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

"Prophecy"

[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]

Guess who's coming to dinner? The Klingons drop by for a little gagh and embryo worship. Tom gets stomped with a bat'leth. Neelix does the Booty Dance with a Klingon warrior babe in Tuvok's quarters.

Jump straight to the Analysis

[Breakdown]

Voyager's shields are lighting up from time to time as they are peppered by weapons fire from...well, we're not sure yet.

Janeway lurches her way onto the red-alerted bridge between BOOMs. "Report."

"A ship just decloaked off our port stern," Paris reports.

"Can you identify them?" she asks Harry.

Ensign Kim shakes his head. "They recloaked."

Another BOOM jars a few fillings loose, but that doesn't stop Tuvok from grabbing some useful intel. "That disruptor blast had a Klingon signature."

This catches everyone's attention. Klingons? Why would Klingons be firing on a Federation vessel? For that matter, what the heck were Klingons doing in this neck of the galaxy to begin with?

First things first. "Evasive maneuvers," Janeway orders. "Hail them."

"No response," Tuvok says.

*

We get another exterior view as Voyager's hull gets peppered again. We also get our first view of the ship doing the firing. It's Klingon, all right. But it's OLD Klingon. We're talking TOS-era, the legendary whupass-class Bird of Prey driven by Kang, Koloth and Kor.

Voyager's getting stomped by one of those? What a bunch of wussies.

*

BOOM

"Port shields are down to fifty percent," Tuvok announces.

Kim's voice follows. "They've recloaked again."

But they stayed uncloaked long enough. "Tetrion readings indicate it's a D-Seven Class cruiser." (yes, yes, I know, D is the 4th letter of the alphabet...it's 47 time again.)

This catches Tom Paris' attention. "D-Seven? They were retired decades ago."

This gives Tuvok an idea. "If their technology is antiquated..."

Chakotay catches on immediately. "Perhaps a metaphasic scan might be able to penetrate their cloak."

Janeway nods crisply at her first officer. "Do it."

Chakotay hits the comm system. "Bridge to Astrometrics." *

"Initiate a metaphasic sweep."

Seven of Nine, alone in Astrometrics, is there to respond. It's almost too easy. Within seconds, she's sliced and diced the sector eight ways from Sweeps, and has zeroed in on their attacker. "I've detected a vessel. Transferring the trajectory to tactical." *

Tuvok is just as efficient. Seven's voice doesn't finish echoing over the loudspeaker before he says, "I have them."

Janeway wastes no time. "Fire phasers."

Voyager's shields may be wimpy today, but her phasers are not.

Open wide. Smile when you eat the gagh, fellas. *

Now it's the Klingon vessel's turn to go BOOM.

When we get our first look inside the smoking, sparking bridge, we can see that yup, they're Klingons, all right. Though they aren't TOS-era Klingons. They've got TNG-era outfits, and TNG-era foreheads. Personally, I prefer this look, incongruity or not.

"Our cloak has failed!" reports an operations officer.

The captain of the craft, who could well be Captain Sisko's half brother K'Hawk of the house of Spenser, is calm in battle. "Divert emergency power to shields."

K'BOOM

"Forward emitters are off-line!"

The comm officer's head pops up. "The Federation ship is hailing again."

The captain thinks for a moment, then makes his decision. "Answer them."

"Captain!" growls an older, and crustier, Klingon who may well have designs on the Big Chair.

But the captain isn't going soft just yet. "It may give us more time to get the cloak back on online. Visual!" Reluctantly, it is done.

"This is Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager." "Stand down."

The captain takes some comfort when he sees the captain of the other vessel. The dishonor is diminished when you're whupped by a redhead.

Still, he has a role to play, and he is emboldened by seeing the uniform and the insignia of the hated and feared Enterprise. "We will not surrender to sworn enemies of the Klingon empire!" he says sharply.

*

On Voyager's bridge, Janeway's eyes go wide. She's not alone.

Apparently, the little Klingon ship that made a wrong turn at Albuquerque never got the memo about the Khitomer treaty.

Luuucyyy, you got some 'splainin to do...

* * *

"I think there's been a misunderstanding," Janeway explains sweetly. "The Empire signed a peace treaty with the Federation more than 80 years ago. If I'm not mistaken, it's still in effect. "

The Klingon captain, eventually to be named Kohlar, bristles. "You're lying."

Now Janeway bristles. "I'm not lying," she says with an icy glare. "But even if I were, your ship is no match for mine." She lets that sink in; nobody on Kohlar's bridge is arguing. That speaks volumes.

The sweetness returns. "I suggest we discuss this ."

Kohlar is still not in a friendly mood. "What is there to talk about?"

"The treaty, for one thing. I'll give you access to our database show you I'm telling the truth. "

Kohlar scoffs. "Databases can be falsified."

*

Janeway thinks fast. This is going to be tougher than she thought.

Or will it? She reveals her trump card. "I have a Klingon serving aboard this ship."

Kohlar reacts as though slapped. "Impossible!"

Janeway just smiles. "She's my chief engineer."

A long silence follows. Kohlar considers his options, and in the end realizes he has few. For now. "I will meet this--chief--engineer ."

Janeway is more than happy to oblige. "We'd be honored to have you as our guest."

Kohlar will believe it when he sees it. Honor and Starfleet haven't traditionally gone together in the Klingon rulebook, at least in the edition this ship's likely to have checked out before flying into the Delta Quadrant. (See Kirk, Cpt. James T. Subhead: ... well, take your pick.)

One thing's certain: Kohlar will trod lightly on the Federation vessel.

*

Or would have, had he remembered to change out of his boots and into a nice pair of Air Kahless.

Clomp. Clomp. Clomp.

Janeway leads the way through the corridor. Tuvok trails behind, ready to nerve pinch or phaser or chop-socky their honored guest at the slightest provocation.

"You're safe here," Janeway says along the way to the turbolift. "You have my word."

"Forgive me if I don't find the word of a human very reassuring."

Janeway ignores the insult. "I'd like to know what you're doing in the Delta Quadrant."

Kohlar ignores the request. "I'm not answering any questions until I see the Klingon."

The three are silent as they enter the turbolift.

*

Chakotay and Torres are waiting in the conference room.

Janeway enters and provides the introductions with a grand wave. "Captain Kohlar--Lieutenant Torres, our chief engineer."

Torres rises politely.

Kohlar stares impolitely. "You're with child!" he says, genuinely surprised.

B'Elanna isn't comfortable with the attention, but she does her best to be polite. "That's what the Doctor tells me," she says lightly.

Kohlar seems awfully interested in her now. "Did you conceive during the holy month of nay'poq?" (This roughly equates to the holy Earth month of Springbreakuary.)

Torres shrugs. "I have no idea."

"It would have been 14 or 15 weeks ago," Kohlar asks with an intensity that sets everyone on edge.

B'Elanna does answer, eventually. "That sounds about right--not that it's any of your business." She clearly wants him to change the subject.

Kohlar is now the agitated one. He turns toward Janeway. "I must return to my ship."

Tuvok speaks for the room. "Aren't you interested in learning about the treaty?" The Klingon captain doesn't really seem interested, but he is ready to agree to darn near anything if it means he can get back to his ship. Chakotay offers him a copy of the Khitomer accords, which he takes without hesitation.

"I must return to my vessel," he repeats.

Janeway stands between him and the door. "Not without your assurance that you won't fire on my ship again."

Kohlar gives Torres a penetrating look; she shifts uncomfortably. He then looks at Janeway and offers a sincere, heartfelt vow. "You have my word."

That's good enough for Janeway. She stands aside and turns to Tuvok. "Escort Captain Kohlar back to the transporter room."

"Aye, Captain." Tuvok leads the way. Kohlar follows, but not without one last look at Torres.

Torres looks at Chakotay, exasperation in her voice. "What the hell was that about?"

*

The Klingons appear to be asking the same thing.

"It's the truth!" Kohler insists. He's in a room full of skeptical souls.

