Starship Voyager – The Alien Adventures — 3 POINT ZERO

The present novel is merely Fan Fiction.

No commercial interest is pursued.

© Aliki Archimedes, 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 at Paramount Pictures / CBS.

Multiplication and distribution for commercial purpose are not allowed.

3. Point Zero

As Kathryn Janeway regains consciousness, she is lying on the couch in her ready room. Bent over her, the doctor is carrying out injections at her neck.
“How long have I been asleep, Doctor?” she inquires worriedly.
Without looking at her, he replaces ampoules on his hypospray tool and applies their content into Janeway`s neck. At each injection she briefly presses her lips together.
“You may have had some ordinary sleep, but mostly you`ve been unconscious in the last four days,” the doctor informs her while doing his work. “For a while I put you in artificial coma.”
“Four days -!”
Janeway rears up. The doctor pushes her back onto the couch. A creature lying on the floor growls.
“If you don`t stay calm, I`ll have to anaesthetize you again!”
Janeway pushes his hand aside.
“You won`t do that! I`ve been sleeping a bit too often against my will, lately.”
“Captain, you had a broken femur, various rib fractures, skull injuries, two consecutive concussions – and for quite a time you were exposed to a psychic tension that no ordinary human being can withstand for long. You need a few more days of rest!”
“I need to know what our status is!”
“Everything is fine! The remaining crew is alive, the enemies are dead, there is still some breathable air, and we have a sufficient amount of energy left for a replicator to produce food.”
The doctor scans Janeway`s body as she stands up under his disapproving gaze. He continues his report.
“Eight people are still in sickbay. They were seriously injured, but their condition is improving thanks to my sacrificial care, which I could even intensify if, in addition to my ordinary tasks, I didn`t have to develop exotic nutrient solutions for strange non-humanoid life-forms.”
Janeway inspects her clothes. Parts of the uniform are torn. She picks the fringes.
“That was this dark-furred pet.” The doctor points to the creature with three sickle eyes and rows of serrated shark teeth shining from its mouth, which is crouching on the floor next to the couch. “He seems to have adopted you as his cub or helpless mistress. He dragged you in here, maybe because the bridge seemed too unsafe a place to him. He probably smelled that this is your quarters. He hasn`t let anyone near you since.”
“He obviously makes an exception with you.”
“Well indeed, he also tried to crush me. Though it must be terribly frustrating to bite into a hologram with a set of teeth like his!”
“What does he feed on?”
“At present, on flesh.”
“Is the crew in danger?” Janeway shouts worriedly.
“Not yet. He has stashed a supply of Hirogen on a tween-decks.”
Janeway`s eyes widen in worry and horror.
“How does he get there?”
The doctor points to the rear end of Janeway`s room.
“Through this hole in the wall. He crawls through several Jefferies tubes. When Lieutenant Torres – after following the smell – discovered the body collection, she sealed some corridors and connected tubes and decks with breakthroughs; so he can get from this room to his meal without endangering the crew.”
Janeway looks into the sickle eye next to her.
“If Neelix weren`t among the abducts, we could ask him if he knew the home planet of this being. Then we would at least know where that Hirogen tribe was before they attacked us!”
“I heard two of the guards bet on him,” the doctor tells her. “They called him Pandar.”
Janeway turns sideways, shifting her legs off the couch down to the floor.
The doctor protests, “Captain, I can`t allow it!”
She gets up; she staggers; the doctor holds her so that she doesn`t topple over to the side. From the bridge, working noises penetrate through the open sliding door.
“I have to talk to B`Elanna and Seven! I must get a status of the ship con-trols!”
“You`re not able to walk that far yet! The two may be anywhere in the ship, sealing leaks like the rest of the crew. After the re-establishment of the hull integrity, it is planned to search for energy reserves and oxygen tanks that remained intact. The reconstruction of the ship`s controlling infrastructure cannot begin until all supplies have been salvaged. Till then you`re certificated sick by my order!”
Janeway wonders, “But someone is already working on the bridge.”
In worry and contrition, the doctor looks at her. “I must warn you, Cap-tain, the bridge is not occupied the way you`re used to.”
Decisively, Janeway turns to the exit. “Support me!”
She puts her left arm over the doctor`s right shoulder and drags herself to the door with his help. The Pandar rises and follows the two. In front of the entrance to her ready room, Janeway pauses. Her jaw lowers and her eyes widen as she looks from one side of the bridge to the other.


