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A species haunted by prejudice target Voyager in order to flee their exile, unwittingly becoming what they're labelled as.
Unknown dates early 2017
Written & Edited
24th & 28th June 2001
25th March 2003
1st April 2004
11th January 2005
"How did we ever get into this mess?" Tom wondered ruefully.
Harry glanced impatiently across at his friend sitting next to him. Even that slight motion rocked whatever they were sitting in a few times. The frozen and quite surreal environment around them curled up whatever was in his stomach. It somehow managed to look stranger in the dark, coupled with the sound of water running that he couldn't see anymore. "Gee, let me guess," he answered through gritted teeth.
"Well excuse me for being open minded and the fun one," Tom huffed.
Harry rolled his eyes, "may I remind you that I'm only stuck here because no one wanted to ride this stupid roller coaster with you."
Tom gasped in offense, "it is a themed water coaster slide hybrid."
"Ohno, I'm so sorry!" Harry snapped.
"Pfft, as usual it's my fault. Did you ever consider that maybe, just maybe, that this little power cut is yet another prank? If the power was truly out, the whole program would be off-line."
"No, the Holodeck has independent power. We'd only be locked in," Harry said.
Tom grew more impatient with him. "Then why are the lights off and the ride stuck!?"
"Oh I know that's not your fault," Harry said flippantly, but Tom blew a fuse silently not that he could see. "Come on, think about it. Everyone else is stuck in the Holodeck too. Do you really think Morgan would do something like this for a laugh?"
"Of course not," Morgan protested with her arms tightly folded.
Kathryn and Chakotay glanced at one another briefly then back at their daughter. "That wasn't what I was expecting," he said.
"Hmph," Kathryn grunted with a dangerous glint in her eye. Chakotay took a couple of steps to one side. The Captain grabbed a few of the scattered PADDs across her desk so she could wave them in front of her. "Somebody is responsible for this."
"And you automatically think it was me? Wow, thanks mum," Morgan said huffily. The glare intensified which actually made her resolve waver a bit and caused her to stutter, "oh come on. This is totally James's style. Why don't you tell him off instead?"
Chakotay looked on with a smirk threatening to erupt, "I didn't think Doc in a pink tutu singing and dancing to Man After Midnight was his style."
"Eew," Morgan cringed.
Kathryn frowned up at the Commander, "we moved on from that one five minutes ago, keep up."
"We did?" Chakotay was puzzled.
Kathryn growled loudly and a little overdramatically, "apparently that's just how he spends his Sundays." She shoved one of the PADDs into his face, or at least tried to but he had moved too far away. "No, this one."
"Oh," Chakotay's face flushed with embarrassment. "I think we can let her off there."
"Oh we can, can we?" Kathryn exploded.
"I didn't do anything," Morgan whined once more.
Chakotay focused on her, blinking rapidly a little fearfully. "Fair Haven."
"Oh," Morgan pulled a disgusted face. "Dad's right, I think we can let me off there."
"So you admit to turning Harry's fake girlfriend into a cow?" Kathryn asked.
"What's a cow?" Morgan asked genuinely curious. She then looked over to the corner of the room in sympathy, "someone turned her into Seven? Poor you."
Kathryn and Chakotay's attention drifted over to where she was looking to find Harry curled up into a ball next to the door, shaking with his eyes wide. "She... she was still wearing the low cut dress. Oh god the hooves."
"Why is he here?" Kathryn whispered to Chakotay. He shrugged. "Okay so that one was probably someone else."
"Probably? You know who it is, he messes with Tom's crap all the time. Dunno why you're blaming me," Morgan said.
"James has found himself with a lot less time than he's used to after that last stunt," Kathryn said with a scowl.
Chakotay tried not to laugh. The glare he got was worth it. "Well you did want to delete the wife."
"What the... mum!" Morgan snapped at her accusingly.
Kathryn looked a little surprised, "what? That cow banned coffee from the bar!"
"Yeah after a near 100% poll," Chakotay mumbled.
Kathryn's face softened as she looked up at him, "what was that?"
"So yeah," Chakotay said after a quick throat clear. "Thanks to you, Fair Haven has been shut down until it's repaired."
"Okay. So when do I get my rations topped up?" Morgan asked cheerfully.
The command team stared at her blankly which wiped the smile off her face. She slouched in her chair.
"The problem is there are a lot of freaked out crewmembers, with the exception of Harry as he was already there," Chakotay explained. Harry whimpered something about a slobbery nose. "So there's that."
"Yeah, you're welcome," Morgan said. Her face though was stony, "why am I being punished for helping?"
"The drunken idiots who frequent Fair Haven don't see the program going off-line as an improvement like everyone with taste does," Chakotay said.
Kathryn shuddered, "and it would've been far less traumatising if we were allowed coffee." The pair looked at her with some judgement, she blushed furiously, "I only go to play pool, and wear my pretty dress. I miss my old school bun, they go together."
"No they don't!" Jessie's voice shouted from outside. Kathryn's cheeks flexed.
"Oh mum," Morgan said pitifully.
Kathryn didn't appreciate that either, her scowl was back. "That's it. I will never be able to look at the Fair Haven regulars without seeing Seven's face ever again, and don't even get me started on the pink sky and multi coloured ponies running around."
Morgan winced, "yeah that was Kiara's idea. She's a bit obsessed."
"And the Cherry Coke rain?" Chakotay asked.
"As if," Morgan scoffed. "It was Vanilla. Pepsi."
Kathryn leapt out of her chair and she slammed her hands down on the desk, startling both of them. "That's it. It's time you learn some respect."
Morgan looked on bemused. "Respect? I only did it for a laugh."
"Well, let's see if you find this punishment funny," Kathryn said. She walked out from her desk to pace around her daughter. "You and a team of your choosing will play a game against the victims of your pranks. It'll be up to them what kind of game."
"That is a bit funny," Morgan said.
"And familiar," Chakotay muttered.
Kathryn glanced back at him with a similar curious expression to earlier, "what was that?"
"How will that teach her respect?" Chakotay improvised.
"Have you played any ball games before, sweetheart?" Kathryn asked.
Morgan stared at her blankly. "Which console is it on?"
Kathryn smiled knowingly at Chakotay, a silent I told you so.
Morgan looked at the orange ball that landed in her hands curiously. Somebody yelled at her to throw it. She shrugged and tossed it over her shoulder. Seven just happened to be walking by behind her in time for it to slam into her face, knocking her into a near backwards somersault before hitting the ground with a thud.
"We didn't think this one through. At all," Chakotay muttered.
Kathryn sniggered maliciously, "oh I think it worked out fine."
Harry looked around with squinted eyes at the brightly coloured everything around him. The square bar that looked more like a market stall decorated with fake oversized fruit. A pool nearby with a slide hanging over it that he couldn't work out where you were supposed to get on. Every bit of seating he could see was not only green but looked to be fluttering in the breeze. The staff walking around with bizarre face paint.
It wasn't what he was expecting when Tom invited him to see his latest masterpiece. He at first thought it had already been tampered with like the others but Tom didn't react to it with anything other than pride.
He was looking to him for his opinion. After the incident in Fair Haven, Harry didn't think it was a good idea to be too honest. "It's, very lively."
