Paul Gadzikowski


No Lesser Evil

Chapter 4
          Captain's log, supplemental: The Dalek invasion of
     Borg space during our journey through it has forced us to be
     even more circumspect to escape notice. The warp core is still
     infused with Borg technology, and offline; and as long as it
     is, we'll be left to sneak from hiding place to hiding place
     on impulse drive.

     "Here we are," said Paris, "and here's our next stop."
     Paris pointed first to a tactical representation of the gas giant
in whose magnetic field blind spot the Voyager was presently hiding,
and next to the other end of the bridge main viewscreen at a schematic
of an asteroid field.
     "What's that large blobby thing in between?" asked the Doctor,
pointing to a nebulous patch of violet on the viewscreen between the two
spots Paris had highlighted. One thing about having the Time Lord around,
Janeway reflected, was it kept everyone on their toes. Not that everyone
else on the bridge won't have been wondering the same thing.
     "That," said Paris, "is a Carey's nebula approximately seventeen
A.U.'s in diameter."
     Janeway noticed that Kim didn't have the grim look everyone else
was sharing. "How long will it take us to get around it?" she asked.
     "Day and a half, give or take a few hours," said Paris.
     "What's the tactical situation around the nebula?" 
     "Long range sensors," reported Tuvok, "show sporadic hostile
engagements between Borg and Daleks along the boundaries of this side of
the nebula."
     "So chances are," Chakotay observed, "we'd have to swing even
farther around the nebula, to avoid getting caught between them."
     Paris nodded. "My estimate takes that into account; the
uninterrupted trip around the nebula would only have been most of a day.
But the asteroid field is the best option for our next hiding place for
light years around - even with the dodging we'll have to do while we're
there - because of the further options I've plotted beyond it." 
     "Why go around?" Kim finally asked. "Nebulae are perfect cloaks
against tracking sensors. What's different about a Carey's nebula?"
     Having noted his expression, Janeway was prepared for Kim's
ignorance of what was a recent-enough discovery not to have been covered
by Kim's academy classes. "Intense tri-mesonic radiation, Harry. The
merest contact with the tri-mesonic field could degrade the ship's hull
in seconds, or vaporize organic matter instantly, and energy fields like
our shields are no good against it."
     "It's not commonly known in the Alpha Quadrant yet," said the
Doctor suddenly, "but it's possible to avoid the tri-mesons in a Carey's
     At their first meeting the Doctor had refused Janeway his assistance
in returning Voyager to the Alpha Quadrant. Despite the time-traveler's
self-appointed quest to offer aid to the unfortunate throughout time and
space in defiance of his own people, there were still some laws of the
Time Lords and/or of History that he wouldn't willingly transgress; and
using Gallifreyan technology to get Voyager home was such a transgression,
in a way the Doctor declined to discuss.
     But now their isolation was working to their advantage, in their
dealings with the Doctor. Apparently he was offering them this tidbit
because he knew it wouldn't get back to the Alpha Quadrant too soon for
history. Janeway tried not to believe that meant Voyager was still
decades - if not forever - from their goal. Why couldn't he have just
left it at It wasn't commonly known before Voyager left the Alpha
     "Tri-mesonic radiation, at that level of intensity," continued the
Doctor, "can and frequently does cancel itself out, like waves on
water's surface from two different sources - leaving a network of safe
passageways running through the nebula like the veins in a piece of
marble." He jumped from the seat at Janeway's right and walked up to the
main screen, pointing to the purple blob on Paris' plot. "In a nebula
this size, the veins will be large enough for Voyager to pass."
     Paris was sitting up straighter now. "Okaaay - how do we find these 
veins, when sensors are so disrupted?"
     "Well, we'll have to go up to the nebula and look," said the Doctor, 
"but the openings on its surface should be fairly common, and you should
be able to spot them at a greater range than the Borg or Daleks can spot
you while you're on impulse."
     Paris looked over at Janeway. "Sounds like a plan."
     "Do it. Best speed to the nebula. Maintain red alert."

