In which the title kinda gives it away.
Today starts with a Delta Flyer mission comprised of Harry, Paris, Chakotay, and Neelix, and someone so lazy they can’t press the button to recycle the plate that’s already in the replicator. The Flyer is capable of two-week missions but evidently Harry isn’t. Of course, they’ve all been breathing the same canned air without any sonic showers for a while now, so obviously only Neelix is happy. Happily, they’re almost home, and have successfully surveyed fifteen planets and brought back enough dilithium to make the trip worthwhile. Protocol states that they all need to get a physical, but no one ever wants a physical. Instead, Torres has built Tom a television out of replicated components, including a four-button remote control. Sometimes the Federation fetishization of the 20th century goes too far. Also, Torres modified the television enough to build (and program) an anachronistic remote control, and program the ship to broadcast multiple channels of programming for this toy. Including commercials. Paris is immediately enthralled and basically just the worst. However, when he wakes up from his stupor and tries to turn the TV off so B’Elanna won’t wake up, the remote stops working, the TV won’t shut off, and he’s in the middle of a war drama on the screen.
Shortly thereafter, he finds himself in the scene, but instead of a piece from the inexhaustible library of stock footage, he’s fighting with an energy weapon, and gets shot. At around the same time, Harry starts hearing sounds from the same war while he’s in a Jeffries tube doing some maintenance. He flees and goes for an immediate checkup, where the Doctor diagnoses him as being an exhausted workaholic and perscribes him some leave time. Neelix is no better off in his kitchen full of knives and fire. He tries to put Naomi off with an offhand explanation of ‘shuttle lag’ and when she burns herself trying to be helpful he’s suddenly back in space-‘Nam. Chakotay’s there too, in his own dreams, and it turns out the war they’re all dreaming of was against surprisingly-armed civilians. He’s woken up to deal with Neelix, who drops a name that tells Chakotay they’re dreaming the same thing.
Why nobody thought to beam him into the brig and deactivate his phaser in transit is a question best left to the Most Overrated Security Officer In The Galaxy.
With Neelix, Chakotay, and Harry all presenting with broadly-similar symptoms, the Doctor’s analysis shows that not only are they all experiencing similar effects but they’re real memories, not hallucinations. Janeway suspects they might have been conscripted into a real fight, and therefore Voyager will backtrack to find out what happened. Since everyone has slightly different memories, they’re all put in a room together to reconstruct the memory. Since Tom remembers getting shot and the Doctor indicates there’s no evidence of a wound, that’s probably a clue. That aside, they work together to explain the situation – they all volunteered to help evacuate this village.
We flash back to the briefing itself, and sure enough, the commander, Savdra, wants this to be a zero-casualty operation despite the likely resistance they’ll face. It’s to be a temporary relocation and the colonists will be back to their homes within a few weeks. Chakotay has concerns – the troops are tired. Everything went as planned until the last area, missing 24 colonists who were waiting in ambush. And once the first weaponsfire went live, everyone went weapons-free and it was chaos, and a massacre.
Voyager has finally made it to the system cluster that the away team was mapping, and begins to search for clues about the Nacan Massacre. Tom hasn’t been sleeping well, as one might expect. He’s surprisingly resistant to the possibility of implanted memory, given his history. Incidentally, we now know that Paris is not good under pressure and the doctor should start developing a heightened PTSD treatment plan for him.
Looking over the Delta Flyer’s stops, Janeway gets a flash of memory as well. She was part of the assault squad – well, she wasn’t but she has the memory, and remembers the cover-up too – the squad decided on a story and vaporized the bodies. This ought to put to rest any lingering doubts that the Flyer crew was unwittingly conscripted. Janeway wants to be sure, though, to the point of keeping Voyager in the area to investigate despite the evidence of a broad-band memory implantation beam.
Neelix is wallowing, but he’s asking the right person for advice. Seven did terrible things, and even if she didn’t have a choice as part of the Collective, carrying that guilt without letting it eat her is part of what guides her going forward.
Voyager arrives at Tarakis, and finds no vessels or notable threats. It’s totally uninhabited, in fact, and no trace of weapons-fire. Only on close investigation does Harry notice a power signature, to which the entire bridge crew beams down out of some kind of ironic sense of personal vendetta. I’m not saying don’t go armed, but I am saying don’t come loaded for bear when you suspect yourself of slaughtering an entire village. Maybe come loaded with rock salt or something. They arrive in an open plain with some unexpected trees, and after a brief hike they make it to Harry’s tunnel, and the energy signature in another direction. At the end of the tunnel is the encampment, covered in dust and cobwebs and with the corpses long since turned to skeletons – 300 years since.
The cause of all this is the energy signature, a monument in the middle of a field with a glowing orange orb on top, clearly broadcasting the fact of the war and the massacre, and the cover-up, throughout the system. They want to shut down the memorial – paper over an invasive history, but that won’t help the people already affected. And that’s the question, which Neelix advocates and Janeway agrees to – disabling the memorial would be helping the cover-up. Instead, she orders it recharged, but also a warning bouey deployed so that people know what’s coming. Possibly the full memory sequence will also come with some markers that make it clear that these memories are real, but not personal.