A Fire of Devotion: Part 2 of 4: Louder Than Bells: Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten

Lieutenant junior grade Harry Kim had been put in charge of the night shift on Voyager before, but he always took a certain amount of joy in getting to sit in the captain’s chair. The joy couldn’t entirely overpower the boredom though, which began to set in at hour four of the eight-hour rotation.

He found himself glancing repeatedly over at Samantha Wildman at the main science station, at Kashimuro Nozawa standing where he usually did at ops, at Sue Brooks sitting in Tom’s chair at navigation, and at Lydia Anderson at tactical.
“We should start a barbershop quintet,” he muttered.
“What was that, Lieutenant?” Brooks said.
“Oh, sorry, just thinking out loud. Anything interesting up ahead?”
“Permission to speak frankly sir?”
“Of course,” Harry said, wondering where this was going.
“Not a gods damned thing for light years near as I can tell.”
Harry sighed.
“Great. Well, great in the sense that nothing is going to kill us anyway.”
“Bored?” Samantha said.
“Like you wouldn’t believe,” Harry replied, standing up to stretch. “So, how has everyone’s day be-
“Sir,” Nozawa said, “something just popped up on long range sensors. It appears to be a ship, dead in space, no emissions. That’s why we didn’t pick it up sooner.”
Harry smiled. Finally, something to do.

“Interesting,” he said. “Brooks, drop us out of warp, but keep us at a safe distance from the object in case this turns out to be a trap. Put the ship on the viewscreen, full magnification.”
Harry gasped at what he saw.
“That kinda looks like a Starfleet vessel,” Samantha said.

“Yeah, but like an older one,” Harry said, stepping closer to the viewscreen, standing right next to Brooks’ seat. “If I remember Starfleet History 101, that design was abandoned back when the Enterprise didn’t have a letter in its registration.”
“If this is a long-lost vessel from the early days of Starfleet, that’s a huge find,” Brooks said. “Should I call the captain?”
“Definitely,” Harry said.

The senior staff including the Doctor all filed out of the turbolifts, Seven of Nine following behind them. As each took their station, their fill-ins got up, but did not leave. They wanted to see this through, and Samantha couldn’t blame them. She nodded at Seven as she walked past giving her a quick smile before going to stand at the console behind the Captain and Commander Chakotay as they took their seats.
“So, fill me in Harry, what did we find?”

“I checked the records Captain,” Harry said, smiling. “and I had Nozawa run his scans twice to be sure. It’s definitely the NX-01.”
Janeway, Chakotay, and Paris all looked at Harry dumbstruck.
“For real?” Tom said.
“What’s the NX-01?” B’Elanna Torres said as she sat down at the auxiliary engineering console.

“It’s a legend,” Chakotay said. “The first human-built ship that could hit warp 5. Even the Vulcans didn’t have that back then.”
“I’d read about how it went missing on its first mission. Never imagined it would be found in the Delta Quadrant of all places,” Tom said. “Any idea how it got here?”

“I’m sure it’ll be fun to find out,” Janeway said, grinning. “Harry, pull up everything from the memory banks about the NX-01.”
“Already done captain,” Harry said.
“Excellent. Send that data to the briefing room and-”
A proximity alert alarm went off, cutting off Janeway’s order.
Now what? Samantha thought, turning back to her own console, and tilting her head at the readout.
“Captain,” she said, “I’m picking up chronotons. I think-”
Suddenly another ship filled the viewscreen, much larger than Voyager, blocking their view of the NX-01. Its hull design was Starfleet-esque but didn’t match any hull configuration she knew of.
“Captain, the other ship is hailing us,” Sam heard Harry say.
“On screen,” Janeway said.
The face on the screen was human. He wore a uniform style that Sam didn’t recognize but the insignia he wore, while wildly different from the one the Voyager crew had on their comm badges, had the familiar Starfleet delta that all ships had ever since the era of Jim Kirk.
“Captain. Looks like we meet again.”
“Braxton,” Janeway said. “Looks like you’ve moved up in the world of the 29th century.”
“You’re looking at the Federation time-ship Relativity, captain,” Braxton said. “And she’s actually been my ship all along, she was just undergoing refits the day I first met you.”

“Which for us was actually the third time we met you. Time travel’s kinda funny that way,” Janeway said. “I don’t suppose you’ve come to tell us that Voyager is responsible for another temporal disaster of some kind.”
Braxton frowned. “Okay, you really are going to have to explain that one to me, Captain. But later. May I come aboard?”

“I’d like to know what this is about first, Captain,” Captain Janeway said, “with all due respect.”
“Fair enough. I would like to enlist your crew in helping mine solve once and for all the mystery of what really happened to the NX-01.”

“Since some of you are unfamiliar with the NX-01 and its impact on Starfleet history and the Federation,” Captain Braxton said to the senior staff, minus the Doctor but plus Seven of Nine, as they sat around the table in the briefing room. “Let me give you a quick refresher.”
Seven took out her PADD, taking careful notes so she could fill in Sam on what she missed by not being in the briefing.
“Tom said it was the first ship to ever break Warp 5,” B’Elanna said. “If I learned about it in the academy before I dropped out I don’t remember that.”
“Well, the first ship built by any of the founding races of the Federation anyway,” Braxton said. “At the time even the Vulcans thought achieving that speed was too dangerous to attempt.”
“The 22nd century was not one of the more auspicious periods of our history,” Tuvok said. “many in the High Command were driven to paranoia and arguably even xenophobia as a side-effect of our long-running conflicts with the Andorians prior to first contact with humanity.”

“That is more relevant to this than you realize, Mister Tuvok,” Braxton said.
“How so?” Janeway asked.
“The captain of the NX-01 was one Jonathan Archer,” Braxton said. “He, using his late father’s work on the warp five project, personally oversaw the ship’s construction and hand picked most of its senior staff. The problem though, simply put, was that he was bigoted towards Vulcans.”
“I don’t recall reading about that in history class,” Janeway said.
“I do,” Chakotay said. “apparently he believed that the Vulcans were holding humanity back by cautioning against the warp five experiments, and accused them of sabotaging his father’s work. The first working prototype wasn’t completed until after his father’s death.”
“Paranoid and racist,” B’Elanna said. “No wonder I’ve never heard of a Jonathan Archer High School.”
“Unfortunately there is a degree of truth to it,” Tuvok said. “Though only a small one. According to my own father who was teaching at the Vulcan Science Academy at the time, the Vulcan high Command did have access to some research that, if shared with our at the time new allies, the Humans, would likely have accelerated the creation of a working warp five engine by months if not years.”
“Possible,” Braxton said, “but not a certainty. What is certain is that while the drive itself was a success, the NX-01 ultimately was not. Three weeks into its mission, the NX-01 was lost in a nebula. A small amount of debris was found, but barely enough to account for one of the ship’s shuttlepods, let alone the ship itself.”
“Why was the NX-01 in the nebula? Was it a scientific mission?” Seven asked.

“No, actually,” Braxton said, “it was a first contact situation. The Borothans. A number of their ships were making a pilgrimage to a nebula their people considered holy in the time before they became a Federation member race. They invited the NX-01 and her crew along, so they went. Borothan sensor logs from the time show a small explosion beneath the NX-01 but not from it, at least from what we can tell, the footage is from very outdated sensor technology, plus degraded over time due to poor data storage. This was all pre-Memory Alpha, obviously.”

Braxton touched a button on the wall console and the sensor log began playing. It was distorted, but not so much so that Seven and the rest of the crew couldn’t make out what was going on. The NX-01, a flash of light that looked like an explosion, and the ship vanishing.”
“I don’t see any debris field at all,” Tom said.
“It was found by the Borothans,” Braxton said, “what little there was anyway, and turned over to Starfleet. They were very cooperative. Starfleet officials at the time believed that they feared they might be blamed for the NX-01’s disappearance. Obviously investigators didn’t want to rule that out right away, but it quickly became clear that they had nothing to do with it.”
“Okay,” Janeway said. “Some of this stuff we knew, some of it we didn’t, but that doesn’t explain why you want us to help. Couldn’t you simply go back in time and find out for yourself?”
“That’s the thing Captain, we already tried.” Braxton said. “The Relativity has cloaking technology, and before you ask, no I won’t say why we’re allowed to have those in my time, but when we went back, we followed the NX-01 to that nebula, and then watched it leave and continue on its mission.”
The senior staff all looked at each other, confusion showing on their face.
“How is that possible?” Chakotay said.
“And if the timeline was changed, why do we still remember the NX-01 has having gone missing?” Tom said. “I mean, it’s out there right now, on the other side of your ship,” he added, pointing at Braxton.

“A common misconception about time travel that plagued humanity from when the concept was first theorized, up through to even the 25th century is that changes in the timeline would be felt immediately.” Braxton chuckled slightly. “Hell, you people probably still think a small paradox can destroy the whole universe.”
“Let’s not get into the minutiae of how time travel works,” Janeway said. “What I want to know is why enlist us to help?”
“The Relativity is a one-of-a-kind ship Captain Janeway, even in my time. The situation at that point in the 22nd century is already a mess, and us crossing our own timeline would be bad. Not a universe ender, like I said those don’t actually exist, but it could make things even worse.”
“Wait, what do you mean worse?” B’Elanna said.
Braxton sighed. “Here comes the part you aren’t going to like,” he said. “If it’s any consolation, I don’t like it either. But basically, the reason your history books and mine still show the NX-01 as being destroyed, at least for now, is because it needed to be. If we can’t find out what caused its disappearance over two-hundred years ago from where we are now, the Federation as we know it will either be radically different, or not exist at all. My people are still trying to figure that last part out based on the data.”
“I don’t like it,” Janeway said. “Because if you are saying what I think you are, you’re suggesting that whoever it is from my crew you want to enlist, they’ll be the ones who destroy the NX-01.”

“The ship, yes.” Braxton said. “For the crew, if my people’s calculations work out they can be brought to the 29th century. We’ve done it before.

“Still, that does mean their families back home will believe them dead. I don’t need to tell any of you here how difficult that will be for them.”

“I’m sorry,” Chakotay said, “but this is all a hell of a lot to take in, and frankly you’re asking us to take it on faith when we don’t really know you.”
“Perhaps,” Tuvok said, “if you could explain why it is so necessary for the NX-01 to be lost, we would be more cooperative, Captain.”

“Exactly,” Janeway said.

“The short version?” Braxton said “If Captain Jonathan Archer returns home after a successful exploration mission in the NX-01, he’ll be more popular on Earth than ever. Consequently, his anti-Vulcan biases will start to seep into the public consciousness. Not in any obvious ways of course, but they’ll be there. The irrational distrust of the Vulcans will mean that when the time comes to start drafting the articles of the Federation, the Vulcans will either not be invited altogether, or will have their contributions to the charter undermined. The articles will be written by a more paranoid Humanity, and also more militaristic Andorians.”
“This is the short version?” Seven heard Tom whisper. B’Elanna nudged him to stay quiet.

“There are many things that make the Federation great,” Braxton continued. “But the key component, the lync pin that holds it all together is the friendship between the Humans and the Vulcans. That’s where it all truly started, everything grew from that. If Archer becomes an icon, his paranoia about the Vulcans keeping humanity from reaching its full potential would spread enough to undermine that, and eventually, generations down the line destroy it completely.”
“Okay,” Harry Kim said, “this is going to sound brutal but I’m also bringing this up for the sake of discussion; why not just make Archer disappear? I don’t mean kill him, but just disappear him for awhile until the Federation has been founded. Why make the families of however many people were on that ship-”

“Eighty-three,” Braxton said.
“Why make the families of eighty-three people suffer through the pain of never knowing what happened to their loved ones?” Harry continued.

“Technically only eighty-one. Or eighty, depending,” Captain Braxton said.
“What are you talking about Braxton?” Janeway said, sounding increasingly frustrated.

