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Out Of The Mouths Of Babes



Scene One
Corridor on Voyager. Day 1.

(Captain Kathryn Janeway & Commander Chakotay are walking.)

Chakotay: (laughing) So there I was, pinned down by the blistering attack of the Orion's Flagship... Phasers gone, warp drive gone, nowhere to run... and all I can think of is D@mmitt! I could take this guy out with one damn torpedo! What I would give for just one!

Janeway: A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse?

Chakotay: (smiles) Something like that.

Janeway: Unfortunately, Photon torpedos won't be invented for several more decades... sooo? How did you get out of it?

Chakotay: (dramatically) Phaser Banks empty. Torpedos nonexistant, the intrepid Captain Chakotay did the only thing he could... he set his ship to ramming speed and aimed for the Orion's bridge.

Janeway: (chuckling) A well known "intrepid Chakotay" tactic. So? When is your memorial service, since transporters were also non-existant at the time your "Birth of the Federation" holoprogram is set?

Chakotay: (laughing) Hah! Oh yee of little faith! My star cruiser may not have transporters, but it IS equipped with a state of the art/early 23rd cent tractor beam. I used it to snag a burntout ore carrier from the convoy I was guarding, and held it in front of me like a battering ram!

Janeway: (scoffing) What about his shields?

Chakotay: (triumphant) Why do you think my phaser banks were empty? The shields he had left weren't even as strong as tissue paper! I jumped to full impulse and just before impact I disengaged the tractor beam and veered over his ship. The Ram, on the other hand, went through him like a straw through a tree in a tornado!

Janeway: I CAN'T believe that actually worked! I trust you don't plan on any such heroics on our bridge.

Chakotay: (grins) That's what's so fun about this holoprogram, Kathryn. It's like being on the frontier of space travel... anythings possible. You should try it.

Janeway: Hmmmm. No thanks. Guiding Voyager through the Delta Quadrant is "frontier" enough for me. I want a challenge on the holodeck, I'll try sailing one of Tom's 1927 racing sloops.

Chakotay: (smiling) You're on! I happen to have time booked on holodeck #2 tonight - at 7 pm.... Care to join me?

Janeway: (turning a corner, begins to nod) I think I can find my deck shoes by then.

(as KJ & Chak round the corner, they see Naomi at the end of the glass walled corridor. She is leaning into the window, and appears to be crying.)

Chakotay: (murmers) Red Alert.

Janeway: (whispers) I may be a little late getting to the dock, Chakotay.

Chakotay: (turns to KJ) Don't worry. I won't sail off without you.

Janeway: (does a doubletake) Sounds like a promise...

(Chak smiles and exits.)

Scene Two
Windowed corridor on Voyager.

(KJ walks up to stand next to Naomi Wildman. She looks intently out the window at the star trails caused by Voyager's passing by at warp speed. Naomi happens to look up, and then jumps.)

Naomi: (brushing at her tears) CAPTAIN! I'm, I'm so sorry... I, I, I didn't mean to... didn't realize it was... Oh geeeezzzz. I've got to go home now.

Janeway: (still looking out the window) At ease, crewman. I just thought I'd join you in admiring this wonderful view.


Janeway: Naomi? (KJ's hand drops to rest on Naomi's shoulder)

Naomi: Yessss, Captain?

Janeway: Why is the Captain's assistant crying in front of such a beautiful sight?

Naomi: (sighs) It's not a big deal, Captain. Nothing YOU need to bother with.

Janeway: Hmmmmm... Have you talked with your Mom or Neelix about this?

Naomi: (shakes head) No. Neelix would just tell me to "be nice" and Mom would just shrug and say, "These things happen - don't let it worry you."

Janeway: Well, what about Seven - or the Doctor? You get along well with them.

Naomi: (jerks to attention) Oh No! Seven would just look at me like I was a baby and say "Pride is irrelevent", and the Doctor would try to distract me with the next slideshow he's going to give the senior staff.

Janeway: The NEXT slide show... he's got another one planned?

Naomi: Uh huh.

Janeway: Well, I guess that just leaves me.

Naomi: (croaks) Oh Captain. I get so tired of Mezoti & the boys knowing everything. (she sniffs) I love them, I really do! But, its just... they remember EVERYTHING they ever learned as a Borg, and they show off all the time. (she peers out the window) You don't know what its like to always have someone correct you, or beat you to an answer whenever the Doc or Neelix or someone gives a pop quiz at school.

Janeway: (smiles as she strokes Naomi's hair) Oh.... I think I could guess.

Naomi: If there was something I knew that they didn't, then it wouldn't be so bad... but they've assimilated EVERYONE, they KNOW everything!

Janeway: (kneels down next to Naomi to look her in the eye.) Believe me, Naomi. The Borg don't "know everything." In fact, I know of at least one DQ race they haven't assimilated... what do you know about a planet called "Ocampa", and a wonderous race of people who live there?

Naomi: (hopeful) Nothing... except Neelix's friend Kes was Ocampan.

Janeway: (stands up) Well... I think that little deficiency in your education can be easily corrected. Walk with me crewman.


Scene One
Day 3. Astrometrics.

(B'Elanna & Seven are working.)

B'Elanna: D@mn! It's still not working. Try aligning the main deflector again.

Seven: Agreed...................... No Effect.

B'Elanna: I'm beginning to think Echeb's wormhole emmission detector is more trouble than its worth. It's been installed 4 weeks now... and it's been OFFline more than it's been on!

Seven: I concurr. Perhaps we should ask Echeb to assist us.

B'Elanna: (head jerks up/pride challenged) He's assisted us so many times in the last month, that I doubt there's something he knows about this sensor that he hasn't already divulged. Look - he's still in class... lets let him be. Anyway... for ONCE I'd like to figure this out without the help of a teenager... Okay?

Seven: (smiles slightly) Agreed. Realigning the deflector again...

B'Elanna: Good... look, lets reverse the polarity this time...

Seven: (surprised) It worked.

B'Elanna: Q'Plah! (she smacks Seven on the shoulder as Echeb walks in)

Echeb: Am I interrupting?

B'Elanna: No, Echeb. Just doing a little tweaking on your sensor array.

Echeb: (frowning at console) It was malfunctioning again? I do not understand why it does that. Perhaps I should just dismantle it and redesign its matrix. (moves towards the console)

B'Elanna: (frantic) NO! Don't you dare touch it!

(Echeb stops, and looks to Seven, puzzled)

Seven: What the Lt. means, is that we have spent 2 hours repairing it. We should wait for it to go offline again, before you dismantle it.

B'Elanna: If! IF it goes off line again, Seven. Think Positive!

Seven: Thinking "positive" is irrelevent, Lt.

Echeb: 2 hours? You should have called me to help.

Seven: You were otherwise engaged.

B'Elanna: (packing up her tools) So, how was school today?

Echeb: (frown) Confusing.

Seven: How so?

Echeb: Naomi presented a report on a species called "Ocampa". It didn't make sense.

Seven: (defensive?) Recall, Echeb. Naomi is quite a bit younger than you, and she hasn't been enhanced by Borg technology. You shouldn't expect her projects to be as advanced as yours.

Echeb: (shakes head) It's not that, Seven. I am used to her level of education, and I always take that into account. It's just "what" she said was highly unlikely.

B'Elanna: Explain.

Echeb: A race that lives only 9 years? It grows to full adulthood in 1, reproduces by 4 & descends into senility and death by 9?

B'Elanna: Whats your point?

Echeb: Impossible.

B'Elanna: Improbable, maybe, but not impossible. We made 1st contact with this race in our 1st days in the DQ... and one member even traveled with us for 3 years... before you came to Voyager.

Echeb: Kes.... yes, I recall the effects of her return visit last year. (turns to Seven) Neelix liked the report & gave her an "excellent" grade. But neither he nor Naomi could answer Azan's question.

Seven: Which was?

Echeb: How does a race survive, producing 1 child per couple?

B'Elanna: (stopping at the entrance to astrometrics) Excuse me?

Echeb: Naomi said the Ocampa go through a fertile time at age 3-4. It is the only time they can procreate, and that they produce only one child. Azan pointed out that each succeeding generation would be half the size as the last... until it was extinct.

B'Elanna: (puzzled) Perhaps...

(a Com badge beeps)

Janeway's voice: Janeway to Lt Torres and Seven of Nine... respond.

B'Elanna: Yes, Captain?

Janeway's voice: Report to the bridge at once.

B'Elanna: Aye, Captain. (turns back to Echeb) Good question, Echeb. But I'm sure there's some logical explanation. Why don't you ask the Doctor?

Scene Two
Voyager's Bridge, day 3.

(Harry Kim & Tom Paris are at their posts. Chakotay is at the console behind Janeway's chair. Janeway and Tuvok are at tactical.)

Janeway: Has the probe sent back anything yet?

Chakotay: No. Harry? Can we remodulate the sensors to detect gravimetric distortions in the theta range? I'd like a better idea of what's out there before we get too close.

(turbolift doors open - out walks B'Elanna & Seven)

Kim: If we disengage the main deflector from all secondary activity, and realign it, we should be able to reach into the theta range.

B'Elanna: What's up? We just spent 2 hours realigning the deflector for the wormhole detector. Why must we disconnect it now?

Janeway: (points to display) We've detected mild gravimetric distortion waves, reminiscent of the ones associated with that alien communication array we found 3 years ago. I want to know exactly "how" similar they are. Tom. Continue our present course, warp factor One. Harry. Realign the deflector. Seven. I need you and Tuvok to find out if a microsingulairity is at the epicenter of these distortion waves, like last time.

Seven: For what purpose, Captain. We do not need a comm system to reach Earth, now that we use the monthly pulsar driven midas array

Janeway: A microsingularity has easily 1,000,000 times the power of a tetrion generator. If it exists, I'd like to see if B'Elanna can adapt the Catapault technology to use that power... and catapault us all the way home.

B'Elanna: (clearly intrigued) The gravimetric distortions we encountered near the last array would tear any catapault apart.

Paris: Not only that, but how would we even get Voyager to the array without making those distortions worse? Remember, our warp core accentuated them, that's why Tuvok had to take a lower powered shuttle to even approach it.

Kim: The Hirogen certainly approached it. They had 3 warp capable ships closer to the array than we ever came.

Janeway: Harry, study the data from our encounters with the Hirogen at the Array and elsewhere. See if their ships or tactics were different enough from ours to allow them to approach it. B'Elanna? Start designing a "what if" catapault - using the last microsingularity as a template while Tuvok & Seven try to tell us if our ticket home is sitting out there in the middle of these distortions.

Scene Three
Doctor's office. Day 5. Afternoon.

(the Doctor, Naomi, Mezoti, Echeb, Rebi & Azan are there.)

EMH: I'm sorry children, but your tutorial with Lt Torres in Engineering has been canceled. The Captain has had the whole dept working on a special project for the last 2 days and she can't break away.

Echeb: We are aware. Have they confirmed whether another comm array, powered by a microsingularity is at the center of the distortions?

EMH: No - we're still not close enough for that. So... it looks like we have a free afternoon. What would you like to do?

Azan: Doctor? Is the Captain going to destroy this array like the last 2?

EMH: Excuse me?

Rebi: The last 2. She destroyed the microsingularity driven comm array 3 years ago.

Mezoti: And the Caretaker's Array 7 years ago.

Echeb: Does the Captain really want to go home?

Naomi: (flustered) Why of course she does!

Mezoti: Then why does she keep blowing everything up?

(Seven walks into Sickbay)

Seven: She does not "blow everything up", Mezoti. Excuse me, Doctor...

EMH: (relieved at the interruption) Yes?

Seven: I need to ask you to excuse Echeb from class today. He's needed in Astrometrics.

EMH: (waves his hand) Certainly, take him... I don't suppose you need anyone else?

Seven: Echeb will be sufficient. (she turns to the children) Do not let your imagination jump to unfounded conclusions. The Captain destroyed the Caretaker's Array to protect a race from genocide. She did not think "her" convenience was worth their extinction. She destabilized the microsingularity... which destroyed the last comm array, in order to save myself and Commander Tuvok from death at the hands of the Hirogen.

(Seven turns to leave with Echeb, but stops at the door)

Rest assured... she doesn't do it "because she wants to stay" in the DQ.

(Seven & Echeb exit sickbay)

Naomi: See! I told you so!

Mezoti: Doctor, there is something I don't understand about the Caretaker in Naomi's report. Why did he bother to pull all these ships from across the galaxy to try to procreate? Why not just clone himself?

EMH: Well, I never actually met him... when he was alive... so I can't be certain. Perhaps cloning his species was beyond his medical technology?

Azan: Why not just creat a holographic Caretaker? Someone like you, to watch over the array & the Ocampa? From Naomi's report, it's obvious he had the advanced holographic skills necessary to such a project.

Rebi: No - what if the holoemmitters went offline, or they lost power, or became overloaded with years of operations... No. The Caretaker SHOULD have constructed an Android, one like that Commander Data that Lt Torres told us about last month. He could have run the array for centuries on a separate power source.

Mezoti: It seems the Caretaker had better choices for a replacement than beings on ships 70,000 light years away in the Alpha Quadrant

EMH: Uhm, hmmm, well now, maybe he was more "lonely" than we realized. Maybe he was also searching for a companion.

Naomi: Doctor? There was 1 part of the Captain's story that I didn't understand when she told me.

EMH: What was that, Naomi?

Naomi: How come the Caretaker could find Voyager 70,000 light years away, but he couldn't find Suspira, his former mate, less than 2000 lightyears away?

EMH: Suspira spent most of her life in subspace, and he couldn't search there.

Mezoti: Perhaps, but it seems strange that he didn't notice the several thousand Ocampa living on HER Array.

EMH: Who knows, Mezoti, maybe he did find her... and she refused to "come home".

Naomi: Seven just told us NOT to jump to conclusions!

Rebi: Why didn't he just transport everyone to a new world with water?

Azan: Yes. And another thing... why did he wait until 6 months before dieing to even start searching for "replacements"?

EMH: Hmmmm... I see several good ideas here to turn into your next school projects! I think we'll declare this afternoon "Independant Study" and let you start working on them!

(the kids get up and run out of the office, arguing about who got to do which idea.)

EMH: (wipes forehead with back of his hand) Thank God I've already lost my hair.

Scene Four
Chakotay's office. Day 6. Morning.

(Chak is at his desk. He's fallen asleep... and he's dreaming.)

(in his dream, Chakotay sees a battle. A Klingon female is being taunted by a male Klingon... and a male Hirogen. He sees the male Hirogen and the Klingon female exchange blows with bat'leths. The Hirogen ultimately delivers a killing blow and laughs as the woman lays at his feet. Chakotay is distracted by the full moon rising behind the Hirogen, until his attention is pulled back to the death scene by the Hirogen's order for sickbay to take "Janeway" away. It was only then, that Chakotay realizes the woman on the ground is Janeway.)

