B'Elanna, Harry, and the Doctor approached the Delta Flyer cautiously, their phasers drawn. From all outward appearances, the Delta Flyer appeared undisturbed. B'Elanna pulled out her tricorder.
"I'm picking up life signs inside the Flyer," she said, keeping her voice low. She glanced at the shuttle. "I believe they are Sernaix."
"How did they get in?" the Doctor asked.
"Good question," B'Elanna said. She rounded the Flyer carefully. She was very aware that the Sernaix inside could detect their presence at any moment. She noticed that The Caprijen including Azuma had arrived, armed with various clubs, pikes, daggers and other primitive weapons. While she didn't have much faith in their weaponry, B'Elanna was certainly grateful for the added numbers. "I'm not picking up any signs of tampering. Wait -" she paused by the security panel next to the hatch. "It appears they used some kind of reverse algorithm to crack through the security encryption. I'm noting signs of alien code mixed in with ours."
She squinted, trying to make sense of the unfamiliar markings, but was unable to get a good readout before Harry grabbed her arm and pulled her to the side.
"What?" B'Elanna hissed. Harry showed her his tricorder in response. The Sernaix inside the Delta Flyer were approaching the hatch. Evidently, the Sernaix had detected their presence.
The Caprijens, along with Azuma, drifted away from the Delta Flyer, but remained nearby. B'Elanna didn't blame them for backing away; this wasn't their fight. Hell, it's not even my fight, B'Elanna thought. The ache in her head grew stronger and she had to lean against the Flyer for a moment to compose herself.
She checked her phaser, making sure it was set to the highest stun level. Truth be told, despite her hearty dislike of the Sernaix and their "shoot first, ask questions later" attitude, B'Elanna had no intention of killing anyone.
So much for an easy away mission, B'Elanna thought as she stepped away from the shadow of the Delta Flyer. She crouched in front of the hatch as the Doctor and Harry took their positions opposite of her.
At that moment, the hatch flew open and the two Sernaix appeared.
"Harry!" B'Elanna hissed as she noticed one of the Sernaix had already drawn his weapon, a thin stiletto type blade, one which looked exceptionally sharp. But Harry had already jumped to his feet, his phaser out.
"No!" B'Elanna screamed, knowing instinctively that the Sernaix would beat Harry to the draw. She lifted her phaser and fired. She took a few steps forward and fired again, just as the Sernaix leaped in Harry's direction. The other Sernaix was heading towards B'Elanna, his almond eyes narrowing as he waved his equally menacing blade in her direction. B'Elanna fired again and again, but to no avail. The Sernaix kept coming at her. B'Elanna backed away.
"What the hell is going on?" she hissed.
"Is that an energy weapon?" Azuma asked.
"Yes, of course," B'Elanna said. She hastily raised the levels on the phaser, setting it to "kill."
"Those don't work!" Azuma yelled as the Sernaix drew closer. B'Elanna fired again and yet the alien kept approaching her.
"You're telling me now?" B'Elanna screamed. She saw a couple of the Caprijen men had chosen to get involved in the fight and were helping Harry, but the Sernaix was still approaching her, undeterred by the phaser fire. In fact, by the leer crossing that ugly blue face made B'Elanna think perhaps the Sernaix reveled in the phaser fire.
"Give me that!" B'Elanna screamed. She grabbed a wooden club from one of the Caprijen men, and flung it in the Sernaix's direction. The club struck the Sernaix in the nose and for a moment, the alien's approach was stopped. "What works?"
"Nothing, just ancient weapons such as those. The aliens possess the capabilities to absorb energy through some device upon their person," Azuma explained.
"Well, you'd better come up with a plan," B'Elanna retorted. She spun around, looking for something she could use to defend herself. She glanced over her shoulder to see the Sernaix staring not at her, but at the Doctor.
B'Elanna made the connection between Azuma's earlier comment and the Sernaix's obvious interest in the EMH.
"Doctor!" B'Elanna yelled. "Take yourself offline!"
"Acknowledged," the Doctor said, obviously perturbed by the Sernaix. He reached for his holoemitter, but the Sernaix had already covered the distance between the two of them and was plunging his long, skeletal fingers into the EMH's holomatrix. The Doctor blinked out and then came back, slightly fuzzy and distorted.
