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Voyager's in for a rough ride when a series of events cripple the starship, leaving the crew vulnerable in the middle of Borg Space.
27th August 2013
21st, 23rd, 25th - 28th November 2013
1st - 3rd December 2013
Her whole body trembled, her hands clutched desperately to the poor stressed armrests. With a determined gaze straight ahead of her, she snarled the infamous words, "time's up!"
There was an almighty explosion.
The impact threw everyone from their seats or feet. The little baby carrier fell on its side as it hit the ground.
Everyone on the ground felt the floor trembling. Chakotay chose to ignore it for now as the screams from his newborn daughter needed his attention first. While he tried to pull himself back up, it felt like something was pushing him back down. Not letting that stop him, he dragged himself across the floor as fast as he could. The rest of the Bridge were having similar difficulties. Crewmembers tried to return to their stations, using them as a means to push themselves up.
"Report!" Kathryn tried to yell out, but her hair was being pulled into her face.
The trembling grew, they could all hear it now.
Jessie managed to get only half way up by holding on to the seat, which had rolled on impact and fell into something. Then she noticed she wasn't alone. The unknown crewmember who manned opps lay against the wall next to the opps station, the chair had crashed straight into him.
Chakotay tried to comfort his screaming daughter against his chest, gently rubbing her back. None of that was working.
"Oh god," Jessie mumbled when she spotted the chair had not only crashed into the crewmember. It had pinned him to the wall, crushing a few ribs. He was breathing still, but each breath was painful. Every one sounded like a gasp. Realising that the impact had brought her to opps, she tried to see what happened.
Tom meanwhile crawled from his chair to his station. No matter what he pressed it wouldn't respond. "We're not moving, at least not on our accord anyway."
"Oh god," Jessie repeated herself, her face was a deadly white.
"What?" Kathryn asked, her own face finally free of hair.
"I don't know how but that hit has caused an overload, it's already in progress," Jessie stuttered. "The entire deck's going to blow."
"Overload?" Chakotay muttered, he tried to at least sit up. "Where?"
Kathryn already tapped her commbadge, "Bridge to all hands..."
"Deck Thirteen," Jessie answered simultaneously, her whole body was shaking.
Before Kathryn could finish her warning, everyone were violently thrown to the ground. What started as low rumbling had turned into vicious tremors. Consoles sparked uncontrollably, lights were giving up.
Suddenly it all stopped. Just when everyone thought it was over, all of the lights and consoles gave up completely.
No one could see a thing.
B'Elanna was the first to find an emergency torch, the first thing she pointed it at was the warp core. The second was a groan from nearby. "Craig?" She quickly followed the light to where he was lying, and knelt down beside him.
"Are you all right?" She saw a slight nod before turning the direction of the torch elsewhere. More were turned on from other crewmembers. "Where's that Borg?" Everyone's lights flickered around randomly. "Nobody saw her leave? Good."
"Harry," Craig mumbled, getting her attention back on him.
"What, what about Harry?" B'Elanna stuttered.
Her torch landed on him as he tried to sit up, his spare arm pointed to his right. B'Elanna rushed to his side, tripping over immediately. He sighed and pointed again at where she tripped.
"Oh, sorry Harry," B'Elanna mumbled sheepishly. She shone the tricorder down at her feet, all she could see was a large lump in front of them. Her torch pointed at the Jeffries tube door, then she swung back around. "Everyone get the power back on. If you have to, reroute from non essential systems. Craig?" Another groan. "Phaser?"
"I'm okay," Craig muttered as he pulled himself to his feet. B'Elanna felt around the wall until she found a panel. Quickly she opened it and picked up the manual override for the door. She pressed it into the door and began to pull the door open, Craig rushed forward to help her but she had already opened it mostly on her own.
Once they were inside B'Elanna shone the tricorder around the Jeffries tube, eventually she spotted a figure lying on the floor. Carefully she approached for a better look. Mechanical implants, barely wearing clothes, B'Elanna knew who it was. "Why is she unconscious?" she asked.
Craig meanwhile looked around, using only the tiny lights on the phaser in his hands and the edges of the torch B'Elanna used. Something odd caught his eye. "Over here." B'Elanna looked up, following his voice. She shone the torch in the direction he was looking, her eyes widened.
The wall appeared to shimmer in the light, it looked fluidic. She turned to Craig, hoping that it was just her eyes badly adjusting to the darkness, but the look on his face dismissed that thought quickly.
"What could have done this?" she asked.
Tuvok lifted his body up from the floor, stabling himself with his hands and knees. He could just make out a dark figure lying in front of him through the orange haze. His body tried to breathe in, all that did was scratch at his throat, forcing him to cough the poisoned air back out. It was quicker to crawl so he did so to get to the figure's side.
He got no response again.
Tuvok's head swung side to side. He looked for the stars on the other side of the window, once he got that he looked to his other side. All that faced him there was complete darkness. Wasting no further time he lifted the figure up whilst standing up, then rushed into the black.
The doors were only half open. The man figured he could just squeeze through it if he went through it sideways. However he couldn't really do that for his teammate lying on the turbolift floor. The best he could do was try to pry the doors further apart. He was about to do just that when he heard a groan. The Security officer swung around to face his team mate, using his hand phaser as a small torch.
The other man sat up and rested his back against the wall, groaning at every move he made. His hand checked the injuries to his face. "Wha... what happened?"
"I dunno, it happened so fast," the man said. He walked over to try and help him up. His own head was still spinning but he didn't want to spend another second in a turbolift during a blackout.
The second man barely noticed his teammate lifting him to his feet, he was already dizzy and the lack of light wasn't helping. Unknowingly he was guided sideways through the turbolift doors. Once he was through he leaned back against the wall to stabilise himself. The first man climbed out next.
"You okay, buddy?" he asked.
The second man nodded. "Yeah, I'll live."
"Good, we need to get off this deck."
His companion looked around for anything, his eyes fell on the tiny bit of light emanating from the man's torch. It shakily pointed down a corridor. They both decided to follow it.
The further the two men went, the hazier the light got. Both men felt a little cloud of smoke hit their faces, they tried not to breathe it in. They knew they'd have to turn back. The second man was about to but the first held his arm out to stop him.
"We can't, we'll end up back in the turbolift," he said.
He didn't believe him, "what? I don't remember being in one."
"I know, but we were."
"We were talking to that idiot from Team One, we were on Deck Thirteen duty," the second man stated the obvious.
The first man groaned, he only nodded. His eyes went straight ahead. With the light he could still see to the corner, the haziness was light and the smoke was barely tickling his throat. "The smoke doesn't seem that bad, we should keep going."
They continued forward, and sure enough the haziness died down. They both could see no signs of a fire, it actually was starting to get darker the further they went.
Metal creaked in the distance, startling them. They both stopped, desperately looking around for the source of it. Apart from the corridor being black they could see nothing wrong. The man with the torch stepped forward to continue walking. Something fell, the crash echoed down the corridor.
"What was..." the first man stuttered.
The second man heard it. A harsh crackling sound, it came from in front of them. He shushed his companion. "Fire."
"Where, it's so dark, surely we'd see it," the other man argued. When he stopped talking he heard it too. The two men slowly made their way forward, keeping a close eye at the furthest range of the torch's light ahead of them. By this time they had reached the corner.
The further they went the louder the crackling got, yet they could still see nothing but empty corridors. They each thought it was their imagination when the corridor continued to get darker. The second man moved his hand onto the edge of the torch to make sure it wasn't that running out of power. He seemed to slip on something, he quickly stumbled back.
The first man looked at him with wide eyes, but he didn't notice. He forced his partner's torch to point towards the ground. The light barely penetrated the darkness, it was like staring into nothing. The thought unnerved the first man.
"Huh, I thought," the second man stammered.
Another crash, only louder, startled them again. It was a lot closer than the last one. The first man swore it came from below him.
"I knew it, slide your foot forward, carefully," the second man said.
He did so. For a second there was nothing wrong, a few more inches and he felt his foot wobble. It dipped, he pulled it back as quick as he could. His whole body trembled.
"Jesus, there's a hole here!" he stuttered. The two men stared down, trying to follow the light as far as it could go. It wasn't far, but they now knew that was the furthest thing from the truth.
Torch lights flew around frantically as the entire staff rushed around.
Harry held his sore head as he approached B'Elanna, lying head to chest inside a computer station.
"She couldn't have done this," he said. All he got was an angry scoff, muffled by the computer. "B'Elanna, she's not Borg anymore. Besides that wall..."
"8472 must have done more damage than we detected. Once we get the power back..." B'Elanna said.
Harry frowned, "8472? But we repaired the damage."
Craig looked over from his spot nearby, he stood guard of the unconscious Seven of Nine. He shrugged, so did Harry.
B'Elanna groaned, "you missed it." Harry cringed at a little crunch inside the computer she was at. "That should do it."
A couple of crewmembers rushed over. "Lieutenant, we've got it."
B'Elanna pulled herself out of the computer. The woman waited until she was sitting up before explaining. "The Borg weapons. The 8472 weapon must have hit the torpedo launcher just as we fired. If we reroute we'll get the power back online."
B'Elanna nodded, "do it." She climbed to her feet, and then quickly followed the two back to where they came from.
Harry sighed, "I'm so sick of getting knocked out, I missed everything."
