DISCLAIMER: I own nothing but my imagination in this Star Trek: Voyager / Stargate: Atlantis crossover story. Star Trek: Voyager belongs to Gene Roddenberry, Rick Berman, Michael Piller, Jeri Taylor, Paramount Studios, UPN, Viacom and whoever else owns pieces of the Star Trek franchise. Stargate: Atlantis belongs to MGM, SciFi various individuals and companies and whoever owns them.
SPOILERS: For ST:V and SG:A – to the end of their respective series (although focusing on the first three years of Atlantis). Everything beyond is definitely takes a dive into the wide ocean that is Alt-U.
WARNING: Descriptions of slavery/forced prostitution (nothing graphic); violence; mature themes.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To ladyjanus03[at]yahoo.ca

Be My Homeward Dove
By ladyjanus


Part 3

Elizabeth struggles feebly against the arms that hold her pinned face down to the hard surface. She doesn't know where she is, or how she came to be there—all she knows is that thing has forced its way into her to consciousness—exploding the cold, placid oblivion in which she'd been floating.

"No! No! Please no ..." she croaks desperately.

She curses her own weakness as she fights ... the dull ache that has made her limbs heavy and painfully slow. She remembers the first time and the first client ... and she remembers promising herself that it would never happen again—that she would kill herself first. But here she is staring into the mouth of hell ... as she has all those other times.

Suddenly, the heavy body lying on top of her shifts and the arms miraculously free her. She tries pitifully to crawl away, but finds that her muscles don't have the strength to support her. All she can do is lie there trembling in fear, body wracked by painful sobs as she waits for the next assault to begin.

The hands return again, as she knew they would, and she stiffens. The attack, when it comes, is brutal and swift in its invasion.

Elizabeth's hoarse sobs give way to shrill, keening cries as she is cast adrift on an ocean of pain with nothing to cling to but her agony and her will to survive.

She wakes up screaming.

At least she thinks she screamed as miasma of the nightmare still swirls around her in her mind, filling her with wordless dread. She lays there for an interminable amount of time, forcing her breathing under control ... afraid to even move. Gradually, she realises that she's shivering violently in her sweat-soaked pyjamas, and is momentarily confused by the unfamiliar surroundings. Eventually, as her breathing becomes steadier and her courage returns, she swings her legs out of bed and drops her head into her hands.

Memory and reason reassert themselves. The Federation Starship Voyager … four hundred years in the future; not my future, mind you, but somebody else's. It's almost as unbelievable as being kidnapped by a bunch of robots with Daddy issues.

Damn you Buck Rogers! she thinks irrelevantly and barks a bitter laugh. "Lights!" she calls and the computer obeys her, flooding the bedroom with soft, white light.

"It will be a rough couple of days," Moira Jarvis had said when they'd met that afternoon in the tall redhead's quarters; the woman was a master of understatement. "It will take time to adjust to being here; I hope you'll let me know if it becomes too much to cope with."

Elizabeth had murmured some sounds signalling agreement, but frankly, her mind had been anywhere else but that room, and at one point she'd started conjugating Ancient verbs in her head. After twenty minutes, Jarvis had allowed her to make her escape, but not before setting up three months of counselling sessions—"every third day and we'll re-evaluate that schedule as things progress."

Looking around her bedroom, Elizabeth gathers up the strength to move, and takes off her damp pyjamas before pulling on a white t-shirt and pair of comfortable slacks from the clothing Kathryn has replicated for her. They're part of her initial allotment; for anything more, she'll have to use some of the ninety replicator credits she's been given for the month.

"Computer, what is the time?" she asks pulling on a pair of flats.

"The time is 0234 hours."

"Great," she says sardonically as she attaches her communicator to her shirt and walks into the living room. "What the hell does a person do on a starship at 2:30 in the morning, four hundred years in the future?"

"Unable to process query," the computer replies dispassionately. "Please restate the question."

Elizabeth chuckles at the ridiculousness of it; and then laughs some more at the thought of herself laughing at the computer.

"I guess I'll take my laughs any way I can," she mutters wryly, still trying to shake off the remnants of her nightmare. "Never mind, computer."

She stands in the middle of the room, lost for a moment, then turns and walks out. As the door shuts behind her, she stares down the deserted corridor for a few moments—even if there is somewhere to go, she doesn't know where it is. Squaring her shoulders, she walks purposefully down the corridor. Ahead, a young man leaves a small featureless elevator, clearly intent on the handheld computer they all seem to carry. As he disappears down a side corridor, Elizabeth heads for the vacant elevator.

Okay, one decision made, she thinks as the door opens and she steps inside. She looks at the featureless panel in dismay—there are no indications of controls that she can see. Perhaps it's a touch screen?

"Destination?" the computer prompts before she can do anything—there's nothing like a user-friendly computer at 2:30 in the morning.

"Mess hall," she calls, blurting out the first thing that pops into her head. There's no discernable sense of movement, but it seems like only a moment later when the doors open, prompting her to step out.

"Now, which way," she muses looking up and down the corridor. She's definitely going to have to explore this ship and learn where everything is as soon as possible if she's going to stay. Ever helpful, the computer lights up the dark panels recessed into the walls with a red light that travels along them, obviously pointing out the direction in which she should go.

Following the light, she comes to a pair of large double doors. Entering the cavernous room, she finds it almost completely dark except for light filtering through the one opened viewport from the looming disc of the planet they are currently orbiting. The lights come on automatically as she moves deeper into the room. In its way, it has a homier feel than the mess hall in Atlantis.

She plops herself down on a couch beneath the window and studies the green jewel of a planet for a long moment. Voyager has stopped there because the planet is rich in some minerals Kathryn needs for her engines to function. According to their Cazenchin allies, for whom they will also mine the ores, the system is in neutral space, but it's still a mere 3.5 light years from Fen'Domar territory.

It's about as exciting as watching grass grow, she muses, looking away from the planet and the magnificent nebula in which it's hidden. Three years in the Pegasus Galaxy has jaded her to such sights.

If only I had something to do; read, write … watch television even, she thinks as she notices the blank viewscreen on the wall across from her. Back home, before Atlantis, sitting and watching some mindless comedy or action flick had always been her remedy for her wee-hours-in-the-morning screaming heebee-jeebees when not even the most boring negotiation report could conquer her insomnia. She smiles to herself as she considers the screen; hell, the computer did practically everything around here, why not TV as well?

"Computer, can the wall screen in front of me show television programs?" she asks.


She grins broadly as she stands and goes over to the screen. "Computer, display a list of the television programs in your memory."

"Please specify genre and year," it prompts.

"Comedy—" she began. "No wait! Are there any movies in your database, computer?" she asks excitedly.


"Collate titles of science fiction and action movies from the 1960's to the year 2006," she orders. The choices for each decade flashes onto the screen and she touches the icon for 1970-1979, which brings up the choice of years in the decade. She stares at it in frustration—she isn't sure of the year the movie was made. "Do you have the movie Star Wars in your database?"

