STRANGER FROM THE PAST - ACT FIVE
by Darrell Dumas

ACT FIVE

FADE IN:

43 EXT. VOYAGER (OPTICAL)

Still heavily damaged, Voyager cruises slowly through the nebula...

CHAKOTAY'S VOICE
(With misery) Captain's Log, Supplemental: the last entry before this one may be the last one ever entered by Captain Kathryn Janeway... our attempt to destroy the Borg cube failed miserably with the death of our beloved captain.

44 INT. VOYAGER HALLWAYS

Chakotay strolls through the halls with a stride of purpose...

CHAKOTAY'S VOICE
Though I am fairly certain the boy hasn't committed this chain of events on purpose, Seven of Nine and I have concluded that Mark Paxton was the general cause of the situation, and I think it's time I had a talk with him...

Chakotay reaches the door to Paxton's quarters and presses the annunciator... there is no answer... he presses again... still no answer... he presses another button, the doors open, and he walks in...

45 INT. PAXTON'S QUARTERS

Immediately upon walking in, Chakotay's air of miserable determination disappears... Paxton sits on his bed, lights still dimmed to ten percent, clenching the sheets in both hands, looking up at Chakotay with swollen eyes... Before Chakotay can speak, he stands up...

PAXTON
This is because of me, isn't it? I caused this, didn't I?

CHAKOTAY
I'm afraid there's no other logical explanation.

Paxton plops back down onto the bed and buries his face in the sheets...

PAXTON
I can't believe this! I only wanted to go to Earth, and now I've ended up luring my own worst enemy to attack this ship and kill its captain! Why did this have to happen?

Chakotay sits down beside Paxton and pats him awkwardly on the back...

CHAKOTAY
Look, I'm pretty sure you didn't mean it...

Paxton slowly raises his head to glare at Chakotay...

PAXTON
Didn't mean it? (Jumping to his feet) You really think for any reason I would lure the Borg to you guys to turn you into a crew of mindless drones while at the same time ditching my only chance to get where I want to be? (Turning away, embarrassed, grabbing his hair) What am I saying? (Turning to Chakotay) Sir, I apologize for my conduct...

CHAKOTAY
(Firmly) No. I deserve it... I have to admit... I was overly cautious... I spent so much time thinking about the threat you were putting the crew under that I never realized I was being prejudiced... I'm sorry.

PAXTON
(Genuinely shocked) Sir...I...I, er...

CHAKOTAY
You told us your implant wouldn't be of any threat to us. When you told us that, were you aware that your implant was built with Borg devices that emitted traceable Polaron energy on a Borg frequency?

PAXTON
(With firm belief) Sir, I barely knew anything about the parts I used to build it. I certainly didn't expect that the Borg would try to use it to track me down...

CHAKOTAY
It's being used for more than just that... Seven has been analyzing the polaron emission of your implant, and she's concluded that the released energy was actually a Borg data stream containing valuable information from Voyager.

Paxton looks dumbfounded -

PAXTON
You mean... they used me to infiltrate Voyager so they could destroy it?

CHAKOTAY
Yes.

PAXTON
(Jabbering like an immature child) Sir, I-I knew nothing about this. I never knew the Borg would even have the ability to do that....

CHAKOTAY
It makes no difference any longer, Mark. The emission has been suppressed by the supplements the doctor gave you, so currently... you're no longer a threat to us.

Chakotay gives a very faint smile... Paxton sighs with relief -

CHAKOTAY
However, we still are a heavily damaged ship without a captain, under threat by a Borg cube.

The look of misery spreads over Paxton's face again -

PAXTON
That's right... No matter what happened, I killed your captain, and I deserve to be punished...

CHAKOTAY
(With even more authority) You didn't kill her. She knew the risks when she went on the away mission, and was prepared to accept the consequences... It's just... we weren't...

Paxton gives a somewhat sarcastic nod -

CHAKOTAY
The point is, the Borg killed her. You may have brought them here by accident, but it was the Borg that did it, not you... and we think there's a way to bring her back.

PAXTON
(Looking at Chakotay, very surprised) what?... But I... how?