"Yeah isn't it?" Tom laughed, ignoring his friend's lackluster tone. "I was spring cleaning the Mutineers, or trying to anyway, and discovered this little gem unused within. I'm surprised the prissy moron couldn't think of way to use it to embarrass me. No creativity I suppose."
Creative was definitely one word for it, Harry thought to himself. He was a little surprised though. "James made this? He's more mad... fun than he looks."
Tom scowled at him. He wasn't sure if it was for his little slip up or for him giving James the credit for his work. "Oh please. He's an amateur. All he did was copy and paste another story into my work, with some gay jokes added on for funsies. This is part of that story, and I thought because of how garish and random it was..."
Harry sighed in relief instinctively and blabbed, "oh thank god you can see it."
"Hey hey, you said you liked it," Tom stammered, very offended.
"I... do?" Harry stuttered in response.
Tom bought it so quickly Harry thought he was only pretending to. "I thought I could change it from some love scene on drugs into a quirky resort. I surprise even myself."
"That's not exclusive to you," Harry commented. Tom scowled once more. "I just figured you were inspired by or simply upgraded the hacked Fair Haven file."
"Harry, that's still a fresh wound," Tom whined.
Harry rubbed his still sore back with a pout, "tell me about it."
Tom didn't notice, his attention was caught by the music playing in the resort rapidly getting louder and the sound of water gushing. He looked up and pointed, "ah there it is."
"There's what?" Harry asked, following his finger he glanced up in time to see a tiny green roller coaster car shaped like a leaf folded into a right angle, running along a transparent water slide. Two holograms were sitting in it, singing along to the music. "Um," was all he could say.
"Wait..." Tom shushed him. "Here comes the best bit."
The car reached the end of the slide Harry spotted before, only it was a few metres above it. That wasn't the worst part. The track it was following ended abruptly and the car didn't stop there, it gently dropped, letting the passengers fall freely into the slide. They were laughing all the while as they splashed into pool.
"Yes!" Tom grinned and clapped his hands once. "It works." He noticed his friend's face take a turn for the confused, he quickly clasped his shoulder. "I wasn't sure if that would work after I took the air glider bit out. It does, much better."
"I have to ask. What's your Jessie punch score at the moment?" Harry asked flippantly.
"What? I don't know, I lost count, what's that got to do with anything?" Tom stammered.
Harry chuckled nervously, "oh nothing. Nothing at all."
Tom's grip on his shoulder turned into what felt like a couple of massages, "Harry, Harry. I'm worried about you. Maybe you should see the Doc. Seventh Voyager's tricks, the Tolg guy, they're messing with your head."
Harry stared at him with his jaw slightly agape, "uh yeah. I'm the crazy one." Tom's friendly smile looked patronising and in full agreement. Suddenly Harry didn't feel that he needed to be careful anymore. "I'm not the one making an obviously very weird love scene into an even weirder I hope over 18's club."
"It's called Upendi," Tom beamed, annoying Harry further. "It means love."
"That's a little sappy, but I'll ignore it for a dip," a woman's voice said, startling them both. They looked to find Triah eyeballing the pool. "As long as its not salt water."
"How did you get in here?" Tom asked.
Triah stared at him as if he was stupid, "the door was open."
"Ooph, I told the computer to wait until the official launch," Tom winced. He instantly cheered up, "this is a good start, ey Har. Everyone will want to come." Harry rolled his eyes. "Don't mind us, have a look around."
"Thanks, I'll check out the coaster after I get dressed," Triah said as she wandered off to the building in the distance.
Tom panicked and flailed about in front of her to stop her, "no no. You can't go alone."
"Why not?" Triah raised an eyebrow.
"Duh, it's Upendi. It just takes two to make it true," Tom said with a flourished wink.
Triah sighed impatiently, "what?"
Harry shook his head, "Upendi means love."
"I'll just... go for a swim instead," Triah said with her eyes wide and judgmentally. She walked around Tom to continue on her way.
Tom sighed contently, puzzling Harry further. "I think this is the one Harry. People complained that Fair Haven was too singular and offensive, which I don't get. The first resort was too boys club, again I don't get that one."
Harry thought about that for a second and nodded.
"The less said about Mutineers the better," Tom continued bitterly. "But this, this is the one that'll get people to come. Harmless fun. Once more Tom Paris is King of the Holodeck."
"Oh I get it now!" Harry suddenly blurted out in realisation. Tom jumped out of his skin. "You make a program already ridiculous, you beat James and or Morgan before they even set foot in the place. What are they going to do to it, make it normal? Either way, you win."
Tom fought back his offense, especially with the last thing he said. He struggled to put a proud face on, "yes, that's the plan. I'm not just a pretty face."
Harry laughed, "I dunno why I ever doubted you. When's the launch date?"
"Tonight at 1800. I made sure to exclude a certain crowd, but apart from that everyone's invited," Tom replied.
"I'll be there. Though I don't know how you can keep them from finding out," Harry said.
He looked over just in time to see a random crewmember enter the Holodeck only to be greeted by an overzealous hologram singing and shouting welcome to Upendi at her. She hurried out before he could finish. "Though, you've definitely got your bases covered," Harry sniggered.
Tom gritted his teeth, "yes."
Kathryn could only shake her head, it kept her temper bubbling under the surface for the time being. The room was eerily quiet, no one dared to say the first word.
"They made me do it," Tani blurted out fearfully. The blank stares she got in return silenced her once more.
"Gee, thanks Tani," Morgan said.
Kathryn groaned into both of hands. "Give me strength." She reached for her cup to take one last sip only to find it was empty.
"Abandon ship," Craig whispered to the two girls standing with him. He didn't have to tell them even once, they were already edging backwards to the door.
"Don't even try," Kathryn hissed, freezing them in their tracks. Her hands lowered, Craig tried his best to avoid eye contact or risk freezing to death. "Do you remember why we played that little game?"
"To show me up?" Morgan answered genuinely.
Kathryn's eyebrow twitched, "so you'd learn respect."
"Same thing," Morgan whispered.
Craig and Tani both cringed at the same time. Kathryn's stare was directed at Morgan, but there was no escaping the deathglare where they were. "It's not the same thing."
"Nope," Morgan agreed a little too casually. "You wanted to point and laugh at the stupid girl who didn't know how to play this Basketball because she lived on a Borg ship. If that's respect, you can stuff it."
"Abandoning ship won't be enough," Tani whispered to Craig. He was too frightened to even nod.
"Would you two wait outside for a moment?" Kathryn asked dangerously. She didn't have to mention that if they ran off they'd be better off dead, her stare was enough.
"Yes ma'am," Craig squeaked and hurried out. Tani did the same wordlessly.
Kathryn breathed in deeply before addressing her daughter. "I let you roam free on this ship with no responsibilities, I rewarded your behaviour with rations. I wanted you to have some childhood while you still could. Clearly that was a mistake."
"Why are you mad at me? I'm..." Morgan protested.
"You cheated. And not in some break a little rule kind of way," Kathryn snapped.
"I don't even know the rules," Morgan butted in.
Kathryn wasn't put off, "oh I'm sure you don't need a rule book to know that altering one of your opponents is cheating."
B'Elanna hurried in carrying a tool kit. Without really looking at anything in particular she dumped the kit onto the computer station and opened it.
