Star Trek: Odyssey – Isle of the Sun Chapter 7

CHAPTER 7

“I say we fly Voyager in there and ram a few photon torpedoes up their aft ventral porthole! See how they like that!” Lieutenant Torres raged.

The senior staff was gathered in the conference room, minus Chakotay, who was still being held captive on the space station. They hadn’t been sitting at the conference table more than a couple minutes before Torres was back on her feet, though, pacing back and forth down the length of the table.

Janeway regarded the hot-headed engineer patiently, deciding it would be better just to let Torres vent her frustrations and get it out of the way. After all, she was just giving voice to the frustration that pervaded the whole room. They were angry, and they were worried for Chakotay, and everyone needed to acknowledge it—everyone but Tuvok, of course.

“The Delurididug Trade Hub holds significant strategic advantages over Voyager,” he Vulcan-splained. “It exists within an isolated region of space, over which it appears to control both ingress and egress. It has far more advanced technology than Voyager, it generates far more power than Voyager, and its immense bulk likely hides defensive systems significantly more formidable than Voyager’s. Such a confrontation is unlikely to end in our favor.”

Torres waved off his objection. “We don’t even know if the station is armed. We scanned every inch of it, and I didn’t see an operational weapons system.”

“Indeed,” said Tuvok, “We have been able to discern very little about key functions on the station. We cannot identify a computer core, a power source, or any form of warp field generator. And yet, we have ample evidence that the station has each of these systems. Therefore, the station is either employing technology so foreign and advanced that we cannot recognize it, or it is somehow disguising these systems from our scans. The same could go for weapons.”

B’elanna shook her head. “It’s unmanned. Whatever advanced technology may or may not be on board is useless if no one is there to operate it.”

Tuvok arched an eyebrow. “Is it your contention that the A.I. of the station is incapable of autonomous self-defense?”

B’elanna looked uncertain for a moment. Then she threw her hands up and plopped herself back into her chair. “Oh, how the hell should I know?” she said.

Tuvok nodded. “Well put, Lieutenant,” he said. “We do not know enough at this time to justify putting Voyager at risk.”

“So what, then?” said Torres, “Do we abandon Commander Chakotay? Or do we play along? Throw ourselves on the mercy of a long-defunct court and the judgment of a malfunctioning hologram?”

“Whether or not we take that course should depend on the laws of the court in question. I am still in the process of familiarizing myself with the Delurididug legal code. It is a curious system of governance; a technocratic meritocracy, its laws rigid, yet robust; idiosyncratic, yet imminently logical. Once we have an adequate understanding of their laws, we may be able to formulate an effective defense for Commander Chakotay.”

“And what if we can’t?” said Harry. “What if we don’t have a case? Then what do we do?”

“Maybe we can plan a jailbreak,” said Tom.

“I would calculate our odds of securing Commander Chakotay’s escape as less than one point five percent, given their ability to neutralize our weapons inside of the station,” said Tuvok.

“And even if we manage to pull it off, we can forget about getting a wormhole to the Federation,” said Harry, “Or curing Ensign Kang.”

“I’m afraid there are other hurdles where Ensign Kang is concerned,” said the Doctor.

The others turned to the wall monitor that displayed the Doctor’s image.

“What’s the status of your patient, Doctor?” said Captain Janeway.

The Doctor took a moment to consider his response. “Well, physically, her condition is downright superhuman. I’ve been monitoring her vitals and activities remotely since she left sickbay. She spent an hour in the deck eight gymnasium, during which time she performed a complete calisthenics routine at three times standard gravity, ran twenty-five kilometers, and burned over four thousand calories. Her pulse never exceeded one hundred twenty beats a minute, and as far as I can tell from remote sensors, there was none of the lactic acid buildup in her tissues that such a strenuous workout should have produced. Afterward, she ordered an eighteen hundred calorie meal from her personal replicator, and at last check, she appeared to be sleeping. I’ll be able to tell you more about her physical condition in the morning, after her next physical.

“Psychologically… The results of my assessment were deeply ambiguous. Her problem-solving abilities are excellent, but prior testing suggests this is a pre-existing trait. Her regard for life and her empathic instincts are very strong, but by the same token, her capacity for emotional detachment is lacking. Again, this matches the results of her prior psychological assessments. In these regards, her personality is essentially intact.

