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Seven of Nine blows the lid off this whole Delta Quadrant thingie.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Seven of Nine is in her cargo bay, doing a little spring cleaning of her regeneration alcove. She is too engrossed in her work to notice the arrival of Naomi Wildman--subunit of Ensign Samantha Wildman, child prodigy, captain's assistant, all around cute kid--until Seven looks in one of the alcoves and finds the smirking munchkin "regenerating" like a grown-up drone. Adorable.
Seven of Nine offers the standard greeting. "Naomi Wildman. State your purpose here."
Naomi smiles. "I was waiting for you. Kadis-kot, remember? Our weekly game?"
But Seven's got Big Girl stuff to do. "Reschedule for tomorrow. I'm working now."
"Redecorating isn't work," Naomi says, making a face.
"Aesthetics are irrelevant," says Seven. Her comment earns a cheer from every adult single male on planet Earth. Particularly from those who have ever been confronted by a fuzzy pink cloth-decorated toilet. Brr. "I'm modifying the alcove to function as a cortical processing subunit."
"That was my next guess," Naomi says, hopping down from the alcove, looking up at her Kadis-kot buddy like R2D2 looks up at Chewbacca.
"Then I won't need to explain its purpose," Seven says, returning to her efforts, snubbing the barbed blonde bombshell of the bubblegum set.
Naomi sulks. "Okay, you win. What do you do with a cortical processing...uh…"
"Subunit. On Borg vessels, there's one in each unimatrix. It downloads newly assimilated data to the drones."
Naomi frowns. "But Voyager isn't a Borg vessel. And you're not a drone anymore."
She's got to tell someone. Seven's eyes light up a little. "Voyager collects a great deal of information--sensor scans, navigational projections, engineering updates, away team reports, scientific analyses."
"The results of our kadis-kot tournament?"
Seven smiles slightly. "That, too. The crew must read and study this information--an inefficient procedure. These data nodes are downloading the information into the alcove."
Naomi gets it. "Which is going to download it into you!"
Seven preens. "Precisely. In a matter of hours, I will assimilate several months worth of data." No wonder she's looking eager. Naomi asks if she can try it, but Seven points out that Naomi's physiology is "…different from mine."
Naomi looks bummed. One more thing they can't do together. "Guess I'll stick to reading my lessons and listening to Neelix tell stories," she says, not nearly as enthused by that method than by the sleep-your-way-to-omniscence approach Seven has developed for herself.
"I will see you tomorrow," Seven promises, eager to test-drive her new toy.
"Can I watch?" Naomi asks. Seven gives her a schoolyard skunkeye. Naomi takes the hint. "Okay! Tomorrow." Off she scampers, leaving Seven alone.
Setting the last of the controls, Seven hops onto her alcove. Turn on, log in, nod off.
When she awakens, Seven will have a better concept of the past six months onboard Voyager than the rest of the crew put together.
Nah, that would be telling.
As Seven drifts off to regeneration slumber, we hear the first of her instruction beginning.
Buenas noches, senior Chihuahua…
* * *
Guess who's coming to dinner?
Janeway's quarters is filled with exotic aromas and the sound of the captain cursing the replicator.
Warning. The plate is hot, the computer warns too late.
"Now you tell me!" Janeway gripes, dropping the plate. She walks over to the table, where Chakotay sits, sipping his wine. Janeway grabs a couple of pot holders and returns for round two; this time the plate is no match for her.
"You go for authenticity and what do you get? Second-degree burns," Janeway says dramatically. It should be noted--she's not wearing her jacket. This isn't the Season of the Undershirt, but it should work great in reruns. "I've been slaving over that replicator program for hours," she says, setting the plate down and taking her seat.
Speaking of hot topics . . . "What was this bizarre rumor I heard about half the crew on deck five getting pregnant?" she asks Chakotay.
Chakotay takes another sip, then reaches for his napkin, unfolding it on his lap. "Oh, that. The Doctor was running generational projections on the Sickbay computer. Tom Paris happened to glance at the monitor and jumped to conclusions. Wasn't long before Neelix was asking me if he could turn cargo bay one into a nursery."
Janeway salves her wounds with a Big Gulp of bourbon. "Word travels fast On this ship, hmm?"
"Warp ten. Oh, by the way, I meant to tell you. There's a Class K nebula 25 light years off starboard. We should take a look."
"A major detour for a minor nebula," Janeway says between sips.
Chakotay smiles. "We are explorers, remember?" Foreshadowing . . .
Janeway gives him the sort of look she usually reserves for Tom Paris after one of his better bon mots--irksome amusement. "Permission granted."
The computer beeps. Janeway finishes a bite and wipes the edge of her mouth daintily. "Main course. A recipe I've never tried." She slides out of her chair, then throws Chakotay an over-the-shoulder full-flirt coquette maneuver. "But we are explorers, remember?"
The two share a grin, then Janeway fetches the main course.
BOOP. Regeneration cycle complete. We see the computer to Seven's left throwing image after image from the databanks into the former drone's brain.
Seven of Nine's eyes spring open. After a hearty night of brain cram, it should be interesting to see what all that info-dump learning has done to her.
Seven steps out of her alcove, raises one eyebrow, then slaps her chest. "Seven of Nine to Lieutenant Torres. Lieutenant Torres, respond."
"Good morning, Seven," we hear eventually. Torres' voice is groggy, and snappish. "This better be important."
"I must speak with you at once."
Janeway is on the bridge, sucking down coffee from a mug as tall as her forearm as she consults a sensor display. "I'm picking up some interesting graviton fluctuations about ten light years away," she says. Her use of the word interesting has ears perking up throughout the bridge.
"Can you be more specific?" Tuvok asks. Not at this distance, Janeway says. She tells Ensign Paris to alter course.
Tom turns around. "Chakotay had his heart set on that nebula we're heading for."
Janeway smiles. "He'll have to wait." Tom smiles, turns back around, and sets the new course.
Torres and Seven of Nine arrive on the bridge from the turbolift. "Captain, I need permission to shut down the sensor grid," Torres says. "Seven thinks a couple of insects are disrupting the power flow." She doesn't sound convinced.
"A mating pair of photonic fleas, to be more accurate--and possibly their offspring," Seven says. (Man--was all that field research on Deck Nine, Section Twelve not enough for her?)
Janeway also looks incredulous. "And how did you arrive at this--theory?"
"Last night, I downloaded six months of ship status reports into my new cortical subunit while I was regenerating." Uh oh--tinkering with the meatware. Wasn't "Alice" lesson enough?
Paris turns around again. "Learn while you sleep. I tried that once--gave me a headache."
Janeway gives Tom the obligatory oh-that-boy look, then turns to Seven. "Go on."
As if Seven needs encouragement. "Eight weeks ago, an away team encountered a Kartelan freighter carrying supplies from sector 4-9-2--a territory that included a former Talaxian colony." As Seven speaks, we get a visual flashback. We see Neelix practically skipping through a storage room, followed by a crewman with red shoulder pads carrying a big cooler-looking thing. Neelix clears some room off a shelf. "Mr. Neelix used the opportunity to acquire 12 kilograms of amber spice--a delicacy among his people."
Good thing she didn't say Ginger, Sporty, Scary or Baby Spice--there's a visual I don't need.
"What does that have to do with the sensor grid?" Torres, arms crossed, demands.
"On the same day Ensign Kim was repairing a replicator in the mess hall," Seven says. as she speaks, we see--Harry in the mess hall, slaving over a hot (and exposed) replicator, when Neelix comes in with a big jar of the spice.
"I remember that!" Harry says. "Neelix told me to stick around to try something he was cooking."
"No doubt made with the amber spice--which contained the larvae of the photonic fleas." That Neelix--you gotta give him points for consistency, at least. His meals seem to be the source of more anomalies than the transporters and the holodecks combined.
Torres is still incredulous. But Janeway seems to be enjoying the show. "How could you possibly know that?" Torres says, frowning.
