SUMMARY: Something strange gets beamed aboard the ship, without Janeway's permission, and Chakotay's got a lot on his mind…

RATING: PG, I should think.

DISCLAIMER: All character belong to Paramount, etc, except for Ensigns T'eyla and Blake. I made them up. You'll see more of them in oer fics of mine, when I get them up.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is the first Voyager fic I ever wrote. I hate it. Unfortunately, it forms the first 'episode' in a series. I know this is awful and would appreciate it if reviews didn't tell me something I already know, so… be nice?


(c) T'eyla Minh 2000

Teaser: (The scene is set at the Transporter pads, where a substance is beamed aboard behind a forcefield. It does not appear to be fighting to get out, and is presumed harmless. Cut to:

Engineering: Torres detects the thing and alerts Janeway. The scene is cut between Torres in Engineering and various shots of the Bridge - puzzled crewmembers, etc. Perhaps the two Ensigns who we will encounter later could look around nervously, before 'realising-they've-got-something-better-to-do' and leaving.)

TORRES: Torres to Bridge.

JANEWAY: Janeway here.

TORRES: I've just detected something on Transporter pad one. I have no idea what it could be – did you authorise a transport today?

JANEWAY: Not that I know of. Commander?

CHAKOTAY: I don't recall authorising anything to be transported.

JANEWAY: I'd hope you wouldn't authorise anything without informing me first!

CHAKOTAY: (Looks guilty as usual, and naturally, she doesn't notice.) No, of course not. (Talk about sucking up!) But, nevertheless, I don't recall being asked, and I know you haven't recently, either.

TORRES: Well, SOMETHING's been beamed aboard and I don't know about you, but I'd rest a lot easier if I knew what it was.

JANEWAY: I'll meet you there. Commander, you have the Bridge. (She leaves to go to the Transporter pads, and as she does, Chakotay looks around to make sure that no-one's looking and then niftily nicks her chair. I don't think he's ever done that while she was still alive or on board, so you see why this would be funny! Cut to:)

(Transporter pads. Janeway and Torres examine the anomalous thing with tricorders.)

TORRES: Whatever it is, it's being held behind a level 10 forcefield. Somebody didn't want this thing to escape. That to me implies it's dangerous. I don't want to let it out until I know what it is.

JANEWAY: I don't recognise any of these readings. We've never seen anything like it before.

TORRES: It's my guess that it might be some kind of lifeform. Maybe we should let Seven and the Doctor take a look at it.

JANEWAY: Agreed. (She hits her comm. badge.) Janeway to the Doctor.

THE DOCTOR: (He stops humming at Seven and answers.) Go ahead.

JANEWAY: We've got something for you.

THE DOCTOR: Oh, good, we're getting very bored up here. Nobody's been ill for a while. It's actually quite irritating! I was getting close to attacking people with Seven's nanoprobes just so we'd have something to do!

JANEWAY: Well, B'elanna and I think you'll like this. I'll beam it over and meet you there. I'll also forget what you just said and not throw you in the brig for harassment of the crew! (The thing behind the forcefield moves ominously.) We're on our way.

Run Credits…

Scene One: (Torres and Janeway watch The Doctor and Seven perform tests on the 'lifeform'.)

THE DOCTOR: Well, one thing's for certain.

JANEWAY: What's that?

THE DOCTOR: I don't have a clue what it is.

TORRES: You're not helping, Doctor. Anything else you can ascertain from all these tests you're performing?

THE DOCTOR: Well, it's some kind of lifeform, but I have no idea as to what.

TORRES: Our tricorders don't recognise it. We think it was beamed aboard from outside the ship, and since there aren't any planets or systems anywhere nearby, the only plausible place it could have come from is, literally, outside.

THE DOCTOR: The lack of oxygen inside the forcefield would suggest that is indeed where it's from. And although this may seem obvious, it certainly doesn't look like a land dwelling entity to me.

SEVEN: The Borg have never encountered such a creature as this, and I doubt that we would have gained much from assimilation of it.

JANEWAY: I'd like you to run more tests on it, perhaps examine some of it. Doctor, I'm sure you would be able to take a closer look?

THE DOCTOR: Being a hologram does have its advantages.

JANEWAY: Keep me informed. (She and Torres leave the sickbay.)

Scene Two: (Sickbay: The Doctor and Seven are still running tests on the lifeform, which seems to be moving around a lot more than it was before, and not surprising considering that it's confined within a container, behind a forcefield. I think I'd be trying to escape as well in a situation like that! The Doctor goes to a far corner of the room. When she's sure that he isn't looking, Seven lowers the containment field surrounding the lifeform and enters. She lifts the lid off the container, and the creature remains remarkably still…. Pause. The creature suddenly flies forward straight at her and knocks her out – it's a very powerful creature – and disappears out of the door. The Doctor hears the commotion and runs over to help up the waking Seven.)

THE DOCTOR: Seven! Are you all right? What were you doing?

SEVEN: I was about to attempt to do further tests on the lifeform, but it… flew at me.

THE DOCTOR: Flew at you?

SEVEN: Yes. I think it… knocked me out.

THE DOCTOR: Where did it go, did you see?

SEVEN: I do not recall anything after it hit me. I stumbled backwards. I believe it went out into the corridor.

THE DOCTOR: Computer. ([Blip]) Please locate the anomalous lifeform.

COMPUTER VOICE: The anomalous lifeform is now on Deck 6… Deck 7…. Deck 8…9…10

THE DOCTOR: Enough! It must have got into the Jeffries' Tubes. Are there any casualties?

COMPUTER VOICE: Lientenant Barker is unconscious in Jeffries' Tube 11.

THE DOCTOR: Beam him directly to Sickbay. (Barker appears on a Biobed, but the Doctor's attentions are elsewhere...) Seven… (She's collapsed again.) Seven!

SEVEN: I'll be fine. I just need to study the creature. Let me follow it.. (She tries to get up again and fails. The Doctor attempts to direct her to a bio bed.) Let me follow it! I can find it. I have excellent tracking skills.

THE DOCTOR: In that case you can track down a bio bed and direct yourself to it.

SEVEN: What?

THE DOCTOR: You're in no fit condition to be running around the ship. (Running a tricorder over her as she falls again.) Your blood pressure is rising. (She's got to her feet.) Do you feel light-headed at all? (As she collapses once again…)


THE DOCTOR: Seven, you must lie down. Like I've told you before, you're not indestructible, now… (she interrupts him and tries to walk away.)

SEVEN: I'm fine.

THE DOCTOR: As your doctor and your friend I ORDER you to sit down this instant. (She falls over one more time, unconscious, into the Doctor's waiting arms – by sheer coincidence, actually. He eventually gets her onto a bio bed.) That's better. (He does that "God, PEOPLE!" look that we see when he's totally frustrated – for example, in Chéz Sandrine when Sandrine won't leave him alone!) Computer, where is the anomalous lifeform now?

COMPUTER VOICE: The lifeform is now in Shuttle Bay One.

THE DOCTOR: Seal the doors and erect a level 6 forcefield around the lifeform.

COMPUTER VOICE: Affirmative. ([Blips to indicate the task has been performed.] The Doctor looks around, looks at Seven, then sighs heavily, gets out a tricorder and attempts to treat her. All this time Lieutenant Barker has been lying on a Biobed unconscious, and no-one's realisesd he's not on duty! What an organised ship it is!)

Scene Three: (Several weeks later. If you like, we could have one of those Captain's Log entries with the Star-date, but I don't know how those work, so you'll just have to live with the stage directions for a while! In a corridor, two crewmembers are walking along – two Ensigns in fact, since that's all they actually seem to have on Voyager! One of them suddenly collapses, and his companion helps him struggle to the Sickbay. Cut to:)

(Sickbay: The Doctor appears to be overrun with patients all suffering the same ailment – all unconscious, including Seven, who still hasn't recovered.)

ENSIGN: Oh, Doctor, is this a bad time?

THE DOCTOR: (Sees his brand new patient and, stepping over a prostrate Lieutenant, approaches the two Ensigns.) Not another one! Oh, just leave him over there and I'll see to him later. I think there's a space on the floor in that corner. If not, just prop him up against the wall, or something. (The Ensign tries to manoeuvre her friend to the corner.) Where did this happen?

ENSIGN: Deck 10, why?

THE DOCTOR: That's the sixth person this hour to have collapsed on Deck 10. Do you recall exactly where?

ENSIGN: Near the Turbolift that leads to Shuttle Bay 1. Will that be all?

THE DOCTOR: Yes. You've been very helpful. (The Ensign nods in gratitude and leaves. The Doctor walks around the room monitoring conditions, then suddenly hits his comm. badge.) Sickbay to Bridge.

CHAKOTAY: Chakotay here. What is it, Doctor?

THE DOCTOR: I think there's something worse going around than an epidemic as I first thought.

CHAKOTAY: Such as?

THE DOCTOR: I'm not sure yet. I think it might have something to do with the lifeform being held in Shuttle Bay 1. Please inform the Captain.

CHAKOTAY: Will do. Chakotay out. (He looks like he's about to kill himself, so finds someone else to do the job of telling the captain for him.) Tuvok, would you do me a favour...

