Starship Voyager – The Alien Adventures — 5 SECOND CONTACT

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 is owned by Paramount Pictures / CBS.

Multiplication and distribution for commercial purpose are not allowed.


5. Second contact

At the bow of the starship Voyager`s engineering module several groups of spider robots are busy installing a second armour-plating to the original hull. A drilling tool is flanged to one of the eight arms of a robot, which it uses to drill holes at certain positions. With another arm it places spacer bolts into the holes, which are fed from a magazine. The robot locks the bolts and moves on to the next position. Behind it, other robots join ledges with the bolts and screw them up to form a frame grid parallel to the original hull. A third group of robots approaches. Like a troop of giant ants, they gush out from an unloading platform near the main deflector, below the saucer module. Marching on their rear and front legs, they carry dark, metallic plates on their backs with their middle legs folded up. They insert the plates into the newly installed grid elements and fix them.
“Captain`s log.
For more than a month we`ve been stuck on this asteroid now, which the crew named Robinson. With the help of the service robots of the Hirogen wreck, its fuel supplies could be salvaged. Lieutenant Torres has started processing that fuel so that we can use it for our own propulsion. Meanwhile, all our transporters are online again. That enables us to beam material directly from the wreck to Voyager for several hours per shift, as long as the wreck is not covered on its orbit by the asteroid.”
Behind one of the bright windows, in a room next to the bridge, Janeway sits at her desk.
“We don`t know what happened to our people who were abducted by a Hirogen cruiser. All the data from the wreck`s main computer that were not corrupted have been downloaded by now. For days I`ve been searching in vain to find a clue where the other ship of that nomad species might have flown to. So far I could only decipher fragments of the flying route of the destroyed ship.”
Janeway`s hand reaches for a cup, which stands next to Chakotay`s picture. A black liquid sways inside. Janeway raises the cup to her lips; she swallows and puts it down again.
“The old crew still meets our new crew members with prejudice and distrust. I myself am involved with so many things that I can hardly fulfill my leadership function towards the crew. I`m missing Tuvok and Chakotay. At the beginning of our journey, they managed to merge a Maquis partisan group with the Starfleet crew of Voyager. We also lack a morale officer. With his social creativity, Neelix has spread a good mood and settled disputes even in the most difficult times.”


In the astrometrics laboratory, a holographic globular cluster fills almost the entire projection area from the floor to the ceiling. The cluster of stars – which is loosely occupied in the periphery and densely packed towards its center – slowly rotates in its three-dimensional representation. Suddenly it gets smaller and seems to move away. Further compact star clusters appear and also withdraw. Outer spiral arms become visible. They shrink rapidly until the dense bright core of the galaxy appears and finally the entire Milky Way. It is enveloped in the spherical, hazy halo of single stars, which is decorated with globular clusters throughout its volume and at its edge with the Magellanic Clouds.
The perspective changes again; it zooms inwards, to the space between two spiral arms. A single star becomes increasingly brighter, while its stellar surroundings move apart. The star is orbited by several planets and an asteroid ring. A shapeless rock continues to grow from that ring in the center of the holographic map. That rock is surrounded by smaller ice and stone objects and the wreckage of a starship. The image of a second ship – the Voyager – is attached on the asteroid`s surface.
For a moment the spatial projection remains frozen. Then it rotates, in rapid succession, around different spatial axes, as if a designer wanted to check his virtual 3D layout from all sides. Suddenly individual elements of the picture flicker; asteroids disappear for a short time, just to reappear immediately afterwards.
The workstation for controlling the projection stands detached at a center position in the astrometrics laboratory. It has been opened at one side. Peri turns his head to see the operating surface with one of his tennis-ball sized complex eyes while the seven fingers of the upper one of the two left hands make adjustments on a display. Then his head swings down to the inside of the console. There the lower of the two right hands holds a tricorder and the fingers of the upper right hand change settings on the hardware components of the console with a blinking programming pen. Peri`s head repeatedly turns to the hologram to check the effect of his circuitry interventions.
He zooms out until the entire planetary system is visible from diagonally above the planetary plane. Peri`s finger taps a button. The image changes again; but this time not due to a change of perspective in static space. Peri has activated the parameter of time, whereupon the objects change their position relative to each other according to the inherent initial conditions and the dynamic forces of the system. Peri`s finger and programming pen vary the temporal sequence of the virtual world. At different speeds he lets the planetary objects orbit their central star. Peri stops, makes time run backwards so the planets circle back to their initial positions.
Peri zooms into the asteroid ring once again and starts time anew. The large asteroid Robinson, on which Voyager landed, is orbited by several smaller objects on irregularly undulating trajectories that follow the local gravitational potential caused by the mass distribution of Robinson`s bulging shape. One of these objects is the Hirogen wreck. Peri observes several of its orbits around Robinson. Suddenly one of the drifting rocks comes so close to the wreck that it seems to touch it. Peri zooms in closer to this event and lets time run back and forth in a loop. His big eyes stare into the hologram that shows the little asteroid push the wreck aside and change its course.
Peri straightens up. He knocks on the communicator with one hand and scrapes synchronously with every second leg touching the ground; no one answers.

