Starship Voyager – The Alien Adventures — 12 Dissonances

The present novel is merely Fan Fiction.

No commercial interest is pursued.

© Aliki, 2019

The story of this book is based on science fiction concepts created by Gene Roddenberry, Rick Berman, Michael Piller, Jery Tailor, Bryan Fuller, Brannon Braga, Nick Sagan, Ken Biller, Michael Okuda, Rick Sternberg, and many others.

Copyright for all humanoid characters and Star Trek technology is owned by Paramount Pictures / CBS.

Multiplication and distribution for commercial purpose are not allowed.


12. Dissonances


Driven by the particle flow and radiation pressure of a forming star inside, gas and dust-free corridors have formed, allowing a view into the interior of a nebula cloud. In a cavity of the nebula a protoplanetary accretion disk rotates around the newborn glistening star. At greater distance, beyond the disk, the star is surrounded by concentric, spherical gas shells formed by the contractions of its turbulent, thermonuclear birth. Towards the two polar directions of the young star, there is a sequence of successively ejected jets of glowing particle beams, which are shooting again and again in batches, when the stellar gravity sucks and accelerates more material from the surrounding accretion zone than the star is capable to absorb.

Countless vortices of gas and dust, with forming planets in their centers, are drifting in the protoplanetary disk beyond the accretion zone. Most of these whirls are circulating around the young unsteadily burning star in a harmony of concentric round dances. A few of them, however – those that had approached too close to another planetary sibling without merging – have pulled one another into highly eccentric orbits cruising across the accretion disk on a collision course with the central star. Two of the protoplanetary lumps have been slung out of the disk by heavier ones. Together with their whirls of gas and dust, they leave the young star system. One of these forming planets flies towards a blue-green nebula of the neighborhood, the other one is drifting into the empty depths of black space.

A colorful rainbow shines from the walls of one of the corridors through the nebula, from layers illuminated by the young star`s refracted light: from turquoise green to light green, yellow, orange and deep red on the outside of this accumulation of gases and dust from earlier stellar explosions.

At the edge of the orange-red glowing outer wall of the nebula stands small and inconspicuous a dark grey shimmering Starfleet ship. Spider robots crawl over its hull. They are mounting a grid of metallically glinting cable lines in transverse and longitudinal directions along the edges of monotanium plates. Humanoids in space suits use tricorders to check the connections of the cables.

Suddenly, two smaller ships emerge from the nebula and immediately open fire. A spider robot is hit and blown off the hull.

On the bridge, sparks spray from a sidewall. Janeway jumps up from her chair and holds on to the railing.

“Captain to both transporter rooms – beam the assembly team back immediately! — Red Alert! — Shields up!”

The lighting changes to dull red.

A voice reports, “Transporter to Captain. – The entire team is back. A robot has been damaged.”

Seven checks her readings. “Shields are holding at 80%.”

The monitor shows the flight maneuvers of the two attacking ships, which continue to fire against the Voyager. Janeway turns to the tactical console.

“Aren`t they old acquaintances, Mr. Carey?”

“Indeed, Captain. Two Anthox hunting ships. Also their attacking tactics is the same as last time. They lurk inside a cloud and strike without warning.”

“We don`t want a fight with them. – Mr. Paris, fly an evasive maneuver. Get us deep into the nebula so that they lose our trail!”

“Aye, Captain.”

Like aggressive wasps, the two Anthox ships whirr around Voyager firing at her. The Starfleet ship`s bow is directed away from the orange-red cloud. Suddenly Voyager accelerates, pulls steeply upwards, flies a narrow 180 degrees curve and glides towards the cloud, upside-down from its former position. As it penetrates the nebula, it turns around its longitudinal axis into the previous orientation, like a fighter at a flying show.

Janeway has occupied her seat again. She looks forward at the screen, which shows the increasingly denser swaths of orange-red clouds enveloping Voyager. Janeway`s tone sounds strict and critical.

“That wasn`t a curve flight, but a looping, Ensign! From which navigation instruction did that maneuver come from?”

“That`s something Ceph showed me, Captain. In this situation it was the fastest way to get us out of the line of fire.”

Janeway presses her elbow onto the armrest of her chair; her head bows sideways, and the outstretched fingers rub against her forehead.