"How can you be certain?" demands one.

"The scrolls say: 'You will find me after two warring houses make peace.' Our people, and the Federation--our greatest enemy! --are at peace!"

"So the humans claim," says a particularly cynical fella. "These accords may be a deception."

But Kohler is adamant. "The other signs are present. 'You will know me before I know the world.'"

Another, younger guy picks up the thought, his eyes animated. "The child is unborn--it does not know the world!"

Kohler nods appreciatively. "You interpret the scrolls well."

"We must verify the evidence," the cynical one says.

Kohler frowns. "Your skepticism darkens my heart, T'Greth. What evidence did our ancestors have when they began this journey? Nothing but their faith."

Kohler looks around the room, his eyes afire with missionary zeal. "Tell the others to prepare. The Day of Separation has arrived."

I'd say B'Elanna made quite a first impression...

*

Meanwhile, back aboard Voyager, Harry Kim's station begins to chirp. "Uhh...Captain? The Klingon ship--its core is breaching."

That was unexpected. "Red alert. Hail them."

Captain Kohler appears a moment later. His bridge is on fire, and he seems to be in a hurry. "I salute you, Captain. You did more damage to our vessel than my engineer thought. "

"We can send over a team to help you establish a containment field."

"There isn't time. "

"He's right," Harry says. "Their core is going to breach in less than thirty seconds."

"I'm requesting emergency transport. "

Tuvok's eyes widen. "Captain...Their crew complement is 204." For the record, Voyager only has 150 (or so) people on board. It would be a tight squeeze to more than double their crew complement--and not just spacewise. food and air come to mind as well. It's not like you can just roll down the windows in space.

But Janeway is a soft touch--and, hey, she did blow their ship up real good. She sighs, then gives the orders. "Erect force fields around the shuttle bay. Transport them there." There is no argument.

Janeway looks at the screen. "Tell your crew to stand by for evacuation." Captain Kohler nods.

"Ten seconds," Harry says.

Chakotay leans over toward Janeway. "If we're still too close when their core breaches...."

Oops. Hadn't thought of that. "Go to warp as soon as their crew is aboard," she tells Tom.

"Five...Four, three..."

Tuvok looks up. "We have them."

Tom punches the Exit, Stage Anywhere (Thataway, even) button.

And Voyager zooms to safety, just as one sweet antique of a starship takes the A Train to Stovokor.

*

We get an overhead shot of the cargo bay, which now looks like Intermission at a Creation convention. Klingons, Klingons everywhere, and not a drop of bloodwine to drink.

Needless to say, the sudden change of locales is not setting well with all of them. Some seem to be suffering Day of Separation anxiety.

*

Captain Kohler is escorted into the captain's Ready Room, to a chilly reception.

"You spared us a dishonorable death," Kohler says gratefully.

Janeway's lips remain thin and bloodless.

Tuvok leads off. "Sensor logs indicate that the containment failure was not caused by our weapons."

"You activated a self-destruct sequence," says Janeway--no stranger to the self-destruct button before the Kazon helped her kick the habit.

Kohler doesn't deny it. "It was the only way to get us aboard Voyager."

This isn't what she was expecting to hear. "Why was that so important?"

"It's our sacred duty to be here." Kohler seems utterly sincere.

This reaction isn't at all what Janeway expected. "I don't understand."

Kohler explains. His voice gets all reverential as he does so. "More than a hundred years ago, my great grandfather was part of a sect which believed the Empire had lost its way. They discovered a sacred text. It told them to embark on a journey to a distant region of the galaxy." I only hope it wasn't Warrior Women at the River of Blood .

That would explain the age of the vessel. "You've been traveling for four generations?" Janeway asks. And she thought seven years was a long time...

"My people have always known the voyage would be long...and difficult. But the scrolls said we would be rewarded." You gotta admit, the man's got one heck of a voice for scroll-reading.

"How?" Janeway asks.

"We would find the kuvah'magh--the savior of our people. The one who will lead us to a new empire. The scrolls instruct us to follow her wherever she goes."

This is all getting needlessly messianic...

"What does any of this have to do with Voyager?" Janeway asks.

Here comes the Plot Complication: "I believe the kuvah'magh is the unborn child of B'Elanna Torres."

He's joking, right?

*

"You're joking," Torres says. She's not at all amused.

"They take their beliefs very seriously," Janeway says.

"Seriously enough to destroy their own ship?" Tom asks.

"Couldn't they have just followed us?" Harry asks.

Janeway shrugs. "Apparently, their sacred text told them to 'cast off the old ways' as soon as they found this kuvah'magh ."

"They see their vessel as the last vestige of the corrupt empire," Tuvok explains.

Tom whistles. "I was hoping our daughter would be special," he says. "But I never dreamed she'd turn out to be the Klingon messiah."

Let's just say that was the last thing B'Elanna wanted to hear. "This isn't funny! They might be dangerous. I mean, what if they want to hurt the baby?"

Chakotay puts her mind at ease--well, he tries to. "To them, your baby's sacred. It's unlikely they would do anything to harm her." It does sound like a valid point though.

Tuvok has other concerns. "200 Klingons pose a significant security threat. I suggest we keep them confined to the shuttle bay until we can find a suitable home for them."

Neelix has his own perspective. "There are women and children down there! We can't just lock them up." Janeway agrees, and despite Tuvok's protestations, her word is final.

But she doesn't leave him empty-handed. "Assign extra security to every deck," she says, "and make sure the Klingons know and abide by the rules."

This makes Tuvok feel better. But not completely. "The bridge will have to be off-limits. Engineering as well."

Janeway goes him one better. "Keep them out of all restricted areas."

Tuvok tries to keep the rally going. "Despite their reverence for Lieutenant Torres, she should be assigned a 24-hour security detail."

"Just what I need," Torres says with a sigh. But Janeway seems to agree.

"Where are they going to sleep?" Harry asks.

"We'll double up in quarters," Neelix suggests. "I'll ask for volunteers."

That seems to settle it. Janeway looks around the table at her senior staff. "I know this isn't going to be easy, but until we can find another place for them we should do our best to make them feel comfortable. Dismissed."

* * *

It doesn't take long for the Klingons to settle in to life on Voyager.

When Captain Janeway walks into the mess hall, she's greeted by eating, drinking, and merry-making. Generally speaking, the Klingons keep to themselves--this whole Federation-as-FORMER-enemies concept is still very new to them--but there are a few brave souls chatting up their human hosts.

And the food--lots of it--is going fast. A certain Talaxian cook couldn't be happier about it. "Captain!" Neelix says, welcoming her to the party. "You must try the gagh ."

Janeway takes one look at the proferred bowl of wriggling worms and wrinkles her nose. "I'll pass, thank you." They walk together through the mess hall; Janeway notes everything with approval. "But I'm glad to see you're getting into the spirit of things."

Neelix is delighted. "Well, I've been studying the Klingon database. They're a fascinating people--very robust! And, they certainly seem to appreciate my culinary skills." No wonder he likes them. It's about time he found SOMEONE to appreciate his Leola/Prune Souffle.

"Looks like everything's running smoothly," Janeway says.

Neelix then swaps hats, and the Morale Officer offers his report. "Uh, not quite everything." He leans in close and whispers, "some of the Starfleet people have been complaining...about the smell. Personally, I find it appealing. Kind of a musky aroma." He inhales for effect. There's even a hint of lilacs in the air.

Janeway, though, sides with the majority. "Maybe we can adjust the environmental controls to filter out the musk," she whispers.

And then, another morale problem rears its head. Two Klingons start fighting over food. One of them is a tall Amazon babe with piles of raven hair straight out of an X Men comic, and cleavage courtesy of Dow Corning.

This red hot mocha mama is also hungry. And not much for sharing. "Touch my food again and I'll kill you!"

Neelix leaps into the fray. So does Harry Kim. Neither seems to be having much success.