Scene 4: (Somebody blips the door and then enters Janeway's Ready Room. She doesn't look up from her pad. She knows who it is, giving an impression that the somebody has been to her Ready Room for no reason quite a lot of late, and that she's been hiding in there for a while.)

JANEWAY: What can I do for you, Commander?

TUVOK: I regret, Captain, that I am not who you believe me to be. (She looks up.)

JANEWAY: Sorry, Tuvok. I'm so used to him coming in here that I guess I took it for granted.

TUVOK: There's no need to apologise. Anyone could make the same mistake. I will take it as a compliment.

JANEWAY: I don't know if that's better for me or the Commander! Anyway, what was it you wanted?

TUVOK: I am actually being a messenger for Mister Chakotay. He asked me to inform you that he just spoke to the Doctor.


TUVOK: It was in reference to the lifeform we thought had died in the Shuttle bay.

JANEWAY: It's alive… (God, HOW tacky!!!?)

TUVOK: The Doctor informs us that there are over forty people in Sickbay. They've all been collapsing near Shuttle Bay 1. At first he thought it was a coincidence, but it seems that's not the case.

JANEWAY: I was afraid this might happen. (As an after thought, she adds, almost impatiently:) After all, there's a creature we know nothing about lying dormant in the Shuttle bay. Something had to happen eventually. (Pause. Her interest suddenly heightens:) Any news on Seven?

TUVOK: He's working on a cure, but doesn't seem anywhere near to solving the problem yet. What do you suggest is our best course of action?

JANEWAY: For now, we've got to keep people away from that Shuttle bay. I'm going to find out who authorised the transport; maybe they know more about this thing than we do. (Getting up, she goes into 'plan-of-action' mode.) Tell Tom to inform the crew – no one is to go near Shuttle Bay 1 by order of the Captain. I'd like you to scan outside for any more substances that match the lifeform so that we know to avoid them. That should suffice for now. Dismissed.

TUVOK: Aye, Captain. (He goes out.)

Scene 5: (Sickbay, still overrun with unconscious crewmembers. At least a quarter of the crew is covering the floor, meaning that the Doctor has to step over and around them to get to anything. He's treating Seven and scanning her with a tricorder. After injecting her with something he goes off to monitor another person's condition. Seven stirs on the bio bed and slowly wakes up. She opens her eyes, looks around, and upon seeing the Doctor is glad [or at least as glad as Seven ever gets!] to see someone she recognises.)

SEVEN: (weakly:) Doctor?

THE DOCTOR: (He rushes over to her.) Seven! You're awake. The brilliant physician does it again.

SEVEN: Where am I? (She attempts to get up and he helps her to sit upright.)

THE DOCTOR: You're in Sickbay. Don't you recognise it?

SEVEN: (After looking around for a while.) Yes, but… I feel… dizzy – my head hurts. (The doctor runs a tricorder over her.)

THE DOCTOR: It's just an after effect of the creature that attacked you. It'll subside soon.

SEVEN: The creature – where is it?

THE DOCTOR: It's confined in Shuttle Bay One, and before you go gallivanting off down there I need your help to distribute the antidote to all of these people.

SEVEN: It attacked them, too?

THE DOCTOR: Not exactly. It appears as though this thing is seeping out of the Shuttle Bay, like a gas. Deck 10 is particularly noxious; we've had to put up a forcefield to contain it there. Now, the antidote… (He gives her one of those spray things to administer around the Sickbay, which she does, rather too efficiently. She then returns to the office, where the Doctor is hurriedly writing down his triumph of medicine.) That was quick.

SEVEN: Thank you.

THE DOCTOR: If you want to go you can, I don't need you here for anything specific.

SEVEN: I would rather remain in the Sickbay, Doctor. I am still feeling a little disorientated. Do you mind?

THE DOCTOR: Of course not. You're a pleasure to have around. (She looks decidedly puzzled by this, but anyway goes about her business in the Sickbay, which is helping get rid of a few stubborn patients trying to get extra time off work. Yes, they even do that in Starfleet! Believe it or not, one of them is Ensign Vorik, using his Vulcan logic to argue Seven's Borg relevance! I'm taking bets on who'll win, if anyone's interested!)

Scene 6: (Janeway's investigation begins. She interviews everybody to find out any information, but the crew is strangely unhelpful. She storms out of her Ready Room onto the Bridge, looking more than a tad peed off. Chakotay is strangely absent. She stands by Tuvok's tactical post, where he is number crunching as usual.)

JANEWAY: Spread the word: if somebody does not own up to that transport within the next hour I am throwing the entire crew into the brig!! (Oooh – she's really NOT happy. I've just realised how funny this line is if you imagine her actually saying it!)

TUVOK: Illogical, Captain…

JANEWAY: You think I can't handle a ship by myself, Tuvok? Then you hardly know me at all….

TUVOK: What I mean is, if you were to throw the entire crew into the brig, you would need to use the Shuttle bays, including Shuttle Bay 2. If this course of action were to be followed, the Sickbay would inevitably overfill and we would be back at square one. And, if I may ask, would you not prefer a full crew?

KIM: You know, he's right, Captain.

JANEWAY: Yes. I know. I just can't believe how unhelpful the crew is being. I only want to know who authorised that transport. It's not asking much.

TUVOK: I suggest that you proceed to Sickbay and see how the Doctor is faring with his treatment of Seven.

JANEWAY: Good idea, I'll… (realising something:) …where's Chakotay?

PARIS: He said he was going down to the Shuttle bay to see if he could analyse that thing down there. He's been gone for about an hour.


WILDMAN: Yeah, he said you asked him to.

JANEWAY: Did he…? Well, I'm off to the Sickbay. I'll leave Chakotay to analyse… (A thoughtful pause, then a shrug.) Mr Tuvok, you have the Bridge. (She leaves. As she does, Paris looks at Kim, who looks at Ensign Wildman, and they all look at Tuvok with a "You-are-such-a-captain's-pet" expression. He raises an eyebrow in that irritating way he has, and chooses to ignore them.)

(In the Turbolift, heading towards Sickbay, Janeway changes her mind…)

JANEWAY: Computer, halt Turbolift. Locate Commander Chakotay.

COMPUTER VOICE: Commander Chakotay is on Deck 10.

JANEWAY: Resume turbolift - Deck 10. (The lift moves, and as it reaches Deck 10 and slows down, she begins to feel light-headed. Cut to…)

(Corridor of Deck 10. As Chakotay walks up to the Turbolift, the doors open and Janeway falls out of the lift into his arms. In thinking too fast he forgets that there's such a thing as 'Emergency Transport' and decides to carry her. Somehow he manages to get her to Sickbay…)

(Sickbay: Chakotay rushes in carrying Janeway.)


THE DOCTOR: Commander? (Notices who he's carrying and decides not to ask exactly how it happened!) Get her to Biobed 1. (He hesitates, probably because he's rather enjoying himself!!) NOW!

CHAKOTAY: She was on her way to Deck 10 and she fell out of the Turbolift as the doors opened. (He places her on the Biobed as carefully as possible.) That creature's got itself everywhere. It's leaving some sort of residual trail which is seeping through the doors. That's what's affecting people.

THE DOCTOR: Luckily for her I've found a cure. Seven? (Seven appears in the doorway of the office.)

SEVEN: Yes, Doctor?

THE DOCTOR: Please administer some of the antidote to the Captain. (As she does so, Chakotay looks around and realises for the first time that the Sickbay is empty!)

CHAKOTAY: So she'll be all right?

THE DOCTOR: She'll wake up in about 30 seconds, and she'll have a headache, but apart from that, she'll be fine. Might I enquire as to what the two of you were doing on Deck 10?

CHAKOTAY: I was checking to see if everybody had vacated the area, and to see that the Shuttle bay doors were firmly shut, and I was on my way back to the Bridge. I have no idea why the Captain was down there, though. I guess she forgot where I was and went to check the doors herself. (At which point, she wakes up slowly and tries to get up. The Doctor stops her.)

THE DOCTOR: You need to lie still until your headache subsides.

JANEWAY: I'll be fine. (She sits on the edge of the Biobed.)

THE DOCTOR: I must insist…

JANEWAY: I'll be FINE! Give me a few minutes with the Commander. (Uh-oh!)

THE DOCTOR: As you wish. (He and Seven go back into the office.)

JANEWAY: I suppose I should be glad that you were outside that Turbolift, but I would be interested to know why you were there in the first place.

CHAKOTAY: I was checking on the Shuttle bay doors.

JANEWAY: Why? I gave strict instructions to the whole crew that NO-ONE was to go down there. You disobeyed my direct order and then to top that off you lied to everyone about where you were going…

CHAKOTAY: Whoa. Wait a moment. Lied? About what?

JANEWAY: They told me you said I'd asked you to go down there…

CHAKOTAY: You DID tell me to go down there.


CHAKOTAY: You don't remember?

JANEWAY: No. I've been so busy lately that little things like that seem to slip my mind. Next time, remind me, OK? (They both laugh. Mood swings or wot!) Well, thank you, then. I have another question, though. Why didn't you beam me straight to Sickbay instead of carrying me all the way here?