CHAKOTAY
From what we've studied of the captain's body, all her neural energy, every last watt of it, was removed the instant she died. Seven has a theory that the Borg device was designed to bypass the use of body shielding by other beings for protection against assimilation. They can remove the minds of any being they want to, and gain all their thoughts, but they simply won't gain another drone. Seven's theory is that the device was tested on Janeway, and although the attempt succeeded, her neural energy was garbled in the removal, too much for the Borg to allow the data stream into the cube's central plexus to allow her thoughts to become one with the collective. So they're attempting to unscramble it right now.

PAXTON
You mean... They took her mind and stored it in a computer, and now they're going to make her thoughts a part of the collective?

CHAKOTAY
That's what it looks like, from what we can tell. If it's true, they now have Federation tactics, device functions and weapons schematics that Janeway memorized in their database. We can't let the Borg do anything with it, or they would surely be far too superior for the Federation to defeat, even with the nanoviral infection. So Seven is planning to go on an away mission, alone, to try to download the captain's neural interface back into the Voyager computer so we can... reincarnate the captain.

PAXTON
Are... Are you really serious? You can do that?

CHAKOTAY
The process was achieved on me once. It's entirely possible.

PAXTON
Has Seven already left?

CHAKOTAY
She's leaving in a few minutes, as soon as she gets the proper frequency for the dynamic energy transmission. Why?

PAXTON
(Jumping up and hurrying out the door) I want to go with her!

CHAKOTAY
What? Paxton, wait! You can't go with her! That's...

But Paxton doesn't hear him... he has already disappeared through the doors, and Chakotay rushes through to follow him...

46 INT. SICK BAY

The Doctor hands a PADD to Seven of Nine, pointing to it -

DOCTOR
You'll need to transmit the energy on this frequency to Sick Bay. Once you've done that... (Looking over to the pale and stiff body of the Captain, several devices planted across her shoulders and on her forehead) we can attempt the reincarnation process.

SEVEN
Thank you, Doctor.

Seven takes the PADD and walks out of Sick Bay...

47 INT. VOYAGER HALLWAYS

Seven walks out of Sick Bay and strides down the hallway... presently, a figure appears at the end of the hallway behind her and runs toward her...

PAXTON
Seven! Seven, wait for me!

Seven stops and turns around to face him as he runs up to her, out of breath...

SEVEN
Mark Paxton.

PAXTON
(Still panting slightly) I'm going with you.

SEVEN
I beg your pardon?

PAXTON
I said I'm going to go with you.

SEVEN
I'm afraid I can't allow that...

PAXTON
It isn't your authority, Seven. I can help you, and I'm going to help you. I can't survive as a human any longer if I don't pay for what I've done to this crew...

SEVEN
You did nothing on purpose...

PAXTON
Irrelevant!

Seven seems taken aback by the use of her own so commonly used term used so harshly against her -

SEVEN
In what way will you manage to assist me?

PAXTON
My parents were doing studies on the Borg before I was born. They examined all their tactics, their functions, their weaknesses, and after they left, I studied them really hard. I probably know more about the way they think than either you do or they do.

SEVEN
I do not wish to put you in danger...

PAXTON
You aren't putting me in anything! This is my decision!

SEVEN
Do you have permission from Commander Chakotay to participate in the away mission?

PAXTON
(Sighing, as if knowing such would happen) No.

SEVEN
(Tapping her commbadge) Seven of Nine to Commander Chakotay. Mark Paxton is requesting permission to participate in the away mission with me.

CHAKOTAY'S COMM VOICE
Request denied, Seven. We don't want to lose anyone else on any more away missions, and I'm not taking any unnecessary risks...

PAXTON
With all due respect, sir, It won't be an unnecessary risk. I have superior tactical knowledge of the Borg I have acquired from my parents, and that, along with my implant, would provide far superior protection on the away mission than phaser rifles...

CHAKOTAY'S COMM VOICE
Mark, I don't know what you're planning to do, but...

PAXTON
I'll do what it takes to make absolutely certain that you leave this nebula safely and intact. Just give me this one chance to prove my worth...

CHAKOTAY'S COMM VOICE
Well... all right, Mark. You have my reluctant permission. Seven keep a very close eye on him.

