DELTA BLUES @ Reviewboy.com - Jim Reviews...

"Body and Soul"

[Disclaimer]

Paramount pretty much owns everything you're about to read. It's their dialog, their characters, their franchise. For whatever reason, they've chosen to left me alone, and I thank them for it.

This is all meant in good fun, as though I were reciting the episode to you around the water cooler at work. You'll find the closest thing online to watching the actual episode, though I do sometimes take liberties when I think it will help the narrative. Any errors in fact or interpretation are my responsibility alone.

[Captioning sponsored by Paramount Television and United Paramount Network.]

[Summary]

The Annual Nookie Episode. Tuvok gets the seven-year itch. Doc walks a mile--among other things--in Seven of Nine's catsuit.

Jump straight to the Analysis

[Breakdown]

[Disclaimer: the names of the Lokirrim have been changed; the real names are referenced above, but I changed them at my whim. So sue me. Also, because this is the Annual Sex Episode, the commentary is a bit naughtier than usual. Parental discretion advised.]

The Delta Flyer is out on its own again. Let's see who's aboard, shall we?

Ah. The Doctor. He's alone in the aft compartment, slaving over a hot microscope, but the grin suggests he's happy as a lark.

Until the Flyer jostles a bit.

Doc frowns and slaps his chest. "Ensign Kim! Please try and hold us steady. This material is extremely fragile!"

The scene shifts to the forward compartment, where Harry Kim is piloting. There's some irritation in his voice; apparently this isn't the first time the Doctor has made such a call. "Sorry, Doc! I'm doing the best I can."

Doc's brow furrows, and he gets in one last parting shot. "Maybe I should've insisted on a more experienced pilot--like Mr. Paris."

Harry shakes his head. "I'd give anything to trade places with him right now," Harry mutters. Seven of Nine, sitting behind Harry, smiles slightly.

"Seven, can you join me, please?" Doc says over the channel.

"On my way," Seven says.

Harry watches her go. "I don't know if I can take three more days of chasing comets with him."

Seven's eyes gleam as she heads for the door. "The time might pass more easily if we disable his vocal processor."

Harry smirks, grateful for the happy thought.

*

Doc smiles when Seven enters. "I thought you might find this interesting," he says, gesturing for her to observe his findings.

Seven takes a look. "Pre-animate bio-matter," she says, not that impressed.

Doc continues to grin. "Look...deeper."

Seven looks deeper. "An undeveloped nucleus contained in a cytoplasmic matrix."

"And buried deep inside that nucleus--primitive strands of DNA. The beginnings of life , Seven!"

Seven sighs. "What's your point?" Damn you for asking, woman!

Doc launches into yet another soliloquy. Doc takes to scenery like a termite to teakwood. "When I look at this, I don't see a mere cell. I see the potential for literature and art, empires and kingdoms!"

"Perhaps your visual subroutines are malfunctioning," Seven says dryly.

Doc lets out a longsuffering sigh. "Someday...this cytoplasmic matrix may fall into the primordial sea of a distant world where it could ignite an evolutionary process. Eons from now, a creature not unlike you could emerge, look up at the stars and ask, 'Who am I? How did I come to be?' It's the miracle of creation, Seven! Doesn't that excite you?"

From Seven's expression, the answer appears to be...not really.

BOOM

Doc growls, then slaps his combadge. "Ensign Kim! I asked you to hold us steady!"

It's not like Harry has much choice this time. "We're under attack!"

Sure enough, we see an alien vessel strafing the hull of the Delta Flyer.

On the bright side, it would appear that Harry doesn't have to worry about three more days of deadly-dull comet-chasing.

* * *

The firing continues. Delta Flyer is outmatched. BOOM.

Harry hails the aggressor. "This is the Federation ship Delta Flyer. We're on a peaceful mission. Hold your fire!"

Yeah, right. As if. BOOOM.

"You are transporting a suspected photonic insurgent through Lokirrim space. Drop your shields and prepare to be boarded! "

"Photonic insurgent?" Harry says, wondering what the heck that is. "If you're referring to the hologram, he's our Doctor."

BOOOM. Sparks fly.

"Seven, we've lost thrusters!" Harry yells.

In the aft compartment, while Doc frets, Seven's fingers fly over a control panel. "I'll try reinitializing the driver coils."

Harry sends out a distress call. "Voyager, this is the Flyer. Mayday! Come in!"

Bzzzt! "Subspace communications are offline. " Damn!

THWONK. "It's a tractor beam," Seven reports.

"Remodulate our shields! That should break us free." If only.

BOOM. The shields go down. The tractor beam continues to reel in the Delta Flyer. Then a second, more targeted beam lashes out toward the back of the Flyer.

Inside the aft compartment, Doc starts to flicker. "What's happening?" he asks, his eyes widening.

Seven runs a scan. "They're using some kind of disruption field. It's decompiling your matrix."

Doc's fear rises exponentially.

"Federation vessel. Power down your systems and prepare to surrender the photonic. "

"Seven, they're pulling us in," Harry says. "You're going to have to hide the Doctor's program."

"Do something, please," Doc begs, as his matrix continues to sizzle.

*

In the forward compartment, four aliens beam into view--a male with a chin like an anvil and a perpetual scowl; a female with a relatively kind demeanor; and two large burly men bearing boomsticks who will be lucky to get any lines this week.

The nice lady speaks. "We don't want to hurt you. We're here for the insurgent." But none of the four drop their weapons.

*

The four intruders enter the aft compartment. "Where's the photonic?" demands the swaggering, anvil-chinned leader--let's call him "Dirk Throbwell."

Seven of Nine is alone. "You--decompiled his matrix. You--murdered him." Her voice is halting. Not an altogether convincing performance, but that may be good news--if they'd really killed him she'd be furious, right?

Harry enters as well, trying to ignore the weapon poking into his back. "Seven?" he asks, not seeing Doc anywhere.

"I'm sorry," Seven says. "There wasn't enough time."

The cute, friendly-faced female--let's call her Penelope--holsters her weapon and takes out their version of a tricorder. She runs it over the thing Doc had been studying. "Biogenic material," she reports to Captain Throbwell. "It could be used to create viral weapons."

"Confiscate it," Dirk says with his manly baritone.

Seven of Nine protests. "Our Doctor was using these spores to synthesize new medicines , not weapons!"

Dirk gives Seven a thorough visual scan. He notices her clenched fist. "What's this?" he demands, grabbing her wrist, roughly twisting it until her hand pops open to reveal the portable holo-emitter.

"It's...my...portable regeneration unit," Seven stammers. "I have a...unique physiology. This device maintains my cybernetic systems."

Dirk gives Seven a flinty look. "Have this analyzed," he tells one of his minions.

"Yes, sir," says the offscreen voice.

Penelope completes her scans. "There's no one else aboard."

"Take them to detention," Dirk tells her. "And secure their ship in the docking bay."

Harry resists. "You got what you wanted; let us go!"

Dirk doesn't think so. "Transporting photonics and manufacturing biogenic weapons are serious charges." Harry is led out first.

Seven is next. "Let's go," says a faceless flunky. Seven sighs, and heads for the door.

*

"I want to talk to your superior!" Harry yells as he and Seven are shoved through the corridors of the alien vessel.

They're brought to their destination--a cell--and pushed into it. The force field goes up, and the poor Voyagers are left alone. Harry, frustrated, slams his fist into a wall with a howl of frustration.

Seven just smiles. "Careful, Ensign, or you'll fracture a metacarpal." Her voice is too chipper, too singsongy...and a little too familiar.

Harry doesn't notice. "That'd be the least of our problems."

"The situation is not as desperate as it appears," Seven says, smiling more than usual, enjoying a secret that apparently she alone knows.

Harry throws up his hands. "Not as desperate? We're prisoners on an alien ship! Voyager has no idea we're missing, and the Doctor's been decompiled!"

Seven just looks smug. "The reports of my...decompilation have been greatly exaggerated."

This stops Harry in his tracks. He gives Seven a hard look, unable to quite believe what he's hearing. "Doc?" he asks at last.

"Please state the nature of the medical emergency," Seven--I mean Doc--chirps. "Seven downloaded my program into her cybernetic matrix." Now that the secret's out, he can preen a little more. Doc runs one hand over Seven's other arm, relishing the feel of it. "An interesting sensation, to say the least."

"And now you're in control of Seven's body?" Harry asks.

Seven touches her hair, and runs her hands down her face...and still downward. "Total control, it--seems." Doc pauses just before Seven's hands reach the Twin Towers of Trekdom, and--exercising a rare bit of discretion--stops their downward progress.

"What about Seven? Is she all right?"

"I scanned her before the aliens came aboard. Physiologically, she's fine. As for her consciousness...I'm assuming it's submerged, but there's no way to be sure until I vacate her systems and conduct a neurological exam." Doc walks over and begins caressing the cell's wall.