"Affirmative. There are twelve selections with "Star Wars" in the title. Please specify."

Elizabeth quickly studies the choices, chooses the original trilogy of movies and queues them up to play in order.

"Please play—no hold selections for further instructions," she says musingly as she moves over to the replicator. She hasn't used any of the replicator credits Janeway has given her.

Kathryn has said that her crew used them for special treats generally and took their meals in the mess hall. "A large bowl of popcorn and a large carbonated cola beverage, please," she orders, doubting that the brand name "Coke" would have any meaning here, and gives an embarrassing squeal of delight as her choices appear in the alcove.

She picks them up and takes them back to her seat. She looks at them for a moment and goes back to the replicator.

"A small bowl of chocolate covered almonds, please," she says laughing at her politeness to the piece of machinery, but she might as well get going on training herself back into automatic courtesy, even if it is simply to a machine. She retrieves the inviting bowl of candy and hurries back—arranging an armchair and low table for optimal viewing—and then curling up in the chair with the bowl of popcorn.

"Computer, play first movie in selection and dim the lights to ten percent."

As the computer complies, she gives herself over to the fantasy of the characters on the screen, munching on the popcorn with a sense excitement she is sure she's never felt before watching television.

"You're impatient this morning," Tom laughs, shifting Miral in his arms as Tal Celes waddles along behind him towards the mess hall as fast as her legs can propel her little round bulk.

"I'm starving, Tom," she complains. "This kid is going to be a hell of an eater if she ever gets here."

Tom enters the mess hall and stops short, forcing Celes to careen around him. There is strange music and the impression of voices coming from the far side of the mess, near the bulkhead in front of the last viewport window.

"Computer, illumination level 25 percent," he orders quietly, and then moves forward through the dimly lit room curiously. Tom smiles as he sees Elizabeth curled up in a chair sound asleep with her arms wrapped around a large bowl of popcorn.

The woman's face is peaceful like a child's as she sleeps, and there's a large, half-finished drink on the table with a bowl of chocolates. His hand reaches for one automatically and pops it in his mouth—chocolate covered almonds. He sighs, savouring the lovely candy. On the viewscreen, a handsome, dark-haired man with a rakish smile, pilots what is obviously supposed to be a starship against odd-looking, fighters equipped with what looks like old-fashioned solar panels for wings.

"Computer, halt playback," he orders quietly.

"Tom?" Celes whispers in concern.

"Homesickness," Tom replies, understanding all too well as he gently tries to remove the precariously perched bowl of popcorn from the woman's embrace. Weir's eyes fly open in alarm and she jumps, narrowly missing upsetting the popcorn and Tom.

"Lieutenant Paris, I'm sorry," she apologises quickly. "I couldn't sleep—I . . ."

"No need to apologise, Dr. Weir," he replies with a soft chuckle as Celes sits down next to her. "This is my friend Tal Celes; she came to raid the Mommy Pantry before the breakfast rush, but I think she'd much rather devour your popcorn and chocolate covered almonds." He laughs as the young pregnant woman stops guiltily in the middle of cramming a handful of the candy into her mouth.

"By all means, Ms Celes; help yourself," Weir laughs as Tom puts Miral on the floor. "I've had about all I can take."

Celes glares at Tom's impudent grin for a moment, then huffs as she continues to munch the chocolates.

Paris chuckles as he makes his way over to the replicator. "Well if you're going to insist on eating such sweet and unhealthy things this early in the morning, the least you can do is have a glass of milk! At least then Harry won't kill me for my bad influence on you and baby Kim."

"Yes, Mother."

Celes rolls her eyes and sighs with exaggerated patience. Weir chuckles at their banter and lifts Miral onto her lap.

"Miral has a habit of waking at four or five in the morning, and since I'm usually ready to eat a wild branok by then, we generally come down here for a snack so that Tom and B'Elanna can get a little extra sleep," the young woman explains as Miral snuggles deeper into Elizabeth's lap.

To Tom's surprise, Miral's usual early morning crankiness is not in evidence as she concentrates on exploring the contours of Elizabeth's face.

"Lisbeth," his daughter says happily as she strokes the woman's thin, angular face.

"You remembered!" Weir laughs, meeting Tom's gaze in surprised pleasure. "She remembers me."

"Of course she remembers you," Tom replies, handing a laughing Celes her milk and Weir a bowl of fruit for Miral. "She met you last night at dinner—she wouldn't forget you so soon."

"I guess not," the woman replies in bemusement as she settles Miral more comfortably.

"Papa!" Miral squeals at Tom as he reaches in to tickle her chin. "Auntie Tal," she said pointing at Celes. "Auntie Lisbeth," she finishes triumphantly as she touches Elizabeth's chest.

"Thank you, Miss Miral, for the introductions," Weir says softly as she begins to feed his little girl cubes of fruit.

Tom marvels at the way Miral makes no fuss accepting food from this relative stranger. "You certainly have a way with kids," he says in admiration.

"Actually, I've never had much contact with children," she replies ruefully, blushing a little at his praise. "My nieces and nephews knew me as that ghastly auntie who brought them boring books from all over the world—sometimes in languages they couldn't even read—instead of popular toys and exciting video games. Let's just say my Christmas and birthday gifts weren't the most sought-after presents for anyone under the age of twenty-one in my family."

Holding her gaze, Tom murmurs gently, "I'm sure no one thought you were ghastly."

Weir stares back in surprise and then gives a little shrug. "I guess I never saw the merit in giving them tons of plastic and things that everyone else was buying for them," she says after a moment. "I mean, really, how many Baby Oopsie-Daisy dolls can one little girl possibly need? Travelling around the world for the UN, I saw so many children who thought themselves the richest kids imaginable when they received the gift of a new book—hell a single old book with half the pages torn out was considered priceless. No matter its state, they cherished it because books meant knowledge." She's silent again for a moment as she continues feeding Miral.

"Anyway," she says with another shrug. "You can imagine how popular I was one Christmas when I adopted a number of orphans in the name of each niece and nephew, and asked them to send their allowances each month to help feed and school the children." She chuckles; it has a distinctly bitter undertone. "By the way one of my brothers and his wife acted, you would have thought I'd suggested that their precious offspring go play in traffic on the freeway. But most of them did it for a couple of months and then quietly let it lapse. Although, my other brother's son Kyle, the one I least expected to—he was one of the most self-centred teenagers I've ever met—did keep it up for about five years until the little Kenyan boy I'd paired him with graduated from grammar school. I suppose I should be grateful for that."

"I think you should be very grateful for that," Celes says quietly, gazing at a startled Elizabeth Weir with shining eyes. "I know I was always grateful for each book I got—those books led me all the way to Starfleet Academy, to this ship, to Harry ... my friends ... this little one ..."