Inside a large bathroom a chair is positioned near the edge of the swim-ming pool. Over the chair`s back and seat parts of a uniform are spread out. A communicator is stuck at the cloth, from which rhythmically scrap-ing noises sound. After a while they fall silent. Under the chair is a bluish-grey tiled floor, which bends vertically downwards at the pool edge. Closely below, the surface of the water ripples. Sporadic bubbles burst at the boundary to the air. Below the surface these bubbles are drifting upwards from a deeper layer. Down there a tuft of hair is floating, moved by current vortices like finely feathered branches of an underwater plant. A forehead arches below the hair`s root, set with Klingon horn; then follow widely spread eyes, a nose from which gas bubbles gush, and a pinched mouth.
From the bottom of the pool B`Elanna Torres pushes herself upwards. Her face breaks through the surface of the water. She gasps for air and holds on to the edge of the pool with her forearms reaching backwards. Fresh oxygen penetrates her body while her lungs swell in impetuous rhythms; but her gaze remains bothered.

At the opened astrometrics workstation Peri reads the code numbers of modules installed in the console with his tricorder. He closes the tricorder. Then he runs to the exit and leaves astrometry. Two human-oids approach him in the corridor. He straightens up and waves his four short arms vehemently back and forth. All legs touching the floor stamp in drumming rhythms.
Mrs. Wildman draws her daughter a little closer to her.
“Watch out Naomi! Let`s take another way to the casino!” She turns into a branching corridor. Her arm stretches under Naomi`s tension, who doesn`t want to follow.
“I think he wants to tell us something -”
“Come on!” She pulls her daughter with her into the corridor. “This star-ship is no longer safe — certainly not for a child!”

In Peri`s faceted visual perception, the two humanoids move away quickly and become increasingly blurred. Deeply roaring humming tones penetrate his acoustic perception while mother and daughter, gesticulat-ing as they leave, are talking to each other.

Peri`s forebody lowers again. He runs to a door, stretches upward to the switch to open it and enters a laboratory. Inside there are worktables in front of a row of shelves dividing the room. Peri goes to an output device. He docks the tricorder to its display and transfers the code numbers of components he has scanned in astrometry. On the display of the output appears: Holographic spare parts. Shortly afterwards three parts are delivered in a small compartment. Peri carries them to a working table. There he removes a lid from one of the parts and activates a circuit diagram on the display of the tricorder. He opens a drawer, fetches a microphaser for soldering work and points it at the exposed solder tracks of the opened part.
Rattling noises penetrate from the other side of the shelf wall. Peri stretches as far as he can over the worktop of the laboratory table. Finally, he stands on the toes of his rearmost segment`s legs and winds sideways past the room divider. Around its edge he looks at the laboratory table on the opposite side.
There E-Bug stands on his stocky, medium jump-legs, which have lifted his forebody. The two front limbs with their claw fingers are working on the table surface. E-Bug places a perforated transparent plate on the control panel of a test module and inserts green contact pins through several of its holes. The pins rest with their lower ends on the keys of the touchscreen. He then uses his claw-like fingers to touch different pins one after the other, triggering the activation of the corresponding function on the touchscreen. Suddenly a sparking discharge occurs during a touch. With a hissing noise smoke rises from the test module. E-Bug puts the electrically shot test module aside and places a new one under the perforated transparent plate. He replaces the green pins with red ones.
Peri withdraws and turns back to his work.

