Starship Voyager – The Alien Adventures — 20 The 13th Spiritolith

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.


20. The 13th Spiritolith

The five fingers of a hand lying flat on a table`s touch-field are tripping restlessly in front of a monitor. Finally, they open an archive and select a text.

Compendium of Theoretical Approaches to Transwarp Concepts

Muriel Okuda* and Ronald Sternbach**

*Daystrom Institute for Advanced Studies, Enterprise Valley, Rigel III
**Faculty for Space Technologies, Starfleet Academy California, USA, Earth


Tutorial Contribution at the

3rd Interplanetary Symposium on

Alternative Acceleration Methods and Drive Technologies

June 1st – 7th, 2370 (Stardate 47683 – 47702)

National Park Congress Hall, Cechobavarian Forest, Europe, Earth

Supported by the United Federation of Planets Science & Educational Fund

No. 4327845

The fingers scroll deeper into the text, while two eyes skim over the lines with impatiently fast horizontally scanning movements. A crease forms between the brows. The narrowing of the eyelids reflects the focus and effort of a brain trying to produce mental images out of symbols encoded in letters and numbers.
Suddenly, the monitor wobbles and the room quakes. Kathryn Janeway looks out of the window of her ready room. Fragments of Voyager`s hull are drifting by. Janeway jumps up and hurries to the exit.
She appears on the bridge.
“Torpedoes appeared suddenly, “Tuvok informs her. “They were detected too late by the sensors. There were two direct hits before the shields activated.”
Kim calls from the OPS station, “Hull breaches on decks 3 and 4! Sixteen casualties reported!”
“Seal the breaches!” orders Janeway.
Voyager shakes again. Tuvok scrutinizes his readings.
“Two more hits. Shields are holding but getting weaker.”
Janeway stares at the screen. “Where do these torpedoes come from? Are they cloaked?”
Tuvok frowns. “I don`t think so. They seem to approach with transwarp speed. Shortly before they arrive at our position, they emerge from some kind of quantum field. More are coming — look!”
Tuvok switches the image of an area onto the screen where the torpe-does appear. Locally confined, swirled, and twisted loop patterns suddenly occur, from which torpedoes are racing out.
Five additional eyestalks, which Ceph had previously pointed on his pa-nels, snap towards the screen. He winds two more tentacles upon the helm controls. The warp stripes on the screen jerk sideways back and forth. The bodies of the bridge officers are swaying too.
“We`re flying an extremely zigzag course!” shouts Kim. “The inertial dampers are at maximum.”
Janeway turns to the tactical console. “What about the torpedoes, Tu-vok?”
“All four of them are following us and catching up fast!”
A cascade of four hits shakes the ship.
“Shields at 30%. More torpedoes appear, but at a greater distance than before. This maneuver seems to make it harder locating us.”
“Can we escape the torpedoes?” asks Janeway with concern.
Tuvok shakes his head. “Certainly not, Captain. We`re just gaining some time to regenerate the shields.”
The holocom of the bridge pops up beside the helm. A tentacle reaches in. Ceph sketches a flight maneuver and pushes the icons of phasers against those of torpedoes. Two additional eyes direct on Janeway. She turns to the rear.
“Mr. Carey, can you disable the torpedoes with phasers?”
“Not while we`re on warp, Captain.”
“Understood. Stand by, Carey — fire on my command!”
Janeway hurries forward to Ceph. She places a green dot in his holocom sketch and nods to him.
While steering the rolling course, Ceph suddenly goes under warp. The torpedoes shoot past beyond Voyager. Ceph immediately accelerates back to warp and flies after them. The projectiles appear in front of the ship. They slow down their speed to reverse and redirect to their lost target. Ceph goes under warp again. Janeway raises her hand. The next moment the torpedoes appear from their warp bubbles. Janeway`s hand goes down.
“Carey — now: Fire!”
Carey shoots with the entire phaser phalanx against the approaching torpedoes. Several of them explode. Only two reach the shields. Their detonation shakes the ship.
Janeway turns around. “Status, Commander!”
“Five targets have been neutralized, two have hit us. No more torpe-does have appeared.” Tuvok raises an eyebrow. “Captain, at one of the hit torpedoes only its controls have been destroyed. It`s inactive, but technically largely intact.”
“Beam it into the physics lab!” Janeway touches her communicator. “Computer, holocom message to Lieutenant Torres, Seven of Nine and Mr. Peri. Presence required in lab 8.”
Janeway`s holocom pops up. The icons of the three detached crew members turn green one by one. Janeway closes her holocom and goes to the lift.
“Mr. Kim, assign repair teams to seal off the hull breaches!”
“Aye, Captain!”


When Janeway enters the physical laboratory, Torres, Seven, and Peri are already standing around a table examining an elongated object with a smooth shell. Torres scans it. Janeway goes to her.
“Could you find out how its drive works?”
“I`d have to open the torpedo. If we`re lucky, the mechanism still works.”
Torres presses against a notch on the side of the torpedo shell. With a calm, buzzing sound, the two halves of the hull slide apart from the cen-ter, exposing the components inside.
Janeway inquires worriedly, “Where is the explosive charge?”
Torres points to a metal cylinder protruding from both sides of a coil.
“Under this shield the antimatter was confined. It has been removed during beaming.” Torres scans the other parts. “This assembly,” she points to modules at the front end, “serves to track the target once it has been located. And the aggregate at the back is a conventional warp engine. It was pursuing us with it after it had left its transwarp quantum matrix. But all the rest, … I`ve never seen this kind of technology.”
With his front segments erected, Peri is standing at the table and has bent over the torpedo like the others. Swiveling his head, he looks at a small shiny component from all sides.
“May I, Lieutenant -?”
Seven takes the tricorder out of Torres`s hand. She scans a black box with small blinking lights and numerous connections leading out.
“The circuit under this case resembles a control loop that the Borg used to balance their cubes in the quantum field. However, it is not recogniza-ble how the controlling signals are supplied. Besides, a mechanism for initial instillation into the transwarp channel is missing. The torpedo was probably released by a vessel that was already in a quantum field. There-fore, the torpedo only needs equipment for maneuvering to maintain stable course and for decoupling from the quantum field at the target position.”
Peri`s large complex eyes almost touch two holders, which fix the pyramid tips of a thumb-long octahedral crystal from both sides. Janeway bends next to him.
“What is this?”
Seven points the tricorder on the crystal. “This mineral was never used by the Borg.”
Janeway`s gaze changes questioningly between Peri`s eyes and the octa-hedron. Inside the crystal dark blue and turquoise plates opalesce and a finely branched system of filigree, glowing gold threads interweave the stone.
Finally, Janeway straightens up. “I want you to find out how that torpe-do`s drive works. And check if this transwarp technology can be trans-ferred to Voyager!”
Torres nods. Seven`s gaze remains cool and skeptical. Janeway leaves the laboratory.