She smoothes her hand over her pregnant belly. "Maybe it wasn't your niece or nephew, Dr. Weir, but I'd like to think that somewhere, someone like you taught a child to think about another child far away, whose world had been devastated by decades of slavery and oppression and war; a child who needed a new book or a blanket or a pair of shoes."

A jumble of thoughts and emotions courses through Elizabeth, and she stares at the young woman in shock. Although Tal Celes is smiling shyly, there's a ghost of something else in her eyes that tells Elizabeth this young woman has experienced the privations and horrors of war—and at a time when she was entirely too young for such experiences.

This sounds nothing like the—frankly utopia-like—Federation that Kathryn has described, she thinks, but then she should know better; every society has its dark underbelly, so why not the United Federation of Planets.

Before she can say anything, a chorus of voices enter the mess hall, smashing the early-morning quiet with a steady stream of people.

"Alpha shift and some of the mining teams grabbing breakfast," Paris explains. "There'll be a smaller crowd in about an hour, after shift-change when the gamma shift gets off. But coming off gamma, a lot of people would rather head straight to bed or unwind on the holodeck."

"Holodeck?" Elizabeth probes curiously.

"You don't know what a holodeck is?" he asks incredulously and she nods her head in bemusement. "You mean the captain hasn't explained about the holodecks?"


Paris stares at her in disbelief for a beat longer. "Typical Janeway," he mutters.

"What's typical of the captain, Tom?" Harry Kim asks joining them. "Oh, hi Dr. Weir," he greets her, before dropping two breakfast trays on the table and leaning in to kiss Celes.

"Hello, Lieutenant Kim," Elizabeth responds smiling at the couple.

Kim tenderly caresses the young woman's belly; the obvious love and pride shines in his eyes.

"The captain hasn't told Dr. Weir about the holodecks yet," Paris says, outrage shading his voice.

"Um ... she hasn't?" Kim replies distractedly before tearing his gaze away from Celes. "Well I suppose she wants Dr. Weir to get acclimated to Voyager first—"

"How can the captain expect her to get acclimated to Voyager without knowing about the holodecks?"

The young man hands Celes one of the trays, then settles on the arm of her chair and digs into his own breakfast. "Not everyone is as into their recreational activities as you are, Tom," he comments in a reasonable tone, frowning at the chartreuse-coloured food on his fork before shrugging and taking a bite.

"And it looks like I'll be old and grey before anyone explains," Elizabeth quips, looking from one young man to the other.

Celes comes to her rescue, chuckling as she does so. "Holodecks are large holographic simulation rooms, Dr. Weir. You can program and run different scenarios in them from designing and testing a new shuttle, like our Delta Flyers, to purely recreational programs, like Suun'tor Pagh—the Field of Souls—a memorial park in my home province on Bajor. I like to go for long walks there—it's very peaceful," she explains blushing shyly. "Of course some people use it for more entirely frivolous pursuits, Captain Proton," she says pointedly, raising one eyebrow at Paris.

"Frivolous? I'll have you know Captain Proton was never frivolous," Paris bristles indignantly. "It was valid cultural tool for looking at how pre-space Humans might have viewed space travel and the future."

"Cultural tool," Kim snorts. "There's a new one—why don't we ask someone who was there?" he chuckles, turning his twinkling gaze towards Elizabeth as Paris definitely begins to pout at the good-natured ribbing. "Tell me, Dr. Weir, did you ever dream of flying around with your jet pack, brandishing a ray gun as you tried to save the Earth from the evil Dr. Chaotica, who was hell-bent on taking over the galaxy? And what was the cultural significance of jet packs, ray guns and fiendishly evil, megalomaniacal scientists anyway?"

Elizabeth can't help but laugh. "Captain Proton and Dr. Chaotica?" she gasps and memories of the old Flash Gordon movie reruns, which her older brothers used to watch, rise up in her mind. Paris reddens and looks thoroughly embarrassed; she feels a sudden wave of sympathy for him.

"Well, Mr. Kim, although I didn't dream of it, my brothers certainly did. However, I must admit I've never used a jet pack—that would have been very cool—but I did once brandish a zat gun, and I used to make a habit of threatening evil Goa'uld System Lords. Does that count?" she asks sweetly as the young man nearly chokes on his coffee, turning away to cough into his napkin. "They were usually hell-bent on taking over the galaxy—oh, and one of my best friends was a megalomaniacal scientist, and although Rodney wasn't evil, he could be fiendishly clever."

Celes bursts into gales of laughter and Paris smirks at his friend before turning his attention back to Elizabeth. "What are zat guns?" he asks eagerly.

"Alien ray guns—Goa'uld," she answers. "It's the short form of zat'nik'tel. One shot stuns—very painful; two shots kill. And three shots in quick succession completely vaporises the body," she finishes soberly.

"Sounds like our phasers—phased energy rectification weapons," Paris says thoughtfully. "They're usually kept on their stun settings, but we can take them off stun to kill and on a high enough setting, they can vaporise a body. We also use them large-scale as our ship-to-ship energy armaments." After a moment, he smiles again. "Why don't I get us some breakfast and then we'll show you the wonders of the holodeck?"

"That sounds great, Lieutenant Paris."

"Tom," he says firmly.

"Tom," she replies.

Tal Celes chuckles to herself as Elizabeth whips around to see the corridor of the ship through the open doors, while they stand in the damp night air of Marseilles. She gives a loud gasp as the doors closed and disappeared, becoming part of a row of houses.

"What is this?" the Twentieth-Century woman asks, eyes shining.

"It's a holodeck," Wildman answers in amusement as she joins the group, "a room where we can project interactive holographic environments."

"This is tremendous," she breathes, "the ultimate VR. Rodney would kill for this."

"VR?" Tom asks in confusion.

"Virtual reality," she laughs, bending to touch the cobblestones beneath her feet. "I can't believe this is all projections—electronic smoke and mirrors. Everything feels so real, smells so real—I can actually taste the salt mist in the air, feel the breeze. Even Ancient holographic technology wasn't this good. This is incredible—how can holograms seem so completely real?"

"It's an off-shoot of our transporter technology," Wildman replies. "Unless something's replicated, all this holomatter can't exist outside the holodeck unless external holoemitters are set up in designated areas."

"Come on," Paris says invitingly, holding the door of one of the buildings open. "Let us introduce you to Sandrine's—" Music floats out as they all enter the bustling bar. Sandrine is the only hologram Tal can find in attendance as a number of off-duty crew wait expectantly for Dr. Weir to enter; Tom had asked Harry to send a flash notice of the holodeck 'meet and greet' to all off-duty personnel before they'd left the mess hall.

Paris introduces the dark-haired woman to Sandrine and the crew, and Tal meets Harry's twinkling eyes as he enters a few minutes later.

"How did it go?" he asks, holding her chair out as she sits down.

"She finds it the ultimate in virtual reality," Tal answers as they watch Paris take the group over to the pool table.

