17th, 20th, 21st June 2016


The alien doctor escorted Jessie and Harry through a bright promenade which reminded her of a shopping centre. A mostly dead one with all the good stuff moved on to a better place. Everyone they spotted on their journey was all dressed similarly in robes, so Jessie wasn't at all surprised at the lack of clothes shops. Harry meanwhile was more unnerved by their stares and in some cases obvious stalking of them.

Every few seconds an echoed thump flew overhead. Once he heard a couple, Harry pictured the array and the pulses it was firing to some unknown place.

"Our food dispensers are right this way," the alien said, gesturing ahead with his arm. Their path lead to a more open and brighter area. Harry's eye ventured upwards, fully expecting to see the sky and their planet's star, but instead saw a ceiling of rock formations and bright lights that mimicked star light perfectly.

Not far ahead they both could see a river flowing. Jessie kept staring at it as she walked until she reached the railing. Their food area seemed to be on a much higher level, overlooking the river and the rest of the colony.

"We're underground," Harry said in astonishment as he joined Jessie at the railing.

"Our society is subterranean. We've lived here for over five hundred generations," the alien explained.

"But why, did something... force you down here?" Jessie asked, a little meekly. Harry noticed her shoulders tense as she did so, and she didn't look the alien in the eye either. She didn't strike him as a shy person, so that wasn't the problem he thought to himself.

"Yes, the Warming," the alien answered.

Since they had all stopped walking, the amount of stalkers they had collected on route all gathered around them, gossiping quietly. Jessie looked across at them, tensing up even further with a scowl on her face.

"The Warming?" Harry said curiously.

The alien doctor lead the pair towards what looked like replicators built into a wall nearby, with a queue of people waiting their turn.

"Long ago, our surface turned into a desert. The Caretaker arrived and opened a deep chasm in the ground. He lead our ancestors to it. Since then he has provided for all of our needs," he said. The people in front of them didn't seem to mind when he jumped the queue entirely to replicate two bowls.

Jessie's appetite vanished the instant she looked at the grey slop in hers.

"Your Caretaker may be your saviour, but he isn't exactly a fun guy is he?" Jessie commented.

Harry's eyes shot wide open and his head snapped towards her so fast he felt it twinge. "Jessie," he whispered.

Jessie rolled her eyes and yet smiled at him. "What, I don't have or care to have any Starfleet tact. I'll leave that to you."

The alien wasn't offended though. "It's quite all right. We've lived this way all our lives, which we are grateful for. Our young people, such as yourselves, do crave more. It's only natural so I understand."

"Do you also understand why my friend assumed we were prisoners and acted as such?" Jessie said.

Harry sighed and decided to have a look around while eating the slop.

"I do. The situation has been explained to him. Once he recovers from the sedatives and isn't a threat to our people, then..." the alien replied.

Jessie shook her head as she turned it to one side, scoffing to herself. When she turned back she said, "I'll make sure he behaves himself. That I can guarantee."

The alien merely nodded. Harry took that as the matter resolved, so he could ask the questions that had been nagging at him. "So, do you have contact with the Caretaker?"

"Not directly. We try to interpret his wishes the best we can," the alien said.

"So how do you know why he sent us to you?" Harry asked another.

The Ocampa doctor lead them both to a close by table so they could sit down. "We believe he must have separated you from your people for their protection."

"A bit hasty, Jessie's friend probably doesn't beat people up for fun," Harry blurted out. Jessie glared at him with such ferocity, he thought he was back on Voyager with a much younger version of the Captain. "He doesn't, right?"

"No," Jessie sighed loudly and impatiently.

The doctor chuckled at his remark, "I meant from your illness. Perhaps the Caretaker was trying to prevent a plague."

"That's stupid. I was fine until he stuck that needle in my chest," Jessie muttered. Harry winced at the eerily similar memory. It couldn't have been though, from what he saw he wasn't the only one who was assaulted that way.

"All we know is that he sends people with this disease to us, and we've interpreted it as please care for them. It's all we can do," the Ocampa said.

"So we're not the first he's done this to?" Jessie asked.

