Kathryn Janeway loved this. The part where she knew she had a captive audience. She could see it in Tom's eyes and Chakotay's smile. They were riveted.
"So, having never ridden a bicycle before, he grabbed it and rode down the hill after the Yridian-"
Suddenly, Tuvok's voice sounded from the mess hall's speakers. "Senior staff to the bridge."
Janeway watched Chakotay, Paris and Kes get up and walk to the doors. Disappointed, but resolute, she followed them.
The turbolift doors opened onto the bridge. "Report."
"A nebula composed of visible chroniton particles has just entered sensor range."
Tom strode to the helm station. Harry worked his console. Kes stood in front of the main status board. Chakotay took his seat beside Janeway's command chair. "Did you say 'visible' chroniton particles?"
"Yes, Captain. How that is possible, I do not understand at the moment."
Harry spoke. "I thought chronitons only originated in the Alpha Quadrant as a by-product of Romulan cloaking devices."
"That's what I was thinking, too." Paris said.
"We have encountered parallel technologies in this quadrant before." Tuvok mentioned.
Suddenly, Chakotay stiffened in his chair. "Captain. I have a theory about how this could have happened."
Janeway looked at him and said, "What is it?"
He turned to her and said, "Seska."
Janeway sobered. "Stealing Romulan cloak specs and selling them to an alien race? That's a good theory, but she died last year."
"The Kazon couldn't have gotten ahead of us in that time, either, but she could have sent them by subspace," he said.
"Payment couln't have been transmitted back, unless they sent blueprints for something else. I think this warrants an investigation." She turned to the helm console. "Tom, take us to within 10,000 kilometers for a safety pass. We're going in." She turned around. "Kes, can you analyze the amount of temporal radiation and find a way to counteract it?"
"Yes, Captain." She walked around the bridge railing to Tom's console and looked at his sensor readout.
Chakotay stood. "I'll go down to Deflector Control and find a way to cut through the chronitons." He tapped his commbadge as he walked. "Chakotay to Neelix. Report to Deflector Control. Time for a lesson in deflector tweaking."
"Aye, Commander," came the excited reply.
Janeway watched him go, then said, "Bridge to Engineering."
"B'Elanna, have you been monitoring our situation?"
"Yes, Captain. We've been reprogramming the Bussard collectors to screen out the chronitons. We're also radiation-proofing everything down here."
Kes turned to Janeway, and her long blond hair whipped around. She said, "Full shields should protect us, Captain, although I would like to consult with the Doctor for a second opinion."
Janeway smiled. "You're always the one consulted for a second opinion. I'm not sure the doctor's going to like being consulted after you."
"I know just what to say. I'll go activate him." She walked to the turbolift.
"Captain, we're at 10,000 kilometers. Reading all stop."
"Thank you, Mr. Paris." Janeway pressed her commbadge. "Bridge to Torres."
"Is everything ready on your end?"
"Just another moment. We're still trying to figure out how the chronitons are visible. It might be detrimental to our journey inside. We'll have it figured out by the end of the safety pass."
"I've always admired your thoroughness, B'Elanna."
"We're theorizing that there must be subspace fractures between Voyager and the star at the center of the nebula that are refracting the light as a result of the quantum singularity used to generate the chronitons."
"I've scanned similar fractures. Full shields should prevent us from feeling any effects."
"In that case, we're as ready as we'll ever be."
Thank you, B'Elanna." Janeway tapped her commbadge again. "Bridge to Deflector Control."
"Neelix here, Captain."
"Have you and Commander Chakotay finished calibrating?"
"Yes, Captain, but the commander bumped his head in the process. He should be joining you momentarily."
Janeway smiled. "Bridge to sick bay."
"Doctor here, Captain." The hologram sounded slightly annoyed. "Upon further analysis, now that I've been consulted, you might experience some vertigo upon entering the nebula. I'm piping an antidote through the ventilation system."
"Thank you, Doctor." Janeway turned to her left. "Mr. Kim?"
"Ops is ready." Harry said.
