Disclaimer: Paramount, you may own these characters, but if you come after me, I'll just change all their names slightly like The Doctor did in Author, Author and YOU'LL NEVER PROVE A THING! MUWAHAHAHAAAAA!
Author's Note: The following is a software patch for the Star Trek Voyager Episode Shattered. It repairs the damage done by the insidious Trojan Horse Virus , suspected to have been authored by B&B. It infected the storyline in post production and unfortunately the damage was not detected until after the episode aired. Please download and install to upgrade your memory files.
January 2008 word count:13,500 Rated T or PG-13
A PART OF YOUR LIFE YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT
Icheb sat in the mess hall staring at the three dimensional display PADD before him. Well, staring through it is more accurate. Several more PADDs some active, some not were scattered on the dining table around him. The quiet musings of a thin after-lunchtime crowd provided just the kind of white noise Icheb thought he needed to filter out the distractions in his mind. He had promised the chief engineer he would have his analysis of the field strength of the new proposed experimental warp core casing by o' nine hundred tomorrow morning. However, after re-reading the same beta test statistics for the third time and realizing he couldn't remember what he had just read well enough to formulate a conclusion, he allowed himself to recline back in his chair and stare out the window instead of pressing on.
She was so pretty. He wasn't successful at keeping her out of his thoughts completely. Maybe if he allowed himself the indulgence of a little fantasy it would clear his mind enough that he could continue fresh. His commbadge chirped. "Lieutenant Wildman to Commander Icheb"
Amazing. It was as if she was summoned by his very thoughts. He cleared his throat. "Go ahead"
"Are you busy? I'm having a little trouble with the resolution on the Astrometrics visual interface. I thought re-aligning the optical display relays would do the trick, but that only clears it for a second and then they go out of phase again. I think there is a short in one of the anodyne circuits. Can you help me track it down?"
"I'll be right there,-" He almost called her Naomi, but caught himself. "Icheb out"
Sometimes he hated the sound of his own name. He wished he had both a surname and a given name like most of the human members of the crew. Last names were for formal relationships, first names for personal. Inviting someone to use your first name meant inviting them into a closer relationship. No such luck here. He had a surname, of course, but when the truth came to light of what his parents had bred him to be, he didn't feel they deserved to be paid the honor of his using it. After all, Commander Chakotay had only one name and he had always gotten along fine. Icheb concluded if a single nomenclature was good enough for someone of the Commander's stature, then it was good enough for him.
He lingered a moment longer. He had to pull himself together. A relationship beyond what they already had could be dangerous. Icheb chided himself. Here they didn't even have a romance, it was all in his mind, and he was already hopelessly distracted. Think of the safety of the crew. The ship. The senior staff needed him to be at his best ". . . and the term "Senior" has taken on a whole new meaning in recent years, hasn't it?" Icheb allowed himself a little chuckle. As he looked around the room it was immediately apparent that there were many more gray heads then dark. No doubt about it, Voyager's gallant crew was aging. Except for Neelix. Apparently Talaxians don't gray with age, their hair gets thinner, shorter and more erect.
Icheb couldn't be sure, but out of the corner of his eye, he thought he saw Neelix staring at him. No doubt wondering why he had told Naomi he was on his way and here, three minutes later, he was sitting still. That was enough to finally get him moving.
He pushed the buttons on the PADDs that were active, their 3-dimensional holographic displays folded flat and de-illuminated. As he stood he gathered them into a neat stack that required both hands to carry and he pushed the chair under the table with his foot.
The dual doors of astrometrics obediently granted Icheb access at his approach. The sight before him caused a flash of their early years together on Voyager to fly into his mind. "Help me find a green piece that looks like Tuvok's ear, would you?"
There was Naomi, sitting cross legged on the floor surrounded by piles and piles of innard components clearly taken from the astrometrics user interface console. The access panel sat to one side and a bundle of fiber optic cable spilled out the opening and on to the floor. Squinting into a transdata array node held in her hand, Naomi was too absorbed in applying the microcaliper tool to notice him standing in the doorway.
