Starship Voyager – The Alien Adventures — 1 JEFFERIES TUBE 23


Copyright for humanoid characters and Star Trek technology at Paramount Pictures / CBS.

Story Copyright © Aliki 2019.

This is mere fan fiction. No commercial interest is persued. Distribution of this story for commercial interest is not allowed.

I. New Companions


1. Jefferies Tube 23

Vacuum silence – in front of a window, sparkling with the mirrored spots of stars. A filigree ray of light from afar penetrates the glass. It scatters at the crystalline growth of the inside and spreads its faint luminosity against the obscurity of the capsuled room. Contours of edges and vaults arise from darkness. Gleaming spots shimmer through the thick pane of glass, framed with ice flowers. A steady low hum fills the gloomy air.
Suddenly a mute explosion of light, with quadrillions of photons from a lamp flooding the room. The curvature of a tube shakingly jerks with the pressure variation of its content; the scraping vibrations are passed on through fixtures into the ceiling. A rapidly rotating axis stands out from a block; vibrations caused by minute mass asymmetry and the rolling fric-tion of bearings are transferred to the floor via the screws fixing the block. A massive cable is plugged to a unit; inside, with alternating voltages, magnetic forces induced by electrical currents are rattling at current conducting parts.
From all areas of the starship, the acoustic life signatures of its technical units are coupling into the forming frame of the construction. In it, they gather and superimpose; and from it, they spread to the facing of the floors, ceilings and walls. Acting as membranes, these surfaces transmit the mixture of low-frequency vibrations to the atmospheric gases, which stem with their thermal movement against the starship`s hull. Inside the contained atmosphere of the ship, the low humming pierces as acoustic pressure waves through the air of control stations and laboratories, cargo bays and shuttle bays. Dark and low, it resonates through the tween-decks and through the Jefferies tubes, which permeate the ship as a labyrinthine web of ramifying supply arteries constructed as crawlway tunnels, in which pipes, cables and glassy fibers are laid. They transport gases, plasma, electrons, and photons throughout the ship, which serve as supply media for subsystems, such as climate tools and pump stations, as power conveyor for generators and recycling systems, as sensor signals and controlling commands for the crew`s consoles and the neural and opto-electronic components of the central and peripheral cores of the main computer, which monitors and controls all technical processes on the starship.

At the front side of a small console, blinking in peaceful routine, the end of a hair has been caught in the narrow gap between two parts of the sheet metal facing. Tense like a string, it rises from the mop of a bright-brown tuft, which hangs loosely sideways in a widely swung arc. The modes of fine vibrations are oscillating across the stretched hair, stimu-lated by the humming of the facing, and disturb the balance of a micro-scopically small mite, which strolls along the hair bridge, walking with eight legs. In slow movement, the head of the tuft turns aside, thereby twitching out the single hair from its anchorage. A short and drowsy fe-male grumble resounds.
As Kathryn Janeway slowly opens her eyes, her countenance shows deep and cozy tiredness. She lolls her arms with angled elbows. She is sitting in her chair on the bridge.
“How could I fall asleep in this place?” she utters sullenly and forces her-self, against the stiffness of her limbs, to stand up.
She looks around. On the central viewscreen at the bow of the bridge, bright lines are running from the center of the image to its edges, overlaying the background of dark, empty space. The lines diverge in radial direction, as central perspective distortion stripes of nearby star constellations, through which the starship flies at high speed.
In front of the screen, Tom Paris lies, bent over the helm and navigation console, with his head on his crossed arms. Next to Janeway`s place, First Officer Chakotay is sitting with his head hanging deep towards his chest. The Vulcan tactical officer, Tuvok, and the supervising officer for the ship`s operation controls, Harry Kim, are also sleeping in their places. Worriedly, Janeway`s eyes direct towards the little monitor close to her chair. She retrieves data with hasty movements of her fingertips on the touch screen.
Then she calms down again and mumbles, “All systems normal; we`re flying with warp 8 – heading home.”
Heavily, she claps her hands. The bridge officers begin to move. While mustering the strength to escape their sleep, they look just as astonished as their captain.


