Starship Voyager – The Alien Adventures — Transformation – Part 1

The present novel is merely Fan Fiction.

No commercial interest is pursued.

© Aliki, 2019

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

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

Multiplication and distribution for commercial purpose are not allowed.


IV. Sporangium 2.0

25. Transformation
Part 1


Far back has the central bulge of the Milky Way receded. Almost com-pletely is it covered by dark clouds, that lie like mourning veils in front of the heart of the galaxy. A quantum vortex unsymmetrically opens up in the darkness of space. Separate monotanium plates are drifting out of the quantum portal, rotating in a wobbling motion. Behind them follows Voyager. The vortex closes.

A violent quake shakes the bridge. Janeway hangs on to her chair to not be hurled to the floor. The quaking stops.
“What happened, Mr. Paris?”
“I think Ceph got us out of the slipstream because there`s something wrong with his sensor data. He suddenly lost his balance.”
Janeway turns backwards. “Tuvok -?”
“No artificial energy signatures are detected nearby.”
Ceph pulls an arm out of one of the five grooves set with signal cams and points to it by tripping upon the groove with the end of the tentacle.
“I think I know what happened, Captain.” reports Kim. “Due to the vibra-tion resonance in the slipstream tunnel, one of the Lusenith crystals was thrown out of its fixture. That made Ceph`s sensor data unbalanced, and he could no longer counteract the phase variation drift.”
Janeway looks to the screen where detached plates float in front of the ship`s bow.
“How big are the damages on the ship?”
“This time microfractures have penetrated deeper into the material than usual. In addition, a dozen monotanium plates were torn off from the hull.”
“Beam them into the shuttle bay and assign repair teams!”
“Aye, Captain.”
Janeway turns to the astrometrics console. “Can you tell anything about our position yet, Seven?”
Without looking up, Seven declares coolly, “We`re in the Levit sector, sixty light years away from the Neutral Zone.” She raises her head. “We`re on Federation territory, Captain.”
Janeway`s eyes widen. She rises from her chair. While she is taking several steps towards the screen, a deep breath swells her lungs. Then she stops. She looks from one side of the screen to the other, into the constellation of stars in front of her — and breathes out.


In sickbay, two crew members are waiting for their treatment. One is standing next to the entrance. With his knee buckled, he is supported by a colleague. Another patient is sitting on a sickbed; he pulls up his torn trouser`s leg so that a large red area on his kneecap becomes visible.
Meanwhile, the doctor is treating a bruise on Mrs. Wildman`s forearm. Monotonously, he moves the medical scanner with one hand back and forth over the blue and yellow spot.
The standing leg-patient and his companion are conversing.
“I`m curious how far we`re going to get next time.”
The other one nods. “Without this new flying technique, we would be wandering around the Delta Quadrant for another forty years!”
The doctor gives them a disapproving look and reaches for his communi-cator. “Sickbay to Captain!”
“Go ahead, Doctor,” answers Janeway`s voice.
“It is not my intention to disturb your dance of joy on the shores of Itha-ca, but as the executive medical officer, it is my duty to report that the currently practiced flying technique has injured crew members again!”
“Is it bad?”
“This time fortunately only bruises and abrasions, but -”
“Our flying in slipstream may have been unsafe, but with its help, we`re finally back on safe ground!” interrupts him Janeway.
“May I conclude from this that in the future we will restrict our locomo-tion to reliable warp technology?”
“Listen, Doctor -”
Mrs. Wildman grabs the doctor`s arm. “Excuse me, Captain, this is Ensign Wildman speaking. Is it true that we`re near the Omikron system?”
“That`s right. Do you know anyone there?”
“While I was studying exo-botany, a branch archive of the Academy was established on Omikron XII. It was planned to build up a comprehensive collection of natural history replicas of all known life-worlds.”
“That sounds promising! Repair work on the ship will take some time. I think it`s possible to arrange a visit to Omikron XII. – Janeway out.”
The doctor raises his chin and lowers his eyes to the bruise under his scanner that is getting brighter. “A comprehensive collection of natural history replicas, you said? That archive would certainly be an impressive source for quotations and references, … for somebody who plans signifi-cant exo-biological publications!”

Numerous ships of different designs are floating above a planet with blue and green surfaces, shimmering under its white cirrus clouds. Voyager appears near a moon and joins the other ships.

Paris is sitting at the helm on the bridge. He points to the screen.
“This planet seems to be a popular destination for excursions. Almost all these ships are passenger transporters.”
“Don`t get too close to the other ships, Mr. Paris!” warns Janeway. “I don`t want them to be infected by us with parasites!”
“Aye, ma`am.”
Kim reports, “The contact to the institute is established, Captain.”
Janeway raises her head. “This is Captain Janeway from the Federation Starship Voyager! We are interested in -”
An unemotional computer voice interrupts her. “The Museum of Natural and Civilization History is open around the clock. Visitors are requested to beam to the coordinates specified. Food and drinks will be provided in the exhibition zones. It is not permitted to touch or dis-mantle technical equipment! Due to the high number of visitors, all visi-tors are requested not to use any area for more than two hours. Please understand that some areas are not accessible to the public due to ongo-ing scientific studies. For object-related questions, please contact the specialist staff on site. We wish you an instructive stay. Announcement over.”
“Wait – !” calls Janeway. “What does that fun cost?”
“The institute is financed by the United Federation of Planet`s Fund for Research, Education, and Culture. The use is free of charge.”
Paris turns its head. “Gee, Captain, don`t we have to offer Hirogen armor in exchange this time?”
Janeway smiles. “Welcome back to civilization, Mr. Paris!”