"Ready, Captain." The Vulcan at Tactical said.
"Then raise shields. Mr. Paris, take us in at three-quarter impulse."
"Yes, ma'am!" Tom pressed a contact on his control board, and Voyager entered the nebula.
Harry said, "Chroniton levels are at 5,000 millirads per second and climbing. Shields compensating."
"I'm reading a five planet star system ahead, Captain." Tom said.
"Sensors are hazy, but I believe it to be a standard Jovian pulsar."
"Confirmed." Tuvok said, working his station. "10-hour rotation interval."
"I'm only getting anomalous DNA readings."
"Which planet, Harry?"
Harry Kim had a confused look on his face as he pressed buttons. "It's not coming from a planet... It's coming from the asteroid belt."
"No, Captain. I'm not reading any atmosphere." Then realization dawned on him. "Captain! This used to be a six planet system!"
Janeway stood up as the turbolift opened. "It exploded?"
Chakotay walked around the railing to the lower bridge and sat in his chair. "Perhaps they really were experimenting with cloaking technology."
"Which obviously went horribly wrong." Tom interjected. "The singularity they created must have been too intense for them to handle."
Tuvok's console beeped insistently. "Captain, a wave of chroniton particles is approaching fast. It is being propelled by particle waves from the pulsar's rotation."
Janeway retreated, intending to sit in her chair. "Tom, match direction and velocity–"
Suddenly, the lights flickered off, and the ever-present hum of the engines stopped. Everybody on the ship felt weightless. Janeway's stance propelled her above her command chair. Then, just as suddenly, everything came back online. As the artificial gravity reactivated, Janeway's head came down on the railing with a sickening crack. Paris stumbled as he ran to her.
Harry looked like he had been kicked, and spoke with a hoarse voice as he tapped his commbadge. "Bridge to sickbay. Medical emergency."
"I've got requests coming in from all over the ship, Harry," Kes replied with an equally hoarse voice. "The Doctor's off-line. Who needs help?"
"The captain hit her head. Tom's looking at her now. Tuvok's unconscious, and Chakotay appears to be delirious."
Paris hit his commbadge. "Kes, The captain's got cranial trauma! We're beaming in!" He pressed it again. "Transporter room! Two to beam to sick bay!" When the transporter didn't activate, Tom repeated his order. "Transporter room! Transporter room, respond!"
"I've got you, Tom." Harry said as he manipulated his console. When Tom and the captain disappeared, Harry walked to the center of the bridge. Chakotay was on the deck in a fetal position, and muttering to himself. Tuvok was unconscious, and the security officer on the aft station had risen to one knee, bracing himself against the railing. Harry felt the same way. "Ensign Strickler, see to Commander Tuvok, then take the helm." He nodded slowly.
Harry ran a tricorder over Chakotay and saw that there were no life-threatening abnormalities. He glanced at the captain's chair, looked around briefly, then sat in it with resolve. He pressed a button on the console between the chairs and said, "Ship's log, stardate 50901.8. Ensign Harry Kim recording. At this moment I have assumed command. . ."
* * *
In sickbay, Kes was helping Paris put the captain on a diagnostic bed. As it activated, Kes said, "Computer, run a level 2 scan for brain injury." Kes then let out a muffled yelp and doubled over in pain.
Tom caught her and asked, "Kes! Are you all right?" He put her on one of the beds, then went for a medical tricorder. People were entering as Tom ran the scanner over Kes' as she continued groaning in pain. "Your vitals are in a state of flux! Whatever that was, it hit us hard!" He grabbed a hypospray, slapped in a vial and injected her. "That should stabilize you."
He walked over to the captain's bed, where the computer was beeping insistently. He pressed a button, and the computer spoke. "Massive trauma and internal injuries."
"Yeah, tell me something I don't know."
"Activity in the pineal gland beyond chart capacity."
Tom's eyebrows shot up. "I wasn't serious."