In front of the background of stars stretched to stripes rapidly passing by, the starship Voyager flies through dark space. More and more of its windows glow as the crew wake.
In the shape of the starship, different designs have been fused to one vessel. The rear half of the hull follows the streamlined shape of a ship or submarine, with two airplane-like wings fixed to the hull, one on each side. On the tip of each wing are cylindrical jet-like engines that stretch along half of the rear body. At the ship`s center, the front portion of the hull is attached to the rear with an overlap, similar to a spearhead atop the shaft. The front resembles a flying saucer, which is elliptically ex-tended in longitudinal direction. On top of the saucer, near the center of its vault, a small dome rises, resembling the prominent bridge of a ship. Its windows are shedding a sparkling gleam into the outside dark.

Janeway turns to a starboard workstation, situated on the platform aft her command area.
“Tuvok, what happened? Why did we sleep?”
Tuvok directs his eyes downward to the displays of the tactical console in front of him. He checks sensor data. Eventually, he lifts a brow.
“From safety protocols no explanation can be derived, Captain.”
By the side of Janeway, Chakotay rises from the chair of the First Officer. He rubs his temple at the position of his Indian tattoo. Janeway exchanges a look of curiosity with him. With the tips of her fingers, she touches her communicator, which is fixed to her uniform, a hand`s breadth below her left collar-bone. The contour of the badge-like tool resembles an upward directed rocket.
“Bridge to main engineering. – B`Elanna, are you awake?”
Hesitatingly, a female voice answers out of the communicator, “I`m sor-ry, Captain, … I don`t know why –”
“Never mind. What`s the status in engineering?”
“As aught I see, all systems are working normal.”
Opposite of the tactics, on the platform at the port side of the bridge, the young Operations Control Officer Harry Kim rubs his eyes.
“Captain, maybe we`ve been flying through a field or a fog, something that may have caused a neurogenic effect.”
“Good idea, Mr. Kim. Scan the space behind us!”
Kim activates algorithms for analysis at the OPS workstation in front of him. Shortly afterwards he reports, “Within sensor`s range, nothing un-usual is detected.”
Janeway rises her head. “Computer, localize Seven of Nine.”
“Seven of Nine stays in cargobay 1,” answers the smooth voice of the main computer.
“She`s probably regenerating. I`ll see after her. Maybe we can find any hints in the astrometrical laboratory. Take the bridge, Chakotay!”
Janeway climbs the two steps to the rear platform and enters the turbo-lift. With a low hiss, the left and right sliding parts of the door close be-hind her.

In the kitchen of the casino the Talaxian Neelix is crawling out from be-hind the bar. He rubs the yellow-brown scaly skin around his little eyes.
“What am I doing here? This is not my usual sleeping place — was I drunk?” He looks around nerviously from the kitchen tools to the en-trance. “I must hurry — the crew will soon come in and I have nothing prepared for breakfast!”
Little Naomi enters the casino, together with her mother and two crew-men. Over the counter Neelix calls to them.
“A wonderful good morning to all of you! Unfortunately, breakfast is not ready yet — but I can offer you a delicious replicator porridge.”
Naomi makes a nauseated grimace.

On the wall of a gloomy cargo bay, a young woman is standing inside the niche of an aggregate of dark-green gleaming units. She is standing upright; her eyes are closed. At the back of her hand, below her right earlobe and at her left temple, flat metallic implants protrude from the skin, shaped with bizarre outlines. The green blinking of the multifariously designed instruments surrounding the niche conveys an impression of transmitters and makes the upright posture of the slender figure look antenna-like.
The two halves of the sliding door shift apart. Through the opening en-trance a bright stripe is projected on the floor by the light from outside, up to the sleeping, standing woman. Following her shadow, Janeway goes to the console in front of Seven of Nine`s Borg alcove. She starts the waking procedure. Seven opens her eyes and steps out of the regeneration area.
“Seven of Nine reports for duty.” She ponders. “It seems to me I have been regenerating longer than usual.”
Janeway nods. “The whole crew had an unusual sleeping experience. Let`s go to the astrometrical laboratory and search for an anomaly, or anything strange that may have put us into sleep!”

