Stardate 213861.2 (Wed 2 April 2375): Voyager‘s future depends on Seven. Based upon the television episode “Relativity.”
The Twenty-Ninth Century
The transporter beam coalesced, revealing a tall, slender blonde woman in a skintight purple outfit, a metallic device implanted above her left eye: Seven of Nine. She looked around the room in which she was standing, confused. A large man with slightly graying hair approached her.
"Why have you brought me here?" Seven asked, the irritation in her voice concealing her fear of the unfamiliar surroundings.
"I’m Captain Braxton," the man said, then indicated the younger, dark-haired man beside him, "this is Lieutenant Duquesne. You’re aboard the Federation Timeship Relativity."
"I’m no longer in the twenty-fourth century," Seven observed, taking in her surroundings more thoroughly.
"No," Braxton said. "For you, it’s almost five hundred years later. We brought you here to help us solve a mystery. Someone, we don’t know who, has planted a weapon aboard Voyager. It’s designed to fracture spacetime within a radius of 150 meters. We pulled you out a few seconds before the explosion."
"Why do you need me?" Seven asked. "Lieutenant Phillips is—"
"Your ocular implant," Duquesne supplied, interrupting. "It can detect disruptions in spactime better than our sensors." Seven looked at him dubiously.
"You’re more familiar with Voyager and her crew," Braxton added, "less likely to arouse suspicion. Here, take a look." He led Seven to a computer terminal. "A force three temporal disruptor."
"We’re trying to catch the saboteur before he places the weapon on Voyager," Duquesne said.
"Do you have a suspect?" Seven asked.
"Not yet," Duquesne admitted.
"Do you know when the device was placed?" Seven asked.
"Not exactly," Duquesne said sheepishly.
"Bring her up to date on our protocols," Braxton ordered.
"Aye, sir," Duquesne said, then continued to Seven, "When you’re finished here, meet me in Holomatrix One. I’ve prepared a simulation."
"Let’s see how much you’ve assimilated," Duquesne said to Seven. "The Dali Effect."
"Also known as ‘the melting clock effect,’" Seven supplied. "It refers to a temporal fissure, which slows the passage of time to a gradual halt."
"The Pogo Paradox," Duquesne said.
"A causality loop," Seven said, "in which interference to prevent an event actually triggers said event."
"Excellent," Duquesne said. "Can you give me an example?"
"The Borg once traveled back in time," Seven began, "to stop Zefram Cochrane from breaking the warp barrier. They succeeded, but that, in turn, led the Starship Enterprise to intervene. They assisted Cochrane with the flight the Borg were trying to prevent. Causal loop complete."
"So, in a way," Duquesne said, already familiar with the events, "the Federation owes its existence to the Borg."
"You’re welcome," Seven said wryly, then added, "The Seven of Nine Paradox."
"I beg your pardon?" Duquesne asked.
"How do we know that my presence on Voyager will not alter the timeline?"
"Uncertainty’s part of the equation," Duquesne said. "We don’t know what’s going to happen."
"I don’t enjoy uncertainty," Seven said, a bitter taste in her mouth.
"Neither do I," Duqesne admitted, "but I trust Captain Braxton’s instincts, just as you trust Captain Janeway’s."
In orbit of Mars, amid hundreds of starships in various phases of construction in the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards, the nearly- completed U.S.S. Voyager NCC-74656 sat in drydock.
Aboard Voyager, in one of the new vessel’s transporter rooms, a beam of energy coalesced on the pad into the form of Captain Kathryn Janeway, the vessel’s new commanding officer.
"You’re late," came the voice of the graying, bearded Admiral Patterson, who was standing in front of the transport control chamber.
"Sorry, sir," Janeway said as she stepped off the transporter platform.
"What’s the threshold of the H2 molecule?" Patterson asked.
"Fourteen-point-seven electron volts," Janeway answered quickly.
"Third brightest star in Orion?"
"Viewed from where?" Janeway countered.
Patterson paused, caught off-guard, then said, "Earth."
"Gamma Orionas," Janeway said. "Or Bellatrix, if you prefer the original Arabic name."
"Not bad," Patterson said. "Now, give me a hug, Katie. That’s an order." The two embraced quickly and familiarly, then headed through the transporter room’s doors.
