Previous Part << >> Next Episode
Jessie heard bleeping coming from somewhere behind her, she shimmied her sitting position a little to look behind her. All of the stations there were blank still.
Meanwhile Morgan, Craig, Tani and Vitera huddled around Opps, all focusing on the small sensor screen. James hovered around on the other side, occasionally dividing his attention between that and the command chairs.
"We've found the shallowest source of ore along the edges of the valley," Vitera said, pointing to a wavy line alongside the icon showing Voyager's location. "It won't get your ship off the ground immediately, but if you can collect a few canisters every trip you should be able to build up some energy for your regular systems."
"That's if we can avoid running into your friends," Tani said. "And we still don't know what they're even up to."
"We've barely got enough power to keep the bridge protected. We'll have to do something," Morgan reminded her.
Vitera looked a little guilt ridden, "knowing my mother, she'll try to trick people into getting in..."
"That doesn't seem so terrible," Craig chimed in.
"Or she'll interrogate them," Vitera said, staring at him blankly.
His face fell, "oh."
"Maybe we'll get a clearer picture once the mining team steps outside," James said.
"Yeah. Question is, who's going first?" Tani questioned.
"Not first," James disagreed, shaking his head. "I wouldn't feel right sending kids out there when we don't know what's happening. Plus, this should be a Security job."
"Yeah def..." Craig nodded until he understood where he was going with it. "What?"
Morgan didn't look too pleased, Tani was the complete opposite. "You mean going into danger and lugging heavy metal is a man's job," the latter said, for some reason sounding like she was gushing.
"What's wrong with you?" Morgan asked her in disgust.
"No," James said slowly and uncomfortably. "If this was about simply lugging metal around, I'd imagine everyone but Craig would be fine."
"Yeah!" Craig agreed too enthusiastically. Once again he misunderstood what James' point was until he'd opened his mouth. This time he looked offended, "hey!"
Vitera giggled to herself. Morgan though still didn't look impressed. "I want to help, I'm not sitting around here like a Jessie."
Jessie of course tensed up at the remark. This time though she kept quiet.
"Tough," James said with no room for argument in his tone. Morgan narrowed her eyes at him.
"Now now, let's not do this again," Tani laughed nervously. "We'll need something to carry the ore stuff in, so why don't we see if there's anything we can muster up. Maybe if it's safe we can go next time."
Morgan didn't respond immediately, she kept hoping her Janeway glare would work. James' own expression showed no sign of cracking, but she wasn't going to let him think he won so her eyes rolled before turning away. "Mum has those bags she uses to collect coffee beans. They'll do."
"Great, come on," Tani said with a desperate smile that said come with me, please. She hurried to the Ready Room, reluctantly Morgan followed.
"Phew," Craig wiped the sweat from his brow. "So about volunteering me for a mining mission."
James smirked at him briefly, "I could go alone if you'd prefer."
"Oh I see," Craig eyed him suspiciously. "You think you can guilt trip me into volunteering. Well you got another thing coming."
"No, I don't mind going..." James said.
"No way, and let you get all the glor... fun. This'll be a cinch," Craig grinned.
James looked at him with a rising eyebrow, "you sure showed me," he said flatly.
"Damn straight," Craig said, walking off toward the open turbolift.
James wondered what he was doing, but shrugged it off and walked over to the centre of the bridge. He chose to lean on the little console behind Jessie. She knew he was there but didn't bother giving him even a side-eye. "Are you..." he began to ask.
"Hmmm," Jessie barely responded.
"I wasn't siding with Morgan," James said. She gave him the silent treatment for a little too long for his liking, he felt terrible. "Look, I..."
"I'm not that bad okay," Jessie said with a frog in her throat. "I wasn't going to hit her."
James was a little shook with that response. It left him stammering a bit, "I didn't... it's just..."
"Forget it," Jessie sighed as she looked away from him instead of directly ahead. James nodded and was about to walk away when she said, "don't do anything stupid."
James was still a little put off, but still he managed a small smile. "No promises." He walked over to Craig, who was still at the turbolift wondering how to get around it and climb down the shaft. James shook his head as he grabbed his arm, then dragged him to the other turbolift door to open it.
The beeping started again. Jessie looked over her shoulder behind her. Before it could stop she moved up onto her knees and peered over to the computer panel on the metal divider behind her. One part of it was flashing. She went to press it. Text began to crawl across the screen. By the time she was done reading it there was no one left on the bridge but her.
Nuvan and Seven slid off to a quieter section of the program, she looked pretty upset.
"What's wrong, sugar bunny? You can tell me anything," Nuvan asked her sweetly.
Seven huffed pathetically. "You see the way they treat me, especially her."
"The Janeway witch?" Nuvan wondered aloud.
"She and her awful daughter. They don't appreciate my perfection, they're threatened by it," Seven answered.
"Daughter?" Nuvan seemed surprised.
Seven looked across at Kathryn and the rest of the senior staff. "If you met her you'd understand. Vile girl, so irrelevant and plain, it's why she acts out I believe."
"Don't worry honeybumpkin, I'll recommend her for the torture-gations. They'll all get it for tormenting my darling Ani," Nuvan snarled.
Seven shook her head. "No. We'd have to get through the bridge's forcefield first. A shame. Captain Janeway would've co-operated if we had her."
"Hmm, if only we could lure her out. I'd take care of her myself, if it's the last thing I do," Nuvan said.
Seven smiled at him, her cheeks blushing. "Oh my Nuvey Wuvey, no. She is a Borg like me, I don't want her to hurt you too. We'll take care of her together."
Nuvan embraced her dramatically, "oh Annika. I'd like nothing better. You are the greatest gift I've ever been given." Seven swooned, and before anyone knew it the two were kissing passionately.
"Eeew," most of the room grimaced, and turned away.
Xara dared to approach them, she grabbed Seven by her botched hairdo and tugged hard to separate them. "Do not defile my son any further, and you!" she snapped at her son. "If you are going to follow your father someday, you must prove yourself. Choose someone to interrogate, and I will show you how it's done."
"But mother," Nuvan whined like a child, until his mother deathglared him to submission. His neck disappeared into his shoulders. "I want to torture all of the people who upset my Annika-poo."
Everyone in earshot slowly put their hands up, Kathryn slapped the hand of the nearest person to her doing it. They all got the hint and quickly put their hands back down.
Kathryn then looked to see who she had hit, and was very surprised to see it was Chakotay's. "Even you?"
"If you open a program called Human Error you'd under... actually don't ever do that," Chakotay said with a disgusted look on his face.
Nuvan stomped forward to point accusingly at them, "you will all be tortured! My honeybunny will be avenged."
Xara rolled her eyes, "don't be such an overdramatic fool. Get out of my sight." Nuvan huffed and walked off, Seven hurried after him. "Now, it's obvious who I should pick for my first interrogation."
"You mean that wasn't the torture?" Kathryn asked, pointing at the retreating couple.
"You," Xara sneered at her.
"Okay, but I don't think you can beat that," Kathryn smirked.
Xara cackled, "oh, you'll see soon enough."
Acting Captain's Log Stardate... er Thursday: So far everything...
"Acting Captain?" Tani sniggered.
Shh Tani, no one has to know. Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah. What with the crew apparently being held hostage in the Holodeck, it's up to us to get the ship's power back and then find a way to get rid of our intruders before anyone gets hurt. Hopefully when James and Craig get back we'll have a good idea how much fuel we're going to get from each trip, and how long each one will take. Until then we need to think of a rescue plan.
Vitera slid her arms across the Conference table to lean in and whisper to Tani, "who is she talking to?"
"It's a computer diary thingie. It's not working, don't tell her," Tani giggled back.
Jessie sighed impatiently from the other side of the table, the two talking to each other heard it and looked at her. "Someone tell her she's not Janeway, so stop trying to be. Quit mucking around and wasting time."
"Why can't you?" Tani snapped back.
Jessie shrugged nonchalantly, "I thought she was very clear about the pathetic no good for anything. Who'd listen to that?"
"Wow, no wonder James doesn't want you," Tani said with a smug smirk.
Jessie laughed halfheartedly, then she rolled her eyes. "Oh sweetie, if only I put all my self worth into whether or not a guy fancies me. Save all your stupid insults for when you grow up a bit."
Morgan groaned as she dropped into a nearby chair with a thump. "Hypocrite Jessie strikes again. Got any bright ideas or do you just want to pick on, what did you call me again, little girls?"