With hesitation B`Elanna Torres enters sickbay. The doctor looks up briefly and turns back to the examination of reagents that he inserts into an analysis device.
“Lieutenant Torres! Has anyone been bitten again?”
“No, Doctor. We reinstalled the security protocols. In principle, the holo-deck could be used.”
She takes a few steps and stops in front of the force field that surrounds the asymmetric being to keep it artificially alive. The doctor notices that Torres is holding something in her hands.
“As I see you managed to fabricate the glasses for Mr. Peri!”
He takes the glasses out of her hand and holds it in front of his eyes. On a filigree frame two hemispherical glasses are mounted, which protrude sideways; their surface is divided into numerous hexagonal facets. The doctor pinches one of his eyes and sights with the other to different directions through one of the spectacles. The facets change their refraction depending on whether their central axis is directed towards a near or a distant object. However, the image seems to be blurred to the doctor.
Torres explains, “The adaptive optics is matched to Mr. Peri`s refractive index and focal length, Doctor – right as you measured them.”
He removes the glasses from his face and looks at the frame.
“Good work! Has he already tried them?”
He hands the glasses back to Torres.
“Not yet. I was finishing them this morning.”
Torres hesitantly turns to the exit. The doctor raises an eyebrow.
“Is there anything else?”
“How are you doing with the others, … our new companions?”
“The life-forms in cargobay 2 no longer show any signs of metabolic defi-ciencies thanks to the specifically adjusted nutrient compositions I admi-nister to them three times a day. However, they seem somewhat dissatisfied with the quarters in which they`re accommodated. One of the beings even left its force field in an unknown way and settled in a Jefferies tube. Nevertheless, I manage to localize and supply it with the help of the transmitter on its atmosphere emitter.”
Troubled, the doctor`s gaze turns to the asymmetrical being.
“And then there is this case: hopeless, unfortunately.”
“Do you think it would survive if it could get into its home-world?”
“Maybe. But I can`t imagine a world where such an anatomy could fit in viably.”
Janeway`s voice speaks, “Captain to Torres and Carey. – Meet me after lunch in transporter room 1! I want to beam with you to the wreck and see its weapon systems.”
Torres raises her head. “Understood, Captain.”
Torres goes to the exit, stops and turns around again.
“Do you know how our pilot is?”
“Mr. Ceph? Is he sick?”
“I don`t know. He hasn`t shown up on the bridge for two days.”
“Well, he hasn`t reported sick to me.”
Torres nods seriously and leaves through the sliding-door. She roams several corridors in a depressed posture. All of a sudden, she stops. She seems a little surprised, as if chance had led her unexpectedly to a familiar place. She opens the door to a quarters, steps into the sparsely lit room and stands still. Her eyes start wandering around. Models of terrestrial cars from the 20th Century stand inside a glass cupboard. A black and white cinema poster from the beginnings of science fiction film hangs on the wall, next to pictures of Torres and Harry Kim together with Tom Paris.
Breathing heavily, she sits down on a couch. On the table in front of her is a ball of about 20 centimeters in size. She grabs it, presses it against her and bends her upper body over the ball. Two drops fall on its protruding vault.
A grandfather clock with balls at the lower end of a pendulum that swings in torsional rotation beats three four-tone sequences played on differently tuned bells. When the melody has faded away, a male voice speaks in a noisy audio transmission:
“You are listening to the BBC World Service, Bush House, London. Stay with us for Jolly Good Show after the World News at eleven o`clock, followed by the semi-final match between John McEnroe and Jimi Connors in forty-five minutes from now, live from Wimbledon.”
The radio station`s swinging, march-like signature tune plays for a while. Then the transmission is gradually replaced by white noise that fades away.
Torres looks at the grandfather clock, rises and leaves the quarters taking the ball with her. After walking a few meters in the corridor, the ball falls to the ground. It jumps back. Torres catches it. She repeats the game. Her eyes start shining. With a determined look Torres runs purposefully into a side corridor and to the front of a door. She rings. She knocks. She opens the door and enters.
These quarters are barely lit too. However, light shines from the bath-room and the pattering of a shower can be heard. With tense eyes and fingers pressed against the surface of the ball Torres cautiously walks into the small room. In a flat shower tray, which is full to the brim, Ceph lies with a greenish grey coloring of his skin; he is shaped as a lumpy body with arms and eyes almost completely withdrawn. Water is showering down on him. Two of Ceph`s eyes emerge just above the body`s surface and watch the visitor. A tentacle extends and turns the body sideways, away from Torres. In his tub Ceph is half covered with water. Torres`s gaze becomes insecure; she turns as if to leave again. But finally, she sits down on the floor, next to the tub, with her back against the wall and her face directed towards the tiles on the opposite wall. Torres observes Ceph out of the corner of her eye, with eyelashes half closed. Ceph`s two eyeballs that barely protrude beyond the contour of his bulk peer at her from the side of his body facing away from Torres.
Sitting on the floor, her knees tightened, Torres drops the ball between her legs and catches it again. Further than the former two, a third eye pops up, driven by the impulse of a suddenly awakened interest. But then it sinks back into the body, where only a small hump on the surface reveals its position. The other two eyes also disappear now. Slowly Torres moves her hand against a half-extended grab-arm and nudges it with her finger. The arm retreats. She follows it and nudges it again. It sways aside but does not flee. Torres begins to tickle it with her fingers at various positions. Four eyes squint at her from the body. The tentacle moves a little. Its end meanders carefully in a wide arc until it comes to lie just before Torres`s forearm. The fingers give the tentakle a series of tips while moving to its root area. The end of the tentacle begins to tap on Torres`s arm. She claps her flat hand a bit more strongly at the boneless muscle tube. A second tentacle emerges from the body and its end joins the first. Laughing, Torres pulls her arm to the side as the two reach tripling the shoulder joint and armpit.
Torres throws the ball against the wall and catches it again. The entire crowd of eyes shoots out of Ceph`s body and follows the ball. Repeatedly thrown, the ball bounces back from the wall and is caught between two hands. Again, Torres throws at the wall. The ball rebounds. A grabbing rushes forward; with lightning speed it wraps around the ball in the air like a python. He pulls the ball back a bit and hurls it, perpendicular to the previous trajectory, past Torres, onto the wall on her right. The ball bounces back, flies just past Torres`s nose, is caught by the tentacle and immediately thrown again. Torres catches the ball with both hands and throws it laughing loudly to her opposite wall.
The water splatters and splashes under violent movements; clappingly the rubber skin of the ball bounces against walls, hands and tentacle arms; resoundingly the peal of Torres`s laughter echoes in the tiled room.