"Because I also downloaded data regarding their life cycles. The larvae flew out of the spice jar in search of their primary source of nourishment-- plasma particles. The conduits within the nearby sensor grid contain an unlimited supply of these particles. Ensign Kim had unwittingly given the creatures access by exposing the grid." We get the LarvaCam view of something flying from the spice jar and through the air and into the replicator area. "The now mature creatures periodically tap into the conduit for nourishment. When they do, the sensor emitters momentarily lose their resolution."
Tuvok's eyes dance. "A logical, though highly speculative, analysis."
Torres doesn't look convinced, or all that patient. Janeway, though, seems intrigued, and leads the way back to the turbolift.
They are explorers, after all.
Seven stands back as Torres and Janeway catch up to her in the Jefferies tube. Torres stands on one side of the access port behind the ladder, Janeway on the other. With a final Here Goes Nothing look, Torres yanks the panel off, and she and Janeway look inside.
We see the power conduit. It looks al little like a very large lightbulb. Only it's dark.
Q: How many photonic fleas does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Torres looks miffed but convinced. Janeway does her best not to laugh.
Seven merely preens. Her speed-learning course has just earned its first laurel.
"Let's find a more suitable home for them," Janeway says, much impressed.
"I'm picking up graviton fluctuations," Harry says as they near their destination--which happens to be the source of the graviton fluctuations.
"Take us out of warp. On screen," Janeway orders.
The viewscreen shows a large piece of equipment floating in space. Its purpose is unknown. There's a vessel floating nearby. "Anybody want to hazard a guess?" Tom asks.
"The vessel is hailing us," Tuvok says, and puts the call onscreen at Janeway's command.
An alien, vaguely cheetah-like, with a piece of cutlery grafted onto his face--detachable noses, now that's an innovation--greets them. "I recommend maximum shielding. There are a few technical issues I haven't worked out yet." Seems nice enough. No threats, no posturing. Just a little friendly advice.
Good advice, to boot. "There's a massive graviton surge coming from that thing," Harry says. Tuvok throws up full shields without waiting to be asked, which is good because that surge hits, jolting Voyager's crew.
Janeway suppresses a smile. "Your apparatus appears to be destabilizing," she says helpfully.
"If I don't find a way to repair this power core they'll be able to see the explosion all the way to--" at a loss for words, the alien looks at Janeway. "Uh...where did you say you were from?"
Janeway smirks. "I didn't...but we're from a planet called Earth."
Ah, the alien says, nodding. "All the way to...Earth." He gestures to drive the point home. Sorta. This is the mellowest alien we've seen in a while. Hey, my ship's gonna blow up soon, no big whoop but you might wanna back up…
"Can we ask you what it's supposed to do?" Chakotay asks.
"Catapult a vessel across space, in the time it takes to say 'catapult a vessel across space.' It'll make warp drive look like a wooden sled," Mr. Enthusiasm finishes with a shrug.
I can only assume this alien isn't the marketing guy.
Even so, he's got Janeway's attention. Striving mightily to subdue her drool glands and sound as disinterested as the alien does, she says, "Maybe we can help you with that power core."
The alien's response is expertly delivered: "Huh?"
One suspects this species has put Woody Harrelson in charge of environmental controls. That hemp-based air filter is an engineering marvel.
The alien is welcomed aboard. We get a closer look at the guy.
His outfit resembles those hooded aliens on the Conan O'Brien show--dark, brown/black (my reception is bad this week, I can't tell for sure). His nose looks like a shoehorn, and he's got its cousin for a wattle.
He's demonstrating how his invention works in a way that can't help but catch Janeway's attention: he says it with coffee. Taking two tall coffeepots and spacing them apart like goalposts, he takes a coffee mug and positions it between them.
"The core sends a graviton surge through the projectors which locks onto a ship and sends it hurtling into null space to emerge a few hours later, hundreds if not thousands of light years away." He pushes the cup through the goalposts; it slides several meters into the waiting hand of Chakotay. Janeway snarls territorially, but Neelix activates the caffeine patch, and the fire in her eyes subsides.
"I'm curious why you built this catapult," Chakotay says, examining the coffee cup.
"Simple--I've been looking for a way to get home."
"We know the feeling," says Harry, who shares a look with B'Elanna, who sits beside him across the table from Chakotay and the alien.
"I'd been exploring an unstable wormhole. Before I knew it, I was here and my home planet was there. I was facing a journey of at least ten years. Instead, I decided to build a catapult." We see Harry's reaction; he grows very somber, as he remembers the events that brought Voyager to the Delta Quadrant. Nicely done; it's a very Harry response. He hides it better these days, but he's probably still more eager than anyone else to get home.
"Have you tested it yet?" B'Elanna asks.
"Two weeks ago I sent a probe nearly 600 light years." Everyone in the room blinks--that much? "But it destabilized the core. I've been trying to fix it ever since." Chakotay offers to send an engineering team over, but the alien says he wouldn't even send his own team there; too dangerous. Harry and B'Elanna come up with a way to do it remotely--throw some graviton pulses right back at the thing. Break out the deflector dish, time it right, and voila! It's the 24th century equivalent of the Fonz rapping the jukebox with his fist to make it play the perfect song.
"That's generous!" the alien says. Then his face falls. "But I have nothing to give in return."
Janeway smiles warmly. "We're not asking for anything in return." We're Starfleet; we live to help.
The alien doesn't quite know how to respond to that--it's not exactly a Delta Quadrant attitude. But then his features brighten as the idea hits. "You could use the catapult after I've made my jump! It should still be functional. A thousand light years won't exactly get you back to Earth..."
"But it would cut a few years off our trip," Harry finishes eagerly.
Janeway is most pleased. "If you're successful, and if I'm satisfied a jump would be safe for Voyager, then we'll take you up on that offer. Thank you!" Man, this is an unusual alien. Passing strangers with similar problems, helping each other out with no strings attached.
It just seems--wrong, somehow.
In Cargo Bay Two, Seven of Nine turns in for the night. She prepares a Borg data node, then plugs it in. We see the display--she's downloaded detailed information about the catapult. A little light reading while she regenerates.
Seven steps into her alcove, and we hear the click as the regeneration sequence kicks in. Her eyes close.
Class is now in session.
Janeway, jacket off, sips at her morning mug of coffee. She's in a pleasant mood.
The door chirps, and she opens it with a word. Seven of Nine enters.
"Good morning!" Janeway says, toasting the former drone with her mug.
"Perhaps not. The alien, Mr. Tash"--thanks for naming him, Mr. Menosky--"is trying to deceive us. His catapult is the same type of technology that was used to trap Voyager in the Delta Quadrant five years ago."
I think I know why Janeway's jacket is off. We can see the muscles flex as Janeway's tension level skyrockets--and the ceramic handle of her coffee cup shatters like a cheap plastic tube of powdered sugar.
* * *
"I scanned the catapult myself," Janeway says, her voice chilly. "Sensors didn't pick up anything unusual." She looks at Seven. "You spent the night in your new alcove," she points out--still not entirely convinced of the modifications.
"Processing the same information--and cross-referencing it with Voyager's database," Seven counters. "When the catapult destabilized yesterday, Astrometric sensors recorded a momentary burst of epsilon radiation."
"Unusual, but not unheard of," Janeway says.
"Epsilon radiation is one the byproducts of a tetrion reactor," Seven says, pressing the point. "According to your own entries in the database your only encounter with that kind of technology occurred five years ago in the alpha quadrant."
Flashback time. As Seven speaks, we get flashbacks to the episode "Caretaker." We see Voyager in the Badlands just before it catches a displacement wave and surfs into the Delta Quadrant. "A coherent tetrion beam locked onto Voyager, and you were hit by a massive displacement wave, which pulled you across 70,000 light-years in a matter of minutes. The source of that tetrion beam was the Caretaker's array." We then see the array as the Voyager crew saw it, just after their arrival.
