In which Janway teaches Seven about intuition and Seven teaches Janeway about having a teenage child.
Janeway and Seven are playing target practice tennis in the holodeck, which consists of a hovering silver bludger that changes teams when each player shoots it with a phaser, but otherwise maintains enough autonomy to do weird ricochets and midair maneuvers. Seven is a sore loser, and doesn’t believe she should have been able to lose, given her enhanced coordination. She also doesn’t believe in human intuition, until Janeway starts talking about intuition as a shorthand for all the subtle cues that an experienced Velocity player can use to pinpoint the disk without having to literally see it. In the tradition of teasers setting up the main lesson, this one could be about Seven learning intuition, or how to lost.
We’re going back to the encoded message from Starfleet Command via the Hirogen array. Torres has given up on it, but Janeway is still occasionally pulling all-nighters. Tom and Neelix are on their way back from buying supplies, and bringing back a helpful local. Chakotay and Janeway also talk about some of the newer problems integrating Seven into the crew.
The newcomer, Arturus, is apparently something of a genius with languages – he helped resolve a conversation when the Universal Translators broke, despite having never heard Talaxian or the other language involved. His species are naturals at languages, and he knows four thousand. He’s also somewhat humble about it, and naturally Janeway wants to try him on the code.
He recognizes the Borg, and Seven recognizes his species. The Borg haven’t been able to actually assimilate them, because they know enough to avoid the Borg. He also solves the code in about two minutes while carrying on another conversation. It includes a video message and a set of coordinates, but part of the message is too badly damaged to make out. Voyager makes it to the correct coordinates, and finds a Starfleet vessel there, months after the message was sent. There’s no response to the hail and no organic matter onboard. Other than that, though, the ship appears pristine. Janeway orders the vessel secured. Arturus mentions he thought she’d be more excited, but things have been disappointing before.
The new ship looks punishingly futuristic, even for Star Trek. The NX-01a Dauntless is a brand new type of hull geometry, as distinct from the ‘saucer with legs’ format, and may in fact have been fully automated. It also made it out here in five months. That’d be great news, but the warp core is fluctuating mysteriously, which may be bad news. The warp core looks very different from the standard reaction chamber column, it’s a lightning plasma ball running off something that Paris can’t identify but which is called a Quantum Slipstream drive. As they examine it, it starts powering up, and takes off in a… well, in a quantum slipstream tunnel effect. Paris manages to shut it down, or maybe it was just shutting down. In those (let’s say five) minutes, the Dauntless travelled 15 light-years. That’s .05 LY/ sec, which would make their journey home, assuming Voyager could get that to work, in half a month. Since it took the Dauntless five months to get out this far, let’s say my estimate of how long it took Paris to get that done was off, and the Dauntless made a series of shorter jumps and pauses along the way to minimize stresses. That’s a pretty powerful warp drive, it took Voyager two days to catch up.
The Quantum Slipstream drive has only been tested on journeys of five days or fewer so far, where Voyager would have to maintain that for three months. Again, let’s just leave it at ‘my estimates were off.’ Using their numbers though, with Voyager closer to 65,000 LY out, thanks to Kes, that puts the Dauntless at speeds of 260,000C. Still, though, each hop of five days would put them about three and a half years closer to home at conventional warp. The Admiralty wants them to just abandon Voyager though, and move to the Dauntless. It would also be a much more spartan journey, since the Dauntless has basically no recreational facilities.
As far as modifying Voyager, Paris doesn’t think it’ll hold up under the stresses, even if they make the modifications. Janeway is dragging her feet, because everything is a little too neat. It’s a damn good question as to why the Dauntless started up just as they got there, and how handy it was that Arturus got them there right on time. Maybe it’s Q, or maybe Janeway’s gotten a little too used to being an admiralty of one.