"Oh, shut up already." Running the tricorder over several people in the room, he came up with the same results. He took a deep breath and steeled himself for the answer as he passed the scanner over himself. He looked at the readout and cursed. Just then, the doors parted to admit Neelix, who was helping a female crew member. She collapsed to the floor as Neelix asked, "Tom, what's happening? Everyone's dropping like dust!"
Tom ran the scanner over Neelix. "You're unaffected! How is that possible?"
"Please, stop shouting," Kes said as she rolled off the bed. She stumbled toward Neelix and steadied herself on his arm. She took the tricorder from Tom and tabbed back to the scan he took of her. Her eyes grew wide. She ran another scan on herself, then shrieked. She dropped the tricorder, sank to her knees and yelled, "No! It can't be! It's too soon!"
Neelix stammered. "What's wrong?"
"Mor. . . Morilogium!"
Neelix' bottom lip quivered. "But... but you're only 3!"
"It's happening! I'll be dead in 2 days!"
Paris remembered what happened to her as she laid in the temporal chamber. She had experienced life backwards, starting with her Morilogium, the final phase of the Ocampan lifespan. Suddenly, it struck him.
"Kes? Does this have anything to do with the pineal gland?"
"From what I can remember, the pineal gland governs the body's natural aging."
"That must be the reason behind the lousy feeling we're experiencing." He struck his commbadge. "Paris to bridge! Harry!"
"Tom?" he answered.
"What's our position?"
"We're getting out of the nebula as fast as we can, but she's sluggish. I'll let you know when we reach the perimeter."
"Paris to Engineering."
"Vorik here, sir."
"Where's B'Elanna? Never mind. We need more impulse power."
"I am working on it. Ensign Kim has already asked. Are we aware of what occurred, Lieutenant?"
Kes spoke up. "Ensign Vorik, I believe I know what happened. The chroniton radiation stimulated a gland in our brains that governs aging. According to my calculations, we have all aged 5 years."
"Then somebody must attend to Commander Tuvok–-"
"--he might be undergoing pon farr." Kes finished.
Paris spoke up. "Last I saw, he was unconscious."
Vorik sighed quickly. "He has the potential for violence. It is fortunate that I experienced it three months ago. I do not wish to go through it again in such a short time."
Just then, a primal roar was uttered, followed by the intercom being cut off.
Paris and Neelix looked at each other and yelled. "B'Elanna!" They sprinted out of sick bay.
Kes' sad eyes widened. "Wait. . . The Morilogium chant. . ."
Neelix came back. "In a minute. Call the bridge and have Mr. Kim start the phaser suppression protocol."
"I was going to have Tom do it. . ." Kes said, but Neelix was gone. She tapped her commbadge. "Sick bay to bridge."
"Is Tuvok still unconscious?"
"He's coming around, but he seems to be delirious."
"Quickly, remove his phaser and initiate weapons suppression protocol."
"I've got his phaser, but you know Tuvok can override the protocol. What's going on?"
"I'll explain in a minute. Just initiate the protocol and see if you can lock Tuvok out."
"OK, but you'd better explain why." Harry said uneasily.
* * *
Neelix and Paris ran into engineering. They stopped for a second as they saw Vorik struggling valiantly with B'Elanna. He was trying to use the Vulcan nerve pinch, but she had his wrists in her hands. They ran toward her. She pushed Vorik back with her foot, and he hit the bulkhead hard. As he slumped to the deck, B'Elanna got into a fighting crouch. Tom stopped in front of her, and Neelix ran for the weapons locker. "B'Elanna. Listen to me. Our brains have been stimulated by the chroniton radiation. Calm down!"
"My brain's been stimulated, all right! And nobody tells me to calm down!" She lashed out at Tom, who managed to block.
Neelix plucked a phaser from the locker, but B'Elanna grabbed Tom by the arms and threw him at Neelix. As the two collided, the phaser landed at B'Elanna's feet. She picked it up and aimed it at Tom's head. Tom knew that at this distance a stun setting could kill him. She pressed the trigger, but nothing happened. She looked at the phaser in surprise, then raised it above her head to hit him, uttering a bloodcurdling shout. Tom winced, bracing himself for the inevitable pain, when a hand suddenly appeared on her shoulder. She collapsed to the deck, revealing Vorik behind her. Tom said, "Thank heaven for Vulcans and weapons suppression."
