Disclaimer: Paramount is going too far. First, they own Voyager and its crew, now they are laying claim to sex. Paramount, you've gone to far. Stop the Insanity....
As first officer, I have many duties. One of my first duties is to head off trouble before it gets to Kathryn. Kathryn has enough to worry about without constantly wondering about things I should be doing.
Case in point. I'd taken to touring the ship a few times during the week. Just to make sure that things were working and being tended to. I never really mentioned to Kathryn I did this. I just accepted it as part of my duty to her. She has so much now, with the extra burden of being seventy years from home, with half your crew consisting of people who you were sent out to bring into custody. But Kathryn has held up well. Certainly the top captain I've ever served with.
I was just on my way to the mess hall after one of my tours. No real hurry on my part, when what I knew was inevitable, happened.
Two crew members of Voyager's crew, locked in a passionate kiss, in the turbo lift.
"Oh! Sir," the young man began. "We. . . uhm. . .we're just. . .ah. . . "
No sense in making them squirm more. "Yes, I can see that." I really didn't need an explanation. It was fairly obvious. They made a quick exit, as Kes and Paris came up, each with a basket which I took to be from hydroponics. They both looked curious as to what had just happened.
"What was that all about?" Paris asked, stepping into the turbo lift.
"I'd call it an example of indiscreet shipboard fraternization," I said.
"Really? I'm sorry I missed it," Paris said, Kes' mouth dropping open.
'I'm sure you did, Paris,' I thought. Leave it to Paris, the walking hormone to say something like that. Paris, is a smart ass and he knows it and lets it show often.
"Deck six," I said, the turbo lift doors closing.
I followed Kes and Paris into the mess hall, with the laughing and talking the whole way. I grabbed a cup of coffee, so I could relax a few minutes. Sure was quick, before I could finish, Kathryn was calling all senior staff to the bridge.
Paris and I left together and headed for the bridge. We came onto the bridge, Kathryn was at the Tactical station. Paris stopped as she began talking. I pulled on my sleeve to pull it down, my mind still on what happened earlier. As she spoke, I crossed to the back bridge station.
"We've detected a strange energy configuration off the port bow."
"Any idea what it is?" Paris asked her. I could feel those blue eyes of hers following me.
"It appears to be some sort of magnetic disturbance," Harry said from Ops.
"We're going to take a closer look," Kathryn said. From the corner of my eye, I could see her coming toward me, probably wondering why I hadn't said anything.
"You seem a little. . .preoccupied, Commander," she said. Sometimes, I think she can read me like a book.
"This morning, I interrupted a couple that were kissing in the turbo lift," Kathryn seemed a little, well, surprised wasn't the word, but maybe that along with something else. "And I've been wondering if we should establish a policy regarding fraternization." The look on her face, incredulity, shyness, coy, I couldn't read. I knew the problem had to be addressed sooner or later.
"Well," she said with a chuckled, smiled. Kathryn has a lovely smile, one she doesn't show too often. "The couple in question may be urged to show a bit more discretion. But Starfleet has always been reluctant to regulate people's personal lives."
"Of course. But we're in a unique situation here. The development of intimate relationships might cause us problems that wouldn't arise on other ships."
"I understand what you're saying. But, we're a long way from home. Everyone is lonely and. . .all we have is each other. I think people will eventually begin to pair off." All Kathryn said was true. It was lonely. People need companionship, to relate. I knew, I understood.
And. . .what was it about her hair? Why was I thinking about that?
"Including you?" I looked her in the eye, well after I took in that hair. What had possessed me to say that to Kathryn. . .my captain? The look on her face this time was definitely surprise.
"As captain, that's a luxury I don't have." A little surprising to me considering what she had said about Starfleet being reluctant to interfere with personal lives. "Besides, I intend for us to be home. . .before. . .before Mark gives me up for dead." Oh yes, the phantom boyfriend back home. But realistically, this trip will take us longer then she thought. Seventy years is a hell of a long time to be alone, whether or not you're the captain. She's too beautiful to remain alone. I wonder if she knows that?
"We're in visual range, Captain," Harry said, before the conversation could go on further.
"On screen," she said before heading down to the command level. The way she looked at me before she turned, I wonder if she had seen through my statement. It wasn't time for second guessing. I followed her, as I have been.
"Looks like some type of energetic vapor," I said.
"Magnify," Kathryn said. The screen finally showed a moving group. I stepped down beside Paris' station.
"Space dwelling life-forms."
"Full sensor scan," Kathryn ordered.
"Their internal energy patterns appear to be consistent with discreet organic processes."
"Captain, I'd like the chance to study them at close range," I said, the scientist in me begging me for the opportunity.
"So would I, Commander."
"But let's not get too close. We wouldn't want to disturb their natural behavior," I said, respectful of the creatures.
"Half impulse, Mr. Paris. Take us into bio scanner range."
