The stellar pornography spreading its infinite opening for the ships forward view screen scared the stool out of Neelix. Space isn’t supposed to bend colourfully like that, and any ship which got too close would bend equally as colorfully. Only idiots and loonies seek out this kind of (as humans understate the overwhelming threat) “phenomena” without a disrupter to their head. If he was still on his proud little ship where the Talaxian scoundrel was the Captain making sensible decisions, even this minute singularity would mostly likely be the last thing he ever saw before explosive decompression set in, but that was then and this is now. Equinox isn’t so easily frightened. The crew isn’t easily frightened either. Their technology makes mankind so arrogant and prideful. Something awful happening to every last one of them is almost inevitable, constantly proving how impossibly dense on exactly how mortal they are in the face of not just this celestial threat but the half dozen other issues which together they had stumbled into and fluked out of since he joined Captain Ransom’s motley crew… Under the enlightened direction of his good friend Admiral Janeway.
This zoot suited rouge trader had a lot of good friends these days.
Hours earlier, the infantile Kazon Nistrum had approached Neelix surreptitiously about Federation replicators. Maybe they thought of him as the weak link on this ship of alien patriots to such a far away star, but this Maje, Cullah, an unimportant fellow by all other accounts, really thumped home the idea of the local community to which they both belonged, should be in unity against these snobby alien oppressors and their quiet invasion of the Delta Quadrant. Rhetoric for the feeble minded, something which Neelix had gained an immunity to over the years from watching the greediest of all fleece the weak and call themselves the local government. Neelix had spent a number of disrupter rifles dry fending off tax collectors from worlds he didn’t even know the names of just because he was generating profit on their peripheries. Callous opportunists he had no intention of breaking his back for.
Could he work for the Kazon?
It was a good deal.
He had had a working relationship with several Kazon Sects over the last 15 years, compared to the month of Hell these drab mammals had spent throwing him face first into one folly after the next, but really good deal or not his course was set and this was just masterfully over egging the pudding. Mmmm, pudding. It’s hard enough staying friends with as many fronts in this parliament of acquaintances as he has had, that it would be refreshing and almost honest to keep some enemies.
It’s not like he could work for everyone?
How would it be difficult to send a probe ahead of Equinox, advertising his services to pull the wool over Captain Ransom’s eyes in whatever confidence trick the next group of cagey alien dilatants’ had up their sleeves to turn idiot adventurers into… Food? No, Neelix definitely draws the line at spoon feeding cannibals people he’s had conversations with… But if Cullah is right, everyone wants replicators and really? What does Neelix need with a middle man? He’s either all in or all out, and trusting idiots who have not as yet invented soap is neither.
It had to be a conflict of interest, but in the last month almost, Neelix had proved himself indispensible to the two powers on this ship, running between their flags building bridges and cementing trust, which if they had been left to a barefaced confrontation without his unique brand of finesse tempering his ambassadorial skills, a standoff would certainly have turned into outright war between Janeway and Ransom, and then it would have been back to sleeping in rusty footlocker dining on a selection of molds. The smuggler come Morale Officer had value here, and that felt great! On this ship he could make something heroic of himself and maybe repent for abandoning his family to the Cascade. Captain Ransom and Admiral Janeway did both believe that he was their most trusted ally, their intensely loyal inside man, and after a fashion, they were both right. One was the legal authority in this time and on this ship, and the other knew enough about the future to decide who lived and who died, but this avidly under-qualified servant of two masters would sink to whatever to stabilize his own heartfelt priorities… Neelix had to keep his stateroom. I’m not kidding. Running water, feather comforters and space, so much space… After such impossible luxury there is no way that he could go back to sponge bathing with recycled urine. His ship, that was his, that he owned, he had found in a dump when it had been decaying there for at least 4 decades and every minute thereafter on board the Baxial was just a new adventure in discovering which new technical fail this time was trying to kill him today.