[Pause]

Since this could get confusing, I'm just gonna call the Doctor "Doc", whether he's inside Seven's body or not.

[Play]

"Then we need the mobile emitter," Harry says.

Doc revels in all the new sensations of this exotic foreign body he inhabits. "This experience will make a fascinating article for the Starfleet medical journal." He reaches out toward the force field--and gets a little too close. ZZZZZT! "Ow!"

"Careful," Harry warns. "That's not your body, remember?"

Doc recovers quickly enough. "I know Seven's senses were more acute than the average humanoid but..." He takes a hearty draw of breath. "I had no idea!"

Doc sniffs again--and seems to regret it. "What is that?" Harry smells nothing. Doc starts sniffing around the cell like a bloodhound. Harry does as well, but he isn't picking up anything.

"Could be an airborne toxin," Doc says, worried. "Do you think they're trying to poison us?" He continues to sniff, getting closer and closer to the source, until realization dawns.

Doc's nose twitches as he glares at Harry. "It's you!"

Poor Harry. Trapped in a prison cell with a catsuited hotty, and she's possessed by a snooty hologram with a highly developed sense of smell and a dysfunctional sense of tact.

"It's been a busy day!" the funk-drenched Harry protests. "I--guess I'm perspiring a little."

Doc sniffs again and glares. "A little?" He then holds up Seven's arm and takes a deep whiff of her ex-drone aroma. "Seven's had a busy day, too--and she's come through it smelling like the proverbial rose."

While Doc revels in the goodness of his new body, sniffing himself happily, Harry buries his head in his hands.

This just isn't his day.

* * *

Captain's Log, Stardate 54238.3. We've completed our maintenance layover at the Maldorian station and we're on our way to rendezvous with the Delta Flyer. We expect to reach them in 48 hours."

In the meantime, in the Doctor's absence, there are still patients to treat. That duty falls to Lieutenant Paris.

Tom seems to have really warmed up to his duties. He's even making house calls.

But perhaps that's because of the uniqueness of the patient. Tuvok rarely calls in sick. But here he is, surrounded by candles and his legendary meditation lamp, sweating like Albert Brooks in Broadcast News, trying without much success to meditate them blues away.

Tom runs a medical tricorder over him. He doesn't like what he sees. "Headache, fever respiratory distress, tremors. Looks like some kind of virus."

"It is not a virus." Tuvok's voice is low, strained, a bit gravelly. He sounds like a Vulcan on the verge of losing control of his emotions.

"You want to tell me what's going on?" Tom asks.

Yeah, right. "In the Doctor's database you'll find a medication under file Theta 12 Alpha. Please--replicate it immediately."

Tom sighs. "You know I can't give out medicine without knowing what it's for ."

Tuvok wipes sweat from his furrowed brow--enough beads to start his own jewelry business. "If you must know, I am suffering from a...neurochemical imbalance."

Hey, now, waitaminnit...the last time we heard about Vulcan neurochemical imbalances, was...when was that, now? I just can't remember.

Tom is dubious. "An...'imbalance'," he repeats flatly, clearly expecting more.

Tuvok relents--a little. "It is native to my species."

"Ooooohhhhh..." Tom says, putting the pieces together, moving in for the kill. "This wouldn't be the kind of imbalance that comes around once every SEVEN YEARS?" His eyebrows wiggle lasciviously.

Ah. That explains it. And hey, Doc isn't around so we know it's not a daydream.

Woo hoo! Everybody was pon farr fighting...

Tuvok gives in. The secret's out, and Lt. Paris is, for the moment, his doctor. He sighs. "My pon farr is in the early stages. The urges are still controllable."

Tom seems to enjoy the discomfort of his patient. "You never fail to amaze me, Tuvok! A man of your advanced years, still driven by the mating instinct?" he teases.

If you want to think about this for a moment, Tom is taking his life into his hands. Vulcans are 3-10 times stronger than the average human, and when the Blood Fever kicks in, they're often not shy about using it to open up a can of seven-year whupass on whoever stands between them and their most primal needs. Add to that all the annoying pranks Tommy Boy has pulled on Tuvok the last seven years, and he's just begging for a one-way trip to Sickbay.

With Doc missing, Tom could be in a world of hurt--them cranio-rectal extractions can be tricky even on a good day.

Tuvok, though, is true to his word--his urges are still controllable. And he makes a startling admission. He even lets a smile slip through. "Unlike in humans, the Vulcan libido increases with time."

Increases with time? And he's over 100 years old? Wow. Lock the doors, ladies--the Turgid Avenger is at large...

Tom whistles. "Well, I guess there has to be some kind of reward for all that Vulcan discipline...." Oh, nice bedside manner, Dr. Love.

Tuvok ignores him, as should we all. "The Doctor anticipated my needs and developed a treatment. Combined with meditation it will enable me to control the symptoms." The "I hope" is unspoken, but palpable.

"Well, if that doesn't work," Tom says, "there's always a cold sonic shower." Oy.

Tom heads for the door, apparently having tormented Tuvok enough for one day. "I'll tell the Captain that you'll be out of commission for a couple of days."

"She will want to know why," Tuvok rasps. Despite his control, there's a clear undercurrent to Tuvok's voice--the truth may set most people free, but it will earn Tom a month's worth of duty scrubbing the Bolian latrines. With his tongue--the shattered remains of his other limbs will be in stasis casts for weeks.

Tom's reply, though, is surprisingly kind. "Well, according to my tricorder, all we've got here is a mild case of the Tarkalean flu." Or an acute case of throbbing chad.

Even Tuvok seems touched. "Thank you, Lieutenant."

Tom nods. There's a time for abuse, and there's a time for camaraderie. The door closes behind him, and Tuvok returns--as best he can--to his meditations.

*

As a Hologram, the EMH hasn't had any opportunities to eat. So his first time is, expectedly, a revelation.

"Mmm!" he moans in Seven's voice, taking another bite of prison gruel. "I had no idea that eating was such a...sensual experience!" He shivers with the pleasure of it, a full-body jiggle that sends the Nielsen ratings up a full point. "The tastes, the textures! Feeling it slide down Seven's esophagus! It's...It's exquisite!"

Harry rolls his eyes. He's eating the same stuff, and he's decidedly unimpressed. "They're prison rations. My uniform probably tastes better!"

Doc can't be bothered with Ensign Wet Blanket. "You know, I was thinking," he says, mouth filled with partially-chewed muck. "When we get back to Voyager, perhaps you and Seven could help me modify my physical parameters."

"Why?"

"So I can eat, of course! Like any other member of the crew!"

"There's just one small problem," Harry says, already tired of his cellmate. "You don't have a stomach! Where is the food going to go?"

Details, details..."I believe we can construct a holographic stomach that can store the food for eventual recycling."

"Eh..." Harry bites back his snarky reply. "Maybe we should focus on something more productive like--getting out of here!"

"Relax, Ensign!" Doc chirps. "Our shipmates have never let us down before. I'm sure the Captain will clear up this little...misunderstanding." He waves his hands gaily, as though swatting aside a minor inconvenience.

"In the meantime..." he asks, eyeing Harry's bowl of mush. "Are you going to finish that?" Harry groans, and hands over the bowl. Doc digs in with relish.

The two look toward the door of the cell--someone's coming. "You! Come with us," says one of the alien thugs to what he thinks is Seven.

Harry leaps up. "I'm the senior officer. If you're going to take someone, take me."

"My orders were specific," says Penelope Passion, Lokirrim heartthrob.

Doc preens. "Don't worry, Ensign. I can take care of myself."

That's what's got Harry worried. Can Doc take care of Seven as well? Is he even paying attention to HER needs?

Doc heads out the door, but not before taking another bite of prison rations. "Mmm! My compliments to the chef."

*

Doc is taken to the Delta Flyer. Captain Dirk is here, eyeing his prize.

The Delta Flyer, that is.

"The prisoner, sir," announces the minion. Captain Throbwell waves the underling away.

To Seven (Doc), he begins listing the treasures he's catalogued. "Pulse-phased weapons, duranium-enforced hull...much more sophisticated than the typical smuggler's vessel."

Doc is irritated. "How many ways do you want me to say this? We are not smugglers, or terrorists! We are explorers." Seven/Doc smiles sweetly. "Let us contact our ship. Our captain will explain everything."

Dirk considers this. Not. "If you're innocent, then you won't mind telling me more about this vessel." He looks around. His eyes rest on the far wall. "For instance, um...this device. What does it do?"

Doc laughs. "It's a standard food replicator."

"Can it be used to create bioweapons?" Dirk asks, raising a sculpted brow.

"Not unless you count Mr. Neelix's Bolian souffle," Doc says, rolling his eyes. Whoever could forget the horror of Rainbow Yawn Wednesday?

Dirk doesn't get it.