“I intend to send two or three Voyager crewmembers to the 22nd Century to board the NX-01,” Braxton said. “as replacements for three of the original crew members who will suddenly find themselves with other obligations they can’t back out of.”
“Why us?” Tom Paris said.
“Because history in the original timeline, the one where the NX-01 disappeared, the lost Federation starship Voyager found its remains in the Delta Quadrant, before continuing on its journey home.”

“Wait, you’re saying we make it?” Harry said, trying and failing to suppress a smile. “I’m surprised you’re telling us this.”
“Your logs certainly do, but for obvious reasons I can’t say whether anyone or anything else did.” Braxton turned to the wall console again and pulled up three personnel profiles. Based on the uniform designs Seven deduced that there were NX-01 crew members, and the uniforms were standard issue for Starfleet in that era.

“My people have determined that these three individuals not being on the NX-01 on its first and last mission will have negligible impact on the history of the Federation in either direction; positive or negative,” Braxton said.
“Hang on,” Janeway said. “you’re getting ahead of yourself here. We haven’t agreed to actually help you with this. You are giving us a lot of information real fast, and I don’t like it. Have you ever heard of the Gish Gallop?”
“Can’t say I have Captain,” Braxton said. “It must be a phrase that didn’t survive into my time.”
“It relates to an even older Earth saying,” Janeway said, now standing with her arms crossed. “If you can’t dazzle them with details, baffle them with bullshit.”
“Crudely put,” Tuvok said, “but the Captain is correct. You do seem to operating under the presumption that we will accept what you are telling us at face value.”
“Let’s not forget that the first time Braxton met us he tried to blow us up,” B’Elanna said, looking at the Captain as she said it.
“What?” Braxton said, sounding shocked.
“It was an alternate timeline thing, Captain,” Chakotay said. “It’s a bit complicated but the version of you who brought us back to the Delta Quadrant from 1990s Earth was different from the rather disturbed and violent version of you who caused us to end up there in the first place.”
“You’ll have to fill me in on the details of that,” Braxton said.
“Short version?” Janeway said. “When I break a time loop it stays broken.”
“Impressive,” Braxton said. “Well, in that instance I can see why you might have concerns about my presence here and what I am asking of you.”

Captain Braxton did the best he could to explain the details that Captain Janeway had inartfully asked for, but some of the terminology he used to describe his ship’s technology went even over Seven’s head, and she knew more about temporal mechanics than anyone on the ship. She could tell that Janeway and B’Elanna were trying to keep up, and that whatever Tuvok was thinking he wasn’t letting show, but Chakotay and Harry just kept looking at each other as if each were silently asking the other if they understood what Braxton was saying.

“Okay, Braxton,” Janeway said. “Wait outside, let me talk it over with my crew. I’ll let you know what we decide.”
“Very well then,” Braxton said, stepping out of the briefing room.

Nearly a half hour after discussing the matter, the senior staff filed out of the briefing room back on to the Bridge, where Braxton was waiting.
Captain Janeway nodded at Braxton, who smiled.
“Thank you, Captain,” he said.
I’d better not regret this, Janeway thought.
“I took a look at the NX-01 crew members you selected to have my people replace for your mission. Commander Chakotay can compile a list of ideal candidates.”
“Knowledge of 22nd century history would be best if possible,” Braxton said. “Part of why we’re recruiting you is that era is closer to you than it is to us which decreases the possibility of error. And before you ask, we did consider approaching people from that time, as well as the 23rd century. I can show you the results of our study if you like, but simply put 24th century Starfleet officers are the best choice based on mission requirements.”
“I will want to see that,” Janeway said.
“It occurs to me, Captain,” Braxton said, “that Commander Chakotay himself would be a suitable substitute for Lieutenant Malcolm Reed. He was NX-01’s tactical officer in the main timeline, and Chakotay did teach tactics at Starfleet Academy before leaving for the Maquis.”

Janeway turned to face her first officer. Her look conveyed the question without saying it aloud. Chakotay nodded.
“Alright then,” Janeway said. “That just leaves communications officer Hoshi Sato and science officer Richard Mulder.”
“I would only need one more person, Captain,” Braxton said. “I’m sure two of your crew would be enough, we only had three names as those were the ones deemed safest to replace.”
“Just how are you going to replace them, if you don’t mind my asking?” Chakotay said, a question Janeway was thinking herself.

“It will depend on the person,” Braxton said. “A non-lethal contagion requiring a few days quarantine is always an option, though my people are capable of finding less drastic measures. Sato will be the easiest to remove from the equation, as her records show her to be a hypochondriac. To be honest, one wonders what Archer had to do to convince her to leave Earth at all.”
“Captain,” Seven of Nine said. “Since the universal translator was in its infancy at that point is history, my cortical implant could be modified to work as one and allow me to pose in the role of a communications specialist.”
“I imagine your Borg implants would raise a few red flags, Seven,” Harry Kim said.

“We can hide those,” Braxton said. “we can cover up the Commander’s face tattoo as, well, since Starfleet was far more strict regarding body modifications in that era.”

“Okay, that’s two down,” Janeway said. “We only need one more.”
“That leaves the science officer,” Braxton said. “As Voyager is a science vessel I suppose that means nearly anyone on board would be a good fit for that role.”

“According to the file we have on Lieutenant Mulder,” Janeway said. “his field of expertise was xenobiology, one of the few humans in that field at the time. He even interned for a year at a Denobulan run endangered animal reserve.”
“Samantha Wildman’s field-” Seven of Nine said, but was cut off.
“No,” Samantha said, looking panicked. “No no no. I am not a spy, I have no training in undercover work. Forget it.”

“No one’s making you, Sam,” Janeway said. “But Seven is right, that is your field. You’d be a better choice than someone who isn’t and would have to fake it.”

“Not to mention that your relationship with Ensign Seven of Nine would add credibility to the cover,” Braxton said. “The less an agent has to lie about, the easier the facade is to maintain. If you and your wife-”
“Fiancee,” Sam corrected.
Braxton took out what looked like a PADD, presumably its 29th century equivalent, and ran his finger along the screen.
“Oh, right,” he said. “that hasn’t happened yet. My apologies.”

“Not necessary,” Seven of Nine said.
“Anyway,” Braxton continued. “whoever we have fill in for the science officer doesn’t need to be well versed in xenobiology. The goal isn’t to take on the officer’s identity, just to be positioned as the ideal alternative to them in order for Archer to have to take them on as his second choice. Same goes for Reed and Sato. You aren’t posing as them, you’re posing as officers with similar qualifications.”
“In that case,” Janeway said, “perhaps someone with a degree in astrophysics would be a good fit. Tom?”
Tom Paris didn’t respond right away, seeming to ponder the question.
“Makes sense,” he said. “Plus I’m a history buff, so my knowledge of the era would prove helpful to the team as well.”
“Actually,” Chakotay said. “I think maybe Ensign Wildman should join the mission.”
“What? Why?” Samantha said.
“Seven of Nine’s Borg mannerism and speech patterns would likely draw suspicion onto us,” Chakotay said. “At the very least people will notice. Humans tend not to talk like that most of the time outside of certain contexts.”
“This is relevant because?” Janeway said, wondering where Chakotay was going with this.
“I’m sure we’ve all noticed that Seven tends to behave more, to put it bluntly, human, when she’s around Sam,” Chakotay said.
“Are you suggesting I be removed from the mission if Samantha doesn’t agree to join?” Seven of Nine asked. If any other crewmember were asking that question Janeway would believe they were offended, but Seven was likely only seeking clarification.
“No,” Chakotay said. “Merely making a suggestion that could improve the mission’s chances of success.”
“Fine, I’ll go,” Samantha said. Everyone on the bridge turned to look at her. “Why is everyone so shocked?”
“You just seemed pretty adamant before, Sam,” Harry said.

“Yeah, well, after this year I don’t want to take any chances. I’ve almost lost Annie twice already, I don’t think I could live with myself if something bad happened to her two hundred years in the past if I had a chance to prevent it.”
“I assure you, Ensign Wildman,” Braxton said, “we’ll have a temporal transporter lock on them at all times.”
“Temporal transporter?” Janeway said. “Just how does that work?”
“I can explain in detail later. The only downside to the device is that it’s relatively new to my ship. So far we have been unable to transport more than one person at a time. The team definitely will need to know that going in.”
“You should’ve told us sooner, frankly,” Janeway said. “In fact, I get the feeling there are a lot of things you aren’t telling us yet.”
“This is true, Captain Janeway,” Braxton said. “but as long as the mission goes even half as well as planned, none of it will be necessary for you to know. Telling you now would just put undue pressure on you and your crew.”
“I think that’s my call to make, not yours,” Janeway said. “You said yourself, the space-time continuum isn’t anywhere near as fragile as people in my time think it is, if I remember correctly.”
“True,” Braxton said.

“So,” Janeway continued, arms crossed and stepping forward so she was face to face with Braxton, “you are going to come back into the briefing room, with myself and the three volunteers for the mission, and you are going to lay out everything. This is non-negotiable.”

Week One…

Samantha leaned back and sighed contentedly. She was back on Earth. Earth in the 22nd century, and she was here on an undercover mission, something that she never would have believed was possible, but it was Earth nonetheless. She looked over at Seven, her Borg implants now invisible thanks to the work of Braxton’s crew, and wondered for a moment if Seven had dozed off. The soothing sound of ocean waves had nearly lulled her to that point several times.
“Doctor Wildman?” a voice she recognized from archive files that had been played for her and the rest of the undercover team a few days prior said.
Here goes nothing, she thought, nervous she would somehow accidentally blow her and Seven’s cover.
“Yes?” she said, pretending not to recognize Captain Jonathan Archer.
“Jon Archer, Starfleet,” he said, extending his hand.
“Archer? As in, Warp Five engine Archer?” Sam said, feigning excitement. “A pleasure to meet you, Captain.” She reached over and nudged Seven.
“Annika, you awake sweetie?”
“Hmm? Oh, sorry, did I- Captain Archer?” Seven said. “What brings you to Ibiza?”
“Sorry to interrupt your honeymoon, Ensign Hansen,” Archer said, smiling. Samantha had to admit the man had a certain charm to him. Had she not known deep down that this man had a deep-seated paranoia against the Vulcans, she might find herself falling into the trap of liking him. “I’m actually here to recruit you. Both of you actually.”
“Oh?” Sam said.
“I need a new science officer and communications specialist for the NX-01. We’re due to launch at the end of the week, and sadly I’ve had several officers have to bow out. I got lucky that two of the names near the top of both lists happened to be in the same place.”
Archer was referring to Sam and Seven’s cover identities, modeled very closely on their real ones, even keeping their names, or birth names in Seven of Nine’s case.
“I’m flattered,” Samantha said, remembering the script that Tom Paris had prepared for her for this moment. Don’t say yes right away, he’d said. Make Archer work for it. “But Annie and I just got here. We haven’t even been married a full twenty-four hours yet.”
“I understand,” Archer said. “and if I had more time I wouldn’t even be here. But Starfleet Command is really pushing for a launch this Saturday.”
“To coincide with Zefram Cochrane’s birthday, I heard about that,” Seven said. “I think we should take him up on the offer honey. I mean, a honeymoon in Spain is wonderful and I love you for suggesting it, but a honeymoon in space? How can we pass that up?” Seven put on an excited smile.