"Sure. You're focusing on rescue missions and getting Voyager back into orbit, when we can save time and chuck all of the power we mine into transporters," Jessie replied through near gritted teeth.
"Yeah but..." Tani tried to cut in.
Jessie wasn't going to let her, "it's not as fun as beating up aliens and rescuing everyone, I know, but that's tough. Welcome to the real world, kids."
Morgan scowled viciously, "what's your problem?"
"You say that like I was the one who started this wannabe catfight," Jessie said.
"No but you call us kids and tell us to grow up, so maybe you should be the grown up for once or is that too hard for you?" Morgan said coldly.
Jessie didn't know what to say to that, all she did in response was sit back in her chair and grind her teeth.
"Yep," Tani smirked.
To her surprise Morgan glared at her as well, "she is right about one thing, we're wasting time with this crap." Tani reluctantly agreed. Morgan then turned her attention to Vitera, "did your ship land with us, or is it in orbit?"
"Mother intended to abandon it and replace it with yours, but didn't want to draw attention. It's somewhere on this planet hidden, I don't know where," Vitera replied.
Jessie sat forward again with a worried expression, "that's what's been bothering me. Won't she be wondering where you are if she beamed her entire crew here?"
Vitera flinched visibly, she looked down at her hands to avoid the stares she was getting from all of them. "You're right. I should show my face sometime. I won't be able to return though, not without putting you at risk. She knows I disagree with her, she'll get people to follow me."
"In that case you going back would be dangerous as well," Jessie said.
"Better than mummy dearest thinking we've kidnapped her or something," Tani pointed out.
Vitera nodded, "and she will. I doubt she'd imagine anything else."
"Even though you disagree with her?" Jessie said.
"Mother believes me to be too weak to oppose her. She'd be correct," Vitera said, bowing her head. "This could help you though. Nuvan and I are still her heirs. An enemy capturing one of us she'd see as a weakness, a one she'd be eager to remedy."
Morgan looked concerned, "would she...?"
Vitera nodded whilst biting her lip. "Yes. All mother cares about is getting revenge. We're merely tools to her at this point." She looked up with a sparkle in her eye. "A tool worth a few of your crewmembers, I'm sure."
"I dunno. It's a little risky. Yeah she could free some of ours, but she could also send people to follow them and attack. We still don't know if you're tell..." Jessie said.
Morgan's attention darted to her quickly, glaring all the while. "I think that," she said abruptly to stop her. Jessie not only glared at her back, but the intensity of it matched. Tani and Vitera looked on nervously. "We need to act quickly. It could be a while before we have enough power to mount a rescue."
"I guess if this Xara thinks we're holding her daughter hostage, she'd be expecting us to make demands sooner than later. The longer we wait, she'll start to suspect otherwise," Tani said.
"Right," Vitera smiled meekly.
Jessie looked around the table at everyone feeling a little helpless, she covered it up by looking annoyed. "Fine," she eventually muttered with a shrug.
"Problem. We don't know when James and Craig will be back," Tani said.
Morgan shook her head, "why? We can handle this without them, as long as there's still someone on the bridge to open and close the door."
Jessie sat quietly, worry clouded her features. This wasn't going to end well, she knew it, but they didn't want to listen to her. Her eyes fell on Vitera and she noticed as well.
"Oh please, you'll have to do better than that," Kathryn scoffed.
Xara's jaw dropped. With a grunt she gestured to the two minions currently dunking a poor crewmember's head under the pool water.
They nodded and lifted him up. The crewmember spluttered out a gallon of water, but not because he was trying to get his breath back. He had been laughing until he noticed they weren't going to do it again. "Aaaw, why did you stop?"
B'Elanna struggled not to laugh, "what are the odds they'd pick Sid for torture?" Chakotay smirked.
"You are callous Janeway. I hate to admit it but I'm impressed," Xara said, resisting the urge to grit her teeth. She was able to smile though once a new idea popped into her head, two other aliens were recruited with a finger click. "Maybe this'll get your information juices flowing. Bring her to the drinks station."
"What?" Kathryn said in a bemused tone. Her arms were roughly grabbed. With too many guns on her and the crew she couldn't resist them dragging her over to the odd looking bar.
Xara strolled into it first, scanning the shelves for something in particular. The red fizzy juice and green, almost solid milkshake looking stuff was her final choice. By that time Kathryn had been dragged over to face her.
One sniff of the green drink made Xara shudder, then smile again. "Perfect." She looked at the stuff left on the counter in disgust. "But first let me..." with a single arm swipe everything on the counter slid into a broken pile on the floor.
Kathryn gasped in horror and screeched, "no! God no!"
Xara looked on flummoxed, "what? I haven't..."
The two holding Kathryn were just as confused, but not for long. Both were on the floor seconds later, cradling their newly aching ribs.
Kathryn ran over to pile. Shaking she picked up a piece of glass that any Voyager crewmembers nearby recognised, but the aliens didn't. "You bitch!" she snarled.
"What, who'd put a jar of dirt on a drinks station?" Xara said right before she was tackled to the floor. Nearby aliens quickly rushed to their leader's assistance. It took more than two this time to hold Kathryn back.
Xara climbed back to her feet with a deranged look on her face. "That's the last time Janeway. Nuvan!" she shouted. After a few seconds of not getting a response her anger was making her shake.
Kathryn though found it funny, "what, you need your weirdo son to handle me?"
"Hmph. He may seem harmless to you because of how he acts, but no one can match him in terms of physical prowess. Once I tame him he'll be a fine successor to his father," Xara said proudly. In a blink of an eye she was furious again, "Nuvan!"
One of the aliens approached her nervously, "he doesn't seem to be here, Highness."
"What? Then where is he?" Xara roared at her.
Seven giggled as she wrapped her arm around Nuvan's, tugging him towards one of the bay doors.
"We'll show that nasty Janeway, right snuggly bunny," Nuvan smirked at her.
"Right. She's bullied me for the last time," Seven said with a smile, although with a tear in her eye.
Nuvan gently wiped it away, "weak people see true greatness, beautiful diversity as a threat. No one understands that better than I. We will show them together."
"Kiss me. Resistance is futile," Seven purred.
Nuvan though looked confused, "resistance is wha..." he didn't get to finish.
It took them a while to reach without working turbolifts and a few Jeffries tube trips, but the walk to the valley that only looked close to the ship felt so much harder. The star blazed over them, the air was so dry it scratched at their throats.
By the time they had reached the ore deposit Vitera mentioned, they had very little energy left to fill the only bag they had brought.
"I get it," Morgan panted once she finished and picked up the bag.
Vitera raised an eyebrow curiously toward her. "What?"
"Why your mum lost the plot. Half an hour on this planet and I'm tempted to jump," Morgan said, gesturing down at the chasm. Despite her comment she still walked the few metres up the steep makeshift path to the top.
Vitera shook her head, offering her hand to the girl which she regretted immediately. Doing so nearly pulled her over. She was a little shocked, but she tried to hide it when Morgan joined her. "You should pace yourself. The ore is heavy."
"I'm fine. Borg strength," Morgan tried to smile, but she was too tired for even that. They headed back towards Voyager which looked a little orange from the winds blowing sand all over it.
"Mother may not have been as vicious and hate-filled as she is now, but..." Vitera said with some hesitation in her voice. "She's always been a passionate woman, stubborn and deadly. Nuvan and I both feared and respected her. Although she was brilliant and always put her people first, there was a ruthless pride within her. I think you overestimated how much this exile influenced who she is now."
Morgan frowned, some of what she was saying felt oddly familiar to her but she couldn't place why. "You think your old mother would've looted passing ships and held people hostage if this hadn't happened?"
"Well..." Vitera mumbled, hesitating again. "No, she'd have no reason to. I just mean, how can I say this without offending you?"
Morgan decided to keep silent, not only to let her think but to make the trek back to the ship easier.
"We were just like anyone else, but people hated, feared us because of something out of control," Vitera said through her coarse throat. "We did nothing wrong and yet we were treated as if we were killers, thieves. Not because of anything that we did but how we looked."
"I don't understand," Morgan blurted out in a stutter. She glanced apologetically to the girl beside her.
"I don't know how your race is, but from what your teammate said before and the behaviour of our neighbours who refused to let us escape this sector, it's a widespread problem," Vitera said. "You, you may not have noticed it since you weren't the focus of it."
Morgan stalled for a moment, the bag she was dragging behind her suddenly felt heavier. A few tugs and a glance back told her nothing changed, it was her. Vitera stopped as well, watching her curiously.