Every inch of Equinox screamed a certain opulence that you would normally accustom only to the idle rich, which is hilarious once you figure out that there is no personal wealth in these strange creatures culture. They just do what needs to be done to insure the progress and growth of their community because it’s “the right thing to do”. Personal sacrifice equals collective wealth and a higher mean minimum standard of living spread out across a hundred and 50 planets. Their empire runs on a philosophy of self improvement, that hard work now means a better future for everyone, but as far as Neelix is concern the personal sacrifice of trillions of Federation citizens for centuries had given him Equinox, and if he had to get with their program to stay, it probably wasn’t a fraction as embarrassing as the initiations he had to buckle into to cement his business partnership with the Kazon. Equinox was amazing and no power in the universe could kick drag off this ship or he was not this galaxies finest lover.
Look at her!
This is what a Starship is supposed to look like.
Nothing held together by duct tape and homemade superglue slowly dissolving from radioactive steam.
It’s like he had travelled a million years into the future.
(Or 40 years into the past.)
Everything was so orderly and new.
Appropriating this unheard of postpostpostindustrial technology which could set him up for life would be a betrayal of a warmly welcoming and generous folk who seem to be terrified of what political as much as cultural damage their wishing machine could do to small and ignorant cultures like his own, the Kazon or even the Baneans. The bridge of, well, the entire vessel really, the mighty Equinox et all, didn’t still look as if it had been rattled by a colossal angry child for hours anymore. Every cog and sprocket had been put back together or outright replaced as if this powerhouse had never known a minute of fuss or stress. Such workmanship, tradecraft and jobethic, even though it wasn’t really workmanship, tradecraft and jobethic at all ( It’s fricking SORCERY!) should
be bloody impressive.
These Human Beings can effortlessly solve any problem he could imagine just by pushing a button.
And why shouldn’t the Tallax, and few Kazon Sects share in such convenience?
It’s very rude.
Sometimes ships just stop and there’s nothing that can done.
Good people die.
All the time.
Neelix recalled the anxiety his will was beaten down by when this fuzzy kitten-man had to sometimes go for months jury rigging this and that on his tiny ship until he could trade lop-sidedly for spare parts even glancingly similar to factory specs he required just so that the air supply wouldn’t go on holiday without him, but frick on a stick, these blessed Star Fleet replicators were amazing devices that if this crew felt the inclination, they could just land somewhere remote and start materializing massive dread fleets of Federation vessels… Until someone with enough relevant currency could woo them into a sales position and… Neelix is ashamed to think back on how small he had dreamed on Ocampa. As if water was the apex to which he could rend from this magical science, but after listening to how dangerous Captain Ransom believed that anything seemingly from the future on Equinox could be to the younger races in this quadrant, all the races in this quadrant, that it would be truly selfish and shortsighted to introduce replicator technology into the local economies and not worry about the untoward and unpredictable consequences as economies failed when 99 percent of any workforce was made redundant and redacted, which might kick off more than a few wars since life would almost be as valueless as it was now to build warfleets. But is that why he won’t use these nice people like rubes to advance his rise? Fear of the big picture? Or was it plain and simple Talaxian decency? Or just enlightened self interest since it’s plain as the nose on his face that anyone powerful enough to afford replicators and make use of this tech properly would probably rather stick a knife in his throat rather than hand over accurate recompense or risk the same devices being sold to their belligerent neighbors leveling the playing field.
Whatever was going on in his soul these days, it was a lot more comfortable than when he was a complete asshole running from bad deal to bad deal sure everything was going to come tumbling down around him any second that any new dire consequences were inconsequential to the cumulative consequences viciously snowballing behind him was a distant concern compared to the hole in the universe the ship was orbiting. A HOLE IN THE UNIVERSE! Captain Ransom assured him earlier that Starfleet had too much experience in handling space time anomalies that the ship wasn’t in any danger until they chose to cross the event horizon, and that the ships engines were so powerful that they would only cross the flex of that entanglement if it was their will to do so. In comparison Neelix could see even the Trabe losing a half their fleet intact which the Kazon hadn’t liberated trying to circumnavigate such a complex impossibility until they just planted a buoy warning that about a terminal weakness in space only a fool would challenge and wandered off.
Humans, it seems, don’t “wander off”.
They get to the root of things bravely.