"She's adapted so easily to this whole situation—accepted it all so quickly," he says admiringly.

"I know," Tal replies studying the woman in question as she expertly handles the pool cue.

"Captain," Paris calls as Janeway enters the bar. "I do believe that we have a new pool shark at Sandrine's, ready to challenge your crown."

"You mean Captain Janeway's your resident shark?" Elizabeth asks in surprise. "Wow! Would you like to have a game, captain?"

"Not right now, Dr. Weir," Kathryn replies smiling. "A raincheck? I can't stay—I just came to borrow Lieutenant Wildman for a short while."

"Sure, it's a date," the other woman says returning her smile. As Wildman joins Janeway, Elizabeth turns to Paris. "Tom, is there anything good on that jukebox?"

"Depends on what you mean by good," he quips as she pores over the newest addition to the Sandrine's program.

Elizabeth laughs. "Anything post-1980 that isn't too heavy metal?"

"You can simply ask the computer for what you want if it isn't on the jukebox," Paris answers.

"Heavy metal?" Seven asks curiously.

Elizabeth chuckles as she continues to flip through the choices. "Music to blow your eardrums out by—I've got to be in a specific mood for that, but right now I feel like dancing. Oh yeah, hello Sweet Prince. Computer, compile selection of songs starting with Prince's 1999 from the album 1999, followed by Let's Go Crazy and When Doves Cry from the Purple Rain album. Afterwards, follow those songs with random selections of dance music from 1982 to 2004."

"Compilation complete, play back when ready," the computer informed her after a moment.

"Well, don't tell anyone, but His Royal Purpleness has always been my favourite," Elizabeth says laughing as she spins around in the middle of the floor. "Computer, play back compilation—loud."

I was dreaming when wrote this

Forgive me if it goes astray,

But when I woke up this morning

Could have sworn it was judgement day...

Kathryn watches Elizabeth begin to dance as the music pulses to crashes of drums and cymbals and other instruments she can't quite identify. After a few minutes, Paris, Kim, Celes, Jenny Delaney and a few of the more adventurous types from the crew join in.

"They seem to be having a good time," Wildman shouts over a chorus of "Two thousand zero, zero, party over—oops out of time/ So tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1999."

"They certainly do," Kathryn shouts back; she regrets that she can't stay, but is glad that the other woman is cutting loose, having fun and making friends. "Sorry to take you away from your leisure time, Samantha," she says as they exit the holodeck. "But there are couple of issues with the mining that the Cazenchin have brought up—and I'd rather not disturb B'Elanna while she's on the planet. I get the feeling that the Cazenchin are just trying to squeeze as much out of this deal as possible."

Samantha sighs audibly and takes the PADD from Kathryn as they walk down the corridor. "I know what you mean," she says in resignation. "Two days ago their complaint was that the quality of coronite wasn't high enough." Her tones are dry and sarcastic as she rolls her eyes expressively. "Compared with the drek they've been destroying their generators with, captain, coronite that's ninety-three percent pure is gold standard—any purer and they're likely to ignite their power systems. We only take the last steps with ours because we spend comparatively more time at ultra-high warp factors than they do."

"I know what a pain it is," Kathryn replies. "But I'd rather not have an incident over this if we can help it, and part of that is dispelling the perception that we're giving them lesser grade material."

"That's probably because they've seen us put our batches through the warp resonance field—"

"To align the coronite crystals so that they remain balanced and don't interfere with the warp field at high speeds above warp 9.75," Kathryn says thoughtfully. "Would it be too much trouble to put their batches through the resonance process without going through the extra purification steps? It's neither here nor there in regards to their warp field geometry, since they rarely even go above warp 9, but according to my calculations, it will extend the crystals' lives by at least an extra month."

Wildman nodded. "It's doable, captain, but after this batch runs out, they'll be back to the same old drek that's barely seventy-five percent pure," she replies in disgust.

Kathryn shrugs. "But it's not new technology or an insurmountable technological leap—if any of them are smart enough to even simply pay attention to what we're doing, they can learn make crystals this pure and stable with their own equipment."

"And if they're too lazy to learn?"

Kathryn's gaze hardens as they enter the turbolift. "Then it's not our problem, Samantha," she replies harshly. "As the old saying goes, 'you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.' We'll do our best, but it will be up to them to learn."

Kathryn lowers herself tiredly onto the stone shelf overlooking the main mining area; the entire cavern sparkles like fairyland as the lights they've installed bounces off the crystalline formations throughout the structure. It's a hive of activity as her crew bustles about, taking readings, adjusting instrument panels on the extractors, or packaging the final products for transport. There are rich veins containing dilithium, kerdrinium, coronite, as well as many semi-precious stones and minerals to be mined in this one cavern alone and the Cazenchin Traders were happy to share the location of this resource planet in order to receive the high-quality fruits of Voyager's mining processes.

Opening the small canister of water, she drinks deeply, savouring the cool, refreshing liquid as it slips down her parched throat. From the lunch sack that Noah Lessing handed her—before shooing her away from the mining area with the exasperated injunction to "eat something, captain"—she removes an insulated bowl of Chell's Mystery Lunch. As she opens it, an unmistakeable aroma assails her senses and she laughs. Warp Core Chilli or some such pun if she remembers correctly; at least it's warm and smells edible.

"So, I take it you don't trust me anymore." B'Elanna's voice is low, belligerent, as she sits down beside Kathryn.

"Excuse me?" Kathryn says staring at her chief engineer as if she's grown another head.

"Well what the hell am I supposed to think when you show up unannounced and practically take over, captain, other than I can't be trusted to run a simple mining operation?"

Kathryn looks away from the anger and hurt in her friend's eyes. In running away from one problem, you inevitably create others and do nothing to solve the first, her mother has always warned her.

"What are you doing here, Kathryn?"

After ten years, B'Elanna Torres is only one of two women on Voyager who uses her first name—three now with Elizabeth, her conscience reminds her—while Samantha Wildman only dares to do so in private and only when she's sure of the informality of the situation.

Kathryn is unable to respond; the Captain on the other hand has a lot to say, but knows if she dares show her head now, B'Elanna is just mad enough to rip it off and stuff it down her throat.

They sit and eat as the awkward silence drags on between them.

Apparently satisfied that the Captain wouldn't butt in, B'Elanna continues in an infinitely gentler tone of voice, "Don't you think you could use this time more productively by showing our new ambassador around? Perhaps introduce her to our trading partners? Hell, she'd probably be able to negotiate a much sweeter deal for us."

"I don't want to overwhelm her—throw her into the deep end after little more than a week," Kathryn replies quietly, losing her appetite for the rapidly cooling chilli.

Torres regards her sceptically, one eyebrow crawling towards her forehead ridges. "So you just leave her to the tender mercies of my husband? You know, Thomas Eugene Paris? I mean, I love the man, but by all the dishonourable kos'karii serpents in the waters of Gre'thor, Kathryn, you leave it to Tom to get her acclimated?"

