|DELTA BLUES @ Reviewboy.com - Jim Reviews...|
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 leave 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...or when I feel like it. Any errors in fact or interpretation are my responsibility alone.
[Captioning sponsored by Paramount Television, United Paramount Network, and dot-cc at www.enic.cc. For the web address you really want, get dot-cc at www.enic.cc.]
Captain Janeway gets a visit from the Ghosts of Voyager Yet to Come. Naomi Wildman blossoms into womanhood. Chakotay finally gets a decent episode.
I'd like to acknowledge, with a debt of gratitude, Cathy Person for her extensive help in crafting the breakdown. She joins a select club of folks who have made it through an entire episode, line by line, from beginning to end. Without her assistance, this review would have been delayed a lot longer than it was. Thanks, Cathy!
Jump straight to the Analysis
Cargo Bay Two isn't just for regenerating anymore.
As Seven of Nine would say, Fun has commenced. Naomi is kneeling over a jigsaw puzzle, and Icheb is crouched beside her observing her decisions. Naomi picks up a red roundy piece not unlike the color of her dress, and begins waving it over what COULD be a newfangled version of Chutes and Ladders. With a mumble here and a murmur there, she settles on a spot, and it snaps into place.
You'd think a kid that age would be piecing together a castle, or a basket of fluffy kittens. Maybe a Velvet Elvis, even. But this is the 24th century, so I guess we expect six year-olds to be a tad more sophisticated. For this is Little Jimmy Watson's First Double Helix puzzle, and Naomi Wildman is constructing a DNA chain.
Remember that game Operation, where you use tweezers to yank steel bones out of a battery-operated patient without making his nose light up? It would seem that the Age of Flotter prefers to teach impressionable youngsters the youthful art of genetic engineering.
Icheb smiles his approval. "Excellent. You recognized the complementary base pair."
Naomi, however, is in no mood to be treated like a prodigy. "Actually, I just found two pieces that fit together," she says modestly.
Icheb frowns his disapproval. "You're missing the point."
Naomi rolls her eyes. "I thought the 'point' was to finish the puzzle."
"And learn something about genetics," Icheb reminds her.
Look, professor science, if you want to teach her about genetics, why not try the Schoolhouse Rock method?
(Take it away, Kermit.)
Or maybe a little bit of Dem Bones blues...
Or some cheeky jazz...
Naomi's not intimidated. "If you really want to help, find me a green piece that looks like Tuvok's ear." Poor Icheb can only shake his head. Kids today.
The cargo bay doors slide open and Chakotay enters. Icheb leaps up, embarrassed. "Commander."
"At ease," Chakotay says. "I'm just passing through." He makes a beeline for a nondescript cargo container. Naomi also rises, but she's grinning. Why, I have no idea—maybe she likes to see Icheb sweat.
"I apologize for the condition of the Cargo Bay, sir," Icheb says anxiously. "I've been tutoring Naomi."
Chakotay smiles as he lifts the lid and reaches inside. He's in a good mood... "Looks like you found a creative approach."
Icheb is getting antsy. "Thank you. But I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell Seven." His lips twitch slightly. "I'm supposed to be writing a paper on transwarp instability," he confides.
Chakotay looks at him calmly. "Don't worry, your secret's safe--" He pulls a tall, slender bottle out of the container. "--as long as you keep mine."
Naomi grins. She may not know from genetics, but she knows how the pieces fit together.
Icheb doesn't. "Sir?"
"Antarian cider. Not the replicated stuff," Chakotay says, holding up his prize. "There are only a few bottles left...and I don't want Mr. Neelix getting his hands on them."
Now Icheb gets it. He's seen what Neelix can do to even the best ingredients. Icheb has proven his worth in the past, and he does so again. "Then you should store them with the salvaged Borg components. Neelix never inventories those containers. He says they... 'give him the creeps.'"
Chakotay smiles. He places his rather large hand on Icheb's shoulder in an obvious Attaboy. "Officer-level thinking, Icheb. Would you mind?"
Icheb grins. "Of course not."
The conspiracy preserved, Chakotay and cider take their leave. Icheb and Naomi exchange a pleased smile. It's good to have friends in high places.
There was a time, way back when, when Captain Janeway was portrayed as the Jill of All Trades. Every ship's station bent to her will and her genius.
What a difference six years makes. Especially when it comes to the notorious Captain's Replicator, which at the moment rests in a few jillion pieces on the floor of Janeway's quarters. For comic relief, Action Kate has become Tim Taylor from HOME IMPROVEMENT.
The door chimes. Janeway sighs. "Come in. You're late," she growls before Chakotay is even through the door. "Unfortunately, so's dinner." Janeway sounds grumpy, but glad to have company. Cursing technology is so much more satisfying when you have an audience.
Chakotay springs to action—and promptly pours two glasses of the Good Stuff. "Let me guess--you burned the roast again."
I never realized a Betsy-class phaser cannon could double as a replicator repair tool, but Janeway wields it with a surgeon's skill. "Once--a long time ago--I called this replicator a 'glorified toaster.' It never forgave me."
Chakotay's Cheshire smile is the perfect compliment to the moment. "I didn't realize replicators held grudges." He hands her one of the glasses. He looks at the pile of debris and begins to chuckle.
"What's so funny?" Janeway demands.
"I just left Icheb and Naomi assembling a jigsaw puzzle in the Cargo Bay," he says meaningfully.
Janeway can't help but laugh along. "Find me the thermal regulator please." They clink their glasses together. "How is Icheb?" she asks.
Chakotay hands her the regulator. "In a few years, he may be running the ship."
The captain makes a face. "I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to retire just yet."
The requisite foreshadowing in place, it's time to shake things up a bit. Starting with the ship. The trembling in the room doesn't help the replicator repairs, but it does give Janeway something larger to think about. "Janeway to the Bridge--report."
It must be the Zeta shift; Captain Kim is in the Big Chair, surrounded by extras. "That was some kind of gravimetric surge," he reports. "It's overloading our inertial dampers."
So much for a quiet dinner at home. "Source?" Janeway asks as she and Chakotay head for the corridors.
"That's a good question. Seven's trying to localize it."
The ship rocks again. "Engineering says the warp core's destabilizing," Harry says.
"I better get down there," Chakotay says. Janeway nods. They reach a juncture; he veers left; she continues straight ahead and into the nearest turbolift.
In Astrometrics, Seven of Nine gapes at the phenomenon on the big screen. "A spatial rift is opening directly ahead of us. It's emitting high levels of neutrinos and chronotons."
On the bridge, Harry orders the thing put on screen. His eyes widen at the roiling space wedgie before him.
For those playing the home game, chronotons are those pan-galactic space oddities that make even the finest Swiss timepieces weep with frustration. Them puppies can slap you past payday, then yank you back to Final exams while you're still in the sonic shower. When chronotons come out to play, it's like trying to ride out a Perfect Storm in a kayak.
Janeway enters from the Turbo lift, and leans against the railing over Harry's right shoulder. "What is it?" she asks.
"Beats the hell out of me," Harry doesn't say, but might as well have. It looks like a mixture of a lighting storm, a nebula and the insides of the stomach of that guy in the restaurant from Monty Python's Meaning of Life.
Engineering is abuzz with activity when Chakotay arrives. He takes a station and does what he can to help out.
The ship takes another jolt, and the engine room lets out an angry hiss. "We're losing containment! Everyone out!" Torres shouts. Everyone, that is, but herself and the first officer.
Chakotay moves closer to the warp core, which it is in everyone's interest to keep safe.
The giant space wedgie begins to crackle. Tendrils of plasma laced with chronotons lick against the hull, which begins to glow.
In Engineering, Chakotay tries to ignore the discharge of energy lancing around the warp core so he can concentrate on making it stop.
Yeah—like THAT'S gonna happen.
The random act of nature rolls the dice, and it comes up Tattoo. A sliver of energy finds its way to Chakotay's face, and knocks him to the ground with the sizzle of grilled steak.
We get an intriguing external view of Voyager. Now lit up like a holiday ornament, Voyager looks like a neon jigsaw puzzle—all assembled, but with the seams clearly visible.
Show of hands—who didn't see that coming?
And it isn't just the ship.
B'Elanna, who was knocked to the floor but otherwise unseared by the anomaly, crawls over to Chakotay and notices that the right side of his face is in a state of temporal flux. Ooh--that's gotta hurt. Imagine 50 years of razor burn happening at once.
"Torres to the Transporter Room. Beam Commander Chakotay to Sickbay...now!"
* * *
Chakotay awakens to a blurry but sharpening view of the Doctor, hovering over him. "Welcome back," the EMH says.
Chakotay tries to sit up but Doc pushes him back down. "Lie still," he says, more gruffly than usual.
"What happened?" Chakotay asks.
"You were transported here...your body was in a state of temporal flux."
"Temporal flux?" The commander doesn't like the sound of that.
The Doctor sighs. "You had the liver of an eighty-year-old man, and the kidneys of a twelve-year-old boy."
Chakotay hesitates. "And the groin?"
"Of a Twenty year-old lumberjack." Chakotay lets out a war-whoop and high-fives the Doctor.
Doc then heads toward his med stand. "Fortunately, I was able to create a chronoton-infused serum that brought you back into temporal alignment."