"At least you didn't nearly get eaten alive by these things," Craig commented.
The two men coughed as the smoke grew more intense.
"It's definitely coming from the hole," the first man wheezed.
His partner agreed, he nodded. "Lets get..."
Red lights flickered back to life around them. Both men sighed in relief to the hum of the ship powering back up. The regular lights soon followed, allowing them to see the smoke hovering around them. That wasn't what they focused on, both their eyes widened at the sight of it. Within inches of their feet was a black abyss. The floor they were standing on was cracked, they quickly stepped backwards away from it.
A hand flew over the edge of the floor, grabbing it tightly with four fingers. The two men jumped a mile at the sight of it and the loud bang it made. It forced the cracks already there to spread closer to them.
They fought the instinct to back away, instead they rushed forward. The floor creaked in protest. Just as they were about to grab the hand, it seemed to slip back, their hearts skipped a beat in that mere second, but the hand slid back up so its full palm was covering the floor.
"Hurry!" the second man stuttered. The two men got as close as they could to the edge, both of them knelt down to reach the owner of the hand. Only then they noticed they had a much bigger problem on their hands. It didn't deter them though. The first man looked at his companion, he nodded. They both grabbed the arm and began to pull as hard as they could.
The floor groaned, pieces of it began to break off. They tried to ignore it. "I got him!" man one yelled. He leaned over the edge and continued to pull.
"Oh crap, oh crap," man two stuttered as he started to slide further down the hole.
"Forget me, just get him!" the hand yelled.
Man one's eyes widened further, he looked towards his sliding partner and followed his arm. He debated it for a very long second, and then quickly grasped the same spot. Even though the hand was still there, the two men dragged a third man from the hole and onto safer ground.
Man one quickly checked the third one, "Fred? Damn." The man's nose was covered in dried blood, what was left of it anyway, it seemed like it been snapped to one side. It wasn't the worst of his injuries though, patches of burns all over his arm made man one's own crawl.
"Come on Jack!" man two snapped at him to get his attention. He had rushed to the hole to grab the arm all over again. He was surprised to see more than the one hand hanging over the edge, another had joined it along with a head and shoulders. He went to pull them up anyway, this time grabbing under his arms. They made it just in time to hear the floor creaking loudly. "A bit more," man two stuttered. The pair clambered away from the cracks.
Man one, Jack, looked across. His eyes were still wide, but he imagined they went wider when he realised who else they had rescued from the hole. "You're... you're that Team One guy who..." Realisation suddenly washed over him, "oh!"
"What?" man two stuttered. He looked over to the man he helped out of the hole on his own. He realised Jack was right. "You were with us. What happened?"
James shook his head, which stung a little with the burns on his face. "Deck Thirteen exploded."
"What?" man two couldn't believe it. He looked around, "isn't this?"
"No, twelve," James replied. He noticed Jack staring at him. "What?"
Jack looked over at the other man they rescued from the hole, then back at him. "You... did you know that would happen?" He pointed towards the hole for emphasis.
"I knew something would," James sighed. Both of the men stared at him, neither of them knew what to think. "I'm sorry but you wouldn't listen to me, I..." He looked across at the other man they rescued from the hole, the guilt evident on his face. "I didn't get him out in time, so it doesn't matter."
Man two edged as close as he could to the hole so he could take a peep down. Even with the lights on still all he could see was black smoke rising from it. Jack continued staring towards James, he was about to speak again when he noticed he had more burns than just on his face. He glanced back at the third guy, mainly focusing on the burns he had as well.
"Yeah," James looked down at the floor. "I tried but..."
Jack turned his head back. "Nah, you're okay. Maybe next time don't smack us with our own rifles, hmm?"
James frowned and his eyes drifted to the right. "Sure, the rifles. I promise." He looked up towards the lights, "wait, power's back?"
"Yup, thankfully," the second man answered.
James shook his head, "I dunno, we should get to a higher deck, just in case."
"Why?" Jack thought out loud. He laughed nervously, "you're right, we already need medical attention." He turned back to the third teammate and rushed over to his side. James and the other Security officer approached as well.
"Hey, how did we get in the turbolift? It's been bugging me," he asked him. James didn't answer, he leaned forward to help Jack pull the other man up. "Maybe we should avoid them this time."
"You're carrying Fred up the ladders then," Jack teased him.
Kathryn paced back and forth, her shoulders were tense and the screams from her baby weren't helping either. Chakotay tried his best to comfort her. A couple of the back station crewmembers carried the injured Opps officer into the turbolift.
"Damage?" Kathryn said. She looked towards Opps, arming a scowl. "And don't say there's some here and over there."
Jessie matched her scowl with her own. "Deck Fifteen took heavy damage. Our broken warp core's still broken. We have no shields, phaser arrays are fried. The only way we'll be able to fire a torpedo is if somebody went in there and pushed it out." Kathryn sighed angrily, she rolled her eyes and began pacing again. "The biggie is Deck Thirteen. There was a Security team in there when it blew, but there's no lifesigns there now. Good news is Janeway's bitchy mode still works."
Chakotay winced as he shut his eyes. "Don't make it worse."
Kathryn growled at the both of them. "When you say it blew, what damage did it do? I did ask for a damage report after all."
"My bad, I thought you'd want to know about the people we lost, not your precious..." Jessie grumbled. Chakotay cleared his throat loudly to stop her. She sighed to calm herself down, clearly not being affected by the deadly stare Kathryn was giving her. "Lets just say we have no Deck Thirteen. We have a hole full of fires, the fire suppressant system is sorting it out now."
"I hope you didn't kill the people who survived the blast with those fire suppressing forcefields," Kathryn hissed.
Chakotay groaned. "Why do I bother?"
Jessie stared at the Captain blankly. "There were no lifesigns in the spots where the fires are, I already..." She glanced down at the station, "we still have a full crew compliment. Those guys on Thirteen must have evacuated."
"So, no fatalities?" Chakotay sighed in relief. "At last some good news."
"Yes fantastic, we're a sitting duck in the middle of Borg space," Kathryn muttered. She tapped her commbadge. "Janeway to Engineering..."
B'Elanna ducked as the ceiling above her sparked violently. The console she was heading for exploded before she got there, she rushed back towards the parallel station by the warp core. It wasn't the only one, panels and other work stations were sparking furiously. Several Engineering staff were trying to extinguish a fire starting at one of the wall stations.
Harry rushed over to her side, he quickly tapped his commbadge. "Kim here, Captain. We don't understand how, but the overload that engulfed Deck Thirteen has spread. We're trying to stop it." The station behind him threw sparks at them, they ducked again.
B'Elanna growled, she slammed her hand on the station she was at. "Damn it! If we don't shut down again, we'll never get control."
"Shut down? You mean the power. We can't do that in the middle of Borg Space, we're..." Kathryn's voice snapped.
"If we don't there will be nothing for the Borg to assimilate," B'Elanna grumbled. The warp core hummed as it reactivated itself. No matter what they were doing, everyone looked across at it with their eyes getting wider. "Oh, now you come on."
Harry quickly looked at another station in the area they were in, that wasn't a blackened mess yet. "The power is increasing. We've got no more than sixty seconds."
"The power going off must have been the ship trying to stop this," Craig stuttered. He winced at B'Elanna's resulting glare. "I'll stick to Security stuff." She nodded with a killer look in her eyes.
"We have no choice, Captain. The overload has spread to the core!" she yelled.
They could just make out the sigh on the other side of the comm, over the sound of the warp core powering up. "Very well. Shut down the power," Kathryn's voice commanded.
"Once that's done, we'll have to figure out a way to prevent the spread," Harry said.
B'Elanna shook her head, she quickly entered the commands she wanted. The warp core was the first to change, the light in it began to dim and the humming sound faded away. The rest of the lights flickered out one by one. All that was left once again was the torches and the fires.
Harry sighed, "it's going to be a long day."
Most of the senior staff gathered around the poorly lit Conference table, each fearing for their lives as a furious looking Kathryn was already sitting there. Even in the dark they could see her steely death glare.
"I'll make this very clear. Anybody who has bad news can just get out now," Kathryn hissed.
Chakotay looked on with worry growing on his face. "Kathryn, it's only been two days..." He swore he saw her eyes literally light up as they looked his way. He swallowed a lump in his throat. "Since the repairs started, I didn't mean the C word."
"My team is in the process of severing all the links to Deck Thirteen, it shouldn't take more than another two days," B'Elanna quickly reported.
"I thought the overload spread to Engineering," Tom said.
B'Elanna stared down at her table, "it had, but that was only because we were still connected to the damaged sections of thirteen."
"That doesn't make any sense," Kathryn hissed. "What did I say?"
"That doesn't make any sense," Jessie answered. Kathryn growled at her.
"I didn't realise that you had a sex change, James," Chakotay said to her.
Jessie narrowed her eyes in his direction but unlike Kathryn, he couldn't tell because of the darkness. Tom meanwhile tried to laugh silently, taking full advantage of it.
"Um, think of it as a broken replicator that's overloading, catching fire. Power is still feeding into it. The computer has fail safes and usually the simplest, quickest thing to do is to cut off the power to it," Harry explained. Something hard hit his head, he flew off his chair. Nobody really saw it, they just heard him grunt and the resulting bang as he hit the floor.