On the worktable of the optronics laboratory Peri attaches two small modules to the underside of a disc-shaped part. Its concave upper surface is covered with laser diodes. Peri touches a switch on the side. The diodes light up and produce a compact system of slowly drifting, holographic interference rings inside a spherical space of about 20 centimeters in diameter. Peri connects his tricorder to the newly constructed device via a protruding external contact and transfers a data set. He activates a start function. The interference rings disappear, and a crystal-clear hologram appears. In a time loop it repeatedly shows how the wreck of the Hirogen ship collides with a small asteroid and is pushed out of its orbit.
The crackling bang and the bluish white glow of a flash penetrates from the other side of the shelf wall. Again, Peri straightens up and stretches out around the edge of the room divider. The heap of test modules de-stroyed by overvoltage has grown to almost half a meter. Both of E-Bug`s tube-eyes stare in parallel at the transparent plate lying on the latest used and destroyed module display. This time it is contacted with blue resistor pins in the perforations of the plate. A side feeler swings in the air angrily. One of the tube-eyes discovers the observer. Peri quickly withdraws to his side. He opens a cupboard and takes out two measuring instruments. Then he rummages in a drawer that contains a variety of styli and contact pins. Finally, he chooses a thin baton-like stick about 25 centimeters long. With this and the two measuring devices he runs around the room divider and carefully approaches E-Bug. His eyes twitch back and forth between Peri and the objects in his hands. Then he steps to the side. Peri puts the stick on the table and places the measuring instruments next to it. He uses contact clamps to connect each of the two instruments to one of the ends of the stick. With his hand he taps several times at one end of the stick, his head facing E-Bug. Then he takes a step backwards. E-Bug approaches the thin rod. Gently he places a claw of his hand at the end of the stick that Peri had assigned. Immediately E-Bug`s tube-eyes direct to the displays of the two measuring instruments. The one that contacts the end of the stick that is being touched shows spontaneously changing voltage values between 20 volts and 4,000 volts. The second instrument, which measures the electrical voltage at the opposite end of the stick, shows a constant value of 11.37 volts. E-Bug looks at Peri in surprise. Peri points to the last remaining test module that has not been shot by high voltage yet. E-Bug removes the instrument clamps from the endings of the stick, grasps it with his claw and begins to open and close menu icons on the touch display of the test module. The stick moves faster and faster through the menu points without causing a voltage flashover. E-Bug enthusiastically places the stick on the table and turns an eye towards Peri. Then E-Bug continues occupying with the stick. Slowly, as if out of playful curiosity, the ends of the two side feelers approach the ends of the rod. Peri`s legs stomp an excited warning: a persistent rhythm of three quick successive beats.
But already the feelers touch the stick; it brightens and glows and suddenly shatters into small fragments. The knocking drumming of twenty legs angrily changes to a rhythmic scratching of toenails on the floor. Then Peri turns around and marches back to his side of the laboratory.

At a casino table Torres and Carey are sitting in front of the remains of their meals. Torres pushes her plate aside.
“Warp engines are back online for long! With each day we start later, it gets harder to find our people — and we don`t know what threats they are exposed to!”
Carey has a piece of bread between his fingers; he dabs and sucks the sauce out of his plate with it.
“I suppose the captain intends to make some more changes at the ship.”
Peri enters the casino. He sees Torres, runs to her and puts his new device next to her plate. He turns it on. The hologram of the asteroid and its surroundings pops up. With all four hands he points to it. Some legs trip on the ground, others perform long and short scratching movements, as if they were spelling Morse characters.
“Look, Carey, he taught himself the holo-technique!” Torres turns to Peri and nods. “Very well done, Peri!”
She stands up.
“I have to check the tylium plasma processing before we beam to the wreck.”
“Weren`t you going to give him the glasses that compensate his nearsightedness?”
“Remind me when we get back. Keep him company a little longer, Jo-seph.”
She grabs her tray and leaves. Peri looks after her.

In Peri`s facetted gaze Torres`s contours blur as she moves away. His field of vision turns to Carey. In front of Peri`s sharp close-up view, his four hands point to the events in the hologram, which are repeating again and again in a time loop. But the glances of Carey`s eyes touch the hologram only briefly. Instead of paying attention to it, he looks Peri in the eye, nods persistently and emits deep humming tones, near the lower limit of Peri`s sense of hearing.

The optronics laboratory is abandoned. The drawer of a spare parts cup-board is pulled out to its detent. Beneath it, various rods are scattered on the floor. They resemble the stick Peri used to reduce the fluctuating voltages on E-Bug`s hands to a constant value.