He wasn't sure how to answer that at first. He lightly nodded, "you are not the first patients, no."

Harry's chest felt very heavy from the dread that was building up. His throat was hoarse when he spoke up, "can we talk to them, are they still here?"

The man in front of them looked uncomfortable and yet sympathetic. He sighed deeply. "Your condition is serious. We don't know how to treat it. I'm afraid, the others did not recover."

Harry knew it was coming, but it still didn't prepare him. He could only stare in shock directly ahead of him. He never imagined his first mission would be his last.

"Great," Jessie grunted. "I'm going to die in Greysville. It better be quick."

Harry's eyes widened once more, his stare directed towards her. He silently hoped this was just how she coped, and not how she really thought. Either way she was taking it better than him.


Tuvok walked down the corridor, then stopped at one of the doors. He pressed the door chime, but he got no reply. He walked straight in. He was greeted by a stuffy room, and lots of empty dishes on the table in front of him.

What was worse was this awful sound coming from the bathroom. It sounded like a cat getting strangled. Tuvok slowly headed into the bathroom, he felt all the steam as he stepped inside. He scanned the quarters, quickly regretting it when he briefly gazed into the bathroom.

Neelix was lying in a very bubbly bath, drinking a glass of water. The Lieutenant turned his back on him quickly for both of their benefits.

"Ah, Mr Vulcan. Come in, come in, please. I can't hardly see you. I tell you, where I come from nobody wastes water like this," he said cheerfully. Tuvok heard him scrubbing something. "A good sand scrub is the best we can hope for," a throaty chuckle was drowned out by a loud slurp of water. Tuvok couldn't help but wince when the next sounds he heard was a spit and water splashing.

"I am pleased you are enjoying yourself, but we are in orbit of the fifth planet. We are in need of your assistance," Tuvok said.

"Oh, can you pass me the towel," Neelix said, and he started to climb out of the bath.

Tuvok picked up a white towel, which he passed to Neelix while keeping his gaze fixed straight ahead of him. The luckily shorter than him Neelix wrapped it around himself.

"If you scan the large southern continent, there will be some extinct volcanoes. Follow the foothills north until you come across a dry riverbed," Neelix explained. "There's an encampment there."

"Do you think our missing crewmembers will be at this camp?" Tuvok asked.

"It's not impossible... maybe," Neelix answered hesitantly. "Maybe not. But we'll find them. We'll need to bring along a few canisters of water for barter. Do these replicators do clothing as well?"

"Yes," Tuvok answered. Even he was surprised at how relieved his voice sounded.

Neelix grinned up at him, "will it make me one of your snazzy uniforms?"

"No, absolutely not," Tuvok replied sternly. Neelix aaw'd like a child and wandered off to hopefully get dressed.


They had a little time to explore the underground colony before a couple of worried aliens reunited them with their fellow patient. Harry kept back by the river, he didn't want to do anything to get on his bad side after what he saw. The two aliens left them all to their own devices.

Since Harry was fully awake now and there was less violence going on, he could get a better look and impression of these two strangers he was stuck with. He needed to, there was no way he was going to die here. If he were to try and get out of this place, he'd need their help.

Jessie in his opinion was a little quirky and opinionated, but seemed nice enough to get along with. Her distaste for this place's greyness would make her more than happy to help. The other, whose name he had forgotten if she mentioned it at all, he couldn't put his finger on. As the two friends embraced and started chatting quietly, he looked entirely different to before. Brighter, almost harmless.

All he could figure out was he, or both of them for that matter, were his age and they were pretty close. He internally scoffed, one of them beat up half of the medical staff to get to her, that was obvious.

"Maybe next time James, think and breathe for five seconds before the breaking spree commences," Jessie said, still in a hushed voice.

She got a mild mannered laugh in response. "I was told to count to ten, I'm okay with halving it."

"Mmm hmm," Jessie said, clicking her tongue afterwards. She looked across at Harry nearby, "I think you guys met before, but er... this is Harry Kim. Harry, James Taylor-Stuart."

Harry braced himself as he moved forward to extend his hand. Luckily James didn't go for it at all, it was shaking so badly he had to bring it back to his side.