“One item of concern is her lack of cautious reflexes. If she saw a snake by her foot, for instance, she would not jump away from it on instinct. She would register the snake, decide consciously if it were a threat, and reason out an appropriate reaction. By the time she decided what to do, the snake might have already bitten her ankle. Her power of reasoning is excellent, but in emotionally fraught and emergent situations, I’m afraid this cognitive deficit will present a powerful liability.

“Of even greater concern are the cognitive enhancements that she has begun demonstrating. During the assessment, I chose to deprive the ensign of her universal translator. Seeing as many of the characters in the program spoke only 20th Century French, I thought this would provide an additional challenge. Instead, the ensign learned a new language, fluently, in a matter of minutes—just by being in the presence of people speaking it. The implants are certainly interacting with her brain, providing cognitive enhancements in specialized tasks like language acquisition. As to any other ways they may be affecting her cognition, I can’t yet say.

“But what concerns me most of all is that the ensign is starting to show a strong reticence towards the notion of reversing her condition.”

There was a beat of quiet around the conference table as the staff absorbed the Doctor’s meaning. Evidently, none of the others had considered that Ensign Kang might not want to be cured.

“Well, I guess I can’t really blame her,” said Tom.

The others all looked at Tom, and he sat forward in his chair.

“Hey, she’s got superpowers,” he said. “She’s faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.”

Tuvok’s eyebrow crawled about halfway up his scalp.

“Figuratively, I mean,” said Tom. “And she’s unrestrained by negative emotions. That sounds like it would be hard to give up.”

“Actually,” said the Doctor, “She has quite a few negative emotions. Unfortunately, without the ability to express sorrow about her circumstances, her emotional release seems to come primarily in the form of anger. She’s resentful, Captain. She feels she should have been consulted before Commander Chakotay led a risky away mission on her behalf. She resents being treated with suspicion and kept from resuming her post. So far, her reason and her sense of empathy seem to be working to defuse her anger, but I’m not convinced it will last.”

Janeway nodded to the Doctor. “Well, for what it’s worth, I think she has a point,” she said. Then she addressed the room.

“Torres, Kim, get to work analyzing all the data we have on the structure of the station. We need to learn as much as we can about its external hardpoints and its internal structure. Paris, get with Lieutenant Ayala and start on that jailbreak scenario.

“Tuvok, I’ll need you sorting out their laws and devising our case. Gather all the help you need, from any department.

“If we can beat their legal system, we will. If we can’t, we go with a jailbreak. And in case that fails, Torres, Kim… once we know everything we possibly can about that station, start working on a way to cripple it. Once we have the upper hand, maybe the station will listen to reason. But that’s our last resort.

“Does anyone have questions?”

“What about Ensign Kang, sir?” said the Doctor.

Janeway rested her chin on her hand a moment, her gaze far away, as she considered the problem. “That is the question, isn’t it?” Finally, she braced her hands against the table and pushed herself up to her feet. “I think it’s time I paid her a visit. Now, let’s get to work, people. You’re dismissed.”

 


 

Lucy writhed languidly against the silky fabric of her bedsheets, reveling in the afterglow. Owen rested his head on his hands and stared up at the deckhead, an easy, almost sedated smile on his face. She rolled over to face him, propping herself up on her elbow.

He cast a sidelong glance her way, and she quirked a questioning eyebrow. He reached out and ran his hand through her hair just above her left ear, gently massaging her scalp with his fingertips.

“Are you petting me like a dog right now?” said Lucy, although she made no move to stop him. His touch sent happy shivers through her whole body.

“Just making sure you’re not secretly a Deltan,” said Owen.

Lucy gave a breathy chuckle. “Why, because you’re afraid my lovemaking has left you incurably insane? Or is it because my hair looks like a wig?” Deltans had a near-human aspect, minus cranial hair. They were also legendary love-makers, with passions so intense they could literally drive a human mad. Or that was the legend, at any rate. Lucy doubted it could be entirely accurate.

“Definitely the first one,” he said.

Lucy nearly made a pithy retort about how with her enhancements, anything was possible, but she held back—in part, because she was sick of bringing up the subject, and in part, because she realized it was true.

“Do you think this might have been a mistake?” she said.

Owen’s expression sobered. His hand slid from her hair to her cheek, cupping her jawline with his palm. He shook his head. “No.”

Lucy sighed. She couldn’t help nuzzling into his hand a little bit, but she couldn’t ignore the implications of what they’d just done. She leaned back, breaking contact.

“What if I’m contagious, somehow?” she asked.