"Sorry I'm late. What seems to be the problem?" she asked.
"Bwark!" was the response she got, which also prompted her to finally check her surroundings. At first Sickbay seemed empty until she looked down to find a little feathered creature pecking the floor by her feet.
"Um," she was obviously speechless.
The doors opened again. Neelix strolled in nursing his chin with one hand. "Doc, it happened again!"
"Now's not a good time," B'Elanna said, fearing the worst.
Neelix looked at her puzzled. "Why, what's..." The creature quickly walked over to stand behind B'Elanna, unfortunately though he spotted it. His face lit up, the injury on his chin a distant memory as he hurried forward to grab it. B'Elanna didn't see anything wrong other than his chin hair being a little shorter in one spot.
"Buck bwark!" the chicken panicked, its feathers rustled. It bolted for the door, or it tried to but its escape was blocked.
"No don't, that's not edib..." B'Elanna stammered.
Luckily the chicken ran through the gap between Neelix's legs and managed to get to the door. It fizzled out of existence as soon as it reached the frame.
"Oh great," B'Elanna groaned.
in the Ready Room:
"You have to admit," Morgan sniggered. "It was pretty funny."
"Do I look like I'm laughing?" Kathryn snapped.
Morgan's face softened, she looked almost innocent. "No, not now but you were."
"And Seven?" Kathryn questioned.
"That was funny, don't deny it," Morgan said proudly. She was surprised that Kathryn still didn't look impressed. "And totally accidental."
Kathryn sighed tiredly. "The trick to dealing with Seven is subtlety. You don't have any."
"It was only a little bit. It's not my fault it was slippy," Morgan whined combined with a pout.
"Enough," Kathryn groaned. "Everyone is talking about this. I can't keep looking the other way and rewarding you for bad behaviour, just because I don't like the target. If you want rations you're going to have to earn them."
Morgan giggled for some reason Kathryn didn't understand. "Oh mum. You're so funny."
"I'm serious," Kathryn said.
Nothing really changed other than a moments hesitation. "Good one. Chuck your sixteen year old untrained kid into Engineering, fly shuttles and run diagnostics. Yeah right."
"Why not? You'll have to someday anyway," Kathryn said, finally making Morgan lose her smile and her face drained. "It's time to pull your weight. It's not like you don't know anything about starship operations. Don't play the dumb I'm just a kid angle because it won't work on me."
"But," Morgan stuttered. "I'm not Starfleet."
"Half of the crew isn't. We'll find somewhere for you that'll suit your talents, in the meantime..." Kathryn said.
Morgan quickly brightened up, "ooh, can I be Captain when you're not around?"
Kathryn burst into hysterical laughter, "I'd have to be sixteen myself to say yes to that." Morgan's face once more dropped. "No. For now we need people on the bridge for the nightshift. There's a lot less volunteers now that Harry thinks he's a badass who should shoot everything in sight."
"Nightshift?" Morgan whined.
"Nightshift," Kathryn said with no sympathy. "Don't worry, you won't be the only spoilt child there. It should make the transition into useful member of the crew a little easier."
The last sentence put Morgan a little on edge, her fists clenched behind her back. "I'm not useless."
"No. That's the point. You're my daughter, I won't let your talents go to waste," Kathryn said with a smile.
"But I was using my tal..." Morgan complained.
"Dismissed. Nightshift starts at 2200 hours," Kathryn said sharply, a hint to not dare argue with her.
Morgan was still a little tempted but she knew it wouldn't help now. She turned on her heel and stomped outside in a huff.
The teenager made sure she did the exact same thing when she entered the Bridge bang on 2200 hours. Since no one was paying attention it made little difference.
Morgan eyed up the Captain's chair until she noticed someone was already sitting in it. Then she looked toward Tactical, only then someone noticed her.
"Morgan? Isn't it past your bed time?" Jessie asked but with a friendly smile on her face.
"No, but it is my me time," Morgan replied seriously.
The two girls heard a chuckle from the Captain's chair. The occupier stood up, making Morgan annoyed once more. "What are you in here for?" James asked.
"Oh hell, you're in charge of the nightshift?" Morgan said in shock.
"No, no one really is. I just don't like to sit in Tom's sticky seat when I can fly from here," James replied.
"Oh so can..." Morgan instantly perked up.
"No," the pair replied in unison.
Morgan rolled her eyes. "Well it's that or I go home. Which is it?" She thought of something a little too late, "I mean, someone's gotta keep an eye on you."
James quietly laughed toward her. "No really, what did you do?"
"You mean which thing is she here for?" Jessie sniggered.
"Hey," Morgan grumbled.
"Come on Morgan. Everyone knows nightshift is the dumping ground for the troublemakers these days. Janeway hopes they'll be too busy sleeping to do anything during the day," Jessie said.
Morgan glanced around, noting the empty stations. She had to look twice at Opps since the person there had been oddly quiet, and she only noticed him due to his meek wave. "Craig," she mouthed. Then she spotted Tani with her feet up at the science station, filing her nails. That seemed to be it. "Oookay," she said, returning back to Jessie. "What did you do?"
"You were there. Guess," Jessie smiled.
Morgan frowned, unsure what she was talking about. For some reason she had an ugly dress in her head, then it clicked, "oh. Mum's frumpy Fair Haven dress."
Jessie seemed a little disappointed. "She needed to know. The look added ten years, she looked like an old granny. Truth hurts."
"That's nice. Should I take over?" Morgan asked, pointing at Tactical.
"No, Harry was bad enough," Jessie replied.
"Well then there's nowhere for me to work. Oh shame!" Morgan pretended to be upset.
Everyone pointed at the closest empty station to them, each of them different to the other. Jessie toward her day time place, Tani over her shoulder at the back stations. Morgan thought Craig was pointing at the command chairs, but he meant the little console Seven likes to use behind them.
Morgan looked a little pained for a moment. It didn't last, an idea put a mischievous glint in her eyes. "You know, you guys are so disorganised. Sounds like you need a leader."
"Is this how your mum got promoted? It's not going to work here," James sniggered.
Morgan mocked him by laughing similarly and pulling a face. "Better than sitting in the big chair cos you feel like it."
Jessie sighed, eyebrow raising. She was about to say something, James beat her to it, "and which station were you aiming for when you first came in?"
"Well..." Morgan said defiantly, but hesitated when a comeback didn't come to her immediately. She stomped over to where Seven usually stood, wiped the panel with her sleeve before she used it. "None, mum's paying me anyway. I'll just pass the time."
"What are you doing?" Tani asked warily.
Morgan didn't have to answer. The music blaring from the computers did. She smiled like she won something. "What? I'm only the Captain's spoilt useless daughter. Gotta act the part."
"Oh god," Jessie groaned to herself as she retook her station.
"Maybe... okay, can you at least turn off one song repeat," James stuttered once the second song started playing.
Morgan pointed a pet lip at him as she tapped the panel. The song changed to an annoying one which even Morgan turned up her nose at. She was about to change it again when the singer started singing about being a blonde bimbo girl and she burst into giggles. "Oh, this is sooo appropriate," she said thinking of someone else, but still facing James so everyone assumed she meant him.
"Why?" Craig finally spoke up after being silent all night.
Tom tried his best not to laugh at his next guest. Thanks to the previous host of the program scaring the first few visitors off, he didn't want to risk losing anyone else or his new masterpiece would be a flop.