In a contrite undertone she mumbles, “So I`ve got another pilot who doesn`t bother about flying regulations …”

Paris turns his head a bit. “Captain?”

“Take us somewhat deeper into the nebula, Ensign.”

“Aye, ma`am.”


Janeway raises her head.

“Bridge to main engineering! – How do you proceed with the cloaking device, B`Elanna?”

“The on-hull mounting was largely complete before the attack, Captain,” answers Torres`s voice. “However, the calibration of the emitter controls is still optimized to the geometry of the Hirogen cruiser from which we removed those tools. But that would pose a problem only when we fly through extremely strong electric fields.”

“We`re not doing that. Activate the cloaking device! We have a good opportunity to test it right now.”

The starship Voyager is drifting in the midst of orange-red clouds interspersed with green cirrus streaks. All of a sudden there is a shimmer on the surface of the ship. Its contours become blurred and begin to dissolve, while at the same time an image of the clouds behind the ship emerges on its hull. Voyager gets invisible.

E-Bug`s holocom pops up. A tube-eye directs to the captain`s place, where another holocom is active. The other eye watches a holographic film clip, which soon stops. Janeway turns her head back towards E-bug. She nods at him.

In the outermost layers of the nebula whirling swaths divide in front of the bow of an invisible object that moves into free space. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, two probes appear, rapidly moving apart in opposite directions. After a few hundred meters they begin to zigzag back and forth, repeatedly diving into the nebula.

At his console, E-Bug observes the data of each probe with one separate eye respectively. He controls the probe`s flights with two thin rods in two hands. Suddenly the screen shows one of the probes emerging from the nebula. It is followed closely by an Anthox ship shooting at the small object. E-Bug makes the probe rapidly turn and circle around the attacking ship like an annoying fly. E-Bug splits the screen. The second image shows the other probe, which also baited its hunter out of the clouds and is attacked by it.

With a triumphant look, Janeway touches her communicator.

“Captain to main engineering. – Congratulations, B`Elanna! We are standing right between the two Anthox ships. They do not notice us!

A probe is hit and explodes, shortly afterwards the second one is also destroyed. The Anthox ships retreat back to their lurking position in the nebula.

“Set course for our destination, Mr. Paris. — Warp 8!”

“Aye, Captain.”

In front of the orange-red nebula space seems calm and empty. Clouds of different sizes are drifting slowly by. In the distance, the flash of a warp drive lights up.

Under the water surface of a filled-up shower tub in the bathroom of a quarters, a bulky mass shimmers in the pastel colors of a coral reef. Suddenly eleven eye stems rise through the surface of the liquid and arrange in equal distances to a circle. All eyeballs are directed inwards, to the center of the round. At this middle position the upper bulge of the twelfth eye nudges from below in periodic rhythm against the water surface. Ring waves form spreading outwards, where they are broken at the immobile ring of stems, shaping interferences behind them. Some eyeballs turn and observe the rhombic crossover patterns behind their stems.

After a while an additional wave is created by the bursting of a single gas bubble rising from the depth. Successively more bubbles rise, at five different points within the circle. Complex patterns overlay the gushing rings.

Suddenly, a sound joins the optical concert of the waves, starting softly, then swelling, similar to the bright whistle of a dolphin. A much deeper sound follows, roaring like the sound of a whale in deep sea spheres. Slowly, the high tone lowers its pitch, while the low sound rises. Finally, the two meet and form a whirring beat before and after the unison and thereby create fine vibrations on the surface of the ring-shaped waves, as if they were trembling in an ultrasonic field. Then the two sounds diverge again to a high and low pitch, where they fade away.

After this, a rhythmically pulsating high tone whistles. A deep, buzzing didgeridoo bass mixes in with it. Another tone in a medium pitch joins and two more follow. A bubbling wind quintet resounds, increasingly accelerating the beat, while the central eyeball excites the waves more and more violently and rapidly, until the composition culminates in an ecstasy of sounds and wave patterns, which fades and ebbs away.

Then there is complete silence over the shower tub and the water surface is smooth and calm. Solemnly and slowly, all the stalks are drawn downwards; the eyeballs retreat through the skin of the water and continue to wander deeper.