To his surprise James stepped back a little. "He's not going to piss his pants, is he?" he whispered to Jessie.

Jessie shook her head, giggling a little. "Can you blame him? Be nice."

Harry cleared his throat as his face turned a little red. "It's cold in here. Um, yeah it's lovely to meet you... in a better mood."

"Yeah well, sorry about that," James said, sounding surprisingly genuine about it. "I don't react well to waking up in a cell with people staring at me."

"Who doesn't?" Harry chuckled nervously. "So, do you remember anything from before this?"

James didn't look too pleased with the question. "I remember needles."

"Needles, plural?" Harry said with dismay directed in Jessie's direction. She reacted similarly. "Was one in the chest, like us?"

"Yeah," James answered lightly, his attention seemed to drift for a moment.

Jessie stared at him intently. "You always have to beat everyone's stories, don't you?"

James glanced back at her, smirking and sniggering at her. "I might have been dreaming it after seeing that one. It's a bit fuzzy. I was just trying to remember if it was before or after."

Harry felt tense all of a sudden after his mind gave him the image of multiple needles like the one he endured. "Um yeah, something at that point happened to us that was different to the others. An experiment gone wrong, probably."

"Or worst case scenario, we're all that's left," James suggested.

Harry stared at him fearfully for different reasons than earlier. "That's... looking on the bright side?"

"Well, no one's found us yet. It's one possibility," James said towards him. For some reason he pointed up at the rock formations, "there's one way to find out."

"Uh, we and especially you don't want to do that," Jessie said, briefly glancing at Harry. She hesitated and looked at him twice. "You two won't fare well up there."

"Wait, I hope you weren't suggesting digging our way up. And what do you mean by I won't fare well?" Harry stuttered. "I'm trained, I probably would know more than you do."

"The Warming, turned to desert. You two would look like lobsters after a few minutes. Also, no water which is not my idea of a sandy beach holiday," Jessie said.

James stared at her curiously, which she countered with a slighty smirk. "You don't even swim," he said.

"If it's hot, I can dangle my legs or walk in," Jessie said innocently.

Harry shook his head. "Making fun of my complexion, that's not... rude at all. But yeah, if it's true about no water, none of us will survive long up there. We need to find something that can shelter us once we find an escape route. That's the hard part."

"She made fun of mine too, she doesn't mean anything by it," James said with a little bite in his voice. Harry winced instinctively. "But you're right. We'll be deep down, I don't fancy digging until this illness finally kills me off."

"I wonder how the Caretaker brought the Ocampa here," Harry said thoughtfully.

"He probably transported them, like he did with us. That transporter, the coherent thing or those pulses. He has plenty of options to pick from," Jessie rebutted.

James looked around until he caught sight of the floating screens above them in the canteen area. He lingered for a bit before looking around again. "Maybe if we can find a terminal..."

Jessie smiled, her eyes partly rolled. "This isn't the personnel database, in English and binary, with Starfleet LCARs. You'll need more than five minutes."

James' attention returned to them. He caught a glimpse of Harry's bemused stare first before settling on Jessie. "All computers are the same. Every single one should have a virus defence setup. That should distract it for a bit."

"Ohno," Jessie groaned knowingly.

Harry meanwhile looked on a little shocked. "Wait, where are you going to get a virus from?"

"It doesn't have to be a real one. It just has to think so," James replied with a slight frown.

Harry felt like he was patronising him with it, judging him like he was an idiot. He took great offense at that. "Look, Jessie's right. This is an alien system we know nothing about. These people have allowed us to roam free here. I don't want you doing anything that'll get us locked up again." James laughed at him and walked off, Jessie meanwhile looked very awkward. "Wait. I'm the only Starfleet officer here, you're a civilian. You won't do anything, that's an order," Harry tried to bark.

"Oh god," Jessie groaned once more.

James stopped. For a long few seconds all the pair saw was his back. Then he turned around. Harry expected the James he first met in the hospital, thankfully instead he got the smirky patronising version. "If you want to sit here and rot, be my guest. I'm not going to take orders from a snot nosed Starfleet brat so I can do the same thing. Besides, this'll only take a few minutes. It'll tell us of a way out, then we'll take it. If it doesn't, well, I find violence quite handy sometimes."

