Captain's log, supplemental: We've nearly completed our journey through the tri-meson-free path we're tunneling through the nebula, but we have an unexpected complication - a Dalek in a damaged pod has requested aid. Tuvok and the Doctor have gone to the shuttle bay to oversee the assistance rendered to the Dalek, and hopefully to find the answer to the question on my mind: what was the Dalek running from? When the lift stopped at the shuttle bay deck the Doctor bounded down the corridor, making Tuvok work to keep up with him. The security team Tuvok had alerted was already in the bay when they arrived, one ensign passing phasers out from a locker. Tuvok took one and said, "The Doctor, too." "Oh," said the Doctor, as the ensign's hand dangled the phaser between them, "no thank you, I'll pass." "If you wish to accompany us, I shall insist that you be able to defend yourself." The Dalek escape pod (for that's what the Doctor knew it was) was visible through the selective forcefield that kept the bay pressurized but allowed shuttles to pass - there was no time to argue with Tuvok. "Oh, all right." The Doctor took the gun gingerly with thumb and forefinger. Then, as the ensign grabbed one for himself and joined his fellows, a thought struck the Doctor. "Chekhov's pistol," he murmured. Tuvok alone spared the Doctor a curious look - probably the only one to have heard him. No doubt he was wondering what Kirk's navigation officer had to do with this phaser. The Doctor shifted the phaser into the proper grip in his hand. Before he stepped up into the line watching for the Dalek pod to come in for a landing, he thumbed the phaser from stun to full power. "Something up ahead, Captain," Kim reported. "We're being scanned," he added instantly. "It's a Borg cube," said Chakotay at tactical. "That is, in the sense that the last Borg ship we saw was a cube ... heavily damaged, lots of its mass and power gone." "It looks like," Kim said, "they came barrelling through a narrowing safety zone, past the point that it was too narrow, until they'd suffered so much damage from tri-mesonic radiation contact they just rolled to a stop." "The good news is," said Chakotay, "they're too beat up to beat up any on us." "And the bad news?" Janeway asked. "The bad news is, they're keeping station right in our path - so, whether it's their intention or not, we can't pass." "We have to get them to move," Janeway said. "Hail them." "Hailing," said Kim. "... No response. Their power levels suggest they may not have comm capability any more." Janeway thought a moment. "Janeway to doctor." "This is the doctor." Janeway gave thanks that the computer had connected her to the hologram rather than to the Time Lord, then remembered that the Time Lord wore no commbadge. "Have you removed Seven-of-Nine's neural transceiver?" "No. The alert interrupted the procedure - she's still waiting. However, she will need to be moved back into one of the Borg dormancy alcoves on board soon, because -" "Good. Janeway to Torres. Meet me in sickbay. Out." The Doctor fingered the firing stud on the phaser as the Dalek disembarked from its escape pod. He was surprised that it had acceded to Janeway's demand to disarm. He found a Dalek with no weapon and only the manipulating arm to be strangely unaesthetic. "THESE-ARE-THE-ITEMS-I-REQUIRE," it said in its mechanical screech. It recited the list in thirty seconds of the ten minutes Janeway had alotted it to be aboard; and, cleverly, it demanded nothing that couldn't reasonably be expected to be found right here in the shuttle bay. Tuvok set the security detail to gathering supplies for the Dalek without even wasting a verbal acknowledgement on it. But the Doctor stepped forward - waving the phaser about carelessly - and said chattily, "So what are you doing in these parts?" "YOU-ARE-NOT-A-HUMAN," said the Dalek. The Doctor already knew that. "I don't mean in Borg space generally, I mean you here specifically." "YOU-ARE-THE-DOCTOR,-THE-ENEMY-OF-THE-DALEK-RACE," said the Dalek. The Doctor heard relays closing again and again in its empty gun port. Must be instinctive. "I mean, you must have been pretty desparate, mustn't you, to plunge into a Carey's nebula without knowing the tri-mesonic radiation isn't endemic." "DALEKS-ARE-NOT-DESPARATE," it demanded. "BUT-IT-IS-IMPERATIVE-THAT- I-REJOIN-THE-FLEET,-NOW-THAT-IT-IS-KNOWN-YOU-ARE-HERE." The Doctor noted that the Daleks' main force didn't know he was on Voyager despite the earlier encounter; if this Dalek didn't escape the nebula and the Borg with the information (and the Doctor's timesense suggested it wasn't going to escape both), the Daleks would develop no interest in Voyager while it was in Borg space. The Dalek's comment also told the Doctor that it was no major engagement going on just beyond the nebula boundary (or it'd've been going the other way to attempt to rejoin its fleet) - just this Dalek and one or two Borg pursuing. And the lack of denial that the Dalek had stumbled unknowingly into safety confirmed the Doctor's belief that Daleks in general didn't know of the tri-meson cancellation effect. That was all he needed to know. He placed his finger gently on the phaser's