Chakotay: (wakes with a start! Sweat beading on his forehead) Huh!

(door chimes)

Chakotay: (wipes forehead with sleeve) Enter!

(EMH Enters)

Chakotay: Good Morning Doctor. What can I do for you?

EMH: (sees the fatigue in the 1st officer) Perhaps I should say the same? Do you need a stimulant, Commander?

Chakotay: (smiles) No... I'm ok Doctor. It's nothing that a "6 hour nap" won't cure. What's up?

EMH: I have those simulations you asked for. I do not foresee any significant detrimental physiologic effects that using a singularity for the catapault would have on our crew.

Chakotay: Thank you Doctor - Good Work.

EMH: Good work? Sure. I can answer a theoretical question about phenomenon who haven't been identified yet... But can I answer a simple biology question from a 10 year old child, about a race I studied for 3 years? No. (looks pointedly at Chak) Can I get my 1st officer to confide in me about his insomnia (waves a padd) before he puts himself on report? No. ........ Commander?

Chakotay: (jerks awake) huh? Hmmm - what did you ask? The insomnia? It's really not that bad, Doctor. Must be the excitement of possibly going home - that's all. As for the kids... I doubt I can help you there. What were they asking?

EMH: Naomi lit a powder keg under the other kids this week with her talk on the Ocampa 3 days ago.

Chakotay: (stirs) The Captain told me something about that. How did the report go?

EMH: Wonderfully, according to Mr Neelix. But then her classmates started picking it apart yesterday,,, asking me all sorts of questions, and I couldn't answer half of them.

Chakotay: (smiling/yawning at he same time) They say its the mark of a poor teacher, if his pupils can't surpass him!

EMH: MY pupils are STILL children, Commander. Borg enhancements aside. One simple observation on their part has completely distracted me. How CAN the Ocampan race survive if it produces only 1 child per couple? WHY didn't I ask Kes that?

(comm signal interrupts)

Janeway's voice: Janeway to Commander Chakotay.

Chakotay: Chakotay here.

Janeway's voice: Care to join me in Engineering, Commander?

Chakotay: On my way, Captain. (turns to EMH) Good question, Doc. The anthropologist in me would love to think on it a few hours - but duty calls.....

(Chak & EMH exit office)

Scene Five
Corridor on way to turbo lift.

(KJ's walking... Chak jogs to catch up.)

Chakotay: Good morning, Captain!

Janeway: (looks over at her 1st officer) Commander? Are you okay?

Chakotay: (smiles) Nothing a good cup of coffee wouldn't cure!

Janeway: (laughs) There's a pot of it waiting for me in my ready room. I think I can spare a cup.

Chakotay: You're on! I sure don't need any more unexpected naps in my office!

Janeway: (tut tuts) Daydreaming on company time, Commander?

Chakotay: (strokes chin) I would not call this one a pleasant daydream. No, the last dream I'd prefer to recall was a couple nights ago. We were on that blue 1927 racing sloop from Tom's holoprogram... the race was over, and the night sky was crowded with stars. A full moon was "just" starting to peak over the horizon...

Janeway: (raises eyebrow) We?

(they've reached and entered the turbo lift)

Chakotay: (innocently) It was 3 nights ago... and you WERE the last person to go sailing with me on the holodeck.

Janeway: True.... but I don't recall any Moon!

(turbolift doors open outside of engineering).

Chakotay: Hey! I said it was a dream... I can't be held accountable for my dreams... can I?

Janeway: (simply smiles over her shoulder at him, as they enter engineering) Hmmmmm.

Scene Six
Engineering. Day 6. Morning.

(B'Elanna, Harry, Seven, and Lt Joe Carey are present.)

B'Elanna: Captain - I think we have a plan.

Janeway: I'm listening.

B'Elanna: We've developed a modular construction program. We'll create the catapault at a staging area far enough away to minimize the effects of the gravimetric distortions on our modules.

Carey: Each module will then be towed into place next to the microsingularity... If we find one there... and assemble it in place.

Chakotay: How do we do that without the modules or Voyager being torn apart?

Kim: A review of the Hirogen ships at the array suggest the lowered power signatures from a shuttle would not excite the distortions to any significant degree. I also think, by using 3 shuttles, we can create a dampening field between their 3 warp bubbles strong enough to allow the modules to be assembled into a functioning catapault.

Seven: With 3 shuttles creating the dampening field, we will need to use the Captain's yacht, the Aerowing to tow the modules into place.

Janeway: What about Voyager's warp core?

B'Elanna: We shut it down until it's ready to enter the catapault.

Chakotay: Excuse me?

B'Elanna: We shut it down when we are about half a light year away. We'll use the tractor beam from the Aerowing to tow us into place. It's warp core is larger than the shuttle's but not more than the Hirogen ships. It should be okay.

Chakotay: How do we handle a catapault jump with our core shut down? We'd have no helm control as we decelerate.

B'Elanna: We'd leave the 3 shuttles in place, creating the dampening field. Voyager would power up to 5 % once within the field. As the Catapault pulls us in, we rev up the core to 100% .

Janeway: And the shuttles?

Seven: We sacrifice them, along with the catapault.

Janeway: (incredulous) All THREE shuttles?

Carey: Don't worry, Captain. If this jump doesn't get us all the way home... my team will replace those shuttles for you before you know it. Have they ever let you down before?

Janeway: (smiles) No, Lt. But then again, I never gave them such a large order.

Chakotay: Oh... I don't know. Building the Delta Flyer in 1 week was quite a challenge.

Carey: If I had the room, that's all I'd build. The Flyer was definately more resilent than these class 2 shuttles.

Janeway: Thank you, people. You've done excellent work. (she looks around the room) Now, lets hope it wasn't all for nothing.


Scene One
Voyager Bridge. Day 7.

(Ship is shaking visibly as it crests each distortion wave.)

Kim: The distortions are getting stronger, Tuvok. I'd say we're as close as we can get without exciting the waves beyond what the shuttles can stand.

Tuvok: Agreed. Lt.... (hits combadge) Tuvok to Lt Paris.

Scene Two
Flight deck of a Class 2 shuttle, Tom Paris and Vorik. Day 7

Paris: Paris here.

Tuvok's voice: We are currently 1 light year from the epicenter of the distortion. Are you ready?

Paris: Aye, sir, just give the word.

Tuvok's voice: Proceed.

(Tom & Vorik's shuttle lifts off the deck and flies out the door. It turns gracefully over the ship and heads forward into the distortion waves.)

Vorik: Optimal speed to prevent significant excitation of wave energy is calculated to be warp 2.3, Lt.

Paris: Then warp 2.3 it is..... (shuttle shimmers with each cresting distortion ring) Just like skipping stones back home... eh Vorik?

Vorik: Since I have never skipped stones anywhere, Lt. I can not offer an opinion.

Paris: Never skipped...? Vorik! How did you manage to miss that simplest of pleasures while on Earth? Skipping stones is not only fun & relaxing... it's scientically challenging and wonderfully competitive. How far will it go? How many skips before it sinks?

Vorik: Relaxing & Competitive? That is illogical.

Paris: (smiles) You'll see. When we get back to Voyager, I'll take you to my Dad's summer place in Minnesota - It has a great pond with the best stones!

Scene Three. Day 7 Voyager Bridge.

(Chakotay enters from turbolift)

Chakotay: Lt Kim, report.

Kim: The shuttle is starting to take a beating, Commander, although much less than what we are taking back here. They've throttled back to warp 1.9 and that seems to have helped.

Chakotay: Good. Let's keep our fingers crossed for luck.

Tuvok: Logic dictates "luck" to be mere co-incidence.

Chakotay: Logic may dictate that, but after all these years around the Captain, I would have thought you'd be a believer by now.

Tuvok: The Captain does succeed more than odds would predict, but what I've observed in the last 20 years is that she rarely leaves anything to random chance. Thorough preparation usually sees her to her goal.

Kim: Thorough prep didn't save us from the Borg the first 2 times. It was Riley's people who blew up the cube before it could attack us... and Kes' transformation that sent us well beyond Borg space.

Chakotay: (turns to Tuvok) Like I always say, Tuvok. If I had to choose between being lucky or being good - I'd take lucky every time!

Tuvok: If you say so, Commander.

(Commander Chakotay chuckled as he looked down to his computer screen. He startled to see a reflection of the moon on it.... at least... he thought it was the moon. It was gone so fast, he couldn't be sure.)

Chakotay: (murmers to himself) If I don't get some sleep soon, I won't be good OR lucky!

Scene Four
Janeway's Ready Room. Day 7.

(KJ is at her desk.)

EMH's voice: EMH to Captain Janeway...

Janeway: Yes Doctor.

EMH's voice: I must report that in the last 24 hours, since my last update, I've been recording a significant increase in the # of complaints from the crew.

Janeway: Oh?

EMH's voice: We are seeing 3 times the # of cases of Fatigue/exhaustion that we normally see under similar stressfull circumstances.

Janeway: Is that all?

EMH's voice: No. I'm also getting many more complaints of insomnia & anorexia... I suspect the gravimetric distortions are throwing off the crew's circaddian patterns.

Janeway: Suggestions?

EMH's voice: I would ask Tuvok to calibrate the shields to filter out the gravimetric distortions in the gamma band. They seem to be the culprits for the majority of these symptoms.

Janeway: I'll see what we can do, Doctor. Janeway out.

(door chimes)

Janeway: Come.

Chakotay: (enters carrying a padd) Good news. Tom's sent word that sensors are picking up an array nearly identical to the one 3 years ago. He expects to reach it within 45 minutes.

Janeway: (getting up from desk to walk to replicator) Finally, some Good news.

Chakotay: Why? Where did the bad news come from?

Janeway: The Doctor just informed me the distortions are having an adverse effect on the crew.

Chakotay: In what way?

Janeway: (gets coffee & sits on the sofa) Fatigue, exhaustion, insomnia, anorexia... (offers her cup to Chak) Care for a cup, Commander? You look like you could use one?

Chakotay: (big breath) No thankyou Captain... I think I'm beyond coffee right now...... I'mmm one of the insomniacs the Doctor is talking about.

Janeway: (looks concerned) When did you last sleep?

Chakotay: (sits on end of sofa and ponders) The last GOOD night's sleep was 6 nights ago... the night of the sailboat dream. The last night I slept more than 2 hours in a row...was 3 nights ago.

Janeway: (eyes open wide in surprise) Commander?! When were you planning on sharing this information with me?

Chakotay: I did put myself on report & sent it to the Doctor yesterday. I was going to mention it to you at our next weekly crew review.

Janeway: (increduluous) 2 days from now?

(Chakotay just smiles & shrugs.)

Janeway: I'm beginning to see a flaw in delegating my responsibility for the crew's well being to my first officer. Perhaps we need to rewrite your job description to read... responsible for everyone EXCEPT you...

Chakotay: After 7 years, Captain, do you really need to do that? Speaking of being responsible for the crew... how are YOU doing with these distortions?

Janeway: Believe it or not, I've slept well, though I've had the strangest dreams these lst few days. I've been dreaming of Ocampa & the Caretaker. I suspect its because of the talks Naomi & I had about them. (pause/somber) I've also been dreaming of Kes, again.

Chakotay: If I may be so bold... that was a heavy load you & Tuvok carried for 6 years. You could have shared it, I wouldn't have minded.

Janeway: (smiles) You have no idea how many times I nearly did just that. I wanted to... but I dared not. I needed you to remain objective... my devil's advocate. I didn't want you to have your advice coloured as our's was, with the foreknowledge of Kes' future. (sighs) Tuvok's visions in our first 2 months were truely a double edged sword. It was bad enough that HE knew... (shakes her head) So often we would sit here and 2nd guess ourselves whenever Kes was involved. Especially in our 3rd year in the DQ. ....... No..... we needed you to remain innocent of the future.

Chakotay: Especially the 3rd year? That was when the older Kes predicted she would 1st leave Voyager?

Janeway: (nods/whispers) You know... when Kes fell into that Coma from the biogenic field in that shrine... I wondered ... SHOULD I leave her in the coma? Would death be a blessing for her? Would it prevent her from going through the trauma she spoke of?... Or when she accused me of abandoning her... was she referring to me "leaving her" in that coma?! If I could wake her up... would that prevent her ascension to this "other plane".?

(Chak moves closer to KJ and lays his hand on her's as she speaks)

Janeway: Then... when she was taken over by the warlord Tieren... I wondered is THIS it? And when she thought of leaving to explore with the trader, Zahir... I wondered do I dissuade her... or encourage her, hoping she will avoid the trial ahead.

Chakotay: (squeezes her hand) I wish I could have helped you.

Janeway: (smiles & places her other hand over his) But you did help me Chakotay. Everytime you challenged me to state my reasons, to clarify my arguments... and for awhile... after Kes left... I thought I was safe from the future. (smiles ruefully) But I wasn't. Even after Kes left... Tuvok's visions affected my decision making... so I still dared not confide in you.

Chakotay: (frowns) Explain.

Janeway: When the Borg Queen took Seven of Nine? I KNEW I had to get her back. Tuvok saw her in his vision of Kes' return. Not only that, he saw her with 2 borg children on board. Neither was Echeb... so I didn't stand in his way when his family wanted him back. When B'Elanna was attacked by the alien, and she refused to allow Crell Mosette to operate on her? I KNEW I couldn't let her die... Tuvok's vision saw Kes kill Torres. I just didn't know when that would be. (eyes glisten) And God forgive me... I even used Tuvok's visions to push me towards separating Tuvix. You see, Tuvok recalled bridge conversations from the future that involved himself... which meant Tuvok, not Tuvix had to survive.

Silence envelopes the two friends after the cathartic confession ended.

Chakotay: (trying to draw her from the Tuvix decision which always tormented her) Which Kes do you dream of now?

Janeway: (smiles slightly) Believe it or not... I dream of the last one. At peace. Going Home. I no longer worry about her future... or mine. They haven't happened yet!

Chakotay: A mystery... yet to be written.

Janeway: Exactly. Before her return, whenever I dreamt of her I'd dream of our final parting. I hugged her so tightly, Chakotay, I didn't want her to go. Not go alone... not to a place that I KNEW would be SO horrible it would warp her mind & make her turn against us... I was so worried that all we'd done to prepare her, prepare the ship, would not be enough when she finally did return.

(comm badge beeps)

Tuvok's voice: Captain to the bridge!

Janeway: (wipes eye with the back of her hand) That's my cue. (stands) Thankyou Commander.