"I'd like to think I judge people based on their actions, but..." Morgan muttered hesitantly. "I hope I haven't..."
Vitera shook her head, now she looked sorry instead. "No no, I wasn't accusing you. But I must admit when I was discovered in your lift, I did."
"Huh?" Morgan frowned.
"When your friend opened the door all I saw was another pink skin," Vitera said reluctantly. "I was afraid you'd treat me the same as them. We attacked you though so... yeah." She smiled sadly. "Like the Tinai, I didn't fear you because of actions, it was bias."
Morgan shook her head as she carried on her way. They weren't far from Voyager, and she was a little worried about getting to the airlock whilst dragging the heavy bag. She was more worried about what she was thinking than that though. They reached the slouched in the gravel ship in silence.
"You're being too hard on yourself," Morgan said finally. Vitera looked to her in surprise. "You're not the Tinai. It's definitely not the same. If I was bullied my whole life and I happened to run into someone who reminded me of them, I wouldn't be all meh, my first instinct would probably to be wary of them. The Tinai though can't say the same."
Vitera wasn't sure what to say to that. All she could do was smile kindly.
With that off her chest, Morgan got ready to climb onto the edge of the saucer. Vitera offered to hold the bag which was a struggle. Even though the ship had tilted to the right, the saucer edge was still quite aways above the ground, she only just managed it by jumping up and grabbing it. Once she was up Vitera shakily held up the bag for her to pull up.
Finally they were both up on the saucer, where they had a steep walk once more to reach the airlock they had used to get out. The hard part was over though, both were relieved and not eager to do it again.
"You know, it's weird," Morgan said in between heavy breaths. "When you described your mum before, it reminded me of someone."
"Yeah?" Vitera wheezed behind her.
"She sounds a lot like my mum," Morgan laughed. "I wouldn't like to be in the Holodeck with them two facing off, that's for sure."
Vitera laughed with her at that image. "Finally, a worthy nemesis for her."
Halfway up Morgan thought of something and looked over her shoulder, "are you sure you want me to take you back to her? What if she finds out you helped us? We can go straight for the bridge and..."
"I'll be okay," Vitera shook her head.
"You're a little eager 'bout it, I knew you were too nice to be real," Morgan teased her in a tone that she hoped Vitera would know was in jest.
Vitera smirked up at her, "that'd be a little too predictable, wouldn't it?"
"Well done sister!" a male voice shouted from what sounded like a little way below them. Vitera recognised it and cringed, Morgan though tried to follow the voice to see where it came from. She didn't have to, two figures emerged from the large oval crevice at the front of the ship. She didn't recognise either of them, but the sparkly brown outfit one was wearing instantly told her who one of the pair were. "Saves us the trouble of hunting her down."
"Brother," Vitera squeaked. "What are you doing here?" she had to shout down since he was too far away to hear her soft voice.
"Never mind that," Morgan grumbled, she then pointed at the brown catsuit wearer. "Why is she with you?"
"Mind your tongue!" Nuvan shouted back at her. "You dare speak to my delicious shnooky like she's dirt. You are the dirt."
Morgan snorted before falling into a fit of giggles. "Oh my god. Thank you for this, I needed a good laugh."
Seven narrowed her eyes at the girl. "See, see the way she treats me. Like I'm beneath her, when she's the irrelevant one."
"What's going on?" Vitera asked desperately. "How is mother allowing this to happen?"
"Mother will be proud," Nuvan answered. "I will avenge my beautiful princess and doing so will give mother the advantage she needs. Janeway will not crack, but with her precious daughter buried in the chasm she'll fall to her knees."
Morgan couldn't help but smirk. "I'd like to see you try."
"Don't. Everyone underestimates him. He's stronger than he appears," Vitera said quietly to her.
"So am I," Morgan said without missing a beat.
Seven clutched onto Nuvan's arm to whisper something in his ear. He nodded. He then launched himself into a sprint across the hull toward them. Seven followed at half the speed, mostly due to her heels.
"Brother no, there's no need for any of this!" Vitera yelled desperately, all while instinctively backing away a few steps.
"Get her Nuveytoovey!" Seven shouted.
Nuvan cackled, now only a few metres away. "I'm doing this for you Anny!" he shouted, but he muttered only to himself, "and I'm doing this for me."
Vitera looked on with worry as Morgan stood her ground even though he was so close, only instead of standing mostly straight like before, she changed her stance as if she was going to run as well.
"No," Vitera stuttered, she launched herself forward to in front of her. Morgan looked on, momentarily shocked she didn't react immediately. "Stop!" She shouted and outstretched her arms.
Her brother glowered at her, he didn't slow down. "Traitor," he growled at her, then callously pushed her aside with a mild arm swipe. Undeterred he kept going, ready to take a swing at the other girl in his way.
Morgan reclined a little backwards at the last second, avoiding the strike, then swung a kick into his stomach. It took him by surprise, Nuvan couldn't help but stumble back from the painful blow.
She was about to kick him one more time when Seven shouted to warn him. Nuvan grabbed Morgan's leg before it hit him, and pushed upwards. She fell hard onto the slopped hull, back first. She slid down for a couple of metres. It dazed her long enough for him to get up and crouch over her.
"Nice try, now you pay for hurting my sweet Annika," he grumbled as he grabbed her by the throat.
To his surprise Morgan wasn't put off by it; she even smiled before returning the favour, only her throat grab was pushing him up. One more kick and she let go. It not only got him off her like she wanted, it sent him hurtling down the saucer. When he hit it a deck down he fell into a fast paced roll toward Seven.
Next thing anyone knew Seven was flying forward, landing flat on her face against the hull.
"Ohno," Vitera stuttered.
Morgan scrambled to her feet. She swung around in time to see Vitera bounding down the saucer, Nuvan still rolling and very close to the edge. Only it wasn't the edge Morgan and Vitera had climbed from earlier, it was the front of the ship, and that wasn't anywhere near as close to the ground.
"No, brother!" Vitera screamed as he slid over the edge, disappearing from their sight. She reached the edge moments later.
Morgan had frozen on the spot, shaking with a lump in her throat, pins and needles swarmed her chest.
Vitera shakily dared to look over the edge, what she saw made her gasp and look away. Morgan assumed the worst and flinched horribly.
Unknown to her Nuvan had fallen ten metres from the saucer in full view of a group of the aliens walking from near the deflector, and one of them was furious. She was the first to run over and kneel beside him; she gently raised his head and shoulders to cradle him in her arms.
"Mother. I'm sorry," Nuvan mumbled in a croaky voice. "I tried. Janeway daughter. For Anni. She..."
"Shhh, it's okay," Xara tried to soothe him by stroking his face.
It did just that, he smiled weakly. "Are you proud of me now, mother?" he wheezed. She didn't have time to answer him, his body slumped with his eyes still partly open.
"Nuvan," Xara sobbed. Reluctantly she let go of him gently so she could stand, despite her trembling knees. Hoping to catch her son's killer in the act her head shot up, only she found her daughter's face peeking from over the edge. Once she was spotted Vitera ducked out of sight. "Vitera, get down here now!" she hissed dangerously.
From Morgan's point of view Vitera barely moved. She thought about walking over but her guilt weighed her down. The earlier conversation repeated in her head making her feel worse.
Movement from the right made her crouch down. Xara and the people with her had climbed up the same way she did earlier. Morgan quickly looked for a crevice to hide in. The one underneath the Mess Hall was closest, so she crawled into it. Only then she noticed they weren't coming for her, they hadn't even noticed her. They were heading for Vitera. Morgan scrambled back out of her hiding spot.
"You. What have you done!" Xara snapped at her daughter.
Vitera cowered at her mother's imposing stare. "I didn't... there was... I..." She couldn't think of anything to tell her, for some reason she couldn't explain it gave her courage. "I did nothing," she barked back.
"Nothing?" Xara was momentarily taken aback. Her anger soon took over. "You stood there and let that monster murder your brother in cold blood!"
"No!" Vitera cried in protest. "It's not like that at all. He..." Xara didn't give her time to finish, she swiped her hand across her face, knocking her daughter onto her knees.
Morgan flinched, it stopped her in her tracks. It was only then she realised the aliens were armed with what looked to her like phaser rifles, and she was nowhere near close enough to land a blow before they'd spot her and fire. She fought the urge to help Vitera, knowing it would only get her shot. Reluctantly with a growing lump in her throat she continued on her way to the airlock, briefly clasping her eyes on Seven lying unconscious only a few metres away.