We even see Janeway with her power-bun-of-steel hair knocked loose from the journey, the hair cascading over the front of her shoulders. Ah, first-season hair. Ah, memories.
"Mr. Tash claims that his catapult will be able to do something very similar," Seven concludes.
Seven can be awfully convincing when she wants to be. "He didn't want us to send over a repair team…" Janeway recalls, which seems to fit the pattern.
"Out of concern for our safety," Seven adds dryly. "It's obvious he's trying to hide his tetrion reactor."
Janeway sets her jaw. Her eyes bore into Seven of Nine. "The first time we met a Caretaker we were pulled halfway across the galaxy. The second time we were almost killed. I'm not eager for a third round."
Looks like Pete Puma has some 'splaining to do.
Nothing says "medical diagnostic" like Engineering. It is here that Doc examines Tash.
"Is this any way to treat a colleague?" Tash asks, put out and on his guard--but not outraged.
The Doctor completes his scan. "Not so much as a molecule of Caretaker DNA," he says. Janeway thanks him, and Doc exits.
Janeway glares at Tash. "There's a tetrion reactor powering your catapult. You didn't want us to find it, did you?" she says, her voice an accusation.
Tash doesn't respond. But his body language is answer enough.
"Unless you answer my questions, I'll resume course and you can ask somebody else for help," Janeway says.
It's the right approach. By threatening to walk away, Janeway also calms what is Tash's greatest concern. He's downright surprised. "I acquired the tetrion reactor at great cost. This territory is full of species who would do anything for such advanced technology--including steal it."
Voyager's crew can certainly relate to that.
"I apologize for the deception. But you do understand."
In fact, Janeway does. "We made an agreement to cooperate. I see no reason not to continue." Tash is relieved and grateful, and shows more enthusiasm than usual--now that he feels he can trust Janeway, he lets his guard down a little. "Keep me informed on your progress." Tash agrees.
Janeway and Seven walk away; Janeway drops her voice to a whisper. "That reactor had to come from somewhere. I can't just ignore the possibility of a Caretaker nearby. Keep scanning. See what you can find."
"There is another possibility," Seven says. "The reactor may have come from the same array that brought Voyager to the Delta Quadrant."
Say that again?
Janeway blinks at the improbability of it. "That's a long shot, Seven."
"Maybe not. Again, according to your own reports you believed the only way to keep the array from falling into the wrong hands was to destroy it. It's possible the destruction was incomplete."
Janeway is dubious. "And one of the reactors survived? We scanned for debris. There was nothing left but some fused pieces of metal alloy!" But Seven asks to go over the original sensor records. "In case we were mistaken," Janeway notes dryly. Seven doesn't mince words: Yes.
Seven's unconventional learning technique, so far, has been almost spooky in its ability to divine the truth. Janeway smiles her encouragement. "Go right ahead."
Seven of Nine retires to her second home--the Astrometrics lab. We see the Caretaker array on the big screen. Then we don't. Boom.
"Computer, describe the debris remaining after the array was destroyed."
Particulate dust and metallic fragments composed of an unknown alloy; vapor composed of hydrogen, helium, mercury and argon.
"Was there anything left of the tetrion reactor?"
"Specify the yield of the tricobalt device."
Seven is surprised by that. "Who programmed the device?"
Fascinating . . .
"Display the detonation," Seven orders. BOOM again. (If you recall the original "Caretaker", it was one heck of an explosion.) We see it just as the torpedo hits. Not a bit explosion yet. Just a pinpoint to see where it lands.
"Advance the image by .01 seconds," Seven says. The orange bloom is much larger now. "Again." The explosion is larger still, almost filling the screen.
But in the midst of orange, there is a hint of blue. Like a smudge. "Isolate grid three-seven and magnify." We see that patch of screen with the blue isolated and enlarged. It looks too uniform to be natural.
"Is that a tractor beam?"
Insufficient sensor data.
"Identify its source."
Insufficient sensor data.
Drat. Okay . . . "Identify the isolated section of the array."
Secondary power core.
Seven's eyebrows rise. "Which contained a tetrion reactor."
It's fairly quiet on the bridge. Commander Tuvok is the ranking officer; he stands near Ensign Paris (I love saying that), who sits at the helm.
Seven enters the bridge and walks over to Tuvok. "Commander. I've been reviewing the data on the destruction of the Caretaker's array. Unfortunately, the sensor records are incomplete."
"I don't doubt it," Tom says. "We were being attacked by the Kazon. Half the ship's systems were down." He frowns at the memory.
"A single Kazon vessel," Seven points out (incorrectly--there was one big vessel, and a whole bunch of smaller ones).
"Armed to the teeth," Tom adds.
Seven ignores him; Tom Paris is irrelevant. "Commander. You fired the tricobalt charge that destroyed the Array."
"Correct," Tuvok says.
"Under the Captain's orders?" she asks, her voice an interrogation. Tuvok nods.
Tom wonders what the deal is; why is Seven dredging up the Caretaker after all these years? She wasn't even around then.
"Did you also program the charge?" Tuvok says yes. "Under the Captain's orders as well?" she asks.
"Not directly. I determined the yield."
"20,000 teracochranes," she says. That's correct, Tuvok says.
A ha! "According to sensor estimates of the array's hull integrity, a charge of half that yield would have been sufficient," Seven says.
Tuvok is used to being the questioner, not the questioned. But he maintains composure; Seven's intent is not yet clear. "The Captain wanted nothing left for the Kazon to use. I calculated a yield certain to produce that result."
"Something may have escaped the blast--one of the tetrion reactors."
Paris frowns. "But we scanned for debris." The charge you detonated tore an opening in subspace, Seven explains. Tom thinks about it. "And that's where the reactor went?" Yes, she says. "How?" Tom asks, still not following her. She declares that it was pushed there by a tractor beam.
Nice theory. Rich with detail. But . . . Tuvok cross-examines. "Do you have evidence of a tractor beam?" Perhaps, is the best Seven can do.
A ha! Tuvok's turn. "Speculation is not evidence. There was no tractor beam because there was no ship in the vicinity to generate one…unless you can prove otherwise."
Which should prove interesting, since the scene of the battle is about 35,000 light years away.
But--it tells Seven what she needs to do next. "Thank you, Commander," Seven says, and heads for the exit.
All that thinking makes a drone hungry. Mess Hall time.
It's quiet--only Neelix is here. "Looking for a midnight snack?" he asks pleasantly.
"I require information. I'm attempting to determine whether the catapult technology was derived from the Caretaker's array."
"So I heard," Neelix says. "A fascinating theory. It's got my mind spinning," he says, twirling his finger in the air.
"How long were you in the vicinity of the array before Voyager arrived?"
"About a year. Kes was on a nearby planet and, uh, we were getting very close." He sniggers like the cradle-robber he was. Kes wasn't even a year old when Voyager encountered her--how many weeks old was she when Neelix first--
Whoa, wait--a Kes reference? Woo hoo! Be still my Ocampa-lovin' heart . . .
"Did you ever encounter the Caretaker directly?" Seven asks.
Neelix snorts; "Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no. In my opinion, any being powerful enough to grab ships from the other side of the galaxy should be avoided." Sound advice. Very un-Starfleet, but sound advice all the same.
"According to Voyager's database, he claimed he was searching for a genetically compatible mate. Did you believe that explanation?"
Neelix frowns. "I had no reason to doubt it--though it did seem a bit excessive." Neelix looks skyward, lost in thought. "I mean, all those ships!" Seven asks what happened to them. Neelix struggles to remember--heck, it was five years and a whole lotta adventures ago. "Well, after he sampled the crew's DNA he sent them back where they came from. I suppose." A new thought occurs to him. "You know, Kes always thought something more was going on--but she had quite an imagination."
Oh? I don't remember Kes saying any such thing . . .
You can almost hear Captain Janeway fiddle with her combadge, like she "always does," can't you?