Nothing moves for a long moment. Suddenly a stocky arm rises beyond the tub to the ceiling. It fastens and pulls the whole body out of the water. Dripping, Ceph remains in this position; then he swings from the bath to his room and – still wet and dripping – out through the sliding door into the corridor. He looks in both directions. One of the Delanay sisters walks along in the distance. With wide swings, he follows her. Before he catches up with her, the turbolift closes behind the humanoid. Ceph hangs above the intersection of two corridors. His eyes level to all four directions. None of the many doors open. No one appears from the bends of the corridors. It remains quiet. Four tentacles are sucked at the ceiling. The fifth one hangs downward and swings irresolutely to different sides. Finally, the arm makes a decision for one direction and Ceph swings listlessly away.

Sea wind blows foaming waves against a rocky coast. A small lagoon lies in a bay. It is protected from the sea by a reef that reaches to the surface. The lagoon borders on a sandy beach about ten meters wide, which extends inland to a wall of rocks. At its foot, the bizarre opening of a cave is visible under a ledge.

A small, cone-shaped hill of wet sand rises on the beach, that looks like the model of an early civilization pyramid, with integrated steps and serpentine paths. The hill has several oval holes on its surface. From one of the holes sand splashes out at irregular intervals.

Suddenly, a fist-sized stone rolls from the surrounding rock face and falls into the sand, striking a small crater. Two more stones follow. Then a particularly high wave splashes from the sea over the reef barrier of the lagoon and triggers splash water spraying up to the holes of the sandy building. The scraping from the inside stops. Peri`s eyes and head segment slide out of an opening. Examining, he pauses for a moment. Then he disappears into his building again.

A larger stone rumbles down from the ledge above the cave`s entrance. This doesn`t go unnoticed either. The two-meter-tall spider crab stalks aggressively out of the cave, eager to attack. It goes a few meters seawards and hits against a force field.

Suddenly, a sparking light flashes from aside; at the same time a crackling hiss can be heard and a black cloud of smoldering smoke drifts up to the sand hill.

On the beach, sideways of the lagoon, there is an opened console. In front of it, tentacles rummage restlessly in the sand, while one of them, stretched out far, waggingly cools its tip in the running out shore water of the lagoon. Several eyes look helplessly into the smoking viscera of the console. Three others are directed in rigid concern to the sandhill; and the rest are watching the spider crab. In front of its stilt legs, the force field collapses with an iridescent puff. One leg swings forward to check. Then the entire being sets off, with its six stilts and two scissor arms, straight as an arrow towards the sandcastle. Through the castle`s uppermost opening moist stump feelers sniff out and perceive in swaying motion the approaching smoke. Peri`s head appears quickly. He turns his ocular spheres to the smoking control station and discovers Ceph. Orange stripe patterns oscillate over Ceph`s body. Hectically his arms reach into the damaged console again.

With angry scratching of the extending legs, Peri squeezes himself out of the opening and slides down his sandcastle. With his rows of legs scraping through the sand, he hurries towards the console. There, tentacles are handling panic-stricken on the touch fields and at cable connections, while almost all eyeballs stare at the crab creature that quickly approaches. Again, sparks spray and smoke rises. Hit by a blow, Ceph`s arm jerks back from the console.

All of a sudden, the entire space of the coastal world begins to change. Everything that is in separate motion starts to float – the spider crab, Peri, the grains of sand that he kicks loose under his legs; also, water splashes that are detached from turbulent surf waves. Peri looks down in surprise. He bends the rear segments downward to attain ground contact and continue walking, but his scratchy pedalling only carries him further up into the air. The spider crab, hovering without support, is fidgeting with spindly limbs and pincers.

The surface tension of the lagoon water gains the upper hand over its adhesion to the sandy ground. It contracts, thickens in its middle as if it were rearing up; it finally becomes a lumpy, wobbly, spheroidal mass that the sea wind deforms and sets rolling. The giant water-drop has already reached the floating Peri. As soon as the liquid touches him, he adheres to it and is sucked under the surface. At the same time, the seawater on the other side of the bay beyond the barrier reef begins to migrate up the horizon and occupies an increasingly larger part of the sky.