"I wasn’t expecting a pop quiz," Janeway said as they stepped into the corridor.
"Just wanted to make sure all those pips haven’t made you forget you’re a scientist first," Patterson said jovially.
"How could they?" Janeway responded. "I still have nightmares about your fractal calculus final."
As they rounded a corner, Patterson switched the subject to the business at hand. "There’s still some work to be done," he said, "but once the sawdust clears, I think you’ll be impressed. Voyager may not be as big as a Galaxy-class ship, but she’s quick and smart. Like her captain."
"Seven hundred thousand metric tons," Janeway remarked. "Fifteen decks. Computer system’s augmented with bio-neural circuitry. Top cruising speed: Warp 9.975."
"Deck One," Patterson said as they stepped into a turbolift.
"Of course," Janeway said, leaning into Patterson’s ear conspiratorially, "I expect to get that up another notch or two."
"Sounds like you already know your ship pretty well," Patterson observed.
"I’ve been buried in Voyager‘s schematics for the past three months," Janeway said. "I could walk the corridors blindfolded." The turbolift doors opened, revealing the bridge, packed with engineers performing final construction on the new vessel.
"You might not want to shut your eyes just yet," Patterson said as they stepped out of the lift. "Captain on the bridge." The engineers snapped to attention.
"As you were," Janeway said, leaning on the rail running behind the command seating. After a moment, she turned to Patterson and said, "It’s bigger than I’d expected."
"Schematics never fully prepare you for the real thing," Patterson said knowingly. They turned and walked into the open area at the center of the bridge. "Try it out," he said, indicating the captain’s chair.
Janeway sat cautiously, as if the chair would suddenly come to life and bite her in the backside, then settled into the chair comfortably. "Don’t get too comfortable," Patterson said. "I have more to show you." The two rose and walked into Janeway’s new ready room. "Your home away from home," he said as they entered.
"Coffee?" Janeway offered.
"Why, no, thanks," Patterson replied.
Janeway turned to the replicator, then ordered, "Coffee, black." A small coffee cup materialized, the beverage ready. She turned to Patterson. "Any word from Tuvok?"
"Not yet," Patterson said.
"Shouldn’t he have made contact by now?" Janeway asked, concerned.
"We know he’s aboard Chakotay’s ship," Patterson said. "He’s probably decided not to risk exposure until he has to."
"Catching up with them in the Badlands is going to be tricky," Janeway said, "even in a ship as quick and smart as Voyager. I’ve heard about a pilot who might make the job easier."
"Tom Paris," Janeway said.
"Admiral Paris’ son?" Patterson asked incredulously. "Correct me if I’m wrong, but he’s serving a sentence for—"
"He’s made some mistakes," Janeway interrupted. "I think everybody deserves a second chance."
"I’ll look into it," Patterson said after a brief pause. The two stood, then walked back onto the bustling bridge.
Janeway approached the blonde woman working on the helm control panels and said, "If it’s not too late, I’d like to recalibrate the navigational sensors. I think it can enhance the range."
"Your coffee’s not even cold and you’re already making changes," Patterson noted. As Janeway and Patterson walked toward the briefing room, the young woman stood and watched them leave. It was Seven of Nine, the implant over her eye concealed and wearing a Starfleet uniform with the blue of the sciences division. She followed the pair into the adjacent room, pausing at the edge of the bridge near the door.
"The bridge is clear," Seven said. "There’s no sign of the weapon."
"Continue scanning," Duqesne’s voice came over her communicator.
"Acknowledged," Seven said, then entered the briefing room.
"The briefing room," Patterson was saying to Janeway.
"Starfleet’s first up-to-date vessel," Janeway said, chuckling, "and they still can’t design a comfortable place to hold a meeting. What do you think, ensign?"
Seven froze as she realized Janeway was speaking to her. "Captain?" she asked, trying to minimize her contact with the woman who would become her commanding officer.
"What’s your opinion of this room?" Janeway asked.
"It is an efficient design," Seven said, hoping the answer would be enough for Janeway.
"Well," Janeway said. "There you have it, admiral. It’s efficient. I must be wrong. Carry on." Janeway and Patterson exited the room.
"We added a new system we’re thinking of installing throughout the fleet," Patterson said as he and Janeway entered Sickbay.
"The Emergency Medical Hologram," Janeway said. "I’m up-to-date. Computer, activate EMH."