In a crew`s quarters, parts of the ceiling cladding and of the ship`s hull are lying on the floor. Cables are hanging down. The wall to the neighboring quarters has been torn open along several meters by the shock wave of the torpedo impact. Furniture lies scattered all over the room. It is charred. As well is the floor covering. On the board wall Kim, Baxter, and two other crewmen are welding a metal plate over the destruction on the hull.
Janeway enters the room.
“How do you get ahead, Harry?”
“This is the last element we have to fix, Captain. Then the force field sealing the deck can be disabled. For the outer armour of the duranium plates and the monotanium, we`ll have to use the service robots.”
Janeway nods. She touches the communicator.
“Janeway to Seven of Nine!”
“Captain?” answers Seven`s voice.
“The outer hull was damaged. Are the robots ready for a repair action?”
“I`ll activate their program that controls the execution of this task. Cap-tain, I suggest integrating the robot Mr. E-Bug brought from an away mission into the repair collective. It can be used there more efficiently than in agriculture.”
Janeway smiles. “Did you ask him whether he`d like to become a drone?”
After a moment of silence Seven`s voice answers in cool astonishment, “It`s a machine, Captain -”
“All right, Seven, I agree. Janeway out.”

At the tactical console, Tuvok looks forward to the helm with a stern face. Surprised and disapproving, his eyebrows are raised. Carey also looks at the screen, scratching his stomach.
Janeway steps out of the turbolift. In amazement, she stops. Across its entire width the viewscreen shows brightly glowing blue, orange, and white gas clouds, drifting by in stripes and whirls. Some flashes of lightning are twitching between layers of clouds.
“Where are we, Tuvok?”
Tuvok straightens up. “Disregarding the command structure and without consulting the senior bridge officer, the pilot on duty has flown the ship into the atmosphere of a Class-J gas planet!”
In ambivalent earnestness Janeway answers Tuvok, while looking forward, “The captain has taken note of your disciplinary criticism, Commander!” Between the stems that have turned their eyes to her she looks into the clouds on the screen. “Maybe explanations would have taken too long. The attacks could start anew at any time. I have a feeling that Mr. Ceph is able to assess the situation we`re in better than we can at the moment.”
Janeway walks past Tuvok and steps down to the lower bridge.
“Probably we`re harder to locate for our attackers in this dense atmos-phere.”
She goes to her place. Then she turns around.
“We need a plan, Tuvok! Otherwise, we won`t get far in this area.”

In the shuttle bay Seven is standing between the two small ships and the hangar lock. She is surrounded by the collective of spider-like service robots. Some have attached to the ceiling above her. In one hand, Seven holds an electronic display, with the other she touches her communi-cator.
“Seven of Nine to Ensign Kim. – Is the force field around the ship stable enough to enable repair operations on the hull?”
“The force field is keeping the planet`s atmosphere at 15 meters distance, Seven,” Kim`s voice reports. “The gas storms can`t damage the robots.”
“Understood. – Seven out.”
Seven touches a button on her display. Thereupon, the two parts of the shuttle bay`s hangar lock move apart. They open up to a view of the hurricane vortices and striped gas flows raging around the ship.
Seven`s finger taps another button. On both sides of her and on the ceil-ing above her the eight-legged robots start marching towards the exit. They use their middle extremities to carry tools and plates on their backs, which they need for mending the hull. The force field at the exit flickers as the robots penetrate it around the edges of the gate, climbing onto the outside of the starship`s hull.
Seven goes to a single spider robot that has remained behind. Its control unit is opened. Seven reaches in. She places her fingers on keys in order to make adjustments. Next to the keys a cable is plugged in. It leads across the mechanical spider organism to another cybernetic unit to which it is connected. The metal gardener is standing upright and motionless next to the spider robot. His head part has been opened too. A Borg implant is attached to the surface of the brain module, serving as an interface to the connecting cable.
Suddenly, the gardener`s multi-linked arms start to twitch. As in convul-sions, the elements of the body twist. One arm jerks high up hitting the connecting cable at the temple. It is knocked off from the implant. Immediately afterwards, the gardener falls to the ground, where he continues to lay about.
Seven turns around, calling two officers on duty, who are working at their stations behind the two shuttles.
“I need your help!” Quickly, the two crews rush to her. “Hold him tight!”
The two get on their knees and press the wriggling extremities against the floor. Seven bends down. She re-attaches the connecting cable to the implant in the gardener`s head. Then she returns to the programming unit of the spider robot and changes parameter values. The gardener lying on the ground grows calmer.
“You may release him.”
The two men let his arms free and rise. The gardener also stands on his four short legs again and raises his upper body.
“Thank you. You may return to your stations.”
The two humanoids move away. While Seven continues programming, the gardener is tripping in small steps with his four legs, slowly turning around until his optical, arc-shaped sensor is aligned to the gate of the shuttle hangar. Suddenly, a jerk goes through his body and with hasty jumps he hurries towards the opening. The connecting cable is stretched. The plug is torn out of the gardener`s head again and the end of the cable flips backwards. With a clapping smack, it strikes Seven`s cheek. At the same moment the gardener jumps through the force field out of the ship into free space.
With big and staring eyes Seven observes the body drifting away from the ship. She feels a red scratch on her cheek and looks at her fingertip, that has a blood stain on it. Seven touches her communicator.
“Seven of Nine to transporter room. – At the stern of the ship a robot has drifted into the open. Beam it back into the shuttle bay!”
The gardener, floating weightlessly in front of the ship, dissolves with a glimmer. Immediately, his body rematerializes inside the shuttle bay. Seven walks towards him with the end of the cable in her hand to plug it in again. The gardener moves to the side. He starts running again. He lowers his head forward and violently crashes against the board of the shuttle bay. He falls to the floor. Besides the plate that was already removed his head, another one detaches. It remains lying next to him with a fading rocking movement. Seven raises an eyebrow and touches the communicator again.
“Seven of Nine to Lieutenant Torres!”
“What`s up, Seven?”
“I need your assistance in the shuttle bay for programming a robot.”
“Sorry, I`m busy at the moment. I`ll send Peri to you. – Torres out!”