Peri squeezes his head through the spherical water surface, out into free air. Pedalling with his legs he tries to get to the bottom, where the ball almost touches the beach. But instead of moving himself by swimming motion, he turns the floating water sphere like a hamster turns its wheel. Opposite to Peri, the spider crab is now captured by the liquid mass as well. Rowing with all extremities, it moves towards Peri.

More and more of Ceph`s eyes jerkingly turn towards the drama in the water ball, until only two of them are left to observe a tentacle-arm that tries to change something for the better in the destroyed console one more time. Finally, he gives up. With meandering arms, Ceph drags himself through the unstable sand towards Peri. Thereby his body is getting increasingly detached from the ground. The arms have to stretch deeper and deeper in order to accelerate the forward impulse. Then Ceph as well floats helplessly in weightlessness, which has spread in the entire holo biotope. With all his eyes he sees the crab coming closer and closer to Peri. Hastily Ceph lifts his tentacle ends. His trunk swells as he takes a deep breath. Then he stretches the tentacles backwards and blows the air in rear direction, so violently that the sand floating in the air behind him is carried away by the propellant gas. At rapid speed Ceph breaks through the water surface near Peri. The suction of the whirling current Ceph`s impact causes pulls the two into the inside of the ball, up to the claws of the spider crab. Immediately it snaps to Ceph and Peri.

But now Ceph`s movements change. Though his body is still floating, he is no longer helplessly drifting. The tentacles swarm apart with movements of an organism that has returned to the original medium of its evolution. Two arms entwine the claws behind the scissor joints, two others the knee joints of the front stilt legs. One arm holds Peri under the shoulder segment. Four tentacles throw the crab far back and bring Ceph and Peri to the surface with powerful swimming movements. Another violent tentacle strike pushes the two out into the surrounding atmosphere. The strands of Peri`s muscles vibrate between his segment plates; small fountains of water spring from his tracheae before they can incorporate fresh air again. Also Ceph removes water by blowing it out of the snorkels of his arms. Then he takes a deep breath. He activates the air jet propulsion of his tentacle ends and brings himself and Peri to the console. At its body, he anchors with one arm and pushes Peri down with two others, to the exposed modules and optronic circuits. Peri hastily patches cables by twisting the exposed metal fibers of fused end pieces. He then searches the console display for functions that do not result in an error message when activated. Finally, in green letters flashes: Gravity Restored.

All masses inside the holo biotope regain their weight. Peri and Ceph fall to the ground. The sphere of water bursts as a huge drop on the surface of the beach. Washing sand away it flows back into the lagoon depression. The spider crab lands on its back and tries in vain to turn around. The sea flows down along the vault of the sky as a torrential current beyond the rocky coast. Its downward fall triggers a tidal wave that rushes over the lagoon`s reef, runs up the beach, and turns the crab sideways. While the sea withdraws, the spider crab rises. With its club-shaped, seesawing eye sockets, it spots Ceph and Peri. It takes big steps with its long legs marching towards them. Peri opens his holocom. He pushes a crab icon to the symbol of the transporter and both to a box. The spider crab dematerializes.

A green dot appears in the holocom and a voice announces, “All right, Mr. Peri. Species 2 is secured in the confinement cell.”

Peri is still standing upright in front of the console display. Suddenly the muscle tension between his segments slackens and he sinks to the ground. His head turns the look of his eyes to the beach, where his glasses lie in the sand. The cone-shaped sandcastle with its serpentines and openings has disappeared, washed away by the water of the lagoon. Peri turns his head backwards, his eyes`s hemispheres pointing to Ceph. As if in a spasm, the chain of his segments arcs into a bow. All legs begin to vibrate. The next moment he stretches like a band-steel spring, with his tense abdomen flinging a load of sand against Ceph. As best he can, Ceph protects his eyes with upright arms. Before Peri fires off the next load of grains, Ceph quickly flees, with tentacles wriggling on the ground, out of the area of the holographic biotope and to the exit of the cargo bay.

Janeway enters main engineering, where Torres and Seven are controlling data series.

“The cloaking emitters have been matched now, Captain.”

“Excellent, Lieutenant. Transfer the activation protocols to the tactics on the bridge!”