“The Doctor wouldn’t have let you out of sickbay,” he said.

Lucy shrugged. “What does he know? I’m infected with technology centuries ahead of ours. The Doctor can only guess what all it can do.”

Owen considered for a moment. “Well then, at least you won’t be going through it alone anymore.”

Lucy rolled her eyes. “Come on, that wouldn’t make me feel any better. I’d just feel guilty for dragging you down with me.”

“Dragging me up, you mean? Your thing comes with enhancements, remember?”

“Whatever, you know what I mean.”

“Well, either way, you’d have no reason to feel guilty. I seduced you, remember?”

Lucy laughed. “Is that what you call insulting me, and then begging for forgiveness?”

Owen put on a roguish smile. “That’s my trademark Vance charm.”

He was so cute when he showed unearned confidence. Lucy leaned closer to him.

“Oh, that’s what it is?” said Lucy. She brought her face within a couple centimeters of his. She could feel his breath on her cheek.

“Uh huh,” he said.

“Yeah?” she said, and she kissed him. He returned her kiss readily, and things progressed quickly from there. Soon, the world seemed to fade away around them, until nothing was left but those points where their two bodies met; hands exploring sensitive flesh, legs brushing legs, interlocking lips, conjoined hips, and nothing in between them but friction and perspiration.

Afterward, Lucy and Owen both stared up at the deckhead. Lucy felt as blissful and sensuous as ever, but Owen was starting to doze off, his eyelids slowly drifting shut.

Then, that same nagging doubt popped back into her mind. “Do you think the Doctor will be mad?” she said.

Owen opened his eyes again and looked at her. “Are you going to tell him?”

“I have another check-up first thing in the morning,” said Lucy. “I’m sure he’ll figure it out.”

Owen’s brow furrowed. “Well, he never told you not to have sex, did he?”

“No,” said Lucy. “But now it seems like kind of a no-brainer, right?”

Owen shrugged. “Well, what’s done is done. I’ll report to sickbay with you and get checked over, just to be safe, ok?”

Lucy tried to imagine the Doctor’s reaction when they confessed what they’d done. She smiled. “He’ll definitely be mad. You sure you want to be there when he finds out?”

“Well, I wouldn’t want you to bear the brunt of it.”

Lucy shook her head. “I’m not afraid of that.”

“Of course not,” said Owen. “You’re not afraid of anything.”

There was a quiet beat. Lucy realized she was getting pretty hungry.

“You wanna get some—”

“Sorry.”

They’d spoken at the same time.

“For what?” said Lucy.

“I mean…” said Owen, and he studied her face for a second. Lucy stared back, mildly confused. What had he done this time?

“Nothing,” said Owen. “Nevermind.”

Lucy nodded, deciding that if Owen had stuck his foot in his mouth again and she’d missed it, then it was really for the best.

“You wanna get some kimbap?” said Lucy.

“What’s that?” said Owen.

“It’s like sushi,”

“Oh.” His brow furrowed for a moment. “What’s sushi, again?”

“What, seriously?”

Owen just shook his head and stared blankly.

“You really don’t know what sushi is?”

Owen shrugged. “I’m from Cestus III, remember? It must be something we don’t have.”

“You’ve been to Earth before, though.”

“Well, sure… I mean, on layovers, shore leaves, that sort of thing. Never a long stay.”

“What about the Academy?”

He gave her a look, and Lucy realized her obvious error.

“While you were sitting in class at the Academy, I was out patrolling the DMZ, trading phaser fire with pirates and playing cat-and-mouse with our Maquis friends out there.”

“Right, of course,” said Lucy, feeling foolish.

“And before that, I was on the front lines, defending dust-choked mining colonies from Tzenkethi shocktroopers.”

“Yeah, yeah,” said Lucy. She climbed out of bed and headed over to the replicator, not the least bit shy about walking around naked in front of Owen. “Two large plates of Kimbap,” she told the replicator, “Recipe six. Add kimchi and red chili paste on the side.” She cast an appraising glance at Owen, who was studying her curves with evident appreciation. He’d pushed himself up to a sitting position in bed, exposing his naked upper body. The way his tapered waist accentuated his well-defined abdominal muscles, Lucy felt some appreciation herself. “Extra spicy, for the hardened veteran over there,” she finished telling the replicator. The alcove sparkled to life, and two plates piled with seaweed-wrapped rolls of rice, salmon, carrots, and cucumber appeared, along with bowls of kimchi—essentially, fermented cabbage soaked with spices.