Damn you’re good, Sam thought. She nearly believed that Seven was as excited as she had been told to look.
“Good sell, Seven,” Tom’s voice came through on the implants in their ears.
Archer smiled. “Not many people can say they spent their honeymoon in space.”
Sam sighed. “Captain, I appreciate the offer really, but there’s one slight problem. I’m not Starfleet.”
“I can grant you a field commission,” Archer said. “It’s nothing new, my first choice for communications officer, no offense Ensign, wasn’t Starfleet either. She’s a teacher in fact.”
Sam looked at Seven, who was putting on a masterful “oh please oh please oh please face” that Naomi had taught her. Samantha felt a twinge of guilt at having to leave Naomi behind, and it broke her heart that she wouldn’t be seeing her daughter for almost a month, but Braxton had sworn to her that in her downtime on the NX-01 he could arrange for a private communication with her from time to time and that there was no way the NX-01 relatively primitive communications technology could intercept.
“May I ask why me?” Sam said.
“Because you are one of the handful of Human scientists to have ever studied plant and animal life on other worlds,” Archer said. “Now you may be thinking why not an astrophysicist, or some other branch of science, but you don’t need to worry about that, you’ll have a decent team working under you. If something’s outside your field of expertise, you can just tell me who to bring with me on an away mission. Your profile said you showed some leadership skills.”
“Well,” Sam said, putting on a smile that she hoped looked both genuine and humble, “I’ve had to take charge of a situation from time to time.”
“And you did a great job,” Seven said, gently rubbing Sam’s shoulders. “Imagine what this could do for your career when we get back. Serving on the first Warp Five ship will look great on the resume.”
“Alright, I’m convinced,” Sam said.
“Great,” Archer said. “See you in San Francisco on Saturday, 0630 hours. That’s a few days off so enjoy your honeymoon ‘til then.”
As soon as Archer was out of earshot Sam let out a sigh of relief.
“Seems to me like he bought it,” she said.
“Agreed,” Seven of Nine said. “Has Commander Chakotay already been enlisted by Captain Archer as well?”

“He has,” Braxton’s voice said in both women’s ears. “Yesterday. He’ll only be a Lieutenant on the NX-01 when you meet him, so be careful about that. His cover story is that he was on the command track until he took a long sabbatical when his father passed away. Like I said, basing your covers partially in truth makes them easier to maintain.

“As for now, do what the Captain said. You’ve got a few days, might as well enjoy them. If Ensign Paris or anyone from my crew has anything they think they’ll need to pass on to you we will. I’ll mute the communicators so you two can be alone.”
“Thank you, sir,” Sam said. “but first, Tom?”
“Yeah, Sam?”
“Tell Naomi I said good night.”
“I will.”

Seven of Nine and Samantha Wildman got to go to the beaches of Spain, Chakotay thought as he went over the defensive systems of the NX-01 while it sat in spacedock, while I have to run calibrations of phasers so old they didn’t even call them phasers yet.

The task, though not exciting, was at least a challenge, so he wasn’t bored. The only hard part for him was making sure that his calibrations were not too good for the time period. Chakotay knew full well he could improve the accuracy and decrease the power consumption of these ‘phased cannons’ exponentially, even using the period technology at his disposal, but he had to settle for a mere 5% improvement.
“How’re those calibrations coming along, Lieutenant?” the voice of the NX-01’s chief engineer said. Commander Charles Tucker, whom Captain Archer had referred to as Trip when he’d introduced the two, climbed up the ladder from where the antimatter missiles were stored. Chakotay wondered why he’d been down there, and made a note to check later.
“Done,” Chakotay said. “Just triple checking them. One can never be too careful when it comes to weapons as powerful as these. It’d look bad on my performance review if the captain asks me to disable an alien ship and we end up blowing it to pieces instead.”
“You expect we’ll see combat out there?” Tucker said. “According to the Vulcans it’s mostly friendlies in the direction we’re headed, and those that aren’t aren’t much of a threat.”
“Is that the Vulcans praising us,” Chakotay said, “or insulting them?”
“Could be both,” Tucker said with a shrug. “Don’t let it get around Lieutenant, but while I find the Vulcans can be pretty smug sometimes, I don’t think they’re all that bad. Not that I’d ever say that to the Captain mind you. And neither should you.”
“My lips are sealed, sir,” Chakotay said.
Tucker shook his head. “I doubt I’ll ever get over someone older than me calling me sir, Mister Chakotay. I understand why though. Were you and your Dad close?”
“Be as honest as you can,” Braxton’s voice said into Chakotay’s implant, but Chakotay already knew that.
“Sadly no,” he said. “That’s part of why I took it so hard when he passed. He never approved of me joining Starfleet. He wanted me to stay in South America with our tribe. By the time I even knew he was ill, it was too late to try and mend fences.” Tucker sighed and put a hand on Chakotay’s shoulder.
“Well, hopefully he’s proud of you now, from wherever he is,” he said. Chakotay nodded.
“Maybe,” Chakotay said.

“Wow,” Samantha Wildman said as they approached the NX-01 in a shuttlepod that Captain Archer piloted himself, with Samantha, now wearing the same period appropriate style of uniform that Seven was wearing, but with a different color trim to denote her rank and department. It was amusing that even though hers was only a field commission, she now technically outranked Seven of Nine as far as their cover went.
“I hope you don’t intend to abuse your rank, Lieutenant,” Archer had said while the three had still been standing by the landing pad on Earth. She and Seven had shared a look. Archer simply shook his head and laughed. “Forget I said anything,” he’d added.
It looks so different, Sam thought. It’s amazing how much of a difference working lights can make. She looked back at Seven, who was making a show of reading the report Archer had given her on the NX-01’s translation system, the very crude precursor to the universal translator that Sam had to admit she had taken for granted over the years. The fact was Seven, due to her Borg implants, still retained the knowledge of the languages of every species the Borg had assimilated while she was a drone. Whether or not she could speak them was another matter; Seven had insisted that she could, but not as easily as she could recall other details, in addition to details such as context, dialect, and accents.

“Fun read, babe?” Sam said.
“Interesting,” Seven said. “I look forward to seeing this system in action.”
“The woman who was my first choice for communications officer,” Archer said, “Hoshi Sato, actually helped develop it. Shame she can’t join us, but she was always a bit on the paranoid side, and when she got food poisoning of all things the week before launch, she took it as a bad omen and bailed on me. Her loss though. Once we’ve gone past what even the Vulcan’s consider known space there are going to be a lot of new languages I just know she would’ve loved to learn about.”
Sam could still hear the inflection that Archer put on the word ‘Vulcans.’ It was subtle; so subtle that she wouldn’t have picked up on it had Seven not pointed it out to her first. She smiled, pretending she didn’t hear it.
“So, why is it still called the NX-01?” she said, asking a question that she’d actually wanted to ask in her pre-mission briefing but had failed to ask due to nerves. “Seems to me a starship should have a proper name instead of just a designation.”
“Starfleet Command couldn’t agree on one,” Archer said. “Too many Admirals wanting to get credit for being the one who named her. So they decided that if our first mission succeeds, since I helped build her, I’ll get to pick the name.”

“What are you going to call it?” Seven said.
“I’ve got it narrowed down. Remember the old space shuttles? Early spacecraft, the United States used them to send astronauts into orbit for scientific missions. I think I’ll name her after one of those. Columbia, Endeavour, Enterprise, one of those.”
Sam smiled and nodded, though it was hard for her not to associate the name Robert April with the title of ‘first Starfleet Captain of a U.S.S. Enterprise.’ I wonder what the NX-01 would’ve been named if it had made it back, she thought.
“Archer to NX-01, request permission to dock,” Archer said after pushing a button on the console in front of him.
“NX-01 flight control to Shuttlepod One, you are clear to approach,” an unknown voice replied. “Hold position while we extend the grappler.”

Seven of Nine had made sure her ocular implant was modified to search for explosives without having to carry any extra equipment on her. This proved to be a nearly mission compromising mistake as she, Sam, and Archer made their way to sickbay from the shuttle bay. The path took them past the area of the ship where the antimatter missiles, crude precursors to the far more precise photon torpedoes, were stored, and the blinding flash all that relatively poorly shielded explosive material made as she came around a hall made her flinch. Luckily, Archer was not looking right at her when it happened, and Seven was able to regain her composure quickly.

Captain Archer stopped a young woman who was going the opposite direction down the corridor.
“Ensign Cutler, would you go ahead and take our two new crewmen to see Doctor Phlox?”
“Of course, sir,” Cutler said. “You must be our new science and communications officers,” she added extended a hand to both Seven and Samantha.
“Samantha Wildman,” Sam said. “And my wife Annika Hansen.”
“Welcome aboard, both of you. Have you been assigned crew quarters yet?” Cutler said.
“Dammit, I knew I forgot to do something,” Archer said. He gave Seven and Sam an apologetic smile. “I’ll take care of that myself, Cutler, since it was my faux-pas. Just have them get their check-ups, and then we can be on our way.”
“Yes, sir. This way ladies,” Cutler said. Seven allowed Sam to get a few steps ahead of her so Seven could try to surreptitiously scan the parts of the ship they were going through, looking for any sign of some kind of bomb that could be to blame for the NX-01’s loss in the original timeline.
“Okay,” Braxton’s voice said into Seven’s earpiece. “Based on our data on Phlox, he’s very unconventional as doctors go. heavy into non-traditional medicine, but as far we know nothing he has is going to harm you. It will be disgusting however, so don’t feel you have to hide your revulsion. He’s probably used to it at this point.”

Seven, Sam, and Cutler arrived at sickbay just in time to see Commander Chakotay leaving.
“Ah, Mister Chakotay,” Cutler said. “Samantha, Annika, this is Chakotay. Our new tactical officer.”
“A pleasure to meet you,” Samantha said.
“Likewise,” Seven added. Chakotay smiled and nodded.
“Welcome aboard the NX-01 ladies. Ready to make some history?” he said.
“Oh absolutely,” Samantha said, enthusiastically shaking Chakotay’s hand as though they’d never met before.

“Good. Don’t worry too much about the Doc, he promises he’ll only use his leeches if there’s an emergency,” Chakotay said, before saluting and heading down another corridor.
I hope he’s joking, Seven thought.
“I really hope he was joking,” Tom Paris’ voice said in her ear.

“Doctor, two new guinea pigs for you,” Cutler said in a jovial tone.
“Ah, good, always nice to meet new potential victims.” Seven was still behind Sam. She moved to Sam’s side to see a Denobulan, Species 7611, with the largest smile she had ever seen on any sentient being capable of smiling.

“I was unaware that Starfleet allowed non-humans to serve on their ships,” Sam said.
“Normally they don’t,” Doctor Phlox said. “But Captain Archer happens to be a friend of mine, so he requested me. It doubtless helps that I have more experience treating injured and sick non-humans than any human doctor does currently, though I’ve no doubt that will change soon. Your species is made up of remarkably quick learners.”
“Careful,” Cutler said, still smiling. “this one’s a charmer.”

Seven got the impression that something was going on between these two, but decided that was none of her concern.

“I just need to run a routine physical,” Phlox said, “so go ahead and take a seat on one of the beds, one each please.”
It was only then that Seven noticed the animals. Cages, tanks, all sorts of enclosures holding varying types of mammals, fish, insects, and other creatures she did not recognize.
“Is this,” Seven said, also finally noticing the smell, “sanitary?” Sam nudged Seven gently as she often did when she felt that Seven needed to briefly cease talking.

Phlox, however did not seem offended in the slightest.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “they’ve all been through necessary decontamination procedures. I use some of them for research, all very humane. Some have properties in them that can be used as medical treatments. And, a few of them are simply pets.”

“I love animals too,” Samantha said.
“I’ve heard,” Phlox said. “I imagine we will much to talk about over the coming weeks. Now, while normally I love small talk, I do have to get this last round of physicals done in the next hour so Starfleet will allow us to launch on time, so I will get to work on the check-ups for yourself and your lovely wife.”

Week Two…

Chakotay stared at the ceiling in his quarters, having doubts about the mission. The NX-01 was seven days out of spacedock, and the only exciting thing that had happened was first contact with the Xyrillians. It was a big deal for the people of this time of course, but for him, he’d had a Xyrillian bunkmate during his first starship posting, and another Xyrillian had briefly flown with him in the Maquis before going to another colony in the DMZ to help there.

He also had found nothing that pointed towards what could possibly have caused the accident or sabotage or whatever that had led to this ship ending up being found by his people over two-hundred years later.

But worst of all was his budding friendship with Trip, the chief engineer. Braxton had warned him, as well as Seven of Nine and Samantha Wildman, about getting attached to anyone on this ship, but with a mission that was going to last almost a month, that was just unrealistic. Samantha and Seven themselves seemed to regularly spend their lunches in the mess hall dining with Ensign Cutler, as well as Travis Mayweather, the NX-01’s helmsman.