"Aye Captain," Paris said.
"It was once said that the greatest laboratory for a scientist was space. How right they were.
And there's nothing like a captain who shares that scientific curiosity too.
Whatever they were, they were quick. Paris guessed the number to be around 2000, while Harry estimated their movement at over 1000, KPH. Fast indeed. I went over to the bridge science station, where Ensign Samantha Wildman was on duty.
"It's possible we're frightening them," Wildman said. Very distinct probability.
"Keep us within scanner range, but try to avoid rapid acceleration," Kathryn told Paris. We don't want to alarm the natives.
"Take a look at this," I said, as Kathryn approached the science station. "See the way they propel themselves?" putting a graphic representation on the science screen.
"They seem to flagellate," Kathryn said. "Almost like protozoa."
"Exactly. But they're achieving incredible speeds. Over 3000 kilometers per second." I was in awe.
"Ensign Wildman, scan the field for repeating patterns. Maybe they're capable of some type of communication."
"Aye, Captain," she said, getting to work.
"Their internal anatomy is also very unusual. They don't appear to have a digestive system of any kind, but they have an extremely porous outer covering. My guess would be they absorb nutrients directly from space."
"Incredible. A space dwelling life form capable of metabolizing inorganic matter."
"Particle density in this part of space isn't very high," Wildman said. "That may explain why they have to keep moving so fast."
"Feeding at 3000 kilometers per second. Not exactly leisurely dining, is it?" I said as I walked away.
Kathryn stood there, totally enthralled by our newest find.
They change course. . .they accelerate. Kathryn thought we may be disturbing them and had Paris back off.
But instead of backing away from the organisms, we were accelerating. Paris was working on it. Paris told the captain that the creatures were pulling us toward them. The look on Kathryn's face. . .the 'we've bitten off more then we can chew' face. The creatures, Tuvok informed us, was creating their own magnetic wake, pulling us toward them.
Kathryn ordered reverse thrusters. No good, no response. She then ordered shields, which were also non responsive. We were pulled into their midst.
No damage, but a short burst may harm the creatures. B'Elanna suggested a 'scoop' to nudge the creatures out of our path. Kathryn thought it was a idea worth trying.
At least we wouldn't be hurting them. Kathryn had Paris implement the plan, hoping to do some nudging.
I went back to the science station, hopefully to find a way out of this mess. Kathryn came up to join us. I knew that she too, didn't want to harm the creatures.
Neelix came up to the bridge, wanting to speak urgently with Kathryn. Not taking her focus off the instruments, she told him to go ahead. Oh, was he wound up tight.
He'd been banished from sickbay, by our holographic doctor. He was wondering if that was fitting. I couldn't help but to turn around and see how this conversation turned out. He mentioned Kes was ill, which seemed to grab Kathryn's attention. I know she is quite fond of Kes, even the short time we've known her. She pulled Neelix aside, and I didn't hear the rest. Soon, though, the doctor was hailing us, telling Kathryn there was a problem. She left me the bridge, telling me to contact her if there were any changes.
"Aye, Captain," I replied, getting back to work.
A little while later, she returned to the bridge. I met her half way across the command level.
"Captain, we're still being pulled along by the swarm," I told her. Both Harry and Paris gave her status reports. She asked how B'Elanna was coming with the 'scoop'.
"Her last report estimated they'd be finished in another half hour," I told her.
"Let me know as soon as she's ready," Kathryn said, heading toward her ready room. I was on my way back to the helm. "Join me, Commander?"
So I followed her. Must have been important. Once there, she explained what had happened in sickbay with Kes, then offered me something from the replicators. The swarm of creatures outside her windows gave the room a warm feel, against the harsh glare that was usually there. I rather liked it. Fetching our replicated food, Kathryn began. I stood until she came back.
"Kes is terribly frightened. She's had no time to prepare for this. And the decision has to be made in the next 40 to 50 hours." She handed me a container. Maybe my concerns earlier were just. She's just a kid. "She's going to discuss it with Neelix, but there are so many unknowns. There might be risks in procreating this early and of course, there's no guarantee they're genetically compatible. Or Neelix has any interest in becoming a father. Seems your concerns about fraternization were prophetic."
I smiled at her. Who'd have thought that something like this would have happened so soon. "I wasn't even thinking about. . .procreation." I admitted. "But I suppose its the inevitable outcome." She looked at me, slightly taken aback. I continued with my thought.
"We should consider the fact that it might be necessary for the crew to start having children."
"It might take us a long time to get home," she said, mirroring my thoughts.
"If it does take 75 years, we're going to need replacement crew in about half that time."
"Who'd thought we'd be considering a generational ship, when we were sent ordered on a three week mission."
"I know. But it's a problem we have to face now."
