Star Trek Voyager: Terra Nova - Episode 1
Battered and bruised, Voyager orbited Terra Nova, sliding through space a thousand kilometers above the lush surface of this world. The warp nine battle fought with the Borg scout had inflicted severe damage to the solitary Starfleet vessel, and most of her primary and secondary systems remained offline as they awaited repair by the ship's skeleton crew.
Thrusters were managing to maintain a stable orbit, but both warp and impulse engines were non operational, in addition to the absence of deflector shields and weapons.
If a second attack was forthcoming, the dozen souls sheltered within Voyager's blackened hull could not count fight or flight amongst their options. Throwing themselves on the mercy of the Borg would only result in a quicker assimilation, a less bloody absorption into the hideous hive of the Collective.
As he gingerly moved through a wreckage-strewn corridor on deck six, Tuvok concluded that if a second Borg vessel approached Terra Nova, a painless death was all they could hope for.
In these times of navigation systems that could pinpoint a vessel's position to within a few meters, massive interstellar ships rarely collided with each other unless intended to do so. Privately, Voyager's acting captain wondered if he could issue such an order when the time came.
If a second attack did indeed come in the next few hours, Tuvok decided that he would find out.
He found the door to sickbay already open when he arrived, clearly inoperative like most of its fellows throughout the primary hull.
The Vulcan stepped into the large room and surveyed the damage, illuminated by the murky red emergency lighting overhead. He was thankful that the medical centre had suffered only superficial damage, equipment littered the deck but most of the biobeds and the central examination table appeared operational.
It was at the central table that the holographic doctor now worked, hurriedly dispensing medication to his patient as he moved around the biobed with his customary precision. For one whose every motion was governed by the countless subroutines that made up his holographic program, such precision could always be guaranteed.
The Doctor glanced up, reacting to the sound of footsteps on the deck, and met Tuvok's intense gaze. His expressive face was a mask of concern, completing the flawless illusion that this holographic physician was as 'real' a being as any other human Tuvok had encountered.
After a brief pause as if to gather his thoughts, the Doctor replied to his commander's unspoken question.
"I'm afraid Lieutenant Rollins has suffered a severe neurological trauma," the hologram began, speaking in a muted tone. "I've been able to stop the internal bleeding but I've had to induce a coma to protect his higher brain functions."
Tuvok looked down at his fallen crewman, who currently lay immobile beneath the clamshell diagnostic scanner of the biobed. Rollins had served under Tuvok as part of Voyager's security detachment since the starship's launch from McKinley Station almost four years earlier, and in that time had proved himself to be one of the most competent and loyal officers that the Vulcan had served with during a century in Starfleet.
As illogical as the sentiment was, Tuvok couldn't fully suppress the sensations he felt at the sight of one of his own people lying injured before him. With Janeway gone and command having fallen to him, everyone onboard was now one of his own people, whether they served in science, command or operations.
"What is his prognosis?" Tuvok asked.
The Doctor seemed to hesitate again. "I've done all I can for him," he said finally. "Mr. Rollins is young and he is strong, but if he does not wake up within twelve hours it's unlikely that he ever will. I'm sorry."
The Vulcan regarded the hologram for a long moment. He struggled to suppress the feeling of anger that was beginning to rise up inside him, determined that he would not allow emotion to overtake his sense of duty to the people under his command.
"It occurs to me, Doctor, that if you had been onboard when Mr. Rollins was injured he would not be fighting for his life on your diagnostic table."
The hologram's head snapped around, clearly taken aback by the allegation that was evident in Tuvok's statement.
"It also occurs to me," Tuvok continued, "That the thirteen minutes Mr. Rollins spent lying in your empty sickbay after receiving his injuries before you arrived onboard to treat him may have contributed to the seriousness of his condition."
The doctor's jaw visibly tightened as he turned to meet the allegation head on, his eyes wide with barely-restrained fury at what he was being forced to hear.
"There's no way we can know that!" the hologram hissed. "I've done everything I can to give Mr. Rollins a fighting chance at life! As a physician I could do no less!"
Tuvok forced himself to appear impassive. "I do not question your competence as a physician, Doctor," he stated. "Nor do I doubt that you have done everything in your power to help your patient. I do, however, question your dedication to Voyager and her crew."
"What are you trying to say?" the Doctor snapped.
"While you were on the surface treating allergies and bruised elbows," Tuvok continued, "Lieutenant Rollins was fighting for his life in his very surgical bay with no physician present to treat him, his injuries sustained fighting an enemy vessel with intent to destroy this colony."
The hologram was speechless.
"As a result of this dereliction of duty toward the ship and its crew, I have decided that with immediate effect your program will be limited to performing medical duties here in sickbay, as the emergency medical hologram was always intended to do."
"You can't do that!" the Doctor exclaimed.
"I can," Tuvok told him curtly as he moved across to the main diagnostic terminal and entering a series of commands. "And I have. Lest you forget, Doctor, you are as much a piece of Starfleet technology as a tricorder or a phaser. You are an emergency program designed and created by a Starfleet programmer for use aboard Federation starships."
He plucked a small piece of equipment from the top of the console. "Your mobile emitter will be placed in storage until such time as your presence on an away-mission is unavoidable."
"And the colonists?" the hologram asked breathlessly. He was visible shaken by what was happening to him, his alleged dereliction of duty and the sudden withdrawal of the freedom that he'd become accustomed to in the last year.
"Any surgeries you wish to hold can take place here on Voyager," Tuvok answered, hearing the emotion in his voice. "But from this moment on your first duty will be to this vessel and this crew, and not a group of individuals who have chosen to abandon ship and set up home on the planet below."
The building confrontation, having threatened to reach flashpoint, suddenly ceased. Silence reigned in sickbay as the two men stared at each other across the dark room.
"If only Captain Janeway could see you now," the Doctor said finally. Bitterly. "Your actions today betray her memory, and I deeply regret that she is no longer in command of Voyager."
With nothing left to say, Tuvok turned and headed for the open doorway, clutching the advanced mobile emitter in his hands. As he left, he could almost feel the hologram's vehement gaze on his back, watching him go.
"As do I, Doctor," the Vulcan muttered as he went. "As do I."