By mistyfur
[ Reviews - 3]


Chapter One

Captain's Log Stardate 48316.3

We have been continuing to make our way through out the Delta Quadrant

in as we search for a way home. Regretfully we have not been successful

but crew morale remains high thank to Neelix's constant efforts. If only

ship's supplies were as easy to maintain. Voyager's energy supplies are

starting to run low and I might soon have to place everyone on rations. We

have been scanning the space ahead of us and have discovered a nebula.

B'Elanna has informed me that we may be able to covert the plasma within

the nebulae into a usable source of energy.

End Log Entry

Captain Kathryn Janeway sat quietly in her command chair and looked towards the monitor. The unfamiliar stars flashed by as Voyager made its solitary journey through the Delta quadrant. They were seventy years away from home, in a quadrant that that Starfleet had never explored. Their only chance for survival was to become an efficient crew that was prepared for what ever the universe could throw at them.

Janeway swept her intelligent blue eyes around her, taking in every detail of the bridge. Her posture was relaxed and she had a slight smile on her face. All around her the crew, both Starfleet and Maquis, worked together in unison. Janeway was pleased to see how well the two crews had merged together. They were no longer Starfleet or Maquis crew members, they were a Voyager crew. Both crews had bonded together in their desire to achieve their goal to reach home.  It had been difficult but they were finally acting like a team that respected each other's abilities.

"Estimated time of arrival, Mr. Kim?" Janeway inquired looking towards the Ops station.

"Approximately three hours, Captain. We should be able to start receiving data on the nebula in two hours." Kim replied after checking the various panels in front of him self.

Ensign Harry Kim was the least experienced of the senior bridge crew, having graduating from Starfleet Academy to serve on Voyager. Already he had proved to be an outstanding officer and someone that could be counted on in a crisis.

Janeway turned to her first officer, "Start scanning the nebula as soon as we're in range, Chakotay. I'll be in my ready room. Contact me as soon as we're in visual range."

"Aye, Captain." Chakotay responded.  

Janeway stood and walked briskly towards her ready room, she paused at the entrance and looked once more Chakotay.

They had developed a relationship based on mutual trust and respect. After having spent this last year with him, Janeway could not image a time where she did not have his console to support her in this difficult journey. The strong bond that had grown between the two adversaries was a positive sign of strength to the mixed crew and a welcome haven for the two senior officers.

Chakotay glanced away from his console and looked surprised to still see her standing at the door to her ready room.

" Is something the matter, Captain?"

Janeway shook her head, "No, Commander. Just observing. Have to make sure you're all still working the minute the Captain leaves the bridge."

"So much for us throwing a wild party while the Captain is away. It was a good plan and it was all Chakotay's idea," Tom Paris mused out loud. His eyes glanced towards Chakotay with a twinkle. "Maybe we can do it the next away mission."

"Mr. Paris, congratulations." Chakotay said with a beaming smile. "For that comment, you have just volunteered to spend the next day training with the Doctor as a field medic. Report to sickbay at 08:00 tomorrow."

"Come on it was a joke! Where's your sense of humor?"

"It'll be here tomorrow at 08:00." Chakotay replied with a grin.

Janeway laughed out loud, "That will teach you to tattle on a superior officer, Tom. You have the bridge."

Janeway chuckled as she heard Paris wheedling to escape the Doctor's clutches. The doors opened with a soft hiss and she entered into a quiet haven. Janeway walked towards her desk and sat down. It was only when she was by herself that she allowed herself to appear weary and torn.

Her thoughts drifted back towards her crew. They were a fine crew that any Captain would be proud to command and one that she had vowed to return home to their families. No matter the odds facing them and how impossible it seemed she couldn't give up hope. Janeway was overwhelmed by the rush of emotions that she felt at that moment. Helplessness at the situation her crew was in and unreasonable anger at herself for allowing it to happen. Almost at once she brushed those thoughts away.

She couldn't afford to waste time over a decision already made. She had made the right decision to destroy the Caretaker's array and help save the Ocampa. Janeway decision had stranded Voyager in the Delta Quadrant but it had also saved an entire race of people from the Kazon brutality.

