FEDERATION'S END II: THE WITCHING HOUR
by E. L. Zimmerman
'Just for the record,' the Doctor began, 'I will say that this particular
scenario was perhaps the absolute last medical emergency I was anticipating
when I beamed down, captain.'
The two of them, along with Neelix, B'Elanna, Chakotay, and several other
crewmembers, stood in a brightly-lit corridor deep within the Besarian
Generatrix. The Trakill had forsaken the subterranean levels of the One's
compound, a decision that made the work of the Voyager crew to harness
Twelfth Power Energy for their own unique need only that much easier to
accomplish. Captain Janeway had been down here only once, during their first
organizational meeting, to direct the crew's efforts. At that time, she had
delegated the responsibility of dismantling and disengaging all related
Twelfth Power planetary systems to Commander Chakotay.
The Besarian Science Compound was massive. Its three aboveground stories
primarily housed monitoring centers for the One's security and defensive
systems, while its ninety subterranean levels contained the Generatrix, the
sprawling machine network that provided the One with the power source to
propogate his madness. At the last senior officers' briefing, Chakotay went
to great lengths to demonstrate that, in the past three weeks, the
dismantling team he commanded had made little progress in understanding let
alone deactivating all of the One's secret mechanisms and clandestine devices.
For the moment, Kathryn Janeway mused, she was only concerned with a
single device. Entranced, she and her group closely studied a ceiling-high
glass viewport and what lay behind.
Nodding, Captain Janeway crossed her arms. 'Yes, Doctor,' she said.
'I'm afraid I'd have to agree with you.'
'Frankly,' he continued, 'I'm at a loss for words.'
Still nodding, Janeway added, 'At least this explains the One's seemingly
inexhaustible supply of Borg. Think of it. We're light years from Borg
space. How was he able to maintain a constant supply of drones? Under the
circumstances, I can understand how we overlooked it, but one might assume
that the question of where he was getting all of his henchman would've
occurred to one of us!'
Humbly, Chakotay offered, 'We were too busy fighting for our own
'Or ... some of us were just busy fighting,' B'Elanna said, sounding
guilty and remorseful at the same time.
Collectively, the group turned away from the viewport, and they looked at
'Well, Mr. Neelix,' Janeway began, a slow smile cracking across her face,
'what do you have to say for yourself?'
'Captain?' Neelix replied defensively.
She held up her hand, commanding silence. Then, she pointed at the
viewport, asking, 'Explain this to me again?'
'I can't!' he insisted. 'Captain, all I did was step through the chamber
in the adjoining room! I told you! It's where I thought B'Elanna and her
crew were working, and ... lo and behold ... this happened!'
Neelix gestured at the glass.
Behind the glass stood another Neelix.
Holding back her laughter, Captain Janeway looked into the massive
chamber and guessed she was peering at Neelix 'ad infinitum.'
'Remarkable,' the Doctor remarked, holding up his medical tricorder.
'There must be hundreds of them.'
'Thank goodness the door is sealed,' B'Elanna said.
No longer able to contain themselves, the group, except Neelix, burst
with spontaneous laughter. The Tallaxian glared at the half-Klingon,
'I'm sorry, Neelix,' she admitted, laughing, holding up her hands in the
universal gesture of surrender, 'but I couldn't help myself!'
As the laughter gradually subsided, the Doctor continued, 'Captain, these
Neelix are not exactly unique in and of themselves. They share traits in
common with one another, but, based on these tricorder readings, they can
only be compared to our Mr. Neelix in the matter of appearance. Undoubtedly,
Commander Maddux of the Daystrom Institute would love to get his hands on
just one of these.'
'Which one?' Neelix asked.
'Any Neelix will do,' the Doctor replied. 'For lack of a better
scientific explanation, they're all ... replicated.'
'With one caveat,' he added.
'Yes?' she asked.