At the farthest front, just above the place of the helmsman oscillates the tentacle being, in a grey tone with a greenish shimmer. Its shapeless body rests inside a hammock of interwoven cables and ribbons. It is padded with the foam of a side console`s chair that now exposes steal springs, standing out from its seat. The cable suspension of the hammock is attached to the ceiling. Five arms protrude from under the body. One hangs down from the hammock in a loop. The others have spread out over the panel surface of the navigation console. Some of the telescope eyes, which rise from the upper side of the body, are directed at the control elements of the console, another part is fanned out in orientation across the screen. The being apparently has activated a training program and exercises Voyager`s flight behavior during various maneuvers. When Janeway entered the bridge, three eyes immediately fixed on her and have been following every one of her moves since then.
Janeway`s gaze wanders from the helm to the engineering console in front of the side wall at starboard. After a heavy hit, large parts of this console have been blown out. On many module components flashing red lights indicate malfunctions. Several optronic units hang out of the console and swing by their cables. At the front end and at the rear end of this field of charred debris, two very different creatures are engaged in lively activity. One, supported by two stocky, angled middle legs is bent into the interior of the console with the upper part of its body and the front extremities. The creature seems to enjoy electrifying the ends of its long whip-like outgrowths, which originate on both sides of its spine in the central region of the back, by touching the shiny metal of power cables in rhythmical repetition.
At the other end of the destroyed console, closer to Janeway, five flat body segments hang from a blown-out opening, dangling back and forth with protruding, wriggling legs. The rest of the being makes clattering and scratching noises in a cavity of the console that cannot be seen from Janeway`s position.
Janeway starts walking closer to the strange events, but the doctor holds her back and warns, “Let`s keep that distance, Captain! Your body is not transparent to bite and punch attacks like my holomatrix is – but even my matrix could be damaged if someone discharges a hundred thousand volts on it!”
Janeway takes her arm from his shoulder and pushes the doctor away, towards the entrance of the lift.
“Go back to your patients, Doctor! I`m doing well here.”
“Captain -”
With a worried face the doctor leaves the bridge. Janeway limps a few steps forward until she is close enough to the destroyed console to look into the opening. Most of the segmented being`s body is inside the con-sole, where it is working diligently with four seven-fingered grabbing extremities, which spring from the first two segments behind its head. The being holds a tricorder in one hand. With another it presses the measuring tip of an electronic probe against cable ends, solder joints of modules and contact rows of flat, rectangular isolinear chips to measure their signals. It then uses the finger nails of its third hand to remove insulating material from the end of a cable so that the metal thereby exposed can be attached to one of the measured contact points by the fourth hand using a soldering iron.
Janeway taps at her communicator. “Janeway to Torres!”
Joyfully surprised, the voice of the called one responds, “Captain – are you up again?”
“On the bridge there is a creature that creates short circuits and a se-cond one that tries to repair electronic connections. Did you authorize them to do that?”
“Authorize -? Captain, we have no way to communicate with these be-ings. They don`t make any sounds the universal translator of the commu-nicator could recognize as language.”
“So, these two are tampering with our electronics on their own?”
“Considering the destruction level, we have to reinstall most of the equipment anyway; they can hardly make it worse. Don`t take any action against them, Captain! One of them is extremely dangerous!”
“I know. It killed two of our people,” Janeway replies grimly.
“And half of the Hirogen who have invaded Voyager. Captain, I`m in a space suit right now sealing a hull breach on Deck 6. Give me another two hours!”
“All right, report to the bridge as soon as you`ve finished! – Janeway out.”
Janeway continues a few steps to the center of the console. Behind her follows the Pandar. With a discontented and disapproving look Janeway observes the activities at the console.
The high-voltage-loving being has grabbed a cable with the claws of its front extremity and, as if bored, taps playfully on various distribution terminals with the end of the cable. Suddenly sparks spray from the opening on the other side and, with a violent twitch, the segmented being throws away the cable that gave it a shock. Excitedly kicking, rhythmic movement patterns run along its rows of legs. In obvious anger, its head stretches out of the opening and orients the rigid gaze of the two large, hemispherical complex eyes to the creature at the front end. The right tube-eye of the latter briefly returns that gaze. The segmented being dives back into the console to continue its work. Immediately it jerks once more, struck by the electrical flashover of a contact that the other one has put under high voltage. Angrier than be-fore it rises, with a separated module in its hands. It bends far back with the upper segments in extended tension, and by rapidly straightening its body forward, it hurls the module towards the head of the provocateur. Just above his right tube-eye the module collides with his forehead. Furiously one of the side feelers rises into the air, winding, and beats, close past Janeway, after the segmented being. Just in time it bends away to escape the hit.
Janeway tries to put an end by raising her arms. “Quit! I won`t tolerate a brawl on my bridge!”
The two opponents look briefly in her direction. Then they turn against each other again.
Janeway raises her head. “Computer, switch off electric power on the bridge.”
The flight simulation collapses, the screen turns black. The room falls into darkness leaving merely pale, yellow emergency lighting, which reveals the contours of objects and people. With the tennis-ball sized hemis-pheres of its complex eyes shimmering in the dark, the segmented being turns its head to Janeway. Two tubular eyes also turn towards her, while the endings of the side feelers unsuccessfully search for electrical power at formerly high voltage contacts. Suddenly the whip-shaped excres-cences rise and, as if to a threat, they swing out against Janeway. At the same moment the Pandar jumps past her to throw himself at the high-voltage being. Immediately the latter is catapulted upwards and forward by its massive jumping legs. From the air it applies the attacking Pandar an electric shock, who in turn, reaching upward, gives the opponent a strike of its paw. It slits open one of the large, lobed skin folds at the reptile-like flank.
Under convulsive jerks, the Pandar pulls himself up again from the floor and sets about attacking again. Janeway stands between the two. Defensively warding off the others, she stretches out an arm against each of them.
“Stop it! Immediately!”
In the sparsely lit room on one side of Janeway a deep growling hiss sounds; on the other side two charged whips swing through the air, with crackling sparks discharging between the tips. For seconds – that seem to last for an eternity – all three remain at their positions in tense pose.
Then Janeway lifts her head, commanding: “Computer, switch on power on the bridge.”
Brightness floods the room. One tube-eye twitches back and forth be-tween the lamps turning on successively; the other eye tube is rigidly directed at Janeway. With her outstretched hand she reaches at the head of the Pandar to stop him from attacking. She puts her other hand into the console, pulls out a thick power cable and stretches its open end towards the electrophilic being. The latter touches the cable with its side feeler, receives a voltage pulse and repeats that touching movement for several times. Its eye detaches its fixation on Janeway. Instead, it twitches like the other eye now, though independently of it, towards different directions in the room. Slowly, Janeway puts the cable back into the console. Then she walks, still slightly limping with one leg, step by step to the captain`s seat in the center of the bridge and sits down. Next to her the Pandar squats on the floor.
Pale yellow stripes fluctuate across the surface of the helmsman`s body in front of the screen, whose eyes are divided in four groups of three towards the other persons present on the bridge. Some telescope eyes turn back to the console now, and he restarts the flight simulation program.
Janeway breathes heavily. Her gaze wanders from the helm to the de-stroyed engineering console on starboard, where the two strange beings have resumed their activities, this time without quarreling with each other.