Chakotay: (stands also) For what?

Janeway: For letting me unload.

Chakotay: That's my job... remember? Taking care of this ship's crew... (smiles) ... ALL of its crew!

(both exit to the bridge.)

Scene Five
Astrometrics. Day 7. Seven & the twins.

(a Com Badge beeps)

Tuvok's voice: Tuvok to Seven of Nine.

Seven: Yes, Commander?

Tuvok: We need a higher resolution on the data stream from Lt Paris' shuttle. Can you assist us?

Seven: (manipulates console) Is that satisfactory?

Tuvok: Yes. Tuvok out.

Seven: (turns back to the twins) You were saying... about your next school project.

Azan: Rebi wants to do the project on the Doctor.

Rebi: And Azan wants to do the project on the Ocampan Caretaker.

Seven: I do not see the problem.

Azan/Rebi: (together) We can't do both. We have to pick just one.

Seven: Clarify. Why can't you do both? Azan can work on the Caretaker & Rebi can work on the Doctor.

Azan: But we always...

Rebi: ... work together.

Seven: Then this would be the perfect opportunity for you to learn to work on you own. It may also help you to stimulate separate interests which would benefit your individual development.

Azan: But...

Seven: A collective of two is still a collective, Azan. Begin your projects.

(Azan exits)

Seven: Is there something more, Rebi?

Rebi: Yes. I need your assistance in my project on the Doctor.

Seven: Rebi. The point of you and Azan doing separate projects is to teach you to work on your own.

Rebi: I did not make myself clear. I mean... I need to interview you about the EMH. You've worked extensively with him over the years & often help perform diagnostics on his program. I thought you could give me insights into how he's changed over the years.

Seven: Undoubtably, however, you should interview him yourself, first.

Rebi: I've tried, but he's more interested in discussing his developing subroutines on opera & holophotography than in how his matrix was stabilized and eventually expanded .

Seven: Explain.

Rebi: 5 years ago the Doctor's program went offline. He actually lost memory function while performing surgery on Lt Paris. Naomi told us that the Ocampan had to take over and finish the surgery or he would have died! She and Lt Torres worked with the Doctor's original diagnostic program to reformat and expand him. I'd like to understand that process, since the present Hologram now tolerates 5 times the memory capacity that overloaded his previous matrix... if we apply this innovation to new holoprograms we could vastly improve their effeciency and therefore their uses.

Seven: Intriguing, Rebi, however, I was not on board at that time. You need to interview Lt Torres.

Rebi: I plan on it, but she's busy now. Since you've examined him frequently, I thought you could point out how he's changed since his prototype specifications?

Seven: That I can do... but not now.

Rebi: Tonight, maybe? After supper?

Seven: We shall see.

Rebi: Thank-you, Seven.

(Rebi exits)

Scene Six
Class 2 Shuttle. Tom & Vorik. Day 7

Paris: Captain, Vorik can answer that.

Vorik: As Lt Paris has related, I do not believe any ship could carry the catapault... whole or in modules... through these distortion waves. Even at our lowered speeds... our warp cores are exciting them beyond any tolerances we could build into the modules to protect them.

Janeway's voice: Then should we just build everything in place... using the shuttle's as a dampening field?

Paris: We think the waves would still corrupt the manufacturing process... but Captain... Vorik does have an idea... (whispers) go on... tell her.

Janeway's voice: Ensign?

Vorik: The distortion gets worse near a powered warp core. I suggest we stagger the shuttles in a line from Voyager to the array, and temporarily shut down the core in each ship. We then use tractor beams to grasp each module and "skip it" forward over the distortion waves to the next ship in line.

(intercut scene to: Voyager's bridge)

Chakotay: (looks at KJ in surprise) Excuse me?

Paris' voice: We're going to skip them, Commander. Like skimming stones over a pond.

Chakotay: I'm familiar with the procedure, Lt. I'm just not sure that it would work with metallic modules over 50 meters long.

Vorik's voice: Each shuttle can use its tractor beam to grasp the module and accelerate it in a stern to bow fashion before releasing it at the apex of its throw.

(intercut back to the shuttle)

Paris: The next shuttle will reach back with its tractor beam... kind of like a relay runner reaching back for the baton... and snag the module. They will then repeat the procedure... sending the module on ahead.

(intercut back to Voyager's Bridge)

Janeway: (eyebrow arching as she looks at Chak) Sounds like he's been playing your holoprogram, Commander.

Chakotay: (shrugs-grins) B'Elanna.. Tuvok... is such a thing possible?

Tuvok: Possible - Yes... but practical?

Janeway: Paris. You and Vorik continue onto the array. (she turns to Harry) I'll have Harry run some simulations of Vorik's "skipping" plan on the holodeck to see if it's feasible. Make sure you continue to send your data back in real time so we can map the strength of each distortion wave.

Paris' voice: Yes Ma'am.

Kim: Vorik. Drop a couple of probes in and between the waves as you go by... that way we can also see exactly how much your core is exciting the waves.

Vorik's voice: A logical suggestion. Dropping the 1st probe now.

Paris' voice: Our ETA at the array is now 20 minutes, Voyager. Shuttle Cochrane... out.

Scene Seven
Wildman Quarters. Naomi & Sam. Still day 7

Naomi: Mom? Can Azan come to dinner tonght?

Sam: Sure - but what about Rebi? I don't think he's ever come alone before.

Naomi: Well. Rebi is working with Seven on his school project after supper... and Azan actually wants to interview you for his own school project.

Sam: Oh he does, does he? What's his project on?

Naomi: The Ocampan Caretaker.

Sam: The Caretaker??? Congratulations, Naomi. Your report seems to have struck a cord with at least one of your classmates. I don't know how much help I can be, most of what I know is already in Voyager's database... but he's welcome to ask.

Naomi: Good, cause he's going to be here any .....

(door Chimes)

Naomi: ..... second.

Sam: (looks at daughter "sternly") Naomi!

Naomi: (innocently) What? I knew you'd say "yes".

(Azan enters)

Sam: Good evening Azan, come in and sit down. Supper is almost ready.

Azan: Thank-you Ensign Wildman.

Sam: (pulling out the replicated dinner) So... I understand this is to be a working supper?

Azan: Naomi has already told you? You would not mind?

Naomi: (leans close to Azan to whisper) All I told her is that you want to talk about the Caretaker.

Sam: Why don't you tell me what you've done 1st, in regards to your research.

Azan: I have reviewed Naomi's report, Voyager's logs regarding the Caretaker, and the subsequent encounter with Suspira, his mate. The Doctor's post mortem on the Caretaker's remains, and Lt Torres' analysis of its use as a sporosistene lifesign indicator.

Sam: Good heavens... what can I possibly add to that?

Azan: (pulls out a padd) Personal confirmation of a few points in the timeline... and any observations which might not have made it into the official logs.

Sam: Ask away.

Azan: The record shows that Voyager's crew underwent biometric asessment for 3 days... and all but Ensign Kim were returned to the ship?

Sam: To our ship. B'Elanna Torres was not returned to the Maquis ship.

Azan: Do you have any memories of your 3 days of biometric assessment?

Sam: Thankfully, no. Tom Paris has a great story about it. You should ask him sometime.

Azan: (pouts slightly) Could you elaborate? He is presently on an away mission.

Sam: Tom & Harry were sent by the Captain to locate the holographic generator powering the Caretaker's simulation. In their travels, they found Sporosistene lifesigns... on further inspection they also detected human, vulcan & klingon lifesigns...

Azan: (head jerks up from his plate) Klingon?

Sam: Yes. The Caretaker tried to force Harry & Tom away... but they called for backup. The Captain & her security team reached them and the Caretaker isolated them from the rest of us. Tom tells this next part very well... the holographic barn wall dissolved and revealed an alien lab with rows of comatose people... Chakotay's Maquis crew... arms hanging down, while monitoring devices/feeding tubes were attached at their midriffs by some kind of umbilical. The first time he saw Tuvok & B'Elanna was when they were in this state.

(she and Naomi shiver)

Sam: Anyway, they were the only ones to actually "see" the lab. By the time it was our turn... the Caretaker transfered us directly from consciousness in the holoprogram to unconscousness in the lab.

Azan: (frowns) I do not understand something.

Sam: What?

Azan: Why was Lt Torres still in the lab when Voyager arrived?

Naomi: (mouth half full) What does that matter?

Azan: Voyager did not go after the missing Maquis ship until Commander Tuvok missed his assigned check ins... the soonest it could have caught up with the Maquis at the array would have been 7 days. If the Caretaker could finish the biometric assessment of Voyager's 140 odd crew within 3 days... and ship Lt Kim to Ocampa in that same period... why would they need 7 days to do the same with Commander Chakotay's much smaller crew.

Sam: Perhaps it took longer with the Maquis because they were the 1st Alpha Quadrant species he'd ever examined. By the time we arrived, he'd seen many of our races already and didn't need to spend as much time with us.

Azan: Perhaps. But it doesn't explain why Lt Torres was still on board the array.

Naomi: (tentatively) Maybe the alien transport needed 2 to work?

Sam: Good thought, Naomi... I like that theory. Azan, I don't know the answer to your question... but I have one of my own. Would you like another hotdog?

Azan: (eyes open wide) Oh yes. Seven never lets us eat these at home.

Scene Eight
Holodeck. Day 7.

(Harry & B'Elanna are standing in the middle of the empty deck.)

(Chakotay enters)

Chakotay: Any progress?

B'Elanna: I think so. If we can encase each module in antigrav plating, then I think we can make these things "skip" from one distorsion wave to the next.

Kim: One other problem remains, we don't have enough shuttles to reach from here to the array. No matter how much power or spin I use on the tractor beam... we always end up far too short.

Chakotay: (ponders) Then we'll just have to do what the ancients did when they built Stone Henge.

Kim: Commander?

Chakotay: Primitive people often moved large blocks of stone by placing logs under them to act as wheels... or tread. Naturally, they wouldn't cut a mile of trees to cover the distance from the quarry to the building site. They'd use enough to support the block and a couple extra... and as they rolled the block over the trees, they'd pick up the logs they'd just rolled over and run them around to the front of the block to use them again.

B'Elanna: After the 1st shuttle skips its 5 components forward, it can power up and fly beyond the 3rd shuttle's position.

Chakotay: A time tested idea.

Kim: That would work, as long as we don't try to "skip" while the other shuttle is powering through the distortion waves. Hmmmm, maybe I should start studying anthropology more and engineering less?

Chakotay: (smiles) Works for me.

(Com Badge beeps)

Janeway's voice: Janeway to senior staff. Report to the conference room.

Chakotay: (points to the padds in front of Kim) Better bring your work along. Maybe we can kill 2 birds with 1 stone.

Scene Nine
Conference Room. Still day 7. 8pm

(Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, Kim, Seven, & the EMH are seated. Tom's face is on the monitor.)

Paris' voice: That's it in a nutshell. I'm sorry. Vorik is requesting permission to board the array to gather any data he can on the singularity itself.

Janeway: Understood. Standby on this channel, Tom. (turns to staff in room) Comments?

Tuvok: Vorik's analysis is sound. The eddies about this array are too violent to allow the 3 shuttles to initiate the dampening field. Without that field, assembling the catapault will be impossible.

Seven: In our last encounter with the array, a poleran emission stabilized it enough to allow us to access the star fleet data stream trapped within... would such a measure be worthwhile in this case?

Vorik's voice: I do not believe so. The readings we are getting are quite different and poleran emissions should have no appreciable effect on them. Captain, I'd like to board the array and download data from its computer to try to understand & devise a counter to these distortions.

EMH: I do not believe that to be a wise move, Captain. Even with environmental suits... the amount of radiation they'll be exposed to will be lethal within 10 minutes. The only thing protecting them now is the shuttle's shields.

Vorik's voice: A large amount of data can be secured in 8 minutes, Captain.

Janeway: I appreciate the offer, Mr Vorik... but lets leave that courageous option for last, Hmmm? Okay, people... other suggestions?

Chakotay: Modify a class 3 probe and beam it into the array. Lets see what it can download.

Janeway: Tom?

Tom's voice: I'm on it, Captain.... Transport complete.

Vorik's voice: Probe is transmitting... we are receiving telemetry... hmmm.....

Tuvok: Ensign?

Vorik's voice: Yes sir. It appears our probe has opened a subspace.......


Janeway: Mr Vorik? Mr Paris? Respond.


Chakotay: Chakotay to Mr Ayala... What happened to our com link with the Cochrane?

Ayala's voice: Commander.... the comm link is being jammed.

Janeway: (frown) By Who!

Ayala's voice: I do not know.


Scene One
Voyager's Bridge. Day 8. 2 am

Chakotay: (yawning) How long since we lost contact, Tuvok?

Tuvok: Five hours, 46 minutes, Commander. Mr Kim's shuttle will not be within visual range for another 2 hours. If you please, I can call you to the bridge as soon as he sends back word of the Cochrane.

Chakotay: (still yawning) Tuvok, I get the feeling you're trying to tell me something.

Tuvok: Commander, if I may be blunt. It is obvious that you require sleep. I can assure you, from personal experience, that falling asleep ON the bridge is not a preferrable alternative to doing so in your quarters.

Chakotay: (smiles with the memory) Surely I'm not (yawn) that bad yet, Tuvok?

Tuvok: (eyebrow arcs) Commander, 13 minutes ago even the Captain left the bridge. Perhaps you should follow her example.

Chakotay: (yawns again) Ok, Ok... I'll go... but you'll call me the moment you have news from Harry?

Tuvok: Agreed.

(Chakotay exits the bridge)

Tuvok: (hits com badge) Tuvok to Janeway.

Janeway's voice: Janeway here.

Tuvok: Commander Chakotay has left the bridge.

(intercut to:)

Scene Two

Janeway: Thank-you Tuvok. Mission accomplished. Janeway out.

B'Elanna: (looks up) Mission?

Janeway: (shrugs) To convince Chakotay to rest. He feels he shouldn't leave his post while Tom & Vorik are missing... especially if I'm still on duty...... Pauses....... He thinks I'm in my quarters...

B'Elanna: Got ya... (smiles ruefully) I know how he feels, but no-one can stay awake forever... What is it he always says?

Janeway: ... Even the eagle knows when to sleep?

B'Elanna: That's it. Where does he get those things, anyway?

Janeway: Truth be told, I think he makes up 50% of them.

B'Elanna: (laughs) At least!

(Seven enters Engineering)

Seven: Captain.

Janeway: Yes?

Seven: I've finished downloading the data from the stationary probes Lt Paris left behind in his wake and the data from Lt. Kim's shuttle.