Since he was alone, he decided to go ahead and talk to his controllers aboard the Relativity directly.
“Are you sure there’s nothing we can do for them?” Chakotay said.
“History records them as being lost,” Braxton insisted, as he did every time Chakotay broached the subject. “And they don’t just suddenly turn up in the 24th century either. I’m not going to rule out finding a home for them in the 29th, but that wholly depends on what the cause of the disaster is. I’m sorry Commander, but those are the cold hard facts.”
Chakotay sighed. This was the third time he’d had this conversation, and it was to Captain Braxton’s credit that he didn’t get annoyed at the repetition he supposed. Everyone on this ship apart from himself, Seven, and Sam were going to die in about a week, and there was nothing he could do about that. He would perform his duties, but there was no rule that said he had to like them.

Seven of Nine closed her eyes and smiled as Samantha rubbed her shoulders.
“This mission cannot end soon enough,” Sam whispered. Seven agreed. While both Captain Braxton and Tom Paris had sworn that they didn’t leave the sub-dermal communicators on non-stop, the couple could not bring themselves to be intimate while they were still in the 22nd century. Only the fact that they had gone more than a week without sex before helped them any, but on Voyager it was different; there was a child in the equation, in addition to Seven’s budding friendships with several members of the crew.

Aboard the NX-01, it was just simply frustrating.

“I am starting to regret volunteering,” Seven said. “At this point, with no sign of any equipment failures or sabotage to explain the disappearance of the NX-01, it looks increasingly likely that we’re in a time loop.”
“And that we have to be the ones to make it go missing,” Sam said. “I am not looking forward to that, at all.”

“Nor am I,” Seven said.

The sound of the door chime interrupted the somber conversation.
“Enter,” Sam said, looking at the chronometer and wondering who it might be at his hour.

Doctor Phlox entered, smiling, his hands behind his back.
“Lieutenant Wildman, can I speak with you privately?” he said.
Sam looked at Seven. Seven subtly shrugged.
“I suppose that’s alright,” Sam said. “where-”
“Sickbay, if you please,” Phlox said. For some reason, he seemed to be making an effort not to make eye contact with her, keeping his focus on Sam.
Is he on to us? Seven thought, searching her memories for anything she might’ve done to accidentally reveal any of her cybernetic implants. Or just me?
“Yeah, sure,” Sam said. She touched the back of Seven’s neck. “See you at movie night?”
“Yes,” Seven said, smiling. “Tucker says we’ll be watching a film called Forbidden Planet. The title intrigues me.”

“It’s a good film,” Phlox said. “The gender politics are incredibly backwards, but I understand that was sadly normal for humans at the time it was made. I saw it during my time on Earth, before I met Captain Archer.”
“Sounds interesting. I’ll meet you there. Love you,” Sam said.
“Love you too,” Seven said.

“So, what did you want to talk about?” Sam asked Phlox.
“How long have you known your wife, Lieutenant?” Phlox said.
“Two years,” Sam said. She was rounding up considerably, but it was a mostly accurate statement.
“Remember a few days ago when one of my pet bats accidentally scratched her?” Phlox said.
“Yes,” Sam said, glowering. “I also remember reading you the riot act over letting a freaking bat fly around sickbay.”
“I was examining her, the bat I mean, after the incident, and I found something in your spouse’s blood that concerns me,” Phlox said.
Uh oh, Sam thought.
“Uh oh,” Tom Paris said in Sam’s earpiece.

“Several years ago,” Phlox said, “when I first came to Earth, I was brought in to consult on something that had been found in the northern polar region of the planet. Along with some debris from a ship that had presumably crashed there years before, we found the frozen bodies of several humanoid, cybernetic beings.”
“Interesting,” Sam said, afraid she knew where this was going but not wanting to give away anything. “But what does that have to do with my wife?”

“When I examined the bodies, I found inert nanotechnology inside them,” Phlox said. “I was sworn to silence by Starfleet Command about it, I’m risking my good standing with Earth as well as my position on this ship by talking to you about this. I’ve never even told Captain Archer. But I may be forced to, because I found that same nanotech in the blood on my bat’s claws.”
Sam shook her head and laughed, hoping the laugh came across as genuine.
“Are you trying to tell me that Annika is secretly a cyborg?” she said. “That’s ludicrous. If that’s so, why didn’t you find any during your exams when we first came aboard?”

“She may have been able to hide it,” Phlox said. “The nanotech I found in her bloodstream was inert.”
“Also,” Samantha said, stepping closer to Phlox in what she hoped was an intimidating gesture, “if you actually think she’s a cyborg infiltrator of some kind, why would you tell me this? For all you know I could be one too.”
“I considered that,” Phlox said. “That’s why I palmed one of the utensils you used at dinner in the mess hall the other night.”

“That’s kinda creepy,” Tom’s voice said. Sam had to bite her lip to keep from verbally agreeing.
“I scanned that and found no sign of nanotechnology,” Phlox said. “That’s why I believe I can trust you. I think-”
“I think you should just drop this, Doctor,” Sam said forcefully.
“I don’t,” a voice behind Sam said. She turned around to see Captain Archer standing there, with two armed officers standing behind them. One of them was Chakotay, who did not look happy to be there. She couldn’t blame him for not wanting to compromise the mission, but for Sam this was a bridge too far.
“So you lied about not having told the Captain yet,” Sam said to Phlox. “You just wanted to keep me out of my quarters.”
“I’m sorry, Samantha,” Phlox said.
“Shove it,” Sam said. She was tempted to just ask Braxton for an extraction, but the problem of the temporal transporter only being able to take one person at a time had not yet been solved.
“Doctor, escort the Lieutenant to the brig,” Archer said. “We’ll be bringing Ensign Hansen with us to join her shortly, and we can begin the interrogation.”
“Shit, shit, shit,” Tom muttered. “Captain Braxton?! We’ve got a problem!”
Sam nearly flinched when Tom yelled, apparently not realizing how loud he was being so close to the communicator. She tried to think of something, anything she could say that would stop this. Maybe if she were an experienced spy like Tuvok, a tactician like Chakotay, or as analytical as Seven of Nine she would’ve, but instead she just sighed.
“Fine,” she said with anger in her voice. Although she directed the anger in Archer’s direction, it wasn’t him she was actually mad at, but he didn’t need to know that. She was mad at Phlox for the invasion of privacy with the utensils, mad at Braxton for dragging Voyager into this mess, and mad at herself for going along.
“Okay, don’t panic Sam,” Tom said. “I let Seven know what’s going on.”
As soon as Tom finished his sentence, the door to their quarters opened, and Seven stepped out, wearing her uniform in casual mode, as she always did on movie night. Seven sold a look of confusion that Sam would’ve thought was real had she not known better.
“Sam, honey, what’s going on?”
“Mister Chakotay, Mister Nava, take them to the brig,” Archer said. “The Doctor and I will join you shortly.”
“It’s okay baby,” Sam said. “It’s all a misunderstanding I’m sure. We’ll get it cleared up.” She turned and glowered at Phlox. “And believe me, heads will roll over this.”

Chakotay had to fight the urge to just bust Sam and Seven out of their cells in the brig himself and try to get them all off this ship. As Braxton had pointed out to him, there weren’t really any options. The NX-01’s own transporters weren’t as reliable as Voyager’s, and even if they were there was nowhere nearby they could beam to. The shuttlepods had no FTL drive and no shields; stealing one of them would only get them killed. That left the temporal transporter, which could only take one person at a time and had a recharge cycle of ten seconds, during which the increasingly paranoid Archer could do something rash to whoever wasn’t lucky enough to be extracted first.

“Jon thinks maybe the Vulcans have something to do with this,” Trip said to Chakotay while the latter was doing yet another inspection of the warp drive for any signs of tampering under Archer’s orders.
“He hasn’t said anything to me about it,” Chakotay said, “but I can believe that. That he would think that I mean. Didn’t Doctor Phlox say that the nanotech he found was centuries ahead of anything the Vulcans have?”

“He did, and I looked at those samples myself. No way is that Vulcan tech,” Trip said. “I just wish Jon would listen to reason, but this whole thing with Annika Hansen has him really on edge. He’s still waiting on orders from Starfleet Command on how to handle the interrogation.”
“That’s the thing about paranoia,” Chakotay said. “It’s impervious to logic.” Chakotay turned off his scanner. “Third check confirms, no signs of any explosives, no nanotech, not even a tracking device. If I wasn’t afraid he’d toss me in the brig too…” Chakotay let the thought hang. He looked at Trip, who just sadly nodded. Archer’s own best friend was starting to turn on him.

I wonder if we even need to let the NX-01 be destroyed or go missing, Chakotay thought. At this point even Archer’s own best friend has trouble with him. Not exactly the charismatic icon that Braxton was worried would spread anti-Vulcan bias.

“Archer to engineering,” Archer’s voice said over the loudspeakers.
“Yes, Captain?” Trip said.
“Mister Tucker, we’re returning to Earth,” Archer said. “Starfleet Command wants to handle our prisoners there. They’ll be calling in experts on interrogation, which we lack. Can the warp 5 engine handle a prolonged trip? I’d like us to get back there faster than we got out here.”

“I wouldn’t want to push it Captain,” Trip said. “But since we stopped a few places along the way, all we have to do is not stop there again on the way back and we can easily make the trip in only ten days at Warp 4.”
“I want us back there in one week,” Archer said. This was not a request.
“Okay. I think we can keep up a speed of Warp 5 non-stop for about,” Trip took out a device similar to the PADDs that people in Chakotay’s time used and began making calculations. “About sixteen hours. Drop to warp 4 after that, we can be home in, let’s see here, seven and a half days. That’s the best I can give you without risking tearing the ship apart.”
“Twelve hours is better than three days,” Archer said. “I’ll take it. Prepare the engine, we’re leaving now.”

So much for getting to see first contact with the Borothans, Chakotay thought.

“Commander,” Braxton’s voice said into Chakotay’s earpiece. “We’ve got a plan, but first you need to get Mister Tucker somewhere where we can beam him to the Relativity with nobody seeing. Contact us immediately once you succeed, and further instructions will follow.”

Seven of Nine looked up at the ceiling of her cell, lying on the very uncomfortable bed. She had to admit she had a certain respect for the design of the NX-01’s cells. Similar to the ones on modern Starfleet ships, but using a transparent aluminum wall with small holes cut in to allow air and sound to travel in and out. Most importantly for the safety of the crew, while inconvenient for her at the moment, was that a wall doesn’t simply shut off if there were to be a power outage.

She could see Sam, sitting against the wall and being visibly depressed in the cell across from hers. She wanted to comfort her, but Archer kept guards in the brig with them 24/7, and they were under orders to not allow the prisoners to speak to each other. Only the occasional presence of Tom Paris, Captain Braxton, and even occasionally Naomi on their ear-pieces, patched in a shared frequency so they both could hear at the same time, kept them from feeling isolated.

The crews of both the Relativity and the Voyager were working on a way to safely extract them, but Seven could tell from how they’d spoken in the almost twenty-four hours since Archer had put her and Sam in here that both Braxton and Janeway were nearing the point of just scrapping the mission, using the temporal transporter, and hoping for the best.

I should never have agreed to this mission, Seven thought. All of this is my fault. Had I not volunteered my Borg nanoprobes wouldn’t have ended up on the claws of that stupid pet of that questionable doctor and the whole operation wouldn’t be compromised. Worst of all, the woman I love is sitting in a damn jail cell, not allowed to talk to anyone. She must be so scared, and I can’t even tell her I’m sorry.

“Hey, Chakotay,” she heard the current guard, Ensign Nava, say.
“Hey, Jerry,” Chakotay said. “I’m here to relieve you.”

