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Eyes Open



Scene One
Flight Deck on the Aerowing.

(Kathryn Janeway has just stood up from the pilot's seat and turned to face the woman 6 feet behind her.)

Janeway: (Slowly drawls) Hello.... Seska!

(Janeway sits back down, as Seska walks towards the front of the flight deck. She stops to stand just behind Janeway's left shoulder, and bends down to peer out the front viewscreen at the onrushing sun.)

Seska: You know, Kathryn... if you decrease the magnification and increase the chromatic shielding of the viewscreen... (she turns to look at Janeway) then you won't go blind before you die.

(Feigning boredom at the suggestion, Janeway nevertheless makes the corrections. She can now see Seska without squinting.)

Janeway: (Admirably controlling her curiosity, she simply notes) I see you are back to your "Bajoran" look.

Seska: (Turns to show off her profile) Do you like? I have to admit... this was always my favorite.

Janeway: (Tilting her head up slightly) Can I assume you aren't the "real" Seska... if indeed she ever existed?

Seska: (Straightens up as she dramatically considers the question) Hmmm. The REAL Seska? Now... THAT's an interesting question. (She absentmindly rubs a padd over the back of Janeway's seat.) You've become much more cerebral over the years, Kathryn. (Her eyes twinkle mischeviously) I guess we'd expect such a transformation when you're no longer young enough to "simply punch your way through" to a solution anymore.

Janeway: (Slowly beginning to seethe) Yes...or no?

Seska: (Tries to look embarrassed) To be honest, Kathryn... its yes... AND no.

(Seska turns to lower herself into the jump seat behind and to Janeway's left.)

Janeway: (Kathryn checks the Aerowing's position as she works to quash the rising anger she feels) Explain!

Seska: (Chuckles as she shifts her padd from hand to hand.) Always giving orders... always in control... even when she's suiciding. THAT's the Captain Janeway I've grown to know and love.

Janeway: (Frowns at the console and turns to Seska.) Yes and no?

Seska: (Sighs) Well... "Yes"... I AM the Seska you came to know and love in the Delta Quadrant... but "No"... I'm not "QUITE" the girl Chakotay knew and loved in the Alpha Quadrant. (She stops and smiles lasciviously at Janeway)

(Janeway turns away from Seska, "Bored" with the turn of conversation. She concentrates on the console and the onrushing sun.)

Seska: (Realizing she's losing her audience, hastens to add) THAT Seska, his Maquis lover... really was a Cardassian spy, genetically modified to "look/scan" Bajoran. He just didn't know it. Her physiology, unfortunately, was so strained by the genetic manipulation, I'm afraid she didn't tolerate the side effects of the coherent tetrion beam that pulled Chakotay's ship into the Delta Quadrant. (Seska sits and stares at the padd before looking up to see her "audience" was looking at her again) She died less than 12 hours after her arrival in the DQ.

(Seska was pleased to see Janeway's face betray her astonishment at this news.)

Seska: So... you see, Kathryn. Seska died before you even thought of asking for permission to visit that penal colony in New Zealand. You never actually had the "pleasure" to meet "the real" Seska... (her tone now brightens) Although my performance those first 2 years was impeccable. If you don't believe me... just ask Chakotay or B'Elanna. They certainly never guessed the truth!

Janeway: (Shifts in her seat to get a better look at her opponent) Who ARE you? (Then accusatory) Q!!!???

Seska: (Head bobs up, as she scoffs) Oh puhlease.... what an arrogant species. I can't believe this Picard of yours tolerated them as often as he did. Perhaps I should thank Bajor's prophets that I never had to meet one. (She leans back in her seat and smiles) Although... to be fair. They were fun to play... ONCE in a while.

Janeway: (Twists her seat leftward to face Seska) Play?

Seska: (Smiles as if she was speaking to a child) You're STILL in the dark.. aren't you Kathryn? (She looks at the viewscreen) A strange place for a woman about to suicide into a sun.

Janeway: (Grits her teeth) You're not Seska. You're not the Q.

Seska: Correct! (Nods to the sun) And since we're obviously running out of time... I'm going to give you a hint. I may be easily bored... but I'm definately NOT senile! (Seska smiles)

Janeway: (Sits bolt upright at the clue) COMPUTER! Scan the vessel for Sporocistene lifesigns!

Computer's voice: Scanning.... none detected.

Seska: (Nods approvingly) Half right, Kathryn, half right... but will you figure it out in time? Computer.... time to impact?

Computer's voice: 6 minutes... 21 seconds.

Seska: Well... we still have some time... Do you want to guess the rest... or shall I just give you the answer?

Janeway: (Twists her chair to fully face Seska) You are the Caretaker? The being who brought us here from the Alpha Quadrant... but I have no idea "why"... you are obviously not on your deathbed.

Seska: (Tilts her head selfconsciously) Obviously. Why? I brought Chakotay's ship here because I wanted to see if my reach could exceed my grasp... so to speak. For centuries the races of neighboring systems have amused me... but I quickly lost interst in them, and needed new diversions.

Janeway: (Skeptically) Quickly? Over Centuries?

Seska: (Shrugs) A relative term, Captain. But accurate when describing a race that lives 2 millenia by your reckoning. Anyway, Chakotay's ship was a TREASURE TROVE. Freedom fighters, interspecies hybrids, a serial killer, a Federation spy -- whatever that was, a Cardassian spy disquised as a Bajoran - - whoever they were... I was in Heaven! (Seska twists the padd in her hands as she speaks) ... But, if I found such a treasure on my 1st attempt... what would I find if I tried again? (Seska smiles seductively at Janeway) And that's how I found you. My Scheherezad.

Janeway: (Incredulous) Me? What was so special about me?

Seska: (Spins her chair, in disbelief, away from Janeway toward the stern, then back again) Kathryn! Don't be so modest. Do you have ANY idea how often I've run similar scams over the years? Defenseless victims... evil overlord... a dieing protector... and the ultimate philosophical question... do you save yourself?... or do you save the victim? (Smiles broadly) Or... like some have tried, who were too greedy or too indecisive... do you try for "both"? Hah! Like THAT ever worked when they tried it!

Janeway: (Frowns and turns to look out the view screen) I'm not sure I understand.

Seska: (Leans as far forward as she can to speak into Janeway's ear) Kathryn, In five centuries, you were the only person to simply do as the "protector" requested... to blow up the Array. A completely selfless, altruistc, compassionate, seemingly foolhardy act. AND, to top it off... you're crew didn't mutiny over it and push you out the airlock!

Janeway: (keeps looking forward, away from Seska) Fascinating.

Seska: (Sits up straight) Oh... but it was. Fascinating! Unexpected! For the first time in I don't know how many years... I was intrigued by someone. I wanted..... no...... I needed to know what you were going to do "next".

Janeway: (Keeping eyes on her console's readings) So... you've followed us? For SEVEN years?

Seska: (Slumps back into her seat, and begins swinging her seat again) Followed you? Hmmm, yes.... in a sense. But after observing your & Chakotay's crew interact... I realized what a LOSS Seska was to this little scenario. So... I became her. To be honest... being her was such great fun that afterwards, I often joined the story by becoming one with whomever you interacted with... Sometimes I was a "minor" character... Sometimes, not. (She stopped as if to tantalize) I must say... that between the two of you... you are a much better kisser than Chakotay!

Janeway: (This finally gets a reaction from Janeway as she turns to face Seska, her eyes flashing) Kashyk! I "apologize" for not recognizing you myself. I "guess" the experience just wasn't as memorable for me as it seems to have been for you... Seska! (She swings back to face front)

Seska: (Tilts back her head and laughs) Oh Kathryn! (She taps her chest with the padd) Touche' ! But to be honest... there "was" no Seska within Kashyk for you to recognize. The "evil telepathic hating Devoran Inspector" was pure Kashyk, himself. (she smiles) But I must confess... I couldn't believe it when you outwitted him in the end!

Janeway: (Refusing to look back) So... to whom do I owe my thanks for his "mercy"?

Seska: (Pretends to blow on her nails and shine them on her chest) Well, I hate to brag... but it wasn't Kashyk. Honestly, Kathryn... you were just too much fun to be allowed to languish in a Devoran prison colony... (sighs) Computer? Time to impact?

Computer's voice: Two minutes... 10 seconds.

Seska: Well Kathryn, like they say... "all good things... " eh? Frankly, I don't like this ending which you've chosen. (Seska stands up and faces into the viewscreen) But after watching you for 7 years... I can see the logic in it. Protect your crew. Save your intergrity... if not yourself. Deny your enemy his last shot at glory... "The heroine--- riding alone --- into the sunset... (blinks at the increasingly bright sun) errr... into the sunrise." Yes. As much as I DON'T like it...This IS pure Janeway... (She looks down at Janeway and gives her a half bow) Thank-you Kathryn. For a truely WONDERFUL, albeit much too brief ride.

(Suddenly, a hand reaches from behind Seska and snatches away the padd she's been playing with.)

Male Voice: No... Seska... Thank-YOU!

(The hand then swings the padd against a corner of the console, shattering it into a hundred pieces.)

Seska: (Screams) ....... NO!!!!!!!!!!! (And turns to face this new threat) CHAKOTAY!

Chakotay: (smiles sympathetically) Going somewhere, Seska? (as he hands back the now useless padd)

Seska: You IDIOT! (She throws the padd back at him) You DON'T know what you've done!

Janeway: (Stands up and turns to place Seska between the 2 officers) Oh... I think we do... "Seska". We've just made sure you'll never do this to another ship. We're ending your game, here and now.

(Seska's rage ignites, and she throws herself at Chakotay. He refuses to hit her, and simply blocks her backward so that she falls into the jump seat. She jumps up again, enraged, but before she can reach him, a fist comes flying from the side and connects with her jaw. Seska falls to the deck... out "cold". Janeway it seems, has no taboo against hitting a woman.)

Janeway: (Looks up to her 1st officer, and smirks) I was wondering when you were planning on making your appearance.

Chakotay: (Bends down to pull Seska back out of his way, responds just as playfully) Hey... its called "the element of surprise"... she was in the d@mn jump seat and could keep the stern hatch under observation. I had to wait until she stayed "full front" before I could enter the flight deck unobserved.

Janeway: (Turns to look at the sun which fully encompasses the viewscreen) Computer... Time to impact?

Computer's voice: 33 seconds.

(Chakotay steps up to stand next to Janeway. She gratefully, if wearily leans into him.)

Janeway: (whispers) Oh please... let this work.

Chakotay: (Puts his arms about her, whispers back) It will.

Janeway: (Looks up at him) Oh? How do you know?

Chakotay: (smiles back) Because I have faith in YOU. (And he nods towards the previously empty pilot seat, and the person now occupying it.) I have faith in BOTH of you.

(Kathryn turns with Chakotay to see a mature blond haired woman smiling back at them. Chakotay can see a moon reflecting from the console's surface in front of her. Then ............. a blinding light envelopes the shuttle..................and suddenly............. there is nothing.)


Scene One

(All is gray... shiftless formless masses. Voices... distant....hurried......urgent can be sensed.)

Female voice: (Worried) She's NOT responding! I Need HELP over here!!!

Male voice: (Calmly) Fall back on your training... you know what to do!

(The greyness darkens toward black......)

Female voice: (Becoming frantic) I'm LOSING her!

Male voice: (Barks orders) Keep CALM! Give her 20 ccs of trianolene then hit the cortical stimulator 3 times in succession!... I can't leave Chakotay yet!

(The sound of a hypospray is heard, along with 3 quick electrical buzzes.... and slowly the black and grey receeds... Shapes begin to form... colors begin to return, vision begins to clear... A long haired, blond woman is leaning anxiously over us....)

Kes: (gently) Hi there... don't try to move yet.... Do you know me?

Janeway: (Voice sounding like gravel, forces out) Kesssss......

Kes: (Turns to shout excitedly over her shoulder) Doctor! Doctor! She knows me!

EMH's voice: Mazel tov! Now get her up & start on B'Elanna while I get Tuvok. We don't know how much time we have!

(Kes and another younger Ocampan female help a weak Janeway to sit up and then stand. An alien coccoon like material covers 3/4ths of her nude body, leaving her bare shoulders to shiver in the cold.)

Kes: Easy... easy... Captain. It takes time, after all these years.. to get used to it again.

Janeway: (Clinging to Kes as she tries to ask) What does?

Kes: (Looks at the woman compassionately) Walking.

(Janeway looks over Kes' shoulder to see a coccooned Chakotay being supported by 2 male Ocampans, 10 feet away.)

Janeway: Where are we?

(She tries to walk towards Chakotay, but trips and falls to her knees. As she tries to stairghten up, she comes face to face with a comatose Tom Paris.)

Janeway: NO.........

Kes: (Bends down next to Janeway to pull her away from Tom) CAPTAIN! Listen to me... we're not safe yet... you have to be strong... trust me... I'll explain everything as soon as I can... Do you hear me?

Janeway: (Nods as she stands with Kes' help) Yesss.

Chakotay: (Voice raw from disuse) Kathryn???

EMH: (walks down the aisle between 2 rows of comatose crew, to stand between Janeway & Chakotay) Captain. Commander. You must go with these people. Kes & I have many others to wake up... and not much time. (He turns to the Ocampan attendents) Quickly now... bathe & dress them, and start the nutritional supplements in the order we discussed.

(The strangers nodded and gently took Kathryn and Chakotay from Kes & the EMH... Janeway stopped briefly to look back at the scene behind her. Row after row of comatose men & women, all coccooned with feeding tubes and telemetry probes attached at their midriffs like artificial umbilicals.)

Janeway: (Gutteral growl) ........Seska!

Scene Two
Recovery Room

(Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, Paris, Torres, Kim & Neelix are dressed & drinking at the direction ot the Ocampan attendants)

Torres: (Pushes away the drink the Ocampan tries to offer) P'Tak! ENOUGH! I'm tired of waiting for Kes to find the time to explain what's going on!

(She stands and heads for the door)

Janeway: (Barks) HALT, Lt! You'll do as you've been ordered!

Torres: (Stops & spins to face Janeway) Ordered? Captain... by who, YOU? By rights you should be dead. Now, I find not only can you withstand radiation poisoning that should have killed you... (looks to Tuvok) That generator idea never fooled me!... Not only are you alive... but instead of sending us home... we end up back where we STARTED 7 years ago. (She stalks over to stand in front of Janeway) Care to explain THAT little trick, Captain!?

Paris: (Stands up as if to restrain B'Elanna) B'Elanna... cool it.

Torres: (shakes off his hand) Or WHAT, Tom? Don't you feel like you deserve some answers...

(She looks at Janeway)

Kim: (Pipes up) If he doesn't... I sure do!

Janeway: (Looks to Chakotay & Tuvok... they both nod) Two days ago... or.. at least I think It was 2 days ago... Chakotay & I came to the startling realization that something was amiss on Voyager. We brought our concerns to Tuvok and... due to our belief that we were being monitored... we shared our concerns via a Vulcan Mind Meld.

Chakotay: The mindmeld did 2 things for us. Allow us to converse without being monitored... but more importantly... allow us to sift through many disparate facts to come to a... frankly unlikely conclusion.

Tuvok: The conclusion was... that we were being manipulated by an external force, a "puppet master". Someone who was placing us in various scenarios... presumably for his own amusement, and that in fact it had been going on for quite some time.

Janeway: In the days leading up to this mindmeld conference, many clues were brought to our attention, showing the many inconsistencies we've lived with these last 7 years.... but somehow had simply ignored. We were also given repeated signs that things were not what they seemed.

Neelix: What kind of signs?

Chakotay: Well, I've often used the vision of Earth's moon to tell me when I was in a lucid dream... In the last 10 days, it kept appearing.... and not just while I was alseep, but also when I was awake. Not just that... but I noticed many of my dreams had a common theme,... and often included the vision of a computer padd that was NOT star fleet issue.

Janeway: I happened to see this same computer padd, but not in a dream. The think-tank alien... Kurros... carried it when he paid me a visit 2 days ago.

Tuvok: When the Captain & Commander brought their concerns to me... I concurred with their conclusion that Voyager was being manipulated to a negative purpose. Logically, Kurros was our initial suspect... considering his recent visit. During our meld, I was able to provide the Captain with my own... unusual vision. For several days... whenever I was in deep meditation... Kes would appear. She carried the same computer padd which both Chakotay & The Captain had seen. She insisted I destroy this padd.. and showed me a vision of Voyager entering a transwarp conduit & the Aerowing plunging into a Star. Kes insisted that in order for us to free ourselves... we must destroy the "naje" we were trapped in.

Torres: (Looks up skeptically) The dream before dieing? Are you trying to tell me we are dead?

Janeway: (Steps in) No... but that we've been living in a kind of "naje"... one we NOW know was for the amusement of a being we'd thought was long dead. (She stands to walk about the room) Chakotay & Tuvok & I decided that if our conclusions were right... we had to "kill" this naje... it was our only hope of waking up.

Chakotay: (Also stands up) As sure as we were of our conclusions... we weren't willing to risk the lives of you & the rest of the crew. So... Tuvok stayed aboard Voyager while the Captain & I put our plan into action on the Aerowing.

Paris: (Head snaps up) Tuvok stayed??? Now wait Just a minute!... You were there too! (He looks accusingly from Chakotay to Tuvok)

Tuvok: The Commander is correct. During the last Gamma shift, before launching the Aerowing... I programmed a "Holographic Commander" and used the Doctor's mobile emitter to escort him onto the bridge.