In the midst of blue, orange, and white clouds rushing by in thunders-torms, the starship Voyager is floating in the atmosphere of a gas giant. A dozen spider robots are working on the outer shell of the saucer module. They are dismantling damaged plates, attaching new brackets and inserting replacement plates.

A holocom is opened on the table of the conference room. It displays a film-clip running in a repeating loop that shows two quantum vortices from which torpedoes emerge. They accelerate and collide with Voy-ager`s icon. Janeway freezes the image the moment the quantum vortices open.
“We are attacked by an enemy who is invisible to us. So far we only know its guided weapons.”
Tuvok reduces the clip and pushes the symbols of ships to the outer bor-ders of the holocom.
“Long-range sensors have been detecting several vessels towards different directions. None of them is on an intercept course to us. It`s unclear if any of them is responsible for the attack.”
Janeway turns to Torres. “What did you find out about that torpedo propulsion?”
Torres places two star symbols in opposite sides of the holocom and con-nects them by a winding line.
“The torpedo`s control unit contains a quantum discriminator. That indi-cates that its trajectory runs in a quantum channel of subspace along interstellar strings.”
Torres moves the torpedo`s holo-symbol along the winding line between the two stars. Paris shakes his head and defensively stretches his hand against the hologram.
“I hope you won`t be expecting me to set Voyager on a cosmic string and go riding with her from star to star?”
Torres smiles. “No need to worry yet. So far, we don`t even understand how to introduce a macroscopic object into quantum space; much less how to stabilize its trajectory along a string in order to prevent the object from immediately being thrown out into normal space again.”
Janeway inquires, “Did the Borg utilize this technology?”
“That was not necessary,” explains Seven. “Long time ago, the Borg built a system of tunnels in the Galaxy with transwarp centers. These tunnels are suitable for the huge sizes of their ships. Therefore, their interest in technologies of other species was low, since those techniques were suitable for merely smaller ships of adapted design.”
“Can anyone else contribute to this topic?”
Janeway magnifies the film-clip again and pushes the icons of Peri and Ceph to the image of the opening quantum vortex. She keeps looking back and forth between the two.
Peri stretches over the table and removes his icon from the vortex. Then he turns to Ceph, on whom the eyes of all the other participants are now directed. Ceph shoves himself backwards on his chair and presses his body into the backrest. Hesitantly one arm wanders over the tabletop and shifts his icon away from the quantum vortex.
Torres`s face, like the faces of the others, is aligned towards the end of the pushing tentacle. But from the corners of her eyes, she looks at a group of eyestalks that sway restlessly.
Peri lays a cloth on the table that is wrapped around something. He un-folds the fabric until a small octahedral crystal appears. He pushes the cloth to Ceph, who is sitting next to him.
Torres reaches into the holocom and opens a schematic drawing of the torpedo`s interior. She points to a component.
“At this location that crystal was fixed. So far we have no explanation of its function within the torpedo control.”
Some of Ceph`s eyes look at the crystal in front of him, others to the image of the quantum vortex. The rest of them is wandering restlessly back and forth between the participants of the meeting and the image of the torpedo. Finally, he pushes the cloth with the crystalline mineral back to Peri.
Janeway silently stares into the hologram. Then she lifts her head.
“Our technical interest in this quantum drive is of secondary importance, for the time being. The first thing to do is find out who`s attacking us, and how we can defend ourselves!”
Tuvok raises a brow. “It is possible that they would be inferior to us in a conventional fight.”
“I think so too, Captain,” agrees Paris. “Otherwise, they wouldn`t hide.”
Torres`s eyes glow pugnaciously. “Let`s lure them out, … let`s pretend we`re severely hit and defenseless!”
She pulls Voyager into the center, shoves a blinking emergency symbol next to the ship and moves one of the foreign ships picked up by long-range sensors from the edge of the holocom into the interior.
Janeway nods. “If not the attackers themselves come to us, then maybe others who know how to defend against torpedoes from quantum space.”
She looks around. “Any more suggestions?”
All remain quiet.
Janeway gets up. “Let`s make it so! – Tom, take Ceph with you to naviga-tion! We don`t know what`s coming up to us.”
“Aye, Captain.”
The participants rise and go to the exit of the conference room. Peri and Seven remain behind.
“Captain, Mr. Peri and I have different views on a certain point. We need you for a decision of our dissent!”
Janeway returns from the exit.
“What is it about?”
“As you know, I have tried to integrate the robot that has been working in agriculture so far into the collective of service robots. However, tech-nical problems did arise with its programming.”
Peri deletes all elements from the holocom and opens the source code of a program. Janeway takes a quick look at it and then impatiently turns to Seven.
“Problems of what kind?”
“Its program structure is not compatible with that of the other robots. When I tried to adapt the structure, destructive action patterns were activated.”
Janeway frowns. “In which way does its program structure differ?”
“The algorithms are not linear and ranked in terms but are represented by multiply linked partial systems with variable coupling constants. The calculation of action parameters is carried out by complex relaxation dy-namics.”
Janeway bends over the table to read the algorithms.
Seven continues, “In order to create an interface to the control units of the service robots, I began to linearize some partial systems of the agricultural robot. Thereby, it fell into a mode of self-destruction.”