As he continues we notice that he is oddly bitter. "Anywhere else, that antidote would've earned me a prestigious award. Of course, on Voyager, it's just another day in the life of an under-appreciated EMH."
Chakotay ignores the Doc's attitude. He looks around the empty Sickbay. "What about the rest of the crew? No other casualties?"
"Not that I'm aware of. I've tried calling the Bridge but no one answers." Chakotay notes the irritation in Doc's voice. "Were we attacked?"
Chakotay rises from the bed with effort. "I don't think so. We ran into some sort of anomaly."
Chakotay watches the Doctor stiffen with frustration. "Naturally, no one thought to inform me--what do you think you're doing?" he demands as Chakotay pushes himself off the bed and toward a medkit on the other side of the room.
"Leaving. And you're coming with me."
"I am?" the Doctor asks, perplexed.
"There may be other injured crewmen." Chakotay heads for the door.
The Doctor grabs him. "In case you've forgotten, I'm a prisoner of these walls." And it's a mighty sore spot with him, too, Chakotay sees.
Chakotay doesn't have time for Doc's latest hissy fit. "Where's your mobile emitter?" he asks sharply.
Chakotay seems to realize that his innards aren't the only things around here in a state of temporal flux. He also has the sense to realize that loose lips lose ships. He clams up, taking his leave with a terse "I'll be back."
But you can't just leave the Doctor hanging like that. He follows anxiously, as far as he can. "Wait... but... tell me about this... mobile emitter."
Chakotay enters the turbolift. "Bridge." About halfway up, the lift passes through a permeable barrier of some sort. It doesn't have an effect on Chakotay, but it does disappear the medikit he'd been holding.
He's still puzzling over that little oddity when the lift doors open onto the bridge, which is at Red Alert. Makes sense; that anomaly packed a wallop.
So how come he doesn't recognize a lot of the folks manning the various stations? Not a Maquis insignia among them, either.
Chakotay grabs the first friendly face he sees. "Harry...what's going on?"
"Sir?" Harry asks. He looks at Chakotay uncertainly. "I'm afraid I don't know you."
But Captain Janeway does. "Take him into custody!" she orders crisply.
For those confused by butterfly ballots, we should point out that the captain's hair is a fairly reliable temporal signpost. The first two years, Janeway wore her tresses in a power bun wound tighter than Seven of Nine's catsuits. Season three, she switched to a deliciously playful ponytail. It's been relatively short since around mid-season four, with slight but noticeable variations over the years.
Chakotay knows he's screwed—he's staring into the icy eyes of Power Bun Betsy, Maquis Huntress Extraordinaire. Within nanoseconds he's immobilized by beefy security types.
"How did you get aboard this ship?" Janeway demands.
Janeway's voice drops to a bemused whisper, the way a copperhead stops rattling just before it strikes. "I didn't realize we were on a first-name basis."
One of the guards, whose name is Andrews, glares at the thoroughly snickpiddled Chakotay. "We should've known the Maquis were involved."
"Maquis? Involved in what?" Chakotay desperately tries to learn more than he reveals.
Janeway isn't amused. "Just when we're about to chase your ship into the Badlands...our systems start malfunctioning, and you step off the turbolift."
Mission accomplished. Sort of. Chakotay now has a pretty good idea of the bridge's time zone, which is even earlier than that in Sickbay. But he's not in a great position to do anything about it. He decides to risk letting her in on the secret. "Captain, I know this may be hard to believe...but I think I've somehow been thrown seven years into Voyager's past."
The pre-Delta Quadrant Janeway didn't just fall off the turnip transport. "Really?" she asks, her voice making clear what she thinks of that explanation. "Let's try another theory: you learned Voyager had been assigned to capture you, and you managed to get on board to sabotage her." Her look is downright lethal.
Chakotay appeals to Janeway's inner science geek. "Check your sensors. See if they're showing any strange temporal readings."
Janeway nods at the very green Ensign Kim, still wet behind the ears from Starfleet Academy. He does as he's told. "Captain, the environmental controls are fluctuating."
The Janeway of this period was of the incarcerate-first-question-later school. "Take him to the Brig," she tells the guards as she walks toward Ops.
Chakotay doesn't resist. Flanked by two determined security guards, he enters the turbolift. He doesn't mention the medikit.
The lift heads downward...and about halfway down, they pass through that special effect. Wherever the medikit went, the security guards have joined it.
As Doc Brown might say, "erased...from history."
Oh, man, this is heavy.
Whether this was Chakotay's intent is unclear, but he acts immediately. "Halt turbo lift!" He takes a beat to steady himself...considers his options. Finally he decides. "Engineering."
The lift starts moving again.
We don't see the special effect that indicates a jump into another piece of the temporal jigsaw puzzle, but it's clear enough that he's passed through one.
Some things are similar. The engine room is at red alert. The technology is not working as it should, and there are people running around trying to effect repairs.
But instead of Starfleet, or Maquis, Chakotay finds himself staring at a gaggle of crusty-haired Kazon. And one hot-tempered hottie of a Cardassian.
"Seska?" Chakotay almost stutters the word.
Before he can say anything else, the butt of a phaser rifle smashes him in the head. We get a ChakotayCam view of his consciousness as the screen fades to black.
This time, the blurry-to-clear vision of Chakotay reveals a rather more disturbing sight. Sure, the person wielding the dermal regenerator is a lot cuter, even though her eyes have that Helter Skelter thing going on. But the medics with the wicked spank rays are not a sight for sore eyes.
"Hold him still," Seska commands. Chakotay recoils instinctively—Seska and medical instruments are always a bad combination, as he well knows—but she wields the device skillfully, and soon the gash is healed with a minimum of fuss.
Seska smiles, almost sweetly. "You didn't really think I'd hurt you?" Chakotay is smart enough to not reply.
Chakotay glances around the room, counting the Kazon warriors, all of whom are eyeing him suspiciously, weapons at the ready. "How did you get here?" he asks.
Seska gives him a syrupy smile. "Don't tell me this little bump gave you amnesia. It's time you accepted that I'm in control of Voyager now."
Ding! That's another time zone. This is roughly stardate 50123, during the events of "Basics" when Seksa and the Kazon stranded the Voyager crew on a prehistoric planet filled with Hogan-eating dragons and Kes-napping Neanderthals.
That was five years ago, Chakotay realizes.
Unfortunately, he realizes it aloud. He's still a bit punchy from the skull-whacking.
"What are you talking about?" Seska demands.
Chakotay is back to explaining again. "Look, Seska, there's some kind of temporal anomaly--"
Seska backhands him viciously across the wound she just healed! Chakotay winces in pain but doesn't scream. They dated long enough that he's used to it. Her idea of foreplay would make a Klingon whimper.
The Charlie Manson eyes are back. "I want to know how many more of your people are back on board," Seska growls.
It should be pointed out that Seska had given birth mere days—at most weeks—before this moment, and she's got mood swings that would give mere mortals the bends. She slides effortlessly between seductress and she-bytch, at speeds that give whiplash to the average viewer.
Well, what can you do? Seska wants to believe this is an effort to retake Voyager, who is he to contradict her? "All right...I'll tell you...I've got a dozen officers with me. We've already locked you out of every key system. In less than an hour, we'll be in control again."
This is what she wanted to hear, because it gives her an excuse to stay mean. Seething, Seska wrenches a weapon from one of the Kazon--who, remember, are horrible misogynists who practice what they preach: if they want to know a woman's opinion, they'll beat it out of her. This race of proud and pig-boy warriors is thoroughly cowed by the domineering Seska--and she points it at Chakotay's head. "In less than a minute, you're going to be dead if you don't give me access to those systems."
Chakotay looks from Seska to the other Kazon posted around the room. The main doors are guarded, and so are the entries to the turbolift and Jefferies Tube. The only possible means of egress seems to be the ladder leading to the second level.
A beat, and then Chakotay seems to acquiesce, nodding toward the console closest to it. "I'll need to use that console."
Seska gives him a warning look, and issues a threat. "Just don't do anything you'll regret."
Too late for that, kitten.
Chakotay doesn't make it easy for them. One of the Kazon wrenches him out of the chair, then shoves him repeatedly toward the console, shouting the occasional order to move.
Naturally, the mighty Kazon are too powerful for the girly-man human; by the time he reaches the console, Chakotay is staggering, and dang near begging by his body language to be roughed up some more. Rulat, the warrior bully, is happy to oblige.
But just as Rulat is set to dole out more abuse, Chakotay suddenly spins and wrestles the weapon away with one hand, shoving him back hard with the other. Another Kazon standing near Seska raises his weapon to fire, but Chakotay shoot first, dropping the Kazon to the deck.
Never underestimate the power of the tattoo.
Chakotay doesn't hesitate to use the weapon. He doesn't like shooting people, but he's more than happy to blow away anything he has trouble pronouncing. Blam, Blam, and soon Engineering consoles fill the room with smoke, sparks, and vapor.
"Warning. The primary coolant system has ruptured."
"Stop him!!!" Seska bellows. She grabs the weapon dropped by the fallen guard and rushes through the smoke after her prey.
Chakotay is halfway up the ladder, but it's slow going with the bulky Kazon rifle. Seska soon has him in her sights, though the rising vapor gives him some cover.