In black space, bizarrely shaped rocks of stone and ice are floating. The Hirogen cruiser drifts like a ghost ship between them in the distance. Its slow rotation around its longitudinal axis reveals a large hole on the flank where the ship was hit.
With landing stilts extended, Voyager rests in a flat crater on the surface of an asteroid. Its hull, too, shows traces of the battle. On the en-gineering unit and on both sides of the saucer module there are blown out areas. Around their edges the hull has turned dark. Several people in space suits move over the surface of the ship. A shimmering force field can be seen at a hole, where it prevents the atmospheric gases from escaping. Behind the force field, in the interior, crew members assemble and weld the last plates of a new hull in order to close the hole.

On the bridge the turbolift opens. A woman stands inside staring with a black look forward to the navigation console. She leaves the lift.
“Lieutenant Torres reports to the bridge, Captain.”
Janeway turns her head.
“Please come to me, B`Elanna. I`m still having problems with twisting my neck.”
Torres goes to the captain`s place. Several eyes are directing at her. As she steps on, she pulls her phaser.
Janeway notices it. “Put your gun away! This being poses no threat to anyone.”
“I`ve experienced how peaceful he is -” Torres answers grimly.
“When you tried to kill him, he found a way for both of you to survive. I suggest you forget what else may have happened between you two and accept him as our helmsman for the time being.”
Torres laughs scornfully. “That thing is to replace Tom Paris?” She casts a questioning look at the screen. “What`s he doing there anyway?”
“He`s familiarizing himself with Voyager`s navigation.”
“I hope we`ll find our people soon; so we won`t need that one any-more!”
“Before we can start to look for them, the ship has to be spaceworthy again. What`s our status?”
“Unfortunately, not good, Captain. Almost all oxygen supplies have been used up. We could reproduce some with replicators, but we don`t have sufficient energy for that. We hardly have enough for life support. At the moment, Seven is working with some people outside near a propulsion module to divert energy from weapons to the primary systems, connecting them with plasma conduits. If she succeeds, we will at least have an emergency supply and a little more scope and play for repairs.”
Janeway nods and lifts her head. “Computer, external team on screen.”
The flight simulation stops. The Voyager`s hull covered with damages appears, visualized in the oblique angle of a camera. The exits of phaser banks are visible, and several people working in space suits next to them.
On the destroyed console on starboard, the tips of the electrophilic be-ing`s feelers continue to tap on electrical wires producing small sparks, while both of its tube-eyes turn towards the screen.
“Janeway to Seven. – How are you getting on?”
“We`re assembling the last connector now, Captain.”
A crewman fixes a screw at the flange of an arm-thick hose with a large open-end wrench. Suddenly sparks spray and plasma flows out of the open line. The crewman is thrown away and floats almost weightlessly for some distance. A colleague catches him by the leg and pulls him back to the hull so that his magnetic shoes can stick again.
Seven calls, “Mr. Baxter, are you damaged?”
“I`m okay, Seven. The flange of the hose is carrying an EM charge! There must be a short-circuit inside the hull. That won`t pose a problem for the plasma flow, but I don`t know how to install the connection. The voltage level is so high that it was discharging through my suit.”
Seven closes a valve. The leaking plasma flow dries up.
She declares, “Before we can proceed, we must first eliminate the fault inside the ship, Captain.”
Janeway nods. “Do that!”
Suddenly, with a single leap, the electrophilic creature jumps to the stern of the bridge and disappears in the turbolift.
Concerned, Janeway turns to Torres. “How can he use the lift without speech?”
“He has opened the control electronics in all turbolifts and enters his destination manually.”
“I`m afraid he`s going to endanger our people if he moves freely around the ship.”
Torres smiles ironically. “The crew has already got used to him, Captain. If you press yourself close enough against the wall in the corridors while he passes by, you won`t usually feel more than an electric tingling sensation on your skin. Another rule is: never try to stop him from ripping a cladding from the wall when he`s looking for a power cable.”
Janeway frowns worriedly. “We must find a way to isolate this being to protect our people from it!”
The smile on Torres`s lips dissolves. “There is something you should know, Captain. Some Hirogen had rounded up half the crew in a cargo bay and had a battue: we had to run as fast as we could from one end to the other while the Hirogen shot at our legs. In such a gate hunt there is no cover to hide; you have no chance to escape. You are mercilessly chased and shot. The seriously injured treated by the doctor are the result of that murderous fun the hunters had.”
Janeway`s lids contract leaving small slits and her lips grow narrow.
Darkly, Torres looks forward, staring into space and continues, “They were so busy with targeting and firing that they didn`t notice when the gate opened and someone else entered the cargo bay. That electric creature terminated the hunt. The injury on his right underside was caused by a hit he had to take. When he had finished with the hunters, their bodies were charred in their armours.” Torres turns her head. “Captain, I don`t know anyone on this ship who feels different: the crew accepts that being — the way it is.”
Seven`s voice reports, “External team to bridge. – The electrophilic being approaches us across the ship`s hull!”
“Get out of its way and get all people inside the lock!” Janeway orders.
At the destroyed console the segmented life-form raises its head and follows the gaze of the humanoids directed at the screen.
Janeway is astonished. “How can he survive in free space without a pro-tective suit?”
Torres narrows her lids as she focuses. “He still wears the atmosphere emitter around his neck. However, its effect in vacuum is extremely low -”
Seven and her group take an evasive route and trudge to a lock with their magnetic shoes. Behind them, the claw of a front extremity grabs the end of the plasma line and presses it against the assigned threaded connection. With the other gripper extremity, the being grasps the wrench, which is still on the screw cap of the flange and begins to fasten the pipe. Against the background of black space, fine sparks of high voltage discharges are visible, spraying from the wrench into the gripping limbs and from the hind legs into the hull of the ship. Finally, he removes the wrench, shakes the screwed pipe to test its fixture and opens the valve.
Torres hurries to the OPS control of the internal systems on port and checks the readings.
She reports, “Plasma energy of the phaser phalanx is now available for the primary systems.”
The fitter of the plasma connection is on his way back. At every step he clings into gaps between plates of the ship`s hull with the seizing claws of his forelegs in order to prevent losing grip on the ship and drifting into free space. Conspicuously he gets weaker; he staggers; he slips with two legs and laboriously attaches again. He barely moves forward anymore.
Janeway touches the communicator. “Seven, go out with another two crewmen and take a lifeline with you. Hurry!”
“Aye, Captain.”
Janeway reaches for the communicator once more. “Bridge to sickbay. Doctor, I need you in lock 5!”
“On my way, Captain,” answers the doctor`s voice.
Janeway hurries to the lift with unsymmetrical steps, handicapped by the injured leg.
“Take the bridge, Lieutenant!”
Torres`s pair of eyes, twelve eyeballs on stalks and two large, rigid com-plex eyes are directed to the screen, observing Seven, who throws a lifeline. Its end is grabbed and held by a claw. Then Seven and two crew-men pull the creature towards them and – keeping their distance – through an opening into the interior of the ship.