'None of them are, in fact, Tallaxian,' the Doctor concluded. 'I've
scanned the entire room, and there isn't a component of Tallaxian DNA present
in there. Rather, each of these Neelix is little more than a fascinatingly
complex mechanical composite of the Voyager's chief morale officer.'
'Machines?' she asked.
'Precisely,' he answered.
'I've always wanted a brother,' Neelix said.
'Well, now you can have your pick,' the Doctor remarked.
Commander Chakotay stepped forward. 'Wait a minute, Doctor,' he began.
'Are you saying that those ... those Neelix are only automatons?'
'In short, yes,' the Doctor answered. 'They are nothing more than
incredibly complex biocircuitry fitted into synthetic tissues matching in
appearance those of our Mr. Neelix. Those robots have infinitesimal neural
processors, the likes of which I've never seen. They've been designed as
exact duplicates, nearly down to the genetic level.'
'What about Starfleet's Commander Data?' Chakotay asked. 'Could what
we're looking at be the end result somehow of Dr. Noonien Soong's work? What
I mean is ... who knows where the One pirated all of this technology?
Perhaps he accessed this ChannelSpace we keep hearing about, at some point,
and visited the Alpha Quadrant.'
The Doctor shrugged. 'While I haven't met Commander Data myself,' the
Doctor continued, 'I have available to me a complete summary of his
schematics, both those of Dr. Soong and the periodic modifications performed
over the years.'
'Adjustments enacted by the commander himself, Lieutenant Commander
Geordi LaForge, and Dr. Beverly Crusher, all of the USS Enterprise,' the
Doctor explained. 'The changes were all minor. One might even consider them
nothing more than routine maintenance. However, it is my professional
opinion that these replicated Tallaxians would put even Commander Data's
positronic brain to shame.'
'What is the plural of Neelix, anyway?' B'Elanna asked. 'Neeli?'
Stifling a laugh, Captain Janeway offered, 'This is no time for jokes,
'Well, captain, you were saying you wanted to increase morale around the
ship,' Chakotay chimed.
'That's enough, commander,' Janeway said, again stifling a laugh.
Neelix asked, 'What are we going to do with all of them?'
'Absolutely nothing,' she replied. 'Doctor, I'd like you to create some
foolproof means of identifying our Neelix from those, should they get out of
'There wouldn't be any possibility of that, captain,' the Doctor
explained. 'Those are machines. We have the living, breathing original.'
'Nonetheless,' she pressed, 'I'd like you to outfit Neelix with some kind
of ... I don't know ... perhaps a kind of isolinear tag. That way, should
these Tallaxians somehow get loose from their pen, we'll be able to simply
get a sensor lock onto our morale officer and beam him out immediately.'
One of the Neelix knocked on the glass, startling the group of Voyager
'Are we getting out of here soon, captain?'
Stunned, she pointed at the window.
'Did you hear that?' she asked. 'It recognized me.'
'Captain?' B'Elanna asked. 'Did it just call you 'captain,' captain?'
'No, no,' Neelix tried. 'He isn't an 'it.' He's a Tallaxian. Like me.'
'On the contrary, Mr. Neelix, those machines are anything but Tallaxian,'
the Doctor counseled. 'They're nothing more than incredibly complex
mechanical composites of what you are.' The Doctor turned to the captain.
'It would be safe to assume that, as they appear as near a facsimile as is
scientifically possible, perhaps the level of duplication reaches down into
to Mr. Neelix's memory patterns. If that were the case, then each of them
would have the memory of our Mr. Neelix.'
'You don't suppose ...' B'Elanna began, and then her voice trailed off.
Janeway turned to her chief engineer. 'What is it, B'Elanna?'
'Captain, I just had a frightening thought.' She looked around at her
Voyager counterparts. 'You don't suppose ... you don't suppose that the One
tried to ... replicate himself, do you?'
Another Neelix rapped on the window.
'Captain?' it asked.
'Just one second, Mr. Neelix,' the captain replied.
