Second Chances

By Diane

Disclaimer: Star Trek Voyager and these characters belong to Paramount. No copyright infringement is intended.



"Open hailing frequencies," Captain Janeway shouted, trying to be heard over the noise of beeping klaxons and exploding consoles. Stumbling to her command chair as the ship shook under another attack, Janeway waited for Tuvok's response.

"Hailing frequencies open Captain."

Taking a deep breath to calm herself she began. "This is Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager. We mean no harm; we are merely passing through this area of space. Please cease firing."

Seconds passed. "No response Captain."

From his position at ops, Harry called, "They're firing again Captain!"

Kathryn gripped the arms of her chair preparing herself, and yelled, "Brace for impact!"

As the ship reeled from the latest attack, the crew were thrown from their stations, cries of alarm and pain echoing across the bridge. Janeway's face hardened, and she called to Tuvok to fire phasers.

All eyes focussed on the viewscreen, watching as Voyager's phasers sliced across the darkness of space, impacting with the alien ship.

"Report," barked Janeway, several seconds later.

"No damage Captain."

Janeway leaned forward in her seat, chin resting in the palm of her hand, frowning. She didn't like it, but more aggressive measures were needed. She turned to Chakotay and he nodded solemnly. They were in agreement.

"Arm photon torpedoes. Prepare to fire on my mark."There was a hush on the bridge, everyone waiting for the Captain's order to fire. But just before she could give it, Tuvok interrupted.

"The alien ship is retreating Captain .. they have gone to warp." Breaths were released, the danger gone for the moment.

"Status," Chakotay called from his seat beside Janeway.

"Shields are at 22%, warp engines are off line, hull breach on decks nine, ten and twelve, several computer systems are down. Only one transporter is functioning. No casualties reported." Tuvok looked up at the Captain as he finished the report.

The flashing red alert stopped, and normal illumination returned to the bridge. Sighing quietly and rubbing the bridge of her nose, Janeway stood, and turned to look at Chakotay. "Call a meeting of all senior officers in twenty minutes. I don't want to be sitting here if that ship decides to return. You have the bridge."

"Aye Captain," Chakotay acknowledged, unable to stop his eyes following her as she retreated to her ready room.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Twenty minutes later, all senior officers were seated around the table in the conference room.

"Are there any signs of the ship returning?" Janeway began, moving to her chair and sitting down, anxious to get the meeting underway.

"Long range sensors detect no sign of the alien ship Captain. Voyager is safe at present," Tuvok replied. "However, it would be prudent to have repairs completed as soon as possible. The aliens attacked without provocation and apparently without motive. As they also have superior weaponry to that of Voyager's I recommend we avoid further contact."

"I have to agree Captain," B'Elanna continued. "That ship was able to weaken our shields at an amazing rate and we didn't even scratch them."

"When will the shields be back on line?" Chakotay asked, frowning.

"Shields should be at full strength within four hours," B'Elanna answered, "But we have a more serious problem. The warp engines were seriously damaged during the attack and we won't be able to get them back on line unless we find a new supply of dilithium."

"Didn't we get a fresh supply several months ago?" Tom asked, realising at the same time as everyone else just how serious the situation was becoming.

"Yes, we did. And normally we could use that. But the type of damage we sustained requires a purer form. Unless we find a supply, we'll be travelling through space at impulse speed."

Silence settled over the conference room as everyone digested what B'Elanna had said. Travelling to the alpha quadrant at impulse was just not an option. Eventually the Captain spoke.

"Harry and Seven, use astrometrics to scan for any M class planets. As I recall, we recently passed near a planetary solar system that could be quite promising. It should be within reasonable distance if we're travelling at impulse."

"Aye Captain," Harry replied, his mind already recalling the pieces of information they had previously gathered.

"Okay. B'Elanna, your first priority is to get the shields operating at full strength. Then do your best with the engines," Janeway continued.

"Aye Captain," B'Elanna acknowledged.

"Tuvok, run continuous scans of the area. I want to know the minute that ship returns to this sector."

"I'd also increase security measures on the ship Tuvok," Chakotay carried on. "We don't know how advanced the rest of their technology is."

Kathryn nodded her approval at Chakotay's suggestion as Tuvok replied, "Agreed Commander."

"Now, have I missed anything?" the Captain continued.

"Captain," Seven began, "I should inform you that during the attack the Doctor sustained some minor damage to his programme."

"How bad is it Seven?"

"It is not serious Captain. Only a few systems were affected. It will not detract from his duties as the EMH."

"Okay then. We have to make shields and the engines a priority. As soon as we have those back on line we can repair the Doctor."

The Captain sat for a few moments letting everyone absorb this. Then, "Anything else?"

Everyone sat quietly, shaking their head.

Janeway finally nodded and said, "Everyone else, I suggest we take the regular duty shifts. Dismissed."

The senior officers filed out the conference room their minds already on their individual tasks. Janeway and Chakotay stood but didn't move to leave the room just yet. Instead Chakotay moved closer to Kathryn.