Janeway`s hand rubs against her forehead as she skims over the program lines. Finally, she straightens up again and looks at Seven with concern.
“These highly linked partial systems are optronically replicated neural networks! We must assume that our agricultural robot has consciousness: this being feels and thinks — it lives! If I had known that before, I would never have allowed you to carry out this operation!”
“It`s just a replica, Captain, … it`s a simulation.”
Janeway shakes her head. “A wise Human once said: We are ma-chines too — just made of another material.” She frowns. “It does not matter whether this kind of cybernetic process takes place in nerve networks or in optronic circuits. It is not the displacement of electrons and photons in metals and light conductors versus wandering action potentials of ion currents along nerve cells — that makes the difference between a calculating machine and a living brain. The only decisive factor is the structure of the program of a cybernetic process!”
“There is no proof of this.”
Janeway is silent for a moment.
Then she answers: “You are right; there is no proof. Strictly speaking, the only thing I know for certain is that in the case of my own person the interplay of membrane potentials of my brain nerves produces odors, tactile sensations, emotions, images and sounds, and thoughts as causal explanations and imaginations of phantasy. And I am careful not to deny, in egocentric arrogance, consciousness to other processes of representation of the outside world, just because they occur on a different material substrate. In that case, I adhere to the ethical principle: In Dubio Pro Reo!
Janeway`s glance touches Peri, who is standing next to her. She closes the algorithm text in the holocom. Then she activates the virtual button Interlink Database and opens in the following menu the database Historical Encyclopedia in Images. She enters a term to be searched and lists a row of images she comments on.
“On Earth this ethical principle has been violated billions of times over thousands of years: whenever someone wanted to take advantage of the oppression of others.” She points to an illustration. “People whom they wanted to enslave have been classified as barbarians without culture or as intermediate forms between fully valued people and what was regarded at the time as an unconscious animal. This was done in order to be able to treat these persons in the same way as individuals of non-human species were treated.”
Janeway places another image into the foreground.
“Whom they wanted to oppress in society or within the family because of gender features were defined as an intermediate form between a mentally and emotionally mature adult and an immature child, in order to be able to patronize and discipline these persons, as usually children were treated at that time.”
Janeway puts another image forward.
“Members of other species were defined as biomechanical automatons by those who wanted to rid themselves of scruples so that they could misuse these beings free and easy for cruel toxicological tests and as meat slaves. For an antiquated nutrition tradition, they were mistreated under miserable conditions all their lives and finally murdered.”
Once again, Janeway changes the image in the foreground.
“And in the 21st Century, when slavery within the human species was almost overcome, slavery was all of a sudden re-invented. They were developing completely new life-forms as artificially created intelligence — individuals who weren`t of flesh and blood, who couldn`t even scream or writhe when wanton players or curious researchers exaggerated their pain levels to such an extent that biological organisms had long since found salvation in death. These beings had been shaped so unlike Humans in their appearance and in their behavioral possibilities, that no one felt compassion for them any more: not those who created them and not those who misused them under the mendacious pretext that they were machines — for play, war and research; and neither did the national ethics councils, who only dealt with the effects of this new form of slavery on the society of the slaveholders, but did not occupy themselves with the situation of the victims.”
While Peri continues to look at the images that are presented in the holocom, Janeway straightens up again and turns head-on towards Sev-en.
“I do understand, Seven, that you have a strong interest in increasing your robot collective; but don`t let this personal interest blur your ethical judgment.”
“Are you really sure, Captain?” Seven interrupts her, with her eyebrow raised in wonder.
“What do you mean?”
Seven`s arm stretches into the holocom, with her index finger ahead.
“That you want to return to the planet you`ve just talked about — and that you want to bring Voyager`s doctor back there?”
A distant roar can be heard, and the ground shakes. Janeway, Seven and Peri hang on to the table.
Tuvok`s voice reports, “Bridge to Captain. – A large thunderstorm is forming in the surrounding atmosphere. I recommend to quickly translate our plan into action!”
“Understood, Tuvok. I`m coming!”
Casting a glance at Seven and Peri, Janeway hurries out of the confer-ence room. Seven turns to Peri. His hand moves to the display at the table and closes the holocom.

Huge in size and covered by atmospheric stripes and vortices, the gas planet floats in space. Again and again, different areas light up in the colors of their gas media, illuminated by invisible flashes inside.
Voyager emerges from a cloud interspersed with orange and blue streaks. She moves away from the planet. In a slowly wobbling rotation around an axis running diagonally through the ship, she drifts into the orbital area of the planet`s moons. Numerous small parts are ejected from several openings. They distribute around the ship. The lights go out behind all the ship`s windows. Only one bright red lamp flashes on the saucer module, on the dome of the bridge.