Lucy carried the food over to the bed. “The replicator kinda sucks at kimchi,” she said, “but it’ll do.”

Owen looked over the plates, recognition dawning. “Ooh, Vega rolls!”

Lucy rolled her eyes. “These put Vega rolls to shame. Try one.”

Owen picked up a kimbap roll and looked it over. “What’s the difference?”

“These are all ingredients that can be found naturally on Earth, for one thing,” said Lucy. “And for another, it hasn’t been sullied with mayonnaise. Now, stick it in your mouth, already, and chase it with some kimchi.”

After another moment of hesitation, Owen popped the roll in his mouth. Then he picked up the chopsticks that came with the kimchi, picked up a clump of the spicy garnish, and tucked it into his mouth as well.

He chewed experimentally for a moment. His face was going a little red, and his eyes were tearing up a little, but he kept a straight face.

“Too hot?” said Lucy.

Owen swallowed and shook his head. “No, it’s—” his voice came out a rasp. He cleared his throat and tried again. “It’s good.” And he made a point of popping another roll in his mouth and chasing it with a slightly smaller portion of kimchi.

Lucy smiled, watching him pretend the heat didn’t bother him. “If you’d prefer, we could recycle this and order something a little… milder.”

Owen shook his head. He cleared his throat and sniffed. “I like spicy,” he insisted. “Come on, eat!”

Lucy sat on the bed next to him and considered which roll to take.

Then her door chimed.

Owen and Lucy exchanged alarmed glances.

“Computer, who’s at the door?” said Lucy.

“Captain Janeway,” the computer replied.

Lucy watched Owen’s face lose all color. She felt more than a little urgency herself. They jumped to their feet and scrambled to recover their clothing.

“One second!” Lucy called at the door as she fought to untangle her leggings.

“You’re not putting on your uniform?” said Owen. Clearly, he was wishing he had his own uniform on hand at the moment.

Lucy shook her head. “It doesn’t fit anymore. I need to update my measurements.”

“Well, didn’t the Doctor take your measurements for that holodeck costume?”

Lucy thought for a second. “I’d have to dig through my medical records… or…” she ran to her bedside table and picked up her combadge.

“Lucy Kang to the EMH.”

“Please state the nature of the medical emergency,” the Doctor’s voice issued from her combadge.

“Doctor, the Captain’s at my door, and my uniform doesn’t fit me anymore. Could you upload my most recent measurements so I can replicate a new one?”

The Doctor sighed. “Ensign, I’m a doctor, not a tailor.”

“Please, Doctor! It’s an emergency!”

“Oh, very well… there, it’s done. Now, do you have any upd—”

“Thank you, Doctor!” said Lucy, and she tapped her badge again, shutting the comm line. She ran to the replicator and ordered a new uniform.

“Insufficient replicator credits,” said the computer. Lucy cast a helpless look at Owen.

Owen winced a little, then said, “Computer, transfer ten replicator credits from my account to the account of Ensign Lucy Kang, authorization beta-seven-seven-niner.”

“Acknowledged.”

Lucy ran up to him and kissed him on the mouth. “I’ll pay you back,” she promised, and she rushed back to the replicator and ordered a brand new Starfleet uniform.

She dressed in a hurry while Owen, already back in his black slacks and golden sweater, carried their kimbap over to Lucy’s small dining table and made up the bed.

As soon as her clothes were on, her single bronze pip was fixed to her collar, and her badge was in place over her left breast, Lucy opened the door. Owen stood in the middle of the room. He snapped to attention as the door slid open.

“I’m sorry to keep you waiting, Captain,” said Lucy.

“It’s quite alright, Ensign, I hope I didn’t wake…” Janeway’s gaze landed on Owen, and she looked from him to Lucy and back a couple times, then took in the state of Lucy’s quarters—the food on the table, the bed not quite made, the obvious guilt on their faces.

Janeway took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Chief…” she began, and Owen, already at attention, strained to stand up even straighter.

“Yes, sir,” he said.

“Report to sickbay,” said Janeway.

His brow crumpled.

Janeway went on, “Inform the Doctor of exactly what… activities you’ve been engaged in, and submit to a complete examination. That’s an order.”

“Yes, sir!” said Owen, and he marched straight out the door without looking back.

Janeway stepped back to let him through the doorway, then she walked into Lucy’s quarters, and the door shut behind her.

Lucy stood dutifully at attention until the captain glanced back and saw she was still standing by the entry.