"I was a science officer, don't insult my intelligence you little squirt!" Kathryn snarled.
"I don't think that was the part she was complaining about, Harry," B'Elanna said, turning to him. That was when she noticed he was no longer sitting next to her. "Oh. Um, we still don't have all the answers. Just in case we've severed the damaged systems in Engineering as well. We won't know if we're right until we reactivate the power."
"Maybe you should just power up the important things," Kathryn said.
"Yeah like the replicator in your office and your coffee machine," Jessie muttered.
"Seriously, I can no longer tell you two apart," Chakotay commented while face palming. "How much time did you spend with James during your sick leave?"
Jessie was about to answer but was distracted by Tom clicking his tongue twice. "It's none of your business but..." Tom did it again. Everyone heard another couple of bangs as well as Tom joined Harry on the floor. "But... very little. He was working nights the whole time."
"Great, so you thought that we were in dire need of a smart ass to annoy me?" Kathryn hissed. "I already have Parasite, and James is back on day shift. Speaking of him, where is he?"
"Have you forgotten about our Borg drone already?" Chakotay asked.
Kathryn groaned, "yes I had!" She slammed her hands down on the desk, startling everyone, including Tuvok. "Okay so two more days of this. Anymore to report?"
"I would but you said no more bad news," Kes said quietly.
"Great, all of our meetings should be like this. Get out," Kathryn said. Nobody dared to move. "I didn't just mean her, I mean everyone."
"Kathryn, our babysitter will need to be relieved very soon, and trust me, you don't want his replacement," Chakotay said.
"Aaaw who's a little cutie pu-tu-teey. You are, yes you are!" Neelix cooed towards the baby carrier. He seemed to be oblivious to the screams emanating from it.
Craig stood nearby, looking very uncomfortable. "Uh, maybe you can go to my shift instead of me, since you have nothing to do during the power cut."
Neelix glanced up, his face had lit up. "Me, Security? Hmm." He went into a daze thinking about it. Craig quickly snatched the baby away while he was doing that, and ran for the nearest open door.
Tuvok shuddered quite violently. "Something horrible has happened."
Kathryn sighed. "Fine, but I'm only doing it instead of you cos she obviously likes me better." She stomped off through the already open door, muttering under her breath.
"Shocking," Jessie commented.
Chakotay tried not to smirk. "Okay, maybe we can have the bad news now. Kes?"
"Not news, information," Kes said quietly. "I believe I am responsible for what happened here." Everyone stared at her with a shocked expression on their faces.
"Wait a minute. Species 8472 attacked us, they did some heavy damage to our weapon systems as we were firing. How could you possibly be responsible for that?" Chakotay tried to reassure her.
Kes glanced over to Tuvok, "Seven of Nine was trying to contact the Borg. I tried to stop her."
Tuvok couldn't believe what he was seeing. The candle they were using for the meditation was shimmering. Its entire structure was like liquid being sloshed around in a container. Eventually it settled back to normal.
"The Borg," Kes said, her gaze seemed out of the room. "She's trying to contact her people." Her body swung around in his direction.
Tuvok slapped his commbadge, at the same time the Red Alert klaxon sounded and the red lights began flashing.
"Wait! I think I can stop her," Kes calmly said.
Her demeanor was calm, Tuvok could only watch and wait. The floor at their feet trembled, then the ship jerked to one side, throwing them both onto the floor. The candle fell as well, setting the carpet ablaze.
Kes gasped as she felt her power coursing through her, she saw it.
Seven of Nine lay on the ground as the walls around her fluttered in the non existent breeze. Kes tried to stop it from spreading further, her energy drained. She could only watch as it neared an open panel.
The whole room was in an awkward silence. Even Tom was keeping his mouth shut, though that probably was because he had been knocked onto the floor earlier.
B'Elanna decided it would be her that would break the silence. "The overload started on Deck Thirteen, you couldn't..."
Kes shook her head, "no. I altered the structure of that entire room. You said the overloads spread to Engineering, what if they didn't? What if they only reacted with Thirteen from the systems I affected."
"Kes, the overload started on Thirteen. I'm sure of it," Jessie said.
Kes sighed, "I'm not. I caused it, or I aggravated it. That much I'm certain of. I wanted to stop it and I only made things worse."
"The overloads began after you were unconscious," Tuvok pointed out. "I do not believe you are correct."
"It doesn't matter. Our priority now is to stay in one piece until the power is back online. We can worry about other details later," Chakotay said. He looked around the room. "Without the Doctor we can't have people getting sick, does anyone else here know how to cook?" Tom raised his hand as he sat back in his seat, his other hand cradled the bump on his head. "We're doomed."
"It's not finding a cook that's the problem, it's getting rid of Neelix. Surely there's something we can distract him with," Jessie said.
Tuvok shuddered again, "there it is again."
Kathryn stared ahead of her without blinking. After a few minutes she narrowed her eyes instead.
Seven of Nine finally blinked, and then looked to the Security team in the room. James just shrugged. "You won't get used to it," he said. The other members of his team shook their heads.
"I'm waiting," Kathryn said coldly.
Seven of Nine turned her attention back to her. "Explain."
Kathryn's eyebrows both twitched, one hand went to her hip. At the same time the rest of James' team stepped backwards, whimpering slightly.
"Why did you betray us? Good god," Kathryn groaned.
"You were not deceived, Captain Janeway. I intended to help you," Seven of Nine responded.
Kathryn scoffed, "really? Remind me never to give you a job on this ship."
"I only took advantage of an opportunity to contact the collective," Seven of Nine said.
"Oh is that all? You're free to go!" Kathryn snapped.
"I do not believe you're sincere," Seven of Nine said.
"Christ, you and him will get along swimmingly," Kathryn muttered, gesturing her head James' way. He rolled his eyes.
"You will not assimilate this drone. Your attempts are fut..." Seven of Nine said. Kathryn shushed her to shut her up, but she continued. "Ill." Kathryn trembled with rage. "Nor are your attempts to change how we speak."
"And we're back to we," Kathryn groaned. "If you were really they, you'd say futile like the rest of the bloody collective does." She breathed in and out to try to calm herself down. "Look I'm not as excited to have you on my ship anymore than you are, but you're going to die without further treatments. I don't see the problem myself. Why am I here again?" She glanced at the team for an answer.
"Um, Borg crewmember equals advantage?" Thompson stuttered.
Kathryn growled as she glared at him. "Get the hell out of my sight." Thompson was already gone before she even said get.
"You are no different than the Borg. You imprison us in the name of humanity, you..." Seven of Nine growled.
"Blah blah, I imprisoned you because you would have gotten us killed. You still could," Kathryn interrupted. She grinned, "oh, that's why I'm here. Did you get a message to the Borg?"
"No," Seven of Nine coldly responded. "But you would not believe us anyway."
"True. But it took me four bloody hours to get here and I need the bathroom, which is another two hours away I think. I wasn't going to leave until I got an answer and I'm not in a good mood," Kathryn rambled.
"Nah, that's too easy," James said to himself. The remaining team looked at him with wide eyes.
Kathryn's growl echoed around the room, it unnerved the two Security officers. "Kes is on her way here to see if any implants are risking your health, she'll try to remove them with what tools she has if there are. Until power's back that's all that we can do. Hopefully those giant bazongas of yours will go as well."
"We will resist," Seven of Nine hissed.
"Fine, resist," Kathryn shrugged her shoulders. She gestured her head in the Security team's direction, "it'll give them something to do." She turned to walk towards the nearby door.
Craig and Foster meanwhile stared at each other with wide eyes, they then directed the same look to James, expecting the same. He only shrugged. "Does anything faze you?" Craig stuttered.
"Nothing really tops Janeway so..." James answered.
"Ahem," Kathryn fake coughed from the exit. The team looked over to see her standing in between the doors, eyeing up the few dents in it. She looked across at them, smiling for once. "How sweet." With that she walked out of sight.
"Um, how are we supposed to stop her if she resists?" Foster stuttered.
Craig shrugged, he looked down at his phaser rifle. "My plan is to throw this at her and run. If you can think of something better, be my guest."
"Or you could try firing it, I know it's crazy but it might work better," James said not sincerely.
Craig glanced back at Foster, "is he always..."
"Yes," he whispered back.
James rolled his eyes, he noticed Seven of Nine staring their way while he was doing it. He turned his head to one side to get a better look.
"What if she adapted to it, we'd be dead or Borg and she'd be out of here," Craig argued.
Foster didn't look so sure, "not after one shot, surely. Besides she's lost a lot of the junk, maybe she won't adapt at all."
Craig glanced back towards James, noticing him looking towards Seven of Nine. He did so too. The blank stare she was sending their way gave him the chills. "If she wanted to escape, why hasn't she?"
"You prefer that she'd get it over with instead of making you nervous?" Foster tried to snigger, but he was still too worried.
"It just feels like she's waiting for something, a weakness or something. I'd prefer it if the power was back on. I miss forcefields," Craig replied.
"I miss replicators," Foster commented, pulling a disgusted face. "I was so hungry I tried Neelix's gazpacho soup." Craig shrivelled his nose up and tried to repress a gag. "I know but those rations make me ill."
"You are not like them," Seven of Nine said.