SEVEN
Yes, commander. Seven of Nine out.

She turns to Paxton and looks at him for a second -

SEVEN
Shall we?

PAXTON
Let's go!

Seven strides off, and Paxton, a faint, sly expression across his face, follows her...

48 EXT. VOYAGER (OPTICAL)

Voyager limping slowly through the nebula...

49 INT. TRANSPORTER ROOM

Seven and Paxton walk into the transporter room...

SEVEN
(To the ensign at the transporter post) Has the transporter range been extended to reach the cube?

ENSIGN
Yes ma'am.

SEVEN
Good. Two to beam to the cube.

Seven and Paxton step onto the transporter chamber... just as the ensign is about to activate the transport, Paxton grabs seven's wrist and pushes her forward from the back... Seven stumbles forward, off of the transport terminal, and Paxton manages only a few words before fading away in a cloud of blue energy...

PAXTON
Goodbye, Seven.

Paxton disappears, and Seven, scrambling to her feet, stares at the empty space where his body used to be... she runs over to the transport console...

SEVEN
Isolate his life sign and try to bring him back.

ENSIGN
I can't. There's some kind of inhibitor field blocking transport to the cube...

SEVEN
Can you transport me there?

ENSIGN
No, the field prevents that, too.

Seven walks up to the console and begins tapping at it herself -

SEVEN
If we try to remodulate the transporter energy readings we could make it through the inhibitor field...

ENSIGN
It's no use. The field is too strong.

SEVEN
(Tapping her commbadge, voice etched with worry) Seven of Nine to Chakotay!

CHAKOTAY'S COMM VOICE
Seven, what's going on? Why is only Paxton on the cube?

SEVEN
He pushed me off the transport terminal before I could compensate, and he transported alone.

50 INT. BRIDGE

Chakotay listens as seven tells him of what just happened -

SEVEN'S COMM VOICE
I've tried to beam him back, but there's an inhibitor field blocking transport.

CHAKOTAY
Chakotay to Paxton! Go back to the transport area right now!

51 INT. BORG CUBE

Paxton marches down the passages of the cube -

PAXTON
I'm afraid I can't do that, commander.

CHAKOTAY'S COMM VOICE
Why did you push Seven off of the transport terminal?

PAXTON
When I said I would make absolutely certain that you left this nebula safely and intact, I meant all of you.

CHAKOTAY'S COMM VOICE
That was entirely unnecessary, Mark, and inappropriate. Deactivate the inhibitor field.

PAXTON
I can't do that commander (still walking, turning down another passageway).

CHAKOTAY'S COMM VOICE
(Angered, frustrated) Why not?!?

PAXTON
I didn't activate it (Taps his commbadge, ending transmission).

52 INT. BRIDGE

Chakotay's face is swallowed in a mixture of anger and anxiety -

CHAKOTAY
Chakotay to Paxton. Respond! Chakotay to Paxton, respond, damn it!

Seven exits the turbolift and takes her post on the bridge...

CHAKOTAY
Harry, try to find some way to remodulate the transporter harmonics. See if there's any way around the inhibitor field.

KIM
Aye, sir (Turns down to begin working at his console).

PARIS
Commander, he's heading for the main computer matrix. He's going to do what he intended. Why are we trying to stop him?

CHAKOTAY
(Pondering the theory for a moment) We don't know what his motives are, Tom, and at this point, they don't look good at all. I didn't trust him at first, because I was afraid something like this might happen...

PARIS
Commander, there's really nothing we can do to stop him, and he said his intentions were to save the captain anyway. I can understand your caution, but we don't have a choice... we have to trust him.

Chakotay hangs his head, clenching and unclenching his fists in frustration -

TUVOK
If you would allow me... despite the boy's headstrong nature, from what I know of his implant, I can conclude that it would offer him adequate protection for an extended amount of time aboard the cube. However, it would not take long for them to adapt to it... if he completes the mission objectives in a short enough amount of time, he would be fully protected throughout the event.

CHAKOTAY
And if he doesn't?

Tuvok bobs his eyebrows knowingly... Chakotay slowly turns away, letting the realization sink in...