An uncomfortable wave of indecision washed over Icheb. The memory of a jigsaw puzzle they had completed together so long ago seemed to encapsulate everything that was wrong with his pursuing a romantic relationship with her. He was twice her age when they first met. The age difference was less pronounced now, of course- but still, he was older than her. He had been her teacher, her tutor. . . perhaps in a moment of self-flattery he could even say he was her mentor. She probably thought of him as a father figure of sorts, or maybe a big brother. And on top of all that, he was her superior officer no less. He let out a quiet breath.
He couldn't stand there forever. Sooner or later she'd look up and catch him staring at her. Icheb decided he needed a witty remark to announce his entrance. The doors closed behind him as he stepped forward.
"I did not realize Astrometrics was scheduled for demolition today."
Her sparkling eyes flashed up at him and her look of concentration phased into a wry smile. "There you are. I was about to send out a search party."
His momentary composure was lost again. "Yes, I- there was, I needed to get down some of my thoughts. Just finishing up a report. Took longer than expected. Sorry"
Like the consummate Starfleet professional Naomi had trained to be all of her life, she proceeded to file a concise report to her superior officer. "I ran a full diagnostic. Nothing's wrong with the Astrometrics array itself, and the computer core is clearly processing the sensor data correctly. The images display properly on the auxiliary monitors, they're just not getting to the main screen."
Icheb saw what she meant. Duplicate ghost images of astronomical bodies polluted the clarity of the main viewer.
"I've ruled out everything easy." Her head in her hands, Naomi looked forlornly at the arrangement of components around her. "It must be the optical cable lattice in the wall behind the viewer."
"There's hundreds of feet of cable back there!" Icheb had a talent for stating the obvious. "It would take unknown hours to examine every inch of it for a weakness that may not be visible to the naked eye."
"I know. There is, however, another solution." The look on her face let Icheb know he wouldn't like what she had in mind. "We could just assume the whole lattice is bad. Rip out everything and start over. It would be a lot quicker then painstakingly chasing down a phantom short or an invisible weak connection."
"That would also be a lot more costly. Replicating that much polydivinite would use a tremendous amount of resources. I don't know if I can authorize it at this time."
She let out a sigh. "I thought you'd say that. I'll get started on examining the cable. Inch by painful little inch" She flashed him one of her famous smiles so he knew she was disappointed but not without understanding of the situation.
"I'll help you of course." Icheb's analytical mind sprung into action. He folded his arms across his chest and raised a curled finger to his chin. "Polydivinite is heat sensitive, isn't it?"
"What happens when it does overheat?"
"It becomes semi-liquid," she couldn't see where he was going with this line of questioning. "but I don't think the cable was damaged by overheating. The thermal insulators are working properly. I think it's all that shaking we all suffered through when Voyager got trapped in that explosive asteroid field last week."
Icheb tried to lead her along his path of thinking. "When the heat source is removed poly-d returns to it's original state. It's molecular structure is unchanged. It transmits optical information just as well as before."
Naomi's eyes brightened as her brain wrapped around the idea. "If we could apply the right amount of heat to the lattice it might melt just enough to fill in any gaps in connections that vibrated loose. When it cools, it may very well have glued itself back together!" She snapped her fingers and pointed at him. "Icheb, you're a genius!"
They worked well together. Taking into account the mass, individual cable diameter and overall square footage of the optical lattice, Icheb easily calculated the temperature necessary to sufficiently heat the material to achieve their goal. Naomi quickly devised a delivery system through the bioneural circuitry. They turned off the main screen to allow the polydivinite to cool while they kneeled down to work on reconstructing the user interface console.
"I sure hope you remember where all this stuff goes. Be a shame to fix the viewscreen and then not be able to use it because the interface is mysteriously inoperable." He teased.
"Relax, I always was good at jigsaw puzzles, remember?"
Her reference to something that took place so long ago and yet was so fresh in his own mind surprised him for a moment. Then he marveled at how much they thought alike.
Working in such close quarters they brushed up against each other repeatedly. Icheb liked the excuse to be within smelling distance of her wonderfully fragrant hair.
Naomi leaned in to the right of the opening as far as she could go. Her voice straining a little from the effort. "Ok, now I've just got to reconnect the transdata node to the underside of the tactile interface and I think. . . we're done."
Icheb leaned in behind her as close as he dare and took a long indulgent breath of her fabulous hair.
Naomi's arms dropped suddenly to the floor of the console. She cocked her head over her left shoulder at him. "Did you just smell my hair?" she asked incredulously.