In lock 5 the bulkhead to space closes. With a hissing noise the lock area is flooded with atmospheric gases. Seven and Baxter peel out of their space suits. Janeway and the doctor enter. They see as the stocky middle jump legs and the front and hind extremities of the rescued being repeatedly try to raise the body — unsuccessfully; it collapses to the floor at each attempt. The two 30-centimeter-long antenna sensors limply hang downward from their roots above the eyes. The doctor ap-proaches his patient and scans him.
“He was certainly exposed to the vacuum for much too long, but I can`t make a meaningful diagnosis. I`m getting data on metabolic processes and organ activity, but I don`t know what they should look like in a healthy state.”
Janeway grabs a closure on the wall. “Seven, help me!”
They open a lid. Janeway clamps off a cable and holds its shining end close to one of the side feelers winding on the floor. It touches the sparking metal.
With a surprised look at the display of his scanner the doctor reports, “That`s amazing! The electrophorus tissue acts as additional motoric ele-ments; they`re pulling at the powerless breathing muscles that they in-tersperse. He`s breathing more vigorously again!”
The two short metallic shining antennae springing from the reptiloid temples get tighter; they lift. With slow oscillating movements, they seem to feel the electric fields of all persons present in the room. The middle jumping legs stem to the ground and the creature rises. While one of its tube-eyes remains directed at Janeway, the second one twitches at different directions to the other persons inside the lock.

In a room adjacent to the bridge, that is used for conferences and brief-ings, Janeway is standing at the window. She is staring into the jagged landscape of the large asteroid on which Voyager has landed. Her gaze wanders upward, where a variety of smaller celestial bodies floats in space. In the reflection of the window Janeway sees Torres and Seven enter; behind them follows the doctor. The three sit down around the conference table.
Without turning around, Janeway asks the question: “Would the available energy be sufficient to launch the ship and start searching for our people?”
Torres shakes her head. “We could take off, but the evasive maneuvers to leave the asteroid belt would use up our reserves already.”
“We have neither operational weapons nor shields,” Seven adds. “We would not survive another encounter with hostile ships.”
Janeway considers, “We could transmit a distress call for help.”
The number of wrinkles on the doctor`s forehead increases.
“I`m afraid, Captain, in this region it`s more likely to attract the attention of robber-knights than good Samaritans.”
“We could send the two shuttles for a search mission,” Torres suggests.
Janeway shakes her head. “We cannot divide the few remaining crew members once more.”
Her eyes are directed through the window to the horizon of the asteroid, where the destroyed Hirogen ship appears. Seven follows her gaze.
“The wreck orbits the asteroid with a circulation period of 8.3 hours.”
“What kind of propulsion does it have?”
“The Hirogen use tylium as an energy source,” Torres explains. “The spatial distortion generated by this fuel has a di-cyclical signature. In order to use tylium for our propulsion, we would first have to convert it to our fuel through a refining process.”
“That ship must have been damaged heavily,” Janeway ponders. “Otherwise, they wouldn`t have given it up. But it has more than twice the volume of Voyager. It will certainly contain many things that might be of use to us. We`ll pay it a visit with a shuttle and examine that wreck!”
She turns from the window to the inside of the room and looks at her officers.
“Doctor, what`s the condition of the crew?”
“The nutrition situation is not critical. The supplies Mr. Neelix has laid in will last for months. But I recommend that you assign someone to be in charge of the kitchen as long as Mr. Neelix is not found again. Otherwise, the most popular foods could be eaten up in a few days; as a result, mo-rale could suffer, when only unpopular shelf warmers are left.”
“Whom do you suggest?”
“Ensign Wildman is extremely meticulous in ensuring that hygiene stan-dards in the kitchen are maintained at a high level despite Mr. Neelix`s absence. Maybe she`d be willing to coordinate food distribution as well.”
“I`ll talk to her. How are the injured?”
“Of our forty-three crew members left, six are still in sickbay. They will be back on duty in a few days.”
“What about the others, our non-humanoid companions?”
“Well, some of them are in good health, others are sickly and a few of them will probably die. In two cases I couldn`t find out which food they need. They have hidden in remote areas of the ship and the perfor-mance of their atmosphere emitters is progressively decreasing.”
“Doctor, I expect you to broaden your knowledge in exo-biology and make every effort to keep all beings likewise alive and healthy on this ship!”
Janeway turns her head. “Seven, what do we know about these atmos-phere emitters?”
“There wasn`t time to analyze them yet.”
“Find out how they work and how to charge them! That has top priority! Otherwise, some of our guests might soon run out of the air composition their bodies need. You are welcome to make the emitters more efficient with Borg knowledge. Those tools might also be an advantage for us. If we equip the crew with such devices, we`re able to stay on many non-Class-M planets without space suits!”
“I`ll take care of it, Captain,” Seven replies.
Torres considers, “Maybe that centipede can help. I watched him ex-amine his emitter with a tricorder and change its settings.”
Janeway nods. “Those three beings on the bridge have shown that they want to support us. But in order to enable them to cooperate, we need to find a way of communication with them. – And first of all, each of them needs a name. Any suggestions?”
Janeway sits down at the table and looks around expectantly.
Eagerly the doctor declares, “Indeed, I have already created a medical file for each of the three and entered names that seemed obvious to me. Thus, the tentacoloid being reminds me of Cephalopods in terrestrial Palaeozoicum. Those boneless mollusks did not have twelve telescopic eyes, but otherwise they were of comparable morphology. And in a very similar way, the segmented being has a shape-related analogon in the Carbon Age: the Peripatus giganteus, a giant multi-legged species.”
Janeway shakes her head skeptically.
“Doctor, shall we address that being as Peripatus giganteus, every time we talk to it?”
Torres proposes, “Why not cut the rear tails of zoological termini and just call them Peri and Ceph?”
Janeway raises her forefinger. “Very good! And the third one?”
Torres grins. “Naomi Wildman calls him Electro-bug.”
Janeway nods. “Perfect! What do you think, Seven?”
“The way these names were derived,” replies Seven coolly, “and to what they allude to, they are nothing else than unflattering nicknames.”
“That`s correct, but …” Janeway turns to the doctor smiling, “unless they tell us other names by themselves, we`ll have to use them — won`t we, Doctor?”
For a moment the doctor nods in agreement, then his mouth opens as if to say something without finding the right word; his face assumes an expression of brooding despair. Janeway concludes the meeting.
“Each one of us is faced with an almost insurmountable stack of tasks and problems. Let us begin so that we can search for our people as soon as possible! – Dismissed.”
The officers rise. Janeway turns to Torres.
“B`Elanna, we`ll meet in shuttle bay at 0900. I want to check what we can use of that Hirogen wreck!”
“All right, Captain.”