"If you don't mind, Ensign, I've been studying Klingon etiquette," Neelix says, taking a deep breath and positioning himself between the two culinary combatants. "You shouldn't quarrel over food! Save your strength for battle, to fight those who would challenge you!"

K'Xena and her food-stealing tablemate share a look, then each grab a shoulder and toss Neelix aside. then they leap at each others' throats.

Harry gives it one more go. He manhandles the Klingon woman away and backs her into the kitchen counter. "That's enough!" he shouts, nose to nose.

Well, okay, not quite. More like nose to nipple. At times like this, who wants to be tall?

In any case, Harry's blood is burning, his eyes are flame, and for the moment the woman forgets about killing a guy over gagh .

"You have a fiery spirit," she says with approval.

Apparently she's still hungry. She grabs Harry by the throat and pulls him closer. "You will make a worthy mate." She makes the num-num noise.

Harry's eyes bug out. And not just from the vice-grip on his trachea.

*

It's been a long day for the chief of security, what with all the Klingons and such. Tuvok is now in his quarters, enjoying a nice herbal tea and a bit of meditation before he turns in for the night.

His solitude is shattered when his door unexpectedly opens, and Neelix comes tramping in with a duffel bag over his shoulder. "What a day!" the Talaxian groans, making his way to the couch, where he collapses with a dull thud. ""I never met a more ravenous group in my life! I must have served over 300 meals."

"Mr. Neelix...May I ask what you're doing here?" Tuvok asks, maintaintaining his self control with admirable skill.

Neelix grins. "We're bunkmates!"

the control begins to slip. Tuvok's lip begins to twitch like Herbert Lom's in the Pink Panther movies. "There must be some mistake."

"No, there's no mistake," Neelix laughs. "I gave up my quarters to a Klingon family. By the time I checked with Commander Chakotay you were the only one who hadn't been paired up." You would think by now that Tuvok would know he's only asking for trouble by not getting his bunkmate requests in early. He could have made acceptable arrangements with Vorik, or even Seven of Nine, both of whom are equally fond of solitude and wouldn't have been a bother. But by opting out and letting others choose for him, he's just begging to be stuck with the Roommate from Hell.

This does beg the question, though--with whom is Janeway and Chakotay shacking up? Inquiring minds wanna know.

"You should've consulted me," Tuvok says wearily, suspecting the battle is already lost.

Neelix just waves him off. "We're such close friends, I knew you wouldn't mind."

"Mr. Neelix. As much as I enjoy your company, I prefer solitude in my own quarters."

Neelix gets an evil look. "You don't really want me to go back there and tell that family to get out, do you?"

Checkmate. Damn you, clever Talaxian!

Neelix wiggles his way off the couch and to his feet. "Good! Because I promise you we're going to have fun, Mr. Vulcan. I learned some Klingon drinking songs." He grabs his rucksack and dumps its contents on the floor; the noise is dreadful even for a non-Vulcan. "I'll teach them to you." He begins to sing.

"Ej im-ta fey de-ja I ejdahk-so-tas ghos va skral byteek... "

The vein on Tuvok's forehead begins to pulse. Then throb. Then glow a sickly shade of green.

*

"Paris to Torres." B'Elanna is in Engineering, no doubt trying to figure out how to keep the ship's environmental systems working at 233% capacity.

"I'm almost finished."

"You said that an hour ago. "

B'Elanna sighs. "I'll be there in a minute, I promise. Torres out."

She heads toward the door, barking orders as she goes. "Keep an eye on the replicators. They've already gone down once today."

The door leading into the corridor opens--and Torres stops in her tracks. A gaggle of Klingons is milling about near the entrance, waiting for the opportunity to see her. "It's her!"

The Klingons chatter excitedly, as Torres leaps back into Engineering, and the doors close between them.

She is not a happy camper.

*

Tom is surprised to hear the whine of a transporter across the room. He watches as the sparkles resolve into his blushing bride. "When you said, 'be there in a minute' you weren't kidding."

"A group of Klingons ambushed me outside of Engineering. I decided transporting myself would be easier than running the gauntlet." She sighs as she makes her way over to the couch. "I'm starting to feel like a prisoner."

Tom smiles sympathetically. He caresses her knees as he takes a seat beside her. "Well, at least you have a handsome cellmate."

"How long do you think they're going to be on board?" she asks.

Tom frowns, then tries to put a good spin on the situation. "I thought you'd be glad to have other Klingons around. You've always told me how uncomfortable it is being the only one."

B'Elanna smiles, though her heart isn't wholly into it. "I guess I should be careful what I wish for."

"Maybe you should talk to some of them; give them a chance."

But before she has a chance to respond, the doorbell chimes. "Come in," Tom says.

Janeway enters. The two rise quickly. "Captain..." Torres says nervously.

Janeway waves her hand. No need for formality. "I'm sorry to bother you, but I need your help. Ten of the Klingons have started a hunger strike. They say they won't eat until you agree to meet with their council of elders."

Torres blinks. "That's ridiculous!" It could just be a convenient excuse. Maybe Neelix's food isn't so popular after all...

Janeway shrugs. "Their faith is obviously very important to them."

"They think I'm something I'm not!"

"Just talk to them; hear what they have to say," Janeway pleads.

Tom, darn him, takes Janeway's side. "We could be with these people for a while. You can't avoid them forever."

"I can try."

Tom smiles. "If it'll make you feel any better, I'll go with you."

*

The cargo bay has been transformed into a meditation chamber. And the faithful are in full chant mode.

mo-bar, doh-lo-maj, koo-vuh-makh

mo-bar, doh-lo-maj, koo-vuh-makh

mo-bar, doh-lo-maj, koo-vuh-makh

mo-bar, doh-lo-maj, koo-vuh-makh

mo-bar, doh-lo-maj, koo-vuh-makh

MO-bar, DOH-lo-maj, KOO-vuh-MAKH

MO-BAR, DOH-LO-MAJ, KOO-VUH-MAKH!!!

The translation, for those not fluent in Klingon--oh, come on, don't be shy--is this: "Child of Promise, come to us, we won't bite."

the chanting stops when the cargo bay doors open, and Janeway, Paris and Torres enter.

Kohler rises, and greets her like the blessed mother he deems her to be. "You honor us with your presence."

But T'Greth, the grumpy old warrior, isn't quite so easily impressed. "Look at her ridges! Morak was right. Your blood is not pure."

B'elanna gives Tom a look that clearly foretells his imminent doom. "No, my father was human," she says.

This doesn't go over well.

T'Greth glares at Kohler. "Couldn't you see this for yourself?!?"

Kohler stands firm. "Yes, but..."

"Why didn't you tell us?!" T'Greth demands, genuinely angry.

"It wasn't important!" Kohler shouts.

T'Greth is borderline apopleptic. "Not important? We destroyed our ship because you said she was the mother of the kuvah'magh! "

Kohler doesn't back down. "Show me where it's written that the kuvah'magh must have pure Klingon blood!"

Oh boy. And you thought the whole Grace/Works debate was tricky. The three Starfleeters aren't quite sure what to do during this tempest in a teepee.

T'Greth's rage is full-throated. "The prophecy wouldn't lead us to a mongrel child!!!"

This gives Tom something to do--he may not know the intricacies of Klingon mysticism, but he does know when his family is in need of defending. "Hey, take it easy!" he warns T'Greth.

T'Greth notices Paris, but isn't impressed. "Who are you?"

Tom draws himself up to his full height. "The father of that mongrel child."

This doesn't help. T'Greth is even more disgusted. "More human blood. Your kuvah'magh isn't even half -Klingon!"

Kohler continues to stand his ground. "I've spent my life interpreting the scrolls and I say that all the signs of the prophecy are here."

"Liar," T'Greth growls. "You've led us to a false savior." He storms off. The remaining Klingons rumble their own discontent. Kohler looks worried.

*

Torres leads the way into the corridor. "I told you this was a mistake!" Tom and the captain have to rush to keep up with her.