“At ease, Ensign,” said Janeway.

Lucy let out the breath she’d been holding, then started picking up her discarded civilian clothes and stuffing them into the automated hamper. “What can I do for you, sir?” she asked as she hurried around her quarters, straightening up.

“You can relax, Ensign,” Captain Janeway insisted. “This isn’t a surprise inspection. Come, have a seat with me.”

Lucy abandoned her cleaning efforts with a shrug and headed over to her dining table. The captain sat across from her.

“Would you like some kimbap, sir?” said Lucy, “It’s fresh from the replicator. That plate hasn’t even been touched.”

“No thank you, Ensign Kang. I’m sorry for interrupting your dinner.”

Lucy shook her head. “This was just a snack. You weren’t interrupting anything.”

Captain Janeway arched a skeptical eyebrow. Lucy looked down at her hands and wrestled her fingers.

“Ensign, I came here to bring you up to speed on the current situation, as it concerns you directly. But first… I need to know. How have you been holding up?”

Lucy studied the knuckles of her unfamiliar fingers as she considered how to respond. She was much more keen to hear what was going on with the station than she was to discuss her own feelings yet again, but the captain had made it clear what she wanted to talk about first. She almost said, “I’m doing fine.” But, every time she tried telling anyone she was ok, they seemed to take it to mean the opposite.

Lucy looked up from her hands and met the captain’s attentive gaze. “You got the Doctor’s report on my assessment?”

Captain Janeway nodded. “I did. But I’m here to get your take.”

Lucy took a heavy breath and stifled the urge to sigh. “I don’t know what to say, sir. I disagreed with the Doctor’s conclusions, but I understand that he’s the expert.

“The thing is, I’m not unstable. I know my emotions are different in ways I’m having trouble even perceiving, but my mind is sound, and my loyalties are still to this ship. I’m not working some ulterior motive, I’m not a spy, I haven’t lost competency, and I’m not going mad with power or delusions of grandeur. I may be genetically and cybernetically augmented, but I’m not a Kahn Noonien Singh or a Borg drone. I just hope that eventually, I’ll be able to earn back your trust—everyone’s trust.”

Janeway absorbed Lucy’s words thoughtfully for a moment. “If we could reverse what was done to you… would you want that?”

Lucy had a sinking feeling. “Would it even matter if I didn’t, Captain?”

“Of course it matters, Ensign. You’re a member of this crew.”

Lucy shrugged. “Yeah, but so was Tuvix.”

The captain winced, and Lucy wondered if she’d crossed the line into insubordination. Clearly, the bizarre transporter accident that had combined Tuvok and Neelix into one person was still a raw nerve, especially in light of Janeway’s ultimate decision concerning the strange creature called Tuvix.

“I’m sorry, Captain,” said Lucy.

“No, you’re right,” said Captain Janeway. “I’ve had to make difficult choices. But Tuvix’s existence came at the cost of the lives of two valuable members of my crew. That cost was too high.”

“You could argue that my existence comes at the cost of a valuable BNG technician,” said Lucy, “since I’m apparently no longer fit for the task.” She tried to keep her tone neutral, but she knew a little bitterness had crept into her words.

“You haven’t answered my question, Ensign,” said Captain Janeway.

Lucy sat up straighter in her chair. “I want to be of service to this crew, Captain. I don’t want to be a liability or a drain on resources. I think it would be a terrible waste to dismiss what my abilities can contribute, but if you order me to crawl back into that pod and endure yet another invasive, mind-altering procedure, then I won’t hesitate.”

The captain looked miserable, and a spiteful part of Lucy’s mind took gratification in her misery. If the captain was really planning on putting her through that again, the least she could do was feel bad about it.

“You know that Commander Chakotay led a second away mission to the station?” said Janeway.

Lucy nodded. “The Doctor told me.”

“Well, they’ve returned. Without Chakotay.”

Lucy’s eyes went wide. “Why, what happened?” As an afterthought, she added, “Sir?”

The captain described the events on the Delurididug Trade Hub in detail, and when she was done, Lucy realized her own contrary attitude must have been complicating everything.

“Captain, you should send me back.”

Janeway looked surprised. “Why do you say that, Ensign?”

It seemed almost too simple to explain, but Lucy tried anyways. “They think I stole this crap that they put in me, so we should just give it back! It’s been a big headache for you and everyone anyways. And you said they want my testimony for the trial? They don’t think I can lie? That’s good! They’ll believe me when I tell them what really happened. They’ll take their precious intellectual property out of me and drop the charges. Then we can start negotiating for a wormhole back home!”