"Were there any other ships in the area after Voyager arrived?" Seven asks. Only the Kazon, Neelix says. "But the Caretaker could have pulled in another vessel...a cloaked ship, perhaps," Seven presses.
Neelix stares at her. "Seven, what are you getting at?" What else? A third ship--hidden from both Voyager and the Kazon. Tuvok needs a ship, so . . . "What was it doing there?" Neelix asks. Preventing the tetrion reactor from being destroyed, Seven suggests.
Neelix reels. "Kes was right!" he whispers. "Something was going on!"
"Voyager's sensor logs were damaged in the Kazon attack. I can't be certain," Seven says, a smidgen of caution to go with the gallon of supposition.
"Maybe I can help!" Neelix says. "The sensor records off my ship weren't damaged. I can give them to you."
Hey, hey--more data for the insatiable Seven of Nine to sleep on.
And a trio of Kes references--an embarrassment of riches after a long, long drought.
Night falls. Seven downloads the data from Neelix's ship into her enhanced alcove.
Then it's dreamtime.
The bridge is buzzing. It's launch day for Mr. Tash.
"The tetrion reaction is stable. Graviton field is set for a 100-light-year jump," Harry reports.
"The catapult's locking onto him," Chakotay says.
Tuvok's station beeps. "We're being hailed." Onscreen, Janeway says.
Tash appears. "I'll contact you the moment I reenter normal space. Thank you, Captain." He extends his open hands, thumbs upward, a gesture of thanks. My pleasure, Janeway says with a smile.
"Catapult is at full power," Harry says.
"Good-bye to you all!" Tash says. He gives a karate-chop salute, then the signal cuts.
"Final launch sequence has been initiated," Tuvok says.
We get an exterior shot. Eight beams of light, four on either side of the ship, lance out, enveloping the ship in a cradle of photons. The beams intensify.
Meep-meep. Whoosh. Dust cloud.
Now that's fast.
"He's gone," Harry says.
"How long before we can expect to hear from him?" Janeway asks.
"If his vessel survived, one or two hours," Tuvok says.
Seven of Nine hails Chakotay from astrometrics. He's being summoned. Janeway doesn't belay the request, so Chakotay shrugs and leaves the bridge. They've got time. Right now they've got a couple hours of waiting. Might as well get some other work done.
And Seven's work is hardly a secret; if there's some darker purpose to the catapult, they'd be happiest to discover that before it's used and they end up back in the boondocks.
Chakotay shows up in Astrometrics. The door has barely opened to admit him when Seven starts barking orders. "Computer, seal the doors. Deactivate all sensors within this room."
Acknowledged, the computer says, with accompanying beeps and whirrs.
Now Chakotay looks nervous. "What's this about?"
Seven stands nose-to-nose with Chakotay. "I believe Voyager's presence in the Delta Quadrant is no accident. You and the crew have been stranded here intentionally."
Chakotay blinks, stunned. "By whom?"
Seven doesn't even hesitate. "Captain Janeway."
[Insert X Files theme here . . .]
* * *
"The Captain and Tuvok are involved in a Federation conspiracy," Seven of Nine explains to a snickpiddled Chakotay. "They're in collusion with the Caretaker and possibly the Cardassians."
Chakotay gapes like a goldfish for a few seconds before his capacity for speech returns. "I see...and the point of this...conspiracy?"
"I believe they're attempting to establish a military presence in the Delta Quadrant," Seven concludes.
"That's quite a theory. Perhaps you haven't heard of the Jankata accord."
"'No species shall enter another quadrant for the purpose of territorial expansion.'" We hear Seven quote it like she wrote it.
"The Federation signed it, the Cardassians signed it and Captain Janeway would be the last person to violate it," Chakotay insists.
"Improbable as it may sound, I've found compelling evidence to support my theory."
"What kind of evidence?" Chakotay asks, nowhere near convinced.
Seven pulls up a load of data onto the big screen, in over a dozen windows. "I've analyzed over 30 million teraquads of data regarding Voyager's activities over the past five years. It's quite clear that we've been the victim of an elaborate deception." The muddle of raw data on screen is overwhelming just to look at--kind of like a Tim Burton production.
Chakotay, completely macdaddied, shrugs helplessly. "I don't have the benefit of a cortical processor," he says, both admitting his imperfections and pointing out Seven's for not taking that into account when showing him her results. "Why don't you give me the abridged version?"
Seven has to think for a moment, prioritizing her evidence. Then she picks one. She seems to know Chakotay well enough. "In the months before Voyager's arrival, Neelix recorded the appearance of 52 vessels...including this one." She pulls up the image of an alien vessel.
But not that alien. Chakotay inhales sharply. "A Cardassian warship!"
"A remarkable coincidence," Seven says dryly. "Only days before Voyager's arrival the Cardassians were already in the Delta Quadrant."
Seven's words must be getting to him, because Chakotay's voice begins to take on a hard edge. "The Caretaker was trying to find a mate, remember? He was pulling ships from all over the galaxy."
"I'm familiar with the Caretaker's actions," says Seven, not giving a millimeter. "In each instance, he would examine the crews' DNA and when he failed to find a genetic match he would release the vessel, but in this instance Neelix's sensors indicated the ship vanished. Obviously, it was returned to the alpha quadrant. Why?"
Chakotay glares. "You seem to have all the answers."
"I believe the Cardassians were sent back to deliver strategic information regarding the Delta Quadrant."
"Conjecture," Chakotay stresses.
"Extrapolation," Seven stresses right back.
Chakotay shakes his head, walks away from the screen. "I can believe the Cardassians might be involved in this, but not Starfleet."
Seven follows him. "There are precedents for unauthorized missions of this type, Commander. According to the Federation database the Maquis were victims of several of them." She drawls this reply, letting each word sink in.
Chakotay sighs. "All right, you've got my attention. You said that Tuvok and Captain Janeway were involved. Tell me how."
Seven takes a deep breath. "At the same time the Cardassians were meeting with the Caretaker, your Maquis vessel was infiltrated with a Starfleet agent."
"Tuvok," Chakotay remembers. That's still a sore spot with him.
"Your navigator. He guided your ship to prearranged coordinates in the Badlands where the Caretaker locked onto you. Once you were pulled into the Delta Quadrant, Tuvok could have secretly transmitted final instructions to the Caretaker. A short time later, Captain Janeway guided Voyager to the same coordinates and was also pulled into the Delta Quadrant. All of these events took place within a matter of days. I find that suspicious."
Chakotay shakes his head. "I'll admit, the timing seems a little...convenient. But that doesn't mean there was a master plan."
"Why did the Captain destroy the array?" Seven asks. So the Kazon couldn't use it to attack the Ocampa, Chakotay says. "That's what she told the crew, but I believe she intended to remain in the Delta Quadrant all along. If the Array had remained intact you and all the others would have insisted on using it to return home."
"She was keeping it from the Kazon," Chakotay insists.
Seven ignores the assertion. "The Captain ordered Commander Tuvok to destroy the array. He fired two tricobalt devices." She calls it up on the big screen. We see the shot of the two devices zeroing in on the Array. "Are those weapons normally carried on Federation Starships?" No, Chakotay admits, the air of certainty in his replies beginning to wane. "Yet they were part of Voyager's arsenal. Why?" I can't explain that, Chakotay admits. "I can," Seven says. Naturally. "Neither phasers nor torpedoes are capable of creating a tear in subspace. A tricobalt device is."
Seven presses on. "As Tuvok detonated the device, a cloaked ship locked on to one of the array's tetrion reactors and pushed it through the tear into subspace--protecting it from the blast and hiding it from Voyager's sensors...but the Captain and Tuvok knew exactly where it was going. Once Voyager left the area the reactor was retrieved and began a similar journey carried by a series of vessels until it was finally delivered to Mr. Tash."
"Who used it to build the catapult," Chakotay says. His eyes have a haunted look.