Seska gets to the bottom of the ladder, aims at him. "Don't make me kill you!" She says. Remember that Seska actually does care deeply for him, and would much rather have him as an ally—and a notch on her bedpost—than as a notch on her holster. His one advantage over Seska is that she still has it bad for him, whereas his feelings for her ended years before.
Chakotay knows she's a crack shot. To speed his climbing, he tosses the rifle—which conveniently disappears, just as the medikit had.
An idea forms. He keeps climbing. Almost there.
Seska fires, but misses. Before she can aim again, Chakotay is within leaping range of the temporal barrier.
He finds himself on the other side of the barrier, but mere feet away from where he had been. He discovers something useful--he can still see Seska at the foot of the ladder. But Seska can't see him.
Rulat grabs the bottom rung, but Seska puts a restraining hand on his arm. "No. Scan the perimeter...report any anomalous readings. There's something wrong here."
Chakotay is safe for the moment...but now he's got two pissed-off Alpha Females jonesing for his head on a platter.
And the only semi-friendly face is stuck in Sickbay in Season Two.
We can only hope. There's no guarantee that the various time zones will remain static.
* * *
Pacing nervously, the Doctor--the same Doctor, fortunately--reacts to a sound coming from behind the hatch to the Jefferies Tube. He grabs a phaser, aims it at the hatch, draws himself up...and tries to sound commanding. His voice only cracks a few times. "Whoever you are, I suggest you surrender. I'm armed...and quite capable of defending myself."
The hatch creaks open...and Chakotay pokes his head out. "It's only me, Doc."
The Doctor's a bit embarrassed but relieved. He sets the phaser down and helps Chakotay climb out. "Commander...please tell me what's going on."
Chakotay nods. "If you tell me the Stardate."
"49624." This places Sickbay sometime between "Innocence" and "Tuvix."
AH HA, Chakotay emotes "No wonder you didn't know about the mobile emitter. You don't get it for another year." Less, actually, but why quibble?
Doc's look is blank. "I don't understand."
"I'm not sure I get it myself," Chakotay admits. "But the ship has been...fractured somehow..."
Chakotay nods. "Different areas seem to exist in different time periods."
"How many of these...'time periods'...are there?" Doc asks.
"I'm not sure. On the Bridge, it's before Voyager even left the Alpha Quadrant...in Engineering, it's the time when the Kazon took over the ship."
Which, to the Doctor, is a future event, so he doesn't know how it turned out. "Kazon?" Doc asks, alarmed. "We've got to protect ourselves!"
Chakotay tries to reassure him. "Don't worry. So far I'm the only one who can cross from one zone into another." The question is, why?
Another piece falls into place. "That serum you gave me," Chakotay says, walking over to the medicine rack. "It must've made me immune. Normal technology won't pass through the barriers..."
And then another. "Can you replicate a chronoton-infused hypospray casing? Using the same principles you used to make the serum?"
"I--think so," Doc says, struggling to keep pace with Chakotay's line of thought. "Why?"
"I have to take some of it with me."
Chakotay's lips thin with determination. "If I'm going to put this ship back together again, I need help."
Given the choice between the homicidal Seska and the imperious Janeway, I'd say Chakotay chooses wisely.
Hypospray in hand, Chakotay exits the turbolift and strides onto the bridge like he belongs there.
Within seconds, a dozen phasers are aimed at him like he belongs in the brig.
Ensign Harry Kim, standing real close to the captain at Ops, is among them. He protectively aims at Chakotay, warning Janeway to his presence.
Janeway didn't need the warning; she's got radar in that satellite dish 'do of hers. "Where are my officers?" she demands as she marches toward him, nodding toward her larger security types to converge on the Maquis scum.
"The turbolift passed through a temporal barrier," Chakotay says. "They couldn't get through. If you're willing to hear me out, I can explain...at least partly."
Sarcasm drips from her blazing eyes as Janeway says, "You mean about your being from the future?"
Chakotay decides to play I've Got a Secret with her. "Your first Starfleet posting was on the Al-Batani, where you once knocked out power to six decks by misaligning the positronic relays."
Oh, NICE move, dude—remind the captain on her own bridge of her klutzy early years. "Nice try," she drawls, her tongue lashing about like a Ferengi plasma whip. "But you could've read that in a Maquis intelligence file." (Yeah, yeah, I know, that's a paradox...) Strike one.
This gets her attention.
"Your Irish Setter. You rescued her from a pound on Taurus Seti Four. She was the runt of the litter, but you thought she had 'spunk.'"
Have you ever seen a volcano erupt? Lava is flowing from Janeway's ears as this intruder reads aloud from the book of her private life.
Chakotay forges ahead. "You love music, but you never learned to play an instrument--something you still regret."
Janeway is stunned. "How do you know these things?"
Chakotay shrugs casually. "Because you told me...about three years from now.
Janeway considers this. Her eyelashes are smoldering, and her uniform is glowing from within, not unlike her power bun. "My Ready Room," she says evenly, nodding to the gold-shouldered Ensign Andrews, the Mt. Saint Helen of security, to join them.
Well, at least he wasn't tossed in the turbolift again. That's progress.
Janeway's leaning against her desk, using a tricorder to scan the hypospray, while Chakotay stands in front of her. You'd think that Chakotay would offer to let her scan HIM, and find that he's slightly out of phase with her place in the space-time continuum. It's always worked before, right?
But that would be too easy, I guess. Best to make him earn her trust the hard way.
Andrews keeps watch nearby, his hand close to his holstered phaser. Janeway is still cynical. "It's a fascinating story...but as the Ferengi say: a good lie is easier to believe than the truth."
Chakotay is being reasonable "So you're saying no one on your crew has encountered any of these 'temporal barriers'?"
Janeway and Andres exchange a look. "My helmsman disappeared when she tried to walk down that corridor. But that doesn't prove she passed through a temporal barrier."
Oh, man! Not the helmsman! She was a hot Betazoid and stuff...
Oh my gosh, they killed Stadi! You b@st@rds!
Chakotay raises the stakes. "If you inject yourself, I can take you down that corridor...and show you that everything I've said is true."
Janeway holds out the hypospray to Andrews. "Have Mister Kim run a full spectral analysis. For all I know, this is poison, and Mr. Chakotay is trying to assassinate me."
Oh, come now. Would the Angry Warrior ever do something like that to his Great Virgin Queen?
Well, she doesn't know that.
As Andrews approaches, Chakotay snatches the hypospray—and Janeway right along with it. He grabs her tight and puts the nozzle to her neck, warning Andrews off. "She's right. It's poison. And I'll use it."
Janeway remains calm, and Andrews follows her lead, as Chakotay backs through a side door (I'll be honest, I never knew it existed; I thought the only way to the ready room was from the bridge) and into a corridor.
Andrews hasn't got a clear shot. But he's got attitude to burn. "Let her go," he growls.
Chakotay stands his ground. He's got Janeway just where he wants her—close enough to wear the same uniform. He presses the hypospray further against Janeway's creamy, dreamy throat. "Lower your weapon."
Andrews hesitates, then lowers his phaser. Chakotay then injects Janeway with the hypospray; she gasps.
"Captain!" Andrews shouts, rushing toward them.
Chakotay takes a step backward.
And though they can still see Andrews, Andrews can no longer see them. And he's more than a little spooked.
Instinctively, he steps forward, phaser raised...but he stops himself short of the barrier. He hits his combadge. "Andrews to the Bridge. I need help here."
Fortunately, that hypospray is one fast acting gizmo. Janeway is already trans-temporal, and survived the hop.
But she's no less irked. "Andrews!" she shouts, wondering why he doesn't follow.
"He can't hear you," Chakotay says, not bothering to whisper. "We've moved into a different time frame."
Janeway looks wide-eyed at Andrews, and at the two crewmen who arrive a moment later. Andrews does his job. "Scan the area...but don't go past that bulkhead." He points to where Chakotay and Janeway stand like there's nothing—oblivion, in fact—beyond that point.
Janeway's lip curls in a feral snarl as Chakotay whispers into her ear. "You want more proof? It's right down that corridor. You just have to trust me!"
"That isn't easy when you're holding me hostage," Janeway spits.
Chakotay enjoys the proximity a moment longer, then peels her off him. But Janeway doesn't move far; they're still well within each other's personal space. She rubs at her throat.
"Stay or go; it's your choice," he says.
It wouldn't take much to rejoin Andrews and the other crewmen through the time warp.
It's just a jump to the left.
Janeway rubs her neck where he inoculated her. Then she puts her hands on her hips, and bends her knees in tight.
Oh, what the heck. It's uncanny how well the lyrics work.
[Take it away, Morticia...]
(With apologies to Rocky Horror Picture Show)
But I regress.
Where was I? Oh yeah.
"Now that I'm inoculated," Janeway asks, "I can go anywhere on the ship I want?"
Her eyes glint. "Then I suppose I don't need you anymore." She heads for the turbolift...alone.
But Chakotay blocks her way. Once again, they're practically sharing a uniform. "Without me, you'll be stepping into a future that you don't know anything about."
Well, he does have a point there.
Lead on, MacDuff.
For a moment, it seems like old times--Janeway and Chakotay walking side-by-side through the corridor with a single purpose.
But the illusion is quickly shattered. "Where are we going?" Janeway asks.
"The Astrometrics lab."
Janeway makes a face. "Voyager doesn't have an Astrometrics lab."