53 INT. BORG CUBE

Paxton walks through a passageway into a bright green room with a large central computer in the center... he walks over to a console, plants his PADD into it, and begins to tap at the panel... his stoned expression soon lightens, as the download succeeds... He taps his commbadge...

PAXTON
Paxton to Voyager! I've completed the download. The Captain's neural energy is... approximately eighty-seven percent correctly modulated. I'm transmitting it to SickBay...

CHAKOTAY'S COMM VOICE
Good job, Paxton. Now, return to transporter range so we can beam you back...

PAXTON
Not so fast, commander. I haven't completed all my mission objectives yet (Taps at the console and removes the PADD)

CHAKOTAY'S COMM VOICE
(With more frustration) Your objective was to retrieve the captain's neural energy from the Borg central computer!

PAXTON
(Marching down another passageway to the power core) Even with a captain, there's no way Voyager could escape this cube in its current state. I'm going to destroy it.

CHAKOTAY'S COMM VOICE
That's crazy! You don't even have spatial charges...

PAXTON
Commander, I know this isn't easy for you with the impression I've made on the entire Voyager crew, but I'm asking you this just once:

54 INT. BRIDGE

Chakotay listens intently to the transmission -

PAXTON'S COMM VOICE
Trust me.

Chakotay buries his face in his hands, sighing in frustration... looks up for a second... then answers...

CHAKOTAY
Very well, Mr. Paxton. Execute the original away team's primary objective... and... please, be careful...

PAXTON
I will... Paxton out.

PARIS
Commander, the Borg cube is moving towards us...

CHAKOTAY
Maintain distance from the cube.

PARIS
I can't, sir. With the impulse power we have now, the Borg will eventually catch up to us...

Chakotay rests his hands on his cheeks, crossing his fingers on both hands...

55 INT. BORG CUBE

Paxton walks through the cube passageways, avoiding the passing drones, who seemingly have grown more numerous, and enters a chamber with a large green sphere of light floating in the center... he begins to tap at a nearby console... a hiss of steam emanates from his right side, and he turns very slowly to see a Borg drone facing him...

PAXTON
They can see me...

Quickly, Mark pushes his ear back and pulls the strand of hair away, revealing the tiny control terminal... he quickly presses it, and as a confirming chime beeps from it, the drone squirms oddly and writhes around, finally falling to the floor, unconscious...

PAXTON
Huh... I never expected it to do that much damage...

Paxton quickly returns to tapping at the Borg console... his face etched in concentration... Finally, he seems to finish, uttering a sigh of relief... he taps one last time at the console... a rejection buzz emits from the console... he taps again... same noise...

PAXTON
No! Please don't do this! Please!

He resumes tapping wildly at the panel... as if entirely rejected, he begins slamming his fists on the console in his anger...

PAXTON
NO! I was so close! Why did this have to happen to me?!?

It takes him a few seconds to calm down... a look of realization spreads across his face...

PAXTON
(Tapping his commbadge) Paxton to Voyager. I can't initiate the power core failure... the Borg adapted to my changes too quickly... I'm going to activate the trans-warp coil.

CHAKOTAY'S COMM VOICE
What? Mark, you don't have to do this! We'll find another way...

56 INT. BRIDGE

PAXTON'S COMM VOICE
No. There is no other way. You don't have a choice, Commander. I have to do it.

The ship shudders for a moment -

PARIS
(Looking urgently at his wildly beeping console) Commander! The cube is within firing range! They're going for the warp nacelles!

CHAKOTAY
Evasive maneuvers! Tuvok, return fire!

PAXTON'S COMM VOICE
You see commander? Your ship will be either cut to shreds or entirely assimilated. You have to let me do this.

Chakotay pauses, miserably torn between decisions... finally he answers...

CHAKOTAY
(Aside) I'm going to hate myself for doing this... all right, Paxton... I'll never forgive you for this...

PAXTON
Don't worry, Commander. With any luck... you'll see me again someday.

Chakotay gazes away thoughtfully at this...

57 EXT.VOYAGER & BORG CUBE (OPTICAL)

Voyager swings around the cube several times, firing phaser blasts at it, the cube returning fire... suddenly, there is a bright green flash, and the cube disappears... all that's left is a slight gap in the nebula...