The Doctor shimmered into existence for the first time since his program was installed on Voyager. "Please state the nature of the medical emergency," he said without emotion.
"It’s programmed with over four million surgical procedures," Patterson said.
"Five million," the Doctor corrected, "and the medical knowledge of over three thousand cultures."
"Impressive," Janeway observed.
"Did you call me to chit-chat," the Doctor said impatiently, "or is there an actual emergency?"
"The personality could use some work," Janeway commented to Patterson.
"I’m designed to practice medicine as efficiently as possible," the Doctor said. "Small talk only compromises my performance."
"Thank you, doctor," Patterson said. "Computer, deactivate EMH."
The Doctor looked at Janeway and Patterson indignantly in the split-second before his program shimmered into inactivity.
"Hello?" Lieutenant Joe Carey said, approaching Seven of Nine in main engineering.
"Sir," Seven acknowledged him brusquely.
"Lieutenant Carey," he introduced himself. "I don’t think we’ve met."
"Jameson," Seven said quickly. "Anna. Service number 860790."
"I’m not security," Carey chuckled. "I’m just trying to get to know all the new faces around here. What are you working on?"
"I am," Seven said, beginning uncertainly, "attempting to realign the EPS manifolds."
"Do you need a hand?" Carey offered.
"No," Seven said quickly.
"Well," Carey said, "maybe I’ll see you in the mess hall later."
"Unlikely," Seven said.
"I… am not a member of Voyager‘s crew," Seven said. "I’m on assignment here at Utopia Planitia."
"Too bad," Carey said. "Well, next time I’m in the neighborhood, I’ll drop by and say, ‘hello.’"
Seven made her way to the Jeffries tubes at the main doors to main engineering and began to search through the inner workings of Voyager. After some time, she noticed something unusual inside one of the panels.
"I have localized the temporal distortion," Seven reported to the Relativity through her communicator. "Deck Four, section thirty- nine." She removed the cover, revealing an odd device among the ship’s systems. "I’ve found the weapon."
"Begin the procedure," Duquesne’s voice said over her communicator. Seven began scanning the device, invisible to her human eye, with a compact, twenty-ninth-century tricorder.
In main engineering, an alarm began to sound on one of the control panels near Janeway. "Problem?" she asked as Carey stepped up to read the display.
"One of the EPS relays just went off-line," Carey muttered.
"Voyager‘s first malfunction," Janeway said to Patterson with a grin.
"I’m sorry, captain," Carey said. "I tested those systems this morning." He began to move towards the doors.
"As you were, lieutenant," Janeway said. "I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands dirty.
"The weapon is out of phase," Seven said. "You sent me to the wrong timeframe."
"At least we know where the weapon was placed," Duquesne said. "Now we have to determine when."
"That hatch is locked from the inside," Janeway said, holding a tricorder to the panel outside the Jefferies tube in which Seven was working.
"This isn’t a secured area," Patterson said. "None of these hatches should be sealed."
"I’m reading some kind of chroniton flux," Janeway said, her eyes focused on the tricorder.
"Chronitons?" Patterson asked.
"It’s coming from inside this Jeffries tube," Janeway said.
"Patterson to security," Patterson said, tapping his communicator. "Seal off Deck Four."
"I’ve been detected," Seven said. "I must leave."
"There’s too much interference from the weapon," Duquesne said. "We’ll recalibrate the temporal transporter. Give us a few minutes."
"I don’t have a few minutes," Seven said impatiently.
"You’re not thinking fourth-dimensionally," Duquesne admonished. "To you, no time will have passed."
"Understood," Seven said, then disappeared in the flash of a transporter beam.
Janeway, Patterson and a security team opened the hatch to find an empty Jeffries tube, much to their surprise.
"The question is," Janeway began, "what causes a chroniton flux of 0.003?"
"I don’t know," Patterson admitted.
"Neither do I," Janeway said bitterly, "but whoever, or whatever, it was is gone now."
The Twenty-Ninth Century
Seven of Nine materialized on the platform of the Relativity. "Do you know when the device was placed?" she asked immediately after materializing.
"Not precisely," Duquesne said, "but we’ve narrowed the window to a period two years before you joined the crew, when the ship was under attack."
Seven looked at the display that Duquesne was working on. "Species 329—the Kazon."