Torres: (Shocked) Excuse me? A Holographic Commander!

Kim: (Mutters) Now I understand how he could be so disspassionate when we... when we went into the transwarp conduit.

Chakotay: (Standing next to Janeway) We didn't know what to expect on the Aerowing, so I insisted on accompanying the Captain on the mission. Given our hypothesis that an entity was behind this "naje"... it seemed appropriate to try and hide my existence until the last moment.

Paris: Well, we're all here... so I assume you were successful?

Chakotay: (Looks at Janeway, and nods) After a fashion...

Janeway: ....but... we're afraid that instead of killing this entity for good... it seems all we've been able to do is stun her. (She looks to each officer carefully) Now... we don't have much time. Each of us must do our best to make Voyager spaceworthy... and we must awaken the rest of our crew. Kes assures me this "entity" WILL regain consciousness... we MUST be ready for her when she does.

Kim: Just who IS this entity, Captain?

Janeway: (Stops & turns to Harry) She's gone by many names over the years, Lt... Kurros, Kellin, Kashyk, even "Caretaker"... but the one she seems to relish the most... is "Seska".

Torres: (Jumps as if slapped) SESKA? You must be kidding!

(EMH enters)

EMH: Unfortunatley, she's not. (He hands Lt Ayala off to the Ocampan attendents) Captain... We need more help. At this rate, I won't be able to wake the whole crew for another 16 hours.

Chakotay: Why not finish waking all those with any sickbay experience? When they "clear", then they can help you to waken others.

Janeway: (Nods) Good point. Tom, Neelix & I will pitch in now... the rest should go to Voyager & begin to bring systems online.

Torres: (Happy to have a Job to do) If we're allowed to put in requests... I could sure use Carey & Vorik ASAP.

EMH: Kes is working on Lt Carey as we speak. Vorik is on my "to do" list... but I can move him up.

Chakotay: (Turns to Tuvok). Tuvok... take Command of the refit for now... I'll stay here to help awaken the crew.. (turns to Janeway) I have the training... and there's no point in me going up there if there's no "crew" to command.

Janeway:(Nods grudgingly) Agreed. (turns to her senior staff) You have your orders... dismissed.

Scene Three
The Array

(Janeway & Chakotay are working side by side on one row of comatose crew. Beyond them, Paris and the EMH... along with 4 other teams of Voyager crew are busy reviving their shipmates. Neelix & Ensign Wildman are seen running down the aisles with more med kits.)

EMH: Very good, Ensign (takes the kits) We're halfway through "Gamma Shift".

(Ocampan attendents are seen assisting the recently awakened, obviously stunned crew to the recovery room.)

(A Combadge Beeps)

Janeway: Janeway here. (She bends over Nozawa and applies a hypospray to his neck)

Torres' voice: CAPTAIN! Warp drive will be on-line within 30 minutes.

Janeway:(Turning on the cortical stimulator) Very good, Lt. How goes the bridge repairs?

Torres' voice: Harry reports 50% of the structural damage has been repaired. We continue to have problems establishing helm control at the conn.

Janeway:(Smiles at Nozawa as he wakes) Keep working on it, Janeway out. Hi there... do you know me???

Nozawa: (Croaks) Captain?

Janeway: (Smiles broadly, for the 14th time today at this miracle) That's right! Here. I want you to go with this woman...(they help him up) We'll explain everything as soon as we can... but right now you need to gain your strength.

(Another Combadge Beeps)

Tuvok's voice: Tuvok to Commander Chakotay.

Chakotay: Chakotay here.

Tuvok: Commander.... Tactical review shows all phaser banks are fully charged. We have a full compliment of 36 photon torpedos, not to mention 3 operational shuttles. Warp drive is expected within 25 minutes, and shields are presently recharging.

Chakotay: (Helps Mortimer Herren to stand) Excellent, Tuvok.

Tuvok's voice: In addition, Commander... I have located Your ship.

Chakotay:(Stops to look up at KJ) Is it.. intact?

Tuvok's voice: It appears so.

Paris: (Pipes up hopefully) Hey! Speaking of long lost loves... I don't suppose you've found the Delta Flyer up there... have you?

Tuvok's voice: Alas, no Mr Paris. The Delta Flyer appears to just be the stuff of our dreams.

Paris: (exagerates) Aww Shucks!

Chakotay: (Grins at Tom) Very good, Tuvok. We have 20% of the crew left to revive. Have the senior staff meet us here in 40 minutes.

Tuvok's voice: Understood. Tuvok out.

EMH: Cutting it a little fine, aren't we, Commander?

Chakotay:(Looks at the rows of empty beds and the rows still full.) 2 dozen to go... 11 of us... I'd bet we'll be done & on our 2nd cup of coffee by the time they transport down here to join us.

Janeway: (wistfully) Geezzzz... don't mention coffee! He won't let us have any for another 8 hours! (She activates the cortical stimulator on Jenkins forehead.) Hello there.... do you know me?

Scene Four
The Array

(The last of the groggy crew have been led away by Voyager's med teams. Tuvok, Kim & Torres have beamed aboard to confer with Janeway, Chakotay, Paris, Neelix, the EMH & Kes. Janeway is leaning wearily against a bulkhead.

Janeway: (Stifles a yawn, as she motions to B'Elanna) Report!

Torres: The warp core is online and at 60% efficiencey. Shields are at 43 % and continue to recharge.

(Janeway nods to Tuvok.)

Tuvok: All weapon systems are online. A preliminary survey of our immediate vicinity shows 153 other starships of various designs & sizes in parking orbits about the Array. On the Array, there are an additional 4372 beings still in stasis. They represent a wide variety of species... 72% of which we can identify as Delta quadrant species Voyager has encountered in our travels these last 7 years.

Torres:(Coughs) Travels? If you can call what we've done "travel". We haven't moved a single light year closer to home since we got here!

Janeway: (Frowns slightly at her loss of control) Lt....

Kim:(Jumps in to distract Janeway from her rebuke) Captain! Sensors are online... Unfortunately, we don't have an Astrometrics lab to enhance them. (He shrugs) But I've been able to access the sensors on several neighboring ships which has greatly expanded our scanning capability. I've identified at least THREE other arrays like this one in this sector of space. We have been able to confirm lifesigns on all three, and multiple ships in parking orbit about each one of them. (He pauses to check his padd) We have also identified not only Commander Chakotay's ship, but Neelix's as well about this Array. An engineering team is presently inspecting Chakotay's ship and preliminary surveys suggest it is spaceworthy.

Janeway: Very good, Mr Kim. (She shakes her head slightly, as if to clear it, and then slides down the bulkhead to sit on the deck crosslegged. She then focuses on Kes) Okay, Young lady... My crew is awake... the ship is being readied... I think the time has come for you to tell us what the He!!'s been going on. B'Elanna isn't the only one chomping at the bit.

(Kes looks down at Janeway, and follows her example. She sits on the deck, directly opposite the Captain. The rest of the senior staff follow suit, forming a circle, while the Ocampans remain standing off in the background.)

Kes: (Takes a deep breath, and smiles a slightly crooked smile) Certainly, Captain. But first... a correction, if I may? I'm not a "young lady" anymore... in fact (she smiles broadly) I have 3 beautiful children (points to the Ocampans standing 10 feet away) who are all older than I was when first I joined your crew. (She turns back to the men & women sitting next to her) And... before I forget.. let me just say how GOOD it is to see you all again. I've missed you so much!

Torres: (Sitting to Kes' left, scoffs) Missed us? Let me get this straight. We've spent the last 7 years in a coma, where we've been living in some sort of fantasy cooked up by an entity we thought was long dead? Harry & I were never experimented upon? Never sent to Ocampa? Were Never trapped in those blasted tunnels? Voyager never fought the Kazon? Never blew up THIS Array? YOU? You! I never actually even MET you until 2 hours ago when you woke me up. So tell me... How the He!! could you miss us when you never even met us before today?

Kes: (Reaches out to place her hand on B'Elanna's knee) B'Elanna... I did meet you 7 years ago in that Ocampan access tunnel where I had to carry you to safety. We had adventures together for 3 glorious years... on alien planets... on the holodeck... in the messhall trying to eat Neelix's "special" of the day.

(Kes turns to look about her circle of friends, and smiles)

Kes: I spent 3 years of my life with you people. Learning to run sickbay (looks to the Doc) , to fly shuttles (looks to Paris) To control my mental abilities (looks to Tuvok), to be a facilitator (looks to Chakotay). I fell in love with you... (looks to Neelix)... all of you (looks to Janeway)... and when I left you, and came to realize the fraud the "Caretaker" was perpetuating upon you... I dedicated my life to getting back here to save you.

(Kes turns back to look at a Mature Ocampan male standing at the front of his team. He walks forward and stands close behind her as she continues her story.)

Kes: My Ocampan friends often argued with me about this... "Obkession" as they called it. They agreed with you, B'Elanna, that what I experienced was no more than a 3 year long dream. An illusion. They tried to tell me that the heroic men & women I'd come to know... and love.... were mere figments of my imagination. (She looks up at Janeway and preens with pride) They LAUGHED at the idea of a starship Captain risking everything to protect a people she'd barely met.

(The man standing behind Kes now knelt down behind her and placed his hand comfortingly upon her shoulder.)

Kes: (Shrugs) But I simply told them... I KNEW the truth. Without you... I would have never honed my telepathic abilities enough to break free of the Caretaker's hold on my mind...... would have never awakened from his dreamworld and found this one. I asked them...

(she turns to look at the man kneeling next to her)

Kes: How could I abandon these good people... (she then turns to B'Elanna) ...people who have touched my heart... even if they had never touched my hand.... (and turns finally to look at Janeway, a tremor escaping through her voice) After all that they've done for me?

(Janeway gazed at this Ocampan with remembered fondness and stetched her hand out to grasp Kes'.)

Janeway: (Smiling) We've missed you too... Kes. Welcome home.

(A brief pause)

Tuvok: (Logically inquires) What can you tell us about this entity? Is he alone?

Kes: (Sitting back, brushing moisture aside) The Caretaker is a singular Sporocistene lifeform. Legend has it he came to Ocampa over 500 years ago & despoiled our world, causing the near extermination of our race. He promised he would restore our environment, but while he did this, he had to put the remainder of our population into stasis.

Chakotay: Legend?

Kes: Unfortunately, Yes. It is not known how or why the fantasy worlds were started. Some speculate he was bored, others that it was always part of his cruel plan... but during our stasis he slowly began to awaken minds in an interlinked "virtual reality".

Chakotay: (Turns to Tuvok) Kind of like a "Unimatrix Zero".

Kes: He led these people to believe they lived underground in a vast city controlled & maintained by his will. They, of course, worshipped him for his "generosity" and his ego grew because of it., But... an unforseen problem arose... The Ocampan's natural telepathic ability. Every year, people possessing this ability evolved to the point that they could crawl to the surface of their subconsciousness & wake themselves from the dream. At first...small enclaves of aware Ocampa gathered on each Array. Eventually they met passing spacetravelers what taught them to use some of the ships left behind by other species.. So ... eventually they ferried themselves to a nearby habitable planet, where they began their new life.

Kim: The Caretaker didn't try to stop them?

Kes: No. We think the escaping Ocampa were no more worrisome than a mosquito buzzing a klingon targ. The Virtual realities he was maintaining simultaneously... there was more than just the Ocampan scenario , quickly became too complex for him to also monitor the occasional escapee. We were mere annoyances, something to be picked up by free Ocampa traveling here to look for new arrivals.

Neelix:(Worried) Is that what happened to you, Kes. Did these people come back and rescue you?

(The Ocampan man at her side dropped back his head and laughed out loud.)

Kes: (Somewhat embarrassed) No... Neelix. When Tuvok had helped me to realize my telepathic abilities... the Caretaker actually DID take notice. I suspect he thought I could discern his presence and might alert the crew. He accelerated my leaving Voyager to prevent me from warning you.

Paris: And here we thought you ascended to a higher plane and pushed us 9500 lightyears away from Borg space.

Kim: She definately ascended to a higher plane... just by waking up!

Kes: In fact... I woke up here, on this Array. I found all the people I had loved were in stasis. I recognized this lab from your descriptions of your inital abduction. I worked to access Voyager's transporters and manged to get myself beamed off the Array. Unfortunately, I couldn't get past the security lockouts on Voyager's shuttles. As luck would have it, though, I found Zahir's ship and was able to beam myself on board. It took me to New Ocampa... and my new life. (She turns to look up at the man still kneeling at her side, love showing in her smile) Captain.... May I present my husband... Yandrin.

Yandrin:(Stands and bows formally) Captain Janeway, Commanders Chakotay & Tuvok, Lt's Torres, Paris, Kim, Mr Neelix. It is indeed a great honor to greet you. Your praises have been sung, and the stories of your deeds have been recited so often in our home these last 4 years... I think my children & I know them as well as Kes. My wife does not exagerate. Her single minded quest for these last 4 years was simply to save you. And in her quest... I found reason to hope my own quest would be realized.

Chakotay: Your quest, Yandrin?

Yandrin:(Inclines his head slightly) To rescue MY people, and to bring them to their native home. Something I'm sure YOU can relate to, Commander.

Janeway: This is enlightening... but confusing at the same time. There's still something you haven't mentioned, Kes.

Kes: Yes Captain?

Janeway: What happened last year... when you... It WAS you?.... when you returned to Voyager?

Kes: (Looks briefly at Yandrin, and then tips her head in embarrassment) Yes, Captain... it was me. What happened? Hubris, Captain. (Sigh) I thought I'd learned enough by last year to re-enter the Caretaker's fantasy world and bring you out. I was wrong.

(Kes trembles with the memory.)

Kes: As soon as I entered, he was able to control me and forced me into a scenario he was sure would kill me. (she smirked) But, you surprised him, again. Instead of killing me when I reapppeared on Voyager that 2nd time... you were able to break his control on my mind and bring me back to my senses.

(She shakes her head saddly.)

Kes: I was so chagrined at how easily it was for him to control me. I nearly lost everything... but I learned from my mistakes. I would never directly challenge him in that reality again. Instead, I would work to enter the minds of the people IN the fantasy. By planting doubt & watching that doubt grow... I would bring about the changes needed to expose his charade. And I started in the least likely place... which he didn't monitor as closely.

Neelix: The Children.

Kes: The children.

Janeway:(Throws up her hands) Okay... I've heard enough. Kes, Yandrin... if it is the will of my people, we will do whatever is in our power to assist the Ocampa & stop this monster... (she looks expectantly around her inner circle)

Chakotay:(Amused) Since when is a starship a democracy, Captain? You could be setting a bad precedent here... (He turns back to Kes) But if vote I must... then I'll vote with Yandrin & Kes.

Torres: (Grumbles) Talk about stacking the deck... both my StarFleet Captain & my Maquis Commander have signed on to this "quest"... do I really have a choice?

Paris: (Bravado showing) Choice? There is NO choice! I want to get back at the guy that put me into a 7 year coma... If a quest comes attached... well... so much the better!

Tuvok: Heartfelt, if in-elegantly put, Mr Paris. Captain... The only logical answer today is the same one we came up with 2 days ago. We must stop him.

Kim: Which is what you guys THOUGHT you did last time.

Neelix: Precisely. In fact... Can we be sure we're even awake now?

Chakotay: Well, I haven't seen a single "moon" since I woke up.

Kim: That's good enough for me. Lets get on with it.

Paris: (Looking out over the rows of comatose aliens stretching out behind them) Speaking of Quests... should we wake up anymore knights in shining armor? Are we sure we can do this alone?

Janeway: (Follows his gaze and stands up to walk over to the aliens still in stasis. She stops next to Maje Culluh) But who is a friend and who is a foe? If the Caretaker was Seska & Kurros... was he also Maje Culluh & Denara Pel?

EMH: (Speaks up) Oh, please... I DANCED with Denara!

Janeway: (Arcs an eyebrow) Believe me, Doctor... I know EXACTLY how you feel..... (Turns to look at Culluh) I really don't think it would be safe to just start waking these people on the eve of battle.

Chakotay: (Steps up next to her) Remember the lesson of the Vaddwair....

Janeway: Exactly. I think we'll leave these Dragons teeth alone.

Kim: But can we take on the Caretaker alone?

Yandrin: (Proudly) We will stand by your side.

Chakotay: Thank-you, Yandrin... but I agree with Lt Kim... Reinforcements wouldn't be a bad idea. (Turns to Janeway) Captain... let me power up my ship... It's not an intrepid class starship... but it still packs a punch or two..

Janeway: (Looks thoughtfully at the sleeping aliens, and then nods) Choose your crew, Chakotay. But I request you leave Tuvok & B'Elanna with me.

Chakotay: Aye, Captain!

Janeway: We don't know how much time we have until the Caretaker reawakens... but its certain that we're running out of whatever time IS left. Return to your ships & prepare for departure. Yandrin?

Yandrin: Captain?

Janeway: Do we know where the Caretaker is, at the moment?

Yandrin: We suspect he's on Ocampa.

Tuvok: Can you keep up with us in your ships?

Yandrin: (Regretfully) No, but if we start now for Ocampa... we can get enough of a head start to be of assistance when you arrive.... We can also reconnoiter for his whereabouts.

Tuvok: Agreed. When will you & Kes leave?

Yandrin: (Looks to Kes with surprise) My fleet can leave immediately, if you command.

Janeway: (Catches the surprise) Kes?

Kes: (Boldly) Yandrin & I have discussed this Captain. I wish to join Voyager for 1 last mission. Yandrin & the children will each be on separate ships... This will increase the probablity that some one of us will survive.