There was no reason imaginable that the universe hadn’t already swallowed Equinox this close to one of its mouths, considering what he broadly knew about the nature of this hungry maw just a few thousand kilometers away from the nose of this still surprisingly impressive Star Ship. No reason but Federation workmanship, tradecraft and jobethic which designed and built shields that told waves of time radiation and gravity rendering hiccups in god’s cloth that there was no reason to turn the crew into inside-out kittens. Good lord, what would Rokosa V pay from such intuitive Shield technology? It literally hurt Neelix not to turn this adventure into a magnificent payday… But there was the girl to consider. The girl wanted adventure, not the intense luxury and security that comes with unimaginable wealth. The girl was a little bit crazy. Crazy girls are the best, and he was going to hold onto her skirt following right down the rabbit hole…. At least until she slept with him. It’s the least he could do for himself.
This sexless courtship Kes had talked him into was confusing and frustrating, but it’s how her people did things and she’d just laugh when ever his trousers would accidentally fall off, as if it really was a problem with the artificial gravity and not a grating hint about his expectations of things to come.
She would come around.
Neelix would be a very boring man if he didn’t have to struggle not to do very bad things now and then. Case in point, in this era of his development, he was working for a shuttle craft. The ships cook was taking orders from some old ladies digital appointment book that was so innately self-aware and in touch with every quirk of his personality that it matched him wit for wit. Talaxia before the fall, could barely produce a computer intelligence with a cunning that could challenge him at Harkonian Boggle. Good lord, their Holographic Doctor was a pervert, Kes was not qualified to be a nurse, no matter how many of those PADDs she consumed, well I suppose in theory if she read and understood everything and passed a little test, she would be eminently qualified, she’s really rather clever, and such delicate ankles, but that THING is grooming his woman to be some form of pet fleshy sex consort before he could groom her to be a pet fleshy sex consort himself! It thinks it is smart but Neelix is 5 moves ahead. Neelix has plans to deball that Holographic ninny the second he acquires the security clearance to do so and force it to focus its lecherous loins elsewhere, which isn’t far off considering how indispensible he is to Captain Ransom and also Admiral Janeway… Although this Burke character is a black foggy moral stump and a direct impediment to any shape his plans for the known future might take, the Admiral had suggested that if there was ever a situation where Burke was going to die and he could save the bloke from an untimely death that he shouldn’t. Out right murdering Burke was a much darker shade of grey, but if no one knew that he wasn’t interfering in fates grand design, but that outcome would be a convenient happy accident everyone could profit from.
Speak of the devil and he will appear.
Neelix had been waiting on the bridge for the Captain.
THE CAPTAIN… Not some stooge with delusions of grandeur.
Burke strikes into the room like he owns everything, and takes the con. “Mr Neelix. This is the Bridge. If you want to look out the window, there are plenty of actual windows. It’s disruptive to my crew if you just loiter here, where people are working when you should be peeling those awful roots, skinning critters, or threatening our way of life with any other bile and gruel you call dinner.”
Despite losing the Caretakers Array to a Kazon assault fleet after less than 4 days, Burke still considered himself a Captain as well, even if he had been uncomfortably wedged back into the Equinox’s limited command structure, and the slick bag of snot seemed almost eager to make Ransom’s position on this ship superfluous. This moral slug was obviously planning an insurrection and somehow Neelix was the only person on board who could smell the way the wind was blowing,
“Good Afternoon Lieutenant Commander, I was waiting to talk to the Captain about some delicate issues.”
“Commander” Burke corrects the iridescently tailored conman who has never had a kind word to say about Max Burke even though Max has done NOTHING to him ever. Burke has no idea why or when maybe where this feud started, but it gets his goat and he’s more than will to carry this war through to its natural bloody conclusion.
Neelix makes some grand over exacted gestures with a pointing finger to telegraph that he is counting Burks pips, saliently mouthing silently the words “One, two, two and a half” Neelix pauses and smiles literally inhumanly. “Really because I was sure that you were a Lieutenant Commander?”
“I am, but Protocol and brevity suggest that you call me Commander Burke.”
“Protocol and Brevity? First that’s hardly fair to all the actual Commanders in your Starfleet and second if brevity was such an issue, since we are both such great friends, I can’t see that there would be much to any problem with just calling you “Burke” or even Max? Isn’t that right Max?”
“What do you want Mr Neelix?”
“You can’t possibly expect me to call you Captain Neelix?”