Doc snorts with disgust and walks over to the replicator. "Let me show you. Computer, one slice of New York Cheesecake."

A moment later, a small plate with a thick slice of creamy cheesy goodness apears. Doc picks up the plate and offers it to his captor. "This is an old Earth delicacy."

Dirk eyes the plate suspiciously. "How do I know you're not trying to poison me?" And really, how is Doc to know whether the alien's physiology can handle a big ol' slice of New York Cheesecake?

I know mine can't...drat the luck.

Doc is impatient. "Oh, please." He grabs the fork and shovels a big chunk of the cake into his mouth.

And practically melts from the sensation. Seven/Doc goes week in the knees. Their chest heaves. "Mmm...Mmm!" You'd think the puppy was laced with Viagra.

Just imagine the visual--Seven of Nine with the personality of the epicurean Doctor, enjoying his first bite of gourmet dessert.

Better yet, imagine Meg Ryan in the cafeteria scene in When Harry Met Sally.

"Oh...Oh, I never imagined!!! AAAAAAAHHH!"

Um, waitress? I'll have what she's having.

Dirk is still skeptical. Nothing could be that tasty. "Is this the first time you've tried that?"

Doc doesn't do a great job of recovering from the sensatory overload, but he manages. "Of course not!" he protests. "But it's just that I usually...avoid foods that are this...a-a-a-a-a-a....rich." He waves his hands over himself. "I do have a figure to maintain."

Uh huh. Keep that in mind, stowaway boy. It ain't YOUR figure. If Buxom of Borg porks up because of this, your digital hiney is going DOWN.

Doc/Seven eventually realizes he's being a rude hostess. Host. Parasite. Whatever. "Oh! I better get another for you. Uh, Computer, another slice of cheesecake." ZZZZT. Out pops another slice of dairy heaven. "Uh...Here."

Dirk casts an evil eye in her direction, then gives it a tentative taste.

His eyes dang near pop out of his head.

Captain Throbwell is almost afraid to ask. "What...other foods can that device create?" he asks when he recovers his breath.

Oh, man. You can almost see what's coming. Seven of Nine's body gets one of the Doctor's famous looks. You know the one--the one that says things are about to get very, very weird.

"Hmm..."

The wheels are turning.

*

The aft compartment of the Delta Flyer is a shambles. Empty and half-empty plates are strewn all over the place. Glasses with liquids of every sort are tipped over, staining the rug with their contents.

Seven of Nine's body is propped up on a bio-bed, legs spread wide in a most unladylike way. She's got a drink in one hand, resting on her tummy. Her other hand clamps down on the Mother of All Hoagies.

She's cackling like a hyena.

Meanwhile, Dirk Throbwell is blitzed out of his skull, laughing himself nekkid.

Glutton porn...right out of a Vonnegut novel. So it goes.

Whatever they're drinking, it packs a wallop. It's...it's green.

Doc is waxing rhapsodic. "Oh...during my time with the Collective we assimilated thousands of cultures from one end of the galaxy to the other," he says with a pronounced slur, spraying the rug with more liqueur. "I'll say this for the Borg, we certainly do travel." wakka wakka.

"Oh, of course, my life didn't truly begin until I came aboard Voyager and met the person who...who changed my life, the only one who truly believed in me, saw my true potential..."

"Your Captain?" Dirk asks.

"Our Doctor." Who woulda thunk it? "That's right, the 'photonic,'" Doc declares drunkenly. If only you could have known him! Ruggedly handsome, a sharp wit, a towering intellect...if he and I hadn't been colleagues, well..."

Doc seems to catch himself, just in case Seven is listening in. He sobers just a little. "Now we'll never know what heights he could have reached," he says with a final guilt-inducing glare.

Dirk looks back with puppy-dog eyes. "I hope you understand, I had no choice."

Doc scoffs. "'I was just following orders.' I've heard that before."

Dirk's shields are down. He now seems eager to curry Doc's--I mean Seven's--favor. "Maybe there's something I could do for you. Uh, I-I'll speak to my superiors--ask for leniency."

Doc sees his chance. "If I survive that long."

"What do you mean?" Dirk asks.

He thinks fast. "My...cybernetic components are already depolarizing. I need my regener--" (burrrp!) "Regeneration. Device." By which he means the portable holoemitter. "As you can see, my motor functions are already impaired."

Dirk relents. "All right." But then he does some quick thinking of his own. "If I give this...(*urp*)...back to you, will you do something for me?"

*

Harry is aroused from his funk-filled cell by the sound of laughter. He sees Seven of Nine lurching around, propped up by an also lurching Captain Dirk.

"It was so kind of you to escort me," Doc is saying. "Aw, nice to see you, Ensign!" he leans all over Harry.

Harry can't believe what he's seeing. And smelling. "Are you drunk?!" he shouts as the force field goes back up.

"It wasn't my fault!" Doc protests. Seven's unique physiology is...unique. *HIC!* It doesn't react well to *urp* synthehol."

Harry lets it drop for now. "What happened?"

"Captain Dirk and I shared a meal aboard the Flyer. He's really a gentleman, once you get to know him."

Harry loses his cool. "You had a dinner date in Seven's body!?"

"It wasn't a 'date,'" Doc says defensively. "It was a...tactical maneuver designed to *HIC!* win the trust of our captors." Yeah, that's the ticket. "And...it worked!"

Well, he does have a point there. Seven's hand proudly displays the holoemitter.

Harry groans. "I won't ask what you had to do to get this."

"Nothing unladylike, I assure you." We'll let Seven be the judge of that. "They lost their medic to a recent skirmish, and I offered to take his place."

Harry lets it pass. "Let's download your program before they change their mind." He holds out the emitter, just a few inches away from Seven's exoskeletal hand.

But in Doc's drunken state, his aim isn't very steady. "Hey, careful where you point those tubules!" Harry shouts.

Doc hiccups. "Sorry."

The tubules interface with the portable emitter. A few seconds later, the Doctor appears in his usual form, allowing Seven of Nine's personality to resurface in her own body.

Doc is looking no worse for wear.

Which is more than can be said for Seven of Nine. Her knees wobble, and Harry catches her before she falls.

"Easy!" he says. "How do you feel?"

"I'm impaired," Seven says groggily. Doc parties; Seven wears the hangover. Life just ain't fair sometimes.

Doc assists. "You've had quite a shock to your system. Let me explain what's happened."

Seven of Nine's eyes are molten lava. "I know exactly what's happened. You've been abusing my body!"

Doc's eyes widen, and he gets the most pathetic expression--he's speechless, like the boy caught with his hand in the proverbial nookie jar.

Cookie. I mean cookie.

* * *

By the time the commercial break ends, Doc has found his tongue. "I'm a Doctor!" he protests. "I would never abuse your body! I...was trying to get information. Sometimes a glass of wine can...loosen the tongue."

Seven glares. "One glass. That doesn't excuse the other eight."

It's a fair cop. Doc is sheepish. "Was it that many?" He tries to laugh it away, until Seven's wrath dang near decompiles him where he stands.

Harry has to ask. "Seven, you were aware of everything?" Even the stinky uniform?

Seven's cheeks puff out in the universal gesture of an impending hurl. "Painfully."

Doc is defensive. "I'm afraid the role of 'spy' wasn't written into my program. I was forced to... Improvise."

"You 'improvised' your way through an entire cheesecake! As well as three servings of Ktarian chocolate puffs." Urp. "Now I have to suffer the consequences."

Suck it up, Doc. You screwed up.

He does his best. "I apologize if I...overindulged. I'll be more careful next time."

It ain't good enough. "There won't be a next time."

Doc freaks. "I'll be discovered! They'll decompile my program!" Nothing like the quest for self-preservation to bring out the best in the EMH.

Harry shushes Doc, and turns to Seven. Much as he hates to admit it, the Doctor has a point. "I know this is difficult for you, but you're going to have put up with it until we can get out of here."

Seven curses Harry for his devotion to duty, but relents. "How do you propose we do that?"

"Maybe you can tap into their com system--get a message to Voyager."

Doc shrugs helplessly. "Deciphering alien computers isn't exactly my forte."

"But it is one of mine," Seven says. Perhaps Doc can be useful after all. Much as she hates to admit it, Doc does have a certain knack for establishing rapport that she herself lacks. "If you can get close enough while they're accessing their systems I'll be able to observe their command protocols."

The three hear footsteps, and muffled voices. "The Captain wants the female prisoner in the medical bay."

Time runs short. "We should proceed," Seven says--but she gives Doc a warning stare. I'll be watching everything you do to me...

Doc takes it like a man. "You're saving my life. I want you to know how grateful I am."

"Try to remember that the next time you're tempted to overindulge." She clutches her stomach, still churning with about 20,000 empty calories.

The transition kicks in. Doc disappears. Seven's metal eyebrow crackles with energy.