Kathryn thought a moment. "What will that mean for the children? What kind of life would we be giving them? Aboard a star ship, traveling through a potentially hostile part of space. And are we equipped to provide for their needs? Child care, educational facilities, we'd be building an entire community on board this ship. That's a massive commitment." Her mind was turning at an incredible amount of speed.
"Are you prepared to tell them they can't have children?" I asked. yes, it would be a big commitment, but that's just what parenthood means.
"I can't do that. And I've made it clear to Kes that it's her choice, whether to have a child or not. But. . .hmm. . .there aren't any easy answers here. For any of us."
We sat in silence a long time, thinking about the repercussions.
A while later, B'Elanna came onto the bridge, ready for our experiment.
It worked, or was working. Kathryn asked me if the creatures were all right. They appeared to be fine and I told her so. She told Paris to ease us out of there. Then Harry brought our attention to the front viewer.
"What're they doing?"
"Hard to know what's prompting their behavior. Maybe they think we're making a hostile move."
We took some kind of hit then, rocking the ship. Main power began to drain. Harry announced that some were attaching to the hull. We were almost through it when we met the grand daddy of all organisms. Ensign Wildman announced this new one was similar to the small ones physically, just a lot bigger. I thought it may signify a difference in gender, but that would be hard to tell without closer analysis.
Kathryn decided it would be best if we just tried to get out of there. We began moving and the larger one moved with us. We were rocked again. The creature was emitting a charged plasma stream. Kathryn ordered all stop.
B'Elanna countered that they were acting hostile. Kathryn snapped back that until she had further proof, they were acting in a way that was natural and that we were the intruders. I didn't catch it all because I was watching the forward view screen.
"Captain, look at this," I said without averting my eyes. She stepped down to my level. "They're attaching themselves to the large creature the same way they did to us."
Harry said that the plasma emitted by the creature was almost the same as or identical to our warp plasma.
"Then the smaller creatures are attracted to our subspace emissions," Kathryn stated.
"Perhaps in the same way some species were attracted to pheromones."
"Pheromones?" she said. I continued to look at her. "You think it's a sexual attraction?"
"Color change and provocative movement are frequently associated with mating rituals." It seemed like all we had been discussing lately was sex. This was becoming ridiculous.
"Then these guys think we're one of them?" Paris asked.
"Well, their behavior toward us and the large creature is similar. It is possible they've mistaken us for a possible mate." Could be true. A ship with sex appeal. I wonder how that will look in the log.
After some analysis, I came to a conclusion. "If the smaller creatures are sexually attracted to our subspace emissions, then the large one may perceive us as a rival. That plasma burst it sent out may have been aggressive posturing."
"Then you'd think it would be happy to see us leave," Kathryn said. She then asked B'Elanna if there was a way to get a short blast to move us out of there. One chance.
The creature didn't think too highly about that. It decided that colliding with us would work wonders and did so. Tuvok suggested that we 'do onto others what we do onto ourselves.' Or as Kathryn put it, we ram him.
The more Kathryn thought about aggression, the more I started thinking about something else.
"Captain, if I may? Maybe we're going about this backwards," I interrupted, turning to her.
"Every aggressive move we make results in a more aggressive move by the creature. If we're not prepared to use extreme force to destroy him, we need to rethink our actions."
"If we're right that the creature is responding to us as a sexual rival, we might try behaving in a submissive way. That may appease him. We'd be acknowledging that he's dominant and that we're no match for him."
"How do we do that?" Kathryn gestured to the screen. "We tried to move away slowly, he wouldn't let us leave."
"Maybe we need to mimic the behavior of the smaller creatures. We saw them rolling over and changing color."
Harry interrupted. "If we vent plasma residue, that might make us look blue."
"Mr. Paris, do we have enough power to take Voyager into a roll?" Kathryn asked.
"I think so."
"All right," her eyes darted over to me, quickly and for a second. "Let's give this a try. Mr. Kim, start venting plasma residue. Mr. Paris, roll the ship."
So we rolled. I had my fingers crossed. Kathryn thought it wasn't working, but Harry informed us that one of the small creatures was detaching from the hull. They were all letting go. Then Tuvok let one go.
"It would appear that we have lost our sex appeal." I inwardly groaned at that one.
We had enough power to move out. Then I heard Kathryn's voice behind me. "Good work, Commander. In the future, if I have any questions about mating behavior, I'll know where to go."
What had she just said? I turned to look at her and smiled. Kathryn reciprocated. I had to think about that one for a while.
The doctor believed Kes' condition was a false alarm. Good thing. I really felt for her and Neelix too. Kathryn later pulled me aside and told me about Samantha Wildman. Our discussions of recent were indeed very prophetic. Voyager was going to have a baby. Whether to be or sad is the next question.
Mating behavior. . . strange. Who'd have thought that a ship could have sex appeal?
You know, I think Kathryn is very beautiful.
If only she'd do something with that hair.