CHAKOTAY: I was thinking too quickly, I wasn't being logical… wait a moment… how did you know that?

JANEWAY: I didn't... I do now, though! But the last thing I remember, before I collapsed and woke up on this Biobed, was hoping there was someone on the other side of that door!

CHAKOTAY: Lucky for you I was on my way back. Why were YOU going down there?

JANEWAY: To have this little conversation. And frankly I'd rather have it in here than in the Shuttle Bay. (Pause.) How could you breathe there for so long? Everyone else seems to have been affected in a matter of seconds.

CHAKOTAY: A special breathing technique my father taught me. (She gives him that "I'm-impressed" look.) If you like I'll teach it to you one day.

JANEWAY: I WOULD like that. But for the moment, let's get back to the Bridge. (He helps her, totally unnecessarily, off the Biobed, and they leave, chatting as usual, possibly about this so-called breathing technique. In the office, Seven is inundating the Doctor with questions once again.)

SEVEN: Doctor?

THE DOCTOR: Yes, Seven?

SEVEN: I have a question to ask you.

THE DOCTOR: Fire away.

SEVEN: When I was being affected by the lifeform, you called yourself my 'friend'.

THE DOCTOR: Yes. Is that a problem?

SEVEN: I am not fully sure of the term, 'friend'. Please would you… explain it to me?

THE DOCTOR: Well… A friend is somebody you trust. Somebody you get along with, that you have things in common with, somebody you like to spend your time with.

SEVEN: Like the Captain and Commander Chakotay? Or Lieutenant Torres and Ensign Paris?

THE DOCTOR: I suppose so, yes. I'm not sure that the latter example counts… (She looks even more confused so he resists the urge to continue with that particular train of thought.) A friend is more than the bare minimum I just pointed out, though. A friend is also someone you respect. Somebody who, when you see them, you feel happy, as though a weight is lifted from your shoulders. When you're in trouble, you go to them and they try to help you, and you do the same for them.

SEVEN: But I have seen these so-called 'friends' arguing. Is that not… incorrect?

THE DOCTOR: No, Seven. Friends sometimes don't get along, but they always resolve it in the end. (There is a long pause, while she contemplates this new piece of information.)

SEVEN: Doctor, do you really consider yourself my… 'friend'?

THE DOCTOR: Of course. We're all your friends, Seven.

SEVEN: 'We'? Please elaborate. (OK, so she's acting totally out of character, but maybe the lifeform zapped her harder than we thought!)

THE DOCTOR: The crew. Everyone on board this ship has learnt to accept you as one of them, now. Take Naomi Wildman as a prime example. She's your friend. She thinks of you as a teacher and somebody to have fun with!

SEVEN: (pause) I am glad that YOU are my 'friend'. You have been a valued mentor to me.

THE DOCTOR: I'm glad you think so, and now it's my turn to ask the questions.

SEVEN: (Mock imitation of him:) Fire away.

THE DOCTOR: You agree we can be friends? (She nods.) In that case, I was wondering... or rather I've been wondering for some time... if I could call you by your name? 'Seven of Nine' seems so cold and ... inhuman.

SEVEN: You are saying that you wish to call me by my human name? (She looks a little uncomfortable by this.)

THE DOCTOR: Yes. It'll just be between you and me. Besides, 'Annika' is such a lovely name.

SEVEN: As I have said before, it is imprecise... but acceptable. (Perhaps a slight smile here...)

THE DOCTOR: (With relief that he hasn't put his foot in it:) Good.

SEVEN: What must I call you? It seems appropriate that I should call you by some sort of name.

THE DOCTOR: (There is a pause while he thinks, then finally he decides on....) You can call me... Kenneth. (As you will recall, that's what he came up with when he had his holographic family. And, yes, I know this part sucks… I got better at writing both of them in later fics, trust me.) Well, 'Annika', you'll be late for your Bridge shift. You'd better go. (He smiles at her, and she awkwardly smiles back. Then he goes about his business. As she leaves, he starts to absent-mindedly hum "You Are My Sunshine", which stops her in her tracks. She turns, thanks him, and leaves. The Doctor had no idea he was humming and is utterly confused.)

Scene 7: (On the Bridge, Janeway and Chakotay arrive. Nobody questions why they arrive together, and obviously nobody suspects that anything happened to them. They probably just assume that he got a telling off and that's that.)

JANEWAY: Mr Tuvok, any luck?

TUVOK: Regrettably, there appear to be no more lifeforms in this area of space.

JANEWAY: Keep circling the area, Tom, maybe something will turn up. (Paris nods and resets the course once again.) Ensign Kim, tell the crew that my investigations are continuing, and if I don't find who's responsible, I will be forced to imprison any people I suspect ARE. And I stick to my word.

KIM: Yes, ma'am.

JANEWAY: I'll be in my Ready Room. (She leaves, still in a major mood swing kind of mode! Chakotay sits in his chair, looks thoughtful [guilty!], then hits his comm. badge.)

CHAKOTAY: Chakotay to Ensigns T'eyla and Blake. (The two Ensigns, in different parts of the ship, answer. They are Bajoran and human respectively.)

T'EYLA: Yes, sir? (It's ME!!! I have this thing about appearing in each of my scripts!)

BLAKE: Here. (This is my friend - we both appear in my subsequent fics along with Kat-Doec… it's a long story. Attack of the Mary-Sue-ism…)

CHAKOTAY: Please report to the Captain immediately. (There is a deathly silence, which implies that they really don't want to, but they grudgingly agree.)

ENSIGNS: (VO, unenthusiastic:) Yes, Commander… (God, you can almost SEE them trudging can't you!)

Scene 8: (The end of Janeway's interrogation of the Ensigns. By the looks on their faces it didn't go too well and they're still about to face their punishment.)

JANEWAY: … I appreciate that you owned up, and I realise that the prospect of discovering a new lifeform must have been very exciting for you both, but nevertheless… (They look decidedly miserable) You are relieved of duty for three weeks; no holoprogrammes, no replicator rations; you will also have no more involvement with the Doctor and Seven of Nine's work with the lifeform. You will not ask questions about it, and you will visit the Sickbay only for medical purposes. If and when you do, I shall expect a full report from the Doctor on your reasons for being there. Do I make myself clear?

ENSIGNS: (sotto, miserable and almost inaudible:) Yes, ma'am.

JANEWAY: I said, do I make myself CLEAR?

ENSIGNS: Yes, Captain.

JANEWAY: Good. Dismissed. No, wait, one more thing… Ensign T'eyla - what have I told you about that earring? (They're near the door. T'eyla turns around and politely steps forward, while Blake waits patiently by the door for her.)

T'EYLA: Sorry, Captain. It's around the time of the Bajoran Gratitude Festival. I thought it would be disrespectful not to wear it. (defensive:) I'm proud of my heritage.

JANEWAY: I understand that, but still, I wish you'd ask me or tell me first then I wouldn't be so angry about it.

T'EYLA: I'll do that next time.

JANEWAY: (Bored.) Fine. There's nothing more I can think of to say about this situation. Dismissed. Your punishment begins as of 0900 tomorrow. (The ensigns slump out attempting to look as though it's perfectly normal. As soon as they get out you can hear them complaining to each other. A mutiny is, naturally, bound to happen! But enough of that. The Ready Room's doorbell thingy buzzes and Chakotay enters uninvited. At least he rings the bell first, that's something, I suppose!) Is there a problem, Commander?

CHAKOTAY: No. Not exactly.

JANEWAY: You wanted to talk to me?

CHAKOTAY: Yes. How did your interview with the Ensigns go?

JANEWAY: The usual. The awful, embarrassing three week holiday, the lack of a good holonovel, having to live on Neelix's food, no more earrings.

CHAKOTAY: Isn't that a little harsh? After all they ARE only Ensigns, and if they saw the prospect of having something named after them, at so young an age…

JANEWAY: I'm aware of that, but they wouldn't tell me who authorised the transport and until I know who that was… (She suddenly realises something) How did you know about their idea of a new lifeform?

CHAKOTAY: I just assumed.

JANEWAY: Well, five stars for guesswork. I don't suppose you know who authorised that transport, do you?

CHAKOTAY: Actually, I do. (There is a long pause as she waits for his answer. She certainly doesn't expect these three little words…) It was me.

JANEWAY: You? Congratulations. You've just made my headache a hell of a lot worse. (He's utterly ashamed. As he doesn't say anything to argue with her yet, she takes the opportunity to vent the rage.) Well, at least you didn't send Tuvok in here as a go-between to save yourself the bother! I ought to be glad of that, I suppose! Since when do you have the right to authorise something like that?!

CHAKOTAY: I know I should have asked you first. It was just that Ensign T'eyla, who was more or less the leader of the two of them, was desperate for the creature to be beamed aboard so that she and Blake could analyse it – you know what those Bajorans are like. When they want something they want it now and they're used to getting it, too. I told them, ORDERED them to wait until the next day, because at the time you were in your holonovel – Chapter 7 if I remember correctly – and I didn't want to disturb you.

