Future Winnings

Rating: PG for language and violence

Spoilers: Fight The Future, Young At Heart, Demons, all of Voyager

Summary: Mulder is trapped on an alien ship and awakens to find himself
stranded aboard the Federation Starship Voyager. Can he win a place for
himself in the future, or will replicated coffee be a stumbling block?

Archive: Go for it.

Disclaimer: None of the characters in this story belong to me and I'm not
making any money. So, please sue me. At least that way I can maybe get on
Oprah and have the other 7 minutes of my 15 minutes of fame.

E-Mail: Comments, flames, superfluous remarks and vicious character
assassination can be cheerfully sent to me at: eclectic99@mindspring.com

Author's Note: This story may have come about as a lark, but I have done
everything possible to make certain the psychiatric and military
terminology as well as their functions in the story are accurate. Any
mistakes are definitely mine as is the dating for Federation history which
probably doesn't conform to any known time line in the Trek universe, but,=
hey, it works for me.

Many thanks to Leathie for her patient explanations, and Sue for her
interest, help and perseverance, especially after she told me Kirk was the
only captain for her -- and Leathie agreed. And to Samantha, for beta above
and beyond the call. You ladies are terrific!

Dedicated to His Gracefulness Charles, for absolutely no reason.

Future Winnings
Ecolea DiNardio 


"Yes, Lt. Paris?"

"I'm picking up something on long range scan. A craft of some kind. It's

"On screen," Captain Janeway ordered, looking up from the report she'd been
scanning. Staring at the view screen which now showed the vessel in
question, she let out a small gasp of astonishment."


"Chakotay, do you know what that is?" she jerked her chin in the general
direction of the image.

Commander Chakotay shrugged. "No. But it sounds as if you do."

Kathryn Janeway nodded, a small smile creasing her lips. "I do. Lt. Paris?=
How about you? You're something of an Earth historian."

Paris imitated the Commander's gesture. "Not my kind of history, Captain.=
But it appears to be a derelict, no signs of life."

"No. There wouldn't be," Janeway murmured and sat back in her chair.=

"Captain?" Chakotay repeated, seemingly taken aback by her nonchalance
regarding the unknown craft. 

"It's a quarantine ship, Chakotay. A ship designed to keep it's passengers
in cryogenic stasis while a cure was located for whatever contagion they
carried. Or so the records claimed."

There were a few surprised murmurs from the bridge crew and a low whistle
from Tom Paris.

"I thought that was just a story," Paris softly exclaimed. "Something cooked
up by reporters with too much time on their hands and access to some very
obscure archives."

"Oh no, Tom. It was all too true. 'A silent weapon, for a quiet war.' And
that," Janeway gestured toward the derelict hanging in the center of the
view screen, "is the one that got away."


"Are you sure about this, Captain?"

"That ship got here somehow, Chakotay. Maybe we can use that information,=
maybe not. But we owe it to posterity to at the very least give those
people on board a proper burial service."

Chakotay nodded as he and Janeway headed for the lift. "And the historians
would never forgive us."

The captain chuckled softly. "I'm not worried about the historians, just my
conscience. You read the report," she stated as the lift doors opened.

"Yes," the commander nodded. "But do you believe it? I mean, a sentient
pathogen that gestates inside a living human host? Sounds like one of those
old movies Paris likes to watch."

"Well, we're about to find out. One thing's for certain, Seven insists that
ship has warp capability. If that's the case, we may have to revise our
dates on first contact. Early 21st century Earth technology was definitely
not that advanced."

"And if it wasn't built by Humans?" Chakotay asked.

Janeway grimaced. "Then we'll have to find out who built it, if we can. If
that report is true..."

Chakotay nodded. "If it is true, there may be more of those viral creatures
back home, waiting to be reconstituted."


"Commander, there appears to be a small room behind this panel," Seven of
Nine intoned. "The material with which it has been reinforced is blocking
my tricorder."

Chakotay made his way over to stare at the door with a vague sense of
unease. They'd been aboard the quarantine ship for several hours, much of
which had been spent first trying to get power to the ship's computer and
life support systems, then wandering through the vast expanse of the ship
in horror. Men, women and children had been placed in cryo pods. Thousands
of now nameless individuals whose lives had been cut short by a small group
of men working in secret towards what they believed was a greater good.

The commander sighed. "Can you open it?"