"He was waiting here for Voyager and for the final phase of the mission."
Each time Seven ups the ante, Chakotay seems to return to his old skeptical self. "Which is what, exactly?" he demands, eager for the chance to disprove her crackpot theory once and for all.
"I don't think Captain Janeway is planning to use the catapult to get Voyager closer to home. I think she's going to use it to bring in more vessels from the Alpha Quadrant. If I'm correct this region of space will soon be occupied by a Federation-Cardassian invasion force."
Emotionally, there are few arguments that could have a deeper impact on a Maquis. You can see the struggle on his face--even the suggestion repels him. But five years of working with Janeway has to count for something. "You've uncovered some interesting facts. But your interpretation is farfetched," he says. "These are random incidents. Granted, some of them are hard to explain, but there's no conspiracy here."
Seven begins to pace. Her voice is agitated. Like she's on something. Or that she's been watching too many Oliver Stone movies. She begins barking out bits of supporting evidence like they're using her gray matter for clawing posts until she utters them.
"Stardate 51008: Captain Janeway allows Kes to leave Voyager. Neelix told me that Kes had suspicions about the caretaker. Was the Captain trying to silence her?"
"Stardate 51462: The Doctor's program is transmitted to a Starfleet vessel on the outskirts of the Alpha Quadrant--an attempt by the Captain to contact Earth? Or a secret communiqué informing Starfleet of her progress?"
"Stardate 50984: Janeway forges an alliance with the Borg. Stardate 51762: A cease-fire with the Hirogen. Stardate 52861: A non-aggression pact with the Terkellians. She called each incident, 'diplomacy.' I believe she was trying to establish a tactical infrastructure in the Delta Quadrant."
Chakotay struggles to retain composure under the barrage.
But Seven is relentless. "Over the past five years Captain Janeway has altered course 263 times in the name of exploration. In reality, she was mapping the region and collecting strategic data regarding--"
"I get the point!" Chakotay says, cutting her off.
Seven stares hard at the first officer. "You still doubt my suspicions. But can you be certain I'm wrong?"
"Absolutely certain?" Chakotay asks. There is a long pause. Finally, "No."
Seven's eyes blaze with all the conspiracy-theory fervor of Richard Belzer on a book tour. "Until you are, you mustn't allow Captain Janeway to retain control of the catapult."
Chakotay does not respond. A long silence falls between them.
Some time later . . .
The mood on the bridge is pensive. Chakotay is back in his place, sitting beside the captain.
"I'm picking up a transmission, heavily distorted," Tuvok reports.
"He made it!" Harry says.
The signal comes in, but it's too staticky to understand. "Can you clear it up?" Janeway asks.
The image of Tash comes through loud and clear. "Success, Captain--5,000 light-years!" Not too shabby. More than half way home for him.
Only--didn't they try for only 100 light years? That's quite an overshoot . . . suspicious?
"Are you all right?" Janeway asks.
"A few systems overloaded--nothing serious. I had to readjust my shields during mid-flight--almost lost my outer hull. I'm sending you the modifications. My catapult is yours, Captain. Good luck." He nods, and the signal cuts.
Harry does handsprings.
Janeway smiles. "Get that data down to B'Elanna. Tell her to enhance our shields."
Chakotay is somber. "So we're going ahead with the jump?"
Janeway knows Chakotay's role is to keep everyone from getting their hopes up TOO much. "I want to run a few more tests, launch some probes," she says, reassuring him. "But if it all checks out, I see no reason not to."
"I've received the telemetry," Harry says, waving the PADD.
Chakotay leaps up and reaches for the PADD. "I'll take it to engineering," he says. Harry seems a bit put out--he can practically smell Momma Kim's home cooking--but if anyone thinks Chakotay's acting odd, nobody says anything.
Janeway does wonder, though; you can see it in her eyes.
What's up with Tattoo Guy?
Chakotay hands the telemetry data to B'Elanna Torres. But he whispers additional instructions. "I want you to add a .03 variance to these shield modifications."
They're standing very close together; Chakotay's hands, were they not on his hips, are close enough to grab the chief engineer for a little doh-see-doh.
Torres cocks her head. "That'll disrupt the emitters."
"And you'll need another six hours to get them back on-line. I know."
The engineer has to wonder what the heck this is about. Why screw up the test on purpose? "Have you run this by the Captain?"
"No...and I'm not going to...not yet."
Now B'Elanna is way confused. Undermining captain's orders isn't like Chakotay at all.
* * *
Chakotay apparently explained the whole thing to B'Elanna during the commercial break.
Torres is skeptical. Heck, she's livid. Granted, she might be considering the source--if Seven says it, it's always a harder sell with B'Elanna. "She's pulling your leg! It-it's got to be some kind of Borg practical joke!"
Chakotay sighs. "She wasn't joking."
Torres walks away. "A secret mission? Starfleet in league with the Caretaker? It's ridiculous!"
Chakotay sighs again. "'Ridiculous'? Seven has some compelling evidence."
"Well, then, let's go to the Captain! Get a straight answer!" Torres says.
She hates it when mommy and daddy fight . . .
Chakotay scoffs, playacts how such an encounter might go. "'Good morning, Kathryn. All systems are operational. The crew's in good health. And by the way, is it true you've been lying to us for five years?'"
They look at each other. They silently agree--not a good idea. Graves have been dug over less.
"I'm not prepared to make that accusation," Chakotay says. "But I can't ignore what I've heard, either." So Seven hasn't completely convinced him--just sowed the seeds of doubt.
"So, what do you suggest?" B'Elanna asks.
"I want you to delay those shield modifications. That'll give me time to check Seven's database--take a look at the evidence myself." That's a far cry from mutiny, though it still seems to be enough to give B'Elanna pause.
Ensign Kim arrives right about then, scampering down the stairs. "The Captain asked me to work with you on the shields--"
"That won't be necessary, Ensign," Chakotay says.
Kim laughs. "Oh, I don't mind. Oh, you know how eager she is to make that jump--"
"Harry, we're fine here," B'Elanna says. Apparently she's made her decision.
Chakotay smiles. He claps the ensign on the shoulder. "'Too many cooks,' Harry. You know how it is. We'll let you know when we're done." Harry sighs--his eagerness to get home--or closer to it--is obvious. But he doesn't argue with Chakotay; he heads off to the Holodeck for a little diversionary Captain Proton.
Torres and Chakotay share a look. Whatever happens from here, they've taken that first step away from Janeway. And as both know all too well, even one is more than the captain is likely to tolerate.
Seven of Nine awakens in her alcove. We see a bit of the data she's been feeding in--more from the Caretaker incident.
She steps out of her alcove. She taps her chest. "Seven of Nine to Captain Janeway."
"I need to speak with you in the Astrometrics lab." Seven looks worried. Maybe she's discovered that she was wrong, and owes Janeway an apology.
"I'm on my way."
Janeway enters Astrometrics, where Seven is already pacing anxiously. As soon as the captain is in, Seven calls out, "Computer, seal the door and deactivate internal sensors to this room."
Janeway is confused. "Seven?"
"I believe Chakotay and other members of your crew are involved in a conspiracy to resurrect the Maquis rebellion," Seven says without preamble.
Janeway smirks. "Did Chakotay put you up to this?"
But Seven is deadly serious. "Voyager and the Federation itself are in grave danger."
Janeway rolls her eyes. This she's gotta hear. If only she had a mug of coffee to sip at for ironic emphasis. "Go on."
"I've concluded that Chakotay intends to use the catapult to launch attacks against Cardassian and Federation Starships."
Janeway isn't impressed. "Chakotay gave up his allegiance to the Maquis a long time ago. What you're saying makes no sense."
"Improbable as it may sound I have found compelling evidence to support my theory." Seven goes to the big screen. "In the months before Voyager's arrival Neelix recorded the sudden appearance of 52 vessels...including this one."
"A Cardassian warship," Janeway says, surprised. This is news to her.
