proud smile was on his face. "It's obvious. He's sweating, his hair is limp and thin. His skin appears to be paler than the others we've seen."
"Sure, obvious. How do you know that's why they're arguing?" Tom questioned.
"Why else would he be complaining to someone that's not sick?" the Doctor answered.
"That's great, but it doesn't get us in. Besides he could be just asking his boss for a sick day," B'Elanna said just as the healthier alien pulled out a sharp weapon. Before the frail one could respond he was stabbed with it. "Or he could be a canary complaining about the poor work conditions," she said in deadpan.
Tom's eyes widened, he quickly ducked behind the tree stump. "He's leaving, quick!"
The other two did the same with two different trees as the only alive alien wandered off. He wiped the blue blood from his weapon with a nonchalant look on his face. Once he was out of sight the team re-emerged from the trees.
"I'm joining you on this bad feeling, but we don't have a choice," Tom said to B'Elanna.
"I don't know. Humans were pretty brutal in their day. This could be a normal occurrence here," the Doctor said. He wandered over to the man on the ground, the other two hissed a no at him to come back.
"We can't interfere," Tom reminded him.
"I know," the Doctor said sadly, his good mood ancient history now.
"We'd better be careful. Mines dug in this way are prone to collapses. Also the air will get thinner the deeper we get. I've got..." B'Elanna said while fishing around in the many pockets of the giant coat. In the end she had to put it back on to figure out which. "Well I did have oxygen gen..."
The Doctor placed a hand on that arm as if to try and stop her. "If the goal is to only setup a device to allow transport, let me go. I don't need to breathe and if I run into any natives on route, I'll look a lot less suspicious than you."
B'Elanna and Tom glanced at one another. They reluctantly nodded. "I'll go through what you have to do," B'Elanna said.
"I don't get it. It should be working," Damien grumbled while he worked at the helm. Chakotay kept a constant look over his shoulder.
"Gee, that's impossible cos you're super duper smart, right?" Jessie taunted him from a station further back.
Damien's eyes narrowed a lot, his two hands resting on the helm closed up slowly, scratching it as he did. "I... it's..."
Chakotay smirked, "congratulations you broke him."
"It's this shuttle, got to be," Damien said. He felt relieved that he finally had a scapegoat, "so there's that, and Tom made it. It obviously doesn't work the way normal ships do."
"So close," Chakotay sighed sadly.
"Surely you would have seen that while you were fixing it, any genius would," Jessie said with a smile.
Damien's face stiffened as he clenched his jaw. Chakotay noticed his body start to tremble with rage.
"We've got impulse, that's better than nothing. By the time we get there. No, long before then, Voyager will be done and they'll come looking for us," Chakotay said.
"I'm not going back," Damien said defiantly. "At least with that bitch in labour she won't be able to demean me as much. Do your worst."
"That's flawed logic. Women are lot more irritable when they're in labour," Chakotay reminded. "Hence the threat, or didn't you understand?"
Damien sniggered, "please, this is Jessie. She'll be unconscious or dead."
"I wonder if there any of the escape pods left," Chakotay mused as he edged backwards, hopefully out of firing range.
Once he was out of the way, Jessie got up to make her way over to the front of the shuttle. Chakotay quickly escaped before it all kicked off. As he climbed down the steps to the lower part of the shuttle, it yanked forward for a second and then stopped. Once he was safely down the stairs he felt it glide to one side.
"I hope I can get control of the helm from here," he said to himself.
Three figures dematerialised in poorly lit metallic corridor. Two of them immediately reached for their phasers, just in case. They relaxed at the sight of the empty corridor. B'Elanna instead grabbed her tricorder.
Tom tapped the commbadge inside one of his pockets. "We're in."
"Acknowledged..." Harry's voice was mostly drowned out by crackling static. The awayteam heard him say something else but weren't sure what.
"You're breaking up Voyager. We'll contact you when we find something," Tom said, then he tapped again. "Well done Doc." He had a quick look at his surroundings, his face scrunched further and further the more details he noticed. The walls had cracked in places, the soil filtered through every one it could find. A distant dripping sound in the distance seemed minor enough, but the stench of stale water told him to expect much worse. One small step forward made the floor groan so loudly he thought it would give way.
"Looks like it's been abandoned for a while," B'Elanna said what he was thinking. Only she was reading her tricorder, so it wasn't just an opinion.
"How long is a while?" the Doctor asked.
B'Elanna carefully walked over to the wall, the ground groaned with every step. There she opened a small panel. She couldn't help but gasp at the strange looking technology hidden behind it. "I... I wouldn't even know where to begin here. This is incredible. If I were to guess, I'd say this entire structure has infinite power. There's no sign of a generator."