Carey steps out of the turbolift, onto the darkened bridge illuminated with emergency light only.
“Technical parts, clothing and organic substances were ejected from the torpedo shafts, Captain.”
Janeway turns around from her seat.
“Excellent, Mr. Carey! Keep ready at the weapons control!”
“Aye, ma`am!” Carey goes to his station.
Tuvok reports, “Our emergency call is being transmitted on all subspace frequencies, Captain.”
Janeway nods and looks at the OPS console.
“Mr. Kim, are the systems in standby mode?”
“As soon as a macroscopic quantum event is detected, shields, propulsion and weapons will be automatically activated.”
Janeway turns to the sensor controls, where E-Bug has directed both tube-eyes on the readings. Then she turns to the science station on star-board.
“Extract as much information as you can from sensor data, Seven!”
Seven nods.
Janeway looks forward. “You know, Tom: if the situation gets critical, we`ll immediately retreat back into the atmosphere!”
“Aye, ma`am.”
Tensely, Janeway stares at the screen, into the darkness of space. It is quiet on the gloomy bridge. Even the humming sound of the ship`s generators, which are turned down to a minimum, can hardly be heard.
Suddenly, two quantum vortices appear at the edge of the screen. Immediately afterwards the control displays on all panels turn on again and the lighting of the room switches to brightness.
“Two small ships on port,” announces Tuvok.
The two ships have emerged from the quantum vortices. Their bows are aligned towards Voyager. E-Bug analyses sensor readings and fades in schematic drawings on the screen next to the ships, showing their con-struction. Janeway turns to the OPS.
“Call them, Harry!”
“No answer, Captain.”
Tuvok looks tensely at his readings. “They`re charging their weapons.”
“Carey, fire on weapons and engines!” shouts Janeway.
A salvo of phaser shots hits the alien ships. The first rays fizzle out at their shields. The following rays penetrate to the hulls, where explosions occur. E-Bug places red dots in the schematic drawings, as well as yellow waves that lead away from the ships.
“Their weapons and propulsion are failing,” reports Tuvok. “They`re transmitting a non-decipherable signal on a subspace frequency.”
Janeway straightens up. “Mr. Kim, call them again!”
“They answer.”
“On screen!”
Two humanoids with ellipsoidal heads appear on the screen, against the background of their control center.
“Surrender!” one of them demands.
Surprised, Paris turns around to Janeway.
“Captain, … aren`t they old acquaintances?”
Janeway gets up. “To whom shall we surrender?”
“Surrender to the guard of the 13th Spiritolith!”
A feature of amusement mixes into Janeway`s countenance as she in-quires, “I suppose he is the successor of the 12th Spiritolith?”
“Not at all! Our Lord is the thirteenth of sixty-seven of his kind, who all travel searching through the galaxy!”
“May one know what all these Spiritoliths are searching for?”
Before the stranger is able to answer, a heavy burst of fire hits Voyager. It shoots out of a vast quantum vortex that has formed next to the small ships. Janeway is thrown against the railing behind her place. Sparks spray from several consoles. A huge disc-shaped ship emerges from the quantum vortex, which closes behind it. The disc slides in front of Voyager.
Kim shouts, “Look, Captain: Voyager would fit three times in that thing!”
Concerned, Tuvok reports, “This ship`s armament corresponds to its size. Our shields would withstand another fire for only a few seconds!”
A bright strip of light wanders through the bridge. Kim`s eyes rise from his readings.
“We`re being scanned by a coherent tetryon beam!”
“Mr. Paris — back into the atmosphere!”, shouts Janeway. “Maximum impulse!”
Seven disappears from the science console with a glow. Kim points to the empty place.
“Captain, Seven is …”
“I saw it, Ensign!”
Tuvok reports, “Mr. E-Bug is missing too! All other crew members are still located on the ship.”
Janeway turns around. E-Bug`s place is abandoned. In front of her the screen shows lightning flashes interspersing the atmospheric storms of the gas planet, which envelop Voyager again.
The voice of the guard officer comes out of the on-board loudspeaker.
“Crew of ship Voyager — surrender to the 13th Spiritolith! You cannot escape!”
Janeway calls angrily: “Give my people back!”
The voice declares, “They were added as new sources to the round of dreamers for our Spiritolith. Surrender! You will all be added to the round of the dreamers!”
Janeway grimly looks to Kim. “Turn him off, Harry!”
The voice silences.
“Can you get a lock on Seven and E-Bug with the transporter?” Janeway inquires.
Tuvok frowns. “I`m not detecting their signatures.”
“Can we beam over a security team?”
“Only at high risk. The team could be detected already during transport and captured.”
Paris turns around. “Captain, what about beaming someone over whom they can`t connect to their dream collector? Someone with a holographic body.”
Janeway frowns thoughtfully.

On their inspection tour through the huge round of the dreamers, two guardsmen in white coats remain standing in front of a display attached to the foot side of a bier. One of the two humanoids bends down, con-trols parameters and changes several settings. A foot jerks several times. A Borg implant is attached to its ankle. Finally, the two guardsmen move on to the next dreamer and disappear behind a partition wall.
Stretched out, Seven lies on the bed. Numerous cables are attached with contact cams to a helmet that is put over her head. Also on her arms, legs and upper body contacting endings of cables are fixed. A dozen of these lines run to the console at the foot end. Most connections coming from the metal helmet lead behind the headboard of the bed, where the cables, bundled to a strand, are guided through the wall to the other side.
Irregular twitching goes through Seven`s legs, through her fingers and arms, shoulders, and lips. Her eyes are not fully closed. The lids form tiny gaps revealing the shimmering moisture of the eyeballs, which move violently back and forth in REM sleep. Behind the thick eyelashes, which appear like hanging cables and tubes inside a Borg cube, Borg drones step out of their alcoves and execute their tasks with mechanically stiff movements and single-minded dynamics.