The turbolift of the bridge opens. E-Bug steps out and goes to the tactical console. Seven works at a panel on the rear wall. She turns around to him.
“Captain -”
Janeway gets up from her seat and steps aft. She stops in front of the tactical console. Behind it, E-Bug has planted his outstretched jump-legs against the floor and straightened himself up. Poking with a thin stick of 20 centimeters in length he opens data menus on the user interface. Janeway observes him critically. Seven steps next to E-Bug. One of his tube-eyes directs at her; the other snaps forward to the screen like an index finger, where at the helm Ceph is practicing the retraction of the landing stilts and the launch of the ship using a simulation program. Sev-en follows the gaze of the eye tube; she shakes her head.
“At this console sensor data is gathered and weapon systems are operated. There is no simulation mode. You can only learn to operate it if someone demonstrates and explains it to you.”
Without understanding the tube-eye pointed at her twitches up and down between Seven`s eyes and her mouth.
Janeway steps next to E-Bug from the other side.
“Looks like he`s found a way how to work on the controls without de-stroying them. Lock the weapons on this console, Seven, and try to visualize for him what our sensor readings mean.”
“I doubt that training will be efficient, Captain. But I comply,” Seven rep-lies skeptically.
She slowly moves her hand to the console. E-Bug`s claw hand recedes. Seven makes adjustments.
“Here you see …” she points to a display, “an image of Voyager. Color intensity in its surroundings indicates the integrated density distribution of gamma radiation around the ship.”
On another display Seven shows a planetary system. Seven zooms in on the central star and overlays a sketch of the nuclear reactions in its inte-rior. She accelerates the life of the star and the enrichment of heavy elements. Finally, atomic nuclei with twenty-six protons are formed and the star implodes. Seven freezes the image. She fades in the scale of an electromagnetic spectrum below the image of the stellar core processes and connects the different forms of radiation that arise in the star`s beginning explosion with that spectrum, from long-wave thermal photons to the supernova`s gamma radiation. The latter Seven surrounds with a pointer tool and simultaneously points with her hand to the color distribution around Voyager on the neighboring display. She then marks the X-ray range of the electromagnetic spectrum; another color representation forms around Voyager`s image.
“This is the radiation distribution around the ship measured by the X-ray detectors of the sensor phalanx.”
On the left and right side of E-Bug Janeway and Seven hurry a step behind as his side feelers suddenly detach from the flanks and rise up-ward into the air. Between them a spark of lightning discharges with a crack, immersing the bridge in bluish-white light for a moment. Then E-Bug sweeps with the end of his rod-shaped stylus over the visible and the ultraviolet spectrum on the display.
Janeway nods to Seven, with the expression of a fright that turns into surprise. “Your pupil has understood what you were demonstrating to him. Continue the training, Seven!”
Janeway goes to the turbolift, which closes behind her.

With his front segments raised and the new holographic tool in his hands Peri walks through several corridors. Suddenly he sees Janeway in front of him and follows her in a hurry. She disappears behind a closing door. When Peri finally arrives at the door, he stretches as fast as he can for a display to open the sliding mechanism. With a soft hiss its two halves glide apart. Peri`s big eyes motionlessly watch as Janeway, Torres and Carey are dematerializing at this very moment; they are standing on transporter pads with atmosphere emitters strapped on. When they have disappeared, Peri turns around and walks back into the corridor.