"Harry designed it..." Janeway is clearly dubious. "Or will design it," he amends with a wry smile.
"Harry Kim?" Janeway asks. Ensign Newbie?
"I realize from your perspective, he's new to the job. But he's going to become one of our best people," Chakotay assures her.
Janeway eyes him skeptically as they enter the turbo lift.
"Deck Eight," Chakotay says.
Janeway has another question. "Our people?" From her perspective, Chakotay is a dangerous Maquis captain she's been assigned to hunt down and bring to justice.
Chakotay enjoys the advantage, and plays it for all it's worth. "I'm going to be your First Officer," he says smugly.
Janeway's BS meter redlines. "Really," she says, believing none of it. She changes the subject back to their destination. "What's the reason we're going to this...Astrometrics?"
Chakotay's grin is just begging to be phasered off. "It has temporal sensors that can help us map the ship--tell us how many time frames we're dealing with."
Janeway barks out a laugh. "Now you're trying to tell me Harry Kim invented temporal sensors?"
Chakotay shakes his head. "Naw." (Here's the setup...and the slam!) "We used Borg technology for that."
Even if he's lying, Janeway seems to be considering the value of keeping Chakotay around just for his tale-spinning talents. Imagine the Holodeck creations he'd be capable of...
Again with the Cheshire grin. "It's a long story."
Janeway shakes her head, and rests it in her cupped hands. The vein on her forehead is throbbing. Temporal pretzels always give her a headache. "Maybe you should keep it to yourself. The Temporal Prime Directive," she reminds him. "The less I know about the future, the better."
The turbolift spits them out onto a dark and dreary corridor, littered with bodies.
Janeway crouches beside one. "She's got a pulse..."
Chakotay picks up a tricorder lying beside another crewman and starts scanning. "I'm detecting an active neurogenic field." He scans his own memory. "This could be the day the telepathic 'pitcher plant' put us all into comas...or it might be the time aliens invaded our dreams."
Janeway doesn't care what it is. "We've got to get them help!"
Chakotay has other ideas. "Don't worry. We managed to get out of both situations."
As he pointed out earlier, he knows the future, and she doesn't. She's beginning to grasp the implications of that.
They press forward.
When they reach Astrometrics, Chakotay discovers that some surprises are even beyond his experience.
The controls are slightly different. The readouts are in a language that's at least partly Borg.
There's a massive and incredibly detailed schematic of Voyager on the big screen.
And the two officers doing all the work are unfamiliar even to Chakotay.
But they know him. And they know Janeway.
There's a young woman, pretty, blonde, slender, early twenties, in a gold-shouldered uniform, with a quartet of spikes down the center of her forehead. There's also a tall man, late-twenties to early thirties, wearing the red-shouldered uniform of command. He's got a long nose bridge that reaches all the way to his dark hairline. And he's got an ocular implant on the perimeter of his left eye.
"Captain!" The young woman says, very surprised to see Janeway.
Janeway smiles warily. "I'm sorry. I don't recognize you, Lieutenant."
The young woman steps closer, willing her to remember. "It's me...Naomi Wildman!"
This name means nothing to Alpha Quadrant Kate. Naomi is still a glimmer in her parents' eyes from Janeway's perspective.
Chakotay, however, recognizes the name. And he doesn't have to work hard to guess the identity of the male, who stumbles through his words. "How did you--?"
"Are you...Icheb?" Chakotay asks. Sure enough, it is.
I won't ask how they ended up in Astrometrics before the Big Sliver. I get temporal headaches myself.
Janeway notices that for the first time since she stepped through the Looking Glass, everyone else is as stumped as she is. "Something tells me you weren't expecting us."
Icheb gathers himself. "No, ma'am."
Naomi hesitates. "You both died..."
This gets Janeway's and Chakotay's attention real fast.
Icheb finishes the thought. "...Seventeen years ago."
So it goes.
* * *
Chakotay assures the two former youngsters that the rumors of their deaths have been greatly exaggerated.
However, just to put the worry into your hearts, he has no way of knowing that. We've still got half a season to go. Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of the writing staff? This could simply be foreshadowing. In support of this theory, consider this—the Astrometrics lab in which Naomi and Icheb find themselves comes from a far future Voyager—one where, of necessity, time had to proceed with relative normality before the big time-shattering event. Because there's no way in heck they could have survived seventeen-plus years, let alone get commissioned and promoted to lieutenant and beyond, if they'd been stuck the whole time in Astrometrics. Hence, the deaths must refer to a separate event.
Or not. :) </div class="taunt">
"The ship's been fractured into different time frames," Chakotay explains.
"Thirty-seven to be exact," Naomi confirms. Attagirl.
Janeway is stunned. "How did you calculate that?"
Naomi smiles and moves back to the console. "We've had seventeen years to upgrade the sensors." They pull up a schematic of Voyager, color-coded for the benefit of those without 25th-century degrees in temporal mechanics—pretty pastels, no doubt Naomi's doing. "A chrono-kinetic surge interacted with the warp core."
Taste the rainbow.
"It shattered the space-time continuum aboard the ship," Icheb explains.
"The accident that occurred in your time frame?" Janeway guesses.
Chakotay seems to think so. "The question is, can we repair the damage?"
Janeway looks at the big screen in wonderment. "If we could get to a section of the ship that still exists in that time period, maybe we could counteract the surge...stop it from happening."
Icheb isn't hopeful. "That section was the focal point of the surge. It seems to have been...obliterated."
Naomi looks regretful. "It's too bad Seven's not here."
"Seven?" Janeway asks. The name—if it is a name—means nothing to her.
"Someone who knows more about temporal mechanics than any of us," Chakotay explains carefully.
"Unfortunately, she hasn't been found either," Icheb adds sadly.
But Chakotay, the rumors of whose death were greatly exaggerated, doesn't see that as an obstacle. Not when he's unstuck in time. "Maybe we can find her...in another time frame."
Janeway seems curious about these two pleasant strangers from the future. "I have an Ensign Samantha Wildman on my crew," she says, looking hard for the family resemblance.
Naomi smiles. "My mother."
"Naomi was the first child born on Voyager," Chakotay explains. "A few years later, we rescued Icheb from the Borg."
Naomi gives Janeway a look of pure worship. "When I was little, there was nothing I wanted more than to be the Assistant Captain." Janeway can't help but feel touched by that.
"We should get moving," Chakotay says.
But Icheb stops them. "Commander?" He smiles. "In case you were wondering...I never told Neelix where you hid that cider."
Now it's Chakotay's turn to smile.
Chakotay picks Cargo Bay Two as the logical first stop in their search for Seven of Nine.
"So why are we looking for this...Seven...in the cargo bay?" Janeway asks.
"She spent a lot of time there," Chakotay says dryly.
Ooh, Chakotay can be a cruel one sometimes. He's got about seven years of payback, and he's seeking payment in full.
Janeway, however, almost seems to be enjoying the tease.
Cargo Bay Two looks like the Borg version of The West Wing. Drones march around, speaking in a lingo only they understand, looking busy.
Janeway has seen some strange things aboard her ship already, but this is stretching the limits of her tolerance. "Maybe you better fill me in," she growls.
Her first officer of Christmas Yet To Come chooses his words for maximum impact. "This looks like the time you forged a temporary alliance with the Borg," Chakotay says casually.
Janeway's Skunk Eye ratchets up to setting 11. One more smirk out of Tattoo dude, and he's vaporware.
Then the third member of the Alpha Babe trinity makes her appearance. "What's happened to this vessel?" an angry, mechanical voice bellows.
Janeway and Chakotay turn toward the source of the voice. There, in full exoskeletal glory, straight off the Jessica Rabbit drawing board, is the one, the only...
Chakotay smirks. "Captain Janeway, meet Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One."
Janeway gapes, too stunned to give Chakotay the pummeling he so richly deserves.
Seven of Nine glares, with her one human eye.
Janeway recovers quickly. Soon they're discussing the situation like they're all on the same team. Which, from Seven of Nine's perspective, they are. For now.
Seven is showing the Starfleet folks a visual of a Borg cube surfing through the perilous waters of transwarp. "When a Borg cube travels trough a transwarp corridor, the temporal stresses are extreme. To keep the different sections of the Cube in temporal sync, we project a chronoton field throughout the vessel."
This Janeway isn't yet an expert on Borg technology. "How?"
Seven demonstrates. She calls up the same Rainbow Voyager they saw in Astrometrics. "Each Cube has specially designed conduits. If we install similar conduits throughout this vessel, then generate a sufficiently powerful field, we may be able to force Voyager back into temporal sync."
"Temporal sync with what?" Chakotay asks.
"The ship would return to the moment of the original chrono-kinetic surge," Seven says. "Since the surge lasts for six or seven seconds, Commander Chakotay would have a short time in which he could try to counteract the warp core reaction."
Chakotay sees a problem with this approach. "Even if we could replicate these conduits, we'd have no way to get them through the temporal barriers."
But Janeway has an idea. "Bioneural circuitry..."
"Captain?" Chakotay, a half step behind, asks.
Janeway explains. "It runs through every section of the ship, almost like a nervous system. If we could inject the gel packs with your serum, we could use them to transmit the chronoton field."
If there's a flaw in that logic, Seven of Nine would speak up in a heartbeat—but she doesn't. She ponders the thought for a moment, then nods. "The warp core could be recalibrated to generate that field."