As tempting as it was to drag her along and give her a slap or twenty for the situation, she figured the ore was more important. So Morgan hurried back, grabbing the bag on her way.
"She did what?" James stuttered. The shock didn't last, he only shook his head. "She's a Janeway, why am I surprised?"
Tani shrugged meekly, "things changed. Hostages and whatnot."
"No, can't forget the whatnot," Jessie commented. Tani laughed mockingly.
"So was the plan for Morgan to drop off our fake hostage and go mining on her own, risking them following her, or..." James questioned.
"She's not that suicidal," Tani replied, her fake laughter turning into the nervous kind.
James nodded while his face twisted, "yeah, right. Maybe we should go back out and look for her." He turned back the way he came, instantly reminded of a certain problem with that idea.
"Sure... I'm... game," an orange Craig panted while slouched haplessly over two bags of ore.
Both Jessie and Tani rolled their eyes, not surprised in the least. James however stared at him in disbelief. "You're no good to her passed out or dead, are you that desperate?"
Craig had no answer for him, probably because he was taking an unintentional nap.
"Come on James, you know the answer to that," Jessie snickered.
James shrugged, "yeah. Did she say which way she went?"
Tani raised an eyebrow quizzically. "Are you serious? Morgan can take care of herself better than anyone I know," she said. Jessie recognised the jealous tint in her eye but she didn't understand why.
"I'm not saying she can't. She's still a sixteen..." James started to reply.
"Yeah exactly," Tani said quickly, confusing him into silence. "If Craig does it he's desperate, but it's okay for you to?"
Jessie laughed at her now that she understood, "oh god, but I suppose that one year gap makes all the difference."
James glanced between them, "what, huh?"
"Well yeah, Morgan's young for her age, always has been," Tani stammered. Jessie still laughed quietly at her. "I'm just saying he's gotten back ten, fifteen minutes ago. If someone's gonna look it should be someone who hasn't been, like you or me."
"Oh, I get it. I think. Some of it I get," James said. Jessie smiled toward him. "I'm fine, ish. I can at least trace her steps. Hopefully she didn't go a different way." Craig started to snore, making James wince. "Then again, hopefully she did. I feel like I've ran a marathon."
Jessie nodded, "you look it. Jealous seventeen year old aside, Tani has a point."
"Tani has a point about what?" Morgan asked.
"That someone different goes out to look for..." Jessie replied, then she realised who asked. She did a double take toward the same turbolift shaft James and Craig entered in from. "How... that was fast."
"Was it? It felt like a few hours," Morgan said unenthusiastically.
James glanced at her, unsure whether to be impressed or annoyed until he noticed she seemed unusually sullen. "What happened?" he asked.
"Nothing. Tired," Morgan replied.
Tani frowned as she hurried over to her friend's side. "You're not fine. Tell us."
Morgan sighed deeply. "Ambush. Vitera's brother. She's been taken I guess."
"You guess?" Tani stammered.
James noticed Morgan flinch at that. "At least you got away safely," he said to reassure her.
Morgan glanced between the two, she settled on him. "Tell that to Vitera. They're not going to buy that hostage story now, are they?"
"She's their family. I doubt she's in that much danger," Jessie said.
"I wouldn't be so sure," Morgan muttered. She walked over to the two bags of ore and Craig to dump her own. She looked briefly puzzled when she spotted him. "Ookay?"
"Yeah. We really should fill the tank. We don't know how much we're going to get from this," Jessie suggested.
"Okay, why don't you and Tani get on that, Engineering's a long walk," Morgan said plainly. "We should come up with a plan in the meantime, and fast."
"Do you think they'll take Vitera's actions out on our crew?" James questioned.
Morgan shook her head timidly, "not exactly."
Xara marched back into the Holodeck with a thunderous expression on her face. The people with her dragged both Vitera and Seven with them by the arms.
"Oh joy, she's back," Kathryn groaned.
Xara kept eye contact with her as she stomped over to her. No one was really expecting it, Kathryn included, when she backhanded her as hard as she hit her daughter earlier. Unlike her though Kathryn only stumbled back from it. "You watch your mouth," Xara hissed.
Both Tuvok and Chakotay stepped forward, Kathryn hinted at them to stop by putting her hand up.
"I was actually talking about Seven, but that I'll take back," she said icily.
"Play time's over Janeway. My son is gone, murdered in front of my eyes," Xara snarled.
Kathryn frowned even if it did sting her sore cheek further. "What?"
"Who would murder your son?" Tuvok asked.
"Guess," Xara scoffed. No one did, the Voyager crew were baffled. "You think I'll let you and your murderous daughter get away with this, you're kidding yourselves."
Kathryn and Chakotay shared a glance, but not of shock like a lot of the crew were doing. Chakotay shook his head, prompting Kathryn to face Xara once more. "That blonde bimbo isn't my daughter, don't make me sick."
Seven scowled at her, eyebrow twitching. A lone tear dribbled down her cheek.
"This looks really bad," Tom commented from far above.
Harry rolled his eyes, "thanks, I would never have figured that out myself."
Tom stared at him with a hurtful expression. "I miss the nice Harry, what did you do with him?"
"Nice try Janeway. That blonde bimbo told me everything. A little black haired gir..." Xara said.
"Oh of course Seven told you that," Kathryn laughed with derision. "She's so jealous of some kid she'd make any old rubbish up. What's low is she'll do it even if it means putting her in fatal risk. That's lower than I thought you were capable of."
"Enough. I saw her, she pushed my Nuvey!" Seven snapped at her.
"And what exactly was Nuvey doing when this happened? Clearly doing his own thing, at least," Chakotay questioned.
Xara's face stiffened, it sharpened her dangerous eyes further. "Of course! As usual it's not the poor little pink girl's fault she killed somebody different. He shouldn't have been mixed race around her."
"That's not what I implied," Chakotay snapped. His offense would've been clear to everyone who knew him, but his tone and sharpened features clued everyone else in. "Your people have suffered unfairly. I understand that, I truly do. But our people would not have done anything, unless it was in self defence."
"Even Jessie?" Neelix questioned.
Chakotay sighed impatiently, "and even then we don't kill..."
"The description sounds like Jessie," Triah chimed in.
"You're not helping," Chakotay whispered over his shoulder to her.
"I don't know, if James was there and Nuvan made a comment. She can be very defen..." B'Elanna said.
"It wasn't Jessie!" Seven snapped.
Chakotay groaned while Kathryn looked at him with sympathy. "We're surrounded by idiots, don't even bother," she said. Then she twitched somewhat violently, "wait, are you people implying that I'm old enough for Xara to mistake Jessie for my daughter?"
Everyone shuffled a few metres backwards away from her. Chakotay sniggered to himself, earning him a glare which didn't have much effect. "What? I didn't say a thing," he smiled.
A vein on Xara's forehead throbbed, a two second warning before she exploded, "enough! Clearly we've been too soft. It's time to make an example out of some of you."
Sid jumped up and down, "oooh, I volunteer for another interrogation session!"
Xara shook it off before swivelling around to address all of her people. "Herd them up. We're going for a walk." Some of them immediately raised their weapons while gesturing for the Voyager crew to move, others talked quietly between themselves before doing anything.
"Mother," Vitera tried to protest, "please stop. You're making a mistake."
Xara ignored her to close the gap once more between her and Kathryn to grab her arm. Kathryn instantly pulled back, only to get a couple of the nearby aliens point their weapons at her. Xara this time had no resistance. "You won't get my ship this way," Kathryn hissed at her.
Xara chuckled, "no, but I'll get your daughter." She then pulled her roughly towards the Holodeck doors.
A couple of the primary stations flickered back to life, bringing a smile to Craig's face. "We're on," he said, tapping away at the Opps station.
James climbed out from underneath the Engineering station, which only a small section of it was back on. Before standing up he closed the panel he had been working in. "I tried to cut off the less essential systems, so we should have Opps, part of Tactical at least, helm control if we're lucky."
"Yep, we've got interior sensors, short range kind, no transporters yet though," Craig responded.
James thought to check Tactical, but not before glancing over to the helm where Morgan sat. Only she had a vacant stare on her face with her feet draped over the far edge of it. "Morgan," he said carefully.
"Oh right," Morgan said with disinterest. She leaned forward a little to look at the console then sat back again. "Barely."
"Barely?" James sighed.