The young semi-Klingon B`Elanna Torres enters sickbay. Her eyes rove from the empty sickbeds to a small office behind a glass wall.
No motion nor reply.
“Computer, activate the Emergency Medical Hologram.”
Near Torres pops up, like a ghost out from empty space, the holographic appearance of a Human, realized by the main computer. In figure and features he is shaped after a prototype in his late male mid-life.
“Please state the nature of the medical emergency,” he demands me-chanically. A moment later he recognizes the addressed person.
“B`Elanna, how can I help you?”
“Doctor, I fell asleep during duty,” she answers with consternation.
“In this case I advise you to spend more time for night rest in bed!”
The worried expression in Torres`s face changes to impatience and an-noyance.
“No Doctor – it`s different. The whole crew in main engineering had fall-en asleep.”
“That`s unusual indeed.”
He moves a short stick-like medical scanner up and down her forehead, close to the protruding Klingon bulges.
“No sign of unusual activity is indicated inside your cortex areas. Your neurotransmitter values are in perfect balance. Do you feel dizzy or feeble?”
“On the contrary. I feel rejuvenated and alert, … like after having slept my fill.”
“Good for you! Come back to me if you should fall asleep unexpectedly again.”
He turns aside and clears the medical scanner away into a drawer. An angry undertone sounds in Torres`s voice, while she steps to the exit of the sickbay.
“Thanks for your help, Doctor -”
With a somewhat astonished, but self-secure look the Doctor replies, “You`re welcome!”

The casino is crowded with people. Conversations sound from all tables and the bar in front of the kitchen. Balancing his highly loaded tray, Neelix distributes cheerfully what he has prepared in the meantime. From her seat, Janeway is smiling charmingly towards him.
“Neelix, once again you`re serving us up your most delicious creations!”
“I don`t know, Captain. Strangely enough, the crew rushes at everything that I have to offer today. Even the Leola root stew and the Bukk`arian turnip broth, which normally most guests avoid, are already out.”
Neelix comes close to the table of Naomi and her mother. Naomi points to her disk.
“Neelix, will you smell my soup, please?”
“Anything wrong?” Neelix inquires with a startled look. “Did I use too much of the denebian marjoram?”
“Come on, smell it!”
Neelix bends over her tray. His nostrils vibrate during inhalation. With a sudden move, Naomi lets a hairy yellow puppet appear from under the table and moves it toward Neelix`s face.
“Grrreee!” shrieks Naomi.
Neelix jumps back. “Help! What a monster!”
Naomi laughs, “This is the voracious Sulfur Goblin, that Ensign Paris brought me when he came back from an away mission.”
“I`m glad he didn`t swallow me up!” Neelix shouts grinning and continues serving the next table.
Placing her puppet next to her tray, Naomi realizes that it loses wisps of hair, the more she investigates the figure. Carefully she takes it with both hands and hurries out of the casino.

On the bridge Kim reports to Chakotay, “Commander, sensors detect a vast nebula before us that emits a torkion field.”
“On screen.”
On the central monitor at the bow of the bridge, in front of the navigation console, a light-blue nebula appears, grown through with veined structures of higher density.
“How long would it take if we fly around?” requests Chakotay.
“We`d lose more than two days.”
Chakotay touches his communicator.
“Captain required on the bridge!”

Naomi enters sickbay. She hurries to the doctor, who is sitting at his desk, working at the computer. Without turning away from his monitor, he welcomes her.
“Miss Wildman! To what do I owe the honor of your visit?”
“The Sulfur Goblin is sick!” she exclaims.
She hands the puppet to him. The doctor takes a look at it. His forehead covers with wrinkles. He grips the Goblin. Puzzled and worried, his mouth broadens to rectangular shape, while the yellow wisps are slipping through his fingers and falling on the desk.
“This is something serious.”
“Can you cure him, Doctor?”
“I don`t know. I have to examine him first.”
He scans the puppet with his medical tricorder.
“You will not like my diagnosis — I`m afraid there is no hope.”
“What`s the matter with him?” shouts Naomi in compassion and anxiety.
“He was made of a substance that was fabricated in a different atmos-phere. On our ship we have 21% of oxygen; it looks like your puppet is disintegrating.”
“Can`t we do anything for him?”
“You would have to bring him back to where he descended from.”
“I cannot -!”
Naomi presses the puppet at her body and runs out of the station.

