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"Captain, I've detected a wormhole, newly formed, approximately 300 kilometers to port." Harry said with excitement.
"On screen." Janeway said with her own excitement.
"It's small, Voyager won't be able to fit through it." Harry said with disappointment.
"Captain, I believe we should take a shuttle and investigate." Chakotay said with enthusiasm.
"To what purpose?" Janeway asked as her hopes crashed.
"Exploration, the possibility of finding something useful... curiosity." Chakotay ended with a shrug, knowing that he had her at 'exploration'.
"Very well. Assemble a team and investigate." Janeway said and sat back in her chair.
"Paris, Kim. You're with me." He said and got up from his chair, then speaking into the air he said, "Seven of Nine, Chief Engineer Torres, report to shuttlebay one for away mission."
"Both of them?" Captain Janeway questioned.
"Playing a hunch." Chakotay said with a twinkle in his eye before holding up two fingers in Tuvok's direction to indicate the need for two security officers to accompany the away mission.
* * * * *
"What's the matter Andy?" Alan asked as Andrew sat silently on the couch with a frown.
"I was trying to follow Chakotay and Tom, but they're too far away... I can't keep my focus through the wormhole." Andrew said with frustration.
"Do you think Chakotay is a capable commander?" Alan asked in a leading tone.
"Yes. Of course." Andrew said immediately.
"Then we have to trust in Chakotay to do his job. We have no other choice. If we get in the habit of second guessing him and trying to bail him out every time he leaves the ship to do his job, it will only lead to problems later on." Alan said confidently.
"Andrew, stop looking. If you're going to trust him, then trust him. Come back to me and I'll wait with you." Alan said, stroking the back of Andrew's hand.
Andrew opened his eyes and asked, "How'd you get to be so smart?"
"The company I keep." Alan answered with a smile.
"What do you want to do now?"
"I need to go to the sickbay for some pre-surgery thing for the new leg. You want to come with me?" Alan asked with hope.
"Yeah, I'll play with Puppy while you two do what you need to." Andrew said and got off the couch.
As they reached the door, Andrew took hold of Alan's shoulder and turned him.
"I love you more each day." He said with a joyful smile.
"Same here." Alan said with a grin and fell into a tight embrace.
* * * * *
A while later Andrew came out of the Doctor's office where he had been playing with Puppy and asked, "Doctor? Do you recognize this pattern?" And handed him a padd.
"Yes, it is a modified water molecule... I seem to remember seeing something like that in the medical database... why do you ask?"
"It's what's wrong with the alternate Voyager crew... the one we saw at the dinner party when we phased in for a peek. Their Doctor is making an antidote right now. I just thought it might be a good idea if we were prepared, just in case..." Andrew trailed off.
"A wise precaution. I am involved in Mr. Summers preparation for surgery right now. Check the medical database and see if you can find the antidote while I finish up here." the Doctor asked.
"I don't have access to those files." Andrew said shyly.
"Computer, grant level four access to Starfleet Medical Database to Andrew Wells, authorization Alpha Omega Beta Omicron Zed." The Doctor said into the air.
"Access Granted." Was the computer's response.
"Thank you Doctor." Andrew said and went back to the office.
"He really is something, isn't he?" Alan asked from the table.
"Hold still Mr. Summers or the surgery tomorrow is going to be more of a challenge than need be." the Doctor said with a harsh tone, then in a more gentle tone he said, "Yes, he is quite special."
* * * * *
The Delta Flyer emerged from the wormhole and immediately hailed the ship.
"Delta Flyer to Voyager, we have a medical emergency." the voice of B'Elana Torres came over the comm.
"Doctor, prepare for emergency transport. Report B'Elana." Captain Janeway said with anxiety.
"It was a Borg cube, heavily damaged with most of the Borg dead. The only survivors were a group of children." B'Elana said in a rambling tone.
"What injuries have you sustained?" the Captain called.
"Lieutenant Paris was captured, they tried to assimilate him and removed one of his hands. Ensign Kim was slammed into a bulkhead and hasn't regained consciousness. Commander Chakotay and Ensign Charles were hit by a Hirogen style disrupter and remain unconscious." B'Elana said with worry.
"They're in transporter range." Ayala said from the ops console.
"Transport the injured directly to sickbay." Janeway commanded.
"I'm detecting thirteen life signs aboard the Delta Flyer." Ayala said with worry.
"Did you bring some passengers, Ms. Torres?" Janeway questioned.