“Aye. Captain, there`s a rumor circulating in the crew that you`ve heard on Verdera where we might find our people. Baxter was there with you, but he evades all questions …”

“I don`t want the crew being hopeful too early. We got a hint that, maybe, some of our people are on an Anthox research base and that they are developing technologies for the Anthox to colonize foreign planets. In order not to endanger our people we have to proceed carefully. That`s why I`m attaching so much importance to the camouflage of the ship.”

Pondering, Janeway stares at the cylinder of the flickering, white-hot warp plasma. “What do you think, B`Elanna, could you make also smaller objects invisible with this technique, a shuttle for example?”

“In principle, yes, but the emitter for the cloaking field would be larger than the shuttle itself.”

Janeway turns to Seven. “Was there a camouflage technique in use during your time at the Borg?”

“The Borg have assimilated the knowledge of many species that used such techniques,” replies Seven. “However, due to their transwarp drive and tactical superiority, it was not necessary for the Borg to hide.”

“But the knowledge of these technologies was stored, I presume?”

“Certainly. But it was never activated for projects of my Unimatrix.”

“Then we`ll have to develop our own camouflage system for small objects,” says Janeway resolutely. “Any suggestions?”

Torres tells, “One of the Dominion`s combat troops, the Jem`Hadar, are capable of invisibly beaming to a place, where they lurk in camouflage and suddenly get visible and strike. Chakotay would surely know more about it. I think the mechanism was integrated into their combat armor.”

Seven states coolly, “Basically only two elements are needed: a sensor that detects the environment of the object to be camouflaged and an imaging system that represents the background of the object at every point on its surface for every viewing direction. — Alternatively, a coating can be applied that directs the imaging light from objects in the background around the body to be cloaked.”

Janeway looks from Seven to Torres and back to Seven.

“Try it!”

She leaves main engineering. Torres stands up.

“If it`s as simple as you say, you`ll certainly be able to introduce a prototype for dinner? Excuse me. I still have to see about the antimatter conversion process.”

Torres moves away leaving Seven back with a surprisedly raised eyebrow.

Inside the casino Carey, Lang, Baxter, and Ceph are sitting around a table. Lang plucks Carey`s sleeve.

“Come on, tell me, Joseph, how did that yellow slime mould manage to catch you and B`Elanna? Did it sneak up on you from behind? Or did it …” her eyes open, her fingers roll towards him, ” follow you like a wobbly jelly monster?”

Carey pulls his jaw to the side. His left hand wanders from the tabletop towards his belly.

“Listen, Nancy, it wasn`t so funny -”

Carey falters. His chin folds down. He looks at his left hand, which has only moved to the edge of the table. With a jerk, he slides back a bit with his chair and stares down. From the right side, where his neighbor sips a bowl of thick, green syrup, an alien arm has crept around Carey`s back to scratch his belly from the left. Lang and Baxter burst out laughing. Carey also laughs and elbows sideways to Ceph, who stretches out two more tentacles to rub Carey on his stomach and back.

The door opens and E-Bug enters the room. Some guests he passes from behind move closer to their tables. E-Bug marches straight to the kitchen counter. There he props up with his center legs and places the front extremities upon the counter table. His tube-eyes look all over the kitchen and repeatedly at Neelix, who is steaming vegetables with a wok. After a while Neelix notices his guest.

“Ah, Mr. E-Bug! I know what you want.”

He removes the pan from the fire, goes to the larder and enters a code on the display. Immediately afterwards an airlock opens and Neelix takes out a tray that he carries to E-Bug at the counter. In the middle of the tray there is a flat plate, where grail algae are piled up high. Neelix quickly powders several spices over it and adds a drink.

“This electrolyte juice contains, refined a little of course, what the doctor has recommended for you!” Neelix blinks in a friendly way at E-Bug. “I`m sure it`s to your taste!”

E-Bug`s right eye focuses on the algae, the left on Neelix. Immediately thereafter both eyes orient to the plate and E-Bug pleasurably starts to eat. Neelix pushes his wok pan over the flame again and turns over the vegetables.

Suddenly E-Bug`s antenna sensors spread apart and a spark flashes into the chrome kitchen cupboard next to him. In shock, his body slips back a bit from the bar. Then the fingers of his claw-hand grab under the algae and lift them slowly. As in a bird`s nest, a small, rolled-up tubeworm sits underneath and chews a tuft of the electrifying green algae leaves in his round mouth.