Kathryn's gaze travels over the cavern again, darting everywhere except towards her friend. "They seem to get along fine—she seems happy and she's making friends."

"Yeah, and she's so happy, she wakes up three nights out of four screaming—"

Kathryn feels her heart leap into her throat. "Oh God," she whispers, but Torres continues mercilessly.

"And the only reason she didn't have a nightmare that one night is because she never went to sleep. She, Jenny and Meghan Delaney, Golwat, Marla Gilmore and Telora Olawende stayed out clubbing all night on the holodeck. You're lucky Olawende has the cabin on the other side of her—she won't gossip, but she is concerned."

Nightmares—I've abandoned Elizabeth to face her nightmares alone.

Kathryn grasps at the first thing to catch her attention as she attempts to turn her mind from that horrible truth.


"Carousing after-hours dance clubs popular in the Twentieth Century," B'Elanna explains. "Apparently they spent most of the night in a New York City club from the nineteen seventies called Forty-seven or maybe Fifty-four ... some odd number like that. Mind you, I hear that she's a really great dancer—the girls are really impressed and Olawende thinks we'd really clean up at the next Cabaret with her on our side. But Kathryn, even the Delaneys are concerned about her behaviour—and you know something is seriously wrong when Jenny Delaney gets concerned about a party-girl."

"What about her behaviour?" Kathryn croaks, her throat tightening about her words.

"Namely, according to Jenny and Meghan, Elizabeth's categorically not a party-girl," Torres replies. "And they should know, Kathryn. Telora thinks Elizabeth is just desperate to connect with something—anything—and the holodeck gives her an illusion of a connection to her past. But the worst thing is that she knows it's an illusion ... she can't get away from it—hence the partying. Furthermore, while we're on duty, what do you think she's doing right now?"

"I don't know." Kathryn's voice sounds harsh to her own ears, but she makes herself ask the question. "What does she do while we're on duty?"

"As far as we can tell, when she's not with Moira, she does nothing," Torres says. "She rarely accesses the computer—just sits in her quarters. For the last few days, she hasn't left it unless someone comes to take her out, and then she's almost manic. Samantha got Elizabeth to accompany her with Icheb, Naomi, and the other children on an outing to a water park on the holodeck yesterday—and in Sam's opinion, her mood-swings in those couple of hours made it seem like she was on some narcotic. Both Sam and Telora think that Elizabeth is depressed, and I know that it's only been a few days, but Moira is watching her like a hawk."

"I see," Kathryn says looking down at her hands; she and depression are old friends.

"You're the only person she's truly connected with, Kathryn. She's in a brand new world, four hundred years in a future not her own, alone and afraid—not only of the reality of it, but of the possibility that it's not real ... that it's another sick bit of torture by those Borg wannabes from her universe. Now is not the time for you to withdraw from her," Torres continues, anger shading her voice. "The rest of us; we're acquaintances. Tom, Harry, Tal, Meghan, Jenny, Telora, Sam—we all think that in time we can be great friends with her, but here and now, we're not what she needs."

"What does she need?" Kathryn whispers around the lump in her throat.

"To speak to the only person she trusts to be real ... to connect with the one person she needs to be real."

Elizabeth sits on the couch beneath the large window in the living room of her quarters—VIP quarters, she's since learned—chewing idly on the end of her pencil. On her lap is a hardcover notebook Moira had suggested she replicate to write down her thoughts and feelings as part of her therapy.

However, she fills its pages with everything except her thoughts and feelings, as she attempts to save memories of people and languages and things that no longer matter in this new universe.

Kathryn's holographic doctor is correct; her memory is razor-sharp now … especially for a lot of things she would rather not remember. She shakes her head as if to dislodge the uncomfortable thought and turns her mind to something else.


Voyager's captain has been scarce since she asked Elizabeth to be her ambassador. The bulbous, ungainly ships of the Cazenchin Traders' float outside the window and Elizabeth wonders if Janeway is over there or on the planet; she'd asked the computer about her availability two hours ago, and was told that the captain was not on board ship. She'd declined to leave a message asking Kathryn to contact her; it wasn't important.

Elizabeth has only seen Kathryn half a dozen times and spoken to her twice in the last week. She knows that Janeway is busy running her ship, but she can't help but be disappointed that her friend hasn't found time for her.

Enough of your self-pity.

Returning her gaze to the blank page, she begins the painstaking translation from memory of random phrases in Jean Marc Benton's Philosophy and Reality. The translations go from English to Goa'uld to Ancient and finally to Latin.

We are all under one Universe.

Tap so rek Cal Mah'ai ryn.

Nou ani omnes subouno Avernakis.

Nos samus omnis sub Universus.

From the past, the future can be inferred.

Kree! Rok nokia aki so mel nok.

Abo acturos aden potentio valerus sillatas.

Ab actu ad posse valet illatio.

From a thing's possibility, one cannot be certain of its reality.

Rok pak'ureh nok sero merek.

Abo potentio aden ressentere na valerus illac seventu.

A posse ad esse non valet consequentia.

Her door chimes and still engrossed in her translation she calls distractedly, "Who is it?"


Elizabeth's head snaps up as the object of her earlier thoughts comes over the comm system. Although she's been hoping her friend would contact her, it's still a surprise.

"Speak of the devil," she mutters as she places her book on the coffee table. "Come in."

Kathryn is smiling as she enters, but hesitates on the threshold; in one hand she's holding a small flat computer tablet. "Are you busy at the moment?"

"No. Not at all," Elizabeth replies, returning her smile. "I was just doing some translations."

Kathryn's eyes widen in surprise, which gives way to a fleeting look of relief and then genuine curiosity as she darts forward allowing the door to close. "Translations? Of what? May I see?"

In fact, the almost childlike expression of delight on the other woman's face throws Elizabeth for a moment. "Ah … sure, of course," she replies, picking up the book and handing it to Kathryn, who drops her computer on the table.

As Kathryn runs her fingers reverentially over the page of translations she's been working on, Elizabeth walks over to the replicator. "May I get you anything to drink?"

"Hmm?" Kathryn tears her gaze away from the page, flushing with embarrassment.

"A drink?" Elizabeth repeats. "I was just going to have a cup of coffee."

"Thank you, coffee would be lovely—black please." Kathryn returns her attention to the book as Elizabeth gives their orders to the computer. "This is extraordinary," the captain of Voyager says and Elizabeth hears wonder in her voice. As she returns and places their drinks on the low coffee table, Kathryn asks, "Did you do all this work in the last week?

It's then Elizabeth realises that she's filled almost seventy-five percent of the five-hundred-page book; it is then that she remembers the pictures, diagrams and concepts she's obsessively detailed as the need hit her.