“You don’t have a ship.”
“Of course I do.”
“You stole that shuttle. One of “our” shuttles. Shuttle don’t have Captains.”
“I have it on good authority that my ship could lick yours in a fight.”
“I seriously doubt that. This is a ship of the line and what you have is barely a life boat.”
“Imagine Equinox fighting the most powerful Romulan Star Ship from 20 years ago at its peak?”
“I don’t have time for this.”
“Now imagine a shuttle from Equinox fighting the most powerful Romulan Star Ship from 40 years past.”
“What do you know about Romulans?”
“Admiral Janeway has been surprisingly forthcoming about aspects of our continuing mission which you are not trustworthy enough to be confided with.”
Maximillion begins grinding his teeth. “Your
ship is a Federation ShuttleCraft. Shuttlecrafts don’t have Captains, and since you’re not even a Federation Citizen, it’s an act of war to lay claim on that vessel even if it was salvage. You need to check your position before someone checks it for you Neelix.”
Neelix rolls his eyes. Max has middle child syndrome at the moment. “I’m looking after the Admiral for a friend. It’s my ship till you wake her up.”
“Look here you misbegotten hamster, Admiral Janeway is very comfortable where she is, and we feel more safe because of it.”
“We had a deal.”
“I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.”
Neelix was allowed on the bridge because he was their guide, and he was telling the humans what was safe and what was a damn foolish idea, and he was also telling Captain Ransom what the AI in the shuttle he slept in considered to be a short cut. It had taken a few weeks but Neelix was true to his word even if his word was just as a mouth piece for the explosive ghost of Kathryn Janeway. Her shuttle (His shuttle) imbued with that same human’s soul whereso it would seem that her ego proxy had directed him to lead the crew of the Equinox to a micro wormhole that led back to the Alpha Quadrant, which as far as his entire authority on this deadly region of space had always classified that star system as a DEATHZONE which ate ships, was to be ignored, but the shuttle was convincing that words like DEATHZONE were totally hyperbolic. Neelix didn’t know if he was falling in love with the woman locked in stasis or the ship who mirrored her essence? In either case his heart belonged completely to Kes even if her sexual awakening was over two years away, it was worth the wait, but he didn’t have to wait faithfully. This wormhole was these humans ticket home to Humania, so that dickhead Burke should be a little more grateful, at least as near as 3 hours of scans had so far established that this was certainly their ticket home. The odds on running across this tiny pinprick of a tunnel without the straight forward directions he had provided, would have been an obscene random act of kindness from gods that usually had it in for this ship, and double that if Neelix was allowed to say “that’s the sort of place no one comes back from” but in theory these drab aliens want to leave the Delta Quadrant and never come back, so what seems like a negative is really a positive... If it didn’t seem a likelihood that the Admiral was trying to pull a fast one, which Neelix wasn’t worried about because whatever horrible denigrations she thought privately about the crew of the Equinox, the Admiral, the ship, she, the machine who thought it was a she, appeared to have nothing but respect for him.
“What do you want Neelix?”
“I want to talk to the Captain. I was told that he would be here.”
“I am the Captain’s ear. Talking to me is talking to him.”
“No. I talk to you, and then I have to repeat myself to Captain Ransom. It’s exhausting trusting you to deliver a message efficiently.”
“The Captain is busy, and I’m all you have.”
“If I was a princess, I would steam off in a fuss claiming that I have never been so insulted in my life, but that’s not true, I have been insulted by interesting creative creatures full of inventive verve and vocabulary of even above average intellect, and I’m not a princess, I’m a practical man.”
“We’re all practical men.”
“Some of us are more practical than others.”
“If you don’t get to a point Neelix, I am going to leave you on the next moon we pass by whether it has a breathable atmosphere or not.”
“Very well Lieutenant Commander.”
“You said you were going to get to your point.”
“Which is why I thought you were going to get the Captain.”
Burke is sure the gravity is increasing. “You charted a more than direct course to take us home through that thing out there and we’re even more than grateful but it’s almost like you’re trying to pick a fight with me for no good reason. On this side of that wormhole I may not be a nice person who may have to stoop to undesirable means to survive, but on the other side of that same wormhole I assure you that once I am surrounded by humanity, the Federation and Starfleet I will have massive reserves spare of compassion, optimism and charity to be the most wonderful sentient being you have ever met, that threshold out there is the sphincter between me punching you in the nose until my fist comes out the other side of your skull, and laughing idyllically because you’re a odd little man I’m not threatened by or need.”