Janeway: Find anything that can shed some light on our present Comm blackout?

Seven: Just that it originates in subspace.

B'Elanna: Can we disrupt it from here?

Seven: No. But Lt Kim should be able to use a Nadion beam modulated in the theta band. It will excite the gravimetric distortion & hopefully break the subspace jamming. Unfortunately, it will not be effective until he's at least within 50,000 kilometers of the Cochrane.

Janeway: Lt, opinion?

B'Elanna: (nods slowly) It should work.

Janeway: Excellent, Seven. Send the data to Harry immediately.

Seven: (taps com badge) Crewman Tal. Initiate data transfer to Lt Kim's shuttle.

Tal Celeste's voice: Stream initiated... Confirmation received from Lt Kim.

(Com badge Beeps)

Tuvok's voice: Tuvok to Captain Janeway.

Janeway: Janeway here.

Tuvok's voice: Mr Kim indicates he will be entering the area of the subspace jamming within 4 minutes... any instructions?

Janeway: (looks up at Seven & B'Elanna) Just.. "Good Luck".


Tuvok's voice: Message sent. Tuvok out.

Janeway: Well ladies... I think that's all we can do for now. I suggest we all take a break. Even if Harry's successful, it will be a couple of hours before we know it.

B'Elanna: (rolling shoulders) The one good thing about ending my duty shift at 2:06am... Rebi won't be waiting to interview me.

Janeway: (stops to look back) Lt?

Seven: The children are busy on their next school projects, Captain. Rebi is doing an essay on Lt. Torres' expansion of the Doctor's original holomatrix, allowing it to grow without crashing the system.

Janeway: (smiles) Surely a feat worthy of song & story.

B'Elanna: Right. JUST what I want to brag about at the next Day of Honor ceremony.

Janeway: To be the idol of children is not something to be taken lightly, B'Elanna.

B'Elanna: (rolls eyes) Captain - You have NO idea what it's been like these last 2 days... Ever since Naomi won top honors for interviewing you for her report... (sees Janeway's eyes open) Oh yes... I think she's even been to deck 15 to tell Crewman Herren about it..... Ever since then its been open season on the senior staff. Those 5 kids are determined to outdo each other... and unfortunatley several are coming after me.

Janeway: Oh?

B'Elanna: Rebi keeps trying to corner me about the Doc, and tonight Samantha told me that Azan was quizzing her about MY biometric assessment by the Caretaker. I'm told Mezoti is obsessed with the Ocampan reproductive biology, and has quizzed both Sam & the Doc on that score.

Janeway: (turns to Seven) Birds & bees at age 8?

Seven: Mezoti is disputing the feasibility of the Ocampan reproductive practices.. Azan is doing his report on the Caretaker & his penchant for alien abduction. His hypothesis is quite intriguing.

Janeway: Which is?

Seven: That the Caretaker was in the throes of senility before his death.

B'Elanna: Just how did he arrive at that idea?

Seven: Through the many inconsistencies that have been documented about his behaviour, along with the evidence of his advanced age resulting in his death shortly after your abduction.

Janeway: An interesting hypothesis, Seven. But not one I'm inclined to agree with. He was certainly obsessed with the Ocampa, even up to the moment of his death... but lucidity was never in question.

B'Elanna: (shrugs/yawns) Still, its certainly interesting enough to debate in a school project..... Well, I'm going to bed before Rebi completes his regeneration cycle and comes to find me!

Scene Three
Chakotay's quarters. Day 8 2:42 am

(Chakotay is in bed...a wet sheet about his fevered torso.... tossing... turning.... clearly distressed.)

Chakotay: (sits Bolt upright and screams) KATHRYN NO!

(Chakotay has shocked himself awake with his tortured cry. He suddenly realizes where he is, shakes his head and walks to the sink to rinse & dry his face/neck/chest.)

Chakotay: Computer. Time?

Computer's voice: The time is 0242.

Chakotay: (hits his comm) Chakotay to Commander Tuvok.

Tuvok's voice: Commander?

Chakotay: (stretches & yawns as he walks to his viewport) Report

Tuvok's voice: We lost contact with Mr Kim's Shuttle 22 minutes ago. Seven has provided him with a method to disrupt the jamming signal when he is within 50,000 km's of the Cochrane. We do not expect him to be within range for approximately another 2 hours.

Chakotay: Have you confirmed the source of the jamming signal?

Tuvok's voice: Only that it's from subspace.

Chakotay: (sits back on the bed) Subspace?.... Thank-you Commander. Chakotay out. (he lays back down, punching his pillow) Subspace?

Scene Four
Captain Janeway's quarters. Day 8, 3:19 am

(KJ is in her pink robe, feet on her ottoman, reclining on the chair with a book. She finally sits the book down and gets up to head for the bedroom.)

(door chimes)

Janeway: (sighs & looks at the time on the Grandfather clock before turning back to the door) Enter. Okay, Seven,...what is it this time?

(The door swishes open to reveal Chakotay.)

Chakotay: (extremely haggard) Sorry, Captain. I'm not Seven. May I come in?

Janeway: (concerned) Certainly Commander... what's wrong?

Chakotay: (frantically begins to pace in the room) I can't sleep....

Janeway: Lord, you look horrid. Sit down! I'm calling the Doctor... you're going to have to give in and take an inducer!

Chakotay: (won't sit, but does go to lean on the viewport while he emphatically shakes his head) No No No! I tried one... it just made things worse this afternoon... The DREAMS! Oh God! It made them even MORE vivid, more REAL... no, No NO! I can't use one of them again... Not if I'm going to feel this bad.

Janeway: (walks closer) What dreams?

Chakotay: (drops his head to consider... then starts pacing again) Dreams? No not "just" dreams. Nightmares. Night Terrors!

Janeway: (tries to calm his pacing with her tone) Chakotay, its possible you just had a reaction to the medicine... some people get the opposite effect... Maybe its still in your system.

Chakotay: (stutters with fatigue) Can... can't... can't be. I took it hours ago... it's only suppose to be in your system 30 minutes. (closes & opens eyes repeatedly) Kathryn... EVERYtime I try to sleep... they just get worse! (anguished) I Can't Sleep. I Can't SLEEP!

Janeway: Chakotay... the Doctor said the gravimetric distortions were affecting people. Maybe if we moved your quarters to a more shielded part of the ship, or if we tried a different class of sedatives on you...

Chakotay: (stops in front of her, nearly yelling) Kathryn! You aren't LISTENING! I CAN'T Sleep! I WON'T LET myself sleep!

Janeway: (grabs his shoulders as he tries to walk away) WHY! Tell me!

Chakotay: (shaking with great shuddering tremors, he closes his eyes) Because... everytime I do... I see you die.

(He drops to the couch and places his head in his hands. Janeway sits next to him, her hand slowly massaging circles on his back)

Janeway: (gently) Explain.

Chakotay: (looks morose) Everytime I go to sleep... you die. It's been like this for the last 3 days. We're on the bridge... the Vidians enter... the computer counts down to zero and the ship self destructs. (sighs) I've seen the Hirogen kill you innumerable ways... sometimes you are Human, sometimes Klingon, once you were even a Romulan. I've watched you die in a shuttle wreck... with me helpless to save you. And I've seen the Vidians strangle you to death in a cave. I've seen us blow up in a shuttle... and watched the DOCTOR euthanize you because he said you had the PHAGE!

Janeway: (eyes growing wide with concern) Chakotay. I recognize the first few... and to be honest I've dreamt about a few of them myself in the last 7 years... but how could you dream about those last 4? Those were hallucinations I had when that "afterlife" alien tried to kill me.

Chakotay: (frustrated) Don't you think I've wondered about that?

Janeway: (tentative) You knew the Hallucinations existed , Maybe whatever brought out these nightmares also included your interpretations of these "events".

Chakotay: (leans his head on the back of the couch) "Sounds logical" But then... answer me this. Why have I seen you die with the crew on a frozen planet? Or with B'Elanna in a bridge explosion? And Where did I dream up the idea of you, standing on the bridge - alone - no uniform other than a dirty ripped tank top with a silver pocket watch tucked into the waistband of your slacks?. Half the bridge was blown away, containment fields in place... (he sits back up straight and closes his eyes as if to see the scene) You had just ordered the computer to put the ship on a collision course and you plunged Voyager into the side of an alien ship I've never seen before. (he pleads) Explain THAT one, Kathryn! (he shakes his head slowly as it drops back onto his chest)............ Are these more visions of the future that you & Tuvok are "protecting" me from?

Janeway: (leans in to whisper in his ear) No, no, Chakotay. I promise... there are no other visions. These must just be the result of a "too vivid" imagination... with one nightmare rolling into another. They Never happened, Chakotay. They Never will.

Chakotay: (sits up to look in her eyes) Never will, Kathryn? (he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a box) I wouldn't be so sure about that. (he hands the box to her.)

Janeway: (takes it... and hesitates. She opens it to find a silver pocket watch, and pulls it out so it dangles freely) Is this...?

Chakotay: The very same. I was going to give it to you for your birthday next month. (shakes his head as he slowly stands up & walks back to the viewport. He turns back to Janeway and lowers himself onto the marginal "windowsill") "Be careful what you wish for... isn't that what you like to say...?

Janeway: (stands up to face Chakotay) Say about what?

Chak; (looks up at the ceiling & laughs) Yesterday morning I chided you for NOT confiding in me about your knowledge of Kes' future. (points to the watch still in Janeway's hand) So now I'm given my own trial. Are my visions "real"... or are they just hallucinations caused by the lack of sleep & too many gravimetric distortions?

Janeway: (continues to cradle watch) If you are asking for my opinion... its the latter. (moves closer to lean into him) Listen, you sit down and I'll make my grandmother's secret weapon for insomnia. (she snakes her arm through his and guides him back to the couch). Hot Chocolate.

Chakotay: (sits down, but is clearly skeptical) Hot Chocolate?

Janeway: Sure... decaff.... with a generous dollop of Romulan Ale...(smiles at his expression) Relax... it's not illegal in the DQ. (she turns to the replicator) Computer... 1 cup of Grandma Janeway's Hot Chocolate.

(as the machine purrs, she bends down to retrieve the flask from her lower cabinet. By the time she turns back to Chak... his head is lolling back on the sofa... and he's fast asleep.)

Janeway: (whispers) See, works everytime... (she sips at the drink & sets the Ale aside.)

Chakotay: What is it with you - do you have a DeathWish?

Janeway: (her head jerks up - but she realizes he's still asleep) What do you mean?

Chakotay: Volunteering to stay on Voyager to blow up Dreadnaught? Volunteering to carry Kes into that Nakista shrine filled with lethal biogenic energy? Volunteering to stay behind in the void & collapse the Malon conduit? Volunteering to draw the dark matter aliens away from the Delta Flyer's escape pods? My God! Volunteering to be ASSIMILATED? And now this, THIS! When we are so close!

Janeway: (leans closer) So close? Close to what, Chakotay?

Chakotay: Well I'm not going to standby while you try to kill yourself again. I can't........ I WON'T!

Janeway: (covers the sleeping Chakotay with a blanket as he ends his tirade) You won't, eh? Won't what?

Scene Five
Janeway's quarters. Janeway is sleeping in the chair, Chakotay is sprawled on the sofa. Day 8 6:15 am

(Com Badge Beeps)

Tuvok's voice: Tuvok to Captain Janeway & Commander Chakotay.

(both officers jump awake)

Janeway: Janeway here!

Chakotay: Chakotay here!

Tuvok's voice: I am calling as instructed. Mr Kim has reached Lt Paris' shuttle & has been successful at cutting the jamming signal. Mr Vorik is at present sending data to Lt Torres that he promises will be quite interesting. I believe you will want to see this for yourself.

Janeway: Thank-you, Tuvok. We'll be there presently, Janeway out. (she looks at her 1st officer with concern) How are you feeling?

Chakotay: (rubbing the kinks out of his neck, slightly embarrassed) Like a schoolboy afraid of a thunderstorm... did you really put Romulan Ale in that hot chocolate?

Janeway: (chuckles as she stands & stretches) Oh, I really meant to... but you were out so fast I didn't have time to crack open the seal. (smiling now that she sees he's feeling better) By the way... Chakotay.... that wasn't exactly a compliment, last night.

Chakotay: (walks to the door- and gives her a doubletake when her meaning struck home) Actually.... by my way of thinking, it was the HIGHEST praise, Kathryn. According to Russian Folk Legend.. you gave me the "loveliest" thing on Earth... "Sleep".

Janeway: Hmmm, I'll let that slide this time. (more seriously) Any more dreams?

Chakotay: (stops & thinks) Just one. The sailboat again. We watched the moon rise over the Gulf of Mexico.

Janeway: (nods) Much more acceptable than the Hirogen ones. I'll see you on the bridge, Commander.

Chakotay: Yes Ma'am!

(Chak exits to the hall & Janeway to her bedroom.)

Scene Six
Conference Room. Day 8, 7am

(Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, B'Elanna, Seven & the EMH. Tom Paris is on one monitor, Harry Kim is on the other.)

Kim's voice: I'm telling you Captain, this is AWESOME!

Janeway: Your enthusiasm is infectious Mr Kim... but a few facts would be nice.

Kim's voice: Facts... right! Tom - You guys found it. You tell them.

Paris' voice: No can do, Harry. We may have found it, but you recognized what it was. You should tell them.

Janeway: (slightly exasperated) I don't care who tells me... as long as someone does in the next 15 seconds.

Paris: Captain, it's definately a microsingularity... but it doesn't power a communication array.

Janeway: No?

Kim's voice: (excited) No! It opens a transwarp conduit!

(Jaws drop in the conference room/eyes open wide.)

Tuvok: Elaborate.

Paris' voice: Vorik & I did a little Array reconnaissance during the comm blackout, especially since that subspace disruption also sent our warp drive temporarily offline.

EMH: I warned you against that.

Vorik's voice: On the contrary, Doctor. You said we would be dead after 10 minutes of exposure. The Lt and I limited our surveys on the Array to 5 minutes each.

Paris' voice: And so far... so good, Doc.

Vorik's voice: When Lt Kim arrived, he recognized the energy signatures as being similar to those associated with transwarp conduit generators.

Kim's voice: True, but Vorik is the one who figured out how to manipulate the controls to open one... and we think on how to direct the conduit too.

Vorik's voice: This was only possible after both Lt Kim and Crewman Lessing each took their own 5 minute trips over to the array to study the computers.

B'Elanna: Any idea how far this can take us?

Kim: If Vorik's calculations are right... it should drop us well within the Alpha Quadrant!

Paris' voice: Permission to celebrate, Ma'am?