Several sparks strike the ceiling, while E-Bug jumps up and throws a chair to the side. The little worm recognizes the deadly threat, rises and bends to jump away. But it is already hit by a sparking blow from E-Bug`s side feeler, that throws it to the other end of the counter table. For a moment the worm lies dazed. Neelix already approaches with a big noodle sieve to catch it. Just in time the little worm jumps from the table to the ground. Wobbling, the worm tips over, gets up again and drags itself with a burn in the middle of its tube body, and more tottering than jumping, to a ventilation shaft in which it disappears. E-Bug looks after it with a threateningly raised side-feeler. Then his eyes turn back to the plate. With his claws, he picks at the rest of the algae. Angrily, E-Bug pushes the tray to the side, turns around and goes to the exit of the casino. Some guests quickly leave their seats to increase the distance to him.

Neelix taps at his communicator. “Kitchen to main engineering!”

“What`s up, Neelix?” asks Torres`s voice.

“B`Elanna, I thought you wanted to have the hole to the pantry closed?”

“I`m sorry, Neelix. We had urgent tasks.”

“That hole is urgent too,” rails Neelix. “I have guests here who react extremely ill-humored when a tubeworm is sitting in the middle of their meal!”

“Understood, Neelix! I`ll take care of it as soon as I can. – Torres out.”

Neelix looks at the exit where E-Bug has disappeared. Then his nose sniffs, and he hurries to the wok. He hastily turns the dark-brown vegetable and complains, “Now it`s burned!”

Above a blue-orange fog, three Anthox ships emerge in space out of their warp fields. They swarm apart, turn their bows, and let themselves sink into the outer swaths of the fog.

Next to a group of bright stars stands a white nebula front with green, orange, and red streaks. Between these colorful fibers, the contours of several Anthox ships vaguely appear in the haze of the nebula.

In Voyager`s conference room Carey, Seven, Peri, and Torres are sitting in discussion at the table. In a holocom representation above the center of the table Carey pushes the outline of an almost completely transparent shuttle to the side and opens a broad scheme of the electromagnetic spectrum.

“Even if the Anthox had a rather primitive sensor technology on their guided weapons,” he zooms a cannon-like weapon symbol over a wide range of the spectrum, “the cloaking of a shuttle should, in any case, cover the near UV, the entire visible spectrum, and most of the infrared.”

Torres raises her head. “Computer, transfer the schematic section of a planetary atmosphere to the holocom!”

Atmospheric layers appear above a curved surface. Torres pushes the transparent shuttle into the atmosphere.

“I see the biggest problem with the shuttle in the development of heat.” Using a drawing tool, she sketches a red heat front at the bow of the shuttle. “Despite the protective shields, the hull may get hot when entering the atmosphere. A glowing heat shield cannot be obscured with optical methods.”

“The technology of the Anthox is relatively backward,” remarks Seven. “It may be sufficient to deflect radar waves and carry out the evacuation mission at night.”

Carey scratches his belly. “I still don`t understand why we can`t just beam our people up!”

“Our people have been in the Anthox`s power for quite a while,” Torres explains. “Thus, they may have learnt a lot about Voyager`s technology and might screen the crew against transporter signals. Cloaking techniques were never used by Starfleet. The captain wants a joker in her sleeve, something they will certainly not be prepared for.”

Seven pushes a person symbol on the planet`s surface in the holocom; its transparency rhythmically changes between visible and invisible.

“I suggest that we first try to develop a protective suit with integrated camouflage. The basic conditions for this may be more easily controllable than for a shuttle.”

Torres nods. “You`re right. If we can beam a camouflaged away team to deactivate Anthox security systems, we won`t need a shuttle!”

At the edge of the holocom, Peri drags an icon to the symbol of the conference room. Torres notices the process in astonishment.

Carey activates an oscillating color pattern. He pushes it behind the person icon that alternates between transparency and visibility.

He doubts, “I`m not sure whether it`s easier to make a person invisible that moves directly in front of the opponent`s eyes. In order to achieve this, the background must much more precisely be reproduced by the camouflage display than for a distant flying object.”