While visitors of different species are entering the institute, the signs of a holographic writing change in rapid succession above its portal. As three of Voyager`s crew members step through, the letters appear: United Federation of Planet`s Archive for Natural and Civilization History. Behind the three follows Torres. In her case, the lettering flickers and changes to different characters, as if the system for recognizing the visitor`s species could not decide. With a grim look, Torres follows the others.
They step into a large entrance hall, from which two further portals branch off to adjacent areas concerning special fields of science. One of the four stretches out his hand.
“The left zone is about minerals and fossils, on the other side it`s about peoples. What do you think, … may we learn the truth there?”
“Let`s try!” shouts Torres and goes ahead of the others.
They walk into a corridor. On both sides, there are openings to holo-rooms. Inside, visitors have activated holoclips about the histories of the technologically dominant species for certain planetary worlds. After a while, Torres and her companions find a free holo area. They enter.
In the bare room, a computer voice asks, “Which habitat and which civili-zation are you interested in?”
With a dark face, Torres answers: “Badlands, … Maquis.”
A moment later, the four are floating in the midst of plasma storms with tornado tubes that provide a glowing and electrically charged energy exchange of enormous destructive force between vertically layered plasma zones. Maneuverable ships are cruising at high speed between the tornadoes. They are followed and under fire from larger, more cumbersome ships.

In an open area of the archive, where exhibition zones lie side by side, the doctor and Peri are standing in front of the huge family tree of a planet`s fauna. Peri touches several symbols on the controlling panel. He zooms into a branch that shows bifurcating ancestry lines of multiple-segmented beings, exemplified by fossil finds. The doctor nods in joyful interest and activates several of them. As a result, rotating holographic outlines are projected in space, into which organs, transport vessels, bundles of nerves, connective tissue, fat, and muscles are successively inserted. Lastly, at each body segment, the soft tissues are covered with an exo-skeleton, from which sense organs and extremities protrude. The completed reconstructions sink to a virtual ground and move according to their anatomy.
A humanoid museum employee in uniform approaches Peri and the doc-tor. “I see you take a great interest in our Polysegmenta collection. Allow me to introduce myself; I`m Dr. Polont, responsible for the Skeletons Department.”
“Very pleased!” the doctor replies with a happy smile and stretches out his hand. “I`m the ship`s doctor of the Federation Starship Voyager, and this is Mr. Peri, one of our leading engineers.”
Dr. Polont looks at Peri with an interested eye. “For an intelligent species your companion has an amazingly unusual anatomy! I have never seen a representative of his species before.”
The doctor straightens himself. “Your lack of awareness does not surprise me. Mr. Peri is certainly the only representative of his kind in this part of the galaxy! As a physician and researcher, I`m privileged to write an initial description of his anatomical and physiological characteristics for the Federation`s scientific community. I`m planning a publication of my studies in the near future. In particular, I shall discuss analogies in phylogenetic development of peripatoid skeletal forms that …” he points to the exposed tree of evolution in front of him “can be proved by these fossils of the planet Tanaka, Mesozoic relics from Sol III, and Mr. Peri`s anatomy.
At the console, Peri closes the holographic image of a multi-limbed organism. He directs the balls of his eyes briefly to the two humanoids who are absorbed in their conversation. Then he turns to an adjacent exhibition area.
Dr. Polont gesticulates towards the doctor with an upward palm.
“Dear colleague, it would be an honor for our interplanetary archive if we could contribute to your work a list of all multi-limbed, segmented species listed in our database so far!”
The doctor radiates with enthusiasm. “That would be wonderful! The corroboration of the results of my research and of my theories by data evidence from a renowned institution like yours …”

Peri stops in front of an area that is blocked by screening walls. Through a gap, he recognizes two young humanoids rising from their workstations. They walk to the barriers and push one of them aside, so that they can step through.
“I got to make it during these two weeks! The professor won`t postpone the deadline again.”
“Don`t worry, after a cup of strong coffee you wouldn`t be the first one to be inspired how to interpret confusing findings by an interesting theo-ry.”
The two students go away. Peri hesitantly enters the closed area. Inside, he rises at the workstation. He examines the input windows on the touchscreen. Finally, he opens his holocom and activates the button Interlink.

