'Hope?' Commander Chakotay barked into the Besarian comm system.
'B'Elanna, did I hear right? Did you say that you 'hope' the power
converters don't blow up in your face? How can that be? I thought we had
them stabilized as of 0700 hours?'
Although he couldn't be certain, Chakotay suspected that his voice
reception on the other end, deep in the subterranean Generatrix, far beneath
the surface of the planet Besaria, was garbled at best. He assumed that the
now-seemingly routine communications break-up had returned.
'These problems are becoming all too common,' he worried, realizing that
he was now experiencing the same transmission 'crackling' on this end that he
had fixed over an hour ago. 'Damn the white noise anyway,' he muttered.
When it came to Twelfth Power Energy distribution, he wasn't certain as to
all of the hows, ifs, or whys, but it was his opinion that the Besarian
Science Complex was experiencing extreme technical difficulty, mounting in
increasing severity as the days passed.
There came no reply.
'B'Elanna, do you read?'
'Barely < crack crack > -ander,' came the response through the buzzing
Grimacing, he quickly adjusted the unit's frequency modulator. The
speaker whined in protest, and he lowered the volume. 'Is that better?' he
'Somewhat,' she replied. 'I'm not convinced ... < crack crack > ...
'I'M NOT CONVINCED THAT < crack crack > -'S GOING TO GET ANY BETTER!'
Despite the frustration, he smiled. 'Now THAT I heard.'
'THEN I GUESS I'LL HAVE TO KEEP SHOUTING!'
'How can all these systems be offline again?' he questioned his chief
engineer. 'I thought we had established an online lockdown?'
'I know,' she muttered her reply. Then, the remainder of her explanation
blended amongst the crackling, popping, and gurgling of radio static.
'Say again, lieutenant?'
'I KNOW, COMMANDER! I KNOW!'
'Any theories, B'Elanna?'
'IT'S LIKE THE SYSTEMS ARE JUST TEMPERAMENTALLY FALLING APART ON US!'
'I thought you had the custodial mainframe reconfigured to Voyager
specifications,' he tried.
On the other end of the weakening comm signal, B'Elanna Torres shouted,
'I THOUGHT SO TOO, COMMANDER! BUT ... EVERYTHING JUST CRASHED! AGAIN! FOR
THE FOURTH TIME TODAY!'
'Oh, my,' Chakotay heard from behind. Quickly, he turned to find Neelix
walking up from the corridor. 'Hello, Commander,' the Talaxian offered.
'SAY AGAIN, CHAKOTAY!'
'What's B'Elanna yelling about?' Neelix asked.
'It's the comm system,' the commander explained.
'I REPEAT ... SAY AGAIN!'
'Standby a minute, B'Elanna!' Chakotay shouted into the mouthpiece.
'What seems to be the problem, commander?' pried the Talaxian.
'Cascading systems failures,' the first officer explained.
'WHAT?!' B'Elanna snapped.
'HE SAID THAT YOU'RE EXPERIENCING CASCADING SYSTEMS FAILURES!' Neelix
offered, leaning over, delivering his cry into the unit.
'CHAKOTAY?' she shouted in reply. 'WHAT'S HAPPENED TO YOUR VOICE?'
'STANDBY, LIEUTENANT!' Chakotay belted into the microphone.
'DON'T YELL AT ME!'
'I'm terribly sorry, commander,' Neelix apologized. 'I was only trying
Frustration bubbling within, the first officer held up his hand. 'It's
not your fault, Neelix. It's this damn energy processing system. Frankly, I
don't know how the One did it. I can't even begin to imagine how he kept all
of these inter-linked power systems functioning all of the time. He must've
possessed either some grand secret or the ability to work magic.'
Shrugging slowly, Chakotay forced the tension he felt in his shoulders to
flow down his arms and out of his body through his fingertips, a trick passed
down from his tribal ancestors. The technique, while ancient by Earth
standards, still worked today.
'Neelix, what are you doing here?' he changed the subject. 'I thought
Captain Janeway assigned you to food collection detail.'