Janeway: (smiling) Make that "permission to hope" Tom. I want B'Elanna & Seven to review your data first... I think both shuttles should make their way home now. By the time you arrive... they will probably be done reviewing the data and the party may be in full swing.

Seven: Any further signs of the jamming you experienced?

Paris' voice: No. Vorik is postulating that it was a natural phenonmenon, caused by the microsingularity. Your trick eventually did disrupt it.

Janeway: Gentlemen. Good work. We'll see you this afternoon. (she turns to her senior staff) I suggest we start analyzing all the data from the Cochrane & the Sacagewa ... and I'll alert Neelix to be "on standby" for a celebration.

(Everyone except Janeway stands and walks out. Seven notices & remains behind.)

Seven: Captain? Is something wrong?

Janeway: (pensive, looks up) No, Seven. Why do you ask?

Seven: After 4 years on this ship... I've come to recognize your expressions. This is not the face of the woman who lead us into the Quantum slipstream... or into the tetrion catapault, much less onto the Borg Sphere for that Commando raid..... What is wrong?

Janeway: (forces a grin) Maybe something... maybe nothing. Until I know for sure, Seven, I'd just as soon not worry the crew.

Seven: (walks closer, concerned) I could better assist Lt Torres in her analysis, if you could be more specific about the "maybe something".

Janeway: (sighs) Let's just say... concentrate on the controls for opening & directing the conduit.

Seven: (turns to leave - Then stops) Captain?

Janeway: (looks up again, distracted) Yes, Seven.

Seven: What about the children? If this works, we will be removing them permanently from their home quadrant.

Janeway: Yes, we will. Have they said anything about that prospect?

Seven: No.

Janeway: Well then, maybe you'd best ask them.

(Seven exits.)

(KJ sighs, stands and squares her shoulders before she exits to the bridge.)

Scene Seven
Bridge. Day 8. 3pm.

(Tuvok, KJ Neelix are on the bridge.)

Tuvok: Captain. Both Shuttles have successfully docked.

Janeway: Hail the conquering heroes, eh Tuvok?

Tuvok: Captain?

(Chakotay enters from turbolift)

Chakotay: Captain... preliminary analysis on their data has been promising. B'Elanna & Seven said they'd bring final word up shortly. I'm betting champaigne will be in order. (looks at Neelix)

Neelix: I have several bottles chilling as we speak, Commander. Along with a selection of each "heroes" known preferences in the fingerfood department.

Janeway: (groans) Oh no... does that mean more of Tom's Pork Rinds? When is he going to get off that kick?

Neelix: Well, ahh... Captain, ahh... he actually got off it a week ago. Now he's onto something called "Buffalo wings".

Tuvok: Buffaloes don't have wings.

Neelix: Tell me about it! Do you know how many data bases I had to go through to figure that one out?

Chakotay: Please tell me they aren't like those Rocky Mountain oysters he made us eat last year?

Neelix: Oh No... no. They're just chicken wings with a rather zesty hot sauce. I don't mean to toot my own horn... but Tom says mine really open up the "old sinues".

Tuvok: (doubtful) That is a good thing?

Neelix: Why certainly it is, Mr Tuvok... uh... ah... at least so Tom tells me.

(turbolift opens and Paris emerges with Kim.)

Chakotay: You seem to be missing a few colleagues.

Paris: I know... but neither could wait to get to Engineering and checkout B'Elanna's critique of our findings.

Janeway: (stands up and offers her hand) Congratulations to all 4 of you. You've done a great job... whether the data holds up or not. (shakes both men's hand)

Kim: Thank-you Captain.

Paris: Anything in the quest to get home... eh Captain?

Janeway: (stops to consider) Within reason, Tom... within reason.

Neelix: If you would care to join us in the messhall... we have a little celebration planned....

Paris: (looks to Harry & smiles) Don't mind if we do. Lead the way, Neelix.

(Tom, Harry & Neelix exit the bridge, along with Tuvok & half the bridge crew.)

Janeway: Chakotay? Save a glass of champaigne for me, I'll be down in a minute.

Chakotay: Aye, Captain.

(Chakotay exits via the turbolift)

(Janeway exits to her ready room. The turbolift doors open, B'Elanna & Seven step out. B'Elanna looks to Ayala at tactical....)

B'Elanna: The Captain?

Ayala: (inclines head to her ready room) She's just about to leave for the messhall.

(BLT & Seven rush over to the ready room so fast they nearly collide with the Captain as she tries to re-enter the bridge.)

B'Elanna: Captain! We must speak with you!

Janeway: Can't this wait, B'Elanna. We're late for the victory party as it is.

B'Elanna: (looks to Seven & then to the Captain) No, Captain... This can't wait.

Janeway: (stares at the Lt, a sinking feeling beginning to appear) What?

Seven: Captain. It wasn't... "maybe nothing".


Scene 1
Janeway's Ready Room.

(KJ is looking out the viewport. Seven & B'Elanna are sitting on the sofa, quite solemn.)

Janeway: Options?

B'Elanna: (throws up her hands) None that we can see. It's like a deadman's switch on that 19th century locomotive in Harry's Wild West holonovel. The train won't run unless the engineer's hand is on the throttle.

Janeway: What if we used the Doc's mobile holoemitter & programmed an "engineer"?

Seven: B'Elanna thought of that, but the gravimetric distortions would adversely affect the holoemitter. It would never hold it's magnetic containment field enough to manipulate the controls.

Janeway: Tom transported a probe into the Array to study it... could we modify one to run the computer via a virtual reality controller?

B'Elanna: Seven thought of that... The problem is the probe stopped functioning 46 seconds into its use. We think it was affected by the subspace jamming signal. Natural or not, if it occurs again while we are in the conduit (shudders slightly) it's just not safe. We could end up 70,000 lightyears... or 7,000,000 light years on the other side of the Alpha quadrant!

(Door Chimes)

Janeway: (rubs her chin) Come.

(Chakotay & Tuvok enter)

Chakotay: (looks warily at the trio in the room) Captain? You're missing a great party.

Janeway: (sinks down onto a chair.) Tell them.

B'Elanna: (takes a big breath) There's a problem with controlling the transwarp conduit.

Tuvok: (walks forward to stand in front of the engineer) Specify.

Seven: To use the conduit successfully, someone must be on the Array.

Chakotay: (bravado showing) No problem. I beam in, open the conduit, get beamed out as Voyager crosses the threshold.

B'Elanna: (looks at him with compassion) It's not that simple. The conduit's course is not automatic... someone has to monitor us while we are in it & make course adjustments as needed.

Tuvok: Then our terminology is imprecise. It is not like the Borg Transwarp conduits.

Seven: Yes, it is... its just several centuries behind today's Borg technology.

B'Elanna: Who knows? Maybe the Borg assimilated this tech years ago from another Array, and enhanced it as their expertise improved.

Chakotay: Can we upgrade the controls using present day technology?

Seven: No. Just as we can not build a Borg Transwarp coil due to lack of appropriate materials... we also can not upgrade this technology sufficiently to eliminate this problem.

Janeway: Okay, we hit a snag. That's nothing new. Let's get our teams working on it and try to solve it. Use everyone on this, people. We Need options. Dismissed.

(Janeway turns to look out the viewport over the back of the sofa as all but Chakotay file out.)

Janeway: (turns, surprised to see he's still there) Commander?

Chakotay: (quietly) I know what you're doing. It's not going to work.

Janeway: (feigns confusion) I'm sorry?

Chakotay: (approaches her purposely) You are giving "them" busy work, letting them run down every deadend until the magnitude of this information sinks in. You are counting on the fact that by the time you make your announcement... yes... there will be shock and dismay... but also relief that the Captain has solved the insolvable... and that they will... grudgingly... come to accept your solution.

Janeway: (matches his quiet tone) I can see you've got me all figured out.

Chakotay: (stands over her, anger slowly building) I know you Kathryn.... probably better than I know myself. I've spent the majority of the last 7 years of my life within 10 meters of you. You can't hide this from me. I can see it in your eyes... you've already made your decision!

Janeway: (folds her hands as she crosses her legs) Then we have nothing else to talk about, do we?

Chakotay: (infuriated!) What IS it with you? Do you have a DeathWish!

(Janeway looks up startled... and not just because of his tone.)

Chakotay: Volunteering to carry Kes into that Nakista shrine full of lethal biogenic energy? Volunteering to stay behind in the void to collapse the Malon conduit? Volunteering to draw the Dark Matter aliens away from the Delta Flyer's escape pods? By God! Volunteering to be ASSIMILATED... and now this! THIS, when we're so close!

Janeway: (jumps up to confront him face to face) What would you have me do, Chakotay?! I Promised this crew AND myself that I'd get them home! This isn't an empty gesture made out of a vain attempt to assuage my guilt... this is going HOME! 30,000 light years in one day! How can I say "no" to that?

Chakotay: (stops Abruptly) Simple. "N" "O" . No.

Janeway: (turns from him to look out the viewport at stars unfamiliar to her childhood) I can't do that, Chakotay.

Chakotay: (takes a breath, tries a different tack) You DO realize, that to monitor our course... you will have to be on the Array much longer than 10 minutes.

Janeway: (refuses to turn back to look at him) Yes.

Chakotay: (heat seeping back into his voice) You won't LAST 10 minutes!

Janeway: Not in a conventional suit... But I'm sure we can modify one to filter out the radiation for at least an hour. B'Elanna thinks that's all I'd need.

Chakotay: (turns to pace in the room) This is Insane!

Janeway: It's the only way, Chakotay. (she finally turns to look at him) I wish you could see that. Just like bringing Kes back into the Nakista Shrine was the only way to save her.

Chakotay: (stops pacing, suddenly) Well, I'm not going to standby this time while you try to kill yourself. I can't! (he spins to leave the room, and stops just before the door) I won't!

(Chakotay exits)

Janeway: (shakes head in confusion) You won't?

Scene Two
Messhall. Neelix is cleaning up from the abbreviated party. The 5 children enter. Day 8, 3:44pm

Neelix: Good Afternoon, children. Can I get you a snack or something?

Naomi: What happened here? Did you have a party and not invite us?

Neelix: Well... we had a small... well... not so small party. It was actually quite a large party for a while... but very short. It wasn't in progress long enough to interrupt your schooling.

Mezoti: What were you celebrating?

Azan: Did Lt Paris.....

Rebi: ......and Lt Kim return?

Neelix: Yeesss.

Echeb: Has Lt Torres confirmed the existence of a transwarp generator at the Array?

Neelix: My... you ARE up to date on the local gossip, aren't you?

Mezoti: It isn't gossip. It's "current events". The Doctor told us about the possible generator during our science tutorial today.

Neelix: Well... I stand corrected. And yes, Lt Torres DID confirm it is a transwarp generator.

Naomi: (hopefully) Then we'll be going home soon? I'm going to actually meet my Dad?..... Do you think he'll like me?

Neelix: (walks over to put his arm around her) Oh Naomi! He ALREADY likes you. Hasn't he sent you the BEST letters each month... you have nothing to fear. (looks to the Borg kids) What about the rest of you? How do you feel about going to the Alpha Quadrant... and leaving your homes in the Delta Quadrant?.

Echeb: (sincerely) My home is no longer my own. I wish I could return... but I know they will only accept me back as a weapon to be used against the Borg. My home is this ship, and where ever it goes... Delta or Alpha quadrant.

Mezoti: (matter of factly) My home is wherever Seven is.

Azan: We have no home.

Rebi: Our world, our people have all been assimilated.

Azan: We agree with Mezoti and Echeb.

Rebi: For 2 years, Seven & Voyager have been our home...

Azan: ....Naomi & Mezoti our sisters...

Rebi: ......Echeb our brother....

Azan: ......Neelix our uncle.

Neelix: (looks up, startled at the inclusion. He bows.) I am honored, Azan, Rebi. Thank-you.

Naomi: (looks around the room) Neelix, you'll never get this room cleaned up in time for supper, can we help?

Neelix: (follows her gaze) Why certainly, Naomi. That would be a great help, and I could start on the meal. I don't think people want warmed over buffalo wings and watered down ettouffe.

Mezoti: (starts to clear tables) Neelix? What about you? How do you feel about leaving YOUR Delta Quadrant home?

Neelix: Ahh... me? Oh... You know me... Delta Quadrant, Alpha Quadrant, primitive planet, advanced starship.... I can pretty much make myself comfortable wherever I am.

Echeb: So... Voyager has no special place in Your Life?

Neelix: (stops, and smiles) Oh... I wouldn't say That. But actually I'd rather say the CREW of Voyager has an especially special place in my life. All the way from the Ship's Captain... (and he then turns and taps each child in succession) to the ship's kids. Now --- lets get to work!

Scene Three
Engineering. B'Elanna, Tom, Harry, Neelix & Seven. Day 9. 11 am.

Kim: (throws his padd down.) Nothing! It's almost as if its designed to thwart us... like it wants us to fail.

Seven: Failure is not a given. As long as someone stays behind... the rest can go home.

B'Elanna: (disgusted) Great! And we ALL know who THAT someone's going to be... right! D@mn it! NOT if I have anything to say about it!

Paris: (pacing ) Why are we getting ourselves so worked up over this? All we have to do is tell "her" no! He!!, we did it 3 years ago when she tried to send us through the Malon conduit without her... This is no different.

Seven: (logically) Yes it is. That sacrifice would have been meaningless. Cutting 2 years off a 62 year journey. This cuts a 30 year journey to one day.

Kim: That's a little cold, Seven... even for you. I'm not willing to leave the Captain behind... even if it would cut 30 years to one minute!

Seven: I am not suggesting the Captain stay behind. I am suggesting I stay behind.

Neelix: What?????

Seven: I am the logical choice. I have no memory of Earth, or of my family there. I am better suited to withstand the rigors of the radiation in the Array.

Neelix: But... But... What about the children?

Seven: They will prosper in the Alpha Quadrant without me.

Neelix: I beg to differ! They told me only yesterday that HOME to them is YOU. Wherever YOU are. AQ or DQ. You can't abandon them... and the 5 of you could not hope to survive for long in a class 2 shuttle if we left you all behind.

Seven: (stoical) I see no alternative.

Neelix: Well I do. ME!

Paris: (scoffs) You?

Neelix: (puffs self up) Why not?

Kim: The course corrections & calculations required are beyond your capabilities, Neelix.

Neelix: Now you're just being mean, Harry.

B'Elanna: No, he's not. Be realistic, Neelix. There are only a handful of people on this ship that can do this job... and you aren't one of them.

Paris: (ears perk up as he turns to warn B'Elanna) You're not about to suggest something that's REALLY going to get me upset... are you?