As long as the Borg are on the same page, Janeway has little trouble ordering them around. "Work on it," she says, amused at how quickly she can adapt to the oddest circumstances imaginable. "Chakotay and I will see about modifying the serum."
Seven, however, throws a wrench into the works. "Your plan is inefficient."
"Why?" Janeway asks.
"There are only two of you. If I were to assimilate you into a small Borg collective, you could then assimilate others. The work would proceed more rapidly."
From Seven's perspective, this is a darn good idea.
From Janeway's perspective, it's not. She smirks. "Sorry, but I like my plan better," she says, intending it to be the final word on the matter. "We'll be back."
Janeway and Chakotay exit, leaving Seven shaking her head at the illogical, inefficient humans.
"That was an interesting experience," Janeway mutters as they return to the corridor.
Chakotay grins. "If it makes you feel any better, you're going to develop quite a knack for dealing with the Borg."
The thought doesn't comfort her. "You mean we're going to be seeing more of them?!?!"
"We'll run into them on a few occasions," he says, twisting the knife a little.
"Why do I get the feeling that's an understatement?" Janeway raises her hands. "It doesn't seem like my first command is shaping up the way I expected."
Chakotay lets his rich voice deepen for dramatic effect. "In the middle of the journey of our life, I found myself astray in a dark wood, where the straight road had been lost," he quotes.
Janeway stops in her tracks. Her voice goes deeper than his. "I didn't know Dante's Inferno was on the Maquis reading list," she says dangerously.
"Actually, I borrowed your copy."
This hits close to home. Too close. "My fiancée gave me that book as an engagement gift. I've never lent it to anyone."
"Not yet," Chakotay says, smiling gently. "Anyway, I agree with Dante. If you always see the road ahead of you, it's not worth the trip."
"A soldier and a philosopher," Janeway practically whistles. She gets a wicked smile of her own. She gives him an over-the-shoulder look that most men would kill to receive. "Your intelligence file doesn't do you justice." With that, she quickens her pace, enjoying—however briefly—the Gotcha Moment over him.
Chakotay grins as he follows. She wouldn't be Janeway otherwise, now, would she?
Janeway and the Doctor are working to put on her a double-shouldered holster full of little vials. She looks a little like Yosemite Sam. Without the mustache, of course. Or the ten gallon hat. Or the varmint.
"I've replicated these belts to resist the effects of the temporal barriers," Doc explains, "just like the hyposprays."
Janeway is pleasantly surprised. "I didn't realize you were programmed to be so versatile!"
The Doctor reverts to Grouch Mode. "I wasn't. But when you're thrown into the deep end of the galaxy and left running for as long as I've been, it helps to develop a few extra subroutines."
Janeway just can't help herself. "How long have you been running?"
Apparently Chakotay hasn't yet briefed the Doctor, who seems to have no idea what timeframe the captain is from. "Almost three years...ever since our original doctor was killed."
This Janeway has yet to see the Delta Quadrant, or the crew manifest. As far as she's concerned, everyone who left DS9 with her, is still with her—her first command, her crew hand-picked. "Killed? How?"
Doc seems impatient—how could she NOT know, after all? "In the incident that stranded us here in the Delta--"
"Doctor!" Chakotay enters too late to stop the damage, but soon enough to prevent more. "The Temporal Prime Directive, remember?"
Oops. "Of course," Doc says sheepishly. He looks at the captain. "I'm sorry." He makes his escape.
Janeway glares at Chakotay. "The Delta Quadrant? Is that what he was about to say?"
Chakotay, also decked out with dual bands of vials, ignores her question. "Ready?"
Janeway decides not to press the question. "I'll take the upper decks, you take the lower."
"I don't think splitting up's a good idea," he reminds her.
Janeway doesn't like being contradicted. "We'll get the job done faster."
"As your First Officer," Chakotay reminds her, "it's my duty to protect you. I know a lot more about what's out there than you do, and we have no way of communicating if something goes wrong. It may take a little longer, but we should go together."
Janeway doesn't like that one bit. Nope, not one bit. But she bites her lip, contains the magma simmering just under the surface, and shrugs. "After you...Commander." It's surly, but he'll take it. Heck, it's the first time she's called him by rank. That's progress.
The first gel pack conversions are uneventful. Several vials are gone.
Janeway breaks the silence. "Can I ask you something? I started out with a crew of a hundred and fifty-three. I already know I lost my Doctor. How many others?"
Chakotay takes a deep breath. This is thin ice indeed. "We'll suffer casualties, like any other starship. But you'll gain new crewmen as well."
"Like you," she says. She's almost afraid to ask. "How do you get to be my First Officer?"
He doesn't answer directly. "Our crews will be forced to work together after we get stranded."
"In the Delta Quadrant. How does that happen?"
Chakotay takes another deep breath. "You sure you want to know?"
Janeway isn't sure, so she lets the subject drop for now. She turns and injects the gel packs. They give a little shimmer when this is done.
Suddenly, there's a low, wasp-like buzzing sound, and a weird organic floating beach ball with spikes rears its ugly, er, head.
Janeway has no clue what it is.
Chakotay does. "Run!"
She doesn't argue. Feet, do your duty.
A few meters down the corridor, they pass through a barrier. They give themselves a bit of room, just in case.
The thing flies after them. It hits the barrier—and disappears. Chakotay breathes a sigh of relief.
"What the hell was that?" Janeway demands.
"A macrovirus. They infected the ship a few years ago."
Janeway is clearly considering her options. Who needs to chase after those pesky Maquis, anyway? When she gets back to the bridge she can turn tail and head for Risa. "Sounds like it's going to be one disaster after another on this ship!" she rages.
Chakotay knows she's only getting the highlights—and lowlights—of the last seven years. "You once told me that Starfleet Captains don't choose their missions; the missions choose them. You're going to have the opportunity to study things no human has ever seen before."
"Including some very large germs," Janeway says, wrinkling her nose.
As if things couldn't get any stranger...
Their next stop is the holodeck. Which at the moment is in black and white. With ominous, brass-heavy background music.
As they walk through the caves, Janeway points out the obvious. "A monochromatic environment?"
"It's called 'black and white.' It's one of Tom Paris' Holodeck programs. He based it on some old science fiction serials."
Janeway picks up two silver-painted cylinders. "Interesting technology," she snorts.
"Captain Proton's 'rocketpack,'" Chakotay confirms.
Janeway dang near chokes. "Captain Proton?"
Chakotay grins. "The Savior of the Universe."
Janeway sets down the Rocket Pack. "Doesn't sound like Mister Paris' tastes are very sophisticated," she says, winning her the Understatement of the Year award.
"That's why we love having him around." He points toward an opening. "The access port should be in there."
Janeway and Chakotay enter a larger cave chamber full of 1930s sci-fi equipment, including a slanting surgical table with ominous equipment dangling over it. Janeway scans the room. "Here, I think I found the panel. Give me a hand."
They start moving rocks.
But the music changes. Real ominous-like.
Let the overacting begin.
Lonzak, the chief thug of the castle of doom, enters imperiously, followed closely by a couple of nameless minions wielding death rays, along with everyone's favorite Satan's Robot.
"Halt! In the name! Of Chaotica! Seeeeeezzze them!"
Janeway rolls her eyes and wishes for a compression phaser rifle, shooting ocular death darts at Chakotay for coming here unarmed.
Chakotay tries to do something. "Computer, deactivate program."
"Unable to comply. Holodeck controls are off-line."
Soon they're surrounded. Not that they put up much of a struggle. Not when the walking water heater of a Satan's Robot is stalking you, shouting "Surrender!" in a high-pitched nasal whine. Imagine being hunted down by a robotic Wally Cox. Or for you young'uns, by Screech from Saved By The Bell.
Janeway tries to reason with the robot as she backs up. Fat chance. That's one dumb terminal of a Satan's Robot. It knows how to go forward and grab; that's about it.
An evil looking man—he's got a goatee and a widow's peak skull cap, and that's just wrong—enters with a flourish.
"Theeeeves, my liege," Lonzak says, playing to the popcorn rats in the balcony. Janeway turns to see the newcomer, just in time for the Robot to grab her.
"Do not resist," Screech says.
Lonzak bows obsequiously. "They were atTEMPting to rrrrrrob your labOOOOHrrrrratory."
Doctor Chaotica silences him with a word. "Fooooollll!" If anything, he's even campier than the minions, and Janeway does her level best not to laugh contemptuously. "Don't you recognize the Queen of the Spider People?!" He glides over toward Janeway. For the sake of clarity, I'll not continue to phoneticize the dialog. It's just too painful.
"Arachnia, my bride," Chaotica purrs, smooth as liquid death as he strokes her cheek. "I knew you'd return to me one day..."
His eyes darken. "...so I could watch you die." Throwing his head back like the top of a Pez dispenser, Chaotica begins to laugh. A rumbling cackle, full of the sort of intergalactic menace that makes Saviors of the Universe necessary in the first place.
The minions join the laughter. Even Satan's Robot offers a hearty, if monotone, HA. HA. HA.
Janeway rolls her eyes, bonks the back of her skull against the tinfoil exterior of her captor, and gives Chakotay a look that would deep-fry an igloo.
* * *
Chakotay is guarded by one of the minions in the background. Janeway is strapped to the Table of Torment, front and center.