Tuvok: A time-honored precaution.

Janeway: Yandrin. You have your orders. Head for Ocampa & send back as much intelligence as you can find.

(Yandrin kisses Kes Goodbye, and both he and his Ocampan escort exit)

Janeway: Doctor, I'd like you and Kes to come with me. (turns to Chak as she picks up a tricorder) We'll meet the rest of you on Voyager shortly.

(She flips open the tricorder and walks off, with the EMH & Kes trailing in her wake.)

Torres:(Watches Janeway stop to pick up a med kit and hand it to Kes) Do you think she'll find her?

Chakotay: (Shrugs) I don't know. But I'm not betting against her.

Paris: But didn't she just say... the question is "who" should we trust? That we shouldn't JUST wake up people because we know how?

Tuvok: There is no reason to suspect she would not carry the same memories of the last 4 years that we carry. If so... she would be a great asset.

Paris: (Warns) And if she doesn't --- are we just jumping from the frying pan into the fire?

Chakotay: (Turns to look at his crew) Quaint folksayings aside, Tom. She's as much a member of our crew as anyone here. If she can recall that one fact... it will be worth the risk. (He hits his combadge) Voyager... 5 to beam up.

Scene Five

(Business proceeds briskly. Tuvok & Paris are busy on Voyager's bridge, as are B'Elanna & Carey in Engineering, and Chakotay's hastily picked team on the Maquis ship. Janeway , on the other hand... continues to weave her way through row after row of comatose Malon... Pendari.. Vaddwair... Nylarians... until she finally comes to a complete stop..................

....................At the elevated bed of a comatose, but fully Borgified Seven Of Nine.)

Janeway: (Nodding to the Engineering kit in his hand) Doctor.

EMH: (Opens the kit and attaches a generator via her cortical implant behind Seven's left ear .) Overload successful, Captain.

Janeway: (warns) Don't forget her secondary processors.

EMH: (Nods as her readjusts the generator) Got them... She's completely disconnected from the hive mind... Now to just remove her from the Caretaker's virtual reality...

Kes: (Opens her med kit) Beginning resuscitative protocals now... (applies a hypospray to the Borg's neck)

EMH: (Scans her progress with the tricorder) It's not enough... we need at least another 200 micrograms to compensate for her Borg Nanoprobes.... (Kes applies the hypospray. again, while the Doctor attaches the cortical stimulator.) Beginning activation therapy on my mark... Mark!

(Seven flinches slightly with each impulse of the cortical stimulator. Her right eye begins to flutter open... Janeway moves to stand within her field of vision.)

Janeway: (Soothingly) That's it... that's it. Wake up... it's okay... open your eye... (The right eye opens fully and fixates upon Janeway.) Hello there... Welcome back. Do you know me?

Seven: (Nods)

Janeway: Good. Who am I?

Seven: Kathryn Janeway. Captain of the USS VOYAGER, Intrepid class. Registry # 74656.

KJ: (Smiles hopefully and steals a quick glance at the EMH) That's right. Who are you?

Seven: Seven of Nine... Tertiary adjunct to unima..... (Seven pauses as she reconsiders the question) Seven of Nine... Of the Federation Starship USS Voyager... temporarily assigned to Astrometrics.

Janeway: (Smiles broadly as she sees the EMH & Kes both heave sighs of relief) That's EXACTLY right! Now, I know you have questions... but they must wait. We have to board Voyager... follow me.

(Seven creaks as she sits up. Her head slowly turns to scan Janeway, Kes, The EMH, the room and the thousands of aliens in stasis about her. She reaches up her hand to feel the mechanical Borg ocular implant that protruded from her left eye socket.. She tries to swing her feet onto the floor to stand... but instead collapses into the EMH's arms. )

EMH: (As he steadies her, he indicates her ocular implant and arm) Don't worry, Seven... I'll remove them again... we'll have you looking as good as new in no time.

Seven: (Standing with the EMH & Kes' assitance, she turns to Janeway) The Children?

Janeway: (Raises her tricorder & points) They're here, Seven. Still in stasis. Don't worry... we'll come back for them.... I promise. (She taps her combadge and steps up to take the arm the EMH was holding) Voyager... THREE to beam up.

(The three women shimmer in the transporter beam and are gone. The EMH looks at his empty left sleeve and sighs.)

EMH: (Taps his combadge) Voyager... One to transfer to sickbay holobuffers.


Scene One
Voyager Bridge

(Tom is on the floor, under the conn... while Ensign Jenkins is pulling the top off the console again. Tuvok is at tactical.)

Paris: This is STILL not right. What are you reading up there, Jenkins?

Jenkins: All systems "say" they're operational... its just as if there's no navigation computer or engineering on board for us to access.

Paris: (Hits com badge) Paris to Engineering. We're still in the dark up here... I thought you already brought us online?

Torres' voice: (Frustration obvious) We DID! Our readings say you should be accessing all systems now. It must be your console.

Paris:(Gets up to look over Jenkins shoulder) Well, our console says its working just fine... but it's getting zip from you or Navigation.


Paris: (looks up) B'Elanna?


Carey's voice:(With exagerated politeness) Uhhh, Lt Torres has just ... stepped out to survey the jeffries tubes between Engineering & the Bridge, Lt.

Paris: (Looks at Jenkins, who is equally aware of the meaning of this news.) Okayyyy... Paris out. (He turns to Jenkins) Look, you keep working here. I'll work my way back while B'Elanna works her way forward. Call me if you get any bright ideas.

Jenkins: Yes Sir!

Scene Two
Jefferies Tube

(Paris is seen crawling through the Jeffries tube with a tricorder in hand. Elsewhere, we see an angry B'Elanna doing the same. She finds the problem first, and is busy wrestling with it when Paris meets up with her at a four way jeffries tube junction.)

Paris: Fancy meeting you here.

Torres: (Throws him a stare over her shoulder... and returns to her job) Right.

Paris:(Stands over her shoulder) I found 2 gel packs which could stand replacing... I think they were damaged by the effects of the tetrion beam... but they weren't causing our disconnect problem with the helm... Is this the culprit?

Torres:(Pulls out a burnt out power cell from it's connection) I think so... unfortunately, this is the same power cell we've replaced twice already. (Reaches down to her engineering kit to pull out another power cell) I don't see why it keeps burning out.

Paris: (Scans the old cell) This was set 13% over the usual starfleet parameters.

Torres: So... we've always done that.

Paris: No... we've done it since we overhauled the warp core 5 years ago. Remember? When we got the Tellerium from that resistance movement on the Mokra homeworld? After that, we tuned all the power cells to a higher output.... But THIS warpcore hasn't been exposed to Mokra tellerium yet.

Torres: (Growls disgustedly at herself & throws her spanner) EVERY new cell we've put in has been automatically upgraded by habit... and we've blown everyone out! All because of a mindless HABIT!

Paris: (Soothingly) Hey, don't be so hard on yourself, it was an easy mistake to make. (He bends to retrieve the spanner and hand it back to her) Anyone could have fallen into it.

Torres: YOU didn't! (She takes the spanner and tosses it into her kit) Maybe Janeway should put YOU in charge of engineering.

Paris:(Chuckles) No thanks. I can't fly the ship from there.

Torres:(Not amused) Well, you're obviously a better choice than I am.

Paris: (Leans back against the junction wall) What gives, B'Elanna?

Torres: (Turns back to her work) Nothing.

Paris: Right... and I believe that!

(He picks up the new power cell and dials it down to original specs.)

Torres: (Accepts the offered cell and continues to work) Its just... nothing's right, Tom.

Paris:(Watches her work, anticipating each tool and handing it to her.) Like what?

Torres: (Shrugs) I went to my office to get my diagnostic tricorder today... it wasn't there. The office was completely rearranged... just like the previous chief had left it 7 years ago... before he died in the DQ jump.

Paris: Yes?

Torres:(Continues to calibrate the new cell) So... later, when I decided I'd better realign the multiphasic shielding... WHICH I then remembered we NO LONGER HAD... I decided to access my datafile to try to recreate the schematics.... but I didn't have a single file in the Voyager computer. He!!, I didn't even have ACCESS to my nonexistant files until Tuvok set it up for me!

Paris: (Picks up her tools and puts them away) Yeah, the same thing happened to me (chuckles again) Your point?

Torres:(Exasperated, she turns to face him) I'VE never been HERE before, Tom! I don't know THIS ship. (She hefts the burnt out power cell between them) and IT doesn't know me. (She turns away) The Captain made a mistake when she kept me on as chief... SHE followed a "mindless habit" with my assignment.... just like I did with this powercell. Carey would have been a better choice...(laughs derisively) or Seven! (Looks up at Tom) He!!... Where is she going to put Seven when the Doc's done with her? Astrometrics? Hah! WHAT Astrometrics?

Paris: (Slowly closes the diagnostics kit, trying to gauge her ability to listen) Is that all?

Torres: (Looks at him) At lunch... I found myself walking to my quarters... Till I realized they weren't there. Everything from the last 7 years of my life is gone! Not a single physical remembrance... not a single log... nothing remains. Suddenly, all I could think of was that poem they taught us in comparative literature... "My name is Ozymanduia... King of Kings... look on my works ye mighty... and despair.."

Paris: (Closes his eyes in memory) "...Nothing, beside remains... Round the decay of that colossal wreck... boundless and bare... the lone and level sands stretch far away."

Torres:(Sincere) The world I lived in for 7 years was a lie, Tom. Doesn't that mean everything I came to believe in, about myself... was too?

Paris: (Turns his head briefly, then back to look deeply in her eyes. He grasped her hand...) "How can I abandon these people who touched my heart... even if they never actually touched my hand?" When Kes spoke those words... I remember looking at you... and thanking God or the Caretaker, or WHOever it was that was responsible for putting YOU in my life these last 7 years. I don't need a TV in my quarters, or the Delta Flyer on the hanger deck to know YOU made an impact on ME. (He brings her hand to his chest) I don't need a log to remind me how I felt the first time you told me you loved me. (Brings her hand to his cheek) All I need to do is look at you... and everything comes flooding back. Love. Pride. Honor.

Torres: (whispers) Tom.

Paris: B'Elanna. We're NO different from any other crew that had their ship shot out from under them. We've been "given" another ship... it just happens to be one in the "same" class. If you want me to take an environmental suit and go outside to paint an "A" after the 74656 on the hull... I will. But to me that's the ONLY difference. For 7 years, the "fantasy" was that we were "going" home... not how we interacted with each other, not how we felt about each other. Neelix is real. Kes is real. (He reaches up to brush her hair back from her face) and You & I ARE real. What more do you need?

Torres:(sighs as she leans into his hand) I don't know. Maybe just a little confidence that my "so called" expertise is real.

Paris:(Smiles) Well, confidence is something one creates within themselves, it can't be given... But if you need a "sign", I'd just like to remind you what the Captain told Chakotay on the Array.

Torres: (Puzzles) About what?

Paris: She told him he could chose ANYONE on board her ship for his crew... but he had to leave her Tuvok... and You!

(B'Elanna looks up to Tom, and silently puts her arms around his neck as he encircles his about her torso.)

(A Combadge beeps)

Janeway's voice: Janeway to Torres... Please meet me in Engineering.

Torres:(Looks at a chuckling Paris) Acknowledged!

(A combadge beeps)

Jenkins voice: Lt Paris? We have helm control again. Both navigation's computers & engineering are fully intergrated with the conn now.

Paris: (Smiles as he looks at B'Elanna) Thank-you Ensign. I'll be there shortly. (He bends down to kiss B'Elanna, and then sighs) Time to go.

Scene Three
Maquis Bridge

(Kim, Neelix, Chakotay are looking at the console readings.)

Kim: So that's it, Commander. 50% of your torpedos are still available. Vorik's bringing the warp drive on as we speak. Phaser banks & shields will be recharging soon...

Chakotay: Still, we're not much of a backup for Voyager.

Kim:(grim) No sir.

Chakotay: (Taps sensors & surveys the ships parked next to the Array) Neelix? Care to do a little scrounging for me?

Neelix: (straightens up) Your wish is my command, Commander. What do you have in mind?

Chakotay:(Points to the display) I'm picking up 3 ships in the vicinity who have photon torpedos comparable to our own, and.... I Don't believe it! We've got KOVIN's ship here... and it has those isokinetic cannons he tried to sell us 3 years ago. (Turns to Neelix) Take Ayala & Nicoletti and see if you can scavenge both the torpedos & the cannon for our use.

Neelix: (Preens) It'd be a pleasure, sir. And if we find anything ELSE of value?

Chakotay: Mr Neelix... I leave that to your good judgement. Just remember... time is flying by at warp speed!

(Neelix exits)

Chakotay:(Turns to Kim) Mr Kim... May I suggest you study these readings & try to devise a way to allow our launchers to launch their torpedos.

Kim:(Hands flying over the computer) Already on it, Commander!

Chakotay: (Turns to look at his viewscreen showing The Voyager & the Array hanging in space.) We've got to be ready, Harry, to give "Seska" a taste of something she DOESN'T expect. Remember (He looks at Kim solemnly) she not only know's "voyager's" capabilities..... but our own, too.

Scene Four

(EMH & Kes are present. A partially reconstructed Seven is laying on the biobed. Janeway walks in with B'Elanna.)

Janeway: Report.

EMH: Captain, (helps Seven sit up) I've taken off the Borg implants that were starting to cause rejection. Kes has also telepathically deactivated the intracranial implants pressing on her trochlear nerve. Further repairs will have to wait till she acclimates to this initial intervention.

Janeway: Very Good. (Eyes the ex-drone) Seven... how are you feeling?

Seven: Slightly dizzy, but within functional parameters.

Janeway: B'Elanna & I have spent the last half hour trying to recall the specifications for the multiphasic shields you originally adapted for the Flyer.

Torres:(Hands a padd to Seven) The parts we're not sure of are highlighted... including those sections we just couldn't recall at all.

Seven: I can correct your errors.

Janeway:(Smirks at Torres) Good. Since we don't have an Astrometrics.. I'm assigning you to "operations". For now, however, I want you to work with B'Elanna on these shield modifications. When you are done... report to the bridge.

Seven: (looks up, puzzled) What about Lt Kim?

Janeway: Harry is acting as Chakotay's first officer on the Maquis ship. (She turns to leave, and stops) Kes? Care to join me?

(Kes & Janeway exit)

Seven: The Maquis ship?

Torres: (Shrugs) The more the merrier, Seven. I'll see you in engineering.

(Seven exits)

EMH: Oh... Lt? If you wouldn't mind?

Torres: Yes, Doctor?

EMH: Something's wrong with the part of my program that allows me to turn myself on & off. Do you have a minute?

Torres: Well... maybe one... (she goes to the computer to access his program.)

EMH: I realize it's a little thing... but I've quickly rediscovered how boring it is when you can't just leave sickbay for a little diversion on the bridge or in the messhall. This little bit of control, little bit of freedom, will help a lot.

Torres:(Commiserates) No mobile emitter?

EMH: (Agrees) No mobile emitter.

Torres: I'm sorry, Doc... its 29th cent technology was beyond our capability to replicate or we'd have created backups before this... hmmmmm.

EMH: (Hopefully) Hmmmmmm?

Torres: (Looks up to the EMH) Well, maybe I can't duplicate it... but I've studied it enough that maybe we could devise a "24th century" alternative. It would be inferior to what you're used to... but it might get you out of sickbay.

EMH: (Ecstatic) Really? Oh Lt... I could kiss you!

Torres: (Puts up a hand to fend him off) I said MAYBE! That's a BIG maybe, and it will have to wait till we're done with the Caretaker.

EMH: Lt... I could wait years with even the glimmer of hope you've just given me.

Torres: (Finishes tweaking the program) Well, lets hope it doesn't take quite that long. (She then turns to frown at the Doc) is it you still retain your integrated comprehensive matrix, and didn't default to your original programing?

EMH: I have Kes to thank for that. When Tuvok deactivated me in order to use my mobile emitter for the Chakotay holoprogram. , Kes downloaded my program from the Caretakers computer core into The Array's holobuffers. She then sent my improved program to the ship's sickbay holobuffers and "saved" all the changes you'd made to it over the years.

Torres: (Eyebrows arcing) I'm surprised it worked.

EMH: (Proud) Why shouldn't it? As Kes explained it to me... for 7 years the Caretakers "Virtual reality" was like a holodeck diagnostics program running to test my new matrix... The Caretaker's Voyager was a perfect copy of the real one... so the same adjustments you made to my program on his Voyager would succeed here as well.

Torres: (Stands back to regard the EMH) Thank-you Doctor... I needed that.

EMH: (Flustered) Needed what?

Torres: (Smiles) A reminder that what I do sometimes makes a difference.

EMH: (Arcs his eyebrow) Sometimes, Lt? One of us is being modest, and for once its not me... (he smiles as Torres begins to laugh)

Scene Five
Voyager's Bridge

(Neelix & Janeway are with Tuvok at Tactical.)

Janeway: This is an amazing find... Good Work Mr Neelix!

Neelix: Well... I can't take all the credit, Captain. It was Commander Chakotay who actually found it and sent me after it. Luckily the ship was equipped with two cannon and he "was sure" you'd appreciate one.

Janeway:(Turns to Tuvok with a sly smile) I think this is the most thoughtful gift anyone's given me in years.

Tuvok: Indeed. The Commander obviously knows your tastes.

Janeway: Can we incorporate it into our systems, Tuvok?