B'Elanna: I've already volunteered to be assimilated, Tom. That was my one selfless deed for a lifetime.... Don't worry. No. I'm suggesting something More radical... that we DO what Captain Janeway TOLD us to do 7 years ago.

Kim: You've lost me.

B'Elanna: (patiently) She told us... she would not sacrifice the Ocampa for "our convenience". I'm saying WE shouldn't sacrifice our Captain (looks sternly to Seven & Neelix) or ANYONE else... for OUR convenience.

(Talk continues around the console in Engineering, and so it was not surprising that the adults did not see Rebi standing quietly in the background... taking down everything he heard on his padd.)

Scene Four
Janeway's ready room. Day 9. 5 pm

(KJ & Chak are confronting each other.)

Janeway: (waving a padd) YOU put them up to this again... didn't you! (NOT pleased)

Chakotay: (NOT backing down) This time I'm completely innocent. They came to me with the petition to sign... although I WAS ready to suggest it if it wasn't forthcoming.

Janeway: (turns & drops padd on her desk) Chakotay... a starship isn't a democracy....

Chakotay: (interrupts) And you are not a Martyr... Why do you insist on acting like one?.......(suspicious) Is this another vision from Tuvok that you've neglected to tell me?

Janeway: (stiffens & turns away)

Chakotay: (steps around to face her) Captain! You claimed everything Tuvok experienced had come to pass. That there were no further visions to deal with!

Janeway: (looks defiantly into his eyes) There are no more... none from Tuvok. (she tries to walk away but he restrains her)

Chakotay: (exasperated) Who else....... You?

Janeway: (shakes off his hand) No!

Chakotay: (refuses to be denied) Then who!

Janeway: (looks at him with pity) You.

Chakotay: (staggers back as if she's struck him) No! Those were nightmares... you said so yourself.... of things past... of wild imaginings... and sleepless nights. Nothing more!

Janeway: (shakes head saddly) Or so I thought. But I learned something about you 2 nights ago, Chakotay. You talk in your sleep.

Chakotay: (wary) And?

Janeway: (walks toward the viewport) That night you gave me... in your sleep....... the very same speech... word for word..... that you delivered in this very room 12 hours later. About my "deathwish".

Chakotay: (relieved) Is that all?

Janeway: (turns, helpless against the fates) Isn't that enough?!

Chakotay: No! It only proves you "considered" going on this foolhardy mission, not that you WILL go. (he walks up to her) Kathryn! Be reasonable...

Janeway: I am being reasonable, Chakotay.

Chakotay: (falls back again with anger) Then for ONCE will you think of ME, of your CREW!

Janeway: (her flashpoint ignites) I AM thinking of YOU AND my crew!

Chakotay: (taunts her) Oh yes... YOU will get us home... at ANY personal cost.... but WHAT about OUR personal costs?! WE will be living with the GUILT of your "sacrifice" for the REST of our lives!

Janeway: (turns away sullenly) May they be long and happy lives... IN the Alpha Quadrant.

Chakotay: (walks back to her, voice cold and still) That's very callous of you, Kathryn. You've often spoke of the Guilt YOU feel... stranding us in the DQ... so far from home.... (his voice slowly warms as he leans to speak directly into her ear.) Open your heart for one moment. THINK of the guilt YOUR crew will feel, the guilt they already DO feel, worrying that you MAY try to stay behind... and die.... on that d@mned Array.... For them.

Janeway: (whispers) The environmental suit will protect me....

Chakotay: (his hands came to rest gently on her shoulders as he continues to press his case) .... No, Kathryn... it won't. Tuvok & the Doctor have already shown that even with enhancements... you'd be dead within the week.

Janeway: (she slowly shakes her head in protest) Chakotay....

Chakotay: (his hands fall away, and he steps back to address her in a normal tone.) No Kathryn. Their answer..... (he turns back to point to the Petition padd she dropped on her desk) as is my own... is "no".

(Chakotay exits.)

(Janeway walks to the front of the desk and sits on its edge. Staring at the closed door to Voyager's bridge.)


Male voice: Such a passionate man. I never would have suspected the depths of it from our lst encounter.

(Janeway whirls to face the man now sitting on her sofa, under the viewport.)

Janeway: (recognizes him immediately) Security to Ready room! Intruder Alert!

Kurros: (waves nonchalantly at the air) Oh, never mind the formalities, Captain. I've taken liberties with your comm system again. (he sits back, holding an alien padd like it was a wet fish between his hands) We tried to do this.... surreptitiously... but I can see after your 1st officer's impasioned defense... that it's NOT going to work.

Janeway: (approaches Kurros with great disdain) Do WHAT surreptitiously, Kurros? Why? I believe you received an unambiguous answer the last time you came on board. Seven will NOT leave Voyager to join your mercenary "think-tank".

Kurros: Oh Captain.... I assure you its not Seven we seek.... As you said, she made her feeling Quite well known in our last encounter. No. At the risk of sounding "fickle"... this time we want you.

Janeway: (aghast) Me?!

Kurros: Yes, strange, isn't it? As my colleagues pointed out... once we got the universal translator fixed and could communicate... We were bested not by the drone.... she was just the tool..... We were beaten by you.

Janeway: I suppose I should be flattered?

Kurros: Seven had the databases available to the hive mind at her command... but she couldn't manipulate them to defeat us, like you did. We have the data of countless worlds... but what we need is someone to direct us in its manipulation. That someone... is you.

Janeway: (deprecatingly polite) I'm touched. And what, pray tell, does this have to do with my present predicament?

Kurros: (spreads his hands apart, using his padd as a "pointer") We can help you survive the radiation in the Array. This will allow your crew's guilt to be mollified enough to allow them to "let you" make this "sacrifice".

Janeway: (sneers) How gallant of you.... and in return?

Kurros: (shrugs slightly as he punches commands into the padd) You join us. An explorer like yourself should jump at such an offer, Captain. Why the places I've seen in the last 6 months alone would have you salivating...

Janeway: (sarcastically) I'm sure. And if I say no?

Kurros: (simply) "No". Hmmmm. Well, then you'll either be facing a slow lonely death from radiation poisoning in the DQ while your ship goes home.... or you and your crew will be spending the next 30 years traveling home "the scenic route." (he stands) It's your choice... Captain. (he now points his padd at her computer) I've put my comm frequency into your database...again. Call me when you've decided.

(With a wave of his hand over his padd, the Kurros holoprojection winked out of existence. Janeway now stood alone, in the middle of her room. Glancing over her shoulder she again sees the petition padd left by Chakotay. Walking over to it... she picks it up... weighs it briefly in both hands... and then turns to exit the room.)

Scene 5
Holodeck. Chakotay's sparring program is running. He's fighting the dreadlocked Tellarian. Day 9, 6 pm

(Janeway enters and watches her 1st officer endure and deliver several flurries of blows, until finally the Tellarian oversteps and Chakotay's fist connects too solidly with his jaw. The Tellarian falls at Chakotay's feet... It's obvious that the round was too short for her officer's tastes. Janeway reaches for the bell at the side table and rings it 3 times. A startled Chakotay turns to see her pull herself up over the ropes and step into the ring.)

Janeway: (walks over to look down at the Tellarian) Anyone I know?

Chakotay: (looks at her quizzically, but plays along) As Boothby often tells me, my opponents are mere extensions of myself. (looks down at the man on the mat) Today... he is my frustration.

Janeway: (not looking at Chakotay) Looks like you won.

Chakotay: (looks back at her) Did I? Computer - - End Program.

(The gym dissolves to reveal the holodeck, empty except for a robe Chakotay had brought with him initially.)

Janeway: Computer... Run Janeway holoprogram... Academy gardens, mid spring.

(Star Fleet Academy's San Francisco campus appears with multiple blooming gardens bordering a manmade lagoon. An ancient gardener approaches the couple, carrying a bright red rose.)

Boothby: (hands flower to Kathryn) For you, my dear... (he looks skeptically at Chakotay) Son... I think you forgot to change when you left the gym. (he nods to Janeway as he walks down the path)

Janeway: (smiles as she sniffs the bloom) Now that's how I prefer MY Boothby. (turns to Chakotay) Walk with me........ Commander?

Chakotay: (pulls robe on & cinches it) Lead on...... Captain.

(At first, they walk in silence.)

Janeway: (starts tentatively) The strangest thing happened on the way ... actually... TWO of the strangest things happened on my way to see you.

Chakotay: (noncommital) Oh?

Janeway: (hand brushing through the ferns they walked beside) Echeb, Mezoti, Azan & Rebi stopped me in the corridor... they volunteered to remain on the Array and send us home.

Chakotay: (stops in his tracks) What!

Janeway: (stops, shrugs, & walks on) I know. Ridiculous. Naturally I gently.,... but firmly, refused... Then I was treated to a list of logical reasons from Echeb as to WHY I should change my mind.

Chakotay: (slowing to match her stride) And?

Janeway: (looks up to the man next to her) Again, I refused. But then all FOUR began to pummel me with why I was wrong... I must say... when all 4 get going at once, they can be quite intimidating. I don't know how Seven does it. (she stops at a park bench near the lagoon & motions for them to sit.)

Chakotay: (as he sits next to her, he slowly turns to feel the sun on his face... and notices the full moon still visible in the afternoon sky.) I think she's learned to ignore most of it... selective hearing... that's how my mom and dad survived our clan.

Janeway: (also leans back to feel the sun hit her face) Have the Kids been harrassing you for interviews as research for their school projects, like they've done to B'Elanna?

Chakotay: (unsure where this is leading, tries to relax).....Oh yes.....even Naomi. They've been trying to pin me down on everything from the length of time I was in biometric assessment to timelines. Even the Doctor was telling me about getting his feathers ruffled by the kids because he couldn't explain Ocampan biology to their satisfaction.

Janeway: Ahh..... let me guess... the infamous "one child one couple question"?.

Chakotay: (grins despite himself) The very same.

Janeway: ( leans in toward Chakotay) Even with what selective hearing I employed, I did hear something Mezoti said. She claimed we are faced with the same dilemma the Caretaker faced. We need someone... "a replacement", to help us in our mission. We don't have the time to grow one, or clone one, and we can't use our holographic or robotic technology to create a satisfactory one. To her... it was obvious... we should use THEM instead. After all, they are Delta quadrant species... and it "is" unlikely they would ever find true acceptance back in the Alpha quadrant since not all people as are forgiving as Naomi about ex-Borg.

Chakotay: (closes eyes & sighs) Hmmmmm, out of the mouths of Babes....

Janeway: (turns to him) Chakotay... why didn't he?

Chakotay: (eyes open) Didn't he what?

Janeway: Why didn't he just leave a holographic representation of himself to run the array? His tech was easily more advanced than ours... why NOT create an "Emergency Caretaker Hologram"?

Chakotay: I don't know, Captain... (sits up, tone becomes more quizzical) Is that why you came all the way down here... to ask me that?

Janeway: (intently) But just think of it... If he'd done that... he wouldn't have wasted time and resources dragging us from the AQ!

Chakotay: (tired) And if Cochrane hadn't discovered warp power, humanity would have never left Earth... What good is going over old news - Frankly I haven't thought of the Caretaker in quite sometime.

Janeway: Me neither... until this past week when I started to dream about him, and the array, and Ocampa, ........and Kes. (shakes her head)

Chakotay: Well, strange as it may seem at this late date... I'd stll prefer your dreams to mine.

Janeway: (commiserates) Not another one?

Chakotay: (nods) Fraid so. Last night, the BIGGEST Klingon warrior I ever hope to meet, Bat'lethed everyone ......except you. You he stabbed through the heart.

Janeway: Thanks.

Chakotay: (shrugs) If I had to guess ... it was the "naje"... B'Elanna's dream before dieing.

Janeway: Yes... I remember her describing it to me... What a concept. A fantasy world we create to deny the fact of our own death.

Chakotay: Hey, you said "two" of the strangest things happened... what was the other one?

Janeway: (sits back and draws a breath) Kurros visited me today.

Chakotay: (jumps to a standing position) What? Why?

Janeway: (pensive) I don't know why. I know why he claimed to be here... but who knows? Funny... he seemed different this time.

Chakotay: How so?

Janeway: Even more self assured? if that's possible... more energetic...I'd say he was even trying to be... seductive?

Chakotay: Does he really think that he has a chance with Seven?... especially after last time?

Janeway: Ohhhh.... it's not Seven he wants... its me. (KJ smirks at her 1st officer's expression) Computer... run security program... Captain's ready room... time index 1732.22

(The scene disolves from the academy gardens into the captain's ready room. Janeway & Chakotay watch as Kurros spars with the Captain. Chakotay notices something odd, walks into the middle of the simulation and bends close to obseve the object in Kurros' hands.)

Chakotay: Computer! Freeze program! (he points to the Padd) What's that he has?

Janeway: (walks over to join Chakotay.) I don't know. I don't remember it from his previous visit. I assume it's just the activation padd for his holographic transport device... why?

Chakotay: (stands up and faces Janeway) Because that same padd was hanging from the belt of the Klingon that Killed us in my dream last night.

Scene Six
Tuvok's quarters. Its semi-dark. Tuvok is meditating. Day 9, 7 pm

(Door Chimes)

Tuvok: (eyes open) Enter.

(Janeway and Chakotay come in the room.. Chakotay has changed out of his boxing togs/robe and is back in uniform. They both look grim.)

Tuvok: Captain... Commander.

Janeway: (seriously) Tuvok. I have a request... but 1st I must warn you... I can not explain it in any way. Can you comply without questions?

Tuvok: If the request is within reason.

Janeway: (takes a deep breath as she looks at Chakotay.) I need you to mind meld with Chakotay & me, as you did with Seven and me last year.

Tuvok: The bridging of minds.

Chakotay: Yes.

Tuvok: You will want the Doctor in attendence again.

Janeway: (shakes head vigourously) No..... Please, Tuvok.... No further questions.

Tuvok: (regards each face carefully before he motions them to join him on his meditation mat. Deliberately, he reaches for each officer's temple.) My mind to your minds.... Your minds to mine. My mind to your minds...

(Time passes, with the trio locked in the Vulcan's mind meld.)

(Finally, the Vulcan breaks the meld, and all three officers stand.)

Chakotay: (looks to Tuvok - and extends his hand) Thank-you Tuvok.

(After shaking Tuvok's hand, he nods briefly to Janeway and turns to leave.)

(Chakotay exits.)

Tuvok: (watches with Janeway as Chakotay exits) Captain?

(Janeway turns her attention back to the man she's called friend for 20 years.)

Tuvok: May I take this opportunity to tell you.... serving with you on Voyager these last 7 years have been both the most challenging and rewarding of my life.