Morgan did the same, almost like she was mimicking him. "Engine statuses and stuff, stuff we already know."
"Okay, but I guess we don't need that for the moment," Craig said with a smile. Morgan didn't take the bait, she shrugged passively.
"Right. It's the transporters we need. I wonder if we can spare a little more from elsewhere," James said as he got to Tactical.
Jessie and then Tani emerged from the turbolift doors, both looking frazzled from the long walk and climb from Engineering.
"Please tell me we don't have to do that again," Tani complained.
Craig looked a little nervous about his answer. "Probably not." James frowned and looked towards him. "I scanned the Holodeck first, it's almost empty."
"But the message..." Jessie stuttered.
Craig's forehead looked more like a waterfall at this point. "There's very little people still on the ship. Apart from a few stragglers still I assume trapped in their quarters, the ship's empty."
That got Morgan's interest piqued, she swung her chair around so she no longer had her back on everyone.
"Then where the hell is everyone?" James asked.
Craig squeaked a bit before he answered, "there seems to be a mass of lifesigns outside."
"Let me guess," Morgan muttered to herself. "Can we get the viewscreen on at least?"
"I'll give it a go," Craig replied. He tapped away, occasionally stopping to wipe the sweat from his brow with his arm. Eventually the viewscreen did come on, but the image quality was poor and kept cutting out. Through the pixilated grain they could make out the orange surface gradually filling up with blurry figures.
"Hang on. Maybe we don't need a few things on here," James said, quickly working on Tactical.
A few tense minutes later the picture sharpened slightly, some of the figures looked more like people, some of which they recognised. Morgan scanned the crowd until two stepped forward, far enough away from everyone else. It got everyone's attention. She recognised them both clearly, her face drained quickly.
"Is that...?" Tani asked in a whimper.
Morgan stared at the woman she saw on the hull holding her clearly miffed mother by the arm, unable to do anything since armed aliens were standing closely behind her. With her spare arm she made what appeared to be a beckoning gesture in their general direction.
"She's baiting us to come out," Jessie said.
Morgan bit her lip in an attempt to stop her from losing her temper. It wasn't working, it was making her tremble as well as her lip bleed. "We've got to do something."
"Definitely, but what?" Craig said.
"We need the transporters," Morgan said. "If we chucked almost everything into them, including the bridge shield..."
"We risk bringing up the aliens who are holding onto our people," Tani said.
"And retaliation," Craig added.
Jessie had been unable to keep her eyes off the screen the whole time, her eye was beginning to water. When she finally turned away the first person she saw was Morgan, catching the girl slouching her shoulders and shaking her head.
"We need a distraction," Morgan mumbled.
"A distraction? What are you going to do, show Xara your dance routine for Halloween?" Tani questioned with a slight giggle.
"I give her what she wants. That'll distract her," Morgan said.
Her reply shocked most of the bridge. Jessie on the other hand smiled at her with a sly tint in her eye. "Pissing off and floor wiping with the aliens I presume."
Morgan's lips curled only slightly, "what else?"
"Now you're talking," James sniggered.
Craig and Tani glanced at each, sharing a similar wince.
A little while later the group hovered by the half open turbolift door, four armed with phasers while Tani only looked to be armed with a frown.
"You can handle this right?" Morgan asked her.
Tani squeaked, "sure. No pressure or anything."
"None. Once this starts, we're operating blind. All you have to do is remember the code words," Morgan said.
"I still dunno why Craig made the cut and I didn't," Tani said with a huff.
"I'm a Security trained officer," Craig protested, gesturing the rifle in his arms. "That's why."
He knew it would happen when he did it, still he groaned when James and Jessie smirked at him. "You're right, you man, you show her," Jessie said in a deeper voice than usual.
"Yeah that's why, we need some brains on the bridge," Morgan said, pointing a cheeky wink in Craig's direction.
"Ohno," James said mid cringe, "that'll only encourage him."
Morgan was confused, even more so when Craig seemed to accept her comment with a smile. The others knew better; he only cared about the wink. He then gestured for her to go first.
"Weird," Morgan whispered to herself as she squeezed through the gap in the door. Single file the others followed leaving Tani to stand around and look worried.
Outside the ship the star had begun to set. The temperatures had took a nose dive already with the cloudless sky above them. The unfortunate crew who had gone to the Upendi program in summer wear couldn't stop shivering.
Xara meanwhile tapped her leg impatiently, while the other arm kept a tight grip around Kathryn's neck. "She'll come, she'd better," Xara muttered.
Despite her position Kathryn smiled knowingly, "not all of us are gifted with loyal daughters like yours."
Vitera overheard and winced. Xara though took great offense and dropped her to the ground. The aliens pointing their guns quickly changed their aim, just in case.
"You wait. I'll have that vile creature's throat in my hands before long. You meanwhile will be still falling to your grave," Xara snarled, pointing towards the valley nearby.
Kathryn stood back up without breaking eye contact, "I thought it was my ship you wanted. Maybe you should make up your mind first."
"Hmph," Xara grunted. "I've been waiting for the day I can turn my back on this place for too long. Don't think I've forgotten. First, a score needs to be settled."
"And what then? On route to take over the bridge you'll trip over a loose wire, and we spend the next five hours on another revenge mission against the ship's chef."
"What did I do?" Neelix whined.
Tuvok's eyebrow levels were critical on both sides. "Captain perhaps..."
"Highness!" somebody shouted, pointing upwards.
"What?" both Kathryn and Xara said. The latter scowled as the former laughed it off, embarrassed.
Xara swung around to follow their gesture, catching Morgan in the act of standing on the edge of the saucer and she wasn't alone. She wasn't fazed at being spotted, it even looked like she had been waiting for it what with her folded arms, stare down stance she had adopted. Unlike her teammates she didn't have a weapon drawn, the rifle hung from a strap over her shoulder.
"That's her," Seven snarled.
Xara narrowed her eyes. "You! You will pay for murdering my son!"
Morgan flinched internally, she tried not to show it though. "He tried to kill me, like she told him to," she said loud enough for them all to hear, whilst pointing towards Seven. The ex drone was about to protest, but Morgan wasn't done. "She tricked him and he paid the price."
A lot of the crew looked toward Seven accusingly. Several didn't look surprised though. Her eyes darted side to side, but her expression was the same neutral one she always sported.
"Can you sink any lower?" Kathryn muttered dangerously toward her.
The skunk eye Seven was getting weakened her facade; her right eye twitched, arms folded behind her back. "I was... supporting my man. I did not know what he intended to do."
"This changes nothing!" Xara snapped, her crimson skin flushed a brighter red. She locked eyes with Morgan. "First you killed Scart, then you take my son. You all will pay, starting with you."
"Works for me," Morgan said flippantly.
"Morgan," Kathryn warned her.
It made little difference. Morgan jumped the couple of metres down from the saucer to the ground. Craig was about to do exactly what she did but noticed how high the drop was, he quickly hurried down the slope to shorten it.
Morgan walked toward Xara and the rest, soon followed by her three companions.
"Last chance Xarhate," she said, stopping a few metres away. "Go back to your ship and we'll forget this happened."
Xara ground her teeth before answering, "this is my ship." Quick as a flash she grabbed Kathryn again by the arm. "Give me the codes to my ship or your brat dies."
The proximity allowed Kathryn to laugh in her face, "again, you can't keep track of what you want first. Maybe you should sit down and have a rethink."
Xara shook her roughly, "maybe you should keep your mouth shut before I..."
Somebody screamed hysterically. Nobody knew why or where it came from, at least until Morgan was tackled to the ground by a blur of brown and blonde. It was a shock to everyone who saw it.
"Um, do that," Xara mumbled, temporarily put off. "Enough of this. Kill them, kill them all!"
Her people didn't react immediately, it gave the Voyager crew time to fight back and spread out. Guns were swiped or knocked out of hands. An all out brawl broke out. Kathryn took that opportunity to clobber her restrainer in the ribs.
Morgan was still a little stunned from the sudden tackle to physically respond. "What... what the hell are you doing?" she managed to ask before her attacker pressed her arm into her chest to hold her down. Only then she noticed her rifle had not only fallen off her shoulder, it had span a few feet away from the impact.
"I am going to kill you for all the things you have done to me," Seven snarled.
"Why, you couldn't convince some other idiot to fail it for you?" Morgan taunted her.
Seven growled and was about to strike her when Morgan pushed her off of her. She rolled over to get onto her feet, just missing an offer of a hand from Craig and James. The two ex Borg girls faced off, Seven seethed at the sight in front of her.