He chose to bite his lip until the laughter subsided.
Unfortunately his guest wasn't fooled. She looked annoyed, very annoyed. "I do not see why I have to join in this irrelevant activity."
"You don't have to. It was an invite and it'll be fun. You have to let your hair dow... oh," Tom trailed off awkwardly.
Seven stared at him intensely. It didn't have the same effect it usually did. Her usually perfect blonde bun looked like it had collapsed on one side. Short strands of hair were flicking out in many directions. It also looked like her eye piece was stuck on with kiddy glue and was ready to slide off at any moment.
"The dress code is frivolous," Seven barked at him finally.
"I figured you'd be the last person to object to swim and beach wear," Tom said, earning him another glare. Despite her complaints Seven wore the same thing she always did. He was a bit concerned that if she went near any of the water attractions she'd scare off most of his clientele. "It's fine. Have a look around, a couple of drinks, socialise. You don't have to go on slides or anything."
"That was not my intention. Very well," Seven said, marching around him.
Doing so Tom got a glimpse of the back of her hairstyle. Usually it was so neat it was impossible to tell she had anything but short extremely bobbed hair. Only now the same half was struggling to maintain its hold and was falling free. The best part was that her left side was unmistakably shorter than the right, and not neatly too. The only explanation was Kiara or Naomi cut her hair.
"Wow," he gasped once she was out of earshot.
Back on the Bridge tempers were a little frayed.
"Oh my god, Morgan. Put it on random for the love of god," Tani whined.
Morgan stuck her tongue out at her, "not until all of the Aqua tracks are over."
James and Jessie looked at one another, she gave him a little smirk and a pointed nod towards Opps. He turned to see Craig busy bopping his head to the music.
"They're one song off singing into hairbrushes together," Tani said after glancing over shoulder.
Another song started making Morgan perk up, "oh this one is the best. We should do a video for it, you think?"
"Yeah def," Craig replied eagerly.
"Thank god," Jessie sighed in relief, seemingly at her bleeping station.
"What, is it the last one?" James asked.
"No, a passing ship's changed their course to approach us," Jessie replied. "No weapon signatures yet."
Tani looked around nervously. "Wait, we actually have to do something on nightshift?"
"I know, how strange. Usually every species in the Delta Quadrant goes to bed at the exact same time," James said as straight faced as possible.
"Wow," Tani giggled. "It's a good thing you've got your looks."
"It's a shame you don't even have that," Jessie quipped back.
Morgan groaned impatiently. Next thing everyone knew the song stopped and restarted. "Can you save your catfight for another time, please?"
James rolled his eyes and tapped on the little computer beside him. The music went off completely and wouldn't turn on no matter how much and hard Morgan pressed the panel. "So about the alien ship?"
Craig suddenly looked a little panicked, "oops." He cleared his throat, trying his best not to seem so. "They're hailing us. Um, maybe we should pick a leader before we answer."
Morgan abandoned her console abuse swiftly and raised her hand, "ooooh, phaser rifle."
"What?" Jessie said irritably.
"Shotgun, I think," Tani answered.
"Never mind, they've sent an audio message," Craig said meekly, he pressed play.
An icy woman's voice spoke over the comm, "alien vessel. You have violated Tinai space. Lower your shields and prepare your ship to be impounded by our government."
"Geez James, maybe you should look more where you're going," Morgan commented.
James glanced briefly at the transferred helm controls again. The auto-pilot course had long since been set by Tom, and he even had a small map of the sector showing a couple of nearby borders, none of which Voyager was close to. "We're nowhere near the Tinai. Um, try to hail them."
"Who made you the boss?" Craig blurted out. He immediately regretted it when he got glares from everyone but Morgan. "Ookay."
He didn't get the response either of them were after. The ship on the viewscreen fired a prolonged beam toward them, roughly shaking Voyager for a few seconds. It triggered the Red Alert klaxon.
"Hey, whatever that is it's gone right through our shields," Jessie complained.
"What is it?" Morgan asked.
"Looks like some sort of tractor beam, but its energy signatures are..." Jessie said with a puzzled frown. Before she could finish consoles and the lights began to flicker.
"Oh for god's sake," Morgan grunted as she ran over to Jessie's station, hoping to see it for herself. "I thought so, it's like what the Borg used to use."
Craig desperately tapped away at his station, "they're not responding to hails. I've even sent the border map we were given by the Vurti."
"If that thing's draining our power, maybe we can reroute a few things, give them a shock," James said, about to get up and go over to another station. He hesitated a moment before going for the empty helm, opting to stand instead of sit in Tom's seat.
"Yes, a feedback loop. Shouldn't be too..." Jessie said as she worked. Only another hand appeared between hers and pressed different panels. "What?"
"No time," Morgan said, finalising her commands.
Tani and Craig were the ones to notice a couple of torpedoes shoot out from their side towards the alien ship. Both slammed into the tractor beam's source, shutting it off with a small explosion. Morgan smiled a little proudly as the ship's lights began to flicker instead of theirs.
It was short lived. Tactical erupted into a fit of sparks, both girls quickly moved away from it. Soon it wasn't the only one. More consoles were flickering again, groaning and spluttering sparks of their own. They could even hear the engines slow.
"What now?" Tani asked, only then putting her feet down from on the console.
Craig was afraid to say what his console was telling him. "Um. Feedback loop, power overload."
Jessie directed a cold stare toward the teenager next to her, who ignored it completely. She instead decided to focus on one of the least damaged stations at the back. "At least our friends won't be bothering us for a while."
"But we're going to be easy pickings if we stick around," James said. He sighed reluctantly, "before we lose power, someone should. Bridge to Janeway." There wasn't any response. "Too late."
"You crazy, I don't want to be here when she finds out about this," Tani stuttered.
James shook his head. He quickly worked at the helm. "For the moment, moving us away. Full impulse, for now." The engines groaned at the command but the ship still followed the commands.
"It's not going to be enough. We all know how power overloads go down. We need to shut down everything until we isolate it," Jessie said.
"Not if you find where the problem is. I'll do it," Morgan said from another station.
Jessie firmly grit her teeth for a few seconds. "No, pick the wrong one and the aliens will get a free ship. If we're lucky. Is there anywhere we can hide while we shut down?"
"Hide? We'll not get very far, they'll spot us taking a nap on some planet," Craig stammered until he melted from Jessie's gaze.
"Good, can we get there?" Jessie asked.
James winced, he hesitated on the course alteration. "Maybe but... I don't fancy my chances of landing this thing on a normal day."
"Don't! I'll find where the loop is," Morgan shouted over her shoulder.
Tani swivelled her chair around to look up towards Craig. "You're the high rank guy, say something. Do something."
"Um," Craig stuttered, still in a puddle from before.
"Great stuff," Tani said with a fake smile.
Voyager flew at an inconsistent speed toward a golden, rocky looking world. Its lights flickering on and off, or in some's cases off completely. It soon began its decent into the atmosphere.
James looked across at another part of the helm, already powered down. Seeing that made his forehead sweat a little. "We have no landing struts."
"What?" Craig squeaked.
"Why are you listening to her? She's not going to smooch you if you're dead," Morgan spat without looking at her target, and while typing away quickly.