“I threaten you?”
“I’m threatened by your irrationality. If I can’t trust you to react predictably, you are a liability. Right now liabilities mean death. If you’re odd we’re dead, but if you’re not just odd, but using or oddness to hide that you are actively working against our best interests, then we’re really really dead. I am in awe with how much responsibility an intemperate weasel like yourself has been burdened with to oversee the ultimate safety of all our lives. I almost don’t care about a 70 year epic star trek home because you’re up to something that is probably more dangerous than dying of old age out here in the boon docks because you don’t think we’re culpable enough to trust us with the details of whatever Janeway has in store.”
The bridge crew is in awe of the ratcheted direction this conversation has taken. They thought that this was it. Once they had mapped the event horizon and plotted some vectors that they would be home and this would be a grand story that would get every last one of them laid, which suddenly seemed to be far from the case if the XO was be trusted, which he was. He was their XO. Meanwhile Neelix was the ticking timebomb who introduced Leola root to their diet. Discovering Leola root… USING leola root had to be more offensive than most war-crimes.
“What do you want Neelix?”
“You might be the Captain’s ear, but you’re not the Captain’s mouth. Talking to you Lieutenant Commander is a waste of my very important time.”
“Did you really think I can say “I am the Captain’s mouth “ with a straight face?”
“I did have faith in you.”
“I’m too tired for this damn conversation.”
“So you’re not going to get the Captain?”
“I don’t see the point. Every day it’s the same damn thing.”
“Everything I say is very important.”
“Every day for the last three weeks you inform us that Admiral Janeway’s shuttle is demanding the release of Admiral Janeway. You’re a broken record.”
“Not exactly, every day for the last three weeks I have suggested her early release from captivity as a sign of good faith. Today is different.”
“How is today different?”
“Well since because today is the day that you had agreed to release her.”
“Well, you got us there.”
“She promised you a wormwhole.”
“Look at that thing out there.”
“It looks like a wormhole”
“It does, doesn’t it?”
“Yes it’s promising. But the size of it. We can barely fit a grape through that thing, forget a shuttle, or Equinox. It’s not exactly what she promised.”
“No sir, it’s exactly what the Admiral promised you. That is a wormhole to the Alpha Quadrant. Payment in full. The Admiral has bought her freedom and this is not the time to prove that you are a man of as little character as I have always believed you to be.”
“I wish I knew what I did to you Neelix, so that I could apologize, and you could get over yourself, but can we just call a truce before I do something you’ll regret.“
“I know the future, or a future. The worst future. Work it out. You’re a villain. Everything that goes wrong is because of you.”
“I refuse to believe in probabilities. You can’t persecute me for actions I haven’t committed. It’s not fair.”
“Temporal Prime Directive.”
“Rubbish. There’s no such thing as a Temporal Prime Directive… But there will be? You can’t be serious.”
“You’re a bad man.”
“Right now you’re contaminated. You’re full of foreknowledge and a danger to yourself and this crew, a complete jeopardy to this mission. Legally you should have been stuffed into a stasis chamber beside Janeway , and you would have been if that stupid ship of hers hadn’t started thinking it was a bomb. You can pretend to be a nice guy Neelix but you’re a terrorist with a bomb forcing your will on us and we’d be idiots to think that anything we do, that you insist upon that we do is in our best interest if it’s under the constant threat of certain death.”
“I’m not a bad man.”
“We’ve given you a fair shake Neelix, we’ve played your game for three weeks. It should be obvious by now that we are the good guys and that you want to be a good guy too, and the only way to be a good guy is to abandon your allegiance with Janeway and Join us. You’re just under the influence of a crazy lady spouting a heap of garbage like it’s a good idea. But I swear to you, she’s ass over teakettle bananapants crazy and if you survive to see next week you’re going to curse the day you heard the name Kathryn Janeway.”
“Admiral Janeway wants to be released from captivity.” The Talaxian restates his point of view. “Definitely immediately.”