"James," Jessie said in a warning tone, her eyes sharped. Harry felt a little cooler seeing it.

"Wait," Harry said, something familiar popped into his head. "You've done this before, haven't you?" James mouthed a duh and rolled his eyes. "I knew it, you're that guy who broke into the Academy servers the morning of my final exam." Jessie frowned in confusion. "Last year, somebody called Taylor brought the whole thing down with a virus. No one could trace it. They had to restore the backups from two months prior."

"I don't know what you're prattling on about," James said, shaking his head.

Jessie glanced between them. "Why would you even be at the Academy?"

"I wasn't," James said.

"He was a first year. I remember that," Harry protested.

James sniggered toward him. Once again, Harry felt very insulted by his attitude. "Do I look like Academy material to you? Look, I'll be doing this anyway. Come or don't, I couldn't give a crap." He walked off without them.

Harry glanced toward Jessie, hoping for some sort of explanation or anything. She sighed with an apologetic look in her eyes. "I'm sorry, he's not usually this ru... well no, that's not true. He thrives on being rude, but it's usually in retaliation."

"He's going to get himself locked up in his room again," Harry said. "And I'm telling you, that's him. It wasn't just the hacking, everyone always said Taylor was an antisocial piece of work."

"Please, if James went to the Academy, he would've told me," Jessie scoffed. "I'll keep an eye on him. Maybe you can do your own thing and we meet back at Slops Diner later."

Harry chuckled, "no, we should stick together. You'll just have to work your charms if he uses the violence he likes so much."

Jessie narrowed her eyes suspiciously, "what do you mean by that?" Suddenly James wasn't who Harry was worried about anymore. He laughed nervously.


The awayteam of Kathryn, Tom, Chakotay, Tuvok and Neelix dematerialised in a scorching desert. The land beneath their feet a dreary, parched red. The sky above them they could barely see with the star bearing down on them with such intensity they were all already starting to sweat beneath their clothes. The Humans were expecting it, but it still shocked them how unbearable it was.

They all looked around for signs of life. Kathryn spotted a settlement of a few huts nearby. Neelix hurried forward to lead the group towards it.

Tom meanwhile tugged on his collar in a vain attempt to get some air to his neck. All it did was heat it up even more. "Ugh, this brings back New Zealand memories." He remembered the big black friend he met in the hole when he also met Kathryn, it made him super aware of his surroundings. "Who'd live in a desert?"

"The rich cormaline deposits are the big trading commodity around here," Neelix explained.

"So is that how the Ocampa can survive on this planet?" Chakotay asked.

Neelix winced, "not the Ocampa, the Kazon Ogla."

Kathryn looked disgusted for some reason, "the Kazon ogle who? That's disgusting, the pricks. They can ogle my fist."

"Uh," Neelix said uncomfortably. The rest of the team were mostly used to her comments by now. Tom was starting to look forward to them, especially now as it was a nice distraction from the heat.

Tuvok quickly came to the rescue before Neelix thought twice about the arrangement. "Who are the Kazon Ogla?"

Neelix pointed ahead at the people dotted around the settlement. All of them seemed to be gathering around to watch them. The aliens all had very bumpy foreheads and sunburnt red skin. Their most striking feature was the huge hair, which made them look like they tried to tame it after an electrocution by tying a gigantic dead pitcher plant on top of it. All of them looked like men, not a woman to be seen amongst them.

"They are. The Kazon sects control this part of space. Some have food, some have ore, water. They usually end up killing each other for it."

"Well good. I hate creepy perverts," Kathryn muttered. She directed a sudden glare towards Neelix which almost scared the whiskers off him. "I thought you said the Ocampa had our people. I should rip those..."

"My friends it's good to see you again!" Neelix greeted the aliens cheerfully and frantically at the same time, to get away from her.