In a hall directly under the skin of the Hirogen wreck, several phaser can-nons are installed as well as a single gun that is much bigger than the others. The muzzles of these weapons penetrate the hull of the ship to which they are screwed with sealing flanges. Janeway, Torres and Carey materialize in front of this weapon phalanx. Around their bodies the faintly glowing fields of their atmosphere emitters are visible. Janeway takes a few steps back to oversee the entire series of weapons. While Carey investigates the weapon`s connections, Torres checks data at a console.
She wonders. “Look, Captain, here again is that strange failure signature we already found at their propulsion deck and at some units that were controlling life support; as if someone had connected lines normally carrying control signals to the ship`s global ground line.”
Janeway takes a doubtful look at the data. “Maybe that`s been caused by the damage of a hit.”
Torres shakes her head pondering. “I don`t think it occurred by chance, … not in that number of independent cases.”
She closes the data menu. Janeway goes to the largest gun in the row, which has twice the height and width of the others. Torres follows her and directs her tricorder at it.
“If these readings are right, this weapon`s power supply is three times higher than that of our phaser banks.”
Janeway turns sideways. “Lieutenant Carey, in addition to your expertise in propulsion systems you`ve been gaining considerable knowledge as chief maintenance engineer on our weapons deck. Do you dare to dismantle these guns and reinstall them on Voyager?”
Carey`s gaze wanders across the row of phasers. While his left eyebrow rises, his right eyebrow sinks. He steps next to Janeway, to the largest of the guns. His jaw folds down and shifts to the side. He inspects the flange-mounted leveling module; he opens a flap, looks at distribution lines and interfaces, and closes the flap again; he lies with his back down on the floor and crawls under the module; he illuminates it with his tricorder`s lamp from below. Then he turns his head far enough to the side so that he can see Janeway above him.
“You`ve asked me, ma`am, if I could dismantle and reassemble these weapons.” He leans on his elbow to raise his upper body a little. With his free hand he points to the left and to the right. “These are all ordinary phaser benches. I would only have to re-program their leveling electron-ics to our codes. I guess they`re ready to fire in less than one week. But this thing here …” he knocks his fist on the case above his head, “I can disassemble it, get it over to our ship and reassemble it again, but I cannot promise that we`ll ever fire a single shot with it.”
Janeway frowns. “What do you mean?”
Carey crawls out from under the leveling module and, still squatting on the ground, points to the 20-centimeter thick metal-jacketed hose leading into the rear end of the gun.
“This is no ordinary plasma conduit; it is the shielded supply of highly concentrated antimatter particles. A shot of this disruptor has a much higher explosive power than any of our photon torpedoes.”
Torres holds her tricorder to the thick tube.
“He`s right, Captain. We were lucky that the Hirogen wanted to board Voyager. If they had fired at us with this weapon, we`d have been pulve-rized!”
Carey gets up from the floor and scratches his belly.
“If you want to put this gun into operation, you have to proceed very carefully. That takes at least one month, maybe half a year.”
Resolutely, Janeway looks along the wall of the hall bristling with wea-pons.
“We`ll transfer everything to Voyager. Install the phasers first! We`ll mind for the disruptor when we`re on our way. You`d better beam back to Voyager, Carey. The robots are already installing the monotanium hull around the engineering module. Find out with Seven what feedthroughs you need in the hull to mount the guns.”
“Aye, ma`am.”
He touches the communicator. “Voyager, one person to beam!”
Carey dematerializes. After he`s gone, Torres stands at attention next to Janeway.
“May I speak frankly, Captain?”
Janeway nods. “Since I currently don`t have a first officer to tell me his opinion, I`ll probably have to get a more open ear for the crew`s views. Speak frankly, Lieutenant!”
“That First Officer, as well as all the others, we may never find again if we`re wasting time salvaging more and more of this wreck`s systems and struggling to integrate them into Voyager. Warp drive is online again, and our fuel tanks are filled. We are ready to launch, even though a lot has just been provisionally patched up. – Everyone thinks this, Captain!”
“Believe me, B`Elanna, there`s nothing I`d rather do than give immediate orders to leave. But we must reckon with the fact that we may find out only from the Hirogen where our people are. We shall have to face those hunters — and I want to be prepared for that! Voyager`s equipment is that of a research vessel, with standard armament. For what we face we need not only the weapons of our opponents, but also their defensive systems. While Carey transfers these guns, us two will get their shield equipment, sensors, and the stealth technology of this ship to Voyager. Even though we may never use most of it, its study may give us the opportunity to find vulnerable spots in their technology. As soon as we got these system components embarked, we`ll leave.”
“For a simple research vessel, we`ve done very well so far,” Torres replies critically. “Look, Captain,” Torres moves her hand sideways, “it was Voyager who defeated this battle cruiser.”
Janeway`s face darkens. “I don`t think we were responsible for its defeat.”
A violent impact shocks the wreck. Janeway and Torres are thrown to the ground. Parts of the wall and ceiling are torn out of their brackets and crash against the floor next to the two humanoids. Torres looks up anxiously.
“What was that?”
“Something hit the ship!”
“Who`s firing at a wreck?”
Janeway touches the communicator. “Captain to Voyager! Can you hear me?”
No one answers. Janeway rises.
“We need to see what`s going on out there! Come on, one deck up the robots have already dismantled the monotanium hull. We`re able to get an open view there!”
They run to a shaft. Inside of it they pantingly climb up ladder rungs, which are almost half a meter apart. Finally, they reach the deck above. They look around in surprise. In the large hangar they have entered the individual parts of several small hunting ships are laying scattered all around torn to pieces. The hangar`s hull has been dismantled. Only the rectangular scaffold is left, from which the hull elements have been re-moved. Torres turns in every direction.
“How can that be? The hangar gate is closed, the hull scaffolding shows no damage — but these hunting ships look as if each of them had been hit by a torpedo!”
Janeway points outside through the open scaffolding. More than half of the view into free space is covered by a small asteroid, which floats parallel to the wreck at close distance. The object slowly rotates around its longitudinal axis.
“It must have hit us and is now standing between us and Voyager,” Janeway suspects.
“Let`s hope that rock hasn`t pushed the wreck out of its orbit!” Torres looks at the display of her atmosphere emitter strapped on her uniform. “We`ve got energy left for three hours.”
Janeway goes back to the shaft they came through. “We need to find an intact area that still keeps some breathable atmospheric gases; then we can reduce the energy consumption of our emitters. Hopefully we`ll soon be missed on Voyager!”

The sliding-gate of sickbay opens. Peri hurries in. With his front body upright and moved by his rear segment`s legs he walks to the doctor`s office. The doctor is sitting at his computer. Peri puts his new device on the table. He excitedly moves his twenty legs in waving patterns and rhythmically clatters with his tooth nails against the floor. He turns on his hologram and points to the holographic clip with all twenty-eight fingers of his four hands.
The doctor turns to Peri, radiant with joy. “I see you`ve made you your own holo-toy. That is laudable!”
He claps his flat hand several times on Peri`s shoulder segment and then turns back to his monitor.

