Title: Once More Unto the Breach Author: Jemima Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Series: VOY Part: 18/19 Rating: PG Codes: Tu, J, Section 31 Summary: Tuvok and Janeway consider temporal paradoxes. Metafic comprising part of "The Museum". Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha!
He propped himself up on one elbow. "Captain, where are we?" He looked around the hexagonal room in puzzlement.
She scowled, as though she'd expected to find him here. "You tried the Mobius band again."
"I am sorry, Captain."
"You gave me your word six years ago."
He could have no answer for that, but he did have something to report: "I think I may have found a way home."
"You thought so on Sikaris, too. I'm having you beamed to sickbay. We'll discuss this in the morning."
The hexagonal room disappeared with a shimmer, replaced by the familiar angles of sickbay.
"I wasn't expecting any more patients, Mr. Tuvok," the EMH chided.
"What is your diagnosis, Doctor?"
The hologram busied himself with his instruments, finally pronouncing, "You appear to have had the standard reaction this time - disorientation, new memory pathways, nucleonic residue - but no permanent damage. May I ask what you saw that was worth getting the Captain so angry?"
"I saw the future," the Vulcan answered, then closed his eyes to induce a healing trance.
Tuvok awoke refreshed after only a few hours and asked to return to duty.
"You're cleared for duty as far as I'm concerned," the EMH answered him, "but the Captain wants to see you in her ready room."
He tried to think logical thoughts as he walked from sickbay to the turbolift, and then from the turbolift to the door before which so many miscreants had quailed before. The rift with Captain Janeway probably could not be healed, but if he could convince her to follow his advice Voyager would be back in the Alpha Quadrant a few months from now. He pressed the chime.
They gazed at one another in silence.
Janeway broke the silence first. "I've placed a reprimand in your file. I trust that will suffice as punishment," she said, handing him a PADD from her desk. "What would deter you from doing exactly what you want to do, my orders notwithstanding, is beyond me though, Tuvok. You appear to be a free agent."
"I don't want to hear it. You're of more use to me out of the brig than in it, so you may return to duty."
"Thank you, Captain. I will prepare a full report--"
She interrupted him again. "You told the Doctor you saw the future. I don't want that on record - the last thing I need is another headache from the Time Patrol."
She would not ask him to speak, he knew, but perhaps she would permit it. He made the attempt: "Captain, the first universe I saw through the Mobius band was very similar to our own, as I reported at the time. It was my hope that the alternate timeline would resume where it left off after my first trial - almost the present time."
"Not exactly. It did appear to be the same universe, but the time was after our discovery of this planet and the Mobius band."
The Captain rubbed her temple. "Did you use the Mobius band?"
"We had already completed our trials of the technology. I suspect that that peculiarity of timing is a design restriction inherent in the Mobius band. If I experienced my other self's experiences with the Mobius band, I might have been caught in an endless chain of alternate universes - myself seeing myself seeing myself seeing myself, and so on."
"I'm getting a headache just thinking about it."
Tuvok, of course, did not share her antipathy to temporal paradoxes. He continued his tale. "We had established daily contact with the Alpha Quadrant through the Pathfinder project, just as we have here, and certain forces within Starfleet had in their possession a faster-than-light drive. It was a top military secret, so they had not, until that point, shared the technology with us."
"If we waltzed into the Alpha Quadrant, everyone would know about it," Janeway observed.
"Yes, they would. However, these 'forces' were interested in the Mobius band - extremely interested. They ordered us to bring it back, using the transwarp technology."
"Who exactly ordered us to steal an exhibit from a galactic museum?"
"There's no such thing as Section 31, Tuvok. It's a myth." She rubbed her temple again.
"Captain, it is highly unlikely that the nomenclature was a coincidence. Section 31 existed in that universe. Logic dictates that it must exist in our universe as well."
"And you think they have a transwarp drive to trade for the Mobius band."
"It is likely. I recall the agents' names - I can look them up in our database and try to contact them in the next datastream."
"Are you suggesting we rob the museum?"
"Perhaps we can copy the technology," Tuvok suggested.