So, a moment later, does Captain Kohler. "Lieutenant...I need your help."

Torres isn't in a mood to hear it. "Any more help from me and you're going to have a holy war on your hands."

Kohler's voice is calm, reasonable. "That's what I'm trying to prevent."

This gets everyone's attention. He continues to surprise them.

What you talkin' bout, Willis?

* * *

Janeway, Paris, Torres and Kohler are gathered in the conference room to learn more about this strange band of Klingon wanderers.

Torres is still not comfortable with all this kuvah'magh business. "My baby's just a baby. She's not a savior!"

Kohler is a remarkably pragmatic spiritual leader. "Perhaps you're right. But we must convince my people that she is."

"Why?" Janeway asks.

He confesses the burden he carries. "We've traveled more than 30,000 light-years in search of this savior, and in more than 100 years we found nothing...except hardship and isolation." He sighs. "When I saw Lieutenant Torres, that she was with child...I didn't know if I was looking at the mother of the kuvah'magh or not. But I did know I was looking at an opportunity to end this wasteful journey." So it could be inspiration...or just desperation.

"Then you don't believe in the prophecy?" asks Tom, who was kinda hoping to be the savior's daddy.

"What I believe," Kohler says, "is that my people have suffered enough. If they accept your child as the kuvah'magh you'll hold great influence over them. We can find a suitable planet. You can tell them it's their new home and they'll follow you there."

B'Elanna is uncomfortable about this. "I'm not going to lie to them."

"What's the alternative? My people staying aboard your ship? Draining your resources?" Though he may be struggling in the faith department, it's hard not to admire Kohler's instincts. Here's a man who cares deeply about his people.

But Janeway has her misgivings. "I agree with Lieutenant Torres. I'm not comfortable deceiving your people."

Kohler considers other possibilities. "Perhaps you won't have to lie to them to convince them."

"What are you suggesting?" Torres asks.

"If you study the scrolls with me, we may be able to interpret them in way that appears consistent with the events of your life. Then we'll bring those consistencies to the attention of the council."

"So...you just want to stretch the truth a little?" Tom asks.

Kohler shrugs. "It is possible that the sacred scrolls were scrawled by a madman in a cave. Or perhaps they really were divinely inspired. Either way, they've guided us for over a century." He gives Janeway a sad look. "If my people start to believe that the sacred scrolls have led them astray, there may be violence."

Janeway doesn't take that well. "Is that a threat?" she asks dangerously.

Kohler's eyes are apologetic. "Merely a fact. You're doing everything you can to get your people home, Captain. That's all I'm doing for mine."

Nobody seems happy about this. But the looks shared across the table seem clear enough.

It's scroll time.

*

Kohler and Torres pore over the scrolls in her quarters.

B'Elanna is still the skeptic, and isn't thinking creatively. "It says, 'the kuvah'magh will be descended from a noble house.' I don't come from one and I'm pretty sure my husband doesn't, either." It's all a matter of perspective, I suppose. Tom's dad is an admiral, after all. And if you want to get mythical about it, the Paris name goes all the way back to the Trojan War.

"We all have nobility in our blood if we go back far enough," Kohler reminds her.

"So these scrolls can mean anything you want them to," B'Elanna notes irritably.

"It is written that the mother of the kuvah'magh would be an off-worlder. Weren't you born on a Federation colony?"

B'Elanna shrugs. "A lot of Klingons are born off-world."

"It also says that you would've lived a life of solitude, and endured many hardships. That's accurate, isn't it?" You don't know the half of it, scroll boy.

B'Elanna doesn't bother to deny it. She moves on to another point. "According to this, I'm supposed to have 'won a glorious victory against an army of 10,000 warriors.'"

"Haven't you?"

"We haven't even encountered 10,000 warriors...unless you include the Borg." Who tend to show up in nicely packaged cubes of 10,000 or more. How conveeenient.

"Did you help destroy one of their vessels?" Kohler asks.

"I suppose..." she's being modest.

"Couldn't that have been your glorious victory?"

Torres gives up. "I guess so."

So it would seem that the basic biography of the kuvah-Mom is at least plausible. Now to see if she's living a theologically-correct life. Kohler looks around the quarters, and is disappointed to see how bereft of Klingon kitsch it is. "Where are the images of Kahless? Where is your family crest?"

"They clashed with the carpet."

Kohler regards her sadly. "Don't you honor any of your people's traditions?" It's not an accusation; he feels sorry for her. He can sense without much difficulty the struggle she has accepting her heritage.

"Not really," she admits.

Kohler considers. Then he grabs a cape and drapes it on the floor. "There is one tradition we can honor together."

"What are you doing?"

"It's midday. Time to remember the sacrifice of our ancestors."

B'Elanna gives him a blank look.

"Haven't you made a plea for the dead before?" he asks, horrified.

She's embarrassed. "Well, not since I was a child."

"The dead can't rest in Sto-Vo-Kor if the living don't honor their memory." He kneels. "Perhaps there's someone I can honor on your behalf. Who did you plead for as a child?"

Think, B'Elanna, think! Then a name comes to her. "My grandmother."

Kohler nods approvingly. "She was called...?"

"L'naan."

Kohler begins to pray. "Kahless...We implore you to remember those warriors who have fallen in your name. Lift them out of the cavern of despair--"

B'Elanna watches, at first with fascination, then with reverence, as the noble warrior pleads humbly for intercession. The long-forgotten words begin to return to her. She mutters along as best she can.

"And reveal yourself to them in all your glory."

B'Elanna didn't quite get it right the first time, so she repeats it. "Right, 'in all your glory.'"

Kohler nods. "Remember Kolax, son of Amar. Remember Talij, daughter of K'Rene."

Silence fills the room.

B'Elanna breaks it, her voice whisper soft. "Remember L'Naan...daughter of Krelik."

The spirit of the room has changed. This is no longer just a matter of filling in the blanks. These aren't merely empty rituals designed to torment the young B'Elanna. When Kohler rises from the ground, he lets her know that he believes, truly believes, that Kahless has heard, and will honor their pleas.

*

B'Elanna isn't the only one struggling with Klingon tradition.

Harry Kim enters Sickbay nursing a nasty wound on his cheek.

"What happened to you?" the Doctor asks.

"I cut myself shaving," Harry jokes.

Doc takes a closer look. "Is that a bite mark?"

Harry confirms it. "One of the Klingons attacked me."

Doc reaches for the dermal regenerator. "Did you do something to provoke him?" he asks as he begins treatment.

"Not him," Harry says. "Her. And she wasn't provoked, she was...aroused."

Harry, you are sexy like animal!

Doc smirks. "Ah...I'm not surprised. I've studied the section on Klingon mating rituals in their cultural database."

Harry breathes a sigh of hope. "Then maybe you can tell me how to convince a female twice my size that I'm not interested!"

"Hmm," Doc says, walking over to his desk and grabbing a PADD. "You probably can't."

"Great," Harry mutters.

Doc makes some notes on the PADD. "As I understand it, you have two options: kill her, or mate with her. Since the first option is clearly unacceptable..." he completes his notes and hands the PADD to Harry.

"What's this?"

"Authorization for you to engage in intimate relations with a member of an alien species. Be sure to get the Captain's approval as well."

I can hear KarenT's howls from here, but I think it's hilarious. This scene maintains continuity with "The Disease" just beautifully.

*

Chief Engineer's Personal Log, Stardate 54518.2: I've spent the last two days reviewing the sacred scrolls in preparation for my appearance before the Klingon council. Kohlar also suggested I prepare a few 'colorful stories' to help win them over.

The mess hall has been converted to a Hall of Warriors. The bloodwine flows freely, and everyone's in their best musky armor. Even B'Elanna's dressed for the occasion, a floor-length gown with complementary battle sash.

She's not only dressed like a Klingon, she's bragging like one. She even growls from time to time, setting single warriors' hearts all atwitter.