Janeway felt the weight of command descend on her and reprimanded herself sharply. I have to control my emotions. If I don't the crew might start to falter and they are depending on me to be strong.

Janeway closed her eyes and leaned back in her chair. Then with a soft sign, Janeway got up and walked towards the replicator. " Coffee, black."

There was a slight pause and then a steaming cup of coffee appeared in the replicator. Grabbing the coffee she walked towards her desk and picked up one of the many report pads awaiting her review.

Commander Chakotay watched as the stars flashed by as Voyager made its way to the nebula. All around him the crew communicated in soft voices. Chakotay enjoyed the time that he spent in command of Voyager; it reminded him of when he was captain of his Maquis ship. Chakotay had sacrificed his ship to defend Voyager. Janeway had lost her first officer and had asked him to be her first officer. It was a gesture to unite the two different crews and show that each sides matter to both commanding officers.

Even now he was still surprised at how strong a bond had been formed between him and Janeway. It went beyond just respect and admiration, and had turned into a growing friendship. Janeway had not yet brought up what was worrying her but he knew that she would. He was aware of the dire situation they were in. Food source were hard to come by and that had forced them to rely on the replicator systems more, which further depleted their energy stores. It had become a constant game of survival for the crew and even the junior staff was starting to be aware of the struggle to find the basics that Voyager needed.

Lieutenant Paris glanced back towards Chakotay and grinned at the silent commander. His eyes flashed with mischief as he needled Chakotay," Come on, Chakotay. You weren't serious about me having to be with the Doc tomorrow? You're going to need your best pilot for tomorrow. Who knows the conditions that may arise while I'm not here?"

"Tom, I think you have a lot to learn from the Doctor maybe I should schedule you for the next few weeks with him. Just to make sure your training is perfect." Chakotay replied with a serious expression, as he reached for the monitor in front of him. "I think I'll contact the Doctor right now and advise him to expect you bright and early."

"Commander, sensors have detected a biosignature being emitted from the nebula." Kim interrupted.

"Are you certain, Ensign?"

Kim rechecked the sensor readings and looked towards Chakotay. "Aye, Sir. The sensors are showing that the nebula is emitting a faint biosignature. According to the readings the nebula is alive."

"Tuvok, are there any ships in the surrounding area that might be sending out false readings?" Chakotay asked.

"Negative, Commander. There are presently no ships in that general area that would cause the nebula to exhibit signs of life. It is possible that this is merely a sensor malfunction and not a biosignature. Nothing could survive in that environment."

"The Captain needs to be made aware of this. If there is any possibility that the nebula is a life form, we need to find out before we waste resources getting there." Chakotay stood and walked towards the view screen. He reached up and tapped his comm badge, "Chakotay to Janeway."  

Janeway reached forward absently for her cup of coffee and took a sip. The smell of the bitter brew brought back pleasant memories of earth and the family she had left behind. She reached for one of the various reports from the department heads and brought her focus to the task at hand. She had just started on the engineering report when she heard her name being called.

"Janeway, here. What is it, Commander?" Janeway asked as she continued to read the reports.

There was a slight pause before Chakotay responded to Janeway's inquire and it was enough to pull her attention away from the padd. "Commander?"

"Ensign Kim has discovered something unique about the nebula." Chakotay responded in a mysterious voice.

Janeway quickly got up and walked briskly towards the door of her ready room. "Is the ship in any danger?"

"No, Captain but you should come to the bridge to verify this for yourself. It's extraordinary."

The doors opened with a soft hiss and Janeway walked briskly onto the bridge. "Report, Commander. What was so important that you pulled me away from ships reports? Not that I minded." Janeway said lightly.

"Captain, Kim found that the nebula is emitting a faint biosignautre." Chakotay answered.

Janeway glanced at Chakotay in amazed disbelief. "Mr. Tuvok, is there a malfunction with the sensors?"

"Negative, Captain."

"Captain, if this is a life form. There's no way that we will be able to gather energy from it perhaps we should look for another source of energy." Chakotay suggested quietly to her.

Janeway gestured to Chakotay to approach her before whispering softly, "Commander, if we don't gather the energy from the nebula, this ship won't be capable of warp speed or supporting life in the next week or so."

