Title: Picard's New Ship

Rating: T

Summary: It was supposed to be only a temporary assignment, to find Tuvok who was a spy among the Maquis and bring him home. For Captain Picard, and part of the crew of the former Enterprise, it turned into a very long journey and forming a little community.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Star Trek characters and I'm making nothing from this.

Chapter 2: The Caretaker (Part 2)

When Picard came to he was on the Bridge. Data was setting at helm and helped him up. He looked up and asked, "How long were we over there?"

"Three days, Captain," Data answered. "I was the only one sent back. Apparently they did not like the fact that I was not flesh and blood."

"Don't take it as an insult," he told Data. "Is everyone accounted for?"

"Computer, is the full ships condiment on board?" he asked.

"One is missing," the Computer answered. "Lt. Commander LaForge."

"Sir, the Maquis ship is powering up engines and weapons," one of the crew members told him.

"Put a tractor beam on it," he ordered.

"Tractor beam activated," Data said. "Sir, we're being hailed."

"On-screen," Picard said and the man that had use to be a Commander face appeared.

"So the famous Jean-Luc Picard has been sent to find us," he said. "I'm honored."

"Commander, it seems that one of our crew members is missing," Picard told him. "A Lt. Commander LaForge. Is he on your ship?"

"No," he answered. "We're missing a member of our crew as well, a B'Elanna Torres. My Engineer."

"I think that we should work together to not only get our missing crew member back but to get home. Does that sound agreeable to you?"

He saw one of the men nod and the commander said, "Very well. We'll beam on-board your ship."

"Their powering down their weapons," Data told him.

When they appeared Picard held his hand up to keep someone from firing. They had enough problems to worry about right now.

"So you must be Tuvok," Picard said to him.

"Captain," he said. "It's an honor to meet a friend of Spock."

"We're you going to bring us into their safe, loving, arms?" he asked Tuvok.

"My mission was to gather intelligence and then, bring you into their safe, loving, arms. Your correct."

Picard saw Chakotay glaring at Parris. "At least Tuvok was doing his duty as a Starfleet Officer. Unlike some."

"It's a pleasure to meet you again, Chakotay."

"We don't have time for this," Picard said. "Like it, or not, Parris is a member of my crew and you will show him the same respect as you've given me. Understood?"

"Of course, Captain."

"Now we need to return to the array and find out what happened to our missing crew members," Picard told them. "Parris, stay here."

"Yes, sir," he said.

"Data, your once again, with me."

When they arrived back on the array Beverly scanned the area.

"There is no detectable life signs," she told him.

"Which proves that this was a simulation," Data said.

"Well it's time for the fantasy to be over," he said. "Let's find the person that brought us here."

As they walked Picard noticed the old man that had been playing the banjo. He looked at them when they approached.

"What are you doing back?" he asked them.

"We're missing two members of our crews," Picard told him.

"Their fine," he said.

"While you think that their fine we would like to have them back," Chakotay told him.

"We're their commanding officers and their safety is the most important thing right now."

"You don't have what I need," he said.

Beverly sat down and said, "If you could tell us what it is, then we could get it for you."

"My lovely lady, I have used technology far greater than you can imagine. I'm running out of time."

"Time for what?"

"I've spent years trying to find a way but there's just not enough time anymore."

"Excuse me, but the only person that can return us home is you," Picard told him.

"Sending you back is highly complicated," he said. "Once again there's NOT ENOUGH TIME."

And they all reappeared on Voyager.

"I'm really starting to get tired of this," Beverly said.

"It's like a whatever old person having a five-year-old temper tantrum."

"Sir, while you were gone I have discovered that this being is sending energy to the fifth planet," Data told him. "I think we should head there."

"Do you think our missing crew members are there?" Chakotay said to him.

"That is a very good possibility."

"Do it," Picard ordered.

"Yes, sir."

Picard was setting in what looked like it was going to be his ready room when the door chimed.

"Enter," he said and when the door opened Tuvok walked in. "Mr. Tuvok."

"Captain," he said. "I've been doing scans of those energy pulses. Their increasing."

Picard took the PADD and said, "Increasing."

"Correct," he said. "It seems that whoever is on the planet is receiving energy that could be stored."

He looked at it and said, "I've been checking out this planet. It's an M class planet but there no water, no trees, no grass, nothing. It's like whatever was there has been destroyed."

"So the only thing they have is breathable air."

"Correct."

"Captain, can I say something?"

He looked at him and said, "Of course."

"When I heard that Voyager was coming to collect me I thought that Janeway would be the one to greet me. I wasn't expecting it to be you."

"And your disappointed," Picard said.

"Just intrigued," he said. "Vulcans don't suffer from disappointment."

"When Starfleet told me that I would be in temporary command of Voyager, after the Enterprise was destroyed, I thought it would be only one mission. I would bring Voyager back and I would start my command of the next Enterprise. Now, look where we are. Over seventy thousand light years from home and that entity has the power to send us home."

"Was there a reason that Janeway couldn't take command like she was supposed to?"