A crowd of humanoid children cavort in front of a holographic submarine world. Again and again, a boy starts the same clip sequence, in which an adolescent sperm whale, three meters in size, appears from the same direction of a jagged underwater mountain range each time. With its mouth wide open, the whale snatches at the head of one of the giant octopuses swimming around. The whale swallows it. Finally, it sucks in the wriggling tentacles like spaghetti. Then, the sperm whale swims out of the presentation area and straight away the children shout to their comrade at the console: “Once more!” Immediately, the boy starts the clip of the hunting sperm whale anew.
Suddenly, a different tentacoloid falls from the ceiling into the waterless underwater world. He lands on the whale`s back, just behind its head and clings to it with three arms. Two more arms speed forward. Grasping the upper and lower jaw, the two tentacles spread the mouth of the whale open. When the hunter reaches his prey, and the octopus gets between the sperm whale`s teeth, the latter tries in vain to close its mouth. The holographic octopus pulls itself out of the trap with its eight arms and escapes with violent swimming movements. The sperm whale, not having completed its catching program successfully, remains in the scene. It turns around. Again, it swims attacks on octopuses that are al-ways foiled in the same way by the rider on its back.
Spellbound, the children stare at the changed action of the play. When the sperm whale comes particularly close to the edge of its arena, an arm grabs the boy at the console and pulls him onto the whale`s back with drive. The boy`s squealing of fear is lost in the shouts of his companions. Uniformed museum employees notice the incident, and excitedly ap-proach in haste. Hectically, they try to stop the action of the holoclip, in which a rider holding a boy in front of him races on an agile whale back and forth above corals and sea anemones.
Finally, someone presses Emergency Out. The holomatrix collapses. Water world, octopuses and whale disappear with a flicker. From a height of about two meters, a five-legged tentacoloid plops to the ground. Three legs cushion the fall, while the other two tentacles hold the two-legged humanoid boy up and then set him down on the ground. Vacillating telescope eyes grasp the swarming museum staff. With winding arms, Ceph makes off towards his mobile platform. He accelerates and moves away at a rapid speed.
The children look after him with big eyes. One of the employees opens a radio and transmits a message.

In late twilight, with a rising full moon casting its orange light over reeds and bulrushes, gossamer insectoid beings have gathered to form a flying flock in a limited space. In rapid flight maneuvers with short linear move-ments followed by sudden changes in direction, they orbit each other.
Below them, on the huge leaf of a water lily, butterflies of the same spe-cies are standing. They flap their wings open and shut without flying up. Again and again, one of them jumps sideways over another one and back.
Under the transparent surface of the water, in which the first stars are mirrored, a colorful fish is incessantly swimming up and down in front of another. Near this couple, a stilt-long pair of legs strides through the water. In strict marching order and in several rows next to each other countless more follow. Above the legs, beyond the surface of the water, bodies rise, covered by pink plumage. Their slender, towering necks rhythmically turn their heads in strictly coordinated swing, in the course of the polonaise march of the common dance.
Darkness closes in on the pond. A distant steppe approaches. On the nocturnal grassland, a group of humanoids in sparse clothing dances to the drum music of their companions. With similar movements, and shouts they jump around a blazing fire. Suddenly, the scenery changes. A semi-dark hall grows out of the ground, illuminated by countless candle flames. In the flickering of their glow, humanoids with wigs, frilly clothing and white powdered skin perform arm and leg movements deliberately and synchronously to the music of string instruments and flutes. Again, the elements of the performance metamorphose. Once more, drums determine the rhythm of a music, whose polyphonic, electronically sounding melody alternates between harmonic and dissonant tonal sequences and contains passages of continuously changing frequencies in both areas. Humanoids with discolored faces and hair, wearing a wide variety of clothing, are dancing with similar movements of swinging arms and jumping legs in a nocturnal place over which planets, stars and galaxies migrate. Each of the dancing individuals is enveloped in a flickering flame that she and he take along with them in the dance. When dancers approach each other, their flames unite to form a common torch which, when a group is formed, blazes up high in the united fiery aura of the common dance.
The fingers of a hand to which a Borg implant is attached change the nu-merical value of a time index that appears on the display of a panel. Three employees of the archive approach. One of them addresses the visitor.
“You`re obviously interested in evolutionary aspects of dance. Are you a dancer yourself?”
Seven looks at him with cool eyes. “My interest is not an expression of an inclination but serves an informal purpose.”
“Sorry, I didn`t want to pry. My research team is responsible for collecting ritualized and ceremonial behaviors in the archive. When we noticed your unusual costume jewelry, we hoped to find a previously undocumented style -”
“What has aroused your curiosity is not costume jewelry!” Seven inter-rupts him with a hardly suppressed excitement in her voice. Her gaze turns towards the corridor. “Excuse me, … I don`t want to lose touch with my companion!”
She forces herself through between the three employees who have surrounded her, and hurries out of the holo-area with quick steps. The three of them look at each other with alarmed glances. Then they follow Seven into the crowd of visitors. Finally, they stop. Seven has entered a cavity in the dense crowd, where she walks next to E-Bug.
One of the employees opens a radio and holds it to his mouth.