He's baaaaaaack....

*

In the Lokirrim medical bay, Penelope shows Seven around. There is a patient here, clearly suffering. "The photonic's viral weapon attacks the cerebral cortex," Penelope explains. "Within days, the victim suffers complete synaptic failure."

"Well," says Seven/Doc, "if we can't stop the virus we may be able to slow its progress. We need to synthesize a neural inhibitor."

Penelope shows Seven the way to the lab. Doc regards her appreciatively. "Forgive me, but aren't you the ship's tactical officer?"

"Tactical officer, medic, engineer." Penelope sighs; her tunic ripples under the force of the heaving bosom. Doc records every millisecond of the spectacular view. "We've lost nearly a third of our crew to the photonics."

"Hmm," says Seven/Doc idly. "You certainly know your way around a medical bay." They smile. "You may have missed your true calling."

Penelope smiles back. "Actually, Emmik always thought I'd become a teacher. He used to call me 'the little professor.'"

"Who's Emmik?" Seven/Doc asks. Do I detect a trace of jealousy?

Penelope explains. "The photonic who helped raise my brother and me." She smiles warmly at the memory. "He knew more about treating scrapes and bruises than any organic Doctor I ever met."

Seven/Doc smiles. "Sounds like someone I'd enjoy meeting."

Penelope's eyes darken. "Maybe...before he joined the insurgency."

"Why did he do that?"

She shrugs. "I ask myself that question every day. We never treated him like a servant, but he turned against us anyway." Bitterness. Regret.

"Is it...possible he felt...subjugated?" asks the hologram in a Borg's body.

"I don't see how! He lived his own life, pursued his own interests. He was part of our family!" She pouts a little--dang, but she's adorable. "At least I thought he was."

Penelope shakes herself from her reverie. "We should get back to the patient."

They do so. Seven/Doc is ready with the treatment, and they administer it to the patient. "It could take up to a day to determine if the inhibitor is working."

"Thank you," says Penelope sincerely.

Seven/Doc smiles the smile of unfettered ego. "Don't thank me; thank my ship's doctor. He taught me everything I know about medicine." Doc shakes Seven's finger. "And remember--he was a photonic!"

Doc gets that puppy-dog look again. "Actually, you have a lot in common with him. He was something of a Jack-of-all-trades, too. I suspect you'd have gotten along famously."

Seven's voice deepens, grows husky. "I'm certain he would've taken a liking to you."

Although this scene would be sexually charged even were Doc in his own holographic (MALE) body, the fact that it's the statuesque Seven putting the moves on this lithe Lokirrim lass adds a whole new dimension to the erotic equation.

All together now: BOWM-chik-a-bum-TWANG!

For SHAME, people.

*

Meanwhile, back in Pon Farr central...

Tuvok is sweating profusely. He's stripped down to his Starfleet-issue tanktop, and it'd drenched. Tuvok is shaking like James Bond's favorite martini.

Doctor Tom is here as well. He looks concerned. "Your neurotransmitters aren't absorbing the medication."

"Can you increase the dosage?" Tuvok asks, his voice trembling.

"Not without causing damage to your neocortex. The Doc might be able to synthesize a stronger medicine..."

Tuvok grits his teeth. "I'll make the best of the situation until he returns!" He gets up and walks across the room, and rests his hands on the windowsill. He stares into space, feeling the pull of his Vulcan home and the arms of his beloved T'Pel.

Tom joins him at the window. His voice is low. "I do have one area of expertise that might help--the Holodeck."

Tuvok gives him a look of disgust. "I am a married man!"

"It's the Holodeck, Tuvok. It doesn't count!"

Tuvok dissects Tom with his glare. "Is that what you tell your wife?"

Touche. Tom bristles. "No, of course not. My days of rescuing slave girls from Planet Ten are history." This is an interesting commentary, actually, on 24th century marriage and morality--not to mention a kudo in the Tom Paris love bank. He's faithful to his wife--even in his fantasy life. Good on ya, mate.

Tom tries again. "Look, you have photographs of your wife, right? The computer can use them to create a replica. You wouldn't be breaking your vows if it's a hologram of your wife!"

I'm not sure I entirely buy this argument. We know, for example, that Geordi LeForge ultimately married Leah Brahms--a brilliant engineer who didn't exactly hit it off with him in the beginning. She was married to someone else, and when she discovered that he'd recreated her in the holodeck--to solve an engineering problem, but it soon became more than that--she hit the roof. I suspect that the holo-Brahms went the way of the dodo long before the vows were exchanged.

Likewise, would B'Elanna mind if she, as a pregnant woman, discovered that Tom was cavorting with a non-pregnant version of her on the holodeck? What if she also discovered slight modifications--different hairstyle, slightly taller, a cup size or two fuller, wearing a Xena outfit, double-jointed, breathlessly singing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" with a full-body pout?

One suspects all that would be left of Mr. Paris would be a scorched DNA smear near the plasma manifold.

Even so, desperate times call for desperate measures.

On the other hand, as Vorik demonstrated during his own pon farr, an empty-headed digital babe isn't exactly a substitute for a sentient, flame-blooded female. The Vulcan mating drive isn't just physical--they're a telepathic species, and the true manifestation of pon farr is as much a blending of katras as it is of merging flesh. Could Tuvok find solace in the arms of a three-dimensional, but ultimately empty, rendition of his mate of decades, the mother of his children?

Only time will tell. The real question is, will he even consider it as an option.

The look in Tuvok's eyes suggests he will.

*

Tuvok is now dressed in his traditional Vulcan ensemble.

So is his wife.

Frederick's of Mount Seleya, it ain't.

"As it was in the dawn of our days, as it will be for all tomorrows--to you, my husband, I consecrate all that I am."

"T'Pel, my wife--from you I receive all that I am." He closes the distance between them.

"As it was in the beginning, so shall it be now," T'Pel says, taking another step forward.

"Two bodies; one mind." Tuvok is now within embracing distance.

The formalities have been honored. The words have been spoken. The two collapse into each other's arms.

His blood is fire. It flows without restraint.

If this continues, Tom Paris is getting a commendation.

But I'd hate to see what the medal looks like.

*

On Voyager's bridge, the crew is on alert.

"I'm picking up a vessel closing at high impulse," Tom says. "They're firing!"

boom

"Shields are holding," Chakotay says, stifling a yawn.

Well, that was exciting.

Janeway, however, doesn't take any attack on her vessel sitting down. She stands, and glares at the screen. "Open a channel."

A Lokirrim is on the other side of the screen. Nobody we've seen on Captain Dirk's ship, though.

"This is Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager. We're on a peaceful mission." So don't make me wipe up the quadrant with you, pinprick.

The man in charge is haughty. "We've detected photonic activity aboard your vessel. Drop your shields and prepare to be boarded."

Janeway is confused. "Photonic activity?"

Tom Paris gulps. Oops. "Tuvok--he's in Holodeck Two!"

What kind of species hates holodecks?

Well, aside from the average Trek fan who wishes they'd find another friggin' plot device, I mean.

"They're firing again," Chakotay says, sounding not at all worried.

boom?

Yeesh.

*

However, the weapons fire does seem to be impacting someone.

T'Pel begins to flicker.

The look on Tuvok's face is heartbreaking. Maintaining the illusion is tough enough without her going all staticky on him.

*

"It's some kind of photonic disrupter directed at Holodeck Two," Chakotay says. Well, that would explain why the rest of Voyager doesn't seem to be in any danger. I've seen more damage from a severe French taunting.

Janeway loses patience. "Target their weapons array--and fire."

WHOOOOOOMP!!!

"They're hailing," Chakotay says.

"On screen," Janeway says.

"Drop your shields and prepare to receive our inspection teams," says the Lokirrim male, looking very nervous. He messed with the wrong redhead, and they both know it.

Janeway smiles. "You're not in a position to be making demands." She stares. The Lokirrim suffers.

"Why did you fire on us?" Janeway asks sweetly.

"Your vessel is carrying photonics through Lokirrim space."

"We didn't realize that was forbidden. We'd be happy to shut down our holodecks."

Before Tom can tell her that this isn't such a good idea, she gives the order.

*

T'Pel disappears. The Vulcan setting makes a premature evacuation.

Tuvok is left alone on a sterile holodeck.

Some guys just can't catch a break.

*

"Your sensors should confirm they've been deactivated," Janeway says dismissively. Now go away, son, you bother me....

The Lokirrim is just doing his job. Just not very well. "You're still required to submit to inspection," he squeaks.

Janeway sighs. Her eyes start to blink Red Alert. Her voice is cordial, like the bellhop in the Lobby of Death. "Your sensors should also confirm that our weapons are ready to fire."

The Lokirrim gulps.