"Help me!" B'Elanna exclaimed. She was already heading in the direction of the Doctor and with the help of several Caprijens, they managed to push the Sernaix away long enough for B'Elanna to grab the holoemitter.
"I'll see you later," she said under her breath as she took the EMH offline. She sincerely hoped that the Sernaix hadn't caused serious damage to the EMH, but that would be something to deal with when they returned to Voyager.
If they returned to Voyager...
B'Elanna turned her attention back to Harry. Along with some other Caprijens, he was attempting to disarm the Sernaix, but all of their actions seemed to be grounded in futility.
How could the Sernaix, against so many people, still have the upper hand?
"B'Elanna!" Azuma screamed.
B'Elanna whirled around to see the second Sernaix alien coming straight at her. She dropped the holoemitter and grabbed a dagger from one of the assembled Caprijen. Already, her muscles ached with tension as she crouched, waiting for the Sernaix to attack.
"Show me what you've got," she taunted him. The Sernaix laughed at her, a laugh which shook his reed-thin body.
"You are a foolish woman, humanoid."
"You aren't the first person to tell me that. I'm sure you won't be the last."
The Sernaix leaped at B'Elanna, but she ducked out of the way, grateful for the first time in years for the Klingon exercise programs Tom had created for her.
They circled each other warily, neither daring to make the first move. Around them, the Caprijen watched with bated breath. B'Elanna tried to ignore the shouts coming from nearby; she guessed Harry must be in the thick of fighting and she couldn't allow herself to be distracted by anxiety for her friend.
"Surely we can talk about this," B'Elanna panted.
"There's nothing to talk about," the Sernaix sneered. He reached out, the tips of his long fingers barely skimming B'Elanna's cheek. B'Elanna jumped out of the way, bumping into Azuma.
"I'm okay, I'm okay," B'Elanna assured the alien woman. She inhaled deeply and held her dagger out in front of her. Just beyond the fountain, she saw Harry trip, fall, the Sernaix standing over him, a look of triumph etched across that narrow blue face...
B'Elanna lunged forward; the suddenness and speed of her action took the alien by surprise and the dagger plunged into the soft skin in his side. The alien snarled and reached for B'Elanna's neck.
"Not so fast," she breathed. She pushed against him as hard as she could, sending him flying in the opposite direction. The Sernaix scowled, but made no move to retaliate.
"Are you giving up?" B'Elanna challenged.
"We do not give up. We are the defenders of the realm."
"Yes, I got that the first time you said it," B'Elanna told him. "Look, we don't want to hurt you. Just leave us alone and we'll be out of your way-"
The Sernaix stopped, his eyes twitching and glassy. He glanced over his shoulder at his fellow Sernaix who was still standing over Harry's prone body. And then, just as mysteriously as they had arrived, the Sernaix vanished.
B'Elanna rushed to Harry's side. The ensign struggled to sit up. She helped him gently, her hand at the base of his back and the other behind his shoulders. To her horror, B'Elanna saw that Harry was bleeding profusely from his shoulder. She beckoned to Azuma, who brought the Doctor's medkit. Quickly, B'Elanna found a coagulant factor and injected it into Harry.
"That should slow the bleeding," she told him. "I don't want to bring the Doctor online, because the Sernaix seemed to absorb energy and they seemed especially interested in him. I don't want to give them a reason to come back."
B'Elanna pulled a cloth bandage out of the medkit and pressed it against Harry's wound, hoping the pressure along with the coagulant would stem the bleeding.
"That explains why my phaser was practically worthless," Harry said as he struggled to his feet. He swayed slightly, groaning as a fresh stab of pain hit him.
"Easy, Harry." B'Elanna took his arm and led him to the edge of the fountain. "I think you've played hero enough for one day. Sit still for a moment, okay?"
Harry sank down onto the stone wall. "I haven't felt this bad since Tom and I were captured by Akritirians."
B'Elanna nodded, recalling the time early in Voyager's time in the Delta Quadrant when Harry and Tom had been falsely imprisoned under horrific conditions. Even now, Tom refused to discuss the graphic details of that incarceration with her and until today, B'Elanna had never heard Harry mention the incident either.
B'Elanna pulled out her tricorder and scanned Harry. "You will live to fight another day, Starfleet. I wonder what the Sernaix wanted."
Harry, his face pale, shook his head.
"Your guess is as good as mine," Harry said. Now that she had attended to his primary wound, B'Elanna took stock of her friend. He had several cuts on his face as well as an angry welt forming on his cheek.