"Yes Captain. Commander Chakotay ordered us to subdue the Borg children and bring them back with us." B'Elana answered.
"Why would he do that?" Janeway asked no one in particular.
"You'll have to ask him Captain... Delta Flyer on approach for landing in shuttle bay one." B'Elana said with Starfleet efficiency.
Janeway glanced toward Ayala who nodded in response.
"We've got you Lieutenant, sit back and enjoy the ride." Janeway said and got up from her seat.
"I'll be in Sickbay. Tuvok, send security to the shuttle bay. You have the bridge." Janeway said as she walked toward the turbolift.
"Yes Captain." Tuvok responded.
* * * * *
"Doctor, report." Janeway said as she entered Sickbay.
"None of the injuries are life threatening. Lieutenant Paris has regained consciousness. Commander Chakotay and Ensign Charles will need significant dermal regeneration and repair to some internal organs but will make a full recovery. Due to the nature of Ensign Kim's injuries, I recommend that he be allowed to heal naturally. No treatment I could give would significantly effect his recovery." the Doctor said as he moved the dermal regenerator over Commander Chakotay's stomach.
"Can Commander Chakotay be brought to consciousness?" Janeway asked while watching the Doctor work.
"Yes, briefly." the Doctor said, understanding the Captain's need for more information.
"Proceed." the Captain said forcefully.
"May I request the assistance of Mr. Wells and Mr. Summers while you speak with the Commander?" the Doctor asked as he retrieved a hypospray.
"To what purpose?" the Captain asked, not being able to imagine what assistance two people who were four-hundred years out of date could offer the doctor.
"They have become friends with Commander Chakotay and Lieutenant Paris. I believe it would benefit both to have someone here to help them emotionally during the regeneration process and since Lieutenant Paris is my medical assistant, I could use the extra hands... er... you know what I mean." the Doctor said as he injected the Commander with a stimulant.
"Go ahead Doctor. I'll trust your judgment in this matter." Janeway said with a tone of voice that said 'we're done now... leave.'
The Doctor nodded and stopped at his workstation on the way to Ensign Charles and said, "Mr. Wells, Mr. Summers, report to Sickbay immediately."
* * * * *
Andrew and Alan had been back in their own cabin for less than ten minutes when they received the call from the Doctor.
"Love, will you port us there?" Alan asked as he got off the couch.
"Yeah, one step and we're there." Andrew said and motioned to the wall where a portal formed.
"What did you need Doctor?" Andrew asked as he walked through the portal.
"Mr. Wells, would you take this dermal regenerator and move it thusly over Ensign Charles wound while I attend to Lieutenant Paris?" the Doctor asked in a hurried tone as he handed the regenerator to Andrew.
"Of course Doctor." Andrew said and took the regenerator.
"Mr. Summers, I need for you to do the same for Lieutenant Paris while I attend to his hand... or lack thereof." the Doctor said and turned on the regenerator before handing it to Alan.
"Yes Doctor." Alan said and began to run the dermal regenerator over Tom's wounds.
"Alan?" Tom asked in a daze.
"Yeah Tom, it's me. How's this for a turnabout?" Alan said with a smile as he carefully directed the beam of the regenerator at Tom's injuries.
"You handle that thing like an expert." Tom said with a pained smile.
"I've had lots of experience with it on the receiving end... just hold still and I'll take care of you." Alan said and moved to Tom's neck.
* * * * *
"Commander Chakotay, I would like to understand your reasoning for bringing six Borg drones aboard my ship." the Captain asked in a quiet but firm tone.
"They're children. And they're separated from the collective... It was the right thing to do." Chakotay said honestly.
Kathryn was surprised by his answer but snapped out of it and said in a gentler tone, "After the way you opposed my decision to include Seven of Nine in the crew, I find it difficult to believe that you feel that way."
"Thanks to Andrew and Alan, I've had the chance to spend some time with Seven of Nine outside of duty. I was wrong to oppose you. Not only has she proved to be a valuable member of the crew, but also a good person... Now that I know a drone can be disconnected from the collective and become a person again, there really wasn't any other choice. These children deserve a chance at a life and we can give them that." Chakotay said with emotion.
"I know how difficult it is for you to admit when you're wrong, so you must feel very strongly about this. I'll abide by your decision and we'll try to incorporate them into the crew if it is at all possible. What else can you tell me about the other side of the wormhole?" Kathryn asked, getting back to business.