James sighed and shook his head, he took a few steps forward towards her. "We're individuals, we're different. You should try it."
"We did not mean that," Seven of Nine said. "You took us from the Borg."
"You were trying to get us assimilated. It's not as nice as you thought, was it?" James said.
Seven of Nine's only eye narrowed slightly. "Return us and we will spare your vessel."
James tried not to smirk but not well enough. "In case you haven't noticed, Voyager's not going anywhere or doing anything for that matter. Neither are you."
"You will be added to our own," Seven of Nine threatened.
"Go ahead, try," James said. Meanwhile Craig and Foster shook their heads with wide eyes, mouthing no.
Seven of Nine armed her own death glare, the team wondered if she had copied it from Kathryn as it made them extremely nervous. "The Borg will come for you, your efforts here are worthless."
"Giving up on saying futile, are we?" James commented. He shook his head. "The Borg won't come for us. Look at us; the ship's a wreck, it's outdated compared to other Starfleet ships you assimilated, our crew obviously have too many nutjobs to make it worthwhile, and their ex drone is just a whiny coward who can't function without them."
James or Seven of Nine didn't notice Foster and Craig quickly back out of the doors and hide behind them. "We can guard outside," Foster said.
"Sure," Craig nodded.
Seven of Nine didn't say anything, she turned away from him and started pacing back and forth. Her fists clenched tightly.
"Neelix, I swear to all the gods that if you don't stop doing that, I'll rip your whiskers off!"
Neelix quickly stopped leaning on the console behind the command seats, and straightened back up. "Rude."
Chakotay returned his attention to his daughter who had settled right down now that Neelix had moved. She quickly dozed off in his arms.
"Did you ever figure out how she well, you know, appeared?" Tom asked.
Chakotay's head flew up. He hadn't noticed Tom approach him, he was so close he was almost sitting on his lap. He even had the nerve to be leaning over to get a better look.
"Normally I'd say the obvious, but Janeway's not exactly someone you'd..." Tom said, slowly realising that Chakotay had spotted him. He smiled nervously and backed away, still hunched over.
"Kiara's a miracle, that's all I can say," Chakotay grumbled at him.
Tom straightened up as well, smirking away. "Ah, Janeway did a Seska. I wouldn't want people knowing that happened again either."
Neelix's face softened, "aaaw what a lovely name. Where did you get the idea for it?"
"Maybe it's a sort of coffee brand or type," Tom mused.
Neelix shook his head, "don't be silly, it's obviously a tribe name."
"How would you know?" Tom scoffed.
Chakotay rolled his eyes as the argument made his daughter stir, she began to whimper.
"Well it sounds like a Chakotay type name," Neelix countered.
"It sounds like a juice actually," Tom said.
"Why would they name her after a juice?" Neelix argued.
The baby began to cry, stopping them both in the middle of their argument. They noticed the look on Chakotay's face and thought it was the best time to crawl through a few Jeffries tubes. He sighed in relief once they both disappeared down the hatch.
Seven of Nine's chest heaved each time she breathed in and out deeply, her eyes flashed with rage. Fists would clench and unclench with each breath. She paced until she could take it no more. With a growl deep in her throat, she launched herself towards what was in her way. With a desperate scream she attacked.
Kes was exhausted. She had climbed down so many ladders and crawled through one too many tubes. All that was left was a short walk down a corridor. She expected to see people standing outside her destination, but she saw no one. She picked up her pace even though her feet were complaining to reach the open doors to the Cargo Bay. Once Kes arrived she realised what had happened.
Craig was the first to notice her. He gave her a worried glance. Kes slowly made her way inside, glancing briefly at Foster who stood nervously by the door, aiming his phaser rifle. She kept a close eye on the direction he was pointing as she made her way over to Craig.
"She flipped out," Craig mumbled, shaking his head.
Kes only nodded, she knelt down beside him. Craig did the opposite so he could do the same as Foster.
"That's putting it mildly," James commented. His hand went up to his head, Kes quickly pushed it aside. The medical kit she had brought opened up on its own, the regenerator flew into her hand. The Security team had all seen her do something like this before, but they were still surprised to see it. She brought the device to the deep scratch on James' cheek and activated it.
"How did you stop her?" Kes asked, glancing briefly behind her. She was surprised that the ex-drone was still conscious and still in the Cargo Bay. Seven of Nine even appeared calm, she felt no anger from her. She figured it would be a lot harder for the boys to know this as she stood with her back to them.
Craig glanced towards Foster, he shrugged. "We're not entirely sure. We heard her screaming, we charged in..." He turned back to look at Kes, "well one of us did."
"Good of you to admit it, Craig," Foster said. Craig scoffed and shook his head.
Kes finished her treatment. She turned on her heel while still kneeling to look at the drone.
"It probably didn't help when the genius here started pissing her off," Craig sighed.
Foster's eyes widened again. "Dude, there can be worse things than ex Borg drones flipping out." Craig passed him a confused face. Foster was relieved when he saw James only smirking at their comments.
"I was just trying to help," he said. The pair stared at him bewilderedly. James pointed towards the ex-drone, "it did, didn't it?"
Kes heard the drone whisper, "one." She turned her head back to James with a frown on her face.
"You know I'm no good at tact," he said with a small smile.
Kes smiled back, she pulled herself up onto her feet. "No."
"One. I am one," Seven of Nine said through her tears. "I cannot function alone. I..." Kes sensed her pain even without the words. Harsh as it sounded, it was progress.
B'Elanna had double checked everything, it had cost another few hours but after the last time she had to be sure. She looked towards Harry as he went to man one of the Engineering stations. He nodded, she did the same.
"All right everyone, it's time."
Lights flickered to life, each one lighting up a piece of the silver hull. It only took a few seconds for the saucer to be visible once again, the bottom half of the ship remained lost in the darkness.
"Status?" Kathryn ordered.
"We've got a few more overloads, we're isolating them from the power grid," B'Elanna's voice responded.
Some of the bridge crew winced at the sound of another console sparking out of control. Tom pushing his chair backwards made them realise it wasn't coming from Engineering. The viewscreen powered down as it spat sparks in his direction.
"B'Elanna, we're getting one here!" he warned.
"Confirmed. Overloads on Deck Five to One," Harry's voice stuttered.
"Damn it," Kathryn hissed while she covered her face.
Chakotay tapped his commbadge, "Bridge to Sickbay, get the Doctor on his mobile emitter. We may have to power down again."
"Acknowledged," Kes' voice said.
Tom quickly got out of his chair and rushed over to the command centre. Seconds later the screen started to crack under the strain.
Kathryn's head shot up as she heard the ceiling above her groan. Her hand grabbed Chakotay's arm and pulled him over to her side of the Bridge. He looked just in time for sparks to start flying from above. "I'll check Kiara," he said before rushing for the Ready Room.
The ceiling continued to groan, cracks began to form. "B'Elanna if you cannot isolate it, we'll have to..."
"Standby, we've almost got it!" B'Elanna's voice screamed.
Everyone's heads turned towards the centre of the bridge as the groans intensified, followed by a loud bang. The cracks got longer and deeper, the bulkhead couldn't hang on any longer. The huge piece of metal slammed down to the ground in front of Opps. Even though she had a console between her and it, Jessie backed away as far as she could.
"B'Elanna!" Kathryn snapped.
"That's it, it's just a minor system. Shutting it down," B'Elanna said as her fingers flew across her station. "Viewscreen, primary lights..." she mumbled as she worked. "There."
Harry glanced over with a look of horror on his face, he gestured for someone to cut off the comm signal. B'Elanna did so. "I've had to shut off the replicator systems, once one was infected that was it."
"Great, Janeway will have our heads," B'Elanna groaned. She reactivated the comm. "Captain, everything that's infected have been shut down. Everything else is stable."
"What do we have left?" Kathryn asked the question they dreaded.
B'Elanna looked around at the still darkened Engineering. She sighed before answering. "We've got emergency lighting. I'd recommend keeping that on all decks, just in case. We can use the independent power systems to keep everything running while we do repairs on the damaged systems. I think shields and propulsion are our top priority."
"So lights and stations, is that what your answer is?" Kathryn's voice asked.
B'Elanna winced, she noticed that through her avoidy answer. "No, we still have a few systems operational, obviously like communications. Sickbay for example should be fine, but I recommend keeping the Doc on his emitter until we fix this cos we still don't know why the overloads spread."
"Very well, keep me informed. Bridge out," Kathryn's voice said.
B'Elanna sighed in relief when the comm made the cut off noise. "Okay, listen up everyone. Obviously the top priorities are to fix the major systems as soon as possible, but we need to find out what caused this in the first place. I need one team to help me investigate this, while the rest of you need to continue repairs. Any volunteers?" Only Harry raised his hand, everyone else looked at the closest person with concern and for some, exhaustion. "All right, that's fine, the more on the repairs the better. Split into shifts and take a long break, okay. We'll get started afterwards." Her staff nodded, they were all relieved at that.
Harry walked over to her, he did look as tired as everyone else but he had his usual eager expression on his face. "Perhaps we should start at the source."
B'Elanna nodded, "Deck Thirteen."
"Nah, Species 8472's attack must have been the trigger for whatever happened on Thirteen, but..." Harry said.
"Their weapon hit Deck Fifteen, lets go," B'Elanna agreed.