"We will offer gratitude to our respective deities later. I require assistance with boosting the impulse relays."
"Gladly. What's the problem?"
"The neural gel packs are offline. We need to bypass into manual control."
"The gel packs?" Neelix asked. "The radiation affected them as well?"
"It is possible."
"I have an idea. Are the sensors still online?" Paris asked.
"They are, but only at 32.4% operating capacity."
Paris hit his commbadge. "Harry, see if you can scan the chronitons for neural frequencies. Contact Kes for the specific frequency of the neurotransmitters produced by the humanoid pineal gland."
"Will do. Tom, Tuvok is awake and delirious. I've beamed him and Chakotay to sickbay."
"Understood. We're working on the impulse relays. We'll have them up in 10 minutes."
"Acknowledged. Kim out."
* * *
"T'Pel. . ." Tuvok muttered as Kes examined him. He was in the meditation pose, but his eyes were wide, and he was trembling slightly.
Kes assumed from that one word that he was indeed undergoing the pon farr, the Vulcan mating fever. Her tricorder beeped an alarm, confirming that thought, but something else as well. "A neurological disorder? If this gets any worse. . ." She cut the rest of that thought off and turned to examine Chakotay. The tricorder beeped again, alerting her to a similar ailment. "A genetic cognitive disorder." She sighed. "If the Doctor were here, he'd have a field day."
"Grandfather. . . I. . . I understand. . ." Chakotay said.
Kes remembered from her psychological studies that people often call out to loved ones when they were very sick. She could only imagine what most of the crew were saying now.
The intercom tone sounded. "Kes, the sensors aren't picking up much. When they're back at full capacity, they'll need to be calibrated to the neural frequency."
"I understand, Harry. Thanks. Sickbay out." She pressed her commbadge. "Tom, I could use your help as soon as possible."
"Kes, the impulse engines are almost online. After that, we need to work on sensors–-"
"We need to get the crew back on their feet, Tom. They can work on the ship while we work to reverse what the radiation did to us, or get the Doctor working again. I also need to ask a favor of you."
Down in Engineeering, Tom stopped working to give her his full attention. "What is it, Kes?"
"Please, Tom," Kes said, "it's a private matter."
Neelix looked at Tom as he said, "I'll be right there. Paris out."
Neelix said, "Tom, she needs you to perform the Morilogium chant."
"What, the Ocampa version of last rites?"
"She's dying, and she needs the chant to be performed so she can be ensured a place in the afterlife."
"I thought only family members or clergy could do that sort of thing."
"You're all she has, Tom. The Doctor's offline, the captain's in a coma and Tuvok's in no position to perform it."
"What about you?"
Neelix dipped his head so sharply, his facial hairs quivered. "I'm no longer a member of her family." He patted Tom on the shoulder. "Go. We'll start on the sensors."
Looking confused, Tom gave Neelix his handful of isolinear chips and headed out of Engineering.
* * *
Kes looked up from a patient on the floor as Tom entered sickbay. "Tom, thank you for coming. I've got the computer working on a vaccine which should stabilize everybody." She handed him a padd. "These are the parameters of an Ocampan chant which is part of our death ritual."
Tom tabbed through the various pages. "It will take me a while to perform it, but I'll do it. How are you feeling?"
Kes closed her eyes, fighting off a wave of pain.
"Kes?" Tom held her while glancing around for a hypospray.
"I'm all right." She looked up, placing a hand on his shoulder. "The stress combined with the Morilogium isn't doing me any good." She led him to the Doctor's laboratory where she showed him the results of her research. "The pineal gland also governs the conscience function."
"That explains why B'Elanna went berserk. Vorik neck-pinched her in a way that will keep her out for hours. I hope Tuvok will be all right."