But not to the audience. What the heck is going on here? Same data, whole different conclusions? And no mention to Janeway of her earlier conversation with Chakotay, which--if he's truly who she says he is--would be information Janeway really, REALLY ought to know?
But Seven rarely stops to consider her own imperfections. There are too many flaws in others to point out first.
"I've analyzed the hull geometry and warp signature," Seven says, gesturing to the Cardassian ship. "It was one of the same ships that were pursuing Chakotay and his crew in the region known as the Badlands. It was pulled into the Delta Quadrant by the Caretaker during that engagement. According to Federation records that same Cardassian warship was found destroyed in the Badlands."
Hmmm. This wasn't what she said yesterday. Could the new batch of data discounted the possibility of those earlier conclusions?
"The investigation revealed that it was attacked by the Maquis. I believe that for some unknown reason the Caretaker had sent this ship back to the alpha quadrant and that Commander Chakotay attacked the vessel before it could reach its destination. He downloaded its computer core and discovered the presence of the Caretaker's array. He realized that the array could be used by the Maquis as a weapon to launch surprise attacks against Cardassian and Starfleet vessels."
Wow. It's as if everything in Seven's head had been stolen and replaced with an exact duplicate. (apologies to Steven Wright)
Janeway still looks amused. "Well, I commend you for your imagination--but Tuvok was a spy on Chakotay's ship. If your theory were true, he would have known about it."
"He does." This brings Janeway up short. "Tuvok has been collaborating with the Maquis resistance all along."
This makes Janeway a little irritated. "That's not possible, Seven."
But Seven continues. "With Tuvok's assistance Chakotay plotted a course toward the next likely appearance of the Caretaker's displacement wave, offering his vessel as bait. His ploy almost succeeded but the Caretaker was more powerful than he anticipated. His crew was taken captive. A few days later, Voyager arrived and facilitated their escape. Chakotay seized that opportunity to make one last attempt to gain control of the Array--but, then, you gave the order to destroy it."
"Circumstantial evidence--not proof." When Janeway talks in that clipped way of hers, her patience is clearly being stressed.
"Who carried out your order to destroy the array?" Seven demands. Tuvok, Janeway says. "Using what type of technology?" Tricobalt devices, Janeway says impatiently.
Seven's eyes get that Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory look to them. "He set the yield to 20,000 teracochranes. It was enough to tear an opening in subspace. A cloaked ship locked on to one of the reactors, protecting it from the blast and hiding it from Voyager's sensors." Seven shows the picture of the blue in a field of orange in the wake of the explosion--a compelling image. "The reactor was retrieved and carried by a series of vessels until it was delivered to Mr. Tash, who was well-compensated by Chakotay to build the catapult. He was waiting here for Voyager so Chakotay could complete the mission he was forced to abandon five years ago."
Janeway pauses. "I'd be willing to consider this--theory of yours...if I didn't know Chakotay as well as I do. There is no one on this ship I trust more." Janeway steps closer until the two are almost close enough to tango. "What you've done here is build what we call 'a house of cards.'"
But before Janeway can knock the little house over, Seven breaks out her data storm.
"Stardate 48658: Commander Seska is revealed to be a Cardassian spy. She defects to the Kazon and impregnates herself with Chakotay's DNA. Was he unaware of the procedure, as he claims, or were they working together to create a new Kazon sect to capture Voyager?"
Correction: Though Seska was Cardassian and did defect to the Kazon, and did grab Chakotay's DNA to impregnate herself, her efforts failed. As the Doctor pointed out in "Basics, Part II," much to Seska's chagrin, the baby was not Chakotay's--it was Maje Cullah's.
Oh, man. I just realized something. Seven's spouting all this stuff off from memory. I'm confirming or refuting each point--from memory.
Darn. I'm a bigger geek than I thought.
But I digress.
Seven continues. She's got a lot of ego invested in it; passion infuses her every word. She's desperate to be believed.
"Stardate 49522: Chakotay recommends establishing trade relations with the Kolhari. Their technology uses tetrion power cells. A simple diplomatic overture? or was he seeking a source of energy for the catapult?"
Janeway's eyes go wide. There must be something about Seven's almost hypnotic delivery that draws her in, one fact at a time.
* * *
Seven of Nine walks down the hall-suspicious of EVERYONE she walks past.
Naomi Wildman catches up with Seven of Nine in the corridor. Seven doesn't seem at all thrilled to see her. "Seven!" Naomi says, huffing.
"Where are you going?"
"It's not your concern," Seven says--far too harshly.
Naomi looks worried for her friend. "What's wrong?" she asks.
Seven stops walking. "Your father was Ktarian," Seven says, accusingly. So? Naomi asks. "The Ktarians were officially with the Federation but they sympathized with the Maquis." Seven says.
This was all well before Naomi's time. "What are you talking about?"
"Who are you working for?" Seven demands. "Chakotay or the Captain?"
Oh, man. Borg babe is losin' it . . .
"Tell them it's too late!" Seven snaps at the little girl.
When Naomi, worry all over her face, doesn't flee to whatever evil overlord she answers to, Seven screams at her. "Go!"
Naomi takes off. Probably to the Doctor. Someone is in serious need of decaf.
In Seven's Cargo Bay, Captain Janeway enters, bearing a tricorder--only to discover that Commander Chakotay is already here, with his own tricorder in hand.
"I picked up a power surge coming from the cargo bay," Chakotay explains.
"I detected the same thing. You think it's the enhanced alcove?"
"Could be," Chakotay says. The two speak in measured, calculating tones. They dance around each other as though each suspects the other has a concealed machete ready to lop off their respective heads.
"Let's take a look," Janeway says. As she steps past Chakotay, she notices the added accessory on his belt. "Are phasers standard equipment on board now?" she asks off-handedly.
When Janeway steps onto the platform, Chakotay gets a good look at the phaser on Janeway's own belt. "Must be."
Janeway performs her scan. "The data buffer's been activated," she says, trying--and failing--to not sound suspicious.
"I wanted to make sure it wasn't malfunctioning," Chakotay says.
Janeway turns around, facing Chakotay. She puts her hands on opposite sides of the alcove, acting as a human shield. None shall pass. "Well, you should be careful," Janeway coos seductively. "Somebody might think you were trying to delete a few files."
"Why would they think that?" Chakotay asks in a way that couldn't sound guiltier if he tried.
"Some of those files could contain sensitive information…" Janeway says.
"If that's true, somebody might think you were trying to do the same thing…"
Janeway cocks her head thataway. "That catapult out there--it's a powerful piece of technology. If the Maquis ever had access to something like it they might have been successful." At what? Securing their freedom from the Cardassians? Doing the job the Federation lacked the guts and honor to do in the first place, preferring to throw their own citizens to the wolves in the name of diplomacy?
"And if we had, your mission to the Delta Quadrant never would have gotten off the drawing board."
Oh, man, Chakotay--you just had to go and ruin the game, didn't you? It'd been all nice paranoia-promoting innuendo up to now, but then you had to go and say it out loud. Now there's a danger of everyone getting to the bottom of the whole mess.
House of Cards, anyone?
Janeway shakes her head to clear it. The whole universe just took one step to the left without telling her. "What are you talking about?" she demands.
Now Chakotay's confused. "The mission you've been on for the last five years," he explains.
"My only mission is trying to get Voyager home!"
Four of Hearts . . . Seven of Clubs . . . Ace of Ventura . . .
"Seven showed me the sensor records. I saw the tractor beam!"
Joker's Wild . . .
Janeway's suspicion of Chakotay evaporates. "She showed me the same thing. But she implicated you in some kind of Maquis plot!"
Chakotay sighs. "Same evidence. Two different theories." One very mixed-up drone.
Janeway's paranoia also appears to have vanished. "It all started with those damn photonic fleas," Janeway says. "She was downloading Voyager's database--"
Bridge to Captain Janeway, Harry Kim's voice announces.