The door opens and Ceph swings in. He looks around. Peri sits directly below him looking upwards. The next moment he unrolls his back segments from the seat of the chair to the floor and straightens up. More than half of Ceph`s eyes bend down to Peri. Single orange stripes drift over his skin. Torres looks back and forth in wonder between the two persons. Ceph`s tentacle swings back to the door, a second one presses on the opening mechanism. Peri stretches out and grabs one end of a tentacle with all four hands. Torres hurries to them and separates the two.

“Let`s maintain discipline, colleagues!”

Ceph already wants to leave through the open door, but now Torres has his tentacle in her grip. She unmistakably points to a chair. While several eyes and three arms raised in the air tend towards the exit, Ceph pulls himself over the chair with the other two more obedient arms and sinks down on it. Worriedly his eye stalks turn their balls to the persons present. Torres goes back to her seat.

Suddenly, Peri rears up from his chair with two-thirds of his segments. Like an attacking cobra, he stretches over the table towards Ceph and spreads all pairs of hands and legs out like claws. Ceph throws his arms up and pulls himself towards the wall behind him. The wall is decorated with patterns in different colors.

“What the hell is going on, Peri?” calls Torres.

Peri`s segments relax and he calmly sinks back on his seat. With two hands he points to the holocom, with the other two at Ceph. Color patterns have been spreading over the surface of Ceph`s body, quite similar to those of the decoration on the wall behind him.

Stalk after stalk turns its eye to the person icon in the holocom, that continually changes from visibility to transparency, assuming colors and patterns of its background. Ceph notices the glances of the other crew members switching between him and the holocom. Some of his eye stems stretch and bend to look at his own body and – with eyeballs bobbing back and forth – to compare it with the background of the wall.

Laughing and screaming, a crowd of children runs across a meadow into the adjoining forest.

A boy shouts, “Whoever finds Betty`s dog first blows the whistle three times!”

In all directions the children swarm into the forest to comb it. As if looking into a crystal ball, Naomi Wildman looks into the interactive novel in her holocom. She sits in a large armchair in her quarters and has tightened up her legs. Naomi points her finger at two children who start running together in search of the dog; immediately the holographic perspective follows a girl and a boy as they advance into a rocky terrain full of blueberry bushes growing under high pines. The children climb over stones for a while and run along rabbit paths through the bushes, as something crackles in the thicket. Shortly afterwards a branch cracks from another direction behind a group of trees and a “woof” can be heard. Naomi is about to send her two virtual heroes to the group of trees, when a third sound becomes audible; a low scratching and whimpering that seems to come from above, out of the treetops. She rotates the holographic scenery so that the trees lie almost horizontally, and her gaze can follow the trunks upwards, as if she had turned her head upward in the forest. But Naomi can`t find anything unusual in the thinned-out pine branches of the treetops. Again, she hears the whining and scratching diagonally above her. Naomi turns her head and looks at the wall over her armchair. Once again it scrapes and whines from that direction. She touches the ring of her holocom and stops the novel. Then she mounts the armchair and stretches as far as she can above the backrest upwards on the wall. Something scratches and beeps behind one of the wall elements. Naomi knocks on it. Immediately the noises stop. Naomi gets off the chair, runs into the kitchen and returns with a thick fork. She climbs the chair again, presses the fork`s teeth into the gap between two wall elements and levers the underside of one of the plates out of its clamp. Now the plate protrudes, and Naomi pulls it with both hands out of the rest of the holders. Suddenly a tube-like piece slides out of the cavity behind it, falls just past Naomi`s face, crashes into the upper edge of the armchair`s backrest, and from there slides down between Naomi`s feet onto the seat. Naomi sees a wriggle; she lets out a scream, throws the plate she is holding to the floor, jumps from the armchair and runs to the other side of the room. Anxiously she looks at the writhing, caterpillar-like creature, whose twitching calms down. Its head, barely wider than the tubular body, sinks to the side. The being has stopped moving.

Carefully, Naomi approaches. Red burns resembling ulcers cover a strip several centimeters long on the skin of the small being. Naomi nudges it with the back of the fork, but it doesn`t move. Naomi quickly empties a small rolling table. Carefully she pulls the seat cushion, together with the creature lying on it, out of the frame of the armchair and places the cushion on the rolling table. Then she pushes it out through the door of her quarters and into the corridor.