"What about the mine? I thought it would be powered by whatever the aliens are mining," Tom said.
B'Elanna shrugged. Her curiosity got the better of her so she raised her tricorder to scan the colourful panel. "I wouldn't rule it out but I can't find anything here that syphons it or converts for that matter."
"I guess it doesn't matter. Are there any lifesigns?" Tom asked.
B'Elanna studied her tricorder for longer than either Tom or the Doctor would have liked. She eventually turned on her heel to face down the corridor, "this way."
Tom instinctively reached for his phaser, he gestured with a nod to the others to do the same. The Doctor didn't look as sure as the pair when he grabbed his. "We have no way of knowing if they're friend or foe?" he said.
"No. The interference is still a problem. There's definitely people here, roughly thirty of them," B'Elanna answered.
The trio made their way down the creaking corridor as carefully and quietly as they could. As they walked further down the lights seemed to get lighter. Tom felt like he was gradually walking up a slight hill. He was about to say something when B'Elanna glanced at him and then at the tricorder again.
"The structure isn't level. The structural damage and the leaks must be weighing one side of it down," she said.
"I don't get it. How or why would someone build something like this and just leave it to rot on a pre-industrial world?" Tom wondered out loud. As if on cue an inhumane screech echoed down the corridor, the sound of it seemed to run right by them and get quieter as it travelled away. "I knew I should have brought Zare."
"Why didn't we?" the Doctor asked.
B'Elanna's face turned ghostly white while she looked at her tricorder. The two men grew even more worried, they both knew it took a lot to spook her. "One lifesign's gone."
"Oh boy," Tom stuttered. His instincts took over his hand again, it tapped the commbadge this time. "Voyager?"
All he got was static back for a minute or so. They could eventually make out a voice but it was drowned out.
"Harry if you can hear me, you need to tell Zare to join us," Tom said. The static stopped for a moment, then came back to muffle out the voice. "The signal's terrible, I'm hoping that it's just our side. B'Elanna?"
"There's nothing I can do. We're lucky to get anything here," she said.
Tom sighed, his nerves were starting to get the better of him, his body shook. "Great, maybe we should have programmed the Doc with some four armed kung fu moves."
"I'm a Doctor not a..." the Doctor grumbled, then his face lit up. "Well I'm already great at a lot of things. Why not?"
"It would be a shame to miss that," Harry's voice finally broke through the static.
"Harry? Oh good. Did you understand my message?" Tom sighed in relief.
"Nope, just the image of the Doc swinging four arms around and people laughing."
"How rude," the Doctor commented.
Tom was too freaked out to laugh at that yet. "Can you beam Zare down here? I have a feeling we're going to need some muscle."
"I did wonder why you didn't ask for her in the first place."
"We don't need to wait for the Enterprise to be retrieved. What harm can it do?" Nathan's voice teased.
Something groaned above them. The awayteam looked up but saw nothing. "We all make mistakes, can we move on?" Tom stuttered.
"I'll tell her. Standby," Harry's voice said.
"Make sure she brings lots of weapons. Maybe a flamethrower," Tom said.
B'Elanna smirked and shook her head. "Why would she need a flamethrower? We have phasers that could do the same thing."
"Well it's better than a little knife," Tom argued.
"Or a four armed Doctor with no kung fu skills," B'Elanna sniggered.
Tom wasn't amused, he was still a bit nervous. "I was just suggesting that she needs to be packing when she joins us. You didn't have to pick on everything I say."
The Doctor edged a few steps to one side to separate himself from them. Not that it would help him much.
B'Elanna's face stiffened. "Well excuse me for trying to get your mind off this place. I will not bother next time."
"I'm not a child, so yeah don't bother," Tom huffed.
The Doctor was very uncomfortable now as the pair just gave each other cold glares. He knew from experience not to say anything, it hadn't worked well for him in the past.
"Any excuse to attack, if you ask me," Tom muttered, breaking the awkward silence. B'Elanna's eyes flashed with rage.
"Very mature Tom. When does the not a child happen?" B'Elanna snapped.
"See, Doc isn't she being unreasonable?" Tom said in the Doctor's direction.
The poor hologram froze. He badly didn't want to get involved. He could just make out B'Elanna's icy stare in the corner of his eye as well, which didn't help either. Someone was on his side as a voice echoed down the corridor, startling the life out of Tom again and made B'Elanna look down at her tricorder.
"Someone's coming," B'Elanna said, quickly swapping her tricorder for the phaser. Tom was already there and pointing it. B'Elanna gave him a blank stare. She raised her spare hand up to push the phaser so it wouldn't shoot the wall.