"He's in pain, but he seemed fine. It looks like he's been meditating since he arrived."
"I think we should restrain him all the same." He walked through the doctor's office to where everybody lay. He glanced around.
Kes followed him in and gasped. "He's gone!"
"Didn't you restrain him?"
"I must have forgotten in all the confusion."
Paris tapped his commbadge. "Computer, locate Tuvok."
"Working. . ." The computer beeped a few times. Paris was starting to become impatient when it said, "Lieutenant Tuvok is in the quarters of Lieutenant Torres."
* * *
Tuvok looked up as Kes and Paris exited the room. He got up and stumbled his way through the corridors of the ship. He was sweating profusely, and he suffered muscle spasms. He groped along the bulkheads because his vision deceived him with hallucinations. He muttered to them. He stopped at the door of B'Elanna's quarters and choked out the words, "Emergency ingress. Tuvok Rho Alpha." The door snapped open.
He lurched inside and looked around. He went to the clothing drawers, opened them up, and rifled through them. He found her hand phaser and holstered it, but that was not what he was looking for. He got to the bottom drawer and saw it. He pulled out a Klingon bat'leth, scattering clothing. He caressed the blades, finding them satisfactory for his task. In the same drawer he found a file used for sharpening the blades. He took that as well.
Tuvok closed his eyes, searching his mind for the familiar telepathic presence of his wife. He could not find it, which meant she was far away. "The Maquis. They must be responsible," he murmured. "They must pay, and they will pay dearly." He removed his commbadge, tossed it on the bed and staggered out.
* * *
"That's it. . . Almost there. . . Got it!" Harry said to Vorik over the intercom as they manually calibrated the navigational sensors. "I have a rotation projection for the chroniton wave. It will be here in. . . seven hours, 33 minutes. Estimated time of leaving the nebula. . . Damn! 11 hours, 53 minutes!"
"We're going to need a third option." Vorik replied.
Tom's voice came over the intercom. "Security to deck five, Section 12-Alpha!"
"Kim to Paris. What's wrong, Tom?"
"Tuvok is gone, and the computer says he's in B'Elanna's quarters! I hope he doesn't find what's in her fourth drawer!"
"This is Ensign Vorik. Tuvok is deep in the plak tow. He is probably very paranoid and might be searching for his wife. Lieutenant Paris, I assume you have Lt. Torres under restraint?"
"Affirmative, Vorik. I put her in the restraining field myself."
"Ensign Kim, this is Kes. I have an idea as to why Neelix in unaffected. If I remember correctly, he was position behind the deflector dish, in the deflector control room. That could have offered him protection. Also, the bio-neural gel packs have a minor pineal gland function."
"Nice piece of detective work, Kes." Kim said. "How do we get out of this situation?"
"I'd say the Doctor would be hard-pressed to come up with a solution in the time allotted. The only answer I can give is that we need an infusion of anti-chronitons at the same rate and intensity."
"How can we find a source?"
"I know where, but wild targs couldn't drag the information out of me, veQ."
In Sickbay, Kes and Paris turned around. "B'Elanna?"
"Let me out of here and face me, p'tahk! Or cower like the weak human you are!" B'Elanna struggled against the restraining field, which crackled.
"How do we get the information?" Kes asked.
"We could create anti-chronitons in the laboratory, inject them into B'Elanna, return her to normal, and get the information." Tom said.
"That will take too much time. Is there another way?" Harry asked.
"There is an old technique called sodium Pentothal," Kes said.
"I know what that is," Tom said, "That's truth serum. It doesn't work on Klingons, and I don't know its effect on anyone with Human-Klingon DNA."
"I'll develop a method for B'Elanna's physiology. It might take me a while."
"You have seven hours." Kim said. "After that, it won't matter."
* * *
"Ensign Baytart to bridge. Lieutenant Torres' quarters have been ransacked. Commander Tuvok's communicator is here."
"Acknowledged, Ensign." Kim said. "Tom, did you get that?"
"I did, Harry." Paris said. "Ensign, has the fourth dresser drawer been emptied?"