"Our database indicates," Duquesne said, "that Voyager was boarded twice during that period."
"The Kazon are an inferior species," Seven said matter-of-factly. "They don’t possess the technology to create such a complex weapon."
"We believe the saboteur infiltrated this time period," Duquesne explained, "because Voyager was in the middle of an attack. It was a perfect opportunity to evade detection."
"All hands to battlestations," the voice of Ensign Harry Kim sounded over Voyager‘s communication system as the ship rocked from the impact of a burst of Kazon weapons fire. "We’re under attack. Repeat, all hands to battlestations."
Seven made her way through the chaos of crew members scrambling through the corridors on their way to their assigned stations. Yes, she thought, this is the perfect opportunity to plant a destructive device. Not only is no one paying attention to who else is in the corridor, but Harry is obviously busy on the bridge fighting the Kazon.
The ship continued to rock as Kazon weapons impacted with Voyager‘s shields.
"Janeway to engineering," the captain said from her seat on the bridge. "We need warp engines."
"I can’t give them to you," Torres’ voice said over the comm system. "Not until I’ve repaired the containment generator."
"Time?" Janeway asked.
"I’ll need ten minutes," Torres responded. "At least!"
"Captain," Kim interrupted, "I’m picking up a strange reading on Deck Four."
"What kind of reading?"
"A chroniton flux," Kim responded. "0.003."
"Any idea what’s causing it?" Chakotay asked.
"Not yet," Kim answered. The ship rocked from another impact.
"It could be random interference from Kazon weapons fire," Tuvok offered.
"I don’t think so," Janeway said, having made her way to the Ops position, reading the displays over Kim’s shoulder. "I’ve seen these readings before."
Seven entered the Jefferies tube, opening the panel in which the bomb was being kept. Her optical implants revealed nothing there.
"There’s no sign of the weapon," Seven said.
"Any uninvited guests?" Braxton’s voice came over her communicator.
"Not yet," Seven said. "The device hasn’t been planted yet, but I was able to see it in the past; I can’t see it now. Why is this?"
"When it’s out of phase," Duquesne said, "it also exists in anti- time. Since you’re so close to the point of origin, it’s not visible to you yet."
"The lead vessel’s been disabled," Tuvok said. "The others are regrouping."
"B’Elanna," Chakotay said, pressing the comm button. "Status."
"Warp drive’s online," Torres’ voice came over the speakers. "But the containment field’s still unstable. Warp two is the best I can give you."
"I’ll take it," Chakotay said, then looked forward to Paris. "Engage." Voyager leaped to warp speed.
"They’re not pursuing," Paris said.
"Drydock," Janeway breathed.
"Ma’am?" Kim asked, confused.
"The first time I saw these readings," Janeway explained, "was a year ago when Voyager was in drydock. Same readings, same location."
"What caused them?" Kim asked.
"I never found out," Janeway said. "The signal vanished before we could isolate it. Erect a level ten forcefield around that section."
"Is this really the time to be chasing sensor ghosts?" Chakotay asked.
"Something tells me this is more than a coincidence," Janeway said. "Seal off Deck Four. Tuvok, you’re with me." Janeway and Tuvok stepped into the turbolift, the doors shutting behind them.
"They’ve erected forcefields around my location," Seven said. "I may have been detected. How shall I proceed?" There was no response. "Lieutenant, respond."
The Twenty-Ninth Century
"What’s wrong?" Braxton asked as alarms began sounding on Duquesne’s control panel.
"The forcefields are blocking our transmission," Duquesne replied.
"Compensate," Braxton ordered. "Seven of Nine, report."
"Relativity, are you there?" Seven’s voice said.
"It’s no use, sir," Duquesne said. "She can’t hear us."
"Tempus fugit, lieutenant," Braxton said impatiently.
Seven exited the Jeffries tube and began to walk down the corridor when she ran headlong into a forcefield. She turned and attempted to walk the other direction when a second forcefield blocked her in place. Janeway turned the corner and approached her.
"I don’t believe we’ve been introduced, ensign," Janeway said.
"Lower the forcefield," Seven said in an authoritative tone.
"I stand corrected," Janeway said. "We have met. Utopia Planitia. The briefing room," Janeway’s continued. "You said it was ‘efficient.’"