Captain Janeway shook her head. “It’s not that simple, Ensign. We haven’t finished studying their legal code, the station hasn’t made any assurances for your safety, and we have no way of knowing that this isn’t all one big trap. And aside from that, you were absolutely right. What that station did to you was a violation. I won’t let you go through that again.”

“You mean I still don’t get a choice in the matter, sir?”

“Do you actually want to endure another invasive, mind-altering procedure, Ensign?”

“Permission to speak freely, Captain?”

Janeway only considered the request briefly before nodding. “Granted.”

“Captain, I’m sorry for everything I said before. You wouldn’t have to order me to go back there. I’ll volunteer. You need some kind of an olive branch here, and I’m the only thing that will work. If it’s a trap, what do we lose? Just a technician! But if it’s not a trap, then all our problems are solved. I’ll be cured, Chakotay will be free, and the way home will be within reach. I don’t see a better alternative.”

“Ensign, you are not ‘just’ a technician. You’re a valuable member of this crew.”

The captain spoke the words with conviction, and yet, they felt hollow to Lucy. She’d spent the last three years being just a technician. No one relied on her for anything else. Lucy’s gaze fell back to her hands.

“Captain, I’m replaceable. Lots of people could do my job with the appropriate training.”

Janeway shook her head. She reached forward and put a hand over Lucy’s, prompting Lucy to return her gaze. “It’s not your job I’m worried about, Lucy. There are a hundred forty souls on this ship, stranded sixty-seven thousand lightyears from home. How many of us will survive the trip if I carelessly sacrifice crew members each time we encounter an obstacle? And who do you think will run this ship forty years from now, if I give up promising young officers just because they aren’t already department heads or bridge crew?”

Lucy was touched that the captain saw her as more than a BNG tech, but it didn’t actually negate her point.

“Captain, we won’t be out here in forty years, if we can convince that station to create a wormhole home. Nor, for that matter, if it blows us out of space in a totally avoidable conflict.”

“Believe me, Ensign, I’m well aware.”

Lucy nodded. “Well, I’ll do whatever you decide is best, sir. You can count on me, no matter what.”

Captain Janeway gave her an appraising look. “I believe you, Ensign Kang.” The captain rose to her feet. “I’m glad we had this talk.”

“Me too, sir,” said Lucy. “Thank you… for keeping me in the loop.”

The captain acknowledged the sentiment with a nod and strode towards the door. It opened as she approached, but Janeway paused before she reached the doorway and turned back.

Janeway seemed to be considering how to say what she needed to say. After a moment, the door closed of its own accord, and Janeway said, “About Chief Vance…”

Lucy’s posture stiffened, and she waited to hear what the captain had to say.

Janeway seemed to wrestle with the words as she spoke them. “You and he… The wisdom of… Given the medical implications, it would seem…”

“It won’t happen again, sir,” said Lucy, hating the words as they came out of her mouth.

The captain nodded. “I have no desire to meddle in your personal life, Ensign, but until we know more about your condition…”

“I understand, sir. It was a… an oversight. It shouldn’t have happened.”

Janeway looked like she wanted to disagree. “I don’t blame you. Either of you. These are unique circumstances, and I’m not just talking about your augmentations or that space station. We’re out here all on our own. It’s inevitable that relationships will evolve among the crew. But we always have to put the safety of the ship and crew first. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“Yes, sir,” said Lucy. She was saying Don’t sleep with Owen while you’re riddled with alien artifacts. She could have just come out and said as much.

“Good. Get some sleep, Ensign. I’ll keep you informed of any developments that concern you.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”

Captain Janeway turned back towards the door, and it opened for her again. She passed into the hall, and the door closed behind her.

Lucy remained in her seat for a long moment, contemplating and absorbing the conversation that she’d just had.

She and Owen couldn’t be a thing, at least for now. A shame.

She was probably going to have to give up her enhancements, and the process would likely not be pleasant. Also a shame, but at least now she felt like she had a say in the matter, so it was nothing to be mad about. Plus, afterward, maybe she could pick things up with Owen again—if he was still interested when she was back to her old self.

The captain considered her a “promising young officer.” She was counting on Lucy to help run the ship, one day. Lucy smiled at the thought. She picked up a kimbap roll and popped it into her mouth. It was delicious.

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