"Affirmative." Baytart replied.
"Is there a bat'leth in the room?"
"Then Tuvok must have it."
"Level one security alert." Harry said, and the alarm rang.
* * *
Tuvok sat alone in a Jeffries tube junction, sharpening the bat'leth and muttering to himself.
"T'Pel. . . They have taken T'Pel. . . I cannot find her anywhere. . . They know I will die without her. . ." He started sharpening more forcefully with the file. ". . . and she without me. . . The Maquis will pay. . . oh yes, they will PAY!" He hurled the file down the Jeffries tube to his right. Adjusting his tricorder that he specially calibrated to mask his lifesigns, he moved down the tube to his left.
* * *
"Internal sensors are only at 25%." Baytart said.
"Vorik's working on them now. In the meantime, keep your team on high alert. Commander Tuvok knows how to use Klingon weaponry." Harry said.
Tom Paris overheard all of this while preparing for a battle with Tuvok, should one arise. Phasers were locked out, and hand-to-hand combat with a stronger-than-human Vulcan would be difficult at best, especially one armed with a bat'leth.
Kes walked out of the laboratory. "I think I have it. I've mixed sodium Pentothal with curare and tricordrazine." They walked over to B'Elanna, who stared at them defiantly. "I'll start out at 15 cc's, then five cc's after that until she manages to give us the information we need. You'll have to question her."
Tom bent to look at B'Elanna. "I'm sorry. I truly am." She snarled. Tom turned back to Kes. "Go ahead."
Kes injected her. Paris said, "Name. Rank."
B'Elanna responded slowly. "Go. . . spit. . ."
Kes reprogrammed the hypospray and injected her again. "Name and rank."
B'Elanna was silent. Another injection.
"B. . . B. . ."
"Another one." Tom said. Kes injected her again. "Give me your name and rank."
"B'Elanna. . . Torres. Lieutenant and. . . chief engineer."
"What is the source of anti-chronitons?"
No response. Kes was about to inject her again, but Tom stopped her.
"Where can we find anti-chronitons?"
"There are an infinite number of universes. Which one?"
"K-Kirk. . . He encountered it."
"On the Enterprise?" Tom asked.
"Somewhere in . . . the early 3000s. Look for a being named . . . Lazarus."
Kes walked over to a computer station and searched for the name and logs. "Yes. That's it. Stardate 3087.6. The Enterprise encountered a being named Lazarus who supposedly came from a parallel universe composed entirely of antimatter."
Paris thought for a moment. "Our universe is composed of regular matter. If this alternate universe is made of antimatter, then their physics will be the polar opposite of ours." He walked over to the computer station and read the report. "Computer, access the science logs taken by the Enterprise during this 'period of nonexistence'."
The computer beeped. "Access denied. Security level three or above is required to access logs."
Tom put his hand on the console screen. "Recognize Paris, Thomas Eugene."
"Lieutenant Paris is recognized. Security password."
"Paris Chi Omicron seven."
"Access enabled." The information scrolled past. After a moment of reading, Paris and Kes smiled.
* * *
"So, having studied Commander Spock's report, we should be able to open a rift in to this flip-side universe with the little tweaking to our deflector dish." Paris said, sitting in his helm chair. "In that universe, the physics are the exact opposite of ours. There should be a parallel Voyager in the exact same situation as we are, but their nebula is composed of anti-chronitons. A Mobius rift will do the job, and it will create a buffer zone as well, so none of their universe leaks into ours." Paris said.
"So, theoretically, our chronitons should cure them." Harry said. "It's a win-win situation."
"We have some problems, though. The deflector room won't be able to protect Neelix."
Kes spoke up. "The stasis field in sickbay should be able to screen out the radiation."
"Also, the logs showed that the opposite of this Lazarus being was adversarial. Be careful when encountering the duplicate Voyager." Paris turned around to his console and began entering commands. "I'm returning the ship to the point where we encountered the wave. Vorik and what's left of the engineering staff should be ready to create the dimensional rift by then."