As a small group, Janeway, Tuvok, Mrs. Wildman, and Naomi are walking past a holographic plant terrarium that the previous visitors have left without closing the program. Mrs. Wildman stops.
“Commander Tuvok, look – there are prehistoric plants from Vulcan de-picted!”
“By what do you see that, Ensign?”
Mrs. Wildman approaches close to a cactus-like plant and points to irides-cent scales on its surface.
“This heat-reflecting lichen coating has developed in co-evolution with the cactus plant. It protects the underlying tissue from heat radiation near passing magma flows. In return, the plant supplies the lichen with nutrients that it excretes via stomata. This symbiosis can only be found in plant communities on the Vulcan one-hundred-and-fifty million years ago, when its tectonic activity was still very high.”
Tuvok takes a look at the lichen cover at close range. “Indeed, … fascinating. Your knowledge in vulcan botany is most impressive, Ensign.”
“Prehistoric vegetation on Vulcan was the subject of my final thesis in exo-botany. But so far, I knew it only from fossil reliefs. I have never seen such brilliant reconstructions before!”
Naomi inquires, “Tuvok, are there beings on Vulcan that make pearls?”
Pondering, Tuvok raises an eyebrow. “Not to my knowledge.” In the intermediate space to the other eye, a crease forms. “However, no Vulcan would break open the outer shell of an organism to search for jewelry underneath.”
Lost in thought, Janeway`s gaze wanders over the images of fossil forms in neighboring areas. One of the visitor groups closes their hologram and leaves. Janeway raises her hand.
“I`m sure you`d like to stay; I`ll take a look around over there.”
She walks to the vacant area. At some distance, there are several un-iformed museum employees observing the group from Voyager. Repeatedly, they look at a display that one of them is holding in his hands. An elderly gentleman in civilian clothes joins them. One of the employees talks to him, excitedly gesticulating. The gentleman gives the others a sign to stay behind and follows Janeway.
In the meantime, she has arrived at the free holo-area. She closes her eyes.
“Earth, … fauna of the Cambrian Radiation!”
She opens her eyes again. In front of her extends the undersea world of a shallow, light-flooded, coastal water. Just above her head, the wavy surface ripples, and sparklingly refracts light rays of the sun to the nearby bottom, where sparsely scattered bulbous and fern-leaved formations form coral-like islands. A five-eyed Opabinia moves in between. It nestles close to the ground and swirls up sand with its predatory trunk. Frightened, a prickly Haluzigenia avoids it, running sideways on many stump legs.
The elderly gentleman steps next to Janeway from behind and also watches the scenery.
“That was an interesting epoch.”
Janeway briefly looks at him and then back again to the extinct sea beings.
“A friend once told me about it, who unfortunately can`t be here any-more. … After it had taken billions of years for the evolution to bring forth the first multicellular organism, within a few million years the blueprints of all tribes of the fauna developed that are existing on Earth to this very day.”
“And additionally, almost just as many that later disappeared again,” the man adds. “Nature on Earth has never been more inventive than it was at that time.”
An Anomalocaris swims over the two Humans, rushes to the ground, and snaps at the early form of a Trilobite.
“Are you … Kathryn Janeway?”
She turns her head and eyes his face.
“Excuse me, … I don`t remember where -” Her brooding gaze brightens. “But yes, you are Professor Phipsborn!”
“You know me?” he asks in astonishment.
“Certainly! I`ve taken part in your compulsory lecture on exo-geology.”
A suspicious undertone mixes into Phipsborn`s voice. “You did?”
“Don`t you believe me? I remember how you demonstrated to us the effect of some powdered mineral from Qo`noS, when you mix it with table salt and let a drop of water fall upon it. Immediately after, the lecture hall was closed for two days and had to be decontaminated!”
An expression of surprise forms in Phipsborn`s face. Then he smiles.
“It was my first year as a lecturer at the Academy. I was summoned be-fore the dean for that matter.”
They both laugh.
Then Phipsborn explains, “I`ve been in charge of the exhibition zone for Natural History in the archive for two years now. If you`re interested, I`d be happy to demonstrate the structure of our collection to you.”
“I`d be incredibly interested!”
Phipsborn opens a list on the console in front of him.
“We`ve been collecting geophysical and biological data from over ninety thousand planets and new entries are constantly being added. Many scientists scramble for storing their holographically processed results of their research in our archives to make them accessible to a broad public. Look, the newest entry has been made just half an hour ago!” He ponders. “But something`s strange: there`s no author noted. Let me just check up on it.”
Phipsborn marks the entry and activates it. The Cambrian world disap-pears. In its place a moss-covered hilly landscape is built up, with earthy, dome-shaped buildings. Spiral ascents screw upwards from the bottom of each dome to its upper apex. Along the spiral paths, numerous open-ings lead into the interior of the buildings, through which segmented beings enter and leave.
Spellbound, Janeway looks into the holoworld. Phipsborn still examines the data in the file shaking his head.
“The given coordinates of this habitat cannot be correct! And since the author is not named, the data are not verifiable for us. I`ll give instruc-tions to delete the entry.”
Without turning her gaze away from the holographic world, Janeway lays her hand on Phipsborn`s forearm.
“Professor, I ask you to preserve the entry. Like you, I see these data for the first time. But I vouch for their correctness! If the database requires an author`s name -” she looks at him, “call him Peri.”
Phipsborn eyes Janeway as if expecting further explanations. Finally, he turns back to the console and enters the name. Janeway points to the displayed table.
“What do these characters next to the file mean?”
“They classify the status of the registered object. In this case: Extinguished by external influence. But that event was not specified in more detail.”
With bitterness, Janeway looks into the sparse holographic relic of the vanished world. “That happened far outside Federation territory, where civilizations live without ethical directives.”
“Unfortunately, such things happen here too,” notes Phipsborn. “In the course of investigations for our archive we come across cases of disre-gard for the Prime Directive every once in a while. Especially when military or economic interests are pursued, the relevant agencies within the Federation often ignore illegal machinations. The most endangered are non-humanoid life-forms who lack the ability to communicate verbally. Those who cannot speak for themselves and do not resemble the humanoid species in appearance fall a victim of their criminal tendencies most easily. Just think of the unique sulpholobic and methanophilic species and their symbionts that were destroyed in the mining of manganese ore in the terrestrial deep sea of the 21st Century. This would not be possible in the open today, but hidden genocide still occurs.”
Phipsborn closes the table.
“When I was young, I felt great enthusiasm for the discoveries of new worlds and life-forms by the pioneers of Starfleet. Today, I know that their discovery by humanoids means misery and extinction for many of these species.”
Janeway stares into the hills of the holoworld.
“Perhaps I should have been given this lesson at the Academy many years ago, Professor.” She turns her head and looks at Phipsborn inquiringly. “Is there anything else I should know?”
After a moment of hesitation, Phipsborn reaches forth his hand to say goodbye.
“We`re living in dramatic times. I wish you all the best! Take care of your-self, Captain Janeway, … and of your people!”
She takes his hand seriously.
“I will, Professor.”
He nods to her and moves away. Once more, Janeway looks into the holographic document in front of her. Then she closes it. The image darkens like a room in which a burnt down candle flame quickly gets smaller and goes out.