Tuvok: It will take sometime... fortunately I recall the original intergration schematics for his isokinetic cannon. We'll start implementing it immediately.

Neelix: Mr Kim requests any information you recall about that integration be forwarded on to him. He's busy working on integrating the alien torpedos into our ship at the moment.

Tuvok: It will be sent as soon as I can upload it to Voyager's computers.

Janeway: Neelix, if you'd follow me...?

(Janeway & Neelix exit to her ready room)

Scene Five-a
Janeway's Ready Room

Janeway: Can I get you anything, Neelix? (She walks to the replicator) Coffee... Black.

Neelix: No thank-you, Captain.

Janeway:(She sits on the sofa & indicates he should sit.) Have you found anything else in your travels?

Neelix:(complies) Actually, yes I have. As you know, Seven & the children were not the only Borg on board the Array.

Janeway: Yes... Tuvok told me 77 Borg were among the 4000+ beings still in stasis.

Neelix: (Warming to his subject) Exactly. They are from a Deep space probe that is in orbit of the Array.

Janeway: (Nods) Yes... evidently it was seriously damaged by an ion storm before the Caretaker ran across it.

Neelix: Well.... "seriously" is such a "relative" term, Captain. (His eyes twinkle!)

Janeway:(Eyes return the glint) Oh?

Neelix: After we transported the torpedos & the 2 cannon, I decided to be a little more adventurous & beamed onto the probe. It IS damaged... but it's transwarp coils are all intact. (He smiles broadly)

Janeway: You're kidding!

Neelix: About something THIS important? Never!

Janeway:(Settles deeper into the sofa with glee) Isn't this interesting!

Neelix: Since the coils have no strategic advantage for use in our present fight with the Caretaker... I haven't assigned a retrieval team yet. After all, everyone is so busy elsewhere...

Janeway:(Nods approval) Quite right... quite right...... For now. (She smiles again)

Neelix: (Pleased, smiles back) For now.....

Scene Six

(Kes & the EMH are conferring over a computer screen in his office. Neelix enters)

Neelix: Hello Sweet... uhhh... Kes. Doctor.

EMH: Mr Neelix. To what do we owe this honor?

Neelix: (Keeps staring at Kes) Mr Kim asked me to pick up supplies for our sickbay.

EMH: Certainly... What do you need?

Neelix: (Can barely hear the Doctor) Ahhhh..... everything.....

EMH: (Looks miffed) Everything?

Neelix: (Dreamily) Everything.

EMH: (Looks from Neelix to Kes and finally catches on) Well.... that makes it easy, I guess... Excuse me while I check stores.

(Doctor exits)

Neelix: Hi.

Kes: Hi.

Neelix:(Shrugs a shoulder) Sorry about the... the... "sweeting" thing... Old habits die hard.

Kes: (Smiles) That's okay... it was... "sweet".

Neelix:(Takes a deep breath) Your Husband... He.. he seems... quite ... nice.

Kes: (Reassures) Oh, he is... and patient! I asked him once... "how could he put up with all my.... reminiscences about Voyager". He just invited me to tell him even more! He said he'd decided long ago, if he couldn't "fight" my obsession... then he'd better join it... or risk losing me.

Neelix: You have a handsome family, Kes... do you have grand children yet?

Kes: (Proudly) Why yes! Kathryn had 2 beautiful children last year.

Neelix: (Stunned) Kathryn?? You actually named your daughter after the Captain?

Kes:(Tilts her head as she chuckles quietly) No.... I didn't have to. Remember, I told you my husband said if he couldn't fight my Voyager obsession, he'd better join it? He was the one to name Kathryn. In fact... he named all our children.

Neelix: Really?

Kes: (Tilts her head slightly) He named our first child "Tuvok" --- in honor of the man who enabled me to escape the Caretaker. Our second child he named "Kathryn"--- in honor of the woman who saved me from the Nakista shrine. Our third child... he named "Neelix" --- in honor of the man who not only saved me from the Kazon... but also from the Warlord Tieran.

Neelix: (Jaw drops open) ...I... I...I don't know what to say.

Kes: (Reaches to take his hand) Say you are happy for me...

Neelix: More than you'll ever know.

(EMH Enters)

EMH: I'm sorry to interrupt... but I've had all your supplies beamed to your ship. Mr Neelix... you have a lot of unpacking to do.

Neelix: (Glances at the EMH for the first time today) Thank-you, Doctor. Kes... ? I hope to meet your children... once this is all over.

Kes: (Squeezes his hand once more, before releasing it) And they want to meet you too, Neelix. (She leans forward to give him a peck on the cheek before he leaves)

(Neelix exits)

Scene Seven
Harry's Quarters on Voyager.

(Harry is packing. Door chimes)

Kim: Come!

Paris: Hey... I didn't know you snuck back on board (Pokes head into room before he enters) Taking anything good?

Kim: Just some clothes... a couple of reference padds on tactics & engineering.

Paris: (Peers into the satchel Harry's packing) Just the bare necessities, eh? What? No Clarinet?

Kim: (Laughs) No... remember? I forgot mine at home. It hasn't been replicated yet in "this" reality.

Paris: Still... seems a shame not to have one. Think how easily it would be to torment Chakotay with it on such a "little" ship!

Kim: (groans) Torment??? I thought you liked my playing?

Paris: (waves Kim aside... then holds his thumb & forefinger barely apart) In small... very small quantities.

Kim: (Grabs his pillow & rifles it at Tom's head) Thanks... BUDDY!

Paris: (Sidesteps easily) Hey!... What are friends for?

Kim: Yeah... right! (He stops the rough-housing and sighs) Look... uh... I've got to get going.


Paris: (Picks up pillow & tosses it on the bed) I know...... Look. Take care of yourself... Okay? It's not like I'm going to be around to save your sorry butt when you get in trouble out there!

Kim: (Coughs) Right... like THAT ever happened! YOU were always the one GETTING me into trouble! ..... Well.....

(Door Chimes)

Kim: (Glances away from Tom) Come!

(B'Elanna enters)

Torres: Oh, thank God... you haven't left yet.

Kim: I'm actually on my way out the door.

Torres: Good... look... I've got to get back to engineering... but Tom & I thought you should have this...

(She presents him with a small case.)

Kim: (Looks to Tom & then B'Elanna.. .. takes a deep breath & opens the case quickly. It contains a disassembled clarinet. He exhales thankfully) It's gorgeous!

Torres:(Stands on her tiptoes to kiss Kim goodbye) I expect to hear you play it for us... "StarFleet", when this is all over... that's an ORDER!

Kim: (As she leaves) Anytime, Maquis, anytime.

(B'Elanna exits)

Kim: (stares at the clarinet & then at Tom) You.

Paris: (shrugs) Hey... what else can you get a man who has his own isokinetic cannon? (He then gives Harry a rough hug)

Kim: (Remonstrates) Try not to get demoted while I'm gone... okay?

Paris:(Steps back, with hands still on Harry's shoulders, responds in an Irish brogue) Now... where would the fun be in that?


Scene One
Janeway's Ready Room

(Janeway is at her desk. Tuvok enters)

Tuvok: Captain. Reports from all departments are in. We should be able to leave the Array within the hour. The isokinetic cannon is onboard & operational. Shields & phaser banks are at 100%. The warp core is running at 98% efficiency.

Janeway: (Looks up, amused) 98%? That must be infuriating B'Elanna.

Tuvok: (Dips his head once) Undoubtably, although she is controlling herself much better than when she was on the Array. (Looks at the padd in his hand) Commander Chakotay reports all alien torpedos are stowed & launchers adequately modified. His isokinetic cannon should be online within the hour, and their shields, phaser banks, and warp core are all "within Maquis parameters".

(Janeway just raises an eyebrow at this description.)

Tuvok: His term... not mine.

Janeway: I guess we're as ready as we can be. Commander, although you will be acting as my first officer for this mission, I think you should also remain at tactical. The battle awaiting us at Ocampa will surely test even your most skilled understudy... I'd prefer to keep you at both posts.

Tuvok: A logical conclusion. Mr Paris will continue at Conn?

Janeway: (Nods) Yes, and Seven will replace Harry at ops as planned.

Tuvok: She has returned from her 3rd set of treatments with the Doctor, and is not expected to require a 4th for at least 10-12 hours.

Janeway: Good. Notify the senior staff we will be leaving for Ocampa in 1 hour... and schedule one last joint staff meeting for both ships in 30 minutes.

(Tuvok simply nods, and exits)

Janeway: (Stands up from her desk to walk to her viewport) And what of you, Seska? Have you been asleep all this time...or have you been preparing as well?

Scene Two
Engineering room on the Maquis ship

(Chakotay, Vorik, among others are racing about as vapor/smoke fills the compartment.)

Chakotay:(Shouting over the noise) WHAT DO YOU MEAN, IT WENT DOWN AGAIN!

Vorik: (Shouting as calmly as he can) The Warp Core Is OffLine, SIR! We Are Attempting To REInitialize the Dilithium Chamber Now!

(Noise level drops by half)

(A combadge beeps)

Chakotay: (Still roaring) WHAT?!

Kim's voice: Commander! Tuvok has notified us that Voyager will be leaving dock in 1 hour. A meeting of senior staff is requested in 30 minutes!

Chakotay: (Rolls his eyes at Vorik) 30 MINUTES? Tell Mr Tuvok, if he wants us to leave within the hour, we MAY NOT be able to make that staff meeting!

Kim's voice: (Confused) Sir?

Chakotay: (Growls as he prowls from console to console) Monitor YOUR console, Mr Kim! Warp drive just went offline. Tell Tuvok that Vorik & I may be late for that meeting, but I doubt the Captain will mind as long as we're ready to depart on schedule. Chakotay out! (He turns to Vorik, and incongruously, he laughs) Okay, Ensign... we have a deadline to meet. I hope you like working under pressure as much as I do...

Scene Three
Voyager's Engineering Room

(B'Elanna is working at a console.)

(A combadge beeps)

Janeway's voice: Janeway to Torres.

B'Elanna: (Taps her com badge) Torres here, Captain.

Janeway's voice: Tuvok reports Vorik is having trouble maintaining the maquis' antimatter reaction... can you spare yourself for a quick consult?

B'Elanna: (Motions to Carey to take over for her at her station) I'm on my way, Captain.

Scene Four

(B'Elanna stops to pick up her diagnostic kit & walks swiftly to the transporter room. She has herself beamed directly to the Maquis engineering room where the noise & vapor have again intensified.)

B'Elanna: (Looks about blindly at the confusion and simply ROARS) VORIK! WHAT have you done to MY ENGINES!

Vorik: (Jumping up from under a console shrouded by the vapor) Lt?

B'Elanna: (Climbs down to his console on the lower level) They were working PERFECTLY 7 years ago when I last saw them!

Chakotay: (Coming through the Vapor like an apparition) Maybe "in the Alpha quadrant"... before they were hit by a tetrion beam & pulled 70,000 light years to here.

B'Elanna: (pulls out her tricorder and scans the core) You Know... I'm REALLY getting tired of hearing people blame EVERYTHING on that beam.... Okay. Vorik, you have the reaction pressure set to run too low... This core needs to run at least 57-58,000 kilopascals.

Vorik: (Looks over her shoulder at the tricorder). I hate to dispute you, Lt.... but the specifications on this core clearly state that it should run at 46-47,000 kps maximum.

B'Elanna: (Snaps her tricorder shut & turns to Vorik) I don't care what "the specs say" it SHOULD run at... I'm TELLING you that my years on this core taught me to run it at 57... (she steps over to the console and makes the necessary adjustments. Suddenly the core lights up, noise level drops to normal, and the vapor is quickly vented by the environmental controls.) There.... see?

(Harry Kim enters)

Kim: I don't suppose there are any other tidbits you'd like to share about this ship's idiosyncrasies?

B'Elanna: (Looks fondly about the engine room) None that come to mind right now. It HAS been awhile... afterall.

Vorik: Perhaps we should keep an open comm line to Voyager's engineering in case another such... second opinion is required?

B'Elanna: (Looks at the Vulcan quickly... and then shakes her head) A little ungainly... how about you just call me if the need arises. (She picks up her diagnostic kit, looks about one last time, and then hits her combadge) Voyager... one to beam over.

(Dematerialization occurs)

Scene Five
Voyager's Bridge

(B'Elanna has just walked in from the turbolift. She's still carrying her diagnostic kit. She stops in front of Tuvok at tactical.)

B'Elanna: (Inclines her head) The Captain?

Tuvok: In her ready room.

B'Elanna: (Takes a deep breath... and walks into the ready room.)

Scene Six
Captain's Ready Room

(Janeway is at her desk as B'Elanna enters.)

B'Elanna: (Begins in a hurry) Captain... I have a request...

Janeway: (Looks up with surprise) You're back already? .... What request?

B'Elanna: That you transfer me to Chakotay's ship as chief engineer & you install Carey as chief here.

Janeway: (Her eyes widen and then narrow as she considers this) Why?

B'Elanna: (Comes to stand directly in front of her desk) VORIK is completely out of his element on Chakotay's ship! He's so used to "starfleet protocols" that he doesn't understand that sometimes you have to go Against logic to get things to work!

Janeway: (Looks B'Elanna over carefully, then gets up to pour herself a cup of coffee from the pot on the table) Then, why not transfer Carey there instead of you? He certainly has the experience & flexibility...

B'Elanna: (turns away and starts pacing, frustrated) You're NOT listening to me...

Janeway:(sipping her brew) Oh... but I am. What's wrong, B'Elanna?

B'Elanna:(Stops her pacing to face Janeway) I don't belong here...(she waves her hand "at" Voyager) I don't belong on a "state of the art" star fleet vessel. I belong on that 39 year old excuse for a deathtrap that we held together with spit and determination. Chakotay & that ship NEED me... you don't. You can get along just fine with Carey & Vorik.

Janeway: (Looks at B'Elanna & then into her cup, as she taps the handle with her thumb) Has Chakotay requested you?

B'Elanna: No... but...

Janeway: (still looking in the cup) Has Vorik requested to be relieved?

B'Elanna: (Flustered) No. But...

Janeway: (Looks up at B'Elanna) How long did it take you to correct their warp core problem?

B'Elanna: (Starts to squirm) 30 seconds. That's why...

Janeway: (still calmly) Will they be able to correct this problem themselves if it recurs?

B'Elanna: (Sees where THIS is going) Yes! BUT...

Janeway:(Cuts off B'Elanna with a wave of her hand.) B'Elanna. I appreciate your offer, as I'm sure Chakotay would... but I must refuse.

B'Elanna: (Getting hot) WHY!?

Janeway:(Looking keenly into her chief's eyes) Because his ship IS a 39 year-old deathtrap. A vital, but still secondary player in the battle that is to come. YOU... as It's Chief Engineer, would UNdoubtably give it another few minutes of fight against the Caretaker... (Janeway now walks closer to B'Elanna) But... YOU... as Chief on Voyager... could mean the DIFFERENCE between our WINNING or Losing the Day.

B'Elanna: (Shock showing on her face, has no reply)

Janeway:(Shakes her head slowly) If you need me to spell it out for You, B'Elanna. This ship... and THIS Captain... need you here. Is that understood?

B'Elanna:(Looks at her feet, then out the view screen... and finally at Janeway.) Yes, Captain!

Janeway:(Tries not to smile) Staff meeting in 15 minutes. Dismissed.

(B'Elanna turns crisply & exits)

Scene Seven
Voyager's Conference Room

(Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, Kim, B'Elanna, Vorik, Paris, Seven, & Kes are sitting in. The EMH & Yandrin are both seen on separate monitors.)

Yandrin's voice: We have confirmed Sporocistene lifesigns are present on Ocampa, Captain. We have also confirmed a series of security satellites, & space stations are in orbit of the planet. Our readings are being sent to you as we speak.

Chakotay: Can you tell how many lifesigns are on Ocampa?

Yandrin: Only 1 sporocistene so far... No Ocampan or Kazon have been identified.

Kes: Either all Ocampa are on the Arrays... or he truely does have an underground installation which he can shield from our sensors.

Seven: (Reviewing data from Yandrin's uplink, on the wall screen.) This system of satellites... it's not merely a security grid... These (pointing) here and here are power relay stations.

Kim: Probably used to supply the grid & spacestations in orbit.

Tuvok: The grid is impressive... we will need more time to study it.

Chakotay: But do we have any to spare? (turns back to the screen) Yandrin, any sign from the planet surface that the Caretaker's awake?

Yandrin: No... but then we haven't flown close enough to set off the security alsrms... are you requesting we do that?

Seven: You could simply be tripping an automatic defense system. It wouldn't indicate he was "awake".

Janeway: Agreed. Yandrin. Avoid the Grid. Have your people take up station keeping position at equidistant points about Ocampa. Try to keep both the planet & the nearby Arrays under survellience. We should be joining you ... (checks her padd) in a little more than 2 hours. Janeway out.

(Yandrin's screen goes blank)

Janeway: Suggestions?

Vorik: The power Relay stations are an obvious target.

Paris: Too obvious. I doubt the entire power needs of the grid are dependent upon those 2 stations. One good ion storm and he's defenseless.

Chakotay: Agreed... While we waste our time trying to knock them out... he blindsides us from his ground & space based defenses.

Janeway: Maybe these "relay stations" are transmitting something besides "power"... or maybe...?

Paris: Captain?

Janeway: Something's been missing since we've awakened... I just realized what.

Tuvok: The energy pulses are gone.

Seven: What energy pulses?