Commander Chakotay stepped forward, and he took the authentic Tallaxian
by the arm. 'Neelix, you'd better walk us through what happened.'
The adjoining oval room, about the size of the Voyager's conference room,
held walls lined with blue-lighted power cables and blinking junction boxes.
The machinery extended even along the ceiling. Inside the main entrance
stood the room's only command console, which B'Elanna and Chakotay
immediately approached. At the far end of the oval, there appeared an arch,
the beginning of a small corridor. It looked as if it were the start of
another access port, perhaps leading into the next chamber. The arch and the
small hallway were outlined with hand-sized silver globes peppered with small
black nodules. Black cabling led away from each nodule, disappearing into
the room's mechanical walls.
'There,' Neelix said, pointing excitedly at the arch. 'I entered this
room, just like we did now. I noticed that arch. I thought that perhaps it
was a hallway that lead into the next room, where I thought B'Elanna and her
team might be working. I stepped under the arch, and I, of course, realized
right away that I had been mistaken. There was no exit at the opposite end.
No exit and no door. So, I turned around, but my entrance must've activated
the contraption. Those globes? They started flashing, and those tiny black
nodules started turning. I didn't know what was happening! The last thing I
heard was some massive mechanical gurgling noise.'
'I can confirm the sound, captain,' B'Elanna interrupted. 'That's what
brought me and my team running. With all of these system failures we've been
experiencing, I assumed that some equipment somewhere down here was about to
explode. We wanted to ensure that the area was clear for safety reasons.'
'So,' Neelix continued, 'I left the room in an awful hurry. I started
back down the main hallway, just outside, and that's when I saw them.'
'Your replicants?' Janeway asked.
'Yes,' he agreed. 'Only there weren't as many, at first. I quickly
closed the hatch, electronically sealing them in there.' He tilted his head
slightly. 'I hope they're not upset with me. You don't suppose that chamber
is pressurized, in any way? They're not going to die from a lack of oxygen,
She hadn't considered the thought. 'B'Elanna? Chakotay? You know these
systems and this environment better than anyone else. What do you think?
Are those ... those Neelix in any danger?'
'The Generatrix doesn't appear to have any isolated chambers, captain,'
Chakotay replied. 'As a matter of fact, everything down appear appears
linked in every way. That's why we're struggling with these fluctuating
power levels. One system fails, and, by the time we have it back up, the
initial failure has caused another systems failure.'
'Captain, over here,' B'Elanna said. 'I believe I've located the
activation circuitry. With all of these systems powering up and down, it's
no wonder that Neelix was replicated.' She tapped a few keys on the console.
'Based on what I'm assuming to be a time index, Neelix happened to be
standing at the right place at the right time when a power surge activated
the replication system.' Without warning, the console chirped. 'Hang on one
second, captain. Granted, this technology is alien to us, but consoles are
designed, as you know, on principles with minor degrees of variance from
species to species. I believe I've found the replicator's logbook.'
Captain Janeway turned and stared at the arch for several moments.
'Here's a thought. You don't suppose all of these system problems could be
the end result of some replicated saboteurs, do you?'
'While not out of the question, it would be unlikely, captain,' B'Elanna
explained, still busily tapping keys on the console before her. 'I'll
produce a prognosis once we achieve Generatrix control.'
'How long might that be?' the captain asked.
Chakotay piped in. 'The central control room is online now. It's just
that these little hiccups of power surges and drains are throwing our data
out of alignment.'
'Here it is,' B'Elanna finally announced. 'The replicator's entry logs.'
She glanced up from the console. 'Doctor, perhaps you should look at this.
I'm no expert when it comes to Tallaxian DNA.'
The Doctor rounded the console and stepped between B'Elanna and Chakotay.
Reaching down, he tapped a few keys. 'Ingenious,' he admired.
'Doctor, if you please,' Janeway said.
'Yes, captain,' he replied. 'The last coded DNA sequence is Tallaxian,
meaning it belongs to our morale officer over there.'
'Are there any other log entries?' Janeway asked.