James though was too busy to really notice what she said, or was ignoring it. "We don't have enough power to go back up."
Jessie scowled at Morgan's back. "Why does everyone go there? It's getting old."
"Hmph, you'd know something about that," Morgan muttered.
Everyone else cringed and oddly were feeling far less fearful about their imminent landing. Jessie shook with rage. She wasn't the only one though, Voyager trembled more as it approached the surface. Most of the Bridge had sparked or flickered into darkness, making her all the more tense. A quick glimpse at the viewscreen before it went off told her to find somewhere to sit and brace.
"Brace for definite impact," James warned everyone seconds later, all while cringing. As if he had jinxed it, the helm controls decided then was the best time to power off. He was the only one who noticed it though, his face lost all colour. "Really definite." Suddenly Tom's so called sticky chair was ok to sit in.
Morgan looked around desperately, she decided to duck under the banister behind the command chairs to climb into her dad's chair as it was closet. Jessie had meanwhile reached her usual station, grabbing it so tightly her knuckles were white.
Moments later the entire bridge jerked harshly to one side with a loud thud and metal scraping sound. Despite the bracing, some of the bridge crew were dragged to the floor in the same direction the ship tilted. Morgan ended up lightly flung between the two command chairs, while James had clung onto the helm controls until the metal had begun to tear, the seat beneath him already on the other side of the bridge. Finally the ship came to a stop after a few long seconds, levelling them off slightly.
Unknown to them all, Voyager had not only landed roughly on its belly and right of its saucer, it had narrowly missed sliding down a deep chasm by eleven metres. A mountain range lurked a few miles away, another near miss they were not aware of. All of its remaining lights snapped off moments after the impact, a dust and smoke trail lingered behind them.
There were multiple groans as the bridge crew tried to pick themselves up. James was a little confused he had ended up the floor after all, clutching a piece of the helm. The thought of Tom's face for not only that but the landing cheered him up for all of five seconds.
"Great plan, Jessie. I'm sure only the self destruct could've done better," Morgan muttered once she got her bearings, choosing her dad's chair again to sit.
Jessie swung around to stare at her, almost slack jawed. "Me? I'm not the moron who fired the torpedoes into a power sucking tractor beam."
Tani groaned as she struggled to get up, but more for the raised voices bouncing around the Bridge.
"I got us out and I was going to fix it, then you and budget Tom over there thought it'd be better if we skated over a mountain," Morgan snapped.
It took a second longer than usual for James to react, even then he still looked more confused than anything else. "Excuse me, budget Tom?"
"That's rich, you think this is my fault?" Jessie snapped. Her whole body ached and it was tough to get up, but the comments fired her up to stand anyway.
"Think, it is your fault," Morgan scoffed.
Tani sighed a little impatiently, "I'm with her on this one. What idiot pilots a failing ship into a planet." She looked apologetic but not to Jessie, she looked to where she remembered James was. "Tells someone to pilot, not the actual pilot." Morgan rolled her eyes.
"Give me a break," Jessie growled in her direction. "If we had stayed we'd be adrift, about to be boarded or dead. All because of a stupid little brat who thinks she has all the answers."
"Oh boy," Craig whimpered and stayed where he was, on the floor by Opps, nice and hidden.
"Maybe we should, uh, focus on getting the power back on," Tani whispered back at him. He nodded, not that she could see.
James overheard and thought about helping them.
"Hmm, maybe we wouldn't have to if someone did their job instead of doing up her makeup using Tactical as a mirror," Morgan snarled.
The deadly silence that followed froze the entire room. It didn't last long but the atmosphere didn't get any better from it. "Oh right, I'm sorry. Not all of us can be as useful as Princess Morgan," Jessie sniped right back. "What would we have done without the little moron dancing around the Bridge? Oh I know, Craig may have been able to hear warnings on his station and concentrate on it. And I..."
"Would've been able to concentrate on your staring and drooling, so sorry," Morgan said with faked sympathy.
"Is that all you've got? Little digs that I've heard over and over about James and I. Try harder little girl," Jessie said as plainly as she could, although her tone gave away her annoyance.
Tani meanwhile hurried over to Opps, stumbling on route, all while feeling the objects around her to make sure she got there. "Got anything portable, tricorders, flashlights?"
"Already got them," Craig tried not to sound worried, and to Tani sounded lower down that he usually was. After some squinting with a little help from tiny little tricorder lights she noticed he was sitting on the floor, connecting various things to an open panel under Opps.
"Good, cos we're going to need an escape," Tani whispered.
"It pisses you off. You told me that. Ain't broke don't fix it," Morgan smirked.
Jessie scoffed a little to hide her anger, it didn't work too well. "Or you don't have anything, you know you're wrong. Maybe Seven had a point."
Unknown to everyone since it was still pitch black, Morgan's jaw flexed and her fists clenched. "What did you say? Come closer and say that."
Craig gulped thin air, Tani began to sweat. "It's okay. We should have enough power in these to get a power transfer link working. Reroute some unessential systems, and Tactical since yeah..." Craig said quietly.
"Yeah yeah, just do it," Tani stammered.
James glanced over in their direction, then back ahead to where he knew the bickering women were. He knew he was stuck in between them, nowhere to run.
"You think I'm scared of you? Please, I could handle you in my sleep," Jessie said.
Morgan stomped toward Jessie with Janeway fire in her eyes. "You want to try me, huh?"
Jessie chuckled, "maybe come back in five years. I don't smack kids around."
"I'm not a kid!" Morgan roared back at her. Nobody needed lights to know she had lunged for the older woman. "You're all talk!"
James panicked and without thinking hurried over to get in her way. She was closer than he thought and she bumped into his arm with so much force it nearly knocked him flying. After the initial shock he tried to stand his ground. Morgan continued to push him, it took all the strength he had to stay where he was, and even then his feet kept stumbling out of balance.
"Oh, see see!" Morgan shouted nearly in his ear. "Hiding behind your boyfriend. You're pathetic, an embarrassment to women!"
Jessie flinched, something inside her clicked. Next thing James knew he was being pushed at from his other side, only this one was not trying to get through him like Morgan seemed to be doing, she was trying to push him to one side and out of the way.
"Jessie don't..." he stuttered. "She's sixteen."
He felt some hesitation from his left. The right continued to test his balance until the teen changed her tactics, opting instead to clobbering him in the stomach with an elbow. That made him back off a little involuntarily.
"Stop it. I can wipe the floor with all of you!" Morgan shouted, now almost in Jessie's face. She didn't seem too deterred by it.
"Overcompensation much?" Jessie taunted her while still bubbling with anger.
By this time Craig, with a little help from Tani, had gotten emergency lights and Opps back on. They wished they hadn't now with the sight of the two women looking ready to come to blows with barely an inch between them. James having been shoved to one side, unsure what to do.
"Can we turbolift?" Tani asked. Craig shook his head. "Screw it, I'll climb." Off she went for the closest turbolift. Craig wondered though if he should help James out as he looked outmatched. He knew how vicious Jessie could be and that made his mind up for him, he hurried over.
"You can talk. How many weaklings have you slapped around compared to people who actually can defend themselves?" Morgan asked furiously. Jessie shook her head, firmly biting her lip. "What? No comeback? I thought you were the backtalker, all you were good for."