The turbolift opens; Janeway enters the bridge.
Chakotay points to the monitor. “This extended nebula is emitting torkion fields at various frequencies. Our current course would go straight through this object.”
“May that field pose any threat for ship or crew, Mr. Kim?”
“I don`t think so, Captain. Shields should screen it completely.”
The prospect of scientific adventure makes Janeway`s eyes shine.
“All right. Then we`ll maintain our course and explore the object!”

With a desperate face Naomi runs down the corridor. At a corner she collides with Seven of Nine`s legs. Strictly Seven looks downward into Naomi`s wet eyes.
“Is there a problem, Miss Wildman?”
“My puppet! It cannot live in our air!”
“That is … regrettable,” replies Seven coolly.
Naomi turns around and runs on.
A quake shakes the bridge.
Janeway calls, “What was that, Mr. Kim?”
“I`m not sure, Captain. The nebula forms a bow wave in front of our shields and the torkion field seems to modulate in this wave. This causes amplitude peaks that penetrate the shields.”
The ship trembles again. Janeway shakes her head.
“How can such a weak field jolt the ship so heavily?”
Seven steps out of the lift. Janeway turns to her.
“Seven, from your time with the Borg, what do you know about torkion fields?”
“They are caused by a rare form of plasma vibration and are generally harmless. They do not damage biological or technical objects.”
Again, the ship is quaking so badly that the crew starts to waver.
Torres`s voice calls from a communicator, “Main engineering to Captain!”
“Go ahead, B`Elanna!”
“The warp plasma suddenly became unstable. We see erratic fluctua-tions in the reaction chamber. ”
“We are flying through a nebula that emits a torkion field. Maybe the warp plasma is modulated by the field.”
“I cannot imagine a process that would cause an effect like this, at least not directly. Wait, that`s strange: the fluctuations in the warp core are triggered by the ship`s central controls. Whenever an amplitude peak of that field penetrates the hull, the main computer generates an anomaly in the warp plasma.”
Janeway nods. “So, it`s probably feedback via the computer.”
“There`s something I don`t understand, Captain,” muses Kim. “According to my readings, the fluctuations in the warp reaction chamber create an antiphase torkion field. Inside the ship it strongly dampens the field penetrated from the nebula.”
Disturbed, Janeway looks at Tuvok. “I`m not aware that such a compensation mechanism was implemented in the ship`s computer.”
Tuvok shakes his head. “Nor am I, Captain.”
Janeway turns to the navigation console.
“Mr. Paris, take the shortest route to fly us out of this nebula!”
“Aye, ma`am,” Paris confirms.
“Mr. Kim, try to find the computer`s subroutines responsible for that access to the warp plasma!”
Janeway goes to the turbolift. “I`m in main engineering.”

Stooping, a crewman staggers into sickbay. The doctor notices him.
“Mr. Biddle! Does your appendix bother you again? We`ll have to take it out after all.”
Biddle sits down on the treatment couch.
“I feel weak, Doctor, … and I think I have a fever.”
The doctor scans him. Astonished and worried, his eyebrows rise.
“Lie flat on your back!”
Groaning, Biddle lies lengthwise on the sickbed. The doctor pulls a large half-cylindrical scanner over Biddle`s upper body; he looks at the display and suddenly becomes dead serious.

The two parts of a gate slide apart and Janeway enters main engineering. She walks straight ahead, towards the floor-to-ceiling pillar of the warp core. Through its transparent shell, the bright-white smoldering, fluctuating plasma of the nuclear fuel is visible. It delivers the energy that enables to warp space-time around the starship, in order to fly at speeds exceeding the speed of light.
“Report,” calls Janeway, just before she reaches the central console in front of the warp core, where Torres is engaged checking data.
Torres informs her, “Since we left the nebula, the warp plasma is stable again.”
“Show me the log files of the last two hours!”
Torres moves her fingers on a touch display on the console panel.
“See, Captain: There are repeating external command codes that mod-ulated the plasma. That should not be! The control of the warp core is carried out exclusively inside this room. The only external commands that affect the firing process are routines controlling the combustion performance during the ship`s acceleration, or the general shutdown of the plasma.”
Kim`s voice reports from the communicator, “Bridge to the Captain. – I`ve located the origin of the subroutines you required. They come from a group of neural gel packs in Jefferies tube 23.”
“Well done, Mr. Kim,” replies Janeway. “Inform Chakotay and Seven to meet me there!”
“Aye, Captain.”