"That's when they beamed aboard the Flyer, weapons firing," she tells the crowd, walking between tables, pounding her fist in her hand for emphasis. "Tuvok and Neelix fought valiantly, but there were too many Hirogen. I had to face...ten! Yeah, that's the ticket! Ten of their fiercest Hunters alone!"

Tom, nursing his own mug of bloodwine, leans over and whispers to Neelix. "Is that how you remember it?"

Neelix just smiles. "Exaggeration is part of Klingon custom." He pats Tom's shoulder. "She's doing great."

"...Forcing me to take down the last Hunter in hand-to-hand combat," she says, drawing out the sentence for dramatic effect. "It was a glorious fight!"

Dozens of leaden mugs slam rhythmically against tables as the Council members growl their approval.

Kohler stands and bows to the mother--presumed--of the kuvah'magh. "Your ancestors would be honored."

More table-pounding. It's a good performance, and B'Elanna seems to be enjoying the company of Klingons for a change.

But then T'Greth has to play the role of targ in the blood wine vat. "You tell a good story," he sneers. "But that's not why you're here. Some say you are the mother of the kuvah'magh--the one who will guide us to a new homeworld." He gives a toothy leer. "Has your unborn child told you where it is?" he mocks. There is laughter--not a lot, but some.

Tom's eyes widen. Kohler holds his breath. B'Elanna thinks furiously before speaking. "The scrolls say, 'you will follow in my footsteps before I have made them.' Yesterday, we changed course toward a planet very much like Kronos. So in a manner of speaking you are now following my child to a new home."

It's a good answer, and it shows. Kohler preens; T'Greth scowls. The rest of the council considers her words, and is largely persuaded. For now.

T'Greth takes the low ground. "You deliver the words we want to hear, but it's Kohler who gives them to you." He leers again. "Are you his puppet in the bedchamber as well?"

Before B'Elanna can leap down T'Greth's throat and use his uvula as a punching bag, Tom Paris leaps to his feet. "Watch it! That's my wife you're talking about."

This is the second time Tom has risen to T'Greth's bait. This time, the Klingon makes something of it. "He speaks! I didn't think you had a tongue." The Klingons in the room, Kohler and Torres aside, join in the hearty ridicule of the human who would dare take a Klingon to mate.

"Leave him out of this," Torres growls.

T'Greth senses an opportunity. "You see how he hides behind his female? It is also written that the father of the kuvah'magh will be an honorable warrior." Please, oh please, don't bring up his service record...

T'Greth lets all his teeth show. It's not a pretty sight. "Would an honorable warrior ever refuse a challenge?" The other Klingons goad him on.

Tom's irritation is winning over his discomfort. "I haven't refused any challenge," he says, not backing down an inch.

T'Greth grins. "I haven't made one yet," he drawls, to more laughter.

Then he makes one. He grabs a carving knife out of the roast beast, holds it in a menacing way. "You and I...to the death." He stabs the knife into the table itself.

This is not good.

"Tom..." B'Elanna warns.

"Stay out of this, woman," Tom hisses. Even so, he hesitates. There's some murmuring in the room.

"Nuch," says someone off screen. That's Klingon for "wuss."

That's all he needs to hear. Tom grabs the knife. "I accept."

B'Elanna is horrified.

Kohler is worried.

T'Greth is ecstatic.

Neelix makes a killing on bloodwine orders.

Tom...well, he's feeling quite a bit better now than he will in a few minutes. His machismo is writing checks his hiney can't cash.

This is the folded, spindled and mutilated lieutenant. He's gotten his butt kicked by every species in the Delta Quadrant. He even got stomped by a holographic nazi.

In fairness, he has won the occasional fight. But lest we forget Blood Fever, he's married to a half-Klingon, who happens to be strong enough to beat the tar out of a Vulcan male in heat.

What chance does Tom have against a full-blooded warrior?

And even if he survives that, what chance has he got against B'Elanna when he gets home?

* * *

Tom may not be afraid of a Klingon warrior, but getting double-teamed by Torres and Janeway would scare the white off an albino.

"What was I supposed to say?" Tom demands.

"How about 'no'?" Torres retorts.

"They-they were all watching. There would ave been a riot if I refused!"

"So you're going to get yourself killed ?"

Tom looks offended. "What makes you so sure I'd lose?"

"Oh, please." There you go. Behind every successful person is a shocked spouse.

"Look," Tom says, "I have no intention of dying. But wasn't the whole point of this to get them to believe that we are the parents of their savior?"

B'Elanna turns from Tom to Janeway. "Captain, this has gone too far. You've got to put a stop to it!"

Janeway, who's sat silently throughout, has a look that could strip paint. "I intend to." She slaps her combadge. "Mr. Tuvok."

Tuvok enters instantly, followed by Kohler and T'Greth.

Janeway rises. "Gentlemen...I'm afraid Lieutenant Paris had no authority to accept this challenge. There will be no death matches aboard my ship."

T'Greth darn near spits his contempt. "I told you this p'tak was not the true father," he sneers at Kohler.

Janeway shuts him up with a scowl that would send Kahless himself into a whimpering fit of wussosity. "Lieutenant Paris is perfectly willing to fight you, Mr. T'greth. I'm the one preventing him from doing so."

"The father of the kuvah'magh wouldn't let a woman speak for him," says T'Greth, who is obviously still single. He storms toward the exit.

Kohler calls after him. "T'greth..." T'Greth stops. Kohler looks at Janeway. "There is precedent for an honorable compromise. A nonlethal bout, fought with blunted bat'leths. The victory goes to the first warrior to knock his opponent to the ground three times."

T'Greth is furious. "A coward'srules!" he rages.

Kohler's words are a bludgeon. "Was the Emperor Mur'eQ a coward?!?! He was the one who instituted these rules to insure that his warriors would kill their enemies and not each other!" T'Greth is still furious, but he dares not disagree. He's in a bad mood, and he has a need to kill something.

Janeway sees the wisdom in Kohler's proposal. She looks at T'Greth. "If you agree to these terms...I'll allow the match."

T'Greth makes the best of a nonlethal situation. He points a mean finger at Tom. "I'll see you on the field of battle!" he says as though it were still to the death--if spittle was the weapon of choice, he'd clearly have the upper hand--and storms away.

The room brightens by T'Greth's leaving of it.

Tuvok gives Tom an amused look. "I assume you have a suitable holodeck training program for this, Lieutenant?"

Tom's look says it all. Not really, no.

Kohler has it covered, though. "He'll be ready. I'll train him myself." Replicating up a copy of BAT'LETHS FOR DUMMIES, he and Tom head for the exit.

Janeway and Torres can only shrug and hope for the best. Who knows--maybe a good whuppin' will get Tom off his Klingon culture kick. It's hard to enjoy gagh when your mouth is wired shut.

*

Neelix is walking through the corridor when he hears Harry Kim calling his name. Hissing is more like it. Harry is in stealth mode.

"Something wrong, Harry?"

"Shh! Have you seen her?"

"Who?"

"Uh..." He ducks back into the shadows to avoid being seen, but it's just another ensign. "That Klingon woman! The one I got into a scrape with in the mess hall."

Neelix smiles at the memory--she dwarf-tossed his booty halfway across the mess hall. "Officer Ch'Regha."

"That's her."

Neelix shrugs. "I haven't seen her today."

"She's been following me everywhere!"

"Why?"

Harry's reluctant to say it aloud. "Uh...She wants to mate."

Neelix makes a jealous snort. "Oh! You're a lucky man!" He licks his lips. "She's a fine specimen of Klingon womanhood."

Harry makes a face. "I guess it's a matter of taste."

Suddenly, Ch'Regha appears down the corridor, in the mood for Asian. Harry freaks. "You never saw me!"

Neelix catches another look, and stops Harry from running. "Wait! I have a better idea." He grabs Harry by the tunic and slams him against the wall. Ch'Regha is close enough to see.

Harry is mortified. "Neelix, what the hell are you doing?"