The Doctor beamed at his latest achievement. It was his finest work and he was so sure that even in a cranky mood, the Captain would be able to see that. He waited for the incoming compliments.
"What is this?" Kathryn asked.
She was obviously so taken back by his genius she was lost for words, the pride on his face grew. The Doctor continued to wait for her to collect her thoughts.
"Do you honestly expect me to accept this?" Kathryn snapped at him.
The Doctor almost grinned, she was getting modest. Here comes the compliments.
"Where's her bloody clothes!?" Kathryn hissed at him.
His proud smile continued for a few seconds until he realised that what she said, couldn't be taken another way. He turned to look towards the Captain at his side, it was plain to see that she wasn't going to compliment him anytime soon. His mobile emitter melted away from the intensity of her gaze. "Captain?"
Kathryn didn't move her stare away from him, she pointed in front of her.
"Oh," the Doctor wasn't sure how she was getting confused or angry for that matter. "You mean the Borg implants? I've removed about 80% of them, there would have been more if I had more power..." Kathryn's stare managed to get worse, he didn't know how that was possible. "She's stable, the remaining bio-implants are no threat to her."
Kathryn slowly turned her head back to in front of her. The woman standing in front of her gazed at her through steely blue eyes, but all Kathryn could see was the tight, grey outfit that covered her from neck to toe. It didn't leave much to the imagination, and it didn't help that four inch heels were apart of the suit.
"Why is she naked and in heels, you sick fu..." Kathryn grumbled.
The Doctor's eyes widened, he quickly butt in, "Fashion, of course, is hardly my forte. Nevertheless..."
"You don't say! At least give her a dress or just a tracksuit. What's the matter with you?" Kathryn demanded.
The Doctor glanced at the woman, then back at Kathryn. He obviously wasn't seeing what she was seeing. "She's wearing a bodysuit. I've managed to balance functionality and aesthetics in a pleasing enough manner, don't you think?"
"It is acceptable," Seven of Nine added on.
Kathryn scoffed, luckily because of Seven of Nine's huge heels she didn't spit in her face when she did so. It just sprayed across her huge chest. "It was you who got Kes that stupid velvet catsuit, wasn't it?"
The Doctor shook his head. "I never said catsuit and of course not. I wouldn't give a woman a catsuit to wear, it's degrading."
Kathryn's eyes widened, her eyes were as dangerous as the scowl on her face. The Doctor shuffled backwards out of harm's way. "Jesus Christ, don't you think it was bad enough when she was walking around in tight leather?"
"Um, I've also stimulated your hair follicles," the Doctor said in Seven of Nine's direction.
"You stimulated her what!?" Kathryn's voice boomed.
The Doctor tried to ignore her. "I figured that only I really suit the bald look, don't you agree?" He sighed as the joke obviously went over Seven of Nine's head and bounced off Kathryn's angry aura. "You'll need to continue using a Borg alcove to regenerate and intake energy, at least until you're able to sleep and eat like everyone else. I don't know what we'll do when we have another power cut though."
"Understood," Seven of Nine nodded.
"Where did you even get that thing? The replicators are off," Kathryn muttered whilst staring at Seven of Nine.
"Captain I've finished my report," the Doctor stuttered.
Kathryn huffed, "about damn time, yeesh!" She turned around and stomped off.
"You'll get used to her," the Doctor lied. Seven raised her mechanical eyebrow in response.
"B'Elanna and Harry have returned from Deck Twelve to report on the damage there," Chakotay was in the middle of saying. "From her tone I don't think we're any closer to figuring out what happened."
"You believe Kes' theory has some merit?" Tuvok stated.
This stopped Chakotay in his tracks, Tuvok stopped as well and walked over to stand in front of him. "No, I thought you could rebut it."
"I could not find any damage or evidence of any kind on the sections Kes claimed she affected, Commander," Tuvok said.
Chakotay sighed a little in relief, "so she didn't cause this."
"My results are inconclusive at best," Tuvok said.
Chakotay shook his head, "we know that it happened at the same time, but that's it. It's probably a coincidence."
"There is more however," Tuvok added on. Chakotay sighed, he should have seen that one coming. "Seven of Nine was accessing systems in the same junction, and there was an incident on Deck Thirteen before the blast."
"What kind of incident?" Kathryn questioned, her eyes warned him not to answer.
Chakotay's shoulders tensed up, he turned slightly to one side so he could only see the station. While he entered in the commands he thought he heard a sipping sound. His head shook it off. "Okay, here." They both looked to the large schematic of Voyager. His finger pointed towards the lower part of the ship, near the front landing strut. "Point of impact was here, right?" His finger slid along the belly of the ship towards the centre, and then edged up slightly. "Opps detected an energy surge here."
"That better not be Deck Thirteen," Kathryn muttered. Chakotay swore he heard another sip.
"It is," Chakotay reluctantly said. "The only problem is the sensors are off-line at the moment, we got this from opps' memory. So we have no idea when exactly it occurred. All we do know is it happened right before the explosion."
"That's very close to the intermix chamber," Kathryn mused. Her voice sounded a lot calmer despite what she said.
"And it's the deck above the antimatter storage, which is here," Chakotay said, only moving his finger down a tad. "If this was the real source of the explosion, we wouldn't be talking about it now."
"Hmm." Another sip. Chakotay decided to turn to face her just to see the next one happening. Kathryn's eyes were a lot softer, that was the first thing he noticed. The second was the cup in her hands. "What?" She looked down at her cup, "relax, it's just crummy decaf."
"How did you heat it up?" he dared to ask.
Kathryn's eyes shifted to one side and then back again. "The filter machine, I just put water in it. I put the decaf in the cup and sat it underneath... I don't need to explain anything to you!"
"Uh huh, if that were true, you would have used the real thing," Chakotay said. He moved a little closer to sniff the air, he frowned. "That is decaf."
"I told you," Kathryn smiled smugly. "Replicators are down, our daughter needs to be fed. I can't have the real thing while I do that. You warned me about that months ago. I'm not stupid."
"All right, fine. Maybe the decaf is acting as a placebo, I'm sorry," Chakotay said, but he wasn't too sure about it.
"Good, now get on with the report," Kathryn said before sipping her fake coffee.
"I'm afraid that's it. It wasn't the source of the explosion, but we can't rule it out as being apart of it. All we do know is look..." Chakotay said, pointing his finger back to where it was before. "It was here, directly below Engineering."
Kathryn nodded, "where everything else happened. Good work." She finished her cup, but she still tried to take a sip from it. After double checking it she pouted, and placed it to one side. "Arrange a meeting tomorrow at 1700, I think it's time we..." They both heard a smash come from her Ready Room, Kathryn's eyes widened. "Ohno."
Before Chakotay could ask she was gone in a puff of smoke. Reluctantly he followed, shaking his head. Screams greeted him at the door. He shook his head and walked straight back out.
"Commander?" Tuvok got his attention. He glanced over to where the Jeffries tube hatch was, he just spotted the Vulcan climb out of it. "Seven of Nine has requested to help with the repairs."
"Great. You're the chief of Security, I'll leave it up to you whether you want guards to be around her at all times," Chakotay sighed.
"The Captain doesn't think it is necessary. However she did say she should avoid the Jeffries tube hatches, or her melons will get stuck." Chakotay and a few others on the bridge started smirking. "I told her that if she has found any food supplies, she would share them with the crew and she wouldn't carry them with her in the Jeffries tubes. She can be so illogical at times."
"Don't worry about it, nobody likes melons that large. Well maybe Tom does," Chakotay sniggered.
Tom looked up from his station and turned his head to look behind him. "Tom does what?"
"Maybe Tom would want to babysit my daughter as he can't exactly fly, or do anything useful to help out either," Chakotay said.
Tom swiveled his chair around, a grin spread across his face. "Commander, I'm honoured and insulted at the same time." He shrugged, "I don't care, I'll take what I can get."
"Good, she's asleep in the Ready Room," Chakotay smiled.
Tom didn't say anything else, he got straight up and rushed towards the Ready Room. As soon as the doors opened his face turned extremely white.
Kathryn's head shot up, her mouth was covered in a brown sludge, so was her right hand which was by her lips. The same brown stuff was all over the carpet, but mixed in with broken glass. Sitting nearby was bits of black plastic as well, with light smoke drifting from it. A cable running from the laptop on the desk was plugged into it, but that part of it appeared to be melted.
"Don't look at me! Get out!" Kathryn screeched as her left hand flew up to cover her face. Tom quickly did as he was told but not fast enough. Her right hand swung in his direction, the slop in its palm flew at him. The door didn't close quickly enough and it splat across the back of his head.
Chakotay tried not to laugh as Tom's face was priceless, his bottom lip trembled like he was going to cry. "Oh yeah, I knew I was forgetting something."
"I... I didn't do anything! God you're a jerk," Tom grumbled. His hand went up to wipe the sludge from his head. He stupidly brought it to his face to smell it, he shuddered as the odour flew up his nose and down into his throat. "Oh god, this is Neelix's. Why would she brew it?"
"Desperate times," Chakotay sighed. He burst into giggles again. "Kiara's in the Conference." Tom stared at him with eyes narrowed. "I'm serious this time."