She now sat on the edge of the table, head bent, one arm folded across her chest while the other hand pinched the bridge of her nose.

"Head still sore?" he asked gently, knowing very well it was.

"A little," she answered, removing her hand and looking up at him. She wasn't even going to ask how he knew.

"Why don't you go to sickbay and have the doctor take care of it?" Chakotay offered. "I can take the bridge shift till then."

With a slight laugh Kathryn said, "I don't know what's worse; putting up with the headache or going to see the doctor. Especially when he finds out his being repaired is not a top priority."

Chakotay grinned. "I'm sure Captain Janeway can handle him," he teased.

Kathryn returned the grin and shook her head and they left the room together.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Sensors in astrometrics were set at maximum, and luckily a planet with a rich source of dilithium was detected. Their journey was free from further attacks, however sensors did detect the ship within range on several occasions. It appeared then disappeared, always keeping its distance, simply following Voyager as she travelled along, shadowing her every move.

It became more frustrating as the days passed, not knowing if or when they would be attacked. Waiting for it to happen was almost as bad as being involved in the attack itself.

But six days later, Voyager arrived at a beautiful M class planet. Alpha shift had only begun a few hours before, and knowing they would arrive at the planet soon, everyone had kept a close eye on the alien ship. It stayed where it had been for the past day, within sensor range, but only just.

Eventually, after orbiting the planet for five hours, the alien ship disappeared from sensors again, seemingly vanishing from existence. It was all the Captain needed. An away team was assembled immediately to go to the surface and investigate.

"Janeway to Torres."

"Torres here," came the immediate response.

"B'Elanna, meet me in transporter room one. The alien ship has gone for the moment. We're going to take advantage of it."

"Aye Captain, I'm on my way." Janeway knew engineering were prepared. They had been for the past few days.

Getting up from her chair she said, "Chakotay, you're with me, Tuvok you have the bridge," and began moving towards the turbolift. She expected a complaint to be forthcoming from Tuvok or Chakotay at any moment. Tuvok spoke first.

"Captain," he said quietly when Janeway passed his console. "Perhaps the Commander and I should beam down to the planet." His meaning was clear; he didn't want the Captain leaving Voyager.

Janeway moved closer so only Tuvok, and Chakotay who was standing directly behind her, could hear. "I appreciate your concern Tuvok, but I have the engineering expertise which will be needed on the planet and I want my chief of security on board if the alien ship returns." Tuvok's eyebrow rose, acknowledging her point, but showing he was still far from satisfied.

He relinquished. "Very well Captain, I will have security guards meet you in the transporter room."

Janeway quietly answered, "Thank you Tuvok," and headed for the turbolift doors. She didn't see the expression that passed between Chakotay and Tuvok.

With both senior officers in the turbolift, the doors closed behind them.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

A landing party of five beamed down to a small continent in the northern hemisphere. The sun was high in the sky, its strong rays shining directly on the officers, and would have proven almost intolerable if it were not for the cool, refreshing breeze blowing from the south.

They stood on the slope of a hill, overlooking plush green fields and small hills as far as the eye could see. Tall trees stood scattered throughout the area, their bright green leaves blowing backwards and forwards in the wind. The edge of a forest was just visible to the north, so large it spread across the entire horizon. Small white petals fluttered throughout the area, having dropped from delicate bushes, which seemed to carpet the ground near the trees. Not a sound could be heard.

Pulling her eyes from the breathtaking scenery, Janeway reached for her tricorder and followed B'Elanna's example. She was already scanning the area for dilithium.

"Captain, I'm detecting a large source of dilithium about 500 metres in this direction," B'Elanna began, pointing in the general direction of a small clump of trees lying before a grassy hill.

Everyone lifted their hand to shield their eyes from the sun, looking to where B'Elanna indicated.

Everyone exchanged surprised looks.

"How is that possible?" Janeway asked, her mind working over time to think of some reasonable explanation. Dilithium had never been found close to the surface.

"I don't know Captain," B'Elanna responded, just as confused and intrigued as the Captain.

"That should make extraction procedures much quicker and simpler," Chakotay said.

Janeway looked in his direction and said, "It certainly will." They smiled, and for the first time in days, felt as though something were working with them instead of against them.

The officers began walking in the direction B'Elanna had indicated. The Chief Engineer lead the way, her natural enthusiasm taking over, while both security guards brought up the rear, weapons armed, ready for any unexpected surprises. Janeway and Chakotay walked together, shoulders brushing more often than not as they discussed their findings. They moved at a steady pace, anxious to get the mission over as soon as possible, but taking the chance to enjoy the fresh air at the same time.

"Captain, these readings definitely show a high level of pure dilithium," B'Elanna began, "I've never seen readings like this before."

Janeway left Chakotay's side and moved beside B'Elanna, comparing the readings on her tricorder to those B'Elanna had. As they approached the clump of trees, they picked up their pace, curiosity now replacing their earlier anxiety to leave. But upon reaching the area, B'Elanna suddenly stumbled forward.

"B'Elanna?" Janeway asked anxiously, reaching out to her.