JANEWAY: (She gets up from her desk to wander aimlessly around the room. No, make that pace aimlessly, looking a bit peed off.) Oh, how very noble of you…

CHAKOTAY: (Gives her a chance to keep listening) Unfortunately, we detected that the lifeform would be leaving our area of space that day, judging by the relative speed it was moving, and decided to beam it aboard for further study. Of course, ethically, we'd have needed to release it as soon as the work was done, except it didn't work out that easily.

JANEWAY: Why didn't you tell me the day after?

CHAKOTAY: I was GOING to tell you as soon as it had been beamed aboard, but it took so long to lock on it's erratic co-ordinates that it didn't even reach the ship until 2 days later. Of course, we didn't know that until B'elanna detected it in Engineering. And, what with trying to keep the Ensigns quiet and figure out what the hell was going on, I didn't have time to tell you. I hardly saw you to speak to you anyway.

JANEWAY: (She stops walking and stands in front of him.) Don't try to lay the blame on me, this is your problem. (She's angry and doesn't really mean it.)

CHAKOTAY: I know it is and I'm not blaming you.

JANEWAY: I don't need this, Commander. It's bad enough that Ensigns go running to you to save themselves the trouble of seeing me, without you setting such a bad example as this.

CHAKOTAY: I know and I'm sorry. Another thing, though – it may not be the best time to ask – but is there something wrong? You've been spending a lot of time on the holodecks lately.

JANEWAY: Haven't you ever had a book you couldn't put down, so to speak? (She avoids this conversation and goes back to the matter in hand.) That's beside the point! There's nothing wrong. I'm fine. (There obviously is something wrong and she's not fine. Whatever it is, she certainly isn't going to tell him. He reads the signs and decides not to push it.) And as for you…

CHAKOTAY: If you want to confine me to your quarters, I'll understand. (He realises his mistake instantaneously and tries to backpedal, but she doesn't seem to have noticed.)

JANEWAY: I OUGHT to do just that, Commander, but I won't. (Although, maybe she HAS noticed…)

CHAKOTAY: Tuvok might say that was an 'illogical' course of action to take. (Yup, she's noticed… who better to read the signs than her first officer!)

JANEWAY: Yes, he might, but the truth is, I need you. (He looks puzzled, and before he can question the implications, she intervenes.) I need you and every other member of this crew; I can't afford to have my First Officer out of action, especially not right now.

CHAKOTAY: That's the only reason? (Despite the questioning tone, he can't help letting a little pride into his voice.)

JANEWAY: What other reason would there be? (Before he can answer, the Doctor is heard.)

THE DOCTOR: (VO) Doctor to Captain Janeway.

JANEWAY: (After an exasperated sigh.) Go ahead.

THE DOCTOR: (VO) Might I suggest that you keep the crew away from the bottom decks? The lifeform appears to have become extremely hostile; it's now covering 2 shuttle bays, a cargo bay and the bottom 3 decks. I can't produce enough of the antidote for a second attack.

JANEWAY: Thank you, Doctor. Computer ([blip]) Are there any crew members in the vicinity of the creature?


JANEWAY: Erect a Level 10 forcefield around the decks that have been invaded by the lifeform. (Blips indicate the task has been successfully performed.) Doctor, do we know what this thing lives on?

THE DOCTOR: It does not appear to live on anything. It's like no other lifeform I've ever seen. I hope you didn't need anything from those decks – that forcefield will need to be up for some time. Now, if you'll excuse me – I'll be there in a moment! – I have to go and help Seven with a query. (Janeway immediately hurries out onto the Bridge, followed by a rejected-looking Chakotay. He snaps out of it when he realises that it doesn't look good on the Bridge.)

JANEWAY: Ensign Kim, pop quiz: the creature is trapped near Shuttle Bay 2 – is there any way we can flush it into space? (Kim stabs the relevant bits of his console.)

KIM: I think so. If we open the doors, it should get sucked back out into space. Or it'll leave voluntarily. (Pause.) It seems to be working. ([Alarms]) No, wait a moment. The creature is pulling back inside the ship with some force – it's too strong for us.

JANEWAY: Close the doors, Harry. I guess we'll have to get used to our new pet.. Resume course, Tom. (With a look of regret, everybody returns to their usual duties.)

Scene 9: (A few weeks later, and everything is just about back to normal. OK, so there'd be a log entry, but you know how I feel about writing those! [But I will work it out, I WILL!!!] Janeway is sitting contemplating a bizarre looking dish on the table in front of her. Neelix approaches her, creating a suitable diversion for her not to eat his cooking!)

NEELIX: Captain?

JANEWAY: Yes, Neelix, how can I help you?

NEELIX: Are you enjoying your meal? (She takes a dubious mouthful and swallows it slowly.)

JANEWAY: It's very… interesting.

NEELIX: Good. Erm… (he sits down.) Commander Chakotay wanted me to tell you something.

JANEWAY: Can't he tell me himself?

NEELIX: No, it's… well he thought it would be best if I told you.

JANEWAY: Fine. Go ahead. (She places her fork as inconspicuously as possible on the table.)

NEELIX: You know he's been feeling very guilty lately about what happened.

JANEWAY: No, I didn't know that. Why?

NEELIX: He feels personally responsible for the creature taking over the ship like it did. In fact, he feels he should do something to help.

JANEWAY: Such as? We've tried practically everything we can think of to flush out the lifeform.

NEELIX: That's just it. The Commander feels that flushing it out isn't the best approach.

JANEWAY: So, what does he suggest?

NEELIX: That he goes out in a shuttle to lure it off the ship, so that Voyager can get away from it at low warp. (He sees the look of disbelief on her face.) He said you wouldn't like the idea.

JANEWAY: It's utterly out of the question.

NEELIX: I personally don't agree with it either, and in fact we argued about it, but the truth is my duty as morale officer means I should agree with him. He's also my commanding officer and, rightly, I can't go against his orders. There are no holodecks left, even the Doctor is getting bored, if such a thing were possible, and this… this… THING needs to be got rid of quickly. I don't like it, either, Captain, but I would beg you to let him go ahead with this.

JANEWAY: I see your reasoning, Neelix, but I can't agree to it. I just can't.

NEELIX: If you don't mind, Captain, I think you should sort this out with the Commander himself (Chakotay has just that second walked through the door and attempted to avoid their table, unsuccessfully.) as I have to serve dinner before those Ensigns destroy my kitchen. (Various crashes, sizzles, and screams of pain are heard from the general direction of the kitchen. Neelix gets up as Chakotay sits down, and as he walks off all we hear from him is:) I'm coming! Leave that alone! Out, out, OUT!

CHAKOTAY: I assume Neelix informed you of my plan.

JANEWAY: He did.


JANEWAY: No. Absolutely not.

CHAKOTAY: It'll work! I'm sure of it. Look at it this way – everybody's been getting frustrated, you especially, with no holodecks. No holodecks also means no simulations. It could be dangerous to just go ahead with a plan without testing it first… (she uses this to her advantage)

JANEWAY: Well, there you go. You can't test this – so you'll be going ahead with it blindly and unpractised. No. (He says nothing, but carries on with his persuasion.)

CHAKOTAY: Another problem is, of course, that all of the shuttle bays are off limits. We can't investigate any planets or moons without landing the ship first, or getting within a safe range to beam down. I don't think Voyager can cope with all of the changes in atmospheric pressure like that.

JANEWAY: This ship was built to last…

CHAKOTAY: Spare me the details. The ship may have been 'built to last', but was this crew? The signs are already beginning to show in them – boredom, lateness, a lazy attitude to working. Pretty soon our top-notch team will deteriorate into the worst crew in the history of Starfleet, unless something is done.

JANEWAY: I think you're exaggerating.

CHAKOTAY: Am I? Look around you. (They both do. The crewmembers are all slouching, poring over either pads or half-eaten meals, unenthusiastically attempting to look interested in both. It's unusually quiet for the mess hall, even Tom and B'elanna are sitting quietly, which you've got to admit is a first. Basically, everybody's bored out of their heads with no recreational facilities. Somebody – a Bolian – yawns.)

JANEWAY: I accept that. But there is no way I'm going to let you out on a… a… suicide mission.

CHAKOTAY: It may not be a suicide mission. If I beam aboard the shuttle, I can go out of the ship. The creature will follow me out and if I time it just right I can get back to Voyager and close the doors. Then we can get as far away from here as possible. Of course, it'll take some time to get those decks up and running again, but at least the decks will be there. It'll be a step in the right direction.

JANEWAY: I see your reasoning, but I still say it's too dangerous…

CHAKOTAY: Let me try to save this ship if I can. It's the very least I can do; I was the one who brought the thing aboard in the first place. (Pause.) For Chapter 8…?

JANEWAY: It's risky, but… if you think you can do this, if you think it'll work, then I guess I can't stop you. (Pause.) But I think you ought to know that I'm not happy about it. I'm not giving you a decision yet, I need to think about it.