Aside from a group of other ships, Voyager is floating above the planet Omikron XII. On the ship`s surface, spider robots are mounting the last few monotanium plates that had broken away.

Janeway enters the bridge.
Tuvok reports, “The message we sent to Starfleet headquarters two days ago has not been answered yet, Captain.”
Janeway frowns. “Starfleet does talk to others about our return, though! I`m in my ready room.”
She enters her room and sits behind the desk. Fingers scroll through open menus, eyes look at the monitor screen. Soon, they roam away and gaze through the window to a light grey satellite of the planet. Away from large, dark plains it is covered with impact craters in its moun-tainous area.
It rings.
“Come in!”
Torres enters. “The robots are returning to the shuttle bay, Captain. The hull damages have been repaired and the cloaking device has been dis-mantled.”
“Very well, Lieutenant! We`ll leave as soon as the crew is back on board.”
Torres hesitates for a moment.
Then she declares, “We know now who helped the Cardassians to exterminate the Maquis.”
With a motionless face, Janeway remains silent.
“It was the Jem`Hadar, the Dominion`s killer squad.”
A stern and worried gaze fixes onto Torres.
“I hope you`re not planning to revive the Maquis with Chakotay`s old crew.”
“With that few of people?” Bitterly Torres shakes her head. “Don`t worry, Captain, we`re not that crazy. But if at any time we see a chance for revenge — we`ll take it!”
A tired tone lies in Janeway`s voice. “Let the dead ones rest, B`Elanna, and make peace, … above all with yourself.”
Dark and discontented, Torres turns her head to the side. She moves around and walks towards the exit. She stops at the door.
“There was something else we came across: there seems to be an amaz-ing number of entries in the archive`s database, concerning the Delta Quadrant. The run on them was so great that I could skim over merely a part of it.”
“We once had the opportunity to exchange messages through the Hiro-gen communication network. Almost every crew member sent notes of their experiences to their relatives.”
Torres nods. “Maybe the data have been extracted from these reports.”
She goes to the door and leaves the room.

A ship emerges from a warp bubble and flies towards Omikron XII at impulse speed. In front of the planet, it slows down and moves into the free area between the group of passenger ships and Voyager.
Behind a window of that ship`s bridge, three officers in Starfleet uniforms are standing, looking outside with rigid faces. Several hundred meters away, through windows of a monotanium hull, the button eyes of tubeworms stare back at them, at the ends of pipe-like bodies that excitedly twitch back and forth.

Janeway sits down in her place on the bridge. Her head turns sideways to the chair of the first officer, which is unoccupied.
Tuvok reports, “The entire crew has returned aboard and has occupied their stations, Captain.”
Janeway turns forward. “Mr. Paris, take us near the star of this system, to a position between that star and the Sun!”
“Aye, Captain.”
On the screen, the stars move as Voyager turns around and leaves the orbit over the planet.
“Commander, send another message to Starfleet Command! Indicate our current position and report that we`re going to leave slipstream somewhere in the stellar environment of the Sun.”
“Aye, Captain.”
Kim raises his head. “Captain, the main computer just managed to deci-pher both messages the Albatross transmitted during our incident with the Romulans at Kassra V.”
“Let`s hear!”
Kim explains, “The first transmission took place shortly after we con-tacted them.”
The voice of the Albatross captain begins to speak. “To Starfleet head-quarters, Michail Baratov, captain of the Albatross salvage ship. Stardate 56413.2 We have reached sector X02 and are approaching the planet Kassra V to recover resources and bring them to Bathia IV. Two hours ago, a ship contacted us that our long-range sensors located in the Kassra system. It shows signatures of Starfleet technology, as well as unidentifiable components. This ship has alleged its identity as Federation Starship Voyager. Visual and acoustic analysis during communication revealed a high level of agreement with officers of the USS Voyager. In addition, there are alien life-forms on that ship. Their species is unknown to any of our databases. The ship`s captain is trying to dissuade us from salvaging the raw materials on the grounds that Romulans murdered the geological team that dis-covered the mineral resources and that they were still in cloaked state near Kassra V. We`ll try to find out the truth! Baratov out.”
Wordlessly, Janeway looks into the darkness on the screen.
“The second message was automatically transmitted by the main com-puter of the Albatross immediately before their destruction,” explains Kim.
A computer voice speaks, “Emergency message – salvage ship Albatross. Stardate 56413.4. Position: orbit Kassra V. Critical hit on the propulsion module. Antimatter release. Ships involved in combat action: Albatross – alien vessel similar to Intrepid-class –”
“This is where the message breaks off, Captain.”
A deep furrow has formed between Janeway`s eyes. She supports her head with her hand on her chin. In front of her, Ceph settles down in the hollow of the slipstream helm and unrolls his arms into the sensor grooves. Janeway straightens up.
“All right, Mr. Kim. We have sent our version to the Romulans and to the Federation. If there are any misunderstandings, we`ll clear them up after our return home!”
Paris reports, “We are in position and aligned, Captain.”
Janeway reaches at the small console next to her chair and looks at the three eyes of Ceph directed on her. She nods to him.
“Bring us into quantum space one more time, Mr. Ceph, … take us home.”
On the screen whirls of the quantum matrix appear, enveloping the ship from the bow. Through the threads of the matrix, the ship moves side-ways. All at once, the vortices become circular and form a tunnel that sucks in Voyager at high acceleration.