Seven`s inner gaze moves along the corridor teaming with robot-like activities. Repeatedly the field of view swings sideways to control panels, straightens out again and wanders on forward.
Suddenly, the side walls of the corridor, hung with cables and equipped with cloudy-green blinking displays, break away and sink into a dark, un-known depth. Drones step through the openings into empty space and drift away into a starless darkness. Fragmenting and crumbling, the floor dissolves as well. In hectic movements the gaze rushes through the room searching for hold. It directs downward. The last remnant of solid ground disappears under the feet. The body sinks down into obscurity without orientation. The arms reach upwards, where Borg relics continuously withdraw.
All of a sudden, fine threads attach to the falling arms. A web begins to envelop the arms, gently pulling them, slowing the fall. Finally, the legs dip into a widely spread net. They are pressed deep into it until the fall comes to a standstill and the tension of the woven threads makes the body and its visual perception swing up and down.
Huge spiders approach from all sides, walking on the silk fibers. They finally stop. Vibrating with their eight legs, they send signals along the threads to the body in their middle. It receives the subtle impulses with the flanks, the outstretched arms and the legs sticking to the net. Now the extremities move too, plucking the threads. Thereupon the spiders on the other side of the threads turn in circles, tripping with their legs on the spot.
Suddenly the tension of the web slackens. A multi-unit metal arm has stretched up from below. With rapid cuts its pincer-shaped claw bisects silk threads around the arms and legs. Half the body already protrudes from the net, hanging downwards. The body continually sinks headfirst towards the abyss. The last holding threads are cut. The body falls and, still precipitating in a dream, the upper body rises in a rush on a bed, while the doctor clips off the last contact plug from the forehead.

Seven`s eyelids open wide.
“I hope I haven`t torn you out of pleasant love dreams?”
Seven stares at him with big eyes. Then she looks around.
“Is this … real?”
The doctor moves a scanner over her head and body.
“I assure you: neither do you dream me, nor do I appear to you as a fata morgana. I`m an absolutely real hologram!”
He tweaks her upper arm with two fingers. The arm twitches.
“Do you feel that?”
“Indeed -”
“We are in the dormitory of kidnapped dreamers, on the starship of the 13th Spiritolith, … whoever that is. You may get up now!”
The doctor hands Seven a communicator and reaches for the bundle of cables behind the headboard of the bed.
“Let`s see where these cables are leading to!”
Seven puts the communicator on her uniform and follows the doctor through a door in the wall, behind the headboard of the bed. They enter a huge round room, where strands of cables come from all sides running to the center of the facility. Once there, the doctor and Seven stop in front of a twenty meter wide liquid-filled pool. Inside a huge, pale-yellow organic mass is resting. Though its surface is slowly flowing, it keeps a structure with steady features of brain-like bends and furrows. All the strands lead into the interior of the pool, where the cable endings are attached with suction contacts to one of the countless brain convolu-tions.
The doctor scans the pool. “As I suspected: the entire neuronal mass resembles a cerebrum! Primary brain stem areas – if they exist at all – have atrophied so much that they cannot be detected!”
“A brain structure of this size may have considerable mental abilities,” presumes Seven.
“Maybe, … but its emotional abilities are marginal. Since the reports of Mr. Paris, I`ve been suspecting that the interest of these beings is not so much in the dreams themselves, but in the emotions associated with them. These life-forms take from others those elements of consciousness that they cannot generate by themselves.”
The doctor points along the inner edge of the pool. Guardsmen`s shad-ows recognizable, sitting around the brain matter in the depth below the liquid surface along the pool wall. Everyone wears a helmet on his head, from which several cables run to the brain mass. From time to time, one of the guardsmen rises, takes off the helmet, puts it aside and leaves the pool through a lock. Immediately, another guard steps inside under water, sits down at the free place and puts the helmet of his predecessor on his own head. The doctor swings the tricorder over the sitting row of guardsmen under him. He frowns.
“These servants of their Spiritolith do not seem to work for their master altruistically. They obviously have a keen interest in participating in the collected dream emotions.”
Seven points to brain convolutions several meters away.
“Look, there is an area that is getting increasingly darker. And a little further to the right there is a cortex arch that executes violent twitches. Red spots have formed around the cable contacts.”
With a pleased countenance the doctor lifts his index finger.
“Well observed, Seven! We will trace that cable charged with high voltage back to its dreamer! Besides you, another crew member was kidnapped from Voyager to whom this conspicuity fits perfectly well.”
The doctor and Seven follow the strand of wires to the edge of the hall and step through the door into the compartment of the sleeper belonging to the cables. There they find E-Bug who lies on a bed turned to the side. His long feelers hang flaccidly down to the floor. The doctor examines him. He frowns.
“Due to the constant voltage pulses he emits, the contacts have burned into his skin as well.”
He grabs one of the cables clipped to E-Bug`s neck. Seven stops him.
“Wait, Doctor! If you disconnect it, an electric arc could flash over that would intensify the burn.” Seven goes to the console at the foot of the bed. “It may be possible to interrupt the connection to the Spiritolith brain before disconnecting the wires.”