Janeway smiles. "We're both reasonable people. I suggest a compromise. Your vessel will escort us through Lokirrim territory. That way, you can keep an eye on us, make sure we don't reactivate our holodecks."

When Janeway drops the smile, it's like the sound of a guillotine dropping. "The other alternative is...we destroy your ship."

The Lokirrim wets himself.

"Your proposal is...acceptable," he whimpers.

The signal ends. Janeway gracefully reclines in her throne of absolute authority. She sighs contentedly. With a sidelong glance to Chakotay, she says, "Sometimes diplomacy requires a little saber rattling."

Chakotay just smiles. That wasn't saber-rattling; she dropped the funk bomb on the poor boy.

"Begin long-range scans," she says regally.

Rarely has the crew complied so quickly.

*

Meanwhile, Seven/Doc is still in the Lokirrim medical bay. Doc and Penelope are getting along famously.

"I can picture them now," Penelope is saying. "My father in his airponics bay, pruning his cona vines. My mother, reading in her favorite chair. Nothing in that home ever changes," she says with a delightful laugh.

Doc/Seven is smitten. "Hmm. Must be comforting to have a place like that to go back to."

"I've never been away this long before," she says sadly, obviously homesick.

Penelope checks in on their patient, and is pleased. "His progress is remarkable! I want you to know, I'm going to tell my superiors everything you've done for us."

Doc/Seven beams. "First Dirk, and now you," he preens. "I may become the first prisoner of war to be decorated by his captors." And if they give medals for ego, you'll need an entourage to carry them all....

Penelope smiles. Dang, what a smile. "I know someone who'd really enjoy meeting you," she says.

Oooh, baby, here it comes. "Who?"

"My brother, Lohden."

Doc dang near hurls. "Your brother?" Ewww, men, cooties! Well, I guess that settles it--Doc has eyes only for the ladies.

Which wouldn't raise eyebrows if he weren't in Seven's body.

What is this--Voyager, or Benny Hill?!?

"You'd like him. He's ambitious, accomplished, and he'd love your sense of humor."

Doc still struggles to contain his disgust. "Hmm." He turns his back to Penelope. "Apparently, it's my most attractive quality."

One wonders what Doc expects from Penelope. This ain't exactly Showtime After Dark. In case he hasn't looked in a mirror lately, he's not exactly himself right now.

Feeling unloved, or at least unlusted after, Doc pouts.

"Seven of Nine. Please report to the bridge."

Well, perhaps his luck is about to change.

*

The bridge of the Lokirrim vessel is deserted--all but Captain Dirk, who is as nervous as a schoolboy.

Doc reads the situation perfectly. "Okay...let me guess. Your crew decided to abandon ship." Wakka-wakka.

"I wanted to thank you," says Dirk. "I had a wonderful time the other night."

Doc/Seven waves it off. "It's not often that I...indulge myself like that." He jumps as he hears the doors slam shut behind him. Trapped.

"It's been a long time for me, too. I remembered your interest in stellar phenomena so I requested a course change to show you something." Smoothly, Dirk enters a few commands in, and suddenly the dimly-lit bridge explodes with color as the viewscreen changes.

Dutifully, Doc takes note of what Dirk did at the command center, and prays mightily that Seven will remember this, if nothing else. But his attentions are soon drawn to the screen.

No two ways about it--as stellar phenomena go, this one's a beaut.

"What is it?" Seven/Doc asks, transfixed.

"To an astronomer, it's simply a pulsar cluster. But our poets call it 'the window of dreams.'" Oh, he's good. He steps closer. "You can travel from one end of the quadrant to the other and never see anything like it."

Seven/Doc is keenly aware of the captain's proximity. "Lovely!" they say, as platonically as possible.

Music begins to play. It, too, is hypnotic, seductive..."It's the pulsar's E.M. field vibrating against our hull." Captain Throbwell really knows his way around these parts. And I don't mean space.

Doc starts to fidget. Cootie Boy is way too close for comfort.

Dirk is practically inhaling Seven. "I once thought this was the most beautiful sight in the sector."

Doc is on the verge of bolting for the door.

"I see now that I was wrong." He reaches for the former drone, with assimilation on his mind.

He produces a flute of champagne from behind his back. "I almost forgot..."

The fight-or-flight instinct kicks into high gear. "Uh, I promised a friend I'd go easy on the synthehol."

The hull begins to vibrate, a pulsing, throbbing rhythm. At least, we hope it's the hull.

"Do you hear that?" Doc/Seven asks, voice an octave above normal. "It's identical to the rhythm produced by the eight-chambered Ktarian heart!"

Dirk presses himself even closer.

He does sense Seven's hesitation. But it's not slowing him down much. "Is something wrong?"

Doc thinks fast. He grabs a tricorder and runs it over the captain. He feigns concern. "Rapid pulse, respiratory distress. You may be having a reaction to the pulsar's radiation. We should get you to the medical bay."

Nice try, dude. "No, I'm not going to the medical bay." closer...closer...

Doc/Seven harrumphs. "You Starship Captains are all alike. You can stare down the barrel of a phaser cannon but you can't stomach a simple medical exam."

"I don't need an exam to know what I'm suffering from." Oh, please.

But there's nowhere left to go. Dirk closes the few remaining inches, and plants a big wet smooch on Seven's lips.

Outraged, Doc pushes with all of Seven's might. Dirk goes flying, crunching into a console on the far side of the bridge.

You gotta admit--Seven's got spunk.

Dirk may be drinking champagne, but Doc's got Seven opening up a can of virtue-preserving whoopass.

To his credit, Dirk finally takes the hint. "I'm sorry. I thought..."

"You were wrong!"

"I-I-I didn't mean to offend you. It's just...I've never met a woman like you before."

"That's because there are no women like me!" When Seven/doc storms off the bridge, Dirk doesn't dare follow.

* * *

Seven storms into the medical bay. Penelope is surprised by the vehemence in Seven's tone. "Is something wrong?" she asks.

"Captain Throbwell summoned me to the bridge under the pretext of a little stargazing. What he really wanted was to use my face as a tongue depressor!!!" Doc does have a flair for the dramatic, don't he?

"I'm...surprised to hear that." She seems a little jealous.

"It was completely inappropriate! That kind of behavior would get a Starfleet Captain reassigned to a garbage scow!" So THAT'S why Janeway has a hands-off policy with her first officer...

Penelope sighs. "I'm not defending what he did, but...you have to understand we've been out here for a long time. It's difficult to hide your feelings...especially when you work closely with someone you're attracted to."

Realization dawns. Doc is horrified, and it shows on Seven's face. "You have...have feelings for him?"

Doc's estimation of Penelope drops precipitously. He hoped she had better taste than that. Perhaps for a sculpted goddess with the mind of a holographic surgeon. He sighs. "I've known Lotharios like Dirk. Trust me, you don't want anything to do with him. You need someone who...who can appreciate your many talents!"

Doc is on a roll, but he tries to look busy. He goes over to a tall shelf to reach for something while he rants. "Someone...overflowing with intelligence and compassion, someone capable...OWWW!!!!"

Word to the wise, Doc. Don't rant while you're reaching. You could sprain something that way.

Seven goes down hard, holding her shoulder. Doc, unused to the sensation of physical pain, is down for the count.

Penelope gives Seven a quick once-over. "It looks like a spasm in the trapezius."

"I had no idea it could be...so excruciating!"

Penelope helps Seven to a nearby bed. "That's what happens when you work so long without rest." Up Seven goes--but not without another shriek of pain.

What a wuss. Physician, heal thyself.

Penelope does whatever she can to shut this whiner up. "Our last medic showed me a technique that might help. I-I'll try it, if you like."

"Please, anything!" Doc wails.

BOWM-chik-a-bum-TWANG!

Seven's shrieks turn to moans as Penelope expertly kneads her shoulders, working out the worst of the kinks.

"OH! That...That feels...ooooooh, Wonderful!"

Penelope, who had begun rubbing Seven's shoulders from behind, moves around to the front. Doc lets Seven's eyes roam over the fine form of the woman who is making him feel sooooo goood....

For her part, Penelope is clueless. She's just trying to help out a colleague in pain. To her, it's just a shoulder rub.

To Doc, however, this is just one more sensation--and it's a good one. His mind begins to wander--

And then he remembers. Seven is watching everything. One of these days, he's going to have to answer to her for whatever he experiences through her.

And he's gonna have a tough time explaining THIS.

Seven hops off the table and puts distance between herself and Penelope.

"Oh...did I hurt you?" Penelope asks.

"No, no-no, no, no, no...." but Seven will...

"Well, then, what's wrong?"

Doc/Seven sighs. "There's something you don't know about me--something I have to tell you."

Penelope gives Seven a look of pure understanding. "It's all right. I know."

This is one of those moments where a whole lot is happening at once. Doc is thinking one thing. Penelope is thinking another. And the audience has its own ideas.