firing stud. Torres was already in sickbay when Janeway arrived, looking as confused as the doctor and Kes. The Time Lord's TARDIS was still here. Janeway wasn't pleased with this reminder of the Doctor's adamant recommendation that Voyager embark on a purely punitive mission against the Borg. "B'Ellana," she asked Torres, "can you reactivate only the neural transceiver, out of the Borg technology in Seven-of-Nine's body? Just temporarily." Torres took a moment to digest the question. "But then they'll know where we are!" Janeway took that as a yes. "They already know. Doctor, is she restrained?" "Why yes," said the doctor, with pointed glances at the security officers stationed in the operating theatre. "Wake her up when B'Ellana's done." Janeway, the doctor and the security officers watched Torres as she worked. Kes watched Janeway. "I wish there was something I could do," she said. It took Torres only a minute, and then the doctor put an injection into the Borg's neck. When she opened her eyes, she didn't say anything - just looked at Janeway, with her customary disdain in place, where any other Borg in Janeway's experience was expressionless. "Move off," said Janeway. "We will not," said Seven-of-Nine with contempt. Will not, not can not; meaning the cube wasn't so disabled as to be immobile. "The collective knows you're here. Borg are already on their way to catch you from behind." Which meant there were none in front, besides of course the disabled cube. "If you don't move off I will have to destroy you. All the individual Borg on that ship will die." "Individuality is irrelevant." Janeway glared at Seven-of-Nine. "Unplug her," she snapped at the doctor and Torres, and left sickbay. "Your supplies are aboard your craft," Tuvok said to the Dalek, startling the Doctor. "You must leave now." The Dalek acknowledged Tuvok no more than he had it, not even arguing that most of its ten minutes were left, as it turned back to its ship. "That was quick," said the Doctor, not meaning to speak aloud. Tuvok glanced at him sharply, but the Doctor only knew that his chance to lessen the number of Daleks in the universe was vanishing. Unbidden from the depths of his memory rose the words in his own voice, Do I have the right? But since he recognized the voice, he knew it was his voice now, not the voice he'd had then. The Dalek moved back into its pod unmolested while the Doctor reset the phaser to stun. As the pod left the shuttle bay the Doctor tossed the phaser back to Tuvok. Janeway marched onto the bridge. "How much firepower will it take?" she growled, glaring at the Borg ship on the screen. Chakotay, still at tactical, exchanged a glance with Kim. "In their condition, one photon torp should do it ..." "On my command." Janeway sat in the command chair, making a point of crossing her legs as usual, as if she were comfortable. Chakotay worked the controls. "Ready." "Fire," Janeway spat. On the screen one photon torpedo shot away form her, impacting the Borg ship slightly to the right and below center of what remained of the cube face toward them. The turbolift doors opened as the first explosions bloomed. Janeway didn't turn at the sound; but Chakotay returned to his seat, so she knew it had been Tuvok and the Doctor returning to the bridge. Just in time to witness the destruction. It took the Borg ship about ninety seconds to finish blowing to pieces. When it had, Janeway said, "Mr. Paris, resume course. Best speed." "Aye captain." Paris, like everyone else on the bridge, seemed to be tiptoeing around Janeway's mood. Well, almost everyone. "Anton Chekhov, the playwright, Tuvok," said the Doctor behind her, apparently continuing a previous conversation. "Said if you put a gun on the mantle in your set description, the audience will expect to see it used." "Indeed," said Tuvok after a moment. Even through her rage and sorrow, Janeway gave the Doctor a questioning look as he moved down in front of the command module. "It was one harmless, blustery, scared, doomed Dalek," said the Doctor. "I couldn't do it." "They wouldn't move," said Janeway. "I had to do it." They shared a reluctant, momentary commiseration. "Well," said the Doctor brightly, abrupt with goodbyes as always, "time I moved on. Be seeing you." He fled the bridge, on the way to the TARDIS. "We're clear of the nebula," Paris announced as the main screen cleared of violet and the stars returned. "Forty-eight minutes to our next safe stop." "Sickbay to captain," came the doctor's voice. "I have successfully removed the Borg's neural transceiver, but there are new developments. I'm having her moved into one of the Borg alcoves aboard; please meet me there." "Very well. Janeway out." She sighed and looked over at Chakotay. "Business as usual has resumed, I suppose." "You think when the Doctor says, 'Be seeing you,' it means he knows he will?" Chakotay said. "Probably," said Janeway, aware that Chakotay meant to cajole her out of her mood, for the crew's sake as well as hers. "He always says that." Janeway nodded as she rose to leave the bridge. "The time he doesn't - maybe we should make him stay." END OF CHAPTER 5
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