Seven lifted an eyebrow. "Certainly. But I would recommend that we do not.=
We have no idea what may be on the other side. Whatever gestated in these
pods was released quite some time ago. There are no alien entities aboard
this ship -- as far as we can see," she finished cryptically.

Chakotay nodded and slapped his communicator. "Chakotay to Voyager."

"Janeway here."

"Captain, we've located a shielded room. Given the nature of the situation
it might be best for the doctor to go in first."

"I agree. I've been looking over the information the away team has been
sending back here. I think caution would be the wisest course of action.=
You can expect the doctor momentarily. Janeway out."

The rest of the away team slowly made their way to the location of the
hidden room. Lt. B'Ellana Torres, Ensign Harry Kim, and a pair of junior
security officers who'd done double duty in Engineering and Sciences.

They waited another moment before Chakotay hit his comm badge again.=

"Yes, Commander," came the bemused response. "It's safe for you to enter.=
There are no dangerous viral entities in here."

B'Ellanna rolled her eyes beseechingly at Chakotay, who grinned in return.=
"Well, thank you, Doctor, for your assistance. You may return to Voyager."

"No. I can't," replied the doctor, somewhat annoyed at the short shrift he'd
been given. "I have a patient here."

"You what? Seven, get that door open now."

"Yes, Commander."

A moment later they were inside. Chakotay gestured for the others to spread
out and examine the contents of the room.

"Doctor," Chakotay began, kneeling beside the hologram, who'd evidently
removed the fully clothed corpse of a man from the cryo pod above them.=
"This man is deceased. Has been for more than three hundred years. And
after exposure to that virus..."

"The only virus this man is carrying in his system is dead. Apparently, he
was administered a vaccine at some point. As for his being deceased--"

"Commander," Seven of Nine interrupted. "I've discovered evidence which may
shed some light on this individual's presence." Chakotay nodded for her to
continue. "There is some minor damage to the inner hull caused by the
impact of several small projectiles," she opened her hand to show them the
lumps of metal she had found. "I believe you call them bullets."

Chakotay nodded again, glancing back at the prone figure whose color was
slowly changing from deathly pale to pinkish white. "You were saying,=

"Yes. I was," the hologram stated, clearly annoyed. "But given Seven's
discovery I believe I can posit a probable scenario. However this
individual came to be aboard, he was attempting to flee the ship, possibly
just as it was preparing for departure. In an attempt to survive he entered
a cryo pod. He was only technically dead due to the extreme cold which
stopped his heart before he could drown from the cryogenic fluid in his
lungs. His brain functions are intact. I've administered something to raise
his body temperature and a myocardial stimulant to start his heart pumping
blood as soon as it drops below freezing. Otherwise, there are no immediate
medical conditions in need of attention."

Chakotay sighed. "And the fluid in his lungs?"

"If you will assist me in turning him on his side, Commander, I think he'll
take care of that in a moment."

Almost as soon as they shifted him the man began choking as the viscous
fluid poured out of his mouth. He gagged then retched up the fluid which
had filled his lungs and vomited the small amount of liquid that had
entered his stomach. His eyes squeezed shut as he took a deep rasping
breath into his burning lungs and began coughing so hard Chakotay had to
hold him steady.

"It's all right. You're all right," the commander told the shivering man,=
wondering what the Captain was going to have to say about all this.

"This man needs to be in Sickbay," the doctor stated succinctly.

Chakotay tapped his comm badge. "Chakotay to Voyager. We have a survivor.=
Two to beam directly to Sickbay."

Chakotay leaned down over the man, whose coughing had subsided into a
scratchy whisper. By the inflection in his tone it was obvious he was
asking something. Chakotay laid a hand on the man's shoulder. "I don't
understand you," he told the man gently. "What do you want to know?"

Dazed eyes, blurred by the remains of the cryo fluid tried to focus on him.

"Sc...Scully," the man rasped. "Where's Scully?"

Before Chakotay could think of an appropriate answer he felt the surge of
the transporter field and released the man, watching as he and the doctor
disappeared in a shimmering burst of light. "Welcome to the 25th century,"=
he murmured sadly. Whoever or whatever this Scully was Chakotay doubted it
could be found at this point in time. And certainly not in the Delta


Tom Paris was the first to reach the stranger's side as the doctor hastily
went to one of the fabricators to get him a change of clothes. "Biobed one,=
Lieutenant," the doctor told his sometime assistant.