He was the first to be roughly grabbed by the arms. The rest of the team were quickly disarmed and dragged into the settlement too. Neelix ended up being carried there roughly. Still he tried to talk to them as if they were being friendly, "I must speak with your Maj, the ever wise Jabin. Oh that tickles." That was when he was thrown towards the wall, luckily feet first.

The rest of the team were forced to sit down on the very hot ground, which Tom wasn't best pleased about. Weapons were pointed at Neelix to keep him by the wall.

"Very amusing. I love a good practical joke as much as the next fellow," he chuckled.

Kathryn death glared as many of the Kazon as she could, accidentally getting Chakotay in the process. He wasn't used to it, he thought he'd burst into flames at any moment. Tom quickly looked away in time.

Another alien emerged from one of the huts, which Neelix instantly recognised. "Jabin, my old friend!" That only antagonised the weapon pointers further, they lunged forward with them. It didn't put him off. "Water, I have water Jabin to replace all that I borrowed. Show them Mr Paris."

The leader, Jabin approached the team, seemingly ignoring Neelix.

"Their ship has technology that can make water out of thin air," Neelix proudly said.

"Oh," Tom said, realising what was going on. He wasn't sure whether or not to be angry at their new so called ally or to praise him for his sneakiness. For now his hand hovered to the canister in his belt. Kathryn's hand reached over to grab his, stopping him. Chakotay and Tuvok glanced at her with concern

"Wait, I'm not feeling widely generous right now," she hissed.

"We don't really have a choice," Tom whispered to her.

"Oh fine, fine, just a sip," Kathryn snapped.

Once her hand was gone from his wrist, he handed the canister up to the leader. Jabin took a swig from it, his eyes almost popped out as he looked down at the awayteam. "Do you have more?"

"I assume please isn't in your language," Kathryn muttered. The Kazon glared at her. "What, you stole our phasers and manhandled us. I don't like being held hostage for sodding water. Especially when someone," she said at Neelix, "mislead us into coming."

"Captain, they may have taken our intentions here as hostile. We did approach them armed," Tuvok advised. "Perhaps..."

Kathryn sighed, "oh for fu... why do I get the feeling this is going to bite me in the ass later?" She tapped her commbadge harshly to make a point, "Janeway to Voyager. Energise."

Behind the group a huge container dematerialised, prompting gasps and shouts from the aliens.

"You might get a smidgen more if you help us out," Kathryn said.

Jabin couldn't take his eyes off the container, he was too shocked. "Help? You people are magicians. What can we do that you can't?"

"Our people were brought here to the Ocampa by the Caretaker. Do you know where they are?" Chakotay questioned.

Jabin stared down at him with fire in his eyes now. "Ocampa." He snarled and pointed at the hut he walked out of. Everyone glanced over. A petite blonde girl hovered at the doorway, her face bruised and her lip cut. "She is Ocampa."

Neelix looked over as well, his face scrunched in fury at her condition. He tried to hide it behind his friendlier facade from earlier.

"Such worthless creatures. They live only nine of these planet's years. They make poor servants," Jabin ranted as he paced. "We caught..."

Kathryn took a quick peek around before interrupting. "Yes yes, boohoo. The boys club needed a little girl to help do the dishes cos it's soooo hard, but she won't. Wah my manhood is poked, hear me roar."

Chakotay and Tom both facepalmed, while Tuvok quietly wondered why he accepted the posting to be on Voyager.

Jabin snarled at her, "what language are you speaking?"

"Oh sorry, I'll dumb it down for you," Kathryn faked some sympathy.

Tuvok quickly spoke up to interrupt, "we need to speak to these Ocampa, to negotiate the release of our people. If you can guide us to their location, we would reward you with more water."

"Ah," Jabin seemed pleased with that explanation. Kathryn mouthed what at the Vulcan. "You're in for disappointment. They all live underground, two miles under to be precise. That's the only source of water, which that thing gave them access to."

"Wow, the fiend. Giving them water on their own planet. Disgusting, I'm outraged," Kathryn muttered.

"I hope they don't know sarcasm," Tom said.

"Yes it is," Jabin growled "There's no way to get down there. We tried. The entity has some kind of barrier we cannot penetrate."

Chakotay's eye fell to the girl inching further forward from the door. "She got out. There must be a way."