"Play along," Neelix whispers. "I'm taking her off your hands." He kicks Harry in the groin and backhands him like Harry owes him money. "When I say you're limited to two servings of brak't, that's all you get! Do you understand me, Ensign?"

Oh my. Neelix is in full Alpha Gerbil mode. Aggressive, violent, territorial.

Harry stammers out an apology. "Uh, y-y-Yes, sir, whatever you say."

"I don't think you do!" Neelix rages. He rips Harry's head off and spits down his windpipe, then shoves Harry's skull into his trembling hands. "If I catch you eating more than your share again I'll cut it out of your belly!" He pushes Harry down the hall.

Harry wonders what the hell got into Neelix.

Neelix wonders what the hell he'll be getting into, and can't wait to find out. "Run!" he whispers.

Harry, seeing the ravenous Klingon woman standing behind Neelix, and realizing he's just been displaced, takes off at a full run. He stumbles into another, equally yummy warrior babe, who--after deciding whether to kill him or have him for lunch, lets him go.

I'll tell you. That boy's luck with women is so bad...

Neelix sneers after the fleeing Ensign. "P'tak," he spits.

Then he turns around, to find himself staring into the glorious cleavage and hungry eyes of Ch'Regha. She's purring like a kitten.

Neelix starts to purr, too. A lascivious smile spreads across his face.

Truth be told, it's not quite as nauseating as when Quark and Grilka made the sign of the eight-legged targ. Grilka was cuter, but Quark...well, that whole lobe thing gave me the willies.

I only hope Neelix has a note from the Doctor...

*

Thanks to the wonders of the Holodeck, the "field of battle" looks like one. A cave, dimly lit by torches, with plenty of rocks and rises for people to stand on, is the setting.

Janeway and Neelix stand at the entrance, with a vantage point that lets them see all.

The Doctor enters, surprising Neelix. "I didn't think you approved of the competition," he says.

Doc is not in a happy mood. "I don't." He holds up his medikit. "I'm here in an official capacity."

Neelix smiles. "Well, you do know they're fighting with nonlethal weapons?"

Doc scowls. "You'd be surprised how much damage a blunt bat'leth can do."

That's something neither Neelix nor Janeway wanted to hear.

Kohler calls the crowd to attention. "Warriors, assemble!"

Tom Paris has his very own bat'leth and is decked out like a Klingon warrior. Sorta. It's not exactly a look he was born to carry. But he's determined.

B'Elanna helps adjust his armor. "Today would be a very bad day to die," she tells him.

"I'll try to remember that." they share a parting glance, and he marches toward the center of the cave.

T'Greth is ready to go. His hair flows freely, and he's got lots of it. His bat'leth drips with bloodwine. His eyes are like twin bonfires.

Kohler spreads his hands wide between the two combatants. "Let honor guide you!"

He lets his hands drop. "Tagh!" Then he backs into the crowd to let the two manly men whomp the tar out of each other like civilized men.

They circle each other, getting the measure of their opponent.

"I see fear in your eyes, Human."

"The only Klingon I'm afraid of is my wife after she's worked a double shift." LOL. Can't say I blame him.

What ensues is not the most elegant of bat'leth showdowns. I gotta give Michael Dorn credit--he was a Klingon who made that weapon look elegant, a cross between the finest katana blade and a third limb. There are few who have made it look so easy, or so deadly.

But you wouldn't expect Tom to be a master swordsman. We know he's dabbled in Klingon calisthenics programs on the holodeck--his first date with B'Elanna involved bat'leths--but it would be ridiculous to assume he'd be on the same level as the grizzled veteran T'Greth. So, at first, he's on defense, blocking--at times barely--the blows and parries and thrusts of the angry Klingon.

At one point he loses his weapon, and he has to scamper away to get it before T'Greth's next strike. But this seems to embolden him, and Tom puts a little razzle-dazzle into his moves. He even initiates a few swipes. He's holding his own.

But then something odd happens.

T'Greth begins to wheeze.

His attacks are become weak even Naomi Wildman could dodge them.

Tom's superior speed lets him steer clear, and it looks like he's got the upper hand.

T'Greth takes a mighty swing--and misses. And falls to the ground.

This gets people talking.

T'Greth gets up again, wheezes some more, takes another swing--and goes down again.

One more fall, and Tom wins.

T'Greth struggles to his feet, wheezes mightily, and falls flat on his face.

Wisely, Tom doesn't savor the victory.

The Doctor and Kohler reach T'Greth about the same time.

Kohler is sad. Whatever else T'Greth may be, he's also a long-time associate, perhaps even a friend. "It's begun."

"What are you talking about?" Doc demands.

"He's dying."

Doc is irritated. "Typically, I'm the one to make that kind of prognosis."

"It's the nehret," Kohler explains. "It kills all of us who aren't fortunate enough to die in battle."

Now you tell us.

*

Next stop: Sickbay.

Some time has passed. Tom is back in uniform. He and B'Elanna and Janeway are here, as is Kohler. T'Greth is lying on one of the beds, out cold.

Doc is explaining his findings. The screen shows a bunch of spiky green nasties infesting T'Greth's innards. "It's a retrovirus that destroys the cells by attacking the cytoplasmic membranes."

"Shouldn't our bio-filters have detected it when we transported the Klingons aboard?" Janeway asks, a bit irritated that this is the first she's hearing of it.

"This is an insidious virus," Doc explains. "It lies dormant...disguising itself as a neurogenic material until it inexplicably activates."

"The nehret always comes without warning," Kohler confirms.

"I've reviewed my scans of the other Klingons. They're all carriers."

This isn't good. Janeway is angry. "Why didn't you tell us your people had a disease?"

"We've never thought of it as a disease. It's more like...old age." You'd think they'd have been a bit more inquisitive, but they're clerics, not doctors.

"Is it contagious?" Janeway asks the doctor.

"Only to Klingons," Doc says.

All eyes turn to B'Elanna.

"If you'd give us some privacy I'd like to examine Lieutenant Torres."

Janeway tries to give Torres an encouraging look. "Of course." Everyone shuffles out except for B'Elanna and Tom.

Tom holds B'Elanna's hand as the doctor scans. First her, then the baby.

His expression says it all.

"The baby, too?" B'Elanna asks.

"I'm afraid so."

Just then, T'Greth awakens. "Why am I here?"

Doc walks over. "You're ill. You collapsed during the fight."

T'Greth understands instantly. "The nehret."

B'Elanna storms over toward him. "Yes. Thank you for telling us. Now my baby and I have it, too!"

T'Greth is shocked to hear this. He leaves the bed and heads for the door.

"Where do you think you're going?" Doc demands.

"To prepare for my journey to Sto-Vo-Kor."

"You should be in Sickbay!"

T'Greth stops and glares at the Doctor. "Can you make me well?"

"Not at the moment, but--"

"Then don't deny me my tradition."

*

A small group of council members are gathered together in the cargo bay, discussing the events. T'Greth's nehret--a sign, perhaps, that the father of the kuvah'magh would win a battle to the death after all? He hadn't fallen even once to the mighty warrior.

Well, T'Greth will make them stop that line of thinking as soon as he finds out.

Speaking of whom, here he comes. And Kohler is not here to counter him.

"The child is not the kuvah'magh, " he tells them flatly.

A younger council member stands up to him. "But the father accepted your challenge. He defeated you!"

T'Greth is incensed. "I was defeated by the nehret! B'Elanna Torres and her child will fall victim to it as well."

"Impossible!"

"They both carry it," T'Greth insists. "She told me herself."

The young man wavers. "But the scrolls say the kuvah'magh is younger than old age."

"And stronger than sickness," T'Greth adds. He shakes his head sadly. "She cannot be our savior. We should resume our search."

"Kohlar and many of the others won't agree."

"Then we must act alone! For the good of our people."

There is murmuring in the room.

"How?" the young man asks at last.

T'Greth has a plan. "We'll wait for the right moment. When it comes...we'll seize Voyager!"