Like entrances to dark caves, appear the lifeless tube-eyes of E-Bug; like openings to gloomy corridors and cargo bays, where stored material forms labyrinths immersed in optical darkness. Nevertheless, structures shine in this inner image. Charged by electric fields the edges and corners of stacked boxes and cargo material are shimmering. Magnetic vortices penetrate the stacks. Behind them they show the contours of two big humanoid figures in a crouched posture. Weakly glow the fields of wandering ion potentials of their muscles; more strongly glows the electronic system of the rifles in their hands and the rectangular displays mounted on the guns. Lurking like hunters, the figures are aligned with another stack, behind which a huge, four-legged creature squats. Its hind legs are angled and ready to jump, while it slowly pushes itself forward with them.
Also, the field of perception, revealing these electrical and magnetic pat-terns, begins to creep forward. It shows that only the edge of a con-tainer separates the four-legged being from the lurking humanoids.
With a sudden jerk the ground recedes under the gaze that hurls both upwards and forwards, flying over the stack in front of the hunters. Cracking high voltages discharge, perceived optically as lightening and visualized by electrical and magnetic senses, as violent spraying from the ends of two whips that strike down against two heads. Then the gaze comes to rest and turns back, from its elevated position on top of a stack. Fidgeting, the muscle elements of the felled humanoids flicker electrically, trying to raise their bodies. A huge black mass throws itself at the two, with paws glowing with their static fields. Jaw muscles become visible and the tip-charges of teeth, which in rapid succession, shaking back and forth, crack both hunter`s skulls. While the field-spraying ionic currents ebb in the bodies of the hunted, three glowing, sickle-shaped eyes are directed upwards, straight into the center of the gaze.
Once again, the hind legs of the black mass angle for a jump, as radiation pulses hit next to the being with a dull sound, shooting cargo material to splinters. The blown off parts crackle at the black creature ducking back.
The image generated by fields turns rapidly and recognizes a third hunter firing from the side. Immediately, the aspect is thrown forward and from the pile of boxes into the depth. Flashes strike the third hunter, while the view is shaken by the impact on the ground. From the side the black mass throws itself at the felled victim. The three glowing sickle eyes appear again, this time directly before the field of vision and accompanied by a rumbling growl. Then they turn sideways and the four-legged being prowls to the other side of the cargo bay, with its raised head scenting. Several meters apart, the gaze takes the same course. Keeping the electric aura of the other one in the lateral angle of vision, the aspect formed by electric and magnetic stimuli moves forward in parallel to the newly won combat companion. He grows increasingly visible in one of the two circular optical images, while a reddish-orange morning begins to dawn. The storage material gets sparser, and the cargo bay merges into an open landscape.
Another enemy suddenly appears in front of them with a bright flicker: a humanoid, with the scornful grinning face of an omni-potent magician. He raises his hand already, to snap his fingers and unleash his evil spell. Both optical circles are directed at him. As if thrown by a catapult, the view races towards the humanoid. Claws reach out, tearing the magic hand downwards. Lightning flashes shoot from the feelers. But instead of hitting their target, they bend downwards into the soil, as if caught away by invisible grounding wires. Torso and abdomen of the magician, who is sitting fat on the soil with crossed legs, thicken and become round. Massive jumping legs beat against him. He tips over. But immediately, he rolls back with the hemispherical abdomen, to an upright sitting position. And he still has the same grin on his face. The fighting companion, who has approached with a jump, strikes the grinner sideways with the blow of a paw. The black mass goes head over behind the attacked one, in the force of its own momentum. He rallies, turns around and immediately goes back into an offensive position. Unimpressed, the magician tilts back into the upright sitting posture. Already a huge mouth opens. In a rapid sequence, rows of pointed teeth bite fiercely squeezing into head and body of the sitting grinner. But as with a dented rubber figure that sucks the air pressed out back into its body, the magician inflates again, to his thick-bellied shape.
In fiercest rage, the black one starts, with front paws large as shovels, tearing up the ground next to the magician, to scratch a hole, to conti-nuously deeper undermine the seated figure. More and more, the grinner lowers, in the growing hollow. As finally his skull has sunk in it, the black paws shove the earth back into the hole until it is completely filled. Then the four-legged being lifts a leg, splashes on the fresh, dark soil and disappears with huge leaps behind the horizon.
Between moist earth crumbs, the soft-green shoot of a seedling pushes itself to light. It quickly grows, swinging sideways, into a stately plant. Like beard lichen, thick algae wisps hang down from its branches. While two temple antennae swivel in front of the circles of the optical perception, iridescent electric fields overlap the visual image, emitted by the algae swaying in the wind. A bud grows from a branch of the plant and opens to a bloom. At the base of its calyx, large eyes and cool features of a face shimmer.
Suddenly, a whip-like outgrowth hits towards the field of vision with a crack. The blow separates a branch of the plant and leaves a smoking stump behind. New patterns enter the image from the side. In a reflex action both optical fields snap in that direction. There, a chameleon-like figure stands straddle-legged on four extremities, with massive hocks angled between. Along both sides of the back two long, thin outgrowths wind forward and back again. These are rising now and while meandering in the air, the fields of their endings glare up brightly with electrical charge. Stripes of electrophore organs, hidden under the skin, shimmer on the flanks, rhythmically pulsing in the heartbeat, like a drum roll of death.
The centers of the two optical circles overlap, focusing head-on against that being of same kind. The own side feelers appear from above to both sides, spraying with high voltage.
The body of the other one swells up, grows bigger, finally stands there overpoweringly, in multiple size. All of a sudden, the ground recedes below the own field of vision as well, pulling it up to the giant level of the opponent. In a tiny size, the plant is standing far below down on the ground.
The other one gets ready for the jump. Already the field of vision catapults towards him. Lightning flashes over; magnetic fields shimmer to all sides. In the collision of the opponents, claws strike into the other`s body. His claws retreat dripping with blood.
Again and again, the other one and the field of vision rush towards each other; again and again they bounce off from one another. Gradually the movements get slower. Paralyzing stiffness seizes the limbs. The electric blows grow weaker. The opponent shrinks; and the own field of vision also approaches the ground again. Once there it tilts to the side. Under 90 degrees it depicts the opponent, who is lying twitching on the ground trying to straighten up. Finally, his head lowers; he no longer moves.
The gaze roves close above the ground. In front of it, countless small mounds of earth begin to shove out of the soil. Worms creep from their tops and approach like leaf caterpillars, forming a cat hump while walking. They come closer and closer. One of the two optical visual circles turns to the outermost edge of the field of vision. It shows the own body and worms gnawing at it. They press a poisonous yellow pus out of their mouths into the body infested by them. In helpless paralysis, the body tries to avoid them by rolling over to the other side. But already the poi-son works; the body shrinks, gets smaller and smaller, while the worms and the soil clods and the plant close by seem to grow.
Suddenly, a face bends over the field of perception. A hand grabs the plant and bends a branch downwards, towards the aspects of the optical circles. An open calyx sucks itself around the shrunk body. The branch is released and pulls up the field of vision and the body. In the swing of the upward movement the gnawing worms are thrown off. The aurora of the horizon fades. In one visual circle the doctor appears, moving a scanner back and forth along the body; the other optical circle depicts Seven at the console on the foot of a bed the body lies on.