The three officers cross the bridge and enter the lift. The captain goes to her place. Without sitting down, she looks forward, where the tentacle being is playing flight routines at the helm. Three eyes have been looking at her since she entered the room. She points at them with her hand.
“Helmsman Ceph -!”
Then she knocks on her upper body with the same hand.
“Captain Janeway!”
Two additional eyes turn in her direction. With a doubtful expression Janeway speaks to the five eyeballs.
“I don`t even know whether my Friday has ears to hear sound waves.” She smiles. “Mr. Ceph, what about an excursion with a shuttle?”
Without any movement in their stems, the five eyes stare at Janeway. She shakes her head resignedly.
“I`ve got one of the most talented pilots here and can`t tell him where to fly. But maybe -”
Her two eyes are getting bigger. She sits down on her chair and grabs the display next to the armrest. The flight simulation disappears from the screen. A technical drawing of Voyager appears instead. Janeway zooms in on the bridge. She rotates the two-dimensional image, which is drawn in a three-dimensional perspective. Those eyes of the swarm that look at the screen swing on their stems for a brief moment. Janeway zooms out again to the overview; from there to the shuttle bay at stern; she zooms in onto one of the shuttles, into its interior and to its navigation console. She activates a painting mode. Inside the shuttle`s cockpit she sketches with the tip of her forefinger a lumpy central body, tentacles and telescope eyes.
“Sorry, portrait painting is not one of my talents,” she says dryly.
She also draws two humanoid stick figures. Then she zooms out again. She marks the shuttle, pulls it out of the shuttle bay and away from the ship. Janeway gets up and looks at Ceph expectantly. In a rapid movement all twelve telescope eyes turn to her. The tentacles rise from the control desk. One arm reaches for the ceiling, sucks itself tight and pulls the body out of the hammock.
Joyful triumph glimmers in Janeway`s gaze. “Obviously the captain`s order was understood!”
Another arm claps its suction cups to the ceiling`s cladding, further for-ward, closer to Janeway. The rear one gets loose and Ceph swings towards her. He stops abruptly as the lift opens and Torres appears.
“I know I`m too early, Captain. I wanted to show you something.”
“You`re just in time.”
Torres is holding two atmosphere emitters and a small device in her hands.
“Seven found that the emitter field is capable of containing air with sufficient pressure even in a vacuum. But only on the highest power level and when it`s fully charged. Then it provides breathing air for a maximum of two hours.” She lifts the small device. “With this adapter we`re able to recharge the emitters inside the shuttle.”
“Excellent!” replies Janeway. “So, we don`t need space suits for our trip. By the way, we`re going to give the new pilot a flying lesson in the shut-tle.”
She goes to Torres, who is still standing at the lift. With clapping steps on the ceiling, Ceph follows swinging just behind Janeway. Torres swerves to the side as they enter the lift. Sternly, her captain looks outside.
“What are you waiting for, Lieutenant?”
Torres follows into the turbolift with a tense face. Janeway raises her head.
“Deck 10!”
The lift closes.
Out of the destroyed starboard console, two large hemispherical complex eyes have been watching for a while. Dozens of hexagonal lenses form their surfaces as if nature had pressed crystalline honeycombs into spherical shape. Peri`s eyes are directed towards the lift where the two humanoids and Ceph have disappeared. Peri turns his head to the captain`s place, then to the technical drawing of Voyager, which is still on the screen. Finally, his segmented body slides out of the console and crosses the room with his eyes facing the screen.