On the bridge the viewscreen is divided into two halves. The left part shows a schematic image of Voyager. It is exposed to the raging storms of a thundery atmosphere. From huge, drifting clouds rain and hail are pattering against the ship. Again and again, Ceph stabilizes the swaying ship caught by gusts of wind and carries out landing maneuvers in mountainous terrain. The right side of the screen shows a schematic image of Voyager at its position on the asteroid Robinson. The sketch of a cone, with an opening angle of about 30 degrees, and with its tip anchored at Voyager`s sensor phalanx, turns like a funnel antenna with the cone`s opening pointing towards different directions. This movement changes the intensity distribution of the radiation spectrum that is measured by the sensors and displayed in a graphical image next to the ship. At the tactical console, E-Bug uses his stick to control the alignment of that funnel antenna symbolizing the sensor phalanx`s scanning direction.
At the rear console Seven and Carey are standing in front of Voyager`s deck plan. Seven points to a display.
“For the additional phaser banks, deck 11 is the most favorable position with respect to tactics; in two groups, at starboard and port.”
“How far away are those locations from power supply?”
“One deck up is an energy rail with sufficient reserve power.”
“I`d like to see that on site!”
Carey turns to the officer who works on the other side of the bridge.
“Ensign Lang, take the bridge!”
“Aye, Lieutenant.”
Lang goes to the OPS console. Her glance flickers from Ceph to E-Bug uneasily. Seven and Carey step into the turbolift. The door closes behind them.

Panting with red faces, Janeway and Torres pull at a gate and shift it open. More falling forward than walking they drag themselves inside. Breathing heavily, they support their bodies with their arms on crates. Torres opens the tricorder and scans to different directions.
“No energy signatures of life support are displayed anywhere, … no compressed gas either.” She touches the communicator. “Voyager! Can you hear us? Away team to Voyager – we need help!”
Janeway shakes her head. “The asteroid still blocks the radio signal. What do you think, B`Elanna, can we reduce the power of the emitters anymore?”
“Then we`ll suffocate now, Captain.”
“How much longer will the emitters work on this level?”
“Less than ten minutes.”
Torres looks along a trail of smashed and knocked over containers stret-ching across the room. Where the trail begins and where it ends, the walls are broken through in almost circular shape. In a frayed line torn and bent metal parts surround the edges of the breakthroughs. Torres is surprised.
“What is able to tear such holes out of steel walls?”
Janeway follows her gaze and straightens up. “Let`s keep looking, for a deck that hasn`t been so badly destroyed.”
She goes to a shaft and laboriously climbs up the ladder. Torres follows her.

Out of the turbolift Peri runs onto the bridge. He straightens up high and turns his head from one side of the bridge to the other. When he has recognized all persons present, he runs to Ensign Lang and stretches his activated hologram towards her with clattering, scratching and waving signals from many legs.
Lang shrinks back by a step. “What is it -?”
With an unsettled, blank face her gaze changes back and forth between Peri and the holo-clip. Peri touches a button on the side of the device. The asteroids and the wreck disappear. The faces of Janeway, Torres, and Carey appear instead, flashing in red.
A body lowers from the ceiling. Eye stems stretch towards Peri`s device. Once more Peri switches the button and immediately the holo-clip pops up, which again and again shows the collision of a small asteroid with the Hirogen wreck. From all sides nine eyeballs stare into the hologram. The remaining three are directed toward Lang. With anxious expression Lang takes another step back and freezes as she hears an electric crackle im-mediately behind her. A reptiloid, scale-covered head with two slowly swaying antennae on its temples shifts past her face. Both of E-Bug`s tube-eyes are aligned in parallel towards the 3D animation.
Lang reaches for the communicator. “Bridge to captain! – Captain, re-spond!”
Jerkily, Ceph`s eyes spread to everyone present. Then he stretches his arms and swings to the helm. One of E-Bug`s optical tubes follows him. The simulation program on the screen is closed; instead of it an image of the real outside world appears, showing the craters and mountain ridges of the asteroid Robinson.

With several landing stilts Voyager is standing on a flat plateau. Suddenly, the ship rises a little. On the engineering hull, spider robots interrupt their work and fix themselves with all eight legs to the hull frame. The landing stilts are pulled into the hull. The starship takes off and leaves the asteroid Robinson, ascending vertically. Voyager turns by some de-grees and flies out into space.

E-Bug has returned to the tactical console.
“Bridge to Lieutenant Carey! Seven of Nine!” calls Lang.
“Speak, Ensign!” replies Seven`s voice from Lang`s communicator.
“I cannot reach the captain! The alien beings have launched the ship; we`re moving away from the asteroid!”
“On our way!”
The image on the screen shows the withdrawing large asteroid and re-veals as Voyager begins orbiting around it. More than half of Ceph`s eyes have fanned out across the width of the screen.
Seven and Carey enter the bridge. They look forward. The contours of Robinson move increasingly faster over the screen; the drift of countless asteroids in the background is speeding up.
“What`s going on here,” Carey inquires strictly.
Peri notices the two humanoids. He hurries to them and demonstrates his small hologram.
Seven raises an eyebrow. “This is an excerpt from the astrometrics laboratory.” She observes the clip sequence attentively. “I understand.” She lifts her head. “Seven of Nine to Captain! – Lieutenant Torres?”
Carey explains, “They beamed onto the wreck with me five hours ago.”
“Then their atmosphere emitters have been ineffective for thirty minutes. Ensign Lang, try to get a transporter lock on the captain and Lieutenant Torres!”
With a tense face, Lang checks the data on the OPS console. “I can`t detect their bio-patterns!”
Ceph`s eyes are still looking for the wreck in the space around Robinson. Thereby he is continually increasing the distance from the large asteroid, steering Voyager on a spiral trajectory. Finally, he flies away from Robin-son.