“Aren’t you a little early? Your shift isn’t for another half-hour.”
“I know, but I woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep. Have the prisoners said anything?“
“No sir,” Nava said. “Permission to speak frankly?”

“Go ahead,” Chakotay said.
“I know the nanotech thing is suspicious and all, but this all seems a little extreme. If we absolutely had to cut them off from the rest of the ship, shouldn’t confinement to quarters have been enough? And if both of them are spies or whatever then doesn’t keeping from talking to each other accomplish nothing? They’ve had weeks if not longer to get their stories straight.”
Seven got up and went to the transparent barrier. She could see Chakotay and Nava speaking to each other, though Nava’s back was to her. Chakotay made a show of looking around to make sure no one else was around.
“I happen to agree, Ensign, but these are the Captain’s orders. We’re heading back to Earth, we can file a protest with Starfleet Command once we get there.”
“Understood. Enjoy your shift, sir,” Nava said, saluting as he handed his phase pistol and a datapad to Chakotay. Once Nava was out of sight, Chakotay manipulated some controls on a nearby console, and the barriers to both occupied cells slid open.
“Chakotay to Tucker,” Chakotay said into a handheld communicator, “we are a go.”
“Got it,” the chief engineer’s voice replied. “I’m on the way to the shuttlepod bay right now. Make sure internal security goes down before I get there so Jon doesn’t know I went willingly.”
“You say that like this is the first time I’ve had to stage a kidnapping, Trip,” Chakotay said with a wry grin.
“Commander,” Seven said. “What the hell is going on?”
“You took the words right out of my mouth, hon,” Sam said.

“I can explain,” Chakotay said. “Wait, never mind, not enough time, I’ll summarize. You two were able to take advantage of a power failure that caused the doors to open, kidnap Chief Engineer Tucker, and steal a shuttlepod.”
“What power failure?” Seven said.
“The one that’s going to happen in a few minutes because I sabotaged the engines,” Chakotay said. “Now get going, Trip will meet you at the shuttlepod bay.”
“Then what?” Sam said. “The shuttlepods don’t have FTL.”
“It’s taken care of, now start moving.”
“C’mon, Annie,” Sam said, taking Seven’s hand and moving towards the door.
“What about you, Commander?”
“I’ll get arrested and thrown in one of those cells over there, but don’t worry, that’s part of the plan.”
Almost as soon as Chakotay finished that sentence, the ship shuddered as it suddenly dropped out of warp. The lights blinked out, quickly replaced by the familiar glow of emergency lighting.
“Go, go, go!” Chakotay yelled at them. The two women bolted for the door and made their way as quickly as possible towards the shuttlepod bay, coming across a pair of unconscious crewmen along the way, and resisting the urge to help. When they arrived at the bay, the door to Shuttlepod One was already open, Commander Tucker leaning out and motioning for them to follow him in.
“C’mon, hurry. I stunned those crewmen over a minute ago, it’ll wear off any second.”
“Commander,” Sam said, “Why are you helping us?”
“I’ll tell you the whole story if my own best friend doesn’t blow us all to hell first,” Trip said, taking the controls as the door to shuttlepod sealed, and the shuttle bay door beneath it opened. “And also assuming that the trick Captain Braxton and Ensign Paris came up with works.”
“How do you-” Sam started to say, but the shuttlepod shuddered as the magnetic clamps released, and the artificial gravity of the ship allowed it to drop through the open bay door, at which point Trip fired up the engines and began flying straight ahead at full speed.
Voyager to away team, stand by,” Captain Janeway’s voice said over both Seven and Samantha’s ear pieces. “and don’t panic,” she added.
“Commander Tucker, do you-”
“I heard,” Trip said. “They gave me one of those subdermal communicators too. Trust me, I’m not doing this lightly. Jonathan Archer is still my best friend. I wouldn’t betray him over just a hunch.”
Seven understood. Commander Tucker had been brought to the Relativity by way of the temporal transporter. How much detail he was given she didn’t know, at least not yet, but whatever Braxton and Janeway had divulged to him was enough to make him do something that Seven herself would’ve considered impossible; openly defying Captain Archer.
Well, not openly, Seven thought, correcting herself. As far as Archer is concerned we kidnapped Mister Tucker when we took the shuttlepod. Assuming the plan worked, Archer probably thinks we-

“NX-01 to Shuttlepod One, power down or you will be fired upon,” Archer’s voice said over the comm. It was a much more reserved tone than Seven would’ve suspected. “Annika, Samantha, whoever you work for, I’m not going to let you get away with taking my friend, my chief engineer, to them. I want him back alive, but if losing him is what it takes to make it clear to your superiors that Earth is more than capable of doing what it takes to defend itself you-”
“Annie, look!” Sam yelled, pointing out the front viewport.
A spatial distortion, exactly like the one that preceded the arrival of the Relativity in the Delta Quadrant in Voyager’s path, appeared, and a ship came out. It wasn’t the Relativity though, and at first glance it didn’t seem to be Voyager either, but Seven’s ocular implants told her what NX-01’s crude sensors wouldn’t.
“Son of a bitch” Sam said, “they made Voyager look like a Kazon ship!” Seven smiled. Even without technology to aid her, Samantha had quickly pieced together what little information she’d been given by Chakotay and Trip. Seven reached out to take Sam’s hand, but the tingle of a transport beam locking on to her kept her from completing the motion.

Captain Janeway stood next to Ensign Todd Mulcahey as he manipulated the transporter controls. Soon, Seven of Nine, Samantha Wildman, and the NX-01’s chief engineer Charles Tucker all stood on the transporter pad. The two former quickly embraced each other, while the latter looked around with a sense of wonder.
“Good work, Todd,” Janeway said.
“Thanks, Captain,” Mulcahey said.

“Welcome aboard the Federation starship Voyager, Mister Tucker,” Janeway said.
“Please, call me Trip,” Tucker said. “I’m glad I could help you get two of your people back.”
“Okay, Trip,” Janeway said smiling. She turned to Seven and Sam. “You two alright?”
“We’re good Captain,” Sam said. “Not being allowed to talk to each other was rough, but we weren’t mistreated otherwise.”
“Jon Archer’s a lot of things,” Tucker said, sounding slightly sad. “but even he wouldn’t stoop to torture. I just hope your First Officer is doing alright, we easily could’ve fit him in the shuttlepod.”
“I know,” Janeway said. “But you were there when we came up with the plan. If Chakotay can get through to him, we can send you home, the Relativity can go back to the 29th century, and me and my people can get back to our journey.”
“What exactly is this plan I keep hearing about?” Seven said. “Now that we are back on Voyager I assume there is time for an update.”
“How about you guys go talk to your daughter first,” Tucker said. Seven and Sam looked at him in surprise.
“How did you-” Sam said.
“Time travel,” Tucker said. “I was on the Relativity for a few days, but only a few minutes passed on the NX-01. I learned a lot in that time.”
“Don’t dwell on the logistics of that too much, Sam,” Janeway said. “It’ll give you a whopper of a headache.”
“Temporal mechanics usually do, ma’am,” Sam said.
“Naomi’s in the mess hall with Neelix. Go see her, then report to the briefing room in two hours. Mister Tuck- Trip, would you like a tour?”
“I’d love to. Can we start with engineering?”
“Of course,” Janeway said. “I’ll take you personally.”

“Thanks, Cap,” Tucker said. “Can’t wait to see what an engine capable of pushing Warp 9.975 looks like. It must be massive.”

“Depends on how you define massive, but I think you’ll be impressed,” Janeway said as she and Commander Tucker exited the transporter room together.
“You know,” Tucker said, “I can’t put my finger on why I feel this way but somehow your ship just seems, what’s the word I’m looking for here? Warmer. Yeah, it seems warmer than the Relativity somehow. Not temperature wise, I mean, I don’t know. This is gonna drive me nuts.”

Janeway shrugged.
“Well I can’t help you there,” she said. “I’m too biased. This isn’t just my first command, it’s also been my only home for almost five years.”

“Good point,” Tucker said.

Chakotay knew for the most part what he was getting into by allowing himself to be caught after helping Seven of Nine and Samantha Wildman escape. Had he known however that in addition to being put in one of the cells in the NX-01’s brig he’d also be strapped to a chair while Doctor Phlox injected him with a crude truth serum derived from the excretions of some of his lab animals, he might have suggested some alterations to the plan.
“You know what’s ironic about this?” Chakotay said to Phlox and Archer as they stood over him, and his vision started to blur as the serum kicked in. “I wasn’t going to lie anyway. My mission’s already been compromised.”
“I don’t think that counts as irony, Mister Chakotay,” Phlox said.
“If that is your real name of course,” Archer said.
Chakotay did not want to laugh, but thanks to the drug he couldn’t stop it.
“‘If that’s your real name,’ ha. You sound like a bad guy from a bad holonovel,” Chakotay said. Archer’s facial expressions showed that he was getting angrier. Chakotay thought for a moment that Archer might punch him, but Phlox gently placed a hand on Archer’s shoulder, at which point the latter stepped back slightly.
“Okay, the truth then,” Archer said. “Are you working for the Vulcans?”
“No,” Chakotay said.
Archer looked at Phlox. Phlox nodded and ran a medical scanner over him.
“The serum is working, he’s telling the truth Captain.”
“Well, Phlox, I owe you an apology on that one. You were right about the nanotech being beyond what the Vulcans have now.”
“You were being cautious Captain,” Phlox said. “With the safety of the ship at stake, I took no offense.”
“Speaking of the safety of my ship,” Archer said, “what was your mission Mister Chakotay?”

“To find out what caused the disappearance of the NX-01,” Chakotay said, feeling a little sleepy now. “One of Starfleet earliest unsolved mysteries. We never knew if was sabotage, an accident, a spatial anomaly…”
“Hold it right there,” Archer said, leaning in so close that Chakotay could smell his aftershave, which wasn’t very strong, so he was very close indeed. “What happens to my ship?”
“I told you, we don’t know,” Chakotay said, the serum keeping him from hiding his frustration. “That’s why Sam, Seven, and I were here.”
“Who’s Seven?” Phlox said.
“Seven of Nine,” Chakotay said, “A former Borg drone we rescued almost two years ago. She only went by Annika Hansen on this mission, though she lets her fiancee call her that too.”
“Hmm,” Phlox said. “Interesting. Using an engaged couple to pose as a married couple. Makes a certain amount of sense. And I assume that the Borg is the name of the race those humanoid creatures we found near the North Pole belong to?”
“Yes,” Chakotay said, unable to stop himself from telling Archer and Phlox literally everything he knew about the Borg, right down to how many ships were lost at Wolf 359. Archer and Phlox looked increasingly horrified.
“So what were they doing on Earth a hundred years ago?” Phlox asked.
“No idea,” Chakotay said. “maybe it was a crashed scout ship that the collective never came to retrieve. It’s not unheard of.”
Phlox checked his scanner again. “The serum is still working, Jonathan. He’s still telling the truth.”

“I see,” Archer said. “That doesn’t explain though why your shipmates kidnapped my chief engineer.”
Don’t tell him, Chakotay thought, fighting with his own mind and mouth. Don’t tell him don’t tell don’t tell him don’t
“Trip helped us, we faked the kidnapping so you wouldn’t try to blow up the shuttlepod before Voyager could beam them off.”

