Authors: Jeri Taylor
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Science Fiction
things . . ."
She looked up at him, eyes troubled. "You're right. And I
certainly heard the message the humanoid left. But I don't
know about accessing a program-that's pretty specific. I
wouldn't know how to start." "Maybe you could focus on the
humanoid projection. It could be more of an interactive
program than it first appeared-you might be able to get him
to reappear. At least it's a beginning."
She nodded, and wentto the panel that seemed to 307
contain the controls. Harry saw her close her eyes and
concentrate, frowning slightly with the effort.
Minutes passed as Harry and Tuvok watched and waited,
accompanied by the sonorous breathing of the sleeping crew.
Occasionally, a flicker of something would seem to cross
Kes' face, and the two men would become alert, watching for
some indication that she was achieving success, but each
time her features relaxed again into her pose of
Finally, she opened her eyes and shook her head.
"It's no use. I've tried every technique I know. When I
wasn't trying, I seemed to get all these sensations, but I
can't get them back now."
No sooner had those words left her lips than the
holographic humanoid shimmered back into view, wings
beating gently as before. Startled, Kes turned to him and
refocused her concentration. Harry and Tuvok watched as she
stood silently for a moment, listening, and then the
hologram disappeared once more.
Kes turned to them.
"We have to leave," she said. "I don't exactly understand
what's happening, but apparently the reawakening isn't
supposed to happen now."
"What does that mean?" wondered Harry, but Kes simply
shook her head. "The message isn't exactly forthcoming with
explanations. But we're invited back in the future-whenever
the reawakening does occur."
"No, thanks," said Harry immediately, but at that moment
something else drew their attention.
The door had reappeared in the wall, open and beckoning.
Tuvok moved toward it, phaser drawn, hand held up to warn
the others to stay back.
He approached the door and lifted his wrist beacon, pressed
the control, and saw the beam penetrate the darkness of the
stairwell outside. He saw nothing. He took a few cautious
steps into the 308
stairwell and played the light up the stairs.
Still, nothing. He looked back at the crew.
"Follow me. Keep your weapons at the ready and stay tightly
And in this fashion they proceeded back up the stairs,
scanning constantly, mounting step after step, forgetting
how far they had originally descended and marveling that
they seemed to climb upward forever. The air in the
stairwell was pleasantly cool and fresh, a relief after the
stuffy confines of the chamber.
Eventually they reached the level of the corridors, and
Tuvok began leading them according to the path markers
stored in his tricorder, winding this way and that,
retracing the path they had taken while searching for Harry
They'd been walking like that for ten minutes when Tuvok
heard a distant noise. He held his hand for silence, then
ordered., "Shut off your beacons."
Thirty lights snapped out, leaving them once more encased
in the blackest darkness. And like that they waited in
apprehension as a faint but ominous whirring sound drew
closer and closer. Harry felt his breathing deepen and his
hands grow clammy: What was that sound?
Some new and horrible menace to threaten their lives?
It was an awful sensation to stand perfectly still in a
darkness so complete not one glimmer of light penetrated
it, not one feature of the person immediately ahead
visible, and to listen to the approaching sound of an
He could hear the breathing of the entire team, frozen in
their places, tensing, ready for anything. The sound grew
louder and louder, until he knew whatever it was must be
almost upon them. The next sensation any of them had was of
waves of pulsing air brushing by them, soft flutterings as
something swept past on either side of them, whirring
loudly, but paying no attention whatsoever to the crew
which stood, rooted, in their path.
Streams of beings skimmed around 309 JERI TAYLOR
them, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, an endless
current swarming through the labyrinthine passageways of
this underground sanctuary. The crew stood like that,
immobilized, for the strangest half hour any of them had
ever spent, uncertain as to what exactly was happening,
surmising that they were being skirted like water around a
rock by the Tokath-the same creatures who had attacked when
they emerged from the walls-and wondering if it was only a
matter of time before one or more of the beings decided to
renew the assault and turn this section of the corridor
into bloodsoaked carnage. But the Tokath seemed
uninterested in the humanoids who stood in their habitat.
They continued their headlong rush down the passageway as
the crew demonstrated its remarkable self-discipline by
standing absolutely still, silent and unflinching.
Eventually, the headlong flight came to an end, and the
last of the whirring creatures swam around them. Only then
did Tuvok cautiously turn on his beacon and begin to lead
his team out of the maze, watching in amazement as the
creatures settled themselves into the gelatinous walls like
eggs encased in aspic, then seeing the gelatin begin to
coalesce, and harden, until by the time they reached the
original staging area the walls were as hard and stonelike
as they had formerly appeared. The ramps that led to the
surface were down, and a dim light filtered in, revealing a
carpet of dead Tokath. A quick scan revealed no Kazon life
signs above, and Tuvok led the group, running now, toward
the surface and out of the dank underground which had been
their prison for so many hours.
Neelix turned to Tuvok. "You've done an excellent job, Mr.
Vulcan. And there's a little token of my appreciation
waiting for you on Voyager right now." And
Neelix could almost taste the nocha cake at that moment.
When they emerged, dusk had fallen, signaling an end to
this extraordinary day. The growing darkness muted only
slightly a horrible scene: there were dead Kazon
everywhere, mutilated and eviscerated. Flies and insects
had already begun the inevitable process of gleaning them,
and the dreadful stench of death filled the air. But the
crew barely had time to react before they began, one by
one, to dematerialize.
When Chakotay and Rollins reported simultaneously that
they had detected the crew's life signs on the surface,
Janeway immediately ordered them transported to the ship.
She didn't want to take any more chances, didn't want to
take the time for them to launch the shuttles and ascend to
Voyager; both crew and shuttles could be beamed aboard
easily enough. And when the transporter chief reported that
all hands were safely on board, Janeway felt a moment of
giddy relief. The crisis was over. "Mr. Paris, resume
course for the Alpha Quadrant," she said, and noted that
her voice sounded hollow in her ears. She rose, heading for
the Turbolift to meet the away team in sickbay, when she
noticed everyone on the bridge was staring at her.
Uncertain, she stopped, looking from one crewman to the
other. Chakotay's dark eyes peered at her intently, and for
a brief moment she wondered if she appeared ill. were they
concerned about her? Was she showing the strain and fatigue
this ordeal had produced? But they were thinking something
Chakotay rose to his feet, lifted his hands and began,
softly and slowly, to clap them.
She found herself puzzled by this action, then looked
toward Tom Paris as he followed the lead, stood, and began
to applaud. Then the entire bridge
crew joined in, honoring her in the age-old fashion,
signaling their respect, admiration, and gratitude for the
captain who had once again brought them all through danger
and into safe harbor. As she realized what they were doing,
her eyes began to sting.
She deserved no applause for simply being what she was. All
she had done was to carve one more pattern in the mosaic of
her identity, that constantly unfolding design which had
been growing, square by square, since she was a baby, and
which was becoming more intricate with each passing year.
The design was not of her own choosing; it was etched by
the circumstances of life, which she could not control, and
by her relationships with others. Her mosaic was multi-hued, many-textured, and infinitely complex. Swirled in its
design were the people she had loved and those she had
disliked, events that traumatized and those that pacified,
experiences that had challenged her limits and those that
had rewarded her unconquerable spirit. The mosaic would
continue to grow, its unfolding an infinite mystery,
blending sorrow and ecstasy, dappling the pathway of her
life with sunlight and shadow until, in the final moment,
the design was complete. With the applause of the bridge
officers still ringing in her ears, Kathryn Janeway went to
welcome back the crew whose lives she had saved.