STILL NOT IN KANSAS
Rating: PG-13, most likely
Series: B5/Star Trek crossovers (independent pieces)
Archiving: sure, just ask first
Disclaimer: Babylon 5 belongs to JMS and Time Warner. Star Trek – Voyager belongs to Gene Roddenberry and whoever else keeps the rights at the moment. I'm just borrowing their characters to have a little fun. No harm intended and (alas!) no money made.
Timeline: Late Season 3 for B5 (before, during and after "Grey 17 is Missing"), early Season 4 for Voyager, but Kes is still on board and has not evolved into an elated being
Summary: Voyager discovers another wormhole/anomaly. Instruments state that it leads to the Epsilon Eridani system in the AQ. Everyone is happy, as this would mean they might end up somewhere near Vulcan. However, the anomaly leads to a different universe, and they end up right in front of B5. While they are waiting for the anomaly to reappear, they get involved in the life of the station.
Note: This is a repost, after having beta-read by the most gracious eyeofacat. Thanks!
A SHORT FOREWORD
I have never written a Babylon 5 fic before. The whole idea was born due to a short discussion on the Memory Alpha Yahoo Group (a list dedicated to Star Trek crossovers and AUs) and to the fact that I have been re-watching Babylon 5 on video for several weeks by now. Also, I started to read fanfiction in this fandom, which I haven't done for a long time, and it awakened my interest again.
In most of my fandoms (save one) I write crossovers and AUs. This story is no exception. As I like both Babylon 5 and Star Trek, I tried to stay as close as canon as possible. Mistakes can always happen, of course, despite the ungodly amount of research I've done. Also, since this is an AU, some things are different. But only those that were necessary for this story to work.
One more thing: although this story turned out to be more light-hearted than most of what I write, it's not a parody. It deals with the events of the 3rd Season B5-episode "Grey 17 is Missing", which were deadly serious for most of the participants. However, I only used the Neroon/Delenn storyline and skipped the other one with Garibaldi. There will also be references to earlier B5-episodes, especially "Walkabout" and "War Without End".
So, and now on with the story!
Author's notes: The story title refers to "The Wizard of Oz", of course – and to the fact how often the Voyager crew believed that they have found a wormhole that would bring them right home. The description of Epsilon 3 follows the planetary classification system in Shane Johnson's excellent background info book "The Worlds of the Federation".
Captain Kathryn Janeway glared at the huge viewscreen of Stellar Cartography as if she wanted the universe to bend to her iron will. Too often had they hoped to have found a way home. Too often had they been disappointed.
"Are you absolutely certain?" she asked Seven of Nine, who was standing at the console and fine-tuning the representation on the big screen. The Borg drone gave her The Eyebrow™ that always displayed Seven's impatience with the typical human second-guessing.
"Positive, Captain," the Borg responded in her customary unemotional manner. "This is without doubt a type-139 anomaly. Also known as a periodically opening and collapsing wormhole with a stability factor of 89.17 per cent."
"With other words – there is a risk that it would collapse with us inside," Chakotay commented thoughtfully.
The Borg gave him an icy glare. "There is always a risk involved, Commander. That is why these phenomena are called anomalies. In fact, the bigger the ship that crosses the anomaly, the more severe are the risks of disturbing it and causing a collapse."
"Fortunately, Voyager isn't a big ship," Janeway turned to Torres. "B'Elanna, can you reinforce hull integrity for the time of crossing the wormhole?"
The half-Klingon thought about it for a moment, then shook her head regretfully. "I don't think so, Captain. The only way to reinforce hull integrity – save from getting brand new hull plates, of course – would be to reroute more energy into the forcefields. And that's exactly what could disturb the balance of a wormhole. I wouldn't suggest such thing."
"All right," Janeway sighed. "Send a class one probe into the anomaly for further studies and transfer the readings into my ready room. We'll have a staff meeting at 1400 and discuss the matter before making a decision. Keep me informed."
"Certainly, Captain," Seven said to Janeway's retreating back, as the captain was already marching out of Stellar Cartography. Chakotay followed suit, and Megan Delaney hurriedly prepared the probe for launch.
A class-1 sensor probe was little more than an instrumented torpedo. It was usually launched from Federation starships for investigation into areas that one did not wish to take the starship – or at least not right away, just like in this case. The class-1 probe carried a very wide range of scientific sensing equipment and – if programmed correctly – could work independently, without being controlled from the starship itself; which could prove instrumental while investigating anomalies that could disturb its connection with the ship. In those cases the probe automatically ejected a data module that the ship could pick up afterwards.
"Probe is ready to launch," Megan Delaney reported twenty minutes later. She took her time to check and re-check the programming, well aware how important every oh so little detail could be.
Seven of Nine ran a final check on her console. "Very well. Launch probe."
"Initiating launch sequence in five… four… three… two… one… probe launched."
"Connection is undisturbed – for the moment," Jenny Delaney added. "First data are coming in. Recording started."
At 1400 the senior officers gathered in the briefing room. Although everybody tried to keep their hopes low – there had been just too many disappointments during the last two and half years – a certain excitement couldn't be denied. Even Chakotay had a hard time of keeping his usual stoic façade, but he succeeded nevertheless. Decades of meditation always came handy in situations like this.