"Go ahead, Harry."
I just picked up an unauthorized launch of the Delta Flyer. Seven's at the helm.
Speak of the devil. Chakotay and Janeway exchange a baleful look. "Set a pursuit course," Janeway orders. Acknowledged, Harry says.
The two head for the door. Then Chakotay stops. "Chakotay to the Doctor."
"Get down to Cargo Bay Two. Run a diagnostic on Seven's alcove."
On my way.
Janeway's expression registers her approval. "I'm glad we got that settled."
They almost reach the door when Janeway stops again. "Chakotay...Let's keep this one out of our logs, huh?" Gladly, Chakotay says.
Pressing her palm to Chakotay's chest in a gesture of trust and friendship and fanfic, they bury the hatchet--then sprint for the exit.
The Delta Flyer careens toward its destination. Whatever that is. A Cineplex Orion viewing of JFK the director's cut, perhaps. I'm sure Costner could provide some theories Seven hasn't grabbed hold of yet . . .
We see Seven inside the ship. Her look is both determined--and weirded out. The girl is not well.
Chakotay and Janeway arrive on the bridge.
"She's altering course, heading for the catapult," Tuvok says.
"Maintain pursuit," Janeway orders. "Open a channel."
"No response," Tuvok says.
"Try to beam her out," Chakotay tells Harry.
"She's done something to alter her bio-signature. I can't get a lock."
"Target her propulsion and weapons," Janeway says. "Fire."
We see Voyager take several shots at the Delta Flyer. None even come close.
"Our targeting scanners are out of alignment," Tuvok reports, to explain the lousy shooting.
Chakotay frowns. "She must have done it before she took off." Seven is nothing if not thorough.
"She's charging weapons!" Harry says.
"Keep trying," Janeway says.
Doctor to Captain Janeway… Seven downloaded too much data into her cortical implant. She's trying to make sense of more information than she can process.
"Understood," Janeway says. "Beam me onto the Delta Flyer," she tells Harry.
"I'm going with you," Chakotay says.
"No. I have a better chance of getting through to her alone."
Chakotay gives her a semi-suspicious look. There's a twinkle in his eye, but you can tell he's half-serious. "This isn't part of your mission, is it?"
Janeway gives him a blank look back. "Is it part of yours?"
At some point, they've got to simply trust each other. "Good luck," Chakotay says.
Janeway nods. "Energize."
Janeway beams into the Delta Flyer, a few meters behind Seven.
"Captain," Seven says, not needing to turn around to know who it is.
Janeway approaches--but is rebuffed by a force field.
"You came here hoping to stop me. You'll fail," Seven says.
Seven's voice has more tremors in it than San Francisco in '06.
"Turn this ship around. That's an order." Action Kate is on duty. Seven has some splainin' to do.
"Your orders are irrelevant! I'm no longer under your command." Seven sounds as hurt as we've ever heard it. "You deceived me."
Janeway tries to talk her down. "There is no conspiracy. There is no Maquis rebellion. The Federation isn't planning to invade the Delta Quadrant."
"I realize that," Seven says. "Because I finally uncovered your true objective."
Janeway rolls her eyes. "And what's that?"
Seven turns around accusingly. "Me."
We see a flashback--the Magnus Hansen family staring down a Borg cube. Seven's voice overlays the image. "Stardate 32611: The Federation sends my parents to study the Borg Collective. They know my family will be assimilated. That was their intention."
The view changes--Janeway in the middle of a Borg Cube, at the end of the cliffhanger of "Scorpion." "Stardate 48317: Voyager is sent to the Delta Quadrant with orders to retrieve me. When they reach Borg space Captain Janeway negotiates an alliance with the Collective in exchange for information regarding species 8472. They agree to give her Seven of Nine."
So now humanity and mother Borg have turned on Seven as well--poor girl. Must be a lonely universe for her right now.
The scene changes again--to when Seven was still mostly Borg, laid out on a table in Sickbay. "Stardate 51030: Janeway extracts the implants from my body to remove any knowledge I have of her agreement with the Borg."
"Stardate 53329: Captain Janeway finalizes plans to use the catapult to deliver Seven of Nine to the alpha quadrant where Starfleet will dissect and analyze the drone to gather tactical data to fight the Borg."
Man--the whole universe out to get her. In a way, that makes her the most popular person in it.
Seven looks hard at Janeway. "I won't allow you to complete your mission. If necessary, I'll destroy the catapult--and myself."
This doesn't look like a job for Action Kate, after all.
Paging Mama Kate . . .
Janeway's voice goes soft. Understanding. "You're right, Seven. There is a conspiracy here. But I believe it's a conspiracy of one."
This catches Seven short. She has no response.
"I've got a theory of my own. Your modified alcove threw your synaptic patterns into chaos and your mind can't make sense of all the information, so you're generating theory after theory in an attempt to bring order to that chaos."
Seven doesn't like that at all. "Your reasoning is flawed. My alcove is functioning perfectly!"
"What about you?" Janeway asks, compassion in her tone. "You're not a drone anymore. You can't always predict how Borg technology will affect you. You should be in Sickbay, not behind that force field. Let me help you."
"No! I don't believe you!"
"Of course you don't. Anything I say gets woven into your paranoid conspiracies. But you should believe me, Seven, because I've never lied to you. And I'm not lying to you now. You have to put your doubts aside and trust me."
Janeway looks at Seven like her daughter. Looks down at the seated woman, and all that's passed between them. Two years of memories packed into the words that follow.
"Stardate 51030: Seven of Nine is severed from the hive mind. The Captain tells her not to resist--that she'll learn to accept her humanity. Seven complies, and slowly begins to embrace her individuality. Does she regret that decision?"
"Stardate 51652: The Captain encourages Seven to develop her social skills. Seven insists it's a waste of time…but after further requests, she pursues it--and begins to develop her first human friendships. Did Janeway lead her astray?"
"Stardate 52840: The Captain orders Seven to study her parents' journals. Seven claims they're irrelevant, but eventually she reads them--and rediscovers part of her own past."
Janeway's voice is now barely a whisper. "Stardate 52841: For the first time Seven tells the Captain...thank you." Her own voice trembles. Her eyes glisten.
Seven corrects her--softly. "It was Stardate 52842...0600 hours in the mess hall. We had just finished breakfast." This memory, completely nonconspiratorial, changes her mood completely.
"My mistake," Janeway says, smiling with all the affection in her heart. "Stardate Today. Janeway beams aboard the Delta Flyer. She reminds Seven of the bond that's grown between them. Seven lowers the force field and she decides to come home."
Seven trembles. Hesitates. All that data swimming in her head screams theory after theory at her--
"All I'm asking . . . is that you trust me again," Janeway says.
Seven makes her decision. She drops the force field. Janeway slowly steps down into the pilot area. Their faces are mere inches apart as Janeway drops to a knee and locks her eyes on Seven, willing her to look back. Janeway smiles encouragingly.
Then Janeway taps her combadge. "Delta Flyer to Voyager. Two to beam out."
Captain's Log, supplemental: After further testing, we activated the catapult and were hurtled across 30 sectors of space. In less than an hour, we cut three years off our journey. I'm happy to say the Doctor has repaired Seven of Nine's cortical processor and she's returned to duty.
30 sectors. Three years. Approximately 3,000 light years. Not too shabby.
In Cargo Bay Two, Naomi Wildman drops a collection of PADDs on a table. "Guess who assimilated three books and ten reports in two days?" Naomi says proudly.
Seven looks down at her. She seems to revel in the opportunity to say it. "Naomi Wildman."
Naomi seems to revel in the sound of her own name, spoken by Seven of Nine. She beams. "That's correct!"
Naomi notices that Seven is deconstructing the alcove. "Are you taking your new alcove apart?" Yes, Seven says. Why, Naomi asks.
Seven's voice is sad. "My attempt to download Voyager's database failed."
Naomi looks up at her pal. "Maybe you can fix it."