And hey, why not? Everyone else has.

* * *

A planet looms large on the big screen in Astrometrics. Seven of Nine shows it to Kohler and T'Greth. "We've identified two potential colony sites in the southern hemisphere." The computer highlights the areas.

"We'll require topographical scans," Kohler says.

"I'll prepare them," Seven says, and changes stations to do so.

T'Greth is humble. "I shouldn't have doubted you. It appears the signs were there all along." Kohler accepts the apology with a dignified nod.

"I'll join the survey mission," T'Greth offers.

"You're ill, old friend. You should remain here."

T'Greth's voice is plaintive. "I want my final days to be spent in honorable pursuits. Don't ask me to die inside these walls."

Kohler considers it, and sees his friend's point. He nods. "We transport in one hour."

*

In the transporter room, Harry shows off a little to one of the warriors.

"Your transporters are much more sophisticated than ours," the man says approvingly.

"I've studied Klingon transport systems," Harry says diplomatically. "The basic technology isn't all that different."

"But you were able to beam our entire crew aboard Voyager at one time!"

"We usually don't like to do that for safety reasons, but in a pinch we can expand the buffer capacity." He briefly shows the man how.

"These are the targeting scanners?" the warrior asks.

"Exactly. They work on the same principles as yours."

Harry continues to prepare for the first survey mission.

The young warrior prepares as well.

*

Torres arrives in Sickbay. "You said it was urgent?"

Doc nods. "I need to conduct a more detailed bio-scan of your baby."

"She's not sick, is she?" B'Elanna asks, worried.

"No, but I may be on to something."

Deus ex medicina , anyone?

*

Chakotay heads the pack, mostly Klingon, on the way to the transporter room. "I'll be leading the team going to Site A. Kohler will be in charge of the Site B team." There are no arguments.

Harry is there to greet them. "Morning, Commander."

"Harry." Chakotay takes his place on the transporter pad. Harry prepares to beam them down.

Then the Klingons attack. Chakotay and Harry go down quickly. Kohler goes down as well. Shots ring out until the last Starfleet officer goes down.

*

Tuvok is the first to notice. "Phaser fire in transporter room one," he reports from Tactical.

Janeway leaps out of her chair. "Bridge to Chakotay."

*

Chakotay is not there to respond. He and Harry are transported away.

"They're on the surface," the young warrior says.

T'Greth grins. "Now lock on to the bridge officers."

But their luck can't hold out forever. "They've activated a force field around deck one!"

T'Greth pounds the transporter controls. "Transport the rest of their crew!"

*

Tom's eyes go wide. "Captain, I'm detecting multiple transports. Some of our people are being beamed down to the surface."

"Cut power to the transporters!"

Tom tries, but it's too late. The Klingons learned from Harry. "I can't."

"Bridge to Engineering," Janeway yells. "B'Elanna, respond!"

Tom checks, and his face tightens with worry. "There's no one in Engineering."

*

Tuvok leads a team of well armed and well-muscled security folks toward the transporter room.

For once, they're running.

*

T'Greth is impatient. "The bridge officers?"

"I still can't get a lock," the young warrior says, hoping he won't die for his failure.

T'Greth growls and awakens a security guard just to beat on him.

Then he gets an idea. "Can you transport us there?"

"I'll try."

*

Tuvok's team reaches their destination. "Computer, open the transporter room doors. Security override, Tuvok Pi Alpha."

They go in firing. But all they get is the Klingon manning the transporter controls. A half-dozen warriors are already in mid-beamout and don't feel the phaser blasts.

*

The warriors materialize on the bridge. They start with the nameless extras, giving Janeway and Paris time to reach for their weapons and leap to safety.

A firefight commences. Janeway takes out a few of them. Paris takes out the one that matters--T'Greth. One on one combat to the death, and Helm Boy fulfils the prophecy.

Don't mess with the proud papa of the kuva'magh .

Well, T'Greth isn't exactly dead. But the nehret is taking him on a fast track to Sto-Vo-Kor (or Grethor, depending on how much honor you think he's shown so far), and he pleads with Tom to send him out in a blaze of glory.

"Grant me a warrior's death."

Tom, standing over him with phaser aimed, certainly seems tempted.

"I beg of you," T'Greth wheezes.

Janeway takes Tom off the hook. "Sorry," she says coldly. "No mercy killings on my bridge."

T'Greth, defeated, slips into unconsciousness.

Janeway looks around. The starfleet folks are coming around, and the bridge looks secure. "Get our people back," she tells Tom.

"Yes, ma'am." He gets right on it.

*

T'Greth's next breath is surprisingly strong.

"Why am I not in Sto-Vo-Kor?" he demands when he realizes he's back in Sickbay.

"Because you are healthy as a targ," Doc says proudly.

This takes a moment to sink in. "The nehret?"

"Gone," Doc says lightly. Just another day at the office for our digital miracle worker.

Kohler, though, gives credit elsewhere. "We have B'Elanna Torres's child to thank for it," he says with pride.

T'Greth has awakened on the other side of the looking glass. He looks to Doc for a nonmystical explanation.

Doc provides it. "The fetus has hybrid stem cells. They contain Klingon and human DNA. I use them to synthesize an antivirus."

T'Greth, slack-jawed with awe, looks at B'Elanna Torres. She stands, arms crossed, looking for all the world like the mother of the Klingon Messiah.

"The child...Cured me?"

Doc can't help himself. "Well, I was the one who devised the treatment--"

"Doctor," Janeway warns under her breath. If looks could decompile...

Doc changes his tune immediately. "Yes, of course, the child cured you."

Kohler projects to the cheap seats. "The kuvah'magh has healed all of us. She truly is our savior."

T'Greth looks again at Torres.

Torres dares him to say otherwise.

T'Greth, wisely, doesn't.

Sometimes, even the doubting T'Greths of the galaxy can do little else but believe.

You do have to wonder what's going through B'Elanna's mind, though. "Boy, am I glad Tom talked me out of de-Klingonizing our daughter's DNA... "

*

Captain's log, stardate 54529.8: while we're helping the Klingons settle into their new home, life aboard Voyager is gradually returning to normal.

Tuvok has had a long and trying day. All he wants to do is go back to his quarters, meditate, and hit the sack.

But the door doesn't open when he reaches it. This upsets his expectations.

"Computer, open this door."

"Access to these quarters has been restricted. "

Locked out of his own quarters? "On whose authority?"

"Neelix."

Tuvok is not happy. "Mr. Neelix, open this door!"

We hear the muffled voice of Neelix on the other side. "I'll be there in a minute, Commander!" Then we hear his voice, even more mufled. "That's...that's my boot." We hear lots of noise, some of it decidedly non-Vulcan in nature.

Tuvok's patience runs out. "Computer, security override. Authorization: Tuvok Pi--"

The door opens. Neelix, his hair all toussled, face abraded, clothing haphazardly put on, appears, looking like the cat who ate the canary.

Then the Klingon woman appears, looking like the canary.

The breathless pair growl and pur at each other for a few nauseating seconds, darn near kick-starting Tuvok into another bout of pon farr.

"Good-bye, my little par'machkai! " Neelix rasps.

The warrior woman grabs his skull and presses him tight to her breastplate. "Good-bye, my fearless warrior."

More growling. Then, with diffulty, they part, and Neelix watches her go.

"Oh!" Neelix whimpers. "I'm really going to miss her."

Together, Tuvok and Neelix enter the Vulcan's quarters. Or what's left of them. The apartment looks like it has hosted half the bands in Lollapalooza at once.

If ever a Vulcan was inclined to weep...

Neelix laughs nervously as he kicks through the debris. "Oh...don't you worry, Mr. Vulcan. I'll have this place...shipshape in no time at all."

He picks up what's left of a vase, and puts the shredded remains of some tulips into it. He hands the pitiful peace offering to Tuvok.

that forehead vein is glowing again. "Just...go , Mr. Neelix."

He gets while the gettin's good.