Jessie's eyes narrowed, "what?" her voice sounded dark.
"Come on Morgan, you've won. Now..." Craig said as he tried to grab Morgan gently by the arm. She casually brushed him off and he was still knocked backwards onto his butt.
James sighed, he saw that coming a mile off. He then noticed Jessie curling her fists, inspiring him to try again. This time he tried to get in her way. She didn't look impressed with him for it, seeing Morgan look a little smug over his shoulder made it even worse. "Jess please, we don't have time for this," he said calmly.
"You heard the way she talked to me. I'm not going to..." Jessie spat.
"Yes you are, you're better than that," James whispered to her.
Morgan sniggered, "apparently not."
"Hey!" they all heard Tani shout. If that didn't get their attention, the little frightened squeal and a thud did instead. They all looked around to see Tani raising a flashlight above her shoulder, the turbolift door ahead of her only half open. "We have an intruder."
"What?" Morgan stuttered. She turned on her heel to run over, accidentally bumping Craig with her foot as she did. She mumbled an apology. By the time she joined Tani by the turbolift, the intruder Tani mentioned had shuffled to one side of the lift, out of sight. "Whe..."
Tani though had watched her do it, and pointed to the right.
Morgan sighed, one little shove opened the right door completely. Then she could see the new arrival huddled into the corner. Tani hadn't made a mistake, the figure was definitely not a member of Voyager's crew. No one on the ship had crimson skin, not since Neelix decided to take a nap under three suns during the last shoreleave. "Who are you?" Morgan demanded.
"My... my name's Vitera," the alien girl no older than seventeen replied, her black eyes dilated when they were directed toward the two teens. "Please, I'm not here to cause you any harm."
"Yeah I'm convinced," Morgan grunted as she gestured to the off-line consoles close by.
The girl, Vitera, looked apologetic. It seemed to calm her nerves somewhat. "I'm sorry. Not all of us agree with my mother's methods. I came here to warn you."
"Warn us, about your mother?" Tani said, her demeanour softened.
Morgan though was still reeling from her fight with Jessie. "You're a little late."
"No. This is what she does. She weakens and then she takes," Vitera said.
"Takes?" Morgan said warily, momentarily put off. "What does she take? Wait, why should I trust you? You broke into our ship. How did you even get in here?"
Vitera whimpered at her fierce tone. By this point James had walked over as well to see what was going on. "She probably got into the turbolift before the power went out. We probably didn't notice our shields go down, or intruder alarms during all the commotion," he said.
"Still, she's here, trying to get into the bridge," Morgan said suspiciously. Her eyes met with the terrified girl of a similar age, it calmed her down somewhat. "Fine. What can you tell us?"
"First, I'd find a way to secure this command room of yours before she finds it," Vitera answered. "She'll do whatever it takes to get her hands on it. She's stubborn, she won't quit. I'll explain everything once you do."
The crew trapped and wandering around Tom's latest fad were now very thankful it was so obscenely bright with its colour scheme. With it they could see where they were going, and faintly see each other.
What was left of the senior staff gathered around near the frozen exit to the Holodeck.
"I'm going to kill him when I get my hands on the little pest," Kathryn hissed.
Chakotay was a little confused, "who?"
"Paris. Let us into his stupid corny program, then sods off and now look at us," Kathryn said.
"I'm sure he didn't leave. We don't know what happened yet, maybe..." Chakotay tried to calm her down.
"No she's right. No one's made a comment in a while. Where is he?" B'Elanna asked with concern.
Unknown to them Tom hadn't gone at all, he was several hundred feet above them sitting in one of the coaster cars. It had been about to go over the incline when the power failed. Since Upendi wasn't a one person only ride he wasn't alone.
"May I remind you that I'm only stuck here because no one wanted to ride this stupid roller coaster with you," Harry said tiredly.
Tom gasped in offense, "it is a themed water coaster slide hybrid."
"Ohno, I'm so sorry!" Harry snapped.
Since they were so high up, no one could really hear them over the sound of the water still running through the slides. The music was even still playing, but in really slow motion and kept juddering.
"Strange," Chakotay said.
Kathryn scoffed, "is it really? If you can't hear his stupid voice, he's not here. Maybe..."
"Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to have children on the nightshift," Seven said.
Kathryn growled, almost everyone in the Holodeck backed off as a result. "Morgan couldn't have done this. There were adults at actual stations." Chakotay tried not to laugh but he snorted, getting her attention anyway. "James, Jessie, Harry should've all been there. Don't make stupid assumptions."
"Oh I don't know, that Morgan's a chip off the evil block," Tom said to Harry.
Harry stared blankly back at him. "You're a moron." Tom seemingly didn't hear it or ignored him. "Something went down. It felt like we were under attack. Morgan's biggest alteration was turning people into Sunday roast animals. But sure, this is just another one of the kid's practical jokes. I suppose she didn't get enough bloodlust when the cow nearly trampled me."
Tom laughed nervously. That was enough evidence for Harry to snap, "I knew it, that was you."
"Uh... April Fools," Tom said pathetically.
Harry was speechless, all he could do was quietly seethe beside him.
Meanwhile Kathryn stared into poor Tuvok's back as he tried once again to open the doors by rewriting one of the panels. "I cannot find a system with sufficient or any power, Captain."
The angry retaliation he expected didn't happen, only instead Kathryn perked up to everyone's surprise. "Oh, Seven finally. Make yourself useful."
"Captain?" Seven said, sounding puzzled. She tried to hide the pride swelling up in her chest at the thought of being needed.
"Perhaps you will be able to find a suitable power point since you can dig a little deeper," Kathryn said. Nobody felt like that her sentence cleared anything up, they only were more confused. "Assimilation tubules, nanoprobes. Do I really have to think of the details, can it be done or not?"
Seven raised her non mechanical eyebrow so the other wouldn't slip off, "perhaps I could make a connection, I shall try."
"Great," Kathryn said, gesturing to the panel. Tuvok reluctantly moved out of the way.
"That sounds like nonsense," Chakotay whispered to her.
Seven crouched down to point her fist at the same panel Tuvok worked on. The assimilation tubules shot out and embedded themselves in the wiring.
"So making Talaxian zombies or turning murderers into harmless little puppies is okay, but this is where you draw the ridiculous line?" Kathryn snapped.
"That murderer one again. You need to make up something more realistic," Chakotay laughed.
Kathryn laughed too but mockingly, "how cute, you think I'm making it up." Chakotay turned a little pale at the thought.
Seven glanced over shoulder, "um Captain." Everyone focused on her. "I'm stuck."
"Ohno, what an unexpected turn of events," Kathryn pretended to gasp.
"I'm serious," Seven said, she tried to retract the tubules but they either seemed to be tangled in the wires or trapped within a powerless system.
"So much for Plan B. Plan C anyone?" Kathryn asked like nothing happened.
Seven tugged once more with no success, "excuse me. I need some help."
"Perhaps we find something in this program that will give us leverage to pull the door open," Tuvok suggested.
"I'm sure I saw some of those creepy holograms pushing the empty cars along the beginning of that ride with big sticks," B'Elanna added on. She didn't wait to be told, she hurried off to collect them.
Seven cleared her throat, "I'm still stuck. Excuse me!"