"According to navigational records, it is some two years distant on our current heading. The Borg cube was in a decaying orbit near a collapsing star. The cube was damaged beyond any possibility of repair. Seven of Nine determined that it was infected with some sort of virus that caused the Borg to disconnect from the collective and act independently and had the side effect of opening the maturation chambers prematurely." Chakotay said with eyes half closed.
"Two years? If only there were a way to get us through there..." she trailed off, noticing that Chakotay was fighting to remain conscious.
"Get some rest Commander. I'll expect a full report when you're recovered." She said gently and patted him on the hand.
"Aye Captain." he said in little more than a whisper and gave into sleep.
* * * * *
::Seven of Nine to the Doctor:: came over the comm channel.
"Go ahead Seven." the Doctor said as he moved from working on Tom to Chakotay.
"I have six Borg drones in need of maintenance, when may I bring them to you?" She asked flatly.
"Do they have any immediate need of medical attention?" the Doctor asked and motioned for Andrew to come over to Chakotay.
"No. They simply need some of their Borg hardware removed and some cosmetic alterations to facilitate their incorporation into the general population." Seven said in an informative tone.
"Then I will be able to attend to them in half an hour. May I suggest you assess their individual needs to facilitate their treatment when they arrive." the Doctor asked and motioned for Andrew to begin regeneration on Chakotay's chest and abdomen.
"Yes Doctor, Seven of Nine out." Seven said as she terminated her transmission.
The sound of Tom's laughter filled the room.
"Doctor, can you come here?" Alan asked with worry.
"What is it Mr. Summers?"
"I don't know, he's sweating and started acting like he's... drunk?" Alan asked in confusion.
"Hand me that medical tricorder." the Doctor said abruptly.
Alan handed it to the Doctor and watched.
"Mr. Wells, were you able to retrieve the information from the medical database?" the Doctor asked as he moved to his workstation.
"Yeah, it's on a padd in your office." Andrew said as he continued Chakotay's regeneration.
"Thanks to your insight, you may have averted a serious situation." the Doctor said and went to his office. A moment later he returned and stood silently while looking over the data.
After a decisive nod of his head he went back to the workstation and pressed a few buttons.
"Computer initiate blue alert. Lock out all command functions. Initiate level nine quarantine. Close emergency bulkheads, disable all transporters and initiate isolation fields." the Doctor said with force and walked to each of the biobeds in the room and initiated the restraint fields.
"What is it Doctor?" Alan asked with panic in his voice.
"Mr. Paris has a condition that is similar to a virus. I believe that anyone on the away mission or who has had contact with them is potentially infected." the Doctor said and began to scan Alan.
Alan watched the Doctor, then asked fearfully, "Do I have it?"
"No Mr. Summers, somehow you avoided the infection. To remain uninfected, you must refrain from any physical contact with any infected individual." the Doctor said and moved to scan Andrew.
There was a long moment that would have been silence but for Tom's insane laughter.
"Well?" Andrew asked.
"You are infected Mr. Wells. Please get on a biobed so that I may restrain you. This infection will effect your judgment and..." the Doctor began.
"...enough said, Doctor." Andrew said calmly and moved to the nearest unoccupied bed.
::Janeway to Sickbay:: Sounded over the comm.
"Go ahead captain." The Doctor said as he began to replicate the antidote that Andrew had found earlier in the day.
"I am stuck in a turbolift and when I tried to get it going again the computer informed me that it was on your orders. Care to explain?" the Captain said in an even, low tone that was absolutely frightening.
"I have detected an infection brought on board by the away team. It is highly contagious, fast acting, and effects the judgment of those infected. I have initiated a blue alert condition and full isolation protocols. As soon as I have cleared the bridge crew as fit for duty, I will release you from the turbolift and assess your condition." the Doctor said while simultaneously working on the antidote.
There was silence from the comm for a moment, then the Captain said, "Good work Doctor. Though I would appreciate it if you could get me out of the turbolift as soon as possible."
"As soon as the bridge crew are cleared, you are my next priority." the Doctor said and signed off the comm.
"Doctor?" Andrew asked from his bed.
"Yes Mr. Wells?" the Doctor responded without looking up from his work.
"I could open a portal for her and bring her here if you like." Andrew offered quietly.
"I'm sure she would appreciate that." the Doctor said and walked to the medical replicator.
"Where is she in the ship and I'll get her." Andrew asked, trying to remain calm.
"Computer, where is Captain Janeway?" the Doctor asked as he inserted his antidote into a hypospray.
"Captain Janeway is in turbolift four." the computer responded.