Chakotay:(Looks up, surprised) You're right. (Turns to Seven) When we first arrived, the Array was sending Energy pulses TO Ocampa.

Kim: The power relay stations aren't supplying the grid with power from Ocampa... They are supplying Ocampa with Power From the Arrays?

B'Elanna: (Seizes on the idea) He's not sent any such power TO Ocampa since we awoke 8 hours ago...?

Paris: A favorable clue in the "is he/she awake" debate.

Janeway: Perhaps its more than a clue, Tom. Perhaps it's a weapon.

Chakotay: If we can prevent the Array... all the arrays from supplying him with energy in the coming battle... he may be easier to defeat.

Kes: There's a flaw in that reasoning. In our fantasy world, Ocampa had stored enough energy to run for 10 years. Just preventing future energy transfers may not be enough.

Janeway: No... but it's a start. Tuvok... before we break orbit, send a detail to the Array. Tell them to prevent any further energy transfers from being directed to Ocampa. Also, notify Yandrin to send ships to the neighboring Arrays to do the same.

Tuvok: (Tapping orders onto his padd) Done, Captain.

Chakotay:(Looking over Yandrin's data) I think the secondary power storage areas on the planet could be reached by the photon torpedos, once we take out the grid. The grid itself looks like it will be a challenge, even for the isokinetic cannon.

Torres: (Has walked over to the wall screen to page through Yandrin's data) This is strange..... Tuvok, look at this. (Points to screen) I don't think this originally started out as a security grid. It looks more like a telecommunications grid.

Kim: Who does he need to talk to... there's only one.

Paris: Maybe he used it to access the virtual realities he's created for the Ocampa & the rest of us? Perhaps each Array has multiple realities playing out simultaneously, and the information from each reality is being piped back to him via the grid.

Janeway: An interesting insight, Tom. But does he listen to all these realities at once?

Paris: Maybe not... maybe we can use THAT to our advantage too... to help us distract him.

EMH: Distract him?

Paris: By switching all the virtual realities to "send" at the same time... it would be like walking into a dark, quiet room and suddenly having a wall of TV's turning on at once. Each one switched to a different channel.

Kim: Anything to throw him off balance, even momentarily. It's worth study.

Tuvok: The Away teams working on the power relay disruption idea, could also work to access controls on transmitting these virtual realities to Ocampa. On a signal from Voyager... they could flood the Caretaker with sensory data on all comm channels.

Chakotay: It would certainly get his attention, if nothing else.

Kes: If that isn't enough to distract him while we attack the security grid, there are other things we can do.

Kim: Like what?

Kes: (turns to look at Janeway). Like... the Captain... for one.

Seven: Clarify.

Chakotay:(A sly smile spreads) I think I know what she means. (turns to the crew) The Caretaker has spent 7 years essentially playing a game of wits against the crew of Voyager in general... and Captain Janeway specifically. To him... she must embody everything about the game. If we can force a one on one confrontation between the two... it may cause enough of a distraction to allow the rest of us to break through the grid's defenses.

Tuvok: An interesting hypothesis... we should consider it.

Paris: Are you serious? Take it from a veteran of the holodeck. The Caretaker is likely to Kill her immediately when she shows up. The Caretaker knows better than any other adversary we've met in the DQ how LIKELY it is that the Captain will WIN at 1 on 1. If he's smart, he won't take that chance!

Chakotay: But THAT's the attraction, Tom. Because it's so difficult to win... its a Coup to succeed. Tuvok's right. It should be investigated.

Janeway:(stands up) It's time, people. Doctor, secure the stasis pods for the Borg children in sickbay. Tuvok, dispatch your team to this Array. Monitor their progess on studying the controls for transmitting the other virtual realities. Have them forward instructions on same to the Ocampan Away teams at the other Arrays. You'd better leave a shuttle behind... in case they need it to escape this Array quickly.

(Janeway turns to look out the viewscreen behind her chair)

Janeway: It's been 7 years since we first arrived on this spot. It's been nearly 9 hours since Kes first woke me up. I say its time to end this charade... once and for all. (turns to proudly look over her crew) Good luck to us all. Dismissed.

Scene Eight
Voyager's Engineering

(B'Elanna enters, barking orders)

Torres: Carey! Download the data on that security grid from Tuvok's tactical station. We have 2 hours to solve a mystery!

(She pulls up a chair at a side alcove and quickly her fingers begin playing over the computer console. Carey comes running over to join her. As he sits next to her, he moves a small box to the side to get it out of his way.)

Torres: (Barely looking at the box) What's this? The maid didn't come through and tidy up while I was gone?

Carey: (Stops and moves the box next to B'Elanna) What? You haven't opened it yet? Gilman said the Captain stopped by at lunchtime and left it for you. Gilman put it here so you wouldn't miss it.

Torres:(Frowns) Miss it? How could I miss it when I wasn't looking for it?

Carey:(Leans closer, curious) Aren't you going to open it?

Torres: (Looks up at Carey, and then at the Box. Taking a deep breath, she opens it and looks inside. She sees a soft piece of Chamois cloth wrapped around a small object. B'Elanna lets out her breath in a quick gasp.)

Carey: (intrigued, whispers) Aren't you going to unwrap it?

(Lifting the cloth wrapped bundle from the box, B'Elanna can feel the rectangular metal bar hidden within the coccoon)

Torres: No.... I know what it is. (Carefully she unzips her jacket and places the bundle in the small inner pocket, before zipping it closed again) Okay, Carey. Like I said. We have less than 2 hours to pull a rabbit out of our hat... lets not disappoint our Captain!

Scene Nine
Voyager Corridor

(Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok. Kim, & Vorik are walking to the transporter room. As they enter the room, Tuvok walks over to the Transporter technician.)

Tuvok: Ensign. You are relieved.

(Ensign exits)

Tuvok:(takes control of the transporter) Lt Kim. Ensign Vorik. Voyager will be leaving the Array in 10 minutes. I trust you will want to make a final inspection of your ship before departure?

Kim: (Glances from Tuvok to Chakotay with a puzzled frown, until Chakotay nods) Certainly, Commander. (He turns to Janeway and dips his head) Captain.

Janeway: (Stretches out her hand to shake his and Vorik's) Good hunting, Gentlemen.

(Both men step up to the transporter pads & Tuvok beams them to their ship. He then walks down to join Janeway & Chakotay.)

Tuvok: Commander. You have been an able Colleague and leader. It has been fascinating serving with you these last 7 years. Something I hope we will continue to do in the future. (Tuvok turns to Janeway) Captain. I will await you outside.

(Tuvok exits transporter room. They watch as the doors close behind him)

Chakotay: (Moving closer as the doors shut) Now THAT man definately has the makings of a FINE first officer.

(He smiles as Janeway 's "pony tail" nearly clips him when she whips around at this comment. She also smiles)

Chakotay: (Then sighs) Unlike mine... who looks like he can't even take a "hint".

Janeway:(Chuckles) Don't be so hard on Harry. He hasn't had the "advantage" of mindmelding with his commanding officers.

Chakotay: (Looks up to the ceiling in supplication) And Sky spirits willing... HE never will!

(They both laugh)

Chakotay:(Offers his hand) Any last minute instructions, Kathryn?

Janeway:(Takes his hand, and searches his face) No... but I've been thinking... about what you said in the staff meeting.

Chakotay: Oh? (eyebrow arcs) About what?

Janeway:(Flips the pony tail again) About how Seska... The Caretaker, couldn't resist the "challenge" of taking me on... one on one.

Chakotay: Yesss....

Janeway: (Smiles mischeviously) I think I know how we can exploit that weakness in her..... again.

Chakotay: (Smirks) I'm listening.


Scene One
Voyager Bridge

(Janeway is in her seat. Tuvok, Seven, Paris are all that their stations. Kes is sitting in Chakotay's seat.)

Janeway: Kes -- what word do we have from the other Arrays?

Kes: (examining the computer console to her right.) All 3 Ocampan teams have reported in, Captain. The power transfer controls have been fused and the comm systems to the virtual realities have all been accessed.

Janeway: (Nods approvingly) Excellent. Please send my compliments to your children, Kes.

Kes: (Looks up with unabashed pride) Already done, Captain.

Janeway: (Looks to her left) Seven, our ETA to Ocampa?

Seven: We will be within transporter range in 15 minutes, Captain. But we will be within the security grid's weapon's range within 10.

Janeway: Tuvok?

Tuvok: I concur. Suggest we proceed to yellow alert.

Janeway: (Turns back to face the viewscreen and the sight of the onrushing planet.) Do It!

(B'Elanna bursts out of the turbolift as the yellow alert lights flash)

B'Elanna: (Comes around to Janeway's right & hands her a padd) Captain! Look at this, I was right!

Janeway: Lt?

B'Elanna: (Points to the viewscreen) It didn't start out as a security grid. That orbiting installation is at least 600 years old... and it began life as a comm system.

Seven: Why so elaborate?

B'Elanna: (Looks over at Seven) That's what stumped me initially. It isn't for "local" comm traffic... (Turns back to Janeway, quite excited) Captain... its for trans-galactic comm traffic!

Janeway: (Eyes open wide) Excuse me?

B'Elanna: (Sits on the bench to her right) Remember what you told us about Seska's claims on the Aerowing? That her species lives 2000 years? Who better to travel across the galaxy than a race that looks at 70,000 light years the way we might look at 3000? But just because they live that long... doesn't mean they're willing to wait years for subspace messages from home. (She hands a second padd to Janeway) With this comm grid... they can accelerate a comm signal to speeds that are equivalent to "transwarp"!

Kes: Why? Do you think he plans on calling more of his people to our planet, after all this time alone?

B'Elanna: (Shakes her head) I don't think he's calling for re-inforcements. I think maybe he's supposed to use it to order his ride home. Recall the "original" Ocampan legend...

Janeway: (Muses) The Caretaker was to put everyone into stasis & rehabilitate the planet.

B'Elanna: Exactly. Once done, the people were to come out of stasis & repopulate it. But what would have then happened to the Caretaker?

Kes: (Shrugs) We assumed he'd just "go home".

Paris: Maybe that's it. Maybe he has no way to get home on his own. What if his people left him behind to make amends for his "mistake" and this grid is just his "combadge" to be used when he was done?

Seven: Scans of the planet show it has been habitable for at least a century. Perhaps he already used it to call "for his ride"... and it just hasn't arrived yet?

Tuvok: Doubtful.

Seven: Commander?

Tuvok: Captain, I think we can surmise that he's not planning on "going home". To be equitable, perhaps home is no longer there... or can no longer answer his hails. I rather suspect, however, that the real reason he wishes to remain is his enjoyment of the pre-eminent position he holds in this quadrant.

Janeway: He probably also knows he'll be "in trouble" for his extracurricular activites with the Ocampa. Whatever the reason... I agree with Tuvok. He's positioned himself for a long stay.

B'Elanna: (Nods to the screen) Hence the "security" grid.

Janeway: (Throaty growl) Exactly.

Scene Two
Maquis Bridge

(Chakotay, Kim, Neelix, Ayala are present.)

Chakotay: (Speaking to a monitor, Janeway's face can be seen) Understood Captain. Our primary targets will continue to be the power relay stations... we'll...

(A comm signal SCREECHES )


Chakotay: Chakotay here! Message received... WHO are you? Which Array are you transmitting from?!

Male voice: (More controlled) Sorry Sir! This is Neelix...

(Chakotay & Neelix exchange glances)

Chakotay: (Grins) Very good, Neelix. From which Array are you transmitting?

Ocampan Neelix's voice: I am at #2... closest to the planet. ETA on those ships to your position is 37 minutes, present speed.

Chakotay: (Stabs at his console) Captain! Are you receiving this transmission?

Janeway's voice: Yes, Commander. Tuvok has the Vidian ships on sensors.

2nd male voice: RED ALERT!RED ALERT! TWO Devoran Warships are powering up... they are attempting to go to impulse but have not yet suceeded!

Kim: (Exasperated) Kim here... Identify yourself & your position!

2nd male voice: This is Tuvok, Lt. I am on Array #4

Intercut Scene
to Voyager's Bridge

Janeway: (The Ocampan Tuvok is on her view screen) Tuvok! Can you scan the Devoran vessels... who's manning them?

Ocampan Tuvok's voice: Scanning..... Captain, there are NO lifesigns on board either vessel.

Tuvok: Adjust your sensors to scan for holographic signatures. (Janeway casts an inquiring glance over her right shoulder) We know he has advanced holographic technology.

Ocampan Tuvok's Voice: Multiple holographic signatures confirmed, Commander.

Female voice: RED ALERT! RED ALERT! A Hirogen hunting pack has just powered up at Array #3. 3 of the 5 vessels have succesfully gone to Warp 1. ETA to Ocampa is 97 minutes!

Kes: Kathryn... the 2 ships remaining... are they manned by a holographic crew?

Ocampan Kathryn's voice: Confirmed, Mother.

Paris: (Warns) Captain... ETA to the security grid is 3 minutes. Do we continue with the same mission plan?

Janeway: (Stands up determinely) As far as your mission is concerned, Tom... it's unchanged. Get me close enough to beam to wherever that lifeform is. Tuvok? ETA on those Vidians?

Tuvok: 33 minutes, Captain. And 95 for the Hirogen if they stay at warp 1.

Seven: It's safe to assume the Caretaker has awakened.

Paris: (Turns back to his console & chuckles) And they say Tuvok is the master of the understatement.

Janeway: (walks several steps closer to the view screen as if looking for Seska) Mr Tuvok..... BATTLESTATIONS!

(RED ALERT lights flash & Klaxons sound)

Scene Four
Exterior Shot

(Space, as seen from above Ocampa. Voyager, along with the Maquis ship and 11 small Ocampan ships are looping over the security grid protecting Ocampa. Phaser fire is unrelenting at the grid, as are the occasional blooms of photon torpedos striking the orbiting power stations. In turn, phaser fire and photon bursts are being fired by the grid at the attacking ships.)

Scene Five
Voyager's Bridge

Janeway: Load another volley of photon torpedos & FIRE, Tuvok! (She stalks between the conn & her seat) SEVEN! Have you found us a way through that grid YET!

Seven: I believe so, Captain. (She staggers sideways when Voyager is rocked by another blow) Commander Tuvok's last barrage has weakened the grid at the northern magnetic pole. It's actually destabilizing for a microsecond... but its still re-initailizing itself too fast... It should destabilize long enough to transport you, after a few more photon torpedos.

Janeway: (Stands up again and walks over to Tuvok's station) Commander, you have the bridge. Please accomodate operations' request while Kes & I go to the transporter room.

Tuvok: Aye Captain.

(He nods and steps down to the Command seat. Janeway and Kes both exit as Lt Rollins steps into Tuvok's position at tactical.)

Scene Six
Transporter Room #1, Voyager

(Janeway & Kes enter and are greeted by Security. They are each handed a compression phaser rifle. Kes hands her's back.)

Kes: Thank-you... but I won't be needing one.

(Both women step up to the transporter pads as security exits the room)

Janeway: (Turns to Kes) Well... this it it, Kes. After 7 years, it's come down to this one final battle.

(A combadge beeps)

Seven's voice: Magnetic poles have been breached, Captain.

Kes: (Turns to Janeway) We WILL succeed, Captain.

Janeway: (Smiles as she hefts the Compresion phaser rifle off her hip) I concur. Chief... ENERGIZE!

(Dematerialization occurs)

Scene Seven
Caretaker's Base

(Janeway & Kes materialize within the Caretaker's Ocampan Base. Kes takes out a tricorder and scans the area.)

Kes: He's not far... 500 meters in this direction... (she turns as she continues to scan) Controls for the security grid appears to be decentralized... I'm reading them in multiple directions.

Janeway: (Looks over her shoulder at Kes) Transmit your data & follow me.

(Janeway & Kes walk warily down the coorridor in the direction of the Caretaker. They stop to enter a control room. Janeway puts the rifle on her hip as she scans the control panels.)

Janeway: Look at this... (excited) This is what B'Elanna was talking about. We should be able to access the entire system from here... You monitor the Caretaker's movements while I work on this.

Kes: (looking at the tricorder) Captain. I'm detecting Sporocistene life signs on the move... and in this direction.

Janeway: (Doesn't look up, as her fingers continue to fly over the alien console) STALL HER!

(Kes nods and calmly walks several hundred meters down the hallway..... where she eventually meets "Seska" coming out of another control room.)

Seska: Well, well, well, what have we here, ....Kes! (points to the ceiling) I thought I detected your ships at my Arrays and here at the planet. My... risking the entire "fleet" on this one desperate mission.... Tsk Tsk... how EVER will you LIVE with yourself when this is all over? When your fleet, not to mention your family... have all been destroyed?

Kes: (Advances upon Seska, with steel in her voice) Easily, Seska... by destroyiing you first!

(Kes unleashes a psychic blast that slams Seska back against a wall and drops her to her knees.)

Seska: (Laughs as she stands back up) Oh... Kes. You've got to do BETTER than that! (Seska unleashes her own psychic blast which throws Kes back down the hall)

Intercut Scene
Janeway in the first control room

(She can hear the battle reverberating down the hall, but continues to work sending information to Voyager. Finally, she hears Kes' scream of mortal pain. She looks down the hall and then back at the unfinished work at her console. When she hears Seska's cry of triumph, she quickly makes her decision. Grabing the phaser rifle which she'd left propped up next to the console... she silently runs down the coorridor towards the laughing Seska.)