"Right. Come on," he said, helping the man to his feet. "Let's get you out
of these wet things."

"Where?" the man asked, blinking hard as he allowed himself to be led to an
odd looking bed in an even odder looking room by an oddly dressed blond.

"You're safe," Tom said, helping him out of the black, "Nice! Real leather?"=
jacket. "You got a name?"

"Uh. Mulder. Fox Mulder."

"Well, Fox," Paris went on, helping him out of his sodden clothes. "You're
on board the Federation Starship Voyager."

"Mulder. Not Fox. Just Mulder," he said as forcefully as he could manage,=
coughing a little. "And I'm where? Where's Scully?"

"Okay, Mulder," Tom reached under the biobed to pull out a towel. "First,=
let's get you dry and on the table, so the Doc can check you out. Then you
can have all the answers you want."

Mulder grabbed the blond's wrist, shaking his head. "I want answers NOW!=
Where am I? And where's Scully?"

Paris sighed. He really hated being a medical assistant. "Look. Not that
it's going to mean anything to you, but you're on board the Federation
Starship Voyager. And if I knew what a Scully was I'd find out if we had

Mulder cocked his head. "Are you trying to be annoying, or does it come

"It's a gift," Paris shrugged. "Now, can I do my job? Or do you want more

Mulder stared at the man until a stern voice spoke up.

"All right, Lt. Paris. Enough of that. This man should be in bed."

"I'm tryin', Doc!"

"Well try harder."

"Come on, Mulder. Cut me some slack, will ya? I've got Atilla the Physician
on my case, here."

The doctor cleared his throat again and Mulder took pity on the younger man.=
"I'm fine, Doc, really," he told them.

"And where did you get your medical degree?" the doctor asked pointedly.

"A Cracker Jack box, same as you."

Paris grinned, not quite understanding the colloquial reference, but
appreciating the humor nonetheless.

The doctor was clearly not impressed. "Mr. Mulder, is it? You're suffering
from an advanced state of exhaustion, dehydration and as near as I can
tell, you haven't eaten in at least seventy two hours. Now. Get. On. The.=

"Fuck!" Mulder grunted, but grabbed the towel from Lt. Paris, gave himself a
quick rub down and hopped onto the table. "Satisfied? Now, where's Agent
Scully? She's a medical doctor. And if anyone's going to examine me it's
going to be her."

Paris and the doctor shared a look.

"What?" Mulder asked nervously, concern coloring his expression. "Was she
hurt? Where is she?"

The doors whooshed open and an attractive woman dressed similarly to the
lieutenant in black trousers and jacket with scarlet shoulders and trim
strode into the room. Mulder quickly twitched the blanket across his middle
and slid his legs underneath.

"Captain," the other men greeted her. Mulder noted their deferential, yet
friendly attitude as she reached the bed and held out a hand to him.

"Kathryn Janeway, Captain of the Federation Starship Voyager."

"Special Agent Fox Mulder," he responded, shaking the proffered hand.=
"Federal Bureau of Investigations. Did you say 'starship'?"

Janeway smiled, taking his hand in both of hers. "It's a pleasure to meet
you, Mr. Mulder. Welcome aboard. And yes. I did say 'starship.'" Janeway's
bright smile dimmed dramatically at Mulder's expression. "Please, Mr.=
Mulder, you're perfectly safe. I know this is going to be a shock to you,=
but you're not on Earth. And," she hesitated watching as Mulder stiffened
and withdrew his hand from her clasp. "You've been trapped on that
quarantine ship for more than three hundred years."

Mulder blanched and his entire body seemed to go numb as a part of him
suspected it could be true. He collapsed back onto the biobed, his
breathing labored as his heart pounded in his ears. He felt rather than
heard the soft pressure of something being injected into his shoulder.

"No!" he gasped. "No drugs!"

"Just a mild sedative, Mr. Mulder. Nothing to worry about," the doctor told

"I said no drugs."

"Doctor," the captain said, trying to placate them both. "I think Mr. Mulder
has slept quite enough."

Mulder nodded, trying to stay awake while the calming lethargy of the drug
raced through his system.

"He hasn't 'slept' at all, Captain. That's the problem. Mr. Mulder is

The captain took the tricorder, shaking her head as she read the diagnosis.=
"You do need rest," she told Mulder.