Dammit, Chakotay thought.
Archer looked stunned, and Chakotay couldn’t blame him in the slightest. Archer looked at Phlox who sadly nodded.
“What did you to him? Bribe him? Threaten his family? Brainwashing? What?!”
“We showed him what would happen if the timeline changed too much,” Chakotay said, now having trouble keeping his eyes open. “In theory, we could save the NX-01 and Starfleet and the Federation wouldn’t be any worse off for it, time is not as fragile as people think it is.”
“The Federation?” Phlox said, but Chakotay kept going.
“If Jonathan Archer returns to Earth as a successful leader of a successful mission, his popularity will allow his anti-Vulcan bias to spread and become mainstream.”
Archer grabbed Chakotay by the collar of his uniform.
“So the Vulcans are involved, just not this century’s Vulcans!”
“They didn’t sabotage your father’s work, you racist idiot,” Chakotay said, the racist idiot part he added freely without any prompting from the truth serum, all respect he might have had for Archer at one point now completely evaporated. “The bond between Humanity and the Vulcans is the core of the Federation as I know it. Yeah, we make mistakes, even in the 24th century. I even left it for a time because of one of them, but I came back partly because for all its faults I still believe in its core values, even if it doesn’t always measure up to them. If you are allowed to return to Earth as a hero, we’ll lose that. Best case scenario, we still survive the coming Romulan War, but weaker and more afraid. Worst case, we all die without the Vulcans there to aid us.”
“Shut up,” Archer said.
“I was supposed to convince you that the NX-01 needed to return to its original course,” Chakotay continued, “for the sake of history, which was mostly true so I wouldn’t really have needed to lie at all. Exaggerate maybe, but that’s about it. Then when we got to the nebula, if need be, we’d make the ship disappear ourselves, and Captain Braxton would find a home for you and your people in the 29th century, and history would go on as normal. But thanks to one stupid bat, you’re heading back to Earth more paranoid than ever.”

“Shut the hell up,” Archer said through clenched teeth.
Chakotay laughed.
“I suppose it all works out in the end though, doesn’t it? After all, this ship hasn’t finished its original mission, you’re returning to Earth early, and with two of your prisoners having escaped. Command will be forgiving, they’ll know as well as you do that you couldn’t have seen Trip helping us coming. But public opinion on the other hand-”
Archer punched Chakotay so hard that the chair he was strapped to fell over. Chakotay felt his head impact against the deck, and his vision became more blurry than it had already been.
“You’ve recorded everything?” Archer said.
“Yes sir,” Phlox said.
Sir, Chakotay thought. Not Jon, or Captain. I wonder if that means something.

“We’ll bring him, and everything we have to Starfleet command,” Archer said. “The data from the truth serum, Annika Hansen slash Seven of Nine’s blood, the sensor logs from that ship that I guess was Voyager, all of it. I am concerned only about the present. If we and the Vulcans are all besties in the future, fine, but as long as I’m alive, I will not treat them like anything other than the smug bastards who held us back. If they’d helped us, my Dad would’ve lived to see a working Warp 5 engine.”
“What if Starfleet decides that ensuring we do become allied with the Vulcans, and forming this Federation that Mister Chakotay was talking about, is the correct course of action?”
“They won’t,” Archer said. “Humans don’t like being told what to do.”
“Few sentient races do,” Chakotay heard Phlox say before unconsciousness overtook him, “Whatever Starfleet Command decides, you have my support Captain.”

“Not good,” Tom said as Chakotay’s vital signs dipped. He was still alive, at least according to the monitor on the bridge of the Relativity he sat in front of.
“”In more ways than one,” Captain Braxton said. “The whole plan was for Chakotay to do a hard sell to convince Archer to let go of or at least ease up on his hatred towards the Vulcans.”
“I remember, I helped come up with it,” Tom said.

“The temporal transporter has been fully recharged for hours. I think we should just get him out of there and come up with another plan,” Braxton said.
“Well, maybe not,” Tom said. “I mean, yes, get Chakotay the hell out of there, but I think he might be right. Archer coming back early, with multiple prisoner escapes and a wild story about people from the future, he’ll be dismissed as a raving lunatic.”
“If it were just him maybe,” Braxton said. “But Archer’s crew will back him up, as will their samples of Seven of Nine’s nanoprobes, and the recording of Commander Chakotay’s interrogation, and the sensor logs of the holo-disguised Voyager.”
Tom had to admit the captain was right, and this whole mission had gone completely sideways in spite of all the advanced technology and combined experience on undercover operations and time travel that the two Starfleet crews brought to the table.
“Unless,” Braxton said, interrupting Tom’s internal lamentations. “Unless we do something drastic. Wait here, Ensign Paris, I need to consult with my team. Braxton to all senior staff, report to the briefing room.”
“Uh, sure, okay. I’ll just sit here. Doing nothing,” Tom said. He soon found himself alone on the bridge of the Relativity. After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, he began quietly singing to himself.

“I’ve seen all good people turn their heads each day, so satisfied I’m on my way…”

Seven of Nine sat next to Commander Tucker in the briefing room, Samantha having chosen to sit out the remainder of this operation to spend time with Naomi on the holodeck. If the Captain was bothered by this blatant disregard of her order, she gave no sign of it.
“I’ll make this brief,” Janeway said. “This mission is completely FUBAR.”
“FUBAR?” Seven said. “I am unfamiliar with that term.”
“I’ll explain later,” Harry Kim said.
Janeway filled Seven, Harry, Tucker, Tuvok, and the Doctor in on what had happened to Chakotay, and how the original plan to talk Jonathan Archer out of his anti-Vulcan biases had been compromised.
“Do we know the nature of the serum used on the Commander?” the Doctor asked, sounding worried.
“Unknown,” Janeway said, “apart from dizziness and a slowing of the heartbeat. We know he’s alive but unconscious as of our last update.”
“I can’t believe that Jon would do this,” Tucker said. “I’ve known him for years, this just doesn’t seem like him. I mean, he had his issues with the Vulcans, but I honestly thought he had that under control.”
“I can’t believe a doctor would go along with this,” the Doctor said. “This Phlox seems to have very loose interpretations of the Hippocratic Oath.”
“According to Ensign Paris,” Janeway continued, “Braxton’s holed up with his senior staff over on the Relativity to come up with another plan. Until then, there’s not much we can do except come up with some ideas of our own in case Braxton’s people fail. Again.”
Seven wondered if there were anything she could’ve done differently while she was undercover on the NX-01 that could’ve avoided this situation.

“Seven?” Janeway said. “Any thoughts?”
“Regrettably none, Captain,” Seven had to admit. “Captain Archer seemed like a reasonable, rational individual for the most part. The only point of concern Samantha and I had is the same one that Captain Braxton had; his belief about the Vulcans undermining his late father’s work.”
“I always hoped he’d get over that,” Tucker said. “Have we considered just using Braxton’s temporal transporter to bring Archer forward? Hell, maybe that should’ve been done sooner.”
“I am inclined to agree with Mister Tucker,” Tuvok said, speaking up for the first time since the meeting started. “However, that is only with the benefit of hindsight. Temporal mechanics is outside my field my expertise, so I deferred to Captain Braxton’s experience in the field.”

“I think our biggest mistake was letting Braxton run the operation when it was my people involved,” Janeway said. Seven felt inclined to agree, though chose not to say so out loud. “I should-”
“Bridge to Captain Janeway,” the voice of Sue Brooks said over the com. “The Relativity just opened another temporal rift, but they aren’t going through it. Sensors are detecting another ship though. It looks like the NX-01. Er, another NX-01 I mean.”

“What the hell is Braxton doing?” Janeway said, echoing similar thoughts in Seven’s head.

Week Three…

“Mayweather, report!” Captain Archer yelled.
“Another anomaly sir,” Travis Mayweather said from his navigation console. “Like the one that alien ship that grabbed Commander Tucker and the escaped prisoners came thorugh, but right in front of us. I couldn’t turn in time, inertia is taking us right through it.”
Except it wasn’t an alien ship, Archer thought. It was one of Starfleet’s, just from the future with a holographic camouflage. Am I really that much of a monster in history’s eyes?

“Red alert. Prepare to be boarded,” Archer said, taking his captain’s chair. “Arm phase cannons and antimatter missiles. I’d rather pick a fight I can’t win than let some arrogant pricks from the 29th century tell humanity in the here and now what we’re supposed to do. The future isn’t written for us, isn’t that right. Mister Mayweather?”
Travis didn’t answer right away, and that concerned Archer a good deal. He was about to repeat the question when the helmsman tentatively answered.
“I don’t really believe in destiny. sir. We make our own fate.”

“Mister Nava, as soon as we exit this portal, open fire on the nearest vessel,” Archer said.
“Sir?” Nava, sitting at the console that Chakotay had sat at for the past two weeks.
“Did I stutter, Ensign?”
“No, no sir,” Nava said, sounding very nervous.
“Don’t worry, Ensign,” Archer said. “they won’t try to destroy us, they’ll want their man back.”
“I’m not sure we could stop them from taking him sir,” Nava said. “If you’ll forgive me for being so blunt.”
“Apology accepted Mister Nava,” Archer said. “Just do your job.”

When Captain Janeway entered the bridge, Tom Paris was there, looking confused.
“Tom?” Janeway said.
“Captain, Braxton just had me beamed over here a few seconds ago,” Tom said. “I have no idea what they’re doing.”
“I do,” Janeway said. “They’re bringing the NX-01 here. Take your post.”
“Yes ma’am,” Tom said, sitting down as soon as Ensign Brooks vacated the navigator’s chair.
“Captain,” Trip said, “let me try talking to him. He’s still my friend, maybe he’ll listen before doing something rash.”
“Actually,” Janeway said, “I’m a little more worried about Braxton doing something rash at this point.”

“The NX-01’s weapons are powered up,” Harry said.
“They have locked onto us, Captain,” Tuvok said.
“Shields up,” Janeway said. “Even outdated weapons can penetrate an unprotected hull.” She turned from looking at Tuvok to look back at the screen, and watched as the NX-01 unleashed its first volley, which impacted harmlessly against Voyager’s shields. “Hail them,” she said.

“Channel open,” Harry said.
“Captain Archer, this is Captain Kathryn Janeway of the starship Voyager. Please-
“Spare me, Captain,” Archer’s voice responded.
“Can we get a visual?” Janeway said to Harry.
“Let me save you the trouble, Captain,” Archer said. Soon the image of the bridge of the NX-01 filled Voyager’s viewscreen, Archer at dead center, seated in the captain’s chair. “I demand that your ship, or the other ship, whichever one it was that brought us here return us to our time immediately.”

“That would be the other ship,” Janeway said. “The one you aren’t firing at. Cease fire, and I’ll arrange a meeting with Captain Braxton. This nonsense has gone on long enough and we need to settle this. We have something in common Captain; a desire to read a certain 29th Century Starfleet officer the riot act.”
“Read him the riot act?” Archer said with an angry short laugh. “You still use that phrase in your century?”
“Just power down your weapons,” Janeway said. “Braxton and I will meet you on your ship. We’ll exchange ourselves for my first officer.”
“Chakotay?” Archer said. “Fair enough I suppose. Mister Nava, cease fire, and have Mister Chakotay brought to the bridge. I will meet with you and Captain Braxton here in twenty minutes.”
“I’ll come too, Captain,” Tucker said. “Maybe I can hel-”
“Don’t bother, Commander Tucker,” Archer said, “you’ve made your choice. Enjoy your new friends on Voyager.”
“Jon, I can-”
The viewscreen went back to the view of the NX-01, already having ceased firing its weapons.
“He cut us off,” Harry said.
“I can see that,” Janeway said. “Open a channel to Braxton. He’ll be joining me if I have to drag him over there by his ears.”
Janeway glanced over at Commander Tucker, who looked utterly defeated.
“I’m sure he’ll forgive you in time,” Janeway said. Tucker sighed.

“I hope so. I’d hate to think that helping you cost me my best friend,” he said.
“Stay here for now, Trip,” Janeway said, walking over to put a hand on Tucker’s shoulder. “I’ll do my best to get you back to your ship.”