"The alcove functioned within expected parameters. Unfortunately, I did not." Clearly, this bothers her.
But Seven learned something today. She looks at Naomi to share what she learned. "Three books and ten reports is impressive. But quantity is less relevant than quality. You must be able to interpret the data--and enjoy the process." Naomi nods earnestly.
Seven sighs. "Regardless, you require activities other than assimilating books and reports. A game of kadis-kot, for example."
Naomi breaks into a huge smile. "When?"
Seven smiles. "Go to the mess hall and set up the board. I'll join you when I'm finished."
Since Seven and Naomi had bookend scenes, so too must Janeway and Chakotay.
In the captain's quarters, Janeway has her jacket off again, as she sits down to dinner with her first officer--coffee pot in hand.
"I heard the strangest rumor today," Janeway says. "Apparently, the Captain and first officer almost came to blows."
"Mutiny?" Chakotay asks.
"First officer walked the plank." She raises her pot. "So I heard."
"I don't believe a word of it," Chakotay says, taking a sip. Me, neither, Janeway says, taking her seat.
But an uneasy silence falls.
"Seven was malfunctioning," Chakotay says. "We don't have that excuse."
Janeway sighs. "You're right. We've been through too much to stop trusting each other." The two agree, then focus on their coffee.
But Chakotay stops before taking his next drink. "You didn't poison the coffee, did you?"
Janeway shrugs. No more than usual, she says.
Just another day on Starship Fun…
I don't have a lot to say this week.
Seven messing with her implants is like the Doctor messing with his programming. You know something bad will result.
At first, the modifications to her alcove and the processing of all that data seems to bear fruit--Seven finds a bug--literally--that has been plaguing Voyager for months. Nothing major, but Seven's ability to catalog and process the data to reach a meaningful conclusion--well, it seems a bit hard to swallow, but it's hard to argue with results. Then, when Seven pulls in other data and uncovers the alien's secret, her credibility rises still further. Seven's no dummy; going off half-cocked would be "inefficient."
But it still comes down to, who do you trust? Seven was drawing conclusions about events she wasn't around for. And, to even a moderately accomplished Voyager trivia junkie, some of the so-called facts Seven draws are clearly incorrect. Then there's Seven's mannerisms--the pacing, the vocal inflections, the monomania. Seven was acting out of character. Janeway and Chakotay both knew that she was gathering her information by direct download into her Borg noggin--and that the brain, even a Borg brain, has its limits. The Doctor should have been brought in.
He probably would have been, soon enough, even before Seven took off in the Delta Flyer. Janeway and Chakotay eventually got around to analyzing the alcove and informing the Doctor. Once the two got talking, the paranoia couldn't last too long.
Or could it?
Let's face it--if you really wanted to develop a conspiracy theory about Voyager's presence in the Alpha Quadrant, it wouldn't take much.
Stardate 48579. Voyager discovers the Harry Kim wormhole, which reaches into the alpha quadrant--right place, wrong time. The Romulan on the other side, twenty years earlier than Voyager's time line, agrees to take the crew's messages to their loved ones and deliver it to Starfleet in twenty years' time--shortly after Voyager's arrival in the Delta Quadrant. The Romulan, Telek R'Mor, dies four years before the message is scheduled to be delivered. Were the messages sent on schedule? Or were they sent before his death--for Starfleet to open and give the Federation information about the Maquis years before the treaty that led to their formation had even been created?
I could go on. It's fairly easy to find conspiracies everywhere you look. Just ask--
Nah. Better not.
It does seem ironic, though, that this episode aired the week of November 22--the 36th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. If this episode is an indication, Joe Menosky seems to be suggesting that what all those second-gunmen theorists really need is a big ole hug.
There were some cheats here. The use of old clips was kind of nice--but the retrofitting of certain "facts" (this is fiction, after all) to fit Seven's theories did seem a bit of a stretch. I don't mean Seven's rat-a-tat recounting of her analyses. I mean things like Neelix saying that Kes always suspected there was more going on with the Caretaker. Or that Neelix's ship--which at the time was in storage in one of Voyager's shuttle bays, with Neelix and Kes nowhere near it to take those sensor readings--had what he said it had about some of that information.
The discovery of the Cardassian ship, and the tractor beam in the explosion, are other matters. It's entirely plausible that Neelix would have scanned a Cardassian ship, if one had been brought in. And it makes a sort of sense that if Seven was downloading data into herself a bit at a time, she'd draw one conclusion based on partial data, and then draw a completely different one after downloading further data on the same topic. This would explain the different explanations Seven gave to Chakotay and Janeway.
But it doesn't explain why Seven didn't tell Janeway about what she told Chakotay. If she was serious about stopping Chakotay, that would have been vital information--and it would also have resulted in a slightly different scene in the cargo bay. Instead, both Janeway and Chakotay were paranoid, but acting on information that the other didn't have. This gives the impression that Seven is playing the two off each other deliberately, while she keeps the real theories to herself--in time to make her escape. I don't think she was being that logical; rather, she seemed to be slowly but inevitably overwhelmed by the crush of data, as we saw in the scene with Naomi in the corridor.
It's minor stuff, though. The episode doesn't rise or fall based on whether the stardates are exact or if everything happened exactly as stated. Much of this happened five years before. There's a lot about what happened five years ago I couldn't tell you with clinical accuracy.
So--on what DOES the episode rise and/or fall?
I liked that Seven had the idea to do what she did. It's in character for her to think up something like that. And though I wish it were otherwise, it is in character for everyone else on board to ignore the potential dangers until the damage is done. We've seen it time and time again with the doctor, after all.
I liked that the episode built. Seven didn't start out nuts. Her early efforts, when her brain wasn't yet overloaded, proved successful--even darned useful. Thus, by the time the trouble started, there was reason not to dismiss her crackpot theories out of hand. Maybe not enough to completely believe her, but as Chakotay said to Torres, enough to justify looking into it on his own.
The technology of the catapult was impressive. Janeway and Chakotay were both intimately aware of the power of the caretaker. If there was any possibility that what Seven was proposing were true, the dangers were very real. Though the whole Maquis/Starfleet conspiracy thing (along with that previously-unheard-of Jankata Accord--which, if true, would indeed cast a very bad light on some of what Janeway's done the past five years. Even if her only mission is survival and getting her people home).
I liked the bookend scenes. Seven with Naomi--the two work well together. I love the kid; she brings out a side of Seven we don't see often enough in her interaction with other adults. I liked the casual sit-downs between Janeway and Chakotay, and the foreshadowing comment about runaway gossip about pregnancies based on a slight misreading of the data by Tom Paris. Overall, I liked the pacing of the episode. I liked that they met a friendly episode with no dark secrets--only a reasonable concern about protecting his property until he'd had a chance to use it. I like that the crew helped a nice guy get closer to home, and use the same technology to speed their own journey home, without making a big deal of it. That wasn't the focus of the story, nor should it have been.
The story itself didn't do all that much for me. This seems to be the season where Seven Screws Up a lot. It worked well last week, where Seven's mistake was all of one scene in a larger episode (mucking with the memory core, disrupting communications and Chakotay's door). This week, I don't think it really carried the episode. The acting was fine, particularly the touching scene in the Delta Flyer as Janeway talks Seven down from her paranoid high. The writing of individual scenes was often quite moving. Seven and Naomi. Seven and Janeway. Janeway and Chakotay. Seven and Chakotay. Chakotay and Torres. Seven and Tuvok. It was interesting to see how each responded under the prosecutorial eye and bludgeon-wielding brow of the former drone.
It's no "Alice," but I can't say it thrilled me. It's a definite drop from "One Small Step"--but any episode that aired after that couldn't help but suffer in comparison.
What the hey. It's Thanksgiving, and I'm feeling generous, and I didn't dislike it. Let's call it (* * *).
Next Week: Reg Barclay and Deanna Troi reach out and touch Voyager.