Instead of answering, B'Elanna stumbled again then let out a small gasp and dropped to her knees, falling to the ground. Before Janeway or Chakotay had the chance to react, they could only watch as the two security officers who had beamed down with them, collapsed like B'Elanna.

"What the ....?" Chakotay said, his eyes darting across the area for something, or someone, they had missed. Seeing nothing, he threw a worried glance to Kathryn, expecting one of them to be next. Chakotay pulled out his phaser and moved to protect his Captain, now fully alert, and waited as she called for an emergency beam out.

Seconds later, the planet was left as it had been moments before, quiet and peaceful, as though nobody had been there at all.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"Report," Janeway ordered as she and Chakotay strode into sickbay. She had left the three officers in the Doctor's capable hands only a short time ago, being told she would be notified as soon as he had some news.

She had been with Chakotay in her ready room discussing the disturbing events, when the call had come through. Neither had expected to receive a hail so soon.

"I discovered why all three officers collapsed on the planet Captain," he began immediately, indicating they should follow him into his office.

The Captain and Commander followed him, both anxious for him to continue.

"Well?" the Captain prompted.

"It would appear they all contracted a virus; an air-borne virus. As soon as they breathed in a certain amount of air, it began to affect all major bodily functions."

"Will they be okay?" Chakotay asked, his concern showing.

"I've managed to regulate their breathing, and I will have to keep them in for a few days observation, but I don't see why they shouldn't make a full recovery," the Doctor said proudly, obviously pleased with himself.

"Why didn't the computer detect the virus when we scanned the planet?"

The Doctor merely shrugged. "I'm not quite sure yet Captain. I'll need more time to investigate."

"Well why were the Captain and I apparently not affected?" Chakotay continued.

The Doctor paused then said, "It would appear that you and the Captain are immune to this particular virus."

"Natural immunity?" Janeway queried.

"No Captain. Unfortunately not."

"Well what then?" she demanded realising that the Doctor was hedging.

"You and the Commander are immune because you have been vaccinated against it," the Doctor explained.

Janeway and Chakotay exchanged puzzled glances.

"How is that possible?" Chakotay asked.

Before the Doctor carried on, he invited the commanding officers to sit down. Once they were all seated around his desk, he continued.

"I'm sure you both recall the insect bite you received four years ago, when the crew was forced to leave you behind and carry on the journey towards the alpha quadrant without you."

Taking the sudden silence as a yes, he continued, trying hard not to comment on the looks on their faces.

"Apparently, the antidote which we received from the Vidians not only acts as a cure for that virus, but in some way protects you from the air-borne virus on this planet. That is why you did not succumb to the effects."

He watched as they took this in, Janeway sitting ramrod straight, her blue eyes almost drilling through him, while Chakotay appeared to be a million light years away. Both were struck dumb for the moment, an altogether strikingly different scenario than a few moments before.

The Doctor looked from one to the other, his eyes going backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. Though he had heard unfounded stories from the crew when they had beamed back on board, he certainly hadn't expected this reaction.

Using a technique he had discovered to be very useful, the Doctor coughed in an attempt to get their attention. It didn't appear to work, so he repeated it, only this time a little louder.

"Thank you," he said sarcastically when they finally looked at him.

He watched Janeway visibly take a deep breath and continue with her questioning.

"Doctor, we must have the supply of dilithium that is on that planet. We need the crew vaccinated against this as soon as possible so we can begin extraction procedures."

"I'm afraid that won't be possible," the Doctor said. He had been expecting this, and was not happy that he wasn't able to carry out the Captain's wishes.

"Why not?" she asked, both shocked and surprised. That wasn't what she wanted, or needed, to hear.

Appearing very human, the Doctor sighed. "Some of my systems were damaged during the attack Captain, which I believe Seven did inform you of. And," he added somewhat grumpily, "Which you decided wasn't a top priority for repairs."

"Yes, that's correct," Kathryn said, unable to keep from rolling her eyes.

"Though most subroutines were not affected, some did sustain minor damage."

"I don't think I understand Doctor," Chakotay said.

"Unfortunately, during the attack, some of what you may call .. less important subroutines were damaged. In other words, ones I rarely access. While I'm aware I have the necessary information to vaccinate the crew, the damage they sustained means I am unable to access it."

"Can't we access the information through the ship's computer?" Chakotay asked.

The Doctor simply sighed. "The information was never transferred to the ship's computer. An oversight on my part." He was obviously unhappy.

Janeway's head dropped as she realised what the Doctor was saying.

"In other words," she said, "You don't know how to vaccinate the crew against this virus and there is no way you can retrieve the information to do so."

"Yes Captain," the Doctor answered quietly.

"In other words," Chakotay continued, turning to look at his Captain, "The Captain and I are the only crewmembers who can safely beam down to the surface."

Janeway turned to look at Chakotay, an unreadable expression on her face. They sat for several minutes absorbing it all, growing a little uneasy at what they knew had to be done.

They were the only two crewmembers that could beam to the surface. The only two who could safely mine for dilithium. The room descended into silence.


Go to Part 2


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