"Can you stand?" she asked gently as she rose. Harry nodded and with B'Elanna's assistance, he stood up, albeit still a bit shakily.
"Are you leaving?" Azuma asked. B'Elanna turned around to face the Caprijen woman.
"I'm afraid we have to," B'Elanna said. "My friend is hurt and we need to get him back to Voyager."
"We have doctors."
"I know," B'Elanna said softly. "But we need to get back to our ship. Our Captain will want to know about this encounter with the Sernaix."
"The Sernaix?" Azuma looked confused.
"The aliens. The blue horned people who were just here," B'Elanna said. "They call themselves the Sernaix."
"We never knew what they were called," Azuma said. Her silver eyes drifted to a spot somewhere beyond B'Elanna. "They simply came, time after time, taking everything we had. When we developed the cloaking system, they bothered us no more. We were... safe."
"What about the Keeper?" B'Elanna asked abruptly, causing Harry to glance at her with obvious concern. "Do the Sernaix know about that?"
"No, we do not think so," Azuma said. "But in their hands..."
Harry and B'Elanna exchanged a look; they knew so little of the Sernaix, but the thought of the Sernaix, with their powerful technology, capturing the Keeper troubled both Harry and B'Elanna.
"The modifications I made to the Keeper should hold you until you find a more permanent solution," B'Elanna said.
"Thank you," Azuma said. "We're grateful for your assistance."
Harry moaned and B'Elanna looked at her friend in concern. His bandage was already soaked through; evidently the wound was deeper than she had earlier thought.
"We've got to get back to Voyager," B'Elanna said. She squeezed Azuma's hand. "Good luck to you."
B'Elanna helped Harry to his feet, letting her friend lean all of his weight on her.
"Come on," she said softly. "We're going home."
On the trip back to Voyager, B'Elanna piloted the Delta Flyer while Harry gave a complete debriefing to the Captain and Chakotay, both of whom were stunned by the Sernaix attack.
"I didn't expect an outright attack on my people like that," Janeway said. "Not after the recent meeting we had."
"Well, they weren't looking to make friends, I can tell you that," Harry said. B'Elanna nodded.
"It was definitely a 'shoot first, ask questions later' scenario," she said. "And we learned some interesting things about the Sernaix."
"I look forward to hearing about your encounter," Janeway said. "I'll meet you in the shuttlebay."
"Understood. Delta Flyer out."
Harry groaned as he settled himself into his seat. B'Elanna glanced at him.
"There's some painkillers in the medkit," she said. "That should help."
"Good idea," Harry said. He rose from his seat and made his way back to the shuttle. B'Elanna pulled up a view of Voyager. They were only minutes away from landing in the shuttlebay and she was incredibly relieved to see the starship on the viewscreen. Home, she thought, Voyager is home. Acknowledging Voyager as home made her feel slightly ashamed of the fact that she had even suggested settling on the Caprijen planet earlier. As if anything could replace Voyager...
"B'Elanna?" Harry called.
"What is it?" she didn't turn around, instead kept her focus on bringing the Delta Flyer in for a smooth approach. The shuttlebay doors slid open and the force fields which separated the bay from the vast expanse of space dropped.
"I found something," Harry said. He made his way back to the front of the Flyer, his gait slow and measured due to some of the injuries he had sustained in the fighting. B'Elanna turned slightly to give Harry her attention. "What do you think of this, B'Elanna?"
Harry showed her a small black metal square, each side about a centimeter in length with a thickness not much more than human fingernail. Small hairlike prongs stuck up from the square.
B'Elanna frowned, fingering the cool metal. She could feel the ridges of microtechnology beneath her fingertip. "Put it in the toolkit. We'll take a closer look in Engineering." She turned her attention back to the viewscreen as the console in front of her blinked, indicating that all was in preparation for the shuttle to land.
"Right." Harry slid into his seat as B'Elanna maneuvered the Flyer into the shuttlebay. They set down gently and Harry smiled. "Nice job, Maquis."
B'Elanna shrugged off the praise and then helped her friend exit the Delta Flyer. As promised, the Captain was waiting - with Miral cuddled in her arms - for them.
"Good to see you," Harry said. He attempted a smile, but B'Elanna could see, despite the painkillers, Harry still experienced some residual pain. She speculated the knife wound to his shoulder was deeper than she had thought.