"I need to know," he whispered. "What... What are you?"

She nodded, remembering the report she'd read. "We're, most of us, perfectly
human. Cloning, genetic enhancements, all of that is illegal in this

Mulder grimaced, fighting the pull of the sedative and what he recognized as
his body's betrayal. "They were illegal in mine."

"How can I reassure you?" Janeway asked solicitously.

"Blood," Mulder whispered. "I need to see the color of your blood."

Janeway nodded. "I think we can manage that. As long as you get some rest

"Captain!" the doctor exclaimed.

"Will a prick of my finger do?"

Mulder smiled grimly. "You're human."

Paris looked surprised. "How do you figure that?"

Janeway sighed. "Do you believe only a human being would offer to injure
themselves for the sake of another's peace of mind?" she asked, somewhat

Mulder gave a brief shake of his head. "You completely ignored the advice of
a doctor."

The doctor crossed his arms, looking very annoyed as the two officers
laughed. "Corporeals!" he sniffed.

Janeway chuckled softly. "You have to admit, Doctor, he's almost entirely
accurate in his assumption."

"He hasn't had to deal with Klingons and Vulcans. Yet," the doctor added

Janeway glanced at Mulder to see how he was reacting to the typical banter
in which they were engaged and was shocked to see him almost completely

"Please, Mr. Mulder. I can imagine how difficult this must be for you. But
you'll make it through."

Mulder shrugged, and if anything looked more forlorn. "I wish," he said so
softly the Captain strained to hear him.

She nodded knowingly. "Someone you left behind?"

Mulder winced visibly. "Scully. My partner, Dana Scully."

Janeway sighed. "We do have extensive archives on board. If you like, I can
try to find out what happened to her."

Mulder nodded tightly. "She got out. I'm sure of it."

"Anyone else?" Janeway asked, pleased to see his eyes fluttering as the
sedative pulled him into much needed sleep.

"M...mom. My mom," he mumbled. "An' Sam."


Mulder started awake, suddenly aware that he was not on his couch with the
fish tank humming nearby. Someone yawned and he turned in the bed. It was
the blond, Lt. Paris, sitting across the room with his feet up on a desk
working on what looked like a small hand held computer. And then it hit him
all over again. The mind numbing, stomach churning horror of just how
stupid he'd been. They'd been searching for him and Scully and he'd ducked
behind that pod thing by the exit to hide and give her cover. She'd gotten
out. He remembered that clearly. Seeing her jump to the sand below. But the
hatch had closed ahead of him and he'd fired his weapon hoping to disable
the locking mechanism. Behind him, he could hear the creatures stirring and
jumped into the pod to hide. Then the fluid had poured in, freezing cold
and drowning him. He shuddered at the memory.

"Done sleeping?" a soft voice called over. Mulder sat up and nodded, rubbing
his face and eyes to wipe the sleep away. "There's clothes on the table to
your right." Mulder reached for the pile, picked up the thin material of a
dull brown body suit and grimaced.

"Much as I appreciate the gesture," Mulder said. "Are my own clothes dry

"Cabinet behind you. Touch the blue square on the left."

Mulder followed the directions and a portion of the wall slid open to reveal
his clothes, watch, wallet, keys, ID and empty ankle and shoulder holsters.=
He dressed quickly, then realized he quite literally had no place to go.

The crushing weight of his loss rolled over Mulder again. He squeezed his
eyes shut and a soft moan escaped his lips. "No," he muttered, leaning
against the wall for support. "This isn't real. It can't be real. It's not

"Mulder?" That soft smooth voice again. It was beginning to irritate him.


"Captain Janeway left orders that as soon as you were released from Sickbay
you were to report to her."

Mulder felt his spine stiffen with anger. "Orders to report?" He turned on
the young lieutenant, ready with a few choice words about where the lovely
captain could stick her orders when Paris shrugged.

"She didn't actually make it an order, but..."

Mulder stared at Paris for a moment then nodded. "So it was just a request?=
And seeing as how I have nothing to do..."

"Sounds about right," he answered. "Actually, what she said was, 'As soon as
he's able ask Mr. Mulder to come to my quarters. There's a lot we have to
discuss.' And coming from a senior officer..."