Footstep sounds were approaching now. With each step the awayteam's tension level rose. They then saw a shadow emerge from around the corner. Tom braced himself for the worse. The next thing they saw was a rifle being pointed at them.
B'Elanna and the Doctor relaxed a little, but Tom just looked down at this phaser pitifully.
"Is this big enough for you, Tom?" Zare asked with a smile.
Tom lowered his phaser, then quickly hid it. "Yeah sure, thanks." He held his hand out, Zare just stared blankly at it. "What, I need it more than you."
"Then maybe you should have brought one," Zare said. "So which way are we going?"
B'Elanna smirked as she pointed behind her. Zare glanced back over her shoulder and nodded. The group headed off without Tom at first, he muttered something rude under his breath before following.
The Enterprise strafed to one side, narrowly avoiding a small ship drifting upside down. There were many more dead ahead of them, but that wasn't the only thing that was. Something large and spherical, almost hidden in its own black shadow. The starship slowed down to navigate the graveyard of ships that lay before it.
"Is that the planet?" Lena asked carefully. She stopped pacing the back of the bridge to get a decent look of the viewscreen, just to make sure. "It can't be."
James continuously glanced between the helm in front of him and up at the viewscreen. "It's in the right place." He focused on the viewscreen for a bit longer. "It certainly looks like a one. The sensors register it as only a large mass at the moment. I guess they're a little rusty."
Lena walked forward while keeping her eyes on the black sphere on the screen. "There's no star, the planet looks dead. We're too late?"
"I wouldn't say that," James said.
The black sphere grew larger as the ship approached. A bit of light peeked over the top of the sphere, it barely looked brighter than a distant star but it was enough to light up the north side of the planet a little. Mostly all the pair could see were thick, deadly looking clouds that seemed to churn at the star light trying to get through it. All of them were darker than any rain cloud they'd ever seen.
The land itself was a dank shade of brown. Even from the distance they were at, they could see chasms in the ground almost like the planet was an egg shell after one tap with a spoon. The south of the planet was still shrouded in the darkness of the anomaly.
"Why not?" Lena said in a coarse voice.
"I'm getting some energy signatures, probably lifesigns from underground tunnels," James answered. "I'm not surprised, it's well below freezing on the surface. Their position will make it difficult for the transporters."
"Well, better wrap up warm then," Lena commented.
James looked back over his shoulder to find her standing not far behind him. "We can't do that."
Lena seemed a little frustrated at that answer. "Why not?"
"We can't leave the ship unattended with the shields down," James replied.
Lena scoffed, "we're the only ones with power in this area, obviously. No one's going to steal it."
James sighed. He climbed out of the chair to walk over to her. Her arms folded tightly. "Lena think about it. If no one's here, who will beam us back? Also, the ship is draining again. If no one's here to monitor it, how are we supposed to know when to return without getting trapped on the planet?" Lena's scowl faded a little, though he could see in her eyes she was still annoyed. "Also you never know what will happen while we're gone."
"So, one goes down," Lena mumbled.
James shook his head. "We don't know what's down there. Yeah the lifesigns could be survivors, but they could be something else. Or a mixture of both."
"So what, we leave them to die then?" Lena said impatiently. "What happened to you?"
"Lena," James quickly said before she stomped off. "We're not leaving. I'm just saying we should think about what to do before we do it. The planet's not going to fall to bits in the next few minutes."
"We're still wasting time though," Lena said.
"Now we are yeah, so why don't we think of a plan instead," James said in a lighter tone, hoping it would calm her down. He got a light sigh and shrug. "Great, we're agreeing on something."
Lena felt her eyes roll, it was instinctive. "You're getting more dad like with every kid. I'm dreading next month."
"As long as I'm not getting more our dads like, we're good," James said, allowing a brief smile. "Any ideas?"
"No. There's only two of us, we can't change that," Lena answered. A thought popped into her head, her eyes lit up as a result. "Oh, the logs."
James wasn't sure how they would help them with their lack of people. "What about the logs?"
"I was listening to a few of them on route, and one of them mentioned quite a nasty battle," Lena said, only making James' confusion worse. She ignored it and continued, "there were a few injuries, and she mentioned the doctor was having trouble keeping up with them all."
James finally got where she was going with this, it only made him more confused. "The Enterprise doctor was destroyed with the Equinox. I don't think any of the casualties of the Enterprise explosion were doctors, our Doc was covering the fleet. Even if there were..."
"Yeah exactly," Lena said with a little excitement in her voice. She hurried over to the Opps station before he could question anything. "Yep, I thought so," she said after using it. Again before James could say anything she ran off to the back of the bridge and disappeared down the Jeffries tube shaft.
"I... what?" James stammered. He walked over to follow her.
TO BE CONTINUED
Previous Episode << >> Next Part