CHAKOTAY: Well, when you've decided, let me know. (He gets up rather too abruptly and is about to leave, but remembers his manners.) Captain. (He leaves. Notice how she still hasn't accepted blame yet, as it is partly her fault for being so elusive. That'll teach her to leave someone else in charge for so long.)

Scene 10: (Bridge. Janeway still hasn't fully decided whether or not to let Chakotay go on his mission, so he's waiting patiently for her decision. Situation normal, usual chatty conversation from the 'big chairs'. I don't do small talk scenes so use your imagination. Suddenly, alarms go off, lights flash and various things fall about the place.)

JANEWAY: Mr Kim, report.

KIM: I'm not reading anything. The sensors are dead.

JANEWAY: Tom, open the viewscreen. (He does and outside the ship are lots and lots of miniature versions of the lifeform.) It looks like our pet in the Shuttle Bay has brought some cavalry.

PARIS: What do you suggest we do?

JANEWAY: We try to outrun them.

CHAKOTAY: I don't think that would work. If we run away, they'll follow us. They've come for the other one. We've seen how fast these things can move.

JANEWAY: In that case, we'll have to fire on them. (Everyone hesitates.) I gave everybody a direct order. Lock phasers. (Kim and Tuvok reluctantly obey.) That's more like it. Fire on my mark. (The ship rocks violently) NOW! (Outside the ship, the phasers hit several of the creatures, which wither and, for want of a better word, die, and the others take the warning and hurry away, disappearing into the blackness in a matter of seconds. Everyone looks at their Captain scornfully - this is probably the most unethical thing she's done.)

PARIS: You killed them.

JANEWAY: I had to. They were going to destroy the ship.

PARIS: But there was no need to kill them. You could have just opened the Shuttle Bay and let them have what they wanted.

JANEWAY: And risk further contamination of Voyager? I don't think so.

PARIS: Not necessarily. They might have just come in and left again without any trouble.

JANEWAY: Then again, they might not have done! We know nothing about this species! We don't know whether they have a dangerous intent...

PARIS: Or whether they don't.

JANEWAY: Mr Paris, you are stepping on thin ice. I suggest you either stop talking or report to your quarters until further notice. (Paris gives her one his evil, argumentative glares.)

TUVOK: Mr Paris, you were given...

PARIS: Save it Tuvok, I'm going. (He leaves and a nearby Ensign takes his place.)

JANEWAY: Tuvok, you have the Bridge. (She gets up quietly and walks into her Ready Room. Three seconds later, she is followed by her First Officer. Cut to:-)

(Ready Room. Janeway is standing with her back to the door as Chakotay enters.)

JANEWAY: Get out. (He stops about a metre short of her) I don't want you in here.

CHAKOTAY: But you knew I'd follow you. That's why you left Tuvok in charge.

JANEWAY: Probably because I don't trust you any more. (That's mean and she knows it.) It doesn't matter whose command I left the Bridge under, I don't want you in here. Get out.

CHAKOTAY: OK, but first answer me this. Why do you always hide in here to get away from your problems? Reprimanding Paris won't do any good when he feels exactly like the rest of us. (This makes her turn around.)

JANEWAY: Let me ask YOU something, Commander. Why do you always come in here, uninvited and unwanted, just to tell me I'm wrong? Surely you must see my reasoning?

CHAKOTAY: Yes, I do, but I also see Tom's reasoning. (She turns her back on him again and folds her arms, sulking.) Part of me wants to agree with him and the other part wants to go with your reasoning and... well, what I came in here to tell you was that you're not alone, and that whatever decision you make I'll stand by it, regardless of what the others think. I just wanted you to know that. You can believe me or not, I don't care any more. (There is a quiet pause as she contemplates what he's said. By the time she turns to face him, he's already gone...)

Scene 11: (Janeway sits in her quarters reading a PADD with a report on it, but you can tell her heart's not in it. She looks up, stares blankly into space [literally!], then hits her comm. badge.)

JANEWAY: Janeway to Chakotay.

(In his own quarters he answers her.)


JANEWAY: I've given your idea a lot of thought.


JANEWAY: As you know I don't agree with you on the subject, however, I have to consider that it's the only option.

CHAKOTAY: Is that a go-ahead?

JANEWAY: I guess it must be. (Pause.) I know you can do this. I have every faith in you.

CHAKOTAY: I won't let you down. (He turns off his badge.)

JANEWAY: (To herself:) I hope you're right...

Scene 12: (Briefing room. Seated around the table are, in the following order: Kim, Seven, the Doctor, Neelix, Tuvok, Paris and Torres. Chakotay is hovering somewhere and Janeway stands at the head of the table.)

JANEWAY: So, you've all heard Chakotay's plan. Does anybody have any suggestions or queries?

PARIS: I think I can get us to Warp 4. That should do to get us away quickly enough. Any faster than Warp 4 and there's a chance I won't be able to get up speed fast enough, and any slower won't BE fast enough.

TORRES: The lifeform engulfed those decks incredibly fast; we won't have much time for Chakotay to get back into the ship. He'll have a few minutes, max. I think I'll be able to adapt the transporters to cope with the lifeform in the shuttle bay so we can beam him into the shuttle.

THE DOCTOR: It's likely that he'll be affected by the creature even inside the shuttle. After all, it managed to knock out An.... Seven. (She gives him a strange look as if to say: "Don't-tell-them!", avoiding all eye-contact with the rest of the crew, especially B'elanna. Luckily nobody notices his little slip-up with the name.) My point is, it's the most powerful entity we've encountered in a long time. Might I suggest that he beam immediately to Sickbay for treatment as soon as he's completed his mission?

JANEWAY: Good idea, Doctor. Anybody else?

TUVOK: (He knows something but isn't saying what it is.) Are you certain that this is the correct course of action to take?

JANEWAY: I've given it a lot of thought, Tuvok, and I believe it is, yes. The Commander and I both agree that there is no alternative. It's not a nice way to sort this out, and although I don't personally hold him responsible… (Chakotay comes forward from behind her and interrupts.)

CHAKOTAY: We have to finish this off. Nobody wants this thing on board any more. It's time to take action and I think I should be the one who does just that.

KIM: We have every confidence in you, Commander.

TUVOK: Indeed.

PARIS: It appears the vote is unanimous. We all think you'll do it, no problems.

CHAKOTAY: Thank you for your support.

JANEWAY: This is a dangerous mission, and nobody deserves to go on it, especially not the Commander. Are there any more comments?

SEVEN: I will be assisting the Doctor in Sickbay, but I will help on the Bridge or in Engineering if I am required.

JANEWAY: I think you'll be more useful staying put. B'elanna, will you be needing any extra hands?

TORRES: No, I think we're OK down there.

JANEWAY: Good. If I need you on the Bridge I'll call you. (Pause.) Is everybody perfectly clear that this requires TEAMWORK? We all need to work as a precise, well-oiled machine. This cannot go wrong; I have every confidence in all of you. I'll see you at 1800. Dismissed. (They all get up and leave to their various destinations. Except Chakotay.) Still here? (She sounds almost bored by his being there.)

CHAKOTAY: (Attempting to create a diversion to cover his real reason for being there.) I'm off duty. Thought I'd stay here a while if you're not doing anything. If I'm wanted that is. No holodecks back yet, remember. (Pause while she sits down and swivels her chair to face him.)

JANEWAY: Are you absolutely sure you want to go ahead with this?


JANEWAY: Then you're a lot braver than me. I'll make sure Starfleet hears about this when we get back.

CHAKOTAY: But, I'm a Maquis, not a part of Starfleet.

JANEWAY: I thought we'd gone beyond those dividing lines.

CHAKOTAY: I'm a Maquis, you're a Starfleet captain. It's as simple as that.

JANEWAY: If you insist, but Starfleet, Maquis, you're still my First Officer and you're a DAMN good officer, Chakotay. Make no mistake, you'll be a captain someday. Whether you're getting Voyager itself home or commanding your own crew, one day it'll be you in 'the big chair'. And I'll tell you this: if Starfleet allowed it, this ship would have two captains! (He's obviously rather embarrassed. Her sudden praise is a surprise since she's been rather tetchy with him lately. He sits in a chair opposite her.)

CHAKOTAY: That would certainly be an honour, but first I have to survive this!

JANEWAY: You'll live through it, I know you will. We'll get this crew home if it's the last thing we ever do!

CHAKOTAY: I was afraid of that!

JANEWAY: (Long pause.) See you at 1800. (He's about to leave, getting out of his chair, but he changes his mind, as he is prone to do.)

CHAKOTAY: Are you sure you're OK with this?

JANEWAY: From a captain's point of view, yes. (Pause) From a personal point of view… no. (As he is still standing, she gets up as well.)

CHAKOTAY: I thought as much.

JANEWAY: I'm not going to stop you from doing this. I know you too well; I KNOW you'd go ahead with it whether I was for it or not, despite what you said. (He's about to deny it but he knows it's actually true.) I'm letting you do this for the good of the crew, even though I personally don't think it's the best approach. We've got a good team out there, they think it's the right thing to do. They assume that's what I think, too, and I don't want to disappoint them. (Pause.) If you decide not to go on this mission, I certainly won't argue with you. Nobody will think any less of you.