She runs faster and faster with the table in front of her hands and shouts, warning crew members coming from side corridors: “Beware! Ambulance transport of a seriously injured to sickbay!”

Finally, she stops at a door, opens it and hurries in with her rolling table.

“Doctor, quickly, an emergency! The patient is seriously injured!”

With an astonished look the doctor appears from his office.

“Naomi, whom do you bring to me?”

“This being was behind the wall of my quarters. Can you cure it, Doctor?”

The doctor moves the medical scanner over the entire length of his new patient`s body. Increasing enthusiasm gleams out of his smiling face.

“Naomi Wildman, are you aware that this specimen belongs to a species not yet mentioned in the zoological annals of the Alpha Quadrant? Even more — its organic blueprint does not resemble any of the phylums known to us.” He lifts his chin. “The description of this life form is going to be another highlight of my exo-biological researches, and” he looks benevolently down to Naomi, “the name of the discoverer will not go unmentioned either!”

“Doctor, aren`t you going to help this being first before you study it?” Naomi shouts worriedly.

The doctor keeps on moving his scanner over the patient.

“Certainly I want to help it! But first I do have to understand its physiology, so that I know how!”

Naomi gets impatient. “Please do hurry, Doctor!”

On the other side of a porthole in Voyager`s original outer shell, the doctor and Naomi are standing at the bedside of the small tubeworm. In front of the round window, the head of a full-grown tubeworm shifts, watching the events inside sickbay. Behind it, there is a larger porthole window, integrated into a monotanium plate of the outer hull, which reflects the warp stripes of the stars and the nebulae that Voyager passes.

A narrow path winds its way up a mountain slope through a basalt-covered, stony landscape. Yellow smoke emerges out of the ground from numerous crevasses between rumble and boulders.

Sweating and wheezing with short breaths, a carrier dressed in brown-grey linen wrap drags himself up the path, with a basket on his back. He continues to climb the slope until an artificial terrace appears in front of him, where a simple hut has been erected. Its door is wide open. Above the terrace and the building, the slope rises even steeper.

The carrier approaches the hut, made of dark brown natural fibers. He is observed. Around the hut, humanoids of the same species lurk from behind the rocks. They are in military uniforms and armed. Their glances are dark.

The carrier stops in front of the building for a moment, taking a deep exhalation of relief. Then he grabs the shoulder straps, relieves himself of the burden on his back and leans it against the wall next to the entrance.

At this moment three figures jump at him from behind. Two of them hold the carrier, the third grabs the big basket, turns it around and pours its contents onto the stony floor. Then he bends over, pulls a coil and a fist-sized electrical device out of a heap of fruit and vegetables and holds the two parts in front of the carrier`s frightened eyes.

“What is this?”

“I d — I don`t know,” stammers the carrier. “I only brought up what was ordered.”

A fourth uniformed steps out of the darkness of the entrance. In both hands, he carries an aggregate consisting of several parts that are assembled with clumsy screw fixtures. Electrical lines are connected by twisting the ends of the wires. The other three in uniform cast contemptuous glances at the unit. Then they lift their heads and turn their eyes upwards to the top of the mountain.

The steep way up there starts behind the hut, running over basalt steps that are worked out like a hollow path in a crevice between two rocks. Finally, the steps end at a broad plateau on the mountain top. In the distance, a chain of volcanic cones can be seen. Smoke rises from several of the pointed peaks. On a stone block, in the middle of the plateau, a man sits in a lotus position, with his upper body erected in meditative posture.

From behind two stocky figures in uniform walk with crunching boots towards the man on the low bolder. They step left and right next to him. The man does not move. One of the uniformed speaks to him in a rough tone.

“Although you didn`t want to cooperate, we spared you with respect to your friends and enabled you the life you wanted. You should not have abused our indulgence!”

He bends down next to the ear of the person he addresses.

“From tomorrow on you may meditate in the dungeon of Guantan!”

Tuvok opens his eyes. His gaze wanders over the chain of smoking volcanoes. Then he raises his head and directs his eyes to the sky.


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