Intercut Scene
Exterior Shot

(Space above Ocampan security grid. The Voyager & Maquis ships' are getting battered but continue to give as good as they get. 8 Ocampan ships, however, are seen withdrawing from the battle.)

Intercut Scene
Caretaker's Base

(Another control room. Kes is lieing crumpled on the floor. Seska is standing over her with obvious great glee. Suddenly a Phaser rifle blast hits her in the back and knocks her to her knees. Janeway walks out of the darkness & leans down to help Kes to her feet. With Kes on her left hip, and the rifle in her right hand, Janeway tries to escape back into the hall . Seska, however, rises & starts to laugh. Again.)

Seska: (Growls) THAT was a foolish mistake, Kathryn. But then you always were the one for sentiment.

(Seska directs a psychic blast at Janeway's right side... knocking the rifle from her grasp and out into the hallway.)

Seska: Have I THANKED you yet for the monumental headache I awoke with today?

(Her next psychic blast hits both Kes & Janeway, causing them to fall. Seska walks up to them and simply sneers in contempt)

Seska: You're LOSING, Kathryn.

(She points to a monitor which now shows the space battle raging above them. Ocampan ships are all withdrawing. The Maquis ship came be seen to be "limping" away badly, as Voyager uses itself as a shield to protect it from further barrages from the grid.)

Seska: (matter of factly) In space... on Ocampa... Admit it. You've LOST! I've WON! Yield... and I will spare your loyal crew.

(Janeway is in a half crouch, breathing heavily as she watches her Voyager get rocked again and again)

Janeway: YIELD to save my crew? Perhaps... but first... what of the Ocampan crews?

Seska: (Spits out her words full of invective) Remember your holy PRIME DIRECTIVE! Star Fleet's general order #1! THEY are NONE of your concern, KATHRYN!

Janeway: (Looks at the monitor & then at Seska) You're right, Seska... They aren't my concern... that is... until YOU made them so.... You of all people should know that! (She hits her combadge) TUVOK! "OVERLOAD"!

Intercut to
Split Screen showing Four Scenes of all Four Arrays

(Starfleet and Ocampan Away teams simultaneously open all the interactive virtual reality conduits at once. The effect is instantaneous as all information from multiple systems flood into the Caretaker's base and into Seska herself. Janeway jumps up to run for her rifle as Seska drops to her knees, hands over her ears in an instinctual reaction to the "noise".)

Seska: (Staggers to stand and screams) NO!!!!

(Sensing her danger, Seska manages one more psychic blast which fuses the rifle before Janeway can reach it. She then drops to her knees again, writhing in pain as she tries to block the transmissions which are now disrupting her telepathic control of the crews manning the Devoran, Hirogen & Vidian ships.. The nearby viewscreen is still visible, and we can see all the Ocampan ships turn as one and converge on the security grid with unbelieved force. The "no longer limping" Maquis ship and Voyager lead the charge. On screen, however, we also see the arrival of the 3 Vidian warships. Seska is struggling to her feet and crosses to the monitor where she inputs commands that cut her connection to 3 of the Arrays. This allows her to concentrate on Janeway & the Vidian attack.

Seeing opportunity in Seska's distraction with the Vidians, Janeway steps up behind Seska. She grabs Seska by the shoulder to spin her about, allowing a right cross, that would make Chakotay proud, connect with her chin)

Janeway: (Anger flaring) THAT was for killing Cavit!

(Seska falls back against the console and rubs her chin carefully, then laughs as she suddenly morphs into the much larger Kashyk who strikes back at Janeway -- dropping her to the ground.)

Kashyk: (Derisively) CAVIT, Kathryn? I'm surprised you even REMEMBER his name!

(Kashyk picks her up by the collar & draws back his fist for another blow, but is felled himself by another telepathic blast... this from a seething Kes, standing in the doorway)

Intercut Scene
Caretaker's Base

(With Tuvok & Seven at another control panel in the Caretaker's base)

Seven: (Monitoring a tricorder as she works) She no longer has the upper hand. He Will kill her!

Tuvok: (calmly) He will Kill us all if we can not decode these control sequences on the security grid. Keep working.

Intercut Scene
Exterior Shot of the space battle

(The Maquis ship is weaving through space with a Vidian ship hot on its tail. Suddenly, coming from a z minus trajectory, The Voyager rises up behind the Vidians and its isokinetic cannon blasts open 3 decks on the Vidian's starboard side.)

Intercut Scene
Voyager's Bridge

(Tom is at the conn.)

Paris: Harry!... I WARNED you about getting into trouble without me....

Intercut Scene
Maquis Bridge

(Harry is at his conn. Kim's hands play over his console while Ayala points out the new threat approaching Voyager's stern.)

Intercut Scene
Exterior Shot

(The Maquis ship loops back & over Voyager to take aim on the 2nd Vidian ship about to get the drop on Voyager.)

Intercut Scene
Maquis Bridge

(Harry's smiling.)

Kim: Thanks for the assist, Voyager... Let us return the favor... FIRE!

(The Maquis cannon staggers the Vidians as Ocampan ships arrive to assist.)

Intercut Scene
Caretaker Base

(Tuvok & Seven are still at the console.)

Seven: I've got my code for the security grid.

Tuvok: And I've sent it to B'Elanna... now go!

(He continues to work as she races down the coorridor with her Compression phaser rifle)

Intercut Scene

(Hall leading to the control room where Janeway & Kes are fighting Kashyk. Seven rounds the corner so fast she doesn't have time to aim her rifle. She sees Kashyk ready to drop a killing blow onto a prostrate Janeway. Using her momentum she throws a flying Tsunkatse kick into the small of his back, knocking him off balance and away from Janeway. She fires her weapon at Kashyk until he falls to the floor. Seven then turns to help both women up and out of the room, back towards Tuvok.)

Janeway: (Struggling to pull herself upright along the hallway) Good timing.

(Seven smiles briefly, until she hears Kashyk laugh behind her. Turning, the 3 women see Kashyk has followed them. Seven raises her weapon again... but stops when she watches Kashyk morph into the largest Hirogen they'd ever seen. The Hirogen quickly lashes out and grabs the rifle from Seven's hands and breaks it in half.)

Seven: (As she, Kes, and Janeway slowly back down the hall, adds wrylyl) Evidently... not good enough!

(The three women finally stop and stand shoulder to shoulder in the 3 meter wide hall as the Hirogen advances toward them. Before he can reach them, however, a compression phaser rifle blast jets out from behind him and he howls in pain. Turning to face this new enemy, he finds Chakotay.)

Chakotay: You NEVER cover your flank, "Seska"... why is that?

(The Hirogen howls in anger as he stands to face Chakotay, only to have another phaser blast come from behind him and Janeway, this time dropping him to his knee. Disgust escaping from him like super heated steam... he turns back to Janeway, and sees Tuvok walking up to join her.)

Tuvok: (Calmly) You haven't answered the Commander's question.

(Both men fire again & again at the armorclad Hirogen. Kes stands at Tuvok's side and supplies her telepathic assaults as well. Janeway & Seven turn back into the recently evacuated control room to access the grid again)

Janeway: (Hitting her combadge) B'Elanna... REPORT!

B'Elanna's voice: Almost there, Captain! The power to the grid's shields is coming down... NOW! Just give me another 2 minutes & the whole security grid will be down too!

Seven: (Speaking loudly over the rifle fire & Hirogen's growls) Tuvok has identified which power stations supply this installation... if they can take them out with the shields down... he will be defenseless without destroying the whole grid.

Janeway: (Hits combadge again) Janeway to Paris & Kim!

Paris: Paris here, Captain!

Janeway: Would you two be so kind as to target the coordinates Seven is transmitting?

Kim: Your wish is our Command, Captain!

(The 2 women watch the monitor as Voyager & the Maquis ship dodge the grids phaser fire while they blast away at the space station with their isokinetic cannons, and hit the ground based power stations with photon torpedos. The impacts of the torpedos were felt at the base seconds later as the ground stations exploded. Once that was done... the holographic Hirogen with its protective armor winked out of existance. Left behind was an alien vaguely familiar to the people of Voyager. Over 2 meters tall, he was a triped with translucent grey skin. He staggered from the aftereffects of the abrupt loss of his power. Chakotay & Tuvok each held their fire as he regained his balance and stood erect. He turned to face Janeway as she exited the control room.)

Alien Caretaker: (Hisses) You fool!!!! You will Pay for this affrontery!

Janeway: (Walks up to face the alien) Oh.... someone's going to pay... but I don't think its going to be us.

(The Caretaker tries to lunge at the woman, but is jerked backward by an incensed Chakotay.)

Chakotay: You're right, "Friend"... I think I do owe you something... (His right fist slams into the Caretaker's jaw, which staggers him. The uppercut that follows, fells him) and I don't like being in ANYONE's debt!

Tuvok: (Taps his combadge) Tuvok to Lt Paris. Please send a security team to this location with a level 10 force field generator.

Paris' voice: Aye, Sir!

(B'Elanna rushes down the coorridor carrying her engineering kit. She stops to look at the strange alien lieing on the floor between Chakotay & Tuvok, then turns to Janeway.)

B'Elanna: Captain (she smiles) I've done it!

Janeway: (Looks up) The rest of the security grid is down?

B'Elanna: (Waves nonconsequentially at the alien) Oh that... obviously... but that's not what I mean.

(Pulling a portable power pack from her kit, she walks back into the nearby control room and places it next to a blank monitor. The 3 women follow and watch as she powers up the console and after a flurry of computer commands, a face appears on the console. It, like the alien caretaker, was vaguely reminiscent of Species 8472.... but without the triple neck or the lack of verbal communcation. B'Elanna steps back and with a flourish, points to the monitor.)

B'Elanna: Captain... may I present to you, Magistrate Cotellen of the Cistene homeworld. (She turns back to the Magistrate) Magistrate... may I present my Captain... Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager.

Janeway: (Voice low, rolls dangerously at B'Elanna) B'Elanna..... I didn't say you should intiate 1st contact....

B'Elanna: (smiles anyway) I wasn't trying to, Captain. I was trying to lock the system down when all of a sudden... he appeared.

(Chakotay & Tuvok enter, after turning the Caretaker over to the security detail that just beamed down from Voyager)

Magistrate Cotellen: Captain Janeway. Do not be alarmed. I assure you, I was quite as surprised at being contacted by your Chief engineer, as she was at contacting me. We are unused to aliens who are advanced enough to access our technology... especially when it's from an installation that has been silent for so long. Quite frankly, we'd assumed it was damaged.

Janeway: (looks about the room at her colleagues) Not damaged, Magistrate... just subverted.

Magistrate Cotellen: (Looks doubtfully at Janeway, as he notes the state of the room behind her) Really, Captain? There certainly seems to be a lot of damage to the room you are standing in.... Do you know if the Caretaker assigned to Ocampa is dead?

Janeway: (Turns to see the form in the hall guarded by 4 security members) Not dead, but definately indisposed. (She turns to face the monitor) Magistrate... are you aware of the illegal activites your Caretaker has engaged in these last several centuries?

Magistrate Cotellen: (sighs) No... I am not. We did receive regular updates on the rehabilitation of Ocampa over the first 275 years... but after that there were only sporadic progress reports supposedly due to power shortages. In fact, because we have had no word from Ocampa in the last 95 years, we diverted one of our deep space probes to Ocampa 60 years ago to investigate. (he pauses) They should be arriving at your destination within the next 10 years.

Janeway: (Raises an eyebrow as she considers this news... and turns to look at Chakotay who has joined her) Ten years. Well. I guess that will have to do... Tell me, magistrate... do you have any suggestions on how best to incarcerate a member of your psychic species for 10 years?


Scene One
Captain's Ready Room

(Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, Kes & Yandrin are sitting/standing around the coffee table. It's 2 days after the battle )

Tuvok: The Caretaker's database is quite extensive, and remarkably intact despite our repeated attacks. It has monitored & recorded all information necessary to run hundreds of virtual realities.

Kes: ( turns to Janeway ) We propose to use this data to re-initialize the interactive realities to allow ourselves to re-enter the Ocampan environment. There we will try to prepare these people for their own "reawakening"

Yandrin: Our news will be shocking, no matter how it's delivered, but we hope to lessen it by introducing the idea in a familiar environment, their present home.

Chakotay: ( Sips from his coffee cup ) Your task will be a difficult one. You have to change their entire mindset.... The Caretaker will no longer be a benign protector of a barren planet, instead he will be a monster who treated them as pets while keeping them from their true home.

Janeway: Well, I can think of no better emmissaries than Kes & Yandrin. When will you start?

Kes: ( Becomes more excited ) As soon as possible, Captain. While we open up their minds to new concepts...fending for oneself, not to mention "living on the surface of Ocampa"... our colleagues will begin to build shelters not just for ourselves but for our new brothers & sisters.

Tuvok: Studies of the four Arrays have suggested only 15, 372 Ocampa remain

Yandrin: ( Tries to sound positive ) A multitude, Mr Tuvok, when you consider the population of New Ocampa, immigrant and native born, never exceeded 3000 in the last 200 years.

Chakotay: How will you decide who to awaken first?

Kes: ( Turns to Chakotay) I actually want to bring the young parents awake first. The older Ocampan will be left in stasis a few more months while we build our infrastructure... both figuratively and culturally. I plan to bring them into the culture within 12 months, so they can use their maturity to ground our civilization. I fear if we bring them in too soon, their fear of the unknown might cause us to stagnate.

Janeway: ( nods) A wise choice. What will you do with Suspiria's Ocampa?

Kes: (Looks to Yandrin and sighs) They will be a special problem.... one that will take more than simple re-education before we bring them into our society.

Yandrin: ( More Bluntly ) It has been suggested that if they can not be reformed, then for the safety of the whole they may need to be settled upon a different continent or even on a different world like New Ocampa itself.

( Janeway sighs at the implications, Ocampans destined to never go home)

Janeway: I do not envy you the decision. So, how can we help?

Yandrin: B'Elanna & Seven have already deciphered the inner workings of the interactive environments & taught our people on its use. Not all of us are as telepathically skilled as Kes. We can't simply access the environments directly. With your permission, we'd like to start using the Caretaker's interactve matrices to initiate the education campaign at the "underground base" immediately.

Janeway: (Frowns slightly) I don't think you Need my permission, Yandrin, but you certainly have my support. Good Luck.

Kes: ( Sincerely) Thank-you, Captain.

(Kes & Yandrin exit)

 Chakotay: Captain, in her study of the Caretaker's computer systems... B'Elanna found some very interesting computer logs.

Janeway: (Leans over to pour herself another cup) Oh? What kind?

Chakotay: It seems that she discovered our own logs... personal & official... which we recorded over the last 7 years. Not only logs, but databases full of the "sensor readings", the astrometric charts collected, lists of first contacts & outcomes... everything ever found in Voyager's computer core.

Janeway: Interesting.... but how can that help us since everything we recorded for 7 years was basically a simulation..

Tuvok: Given the fact that many of the species we encountered "in" that simulation are quite real &still in stasis...we can compare the faux Voyager files downloaded from the Caretaker with files we download from their orbiting ships. By comparing data from our "simulated" encounters with their own historical data , we should be able to make a more informed choice regarding those beings still in stasis, on the Arrays.

Janeway: I'm glad you brought that question up, Tuvok. I've been puzzleing over it myself these last 2 days. Do either of you have any suggestions about what we should do with these "Dragons teeth?"

Chakotay: (Shifts uneasily in his seat) The easy answer would be to "leave them"... but that would also be the coward's way out.

Tuvok:: It would certainly smack of arrogance, considering all the Ocampa went through to wake us.

Janeway: (Shakes her head) Still, how can we be sure that the people we awaken won't turn around & attack our benefactors after we leave?

Chakotay: By putting them back on their ships & using that coherent tetrion beam to send them home before they can discover where they are.

Tuvok: After we download their computer cores we can wipe their memory banks of any information recorded from the moment the beam first brought them here. We could leave a recorded message to explain what has happened to them and assure them that the Caretaker alien has been stopped... but perhaps that would encourage rather than discourage them from returning to seek revenge.

Janeway: (Looks thoughtfully out the viewport) Sounds like a lot of work.

Tuvok: It will be time consuming, and certainly not a job for the Ocampa. They will be consumed with re-awakening their own race, rebuilding their own culture.

Janeway: (Sighs and turns back to her senior staff) Well.... if we do this... then when do we get to go home?

Chakotay: (Looks to Tuvok & then Janeway) I've actually been thinking of that. It's been 7 years and unfortunately our families did NOT learn of our true fate 3 years ago as we'd been lead to believe. I think that misconception should be corrected as soon as possible. If we delay until all the "Dragon's teeth" are awakened & sent home... we could be looking at another 7 - 9 months.

Janeway: Your solution?

Chakotay: We use the Caretaker's tetrion beam to send the Maquis ship and crew, home to the Alpha quadrant. They can alert our families and Starfleet of our "circumstances", and reassure them that we're coming home.

Tuvok: I suggest we include copies of all the Voyager's computer logs & the personal logs B'Elanna has found in the Caretaker's database. They will be valuable to Starfleet in evaluating our "mission" so far.

Janeway: (Smiles) Such as its been. We should also send all current logs, to evaluate our "post" virtual reality existence. (She turns back to Chakotay) So... when do you want to leave, Commander?

Chakotay: (Looks surprised) Me, Captain? I actually wasn't thinking of me. (He turns to look at the Vulcan) I was thinking of Tuvok.

Tuvok: Sir?