"Do you want some help?" James asked.
Morgan shook her head, "no. I can handle Barbie Girl. You help get the others to safety."
Jessie nodded and hurried off, making sure to give Seven a wide berth. It didn't matter, the ex Borg didn't give Jessie a first glance. "Split," Jessie whispered whilst keeping her chin down. Craig hesitated briefly and needed an elbow nudge from her to do the same.
"You want to get one last hit in, for old time's sake?" Seven asked James maliciously.
Morgan frowned and looked over her shoulder at him. He though smiled, his eyes were elsewhere and so he began to walk away as well. "This fight is already not in your favour and I have better things to do," he said, then noticed Morgan looking at him. "Have fun."
Seven glared at him as he left, but once she and Morgan were alone it faded away like it was nothing. "You think you're better than me?"
"No," Morgan replied in a light tone, her lips curled, "I know I am."
"You're a killer. Nothing more, nothing less," Seven said, pointing her normal blank expression at her. Morgan yawned mockingly. Doing so flicked a switch in her psyche, she charged once more for the young girl, only this time she was expecting it and delivered a swift kick to the knee.
While the fighting raged on amongst the Voyager crew and the aliens, handfuls of the Starfleet crew who had spread out away from the battle disappeared in a transporter beam periodically. It took a few of these before enough of the aliens noticed and shouted warnings to their leader.
"Grab one, storm the ship, I don't care how... take it!" Xara commanded.
Craig overheard, he looked around to see the aliens spread out further, hoping to get close to any crewmembers who were trying to get away from it all. There was still a good amount of crew left to beam away, but after a couple of beam outs it was getting far too risky he thought. Making the choice he went to tap his commbadge, only to be interrupted by being tackled to the ground.
He tried to push his attacker off, only that made them more interested in the rifle in his hands. They each attempted to tug it toward them for a few seconds before the alien gave up and instead went to kick him to take it. Craig saw it coming but could do nothing.
Before the kick could land the alien was seemingly pulled backward, forced to turn around only to get a punch to the jaw. They landed in an unconscious heap beside Craig, startling the last remaining life out of him.
James stood over him, crouched then held his hand out. Craig took it and was immediately dragged to his feet. He ignored the ache in his arm for the time being.
"Thanks," he squeaked. Before James could respond Craig remembered what he was about to do with a gasp. He tapped his commbadge, "up," he whispered.
Tani heard him, she shook her head grimly. "Shields."
A completely drenched Harry with a towel around his shoulders glanced up from Opps with a frown. "I've only gotten thirty so far."
"We can't risk it. That's the code, there must be a good reason for it," Tani said.
"Fine," Harry sighed, he got straight to work. "Redirecting power reserves to the shields."
Tom looked very disappointed when the entire Tactical station turned completely black. Seeing that he had nothing to do he got back to twisting his jacket to drain the water from it.
"Not on the carpet!" Tani shouted at him.
"Sorry," Tom said with a bemused smirk. He turned to share it with Harry, but he wasn't amused in any shape or form. "Oh come on, you're not still mad about the Upendi ride, are you?"
"Hmm, I spent god knows how many hours sitting in a cramped seat too many feet off the ground until suddenly I was propelled into a pool at thirty miles an hour. Only then to spend the last twenty minutes trying not to freeze to death as I had no time to change," Harry grumbled while he worked. "What do you think, am I still mad?"
"I dunno, you're like a closed book at the moment," Tom replied with a smile.
"Are you an idiot, of course he's mad," Tani grumbled at him. Tom groaned and facepalmed. "Next time we'll leave you literally hanging, hmm?"
Xara had only one thing on her mind even with her people and the Voyager crew fighting all around her. Even when one fight was directly in her path, she pushed them both aside to keep going. Then she had her target in her sight.
Seven stumbled down to her knees, her cheek stung. The rifle Morgan had dropped when she first attacked was a little to the right of her, only just out of arms reach. Morgan approached her, looking ready to strike again. Seven scrambled to the right on her hands and knees to grab it. Before she could pick it up Morgan pressed her foot over it and aimed her fist in anticipation.
"Cut it out, you're not going to win," Morgan complained.
Seven stared at her coldly, her eyes showed her refusal. Morgan shrugged and swung. At the last second Seven rolled to one side, avoiding it completely. Seven recovered and jumped to her feet quickly.
"I'm serious. Get over yourself, you're not as wonderful as you think," Morgan snapped.
"And you aren't as strong and capable as you think. Just a little brat with delusions of grandeur with no talent to back it up," Seven said.
Morgan smirked at her, "oh really?" A tap of her foot hurtled the rifle into the air high enough for her to catch. "Let's try that again."
"That's probably a good idea," Seven sneered before lunging for her.
Morgan readied to fire only to find the rifle pointing the wrong way and of course the controls not where she expected. "Oh shoot."
Seven pushed with all her might, slamming the young girl into Voyager's hull and hopefully stunning her enough to keep her still. She held her still anyway by pressing her arm into her throat, the other arm holding her arm against the metal.
"Why... why are you doing this? Mum won't let you stay if..." Morgan managed to splutter despite her predicament.
"Perhaps you'd like to guess," Seven said while pointing at her uneven hairdo. Morgan laughed briefly, then her eyes darted as she bit her lip. "You do not belong here, you only cause trouble. In time, she'll thank me."
Morgan stopped struggling for a moment, a look of realisation flooded her face, confusing her attacker. "Why you betrayed us and tried to kill me, all that and all you want is for mum to say how awesome you are. How sad," she said without any pity, only disgust. "Is that why you slobbered over Xara's idiot son? He's the only one who complimented you?"
She hoped it would anger the ex-drone bringing him up, but it seemingly did nothing. Seven kept her usual face. "You misunderstand. He was from two different worlds, tainted in one, a symbol of hate in another. But he was pure, a victim of circumstance, an innocent made into a tool by his guardians. In desperate need of love and understanding."
"And you related to all that. Spare me," Morgan groaned.
"His mother will have only turned him into a hate filled monster just like her. Too far gone to make any real difference," Seven snarled. Morgan's face twisted into a confused grimace. Then Seven leaned in and lowered her voice, "and I killed him."
Morgan's eyes widened, "wha... what?"
Seven pulled her forward to throw her face down onto the floor, all while looking distraught, hoping the approaching Xara would hear her. "You killed him, you freak!"
Morgan looked over her shoulder back at her. "Are you insane?" She scrambled to her feet to counter, Seven though was already charging up to her. Morgan grabbed her and slouched over, hurtling the drone over her shoulder.
Xara was close, only a few more steps to go until she reached her unaware target. So engrossed she was in reaching her, she missed somebody grab her from behind using a rifle pressed against her throat.
Seven huffed painfully, she struggled to get back up.
"He tried to kill me, I pushed him away. What are you talking about?" Morgan shouted at her.
To his surprise Morgan wasn't put off by it; she even smiled before returning the favour, only her throat grab was pushing him up. One more kick and she let go. It not only got him off her like she wanted, it sent him hurtling down the saucer. When he hit it a deck down he fell into a fast paced roll toward Seven.
She tried to get out of the way, but her heel typically got caught. No matter how hard Seven tried she couldn't pull her leg away. He was almost on her so she took a chance and tried to leap over him. Typically it broke free as the other leg was in the air, so not only did he collide with her, she went hurtling forward.
It slowed his roll down though, at least until she accidentally kicked him back into it when she landed flat on her face and chest.
Seven looked shifty eyed for a moment. "It was the perfect moment to bring you down. I took it. Everything I do is on purpose, I'm far too close to perfection to not."
"Um..." Morgan mumbled whilst crouching down to collect the rifle. This time she made sure it was the right way around.
"It doesn't matter," Seven huffed, clambering back to her feet. "As long as she believes it, I'll take care of you without any of the consequences."
Morgan mouthed who. To her left Xara aimed a sharp elbow jab into her attacker. They recoiled and dropped the weapon, allowing her to pull free and grab the person responsible. Since it was Jessie, it didn't go entirely to plan. Xara had to take a foot stamp and a near backhand before she was able to clasp a hold of her wrist and reached out with another hand for the scruff of her uniform.
It was then everyone heard a loud buzzing sound building up above them. Most people stopped to stare up at the ship. Many Voyager crewmembers hurried away from it. The ones still looking saw a smaller energy bubble than usual envelop only the saucer section. It disappeared seconds later but they all knew it was still there.