"I realized that things were serious but I didn't think that things had gotten so bad. Why haven't you said anything before?" Chakotay asked in a disappointed voice. "I'm here to help you and shoulder some of the responsibility. You don't have to do this alone."

"I'm sorry, Chakotay. I was hoping to have this solved before things had taken such a turn for the worse. Let's hope that the nebula will solve all our problems." Janeway responded looking for the first time disheartened. She walked towards her chair and sat down. "Ensign Kim, scan the field once more to verify those readings."

"Aye, Sir." Kim worked quickly over his panels. He glanced up with a confused expression. "The sensors show that there is no sign of a biosignature or that there ever was one. I can't explain it, Captain."

"Either there's a problem with our sensors or maybe this is a new form of life unique to the Delta quadrant. Commander, I want you and B'Elanna to run a full system diagnostic. Have it ready by 20:00. That should give us some time before we arrive at the nebula. Mr. Kim, I want you to patch all the data we have received on the field to my monitor and keep a watch for any future sensor fluctuations." Janeway ordered as she pulled up her monitor and started reviewing the data collected.

Tuvok announced, "We have arrived at the field, Captain."

"On screen, " Janeway ordered. "Run a full spectrum scan of the nebula and check for life signs, Mr. Kim."

"Engaging the sensors, Captain." Kim reported while looking down at the various monitors in front of him. "No signs of life but the appearance of the nebula is altering."

Janeway glanced forward towards the image of the nebula. "The change appears to be natural in origin. Remarkable. Well gentlemen, I think that we will stay and observe the-"

"Captain!" Kim called out in a worried voice. "The nebula is extending itself towards Voyager!"

Janeway looked towards the view screen," Mr. Tuvok, Shields! Mr. Paris, prepare to back us away from the nebula on my orders."

"Aye, Captain." Paris replied in a confident voice. "Just say when."

The nebula continued to reach out long tendrils of energy towards Voyager outer hull. "Back us away from the nebula, full reverse, Tom."

"Full reverse- what?" Tom pushed the buttons on his console repeatedly. "Captain, the nebula has destabilized the wrap field!"

"B'elanna, is there any way to activate the warp field?"

"Negative, Captain. The only engines we have are impulse power." B'elanna answered.

"Divert all available power to the shields." Janeway ordered. "Red Alert!"

The bridge darkened and glowed red in the background as soon as the order was called out. The loud, blaring sound of the klaxon echoed throughout all the decks.

Voyager shuddered slightly as the nebula energy hit the forward shields.

"No effect, Captain. The nebula's energy is penetrating the shields. Attempting to alternate the shield harmonics." Tuvok called out. "No effect."

Janeway looked at the image of the nebula with a determined gleam in her eyes. "Not to my ship." Janeway muttered under her breath as she stood and placed her hands on her hips.  "Mr. Paris, evasive pattern Omega 8."

Voyager began shake uncontrollably as the nebula surrounded it and continued to force itself through the shields. Paris struggled to maintain his seat as he plotted the evasive pattern.

"Shield's down to twenty percent and continuing to drop." Kim called out while he tightly held onto his console. "The energy will completely penetrate the shields in thirty seconds."

"Captain, I don't understand how the nebular energy is breaking through our shields. Sensors are not detecting any weapons or intelligence behind this. What the hell is going on?" Chakotay demanded.

 "B'elanna, divert life support energy to the shields." Janeway ordered calmly.

"Stand by Bridge." B'elanna answered after a few seconds. "It's no use, Captain! It's matching everything we do to try and stop it. We're using all available power to try and stop it."

"Shields are failing!" Kim called out.

"All hands brace for impact," Chakotay called out.

All around the bridge everyone prepared for the impact. Janeway tensed as a bright translucent light filled the bridge and the shaking abruptly stopped. She quickly reviewed the options she had. Changing the harmonic of the shields had not worked but what is she adjusted the harmonic to the inverse of the energy source. Either she let the energy invade her ship or she could attempt it. It would work, she was sure of it.

Janeway tossed a quick look at Chakotay and began to give the order that would save her ship. The bright light had started towards Janeway's position and suddenly a blast of light rushed towards her.

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