Chaotica is raising the roof with his commands. "Raise the Lightning Shield! Power the Death Ray! Her fleet may be lurking nearby! We must defend ourselves!"
Janeway gives Chakotay a sidelong glance. "I'm open to suggestions."
Chaotica may be wearing the uniform, but Chakotay's probably got him out-eviled at the moment. "Our best bet is to play along." He clearly intends to enjoy the show.
Janeway rolls her eyes. "Don't let me stop you."
Chakotay fires right back. "I'm not the one he's in love with."
Ooh. He is SO lucky she's strapped to the Table of Torment right now. Otherwise, not even Captain Proton could save him.
Chaotica is examining one of the serum vials with suspicion. "Arachnia...you beguiled me once with your foul potions. Did you think you could toy with my affections again?"
Janeway loses her patience. "Were these characters always this ridiculous?" she asks Chakotay, completely ignoring her captor.
The thing about the Holodeck is, if you spoil the illusion, it's just no fun. Chaotica has failsafe routines that help focus Janeway on the matter at hand. "If I order Lonzak to pull that lever," he says, as Lonzak grabs it with a Please, Please, Please look in his eyes, "you'll never mock me again!" Oops.
Chaotica stalks away, Janeway rolls her eyes, and Chakotay hisses the reminder. "Arachnia!"
Janeway is not happy. But, you play the hand you're dealt. She has no experience playing Arachnia, but she knows a thing or two about regality. "Please...my liege," she says plaintively, thinking fast. "I meant it as...ridiculous to think...I would ever try to deceive you." A vulnerable Janeway? Yowsa. She's almost as cute as a Bajoran elf.
Chaotica seems slightly mollified. Chakotay nods his encouragement. So Janeway keeps going. "I've come to warn you of a fiendish plot..."
She glances at Chakotay for help. He isn't strong in the ad-lib department, but he does his best. "...by aliens...from the Eighth Dimension."
Chaotica laughs derisively. "Eighth? Everyone knows there are only five dimensions!"
Chakotay winces. Janeway smacks him with a skunk eye, then grabs the rebound. She turns back to Chaotica, speaks more forcefully "If you don't believe us, examine their handiwork for yourself." She points over where access panel is obscured. "There's a hidden panel over there behind those rocks."
Chaotica is suspicious, but gives her the benefit of the doubt—for now. "Very well, I'll humor you. Lonzak!" he yells.
The chief minion scurries to the pile of rocks and moves them aside—revealing a decidedly polychromatic, blue-tinted access panel. Definitely doesn't belong in Chaotica's lair.
"I've found it, Highness!"
Doctor Chaotica's fury is palpable. "They've sabotaged my laboratory!" he rages.
Janeway senses opportunity. "That vial you're holding, it's a neutralizing potion," she explains to Chaotica. "If you inject their device, you'll render it harmless!"
He has only her word to go on, but she was right about the access panel. He injects the gel pack, which briefly shimmers.
Janeway has him right where she wants him. She begins to emote the way the Queen of the Spider People ought. "Release me, and I'll disarm all their devices...throughout your realm."
The music changes. Heavy on the violins now. A lilting refrain of Evil Love In Bloom. "Oh, Arachnia...you DO love me!" Chaotica glides to the Table of Torment and removes Janeway's restraints, drawing near to his beloved.
Janeway keeps playing along, doing her best not to gag. "How could I resist your...magnetism?"
He completely misses the subtext of revulsion. He spreads his palm wide, as though to grasp the whole of creation. "Or I yours! Together we'll rule the cosmos!" He twists his fingers, one by one, into a balled fist. "And grind our enemies into dust." He kisses her hand, and works his way north—wrist, arm, elbow, shoulder.
By the time he nears lip level, Janeway rolls her eyes and clunks her skull against the table. Even her sense of the absurd has its limits.
Janeway and Chakotay are on the move again in the corridors, but Janeway still has the aftertaste of Chaotica. "If we restore the time-line, remind me to cancel Mister Paris' Holodeck privileges."
Chakotay chortles as they enter the turbolift.
The transporter room is stuck near the end of "Caretaker." B'Elanna Torres, Ayala (I think), and some other very unhappy Maquis are cooling their heels when Chakotay and Janeway arrive.
They are not a welcome sight.
"What the HELL is going on!?! And what are doing in that uniform?" Torres demands.
Janeway blanches. So does Chakotay. Torres in full-throated wrath is intimidating for anyone. "It's a little complicated," Chakotay says.
B'Elanna glares at the captain. "I'm not going anywhere."
Chakotay remembers the early tension between the two strong-willed warriors. He steps between them and tries to get through to B'Elanna. "Voyager's had an encounter with an anomaly. It's fractured the ship into different time periods."
"We're trying to undo the damage," Janeway adds. "But we need access to that panel."
B'Elanna is one petite pepperpot, and she's shaking mad. It must also be noted, the leather Maquis outfit is a VERY good look for her. "First she destroys our only way out of the Delta Quadrant, and now you're collaborating with her?"
The tension in the room escalates. Chakotay talks fast. They still remember him as their captain, and he plays to that. "Try to understand, I'm from a time period in your future...when all of us will be working together."
"That's pretty hard to believe," Torres says.
"B'Elanna...I've never lied to you before. And I'm not lying now."
That gives Torres pause. In the end, loyalty to Chakotay and trust in his honor wins out. She stands aside and lets him pass. The injection takes but a moment.
As they leave, Janeway takes a last glance backward at the lethal looks being sent her way, wondering what she would do to be the cause of such anger.
Janeway and Chakotay are on the move again. Janeway looks troubled. "That woman blamed me for stranding Voyager in the Delta Quadrant."
"She was angry."
"But was she right?"
He tap-dances. "You had good reasons for doing what you did."
"What reasons?" Janeway has given up on the Temporal Prime Directive, she wants answers.
Chakotay is still reluctant. "You were trying to save lives."
Chakotay knows it's a losing battle; what Janeway wants, Janeway gets. "An alien culture. The Ocampa."
She has a hard time believing herself capable of such a thing. "In other words, I'm going to choose to help strangers at the expense of our own people!"
Chakotay locks eyes with her. "It isn't like you to second-guess yourself."
"In this case, I'm second-guessing a decision I haven't made yet."
The wisdom of the Temporal Prime Directive continues to be driven home.
Next stop: the mess hall.
This room apparently is in sync with Chakotay's time. And it's not a pretty picture. All the tables have been cleared, and the mess hall's been converted to its backup purpose, a triage center.
Tom Paris is here, leading the treatment effort. It's a Herculean task; the room is packed with the wounded and dying, and there aren't enough healthy people or vials of medicine to go around. "Keep dispensing the netrazine until we run out, then switch to the analeptics," he tells a medic, who swiftly obeys.
When he sees Janeway and Chakotay, he's too tired to register much in the way of emotion. "How'd you get in here?"
"There isn't time to explain," Chakotay says. Tom accepts that.
Janeway's curiosity—and compassion—gets the best of her. "What happened to these people?"
Paris' eyes widen—how could she NOT know?—but he reports the facts as he knows them. "Radiation poisoning...the EPS relays overloaded when we ran into the anomaly." His voice intensifies. "We need the Doctor, and medical supplies, or we're going to have a lot more casualties."
Chakotay shakes his head. "I'm afraid that's not possible right now. Do the best you can."
The look in his eyes is enough to keep Tom from protesting. "Yes, sir." He moves off to treat another patient.
Janeway watches him with unconcealed shock—this is not the same angry young man she recruited, mere days before, from the New Zealand penal colony.
Chakotay touches her elbow. "There's an access panel in the Galley." There's another one—remember Macrocosm?—on one of the far walls, but maybe that one's still broken.
Janeway is lost in thought, overwhelmed by the Cliff Notes version of the last seven years. She is very surprised when a furry gentleman with garish taste in clothing hands her a cup. "Coffee, black," Neelix says.
"How do you know how I like my coffee?" she asks the stranger.
Neelix is puzzled. "You haven't changed your standing order in seven years."
Janeway takes the mug gratefully. "Thanks. It's just what I needed."
Neelix puts a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry, Captain. You'll get us out of this. You always do."
Janeway watches, both touched and troubled, as Neelix moves off.
Chakotay closes the freshly-injected panel. "All done here." They head for the exit.
But a voice stops Janeway cold. "Captain..." She turns to see Tuvok--her trusted advisor, whom she was on this mission to recover from his undercover Maquis assignment—lying on a cot from which he is not likely to rise.
"Tuvok?" This is too much for her to bear. Janeway rushes to his side, takes his trembling hand, blinks away her tears at the sight of his scorched flesh.
"I'm...pleased...you're here." Tuvok struggles to speak. "I didn't think I'd see you again. I want you to know...that it's been an honor to serve with you... and to be your friend."
Tuvok's breath catches in his throat. His body stiffens. Alarmed, Janeway calls out to Mr. Paris.
Paris crosses over to them and starts scanning. Tuvok holds out his hand to Janeway in the Vulcan salute, his fingers trembling slightly. "Live long...and prosper."
Tuvok closes his eyes, grows still. Janeway is still staring at him when Paris while scans him...and shakes his head somberly.
That's all she can stands; she can't stands no more.
In the turbolift, on the way to deck eleven, Janeway can barely contain herself. "I can't let this happen...not again."