Chakotay: (Delicately) Well... we have been here 7 years... Tuvok. I assumed... you'd like to get back home to "your family" as soon as ... possible.

Tuvok: (Eyebrow arcs) I see the "logic" in your offer, Commander. But I have no "current" physiological need to "go home" quite yet. The 7 - 9 month window you postulate for Voyager's return will be adequate. Also, although I have no emotional needs that returning home will satisfy, I recognize that they exist in others and would not wish to deprive any crewman of that opportunity. In fact, Captain, I suggest we offer the 1st spots home to crew with children waiting for them.

Janeway: A compassionate suggestion, Tuvok, and one I will accept. Who will command then, if not you two?

Chakotay: I think Harry should.

Tuvok: Lt Kim?

Chakotay: He did extremely well commanding the Maquis ship in the battle with the Vidians & the Caretaker. He's worked tirelessly these last 2 days to repair battle damage sustained in that fight. The ship itself has already proved to be strong enough to withstand the transport.

Janeway: An interesting proposal, Chakotay... but before we suggest this idea to the rest of the crew... lets make sure that ship is STILL able to withstand the tetrion trip back home. Agreed?

(Both men nod)

Chakotay: Agreed.

Scene Two
Planetside on New Ocampa

(Neelix, Kes, Yandrin, their 3 children, 3 inlaws, and 5 grandchildren are sitting around the large family room that anchors Kes' home. It's 4 days after the battle, and old friends are swapping memories)

Neelix: So there I was... standing next to Tom in the Captain's ready room... dripping with Alfarian Hair Pasta from my head, my shoulders... Talaxian red sauce stains Everywhere!... both of us trying to look Ohhhhhhhh so "nonchalant".... Well. She just walks around us, looking us over like she's deciding whether to buy a used shuttle from a disreputable dealer... and she stops to ask... "Would someone like to explain...?"

(Kes' children are enrapt, Kes is trying not to laugh)

Neelix: "No...." we say. BIG mistake. She's about to send us on an away mission. Together. Alone. For days. Ack! Of course... now we say there IS a problem... But it's too late. "Solve it!" She commands... and then "Dismissed!"

(He leans over to the smaller grandchildren)

Neelix: "That's" Starfleet talk for... "Get out of my office!

(His older audience chuckles as Neelix shakes his head in disbelief)

Neelix: Of course... it was probably the best thing that could have ever happened to Tom & I. It allowed us to not only overcome our differences, but to become good friends.

(He looks to each grandchild)

Neelix: In a way, I guess B'Elanna was right. She told the Captain once, that "getting stuck" in the Delta Quadrant was a blessing because it allowed all of us time to get to know each other.

(Looks to Kes)

Neelix: And I guess I'd have to add... get to know ourselves.

(He smiles fondly at his Lady Love)

Neelix: I don't think I could be sitting here, as proud of the person I've become these last 7 years as I am, without the influence of the men & women I met on Voyager... and on Ocampa.

Kes: (True feeling showing on her face) Thank-you Neelix. I know exactly how you feel. It's so nice to hear someone else has felt the same sentiment I've carried these last 4 years.

Neelix: (Looking at her 3 children & 5 grandchildren) I don't mean to be indelicate... Kes. But I thought the Ocampa could only have one child?

Yandrin: (Throws back his head and laughs heartily) Now, where have I heard THAT one before?

Kes: (Looks sheepish) I know what you mean, Neelix. It's probably one of the first questions out of any new arrival's mouth when they first escape the Caretaker's influence. I think the first words out of MY mouth when I landed here was "Where did all these kids come from!" (She smiles in remembrance) The first time I saw a woman with 4 children... I was sure they'd been cloned!

Yandrin: (steps in to explain to a confused Neelix) The 1 child belief was one perpetuated upon the Ocampa by the Caretaker. The only children actually "born" during the centuries of stasis, were to women who entered stasis already pregnant. The Caretaker developed a technique that allowed the mother's body and thus the fetus to come out of stasis for the duration of the pregnancy. Once delivered, the mother was put back into full stasis and the child's mind was brought into the interactive reality. The child's body, like the pregnant mother's, was allowed to grow in partial stasis till it reached maturity... then it too went into full stasis.

Neelix: (Understanding dawns over his face) He must have done the same thing with Samantha's pregnancy.

Kes: (Nods in agreement) Although the Caretaker was able to create false characters like Seska, and even species like the "8472"... it appears he preferred NOT to do that. Having these false characters disappear from the simulation while he went to "play" elsewhere was too disruptive to the individual environments. The virtual realities were also becoming too complex to try to program the false characters to interact with us while he was gone.

Yandrin: So... to explain why Ocampan women had only 1 child... the Caretaker lead us to believe it was because of biological changes after the environmental disaster. It also explained the enormous number of childless couples that occured.

Neelix: (Nods thoughtfully) It even explains the lack of children, beyond Naomi, on Voyager.

(Looks up to Kes & Yandrin)

Neelix: I must say... Kes, Yandrin, you've done a fine job raising such focused & motivated children under such difficult circumstances. Each and every one of you performed above & beyond any expectations I had in the battle with the Caretaker. I'm proud of you all.

Ocampan Neelix: (smiles gratefully) You have no idea how pleased we are that you think so. Mother has spoken of you and your crew so highly for so long... that we were afraid we couldn't meet the standards of conduct expected of Voyager's crew.

Neelix: (re-assures quickly) Well, I'd say that you've not only reached the standard expected on Voyager... you've exceeded it! I have no doubt that Commander Tuvok & the Captain would agree!

(The Ocampan Kathryn drops her head thoughtfully, while Ocampan Tuvok squares his shoulders and straightens his head before a very unvulcan smile speads over his face. As for Kes' youngest... the Ocampan Neelix... his chest swells so much that she fears he'll burst before he can exhale)

Scene Three
Janeway's Quarters

(Janeway is in her shirt sleeves, reading a book. It's four nights after the battle. The door chimes)

Janeway: (she looks at the grandfather clock and sighs) Enter.

(Seven enters. She is back to her "usual" minimalist Borg appearance, and she's in a yellow trimmed starfleet uniform)

Seven: Captain?

Janeway: Good evening Seven... trouble regenerating?

Seven: No, Captain. The alcoves Dalby & Chapman helped me adapt from the borg probe are operating within expected parameters. Mezoti, Echeb, Rebi & Azan are adapting to them quite well.

Janeway: (Sits up as if she just noticed Seven's new uniform) Hey... I like the new look.

Seven: (distracted, shrugs her shoulders) It was B'Elanna's idea. Tonight at supper, she suggested since we are going back to the Alpha quadrant soon... it was " time" I started dressing like I belonged on Voyager. Commander Chakotay gave me permission to wear the uniform.... you don't mind?

Janeway: (Smiles as she imagines the conversation) Not at all. How did you decide on the color?

Seven: (Seems confused by the memory) That sparked the strangest discussion of all in the messhall. Naomi & Samantha argued it should be "blue" because of my previous posting in Astrometrics. Tom said it should be red because it was obvious I liked to "give commands".

(Janeway tries unsuccessfully to stifle a laugh)

Seven: (Pauses while Janeway regains control) And Harry said it should be yellow since I was now sharing "operations" duties with him.

Janeway: So... Harry won?

Seven: (Squirms slightly) No... Lt Torres "won". I was going to pick "blue", but she insisted on yellow. She said she refused to allow someone with my engineering knowledge out from under her command.

Janeway: (Smiles up at the ex-drone) So... with that great question settled...what can I do for you tonight.

(Seven draws herself up even straighter, if that's possible)

Seven: I wish to apologize for downloading your medical file in the Caretaker's reality. It was wrong.

(Janeway closes the book she was reading)

Janeway: Yes, Seven, it was. But to be fair, I must apologize also... since the file was fraudulent.

Seven: Captain?

(Janeway sets the book aside and motions for Seven to sit down)

Janeway: Tuvok came up with the idea to explain to Kurros why I would be willing to refuse his help and accept death from the gravimetric radiation. He accessed the Doctor's program while the Doctor was deactivated and rewrote the program instructing him to create a file suggesting 6 years of office visits and treatment protocols which ultimately fail.

(Janeway stood up and walked over to place her cup into the replicator for recycling)

Seven: (Intrigued) You were never ill?

Janeway: (Demurs) Never...? Well... not with the Phage. The file was only to be used in case Kurros didn't buy my act.

Seven: (Puzzled, hurt?) Why didn't you tell me?

(Janeway walks back to stand in front of Seven)

Janeway: (Shrugs) At the time -- I couldn't. I never knew if...when... or how.... the "puppetmaster" was monitoring us.... and frankly... I viewed your breach of security as an unexpected gift.

Seven: (Clearly confused) Explain.

(Janeway looks at Seven, and slowly turns to walk over to her viewport before she begins)

Janeway: In all our planning, the one variable I knew I couldn't control was your reaction to my decision to stay behind. I knew the environmental suit & shield generator would not fool you for long.

(She turns back to look at Seven)

Janeway: My greatest fear was that you might try to stop me by unmasking our charade, or even try to join me on the Aerowing. For our plan to work, I had to appear alone... adrift... to draw out whomever was responsible for manipulating us. (She sighs) I seized upon your mistake and used it to my advantage.

(Seven stands up & walks over to stand next to Janeway. She doesn't look at her Captain. She just stares out the viewport.)

Seven: (Voice distant) A logical... tactical decision.

(Janeway turns to look out the viewport herself, which puts her nearly shoulder to shoulder with Seven)

Janeway: (Feels the distance growing between them.) Logical? Perhaps. Still, it broke my heart to see how upset you were. I rationalized that if we had guessed wrong and the Transwarp conduit really did bring everyone back to Earth... then your belief in my Phage infection would assuage any guilt the crew might have felt at leaving me behind.

(Seven stops to consider this.. and Janeway senses a tentative step back towards humanity)

Seven: Perhaps... although it would have made it more difficult for Tuvok to explain why Commander Chakotay remained behind, if that were true.

Janeway: (Smiles, and rolls her eyes) Well... officers who've served with each other for years have been known to go to great lengths for each other... I'm sure the Doctor would have spun a suitably heartfelt story as to why Chakotay stayed in the Delta Quadrant.

(Seven turns to face Janeway)

Seven: In any case... Captain. In the end, Kes proved that you were right all along.

Janeway: (Herself now intrigued) Right? About what, Seven?

Seven: (turns to look back out the viewport) That love, "her love", WAS more powerful than the Borg.... or the Phage...... or Time & Space itself.

(Janeway smiles as she feels the gentle pressure of Seven's shoulder leaning into hers)

Janeway: (sighs) That's the wonder of it... Annika..... Never forget it.

Scene Four
Voyager Mess Hall

(Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, Torres, Paris are at the head of the room in their dress uniforms. Facing them are Lt's Kim, Ayala, Carey, and 25 other members of Voyager's crew now assigned to the Maquis ship. The ceremony about to unfold is being beamed throughout the ship. Its 2 weeks after the Caretaker's battle)

Janeway: (Quite formal, and quite proud) Although there may be some on board who look upon your selection for this "mission" home to be the "greatest luck"... I would not agree. You are about to be placed into a ship and catapaulted 70,000 light years across the quadrant. We do not know if the ship will be safe, if it will arrive intact, if it will arrive where we will it. What we do know... however.... is that for 7 years our families have thought us dead. ----- It's time we deliver them from that... misconception.

Chakotay: (Steps up to stand next to Janeway) Those of you who are Maquis, You have served Voyager with distinction... just as you served our cause in the fight against the Cardassians. In our debriefing of Seven of Nine these last 2 weeks... we have learned that TWO things the Caretaker had revealed about our home were in fact accurate. The Maquis resistance has indeed collapsed... and a new enemy... A race from the Gamma Quadrant called "The Dominion" have joined forces with the Cardassians to make war upon the Federation, and by extension... our home colonies as well. We do not know if this war continues... If it does... then OUR cause, Our People will need us to fight For & not Against the Federation.

(Janeway turns to accept a small box from Tuvok. She opens it and then looks out over the men & women standing at attention before her)

Janeway: I do not know how much pressure a lone Captain in the Delta Quadrant can expect to have on Starfleet headquarters in the Alpha Quadrant.... but in case I have any.... it would be my Honor... to offer each Maquis a field Commission in Starfleet, with all the rights and responsibilites inherent in such a commission. (She looks to Chakotay, who has come to stand before her) ...If you so desire.

Chakotay: (Formally requests) I do.

(Carefully he removes the Maquis rank insignee from his right collar and places it on his uniform over his left upper chest. A place generally reserved for Commendations. Janeway then withdraws 3 full rank pips from Tuvok's case and applies them to his right collar. She smiles briefly when she catches Chakotay's wink before he turns back to the crowd and stands next to Janeway. Lt Ayala, then steps up to stand in front of Commander Chakotay.)

Lt Ayala: (Also formally) As do I.

(Chakotay removes Ayala's Maquis rank and places it over Ayala's left upper chest before he turns to stand before Janeway. She smiles as she places the 2 full rank pips of a Starfleet Lt. on his collar. The procedure is repeated many times that day, till all Maquis --- not just those leaving Voyager --- as B'Elanna's new pips can attest... are similairly commissioned.

Many toasts and good wishes follow, till finally it's time to say goodbye. Lt Kim's crew is escorted to the transporter with the Senior Staff as honor guard. The halls of Voyager are lined by the remaining crew from the Messhall to the transporter.)

Scene Five
Voyager's Transporter Room

(Eventually, all are beamed aboard the Maquis ship... recently renamed "USS Delta Flyer"... except Lt Kim. Before he beams out, he turns to Janeway in the transporter room)

Kim: (Quite calm) Captain. Thank-you for this honor. I promise, I won't disappoint you.

Janeway: (Smiles with great pride) Lt... THAT possibility never even crossed my mind. Give my regards to your parents... (She pulls out a disc and hands it to Harry) and this to my mother. (She then shakes his hand warmly) Good luck... "Captain".

Kim: (Ripples of pride go through him at the sound of the honorary title) Thank-you.

(He turns to look at Chakotay, Tuvok, Seven, B'Elanna, and Tom standing in the room)

Kim: I'll see you all, soon... in the Alpha Quadrant.

Torres: (Softly wishes) Keep a light burning for us... "Starfleet".

Paris: (bravado) Stop by Sandrine's and tell her we'll (Puts his arm around B'Elanna) be visiting soon.

Kim: (Jaw working to keep his face calm) First chance I get.

Janeway: (Eyes moist) Energize.

(Harry dematerializes)

(Everyone leaves the room... except for Tom who stands quietly alone until B'Elanna calls to him from the doorway and puts her hand into his as they walk away from the empty room.)

Scene Six
Voyager's Conference Room

(Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, Paris, Torres, and Seven are present. The EMH is on monitor. It's 8 weeks after the battle.)

Tuvok: (Standing by the wall screen, indicating statistics) The Doctor has successfully revived 32% of the aliens in stasis and we have delivered them home via the tetrion beam.

Chakotay: Unfortunately... those were the "easy" ones. People whose philosophies were benign in our previous interactions & by the evidence we downloaded from their own computers.

Seven: We are continuing to download & review computer logs from the ships parked in orbit. 30 ships have been found, so far, without corresponding owners on the Arrays. It is likely those aliens died in the simulation and their bodies discarded.

Chakotay: (Turns to Janeway) Those ships are being turned over to the Ocampa for their own use, after we've copied their logs and operating schematics.

Tuvok: We are stratifying the remaining aliens using a risk profile based on our personal experience in the simulation and their computer logs. Again , those least dangerous to the Ocampa will be awoken first.

Torres: (Interjects) One question... we're NOT considering waking the BORG... are we?

Janeway: No... What is the difference... wake them from the Caretaker's collective simulation... just to put them back into the Queen's hive mind?

Paris: Perhaps we could disconnect them from the hive mind... like we did with Seven.

Seven: That way carries it's own risk. Do you want 73 confused Borg running about requesting re-assimilation? I appreciate how difficult having "one" was to Voyager.... no... it would be too dangerous.

Tuvok: You should be aware... Captain. The Ocampan ruling council has offered to disconnect 1 borg at a time and absorb them into their culture. Naturally, this would wait until the rest of their society has been revived.

Janeway: (Awe in her voice) Still, Tuvok, their generosity is inspiring.

Paris: Which leaves an Obvious question hanging.... If the Borg don't need their ship anymore...

Torres: (Picks up the baton and runs with it) ...Can we canabilize the Probe for its transwarp coils?

Janeway: (Grins) I'd hate to see good technology go to waste --- wouldn't you, Commander?

Seven: Lt Torres has already been working on the schematics for incorporating the transwarp technology so that we can reuse & not burn out the coils....

Torres: And Seven has devised a way for us to block the Probe's Central plexus so the details of our little theft doesn't alert the hive mind.

Chakotay: (Chuckles at this mutual admiration society) It looks like our ride home will be a lot smoother than our ride here.

Tuvok: Which is preferable, since all the information we received from the Cistene homeworld suggests the tetrion beam becomes more unstable when used at great distances especially on ships with larger warp cores.

Paris: No wonder they don't use it themselves for transport... they could cut their travel times by a third.

Torres: (Respect showing in her voice) Considering it would "only" cut their travel time by a "third"... their present velocities are QUITE impressive! I wish I could be here to examine their engines when they arrive.

Chakotay: (Smiles encouragingly) Who knows, Lt? Maybe Starfleet will send you back here in 10 years to do just that!

Janeway: (Draws the room onto the next subject) On to other business --- Is our prisoner behaving himself?