58 INT. BRIDGE

Paris looks at his console, and raises his eyebrows...

PARIS
They're gone, commander.

Chakotay closes his eyes, obviously in severe distress...

59 INT. BORG CUBE

Paxton finishes tapping at the console, and smiles broadly...

PAXTON
Yes!

A drone appears at his side, and he turns to look at it... his eyes widen... the drone walks forward, its two robotic tendrils extending to grasp at Paxton's neck...

BLACK OUT.

BLURRY FADE IN:

60 INT. SICK BAY - JANEWAY P.O.V. (Point Of View)

A blurry image of the ceiling of sick bay slowly reveals, and the Doctor's head appears in it, stressed but overjoyed...

DOCTOR
She's awake!

Several relieved sighs sound throughout the room...

61 INT. SICK BAY

Janeway jerks upright on her bed in Sick Bay, propping herself up on her elbows... Chakotay, Tuvok, Paris, Kim, Torres, the Doctor and Seven stand near her, all with relieved faces...

JANEWAY
What happened?... did the away team... how long was I out?

CHAKOTAY
(Standing next to Paris, Kim, B'Elanna, Seven and Tuvok) You mean how long were you dead... little more than a day.

JANEWAY
What?

TUVOK
While you were executing your objectives during the away mission, you were attacked by an unknown Borg weapon that somehow removed your neural energy, intact, from your body, and implanted it into their computer systems.

CHAKOTAY
We managed to retrieve it from them before they allowed it access to the cube's central plexus, and become a part of the collective...

SEVEN
(Sounding uneven, hollow) However... the away mission executed to do so... has resulted in... the loss of one of our crew.

Janeway quickly scans the room as if to see who is missing... she seems to be confused at seeing everyone present, and then a look of realization spreads across her face -

JANEWAY
...Mark?

SEVEN
(Pausing for a moment) Yes.

JANEWAY
But... how?

CHAKOTAY
He persisted on going on the away mission with Seven... he felt so miserable for what he'd done... but he took advantage of his privilege and somehow managed to beam to the cube alone... he sent your neural pattern here to sick bay, and then he transported the cube out of this sector entirely, while he was still aboard... we couldn't stop him...

Janeway looks around at the relieved, sad, stressed faces around her...

JANEWAY
(After a long pause) You mean... I died, and Mark gave himself to the Borg to save me?

CHAKOTAY
That's how it happened.

JANEWAY
But... what about his implant? Couldn't it protect him?

TUVOK
Even if he kept it on at all times, the Borg would soon adapt to it. He will be assimilated.

Janeway looks traumatized... turns to Chakotay -

JANEWAY
(Raspy, as if a catch in her throat) I hope this has altered your feelings for him, commander.

CHAKOTAY
Believe me... It has.

Janeway sits up entirely, and swings her legs over the side of the bed... everyone, including Janeway, seems to be waiting for something... finally, Harry steps forward, placing a hand gently on the Captain's shoulder...

KIM
Captain... with the utmost respect... (A grin spreading across his face) It's great to have you back!

All the other senior officers utter murmurs of agreement as they move forward to shake Janeway's hand and give her a reassuring pat on the back... Janeway can't help but let a smile escape her lips... she turns to the Doctor...

JANEWAY
How long before I can go back to my duties?

DOCTOR
Well, you're in good condition now, but I suggest you give yourself at least a week of rest for psychological recovery... I have no idea how an entire psychological energy removal and reincarnation can affect the victim...

JANEWAY
I feel fine, Doctor. I think I can go back to work.

DOCTOR
(With an edge to his tone) You know, captain, someday, your failing to keep your mental condition at its peak will catch up on you.

JANEWAY
Someday, Doctor, someday.

62 EXT. VOYAGER (OPTICAL)

Voyager finally exits the nebula that it had traveled through for so long... still partially damaged...

63 INT. BRIDGE

Seconds later. The bridge reflects the peacefulness of the ship... all officers present at their stations... no noise, except for the occasional beep or chime of a control console... Paris turns to Janeway, sitting quietly in her seat, a mug of coffee in one hand...