Lt. Colonel John Sheppard …

Dr. Rodney McKay …

Teyla Emmagen …

Lt. Aiden Ford …

Ronon Dex …

Atlantis …

Stargate …

Naquadah …

Drone Weapons …

Zero Point Modules …

Ancient Technology Activation Gene …

Mother ... Father ... Fiancé ... even her dog, Sedgewick ...

"It isn't all translations," she says softly, hoping Kathryn doesn't go rifling through the book.

"It's amazing; you've not only transliterated the alien languages phonetically, but written each in their native writing systems," Kathryn marvels and points to the Goa'uld writing. "This one looks somehow familiar."

Elizabeth smiles. "You have a good eye," she says. "That's Goa'uld—the script is based on ancient Meroitic script, which is related to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Goa'uld may also be written in hieroglyphs, but I never had time to learn. The Goa'uld posed as many of the ancient gods—the first ones we met were Ra and Apophis."

"Wow," Kathryn breathes, "and the other alien script? The phonetic transliteration of the language is remarkably reminiscent of the Latin beneath it."

"That's because as far as we could determine, Latin is a more linear form of Ancient, simplified to fit the Phoenician and Greek evolutionary path of the native Terran writing system that came to dominate in the Mediterranean region over the last few thousand years."

"My God!" Kathryn laughs. "That news will no doubt set a few ears back in Federation archaeological circles."

It's Elizabeth's turn to be surprised at her easy acceptance. "It doesn't bother you?"

"No, why should it? It's certainly surprising, but why would it bother anyone?"

Kathryn's puzzlement is genuine and Elizabeth laughs at herself. "I keep forgetting that your people have had four hundred years of history—four hundred years of growing up that mine hadn't by the time I left Earth.

"So what is it you needed to see me about?" she asks, deliberately steering the conversation away from her book.

Kathryn's smile returns. "Actually, I'm in need of my ambassador much sooner than I thought," she replies as Elizabeth finds her heart speeding up in anticipation. "I had hoped to give you some more time to get settled before dropping you in the deep end, but I'm having a bit of an issue with our latest trading partners."

"What's the problem?"

"Well, when Chakotay secured the co-operation of the Cazenchin in planning our rescue, in payment for the credit account they allowed B'Elanna to use, they were given the position of an unclaimed world where we found what are called Bocerra Pearls—very widely sought after pearl-like gems formed in the bodies of a certain insect from one or more of its unfertilised eggs. Apparently they've been transplanted to a number of worlds, but no one knew where the original creature had come from. We also traded them about a quarter of the pearls we'd harvested. However, part of the deal was that we also mined this planet for them; our extraction methods yield higher quality alloys and other mining products than their methods, and with far fewer impurities. The agreed upon split of the resources was thirty percent for Voyager and seventy for them."

"Okay, I'm with you so far," Elizabeth says quietly as it sinks in how much this crew has paid to get their captain back. "It all sounds fair and straightforward—if overly generous on your part; where's the hitch?"

"The hitch, as you put it," Kathryn replies unhappily, "is that the Cazenchin have just recently learned that the Fen'Domar Empire has closed its boarders to alien vessels and have tightened already stringent security and rules for even their trading partners at the boarder stations. Even just getting back to their home base will take the Cazenchin close to half a standard year if they have to skirt the Fen'Domar boarders—and the world that we found the pearls on is on the other side of the Empire; it could take them two years to get there, and god knows when they'll be able to realize a profit from it. Furthermore, it's less than ten light years from the Empire's boarders. The Cazenchin are afraid that if the Fen'Domar decide to go on another of their expansion binges—"

"They'll gobble it up," Elizabeth finishes shrewdly and Kathryn nods. "So all of a sudden, the lucrative trade they made when your crew was desperate, doesn't look quite so lucrative anymore and they want to welch on the deal."

"Exactly." Kathryn looks down at the computer tablet in her hand. "Many of the Traders believe that this incident with Voyager is to blame—and I'm willing to concede that we may have been a contributing factor—but from what I can tell, the Fen'Domar are just spoiling for a fight and this has been brewing for quite some time now. Anyway, the Traders are pressuring their leader, Mistress Holsomi, to recoup their "losses" from us, slash our take from this mining operation from thirty percent to less than ten—or nothing, if they can get away with it."

Kathryn's blue eyes are suddenly diamond hard. "I've already let Mistress Holsomi know that this is unacceptable. We'll be heading out into open space again very soon; we need these supplies, especially since we don't know when we'll be able to stock up again."

"What's your tactical situation?" Elizabeth asks thoughtfully, and then laughs at Kathryn's obvious surprise. "Believe me—it took me quite a while to learn to think in terms of exploring John's military tactical options as well my own automatic tendencies towards diplomatic negotiations and machinations."

Kathryn chuckles and shakes her head; there is a look of definite admiration in her eyes. "They're merchant ships, lightly armed with a top velocity of warp 8.25, which I doubt they can sustain for very long—probably less than six hours," she replies. "Their usual sustained warp velocity is about warp 6.5, but they can sustain up to warp 7.25 if they really need to get somewhere more quickly. They can hurt us if they swarm us—inflict some damage if they catch us off-guard, but Voyager is much faster and a hell of a lot better armed."

"So if worse comes to worse, you can fight your way through or even just run."

"Yes," Kathryn replies. "Our top velocity is warp 9.98. I know that doesn't sound much faster than warp 8.25, but the warp scale is a roughly logarithmic one; it approaches warp 10, but at that point the equations governing it break down—not to mention so would the structural integrity of most ships. Theoretically, a ship travelling at warp 10 would pass through all points of the universe simultaneously—" Her lips tug into a rueful smile as Elizabeth's eyes widen in shock. "And take it from me; very bad things can happen to organic beings travelling at warp 10."

They share a smile in the comfortable silence for a few moments before Elizabeth asks, "So if you can fly away and defend yourself doing it, why not just extricate your ship from a deteriorating situation as quickly as possible? That would be the sensible thing to do—you've upheld your end of the bargain. Why go the diplomatic route?"

Kathryn held her gaze. "Honestly, despite this, the Cazenchin are one of the more reasonable—even kinder—species we've met out here," she says, the fatigue and worry evident in her voice. "They may have gotten involved for the most mercenary of reasons, but they got involved. We've been out here for ten years, and believe me, it doesn't happen a lot. I'd like to leave here with them as friends rather than resentful enemies. And in many ways, I do feel some measure of responsibility for their situation.

"The credit account they allowed us to use represented about five percent of the net for this Caravan, Elizabeth. They are a largely nomadic people—trade is their life's blood—and with the Empire's boarders closed, they stand to lose forty percent of their client base or more; that isn't a small thing. With the boarders open, they could recoup what they extended us within a month or two—that's what they were counting on. But with the boarders closed, it may be two ... even as much as five years before they realise any profits from the pearl planet, if any at all.