"You’ve mistaken me for someone else," Seven said.
"Oh, I don’t think so," Janeway replied. "So here you are, a year later, on the other side of the galaxy. Imagine that."
"You’re preventing me from completing a vital mission," Seven said.
"Who are you," Janeway asked firmly, "and what are you doing on my ship?"
"My designation is irrelevant," Seven said, "but I assure you I have no hostile intentions."
"Somehow," Janeway said, "I don’t find that very comforting. Are you working with the Kazon?"
"No," Seven said. "I am not."
"I’m detecting biomechanical implants," Tuvok said, looking at his tricorder. "They have a Borg signature."
"Janeway to the bridge," she said. "Scan the vicinity for Borg ships."
"Did you say Borg?" Chakotay’s voice replied over the speakers, a hint of giddy terror lacing his speech.
"Do it," Janeway ordered.
"You will find none," Seven said.
"Then how did you get here?" Janeway asked.
"I’m no longer Borg," Seven replied.
"Then who are you?" Janeway asked.
"I can’t answer your questions," Seven said.
"Why not?" Janeway asked pointedly.
"It would be a violation of the Temporal Prime Directive," Seven replied.
"You’re from another time," Janeway said, her voice belying her disbelief.
"Yes," Seven said.
"Who sent you?" Janeway asked.
"I can’t tell you that," Seven said. "I would be risking damage to the timeline."
"I don’t care if history itself comes unraveled," Janeway spat, "I want to know why you’re on my ship."
Seven’s twenty-ninth-century tricorder began beeping, catching Tuvok’s attention. "What’s that?" he asked.
"You must release me," Seven pleaded.
"Why?" Tuvok asked.
"Voyager is in grave danger," Seven replied.
"So we’ve noticed," Janeway said.
"Not from the Kazon," Seven said. "From an act of sabotage. I’ve been sent here to stop it. The intruder has already boarded the ship. Please, your lives depend on it."
"You’re not going anywhere until you tell me what’s happening," Janeway said flatly.
"My name is Seven of Nine," she said. "I’m a member of your crew. Rather, I will be a member of your crew. I’ve traveled back in time to try to prevent a disaster that will destroy Voyager."
The Twenty-Ninth Century
"Get her out of there," Braxton spat.
"I’ve tried," Duquesne said.
"Let’s see if I’ve got this straight," Janeway said. "You’re a Borg drone, attempting to prevent a disaster that won’t occur for another three years."
"Three years, six months and two days," Seven said.
"Does this make any sense to you?" Janeway asked Tuvok in hushed tones.
"Like most time paradoxes," Tuvok observed, "it’s implausible, but not necessarily illogical."
"Captain," Seven said, "when you take me from the Borg, you’re going to tell me that part of being human is learning to trust. Trust me. Now."
Janeway paused for a moment, considering the situation, then said, "Lower the forcefield."
"Seven of Nine to Braxton," Seven said. "Respond."
"Stay where you are," Braxton’s voice said. "We’re pulling you out."
"That would be unwise," Seven said. "I am pursuing the saboteur. With Captain Janeway’s assistance."
Braxton muttered something that Seven couldn’t make out, then said, "Proceed."
"Yes, sir," Seven responded. "The intruder is in Junction 52- beta."
"Take the starboard hatch," Janeway ordered Tuvok.
"Aye, captain," he replied.
Moments later, Seven and Janeway opened the hatch, catching the intruder by surprise.
"Captain Braxton," Seven said, shocked, as the intruder turned to face them. "Lower the temporal disruptor," she said a moment later after regaining her composure.
"It’s armed," an older version of Braxton said, pressing a button and raising the device. "I’ll activate it. Lower your weapons." Janeway looked to Seven, and they complied. "Janeway," he spat.
"Have we met before?" Janeway asked.
The Twenty-Ninth Century
"Too many times," the other Braxton’s voice responded. "But you wouldn’t remember. They haven’t occurred yet."
"Seven of Nine," Braxton said. "Report."
"I have located the saboteur," Seven’s voice said.
"Who is it?" Braxton asked.
"It’s you, Captain Braxton," Seven’s voice said.
"Me?" Braxton asked, shocked.
"More accurately, another version of you," the other Braxton supplied. "Now let me complete our mission."