The Voyager schematic on the back console now had several parts of it highlighted in various colours. B'Elanna was busy pointing towards Deck Two, while everyone else in the senior staff had huddled around her so they could see it.
"Thank... unfortunately the stoves and other kitchen equipment will have to remain off-line," she was saying. Neelix tried to blink away a few tears, everyone else of course were thankful to get some good news. "The rest of the deck is fine." Her finger pointed at several decks underneath, "a few of the crew quarters are infected here, here and here. I'd recommend against using the affected quarters, until repairs can be made. Those people will probably have to share quarters with volunteers for the time being."
Chakotay pointed his own finger in the general direction of the lower half of the ship. "I see that most of the red's are localised here. Maybe we should focus on the major issues first."
"I'm almost there anyway," B'Elanna almost growled. She shook her head and returned to the schematics. "Deck Six, the only overload here was Stellar Cartography. I've had to shut it all down. Is that red enough for you, Commander?" Her finger rested on one of the few red patches on the saucer.
"Stellar Cartography sounds orange at best," Craig dared to say, he regretted it immediately. B'Elanna's growls were getting louder.
"Um without that and navigation control being a bit wonky, we'll have a hell of a time getting through the rest of Borg space," Tom butted in. "Once we get the engines back anyway."
Harry smiled that eager smile, everyone who saw it groaned to themselves. "Perhaps our new crewmember can help."
"The Borg?" B'Elanna spat. "Why would she help us?"
"She already is. I've assigned her to a repair team detail on Deck Twelve," Chakotay sighed. B'Elanna stared at him with wide eyes and her jaw dropped. He quickly pointed at the red parts of the schematic again, "relax, what can she do with no power?"
"What do you suggest, Ensign?" Tuvok tried to get everyone back on track.
"Well she'd know more about the Delta Quadrant than anyone else on this ship," Harry replied. Neelix huffed and folded his arms. "If anyone knows the safest route out of Borg Space, it's her."
"We don't have anywhere to chart a path though, or a way to use it," Tom pointed out.
Harry sighed but he didn't let his smile escape. "That's the point. Stellar Cartography is great when you're in an area of space you already have charted. Here it wasn't much use. I suggest that if we need to repair the whole lab, we might as well start from scratch."
Chakotay shrugged, "fine, go ask her." Harry's smile was defeated, he turned sickly pale. "What's wrong?"
"Me, er... the last time we met, she cracked my skull," Harry stuttered.
Tom tried not to smirk as he turned to his best friend. "That just means she's already fitting into Voyager, what's the problem?"
"She didn't hit you," Harry muttered back.
"It's your idea, your project. Who better to ask her?" Chakotay didn't try, a smirk filled his face.
"Great, er yes sir," Harry mumbled.
B'Elanna shook her head, it was obvious she was a lot less happy about it than even Harry was. She turned back to the schematic. "Engineering's mostly shut down as the overload seemed to spread there first." She turned her head to give Chakotay a little stare as her finger moved to the red area of the ship, then looked back at it. "The entire red patch here is now off limits, only to repair personnel. There's a chance that even the life support systems could overload."
"So the entirety of Decks Thirteen to Fifteen have no power at all?" Tom questioned bewilderedly
"That's not it," B'Elanna said. Her finger went to the dark red in the middle of it all. "Thirteen is considered Hazard Level Twelve. No one is allowed there until the Captain gives us the all clear."
"Like it wasn't already," Jessie commented from behind everyone. A few people looked back at her as she wasn't there before.
"You're a little late," Chakotay said.
Jessie shrugged, "do you have any idea how long it takes to crawl from Engineering to here?"
"Where's James?" Chakotay asked.
Jessie groaned and rolled her eyes. "He's not attached to my hip you know. How would I know?" Tom sniggered quietly but not enough, Jessie narrowed her eyes at him.
"Ookay, we need to have a chat about your recent attitude, Jessie. It's not like you can use the same excuse as last year," Chakotay grumbled.
"I don't really have much else to report anyway, other than an estimated time," B'Elanna quickly cut in.
"This should be good," Tom smirked.
B'Elanna managed one herself, "if we include Deck Thirteen's complete refit, eighteen months. That's if we don't have anymore problems with it."
Chakotay covered his face with both hands. As he moved them back down to where they were, he had to ask, "and without?"
"Three months, but that's before Harry's Stellar Cartography refit idea," B'Elanna replied. "It may be shorter if we can get the right systems back online, but it still could be longer if they overload again. It's really hard to tell."
"Well, might as well make some bets on it," Tom said, ending with a grin. Chakotay nudged him in the arm with his elbow, his hand flew up to comfort it. "Ow, really?"
"Replicators are down, we're living on rations and whatever crap Neelix and Kes have grown in the Cargo Bay before the Borg assimilated the crops. The last thing we want is people betting their lack of food away," Chakotay explained in a harsh tone.
"Nah nah, winners can't collect until replicators are back," Tom said. Everyone, including Tuvok, groaned loudly. "Come on, after all that's happened we could all do with something to lighten the mood."
"By betting on when we'll get food back?" Harry muttered.
Tom shrugged, "well if you want, but I didn't say that exactly."
Kes raised her hand slightly. "Um, what was that about me growing crap?"
"Sorry, I'm only saying that because it's mainly Neelix who brings back every seed he can find on every planet," Chakotay softly said. "You do great with what you've got. Dunno what we'd do without you."
"Starve, obviously," Jessie answered.
Chakotay just nodded, mostly everybody did. The corner of Kes' lips curved a little, "all right. I moved the Hydroponics to Cargo Bay One, so we should get some fresh vegetables again as soon as we can get the light fixtures working again."
"Don't worry, I've got people on that. Next to the warp core and shields, it's top priority," B'Elanna said. "I didn't at first as the last thing I wanted to do was encourage Neelix to cook, but then Harry noticed the damage to the Mess Hall."
Harry nodded, meanwhile Neelix was in tears again thinking about his beloved kitchen. "Hopefully he can't screw up salads and sandwiches."
"Hey, surely you've noticed that I'm right here," Neelix huffed.
Chakotay ignored him, "sandwiches? Where do you get the bread from exactly?"
"Oh," Harry's smile faded again. "just salads then."
Tom leaned in closer to Chakotay to whisper in his ear, "it's okay, I've already chucked the leola root away."
"Where?" Chakotay whispered back.
Tom smiled proudly, "where else? Where only fools dare to go."
Seven of Nine raised her regular eyebrow as she stared towards the hole in the floor. A forcefield had covered the whole thing, as well as blocked any entry to the large cracks in the floor. The deck below was completely black. She turned her head to look behind her at the rest of her team, one of them was keeping a nervous eye on her while the others worked.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"Somebody is on that deck," Seven of Nine replied.
The man looked towards the hole, he shook his head. "No, no one should be. The life support is off and it's a mess down there, trust me."
"That appears to be incorrect as I saw someone," Seven of Nine said.
The man again looked, but all he could see was black. He frowned at the ex drone suspiciously. "I doubt that, even space would be brighter than that."
"You're wrong," Seven of Nine stated.
"I'm not. No one is allowed there and it hasn't been creepy in months," the man said.
"Creepy?" Seven of Nine was confused.
The man shook his head, "long story. Can we please get back to work?"
"As you wish," Seven of Nine sighed. She returned to repairing the smaller cracks in the floor.
Chakotay groaned, "if we end up with mutant leola root monsters, I'm sending you down as fodder."
Tom's smile faded, "but... Deck Thirteen doesn't mutate things."
"Anyway that's all for now," B'Elanna butted in. "Lets hope the Borg don't like to waste their time on assimilating damaged ships."
Tuvok nodded, "indeed, but there's a possibility of a Species 8472 attack as well."
"That was probably a lone revenge attack," Chakotay said. "I'll give the damage report to the Captain, when she's done with trying to grow her own coffee plants with old crumbs of granules and a phaser light source." Everyone but obviously Tuvok tried not to laugh at the image. "For now it's important we keep calm and have some hope. We'll get through this."
Her whole body trembled, her hands clutched desperately to the poor stressed armrests. With a determined gaze straight ahead of her, she snarled the infamous words, "time's up!"
Everyone quickly ducked for cover from the incoming explosion, but they couldn't hide. Anybody close by would be exposed to the lethal fires, and the tremors would effect the entire ship within minutes.
"Too bad," were the words no one wanted to hear. A pile of broken plastic and glass were dumped at the Captain's feet. "I can't fix it, you need a new one."
Kathryn growled and her eyes narrowed. B'Elanna bravely stood her ground.
"You're an ace Engineer, and you can't put together a simple coffee filter?" Tom tried to help, immediately regretting it. Both women scowled in his direction. "I'll be on Deck Twelve, that's a good two hours away." He scampered off.
"I could, but the jug is in tiny pieces. Any coffee brewed into it would just leak even if I did put it back together," B'Elanna explained. She decided to leave before she was attacked.
"Hmph, bloody useless. Can't even fix a defibrillator, how can she fix a bloody starship," Kathryn grumbled.
Chakotay tried his best not to laugh in fear of his life. "Percolator, Kathryn. Defibrillator is something we'll need to use on you if you don't calm down."
Kathryn's eyes widened, "do you have one?" She grabbed his shoulders and shook him violently. "Why did you hide it from me? Give it, give it, give it!"