Aside from the ribbon of the Milky Way, three equally bright stars line up closely. They are embedded in the middle of a distorted rectangle. At its bright corners – diagonally separated – a blue and a red giant glitter.
Sideways below, a brilliant white gem is resplendently shining and on the opposite side of the densely packed, sparkling band two twin stars are glinting, fraternally united. At some distance of these patterns, the small disc of a bright yellow star excels in brightness and in size the stars of its surroundings. Next to this star a quantum vortex opens. It closes again, and leaves Voyager behind.

At the slipstream helm, Ceph rolls his arms out of the sensor grooves. Kathryn Janeway rises and leaves the captain`s place. She turns around.
“Mr. Kim?”
“No damages, Captain. All systems reporting normal.”
She walks towards the viewscreen.
“Determination of coordinates is not finished yet. According to sensor data, we`re in a star system — an average main sequence star of spectral class G2, visual brightness magnitude plus five.”
Janeway stops next to the helm.
“The system contains four gas planets, …” continues Seven, “four rock planets, as well as several peripheral dwarf planets. Our coordinates -”
“Tom,” Janeway interrupts Seven with shining eyes as she places one hand on Paris`s shoulder and points with the other to the edge of the screen.
“Fly us to that planet!”
Paris`s lids narrow as he looks at the small object.
Then he answers: “Avec plaisir, ma Capitaine!”
The bow of the ship swings towards the indicated planet. It rapidly grows.
In a cool tone, Seven comments, “A medium-sized gas planet of the I-class, with a ring system and numerous moons, the largest of which -”
“It`s all right, Seven. Most people on the ship have known this moon since childhood.” Janeway touches the communicator. “Captain to the crew – we are just passing Saturn`s moon Titan!”

Between the windows of the monotanium outer shell and the inner hull, tubeworms quickly disappear as crew members run together from all sides and look outside the portholes.

Slowly and majestically, the starship Voyager flies through space, passing a moon surrounded by a pale atmosphere. She reaches the gas giant and floats over its glittering ring system of ice crystals, which give rise to a diffused reflection of the ship as it moves away growing smaller.
After a while, it changes course and flies over the planet in polar direc-tion as a point illuminated by the scattered sunlight.

The screen of the bridge shows the hexagonal polar cloud structure and the stratified coaxial stripes of Saturn`s stormy gas veils. Below, beyond its equator, the concentric rings extend, visible in the wide dimension of the screen up to the edge of the system.
The officers look at the picture in silence. Ceph`s eyes are distributed among the humanoids and the planet depicted. The holocom of the bridge pops up beside the helm and the head of the doctor appears oversized, reciting: “And when Odysseus climbed up the magnificent slopes of Ithaca and looked over his country from lucid height -”
“Without denying the analogy in terms of joy, Doctor,” Janeway inter-rupts him, “I must point out to you that your comparison is seriously flawed. When Ulysses arrived home, he had lost all his companions and his ship. — Our ship`s captain had better luck!”
Kim reports, “Three large ships from Starfleet are approaching from dif-ferent directions: Akira-, Nebular- and Ambassador-class.”
Janeway smiles. “An impressive welcome committee!”
Kim frowns. “Captain, these are heavily armed warships; their shields are at maximum and their weapons are charged!”
Janeway`s smile fades. Paris turns his head sideways and looks upward at her.
“There`s something fishy here!”
Step by step Janeway walks backwards. She turns to Tuvok and gives him a questioning look.
He declares, “I agree with Mr. Paris, Captain. Starfleet`s behavior is in-deed inappropriate and not plausible.”
Janeway looks at him silently for a moment.
Then she orders: “All right. — Shields up! Mr. Carey, charge all weap-ons!”
“Aye, Captain.”
“Mr. Kim, transmit hailing frequencies!”
“None of the ships is responding, Captain.”

Voyager is floating over the pole of Saturn. The approaching warships stop in front of her surrounding her from three sides. Each of them is many times larger than Voyager.