"I'm glad to see you're both in one piece," the Captain responded. "Are you all right, B'Elanna?"
"Nothing wrong with me that a good night's sleep won't take care," B'Elanna said. "And how is my baby?"
"I kidnapped her from Ensign Wildman on my way. Captain's prerogative," Janeway said as B'Elanna took the baby. B'Elanna smiled, brushing her lips lightly against Miral's head. The baby smelled so clean, so fresh.
"Hi," B'Elanna whispered against the baby's cheek. Miral grabbed a chunk of B'Elanna's hair, clutching it in her chubby little fingers and B'Elanna held her baby closer. Never would she have thought a baby could make her feel so complete. Holding Miral and instinctively understanding the little sounds the baby made caused B'Elanna to smile.
"Oh, I almost forgot," Harry said. He pulled out the Doctor's holoemitter and brought the EMH back online.
"Please state the nature of the- hello there, Captain," the Doctor said. "I have to say, it's good to be back onboard. My trip to the planet was considerably more adventurous than I would have predicted."
"So I hear," the Captain said dryly. "Any reason for the attack, Mr. Kim?"
"B'Elanna and I debated reasons on our way back, but we haven't come to any firm conclusions," Harry said. "The Sernaix were obviously after something, but I'm not sure what. None of our systems, other than the security systems, appeared to be tampered with."
"You've obviously learned a great deal about the Sernaix," Janeway commented. "Perhaps we can use that knowledge to our advantage."
"Everything we've discovered has been purely physiological, nothing to do with technology. Their energy absorption techniques make many of Voyager's weapons next to useless. Not a good sign if we have to face the Sernaix again in a combat situation."
"As fascinating as this conversation is," the Doctor interjected, "Ensign Kim has sustained some injuries due to his ill-advised heroism and it's necessary to get him to sickbay."
Janeway cast an amused glance in the direction of her medical officer. "Very well, then. Ensign," she said, "you can fill me in on the way."
"You're just jealous we had to take you offline and you missed a chance to play hero," B'Elanna said cheekily. She gestured in the direction of the door. "After you, Harry."
"I owe you both an apology for my actions down on the planet," B'Elanna said. She watched as the Doctor ran a dermal regenerator over Harry's various bruises and scratches. Janeway had taken custody of Miral once again and was cooing - uncharacteristically - at the baby in a way that amused B'Elanna greatly.
"It's expected from you," the Doctor said. "There you are, Ensign Kim. Good as new, if not better. Frankly, Lieutenant, if you weren't so headstrong, things would be a lot more simple around here."
B'Elanna scowled. "I should have left your program offline."
"It's all right, B'Elanna," Harry broke in. "I can understand that the possibility of revisiting your past, of being able to change those things which have always nagged at you - it is tempting. Like I said before, I don't know if I would have been able to turn away either if the Keeper had offered me a similar chance."
"I know," B'Elanna said. She ran her fingers over the edge of the biobed. "Getting back to the Alpha Quadrant didn't matter to me as much as it did to other people. I had no one waiting for me the way you did and then I made contact with my father. That conversation, brief as it was, convinced me that maybe the two of us could have a relationship in the future. Now I've lost that chance. As for my mother, well, I don't even know if she's alive or not. To have had that opportunity..." her voice drifted off as she focused on Janeway, who appeared completely enthralled by Miral.
"It's all right," Harry repeated. The Doctor nodded his agreement, compassion crossing his holographic features. B'Elanna looked up as the sickbay doors opened, revealing Tom and Chakotay.
"Hi," B'Elanna said softly as Tom wrapped an arm loosely around her waist. "I'm glad to see you."
"I was hoping you'd say that," Tom said teasingly. He looked at the Doctor. "Can I take my wife home now, Doctor?"
"Yes," the Doctor nodded. B'Elanna took Miral from Janeway and then followed Tom out the door.
Janeway exchanged a glance with Chakotay as Harry slipped off his biobed.
"One minute, Ensign," Janeway said. "We have something to discuss."
Harry looked curiously at Chakotay, who remained somber and unsmiling. There was no hint of anything on the first officer's face and Harry couldn't help but feel uneasy as the Captain appeared equally serious.
"Of course," Harry said. He rounded the biobed so he was directly facing the Captain. The Doctor remained where he was, but his facial expression displayed equal curiosity.