"Our mission?" Braxton asked, utterly floored. "I don’t know what you’re talking about."
"Of course you don’t," the other Braxton said. "I’m from a timeline parallel to your own. Janeway is reckless. She has no regard for the integrity of the timeline. I asked for her help once. She refused, and I ended up stranded in the late twentieth century. Have you ever been to that timeframe? I don’t recommend it. After three decades with those post-industrial barbarians, I had to go through extensive rehabilitation, only to learn that she’d eradicated my entire timeline from existence! The only way recover is to obliterate Voyager from the timeline. That way none of the events that caused the destruction of my home would have occurred!"
"Can you get a lock on him?" Braxton asked.
"Negative," Duquesne said. "He’s activated a dispersal node. Or, in a way, you’ve activated a dispersal node."
"Don’t be absurd," Braxton said. "I have no wish to sabotage Voyager!"
"Of course not," Duquesne said. "Like he said, he’s from a parallel timeline that’s been eradicated. He spent thirty years on twentieth-century Earth; you didn’t."
"Remodulate the transporters," Braxton ordered. "Find a way to cut through the interference."
"Already working on it," Duquesne said.
"Seven of Nine," Braxton’s voice came over the communicator, "apprehend… the other Braxton."
"No," the other Braxton said, then pressed a button on his tricorder and disappeared in the flash of a transporter beam.
"Relativity, he’s escaped," Seven said.
"I’m tracking him," Duquesne’s voice said. "He’s traveled to another time frame. One year earlier."
"Transport me to those coordinates," Seven said.
"Stand by," Duquesne’s voice said.
Seven looked to Janeway. "Thank you for your assistance," she said, then disappeared in another flash of transporter energy.
"There’s still some work to be done," Patterson said as he and Janeway rounded the corner in a corridor, "but once the sawdust clears, I think you’ll be impressed. Voyager may not be as big as a Galaxy-class ship, but—"
Patterson was cut off as Janeway pulled him against a bulkhead, preventing him from being hit as the other Braxton ran down the corridor, Seven close behind.
"Take cover!" Seven yelled as she leveled her phaser. She fired, but the beam had no effect—he was apparently wearing some sort of personal shield. Seven took off down the corridor once more, recalibrating her twenty-ninth-century phaser to adjust automatically as she ran.
"Security, report to Deck Four, Section Twelve," Janeway said as she helped Patterson back to his feet. "Erect forcefields around all access points." She turned to Patterson. "Is this part of the tour?"
Further down the corridor, Braxton ran into a forcefield, stopping him in his tracks. He turned, to find Seven leveling her phaser at him once more. Before she could fire, he activated his tricorder again, disappearing in another burst of transporter energy.
"I’ve lost him," Seven said.
"He’s still on Voyager," Duquesne said, "but he’s gone four years ahead."
Janeway and Patterson came running up behind Seven, a security detail close behind. "Initiate transport," Seven said, then once more disappeared.
Tom Paris strolled down the corridor, whistling idly. Seven of Nine strode up behind him.
"Harry and I have challenged you and B’Elanna," Seven began, "to a competition."
"A competition?" Paris asked. "What kind of a competition?"
"’Ping pong,’" Seven said.
"Ping pong, huh?" Paris asked. "When did you pick that up?"
"Harry has been training me for the past two days," Seven said. "He said he’s looking forward to ‘cleaning your clock.’"
"No way," Paris said. "From what the Doc tells me, you’ve got a visual acuity index of 99.6."
"I suppose," Seven began, "that I will have to inform B’Elanna that you did not believe you could beat us. I believe she will be quite disappointed—she had already accepted, and she and Harry have arranged for a shipwide broadcast of the tournament tonight."
Paris and B’Elanna Torres were competing fiercely against Seven of Nine and Harry Kim. Paris managed to sneak a fast topspin past Kim.
"Point," Neelix said, keeping score. "Service."
"It’s all in the wrist," Paris said, grinning smugly.
"Score?" Torres asked.
"Nineteen, eighteen," Neelix responded. Suddenly, Braxton stumbled into the mess hall, pausing at the side of the ping pong table.
"Who are you?" Paris asked.
Soon, Seven—the other Seven, wearing a Starfleet uniform with her implants concealed—entered the room. She leveled her phaser as Braxton spun and brought up both his phaser and his tricorder.