"Captain..." Tuvok spoke up to stop her. The crewmembers nearby shushed him.
"Please don't, it's the only entertainment we have," one pleaded with him. He raised both of his eyebrows in response. Harry overheard and shrugged.
"The man's right, there's not much else to do around here," he said.
"Weren't you supposed to be rebuilding the Stellar Cartography lab?" Tuvok questioned. He walked around the group who probably wished they had popcorn, and approached him.
Harry grinned, "actually that's Astrometrix Lab. The X I thought sounded cool." Tuvok stared at him, he thought his face couldn't get anymore blank than it usually is, but he was wrong. "Or Astrometrics, it sounds mostly the same anyway. Whatever floats your boa... but anyway, I was but Seven of Nine said she had something else to do."
"What?" Tuvok asked.
"I wouldn't worry about that, she's not that Borg drone anymore. She's actually kind of sweet and chatty," Harry said.
Kathryn pushed Chakotay to one side, she groaned in disgust. "Oh god, Harry's crushing on the blonde bimbo with the Barbie boobs. What a shock!" Harry pouted like a child. Chakotay meanwhile fell onto the floor as the five minutes of shaking made him extremely dizzy.
"She is," Harry whimpered. "She has a sense of humour as well, you should give her a chance. You just think because she looks the way she does, that she's just some bimbo, but she's..."
"I'm going to need more than cold bloody decaf for this crap," Kathryn grumbled as she marched to her Ready Room.
The unknown crewmembers moaned in disappointment, they got back to doing mostly nothing.
She climbed down the shaft as far as she was allowed to. The forcefield touching her heel was the hint that she was there. The door to the next deck was burnt beyond recognition, and all that normal people could see was a black hole to nothing. Seven of Nine however could see a lot more than that through her mechanical eye. The fire damage through the shaft was extensive, even if she could get through the forcefield there, there was no ladder left to climb down.
She had tried every possible way she could think of. The simplest one seemed to be the one she tried earlier. The force field was the only physical barrier there. Only a few people had clearance to remove it and she found it unlikely that any of them would sneak around like this. Seven of Nine knew she wasn't wrong, somebody was on that deck, but she didn't understand why. She decided to climb back up to the next deck.
Footsteps echoing in the distance caught her attention. It was coming from an adjoining shaft. Sure enough the footsteps were replaced with consistent taps and light scrapes against metal.
Seven of Nine hurried up the ladder to another level, she kept watch on the hatch below her. The sounds were close when they stopped. Her Human eye couldn't see anything but a shadow moving below her, her mechanical one recognised a little more than that. The shadow disappeared down the ladder until even she couldn't see anything anymore.
"I'll raise you the Purple Tomato Salad with extra old cheese," Tom smiled deviously.
Harry winced, he glanced at his cards and down at the ones he could see of Tom's. Two of the cards were hearts, but number wise they were so far apart. A six of Clubs sat in the middle in more ways than one. He decided to look at Tom's face. "You obviously don't have a flush, you wouldn't be gloating with a two pair." He made one last look at his cards before deciding, "I'm in. You can have the club sandwich without the bread, starring the blue lettuce."
"Oh that's risky my good man," Tom teased.
Harry's eyes narrowed, a smirk formed on his face. "And the only looks like pepperoni on left over crackers from two weeks ago."
Tom's poker face almost slipped away, he remembered that pepperoni too well. He quickly covered it with a toothy grin. "A bit bold for a poker newbie, aren't we?"
"That can only mean one thing," Harry teased right back.
Tom clicked his tongue, "you've got a lot to learn. Next bet?"
Jessie was too busy squinting at her cards to hear him. Tom looked to the final player he knew was the easiest prey. "Two please," Neelix asked in a chirpy voice.
"Dealer gives two," Tom narrated as he granted the request. Neelix gave himself away by groaning in disappointment. "Jess?"
Jessie glanced around at everyone's cards and then back at her own. She growled and dumped them on the table. "This game sucks. What's the point, it's all luck and you can't see all the cards."
Tom peered over to see what she had, he debated whether to tell her she had a full house or not. The look on her face decided it for him. "I'm so in. Potato and the green stuff that wasn't lettuce salad."
"My last leola root and chilli pie," Neelix chimed in, trying badly to appear happy. Every few seconds he'd look down and shake his head at them. The other two players cringed at the thought of getting that pie, now they were more determined than ever.
"Fruit salad with a pickle lying in the middle of it," Harry challenged them.
Tom gasped, "you wouldn't!" Harry only smiled at him. "Oh you've got to be bluffing with that one. I'll raise you old packet of crisps that were left open."
Harry shook his head, "you're on the dregs Tom. Ration cake."
Tom shuddered violently. "Just call it before I have to offer sick in my next game." Jessie pulled a disgusted face at him.
Harry looked to Neelix, he was busy turning a card in his hand upside down for some reason. "You with me or against me, Neelix?"
"What? Oh, does this look like a good hand?" Neelix asked Jessie. He leaned in too close for her tastes, she shoved him back to his spot. "I am. Leola and herbal protein shake." The group all exclaimed in disgust, Harry looked like he was about to be sick.
Tom whimpered as he placed all of his cards upright onto the table. Harry laughed as he only had a measly pair originally hidden in his hands. He put his own two pairs down.
"Is that all? Damn, I'm the rookie. Knew I should have got more cards," Tom grumbled.
Neelix rotated his whole hand upside down this time. He shrugged, "how's these?" He put his cards down. Everyone's eyes widened in horror. All of his cards were diamonds.
"Damn it Jessie, you had a full house," Harry complained as he pointed at the cards she abandoned.
Tom shook his head and mouthed so many warnings but it was too late. Jessie just scowled at the other man though. "I may be a newbie but I'm sure that his were better."
"It's still better than trying to bluff with a pair," Harry said.
Tom huffed, "that was harsh." He glanced in Neelix's direction, "looks like you win."
"Oooh, does that mean I get all of that lovely food? It seems to be a bit harsh considering the state the ship is in," Neelix questioned.
Tom sighed, "no, the losers share all of it out."
Jessie's eyes widened more than usual, "what? Even if you fold? If I knew that I wouldn't have took part."
Neelix looked confused. "So the winner gets nothing?"
"Exactly, that's the point. Who'd want it?" Harry asked just as he realised who he was saying it to. He inhaled through his teeth and shifted his eyes nervously. "We're just joking of course. Winner takes all." He hinted at the other two, "right!?" They both nodded quickly.
"Well if you insist, but I think cos we all had fun, I should share my winnings with you," Neelix grinned. The group were only happy for half of his sentence, it was obvious which half it was.
"Oh my god! Futill, antee. Do you even know how to say I?" Kathryn snapped. "Don't get me started again on the whole dadda instead of dayta thing."
Seven of Nine stared blankly at the deranged Captain, unsure of what to say back to her.
"Of course, you're a Borg imbecile. Note I said imbecile, not imbecill. You say rubbish like we are and we are not amused. You don't know what I even means, funny that considering the source," Kathryn rambled.
"Kathryn, a lot of us, including me are allowed to speak English a little differently. It's called a dialect," Chakotay quietly said.
"Abandon ship," Tom whispered to Harry. He couldn't even nod, he seemed frozen in fear.
"No, it's called stupidity. Do you know why we put E's on the end of those words. They're not silent E's, they're not a second L pretending to be E, like Chakotay here pretends to have a brain. No, they're to stop us sounding like blonde Barbie idiots!"
"I was under the impression that the Captain had already made her sub unit," Seven of Nine said to the others.
"Huh?" Tom muttered.
"Jesus Christ, you're not listening to a word I say. English, speak it," Kathryn snapped.
Chakotay sighed in relief as she didn't understand what the drone had meant. "Our replicators are down."
"I do not understand," Seven of Nine said.
Kathryn groaned, "shocker." She slapped Chakotay across the back of the head. "Have you forgotten our little lesson about respect already?"
"No," he shuddered. "We're all a little on edge with what happened. The replicators being down, doesn't help."
"I see," Seven of Nine said.
"Unfortunately, so can I," Kathryn muttered. Luckily for everyone on the Bridge, a loud cry from the Ready Room caught her attention. It also scrubbed the crabby attitude off of her in an instant. "Oh, duty calls," she smiled before running off.
"I do not understand her," Seven of Nine commented.
Tom sighed in relief. "Nobody really does. Just remember, coffee and baby less Janeway is a devil spawn, or devil herself. With either or both of those things, well..."
Chakotay rolled his eyes, "Tom enough!"
"It's the truth," Tom complained. He turned to his best friend looking for some back up. Harry still appeared to be frozen on the spot. "Of course it helps if you don't provoke her. That was something you told me not to do, wasn't it?" He poked Harry to get him to snap out of it, nothing happened.
"You're right. It's just we don't need her making our new crewmember prefer the Borg. The last thing we need is them paying us a visit," Chakotay said.
"True. Well at least now it'll be different. The baby cries and we get some respite," Tom said.
Kathryn marched out of her Ready Room, carrying her baby with her. Most of the Bridge crew cringed as their presence brought along a horrible smell. "You're on crap duty." In a flash she dumped her into Chakotay's arms.
"Um..." Chakotay was speechless. Most of the Bridge crew just looked amused.
"Shoo, you stink," Kathryn grumbled as she dropped into her seat.