"I believe you need this," Chakotay said, handing Janeway a small rectangular case.
"This is long overdue, Harry," Janeway said quietly as she opened the box, revealing a single pip resting against a blue velvet background. "But your actions, today and in the past, have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are deserving of the rank of lieutenant." She carefully attached the pip to Harry's collar, her fingers brushing lightly against his neck. The pip secured, Janeway took a step back and admired her handiwork. "There will be a party tonight to celebrate your promotion in the messhall at 2100 hours. I believe Chell will unveil a new dish-" Janeway grimaced at the prospect - "in your honor."
"Sounds, um, delicious," Harry said, color rising in his cheeks.
Chakotay clapped Harry on the shoulder.
"That pip looks good on you," Chakotay said. "Congratulations. You earned it."
Harry beamed as the Doctor added his own well wishes. Janeway folded her arms against her chest, letting a slow smile spread across her lips.
"Now you're dismissed," she said. "Lieutenant." She laid emphasis on the final word.
"Aye, ma'am," Harry grinned. He nodded at Chakotay. "I'll see you on the bridge."
Janeway sighed as Harry left the sickbay and Chakotay leaned towards her in anticipation. The Doctor, recognizing when his commanding officers needed a private moment, discreetly excused himself.
"Well?" Janeway asked, frowning, all signs of her earlier good mood dissipating. "You heard what B'Elanna and Harry had to say about their encounter with the Sernaix. Maybe I'm mistaken, but I thought we had reached a level of understanding with Ilix."
"Perhaps the Sernaix on the planet didn't know about the meeting here on Voyager," Chakotay suggested. "It could be they were looking for their injured comrade and when they couldn't find him, they chose to break into the Flyer."
"I hope you're right," Janeway said, her gaze focusing on the Doctor, puttering away in his office. "But I find it hard to believe a race as advanced as the Sernaix would suffer a breakdown in communication. I have the funny feeling they're up to something."
Chakotay didn't say anything but he had the sinking feeling Kathryn was right; the Sernaix had something up the proverbial sleeve, and frankly, he didn't want to know what that was. He rested his hand lightly on Janeway's forearm and met her gaze intently.
"Whatever it is, Voyager is more than up to the challenge," he assured her. A flash of cockiness and determination crossed Janeway's face and Chakotay knew, when push came to shove, the Sernaix didn't stand a chance against Kathryn Janeway.
Tom returned to the bridge, leaving B'Elanna alone in their quarters with Miral. Miral was drowsy as she rested against B'Elanna's shoulder, her tiny fingers shoved into her mouth. B'Elanna rocked gently back in forth in the new chair Tom had replicated for her shortly after Miral's birth.
thought, was the perfect moment - one filled with all the dreams and aspirations
she had for her own child. Idly, she wondered if her own mother, that other
Miral, had enjoyed a similar moment with her.
What had been Miral Torres' last words to her?
"If you were a mother, you would know..."
B'Elanna's throat tightened. She had never put much weight on Miral's words, thinking it one those of useless comments mothers hurled at their daughters in volatile situations, but now, holding her own Miral in her arms, B'Elanna began to understand truly the significance of what her mother had been trying to tell her.
"Miral," B'Elanna whispered to her now sleeping daughter. "I'm glad we're alone because there's something I've been meaning to tell you. Rather, it just occurred to me and I'm afraid you're going to have to indulge your mother in a little bit of silliness, just for a moment or two."
B'Elanna carefully got up from the rocker and carried Miral to the crib. She laid the baby down gently. Gently, she covered Miral with a little pink blanket embroidered with a graphic of Voyager - a gift from the Captain - and touched Miral's soft cheek with her fingers.
"I'm only just now realizing you're going to grow up into your own special, unique person," B'Elanna smiled in anticipation of all of the milestones Miral would encounter. Some would be pleasant, others would be wrenching - but B'Elanna knew she would treasure every moment. "I'm sure we're going to have a lot of disagreements as you get older. I won't always do what you want me to do and I'm not always going to see things your way. In fact, there are going to be times when I stand in your way. You're going to have to be patient with me because there are no manuals on how to be a good mother, but I'm going to do my best for you and I hope you understand that."
In her crib, Miral's little pink lips opened slightly and then closed, the lips turning up into the tiniest semblance of a smile. B'Elanna carefully smoothed the blanket over Miral's round body, resting her hand lightly on Miral's stomach.