"You know we can't."
"Perhaps we won't find that out until we already have transwarp."
"We'd be making some nasty enemies, Tuvok."
"It would not be the first time we have done so, Captain."
Tuvok asked Seven of Nine to leave Astrometrics. After a battle of the eyebrows, she conceded her territory to him. When he keyed in his authorization code, a Starfleet officer wearing commander's pips appeared on-screen. No one else was likely to notice the human's resemblance to 'Teero' of Bajor, but Tuvok remembered him well.
"Voyager has encountered an abandoned alien technology the potential usefulness of which is unbounded. It shows the user alternate universes--"
"The Section's interests lie in *this* universe," Teero interrupted.
"A sufficiently disciplined mind can direct the device to observe universes nearly indistinguishable from our own, though quantum effects prohibit viewing our own universe. The espionage potential is--"
"Yes, I see."
Tuvok wasn't sure that the erstwhile Bajoran was convinced. "By investigating more varied universes, we may be able to discover new technologies."
After some thought, the distant agent asked, "Can you send us technical specifications?"
"No, we do not understand the device at that level. However, it is small, so we would be able to bring it back to the Alpha Quadrant with us." Tuvok paused again.
"I'll have to report this to my superiors. If Voyager is recalled to the Alpha Quadrant suddenly, you'll know what to do."
"Yes, sir," Tuvok replied.
"Starfleet just sent me the specifications for a transwarp drive," Janeway gestured at the console on her ready-room desk. "You've got friends in high places, Tuvok."
"For the moment, Captain," he replied, still standing.
"There's no way I can send these back now. We're committed." She waited for him to speak, but Tuvok remained silent. "I won't vandalize the museum."
"No, ma'am," he replied.
She looked at him sadly. "I could report your death, Tuvok. You could take a shuttle to Vulcan before we rendezvous with Starfleet."
"I doubt that would be effective, Captain."
"What did you do in the other universe?"
"What happened at this point in the other universe?"
"I removed the Mobius band without your knowledge and handed it over to Section 31 when we reached the Alpha Quadrant."
"I assume you contacted them because you were one of their agents."
Tuvok merely nodded.
"Never mind, Tuvok."
It took a month for Engineering to complete the required modifications, but eventually Voyager was ready to return to the Alpha Quadrant at transwarp speed. Having stored up plenty of replicated supplies from the snackbar of the museum, Voyager made the six-month journey at an average cruising speed of warp 14, with only a few stops at especially tempting anomalies.
Tuvok found himself participating in the revelry with a somewhat un-Vulcan verve. The other crewmembers whiled away the months of travel by planning reunions, legal stratagems, new careers and long vacations. He wrote letters home, but made no particular plans for his return to Vulcan.
Soon enough, Voyager burst upon the Alpha Quadrant scene. The celebrations were almost continuous. Voyager led a parade of starships back to Earth and hosted countless members of the Starfleet brass and Federation Council. Among them was a commander whom only Tuvok recognized.
"It's not aboard," the commander whispered.
"I was unable to separate the device from the main structure of the building," Tuvok replied.
"You have failed."
Tuvok only nodded.
When the Earthside celebrations were over, the crew of Voyager gradually dispersed to their homes. Tuvok, reluctant to book domestic passage to Vulcan, lingered on Earth. Each morning he strolled about the grounds of Starfleet Academy.
"You haven't returned home," said a familiar voice one morning.
"I fear the consequences of my actions," he answered the former Bajoran.
"Do Vulcans fear death, then?"
He shook his head. "Vulcans do not wish to cause the deaths of innocent bystanders."
"You underestimate our accuracy." Teero had led his companion to an unfrequented corner of the gardens.
"Perhaps," Tuvok answered. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his companion move suddenly, and felt something like a hypospray against his skin, though Teero hadn't touched him. The commander was walking away.
Tuvok stood alone. There was no use going for medical help - whatever it was would surely look natural and be irreversible. He gazed up at the morning sun, at Sol hanging over the trees, but her light was unaccountably dim. He staggered...