"Surgery," Picard answered. "I personally requested Data, Crusher, Geordi, and O'Brian to come with me on this mission. Now, it looks like that they will be part of the crew until we can get home. Let's hope that he will decide to send us back."

"I hope as well," Tuvok said. "May I make a suggestion, Captain."

"Anything."

"Get some sleep," he suggested.

Picard sighed, setting down, as Tuvok left.

The next day Picard was on the Bridge when both ships encountered a field of debris field. Whatever had destroyed these ships had done a number on them.

"What kind of weapons did this," Parris asked out-loud.

"Sir, there's a ship," Data said.

"On-screen," Picard ordered and they saw a small ship floating around. "Life signs?"

"One humanoid," Data answered.

"Hail him, Mr. Data," Picard said to him.

The screen turned on to show a lot of mess. Data and Picard shared a look and then a face appeared. He didn't look like anything that Starfleet had encountered.

"I don't know who you are, but this field is mine," he told them.

"My name is Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation Starship Voyager," he told him. "And our crew isn't interested in this field of yours."

"I have no idea what that means but that sounds very impressive," he said. "Very impressive. And since you're not interested in this field of mine what can I do for you."

Picard told him what had happened. When he was finished the man, who went by the name of Neelix, confirmed what Picard thought. The Caretaker, as Neelix said the Ocampa called them, had the power to bring ships here and he knew had the power to send them home.

"Do you know the reason that he's increasing energy to the planet?"

"I have no clue," Neelix said.

"And how well do you know this area?" Picard asked him.

"My knowledge is very extensive," Neelix told him. "But I have all of this interesting stuff to go through."

"We'll be more than happy to compensate you for anything that you have," Data told him.

"Well I doubt that you have anything that I could use," he said. "Except, well-."

"What is it?" Picard asked.

"Water," Neelix said.

"Help us out and we'll give you all the water that you could ever want," Picard told him.

"Well then, I'm at your service," Neelix told him.

"Transporter room, beam one humanoid on-board."

"On it, sir," O'Brian said.

"Beam-."

"We have a technology that can transport you from one place to the next in an instant," Picard told him. "It's quite harmless."

"Very well," he said.

"Let's hope that we can find a way to get our crewmembers back," Picard told Data. "Oh by the way, Mr. Data, did Spot survive the trip?"

"Spot is fine," Data said. "As is the kittens."

"I'm glad," Picard said.

Though he felt bad for the crew that might make a visit to Beverly's sickbay.

When Voyager arrived at the planet the plan was that Neelix would go with several of the crew members to exchange water for whatever information that would help them get their crew members back. Data had managed to convince Picard to stay on-board while he led the team that would go down to the surface. Two hours later Beverly called him to sickbay.

"If you had told us of your plan then we wouldn't have been better prepared," Tuvok told Neelix when he arrived.

"Welcome on-board Voyager," Picard told the girl. "What plan?"

Tuvok told him of what Neelix had done down on the surface and the look that he gave Neelix was a look that made most Ensigns run.

"I'm taking you away from here," he told her.

"Neelix, I believe that we should help them," she said. "Without our help they won't get their missing crew members back."

"But I got you back."

"With their help," she countered. "Captain, I can help you get down there."

"Is she okay to leave?" Picard asked Beverly.

"Just don't get made into a slave anytime soon," Beverly told her.

"I promise."

"Show us the way," Picard said. "Dr. come with me."

"Yes, sir," she said.

Kes led them down to the underground caverns. Picard had brought Data and Chakotay with him and ordered O'Brian to maintain transporter lock on everyone. Beverly was busy scanning for any sign of the missing crew members.

"We need to talk to any of the Doctors," Beverly told them.

"I'll follow you," Picard told her. "Data, Tuvok, go with Chakotay and see if they went in another direction."

The three nodded and they split up.

"Let's hope that we can find them," Beverly said.

Soon Kes came out and said, "They haven't been seen in a couple of hours."

"If they were heading for the surface, where would they go?" Beverly asked her.

"Probably the same way that I did," she said. "Follow me."

They ran down the corridor just as the sound of energy stopped and then things started to shake. Picard grabbed Beverly to keep her from falling and the three broke into a full run.

"Paris to Picard."

"Picard here."

"We found them," he reported. "We're heading for the surface."

"We're right behind you," Picard told him and they headed in the direction that Kes was going.

They climbed up the stairs, the room shaking with the energy that was making things way too unstable. Picard pushed Beverly to keep moving, knowing that her fear of heights might end up killing her or all of them. When they reached the top Data and Paris stayed behind to help Chakotay through the opening due to a broken leg. Paris stayed behind, but they all got back on the ship.

"Their firing on the array," O'Brian told them.

"Trying to destroy our only way back home," Picard told him.

"I doubt they care," someone said.

"I need to get back on the array and convince him to be able to head back," Picard. "Tuvok, can you activate the array?"

"I believe so."

"Then let's do it," he said.

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A/N: I did things a bit different with this chapter. I hope that all of you liked it and I hope that it answered a question if Spot went with Data on what was supposed to be a simple mission. I doubt that Data would go anywhere without that cat. And since I mentioned kittens then this happened after the events of Genesis.