"Right, maybe we can call it diaper duty from now on?" Chakotay mumbled.
Kathryn turned around slowly, her death glare rising a level higher than usual. Chakotay quickly ran to the Ready Room. A large piece of debris followed him, but luckily smashed against the door. "It's nappies, not diapers!"
Tom looked at a still frozen Harry. "I thought she was American, weird huh?" He turned back, immediately regretting it. Kathryn was now standing right next to him, glaring into his eyes. He barely suppressed a squeal.
Tuvok's eyebrows now hovered above his head. "What were you saying about the accident?"
Seven of Nine glanced towards him, grateful for the interruption. "While I was on Deck Twelve I noticed some suspicious activity. I decided to investigate."
"Without telling anyone or being ordered to?" Tuvok said.
"I am not used to asking for permission. During treatment the Doctor encouraged me to use my initiative, and not wait for a voice to tell me," Seven of Nine explained. She raised her eyebrow as she noticed Kathryn doing the same thing to her that she did to Tom. "I searched for any entry points to Deck Thirteen, there were none, not without clearance. That was when my suspicions were confirmed."
"Snore!" Kathryn groaned. "Did the Doctor also tell you to drag things out as well?"
Tuvok was more interested in the details anyway, he ignored the Captain and nodded at Seven of Nine to continue. "A member of the crew did try to enter Deck Thirteen, the need for clearance did not stop them. If it were not for the damage, they would have gone further."
"Hang on, life support is off there," Harry butted in.
"That is not the biggest concern as the crewmember would not have reached that point. Only a few people on board this ship have clearance to remove Hazard Level Twelve forcefields," Tuvok pointed out. Everyone wanted to look towards the culprit, but they knew it was risky. They didn't need to though, they could feel the room drop about two degrees.
"Oh I see, trying to get rid of me again, are we?" Kathryn hissed.
"Again? No, it was not you," Seven of Nine said.
Kathryn rolled her eyes, "thanks for telling me that. I would never have figured that brain buster out!"
"The Captain is the only one with clearance," Tuvok dared to say. He knew he'd regret it in a few seconds, so he quickly continued. "But security clearance can be tampered with if someone knows what they are doing."
Kathryn swung her head towards Seven of Nine, she didn't even blink. "If it were me, I would not have reported it."
"Who'd want to go Deck Thirteen anyway?" Harry asked.
His teammates tried not to smirk at him but the sorry for himself look on his face wasn't helping. Craig's bottom lip stubbornly stuck out, his eyes were watering as well. The Doctor was too busy multitasking with humming a tune and treating him to notice any of these things.
"His singing isn't that bad," Thompson teased.
Craig pretended not to know what he was talking about, he even tried to laugh. The sudden movement reminded his arm that it hurt which forced him back to feeling sorry for himself.
The Doctor finished what he was doing to his patient's knee in time to scowl at Thompson. "Mind telling me how this happened?" he asked in Craig's direction.
"Security ace here forgot that the turbolifts were off-line," Thompson sniggered.
"Oh, then why did the doors open for him?" the Doctor was surprised. Craig's head seemed to retreat into his shoulders, his face burned.
"Who said that they did?" Foster said with a shrug.
The Doctor started to smirk too. "Did you walk sideways into it, Mr Anderson?" He started to hover a regenerator around Craig's sore arm.
"Sure, forget the most important part of the story," he mumbled huffily. "Thompson stole something of mine and I turned to get it back."
"And bang! I didn't forget," Thompson laughed. He nudged Foster in the arm with his elbow, "saved the best till last." Foster stopped smirking and sighed in deeply. He bit his tongue for the moment.
"Oh I see, this is a rite of passage," the Doctor chuckled. The whole team stared with a blank stare, bringing his laughter to an awkward halt. "When Mr Taylor joined your team, you also gave him a hard time."
It was Craig's time to laugh a little, "oh right, so I'm not the first you bullied into Sickbay?"
"You are, unless we count himself," Foster snickered.
Thompson didn't look amused. "I'm no bully. I just like to have a laugh on duty. Is it a crime?"
"Obviously James thought so," Foster tried to stop laughing.
"Oh come on, if anyone's the bully on the team, it's that guy," Thompson argued. He tossed a PADD into Craig's lap, it only bounced and fell to the floor. "Yeesh, I only wanted to look."
"Yeah just in time for the corner," Craig said. The Doctor nodded at him when he finished his treatment. "He's been okay with me so far. Maybe you're just a prick."
Foster nodded furiously until Thompson glared at him, he looked away so he could smirk instead.
"Speaking of which, isn't he a member of your team again?" the Doctor asked. He turned to his medical tray. "I'll be seeing you again soon, I imagine," he commented as he walked off to his office.
"Right, just proving my point," Thompson commented. He knelt down to pick up the PADD before Craig could. He tried to snatch it back but Thompson decided to have a read of it instead. Foster rolled his eyes and walked away towards the exit. Craig tried to grab it off him again, but he'd keep moving it while still reading it. "What does OOML stand for?"
The door opened just as Foster got there, James rushed in. Both of them stopped to avoid collision. "Sorry, got held up. Tuvok wants us to..." he said, trailing off when he spotted Thompson and Craig. He turned to Foster. "Why are you guys in Sickbay?"
"Same old, Thompson's a five year old," Foster muttered his response.
"Right. Somebody has been trying to get onto Deck Thirteen, so we need to go nowish," James said.
Foster nodded, "good luck." He nervously looked away as James' eyebrow raised. "Oh you said we... I meant good luck breaking those two up."
Thompson laughed as he read the PADD he held up slightly above his head. "God what a loser, but I suppose if I looked like you..." Craig tried again, but he moved again. "I'd resort to desperate measures too." That comment stung the younger man a little, his head retreated back into shoulders as he gave up and backed away.
"Ho boy, this is gold!" Thompson cackled just as the PADD disappeared from his hand. He couldn't believe it, he hadn't seen a hand coming. Before he could think anymore about it, the PADD swung into the side of his face.
Craig's eyes widened as the joker stumbled sideways onto the floor. James shook his head as he handed the PADD back towards Craig. "I'd password it, or better yet program it to shock idiots."
"Yeah... thanks," Craig stuttered, he took his PADD back gratefully.
"It's okay. We should go before our Thirteen would be intruder tries again," James said, passing a brief scowl in Thompson's direction. Craig glanced down and smirked as the tiny smack he'd seen had brought him to tears. Foster did as well as the other two headed for the exit, he quickly followed them.
The Doctor sighed. "Something's never change."
Craig and Foster both had the same idea. The next deck was a great place to stop and recover from their hike across to the other side of the ship. Craig reached it first, he couldn't get away from the ladder fast enough. Foster smiled, he was very relieved he wasn't the only one. He did the exact same thing.
"Guys, wait up guys!" Thompson's voice managed to echo down a few decks above them.
As Foster sat down, Craig smirked at him. "Should we leave as soon as he gets here?"
"I was planning to," Foster smirked back.
"I tell ya, the ship never seemed that big until now," Craig sighed. His whole body ached in agreement. Foster only nodded.
They both jumped as a head popped up from the ladder and looked at them. "A little warning would be nice."
Foster's hand went to his chest, "I could say the same."
James looked up, he could see and hear Thompson huffing and puffing a few decks above them. "There's only one more deck you know."
"You go ahead, we'll watch your back," Foster sighed.
Craig looked a little guilty as James was about to do just that. "Wait, what if the intruder's not a member of the crew? It could be Borg. We have no sensors to tell us they're out there, and I haven't looked out a window in a while."
James climbed up only one step. "I doubt it. Don't worry about it, I'll check it out and come back for you." He disappeared down again.
"Cool cool," Foster breathed a sigh of relief. Craig stared at him in disbelief.
"We're letting him go alone?" he stuttered.
Foster shook his head. "He's letting himself. If he needs help, he'll holler."
"Jesus Christ, I need to do more exercise," they heard Thompson groan above them.
"I dunno, it doesn't seem right," Craig said. He made up his mind pretty fast. Foster watched him climb back onto the ladder again.
"Great, now I have to wait for Thompson," Foster groaned once he was out of sight.
Craig looked around as he climbed down to the next level, he slowed to a stop. "James?"
"Down here!" he heard from below.
"I thought it was one more deck, not two," Craig muttered to himself. He continued on his descent, keeping a close eye on his route. The tubes they were inside were getting darker as he went further down, it was a little difficult to see where to step off. As if he read his mind, James pointed a torch towards to the floor nearby. Only a few more steps and he was there.
"Careful, you don't want to slip down there," James said once he got off the ladder. The torch was directed to the ladder again and then down to where it was damaged. Craig dared to take a peep, he shuddered at the thought. There was no climbing down and definitely no getting back up if he slipped.
"So this is where the reported intruder was?" Craig said nervously. He kept his attention straight ahead just to keep his mind off the hole nearby. "It's taken us so long, how are we going to find out anything?"
James didn't answer, he just pointed the torch in front of his feet. Craig glanced down. The light reflected off a third person lying on the ground, at least he thought it did. What he saw reminded him more of looking at his reflection in a flowing river. All he could make out was the person's long, light coloured hair and that he'd seen something like this quite recently as well. He looked up towards James, the concern on his face matched his.
TO BE CONTINUED
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