Nothing like a routine day, minding the store. No threat of attack, no storms. Then we picked up a nebula. I thought Janeway might like to know about it.
"Bridge to Janeway," I said.
"On my way, Janeway out." Okay, that was quick.
Certainly not what I was expecting. There was no reason for her to come up here, no reason at all.
The nebula had a high concentration of omicron particles, help for our power problem. Janeway called all senior bridge officers to the bridge, told me to lay in a course for the Nebula. Then she sat down and said something I didn't expect.
"There's coffee in that nebula."
Believe me, there is nothing like a captain with caffeine deprivation. But I think it goes a lot further then that. I think Kathryn Janeway feels isolated from her crew, that she must be larger then life. I remember those lectures from the Academy. But I don't think they were right, and definitely not in our situation. We began talking about the crew.
"You're closer to the crew then I am," she said. I leaned over so no other bridge members would hear, as I think she intended. "How bad is it?" I shifted.
"'Nesawango'. A period of mourning everyone's going through. It's a natural reaction."
"I'm worried about them," she said, looking around the bridge. I believed her. It always appears on her forehead, in her eyes, when she's worried about something. "I wish we had a counselor on board, but the nature of our mission didn't require one."
"We. . .talk to animals. It's a Native American tradition." I said. Some of the worry erased itself from her eyes, replaced by amusement, curiosity.
"Our own counselor. We're taught that an animal guide accompanies us through life. Basically, it's what Carl came up with in his active imagination technique in 1932. But we've been pretty much doing the same thing for centuries."
"Is there a different animal guide for everyone?" Janeway asked, very curious now.
"Actually, yes," I said.
"Let me guess. Your's is a bear!" Her eyes wide as she asked.
I laughed for a second and smiled. "Why do you say that?"
"You strike me as the bear type," she said.
"Thank you. The bear is a very powerful animal. It has great pocatuh, but he's not my animal guide. The creature that guides us doesn't define who we are, it merely chooses to be with us," I explained.
She wheedled more. "Okay, if not a bear, then what?"
"I can't tell you that. It would offend my animal guide if I spoke its name."
"But he guides you well?"
"Actually, its female. But yes, she usually guides me very well."
"Can one just choose their own animal guide?"
"It's not quite that simple," I began. Our conversation was interrupted by Paris, but only for a second.
"If you're interested, I'll be glad to teach you how to contact your animal guide."
Janeway smiled wide. "You've got a date."
Whoa. Janeway never struck me as a type for this. Maybe my impression was wrong. I wonder what her animal guide would. . .will be.
It was some magnificent looking visuals, this nebula.
Then we got stuck. Very stuck. We ended up using one of our photon torpedoes to blast back out. Our energy reserves, are worse then when we went in.
I went back to my quarters before returning to the bridge to degauge the hull. I grabbed my medicine bundle, holding Janeway to our date. No time like the present. She needed something. Maybe this would help. So I took it back up to the bridge. Janeway was in her ready room. I buzzed the door.
"Come in." And so I did. She was reading a PADD.
"Repair crews have degauged the hull, captain."
"Good." She said and looked at me. "Let's plan an 0700 hour departure." Then she looked at me again, registering my medicine bundle. "What's this?"
"My medicine bundle. I've never shown it to anyone before. After what you said this morning, I thought it was important to let you see."
"Will it help me find my animal guide?" She asked, curiosity again in her face.
"Eventually, you'll have to assemble your own medicine bundle, but this will allow me to assist you in your quest for a guide."
"Now?" she asked.
I gave her a wave of my hand and a grin.
"Now." and she put down her PADD. I walked over to her coffee table and sat down, beginning to undo the bundle. She was still at her desk, so I gave her a 'come hither' look. And she came over and sat beside me. I pulled it open.
"A black bird's wing. A stone from the river. An Akoona."
"Akoona?" she questioned.
"My ancestors used psychoactive herbs to assist their vision quests. Now, they're no longer necessary. Our scientists have found more modern ways to facilitate the search for animal guides."
I took her wrist gently. "Place your hand on it and concentrate on the stone." She was ready.
"Achoochimoya. . .we are far from the sacred places of our grandfathers. We are far from the bones of our people. But perhaps there is one powerful being, who will embrace this woman and give her the answers she seeks."
Janeway's concentration was full on her task. "Allow your eyes to close," I said, her eyelids immediately responded. "Breathe, to feel the light in your belly, and let it expand until the light is everywhere. Prepare yourself to leave this room, this ship and return to a place where you were the most content and peaceful, you have ever been."
I watched her intently. No worry lines crossing her brow, total peace.
"You can see all around you. And hear the sounds of this place."
"I know this place," she whispered. "It's. . ."
"You must not discuss with me what you see. Or you will offend your animal guide," I said, though I admit to being curious myself. "As you continue to look around, you will become aware of other life that shares this place with you. It will be the first animal you see. That is the one you will speak to. Do you see an animal?"
"Speak to it."
"What do I say?" she asked.
"You know what you want to ask."
Then someone hit the door buzzer, breaking her away before I knew what she wanted to ask.
"I'm sorry," she said, looking apologetic. "I should have asked the computer for no interruptions. Come in." And in walked B'Elanna.
"The commander was introducing me to my animal guide."
"I hope you have better luck with yours then I had with mine."
By this time, I was on my feet. "B'Elanna is the only one I've known who tried to kill her spirit guide." Janeway smiled.
What B'Elanna told us, shocked us. It wasn't a nebula, but a living organism. Space dwelling organism.
And we'd damaged it.
Janeway had me go to yellow alert. Neelix called. Not very happy. Oh well, that's life on a starship.
That thing threw us around quite a bit.
Deciding to drift, we made our way to the damage.
Neelix came on the bridge, bearing treats for the crew. He has declared himself our morale officer. Great.
We fixed the damage.
Later, we all decided to meet at Paris' creation, Sandrine's. Except the captain. I don't think anyone asked her, which is a shame.
Mr. Kim brought her with him, surprising everyone there, including myself. After all, I was soundly knocking the pants off of Paris.
She asked if it was billiards or pool. Something in her innocence seemed fake to me.
"Commander Chakotay, your stick."
"It's called a 'cue', captain."
They racked them up, she broke. And pocketed four solid balls right off.
Kathryn Janeway, scientist, starship captain, explorer... and pool shark!
The look on Paris' face was worth it.
Kathryn Janeway has found some peace, I believe.
Achoochimoya. . .