Janeway: (smiles sweetly up at the Vulcan) Tuvok.... after all the years, all the missions, all the mind melds we've shared... I know there's not a single secret I've been able to keep from you.... so what I'm about to do won't come as a surprise.

(Janeway reached up to enfold the Vulcan in a bear hug... one which he slowly returns.)

Janeway: (partially releasing him so she could take a half step back) May T'Pel hold you in her arms soon.... old friend.

(Janeway exits.)

Scene Seven
Voyager Bridge : All the senior staff are present... except Janeway. Day 10. 8 am

B'Elanna: (raging!) This is Insane! I can't believe you two are going along with this!

Chakotay: (loudly) Believe it, Lieutenant! Now prepare the Aerowing - she's launching Tomorrow at 0 900 hours.

Paris: (jumps up from the conn) Now wait a minute! B'Elanna's right. NOTHING's changed since yesterday when you and Tuvok BOTH signed our petition... what gives?

Tuvok: (unperturbed) "Nothing Gives", Mr Paris. New data has caused us to refine our positions, nothing more.

Kim: (scoffs) New data! What new data? Everything we've learned from our probes and subsequent away missions to the Array have CONFIRMED it's a death trap!

Tuvok: Not necessarily, Mr. Kim. The Captain & I have modified Lt Torres' portable containment shield generator to be used on the Array. That, with the modified environmental suit, and the new radiation vaccines from the Doctor, will give the Captain sufficient protection.

Seven: (brusquely) I wish to see these shield generator specifications.

Tuvok: That would serve no useful purpose... but they are in the tactical database. Review them if you wish... but be aware... the Doctor has already signed off on this mission... she IS leaving.

Seven: (anger?) We shall see.

(Seven exits)

Chakotay: The Captain's made her decision. -- I don't like it any more than you, but we must abide by it...

Paris: (walks up till he's in Chakotay's face) Since when?

B'Elanna: (joins Tom) This isn't like you, Chakotay.

Paris: Exactly! The man who defied Janeway over the Equinox crew? Who had to be relieved of command and confined to quarters???? Since when do YOU back down when she makes a CLEARLY wrong headed decision?

Chakotay: (anger rising) ENOUGH, Paris! (looks to Tom) You have your orders. If you can't follow them... then I'll strip you of your rank and confine you to the brig!

Kim: (chin jutting out) And if we ALL refuse?

Tuvok: (threatens calmly) We can turn the entire of deck 7 into a brig if we need to....

B'Elanna: (disgusted) I don't believe this is happening...

Chakotay: BELIEVE IT! (turns in circles to make eye contact with every member of the bridge crew) One way OR another... you WILL be arriving in the Alpha quadrant Tommorrow. (stops to stare down Paris) Will it be piloting the Conn, Mr Paris... or as a passenger under lock and key? Decide. Now.

Scene Eight
SickBay. The Doctor is humming a folk tune as he works. Day 10. 9:20 am

(Seven enters)

Seven: (lays a padd upon his desk) This data is flawed. Explain.

EMH: (looks down at the padd) I'd love to... but you're going to have to give me more info than that.

Seven: (impatiently) Tuvok said the modified portable shield generator, along with your new vaccines and the environmental suit will protect the Captain from the effects of Radiation poisoning on the Array. My calculations indicate all it will do is delay death from 1 week to 4 weeks.

EMH: (looks uninterested) Indeed?

Seven: Why did you sign off on this mission, if you knew this plan is flawed?

EMH: (turns to pick up some blood samples) If you look closely, I never said the plan was sufficient... only that it was substantially improved over the original.

Seven: (spits out her words) SEMANTICS! I thought you were above such lies. How could you allow yourself to be used in this way? To DECEIVE this crew and your Captain?!

EMH: (pride mixing with anger at her impudence) I Resent that accusation, Seven! The Captain has NOT been deceived in any way by this report, THAT I CAN assure you!

Seven: (won't budge) Then why would she accept an assignment that means her certain death?

EMH: (reaches to put the blood samples in the analyzer.) You'll have to ask her yourself. I'm not at liberty to discuss it.

Seven: (begins to walk away, but turns to toss one further accusation) More semantics, Doctor?

EMH: (he snaps) Not semantics! Ethics!

Seven: (sneers) Since when is it ethical to LIE, Doctor?

EMH: (sneers back with equal deadliness) One would THINK, after working for 4 years with a Vulcan... that you'd have learned the difference between lieing... and refusing to tell the truth.

Seven: (harshly) Hiding behind Vulcan philosphy now? It seems beneath you.

EMH: (walks forward until he has Seven by the arm and has escorted her the rest of the way to the sickbay doors) Then how about hiding behind "Doctor - Patient" priviledge? (doors swish open) NOW GO! -- I have WORK to do!

(The EMH steps back from the doors, allowing them to close on Seven.)

Scene Nine
Janeway's quarters. Day 10. 10:15 am . Janeway is packing.

(Door Chimes)

(Seven Enters)

Seven: (she's upset, and it shows) Captain? I have analyzed the schematics on the portable shield generator you and Tuvok have modified.... (Seven is struggling to gain her composure. Janeway ignores her failure)

Janeway: (still packing, says simply) And you've detected a flaw.

Seven: (surprised, control slipping further, She can simply croak out a single word) Yes.

Janeway: (going through her cabinet until she finds the Romulan Ale) You've discovered that it is only going to provide partial protection... and that I've "maybe" 6 weeks to live if I go through with this.

Seven: (tortured, whispers...) Four.

Janeway: (stops, looks down at the nearly full trunk, then over at Seven) Not even as long as I thought. Seems like a waste... packing so much for such a short trip.

Seven: (is in agoney) Captain.....

Janeway: (can't look at her pain. Swallows and sighs.) You haven't told anyone yet... I hope.

Seven: (confused, tries to walk closer to look in Janeway's eyes.) No.... I....

Janeway: (interrupts) Good.

(Janeway walks over to her bookcase and studies the titles stamped on the bindings)

Janeway: I'd appreciate it if you'd help us keep up the subtrefuge for a few more hours....(she picks out 8 volumes.) I know... it would be easier to download everything in my library onto 1 simple padd, but I soooooo like the feel of a book in my hands when I read it.

(As Janeway carries them to her trunk, she finally looks up at Seven... and is appalled at what she sees. A tear has escaped from Seven's right eye.)

Janeway: Seven...?

Seven: (half whispers, half confesses) Captain. ... I .... know.

Janeway: (becomes wary) Know? Know what?

Seven: (lifts a padd) I accessed your medical file this morning.

Janeway: (reaction is instantaneous and incensed!) SEVEN! You had No Right, NO RIGHT! Do you hear me!

Seven: (flinching in pain with every rebuke, she pleads) Captain....

Janeway: (stalks away, and then back at the woman) How Dare you!

Seven: (does not shrink away from the Captain's tirade, although she can't duplicate it) Why didn't you tell us? Tell ... SOMEone?

Janeway: (looks down at the books in her hands, and throws them into the trunk with a great crash) Tell? What's to tell? (she turns her back on Seven and walks over to the viewport.) "Good morning crew. I'm sorry to inform you... but 6 years ago your Captain contracted the phage. The Doctor was able to expand it's usual dormant phase but that phase has now ended. We expect her to fall ill within 4 - 6 months, and without replacement parts she's expected to die within 6 - 9 months." (Janeway turns back to Seven) Is that what you want me to tell 140 men & women I've come to know and love these last 7 years... (Janeway walks back to the trunk. She lowers the lid and locks it before standing back up to face the young woman) Believe me, Seven, its better for all concerned if we let them think I died a glorious death saving their lives... than for me to remain on board this ship (looks about fondly) sitting behind a biohazard field in sickbay... accepting condolences as I whither away. Never knowing if my crew will EVER get home.

Seven: (control non-existant) And what about those of us who canNOT face either scenario?

Janeway: (she walks up to her protege) Seven.... (Janeway reaches up to wipe the tears from Seven's cheek) Death is a fact of life...... (Janeway looks embarrassed, and brings her hand down to her side.) You will adapt.

Seven: (gasping in remembered pain, Seven cries out and backs away from Janeway.) Noooo... that is what "One" told me before HE died in my arms..... (tears take over the ex-drone and she collapses upon the couch.)

Janeway: (appalled at what she's done, sits next to Seven and puts her arms around the quaking shoulders. Soon she is rocking her, like she was a six year old child again.) Oh God, Seven. I'm so sorry, forgive me. Forgive me... I swear I didn't mean to hurt weren't to know... Oh god.... Shushhhh, I'm so sorry... Shusshhh... it's going to be alright, you'll see... shushhhh ... You're going to get through this.... Yessss, You're going to be alright.... No matter what happens.... You're going to be fine... trust me.... Shushhh.....

Seven: (turns to hide her tears by burying her face in Janeway's shoulder.) How? How will I do this... without you?

Janeway: (laughs gently as she continues to rock) I asked my mother that... when my father died. "How were we going to go on?" She told me "that" was what children and relationships were for... When we lose someone we love.... our parents... our spouse.... We have to take that love for them and put it somewhere else. Seven.... Anika.... I learned to put it into my crew... and into you. You will put it into Echeb, and Mezoti, and Azan... and Rebi.

Seven: (unconvinced) I wish now that you had never rescued me from the Borg Queen... if love hurts this much.

Janeway: (chuckling though her own tears) No you don't, Seven. It's because love can FEEL this much, that makes it so powerful. More powerful even, than the Borg... or the Phage... or time & space itself. (brushing back her own tears, Janeway bends down to whisper) You'll see, Annika. You'll see.... I promise.


Scene One
Holodeck. Janeway and Harry are running a simulation of the Array on the Holodeck. Day 10. 5pm

Janeway: (in an environmental suit) And its done. Piece of cake! (she pulls off her helmet to confront Harry)

Kim: (grudgingly, as he walks into the holoprogram) Congratulations. You're 3 for 3, Captain, and you didn't park us even once within a blackhole.

Janeway: (brushes back her hair) Perfect in practice... lets hope I'm just as perfect when it's for real Tomorrow afternoon. Computer. End holoprogram - Array #3.

(The interior of the Array and the environmental suit disappears, leaving Janeway & Kim alone on the empty hologrid.)

Kim: (looking serious) Captain... about this away mission... if I recall my tactical directives correctly... #36 states the Captain must be accompanied by security on any dangerous away mission... not just for safety.... it doubles your chance of success.

Janeway: Harry - Are you requesting a transfer from Operations to Tactical?

Kim: (draws up to his full height) I'd consider it an honor and a priviledge to accompany you, Captain.

Janeway: (with unabashed pride) Harry... I can't begin to tell you how your offer makes me feel. (she sighs) You've come a long way from that green ensign that tried to call me "Sir" (they both smile) so many years ago.

Kim: (lifts eyes to focus on the past) "Ma'am is acceptable in a crunch... but I prefer "Captain"...."

Janeway: (reaches up to grasp his shoulder) Harry. Listen carefully. I DO need you. I need you more now than I ever have in the past. But I need you AT your post on Voyager. And I need you to help B'Elanna & Tom get through this... You know how easy it is for them to let their emotions run away with them. If this mission is to have a HOPE of succeeding Tomorrow, everyone must do their job flawlessly.... Not Just the Captain.... Understood?

Kim: (standing ramrod straight, as he blinks away the gathering moisture, simply croaks) Yes Ma'am!

Janeway: (smiles ruefully, as she nods) That's right "Ensign" -- It's finally "crunch time". (she slips her arm through the crook of his elbow and leans conspiratorially into his shoulder) I have an idea... how about one last go at Neelix's Leola root casserole?

Kim: (face is shocked) You're kidding, right? You don't actually LIKE that stuff?

Janeway: Like it? I hate it. I credit Neelix's cooking with enabling me to fit into a size 4 uniform all these years. (snickers) But... if I have to eat something I really like the night before I leave, then I'll miss it all the more Tomorrow. This way, I'll be happy I won't be stuck having leftover leola root casserole for the lunch special too!

Kim: (shakes head) Captain. I think reasoning like that could be grounds to have you declared unfit for this mission Tomorrow.

Janeway: (growls unconvincingly) Try it, Lt... and I'll bust you down to Crewman!

(Both exit Holodeck)

Scene Two
Captain's Yacht. The Aerowing flight deck. Day 10. 7 pm.

Paris: (pulls self up from under a console) Time out.

B'Elanna: (still under her console) Excuse me?

Paris: My stomach is growling so much, I can't hear myself think... Let's go get something to eat.

B'Elanna: (pulling out and replacing isolinear chips) Go ahead without me, Tom.... If I tried to eat right now... well... let's just ... it would not be a pretty sight in the messhall.

Paris: (coaxingly) B'Elanna...

B'Elanna: (stops working and just lays flat on the floor.) Tom---stop! I feel horrible... okay? You know it. I know it. I can't do a d@mn thing to change it. So just let me rip my heart out until it bleeds enough to make the pain liveable again... okay?

Paris: (sighs) Okay.

(Tom walks to the hatch at the stern of the flight deck, as B'Elanna crawls out from under the console to test her work. He turns back and walks up behind her to cradle her gently from behind. Briefly they melt into one.)

Paris: I'll be back soon... okay?

B'Elanna: Okay.

Scene Three
Messhall. Janeway, Harry Kim & Neelix are sitting at a table by the viewport. Naomi is sitting in Janeway's lap, holding tightly onto the Captain's neck. Day 10. 7:14 pm

(Tom enters)

Paris: (approaches the Captain's table) Sooo, anything good tonight?

Janeway: (looks up at the Lt) The special is Neelix's Leola root surprise.

Paris: (nonplussed) Like I said... anything good tonight?

Kim: (laughs)

Neelix: (stands up with a mock growl) Sit down, Mr Paris... I'll replicate you a pizza!

Paris: (calls after Neelix) No Pepperoni tonight. B'Elanna hates the smell...

Kim: Hey Neelix... why don't you try adding some Leola root to it...

Paris: (shouts back) Don't EVEN think about it! (leans down to Harry) Don't give him any ideas! (straightening up, Tom looks at Janeway) Captain. Something's different about you tonight... You seem to have grown an assistant.

Janeway: How very observant of you, Mr Paris. Yes I have. She fell asleep about 30 minutes ago. We're just waiting for Sam to go off duty in sickbay so she can take her home.

(Janeway rearranges a small blanket over Naomi's shoulders. It carries the initals "NW" on the corner.)

Janeway: So... how is the refit of the Aerowing going?

Paris: (grabs a nearby chair) Oh... the usual story... B'Elanna has half the conn and I don't know how many other systems torn apart. She claims everything will be ready for you by 0 900... so I wouldn't worry.

Janeway: (gives up trying to fit her coffee cup around Naomi's head) I never worry when B'Elanna is on the job.

