Stars and Slime Forever

When the planets were properly aligned, they attempted the procedure. The goal was simple: to extract the core from the centre of the sphere. They had been calculating the precise modulation of their weapons for days, and they knew the procedure was delicate: their target was a tricky little thing, with a peculiar spot in the cosmos that made it very sensitive. Any irregularities, including the energy discharge they were about to inflict on it, could have unpredictable results. They had checked and rechecked their calculations, but science can be a difficult thing. Of course, they had no way of knowing that in another time, in another place, on another day when the planets were aligned just so, someone else would try a similar conjuring act. And they had no way of knowing that magic can be just as tricky as science. Their sphere was a planet. And in that other time and place…well, it was just a charmed little trinket. But things are seldom as they seem, in this world or any other. And it is universally known that the longer one plans for something, the more likely it is that it will go wrong.

Cordelia held the orb of Zanyxx at arm's length as Wesley sprinkled the purple powder over it carefully.

"Are you sure you're ready?" he asked.

She nodded. "I've been ready for days, Wesley. If I practice any more, my head will explode."

"But you understand how sensitive this ritual is. You'll need to hold the orb at precisely the right alignment for the duration of the ritual, or the consequences can be…"

"Unpredictable, I know. Wes, I'm good with yoga stuff. I can hold poses."

"This is hardly yoga!" he huffed. "And I don't think I need to tell you that if we fail in the ritual, if we misdirect the spirit of Zanyxx, we won't have another chance to conjure his energy and vanquish the Grfik demon. AND there would also be the unpredictable consequences to deal with."

She rolled her eyes.

"All right," sighed Wesley, grabbing a scroll off the table. "Let's do it."

He began the procedure. Somewhere else, sometime else, someone else began to do a procedure too. The planets were aligned just so.

The chanting reached its climax, and Cordelia held the orb in delicate balance. His intonation was perfect. Her hand never faltered. Somewhere else, sometime else, someone else carefully executed the well- thought out calculations that guided the energy stream they were directing at their planet-sized orb. The target shimmered. The energy pulsed outward in a glowing halo of symbiosis. And sometime else, the chanting ended. The smaller, hand-held orb glowed too. Its energy pulsed outward in ever- widening circles, but she held her grip. As the orb's core glowed yellow with the finality of completion, the light reached a blinding crescendo, so powerful that at first, they didn't see the small vortex hovering above them, and the woman that tumbled out of it, stunned.

They rubbed their eyes and rose to their feet, Wesley grabbing the orb anxiously.

"Did it work?" asked Cordelia.

Wesley turned it over in his hands. "I think so. It is glowing. But…I don't know. The energy coming from it was…Oh, what's this?"

It was hard to get a good look at her: the small, blond woman crouched on the floor seemed as dazed as they were. When she finally lifted a groggy head, they were relived to note that she seemed uninjured. But…why was she here? The orb was supposed to conjure the energy of Zanyxx, not the being itself…and in the few writings Wesley had seen on Zanyxx, there was no mention of the odd-looking…jewelry…that this woman had attached to her face…

"Are you…quite alright?" he asked tentatively.

"That depends," she said bluntly. "On who you are and what you've done to me. Where is my ship?"


She sighed. "This must be the unpredictable consequences they warned me about," she muttered. Then, to them: "I wish to see your commander at once!"

"Umm, he's sleeping," said Cordelia. "But he'll be down soon. We have some work to do," she said, motioning at the orb.

"That will have to wait. There are matters we must attend to. Such as locating my ship. You will assist me."

"Geez, bossy much? Look, you just landed in OUR hotel. WE call the shots!"

The woman gave them a curious stare. "Yes, I did just land in your…hotel. And yet you do not seem perturbed. What are you?"

"I am Cordelia, and this is Wesley. We work here. And you are…"

"Seven of Nine."

Wesley and Cordelia exchanged a glance. "Nine what?" asked Wesley.

"Seven of Nine. That is my designation."

Cordelia nodded. "We understand that. But…nine what? And where did you come from?"

Her brow furrowed in thought. "Well, I was on my ship, Voyager. We were trying to extract deuterium from the planet."