*

The departure of Kohler is a bit more dignified than that of Neelix's new girlfriend. Certainly it's nowhere near as sweaty.

B'Elanna is here to wish the remarkable man goodbye.

He has a gift for her. "What's this?" she asks. She knows what it is--a finely crafted bat'leth--but the way he presents it makes it clear this is something special.

"The bat'leth given to me by my great-grandfather. It's for your daughter." It might clash with the carpet, but B'Elanna takes it with gratitude.

Kohler steps onto the transporter platform. "I hope someday you'll tell her about us."

"I will," she promises.

Kohler salutes her in Klingon fashion. "Qapla', B'Elanna Torres."

She returns it, and seems sorry to see him go. Here is one of those Klingons she can truly appreciate. "Qapla'. "

*

B'Elanna finds a good spot in the quarters to hang the blade. A place of honor.

Tom, of course, has other ideas. "It doesn't seem right just to hang it on the wall."

She smirks, knowing what he has in mind. "I'm not letting you scratch it up on the holodeck."

"I'm sure our daughter wouldn't mind lending it to the old man every now and then," he says.

They move toward the crib, a new addition to their quarters. there's even a cute little mobile with brightly colored starships--Voyager, and birds-of-prey, old style and new. It's adorable, and a nice nod to both her parents' heritage.

"You know," Tom says, drawing his wife close, "this is one special kid we're going to have."

"You're just figuring that out?" she says with a shy smile.

"Well, I was hoping for an artist, or maybe a musician--but she's already the savior of an entire race."

"You don't really believe that!" But B'Elanna isn't horrified to hear it. A part of her wouldn't even mind so much. Strictly speaking, the eradication of the nehret using the child's stem cells was a physical salvation. And they are moving into a whole new era and what could well be a better life, all from Kohler's leap of faith.

Tom is the optimist. "I don't know. There are a lot of coincidences to explain. I mean, what would the odds that they'd run into the one ship in the whole quadrant with a Klingon aboard?"

B'Elanna teases him. "Probably about the same odds that you and I would get married."

Tom winces melodramatically, then smiles. "Maybe we should name her kuvah'magh...Just to be safe."

B'Elanna winces--what a name. Even so..."Put it on the list," she says, and smiles sweetly.

You never know, right?

[Analysis]

I quite enjoyed this episode.

The Klingons didn't really seem to ACT like Klingons, but they are presented as a breakaway sect looking to distance itself from the "corruption" of the Empire. They didn't go into details about what aspects were corrupt. Were I to guess, I'd say that Kohler represented the New Klingon, and T'Greth was more the embodiment of Old Klingon.

Given the leadership of Kohler, I would have high hopes for the new society. Though I shudder to think about what will happen to that poor half-Talaxian kid a few years down the road.

It would have been interesting to see them look more like the TOS-era Klingons, cheesy though they looked. I know Roddenberry had always intended them to look more like they do now--Kor, Koloth and other TOS-era Klingons were shown in DS9 to look like 24th-century Klingons--but the different look was referred to in "Trials and Tribble-ations", however obliquely.

There were some nice continuity touches. Neelix's tendency to dive into whatever culture Voyager is hosting. Harry's "note from the doctor" before being given "permission" to mate, even though that's the last thing on his mind. Particularly interesting, though, was how the unborn child's stem cells became the salvation of this group, just a few weeks after B'Elanna darn near eradicated them for fear of what their daughter would face. One can only imagine how the Klingons would have reacted had they learned that she had done so--and effectively killed their savior.

To be honest, that might have been a more interesting story. But it wouldn't have been a very Trek story. As much as it can, Trek tries to tell stories that affirm good choices rather than highlight bad ones.

This was, I was glad to see, an episode that gives B'Elanna a true appreciation for Klingon culture. Not so much the swaggering, bloodwine-swilling, chest-thumping, bat'leth-swinging, enemy-disemboweling aspects. But the spiritual side. The gratitude for, and the reverence toward, and obligation to one's ancestors. The value that tradition can have. The realization that there are some reasonable Klingons--Kohler's wasn't a blind faith, but a practical one. He was well-versed in holy writ, but he also knew too well that you often have to make your own miracles. Kohler managed to give B'Elanna an appreciation for her Klingon side by his quiet, dignified example. And he managed to save her husband in the process, by finding an honorable but nonlethal field of battle. it was a joy watching B'Elanna dressed like a Klingon den mother, regaling her fellow warriors with tales of conquest. It's not often she gets to look like she's having that much fun.

As for the others...

Chakotay was fairly invisible this week. A couple of lines, get shot.

Seven of Nine, likewise, was darn near non-existent.

Janeway was around, inserting herself into a holodeck deathmatch, a bridge battle, a philosophical quandary, a medical conundrum, and a resettlement challenge. Oh, and a marital dispute. Nobody ever accused Cap'n Kate of being aloof.

The Doctor's moments are few but pivotal. He gets to run the gamut of emotions, from sympathy to high comedy (the "it wasn't the kuvah'magh who saved you, it was my--um, never mind" moment was beautifully played). I liked that they didn't dwell on the cure, but that they kept it short so they could focus on other scenes. I thought the approach taken was more effective.

Harry, Tuvok and Neelix got more to do than usual, and I was glad to see it. Harry as the unlucky-in-love Ensign is yt another bit of continuity, only this time he's the pursued rather than the pursuer. It was fun watching him flee in terror from the ravenous Klingon woman. It was even more fun watching Neelix FINALLY get some romantic attention. He's gone without much affection for a long, long time. It looked like he made up for lost time. Though in truth, the noises he made while cavorting with his parmachi were kinda creepy.

Special kudos to Tuvok. The poor boy just can't catch a break. Neelix, the bane of his existence, invades his personal space, and then sullies it with his animal rutting. Tuvok does long-suffering so well, but I do feel for the guy. He does get some moments of glory when he helps disable the Klingon ship, and his security measures keep the bridge safe long enough to thwart the takeover attempt. But his primary role is simply to be inconvenienced by Neelix. Unlike the McCoy/Spock dynamic, or even the Chakotay/Paris/Kim/Doc / Tuvok dynamic, which tends to be a bit caustic at times, Neelix genuinely likes Tuvok, and it's hard to dislike Neelix when he's being such a thorn in Tuvok's side. He means well. And, the cruel part of me must admit, it's fun watching Tuvok suffer. Primarily because a suffering Tuvok means Tim Russ gets more to work with. The look on his face when he sees what Neelix did to his quarters is worth the price of admission.

Tom had a good day. Tom standing up for his mate, and his child. Tom musing about the mystical nature of his daughter--he seemed to like the idea. Tom letting his protectiveness lead him down dangerous paths, but giving it all he had. Tom demonstrating by his actions that, even if he's not the prophesied father of the Klingon messiah, he hasn't done anything to discredit himself as such. He's always been fascinated with Klingon stuff, but more than anything, he's in love with his wife, and protective of his family. He stood up for B'Elanna when she was being insulted. Good on him. He may not be ready for the Order of the Bat'leth, but he survived, and even won. More or less. He didn't win pretty, but he walked away, whih is more than T'Greth managed.

And of course there's B'Elanna. She didn't have to endure a bunch of Klingon Angst, but she did learn to appreciate her heritage a little more, and to appreciate the Klingonness of her unborn child. Messiah or not, it's a special kid, and it changed her life for the better. She also came away with more fond memories of Klingons than she had the week before.

I've always had a soft spot for Klingons, and this did little to change my mind. They're not what I'd call a three-dimensional race, but as an archetype for "id with honor," they're all right. Especially the women. Whatever else you want to say about them, they don't play games--they're very straightforward. Just keep plenty of Bactine on hand.

All in all...call it 3.5 stars.

Next week: Voyager gets sucked into the lower GI tract of the universe. Torres forages for supplies in the Flyer, trying to avoid the Charmin raiders who circle uranus trying to wipe out klingons....

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Last Updated: March 10, 2001
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