"What are you talking about?" Chakotay asks. This is a bad time for the captain to be reconsidering the plan.
"Voyager getting stranded...these deaths...this entire future--it's my fault! I have to do something to change it."
Oh, frell. "What do you have in mind?" he asks evenly.
"Maybe we can find a way to modify Seven of Nine's plan...put Voyager into temporal sync with my time frame."
Janeway's talking mostly to herself now. "Now that I know what to expect, I can avoid ever getting trapped in the Delta Quadrant in the first place."
"Halt turbolift!" Chakotay orders. He's no doubt dreading this. Season One Janeway was one tough nut to crack. But he has no choice. "Seven's plan is dangerous enough. Trying to alter it is too risky."
Janeway is emphatic. "It's worth the risk!"
"If Seven's idea works, Tuvok and those other crewman will be fine."
"They'll still be stuck in the Delta Quadrant," she counters. "If the temporal anomaly doesn't kill them, something else will. The Borg... telepathic pitcher plants... 'macroviruses'... The Delta Quadrant is a deathtrap!"
Well, she does have a point there. Of course, she's forgetting—or perhaps doesn't know—that if she DOESN'T end up in the Delta Quadrant, all the Maquis, and Tuvok, are doomed to spend the rest of their lives in the Delta Quadrant. Which doubtless would have been a few weeks at best. Yeah, a whole lot of Starfleet people—her doctor, her first officer, Stadi—would still be alive, at least until some unknown alpha quadrant assignment went awry, but let's face it: they were all mean to Tom Paris when he first came aboard, and thus Deserved To Die.
"What about the Temporal Prime Directive?" Chakotay asks.
"To hell with it." This is a dangerous moment.
Chakotay thinks fast. Rejects a half dozen "my people have a saying" stories. Goes for the direct approach. "With all due respect, it's a little presumptuous to think you have the right to change everyone's future." This from the guy who helped do exactly that in "Timeless." Ah, irony.
Janeway is unmoved. "From what I've seen, they'll thank me!"
"All you've seen are bits and pieces. You're not getting the whole picture!"
"Really? Just what am I missing?"
Chakotay tries to distill seven years into a plea for status quo ante. "It's not 'what,' it's 'who.' People like Seven of Nine, a Borg Drone who'll become a member of this crew after you help her recover her humanity. Or Tom Paris, a former convict who'll be our pilot, chief medic, and husband to B'Elanna Torres."
This surprises her. "That angry woman I just met?"
Chakotay nods. "She's going to be your Chief Engineer. Two crews--Maquis and Starfleet--are going to become one. And they'll make as big a mark on the Delta Quadrant as it'll make on them. By protecting people like the Ocampans, curing diseases, encouraging peace. Children like Naomi and Icheb are going to grow up on this ship and call it home. And we'll all be following a Captain who sets a course for Earth and never stops believing that we'll get there."
It must be said—if Chakotay got more scenes like this, he—and I—would be a lot happier.
Janeway's stunned by the passion of the man. She bats her eyes fast enough to give his hair a lovely wind-blown look. "Are you going to be lecturing me like this for the next seven years?" she asks, with a voice and an expression that simply scream Sexual Tension.
Chakotay gives her the perfect look. "Don't worry. You'll always get the last word."
She takes it. "In that case, let's get back to work."
One hurdle remains—converting the gel packs in Engineering. When the turbolift spits them into yet another corridor, Janeway asks, "So who is this Seska?"
"She was a member of my crew, who turned out to be a Cardassian spy. She formed an alliance with the Kazon and took over the ship."
They could spend the next hour answering her questions to just that one line. Such as, who the hell are the Kazon, and how could they take over my ship and it not be over my dead body and empty phaser cannon?
She manages to frame her questions in the form of a single outraged look. Chakotay shrugs. "It's all right. We got it back."
Even so, she's worried. "Sounds like she's not going to be as cooperative as the others."
She's got that right. "I suggest we take a page from your rule book," he says. "We try diplomacy." Flatterer.
Janeway smirks. "Fine. But the next page in that book says that when diplomacy fails, we need a backup plan."
Chakotay smiles. "Something tells me you've already got one."
Her look is answer enough.
Janeway doesn't join Chakotay for this leg of the journey. He finds himself facing down Seska and the Kazon all by his lonesome.
Fortunately, Seska is an engineer. A darned good one at that. The Kazon aren't convinced, but they're not in charge.
"We've already injected the gel packs in the other time frames," Chakotay explains. "That just leaves the ones here. It's in both our interests to work together."
Seska's arms are folder over her chest. She holds one of the serum vials in her hand. "I agree. Let him go."
"You believe him?" Rulat asks.
Seska smiles. "His story's too preposterous to be a lie." She replaces the vial as though caressing her former captain's chest, and wordlessly invites him to do what he came to do, warning the Kazon to let him go under his own power—no shoving this time. "I'll admit it's an ingenious solution," she says.
"I'm glad you're cooperating," Chakotay says as he gains access to the gel pack.
"Oh, I believe in cooperation," Seska says amiably. "As long as it benefits me." She gives Chakotay an appreciative gaze. She practically smacks her lips at the yummy hunk of manhood before her. "You know, it's true what they say."
"Men just get more distinguished as they get older. A few lines here, a little grey there--it adds character." She swishes as she approaches him, vamping it up in a way that would have worked wonders for Arachnia with Dr. Chaotica.
Chakotay gives her the cold shoulder.
Remember what I said about mood swings? Her lust turns to wrath in a heartbeat. "Too bad their minds start to go! The last time you were here, you had that nasty head injury and you mumbled something about my taking over the ship, five years ago. If that's true, then you're from a future time frame, which means that at some point, your crew is going to regain control of Voyager. I can't allow that to happen."
Perhaps it's not so fortunate that Seska is a crack engineer.
Chakotay continues his efforts, trying his best to ignore her.
"Step away from the console," Seska says.
When Chakotay hesitates, Seska nods to Rulat, who approaches and jerks him away. Seska begins to work the controls. "It's an ingenious plan," she says. "It just needs a slight modification."
"What are you doing?" Chakotay asks.
"Recalibrating your pulse to bring the ship into temporal sync with my time frame."
"That's not possible!"
Ooh. Never say that to Seska. "When will you learn to stop underestimating me?" she sneers.
"If you make even the slightest miscalculation...you'll destroy the ship and kill everyone!"
"What other choice do I have? If I can get Voyager into my own time frame, I'll be able to ensure that you never retake the ship."
For some strange reason, Seska tries one more time to woo him. "Don't worry," she says sweetly. "I won't hurt you. You can start fresh with me."
Chakotay's response has rejection written all over it. "Sorry. That's not the future I have in mind."
The harpie-on-wheels emerges yet again. "In that case..." She nods sharply to the Kazon, who point their rifles at him.
"Goodbye, Chakotay!" shrieks the woman scorned.
Heck. The least she could do is give him a last meal. Like boiled rabbit.
* * *
As it happens, Chakotay isn't so alone after all.
In the upper balcony, Captain Janeway watches as Chakotay tries in vain to reason with Seska, unseen because they're not multi-temporal like she is.
She's not alone, either. Harry Kim and Tom Paris are with her as well.
"It's too dangerous. There are too many variables!" Chakotay says.
"You're not pleading for your life, are you?" Seska says derisively.
"I'm telling you, you're endangering your own life!"
It's not looking good for Chakotay. Janeway looks to her junior officers. "Do it."
The two men crawl over the railing and assume the position.
"I'm touched by your concern," Seska says.
From Seska's perspective, the two officers fall from the sky, out of nowhere. They waste no time; Tom and Harry are all fists and elbows, pounding the Kazon like their lives depend on it.
Janeway takes the dignified way down, hopping onto a one-person lift. Harry throws her one of the fallen Kazon's weapons; Tom throws his victim's rifle to Chakotay.
They unleash hell.
As though that weren't enough, Naomi and Icheb storm in through a side door and stomp some hiney of their own. Naomi's fingers fly across a control panel, and things start exploding in Engineering, taking out bad guys in the process.
Then Torres and the Maquis enter, doing still more damage, giving Chakotay time to finish the work needed to set up the pulse and restore the ship to a single timeline. The correct timeline.
But then Seska grabs Janeway and presses a phaser to her throat. Everyone—even the Maquis, who have no love for Janeway—pause to see what happens next.
"Put down your weapons!" Seska commands.
Janeway is defiant. "Don't listen to her!"
Seska's voice drips with scorn, and her eyes are in full Death Mode. "Your faithful First Officer isn't going to let you die. Are you?"
Chakotay sets down his rifle; the others follow his lead. Soon, everyone's covered by the Kazon, and they're at Seska's mercy.
In short, they're screwed.
Seska has a new idea. "Very clever, Chakotay, inoculating them with serum. Now it's time to inoculate my people, so we can have access to the rest of the ship."
"I won't do that," Chakotay says.
If it hasn't been clear before now, Seska never takes rejection well. "Then you just lost your Captain!"
The Engineering doors slide open, revealing an empty corridor. Everyone turns to look in that direction.
Then the temporal bubble distorts, disgorging Seven of Nine, all Borged up with one place to go.
Seska's eyes go wide. She fires at Seven, whose Borg shielding is more than up to the task of protecting her. She wrenches the gun away from Seska and clamps an irresistible hand to the Cardassian's throat.