Fury overwhelmed Xara once more. She screeched while tossing Jessie down to the ground like she was nothing.
"Damn it..." Morgan said spotting this, about to go to her aid. Seven ran at her while her head was turned, though she still saw her coming in her peripheral. With an annoyed sigh Morgan pointed the rifle in that general direction and fired a shot before going to close the gap between her and Xara, who waited, expecting her to do exactly that.
They were little more than a metre apart when someone ran to stand in between them and pointed her palms at each of them, stopping them in their tracks.
"Vitera, move!" Xara hissed at them.
Vitera turned her head in her direction. "Mother this has to stop."
"You're even weaker than I thought. Get out of my way!" Xara roared at her.
"A long time ago there was a woman who was brave enough to put aside centuries of fear and hate, so she could be with the man she adored," Vitera said, taking her mother aback for a moment. "It didn't matter to her that his skin was lighter than hers. He didn't prejudge her as a violent savage like the rest."
Xara froze. She wasn't the only one, the fighting had ground to a halt, everyone was watching them.
Vitera smiled gently at her mother. "Even when their families turned their backs on them they did not falter. They knew. They were one in the same, equals."
"They... they were fools. Naive fools that got one of them killed for it," Xara stammered.
Vitera shook her head, determined not to lose her nerve before she was finished. "No. When I was young that story gave me hope, it inspired me that someday our people would be just that; one people, not the Tinai and Atinai, together as we should be. That woman was my hero, I worshiped her so, I wanted to be her." Tears streamed down her cheeks, still her voice was angry, "what happened to her? It's not too late mother, you can be her again."
"Nonsense," Xara said through a hoarse throat. "I would sooner die than trust those mongrels again."
"But..." Vitera stuttered.
"No!" Xara snapped. "Look at what happened to your brother. He trusted one and look where it got him."
"Only because you taught him to hate, to solve his problems with violence," Vitera protested.
Xara's eyes flared up in fury. Vitera winced from it. "How dare you blame me. My own daughter, how could you betray me like they would."
Vitera stumbled back a little fearfully, she accidentally bumped into Morgan who then moved around to stand by her side. "Fine, the Tinai are mongrels, they're monsters, you're not like them. Prove it," Morgan said.
"What?" Xara growled.
"Don't prove those racist, backwards twats right," Morgan said. "End this, we can help you out of this sector, you can start afresh. You show them how it's done and maybe someday they'll grow up, realise they were wrong and make amends. If they don't, that's their problem. At least you can live the rest of your lives with your head held high, knowing that you..."
Xara lurched forward, "enough! You think you, a child and a sheltered brat, can tell us how to live. You don't know how we've suffered. Perhaps if you did..." The sound of weapons being dropped to the floor caught her off guard, she looked around to find some of her people were the only ones doing it, as well as moving away from whoever they had been fighting with.
"What are you doing? Don't fall for this rubbish. This line of thinking got us exiled in the first place," Xara tried to sound commanding but her voice shook. "They're children. What do they know about any of this?"
"Sometimes that's just what a people need; the opinion of untarnished innocence of the next generation," Kathryn said from within the crowd. Neither Morgan or Xara could see her at first, when they did Morgan saw an odd glint in her eye she hadn't seen before. Anyone else who saw it recognised it as pride. "I'm willing to take your people away from this place. But first you have to let it go, stand down."
"Mother," Vitera said in a hushed tone, her eyes begging her mother to listen. Many of her people chimed in with their own pleas.
Xara trembled, with her jaw clenching anyone nearby could tell why. "You're all traitors. I will end the Atinai's suffering, avenge Scart and Nuvan on my own if I have to."
"But these Voyagers had nothing to do with this, they only want to help us, mother please!" Vitera begged again.
"All the same," Xara muttered so quietly the pair didn't hear. Jessie, still reeling from being thrown to the ground, did though. When Xara began to pounce she made her move and grabbed her, hoping to drag her away. Xara pushed back, and they stumbled toward the edge of the valley.
Pulling her arms free, Xara went to strike her with a vicious backhand. Doing so she stepped back onto a loose rock, it gave away to the sudden weight. She slipped down the steep cliff face, but not without grabbing Jessie's arm and pulling her down with her.
"Mother!" Vitera screamed as she ran over. It seemed like she was about to jump down after her, Morgan quickly held her back. "No!"
Craig looked on helplessly much further along than they were. He scanned the rougher side of the cliff face for the section he and James used earlier to get to the ore. Then he saw movement, a blur dropped down onto another ledge. "Shi... what are you doing?" he yelled toward it.
It got everyone's attention. Many looked around to see what he was talking about. A few spotted James drop down from one ledge onto another.
"Please, save my mother!" Vitera cried.
Morgan kept a firm grip on her, a little annoyed that she couldn't help. The girl whimpering in her arms reminded her she was, but still she couldn't shake off the helplessness.
"Damn it," she heard her own mother grumble behind her. "Can any of you contact the Bridge, none of us have commbadges."
"Oh," Morgan stuttered, feeling a little stupid. She gestured with her chin as her hands were full.
Kathryn reached around to take the commbadge off her daughter. She proceeded to tap and bark into it, "Janeway to Bridge. We have an emergency here, you need to lower the shields and get a lock on..."
"Woah, don't we need code words or something?" Tani's voice stammered.
"Tani, James and Jessie are in trouble," Morgan scolded her.
Everyone close by heard her hesitation. "Okay, we'll see what we can do."
Craig meanwhile shook his head, disgusted with himself for doing nothing. He hadn't heard the call to Voyager and so quickly scanned the cliff face for the path James must've taken to get to where he first saw him. One little rock protruding near the top a few metres away got his attention, so he ran.
Kathryn crouched down as close as she could to the edge and peered over, fearing the worst. She saw Jessie first, about ten metres down lying slumped on a large ledge. At first she saw no sign of Xara. Slight movement near the end of it caught her eye, then she noticed hands trying desperately to cling on.
"Hurry," Kathryn said through gritted teeth. A nervous couple of squeaks over the comm told her they heard her.
Shouting erupted from crewmembers and aliens to the right of her. It didn't take long to see what they were talking about, and that was Craig following James' path down to where the two women were.
"Oh you've got to be kidding me," Kathryn groaned.
Morgan glanced over and spotted him too. "But why, why's he doing that? Idiot."
"Men, some do like to play at being the hero," Kathryn scoffed.
The further down Craig went, the less stable the path was. Two loose rocks had him skidding down some of the way until he lost his balance, and fell onto his hands. He quickly brushed himself off as he stood. Straight ahead of him was James on an almost parallel ledge, the gap between them must've been about two metres. Craig gingerly walked up to it and looked down, his heart was suddenly in his throat. If he messed this up he'd be falling for a very long time.
He wondered how James got across, then he looked to the left and assumed he used the jagged rocks there to climb across. He tried to gather the nerves to do so. He could see James was close to Jessie and Xara's position, but he needed to help him, he couldn't do it alone he thought.
Jessie meanwhile woke up in a daze. The environment span around her. Still she tried to sit, then stand up but an agonising pain in her leg objected to even just sitting. Her pained gasp echoed across the valley.
Grunts and scratching sounds distracted her for the moment, she turned her head to the source of it. She saw the hands grasping rocks close to the edge, knuckles bright white. Despite the pain she felt doing so, Jessie dragged her body across with both of her hands. It didn't take her long to get close enough to see Xara clinging desperately over the edge, with a incredibly deep chasm beneath her. Seeing it made Jessie's head spin and her stomach lurch.
On seeing her Xara's face turned from terrified to angry in a blink of an eye. Still Jessie reached over to clutch her by the arms and try to pull. The action nearly pulled her over as well, she clambered back and instead went to clasp her hands. To Jessie's shock the woman slapped one of them away. That arm scraped against the rock and began to slide back over the edge.
"You!" Xara snapped, winding her it left her gasping. "Here to finish the job?"
Jessie's jaw dropped, still she grabbed at the hand that slapped hers away before. "I wasn't trying to... just hold on, we'll help you."
"No," Xara wheezed. She started to slide, Jessie tried to keep a tight hold but it was pulling her too. "Never!" she smirked.
Xara's grip on the rock face loosened and she slid over the edge. Jessie felt her body being pulled over as well until someone's arms wrapped around her torso, pulling her back to safety.