"Their newest ships are ten to fifteen years old and most are over twenty-five years old. Their warp designs are at least three generations behind ours and we can't make them more efficient unless we redesign them radically—something forbidden by the Prime Directive. Some of their ships are theoretically capable of warp 8.75 or even warp 9, but the power output of their warp core is such that they can't go faster without severely compromising their environmental systems and to a certain extent, their weapons. Some of their energy needs are alleviated by secondary power generators, but even there, they're quite inefficient and at the end of their usefulness in terms of how far this design can be upgraded. However, we're not allowed to trade Starfleet designs. If they'd shown any inkling of thinking in our direction, I might have permitted B'Elanna and her engineers to help them develop it, but they haven't."

Kathryn is quiet again for another few minutes. "Then there is my crew's morale," she continues at last. "Too many times, things end with us having to shoot our way out—most times it is unavoidable … just the way of the galaxy. But it affects them; I know it hits them hard, especially if someone is lost. I'd really like to avoid that if I can."

It's Elizabeth's turn to gaze at Kathryn in frank admiration. If this crew would do anything for this woman, it's because she would do anything for them, she realises and feels a measure of peace in that realisation.

As the silence stretches out between them again, she's hit by a sudden thought and reaches for her book. Flipping back through it, she finally comes to the page she's looking for and she also comes to a decision.

"Tell me about the ores you're mining."

Surprise flows into puzzlement. "The ores?" Kathryn asks hesitantly.

"Yes," Elizabeth replies. "Is there anything down there that looks like this or has a similar structure?"

She hands Kathryn the book. It is open to the page with her description of naquadah.

B'Elanna Torres is seriously annoyed. Two hours ago, Janeway had called the mining operation to a screeching halt. Cazenchin security personnel had swarmed into the cavern—to protect their assets, they'd said. In response, Tuvok's security teams had beamed in onto the ledges above them, covering them with compression phaser rifles.

Since then, Janeway has disappeared; first onto Mistress Holsomi's ship, and then into Elizabeth Weir's quarters.

"Captain, what in the name of Gre'thor is going on?" she demands entering the briefing room.

"B'Elanna ..." Tom says gently, trying to deflect her ire.

"B'Elanna, Tom, please take your seats," Janeway orders as Tuvok enters behind them and slides into his chair without a word, completing the senior team.

Janeway stands at the head of the table with Weir, who is dressed in a long black jacket over black pants and a crisp white shirt. Her expression is neutral, but watchful; her posture is ramrod straight, yet she somehow appears relaxed with her arms are folded across her chest and her long, curly hair is pulled into one thick braid. She looks every bit the cool, professional diplomat.

B'Elanna takes her seat next to Tom without another word. After a beat, Janeway begins to speak, explaining the Cazenchin's situation and the reasons for their actions.

"That's not our fault!" B'Elanna explodes—outraged that all her hard work extracting the ores might come to nothing. "We gave the dishonourable p'taqs everything they asked for!"

"Actually, that might be part of the problem, B'Elanna," Weir says quietly.

That stops B'Elanna's incipient tirade in its tracks. "Wh-what?" she stammers. "What are you talking about?"

"In your original negotiations with them, you pretty much gave in to all their demands," Weir replies. "And now looking back in hindsight, they can't help but wonder."

"But that's only because we needed to get the rescue operation underway quickly," Chakotay counters angrily. "There wasn't any time for useless haggling—the pearl planet had no value for us; it was light years away in the wrong direction."

"The deal was too good to be true," Tom says with a look of sudden recognition. "They thought they had us over a barrel, but in light of what's happened, they now think we set them up for just such a scenario."

"Exactly Tom," Weir responds with a small smile. "You have to take into account their mindset—they're a trading culture and haggling is expected, even if it is only for form's sake."

"So what the hell do we do now?" B'Elanna asks. "Captain, we can't afford to give up those supplies—"

"I know," Janeway replies, "and I'm hoping that with Dr. Weir's help we won't have to."

"Captain?" Chakotay says in confusion.

Janeway looks at Weir and nods, then steps back and lowers herself into her seat, silently ceding the floor to the diplomat.

"When Kathryn brought this problem to me," she begins quietly. "I automatically started to think negotiation and arbitration, but then I remembered the one thing my military advisor used to harp on with me—when he wasn't racing headlong into trouble that is—what's the tactical situation? Our discussion eventually led to a discussion of the Cazenchin ships and technology—specifically that their propulsion system is vastly inferior to this ship's and running their life support and weapons further degrades its effectiveness. As well, their secondary power generators that are supposed to carry much of the load from the environmental system are also quite inefficient."

"That's correct," B'Elanna murmurs nodding. "But how does this help us?"

"Well, as I understand your Prime Directive, we're not allowed to trade Federation technology and their systems can't be upgraded any further without making that leap." Again B'Elanna nods and Weir smiles, glancing over at a grinning Janeway. "But what about trading technology developed by a United States Air Force Major nearly four hundred years ago on an Earth a few universes to the left of this one?"

B'Elanna feels a sudden spark of excitement ignite deep in her gut. "Okay ..." she says looking from one woman to the other. "What have you two cooked up?"

"B'Elanna," Janeway drawls. "You know I have no skill whatsoever in the kitchen." A burst of laughter ripples around the table regarding the captain's infamous ability at being able to burn even replicated food. "Elizabeth's the cook—it's all her doing."

A blush crawls up the diplomat's neck and across her cheeks; B'Elanna chuckles at her embarrassment. "Okay, Dr. Weir," she says curiously. "What have you got in mind?"

In response, the other woman picks up a large, hardcover book, opens it to a page marked by a tasselled card, and stretching across the table hands it to her.

"Kathryn tells me there is an abundance of this mineral on this planet and elsewhere in this system."

"That's right," B'Elanna says, studying the neat handwritten formula and notes. Naquadah. "It's just basic veroxi-transquartzite—an ore in which more useful minerals are usually found; compounds like terellium, which we use as a warp reaction catalyst. As far as I know, no one's ever found a use for veroxi-transquartzite. It's stable, almost inert, although there is a form that it can be converted to—after extensive refining—that's highly unstable and plays holy havoc with the fabric of subspace and warp fields. Not a good thing to fool around with."

The diplomat's smile is smug, bordering on gloating. "In my universe, we call it naquadah, a Goa'uld word, and it's one of the most—if not the most—important mineral in the technology of most space-faring worlds, including Earth."

"What?" B'Elanna looks at the woman in complete shock.

"Are you sure you're talking about the same thing, B'Elanna?" Kim asks in confusion as he comes around her chair to study the notebook over her shoulder.

"Kathryn has confirmed it," Weir continues. "And if you'll turn the page, you'll find my notes on naquadria, the more volatile form, and further on, about ten pages of schematics for a naquadah generator, first developed in 1999 by the then Major Samantha Carter of the US Air Force with the help of a people known as the Orbanians."

"I thought you didn't have any scientific knowledge, Dr. Weir," Annika says, speaking up for the first time. The suspicion lacing her voice is clearly evident and B'Elanna bristles at the sound of it; Tom's hand on her arm is the only thing that keeps her from exploding.