'There are,' he answered. 'Thirty-four, to be exact. However, I'd have
to perform a massive research project to obtain samples of the DNA related to
the species that the One held in captivity here, captain. Given the fact
that most of the once-indigenous races have run off to enjoy their freedom, I
think that's out of the question. However, at a glance, I'm comfortable
stating that there is nothing here that appears out of the norm.'
'Doctor, this entire affair has been far from status quo,' she corrected.
'Understood and agreed,' he complied. 'I was speaking to the fundamental
similarities of the DNA patterns encoded in this log. If we accept the
premise that many of the species of the Delta Quadrant possess similar DNA
patterns, much like the various races of the Alpha Quadrant do, then I'm
comfortable concluding that it is my belief that the One never attempted to
replicate himself. At least, not with this device. Why would he, after all?
He probably wouldn't trust his other self, if he did.'
'That's a very good point,' Janeway said. 'Then we'll consider this case
closed. Those Neelix are to remain under lock and key until further notice.
Who knows? Maybe we can find some way to un-replicate them. No insult
intended to our present crewmate. And Doctor? Get Neelix tagged. In the
meantime, how close are we to having full Generatrix control?'
B'Elanna shrugged. 'Commander?'
Chakotay took his turn at shrugging. 'By this evening, captain, so long
as we encounter no major setbacks.'
In unison, the group turned toward the entryway, where a second Neelix
stood in the open doorway.
'Uh oh,' B'Elanna said.
Janeway asked, 'How did you get out?'
'Get out?' the surprised replicant asked. 'What are you talking about?
Get out of where?'
'How did you leave the chamber where you were sealed?'
'Chamber?' the Neelix2 asked. 'Sealed? Captain, what are you talking
'He has my memory, captain,' Neelix reminded. 'Let me try.'
Cautiosly, Neelix walked over to where his twin stood.
'Greetings, fellow Tallaxian.'
Neelix2 looked from Neelix to the others.
'What ... is this?'
'I'm afraid,' Neelix began, 'uh, I'm not quite sure how to put this. But
... you're not real.'
'No,' Neelix answered. 'You're a machine.' Neelix smiled. 'The Doctor
has paid you a compliment in adding that you're an incredibly complex one, at
that. No doubt, you're an incredibly charismatic one, as well. But, in
short, you're still a machine.'
Neelix2 slumped his shoulders. 'I am?'
'How did you get out of the reproduction chamber?'
'I didn't,' he answered. 'The last thing I remember was coming down
here, bringing the tricorders to B'Elanna.'
'No, no, no,' Neelix tried. 'That was me. That's my memory.'
'Yes,' Neelix tried, 'but, please, go on.'
'Well,' Neelix2 said, 'I remember coming down here. I was carrying the
receptacle full of tricorders that Commander Chakotay had given me.'
Pointing, he added, 'Well, there he is! Hello, commander!' Neelix2 waved.
'Then, I remember walking into this room and standing there.' He pointed at
'Captain,' B'Elanna interrupted, 'the arch must produce the first
reproduction.' She plunked some keys on the console. 'Neelix left the room
as soon as he heard the noises, so he probably wasn't around when this first
duplicate was complete. Having the first duplicate manufactured here is
probably a quality control mechanism, ensuring that the first duplicate is
fully functional. My guess would be that so long as the operator records no
failures to the system, then the reproduction chamber out there replicates
She paused and read a small display screen. 'Oh, my.'
'What is it, B'Elanna?' the captain asked.
'The chamber ... out there ... replicates 82 units every ... well ...
approximately every seventeen minutes,' the chief engineer concluded.
'How many cycles did the chamber go through?' Janeway asked.
Again, B'Elanna tapped several console buttons. 'It would appear ...
four cycles, captain.'
'Four?' Janeway asked. 'You mean ... that room has over three hundred
copies of Mr. Neelix?'
'I'm afraid so,' B'Elanna said.