CHAKOTAY: (Looks thoughtful – perhaps he's going to reconsider. No…) What's the real reason you don't want me doing this?

JANEWAY: You're my First Officer and I don't want to lose you. Crew morale is low enough as it is without the First Officer dying in combat with an unknown lifeform. Which, hopefully, will not happen (Pause.) But you're also my friend, and I'd hate to lose both. I'm not sure how I'd run this ship without you.

CHAKOTAY: Please try to understand that it's because I'm your friend that I'm willing to go ahead with this. I can't bear to see you like this, constantly on edge and, admit it, you're bored, too! (She looks at him in that way. You know what I mean…)

JANEWAY: I do understand that. It's your decision. I'll not try to make you change your mind any more. (Pause.)

CHAKOTAY: (Half to himself and half to her – it's difficult to tell.) Well, if that's the only reason…

JANEWAY: See you at 1800. (He nods. They go in opposite directions, he in the direction of the door and she to one of the consoles to check things. He reaches the door and then turns around. He calls her – it's one of those times when you can't tell if he uses her title or her first name. The latter would certainly be appropriate) Yes?

CHAKOTAY: You know I'd risk my life for you... (then to cover his sip-up, he adds:) and the crew. Hopefully this won't be the last time I get to prove it. (With this he leaves, but before he does, both of them look as though they're about to say something important, then dismiss the idea and carry on. No reason really, apart from the fact that he's standing in the doorway – the automatic OPEN doorway – so everyone can see him pondering. Suspicions may gather. Or not.)

Scene 13: (Janeway is in the transporter room making some final checks with B'elanna. Tuvok enters.)

TORRES: May we help you, Tuvok?

TUVOK: I wish to speak to the Captain alone. (Janeway gives B'elanna a nod and she leaves the room to wait outside.)


TUVOK: Do not let the Commander go on this mission.

JANEWAY: I'm supposed to tell you what to do, not the other way around.

TUVOK: I know that, Captain, but wasn't there once a time when you valued my advice?


TUVOK: In that case, my advice is: do not let Mister Chakotay do this.

JANEWAY: (She looks thoughtful. He's been acting a little odd ever since she mentioned the plan.) You know something, don't you?

TUVOK: I know many things… (I think this constitutes a Tuvokian sense of humour…)

JANEWAY: Tuvok… You've been acting suspicious ever since the plan was made.

TUVOK: Indeed. I have been told something by the Commander that I think you should know. Although he told me in the greatest of secrecy, it is my duty that you should hear this before proceeding with your plan.

JANEWAY: I'm not interested in gossip, Tuvok.

TUVOK: It is not gossip. In fact, it is something that only the Commander and myself know.

JANEWAY: Well it's obviously important if you need to tell me alone. Go ahead. (We cut to B'elanna listening through the door and overhearing the conversation. We can't hear it, but we can guess. Her mouth drops open and then she breaks into a smile. She manages to straighten just in time as Tuvok leaves the room, and she pretends to be busy with a PADD, then goes back into the transporter room. Janeway looks decidedly shocked.)

TORRES: Captain? Something wrong?

JANEWAY: No… nothing. (She snaps out of it.) Now, where were we… (They go back to their original task, then B'elanna makes something bleep on her PADD.)

TORRES: Sorry, I just need to get something from Engineering. I'll be right back. (It's a pathetic excuse but she falls for it. B'elanna is halfway down the corridor when she hits her comm. badge.) Tom? You're not gonna believe what I just heard…

Scene 14: (1800 hours. Bridge – everybody readies themselves for the imminent and taxing task ahead of them. Janeway is oddly flustered and has made the decision to beam Chakotay out herself. She walks around the Bridge checking everything three times over and getting in everyone's way! Ezri Dax eat your heart out! Eventually she stands still.)

JANEWAY:…is everybody totally sure what they're doing?

PARIS: (Slowly, as though humouring a very excited child:) Warp 4 when we have to as quickly as I can get her to move.

TUVOK: I shall be monitoring the lifeform throughout the process.

JANEWAY: Oh no you're not, I've decided. With your impeccable timing I'll be leaving you in charge of the whole operation while I'm gone. You'll need to co-ordinate engineering as well as Chakotay's launch until I get back to the Bridge.

TUVOK: Aye, captain.

KIM: In that case, I'll take over Tuvok's original job.

JANEWAY: You read my mind! B'elanna, how about you?

TORRES: (VO) We're all set down here, Captain. As soon as Tom wants warp, we'll be doing our best to give it to him.

THE DOCTOR: (VO) I'll be waiting here in Sickbay for the Commander to beam aboard.

JANEWAY: Tuvok, I want you to take over from... (she pauses) Did I already say that?


JANEWAY: I don't know what's wrong with me. I've never been so anxious in my life. (Tuvok knows. B'elanna knows. In fact, everyone knows why she's so anxious, even if she doesn't herself!)

CHAKOTAY: I'm the one who should be anxious!

JANEWAY: (pause) Are you ready?

CHAKOTAY: As ready as I'll ever be.

JANEWAY: Good. Let's go. Tuvok, everybody, good luck. (She and Chakotay leave. Cut to:)

(Transporter room. They enter. She stands on the console platform and taps in the appropriate command code. She looks up to face him.) There's a runabout in Shuttle Bay 2 waiting for you. By B'elanna's calculations, at best you'll have 4 minutes to get out of the ship and back before Tom hits Warp. (Pause.) Do you still want to go ahead with this? If you like we can send a probe out instead…

CHAKOTAY: No. Whatever that thing is attracted to it has to be organic, it has to be HUMAN. I'm going.

JANEWAY: In that case, I ought to tell you that you'll only have one chance to get back. If you don't make it before Tom hits warp speed… We'll have to leave you here. There'll be no turning back.

CHAKOTAY: If that's what you need to do, then I'll make my own way back in the shuttle. It's still just about Warp capable and I can get away from the lifeform easily.

JANEWAY: Let's make a compromise. If you don't make it back, we'll go on ahead for about three minutes, and wherever we stop, we'll stay there until you make it back, no matter how long we have to sit there.

CHAKOTAY: You could be waiting some time. The runabout's Warp Drive will be severely damaged by the creature. Warp 2 is the fastest it'll move at the moment, and I'm not even sure if it'll manage that for very long. You may be there for months, even years.

JANEWAY: I'm sure we'll be occupied. Neelix says there's a very crowded area of space up ahead - lots of systems.

CHAKOTAY: Further compromise: if I haven't made it back within three months, you leave. Make your way home. (Pause. She looks decidedly against the idea, but nevertheless they shake hands on it.) Besides, if I die out there, it would be what the Klingons might call an 'honourable death'.

JANEWAY: And I PROMISE you that I will inform Starfleet of this. Alive or dead, you'll still be a Maquis…

CHAKOTAY: An ex-Maquis.

JANEWAY: (Pause.) An ex-Maquis who fought to save his fellow crewmembers. Nobody will forget this. Good luck. (She shakes his hand, and pats his shoulder in that irritating way that she does, although this time she does seem to hesitate for longer before letting go. Pause. She gives him a hug. [Oh, come on, she hugged Tuvok in "Year of Hell". Give me a chance!] After she regains her composure, a little embarrassed, he goes to stand on the Transporter pad, and as he does the ship suddenly rocks violently.) Tuvok, report.

TUVOK: (VO) It appears the lifeform is attempting to break down the forcefield. I suggest that the Commander leaves swiftly if he is to be successful.

JANEWAY: Good idea. Chakotay, say the word. (Another bang as the ship rocks.)

CHAKOTAY: In case I never make it back, I just wanted to apologise for everything I've ever done against your orders.

JANEWAY: Apology accepted. (Another bang, and a crash as things fall over.)

CHAKOTAY: And one more thing…

JANEWAY: There's no time! (Another huge crash, as she is thrown forwards onto the control panel and accidentally beams him out. As he disappears:) Chakotay… (She snaps out of it and runs back to the Bridge. Cut to:)

(Bridge. Janeway enters and instantaneously hits her comm. badge.)

JANEWAY: Commander? (Pause.) Chakotay, please respond.

CHAKOTAY: (VO – for effect, he won't actually be visible for the rest of this scene [i.e. all of his lines will be VOs.] Another huge pause first, then.) Here.

JANEWAY: Thank God you made it into the shuttle. I thought I'd lost you for a moment.

CHAKOTAY: Never mind that. I believe the creature has spotted me. I'm on my way out. (We see Voyager, and a shuttle leaving it. Very quickly, the tiny shuttle is followed by a large cloud of gas, or so it appears. This is the lifeform, in case you hadn't guessed. Back on the Bridge, on the view-screen, the cloud is seen to cover the whole ship.) Is the whole creature out yet, Harry?

KIM: Not yet. I think it's grown. There's still a lot of it to get out.

CHAKOTAY: No wonder it was trying to break down the forcefield, confined in that little Shuttle bay! Tell me when it's all out.

KIM: About twenty seconds… fifteen seconds… ten… five, four, three, two, one. It's out.

CHAKOTAY: Give me a few more seconds so it's clear of the ship.