On both sides of the bed where E-Bug lies, there are burnt, charred cables.
“I`m sorry, Doctor. I couldn`t find a function to detach the connections electronically. Increasing resistance parameters was all I could do.”
“That was sufficient, Seven. As a consequence, the cables fused at the resistors. The burns on the skin are minor … Your colleague obviously had a dream charged with thrills!”
In independent movement, E-Bug`s eye tubes are curiously inspecting the surroundings.

The starship Voyager is swaying and drifting in the raging storms of the gas giant. Lightnings flash between neighbouring clouds, and also strike into the shields of the starship.

With hasty steps Janeway enters the physical laboratory.
“Did you make any progress, B`Elanna?”
Torres rises behind two analytical instruments she has connected to the open torpedo.
“I found out a little more about this quantum string discriminator; but not enough to construct something comparable for Voyager. Without Seven`s help, I don`t see a chance, Captain.”
Janeway touches the communicator. “Captain to Tuvok! – Are there any news from the doctor?”
“Not yet, Captain,” Tuvok voice reports. “But we have installed a chain of probes through the atmosphere now, serving as radio relays. As soon as the doctor calls, we`ll be able to receive him without interference.”
“Let`s hope he succeeds! – Janeway out.”

Securing to all sides with phasers, Seven, E-Bug, and the doctor enter a technical room. There are several control stations. Seven checks functions on their displays.
“There is an interface to the central systems of the ship. I`ll try to pene-trate.”
Seven opens several menus. Suddenly, an alarm tone is audible and red lamps start flashing in the room.
The doctor urges worriedly, “Please hurry, Seven! I`m afraid we`ve been discovered!”
Through the half-open door, hasty steps can be heard approaching from the corridor. E-Bug presses closely against the wall next to the entrance, with his side feelers raised. A group of guardsmen in white coats hectically walk past the door, following the corridor to the other direction. Wrinkles of anxiety have formed from the corners of the doc-tor`s mouth and on his forehead.
“Let`s return to Voyager, Seven!”
Seven unperturbedly continues entering data and commands into the panel.
Tuvok`s voice calls. “Voyager to Doctor! – Can you hear me?”
“Clear and distinct, Commander. I have succeeded in freeing Seven and Mr. E-Bug!”
“Excellent. We`ll beam you back!”
“Not yet, Commander!” intervenes Seven. “I`ve just penetrated their central controls and overloaded weapons and shields. I`m attempting a transfer of technical data to Voyager now. Keep us locked with the transporter!”
“Understood, Seven. We`ll beam on your mark. – Tuvok out.”
Suddenly, phaser shots flash into the room from the corridor. Seven is hit in the arm and thrown to the wall. E-Bug`s side feelers strike outside. Two attackers collapse. The doctor quickly closes the door. Recovering, Seven gets up again.
“You are hurt, Seven!” shouts the doctor. “We should retreat!”
“Just a moment, Doctor -”
She continues to work on the console with the fingers of one hand. Then she reaches for her communicator.
“Seven to Voyager. – Three to beam!”
The door is blown open. Phaser shots flash through clouds of smoke and penetrate three bodies that are dematerializing already.

The huge, disk-shaped starship of the 13th Spiritolith is floating in front of the gas planet. The much smaller Voyager emerges from its clouds. She stops opposite the hostile ship.

From the turbolift Seven and E-Bug step on Voyager`s bridge. E-Bug goes to his place, Seven walks forward to her captain. Janeway is anxiously gazing at the large ship on the screen.
“Even if their shields and weapons are failing for the moment, they will soon be operational again.”
Carey turns to Janeway. “Captain, we should destroy their systems with well-aimed shots!”
With features that reflect conflicting attitudes, Janeway continues looking at the screen.
“I`d like to avoid that. – Ensign Kim, call them!”
“They`re not answering, Captain.”

From all sides guardsmen are running from the round of the dreamers into the center of the facility, to the brain of their Spiritolith. Alarm lamps are blinking all over the hall and a voice keeps repeating the same warning call.
Standing at the railing, guardsmen excitedly point to an arc of the brain that has turned black starting from a group of attached cable contacts. One of the guardsmen forcefully pulls the cables from the brain winding. Furthermore, the lamps are blinking, and the warning call keeps sounding incessantly. Several guardsmen grab the wire strand of the disconnected contacts and follow it, in double-quick step, up to the partition wall in front of the round of the dreamers. The guards penetrate through a door into the compartment on the other side. There they stand around a bed staring in horror at the sleeping person. The lamps are still blinking, and the same warning shout is emerging from all loudspeakers:
… Depression alarm! — Depression alarm! — Depression alarm! …

On Voyager`s bridge Kim reports, “Still no answer, Captain.”
Janeway stares at the screen undecidedly. Tuvok straightens up.
“Captain, since the crew is complete again, I recommend an attack, or an escape course with maximum warp!”
Janeway rises. “Fleeing is useless; we could not escape them. – Mr. Car-ey, target their weapons and propulsion!”
“Phaser phalanx aligned, Captain.”
Tuvok hastily reports, “They`re activating their engines!”
A huge quantum vortex opens behind the ship of the 13th Spiritolith. At the same moment that the ship dives into it and disappears, a beaming process forms on Voyager`s bridge. A few steps in front of Janeway and Seven an upright, metal figure appears, with multi-unit arms and four short legs. On the screen behind it, the quantum vortex closes.
Seven moves forward with stiff steps. At the back of the unexpectedly appeared`s head, Seven pulls out the interface of a Borg implant from the gap between two metal sheets.
“You are — released … from the collective.”
Janeway turns to Tuvok.
“Commander, your crew list is not up to date. You have to add another crew member.”
Then she looks forward again.
“Mr. Paris, get us away! Warp 9 — Engage!”

Near the gas giant, Voyager shoots like a bullet into the depths of space and disappears with a warp flash in the distance.


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