'You're absolutely correct,' the Talaxian replied, 'and that brings me to
why I'm here. These Trakill are generous beyond compare! I've so much stock
prepared for transport to Voyager that I was hoping you could spare a few
extra hands to assist in parceling some of the Gallush fruit. Fresh pickings
from the trees, commander! Warm and juicy! I can't wait to get it in my
Smiling at his shipmate's enthusiasm, Chakotay surrendered. 'Need a
couple of strong backs, do you?'
'Only if you have them to spare, commander.'
'CHAKOTAY, CAN WE PLEASE GET THIS OVER WITH! IT'S HOTTER THAN KLINGON
HELL DOWN HERE!' B'Elanna's voice came to life over the speaker.
'B'Elanna,' Chakotay tried, 'how can we be experiencing these multiple
system failures? We're watching system after unrelated system almost
methodically shutting down and powering back up as if under their own free
will! From what we've been able to learn from the Generatrix engineers who
stayed behind, there's no logical explanation for the core energizers to
behave this way, so I need you to come up with an answer to that question for
'SAY AGAIN, COMMANDER!' he heard. 'YOUR TRANSMISSION IS FRACTURING ALL
OVER THE PLACE!'
The first officer sighed heavily, losing himself briefly to the silence
between the three of them. Then, Chakotay heard the familiar voice of good
old Morale Officer Neelix.
'Easy, commander. B'Elanna knows her job. It's this quilted alien
technology that makes no sense to any of us.'
'How right you are, my Talaxian friend.'
'CHAKOTAY, IF YOU CAN HEAR ME, AND I SURE HOPE THAT YOU CAN BECAUSE I'M
STARTING TO LOSE MY VOICE ... I HAVEN'T THE SLIGHTEST CLUE AS TO WHAT'S
CAUSING THESE SYSTEM COLLAPSES!' B'Elanna admitted. 'IT SEEMS AS IF ONCE I
GET A PRIMARY SYSTEM STABILIZED, THE RELATED JUNCTIONS FAIL! I'M OF THE
OPINION THAT THESE SECONDARY FAILURES ARE CAUSING SOME TYPE OF INTEGRATED
FEEDBACK LOOP! IT'S ALMOST AS IF THAT'S HOW THE SYSTEM WAS DESIGNED! LET ME
DO THIS! LET ME RESET ALL INITIAL SYSTEMS ONE MORE TIME! THIS'LL BE THE
LAST TIME! I'LL HAVE TO GET BACK TO THE MASTER CONTROL PROCESSORS! IF YOU
HAVE SOMEONE YOU CAN SPARE, I COULD USE SOME ADDITIONAL TRICORDERS! I'LL
HAVE MY CREW FAN OUT TO DETERMINE WHICH JUNCTIONS ARE DESTABILIZING, AND
WE'LL INSTALL OUR OWN MAKESHIFT BYPASS SYSTEMS! THEN, LET ME RUN A FEW MORE
DIAGNOSTICS! I'LL GET BACK TO YOU WITH A MORE DETAILED EXPLANATION THEN!'
'Understood,' Chakotay replied.
Interrupting, Neelix tried, 'Commander, your hands are full.'
'Yes,' he said, 'and B'Elanna's got a strong pair of lungs.' The first
officer considered his shipmate for a moment. 'Neelix, I'll make you a deal.'
'I'm listening, Commander.'
Pointing to a nearby aluminum container, Chakotay bargained, 'You see
that container? It's filled with tricorders and B'Elanna's personal
engineering whatnots. If you'll deliver that to Generatrix Sub-Level Nine,
I'll return the favor and pull Heidhuz and O'Neill off science detail long
enough to get your food stores packaged and transported up to Voyager. What
do you say?'
Smiling, the Talaxian agreed, 'On my way, commander!' With that, he
quickly snatched up the meter-long container and headed down the main
corridor of the Besarian Sciences Complex. More to himself than anyone in
particular, he added, 'Let's just hope I can find my way through these
tunnels this time.'
'Don't worry about that, my Talaxian friend,' Chakotay thought to
himself. 'Losing you would hardly be the worst thing to go wrong today.'