B'Elanna returned with a couple of five foot long what appeared to be tree branches. She offered one to the rest. Tuvok took it before Kathryn could get a chance, fearing the worst. The pair then started to chip away at the crack in the centre of the door until it began to part. B'Elanna forced hers into the gap while Tuvok moved around to pull the doors open with his hands, the others joined in. Of course Kathryn made sure to shove Seven out of her way to do this, not too far since she was still stuck.
They barely got the doors halfway open when they noticed the figures on the other side of the door. One of them cackled in high pitch like a hyena, a male peach skinned alien with a crazy look in his eyes.
"Aaw thanks for opening that, we were about to give up," he was one pitch off squealing.
Kathryn pulled a face in disgust, "oh god, what are you supposed to be?"
B'Elanna and Tuvok quickly brandished the sticks, as they were the closest thing they had to a weapon. Only the aliens, bar the cackling man pointed guns at them.
"Hmph. Some respect, shrill one," the man said whilst batting one of the sticks out of his face. Only it was B'Elanna's and it returned immediately. Nevertheless he pushed his way into the door frame. The gun wielding ones prodded their weapons, hinting they should step back. They had no choice but to do as they wanted, allowing the man to waltz fully inside like he wanted as if he were royalty.
He glanced at the senior staff who'd opened the door with contempt as if they were beneath him. "You are in the presence of the amazing Nuvan, son of the fearsome Xara and Scart. Rulers of the Atinai."
"And what wrong adjective are the Atinai?" Kathryn asked.
Chakotay shook his head while Tuvok's eyebrows shot up to where Tom and Harry were sitting. "Oh boy," Chakotay mumbled to himself.
"What?" fortunately the man looked only confused.
"Should we round these fools up, Prince Nuvan?" one of his companions asked.
Nuvan glanced around at the strange Holodeck program, the Voyager crew were not surprised this guy didn't look dismayed but impressed at what he saw. "No. Bring them all here. I'm sure mother would find this a pleasing prison."
"You bastar..." Kathryn hissed.
Chakotay quickly cut in, "what is it you want here? Maybe we can figure something out before it gets any uglier."
"It can get uglier?" Kathryn asked, gesturing her eyes toward Nuvan. "Looks like the end result of a Tom and Harry transporter accident."
"Can you make anything out? I heard our names," Harry meanwhile asked from their roller coaster seat high above them. They could barely make out who was who as everyone looked like tiny shadow figures.
Tom squinted for some reason. "Kinda, something like interest over, we'll run with accents."
"I don't... don't think that's it," Harry muttered impatiently.
"To run I definitely heard, to run with axes?" Tom mumbled to himself.
Harry sighed, he gave up and sat back in his seat. It rocked the whole thing a couple of more times. Tom's stomach lurched.
The leader of the group, Nuvan puffed his chest as his face turned a hot pink. "Just you wait until mother gets here. She will decide your fate."
"Oh, okay we'll wait for your mummy to get here. Until then can you stamp your feet and suck your thumb in the corner so I don't have to laugh so much," Kathryn said in a sweet voice.
Nuvan gestured to his companions. They marched forward, forcing the Voyager crew backwards again. This gave him more breathing room to step further into the program. He passed Seven still trying to pull herself free. No one had noticed her and she clearly hadn't noticed the new arrivals. He though doubled back to get a better look at her.
"And who are you?" he asked.
That got her attention, her head darted up. Their eyes met. "Seven of Nine," she breathed, almost seductively.
"What a cold name for such a golden beauty. Do you..." Nuvan said as smoothly as he could, which wasn't much.
"But you can call me Annika," Seven said, batting her eyes more than usual. By now everyone was feeling very ill, even Nuvan's teammates.
"Annika," Nuvan sighed contently with a dreamy look on his face.
Kathryn rolled her eyes so much they nearly rolled out of her sockets. "Oh my god. If anyone needs me, I'm going to drown myself in Tom's Upantsi water slide." Since she wasn't leaving, the aliens let her march off in the opposite direction.
Craig gingerly moved his hand in front of him, toward the turbolift shaft. A forcefield sprung up to push him back. He gave James at opps a nod.
Morgan watched from and leaned over the partly scorched Tactical station, with Vitera and Tani standing on the other side. Tani occasionally glanced over her shoulder to check if Jessie was still seething in the first officer's seat with her back to everyone.
"That's all the exits now," James said.
"Even the one no one uses in Janeway's Ready Room?" Tani asked. Both of the men nodded in response, making her sigh in relief. "Now what then?"
Morgan's eyes drifted to Vitera. She didn't have to say anything though, Vitera took in a deep breath, ready to explain.
"Twenty years ago our leader, my mother's first confidant, lead a rebellion against the pink skins, you may know them as the Tinai," Vitera said.
"Pink skins?" James said in a wary voice.
Vitera's chin lowered, shame spread on her face. "I apologise, I meant no offense. We were born on the same world, but they treated us as monsters. All we wanted was to live as they did."
"I wasn't..." James said, also a little ashamed. "Just surprised me that's all. Sorry."
"So your father lead the revolt against them," Morgan said, hinting that she should carry on.
Vitera grimaced for a moment. "Scart was not my father, he died before I was born. He was Nuvan's though. Mother told me he was a great man, not like them. That he was the only one who saw us as people."
"Scart was a Tinai?" Craig asked, but it seemed an obvious question after he said it.
"Yes. He fought for equal rights, our freedoms," Vitera replied.
Morgan looked confused though, "am I missing something? You don't look too thrilled about it."
Vitera's gaze turned sullen, she directed it to the floor. "It did more harm than good. They called him a traitor and executed him. My mother never got over it. Hate and paranoia consumes her now."
"I don't mean to sound like a self centered bitch here," Morgan said, ignoring the humoured scoff from the command chairs which she expected. "But what does this have to do with us?"
"After Scart was executed, the Tinai convicted all of us of treason. We were exiled here. This planet is nothing but wasteland. No food, very little water which is contaminated by the mountains' ore," Vitera explained as quickly as she could. "Our ship belonged to traders who were interested in mining the ore. Mother saw that as an opportunity. Everyone saw it as an escape and went with her. But no matter which direction we chose, there was a border where we were not welcome. Every species we tried to barter with would turn us away in disgust."
Tani shook her head, sympathetic and a little angry at what she was hearing. "I don't get it, why?"
"Humans weren't that much better than the Tinai and their friends, once upon a time," James said with disgust in his voice. "Idiots fear the different, so they blame and hate them for it. They're cowards, nothing more."
"Perhaps. We've wondered why for decades. Everytime we were turned away, mother grew more and more enraged. We were starving, our power was running out. So she decided to take it. So many ships looted and left for dead, their only crime; passing through to trade with the Tinai or their neighbours," Vitera said. "It's the only life I've known."
"So she'll be here now, raiding Neelix's kitchen? No one deserves that, we should stop her," James said.
Morgan agreed, she looked disgusted. "Definitely. Let's hope for her sake she doesn't find mum's stash. It could get ugly."
Vitera was naturally a little confused at the banter, she tucked it to one side for now. "I'm afraid it's not that simple. The looting was for our survival, but mother has wanted for years to escape this sector. She saw your ship as the means to do so."
"Why?" Tani asked.