Kim reports, “We are hailed by the Nebular ship, Captain. It`s the Eagle of War.”
“On screen!”
An elderly man appears with a leathery, weather-tanned face. In a martial tone he declares, “I am Admiral Rockwood, Starfleet Security. – Identify yourself!”
Straightened up and resolutely, Janeway steps towards him in front of the viewscreen. “I am Kathryn Janeway, captain of the Federation Starship Voyager. – No offense, Admiral, but after all these years I would have expected a somewhat more cordial welcome.”
The admiral bends forward and scrutinizes Janeway with an examining gaze. “Amazing, so you are … Captain Janeway.”
“We`ve announced our arrival several times.”
Hesitantly, the admiral replies, “Certainly -”
His eyes turn sideways as he examines the bridge crew to the right of Janeway.
“Listen, Admiral, probably the Romulans have spread a version of the events at Kassra V that differs from ours, but I assure you -”
“No need to worry about that!” The admiral gives a sign of refusal, and a slanting smile distorts his lips. “We certainly trust statements made by officers of a – Voyager – more than those of intriguing Romulans.”
Again, his gaze wanders away from Janeway, this time to the other side, where Ceph is sitting at the slipstream helm.
“I regret if my demeanor has frightened you, Captain. Of course, Starfleet is happy about your return! But we must also ensure that regulations are observed. Your crew has to undergo a medical routine first; then you may move freely.”
“Agreed! Beam a medical team aboard Voyager.”
“This is already in preparation. In the meantime, may I invite you to a dinner, Captain … Janeway?”
“If that doesn`t violate your hygiene regulations?”
“But no! With the perspective of dining in such lovely company, I`m pleased to make an exception. Beam to the Eagle immediately!”
“Give me some time, Admiral, I want to make myself up for the dinner. – Janeway out.”
The admiral disappears from the screen. Janeway turns around and goes to the door of her ready room.
Paris anxiously calls after her, “Captain – do you really want to beam to the Eagle?”
Janeway stops at her door and turns around. “It seems to be the only way to find out what`s going on. Do you have a better suggestion, Mr. Paris?”
“If you give the order, I`ll get Voyager to Earth with a warp jump.”
“We`ll follow the rules, Ensign!”
The door closes behind her. E-Bug`s eyes are restlessly twitching back and forth between the Eagle of War, imaged in the center of the screen, and the humanoids on the bridge.

In her ready room, Janeway goes to the desk and sits behind the monitor. She opens data records of the ship`s systems. With a mo-tionless and dark face, she looks at the symbols for a while. Resolutely she raises her head.
“Computer: — Authorization – Janeway – Omega – 3 7 5 – Z – Gamma – Psi.”

In the transporter room of the Eagle of War, Admiral Rock-wood and another officer are standing in front of two armed security guards. Kathryn Janeway materializes on a pad in front of them. The two officers inspect her with a scrutinizing look. The admiral steps forward and stretches out his hand.
“Welcome to the solar system, Captain Janeway!” He points to his companion. “This is Major Heydric, head of terrestrial security.”
Heydric also reaches out his hand to Janeway.
“Does Starfleet consider Voyager a security risk?” inquires Janeway.
Rockwood smiles. “Don`t take it personally, … we live in uncertain times. Regulations had to be tightened a bit. Join me!”
Rockwood leaves the transporter room with Janeway. The Major and the two security men follow behind. After a few meters in the corridor, the admiral stops.
“I intended to take you to dinner right away, Captain, but unfortunately I have to ask you to undergo a brief examination by our ship`s doctor. I couldn`t persuade him to make an exception; you probably know how stubborn ship`s doctors can be. It won`t take long; we`re waiting for you here.”
He opens a sliding door. Silently, Janeway nods with a tense face. She enters the medical area. The door closes behind her with a hissing sound. Then the locking of bolts can be heard. Janeway turns around. Her gaze hurries over the doorframe that surrounds the entrance without any control display integrated. She turns forward again from where a physician approaches.
“I`m Doctor Barb.” He eyes her face. “So you are Captain Janeway, then.” He seizes Janeway`s outstretched hand as if for a wel-come shake. But then, his other hand grabs her hand too and begins to feel her finger bones.
“I assure you, Doctor, I have all the phalanges that are common to our species.”
He lets off her hand again. Then he takes a scanner and moves it over Janeway`s body from top to bottom. He checks the data on the display with an expressionless look.
“Is something wrong?”
“But no, it`s all surprisingly correct.” He looks her in the eyes. “However, the values of your telomere markers indicate a slightly minor age.”
Janeway nods. “That may be. Our ship got into a disturbed subspace field and was subjected to relativistic time dilation.”
“I see.” He puts the scanner away. “Follow me!”
He steps into a narrow chamber, which is bounded at the opposite end by a perforated metal plate and at the sides by thick glass walls. Janeway hesitates.
“Don`t worry, I`m with you!”
Janeway enters the chamber. The entrance closes. The doctor stares at her with an observing gaze.
“Relax your muscles. Breathe in slowly, … and out again, … in, … and out again, … in, … out – ”
Janeway`s chest lifts and lowers according to his commands. Suddenly, she becomes nervous. Her eyes twitch sideways, as if looking for an exit.
“I`m hot, Doctor, … it`s getting worse, it is in all of the limbs at the same time! What kind of examination is this?”
“Stay calm. Inhale, … exhale -”
Janeway`s skin reddens in multiple spots that rapidly increase and even-tually grow together. She closes her eyes. The next moment she opens her eyes wide. She grabs the doctor`s arm.
“I see flashes on the retina, … this is high-energy radiation! Get me out of here at once!”
“Stay calm. I`m with you; nothing can happen to you.”
For a short time, the doctor`s shoulder area flickers and becomes transparent.
Janeway grasps in horror, “You`re a hologram – the radiation is so strong that it disturbs your holomatrix!” She presses herself against the door. “Open the sluice immediately!”
Janeway hits the thick glass with her fist. She sags to her knees. Once more, she hits the door. Then she collapses in unconsciousness.