So far, nobody thinks Arturus is a sneaky sneak-snake. Seven finds that the Quantum Slipstream is similar to the Borg transwarp technology, and is worried about how she’ll adapt in full-on human civilization. Seven, Torres, and Kim have managed to add an emergency-brake to the engine, just in case. Seven and B’Elanna also have a brief conversation about what awaits them on Earth. For Torres, it might be trial for her crimes as a Maquis. Torres jokes with Seven about how a drone will be received on Earth, but Seven is bad at jokes. Then Harry finds a Mysterious Clue that All Might Not Be Well. As an aside, remember that this is a season finale, so this might have been the end of the series run. Harry tries to cheer her up, actually gets what looks like a genuine smile, and then finds a big ole’ problem.
Before we get that, though, we get Janeway examining the one data block they couldn’t decode, and which Arturus said was too damaged. Seven makes the decision not to go back to the Alpha quadrant. Janeway won’t take this for an acceptable answer, but Seven has entered the adolescent phase, where she disagrees with everything her parental stand-in says. Janeway still refuses to set Seven adrift, but the argument is tabled while the algorithm returns a result – a message from Admial Hayes, different from the one Arturus showed them, apologizing for not being able to find any way to get them home. Specifically mentioning there was no new means of propulsion that could get them there. So Arturus lied to them and constructed a false message on the fly using only text-input terminals or his brain. Now the question is: what’s his endgame? I hope it’s one of those things where a bunch of species heard the stories of Voyager get blown way out of context, decided that this rogue ship was an existential threat to their civilization, and constructed a deathtrap to save the quadrant from these terrifying space-pirates. Either way, though, chalk another one up to Janeway’s intuition.
In fact, what Harry found was alien technology powering the Dauntless, and now it’s time to try to get the truth out of Arturus, since our hopes of an end to the series are dashed. In fact, Arturus almost ‘accidentally’ trned on the slipstream drive, before Janeway beams in with a full security contingent. Arturus tries to throw blame onto Seven, but even though they don’t buy it, he manages to pull the Big Undisguise My Ship lever and capture Seven and Janeway before hitting the slipstream drive. Fortunately, the modifications of Voyager are ready enough to test.
Arturus claims that the Starfleet-looking bridge is Particle Synthesis and ‘beyond Janeway’s understanding’ despite the fact that he’s clearly seen replicators by now. With the red lighting, the ship is much less of an eyestrain hazard. And in fact, Arturus did this because Janeway’s past negotiations with the Borg led to the destruction of his world. The Borg defeat of Species 8472 allowed them to free up resources to start going out and assimilating again. While Arturus is definitely right to be upset, it’s funny that he claims Janeway was short-sighted when we know that species 8472 was on a campaign of extermination on this side of those space ruptures. I’m not saying Janeway was right in the end, since Voyager found a way to defeat them in like an hour, but Arturus claiming Janeway didn’t see the whole picture is just a bit funny. In a tragic sort of way.
His endgame was to lure the ship to his ship and deliver them to the Borg. But just Janeway will do. He’ll drop them off at his home planet to be assimilated. He’ll even accept assimilation himself, if it means getting revenge.
Voyager‘s attempts at Quantum Slipstream are not going well, but they eventually make it through to slipspace just before the hull starts to melt from the stresses. Janeway and Seven snipe at each other, then combine good old Starfleet jury-rigging by taking apart your communicator with Seven’s Borg implants to get them through the force field. Seven even jokes a bit about their impending fate. Once done, they escape, and luckily Seven is one of the people who knows how to shut down the engines on the panel that’s still Starfleet-layout. Arturus has locked them out, though. Instead, Janeway orders Seven to knock the ship out of its vector, potentially tearing the ship apart, because the ship doesn’t have the maneuvering thursters automatically locked out at times where the rotational stress could disintegrate it.
Janeway almost gets through to Arturus, but not quite. Good old Revenge is a powerful motivator. Voyager comes to the rescue, they escape, and Arturus is left to his empty, tragic fate. Also, Voyager made it 300 light-years closer to home before the quantum slipstream burned out forever. But at least Seven has come to terms with her fear of the Alpha quadrant, and is ready to deal with it.