Ah, bedroom farce. A Trek trademark. They go together like manatees and motorcycles.

"You...you do? How could you?"

Penelope looks almost hurt, like Seven is questioning her intelligence. "You cybernetic implants, your portable regenerator?"

Hmmm. Okay, so she doesn't think Seven's gay. That could only mean Doc's secret is out. This could be dangerous. "You're not going to tell anyone, are you?"

"I would never say anything to the crew. But the captain knows."

Gulp. "He does?" What is he, some sort of sick HOLOsexual [sic]? And his species is hunting down holograms...the man's got issues, I'll give him that.

"Of course!" Penelope says. "It was apparent the moment we scanned you."

Shock. Surprise. Fear. "I can't believe you didn't say anything."

"It wouldn't have been appropriate. You're part Borg! It's nothing to be ashamed of."

Hmmm. Nobody expected them to look behind door number three....

Borg. yeah. That's right.

whew.

Talk about a failure to communicate...

Well, before this awkward moment can get any worse, security hails the medical bay. It would seem that Harry is in a world of hurt.

I guess that uniform of his is stinkier than he realized...

*

Harry is screaming like a banshee when Seven is led to the cell. Doc/Seven drops to their knees beside the hapless Ensign as the guards leave them alone.

"AAAAAaaauauuuuuuggggghhhWHERE THE HELL have you been?!?" Harry growls once the coast is clear. "I had to fake a seizure before the guard would let me see you!"

"Calm down! Seven and I have been making progress." Since Harry is okay, Doc ignores him, and reaches for the emitter. Within seconds, Doc is back to his old self.

And Seven is more upset than ever.

"Did you get a look at their computer?" Harry asks.

"During the one brief moment when the Doctor wasn't indulging himself!" she says, glaring at the EMH.

Doc is defensive. "I think I've shown considerable restraint under the circumstances!!!"

"Kissing Dirk on the bridge? Is that your idea of restraint?"

Harry is disgusted. "Kissing?"

Doc holds his own. "Not that it's any of your business, but if you must know--Ranek kissed me." He's just irresistible that way.

"And the massage you got from Lieutenant Penelope?" Seven demands.

"Entirely therapeutic!!!"

Seven's eyes narrow. Laser beams of pain lance out and smack his photons around. "You became sexually aroused in my body!"

At the Learning Annex, they could spend weeks studying the textbook example of Guilt Unveiled that the Doctor does here. Eyes shift back and forth. Jaw crooked to the left, gaping wordlessly.

Seven glares. Harry hurls.

Doc recovers. "When did it become a crime to enjoy a sensation or two? Of course, you'd be the last person to understand that!" Oh, sure, blame HER.

"What do you mean?" Seven demands.

"The whole world is full of experiences and sensations! But you insist on denying yourself! Instead of replicating caviar, you choose nutritional supplement 13-alpha!"

"Caviar is an indulgence."

"Indulgences are what make life worth living!" Doc fumes.

Harry shushes them both.

Doc continues more quietly, but with no less intensity. "These last few days have been a revelation. Feeling your lungs fill with air--the surge of adrenaline through your veins! Until I spent a day in your skin I never knew what I was missing!"

Seven "You may have been better off not knowing."

Doc sighs. "We're quite a pair. Me, trapped by the limitations of photons and force fields. You, by a drone's obsession with efficiency. You'd make an excellent hologram." Ouch.

"All right! Listen!" Harry yells. "Argue all you want when we get back to Voyager, but that's not going to happen unless we come up with a plan!" He turns to Seven. "Did you learn anything about their com system?"

Seven "It can only be accessed from the bridge, but I saw the captain enter his command codes."

Good; Harry nods. "If we can get those codes to Voyager they may be able to disable the shields and beam us out."

"How are we going to do that?" Doc asks.

"The subspace transceiver on the Flyer," Seven suggests.

"Can you get aboard?" Harry asks.

Seven doesn't think so. "It's heavily guarded."

Doc gets a sly look. "I can get us aboard."

It's not hard to guess that Seven's not gonna like this...

*

Seven of Nine appears on the Lokirrim bridge. "Captain, may I speak with you? Privately." It's as close to seductive as Seven ever gets.

What a tease.

*

By privately, Seven/Doc means the Delta Flyer. They are alone, near the replicator--and some other useful equipment.

"I owe you an apology," Seven/Doc says.

"Well, I was the one who acted inappropriately," says the gallant Captain Dirk.

"Oh, a kiss is hardly a court-martial offense. It's just that you...caught me by surprise."

"I won't make that mistake again," he promises.

"Perhaps, we should...start over?"

He gazes into her eyes. "What did you have in mind?"

"Well...we could start with a toast."

What happened to I'm Allergic To Synthehol? "I thought...since I..."

"Oh, I can make an exception for a special occasion." Seven heads over to the replicator. "Computer--champagne, two glasses." The glasses appear, and Seven hands one to the captain. "To new beginnings," Seven says, raising the glass in a toast.

Dirk Throbwell smiles hungrily. "Maybe there's some hope for us yet."

"As I've discovered recently, anything is possible." Doc tries his best not to go nuts with the bubbly, focusing on the mission. He takes a deep breath. "Computer--dim the lights. Play EMH music file gamma 12."

A cheerful waltz begins to play. I THINK it's the intro to Die Fledermaus by Strauss, but don't quote me.

Seven removes the pins from her hair, and shakes vigorously. A cascade of blonde tresses shower down on her shoulders. Yummy.

Seven takes a deep, shuddering breath, and then grabs the captain. And begins to dance.

"Oh...this is interesting."

"It's called a waltz. Something else I learned from our Doctor."

Before they can dance too long, the comm channel opens. "Captain Ranek, please come to the bridge."

"What is it?"

"We've received an encrypted transmission."

"Oh." He gives Seven an apologetic shrug. "I'll be right there."

"You're not leaving?" Doc offers the captain an alternative by pulling him even closer.

Captain Throb is a bit confused by these mixed signals. (Maybe it's just the Delta Flyer--Seven seems a lot more amorous on her home turf.) "Um...I'll be back as soon as I can."

Seven bumps and grinds. "I really think you should stay." She twirls him.

Poor captain doesn't know what's hit him.

When the spin ends, Seven grabs him close again. The collision is so intense you can hear the SPROING as flesh meets implants. (Elasticity is a good thing.)

The captain is so befuddled by the dance that he has no time to react when Seven plunges a sedative into his neck.

Down he goes.

Seven/Doc props him up (lucky stiff). They pat the captain on the back. "Never play hard to get with an hologram," Doc says.

*

Meanwhile, on Voyager's bridge, Tuvok is back at his station--and sweating bullets.

"Still no sign of the flyer's warp signature," he tells Janeway. The strain in his voice is evident.

Janeway leans in close and speaks softly. "I appreciate your sense of duty, Tuvok, but we can handle the situation without you."

"Under the circumstances, abandoning my post would be a dereliction of duty. My illness is still in the early stages. I can control it."

Janeway speaks even softer now. "If I remember correctly, the last time you came down with the 'Tarkalean Flu' was seven years ago." She gives him a knowing look. "As soon as this is over the holodeck is at your disposal." She then puts a motherly arm around the man old enough to be her grandfather.

Neelix arrives on the bridge, bearing a hot steamy cup of something. "There you are, Commander!" he tells Tuvok. "Now, a person in your condition really ought to be in bed."

And I thought I had a knack for double-entendre. Well done, Neelix.

This is my grandmother's recipe guaranteed to cure even the most stubborn flu. Now... Smell that?"

Poor Tuvok looks ready to rip Neelix's head off and chug the blood from his severed skull. "I don't smell anything," he says.

"Exactly! I prepared it just the way you like it. No herbs or spices of any kind. It's practically tasteless!"

Tuvok gives Janeway a look. Permission to kill the cook, Captain.

Janeway, for her part, doesn't quite laugh.

Saved by the bell. Tuvok checks the boards. "We're receiving a hail. It's the Delta Flyer."

Janeway is relieved to hear that. "On screen." She sees who's calling, and smiles. It's an odd smile--why is Seven's hair down? "Seven, it's good to see you."

"I'm afraid there's no time for pleasantries, Captain. We're being held prisoner on a Lokirrim patrol ship. I'm sending you our precise location and the command codes to disable their shields."

Janeway nods. "Are the Doctor and Harry all right?"

Seven rolls her eyes. "Ensign Kim is his usual chipper self. As for me, I'm looking forward to a long, uneventful shift in Sickbay."

The body may say Seven, but the voice doesn't. Janeway is confused for a moment before realization dawns. "Doctor?!"

"It's a long story, Captain. Delta Flyer out." The transmission ends.

"They may be in more trouble than we thought," says Chakotay with classic understatement.

Janeway's eyes go hard. "Set a course."

Paris speaks up. "Our escort isn't going to take kindly to a detour."