PARIS
We're exiting the nebula captain.

JANEWAY
Good. How are repairs going?

KIM
Nearly all systems are online... long-range sensors are coming online now... we're in pretty good condition...

Paris' console begins to beep...

PARIS
(Curiously) Huh... Captain, we're receiving an encrypted transmission... audio only... I can't tell where it came from...

Janeway and Chakotay look at each other...

JANEWAY
Open a channel.

PARIS
Ah, captain? It's a message for you... privately.

Janeway looks a bit curious...

JANEWAY
(Standing up) Very well.

Janeway walks into her ready room...

64 INT. JANEWAY'S READY ROOM

Janeway walks in and sits down at her desk...

JANEWAY
Computer, open a private channel.

PAXTON'S COMM VOICE
Hello, captain.

Janeway's eyes widen in amazement...

JANEWAY
Mark!

PAXTON'S COMM VOICE
(Chuckling slightly) I thought you'd be surprised.

JANEWAY
I... but, how were you able to escape assimilation?

PAXTON'S COMM VOICE
I didn't. I've been assimilated, and the Borg control my body, but not my mind.

JANEWAY
How is that possible?

PAXTON'S COMM VOICE
Well, telling you that would be revealing a truth I never told... the implant in my head was not just a Borg transmitter. It was a brain decoy, a device that, if I were to be assimilated, would be the target for the Borg's assimilation, and not my real brain. Therefore, I am still an individual by heart, even if my body is a Borg drone... I hope you can forgive me for breaking your trust...

JANEWAY
...Well, of course.

PAXTON
Thank you, Captain.

JANEWAY
Can you specify your coordinates? Can we arrange a rescue mission?

PAXTON'S COMM VOICE
No, captain. I am much to far off your course to be worth saving. You needn't worry... I will be severed from the collective someday.

JANEWAY
I... guess I should take this opportunity to thank you personally for saving my life.

PAXTON'S COMM VOICE
No thanks necessary. I owed you that in the first place, and no matter what you say, I won't believe anything else.

JANEWAY
All right, then.

PAXTON'S COMM VOICE
If you don't mind, I'd like to speak with Seven of Nine.

JANEWAY
Well, she's down in astrometrics... I'd have to call her for you...

PAXTON'S COMM VOICE
I don't think you'll need to...

At that moment, Seven walks into the ready room, hands knitted behind her back...

SEVEN
You wished to see me, Captain?

Janeway stares at her, a look of amazement on her face...

JANEWAY
Yes...

PAXTON'S COMM VOICE
Seven.

SEVEN
(Furrowing her brow) Mark Paxton?

PAXTON'S COMM VOICE
Yes. I wanted to apologize for pushing you off the transport pad like I did. I just wanted you to get home safely with the rest of the crew.

SEVEN
(Pausing momentarily) I must consider whether or not to accept your apology.

PAXTON'S COMM VOICE
I didn't sacrifice myself entirely, Seven. My implant acted as a decoy for my brain, and the Borg went for it instead of my real one. I'll be me if I'm severed like you were.

SEVEN
(Breathing deeply) Very well. I accept your apology.

PAXTON'S COMM VOICE
Thank you.

JANEWAY
Anything else, Mark?

PAXTON'S COMM VOICE
Yes. I wanted to tell you that I downloaded my cryopod's navigational databanks into the Voyager computer. From what I was able to tell, there are several small shortcuts that will make your journey home all the shorter. The closest is a wormhole about fifteen light years starboard of your current position. I'm not sure how much closer it will bring you, but I'm sure it's significant.

JANEWAY
Thank you, Mark.

PAXTON'S COMM VOICE
You're welcome, Captain.

Janeway smiles ever so slightly -

PAXTON'S COMM VOICE
It is time for me to go. (His voice slowly fades) Remember me, captain, Seven. I will never forget either of you.

A chime emanates from the computer as the connection is cut... Janeway looks up at Seven, and Seven returns her gaze... Janeway smiles warmly...

65 EXT.VOYAGER (OPTICAL)

Voyager cruises away from the nebula, one step closer to home...

FADE OUT.

THE END.

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