"I'm glad we had this talk," B'Elanna said.
As she stood alone in the quiet of the quarters she shared with Tom Paris, with their daughter, B'Elanna was very aware of all of the signs of the life they were building together, all of the little touches which made this home.
And that realization made the knowledge of what she could have had - and more importantly, what she could have lost - all the more painful.
In the privacy of the turbolift, Harry reached up to finger the new addition to his collar. He smiled to himself and then, as the doors opened onto the bridge, he composed himself into the very image of what he imagined a lieutenant should look like.
"I see you got your pip," Tom said, turning around in his chair to face Harry. Harry offered his friend a smile as he headed to his station. "But you know, I still outrank you."
"For now," Harry answered cheekily.
"Gentlemen," the Captain said, but there was no heat to her voice; she was obviously enjoying the light moment as well.
Harry activated his console, taking a moment to reacquaint himself with this area of space. He ignored the others as they chatted idly back and forth as he reran a sweep of the sensor grid. Nothing out there but stars, the occasional M-class planet and... the console beeped at him. Harry's fingers flew over his console as he attempted to make sense of the readings. There was, theoretically, nothing out there, but that energy distortion, the pattern of the waves looked vaguely familiar.
"What is it, Harry?" the Captain rose to her feet, propelled by the urgency in Harry's voice.
"I'm picking up an energy ripple..." he worked furiously, watching as the wave patterns took form on his consoles. "I think it might be the Sernaix!"
"Hail them," Janeway ordered crisply. She advanced towards the viewscreen, hands on her hips.
"No response. I'll try again on all frequencies. Sorry, Captain, still nothing," Harry reported in frustration as he watched the scanning band run through all possible channels. "They're ignoring us."
"And I thought we were friends," Janeway said, the words dripping with sarcasm. She turned towards Harry, a questioning look on her face, but he had turned his attention back to his console. Still no Sernaix ship visible, only energy ripples - damn, what kind of technology did they have anyway? By studying the wave distortions, he could just decipher the outline of the ship.
"I got you now," Harry said under his breath, as he rendered what he thought might be a reasonable facsimile of the ship. "You're a beauty, aren't you?"
"Captain!" Tom's voice jolted Harry out of his thoughts. "I'm picking up some kind of directed energy pulse coming directly towards us."
"Evasive maneuvers! Tuvok!" Janeway whirled around, just as Chakotay ordered a red alert.
"I'm powering-" Tuvok didn't finish his statement as Voyager was rocked by a powerful blast, causing most of the bridge crew to lose their balance.
"Damage report," Chakotay said, twisting around in his chair to face Tuvok.
"Minor damage to decks three and four," Tuvok reported. "No injuries reported."
"Shields are at forty-three percent, Captain!" Harry called out. Janeway exchanged a look with her first officer, who had now risen to join her at the helm. "I doubt we can sustain another blast of that intensity without serious damage or casualties."
"Reroute all secondary power sources to the shields," Janeway ordered. "And take all unnecessary systems offline."
"Captain?" Tom turned away from the helm, a puzzled expression on his face. "The Sernaix are gone."
"Gone?" Janeway glanced at Chakotay. "Harry?"
"Nothing," Harry confirmed. The wave distortion patterns had indeed disappeared from his console. "They're not out there, Captain."
Chakotay stood very close to the Captain, keeping his voice low.
"What was that all about?" he asked.
Janeway turned to face him grimly. Perhaps all of their talks with the Sernaix had been in vain. Chakotay had been right; they were dealing with an enemy who had no desire for peace. Looking back now, Janeway wondered how she could have been so easily deceived. It hurt to have to admit this, but Janeway kept her voice steady as she spoke.
"My guess is that Adimh Liven didn't like my proposal," she said. "Though, I would have appreciated a note to that effect much more than another display of the Sernaix's weaponary."
"Would you like me to to try hailing them?" Harry called from his station. Janeway shook her head.
"No, Lieutenant," she said. "I got the message. It's a warning. Nothing more, nothing less. I guess we really are all alone out here."
She took another look at the viewscreen; nothing out there except for the blackness of space. Janeway squared her shoulders.
"Chakotay," Janeway said. "Put Voyager on a twenty-four hour tactical alert. Harry, Seven, update the database with everything we know about the Sernaix. Next time we face them, I want to be ready."
~ The End ~
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