Tuvok: Yes. The forcefield generated by the orbiting security grid is quite effective. He continues to have his twice weekly counseling sessions from his homeworld via the comm grid... As yet, I've detected no improvement in his attitude, but then it's only been 8 weeks.

Janeway: (Bristles slightly) I don't care if his attitude EVER improves... as long as he's secure behind that forcefield for the next 10 years!

Scene Seven
Caretaker's Cell

(Caretaker's cell, on an Orbiting space station above Ocampa. Four months after the battle.)

(Chakotay enters)

Caretaker: (Feigns surprise) Well well well... not my "usual jailer" this week. ALL HAIL CHAKOTAY!... To what do I owe this honor?

Chakotay: (Face a mask) You know as well as I.... time for your routine weekly check. Tuvok is tied up.

Caretaker: Ah... yessss. You're here to see if I'm "behaving myself".

Chakotay: More like I'm here to make sure the forcefield is behaving itself.

(Chakotay turns to leave, agitating the Caretaker)

Caretaker: You don't care how I behave? Why Commander! That's not the impression you gave me over these last 7 years.... Stay.... let's talk over old times... shall we?

Chakotay: (Against his better judgement, he stops & turns) Talk? About what?

Caretaker: (Gets up to pace next to the forcefield separating them) Oh... I don't know... (Stops to count on his fingers) How about... Seska.... Riley...Kellin...Valerie...... Janeway....?

Chakotay: (Remonstrates with himself) There's NOTHING to say. (He turns to leave again)

Caretaker: (Rushes up to the very edge of the forcefield) WELL! That's not MY fault... I GAVE you plenty of opportunities! Well... with 4 of them, anyway. How was I to know you were hung up on the Captain?

Chakotay: You WERE the telepath. You were the one downloading all our memories into your computer core!

Caretaker: (Shrugs and walks away to pace again) Yes... Yes... and you & Tom have all the parameters on your holoadventures downloaded into YOUR computer system... does that mean you stop and peak at the answer before you fight the Orions in your "Birth of the Federation" Program? Where is the FUN in that?

Chakotay: I have to go.

Caretaker: (Raises his voice as Chakotay tries to leave) Tell me, Commander. What's REALLY the difference? I played in a virtual reality... you play on the holodeck?

Chakotay: (Stops at the door to the cell) The holodeck characters aren't alive.

Caretaker: Your Doctor would disagree.

Chakotay: (Turns back to face the alien) No... he wouldn't. Even if HIS holographic matrix is complex enough that sentience can be argued in his case... it can't be on the holodeck in general.

(He walks 2 steps back towards the alien to make his point)

Chakotay: If you were so lonely at your Ocampan post... you should have "stuck" with Your holographic entertainments. But you didn't... & now you are paying the price for your arrogance.

(He turns to leave again)

Caretaker: (Whines) The holograms were BORING. After the first couple hundred years... I always KNEW what they'd do in a situation. What they'd say, how they'd react... He!! I'd programmed them myself, afterall! That's when I started to turn to the Ocampa... to add first one and then another to the program. Just for a little variety... a little surprise.... (Sighs) But after awhile... even they became "bland". Their hero worship no longer excited me.

Chakotay: Familiarity breeds contempt?

Caretaker: (Stops pacing and shrugs) Perhaps... And of course... you can't "just" reprogram a live person like you could a holoprogram. I ... (apologetic) tried to control them too much. By limiting the Ocampa to the underground scenario I bred a race too mild for entertainment. So... I started adding the odd passing alien ship & crew to the scenarios, just to mix things up a bit. And I branched out to other scenarios, like adding the various Kazon races to the planet surface and in the sector. Slowly, other species were incorporated from throughout the quadrant... Still..... no matter what I did... what I added... it all seemed so.... hollow. So meaningless... until...

Chakotay: (Can't help but get caught up in the Caretaker's tale) Until?

Caretaker: (Turns with glee, at the effect he's having on his audience) Until I found "her".

(Chakotay turns away, disgusted at himself for falling into his trap)

Caretaker: Oh... don't look so SHOCKED... Commander! After that little sojourn I arranged for the two of you on "New Earth"... I know you feel the same way I do... (He leers at Chakotay) Why... the STORIES I could tell you...

Chakotay: (Looks disgusted at the Caretaker) I'm leaving now. Tuvok will be back next week.

Caretaker: (Runs up to the forcefield & gets shocked) Oh CHAKOTAY! Ouch! ... Don't Go!.... I'm just getting started!

(The doors close on the Caretaker's cell)

Caretaker: (Continues to yell) Chakotay? CHAKOTAY?!!! Are you there? Is ANYBODY there??????

Scene Eight
Janeway's Ready Room

(Music by Mahler is playing in the background. Janeway is at her desk. It's 7 months since the battle.)

(Door chimes)

Janeway: (Eyes intent on her computer screen) Enter.

(Kashyk & Tuvok enter)

Kashyk: (Voice loud and confident) Good Morning, Captain.

Janeway: (Looks up casually) Hello, Inspector. I'm glad you could join us.

Kashyk: (Lifts up his hands to show the manacles on his wrists, as he looks to Tuvok) Did I have a choice?

Tuvok: No... You did not.

(Tuvok then removes the manacles and activates a containment forcefield about Kashyk before he leaves the room.)

Tuvok: Then again... you "haven't" had a choice for the last 2 years. You just didn't know it.

(Tuvok exits)

 Janeway: (Leans back in her chair) I'm curious, Kashyk. You've been briefed as have all the other Commanding officers of ships we're returning home, on what the Caretaker did & How he was eventually defeated. How does it feel to know you owe your LIFE to a telepath?

Kashyk: (Eyebrow arcs as he leans in towards Janeway) In a word... Captain? Surreal!

Janeway: (Stands up and walks over to Kashyk) I don't expect you to overcome years of cultural indoctrination against telepaths in one day. But I do hope you remember "that word" and the DEBT you owe to Kes the next time you pull a telepathic child from her hiding place and send her off to a concentration camp.

Kashyk: (Shrugs) Do you want me to lie, Captain... to tell you my "Eyes are now open" and that the future will be different? Your "Caretaker" was telepathic also, wasn't he? You "know" HE proves OUR point..... so...

(He moves suggestively towards Janeway, till the forcefield checks him)

Kashyk: .... is "that" the only reason you brought me up here?

Janeway: (Narrows her gaze) Mostly... and to offer to include in your Computer logs, the Caretaker's testimony that it was "he" who allowed me & my crew to "escape" from Devoran justice in the simulation.

(She turns back to sit behind her desk again)

Janeway: Quite frankly... I don't know which version would be "more" unpalatable to your superiors... that "you" let us go... or that the Caretaker controlled your mind and let us go.

Kashyk: (Bows slightly) I appreciate the offer... Captain. But undoubtably they would view the truth negatively. I'd prefer to take my chances with them thinking it was "sentiment" alone that allowed you to slip through my grasp....


Kashyk: Captain... if I may ask one question... professionally speaking, of course. When did you first suspect me?

Janeway: (Raises an eyebrow) There was never a moment I DIDN'T suspect you, Inspector. It was only my "doubt" that perhaps I was TOO unforgiving that allowed me to even consider that your offer of help "might be" genuine. Had you actually accepted my offer to join us... I would have simply been stunned.

Kashyk: (Pulls himself to attention) Oh... but it would have been "fun"... wouldn't it?

Janeway: (Picks up a padd to resume her work) Perhaps... until your fundamentally fascist personality broke through at the end of your first day on board.

(She hits her combadge)

Janeway: Janeway to Tuvok.... Inspector Kashyk is ready to return to his ship.

(Kashyk merely inclines his head towards Janeway before he turns to see Tuvok enter the room.)

Scene Nine
Voyager's Sickbay

(It's empty. It's now 7 1/2 months since the battle. Kes enters)

Kes: (Looks around briefly) Computer... Please activate the Emergency medical hologram.

EMH: (Appears) Please state the nature... Kes! It's good to see you!

Kes: (Hugs the EMH apologetically) I'm sorry I haven't been able to get here as often as usual this past week. It's been quite hectic on Ocampa.

EMH: (Actually looks contrite) I know... and I would never have dreamed of intruding on you... it's just...

(The Doctor sighs, as his shoulders droop)

Kes: (Concerned, she sits its next to the EMH as he dejectedly sits on his desk) Doctor! What's wrong?

EMH: (Tries to minimize) Nothing. No... its just... In Two days, Kes. If all goes well, we'll be back in the alpha quadrant.... I'll be meeting, for the First time... mind you! I'll be meeting Starfleet colleagues who will judge me and my work on this ship. I... I don't want them to see me as merely another database.

Kes: (Leans into the EMH) I doubt there's ANY danger of that, Doctor. Your work has been exemplary on board, and your development as an individual rivals any on this ship.

EMH: That's what I'm getting at, Kes. How can I expect anyone else to accept me as "an individual" without the simplest of things... a "name"?

Kes: (Sighs with her old friend over this old problem) You never decided on one?

EMH: (Looks at her and just shakes his head) The Captain says I'm like a child in a candy store. I'm faced with so many choices... that I can't pick "just one"

Kes: (Nods as she considers the problem anew) Doctor... didn't you once tell me that many cultures took their occupation as their surname? Or their location... or some other distinguishing characteristic?

EMH: (Warily) Yes... but if you are suggesting "Dr. Doctor"... I don't think so.

Kes: (Giggles at the thought) No, that's not what I mean. What is your "official" designation... on board Voyager?

EMH: (Rolls his eyes) I am an "Emergency Medical Hologram.." from the "Mark One series"

Kes: Well... "Mark" is a perfectly acceptable human name....

EMH: (Considers it, then shakes his head) Yess... but "Mark" was also the name of an Ensign that died in Voyager's first year in the Delta Quadrant... it would be too morbid.

Kes: (Not to be deterred) What about "Marcus"?

EMH: (He stops to consider, but then asks hopefully) Marcus...? Marcus "what"?

Kes: Well... your main distinguishing characteristic on Voyager has always been the fact that you are a hologram.

EMH: (Looks at Kes, appalled) "Doctor Hologram"?.... I think I like "Dr Doctor" better!

Kes: (Chuckles at his pun) No... NOT "Dr Hologram" But what about "Dr Graham".... Again... a common earth name.

EMH: (Practices the name) Dr. Graham....... (he smiles)

Kes: Dr Marcus Graham.......... (She smiles)

EMH: Doctor Marcus Graham...... (He turns to her gratefully) I like it.

Scene Ten
Planetside on Ocampa

(Janeway is walking alone through waist high green grasses which are rippling in the wind, like waves upon a sea. The bright blue sky is dotted with huge white cumulus clouds racing across the horizon. She turns to feel the sun on her face, and sees a wide blue river coursing through the prairie to feed a large blue lake to the south. It's 7 and 1/2months after the battle. )

(A combadge beeps)

Janeway: (sighs as she hits her badge) Janeway here!

Kes' voice: Captain Janeway... may I join you ?

Janeway: (Smiles at This interruption) Certainly, Kes... its your planet, afterall!

(A transporter beam shimmers in front of her)

Kes: (Stops to take in a cleansing breath) I love the smell of Ocampa! It's completely different from "New Ocampa"... and I thought "that" was light years ahead of the ship's air.

Janeway: (Breathes in deeply, herself) I agree... and now you and you people will have it to enjoy everyday.

Kes: (Quietly) Thanks to you.

Janeway: (Throws back her head and laughs) Me...? Hah! Thanks to ALL of us!

Kes: (Looks at Janeway with sadness, and then looks quickly away) Today is the day I know you have been working for... longing for... for nearly 8 years. And at the same time....its the one I've dreaded for the last 8 months.

(Janeway steps up to stand next to Kes, while they survey the lake. She nods in agreement)

Janeway: (Quietly) The day we say "goodbye".

(Kes turns her face to see Janeway's, and finds the wind is drying the tears welling up in the Captain's eyes)

Kes: You asked me once... twice..... "not" to leave. I know now, how you felt.

Janeway: (Gazes honestly into Kes' eyes) It's never easy to say goodbye to someone you've come to love like family. I wish... (A catch can be heard in her voice) I wish I could ease the pain by saying... "I'll be back"....

Kes: (Looks into Kathryn's heart, and tries to give her strength) But we both know... Kathryn, that even if you DO make it back... I may not be here. (She smiles ruefully) Afterall... I'll celebrate my ninth birthday in 4 months.... (She sighs and looks back across the lake at the whitecaps gracing it)


Janeway: I remember the First time I ever saw you. Not quite One year old... standing in that Kazon Camp listening to Jabin denigrate your race.... You looked... "so serene".... and I remember thinking..."How little" this Kazon knew of this woman he so blithely dismissed.

Kes: (Smiles through her tears, at this "ancient" memory) I remember that day. Remember thinking ... "how odd". In the month I'd been held prisoner there, I never saw a woman dispute a Kazon male, and NEVER saw ANYONE dispute Jabin.... And then you appeared... like magic. A woman, leading all these men, confronting Jabin in his camp.... (She turns confidentially towards Janeway) I have to admit... I always loved it whenever you "took charge" of a situation. From that first day in the camp... to that last day we met on the Caretaker's Voyager.

(Kes closes her eyes and gently rocks in time with her memories)

Kes: I've often dreamt of that last day.... When you and Tuvok walked into Engineering after my holorecording was played. (She opens her eyes and looks at Janeway) You walked forward, hand on your phaser, calmly talking... and when you pulled it out... I was "Sure" it was a trick and that I was dead!

(She sees the tears of memory start to fill Kathryn's eyes)

Kes: But instead of using it on me... you handed it to Tuvok... and kept walking towards me... unarmed... except for your voice.

(Kes shakes her head)

Kes: It was so strange... but the Caretaker's hold on my mind... as you walked towards me, it lifted like a morning fog in the face of a dawing sun..... And as my mind cleared (she chuckles at herself) I was astonished, embarrassed, you name it... at how EASY it was for him to co-opt my consciousness... at how easy it was for him to control me again....

(Kes reaches out and offers Kathryn her hand, which she takes gladly)

Kes: ....and how... the people "I" had tried to rescue (she smiles) ... had instead rescued me.... Again. Thank-you, Kathryn.... for not giving up on me.

Janeway: (Pulls Kes into her embrace as her tears run furiously down her face) Thank ME? No... Kes... THANK-YOU for not giving up on US!

Scene Eleven
Exterior Shot

(Voyager is surrounded by the "Ocampan fleet" of 41 mismatched ships. Interior shot: Voyager's bridge. Janeway, Chakotay, Torres, Paris, Tuvok, Seven, Neelix, Ocampan Neelix & wife, along with 2 other Ocampan couples are in attendence.)

Janeway: (Speaking to Yandrin & Kes on the viewscreen) Thank-you for escorting us to the threshold, Yandrin.

Yandrin: (Bows, slightly) It's the least we can do, Captain. We are a poor honor guard for such a "storied" ship.

Kes: Peace and long life, Tuvok.

Tuvok: Live long... and prosper, Kes.

Kes: (smiles at her mentor) With your help, Commander, we already have.

Yandrin: (Nods at his son & daughter in law) Captain... watch over my family?

Janeway: (Looks over her sholuder to the Ocampa) I will, Yandrin.

Chakotay: (smiles at Kes & Yandrin) We ALL will, Yandrin. I pray we are able to bring them back to Ocampa one day.

Kes: (Returns his smile) If the "skyspirits are willing", Commander.

Janeway: (She motions at Seven) Yandrin... we will keep an open comm link as long as possible...

(Janeway turns to her crew)

Janeway: Stations... people. Commander?

Chakotay: (Stands up to walk across the bridge) Bridge to Voyager.... "Green alert".... prepare for transwarp conduit.... (He looks to his right) B'Elanna?

Torres: Transwarp coils are on line... Commander --- Just give the word.

Chakotay: (Turns to look at Janeway as he sits back down) Captain?

Janeway: (Smiles at Kes & Yandrin one last time, then nods to Paris) Lt Torres... the word is given. Engage transwarp coils, open the conduit... Lt Paris... Its time we went home. Take us in.

(An exterior shot: deep space.... a transwarp conduit opens before Voyager. It leaps into the center and suddenly is gone. The Ocampan Escort remains at station keeping)

Scene Twelve
Ocampan Bridge

(Yandrin and Kes are looking at an empty starfield which once held Voyager.)

Yandrin: It's done. Yandrin to the fleet. Fall back for Ocampa. (He turns to Kes) Ready, my love?

Kes: (Standing alone, gazing at the empty star field.) Hmmmm? Yes, Yandrin?

Yandrin: (walks to her side) You are lost in thought..... What has you so entranced?

Kes: (Smiles as she nods towards the view screen) I was just thinking... how "adventurous" I felt when I first climbed to the "surface" of Ocampa... and then how I felt when I first joined Voyager... and when I first flew to "New Ocampa".... (She looks up to gaze into Yandrin's eyes) ... But despite all my "adventures" I never really traveled beyond this one sector of space. (She points to the view screen) But now... my SON... my son has not only left this sector... he's also left this quadrant.

Yandrin: He's always had your wanderlust, Kes... Do you begrudge him?

Kes: (Puts her arm through the crook of his, and looks up at him in surprise) Begrudge him?! I would be a poor parent indeed... if my child's dreams did not surpass my own, Yandrin. Anyway... I have enough challenge right here, on Ocampa, to occupy me for the rest of my life.

Yandrin: (Kisses his wife gently) OUR lives. Lets go home.

Continued in Aftermath