Icheb drew back in fear. "No" He shook his head in the negative so vigorously his lower lip wagged.
"Oh." the demanding note of her voice was gone as she writhed her way out from under the console and popped back up to a standing position. He followed her. Cautiously. "Shame, as I just replicated a new shampoo this morning. It's a recipe of keenaberry and lavender I've never tried before." She pulled her own ponytail around to her face and took a deep breath. "I love the fragrance." She tossed her hair back over her shoulder enticingly. Icheb's stomach did a flip flop.
"May you what?" Again the sideways glance over her left shoulder.
"Smell your hair."
A satisfied smile crept across her face and she turned back to the console interface and began pushing buttons.
Icheb stood frozen. Unsure of what to do. A moment passed. When he didn't move, Naomi encouraged. "Well, I didn't say no."
That's all he needed to hear. He cupped both his hands as if to drink from a flowing fountain and brought the full bundle of reddish gold locks up to his face. He inhaled with a satisfied hum. "Intoxicating"
"I told you, it's the unique blend of keena-"
"No" he interrupted. "I wasn't referring to the shampoo. I was referring to you."
He gently set her ponytail around the right side of her neck. He placed his open palms on the tops of her shoulders and stepped forward so their bodies were just barely touching. A delicate tendon bulged out from under her ear and ran down her neck until it disappeared under her collar. He traced his nose just millimeters from her neck and breathed deeply. She rolled her head to one side to allow him better access. "Oh, Icheb" she whispered. His heart leapt at the pleasure in her voice. He was bathed in relief to know she didn't reject him.
In what may not have been the all-time worst timing in Starfleet history, but must certainly have ranked in the top ten, Voyager picked just that moment to find herself in the grips of a crisis. A low rumbling vibration spreading through the deck plating was their only warning of the violent lurch to come. Naomi threw both her arms onto the console to brace herself. Icheb's left arm also found the console and instinctively his right arm went around her waist. The room went completely dark. An EPS conduit in the ceiling ruptured. Showering sparks provided momentary illumination. Then darkness again. A silent red alert went up and the menacing ruby glow only accentuated the appearance of worry as they searched each other's faces in between seconds of darkness for an explanation as to what was happening. Low-level emergency lighting kicked in. One by one power flickered back to the auxiliary consoles.
"Icheb to bridge, report" Static.
"Icheb to engineering, status!" More static.
Naomi tried her commbadge, "This is Lieutenant Wildman to anyone who can hear me, please respond." Nothing.
In full officer mode, Naomi got to work. "Rebooting the astrometrics array."
Icheb crossed the floor to access a LCARS screen that was reporting ship's functions. He read out a litany of damage. "Environmental controls are fluctuating. Some kind of energy surge is circumnavigating the ship. EPS conduits are malfunctioning everywhere. Warp drive is off line. There's evidence that there was some kind of explosion in engineering." He turned from his screen to look at her "I better get down there."
"Astrometrics is back online."
Icheb looked up at the main screen. Any satisfaction he got from seeing the screen was once again operating at full resolution was quickly overshadowed by the gravity of the monstrous electrostatic anomaly off their port bow. "What is it?"
"I don't know, but the chronometric readings are off the scale. Whatever it is, it's part of Voyager now. The energy surge it threw at us isn't dissipating. It's laced throughout the ship like a vein in a leaf. I'm detecting temporal displacement on all decks. Internal chronometers are showing wildly varying dates and times. There are clear cut barriers between time zones dissecting the ship . . . and according to these readings . . ." Naomi double checked her calculations "There's a barrier just outside the doors to astrometrics."
Icheb looked at her, then back at the screen. He picked up one of the PADDs he had brought with him from the mess hall. He walked slowly toward the doors.
"Icheb!" She couldn't hide the concern in her voice.
The doors opened but Icheb didn't proceed. Everything looked ok in the hallway. A little too ok Icheb thought. There wasn't even a red alert outside as there continued to be in Astrometrics. He bowed his head as close to the opening as he dare to try to see further down the hall. Nothing of note. He tossed the PADD out the door. They watched as the atmosphere rippled around it and it vanished in mid air. He looked back at Naomi. "Yeah, I'm not going anywhere for awhile."
The relief on her face was unmistakable.