The starship Voyager arises from the asteroid belt, leaving the countless lumps below. Like an eagle circling in loops looking for prey, the ship cir-cles above the pieces of ice and rock, drifting in different sizes and shapes.

Near the right edge of the screen, data of various metal distributions appear, which E-Bug has the ship`s sensors search for. Seven steps up to him.
“You have to increase the variance range of the detectors; then also diffused reflected signals will be displayed.”
She shifts a level pointer. Thereupon the diffused halo of scattered signals around a small asteroid becomes visible on the screen.
Carey stretches out his arm. “They must be behind it!”
In a nosedive, Ceph flies back down into the asteroid field, straightly towards the small asteroid.
“Seven to Doctor – stand by for the resuscitation of two persons!”

Coughing and gasping, Janeway and Torres materialize on the floor in sickbay. They are stuck in two Hirogen hunting armours made for much larger bodies and they press the oversized mouthpiece of the helmets against their lips. The doctor looks down at them in astonishment as they strip off the respirators and impetuously inhale the air of sickbay in deep breaths.

Side by side, Janeway and Seven walk in sportswear on the lawn of a Victorian-style landscaped garden.
“There was something good about it, too,” states Janeway. “Now that Voyager is docked directly to the wreck, we`ll be able to recover the ne-cessary systems more quickly. You were right to order the ship`s take off.”
“I wasn`t on the bridge at that time, Captain. It was Mr. Peri who in-spired Mr. Ceph with the help of a holographic representation to launch for a rescue mission.”
Janeway casts a look of surprise sideways at Seven, while they enter the fortified floor of a basketball court. Above it, carried by invisible forces, a milky transparent ceiling floats at a height of about two and a half me-ters, to which Ceph has attached himself with two tentacles. The remain-ing three wind through the air in anticipation and the eye stalks stretch out towards Janeway, Seven and the rest of the players scattered across the field in small groups. On both sides of the field, Ceph`s ceiling ends about two meters in front of the baskets.
Torres carries the ball to Janeway and hands her a bundle of bright green armbands. Out of the corner of her eye Janeway looks at Ceph.
“Is he familiar with the rules?”
Torres nods. “I gave him a simulation program of the game.”
“Get ready everybody!” shouts Janeway.
The players line up in front of her. Ceph swings to them. Those next to him evade sideways. Janeway stretches her armbands towards the play-ers.
“Green team: Baxter, Torres, Jenny Delanay, Jenkins, Ashmore …”
Each of the nominated takes a band and fixes it around the upper arm.
“and Mr. Ceph,” adds Janeway.
She steps to him and hands him the ribbon. With two tentacles Ceph grabs the ring-shaped rubber fabric on two opposite sides. With a third arm he dives so deep into the opening that the team-sign comes to rest almost at the upper end of the arm.
Janeway turns around. “The others are playing in my team!”
Baxter reports to her, casting a glance at Ceph. “Captain, I`d rather play in your team too. Maybe I can switch with somebody?”
“You`re playing the way you`ve been assigned, Baxter! Is that clear?”
“Aye, ma`am,” he grumbles.
“Then — go!”
Janeway throws the ball up where it bounces back from the ceiling.
Carey grabs the ball, dribbles it past Torres and passes it to Gibson, who plays to Lang. Lang throws the ball into the basket.
The ball goes to the throw-off at Torres. She passes to Ashmore who throws to Baxter, who loses the ball to Carey. Carey hands over to Megan Delanay, Delanay to Gibson, whom the ball does not reach as Ceph, with his arm wide out, grabs it from the air; with a throw over five meters towards the basket the ball hits the backboard and bounces off into the hoop.
Baxter exults in amazement: “Hell — what a shot!”
Janeway throws to Lang, who passes the ball on to Gibson. Gibson heads for the basket. When a tentacle lowers in front of him, Gibson flees side-ways dribbling, where a second arm lies already in wait for him and snatches the ball away under his fingers. Ceph throws to Baxter, who goes forward, is tackled by Carey and Lang, returns to Ceph, who passes to Jenny Delanay; Delanay to Torres, Torres to Baxter, who throws to Ceph and runs forward to the basket. Ceph passes to him and Baxter scores. As the ball goes back to the other team, Baxter`s flat hand knocks on Ceph`s low hanging tentacle while another tentacle arm trips against Baxter`s shoulder.
Janeway observes them, smiling contentedly.


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