Janeway looks back to Tuvok. "What's the status of their weapons?"

"They've repaired their forward phasers."

Janeway gets a gleam in her eye--something's gonna go BOOM, and soon. "Target their power matrix. We may only get one shot, so make it count."

It takes Tuvok only a moment--he's in a mood to do some damage too. "Ready."

"Do it."

The phaser aims straight and true. The Lokirrim ship rocks, and a part of the vessel evaporates.

"Direct hit," says Tuvok.

Janeway smiles. "Get us out of here, maximum warp."

* * *

The call placed, the cavalry summoned, Doc/Seven now feel the need to cover their tracks. The captain is brought to the medical bay from the Delta Flyer.

Penelope is here, and she's concerned--it's her captain, after all. "What's wrong with him?"

"Apparently, Captain Dirk has an even lower tolerance for synthehol than I do." Cute.

"That doesn't sound like him!" Penelope says, casting a jealous eye at Seven.

"It's probably not something he would admit to his crew," Seven whispers conspiratorially. "We should keep this between us."

Although Doc has been drooling all over Penelope, the truth is that she's a dedicated professional. She gets right to work treating the unconscious captain.

"What are you doing?"

"Reviving him."

Uh oh. "I-I wouldn't recommend that!"

Too late. The stimulant kicks in, and the captain shakes himself awake. He sees Seven, looking all too guilty. "Take her to detention. Separate her from the other prisoner."

Penelope scans her captain. "There are traces of sedative in your bloodstream."

The captain hops off the table. He's all business now. "What was your plan? To aid the insurgents?"

"There was no plan," Seven/Doc scoffs.

The captain is angry. So is Penelope. She stands by her man. "We trusted you!"

Seven/Doc gets defensive. "I'm still a prisoner on your ship! And, despite our friendship, my first obligation is to escape." So there.

But the betrayal doesn't get wiped away that easily. "We were going to recommend leniency."

Doc shrugs Seven's shoulders helplessly. "If you knew who I really was, I doubt you'd be trying to help me."

The bridge hails the captain. "Alien vessel approaching."

The captain points at Seven. "I want her where I can see her." And he doesn't mean that in a flirtatious way. He's suspicious of Seven, and rightly so.

Too bad he's not thinking straight. Letting the enemy on the bridge during a conflict is just asking for trouble.

*

Voyager closes fast on the Lokirrim vessel.

"They're raising shields," Tuvok reports.

Janeway nods, and looks to Chakotay. "Stand by with those command codes." She tells Tuvok to open a channel. "This is Captain Kathryn Janeway. We don't want a fight. Return my people and we'll be on our way."

Captain Dirk is defiant. His chin emotes more in this scene than Chakotay does in an average season. "Your people were caught transporting a photonic insurgent and biogenic material!" Well, he's half right.

Janeway glares right back. "We don't want to disable your ship, but we will if we have to." She nods to Chakotay, who enters the command codes to the Lokirrim ship.

*

Penelope is now wearing her Tactical officer's hat. "We're losing our ventral shield grid!"

Uh oh. "Compensate!" the captain yells.

"I'm trying. They've tapped into the shield matrix." She looks at the captain. "They're using your command authorization."

The captain in turn looks at Seven, who shrugs smugly.

*

"They're rerouting power," Chakotay says. "He's tying their shields directly into the warp matrix." Captain Dirk is not quite the hapless romantic after all.

He smiles. His chin smiles. "If you fire on us, you'll trigger a core breach. You'll be killing the people you're here to rescue." Kirk would be proud.

Janeway seethes. "End transmission." She orders a tractor beam.

WHOMP

*

"Full reverse!" the captain shouts. "Target their emitters!"

BOOM

Nice shootin', Tex.

*

"They've broken free," says Tuvok.

Janeway thinks fast. "Chakotay, can you send a com signal directly to Seven's cortical node?"

*

Janeway's voice rings in Seven's ear. "Doctor, if you can hear me, we need your help. Try to disable their shields."

Since everyone else is busy fighting Voyager, nobody notices when Seven takes out the emitter and programs in the transfer code.

Doc appears and starts fighting. Seven, within punching distance of one of the guards, thwonks him with a sucker punch and grabs his weapon before the poor boy can hit the floor.

Penelope scans the newcomer. "It's a photonic!"

Seven tosses the gun to Doc. "Cover me!" She runs over to decouple the shields from the warp core, which will let Voyager fire at will without nuking everyone.

Doc emotes like he's paid by the smirk. "Stay back! I'm not afraid to use this!" Yeah, right, Mr. Hippocratic Oath.

A brief fight ensues. The captain yells at Seven to step away. She doesn't.

Penelope can't outprogram her. "She destabilized the shield grid. It's failing!"

The captain fires. The console near Seven explodes, giving him time to run over and subdue her. He tosses her to the guards. "Watch them," he says, handing the weapon to Penelope. She trains her weapon on Doc and Seven, and her expression is clear: Gimme a Reason.

The captain tries to redo the booby-trap that Seven just undid. Seven warns him not to. "If you try to re-initialize the grid it'll overload. We would all die."

Doc is a bit more direct. "Dirk, Stop!"

KABOOOOOOOM

The console explodes, big time. The captain goes down, and goes down hard. Concussion is the least of his problems.

Doc takes a step forward. Penelope waves the gun to remind him not to move. "Stay back!"

"I'm a Doctor. Let me help."

The emotions clash. Loyalty to her captain wins out in the end.

*

"Their shields are down," Tuvok reports. "I have a lock."

Janeway acknowledges, and hails Seven and Doc. "Away team, stand by for transport."

I hope they don't forget Harry.

*

Doc refuses to go. "I have injured here, Captain. I can't leave yet."

Doc turns to Penelope. "He'll die without immediate surgery. I know this is difficult to grasp, but I'm the person you've been getting to know the last few days. My program was in control of Seven's body."

Why in the world he'd say this now escapes Penelope. It doesn't exactly earn her trust. "You're lying!"

Doc's voice drops to a whisper. "I know you have feelings for Ranek. If he dies...you're never going to forgive yourself."

Well, okay, maybe it does make sense that he told her. This revelation makes her breath catch, and she wordlessly nods for him to proceed.

*

A short time later, the captain is back on his feet. Doc is many things, not all of them good--but as an EMH, he's beyond compare.

"Your vital signs are stable," Doc says to his patient.

"I suppose I should be grateful," the captain says. He still don't like holograms much, especially those who dress up like hot Borg wimmen and dance him into the ground.

Doc misses the irony. "A 'thank you' is customary after someone saves your life," he says smugly.

The captain's eyes narrow. "What happened was between me and Seven of Nine--not you."

Doc is hurt. "I'm sorry you feel that way. The truth is, aside from a few awkward moments, I enjoyed our time together."

Doc nods over his shoulder to Penelope. His next words are chosen carefully for once. "There are...many women who'd appreciate an attractive man like you. I'm just not one of them."

Speaking of Penelope, she approaches. "More of our vessels are on the way," she tells the Doctor. "You should leave while you can."

The captain looks at Penelope, then at the Doctor. "Thank you," he says. He appears to mean it--Doc gave him something (or someone) new to think about.

Doc smiles at Penelope. "I guess you won't be introducing me to your brother."

She smiles. "I'm not sure you're the kind of person he's interested in."

"You mean because I'm a...hologram." They share a laugh.

"I don't imagine this experience is going to change your feelings about photonics," Doc says, "but I wanted you to know...I'm grateful for the time we've spent together."

Penelope smiles. "You're a talented Doctor. We're the ones who should be grateful."

"I'm glad I could help." he taps his chest. "Doctor to Voyager. One to beam out."

Penelope watches him dematerialize, then she sighs. She looks happy.

She ain't felt nothin' yet. Just wait until her captain gives her a tour of The Window of Dreams.

*

Tom catches up with Tuvok in Vyager's corridor. "Commander...it's good to see you're over the flu."

Tuvok would rather not talk about it, clearly, but Tom was his doctor. "I have fully recovered. Thank you for your assistance."

"Oh, don't mention it. I just hope everything was okay," he says, fishing for a compliment.

"Not exactly." Tuvok stops walking and regards the Lieutenant like a true Trek nitpicker. "My wife's ears are four millimeters shorter than your facsimile's."

Paris shrugs. "So I took a little artistic license! Aside from that...was everything all right?" He doesn't elaborate.

He doesn't need to. "The hologram was adequate." Tuvok's eyes harden. "But no substitute for my wife."

Tom considers several responses. He chooses sincerity. Tom's expression fills with compassion and understanding, and he smiles the smile of a friend. "Of course not."

*

Doc is in Sickbay, sitting at his desk, lost in thought. About himself, no doubt.

Seven of Nine enters. She's carrying a bottle of bubbly and a plate of food.