It's not even a contest. Seska is toast.
The rest of the diverse group of characters stares with undisguised fascination at what just happened. Particularly Harry Kim, who—in spite of his Borgophobia—can't stop drooling.
Janeway nods at Seven. "Thanks."
Engineering is largely cleaned up. The gang's all here—a broad spectrum of existence, pieces of the Voyager puzzle through 25 years of existence. "Seska and the Kazon are secure in the Jefferies Tube," Torres reports. "The last gel packs?"
"They're ready," Chakotay says.
Janeway addresses the crowd. "After Chakotay initiates the warp pulse, he should find himself back at the moment Voyager encounter the chrono-kinetic surge. He's going to have a few seconds to try resetting the deflector polarity. If the time-line's restored, the rest of us should have no memory of what's happened here. So I'd like to thank you now for putting your doubts aside, and helping me put mine aside as well. Good luck to each of you."
Everyone—Borg, Maquis, Lieutenants of the future, Tom and Harry—nod, and take their leave. Janeway and Chakotay stay behind.
Janeway approaches her future first officer. Her tone is dangerously intimate. "Mind if I ask you one last question?"
Chakotay smiles uneasily as they walk toward the warp core. "Will I have to break the Temporal Prime Directive to answer it?"
"Maybe. Just a little." Her eyes are twin pools of hickory-smoked pheromones as she stares up at him. She leans in close. "For two people who started off as enemies, it seems we get to know each other pretty well. I've been wondering--just how close do we get?"
I'm sure there are many who would dearly love to rewrite history. Chakotay seems to be tempted. But he doesn't toy with her affections. "Let's just say...there are barriers we never cross."
The look on her face is classic. This final goodbye was waiting for the notice of what they'd become, and she has come to believe that anything with this remarkable man is possible.
She is tempted to coldcock the boy. Or ravage him where he stands in one furious, sweaty whirlwind of lust. But she finally just laughs and extends her hand for a nice, professional, cordial handshake.
"See you in the future," she says.
Harry Kim is already at his station when Janeway arrives on the bridge. "Ensign?" she asks.
"Chakotay should be initiating the pulse in ten seconds," he says. If the other crew have any idea what's going on, they don't show it. "Five...four...three...two..."
Chakotay enters the commands. The warp core begins to glow.
The brilliant white spreads throughout the ship, illuminating everything—and everyone—from within. The smart folks, Kim and Janeway among them, close their eyes and hang on tight.
Chakotay weathers the flash of light, and finds himself a moment later in Engineering, just before the fatal discharge.
He moves quickly to the station nearest B'Elanna Torres. "Reroute main power to the deflector, and set the polarity to the frequency I'm inputting."
B'Elanna is confused. "Why?"
Chakotay is well into his calculations. "Ever heard of a lightning rod? In about three seconds, we're going to need one."
Torres asks no further questions. She leaps into the task with both feet.
Janeway emerges from the turbolift and stares at the anomaly on the forward viewscreen. "What is it?" she asks.
Harry, in the captain's chair, responds. "I don't know." His attention is diverted to the command station by the chair. "Main power's being re-routed to the deflector dish!"
"Who gave that order?" Janeway demands.
By the time she gets the answer, it's over.
The anomaly spits out a tendril of energy at Voyager. The deflector dish catches it, and deflects it at a 90 degree angle away from the ship. A few seconds later, the discharge ends—and the deflector dish sizzles and darkens.
"Damage?" Janeway asks.
Harry checks the console. "The deflector's been burned out, but we're okay."
The order is given—Voyager moves away from the anomaly before it can throw anything else their way.
Chakotay arrives on the bridge a few moments later.
Janeway is back in the big chair. "Do you mind telling me why B'Elanna burned out the deflector dish?" she asks with deceptive calm.
Chakotay's response is a damnably enigmatic smile. "Actually...I ordered her to do it."
Janeway shakes off the confusion. "Why?"
"Trust me; it was better than the alternative."
Janeway doesn't let it go. "Which was what, exactly?" You'd think she'd be able to fit the pieces together.
Still with the smile. "I can't tell you."
Janeway's patience is beginning to thin. "Why? Not?"
And now for the coup de grace. "The Temporal Prime Directive."
Damn the man.
Before Janeway can react, Chakotay continues. "B'Elanna's already got a team working on repairs. What do you say we finish our dinner?" He reaches out his hand.
Janeway feels about two steps behind...but when dinner calls, she listens. With a smile, she takes his hand.
The room is dark. The meal is consumed. It's time for the after-dinner cider.
"Forget particle fountains and subspace inversions," Janeway is saying. "There isn't an anomaly scarier than a thunderstorm on the plains, especially when you're six years old. I remember watching a bolt of lightning split an oak tree in my grandfather's yard. I climbed it just a few hours before!"
Chakotay takes a sip. "Good timing."
Janeway takes advantage of the moment. "So...what would've happened if you hadn't turned our deflector dish into a lightning rod?"
Chakotay smiles and takes another sip. "We've been down this road before."
"Have we?" Do tell.
"You, wanting answers to questions you shouldn't ask."
She leans his way from her couch. "But something did happen outside the normal space-time continuum."
His smug silence is his only reply.
Janeway assumes silence implies affirmation. She grows reflective. "It's strange thinking there's a piece of your life you don't know anything about."
"Sounds a lot like the future." A philosopher AND a deflector dish vandal! His service record doesn't do him justice.
She wrinkles her nose at him. "Any predictions?"
He lifts up the cider bottle to refill her glass. "Only that in a few minutes, this bottle will be empty."
Janeway gives him her best pouty look. "Then maybe you should go to the Cargo Bay and grab another one."
Horrors! "How do you know that's where I keep it?" he asks, genuinely surprised.
Janeway shakes her head somberly. "Oh, I can't tell you."
With a straight face, she says "Temporal Prime Directive."
Sometimes, all you can do is laugh. Janeway is rarely so beautiful as when she laughs, free—however briefly—from the burdens of command and the weight of history. Free to simply spend a quiet evening at home with someone she cares about.
Free to dream, unfettered by the constraints of present reality, of barriers yet to cross.
Well, it was interesting, I'll give it that.
When is a clip show not a clip show? I think this episode is the answer. They recreated elements from most of the seasons in Voyager's run, without actually reusing any old scenes. The result is a reward for those who have been paying attention all along, but which does its best to help the casual viewer from being hopelessly confused.
Does it succeed? Not entirely. I could have done without the return of the macrovirus--with my luck, it'll find out where I live. But it definitely has its moments.
The great strength of the episode is the chemistry between Beltran and Mulgrew--at turns edgy, sexy, and fun. At times it reminded me of the Chakotay from the first and third seasons, which is when I was most fond of his character. I think it's safe to say the Chakotay character hasn't had a lot of meaningful scenes in recent years, which has been frustrating to actor and Chakotay fans alike.
This episode has a running subtext--What Might Have Been. We got a guided tour of controversial moments: Janeway's alliance with the Borg (Scorpion), the tactical and strategic blunders that led Seska to capture Voyager (Basics), the events that led Voyager to end up in the Delta Quadrant (Caretaker), and--I think it's safe to say--the Relationship between captain and first officer (Resolutions). Not to mention Bride of Chaotica, which many folks enjoyed but which I just didn't find that amusing.
Well, except for Satan's Robot.
We saw pretty much the gamut of Janeway/Chakotay relations. Distrust. Antipathy. Head-butting. Mutual taunting. Heavy flirting. Picking each others' brains, wearing down each others' resistance. At times, trust and loyalty and synergy. Janeway got a crash course in Chakotay 101, and learned in short order how an enemy could become her most trusted associate.
I'd have loved to see more of this the past six years.
The performances from the main cast were terrific. I wasn't quite as enamored of the guest cast, and some of the scenes. The Chaotica segment didn't do much for me at all, and Seska's mood swings were hard to handle. (Also, no mention AT ALL of Seska's child or of Maje Cullah, her main squeeze besides Chakotay.)
I'm also curious about some of the ground rules. Why Chakotay was able to see between the time slivers. (I assume it's a byproduct of the serum, but this wasn't explicit.) Why the adult Icheb and Naomi were able to map the 37 distinct time periods, but weren't able to do more than that--say, scan for life forms, give Janeway and Chakotay an idea of what they're heading into, perhaps make communications possible between zones. Again, there may be a good reason for it--lack of time, for instance--but it wasn't stated. And the obvious--why Chakotay lost the medikit when he first moved between levels, but the clothes stayed with him.
Yeah, I know--I've got a nudity hangup. But I swear--it's all for the sake of literary criticism.
The "puzzle" theme is hammered home pretty hard. The DNA puzzle in the cargo bay. The disassembled replicator in Janeway's quarters. The 37 temporal fragments of the ship. The disparate encounters that formed an incomplete and bleak picture for Janeway of the next seven years. The way in which those elements came together to solve a common problem, which gave a hopeful view of the Big Picture.
It also gives us a few POSSIBLE, but by no means guaranteed, hints of the future, like the photo on the puzzle box viewed from a distance.
All in all, not a bad hour. Logic was out the window, but the characterizations mostly held up, and the J/C dynamic was well worth the price of admission.
Call it three stars.
Next week: The stork visits B'Elanna. So do the monsters in her anxiety closet.
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