Kim: (looking for an out) Speaking about being on the job... I think I'll go and give her a hand. See you later Tom, .....Captain.

Paris: ( Sniffing the pizza Neelix just left in front of him, Tom looks up at his friend) Yeah, later, Harry.

(Silence descends as he devours his first slice.)

Janeway: (tilting her head slightly) Your father is very proud of you... You know that, don't you?

Paris: (stops in midslice) You think so? If he does, its only since you came into my life.

Janeway: (smiles) When I was a cadet at the Academy, I remember thinking "all" that Admiral Paris could talk about was "his Tom". Tom did this & Tom won that... On and On... it was infuriating. (her eyes twinkled as Tom looked up in shock) I even complained to my own Dad once... after my first 6 month deep space mission with your Dad... "how come HE never spoke of ME" with the same pride that Admiral Paris obviously had for his son?!

Paris: (sat back in his chair) Why your Dad didn't... like MY Dad did????

Janeway: (nods saddly) It seems that both of our fathers had the same flaw, Tom. They were so busy praising us to everyone who would listen... they never had time to praise us to our face.

(Janeway looks down at the sleeping Naomi, and gently strokes her cheek.)

Janeway: I think that's one of the things I admire most about Samantha. She not only praises Naomi to ME, but also to HER too.

Paris: (takes a deep breath) Captain?

Janeway: Hmmmm?

Paris: Why did you come to New Zealand? You didn't really need me to find Chakotay... did you.

Janeway: (considers briefly) No, I didn't.

Paris: (gulps) Then why?

Janeway: (narrows her gaze as if she could use it to burrow into his soul) To find a young man I'd grown up hearing about my entire Starfleet life. To find a father's son... and offer him one more chance to find himself.

Paris: (eyes glistening, he nods thoughtfully) Did he... this father's son... did he disappoint you... too badly?

Janeway: (half smiles in remembrance) Oh... it was rough going once or twice... but in the end? He was worth every grey hair he gave me. (half smile now spreading into a full powered glow)

(Samantha arrives & greets Janeway)

Sam: (contrite) Oh, Captain... I'm so sorry about this. I thought she was going to spend the evening with Mezoti.

Janeway: (reassures the Ensign) Don't fret, Samantha. She was no problem. Funny, its been 4 years since she fell asleep in my arms. She's a lot harder to balance now.

(Samantha gently wakes Naomi up enough to get her to climb off the Captain and walk home.)

Janeway: (stands up to stretch gratefully) Finally, I have my circulation moving towards my feet again. (she turns to Tom) Good night, Lt.

(Janeway exits messhall)

(After she leaves, Tom stares at his pizza. Three beats later, he's out of his chair and racing down the coorridor after her. He catches up just outside the turbolift.)

Scene Three
Hallway outside messhall.


Janeway: (turns to find Tom running up to her) Yes?

Paris: (stops, unsure...) Captain... I... in case I don't get the chance later on.... (Tom reaches out to crush Janeway in a heartfelt hug, and bends to whisper into her ear) Kathryn.... I'll never forget you. I swear to God, as long as I live I'll NEVER disappoint you again!

Janeway: (her eyes welling, she returns his embrace with equal feeling, and whispers back) Tom, don't live for your father's vision of who you should be... nor for mine. If you could only promise "never to disappoint" the best IN yourself... that would fullfill any dreams I have for you. (Tom pulls back enough that she can now see the tears that she could only feel earlier...) Can you do that?

Paris: (jaws clenching as he blinks them away) For you, Captain? I could do anything!

Janeway: (sighs as she wipes a red smudge from the side of his cheek) Good ---- Now Go. Before I have B'Elanna crying challenge on me for such a public display..... (whispers) go.

(Tom walks back down the coorridor as she enters the turbolift.)

Scene Four
Day 11. 3:38am.

(Janeway is on a final "top to bottom" tour of her ship. One last "stroll". She begins on Voyager's bridge and ends on the flight deck of the Aerowing. She is surprised to find it deserted... except for an exhausted chief of engineering. B'Elanna is sleeping on the floor near the conn. It's now 4:11am)

Janeway: (bends over the sleeping Klingon, and gently shakes her shoulder) B'Elanna... B'Elanna.... come on.... there's got to be more comfortable places for you to sleep than here?

B'Elanna: (slowly sits up as she awakens) Arghhhh... what's happening??? (looks up at Janeway) Is it time already?

Janeway: (slides down a bulkhead to sit on the floor next to B'Elanna) Not yet. It's 0413... you fell asleep. (Janeway looks up at the underside of the console.) This isn't the view of my ship I often see.

B'Elanna: (slides back to sit next to Janeway & so as to rest against the bulkhead) Really? It's one I usually see. - - "under" consoles... in jeffries tubes....

Janeway: One word of advice... "Delegate", B'Elanna. You've got to learn how to delegate.

B'Elanna: (rests her head against the wall) Ahhhh... but THIS is the FUN part of being an engineer. I don't want to lose that.

Janeway: (softly smiles) I know exactly what you mean. That's one of the reasons I never wanted to command a Galaxy class Starship. Those monsters come with so many gung-ho commanders that the Captain is lucky if she Ever goes on an away mission, and you can be sure those are going to be about as exciting as milquetoast.

B'Elanna: (grins) Did Chakotay ever try to do that to you? Keep you off an away mission due to its danger?

Janeway: Oh... I think he thought of it once or twice... but he usually had the good sense not to try it....... (smiles) Of course, it also helped that he'd spent the previous 3 years in the Maquis. He'd gotten used to "breaking" the rules... so he didn't object too much whenever I did.

B'Elanna: (yawning) What are you doing up this early, Captain? Can't sleep?

Janeway: (shrugs) I like walking Voyager on Gamma shift. Its so quiet... so sparse.... people aren't jumping to attention everytime you round a corner.

B'Elanna: (accepts this, and nods to the conn) Well, if you're interested... she's ready to go. Neelix plans to finish provisioning her at 8 am.

Janeway: (nods seriously) Good. I'd hate to be late for my date with destiny.


Janeway: (quietly) B'Elanna...?

B'Elanna: (also quietly) Yes, Captain.

Janeway: (vulnerable) I was wondering.... if you'd mind.....


B'Elanna: (puzzled) Mind what, Captain?

Janeway: (takes a deep breath, voice cracks slightly) ... If you would mind if I gave you something...... It's for remembrance only.

B'Elanna: (swallows hard) No..... I wouldn't mind.

(B'Elanna watches as Janeway reaches into her jacket and pulls out a small bundle. The Captain carefully unwraps it and holds it in the palm of her hand. It's a small black metal bar, outlined with a rectangle of gold. Inside the golden rectangle were four gold pips.)

Janeway: (lovingly polishes the bar with the corner of its cloth wrapper) My...... mother gave me this the day of my father's funeral. She........ thought it would come in handy one day... (Janeway chuckles) ....when I was promoted... (she reaches up to wipe her eyes with the back of her hand) Anyway.... I'd like you to have it.

B'Elanna: (B'Elanna's eyes open wide as Janeway lowers the gift into her open palm.) Oh.. my... Captain... I ... I ... couldn't! I'll never... I mean...

Janeway: (reassuringly) B'Elanna -- This is one of the few things I've carried with me for the last 20 years. From post to post... from ship to ship... across half the Delta Quadrant. It means more to me than anything I have.....I really want You to have it.

B'Elanna: (whispers as she looks to Janeway) Kathryn. This is a family heirloom. I'm HONORED, truely,. But this should stay in your family. (B'Elanna tries to hand the gift back to Janeway) You should give this to your sister.

Janeway: (puts her hand over B'Elanna's, causing B'Elanna's hand to close over the insignee) I just did.

(B'Elanna turns to look at Janeway, and then back at their closed hands. She fought to maintain control, but could not. Slowly she let her head drop onto Janeway's shoulder, and she began to gently weep.)

(Thats how Chakotay found them 2 hours later. The tears of both women now dried. Leaning back against the bulkhead, fast asleep.)

Scene Five
Flight deck of the Aerowing. Janeway is at the controls. Day 11. 9am

Janeway: (all business) Janeway to Voyager.... initiate separation procedure on my mark........ .Mark!

Chakotay's voice: (coldly formal) Voyager to Aerowing.... Separation is complete. We're shutting down our warp core and await our tow.

Janeway: (slapping commands into her side console) Acknowledged, Voyager......... Engaging tractor beam now.....

(The lower powered Aerowing latches onto the Mighty starship and begins to tow it through the distortion waves that had kept it at bay for 11 days. Five hours later... they arrive at the Array.)

Scene Six
Aerowing Flight deck. Day 11. 2:11 pm

Janeway: (stiff with formality) Aerowing to Voyager. I will disengage the tractor beam. 5 seconds from my mark..... Done.

Chakotay's voice: (no emotion) Acknowledged, Aerowing. We are powering up our core to 3 %.

Tuvok's voice: Gravimetric distortions are holding steady, Commander. The Captain may proceed.

Janeway: (gets out of the pilot's seat and begins to pull on the environmental suit. She picks up the portable shield generator and barks an order to the computer) Energize!

Scene Six
The Array. Day 11. 2:15 pm

(Janeway stands before the alien computer consoles, inputting multiple commands, activating touch pads. A monitor flares to life, and she sees an exterior shot of Voyager on screen).

Janeway: Janeway to Voyager. The Array is ready. How about you?

(The exterior shot of Voyager on the monitor now switches to a bridge shot of Voyager. Chakotay is in the center. Tuvok & Neelix can be seen behind his right shoulder. Seven and Harry behind and to his left. Tom is in the foreground.)

Chakotay: (stoical, chin held high) We're ready, Captain.

Janeway: (swallows hard, but manages to keep her voice even.) Q'Plah, Commander. Take good care of our crew.

(With that, she moves to switch the monitor back to the exterior shot of Voyager. A few keystrokes later... a transwarp conduit appears suddenly next to her ship... Voyager.)

Chak's voice: (strong) B'Elanna... bring the core to 100%... Tom.... Take us in.

(She watches as Voyager leaps into the conduit... as is gone.)

Janeway: (Janeway briefly reaches her hand out to the monitor and caresses it.) Goodbye my friends.

(Then quickly, she is all work again. Monitoring Voyager's progress through the conduit... adjusting it as needed to avoid errant comets and smoothing away wormholes which otherwise would destroy her ship. Finally, when she was sure they were safely in the Alpha Quadrant, she reopened the threshold and then shut down the conduit. She had the Aerowing transport her away from the Array, and checked the time. 3:08 pm)

Scene Seven
Aerowing Flight deck. Day 11. 3:08 pm

(Janeway quickly sheds and disposes of her irradiated environmental suit. She drops wearily into the pilot's seat.)

(Comm beeps.)

Janeway: Computer, identify source of transmission.

Computer's voice: Incoming Hail from Subspace.

Janeway: (tired) Janeway here.

(Kurros appears on her view screen..)

Kurros: Impressive, Captain. And to think you did it all without our help... too bad.

Janeway: Don't cry crocodile tears over me, Kurros. There's no point. I didn't need you to protect me from the radiation. You see... I'm dieing anyway. 4 weeks, 4 months... it's pretty much all the same to me.

Kurros: Ahh, yes.... the Nasty Phage..(he chuckles at Janeway's doubletake) Forgive me, Captain. But we accessed the file Seven downloaded. It explains a lot, and it saddens me to tell you... we actually HAVE a cure for the Phage...

Janeway: (scoffs) For a price!

Kurros: Nothing in life is free, Captain...

Janeway: (shakes head) Sorry, Kurros. I just happen to think your price is TOO high... sell my soul for the right to join you and extort precious resources from desperate civilizations... Noooooo, I think I'll pass.

(Janeway then orders the Aerowing into warp, on a course away from the Array.)

Kurros: (patronizingly) I don't know where you think you are going in such a hurry, Captain.

Janeway: (trying not to look at his face on the monitor, searches for an appropriate heading) As long as it's away from you, Kurros, its good enough for me.

Kurros: (reads his console and sees her new course) Captain... Captain???? Change your heading immediately! You are on a direct course for a class g star! Captain?!

Janeway: (nonchalantly continues to monitor her flight console) Yes, Kurros.

Kurros: Didn't you hear me?

Janeway: (turning to check sensor readings on the gravimetric distortions... and increasing her warp speed as they allow) Of course I did. I'm on course, Kurros. I'm making sure that I leave this life on MY terms... Not when the phage, or the radiation... or even when YOU decide.

Kurros: (blusters) We'll beam you out!

Janeway: (smiles) I don't think so... but feel free to try.

Kurros: (impotently) But... but... but....

Janeway: (looks at the man with the purple face on her monitor) Kurros... its been "fun"... but I've got to go now... and I REALLY don't want YOUR voice to be the last thing I hear when I die..... Janeway out.

(Kurros' picture fades as the channel is cut. Janeway leans back in the seat and sighs.)


Janeway: Computer... replay all comm traffic with Voyager from time index 0 900.

Chakotay's voice: Voyager to Aerowing -- Separation is complete. We're shutting down our warp core and await our tow.
Janeway's voice: Acknowledged, Voyager. Engaging tractor beam now.

(A star, still millions of kilometers away, was now visible in the Aerowing's front viewport.)

Chakotay's voice: Acknowledged, Aerowing. We are powering up our warp core to 3 %
Tuvok's voice: Gravimetric distortions are holding steady, Commander. The Captain may proceed.
Janeway's voice: Acknowledged, Voyager.

(Janeway reaches down into a side pocket and brings out a small box. She opens it, and removes a silver pocket watch. She cradles it briefly, and sighs at its significance. Carefully she hangs it from her uniform.)

Janeway's voice: Janeway to Voyager. The Array is ready. How about you?
Chakotay's voice: We're ready, Captain.
Janeway's voice: Q'Plah, Commander. Take good care of our crew.

(The monitor ends on the scene of Voyager leaping into the Transwarp conduit. Janeway backs up the recording to stop on the image of Chakotay standing on the bridge. She pauses it there, and keeps looking at it as the brightness of the onrushing sun begins to fill the Aerowing and finally causes her to close her eyes.)

(Suddenly -- from seemingly nowhere -- a voice rings out.)

Voice: Brava.... Brava! Oh KATHRYN! You've never ceased to shock and amaze me... I can not begin to tell you what an absolute JOY you've been these last 7 years!

(Janeway's eyes open wide as the sound of ancient memory roars in her head. She stands and turns to face this new threat. Eyes still partially blinded by the sun, Janeway slowly focuses on the figure behind her.)

Janeway: (simply drawls) Hello........ Seska.

Continued in Eyes Open