'I beg your pardon?' Neelix and Neelix2 said simultaneously, both
'No insult intended,' B'Elanna replied. 'That room has over three
hundred copies of Mr. Neelix.'
'What did you mean by that, lieutenant?' Neelix asked.
'Easy, Neelix,' the captain counseled. 'Just take it easy.'
'But, captain, that's me in there!' he protested.
'They're not you, Neelix,' Chakotay explained. 'They're replicas of you.
Living and breathing, granted. We're not arguing that. But ... they're
doing so as the result of programming.'
'Does that make them any less real?' Neelix pried.
Chakotay sighed heavily. 'That's a question for scholars and academics
from here to the Alpha Quadrant,' he finally said. 'But you're the only
Tallaxian serving admirably under our command. Don't you forget it.'
Calmly, Neelix shrugged. He glanced at the other version of himself. 'I
could use a spare set of hands in the galley.'
Janeway stared at her morale officer coldly. 'Don't even joke.'
Neelix frowned. 'My apologies, captain.'
'Captain?' Neelix2 asked.
'Doctor, please,' she said, gesturing toward Neelix2. 'Take Mr. Neelix
... that other Mr. Neelix out of here.'
'Please,' Neelix2 begged, backing away, 'don't put me with the others!'
He quickly found himself pressed up again the wall, his face contorted with
desperation. 'They are too many of them! I can't go in there! I just
'I'm sorry,' Janeway offered, calmly. 'We don't have any other choice.'
'Please,' Neelix2 tried, slowly dropping to his knees before the group.
'I'm begging you. I understand that I'm not a part of this crew any longer
... a crew that's it has been my life's honor to serve alongside. I
understand that I don't report to you, captain. But ... please. I can't go
in that champber. I just can't.'
Janeway stared at Neelix2, torn between the realization that he was
nothing more than a machine but his words - the emotion, the pride, the plea
- it all sounded so real.
'Captain,' Chakotay tried, 'I have an idea.'
She turned to her next-in-command and friend. 'Please, for all of our
sakes, I hope it's a good one.'
Shuffling his feet momentarily, Chakotay slowly smiled. 'Well, the
Trakill have granted Mr. Neelix complete access to Besaria's food stores,' he
reasoned, 'and you've confined him to the ship. There's no question as to
whether or not we need that food.' He paused, and then he stood firm.
'Captain, how would you feel ... what say we transport our Mr. Neelix back up
to the Voyager, and I'll take this other Mr. Neelix under my command and have
him finish his work here on the planet?'
She dropped her head slightly. She couldn't believe she was honestly
considering it. Slowly, she walked near enough to Chakotay to whisper, 'You
know, as well as I do, the dangers of ... getting attached.'
Idly, Chakotay smiled. 'I'll take the risk, captain.'
Still whispering, she added, 'You do understand, Chakotay, that we don't
have room for another Mr. Neelix onboard Voyager.'
He nodded. 'Understood completely.'
Suddenly, the room hummed to life.
'What was that?' Janeway asked.
The console humming, B'Elanna immediately went to work, tapping the keys
and scanning the instrumentation. 'Uh, captain,' she began, 'the Generatrix
just replicated another 82 Mr. Neelixes.'
'Shut that thing off!' Janeway ordered.
'Aye, captain. It'll take me some time to figure out the power source
for the disconnect, but I'll get it done.'
'Don't worry,' Neelix told Neelix2, helping the duplicated Tallaxian to
his feet once more. 'Commander Chakotay will take good care of you.'
Perturbed, Janeway snapped, 'Doctor, will you please see Mr. Neelix back
'On our way,' the Doctor said, abandoning the replications console.
Walking briskly, he took the real Mr. Neelix by the elbow and tugged him
through the open doorway.
'Be sure to get plenty of Gallush!' Neelix advised as he was virtually
dragged down the hallway.
Turning to Chakotay, Captain Janeway whispered, 'Please tell me ... what
more can go wrong in one day?'