JANEWAY: B'elanna, how much time does he have?

TORRES: (in Engineering) Judging by the distance he is from the ship, and at his current speed, just under two minutes. That's also taking into account how fast this thing will take to totally engulf the ship.

PARIS: I can feel it's effects already. Another few seconds and we'll be totally immersed in this… (he peers at the viewscreen.) ... gas.

CHAKOTAY: I think I can make it. The creature is clear of the ship. I'm coming back. Stand by. (Long pause while they wait… and wait… and wait… and then…)

KIM: Commander, you've got one minute left and counting.

CHAKOTAY: I might make it, but it's a wild shot. If I don't… Kathryn…


CHAKOTAY: (He speaks slowly, affected by the lifeform and to get his point across. He realises the absolute futility of his situation and breaks it to her as gently as possible:) It looks as though I'm not going to make it back after all. I'm sorry - I tried my best.

JANEWAY: What speed are you going?

CHAKOTAY: A quarter impulse.

JANEWAY: Can you get it up to half impulse?

CHAKOTAY: (There is a pause as he tries. The shuttle struggles to pick up speed but doesn't sound too healthy so he gives up.) No. The lifeform is dragging on the shuttle (Pause.) As I'll probably never see you again, now seems like a good time to say this. (Coughing) I swore to myself I wouldn't die without letting you know. (Pause.)

KIM: Thirty seconds…

JANEWAY: If you've got something to say, say it quickly.

CHAKOTAY: I… (He's torn between whether to tell her or not. The atmosphere on the Bridge is painfully tense. Everyone looks at their Captain. It's one of those "They-know-even-if-she-doesn't" situations. Long painful moment.)


KIM: Fifteen seconds… (No reply from Chakotay.)

TUVOK: Commander! Remember what we discussed…

KIM: Ten seconds…

PARIS: (Coughing from the gas surrounding the ship.) We've got to leave now, or we'll ALL be dead.

JANEWAY: Agreed. (Under her breath.) I'm counting on you, Chakotay. (Next bit's a little complicated. Just as she says her line, Chakotay instantaneously says his. Just so you know.) Harry, close the doors. Warp 2, Tom. Engage.

CHAKOTAY: (Kind of echo-y due to the weird effects of the creature:) I love you… (And the audience grins in triumph! [Or laughs hysterically, or groans - your choice.])

(Outside, the ship rips through the gaseous substance as Voyager hits Warp 2. The gas, if it could have a facial expression, looks bewildered, hovering slightly, then kind of slinks away. There is no sign of the shuttle, which can mean one of two things …

1) the creature ate him, or

2) he got incinerated by Voyager's Warp residue, or something technical to that effect, or

3) he actually did make it back - but that's being incredibly optimistic, don't you think? Cut to:)

(Bridge. Janeway is still standing up, in a state of minor shock, as you would be. Everybody looks decidedly sorry for her. Aww. What a good crew! Tuvok does the good Vulcan thing and takes over.)

TUVOK: Bridge to Commander Chakotay. (No reply. Janeway recovers a little to do her job.)

JANEWAY: Tuvok, do the scanners show any sign of a runabout in the Shuttle bay?

TUVOK: Negative, Captain. But the remains of the lifeform are impeding my attempts to scan properly. It could be a good course of action to wait a few minutes for the 'dust to settle' before confirming that there is nothing there. However, I don't hold out much hope of finding the Commander.

JANEWAY: I guess you're right. In that case, Mr, Paris, resume course. For now. (he does so, regrettably.) Tuvok, please put the comm. link through to the whole ship. (He does. She speaks into her comm. badge.) This is the Captain. I'm sorry to say that it appears we've lost the Commander. He made a valiant effort to save us all. He was a brave officer and a loyal friend. When we get back I am making a commendation to Starfleet. I'm sure you'll all agree that he deserves it. Janeway out. (Tuvok severs the comm. link. She doesn't notice it, but the whole crew look like they know something she doesn't, and are despairing, probably, more than she is. Janeway sits down in her chair with a sideways glance to her First Officer's seat. If you like, there could be a few silent tears, just for effect. After a few seconds in this very depressing atmosphere, a very faint:)

VOICE: (VO, coughing.) Chakotay to Bridge.

JANEWAY: (Alert:) Computer, locate the Commander.

COMPUTER: Commander Chakotay is in Shuttle Bay 2. (Without another word, she wipes away the tears, gets up, [leaving Tuvok in charge AGAIN!] and stands in the Turbolift. Cut to:)

(Shuttle Bay 2. It's dark and damp-looking, and there's a slightly smoky effect from what's left of the lifeform. The Turbolift doors open and Janeway cautiously wanders forward, with one of those wrist-torches. She keeps walking, when suddenly Chakotay staggers forward through the mist. They meet each other in the middle. Awkward silence [for the audience more than anyone else!].)

JANEWAY: Welcome back.

CHAKOTAY: (Weakly:) See - I told you I'd make it.

JANEWAY: I had every faith in you. (There is another pause.)

CHAKOTAY: (Getting some strength back.) Have you been crying?

JANEWAY: (Attempting to cover it.) No, I... it's this atmosphere. It makes my eyes water. (He gives her a 'Don't-give-me-that-rubbish' look.) Okay, so I have. (After wiping away the old tears new ones are struggling to break free, but this time for a different reason. It's not easy to stay in control.) What can I say but… a job well done. Congratulations.

CHAKOTAY: Thanks. I heard what you said about me. (Long pause. Out of the blue, she suddenly gives him another huge hug! He hugs her back, just about, and as soon as they release each other, he basically falls over. She helps him stand up.)

JANEWAY: Can you walk?

CHAKOTAY: I'll give it my best shot. (They struggle to the Turbolift, but find the effort is completely futile because he can't get very much farther. They struggle along a bit more.) Did you hear what I-

JANEWAY: Yes. But let's not talk about that now. There's plenty of time for talking later.

CHAKOTAY: Right. (He can't carry on walking so they stop.)

JANEWAY: (Looking around as the gas clears, she realises something.) Where's the shuttle?

CHAKOTAY: I beamed out.

JANEWAY: Didn't you think to beam straight to Sickbay?

CHAKOTAY: I guess that was stupid, wasn't it.

JANEWAY: Yes. I may have to seriously reconsider your position as 'Second Captain'! (He manages a weak smile.) Come on; let's get you to the Doctor. Computer. ([Blip]) Two to beam to Sickbay. (Blackout… Black in to…)

Scene 15: (Sickbay: Chakotay, still uniformed and bedraggled, lying asleep on a Biobed, while Janeway sits by one of the monitors. He slowly wakes up and stirs. The sudden movement alerts her, she moves instantly to his side and immediately takes his hand. [Think of "The Fight" if it helps!])

JANEWAY: Good afternoon.

CHAKOTAY: How long was I out? (As usual, the Doctor barges in and starts running a tricorder over him.)

THE DOCTOR: 36 hours, 12 minutes and 48 seconds. (Pause.) Of course, that's only an estimate.

JANEWAY: Doctor, if you wouldn't mind…

THE DOCTOR: (Takes an exasperated sigh.) Of course. After all, I'm ONLY trying to do my job. Don't mind me.

SEVEN: (off screen.) Kenneth?

THE DOCTOR: Yes Annika, what is it? You'll have to excuse me. (Janeway gives him a look which says: "Duuuh." Then both she and Chakotay realise about the names, look in the direction of the office, bewildered, and choose to ignore whatever it is that's been going on in their absence.)

CHAKOTAY: Have you been there the whole time?

JANEWAY: I never left the room. Well, except to go to the Bridge and shout "He's alive!" for everyone to hear. They told me that, yes, they'd gathered that, and shouldn't I be getting back to the Sickbay. I got here and you hadn't moved so I didn't miss much

CHAKOTAY: Ah, but you see when you went out, I woke up briefly and did a magic trick!

JANEWAY: Sorry I missed it - what was it?

CHAKOTAY: I sawed Seven in half! The Doctor complained of course, but he was able to put her back together. You can hardly see the join. (The air having been lifted slightly, there is a pause., as Seven glowers at him from the office.) Seriously, though, you have been there all the time? (She nods.) No wonder you look so tired. Did it work?

JANEWAY: Did what work? (There doesn't appear to be any way to describe this. It's one of her little oh-so-amusing 'jokes') I'm kidding. (pause) It worked perfectly. (pause. By the way, the rough length of a pause, is twice the amount of time it takes you to read the word itself. This was a long pause because of the stage directions! Ignore them and read the word itself then carry on!)

BOTH: (Each says the other's [1st] name, and then…) I just wanted to say…… I'm sorry.

JANEWAY: You've already apologised once. There's no need to apologise again.

CHAKOTAY: Well, what are you sorry for? You've got nothing to be sorry about. I'm the one who was responsible.

JANEWAY: Listen, I have got things to apologise for. I've been a little… edgy recently. Maybe if I'd been more approachable the whole matter might have gotten cleared up a lot faster. (Pause.) And I almost killed you when I beamed you out; I had no idea whether the right co-ordinates were put in… That certainly wouldn't have been the 'honourable death' you wanted.