     "Are we going to name it?" Paris asked.
     After their first eighteen months in the Delta Quadrant, the novelty
of naming every new astronomical body after themselves had worn thin with
the crewmembers of Voyager. Nowadays they reserved it for the impressive
ones. The amorphous violet cloud that now filled the main viewscreen
certainly qualified.
     "I suggest," said the Doctor with casual innocence, still on his
feet and passing the time by idly surveying the bridge stations one by
one, "that you name it after your ops officer."
     After a moment Tuvok said, with that uniquely Vulcan dryness,
"Harry's Carey's Nebula?"
     Embarrassed that the Vulcan among them had picked up on it first,
the bridge crew raised no objection.
     Janeway nodded. "In return for your service to us, Doctor. Harry,
log it."
     The Doctor grinned.  Kim was less enthusiastic.

     "How much longer, Tom?" Janeway asked, peering into the violet haze
on the screen.
     They had been journeying through the safety veins of the nebula for 
seven hours. Kim plotted them and would call out "Right," or "Up," or
whatever appropriate whenever Paris came to a fork. Despite the limited
sensor range imposed by conditions in the nebula, Kim had sent them down
very few dead ends.
     "By my plot we're about nine-tenths the way through," Paris answered 
Janeway. "If Harry can keep us on a relatively direct route, we'll get to
the asteroid field a full day earlier than if we'd gone around the nebula
and the fighting."
     "As I said," said the Doctor, back in the seat to Janeway's right,
"plenty of room for Voyager."
     "And rarely enough for a Borg cube," Chakotay said. Janeway had
noticed that too.
     "Captain," said Kim with sudden urgency, "I'm reading another ship. 
Ahead of us, coming toward us through the safety zones." He looked up.
"It's a Dalek ship."
     "Well, at least we know this is the way out," observed the Doctor as
the Starfleet officers snapped to full alertness.
     "It is a small one-man pod," Tuvok announced. "No armament or
hyperlight capability. One life form aboard, in no obvious distress
though the pod does show battle damage and appears to be proceeding at
top speed."
     "Any idea yet how far it really is to the nebula boundary, or what's 
waiting for us when we get there?" Janeway asked.
     "Still too much sensor distortion from the nebula," said Kim. Then
he looked down in surprise as his console chirped. "Captain, the Dalek is 
hailing. It's a distress call!"
     "Open a channel."
     "Captain!" The Doctor looked as if she'd told him the law of gravity
had been disproven. Chakotay looked slightly less displeased.
     "I can't ignore a distress call, Doctor, whoever it's from."
     "Still - a Dalek?"
     "Well, I don't intend to be foolish about it ..."
     "Channel open," Kim said.
     "This is Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation starship
Voyager, responding to your distress signal."
Dalek over the bridge speakers.
     "Very well. Prepare a list of parts and supplies you require that
we may assemble and load into your ship in not more than ten minutes. You
may land in our shuttle bay, and give your list to the crewmen who will
meet you. You must lift off again in ten minutes."
     "My terms are non-negotiable, and there's one more. You'll disarm 
yourself before you leave your vessel."
     The Dalek paused before speaking this time. "AGREED."
     "Janeway out." She watched for Kim's nod that the contact was
broken. "Satisfied, Doctor?"
     "If you'd like me satisfied," said the Doctor earnestly, "let me
stand with the detail."
     "All right. Tuvok, you're in charge; take the Doctor with you."
     "Aye captain."
     Despite Tuvok's station's proximity to the turbolift the Doctor
beat him into it. "Oh, and captain," said the Time Lord just before the
lift doors shut, "watch out."
     Janeway knew what he meant. Part of the reason she'd sent the Doctor
to meet the Dalek was because she knew he'd pump it for information.
     It had been running from something. Janeway needed to know what.


Email Paul

Chapter 5


Back to Paul's index.