Kes walked over to Tom. "Just in case we don't make it, I'll still need you to perform the Morilogium chant."
"I understand," he replied, "There's nothing we can really do for the crew until we get into the other universe." He got up and walked with her to the turbolift.
* * *
Voyager moved into position facing the pulsar 10 minutes before the wave was scheduled to hit. Harry Kim was in the command chair, grim determination on his face. Samantha Wildman sat at the engineering console looking worried. Three other crewmen were manning tactical, ops and helm. Neelix volunteered hesitantly for the stasis field, and Kes was laying on one of the bio-beds while Tom fumbled his way through the chant, phonetically spelled on a padd.
Vorik contacted the bridge. "We are ready to initiate the pulse, Ensign Kim."
Wildman said, "Deflector ready."
Jurot said, "Tactical ready."
"Ops ready." Culhane added.
"Helm ready." Strickler reported.
"Entering domain frequency for the creation of the Mobius rift." Harry said as he tapped buttons on the command console. He heard the turbolift doors part. Suddenly, Ensign Wildman was being manhandled out of her chair by Tuvok. He stood behind her, holding a bat'leth blade at her throat. She clutched at his arm, trying to tear it away and scramble to safety, but was unable to counter his strength.
Shocked, Harry stood up. Tuvok snarled. "Tell me where my wife is, or this woman dies!"
"Commander! Calm down!" Harry urged.
"TELL ME!" Tuvok moved the blade closer to Samantha's throat. She whimpered.
Harry's mind raced for a solution. He found one. He moved to the port side of the bridge with his back to the ops console. He stood at ease with his hands behind his back, and said in his Starfleet decorum voice, "Lieutenant Commander Tuvok, sir! I have an official report to make about your wife, sir!" Behind his back, he cocked his hand as if he were holding a phaser, and moved his thumb up and down as if here were pressing the trigger. He then mimed tapping buttons on a console. Culhane saw it, and understood.
"Where is she?" Tuvok growled.
Harry raised his hands, twiddled his index and middle fingers to quote, then said "Buster Kincaid to the rescue!"
"What is this drivel?" Tuvok said in a hoarse voice.
"Your wife is not on board this vessel," Harry gambled. "Therefore you will have to fight to overcome yourpon farr. I volunteer to fight you." He raised his hands in a fighting stance.
Tuvok glowered at Harry, then yelled, "I cannot sense T'Pel! You have killed her!"
"What's the matter, Tuvok? Chicken?"
Tuvok roared, throwing Wildman aside and dropping the bat'leth. He converged on Harry, who made attempts to block the punches. Samantha scrambled back to her station. Jurot raised his phaser and fired. Tuvok crumpled to the ground. Harry got up and wiped the blood from his mouth, saying, "What took you so long?"
"You used punctuation in your lockout password." Culhane replied.
Harry sat down the command chair. "I did, didn't I?" He looked at Wildman. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine," she said, rubbing her throat.
"Good. How long until the wave?"
Jurot walked over and knelt over Tuvok's unconscious form. "Beam us to sickbay," he told Culhane.
"Tell Tom to keep him under restraint this time." Harry said.
"Yes, sir," and Culhane beamed him out.
The deflector dish activated and a white pulse carved a Mobius rift through a subspace domain to a parallel universe. Harry looked at the viewscreen, where it looked like the rippling surface of a lake of lava faced them.
"Rift complete." Wildman said as the beam ceased.
"Take us in, Mr. Strickler." Harry ordered.
Voyager entered the rift into a void where there were no stars, only a mist. Culhane said, "We appear to be the buffer zone between the universes." His console beeped a warning. "I'm picking up another vessel on sensors. It's another Voyager, coming from the opposite end of the buffer."
"Maneuver around them and continue to the other end."
The identical Voyagers moved past each other without communicating. They both entered the rifts on the opposite sides of the zone.
Harry looked at the screen. It looked just like the area of space they left before entering the rift. He hoped this was the right universe.