“Just what in every known sentient race’s version of Hell were you thinking Braxton?” Janeway yelled as soon as she was standing on the transporter pad on the Relativity.
“Removing Jonathan Archer from the equation and ensuring the existence of Starfleet,” Braxton said, looking defiant. “The plan, before Archer decided to shoot first and ask questions later, which I swear was not something we expected even with his increased paranoia, was to bring him here long enough to exchange Mister Tucker for Mister Chakotay, then bring the NX-01’s crew to the 29th century and leave the ship itself here.”
“It was a stupid plan, Braxton,” Janeway said. “Quite possibly one of the most idiotic blunders I have ever seen in my life. And I’m equally stupid for having gone along with you in the first place, for letting you drag me and my crew into your mission. Just how far have Starfleet’s standards fallen in the five hundred years from my time that someone like you gets made Captain of the most advanced ship in the fleet?”
“What gives you the right to insult me on my-”
“Get your ass on that transporter pad now, Braxton,” Janeway said. “We are going over to the NX-01, we are going to have a civil chat with Captain Archer, and we are going to clean up your goddamn mess!”
Janeway knew that Braxton had the upper hand here; his ship and technology far in advance of her own, but she hoped that with enough righteous fury thrown in his direction, he would buckle and go along with her instead of trying to take control of the situation again, in which case he would almost certainly make things worse.

“Very well then, Captain. Chief?” Braxton said to the Cardassian standing at the transporter room main console. “Beam us directly the NX-01’s bridge, as per Captain Archer’s request.”
“Yes sir,” the transporter chief said.

Chakotay rubbed at his temples, glad that his hands were free to do so. He was on the bridge of the NX-01 again, but this time as a prisoner, with Ensign Nava having a phase pistol set on stun pointed at him.

The familiar sound of a transporter beam got him to focus his still somewhat blurry vision, a leftover side effect of Phlox’s truth serum, and soon a very angry looking Captain Janeway, and a somewhat embarrassed looking Captain Braxton were standing in front of the NX-01 viewscreen.
Nava, Archer, and Mayweather all turned to point their phase pistols at the two other Captains.
“Stay right there,” Archer said. “Mister Nava, check them for weapons.”
“We came unarmed,” Janeway said, her hands already up. “We just want to talk Captain Archer. Starfleet Captains to Starfleet Captain.”
“I don’t recognize the authority of future Starfleet officers,” Archer said. “Far as I’m concerned, neither of you exist yet. The only reasons I’m not throwing you two in the brig right now are one, I’m sure your people could easily just snatch you without any resistance, and two, because I’m a man of my word. Have Voyager beam Mister Chakotay back, and we can start talking, though I make no promises that I will go along quietly with anything you propose.”

“Captain, I-” Chakotay started to say, but Janeway cut him off with a look.
“Janeway to Voyager, lock on to Commander Chakotay and beam him directly to sickbay.”
“Aye, Captain,” Chakotay heard Harry Kim’s voice say, and before he could protest, he felt the tingling sensation that came with a transporter beam in progress.
I hope you can get him to calm down, Chakotay thought, as his component atoms were broken down for transport. This mission has been a real cluster-

Once Chakotay was gone, Archer nodded at his people to put their phase pistols away, while he did the same. He sat back down in the captain’s chair and crossed his legs.
“So,” he said. “Talk.”
“Since you already know the reason my people were on your ship in the first place,” Janeway said, “I’ll skip to the chase. Captain Braxton’s plan is to take you and your crew into the 29th century in order to preserve the current timeline. What I hope to accomplish, on the other hand, is to assuage your concerns about the Vulcans so you and your people can go home, and history can carry on as normal, only with you and the crew of the NX-01 getting to take part in it.”

“I don’t like either of those, Captain Janeway,” Archer said. “Though I must admit, you must be quite persuasive to keep Braxton from just taking control of the operation, given his ship is clearly superior to yours and ours put together. I doubt we could stop him if we tried.”

“I,” Braxton said, pausing, and sighing before starting over. “I concede that I handled this operation badly. I chose the Voyager crew because of past experiences with them, rather than finding experts on 22nd century history from my own time. Time travel has been done by humanity since the mid 23rd century, and that’s just the incidents we know of, but it’s only been within my lifetime we began to understand it. I accept responsibility for my failures, clearly my crew and I still have a great deal to learn.”
“That was very big of you, Braxton,” Janeway said, though Archer wondered if he heard a hint of sarcasm in her reply.
“I have listened to your proposals, or at least the summaries thereof,” Archer said. “And I reject both of them. I demand me and my people, sans Commander Tucker who would only face dishonorable discharge and possibly jail time if he came back with us, be allowed to return to our time. We also humbly request any and all information you have about this race called the Borg, and any data you have on any technologies the Vulcans have at this time that they aren’t sharing with us.”

“You can’t be serious,” Braxton said. “That kind of information in your hands, I don’t even want to think about the chaos that could wreak on the history of the Alpha Quadrant!”
“For once I’m inclined to agree with Braxton here,” Janeway said. “The Vulcans are our longest lasting allies. Your judgment is clouded by-”
“I know they didn’t sabotage my father’s work,” Archer said, standing up. He stepped forward so quickly that Braxton flinched, and Janeway visibly struggled not to. “I drugged your XO, remember? But it doesn’t matter, they still could’ve helped us. They have always been reluctant to share with us what we need in order to thrive out here.”
“The Vulcans were not at their best in your time Archer,” Janeway said. “My tactical officer, Tuvok, is Vulcan. He’s also my oldest friend. It’s not easy for him to admit his people’s shortcomings. They are the mirror of us in that regard, sometimes we humans fall into the trap of exaggerating our own mistakes of the past. We almost paint ourselves as monsters, as if that somehow makes how far we’ve come as a species more impressive than it already is.”

“What are you talking about?” Archer said, unsure whether or not Janeway was trying to pull a fast one on him.

“My point,” Janeway said, now stepping forward so that she was practically nose to nose with Archer, “is that at this time, in their history, the Vulcans had been in a prolonged conflict with a race called the Andorians. They don’t want to admit it, but the constant back and forth between cold and hot wars have left them as paranoid as you are. They’re slow to trust us. And yet, even with that paranoia, they still saw enough potential in us to invite us to the galactic table. Think about that for a second before you condemn them. As for the Andorians, before you ask, humanity goes a long way towards settling that conflict, and they end up being one of the other four founding races of the Federation, along with us, the Vulcans, and the Tellarites who you also haven’t met yet.”
Archer did not want to admit it, but he believed Janeway. That should’ve made him feel better, deep down he knew that. Instead though it made him angrier, so angry that he took a step back away from Captain Janeway in order to avoid screaming at her.
“They could’ve just told us this,” he said. “They could’ve just explained why they had legitimate concerns about sharing their knowledge.”
“Yes,” Janeway said. “Remember Tuvok, the officer and friend I told you about? He’s the one who explained that to me. The Vulcans of my time know they could’ve handled things better. But they also know, and so do I, that letting such past mistakes rule your thinking, especially when you have more than made up for those errors with great deeds that have benefitted billions, is illogical.”
“Illogical,” Archer said with a laugh. “That’s their word.”
“Right, like no human ever used that word back before we even knew there were other races in the galaxy,” he heard Braxton mutter.
“Braxton?” Janeway said. “You’re not helping.”
“If you two are finished bickering,” Archer said, louder than he’d meant to, “can we get back to the matter of my demands?”

Janeway sighed.
“As much as I hate to admit it, Captain Archer,” she said, suddenly avoiding eye contact, “Braxton is right about one thing. Your anti-Vulcan biases are a threat to our way of life. Even if we send you back as per your request, we’d be obligated to do something to undermine your standing with the public back on Earth. Assuming that my First Officer is wrong and that’s not already happening.”

“Maybe,” Archer said, after taking a deep breath to try and calm himself. “Maybe not. We do still have Chakotay’s recorded confession, and the medical data on the truth serum. We also still have some of Annika Hansen slash Seven of Nine’s inert Borg nanoprobes. Starfleet Command will believe me about the spying being done on us by our own people from the future, and they will work to ensure that we don’t-”
“This is pointless,” Braxton said, slapping the insignia on the chest of his uniform. “Braxton to Relativity, start beaming-”
Archer pulled out his phase pistol and fired so fast that for a split second he was afraid that he had put it on the kill setting. Janeway looked shocked, but made no move to contact her own ship, at least none that he could see. Archer saw that Mayweather and Nava looked equally shocked, the former even looking downright terrified of his own commanding officer
“Captain,” she said.
“Shut up!” Archer said.
Relativity to Braxton,” a voice said, coming from Braxton’s chest. “Captain, are you there? What happened?”
“Archer to engineering,” Archer said. This had all gone too far. There was no going home, but he refused to be dropped into the 29th century like some kind of homeless refugee. “Initiate self-destruct process. Authorization Archer Gamma Zeta Six.”

There was a brief silence, then the assistant chief engineer, his voice cracking, said “Aye sir. Time?”
“As soon as it’s ready to blow, do it,” Archer said. “We can’t give those other ships out there time to grab us.”
“Aye, sir.”
“Captain, you can’t do this,” Mayweather said. “This is insane.”
“I’ve made my decision, Ensign,” Archer said. “I will not let this ship be taken by-” Archer suddenly felt an unfamiliar tingling sensation on his skin, his voice suddenly locked in place, his rage going, his body enveloped in light and suddenly-

“All NX-01 personnel, as well as the Captain and Braxton, are in Cargo Bay 1,” Harry Kim said.
“Good job Harry,” Chakotay said, sitting in the captain’s chair on Voyager’s bridge, still in his 22nd century era uniform. “Tuvok, can we disable the NX-01’s self-destruct from here?”
“Negative,” Tuvok said. “attempt to take control of their systems from here have failed. Their systems are simply too primitive to be compatible with-”
A flash on the viewscreen cut the tactical officer off. The brightness of the explosion that tore the NX-01 apart was filtered out by the viewscreen. Chakotay watched sadly as the debris that flew outward impacted harmlessly on the Relativity’s shields, or pierced the already broken hull of the other NX-01, the one that Voyager had come across less than a month prior.
“Janeway to security, I need a team in the cargo bay to subdue Captain Archer,” Janeway’s voice said over the com. In the background Chakotay could hear Archer’s voice, ranting, screaming, threatening everyone around him.
“On my way, Captain,” Tuvok said.

“I’ll come with,” Trip said. “I might still be able to get through to him.”
“Go,” Chakotay said. “And good luck Trip,”
“Thanks, Commander,” Trip said, following Tuvok into the turbolift.

Janeway put herself between Archer and Braxton’s still unconscious body. As the rest of the NX-01 crew, looking confused at their surroundings and many huddling closer together than they already were, stood back, Archer’s ranting began again. His crew simply watched in silence as he became increasingly incomprehensible, each new theory about why this was happening to him more ludicrous than the one before it, and he seemed to have a new one every thirty seconds. Phlox had tried to calm him down once, and had a phase pistol pointed in his face for the trouble.

The cargo bay doors opened, and Tuvok, Commander Tucker, and a small security detail walked in, their own weapons drawn.
“Captain Archer,” Tuvok said, calmly but forcefully. “Please put down your weapon.”
“This is set to kill,” Archer said, now pointing it at Janeway. “Send me and my crew back to our time, or I will-”
Tuvok was faster. He fired his phaser, and Archer fell backwards, dropping his phase pistol. Many of the NX-01 crew members jumped back in shock, but Phlox and a young woman ran to Archer’s side.
Trip Tucker shook his head, and looked sadder than Janeway had seen him yet, more so than on the bridge not more than an hour ago.
“Mister Tucker?” she said, walking over to him. “Are you alright?”
“How would you feel if you just saw your best friend and commanding officer threaten an unarmed fellow officer while screaming at the top of his lungs?” he said.
Janeway had no response to that.
“Captain,” Tuvok said. “Doctor Phlox and Ensign Cutler from the NX-01 insist on escorting Captain Archer to sickbay, and are being quite hostile over the matter. Shall I have them escorted to the brig?”
“No,” Janeway said. “Go with them personally, and once Archer is awake put him in the brig. Trip, stay here with your people. Try to keep them calm.”
“I’ll do my best, Cap,” Tucker said.
“Do that,” Janeway said. She tapped her comm badge. “Bridge, contact the Relativity. Tell them Braxton is alive but injured. Let them beam him directly to their sickbay.”
“Understood,” Chakotay’s voice replied, not pressing the matter any further.
Janeway left the cargo bay alongside Tuvok, who then followed Phlox and Cutler as they carried Captain Archer down the corridor. Once they were out of site, Janeway leaned against the bulkhead, and groaned.
“I am so sick of all this time travel shit,” she muttered to herself. “If I never see another time machine in my life it’ll be too soon.”