"Simple, unlike the other ships, yours wouldn't be missed. You wouldn't be coming back through here. It also helps that your ship is habitable," Vitera replied.
"So like you warned us, she'll want to get to the bridge," Craig said. Vitera looked over her shoulder to give him a few nods. "What's she capable of?"
Vitera froze, she couldn't look them in the eye for what she was about to say. "Your species will remind her of them. So, anything... everything. She's..." a lump in her throat cut her off, eyes threatened to tear up. "My mother died long ago, I do not recognise her anymore."
As more and more of her crew, herded by the armed aliens, entered the Holodeck, Kathryn grew even more frustrated. Everyone knew better than to be within a few metres of her when she was like that. Visible steam rose from her.
Finally, the last group were pushed inside, followed by a woman with a cold stare. Tall and proud, with a definite air of authority about her. The complete opposite of Nuvan who had retreated to a nearby bar to flirt like a teenager with Seven.
The woman scanned the crowd, eventually resting on Kathryn. "You. Are you in charge here?"
"What gave it away?" B'Elanna whispered to the people closer to her.
Kathryn glared, too stubborn at first to answer her. Eventually she lowered her arms from the crossed position and took a step forward. "This is my ship. I'm..."
"Not anymore," the woman cut her off. The tension that caused could cut the ship in half in a second, even some of the aliens shivered. "I am Xara. Ruler, Queen of the Atinai."
The tension didn't ease, the silence was uncomfortable for everyone. Everyone except Kathryn anyway, it only amused her. "I'm sorry, was I supposed to bow?"
The woman smirked at her on approach. "You will. From what I understand, your command deck is far above us. Shielded from the inside. Yet you are here."
"That's too bad. Goodbye," Kathryn said.
"You think I'd give up that easily?" Xara sneered. "I'm sure with some, convincing, you'll lower the shield. Even a cold blooded creature like you wouldn't want your fellow man to suffer."
Kathryn death glared her, but the woman was strangely unaffected by it. She seemed to have a similar stare of her own. Anyone in the general vicinity were sweating at the proximity.
"I assure you, if anyone on my crew gets even the slightest scratch, you'll find I will become a lot less accommodating," Kathryn said.
Nuvan chose the tense standoff to wander over, his arm linked with Seven's. "Oh mother, I have wonderful news."
"Not, now," Xara snapped slowly without even looking at him.
Kathryn though did look at him, as well as Seven. She shuddered uncontrollably. "Except her." She had to double take, Seven was smiling for once, it creeped her out. She wasn't the only one either.
Intrigued by this and with a completely different image of this her in Xara's mind, she turned to address her son anyway. She was soon very disappointed. "What is this?" she snapped.
Nuvan wasn't put off. "Mother, this is Annika. She will be my first confidant. Not that there will be any need for a second," he addressed the last sentence to Seven flirtatiously. She giggled in response.
"What the fu..." B'Elanna blurted out.
Fortunately Xara wasn't too impressed with this news either and she grumbled, "I do not have time for your practical jokes, Nuvan."
Nuvan's smile faded, "I am not joking, mother. Annika is my one true love."
"She is a pink skin. I will not be insulted in this manner!" Xara snapped.
Kathryn rolled her eyes, "oh for god's sake, he's a grown... boy, he can marry whoever he wants. So you'll be leaving for the wedding soon, right? I'll even pay for it, cater... Neelix get over here." Neelix dashed over in two seconds. "That was quick."
Chakotay laughed behind his hand. He wasn't the only one.
"Of course. This is so romantic, I'd love to cook for your wedding," Neelix gushed.
Seven turned up her nose, "of course. Janeway is trying to be rid of me once again. Why don't you just be direct and say it instead of this fake nice routine."
"Fine. Go away," Kathryn said. Seven recoiled in horror.
Xara wasn't sure what was happening, it was making her tremble with anger. "Enough of this. Tell me how to get through the shields or I'll start with her."
"Mother!" Nuvan cried out.
"Okay," Kathryn shrugged.
Xara growled, "you think I won't call your bluff. Your kind always protect those who are exactly like you."
Everyone feared for their lives at this point. Kathryn looked ready to take out the garbage. "Seven. Like me? So racist and suicidal, I see. I know how to handle assholes like you," she even started to roll up her sleeves.
Tuvok thought to step in. Chakotay did too but he was frozen on the spot. "Perhaps we should start again. This is..." Tuvok said.
"You are not like them," Xara said icily.
"No. Voyager is home to a number of species. I am Vulcan," Tuvok answered. "Now..."
Xara looked at him as if he was two Seven's. She didn't look him in the eye, instead rudely shoved her palm in front of his face. "I will not speak to traitors. Now, here's how this is going to go. One of you will inform whoever is up there about your predicament. Tell them you have one day to live. In the meantime I will pick one at random to interrogate."
Kathryn was even more annoyed than before, no one thought it was possible. She placed a hand on Tuvok's shoulder as she stepped a little way in front of him. "Don't you dare talk to or treat my crew like this. You will deal with me, leave them out of it."
Seven looked even more offended than before. "She didn't stick up for me like that Nuvie." Nuvan rubbed her back gently, all while pouting at her. "She's always hated me," she said with tears in her eyes.
"She doesn't deserve you, my lovely," Nuvan said. The people in earshot gagged.
Tom gasped abruptly, Harry jumped. "Oh you don't say that about anyone's mama."
"Are you sure you're not concussed?" Harry asked impatiently.
"I don't hear you trying to decipher this," Tom replied just as much.
"No, I'm too busy trying to think of a way off this ride. So far the winner is jump," Harry grumbled.
"My people on the bridge will never lower the shield for you. Don't waste your time," Kathryn hissed.
"So they'll have your crew's blood on their hands. Of course you'd value this ship over your own people," Xara said. "Pinks! All of you, so materialistic; no respect for life," she spat in disgust.
"Yet you're risking your people's lives to take over my ship? Take your hypocrisy and your pink comments elsewhere, preferably where the endless stream of Neelix look-alike greeters hang out," Kathryn snapped.
Neelix huffed in offense and folded his arms tightly. "That's it, I'm not baking that coffee cake for the wedding." He stomped off.
"As if I'd go to Seven's wedding," Kathryn laughed.
Xara smiled maliciously. "Proving my point, Janeway was it? You treat your alien slaves with such contempt. Even pink ones such as this..." she looked at Seven in disgust, just in time to catch her son and her make kissy faces at each other. "I'm not sure what she is."
"If only Tom were here, we'd have proof Janeway doesn't really discriminate when it comes to crapping on people," B'Elanna said.
Despite not understanding anything that had been said, Tom did hear some of B'Elanna's words. He smiled dreamily, "I love you too turtle dovey."
Harry stared at him blankly, once more considering slipping out of the coaster car and dropping the twenty plus metres into the shallow pool below. "You got that from all that she sa...? Turtle dovey?"
"What? She's cool with it," Tom protested.
"You know for an episode technically called love, it's awfully racist," Harry muttered.
Tom narrowed his eyes accusingly at him. Harry knew why, he kept his mouth shut. He didn't know how wrong he was, "what's racist about a turtle dove? They're beautiful."
"Now, who's first?" Xara smiled deviously. Almost everyone pointed at Seven instinctively. She folded her arms in a huff.
TO BE CONTINUED
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