In Peri`s optical perception, the lines, measures and symbols of the technical drawing appear blurred. As Peri approaches the screen, washed-out spots turn into objects with clearly defined contours and wide, milky grey stripes become sharp white lines on a black background. Finally, the schematic drawing of the ship stands well-focused in front of him. The boundaries of the individual hexagonal facets that make up the optical image of his perception are faintly recognizable, due to tiny distortions of the optics, which for a moment emerge more clearly when the head moves rapidly. As soon as the head remains at rest, the neural pattern recognition of Peri`s brains corrects discontinuities of the contours at the boundaries of the composite image facets, and Peri sees, in continuous optical representation, the schematic image of the shuttle at the left side of the screen and spread out over the center, the technical representation of the large starship. Beyond the screen, objects appear increasingly blurred. Shadowy the hemispherical eyes of the visual sense are imaging almost the entire bridge in their visual field; downwards over the floor to far beyond the rearmost body segment; upwards along the ceiling to the rear wall of the bridge; and on both sides along the bridge`s cylindrical wall set with consoles back to the entrance of the turbo lift.
The field of view turns around; its center shows the blurred small con-sole at the captain`s place. The body glides towards it. Arriving at the console, the visual perspective turns back to the screen. A hand with seven fingers lies on the touch screen of the console. While the fingers are gently sliding, the drawing, which appears blurred from the viewing distance, moves on the screen. Finally, the perspective zooms in to the sketch of the bridge, to the engineering console on starboard, to a module inside it. As soon as the module fills the entire height of the screen, the technical circuit diagram of its optronic functions superim-poses its contour.
The hand leaves the control panel of the console. The body and its field of vision glide towards the screen until the drawing is sharply depicted in the center of the optical perception. The movement of the legs – depicted in the lower facets of the gaze – stops.

With his front segments erected, Peri stands on the deserted bridge in front of the large viewscreen and motionlessly studies the technical im-age.

Ceph hangs from the ceiling in the middle of the narrow lift cabin. From the downward body, the eye stems have formed semicircular arches upwards on all sides. They surround the body like the garland of bulbs of a ceiling`s chandelier. The lidless eyeballs at the ends of the stems are radially aligned. Two of them float close in front of the faces of the two women. Hanging loosely downwards, three tentacles swing between their bodies.
The door slides open. Janeway steps into the corridor. Tightly pressing against the cabin wall, Torres squeezes past the hanging arms into the open. The two women lead the way. Tentacle over tentacle Ceph climbs along the ceiling with two arms that alternately suck and detach. The three unused grab-arms hang downwards. Playfully they swing forward further and further. Suddenly a tentacle end trips at Torres`s rear body area. She jumps forward, jerks around with a pulled phaser and fires. She misses Ceph`s body by a hair`s breadth while he hastily moves to the side; stalk eyes and arms almost completely retract into the body, and he squeezes into the upper edge of the corridor. His skin takes on the shade and texture of the ceiling cladding.
Janeway places herself in the line of fire.
“Why did you shoot at him?”
“He did it again! I`ll burn him a hole -”
“You stop that right now!”
“If you had been in his hands for half an hour below the surface of a muddy pond like I was, you`d also -”
“It`s all right! Calm down!”
Janeway taps her communicator.
“Captain to Seven of Nine. – What are you doing right now?”
“I`m with the doctor,” declares Seven`s voice. “We beamed two alien beings from an isolated part of the ship into force fields that I set up in sickbay. Their life signs are weak. While the doctor is trying to understand their metabolism, I`m recharging their atmosphere emitters.”
Janeway looks at Torres. “We have rearranged. Lieutenant Torres is going to support the doctor, and you will accompany me in the shuttle.”
“Understood, Captain.”
From Torres`s eyes, one last grim look flashes to the ceiling; then she moves away.

Voyager casts a long shadow on the surface of the asteroid, which is cov-ered by craters and boulders. The central star of the system stands just above the horizon, which is formed by edged peaks making it look frayed. The dim light from that sun is reflected by a shiny metallic object that slowly circles over the asteroid in the distance.
At the ship`s stern the bulkhead of the shuttle bay opens. A shuttle floats out of it. Janeway and Seven are sitting on both sides behind the window of its cockpit. From above, Ceph hangs between them. The shuttle flies an arc and heads for the shiny metal object.