The only person completely unfazed by the whole thing was Seven of Nine, of course. For her, this was another scientific assignment, nothing else. Even though she intellectually understood that the crew wanted to get home, the attached emotions were alien to her.
"Captain," she acknowledged Janeway's presence with a nod, "our initial readings have been completed. The last data have just been recorded and analyzed."
"Any idea where the wormhole could lead?" Janeway didn't have the time to take a look at he very last block of data as she was needed on the bridge. The anomaly caused quite a bit of havoc with the ship's instruments at such a close proximity.
"Positive," Seven replied. "According to the readings, the other end of the anomaly opens in the Alpha Quadrant."
For a moment, there was deadly silence in the briefing room. The officers could barely breathe, torn between hope and fear that this would prove to be another dead end, after all. Even Tuvok seemed a little… agitated, resulting in his fingertips pressing just a little too hard against each other in the classic Vulcan pose of concentration.
"Where in the Alpha Quadrant?" Paris finally asked. They could end up in the middle of the Cardassian Empire, of course, and that would be rather… inconvenient.
"In the Epsilon Eridani star system," the Borg displayed the star chart to the viewscreen of the briefing room. "More precisely near a class-G desert planet known as Epsilon 3. It is a planet very similar to Rigel 12, with a thing oxidizing atmosphere and a silicate surface. Unable to support humanoid life, but considering the planet's location that fact is irrelevant for the crew."
Kim frowned. "How could it be irrelevant… hey, wait a moment! Epsilon Eridani is the Vulcan system, isn't it?"
"That would mean that we would end up in the heart of the Federation, if we can cross the wormhole, right?"
"Correct again. However, the emphasis is on if we can cross, in this case," Seven made the star chart vanish and displayed a graphic representation of the wormhole. "As you can see, there are violent gravitation eddies inside the anomaly. And while Voyager is certainly small enough to pass through between them, it would require extremely precise navigation to avoid any violent crashes."
"Can we program the course into the navigation computer?" Janeway asked, ignoring the insulted look on Paris' face. The Borg shook her head.
"No, Captain. The appearance of the gravitation eddies shows no pattern at all. This is one of those rare cases when the intuition of a living being at the navigation instrument is required. I believe Lieutenant Paris would call it a gut feeling?"
Janeway sighed. As much as she trusted Paris' piloting skills, she trusted the computer more. Paris was just a human being who could err and make mistakes – sometimes fatal ones with tragic consequences, as the events of Caldik Prime had proved. A computer, if programmed correctly, could not. But they had no choice, it seemed.
"All right," she said reluctantly, "then we are at Mr. Paris' mercy once again. But I'd like to watch the wormhole for another twenty-four hours first, record the appearance of those eddies and see if we don't find a pattern, after all, before heading into it."
"That would not be possible," Seven replied calmly. "According to our readings, the anomaly will collapse within sixteen hours. The analysis of radiation residue shows that it has an active cycle of thirty-six hours, twenty of which are already gone."
"Can we make an educated guess when it would open again, once it is closed?" Janeway asked.
"More than a guess, Captain," Tuvok intervened for the first time. "On Vulcan, the phenomenon is known simply as the Epsilon 3-singularity. It opens precisely in every twenty-three point four Standard days. However, never have our readings shown any signs of it being a wormhole. Probes sent into the anomaly have been destroyed after a few minutes – until presently, the longest time a probe remained intact was forty-five point eight Standard minutes. If the anomaly now opens into the Delta Quadrant, something unusual must have happened to it."
"Which means, this might be our only chance to cross it," Janeway guessed, and the Vulcan nodded soberly.
"That is correct, Captain."
"I see. Seven, how long was our probe intact?"
"For almost six hours, Captain; before it got caught in a gravitation eddy and imploded. For the moment, the wormhole seems to be stabile enough to cross."
"But that can change any time… right?"
"It can, and it most likely will, Captain. Type-139 anomalies are quite stabile as a rule, but if this particular phenomenon used to be something entirely else, as Commander Tuvok says, we can't expect it to remain stabile for any time."
"So, either we cross it now, or we might never get another go," Janeway bit her lip, frustrated. Then she looked at Chakotay. "Any suggestions, Commander?"
"I would suggest a compromise," the First Officer said. "Let's send in another probe and watch the anomaly for two more hours. If it's still stabile after that, I'd say we risk a crossing."
"And if it collapses in an hour and a half?" Janeway asked. "Then we have missed a chance to get home – a chance we might never get again."
"True," Chakotay admitted. "But if the wormhole can't remain stable for another two hours, then, in my opinion, the risk to enter it is simply too great. I for my part would rather travel across the Delta Quadrant for two more decades than get crushed in the middle of an instable wormhole."
"I agree," Tuvok said. "Entering the anomaly is a risk in any case – collecting more data and waiting for a little longer could lessen that risk."
"I'd like to study those eddies before I start sailing between Scylla and Charybdis, myself," Paris added, meeting the usual blank looks as always when he referred to obscure Earth trivia. "I'd prefer to bring Voyager through in one piece. We'll be battered enough as it is – those eddies look pretty violent to me."
It was a rare thing that the usually reckless chief pilot displayed so much caution, and that was what finally made Janeway give in.
"Very well," she said. "Seven, launch another probe. Mr. Paris, call in for your replacement and start simulations on the holodeck at once. If in two hours the wormhole is still there, we're going in. Dismissed."