"The wave is approaching. Impact in 30 seconds." Wildman announced.
In Sickbay, Tom Paris sped up his reading of the Ocampan chant so he could finish before the wave hit. Ensign Wildman was broadcasting a countdown.
"20. . ."
"19. . ."
"18. . ."
Apprehension welled up in the hearts of everybody on board who was conscious.
"10. . ."
"9. . ."
Tom finished his chant. Kes started hers.
"4. . . "
"3. . ."
Kes finished her chant. Tom added "Amen."
"1. . . Impact."
The crew closed their eyes as the wave hit Voyager. The ship shuddered.
Harry instantly felt worse. Again he wondered if he entered the wrong frequency, and was getting something other than anti-chronitons.
The ship stopped shaking. Tom opened his eyes and looked around. "Computer, activate EMH."
The Doctor appeared. "Please state the nature of the medical emergency."
Tom smiled, then turned grim. "The captain's in a coma. Trauma to the head."
The Doctor picked up a tricorder and scanned her, then looked over his shoulder to Kes helping Neelix out of a stasis box. "What happened?" he asked.
"Long story, Doc." Tom smiled weakly.
"Take us back in," Harry ordered.
Voyager turned around and headed back into the rift. Once inside, The tactical console sounded an alarm. Culhane ran for it. "The other Voyager is locking phasers on us!"
"Shields up! Red alert!"
As the siren sounded, Culhane spoke. "They're our equal in every way."
Harry thought about the two opposite beings named Lazarus from Tom's report. "We can't possibly win this fight." He looked at the alternate Voyager on the screen, which was closing in fast. "Helm, close to one thousand meters, then make a break for our rift at full impulse."
"Aye, sir," Strickler said.
As the distance shrank between the two vessels, the phaser array on the duplicate Voyager lit up.
The bridge rocked. Harry saw Strickler hunched over his console, concentrating. He remembered the things Tom said. "In that universe, the physics are the exact opposite of ours," as well as "The logs showed that the opposite of this Lazarus being was adversarial." Which probably means the crew of that Voyager have polar opposite thought patterns to ours, specifically that Kim's to mine. He stood up and put his hand on the helm chair. "Ensign Strickler, make sure that when we evade the other Voyager, we break beneath it."
Harry looked down at the readout. 2,500 meters. I hope this works, he thought.
The duplicate ships raced toward each other. At the same moment, the Voyagers dodged above and below each other to avoid collision.
Strickler punched it, and Voyager left the buffer zone. "Hard about! Close the rift in case they decide to follow us!"
At that moment, the intercom sounded. "Paris to Kim. The doctor's back in operation. No pun intended."
"Pun accepted, Tom. We're closing the rift. We should be on our way out of the nebula in a minute or so." Harry replied, smiling.
* * *
"So you encountered a second Voyager?" Janeway asked, seated on a biobed, undergoing a final examination by the Doctor. "That must have been thrilling upon first discovery."
Harry grinned. "Not half as thrilling as being able to outmaneuver our security officer."
"I was under duress at the time." Tuvok added stoically.
"Talk about being under duress," Tom said, "I had to endure B'Elanna telling nothing but the truth for two days! She must have commented on my 'cocky attitude' about 20 times!"
Janeway chuckled. "Well, the theory of Seska's involvement doesn't hold any water. She didn't have the security clearance to access the specifications we have, which are not complete enough to build a working device."
Chakotay nodded. "I wonder why the chronitons were on a neural frequency," he said. "Could the inhabitants of the planet have been trying to penetrate the technology to turn invisible just by thinking about it?"
"I'm a doctor, not a philosopher," the Doctor stated. "All I know is that I'm glad Kes is still alive." He turned to her, and she smiled brilliantly. "She has taught me a great deal. Plus, I would be hard-pressed to find a replacement."
"You wound me, Doc." Tom said, placing a hand over his heart.
The Doctor looked at him, an innocuous look on his face. "For a doctor, that is a double insult, Mr. Paris."
Everybody laughed. Except Tuvok, of course.