Inside the shuttle, five telescopic eyes look outside. The others have turned to the displays at the helm. Seven determines the flight parame-ters, while Janeway navigates the shuttle over dark crevasses and bulg-ing hills. After a while, the wreck of the Hirogen vessel appears in the black sky behind the rising slope of a crater. More eye stems turn to the window and stare outside, restlessly twitching. Pale yellow stripes wander over Ceph`s skin. When the Hirogen ship is so close that it fills almost the entire front window, Janeway changes course and slowly circles it. Seven carries out measurements.
“Three hits from photon torpedoes. They caused multiple hull frac-tures.”
“That`s not enough to disable a vessel of this size,” ponders Janeway.
“12 degrees before us an opening has been blown out. It`s big enough for the shuttle.”
Janeway steers to a jagged hole in the skin of the wreck.
“Just look, Seven, how little that material has deformed right next to the impact!”
“The Hirogen use monotanium for their hull. This material is much more resistant than Voyager`s covering.”
Immediately before the shuttle enters the wreck, a tentacle reaches down from above and gently strokes the control display with its tip. The shuttle moves a little sideways and floats precisely through the center of the opening. Seven raises an eyebrow. “Do you think Mr. Ceph can al-ready fly the shuttle, Captain?”
“We`ll be testing that on our way back.”
The shuttle lands on a platform inside the wreck. Its rear boarding gate opens. Janeway and Seven get out. The gate closes behind them. They wear their atmosphere emitters on belts around their upper bodies. In the vacuum of the hull, the emitter`s containment fields create a transparent flicker around the two humanoid bodies.
Seven states, “Artificial gravity is still intact.”
Janeway uses a spotlight to illuminate the dark areas of the hall-like room.
“So, there must be a strong energy source online somewhere! Let`s look for it!”
They march off. Seven turns back. Through the shuttle window, a flight simulation is visible on the monitor integrated into the windscreen glass of the cockpit.
“Captain, do you think it`s advisable to leave Mr. Ceph alone? He was undoubtedly kidnapped by the Hirogen and might consider returning to his homeworld.”
Janeway smiles. “My knowledge of human nature tells me that he won`t fly away without us. And I want him to realize that we trust him.”
They continue on their way to an open gate at the end of the hall. Seven looks at the display of her tricorder.
“Weak electronic patterns are indicated, … about 200 meters diagonally above us.”
“Maybe that`s where the command center or a computer core is. If we can find their logs, we might find out where our people have been ab-ducted to!”
They enter a corridor through a lock that was broken up and damaged. From the ceiling, which is almost one meter higher than on Voyager, cables and hoses are hanging downward. White steam escapes from several of them, clouding the view in the cone of light shed by Janeway`s lamp. Creaking and groaning noises can be heard. They penetrate from different directions into the ears of the two humanoids, who restlessly turn their heads aligning the auricles in an attempt to locate the sounds. Seven stops at a branch of the corridor and uses the tricorder to find the right path to take.
“We have to go up for at least three levels.”
Janeway examines the walls. “There must be lift shafts or maintenance pipes somewhere!”
A pale light blinks several meters in front of them. When they reach the place, they recognize strange characters on a portal. Janeway tries to unlock it.
“Beware, Captain!” Seven calls. “The sensor detects atmospheric pressure behind this wall!”
The next moment a strong wind shifts the door open and throws Janeway sideways like a pinball.
“Captain -?”
Janeway presses herself against the wall and straightens up.
“I`m all right.”
A storm wind blows from the open portal that is pulling organic lumps and skeleton parts from the inside blowing them into the corridor. A skeleton fragment gets stuck in the emitter force field between Janeway`s legs. She shakes it off in horror. She hurries through the portal.
“Come on, Seven. If that area keeps some air, our emitters may save a bit of their energy.”
From inside they close the portal. The room they have entered has cylin-drical shape, about three meters across. In its center a winding staircase leads spirally upwards. Janeway leads with the lamp. Increasing disgust distorts her face. The wall around the stairs is hung with the trophies of the hunters – with skins, limbs, dried innards, skeletons and mummified heads. Suddenly Janeway stops and stares in horror at two human bodies hanging disemboweled in front of her.
“Ensign Swinn and Crewman Thompson. We`ll recover their corpses later.”
With her fractured femur that is not healed yet, Janeway laboriously climbs the stairs. Its steps are almost 40 centimeters high. Finally, they reach the upper exit. Its portal is open. They enter a corridor. On its walls a number of gates lead to adjacent rooms. Seven points to one of them.
“The signals come from this room, … no pressure difference.”
They both reach into a gap at the edge of the entrance and pull the sliding door to the side. The room behind is illuminated by the pale light of many small lamps on panels along the walls and on a ring-shaped installation in the middle. The inside of the ring contains a spherical command center with deeply recessed furrows, control levers and displays. Janeway goes to the central system, Seven to the electronic elements on the wall. They have to lift their arms almost to shoulder height to operate the panels.
Janeway is surprised. “Isn`t that strange? Normally weapon strikes over-load the on-board electronics, and as a result the supply to the subsys-tems collapses. Here it seems to be the other way round: the local energy nodes for life support, weapons and shields have failed, but the central control nodes seem to be largely intact. I don`t see any signs of severe electromagnetic overload.”
“This ship was not destroyed from the outside, Captain. It was damaged from inside, at several neuralgic points of the energy supply. If I`m inter-preting these readings correctly, three generators in the ship`s engineer-ing part have been disabled.”
“They could have tried to contain the damages and save their ship. The entire crew beamed on Voyager instead. Hunting us was more important to them than their own ship.”
“I don`t think so, Captain. They fled from a prey they were defenseless against!”
With a frozen look, as if she suddenly remembers a dark dream, Janeway turns to Seven, who continues to retrieve data.
“When they tried to force you to fight for your life — what did you mean when you said: If this being awakes, no one will stay alive ?”
Seven`s eyes detach from the readings in front of her and wander to the upper edge of the display.
“Long time ago, the Borg came across something similar near a globular cluster. It seemed to be deactivated or asleep. It was unclear whether it belonged to a species of its own. Perhaps it was just the only specimen of a being that had evolved into this form, or that had been created as an artifact. The Borg scanned it without obtaining evaluable data. Then they tried to assimilate it. That activated it.” Seven`s eyes widen and the cool-ness of her gaze turns into horror. “It raged for days and threatened to destroy the entire cube. It was not possible to adapt the shields against these attacks. When the creature moved to a peripheral section of the ship, the Borg blew it off and brought the rest of the cube to safety with transwarp.”
“Did that being attack the energy systems purposefully then?”
Seven thinks for a moment.
“I don`t think so. It killed two thousand drones. In doing so it also de-stroyed parts of the cube, but the Borg classified this as collateral dam-age.”
A monitor above Seven`s head activates. It shows a 3D drawing of the Hirogen ship. A red dot blinks in it. Janeway frowns.
“Isn`t that the area where we landed?”
A high-pitched sound sequence rings and repeats twice. The next moment about twenty white dots are blinking on the monitor across the sketch of the ship; they are moving from all sides towards the red dot.
Janeway shouts: “Let`s get back to the shuttle immediately!”