"Deuterium?" said Cordelia.

"Planet?" said Wesley.

She sighed, growing impatient. "The fourth planet of the Zanyxx cluster. It was a delicate procedure. I was warned there could be unpredictable consequences…"

"Zanyxx…" muttered Wesley. "Our spells must have gotten crossed."

"Spells?" asked the woman suspiciously. "I don't understand. Zanyxx is a cluster of planets. We were trying to extract deuterium from it."

Wesley shrugged. "All right, to you it's a planet. To me, it's the name of a mytho-historical god. We were conjuring his energy to vanquish a Grfik demon."

"Wesley…" warned Cordelia.

"Oh, come on. It's no stranger than what SHE is telling us!"

"All right, where's Angel? Guest or not, we have a demon to vanquish!"

"So let me get this straight," said Angel. "She fell from a vortex that appeared during your spell?"

"Well, more like AFTER our spell."

"And she says she came from where?"

"A space ship of some kind. Voyager, she called it. Angel, I've never heard of anything like this before. We were summoning the energy of the god Zanyxx, and she was…summoning energy from the planet Zanyxx…the signals must have gotten crossed somehow. She said the work they were doing was delicate, and that the planet was temporally unstable…"


Wesley squirmed. "Yes. That was the other thing I had to tell you. She's…well, she's a bit ahead of us, I'm afraid. 3 centuries ahead, to be precise."

They were interrupted by a shriek from the lobby. Wesley and Angel hurried out to find their guest watching impassively as Cordelia pitched on the floor.

"I did nothing," Seven insisted.

"I see that," said Wesley sharply as he rushed to check on Cordelia.

Then, more gently: "It's all right, this happens a lot. Just give it a minute…"

He held Cordelia's hand as the vision ran its course. "Cordy? What have we got?"

"Grfik demon," she gasped. "Alley on Wiltshire, behind a cheesy diner."

"Go," said Wesley.

"I need you to help with the vanquishing," Angel said.

"But Cordelia…and our guest…"

"Cordelia will be fine. She can stay here with…what was your name again?"

"Seven of Nine."

"Right. She can stay here with Seven of Nine." He hurried out the door with Wesley, pausing only to look back at her quizzically and ask "Nine what?"

Seven watched them go, then offered a hand to the girl.

"Thanks," she said. She gave Seven's hand a curious glance. "That's quite a fashion statement."

"They are…part of my anatomy," she explained awkwardly.

"Really? They have 3-D tattoos where you come from?"

"I am…I was…a Borg. These implants help regulate my physiological systems."

"Oh, so it's more like a bionic woman kind of thing. Neat."

She ran a hand through her hair, then strolled over to the desk. "You hungry? We have doughnuts…"

"I am fine. There is no time for eating, we have work to do."


"I need to contact my ship. They will be looking for me."

"Well, that's great that they're looking for you, because I certainly have no idea how we can find them."

"You don't? Then why did they leave YOU here?"

"Probably because the choices were either to leave the strange unpredictable woman here alone, get her killed by taking her demon hunting with them, or leave someone here to baby-sit. Angel had to go because he fights demons. Wesley had to go because he knows demons…"

"And you?"

"I'm vision girl. The powers tell me where to send them, and I pass the message along."

"That's it?"

"Well, I do other stuff too," she said defensively. "Make coffee, do filing, answer the phone…But don't worry, if anyone can get you to…wherever…it's Wesley."

"My ship will be looking for me," repeated Seven.

"Uh….sure. Ok. Do you want some coffee?"

"They have technology far more advanced than yours. They will be looking."

"Right," said Cordelia doubtfully. "Your spaceship is looking for you."

"Starship," corrected Seven. "And I find it strange that you just sent your boss and his "magic" orb to kill a demon that you saw in a vision, yet you have trouble believing that I live on a starship."

Cordelia shrugged. "Touché. So…you want to play cards or something?"

Angel and Wesley returned half an hour later.

"Well?" Cordelia jumped up eagerly. "How did it go?"

"Perfectly," said Angel. "The orb took care of him quick enough."