"Several manage, but they seal the way back up afterwards," Jabin said.

Neelix edged forward, "maybe she will help them find a way down."

Jabin laughed deeply. Kathryn resisted making fun of it for now. "You'd be wasting your time. I've used every method of persuasion I know to get her to help us. She won't!" Jabin shouted accusingly at the injured girl.

"Then she's worthless to you," Neelix said with some contempt in his voice. "Let us trade you water for this..." His skin crawled to the say the next part, it gave his voice the disgusting edge he needed, "scrawny little thing."

Jabin pointed at the container, "I'd prefer to acquire this technology that creates water whenever I want."

Kathryn laughed genuinely, all of the Kazon and her team slowly looked at her, making her trail off uncomfortably. Neelix took the opportunity to edge closer to Jabin.

"You're serious? Oh no, that's still funny," Kathryn chuckled.

Neelix reached out to grab Jabin and point what looked like a phaser at his throat. His men reacted immediately. "Tell them to drop their weapons. Drop them! Or you die in an instant."

"Do it, do it!" Jabin shouted at them.

They did as they were told. The awayteam quickly stood back up to reclaim their weapons from them. Tuvok and Chakotay moved towards Jabin as well to disarm him.

Neelix re-aimed his own weapon to the large container, snarling, "step aside!" He didn't give the aliens there much time to do so, he fired at it and they leapt out of its way. Water started to pour out of several holes, prompting the Kazon to hurriedly grab buckets and cups to get as much of it as they could. Neelix gestured to the young girl still at the hut. "Come on."

She ran towards him, straight into his free arm. "I strongly suggest you peam us out of here," he said.

Kathryn looked on in disgust for more than one reason. She tapped her commbadge anyway, "Voyager, six to beam up."

They thankfully didn't have to wait long. All six of them were taken away while the Kazon still filled every possible crevice they could find with water.


Kathryn growled as she stepped off the transporter pad. Her team followed her, while putting their phasers back into their belts. Kathryn kept hers out, contemplating using it on a certain member.

"Oh my dearest," Neelix purred, which didn't help. "Didn't I promise I'd save you?"

Everyone turned to look at the two alien guests on the transporter pad. They still stood closely, holding hands, Neelix stared lovingly into the girl's eyes.

Nobody could quite believe it. No more so than Tom, who looked also very disappointed. "I gotta grow a beard," he muttered.

Kathryn snorted into laughter and walked out. He heard her even when she was in the turbolift.


Harry, Jessie and James were in a dark, and empty passageway. Harry paced backwards and forwards as he was thinking. Jessie sat on the ground, leaning her back against the wall. James was standing next to her with his arms folded.

"I'm not surprised. The computer probably is the Caretaker," Harry said mid pace.

James sighed tiredly, "so I should expect a thunder strike any minute?"

Harry laughed, "he's not actually a god. But yeah, I'm staying over here." He changed direction to keep away.

"Well, all that's left is wait or dig up," James said.

"Look I'm sure Captain Janeway is doing everything she can to get us back," Harry said.

"Who, Captain Gainweight?" Jessie sniggered despite how tired she felt.

Harry stopped pacing, he glanced at her strangely. "Janeway," he said slowly.

"I knew that," Jessie said, her face turning red.

James shook his head. "Of course you did."

Jessie winced and she brought her hand up to her neck. James quickly put his arm around her shoulders.

"Should I get some help?" Harry asked with concern in his voice.

"No, I think it's going away now," Jessie replied with a faked smile.

One of the nurses that tended to Harry hurried over to the group, which took them by surprise.

"Are you in pain?" she asked.

Jessie groaned as she shook her head. "No, I'm fine."

The nurse took something out of her pocket discreetly. "I don't know if this will help but it's a medicine. I'm sorry about what's happened to you."

Harry took the medicine from her hand carefully. "We appreciate this, but we need to get to the surface to find our own people."

"The Elders would say that'd be against the Caretaker's wishes," the nurse said.

James rolled his eyes, "old, close minded and religious running the place. Picture me surprised."