Seven of Nine walks down a corridor, turns off into a narrow side pas-sage and stops in front of a niche. On its inner wall the flap of a lock is integrated, half a meter above the ground. Seven scans the area around the flap with a handheld device, which shows several data fields on a display. Janeway and Chakotay appear.
Seven reports, “The tricorder detects nothing unusual from the outside.”
“Then we`ll check inside,” replies Janeway.
She opens the flap and crawls into the tube behind. Chakotay and Seven follow her. On their hands and knees the three Humans laboriously move forward on the metal floor of the tube, which is less than a meter high.
Chakotay smiles. “Say, Seven, are there such uncomfortable spots in Borg cubes?”
Uncomfortable is not a category in the Borg language. The collective constructs maintenance shafts so that they can be used effi-ciently by humanoid drones.”
“What does efficient in this case mean?”
“Minimum height: 1.8 meters.”
Janeway lifts a knee. With her fingers she massages pressure imprints of the metal grid floor off her skin. She turns her head back.
“If we ever get home, I`ll recommend Starfleet to detach their ship de-signers to the Borg for lessons!”
Seven explains, “The ships of the collective have enough space to optimize technical areas because individual crew quarters are not neces-sary. An area of less than one square meter for regeneration is sufficient for each drone.” Seven points forward. “The section of the tube where the faulty gel packs were located, should be close before us.”
Janeway nods, turns and crawls a bit further. Then she stops in amaze-ment in front of a tin cover.
“Look, the retaining clips are open, it`s just ajar. Has anyone worked here recently? ”
Chakotay shakes his head. “Not to my knowledge.”
Janeway pushes the tin cover aside. Behind it, three transparent containers with jelly-like, bright-fibered filling appear. Chakotay folds out one pack at a time, while Seven scans it with her tricorder.
Finally, she declares, “The measurements show nothing unusual. They seem to work normal.”
“These are neural networks,” muses Chakotay. “They are more sensitive to external stimuli than iso-linear, optronic circuits. Perhaps the torkion field has stimulated the neural structures to interfere with the controls of the warp plasma, just in a way, so that – by accident – the attenuating effect we observed was caused.”
“That might be possible,” says Janeway.
“But not probable,” retorts Seven coolly.
The voice of the doctor sounds from the communicator.
“Sickbay to the Captain!”
“Go ahead, Doctor!”
“I have a patient you should see.”
“Can I see him later?”
“Unfortunately, not, Captain. He`s dying.”
“On my way!”
Janeway turns to her companions.
“Let`s continue another time.”
They fold the neural gel packs into the wall niche again, leave the cover plate aside without mounting it, and crawl back to the exit. Immediately before the hatch Janeway stops; she looks back with a quick turn of her head and stares into the half-light of the Jefferies tube for a moment, as if she had heard something. Then she leaves the tube.

Naomi comes running into sickbay, with the hairless sulfur goblin pressed against her. His body is crumbling. She looks in horror at the operation table, where the doctor is carrying out examinations. Crewman Biddle`s head is protruding from the semi-cylindrical body scanner. His skin has turned to a bluish color and looks dry and brittle, like a powder pressed loosely into human shape.
“Will he die?”
The doctor shoves his flat hand against her upper arm.
“This is not the right place for you now, Naomi. Go to your mother!”
“He cannot live here either!” Naomi exclaims desperately.
She averts her gaze from the lifeless crewman, tries to hold the pieces of her puppet together and hurries away.
Janeway enters and goes to the treatment table.
“What`s the matter with him, Doctor?”
She looks at Biddle`s face. Gaps are forming at his chin.
“I do not understand it,” replies the doctor with a helpless face. “He is in the state of progressive necrosis. It was not starting from a diseased part of the body, but in all cellular tissue at the same time! His body is disinte-grating on a molecular level, and I do not know why. I do not know how to help him.”
“Is he still conscious?”
“I anesthetized him to relieve his pain, but meanwhile — he is already dead, Captain.”
Bitterness overlays the compassionate expression in Janeway`s face.
“Seal the corpse; we have to rule out a possible infection.”