The Doctor did the best he could not to throw snide remarks in the direction of Doctor Phlox, especially since the latter of the two Doctors was clearly upset, not just over seeing his Captain get shot but also over the deaths of all his animals aboard the NX-01.
“Captain Archer will be fine,” he said to the Denobulan doctor and his human friend as they stood by Archer’s bio-bed. “I will have to ask you to step aside now though. Mister Tuvok will be putting him in the brig.”

“Is that absolutely necessary?” Phlox said.
“Phlox, he threatened their captain,” the human, Cutler, said, putting a hand gently on Phlox’s shoulder. The friendly gesture did little to calm the other doctor down.
“Doctor Phlox,” the Doctor said, “surely you’ve noticed that your commander was growing increasingly unstable in recent days. You had an obligation to the safety of your shipmates that should supercede your loyalty to your friend.”
“What would you know about loyalty?” Phlox said. “You’re a hologram. A highly sophisticated one I admit, to be able to administer such a complex sickbay by yourself, but still.”

The Doctor rolled his eyes.
“I can’t be appreciated for my talents in any century can I?” he said.

“Okay that is enough,” Cutler said. “How exactly is more bickering supposed to fix anything? It’s been people shouting or condescending at each other left and right that got us all in this mess in the first place.”

The Doctor was ready to reply, but he saw the sickbay door open. Captain Janeway walked in, Tuvok only a step behind her

“What got us in this mess,” she said, “is old fashioned human arrogance. It makes me sad to see we still can fall victim to it even five hundred years from my lifetime. Doctor, is Captain Archer well enough to transfer to the brig?”
“He is, Captain,” the Doctor said, ignoring Phlox’s angry glare.

“I suppose you’ll want the rest of us in the brig too,” Phlox said.
“Don’t tempt me,” Janeway said. “Especially not after what you did to my first officer. But no, the rest of the NX-01 crew is free to move about, though they won’t be allowed any access to ship’s systems. That includes you, though Commander Chakotay has a lot of friends here who aren’t quite as forgiving as I am.”
Phlox’s face went expressionless.
“I will take that under advisement,” Phlox said.

“Good,” Janeway said. The Doctor went over to Archer, and using a hypospray woke him up. He had restraints in place just in case, but the Captain turned prisoner only let out a resigned sigh, after which Tuvok and the Captain escorted Archer out, Phlox following a respectful distance behind.
The Doctor was rather surprised that Cutler had remained behind.
“Doctor,” she said, “if you don’t mind my asking, why is this ship’s chief medical officer a hologram?”
The Doctor smiled.
“I’d be more than happy to share my story with you Miss Cutler. It’s nice to see that there were some reasonable people on board the NX-01.”
“Be fair, Doctor,” Cutler said. “It’s not that we’re unreasonable. Captain Archer’s, well, issues with the Vulcans aside. But we have experienced some rather unreasonable things lately.”
“That is a fair point,” the Doctor admitted. He opened his mouth to start telling Cutler about how he’d first been activated aboard Voyager, but then a thought occurred to him, though he imagined he would have to argue with Braxton over it. “Tell me, Miss Cutler, do you perchance have any training as a nurse?”

Captain Janeway stepped out of the turbolift onto the bridge, feeling somewhat less tense and angry over the whole situation. She looked over at Chakotay, who still had not yet changed out of the period appropriate uniform he’d been wearing when he was rescued.
“Captain,” he said. “Any more problems with Archer?”

“Tuvok has him in the brig,” Janeway said. “Trip is in the cargo bay with the rest of the NX-01 crew. Any word from the Relativity?

“Not yet,” Chakotay said.
“Hail them,” Janeway said.

“Aye Captain,” Harry Kim said. The viewscreen changed from a view of the debris field of the former NX-01, with only part of the Relativity visible on the right-hand side, to that of the Relativity’s bridge, and her first officer, Lieutenant Juel Ducane, sitting in the Captain’s chair.
“Captain Janeway,” he said, “good to hear from you. I take it you have the situation well in hand?”
“As well as can be expected,” Janeway said. “Has Captain Braxton not yet recovered?”
“He has actually,” Ducane said. “Captain Archer’s weapon was only set on stun. However, Braxton has decided to recuse himself from the remainder of the mission. He left me explicit orders to follow your lead.”
“Good,” Janeway said. “If he kept trying to fix things the way he has been we’d end up with humanity being a slave race to the Gorn or something.”

“I think it’s safe to say we can’t really return any of the NX-01 crew to the 22nd century without causing any serious problems,” Janeway said.
“Maybe not, Captain,” Ducane said. “The version of the NX-01 you found earlier this month is still there, and it appears all its escape pods are relatively intact all things considered.”
“I think I see where you’re going with this,” Janeway said, “but if we return the escape pods to the area and time we brought them from will there be any ships nearby that can rescue them?”
“According to our records there should be at least two human-run freighters and one Vulcan long range exploration vessel that could reach them before their emergency supplies ran out,” Ducane said. “We would simply need to convince the NX-01 crew not to tell Starfleet command about what really happened. Also, I think we’d need to bring Captain Archer, and probably Doctor Phlox as well, with us to the 29th century in order to reduce the risk of timeline contamination.” Ducane suddenly looked down and rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “Or rather, worse contamination than we’ve already caused.”

Janeway did still feel resentment over the pain caused to her crew as a result of this whole operation, but none of that was on Ducane. All her ire was saved for Captains Archer and Braxton.
“Agreed,” she said. “I’ll consult with Commander Tucker, and we’ll talk to the NX-01 crew. Have your people begin fixing up the escape pods.”
“Right away Captain,” Ducane said. The communication ended, and the viewscreen returned to its original view, after which Harry Kim said something very similar to what Janeway was thinking at that exact moment.
“Why couldn’t he have been in charge of this mission instead of Braxton?”

Naomi Wildman had heard her mother say that she was too good at sneaking around the ship, and that she didn’t want her to do it anymore. She felt guilty about doing it now, but she wanted to talk to the Starfleet captain from the past. She wanted to know why; why he hated Vulcans so much, why he put her mom in jail, why he blew up his own ship, all things that Naomi just could not wrap her mind around.

She managed to get to the brig, but Lydia Anderson, who was on guard duty for this shift, stopped her from going up to the force field around Archer’s cell.
“You’re not supposed to be down here, Miss Wildman,” Anderson said. “Does your mom know where you are?”
“She’s asleep,” Naomi lied, her mother actually being in the lab on the same deck as sickbay. “I just wanted to ask Captain Archer some questions.”
“Let her stay,” Jonathan Archer said, lying back on the bed of his cell, looking up at the ceiling. “It’s not like I can do anything to her behind a force field, and with an armed guard standing by. Oh, and also she’s a friggin’ child. Has anything I’ve done suggested I would ever hurt a kid?”
“You blew up your own ship,” Anderson said, “just ‘cause it flew through a temporal rift. That to me does not suggest a stable personality, sir.”
“I like how you managed to make ‘sir’ rhyme with ‘jackass’ there,” Archer said. “Well done.”
“Naomi, come on,” Anderson said. “Don’t make me call your mom.”
“Ask your question kid,” Archer said.

“Did you really blow up your own ship?” Naomi said.

“Yep,” Archer said.
“Why?”
Archer sat up and looked sad.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I know why I think I did it, but maybe that’s not really why I did it. Know what I mean?”
“No,” Naomi said. She looked up at Anderson. “I’m gonna go now,” she said to the security officer.
“Good idea,” Anderson said.
“Naomi?” Archer said as Naomi started walking towards the exit. “For what it’s worth, I didn’t arrest your Mom and her girlfriend to be mean. From where I was sitting it looked like they were spying on my people, and a good Captain protects their crew.”

“I know,” Naomi said. “Captain Janeway says that too. I don’t think she’d blow up Voyager just because she was mad though. She hates time travel too, but we’re still here.”
Archer nodded, and went back to lying down. Naomi shook her head and left, feeling sorry for the Starfleet captain from the past. She hoped he would get better.

Seven of Nine wondered what had happened to Archer during his time in the brig that made him so passive as he stood on the transporter pad next to a pair of security officers from the Relativity, as well as Doctor Phlox. She also wondered why she had decided to be there along with Captain Janeway, Commander Chakotay, and Commander Tuvok.

The rest of the NX-01 crew had decided to go along with the escape pod plan, and had promised not to reveal anything about the future to the Starfleet of the time, though some had required some coaxing as well as the aid of memory erasing drugs. Archer and Phlox however, were both deemed too dangerous to be allowed to return. They would not face any jail time once they got to the 29th century, but they would not be allowed to serve in Starfleet. According to Lieutenant Ducane, there were training programs and support groups for “temporally displaced persons” that the two could join and hopefully lead fulfilling lives.
“For what it’s worth, Captain,” Janeway said, “I’m sorry that it came down to this.”
“Tell me, Captain,” Archer said, “in the original timeline, the one where my ship was destroyed and ended up out here in the Delta Quadrant, did you or Braxton ever find out what really happened to us that day?”
Janeway sighed and shook her head.
“That sadly remains an unanswered question,” she said. “Braxton’s looking to take an early retirement I hear, so that’s going to be on Ducane to figure out I suppose. I imagine he’ll have better luck. He had a good role model in the sense of learning how not to handle a time travel operation.”
Archer laughed at that, the first time that Seven had seen him show any signs of joy since before he’d had her and Sam arrested. Seven moved behind the transporter room console which was unmanned due to a shift change. Had she not come along with the Captain and Chakotay one of them would likely be operating it instead since whoever was supposed to take over next wasn’t there yet.

“Well,” Archer said. “Let’s get this over with.”
“Agreed,” Phlox said. “Once this is over I hope to never see another time travel device for as long as I live. And that is a long time as you may well know.”
Seven looked at Janeway, who nodded. Seven began manipulating the transporter controls, and soon they were gone. The Relativity had already sent the rest of the NX-01 crew back to the 22nd century, along with most of the debris from the destroyed ship. Trip had gone with them, as had Ensign Cutler, though rumor had it both had toyed with the idea of staying on Voyager.
“Well,” Chakotay said, “glad that’s finally over. Do you think we’ll ever see or hear from the Relativity again?”
“Ducane wouldn’t make any promises,” Janeway said. “but he did say it’s doubtful it’ll happen as long as it’s his ship. I hope he’s right.”
“As do I,” Seven said.
“So, Seven,” Janeway said, as the three of them left the transporter room. “what did you think of Earth?”
“It’s my understanding the parts of it I actually saw have changed very little in the two hundred years since I was there,” Seven said. “Perhaps one day, Samantha and Naomi and I can see for ourselves. I am more disappointed I didn’t get to see too many other worlds while I was there. I would’ve liked more opportunities to compare and contrast data from that with Federation historical archives, possibly correct any inaccuracies.”

Janeway chuckled.
“You know Seven,” Chakotay said, “I never had you pegged for a history buff.”
“I am hoping to ascertain how an era of humanity that produced some of its most respected individuals could also produce someone as troubled as Jonathan Archer,” Seven said. “Or for that matter how someone so troubled would be given the chance to captain what was at the time the Human race’s most advanced starship.”

“Nepotism maybe?” Chakotay said. “The ship’s core feature was its engine, which was based largely on his father’s work.”

“Possible,” Seven said. “though I doubt that would be the sole reason.”

“The only person who really knows the answer to that is Archer,” Janeway said. “And he was never going to tell us. He probably can’t even admit it to himself, let alone others. I wouldn’t put any of that on the 22nd century though. For all our gains as a species, humanity still has its metaphorical warts. Even in our time. Still, I do hope that Jonathan Archer is the last Starfleet captain I ever meet who has lost his way.”

“I’ll drink to that,” Chakotay said.

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