"Bridge," Paris said, tapping his communicator. "Intruder alert. Deck Two."
The other Seven and Braxton fired their phasers simultaneously. Seven knocked Braxton’s tricorder out of his hand, the blast disabling it, while Braxton managed to hit Seven in the upper chest. She collapsed against the wall as Braxton retreived his tricorder and ran out the door.
Paris and Torres ran out the door after him, but Seven and Kim stayed behind, Kim’s eyes darting between the two Sevens.
"Explain," the past-Seven said.
"There is no time," future-Seven said. "You must apprehend him. He’s trying to destroy Voyager."
"Seven of Nine," Braxton’s voice came through her communicator. "Status."
"I am incapacitated," future-Seven said. "Braxton was able to shoot me with his phaser."
"Stand by," Braxton said. "I’m pulling you out."
"Stop him," future-Seven said to Kim and her counterpart. "Your future depends on it." She then disappeared in a transporter beam.
The Twenty-Ninth Century
"Braxton?" Captain Braxton asked.
"I disabled his tricorder," Seven said. "He’s trapped there. The crew is pursuing him. They will succeed."
"Let’s hope so," Duquesne said, "because we’ve run out of options."
"You again," the other Braxton said, trapped between walls and forcefields, facing Janeway.
"I don’t believe we’ve met, ensign," Janeway said, almost casually. "No, I’m wrong. We have met. Captain Braxton."
"Not anymore," Braxton said. "I lost everything thanks to you."
"Seven of Nine to… Seven of Nine," future-Seven’s voice came over Seven’s communicator. "What’s your status?"
"We have apprehended Braxton," Seven said. "How shall we proceed?"
"Stand by," future-Seven’s voice said.
The Twenty-Ninth Century
The other Braxton materialized aboard the Relativity, to face… himself.
"We meet at last," the other Braxton said, "yet I’ve always known you."
Moments later, after the other Braxton had been taken into custody, Janeway materialized on the transporter pad as well. "The Timeship Relativity," Janeway surmised after taking a moment to get her bearings.
"We need your help," Seven said.
"This Seven of Nine caught Braxton," Braxton said, "but she caused several temporal incursions along the way. She instigated a phaser fight at Utopia Planitia, she was seen by yourself and Lieutenant Tuvok two years before she joined your crew, and she interacted with her past self in front of fifteen crew members at a ping pong tournament that was on a live, shipwide broadcast approximately six minutes ago. Your time, of course."
"Of course," Janeway said, a little dazed.
"Needless to say," Duquesne supplied, "we need to clean up the timeline. Someone must go back to the beginning, and prevent the chain of events from occurring in the first place."
"I can’t make another jump without risking another paradox," Seven said, "as my timeline no longer exists."
"I’m not qualified," Janeway said.
"In exchange for leniency," Seven explained, "Captain Braxton informed us of the precise moment he boarded Voyager to plant the weapon. We’ll be sending you to stop him."
"No," Janeway said.
"Captain," Braxton said, "we need someone familiar with Voyager in case something goes wrong."
"Send Lieutenant Phillips," Janeway said. "Not only does he know Voyager, but he’s an agent for the Department of Temporal Investigations. He’s far more qualified to do this for you than I am."
"That wasn’t in our records," Duquesne said. "He’s listed as a science officer, nothing more."
"He is a science officer," Janeway said. "He was serving a temporary duty rotation aboard the Challenger when it was brought to the Delta Quadrant. His permanent posting was the Starfleet Division of DTI."
"Lieutenant," Braxton said, turning to Duquesne, "get him and bring him here."
"Aye, sir," Duquesne said. Within moments, Phillips was also aboard the Relativity.
"Now let me get this straight," Phillips said after Braxton and Duquesne had finished explaining the situation to him. "You sent a minimally-trained woman back in time to apprehend a temporal fugitive, who just happened to be an alternate universe version of yourself, and now you want me to go back in time and correct the damage to spacetime caused by her inexperience?"
"Yes," Braxton said.
"Why didn’t you just get me in the first place?" Phillips asked incredulously.
"We," Duquesne began, embarrassed, "we didn’t know you were a DTI agent."
"What?!" Phillips exclaimed. "How could you not know? The service records of all DTI agents are kept for reference, in case any future DTI agent needs a contact in the past!"