Weir's voice is deceptively light as she answers, but only a fool—or a Borg—would miss the undercurrent of anger in it. "I honestly didn't think I had any, Annika," she replies. "Science isn't something I've ever paid much attention to. So believe me, it came as quite a surprise to me as well that there was that much of it in my head. And if you look at my notes, you'll see that what's there is basically in layman's terms—because that's how it was explained to me.

The Doctor's voice was quiet, thoughtful. "It's probably a consequence of how the nanites rewired Dr. Weir's brain with the nanocytes."

Weir nods in agreement. "I can now remember and regurgitate things with an almost photographic amount of detail that I wouldn't have been able to before my accident—even things I have little understanding of. For example, the naquadah generator—"

B'Elanna flips through the intricate drawings as the woman continues.

"I only saw those schematics once for all of thirty minutes—when one of my scientists, Dr. Radek Zalenka, took me through them as he tried to explain to me what went wrong with one generator, causing part of my city to black-out. After that I never thought of it again until a few days ago—when I spent all day drawing those schematics. I've been using that book mostly to practise my translations, but I also started jotting down things from my universe that I didn't want to forget ... doing drawings of my city ... little portraits of my family and friends ..."

Her voice trails off hoarsely and B'Elanna's heart breaks for her; Janeway reaches up and take's her hand, squeezing it. Weir looks down into her eyes and something indefinable, yet palpably personal passes between them. Feeling like a voyeur, B'Elanna looks down at the book in her hands again. She meets Tom's gaze and he grins knowingly at her, before reaching in and turning the page. They're greeted with lines and lines of incomprehensible writing in what looks like five or six different languages.

"Ah ... Dr. Weir ..." Tom calls out, lifting his confused gaze to her. "Exactly how many languages do you know, ma'am?"

She laughs, low and delightedly. "It depends on the context, I guess," she replies.

"Actually, I'm curious about that myself, Elizabeth," Janeway says as she releases the woman's hand.

"Well, I'm fluent and literate in five languages; French, Russian, Arabic, Japanese and Latin," she explains. "I'm conversationally competent, but hardly fluent, in Italian, Spanish, Gaelic, American Sign Language, and now, the Dom'ruun. However, although I don't formally read and write Italian and Spanish per se, I can generally get the gist of a written passage because I know French and Latin. I'm literate in German and Greek—and since joining the Stargate program—Ancient and Goa'uld, meaning I can read and write those languages, but don't really speak them with any competence. Granted, no one's really spoken Ancient in about ten thousand years, though Latin does stem from it, so I can generally muddle my way through if I'm reading a passage out loud, while Goa'uld simply grates on my throat—I find it difficult to get the tonalities just right. Finally, from my work with the UN, I know how to speak a small smattering of Mandarin Chinese, Hindu and Swahili. I also picked up a bit of Cree by osmosis from a childhood friend's grandfather when I was in grade school and some rather vulgar Danish from a very old boyfriend in college."

She chuckles softly again, but this time there's a definite nervousness in her gaze as they stare at her in absolute shock.

"You know—what—nineteen languages!" Harry Kim voices the outrage and awe B'Elanna knows they all must be feeling.

Tuvok breaks the silence that permeates the room again. "Actually, Mr. Kim, Dr. Weir knows twenty languages, because if I'm not mistaken, she's also fluent and literate in English."

Weir blushes deeply again as all their gazes return to her. "You're right of course, Commander Tuvok," she says. "I often forget to include English on the list."

"May I ask why?" Though Tuvok's tones are as dispassionate as ever, B'Elanna fancies she can hear the definite curiosity in them.

"I suppose it's because to my mind, I never really had to learn English—not consciously; it was just always there ... a foundation I've always had. I mean, intellectually I know that I learned English like I learned any other language, but I've never felt I had to work to learn it like I did the other languages I've acquired." She chuckles softly. "I don't know if that made any sense."

Tuvok nods to her, signalling his acceptance of her explanation.

"It makes perfect sense," Janeway says, smiling at her friend. "But we're getting rather far afield from the subject at hand. Dr. Weir has suggested that we offer the Cazenchin the naquadah generators to replace the ones they currently use on their ships. Now, what Elizabeth has drawn are the schematics for a third-generation device. However, I want them to be able to understand and maintain whatever we give them at their current level of technology—make improvements as their understanding grows. B'Elanna, do you think you can reverse engineer a generator that would set them at the starting point of this technology? I suspect that even a first-generation device will take enough strain off their warp cores that most of their ships would probably be able to maintain warp 7.5 easily as their new sustainable warp velocity and be able to push warp 8.75 or even warp 9 in a crunch situation."

"Give me a few hours, captain," B'Elanna replies excitedly, looking down at the schematics again. "And can you spare Vorik, Nicolletti, Gilmore and our Mr. Kim?"

"Take whatever personnel you need, B'Elanna—this is priority."

"Then I think I can have a working model for you within forty-eight hours."

"I would also like to be on your team, commander," Annika says.

"Not in your condition you're not," B'Elanna retorts. As the pregnant young woman opens her mouth to protest, she relents. "You can help with the design, but that's it. Meet us in holo lab one and we'll go from there." Without waiting for Annika's reply, she turns back to Janeway. "Actually captain, I think that we can accomplish something similar on Voyager with the third-generation device—it would alleviate a lot of our energy supply problems," she says excitedly as she considers the ramifications of the technology.

Kathryn laughs. "I knew you'd be able to see the possibilities, B'Elanna," she replies, eyes twinkling. "The same thought occurred to me—good to see you're on the same page. Have a proposal to me by the end of the week."

"Yes captain," B'Elanna replies breathlessly, eager to leave.

"Actually, before we break this up, there are a couple of other things about her universe that Elizabeth would like to acquaint us with," Janeway continues and B'Elanna has no choice but to settle back into her chair.

"May I have my book back?" Weir asks and B'Elanna reluctantly hands it over to her. "Don't worry; Kathryn has already copied the schematics into Voyager's computer."

B'Elanna nods as Elizabeth quickly leafs through the book, obviously searching for a page close to the beginning.

"Although naquadah is a Goa'uld word," she says, "our first experience with the substance itself was in 1928, in the form of a giant ring made of a mineral not found on Earth and buried for thousands of years beneath the sands of Giza, Egypt not far from the Great Pyramid. Eventually we came to understand that it was some sort of ancient device, but didn't know how to make it work until 1996, when an archaeologist named Dr. Daniel Jackson deciphered the symbols that allowed the dialling of a specific combination—and if you think I'm surprising because I know twenty languages, well at last count, Daniel knew thirty-five and counting."

Holding the book open so they can all see the circular device, divided into equal segments by nine chevrons, she continues. "The device was called the Stargate and it was used to create a stable wormhole connection to other Stargates on other planets—"

Part 4

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