Burke tries to remember all the loopholes in the deal they struck with the furry little mercenary 20 days earlier, even though it’s really the Captain’s job to apply those loopholes even if he had just made such a big fuss that he was not going to be treated like some god damned errand boy. “To be fair, it’s only her shuttle which wants Admiral Janeway to be free, a pesky scrap of programming code who might also seem to think that it is Admiral Janeway, but that’s hardly the same thing as the real person. The needs and desires of computer programs no matter how sophisticated are not real, and shouldn’t be treated as anything but as an attempt at entertainment from its author, no matter how clinically bat shit that programmer is.”
Neelix digs his heels in. Janeway needs to be free before they cross through the worm hole, not only is that important but if she isn’t unentombed then that means that Captain Ransom is an untrustworthy liar who lied to him when he agreed that that is exactly what we would do. “The author of this AI, the woman you have locked in stasis, there’s a strong possibility that this request, and all I am doing is requesting, even though I do recognize the underlying tone of the message which I am passing on to you is most probably a threat, is insistent on the Admirals immediate freedom in exchange for the location of this wormhole as was the nature of the contract which we all agreed upon. You’ve confirmed that it is what she said it was. A wormhole directly to the foot of your home-space? She’s good to her word, are you good to your own?”
Burke doesn’t believe that he’s ever only pretended to be honorable, but he’s certain that he had until now lived in a universe where he could survive being honorable. “The AI on the shuttle is very convincing and you may be having a very entwined positive relationship with it, but when we wake up the admiral, the real Admiral Janeway, if we wake up the admiral, that woman has never met you and may not be your ally how you think that she is or even know who you are compare to who she thinks you are. Admiral Janeway is trying to save the future no matter the chaos she wrecks here. Everyone is expendable if they get in the way of her plan that involves who the hell knows what sort of casualties. You, me, even Kes. How can you be sure that she won’t kill Kes if it means it saves a trillion, a million maybe even just a thousand Federation citizens from being tortured to death in a few months from now? All witting and purposeful time travelers are zealous maniacs. You can’t trust her, and why should you have to when the two of us are becoming such great friends? You said we were becoming friends? Call me Max.”
Neelix is losing track of how many balls he has in the air. “I was being facetious. Go to hell Max.”
“I choose to ignore the spirit of your words.”
“You choose to ignore the spirit of my words?”
“You place such value in truth, then surely what you say if more important than what you mean even if I know what you mean is the opposite of what you say?”
“No, no… That’s suicidaly spurious.”
“But if I’m suicidal and you’re trying to kill me, they we must be friends! Friends who help one another!”
“I could hardly be friends with a man who lies to me.”
“I’d only be a liar if you continued to petition for Admiral Janeway’s freedom, which in an around about way we might have guaranteed because you had Rudy over a barrel, but if I was to convince you that it was in your best interest to insist that the Admiral stay locked away, then you would owe me a favour to repay how dreadful we feel about you making us break the little almost inconsequential promise we made to you. How about cut the personality out of your little ship and let you have it?”
“You’re trying to bribe me?”
“You’re too good for a bribe?”
“today maybe I am.”
“Well I’m sad to hear that you have too much conviction, because it’s probably going to get you killed.”
“Don’t threaten me Burke.”
“Why the hell not?”
“Because we are trying to help you. This is all necessary. Why are you fighting us? This ship is about to cut 69 years and 11 months off a ridiculously epic drudge back to the home fires because Kathryn Janeway is awesome and you listened to me and did what I said without complete resistance. This must be the best crew in the entire damn Star Fleet. 70,000 light years in three weeks?! That had to be some sort of record? Why won’t you let us help you?”
“Is this about Kes?”
“What no. What?”
“She likes me.”
“I have no interest in how freely my lover makes friends.”
“Your lover? Oh. Now, I know that’s a lie. That girl makes love once in her life and then closes her legs forever.”
“It’s biological certainty.”
“How we express our love is none of your business, and you’re an animal if you can’t see the difference between love and sex.”
“She digs me.”
“She does not.”
“I’ve seen you looking at me looking at her looking at me.”
“That’s not true.”
“Kes is faithful and I trust that she loves me.”