"That was thoroughly unhelpful... Computer, what is Captain Janeway's location in relation to the Sickbay?" the Doctor asked in a patronizing tone.
"Captain Janeway is in the central turbolift shaft two decks above and one section forward from Sickbay." the computer responded.
"That way, about forty meters." the Doctor said pointing.
Andrew nodded and focused his inner sight. A moment later Andrew said, "Got her." and a portal formed in the wall of the Sickbay.
Captain Janeway cautiously walked through the portal and into Sickbay with a surprised look on her face.
"Explain." was all she could think to say.
"Mr. Wells volunteered to release you from your confinement. If you'll wait just a moment, I'm about to test the antidote." the Doctor said and injected Tom with the hypospray.
Within a minute Tom stopped laughing and looked inquisitively around the Sickbay.
"What happened?" Tom asked seriously.
"How do you feel Lieutenant Paris?" the Doctor asked.
"Fine. Whatever you just gave me woke me right up." Tom said and noticed the Captain standing nearby.
"Good." the Doctor said as he scanned Tom.
After a long moment the Doctor gave a nod.
"Captain, if you wouldn't mind?" the Doctor asked and held up the hypospray.
The Captain rolled her eyes and turned her head to expose her neck.
After injecting the Captain, he walked to each patient in the Sickbay and administered the antidote.
"Give me a moment to replicate more antidote and we will clear the bridge crew for duty." the Doctor said from his workstation.
"With the Captain's permission, I can accompany her to the bridge to administer the antidote." Andrew said.
The Doctor cast a questioning look at the Captain who nodded in assent.
"Very well Mr. Wells." the Doctor said as he released the restraint field then walked to the medical replicator.
"Here you go. It might be easier for you to travel your way rather than try to circumvent all the quarantine measures I have instituted." the Doctor said to Andrew.
"Of course." Andrew said and easily found the bridge.
With a sweep of his hand Andrew created a vortex and said, "After you Captain."
* * * * *
As the Captain stepped onto the bridge she was confronted by Tuvok and Ayala holding phasers pointed at her.
"At ease gentlemen." she said and walked to take her chair.
"We appear to have brought back some sort of bug from a Borg cube. Mr. Wells is here to administer the antidote." the Captain said and pressed her computer screen to find it frozen.
"Captain to EMH." she called.
"Yes Captain?" the Doctor responded immediately.
"Could you possibly give me back control of my ship?" she asked with insincere pleasantness.
"It would be my pleasure." the Doctor responded and cut off the link.
A moment later the bridge stations came to life again. The air filled with beeps and chirps as the bridge crew assessed their situation.
"Command staff, we will have a briefing in my ready room in half an hour." Janeway said as she noticed Andrew walking from one person to the next, administering the antidote. When he finished he discretely opened a portal and left the bridge.
"Intriguing." Tuvok said as he witnessed the action.
* * * * *
Tom walked into the ready room, cradling the stump of his absent hand. After he was seated the Captain pressed a button to engage the Emergency Medical Holographic channel of the comm system.
"Doctor, Report." Captain Janeway said as those members of the command staff fit for duty looked on.
"The infection was first noted by the Enterprise commanded by James Kirk and the antidote created by Dr. Leonard McCoy. It nearly caused the destruction of that ship. More recently the malady resurfaced on the Enterprise-D commanded by Jean Luc Picard and a variation of the antidote was found by Dr. Beverly Crusher. That instance claimed the crew and ship of the Federation science vessel Tsielkofsky and nearly caused the destruction of the Enterprise-D. It is a water molecule that has been effected by the gravitational forces found near collapsing stars. Transmission is by touch and the onset of symptoms is less than one hour. It is difficult to detect unless you are looking for it and is not automatically filtered out by the transporters since it registers as water to the biofilters." the Doctor said professionally.
"Good work on detecting it so quickly Doctor. From what I saw of Lieutenant Paris, it could have effectively debilitated the crew." the Captain said.
"I cannot take credit for the early detection. This morning Mr. Wells had already brought it to my attention that we might encounter the modified water molecule. He researched the malady and had the formula for the antidote waiting for me on my desk when I detected it in Lieutenant Paris." the Doctor said with a slight smile.
"Be that as it may, you took decisive action and contained the infection expertly. I am going to place a commendation in the ships log for the outstanding way you've handled this situation." the Captain said to the surprise of the command staff.
"Thank you Captain." the Doctor said with his own surprise.