The sudden jolt in being pulled back brought a searing pain to an already throbbing leg, Jessie couldn't help but cry out from it. She felt her rescuer flinch from it, his arms moved, one away completely and the other to her shoulders. "Sorry, I'm sorry," the familiar voice whispered, a one she was extremely grateful to hear regardless.
"I'm fine," Jessie breathed through the pain, "thank you." Even only doing that wiped her out, she felt her head drifting to the side, she let it knowing his shoulder was there.
James sighed in huge relief it would've been heard at the top of the valley. It was quiet for a moment until heavy panting and footsteps approached. He groaned and shook his head, "what are you doing?"
"What are you doing?" Craig asked.
James looked back to find him doubled over, ready to keel over at any moment. Fortunately for them all the transporters enveloped them before Craig could pass out.
Captain's Log Stardate 53397.1: That's the last time I leave my daughter on the bridge without Chakotay and I around.
Morgan pouted angrily. "That's it?" Kathryn stared back at her, a stubborn smile on her face. She gave her a light shrug. "Oh come on. The same would've happened to you, admit it."
Kathryn turned her attention to the other guest in her office. "It'll be a while before we can take off again. Plenty of time to search our Astrometric data for a planet to settle on."
"Thank you Captain," Vitera said sullenly.
"Is that even what you want? I was the one blabbing about it, you wanted your people united," Morgan asked her.
Vitera smiled weakly, "maybe we will be someday. One step at a time though, we need a home first. Then some kind of election."
"Don't be so hard on yourself. You have principles, a strong heart. You'll be a fine leader, maybe if you're not ready now you will be later," Kathryn said.
"We'll see. I'm sure Morgan will be ready before me," Vitera said. Morgan laughed nervously while Kathryn pointed a quick one eyed narrowed frown at her. Vitera seemed to miss it as she bowed her head, "thanks again Captain, excuse me." She stepped out leaving the mother and daughter alone.
"Why does she think this ship runs on a monarchy system?" Kathryn asked.
Morgan smiled awkwardly, "beats me. Hey, maybe I'll check that You Wendi program out after all, I could do with a laugh."
"Hang on," Kathryn said when her daughter was half way out the door. "There's still parts I'm not clear on."
"Mmhmm?" Morgan looked very uneasy.
"Seven had an awful lot to say when we chucked her into the brig boob first. Usually I wouldn't humour her but with what happened, I've got to ask. Did you..." Kathryn questioned.
"Hey that's not true, I only shot her a little bit," Morgan blurted out before she could finish.
Kathryn blinked a couple of times. "Okay. Dismissed."
Morgan smiled in relief and waltsed out.
"Now I've got to pay her. Back where I started," Kathryn mumbled to herself.
Tom watched the latest arrivals to the Holodeck like a hawk, unless people were walking or stopping in his line of sight. So far they were only standing and talking with drinks in their hands, probably plotting to add something to his program he convinced himself.
"I really thought I deleted all of this crap," James muttered, trying to avert his eyes from the crazy. Unfortunately it was everywhere.
"So, did you learn anything from this little adventure?" Jessie asked.
Morgan thought about it, "I'd say racism is for idiots but I already got that memo."
Jessie laughed, shaking her head. "So much for Janeway's learn some respect lesson."
"Nah, I know not to piss you off, especially now that I owe you one," Morgan said.
"No you don't, don't worry about it," Jessie smiled.
Morgan looked a little disappointed, "oh, shame. I could still take you though."
"We'll see," Jessie pretended to look mad with narrowed eyes, all while sipping on her drink.
Craig glanced between them, tugged on his collar and hurried off towards the pool. Neither of the girls noticed. James did though, he shook his head.
"Well, I'm going to look around for something to modify. Not that anyone will notice," Morgan said before turning to walk off. Doing so she bumped immediately into one of the waiters with the face paint. "Eeew, I'm going to start there."
"That kid's a bit odd, then again she is a Janeway," Jessie said.
James nodded while he finished his drink. "She'll fit right in then."
"True," Jessie laughed, turning on her heel to look him in the eye. "Now that we're alone, I gotta bone to pick with you."
James' eyes shifted side to side nervously. He didn't dare move anymore than that. "Don't climb down dangerous cliffs to save me?"
"Don't do that. I'm grateful, I am but it could've easily gone to hell in a second. I dunno how I'd cope if you had fallen all because of me," Jessie said. She noticed James' entire posture slumped along with his mood. "Swap our positions, how'd you feel?"
"I'd never forgive myself," James mumbled, even his voice was low too. "I get it, but again roles reversed, I... can't even say it."
Jessie smiled sweetly at him, she playfully tapped him on the arm before hooking it with her own. "Come on," she said, walking off with him still attached to her.
"Why, where... are we going?" he asked warily.
"If we're going to test the ride, I'm going to need at least ten more drinks," Jessie laughed.
"Wait, we are? But it's a water slide," James cringed.
"It's a themed water coaster slide hybrid!" Tom screamed from afar. The pair looked and couldn't see him, they quickly shrugged it off.
"With erm, some weird requirements to get onto it, I've heard," James continued. "Knowing Tom he's probably got a height restriction about half a centimetre higher than me."
"Oh well that's me out as well, too bad. Just the drinks then," Jessie said with a shrug.
"Sure, we might be able to tolerate all this after a few, or be able to improve it," James smirked as he followed her, this time willingly.
A couple of hours later the only inhabitants of the Upendi program were the drunks, and Sid who had convinced a tipsy Triah onto the ride.
Tom tried to lead B'Elanna in a straight line, while she hung onto his shoulder, squinting her eyes. "How many of those banana drinks did you have?"
"Hmm, mine... and yours," B'Elanna laughed in response. Tom sighed, he was painfully aware of the last part. She slapped his arm and hard too. "Pout pout, I needed something to stomach this Fun House resort."
They heard Triah's screaming roar overhead. Seconds later there were two large splashes, then Sid's disappointed groans. "This is false advertising!" he shouted as he stomped off in a huff, soaking wet.
Tom and B'Elanna passed Harry, who had decided the best place to sleep off his drink was a sun lounger by the pool. Only he was lying on it the wrong way and so it only supported his torso; legs and head were slumped over the sides.
"Oh yeah, you weren't coming back Harry. Way to stick it to me," Tom teased him.
B'Elanna dropped down onto the neighbouring one, accidentally pulling Tom with her. He quickly pulled his arm away before he was on the floor. Triah meanwhile crawled out of the pool via the steps looking a little green.
"Mmm, mist, shooot," Harry mumbled, half asleep and barely aware of his friends nearby. He rolled over, tipping the sun lounger upwards, making him slide off. "Ooph!" he grunted when he hit the ground, waking him up fully.
B'Elanna made an out of character, "aaaaaw," towards something on the other side of the pool.
Harry thought she was pointing it at him and so he smiled. "I'm so glad someone cares."
"Pfft, not you!" B'Elanna waved him off. Then she gasped, jumped to her feet to cover Tom's eyes. "Don't look, you creep!"
"Hey, I'm not a creep," Tom complained, pushing her hands away. Since she had told him not to he just had to see what she was looking at. He looked across to the other side of the pool. What he saw there widened his eyes, made him laugh both awkwardly and a little too enthusiastically, and very glad he felt sober enough. "Now, that's hot."
"No, you're not creepy," Harry yawned, getting up off the floor. He turned to see as well, "woah."
B'Elanna rolled her eyes, "oh grow up. Boys!" She stomped off in a huff.
"Yeah um, yeah... we should go, before they see us," Harry stammered. He looked back expecting to find Tom still there, only he had vanished. "Tom?" He wasn't sure where he could've gone, he didn't see or hear him anywhere and he checked his surroundings twice. The third time though Tom reappeared in the exact spot he was in before, grinning slyly. "How did you..."
"You're right my friend. We should be heading home," Tom said, feigning innocence for some reason. Then he walked off towards the exit.
Harry eyed him suspiciously. Still he followed, leaving the clearly drunk couple across the other side of the pool kissing under the stars.
Once they were alone they parted, one laughed sneakily. "We showed him whose just friends," Jessie giggled.
"Yeah. Wait, have we got that backwards?" James said, looking confused.
Jessie did too, until she looked like she figured something out; then her features brightened. "Oh yeah. Ooops." She shrugged it off and got up to leave. "Tomorrow's going to be awkward," she said in a singsong tone, and off she went.
James nodded a little too much, "yep, see you then." Left alone he looked around the program, scrunching his face up, "nope, drunk and it's still stupid." He shook his head and got up to walk out as well.
Previous Episode << >> Next Episode