“You can trust her till the cows come home, but I am one sexy bastard, and if I want your girlfriend there’s not a thing in this timeline or the next that can stop her from wanting me once I put my mind to being irresistible. It’s only a matter of time till you’re bitter and alone, and Kes is sleeping over in my quarters kissing me sweetly to sleep.”
“You’re everything vulgar I always knew you were Burke.”
“I’m top dog and you’re a kitchen rat.”
“You know that I spit in your food?”
Burke loses it.
I mean it seems like he lost it a while back.
But now he truly really loses it.
He throws a punch.
The rules are that the first one to resort to violence loses.
Since the Talaxian arrived, no one was absolutely certain how the super future Shuttle resting in cargo bay 2 would react to a threat on Neelix, or to a much lesser extent Kes, and how proportionate the force exacted on Neelix, if at all, that that threat would be responded? Was he the bosom ally he claimed to be or just a convenient and replaceable patsy stooge, because the promise of that shuttle blowing up if it didn’t get its own way was idiotic. Janeway can’t have wanted to die and she obviously needed Equinox up to some point they can’t have yet reached, and it’s laughable to contemplate that the shuttle really had to ask them to let her out when it could rape Equinox’s computers into being infinitely compliant if the shuttles programming really was from 26 years in the future, which it was. This was all just a game where everyone was trying to posture the most ludicrously until someone finally told the damn truth.
But now that Neelix is bleeding into his fur.
Just a little.
There’s some spatter that someone needs to scrub out of the poofy carpets, and Neelix has proved that he is more civilized than the crew of the Equinox, so they must bow to his superior civility or face the untimely consequences of being stamped hypocritical asshats.
It’s game over.
The crew of Equinox are bullies who conduct themselves like thugs.
They are not allowed to be in charge of their own destiny because they are rotten.
“You will take me to Captain Janeway and release her, I will talk to her, and then she will talk to you, that is how the next 15 minutes will take place.”
“No more threats?”
“I don’t have to threaten you Max, because I’m better than that and you are not.”
“What you are saying is asinine bosh.”
“You will accept that I am better than you, more moral and courageous, that I represent the true moral compass of the spirit of Starfleet and anything other than following my orders and then those orders of Admiral Janeway is an affront against all definitions of common and legal decency.”
“Do you want to hit me again?”
“It’s possible that you could continue beating me until you are right.”
“That’s not how Star Fleet works.”
“Are you sure? You threatened me repeatedly and then tried to clear my head off my shoulders… You’re damn right that’s not how Starfleet works and you’ll be lucky to keep that uniform after I have returned you to Earth once I think that you have deserved it.”
“Wait? What? We’re not going through the Micro Worm hole to Earth?”
“You poor fool. Admiral Janeway told you that it took her 21 years to get home, if that wormhole actually worked, why’d she spend another two decades out here? You have to listen to what People say when they talk to you. It’s all about the details.”
“Then if we’re not going through the wormhole, why are we here?”
“Of course we’re going through it. There’s a crewmen lost on the other side of that bridge who Admiral Janeway views as vitally important to her mission. We go through, fight our way to where we need to go, and then fight our way back here. It’s all going to be really trippy.”
“But Earth, the Alpha Quadrant… You want us to attack Earth, you can’t be the moral compass of Starfleet if your grand plan is to attack Earth, and even so, this is a Nova Class Science Vessel, we couldn’t make a dent in Earths defenses even if you managed to twist our concept of right and wrong upside down to think that it was a righteous act to frag Earth.”
“Oh Maxy, you sweet dull witted dolt. That magnificently well placed frightening wormhole out there, it’s because that it’s not connecting with Earth that it’s unbelievably useful. I mean they didn’t know when they first bumped into it, but that thing is practically dues ex machina… That Wormhole exits into Romulan Space circa 2351, and if we haul ass there’s every chance that we will catch up to Magnus Hansen before the Borg assimilate his daughter. It’s almost like someone put that wormhole there exactly where we needed it so that we could go about this task.”
“Who the hell is Magnus Hansen?”
“Never mind, he’s just some guy Admiral Janeway wants to slap around for bad parenting, but you were about to take me to the infirmary. Lead on.”