On the bridge, Kim reports to Chakotay, “Commander, we have a breach in the hull on deck 8, sector 36!”
“Does anyone else stay there?”
Kim looks at the sensor readings.
“No, no-one.”
“Build a force field to the adjacent areas!”
“Force field active. Commander, according to my data, a part of the ship is decomposing in the vicinity of the fracture location!”
“On screen!”
On the large monitor in front of the navigation control, in oblique view ranging flatly over the saucer module of the starship, its foremost bow is imaged. Components of the hull can be seen, drifting to all sides and breaking up into continuously smaller fragments.
Janeway steps out of the lift; she stares at the screen in dismay.
“What`s going on there?”
“I do not understand it, Captain!” shouts Kim. “About five square meters of the hull of sector 36 are dissolving into its components — at molecular level!”
“Are any other areas affected?”
“Not so far.”
With an expression of horror and disbelief Janeway observes the decomposition of the hull, which gradually comes to a standstill. Finally, she raises her head.
“Computer, where has Crewman Biddle been in the last three hours?”
The computer`s voice answers: “In his quarters – on deck 8, sector 36 – in sickbay.”
“Janeway to Doctor! – Have any more patients reported sick?”
“Not yet, Captain,” replies his voice from Janeway`s communicator.
“Mr. Kim, still no signs that other parts of the ship are falling apart?”
“No signs, Captain.”
Janeway sinks down into her chair and gazes helplessly into the screen.
“Tuvok, what for heaven`s sake happened in that sector?”
“Logs show nothing unusual. According to the work plan, Crewman Biddle has carried out routine controls on plasma conduits supplying the auxiliary deflector.”
Kim frowns. “Sensors indicate that sector 36 was exposed to a higher amplitude of the torkion field than the rest of the ship. Sector 36 lies farthest from the warp core, so that the counter-effect of the warp plasma oscillation has weakened the field there least.”
Janeway turns to the side console on port.
“Seven, didn`t you say this field would pose no threat to any kind of sub-stance?”
“That is correct.”
“What explanation do you have then for the death of Crewman Biddle and the hole in the ship?”
“I have none – Captain.”
“Something else must have emanated from this nebula,” suspects Chakotay, “something that was not noticed by our sensors.”
Janeway looks at him incredulously. “Voyager`s sensor phalanx measures any known physical quantity. If there was anything else, it must be found in the sensor logs. – Harry, Seven, check all measurement records! There must be an explanation for what has happened!”
Seven`s big eyes are focused on Janeway with a cool look.
“There`s another possibility, Captain. Maybe it`s not the nebula that is different than expected, but the ship and Mr. Biddle.”
For a moment Janeway`s eyelids lift; then she answers: “Whatever pro-duced this effect, we must find the cause!”
She turns forward to the screen again. Motionlessly, she stares at the zoomed-in spot, where a hole has formed in the hull of the ship.
Gloomily she ponders, “So maybe these oscillations saved all our lives.”

Through the exit of the casino the guests of a mourning ceremony are leaving. With a muffled and shivering voice, a crewman turns to her com-panion.
“A corpse of which only molecules are left -”
“The worst thing is that there is no explanation of it.”
Following her crew, Janeway leaves the room, slowly, head down. Chakotay is walking beside her. She stops.
“Captain -?”
“Walk ahead, Chakotay,” she mumbles.
The mourners disperse. Janeway leaves the crowd and turns off into a side corridor. Finally, she stops in front of a niche. She stares at the hatch to a Jefferies tube. In the metal of the screw lock, the number 23 is en-graved. She hesitates. She opens the hatch and pushes half her upper body inside. The humming of the ship`s noises resonates in the tube; it is far more audible in its interior than in the open corridors. For a while Janeway looks down the tube, which narrows every few meters, marking the boundary between different sections. In the back of the tube the neural gel packs are visible in the twilight. Their cover is still not mounted.

At a small distance near the uncovered packs, stands the cover plate, leaning against the wall. After a while, the light in the Jefferies tube be-comes even darker as the hatch is closed from the outside. Then there are dull sounding footsteps, which are growing fainter.
Suddenly there is a fluctuating flicker in the room in front of the neural gel packs. A camouflage field dissolves. Underneath, a large amoebic structure emerges. From its body protuberances appear as thrown out feelers; like growing needles, their tips immerse into the three neural elements of the ship`s computer. Along the surface of the amoeba wavy ripples are wandering, and it shimmers in a mercurial glow.

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