CHAKOTAY: To be killed by one of the best captains to leave Starfleet? I wouldn't want to go any other way! (pause.) You'd better get to the Bridge. Tuvok's probably driven Tom and Harry to distraction by now!

JANEWAY: Actually, Tuvok's off duty and Paris is in charge. I realise that Tuvok can be a little… strict at times. I'd better get back, though, but I'll come and see you tomorrow. You're off duty until you feel up to your Bridge shift.

CHAKOTAY: In that case I'll try to recover quickly! (She's about to leave, and yawns, so…) Actually, why don't you get some time off yourself? You've been up for… 36 hours, 12 minutes and 48 seconds.

THE DOCTOR: (off-screen.) 36 hours, 14 minutes and 30 seconds, actually!

JANEWAY: I'll be fine. (Another yawn.)

CHAKOTAY: Would you like me to get the Doctor to examine you, or are you going to get some rest. It's for your own good.

JANEWAY: I think you're right. I WILL get some sleep, but I'll be here at 0900 tomorrow.

CHAKOTAY: I'll look forward to it. (He attempts to sit up but fails miserably. She's about to leave [and remember all this time they've been hand in hand!], but changes her mind.)

JANEWAY: Before I leave, there's one thing I'd like you to know.

CHAKOTAY: What's that?

JANEWAY: (After a long thoughtful pause:) What you did was very courageous. I'm not just talking about the mission. You stood up to me and convinced me it was the right thing to do. You challenged my authority and you did it without hesitation. (Pause.) You weren't afraid to show me how you felt about your plan. But above that you told me, over an open comm. signal to the Bridge and Engineering, why you were really willing to sacrifice yourself for the crew. For me. That was what took real courage, Chakotay. (Another pause.) I always thought of you as a very private person. You've proven me wrong again. How do you do it?

CHAKOTAY: Your assumption of me was right. You have shown me that I need to face up to my reservations, express myself more clearly. I guess it was a bad time to start, but I thought: "What the Hell? If I'm going to die here and my last words will be heard, they might as well leave an impression!"

JANEWAY: Well, they did.

CHAKOTAY: It must have been a shock for you, but it had to be said. My father always said that before death we must tell our family our deepest secret so that our spirit may travel to the next life unburdened with guilt. And since Voyager is the closest I have to a family… (he stops.)

JANEWAY: Consider your spirit unburdened.

CHAKOTAY: What will you tell the crew?

JANEWAY: That's a good question. (He waits patiently for her answer.) I've talked to Tuvok about this.


JANEWAY: And he gave me a typically 'Tuvokian' answer. But it DID help me to come to a decision... so I'll tell them the truth. (The look on his face asks the question of what that truth is. He'll get an answer out of her yet!) I will tell them that what you said was for real. They can deal with it how they like.

CHAKOTAY: Are you 'dealing with it'?

JANEWAY: I think I am. You followed your family tradition out of instinct, or respect for your father, but my family has no such tradition. Nevertheless, if I'd been in your position, I would have done the same... (You know what THAT means.) I can't think of any other way to tell you. (Long pause.) I'll see you at 0900. (She attempts to leave, but he silently refuses to let her go.) Chakotay?

CHAKOTAY: (he tightens his grip on her hand.) I'm not letting you go.

JANEWAY: What? Why?

CHAKOTAY: I'm not letting you go... because I know that Tuvok told you to do more than inform the crew. (Pause.) I know, because I spoke to him myself before I even told you about my idea. As much as we've had our differences in the past, I respect his advice. He was the one that convinced me it was a good idea to tell you. If I'd realised what the situation would be, I'd have planned it better. I know that he was going to tell you and I assume he did, even though I didn't want him to. (Pause.) I know Tuvok, but I also know you, Kathryn. I'd even go so far as to say that I know you better than you do.

JANEWAY: That doesn't explain to me why you won't let me leave. You just told me yourself that I should get some rest, and now you're going to keep me here? (He definitely is, and to prove it he grasps her other hand as well.)

CHAKOTAY: I am going to keep you in this Sickbay until I've heard you say it.

JANEWAY: Say what? (She's genuinely confused. As far as she's concerned she's said all she needs to.)

CHAKOTAY: What I know Tuvok told you to say, because he told me to say exactly the same thing. (There is a long painful silence, or rather a contemplative one. His grip on her hands does not loosen.)

JANEWAY: When I spoke to Tuvok, he ran me through a selection of possible courses of action, and their possible results. I think what you're asking me to do came in at number 14. Vulcan logic would dictate that there are several possible outcomes...(he interrupts her.)

CHAKOTAY: Damn Vulcan logic! This is real life, not some problem in an exam. I just want you to say it. Didn't you say yourself that I was courageous to do what I did. Well, now it's your turn. (Don't you just want this to turn into a shouting match? Tom and B'elanna were given the gooey treatment, whereas Odo and Kira had a screaming row outisde Quark's. Which one was funnier? Odo and Kira, of course! [If it made my Sci-Fi club apparent 'non-romantics' laugh then it MUST have been funny!])

JANEWAY: All right, but first, I want to hear you prove to me that you meant it. (Whatever she was expecting it wasn't this...)

CHAKOTAY: Fine. (Pause, and then scarily matter-of-factly:) I love you.


CHAKOTAY: Fine. (Pause.) Say it.

JANEWAY: I can't.



CHAKOTAY: SAY IT! (She starts to shake her head in defiance, so he tries a different approach.) Do you love me?

JANEWAY: I don't know.

CHAKOTAY: Yes or no, Kathryn.

JANEWAY: No. (This is said too quickly and they both know she doesn't mean it.)

CHAKOTAY: Are you sure about that?

JANEWAY: No. (Is this funny or what?)

CHAKOTAY: Make a decision.

JANEWAY: All right.

CHAKOTAY: The question again: do you?

JANEWAY: (After a pause.) Yes.

CHAKOTAY: Yes, what? (She's determined to have the last word.)

JANEWAY: YES, I love you. (A shocked silence from both of them.)

CHAKOTAY: I said it twice...

JANEWAY: (Quieter, calmer, this time really meaning it.) I love you. (ADDENDUM 20/02/00: I've just realised exactly HOW bizarre this thing is, having re-read it for about the sixth time!)

CHAKOTAY: I told you I knew you. (There is a very long pause in which you want something to happen. It looks like something should, but it doesn't.)

JANEWAY: Can I go now? (He nods at her. In fact, he's let go of her, but she's subconsciously unable to let go, and is still holding his hands. Eventually she snaps out of it, manages to get one hand free and starts to leave. However, there is more to come, so do not go away. He manages to sit up, grabs her free hand and after an excruciatingly long pause... he kisses her on the cheek. They simply sit there, looking at each other and happy with the situation they've gotten themselves into! Aww. There are actually several different ending options…

a) We just leave it on this single image and run credits!

b) Seven is decidedly curious by the activities of her Captain, and asks the Doctor to explain/help her understand. The result of this - all of the Doc's pent up emotions finally come to a head... I have a feeling this has the potential to be VERY funny or very sweet depending on how the Doctor handles it.

c) An extra scene, where they discover a planet star system and it turns out to be our very own Solar System. Not sure why, maybe they didn't realise how long they'd been in the Delta Quadrant!

d) Following on from c), they find a wormhole, realise they're in the Gamma Quadrant and follow it out to DS9. Quark attempts to finish his business deal with Harry. Actually, the prospects for this particular ending go on forever!

e) On returning to DS9, they find the total annihilation that's been going on during the war with the Dominion [about which they know nothing and understand even less!] and think "What the Hell happened while we were gone...?" Quark meets Seven of Nine and forgets Dax forever! Bashir meets the Doctor, believes him to be Doctor Zimmerman and tries to kill him... or something. Naomi finally meets her father [by which time, Ensign Wildman will probably have married Neelix anyway!], and well... you see what I mean about all the various endings for this situation.

f) My personal favourite: Just before the peck on the cheek, Seven and the Doctor walk past them to the doors which open, revealing the entire crew standing outside. Or, at least all of the crew who were on the Bridge when Chakotay's message got through, or anyone who happened to have an open comm. signal. This might include: Paris, Torres, Tuvok, Neelix, Seven and the Doctor, obviously, T'eyla and Blake, Vorik [that's the pervy Vulcan who fancies B'elanna, by the way - just for the Hell of it!], Ensign Wildman, maybe Naomi for effect, observing and writing it all down on her pad (or not!), etc. As they spot them [don't ask me WHY they were all there. I guess for this very reason.] Janeway and Chakotay are disturbed by a raucous round of applause and cheering. Personally I think this would be good.

g) Another scene where Janeway assigns Tuvok as the new First Officer - he questions her logic and asks what happens to Chakotay now - she informs him that from now on, Voyager has TWO Captains - as per her conversation in Scene 12. This also follows nicely on to the next script (that would be "Bug In The System", coming soon! Hehe.). That way, everyone's happy - Chakotay has finally won her approval, BIG TIME, and Tuvok is First Officer. But only in name... Whichever ending you choose, whatever your personal preference, anyhoo, run credits…)