Harry wanted to shush him, but he wasn't brave enough. "What do you think?" he asked the nurse.

"The Caretaker's been acting strangely the past few months. Abducting people, increasing the power supply," she replied anxiously.

"Is that the oomph we keep hearing?" Jessie asked.

The nurse nodded. "It's been tripled. There's enough power to run the city for five years."

"Nobody knows why?" Harry asked.

"When we ask, we're told to trust the Caretaker," the nurse said.

"The word baah comes to mind," James muttered to himself. Jessie smirked up at him. Harry was just thankful that the girl wouldn't have a clue about Earth sheep to get it.

As they expected she looked puzzled. "Someone I knew managed to get to the surface. I haven't seen her since."

Harry's attention was further piqued. "How?"

"The ancient tunnels that brought us here still exist, sometimes small breaches appear in the Security Barriers, they allow somebody to get through," the nurse replied.

James smiled, partly in relief, the rest of it looked strangely amused. "Sounds like fun."

"I think that's his way of saying; where's the shovel?" Jessie smiled awkwardly.

"It would take days, or even weeks to dig a way out," the nurse stammered.

James glanced between Jessie and the girl with confusion. "Okay, if there are already tunnels, why do we need to dig?"

"She did say ancient. Maybe they've caved in, in places," Harry said, this time he was the one giving him the are you stupid stare. James didn't appreciate it, his eyes narrowed. Harry shuffled away.

"No, stay. You have to rest, preserve your strength," the nurse pleaded.

"Please, it's our only chance," Harry begged back.


The EMH made quick work of the young woman's bruised eye. All the while an argument was brewing a few feet away.

"If you had told us what you had planned, we might have anticipated your irrational behaviour," Tuvok said in Neelix's direction.

He didn't take that well, he scoffed at him. "Irrational. We got out of there, didn't we?"

"Oh yes, you're right. I'll send you a huge tub of water for your efforts. I'll just need to tie a bloody rock to your ankle and you're good to go," Kathryn snarled.

"Excuse me," the girl said as she sat up from the biobed. "Don't blame Neelix."

The EMH had enough, he swirled around to confront them all. "That's enough. This is a Sickbay, not a politicians debate. Visiting hours are over. Everyone except my patient is to leave immediately."

Kathryn narrowed her eyes at him, "computer, dele..." Tuvok cleared his throat, making her sigh. "deactivate the EMH." She probably didn't need to say anything at all, her expression was enough to shut the poor hologram down.

The girl looked on in surprise at the man disappearing into thin air. She recovered quickly to address everyone else. "I never should have gone to the surface. I'm too curious. I'm told it's my worst fault."

Neelix dotted on her, "no no. It's a wonderful quality, your most endearing."

"So er... are you her foster dad, uncle or something?" Tom asked from the back. Kathryn gave him a slow motion version of an over shoulder skunk eye. His legs got all wobbly and he was forced to sit down in a hurry.

"Do you think you'll be able to show us the way down to your people?" Kathryn asked once she had turned back and softened her face.

The girl shook her head with an apologetic tint in her eyes. "I'm afraid Jabin is right. The tunnel sealed after I got through it."

"That's okay. We just need a general idea where your colony is. We can get there the same way we escaped from the Kazon," Kathryn said.

Tuvok approached her cautiously, "Captain, our sensors did not pick up any indication of an underground civilisation. The barriers Jabin described could be the reason why. It may also stop us from using the transporters."

"The tunnels are weakening, leaving small gaps between the walls and the barrier in some places. Could you get through them?" the girl suggested

Kathryn smiled at her, then looked up at Tuvok. "Tell the transporter room to look for one of these, it might just work." Tuvok nodded and turned to leave.

"Kes can tell you where to go, but now that we're free, we're leaving this system for good," Neelix said.

The girl seemed surprised at his plan, she gave him a disapproving but gentle stare down. "Neelix, these people rescued me."

Neelix's eyes flashed, "I rescued you."

"With their help," Kes said firmly. "It would be wrong not to help them now."

Neelix knew there was no arguing with her. He gave her the usual you win smile and sigh.



Part Four <<  >> Part Six