When she wakes up again, she is lying on an operation table, under a scanner that has been put over her body. Powerless and with an ema-ciated face, she braces herself against the medical tool. The doctor is standing next to the bed. He reaches at her shoulder.
“Stay calm one more moment, tissue regeneration is almost complete.”
He checks the readings on the surface of the scanner. Then he lifts the cover over Janeway.
“You may sit up now!”
Laboriously, Janeway shifts her legs sideways from the treatment table and sits on the bed moaning and writhed. The doctor taps his communicator.
“Doctor Barb to control center. – The examination is complete. She may be fetched.”
“Understood!” replies a voice.
Still sitting, Janeway raises her upper body with difficulty and examines the doctor, who writes a protocol on a monitor.
“Why did you expose me to that radiation?”
Without looking up from his activity, he replies, “Form-transformation matrices of the most different kind can be destabilized with high-energy radiation of high dose.”
The sliding-gate of the examination station opens. Admiral Rockwood and Major Heydric enter.
The doctor reports: “Reversible analytics reveal only a slight poisoning with chromium. Shall non-reversible methods be applied as well?”
The admiral gives a sign of refusal. “Not now.” He looks at Janeway.
“I`m sorry you had to undergo this procedure before dinner. But as I said, rules have been tightened.”
Janeway`s eyes glow with anger. “You`re lying! Starfleet would never authorize such investigations!”
“You don`t know Starfleet very well!” He reaches out his hand to her. “Come, … after a delicious meal and a glass of Burgundy you`ll feel better again.”
Janeway presses both fists onto the edge of the operation table and props herself up wobbly. She straightens up.
“I`ve lost my appetite. Get me to the transporter room, I`ll beam back to my ship!”
Rockwood gives a sign of refusal. “You can`t leave me like this! By the way, somebody who`s been waiting for you for a long time wants to see you again.”
He taps his communicator. “Transporter – we`re ready!”
The admiral, the major, and Janeway dematerialize.

The three persons rematerialize in the entrance area of a banqueting hall. The hall is occupied by rows of uncovered dining tables. Janeway looks around. Her roaming glance strikes a window.
“But — we`re on Earth!”
She darkly stares at Rockwood. “How long was I unconscious?”
The admiral does not answer.
“I want to get back to my crew!”
Without looking at Janeway Rockwood declares, “You will see them again soon.”
His gaze is directed at a man in an evening dress approaching behind Janeway.
“Kathy -?”
She turns around.
The man hesitantly reaches his hand to Janeway. The admiral grabs the major by the elbow and they move several meters away. A waiter ap-pears and bends to Janeway.
“It`s an honor, Captain Janeway, to welcome you to the Palace! Your seats are already prepared. Please follow me …”
He leads the two to a table in an elevated box. Janeway and her compa-nion sit down. The waiter hands them the menu and leaves. With the exception of a few servants, the entire banqueting hall is deserted.
Mark`s eyes feel over Janeway`s face as if he wanted to seize and fathom every wrinkle and every pore.
“You look so real, … I mean, … so almost unchanged, just like when we said goodbye. Do you remember, … in that beach cafe?”
“It wasn`t a beach cafe, but a restaurant near our apartment,” Janeway contradicts him. “But there was a lot of water there too: it was raining cats and dogs! And we didn`t say goodbye there either, but two days later, just before the shuttle took off.”
They are interrupted by the growling and barking of a dog. At the en-trance it is pulling an officer on its leash. The leash slips out between the man`s fingers.
Janeway gets up. The big dog jumps towards her and rises – standing on its hind legs – up at her. She supports herself and it with one hand on its shoulder. With the other she crawls it on the back of its head.
“Mollie –!”
The dog gasps with excitement and joy.
“Slowly – slowly my good one! You`re not the youngest!”
Janeway`s face also shines with joy. When Mollie has calmed down, she sits on her chair again, and Mollie lies exhausted next to her, with her head leaning against Janeway`s legs.
The admiral and the major approach. Rockwood gives Mark a questioning look.
“Well, what do you think?”
“I can`t tell the difference. See, the dog too -”
The admiral observed the dog. “Even the smell matches.”
Mark stands up. “Do you still need me?”
“You may go. You know the rules?”
Mark nods. He responds to Janeway`s questioning gaze with an expression of dichotomy lasting several moments, between affection and strangeness. Then he bends down and picks up the end of the dog leash. Janeway grabs the leash.
“Leave her to me, … please!”
“My wife would miss our dog.”
“I`m asking you, … just for a few days. She`s the only one who`s happy about my return.”
Mark turns his head to the admiral. When the admiral indifferently shrugs his shoulders, he drops the leash, turns around and leaves the hall. As if absent-minded Janeway`s gaze follows him, her hand resting on the head of the dog below her.
The waiter returns. “Do you wish to drink the same as last time, Captain Janeway?”
She shakes her head. “You are mistaken. I`ve never been to this place before.”
The admiral raises his hand. “His memory does not deceive this man at all, Captain. On an evening about one and a half years ago, all the box seats in this hall were occupied by the highest-ranking officers of Starfleet. Also, in the rest of the hall no chair had been left vacant. And exactly in the place where you are sitting right now sat — Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager, surrounded by her crew, and celebrated her glorious return from the Delta Quadrant!”


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