"You were listed as a science officer in the ship’s manifest," Duquesne said. "We didn’t look any further."
Phillips rolled his eyes. "One other question. Why are you using a timeship? Why don’t you just use the Guardian of Forever?"
"Q," Braxton muttered, feeling that was explanation enough.
"Oh, God," Phillips said. "I don’t want to know. I really don’t want to know!" He stepped onto the transporter pad. "Just send me back, unless you have some other information you need to share with me."
"Deck Four," the other Braxton said. "Section thirty-eight. I’ll stumble over a wounded crew member. That will be your chance to capture me."
"Don’t miss it," Duquesne said, "or we’ll have to do this all over again."
"Just put me in the right spot to catch him," Phillips said, "and not down the corridor where I may miss him trying to find the damned spot."
"Wait a minute," Janeway said, "he’s going back to catch Braxton—the other Braxton—but you’ve already got him."
"They’ll both be reintegrated and face trial," Duquesne said, "and, assuming a guilty verdict, of course, be sent back to their own timeline."
"But he said it doesn’t exist anymore," Janeway said. "They’ll die,"
"Yes," Duquesne said, "but that’s where he belongs."
"That’s inhuman," Janeway argued.
"He’s a temporal fugitive," Duquesne countered.
"Would you guys just send me back, please?" Phillips pleaded from the transporter platform.
Phillips materialized next to a wounded crew member. Braxton must not have materialized yet, Phillips thought. He took cover behind a nearby bulkhead. Within moments, Braxton materialized. The ship shuddered from a weapons impact, and Braxton stumbled over the crew member. Phillips rushed up to Braxton, grabbing the other man’s weapons.
"DTI," Phillips said. "You’re under arrest."
The Twenty-Ninth Century
Phillips, Seven and Janeway stood over Duquesne’s control panel as he factored in the mission.
"Incursion factor," Duquesne said, blinking, "nonexistent. Impressive."
"Glad we could lend a hand," Janeway said. "When do we go home?"
"You’ll be returned to your proper time periods," Duquesne said.
"Seven," Phillips said, knowing that in her timeline, Voyager would explode seconds after she would be returned. "I’m sorry."
"Irrelevant," Seven said, sorrow tinging her voice. "At least… I’ll be with Harry."
"Since none of your time jumps were to your foreseeable future," Duquesne continued, interrupting, "only the past, I see no reason to resequence your memory engrams."
"Gee, thanks," Phillips muttered. "Think we can’t keep a secret?"
"Remember the Temporal Prime Directive," Duquesne continued, ignoring Phillips. "Discuss your experiences with no one."
"Understood," Janeway said.
"Like hell," Phillips said. "My DTI superiors are definitely getting a report on this one when we get back to the Alpha Quadrant. I might even put in a note about how sloppy you guys were."
Duquesne and Braxton glowered at Phillips. "Captain Janeway," Duquesne continued, sounding almost pleading, "Voyager shows up on our sensors far too often. Try to avoid time travel."
"See you in the twenty-fourth century," Janeway said to Phillips as they stood on the transporter platform once more.
"Looking forward to it," Phillips said, unable to resist the joke. "Or, rather, backward."
Janeway held up a warning hand. "Don’t get started," she said. The two disappeared in the flash of the transporter.
"Seven," Braxton said, turning to the sole remaining transplant from the twenty-fourth century, "unlike my counterpart, you now get a choice. We can send you to your timeline, where you will die within seconds of your arrival, we can integrate you with yourself on another timeline, but your memories of these events will be supressed, or you can stay here and work for us as a field agent."
"If I stay," Seven began, "can you bring Harry as well?"
Braxton and Duquesne exchanged exasperated glances. "It’s frowned upon to ‘rescue’ people from eradicated timelines in the first place," Braxton began, "but we’re allowed certain… leeway in situations like these. You have potential as an agent, and I’d like to see you stay."
"I will comply," Seven said, "on one condition: bring Harry to this time as well. In my timeline, we would all die anyhow, and as the timeline has been ‘erased,’ any damage by bringing us here would be nonexistent."
"We’ll have to contact our superiors on this," Duquesne said. "What if we can’t?"
"Send me back," Seven said. "I would rather die on Voyager with Harry than continue to exist here knowing I had an opportunity to save him and did nothing."