"Please state the nature of the medical emergency," Doc says without enthusiasm.

"There isn't one...yet."

Uh oh. Doc's in trouble now.

Doc breaks out of his funk when he sees what she's carrying. "The mess hall is three decks up. In case you've forgotten I've lost my appetite. Permanently." Oh, poor hologram...

Seven is insistent. "That doesn't mean you're incapable of enjoying a meal." She sits down across from him and lifts the lid. "Foie gras with truffles--an ancient Earth delicacy." She holds up the bottle. "Chateau d'Yquem. According to the culinary database, the ideal accompaniment."

Doc smirks in spite of himself. "Not your usual fare."

She smiles. "It's come to my attention that nutritional supplements don't fully meet my needs."

Why, the experimental little minx! Doc's smile broadens. "I see..."

"I thought we could share the experience. I'll describe the meal to you--the tastes, the sensations. Perhaps you can enjoy it vicariously."

Doc is intrigued, and grateful. But there's a problem. "What about the wine? It doesn't exactly--agree with you."

Seven shrugs as she pours a glass for herself, and another for Doc. "If I become sick, I won't have far to go." Oh my.

She raises her glass. "To shared experiences."

Doc joins her in the toast. "Here, here."

Their glasses clink together.

[Analysis]

Okay, first things first. This episode is more or less a farce, so I'm gonna let them get away with some things I otherwise might not. This isn't exactly a "message" episode, so there's not much philosophy to expound. There are some character issues, a small but tricky ethical point, and the usual nods toward characterization, relationship and action.

The interesting thing is, this episode is actually a prelude to a big, serious two-parter later in the season. In isolation, this episode is a bit odd. But in light of "Flesh and Blood," "Body and Soul" gains additional relevance.

*

First off, as farce, this is pretty good. Picardo and comedy go hand in hand. The twist is, most of Doc's lines are delivered by Seven of Nine, and Jeri Ryan does a fine job of mimicking the EMH's mannerisms. It's amusing to see such a pretty woman act like the Doctor. Suffice to say, it doesn't look so good on her. But it does look funny.

Naturally, the story veers into the madcap hilarity that can ensue when an adolescent male trapped in the body of a supermodel, is hit on by another man and is treated kindly by another woman. Dialog takes on whole new meanings when spoken one way but subject to multiple interpretations in the third person omniscient.

Without wading too deeply into the alternative lifestyle pool, I'll just say that this setup relies heavily on the assumption that a man hitting on a woman is expected, but that a man hitting on another man, or a woman hitting on another woman, is not. Throw in cross-dressing (what is it about Anglo-American humor that considers it the height of comedy to see a man in womens' clothing? Benny Hill, Tootsie, the finale of Friends...) There's the natural "mistaken identity" idea. But there's also an implicit assumption of clearly defined gender roles.

In Trek, it has never been assumed that two men, or two women, would be attracted to each other. They've made the occasional foray into telling such stories in a serious way ("The Outcast" on TNG, "Rejoined" on DS9) but generally it's been treated tongue in cheek (Quark surgically feminized in "Profit and Lace" or all the mirror-universe caricatures of effeminite males and man-eating omnisexual females; Seven of Nine channeling men and biting B'Elanna in "Infinite Regress.")

I'm a religious conservative, so I have my personal opinions on such matters, but as a reviewer I try to be objective and take the episode on its own terms. And in this case, it strikes me as gratuitous when Trek does stuff like this. We know it's really the Doctor calling the shots in Seven's body, so what might otherwise be a simple case of a captain pushing for a romantic evening with an attractive woman he thinks he's got some chemistry with, or a female colleague offering a therapeutic massage, becomes something else entirely--something naughty.

Comedy through ambiguity--but is it really that funny? Maybe to the PTD (prime target demographic), but I dunno. Just a little food for thought.

*

The Lokirrim don't strike me as bad people, all in all. They aren't gratuitously violent. Through the female lead, we learn that the photonic revolt has been a betrayal--even those holograms they grew up to trust have turned against them, and they're using weapons of deadly intent. They're fighting defensively, and though they're adamant about eradicating photonic activity, it's because they learned through sad experience that NO hologram can be trusted.

While this may sound extreme, we learn later this season that the holograms are in fact leading a holy war against non-holograms, and that the Lokirrim are right to be paranoid. Even Doc, for a time, will find his loyalties tested to their limits.

That's another unfair aspect of farce--it makes otherwise competent people look foolish. Captain Ranek ("Dirk") shows quite a bit of competence as a commander, countering many of Janeway's offensive moves, putting himself in harm's way to preserve his ship and crew. Yes, he's attracted to Seven of Nine, but only after the first scene in the Delta Flyer where Doc/Seven introduces him to the sensory joys of the food replicator. The two talked at length, and seemed to establish a rapport. He can be forgiven for thinking there was potential between himself and Seven. Likewise, Janyck ("Penelope") strikes me as a perfectly kind, honorable woman, devoted to the cause, torn between fond memories of her childhood hologram and current anger over that hologram's betrayal. She's a competent officer, a compassionate medic--and what she's best known for in this episode is Ally McBeal-style lesbian humor over a neck massage.

Although broad comedy is a Doctor/Picardo trademark, perhaps I'm concerned that we've seen a little too much of it over the years. (I may also be biased becasue I'm reviewing this right after "Renaissance Man, another gender-bending Doc Comedy episode.) It's a fine line to walk--Picardo is a great actor, with a flair for comedy, and the writers generally kick serious comic hiney when they write for him. But do it too often, and the tendency is to beg for something different.

There's only so many ways the Doc can discover something new, and screw something up, before the audience finds itself begging that he'll grow up already.

Compare this to Seven of Nine, who had a lot of growing up episodes her first couple of seasons. At first, they were natural material. But after a while, impatience sets in, and we beg for them to start treating her as someone who HAS grown. We are all learning, but some lessons we expect to have learned early, and not often.

I don't want to judge this episode TOO harshly, because as a stand-alone episode, it's still pretty dang funny. Don't mind me; I'm just venting on the overall trend. Too much of a good thing is--as Seven of Nine discovers after Doc's synthale-and-cheesecake binge--a bad thing.

Then again, I'm still wordier than hell after all these years, so perhaps I'm not one to talk.

*

Another ironic aspect of this episode won't come to light until later in the season (the benefit of being way behind in my reviewing, I suppose). Doc goes nuts with new sensations; Seven is mad at him for using her body to discover them; Doc snaps back that she's not appreciating all the sensations that are available to her; she eventually agrees to start expanding her sensual horizons, and eats a decadent meal in front of him (which is another fetish entirely...)

Later this season, in "Human Error," Seven of Nine will discover previously unknown limits to her emotional range. Good thing she enjoyed it while she could. Dang those Borg for sucking the joy out of her life.

*

The B plot. Tuvok's Pon Farr, I have mixed feelings about.

It's interesting in that Tuvok, an old married man, gives us our first look at something other than the FIRST pon farr of a Vulcan male. Tuvok's been through many of them, including more than one away from his wife. he's an old pro. But we learn other answers--it actually gets MORE intense with age, particularly since he's known the fulfillment the mating instinct provides. Unlike Vorik, unlike Spock, Tuvok's married with children. He KNOWS what he's missing.

I like that it's not handled as a joke. We got the farce version in "Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy" when a daydreaming Doctor zapped Tuvok, in mid rampage of blood fever, while singing a parody of "La Donna e Mobile." Funny, yes, but at Tuvok's expense. I like that it was Tom Paris, a newly-married man, who assists Tuvok through this. The two learn from each other as Tom helps him cope, and Tom gets to show some uncharacteristic compassion--usually he's teasing Tuvok mercilessly.

Russ and McNeill work well together here. Tom, the young punk suggesting a romp on the holodeck. Tuvok, the old fart, asking him how well that line goes over with B'Elanna. Tom backing away with the snarky comments, but pressing forward with what he thinks will help. He tries to do so sensitively. He doesn't add a whole lot of Vulcanny flourishes; he programs it straight up. T'Pel is shown as the dignified Vulcan matron we expect her to be.

The No Hologram Zone plot does seem unduly cruel to poor Tuvok; the poor man can't catch a break. But he conducts himself throughout the way we've come to expect him to--he does his duty, even when he's suffering. he keeps to himself. He doesn't cheat on his wife with another woman, or with a tailor-made version of his wife that doesn't match reality. It's not the best of all worlds, but it's as close as Tuvok's likely to get until they get home.

Good old-fashioned Vulcan Family Values. How can I not approve?

*

As I said, this was a fun episode. I have my gripes, but they're not necessarily with the episode itself. It just happened to be here when they were on my mind.

Call it 3.5 stars on the 4 star scale. Check it out.

Next week: Captain Kim learns that being Ensign Weenie has its advantages.

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Last Updated: May 18, 2001
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