"And that means," said Wesley. "That our spell worked. If it had gone awry, we wouldn't have had the spirit of Zanyxx in the orb."

"Which means?"

"That whatever error in calculation occurred to bring Seven here happened at her end of whatever they were doing."

"But we can reverse it?"

"I'm afraid not. Their end messed it up. So only their end can undo it."

"You can have my room, and I'll take the couch," said Cordelia graciously. They had offered Seven a choice of a room at the hotel or a room at Cordelia's, and she had chosen Cordelia. She had spent enough time with the girl to judge her harmless enough. And the Prime Directive was clear: she should keep a low profile, stay out of the way, and try not to interfere here. The less contact she had with the fewest people, the better.

"I should explain," continued Cordelia, "That my apartment is kinda haunted."


"Well, not in a bad way. He's actually a very nice ghost."

"You believe your living quarters are haunted by the spirit of a dead human? That is superstition!"

"No actually, it's the truth. His name is Dennis. You'll like him."

Seven sighed. Captain Janeway had told her many stories about Earth and its superstitions. She could accept that this girl had empathic powers; that was a known and perfectly quantifiable biological phenomenon, albeit rarely seen in humans. And that the girl thought it was something magical, some link to a god-like being…well, Captain Janeway had explained religion and although she found it odd, she could not begrudge a belief in those fables, especially because this primitive world didn't seem to offer any sounder explanations. And demons…well, to a girl this young and innocent, that could mean any number of things. But a ghost? THAT was just superstition.

They passed their time surprisingly normally considering the circumstances. Once Seven realized that she was just going to have to bide her time, she resolved to wait out Voyager's rescue as comfortably as she could. And once Cordelia realized that even if Seven wanted to tell her about the future (which she quite emphatically didn't seem to) their visitor didn't know the right kinds of information anyway. Nothing about shopping of the future, clothing of the future…nothing about Earth even. She must lead a very dull and sheltered life, thought Cordelia. It must be so boring!

She came to the office with Cordelia and spent most of her time exploring the computer. It was quaint, a relic, primitive: it fascinated her. She resolved to save her replicator credits when she got back and make one of her own. But when would she get back? She had tried explaining to the wise one with the glasses just what she had been doing when the accident occurred, but he converted everything into superstition and missed the point entirely. About the only part they could agree on was that the temporal instability of the moon Voyager was working on probably was probably what had gotten their "spells" mixed up.

She had her communicator set on a repeating distress call, and two days after her mysterious arrival, it bleeped back at her. Within moments, Captain Janeway had materialized outside the door of the Hyperion and walked inside.



To Wesley and Cordelia, she explained "This is Captain Janeway. Captain, this is Wesley and Cordelia."

"Pleasure to meet you," said the captain. "Seven, are you alright?"

"Yes, Captain. I have much to tell you. How did you…"

"Temporal signature. Transwarp conduit with just enough juice to get us back. This is an unusual building," she commented, glancing around her with fascination.

"They are unusual people," muttered Seven.

With perfect timing, Angel strolled into the lobby just in time to catch Cordelia as she stumbled backward with a moan. Janeway raised a critical eyebrow.

"Empath," explained Seven.

Cordelia twisted in his arms. "Chaos demon," she choked. "El Segundo. Dumpster."

"I hate chaos demons," muttered Wesley. "All slime and sticky antlers…"

They waited a moment for the vision to pass and Cordelia to regain her composure. "Well, we'd better go," said Janeway.

"Back to your space ship?"

"Starship," corrected Seven.

"They know about that?" asked Janeway. She gave Angel a polite nod. "Captain Kathryn Janeway, pleased to meet you."


"Right. Well, it's been a pleasure, but we have some business to attend to…"

"I understand," said Angel. "We do too. We were just heading out, actually…"

"Well, it was nice meeting you," said Cordelia cheerfully. "Have a safe trip."

"Thank you," replied Seven. "And you have a safe…vanquishing."

"Space ships," muttered Cordelia as she fumbled for her keys. "And she thinks WE'RE weird!"

Janeway watched them depart with an indulgent smile. "Demons!" she shook her head. "Humans of this century are awfully imaginative, aren't they?"