In the shuttle, Ceph`s body rests on the middle chair of the cockpit. In the training program he has arrived at the tractor beam and the shuttle`s weapons. With concentration, he plays through menu points and key combinations using two tentacle ends on the console, in order to align phasers, to adjust their firepower, to connect hit objects to the tractor beam and pull them inside the loading bay of the shuttle.
Suddenly, a scratching noise is audible. Ceph`s eye stalks jerk apart and assume a radial view to all directions. Again, something scratches. Two tentacles straighten up and rotate so that the rows of suction cups, like auricles, are aligned in different directions. Again something scratches over the outer hull. All eyes turn to port, where one of the rows of suction cups has been oriented to. A tentacle reaches to the ceiling and sucks. Ceph swings to the port wall of the shuttle and presses the suction cups against it. At the same time, several eyes stretch towards a small hatch to see what is going on outside. In the reflection on a polished metal wall at some distance next to the shuttle something moves. Shadowy Ceph perceives large, spider-like limbs that hold the landing rack of the shuttle with grippers, while some other extremities cling to metal bolts on the ground. Ceph hurries back to the cockpit. He activates additional headlights to illuminate the hall. With rapidly twitching movements, his eyes spread over the bow window. Pale yellow stripes wander over Ceph`s skin.
Spider-like robots, about two meters long, push their way from several corridors towards his position. Hastily, Ceph searches for the menu item that ends the training program. He activates the shuttle`s operating mode. Immediately he tries to start; but instead of taking off, the shuttle only rocks side to side, without getting loose from the grip of the robots. He tries rotational movements, panning left and right until finally, he succeeds, and the shuttle breaks free. Ceph rises his small ship to the ceiling of the hall to get to safety. However, in the reflecting wall of the hall he realizes that the two robots have only lost their grip on the ground; they are still clinging to the landing rack of his shuttle. From there they are trying to climb up its hull with their front legs reaching out. At the same time, the creeping swarm of attackers crawls up the walls of the hall to the ceiling and approaches headlong from all sides. Hastily winding, Ceph`s arms spread over the control desk. The shuttle begins to rotate, faster, and faster, whirling like a spinning top. Suddenly the two robots are thrown off and crash against the walls of the hall.

Janeway and Seven are running through the corridors of the wreck. Janeway stops several times to relieve the injured leg for a moment. Then they hurry on. Finally, they reach the hall. Through the hole in the hull the pale asteroids are shining, which appear like shapeless moons. With her lamp Janeway lights up the place where the shuttle should be.
“It`s gone!”
Searching around, Janeway now shines the light also on other dark places in the hall. Seven points sideways.
“Over there, Captain, something`s moving on that wall!”
They walk carefully towards the robot. It lies on its back with its eight protruding legs vibratingly twitching. Seven scans it.
“An unarmed robot. Judging by the tools on its limbs, this machine was designed for assembly and maintenance work.”
Janeway watches it suspiciously. “And yet it seems to have attacked the shuttle!”
She continues to shine through the hall while they approach the hole in the hull. “Look, another one!”
While Janeway illuminates the second wriggling apparatus, an intact robot crawls from above into the light of her lamp. Behind it, another one follows. Janeway quickly directs the bright beam to the walls around. Everywhere spider robots crawl down from the ceiling with their long limbs. She shines the light upwards. Above their heads the ceiling is swarming with metal legs. Meanwhile the metal spiders that have descended are enclosing Janeway and Seven in a semi-circle, forcing them towards the opening to space. Janeway taps her communicator.
“Captain to shuttle! Mr. Ceph, … can you hear me? We need the shuttle!”
Seven doubts, “Captain, even if he can hear you, he doesn`t understand.”
Janeway turns around looking at the asteroids and into the black void between them.
“Janeway to Voyager! – Can you get a lock on us with the transporter beam?”
Seven pulls her phaser. “Voyager is on the other side of the asteroid. They cannot receive your call.”
She fires at the foremost robot. A part of the phaser beam is diffusely scattered backwards by its dark, metallically shining surface. The absorbed fraction of the phaser power disturbs the movements of the limbs for a moment. But then the robot resumes its march forward. Janeway turns back to the interior.
Seven reports, “Their outer skeleton consists of the same monotanium material as the ship`s hull. Small arms do not have enough power to damage it!”
Suddenly the bodies of the two women cast two shadows on the ceiling of the hall that grow longer and longer, wandering down the opposite wall and spreading out upon the robots in front of them. From the outside spotlights shine into the hall, while the shuttle rises from below in front of the opening of the ship`s hull. Janeway and Seven turn around. Ceph sits behind the windshield glass of the shuttle, in the middle of the cockpit. Most of his eyes are pointing upwards. There are several robots that have clung to the frayed fracture line of the opening. They stretch their long front legs outside as far as they can reach to grab the shuttle. Ceph keeps his distance and turns around by 180 degrees. The rear gate of the shuttle opens.
“He can`t get any closer — we have to jump!” shouts Janeway.
They step back as close as they can to the approaching robots to take a run and jump out of the wreck. Before they reach the shuttle, they are pulled back. Ceph watches them through the open boarding gate.
Seven shakes her head. “The ship`s artificial gravity is holding us too tight!”
A phaser shot from the shuttle flashes past the two and knocks down one of the robots. Then the end of the bluish tractor beam travels through between the women, couples to the front limbs of the eliminated robot and pulls it towards the open back wall of the shuttle. Janeway and Seven evade to both sides.
Janeway shouts, “Hang on, Seven!”
The two cling to the skeleton of the robot`s hind legs and are dragged into space with it. Holding fast with their arms, they are pulled towards the shuttle, hanging horizontally due to the artificial gravity of the wreck. When the rear gate of the shuttle closes behind them, their horizontally floating bodies sink to the ground. The two Humans straighten up again.
Janeway is surprised while she looks at the construction of the robot.
“Why didn`t he connect us directly with the tractor beam?”
“Possibly the force fields of our atmosphere emitters would have col-lapsed.”
Janeway nods. “You`re right. Maybe he thought so.”
The small shuttle quickly moves away from the wreck of the Hirogen cruiser and flies towards the horizon of the large asteroid.


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