"That leads me to my next topic. Mr. Wells and Mr. Summers seem to have become valuable members of the crew during their short stay onboard. I am considering making their positions official, comments?" Janeway asked those assembled.
"Given their unique abilities, I believe they would both be assets to the crew compliment." Tuvok said in a considering tone.
"Even though Andrew is four-hundred years out of date, he seems to have an instinctive knowledge of computers. He's already comfortable with the LCARS interface and understands the basics of holo-imaging." B'Elana added.
"Mr. Summers seems to have a talent for organizing and delegation. Both desirable traits." Seven said calmly.
Janeway registered surprise at the Borg style compliment given by Seven of Nine.
"Very well. Since crew rostering is one of Commander Chakotay's functions, I will wait for him to return to duty before making it official, but at that time, Mr. Wells and Mr. Summers will be invited to officially join the crew." Janeway said to the group.
There was an air of collective agreement as Captain Janeway said, "Now to the status and recommendations regarding the Borg children Commander Chakotay brought to us."
All attention turned to Seven of Nine.
"The children are currently in the shuttlebay and will be taken to Sickbay for assessment by the Doctor at the conclusion of this meeting. They are disconnected from the collective and maintain an acceptable level of health. I recommend that their nonessential hardware be removed and appearances be altered to facilitate their inclusion into Voyager's community." Seven said smoothly.
"What about their state of mind?" Janeway asked, impressed by Seven of Nine's humanitarian recommendation.
"During our attempt to subdue the children it was necessary to terminate their leader. They have accepted me as an authority figure and follow my instructions." Seven said without a hint of emotion.
"Good, that will be helpful. Comments or questions?" the Captain asked as she looked around the table.
"I just want to verify Seven of Nine's comment about the... termination of the Borg children's leader being necessary. Given the decaying orbit of the cube and injuries sustained by the team, it was the only course of action that was practical." B'Elana said to the group.
Everyone was stunned at B'Elana's statement, even Tuvok registered surprise, since it was well known that B'Elana opposed Seven's inclusion in the crew and was often against her proposed 'Borg style' modifications to the ship.
"Thank you Lieutenant Torres. Any other comments?" Janeway prompted.
"I agree with Seven of Nine that the children should be included in Voyager's community. And I would like to suggest that she be given primary responsibility for their... assimilation... into the crew." Tom said helplessly, not being able to think of another word to convey the meaning.
"Thank you Lieutenant Paris. I will give your recommendation due consideration. Any further comments?" Janeway asked.
After a moment of silence she said, "I would like to investigate the possibility of expanding this wormhole to get us to the other side. I'm not willing to give up a two-year jump without investigating every possibility... Comments?"
"I would need to study the phenomenon before I could make any suggestion. My responsibilities to the children may preclude me from that study." Seven said as a statement of fact.
"I may be able to offer some help with that." the Doctor said from the viewscreen.
"Mr. Wells and Mr. Summers lived in a school in their own time. They should be able to attend to the children until Seven of Nine's duties permit her to take over." the Doctor suggested.
"Does anyone have any other suggestions?" the Captain asked the group before turning back to the viewscreen and saying, "Ask them if they would mind doing this. They are under no obligation to do so, it is simply a request."
"I will ask them now and be back with their answer in a moment." the Doctor said and the screen went blank.
"B'Elana, do you have any insights about how we might widen the wormhole?" Captain Janeway asked casually.
"Actually, I'd like to go with Seven of Nine to find out all we can before answering. Hopefully between us, we'll be able to come up with something." B'Elana said professionally.
Janeway gave a nod of acceptance that hid her shock at B'Elana Torres *volunteering* to work on a project with Seven of Nine.
"Mr. Wells and Mr. Summers were happy to volunteer to watch the children." the Doctor said.
"Anyone have anything else?" Janeway asked the room.
"Only that Commander Chakotay and Ensign Charles will both be released from Sickbay in the morning and, barring complications, will be fit for duty the following day. Mr. Paris is fit for duty now within the limitations of his injury, I will begin cloning a new hand for him tomorrow and he should be back to his original state by the end of the week." the Doctor said professionally.
"And Ensign Kim?" the Captain asked.
"Given the nature of his injuries, I cannot predict the date of his return to duty. I am hopeful that it will be in no more than four days, but I cannot be sure." the Doctor said with a look that might be apology.
"Thank you Doctor... Anyone else?" Janeway asked, and after a moment continued, "Then let's find a way through that wormhole."
To Be Continued...