Mulder bit his lip and shrugged. Why not? "Any chance I could get a cup of
coffee before my audience? I've got a feeling I'm gonna need it."

He escaped Sickbay a short time later after a brief lecture from the doctor
about nutritional supplements and proper sleeping habits. The man had
appeared out of thin air and nearly caused Mulder to choke on his coffee.=
As it was, Lt. Paris spent several minutes alternately patting Mulder on
the back and explaining about hologram matrices, mobile emitters and
computer generated emergency doctors. The only thing Mulder took away from
this was a vague understanding that somewhere aboard this ship someone had
access to an off switch. If nothing else, it made him feel that there was
somebody with a real sense of humor left in the universe.

"The Officer's Quarters are this way," Paris said, leading him down a
slightly dimmed corridor and into a turbo lift, as Paris called the

"Deck two," Paris said aloud and Mulder tried to hide his startled flinch
when the lift began it's ascent.

"What's with the lights?" Mulder asked curiously when they stepped out a
moment later, presumably on the requested deck.

"Starfleet policy is to try and keep to a 24 hour day. So the lights cycle
to imitate Earth Standard time," he explained as he led the way down a
corridor identical to the one they'd just left.


Paris nodded. "I'd try to explain, but there's no real equivalent from your
time. Our main mission is to explore and make contact with other worlds.=
Our secondary function is defense of the Federation of Planets. Here we

He touched the side of the door and Mulder heard a soft chime and a voice
call out for them to come in. The doors slid open and he entered the room,=
struck by the spacious, comfortable decor. Then he saw the large window and
the stars beyond and he forgot all about Paris and the captain. All he
could think of was Samantha and Scully and the pain caused by beings from
the stars. Stars he'd loved and learned to hate. Stars he'd learned to fear
for the terror of secrets they held.

He heard the door whoosh closed behind him as the lieutenant was dismissed
and a gentle hand rested on his arm.

"It's all right, Mr. Mulder. You're perfectly safe," Janeway told him. "Why
don't you come sit down. Can I get you anything? Tea perhaps?"

Mulder gave himself a small mental shrug, repressing a shudder as he thought
about food and beverages appearing out of thin air.

"I'm fine, thanks." He looked at Janeway and gave her his most charming

The captain returned it and laughed softly. "That will work on everyone but
me, Mr. Mulder. I didn't get to be captain of a starship without learning a
few tricks."

Mulder shrugged. "It never works on Sc...Scully, either." He swallowed hard,=
squeezing his eyes shut against the thought that he was three hundred years
too late to tell her just how much she meant to him. He took a deep breath
and saw sympathy mixed with understanding in Janeway's eyes.

"Come sit with me, Mr. Mulder," she said, gesturing toward a small sofa.=
"I've found some information I think you'll be interested to hear."

He took a seat, nervously wrapping his arms around his chest.

"Well," she went on after sitting beside him. "I was able to track down
Special Agent Dana Katherine Scully through our historical archives.=
Apparently, she distinguished herself in a number of ways which made her
life noteworthy."

Mulder had to smile at that. "I never doubted she would, given half a

"So, let's see. Dr. Dana Scully resigned from the Federal Bureau of
Investigations about a year after your disappearance. She went to work for
the Centers for Disease Control and was instrumental in creating the final
version of the vaccine against the alien virus she was exposed to and
getting it distributed widely enough to prevent mass infection. There's no
mention of this in the public records of the time, of course, since the
information was suppressed, but she did receive the Congressional Medal of
Honor. Several years later she was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her work on
DNA restructuring and went on to head the CDC."

"All right!" Mulder exclaimed. "Go Scully!"

Janeway grinned at his enthusiasm. "In 2021 she wrote an account of your
work together in the X Files. It seems to have been very controversial,=
since there are a plethora of articles related to its publication."

"I don't doubt it," Mulder grimaced.

Janeway nodded. "We have the text on file if you'd like to read it," she

Mulder sighed. "Maybe later. I lived it, remember. Yesterday."

"Well, I for one found it fascinating. You're an extraordinary man, Mr.=

He shrugged. "I'm not sure about the extraordinary part. But the work itself
was fascinating. Did she ever...uhm...marry?"

"I don't know," Janeway told him honestly. "There's no record of her after
2043 when the last world war began. But that's true of a great many things.=
Most of the major cities were destroyed, but, oddly enough there's a
dedication in a work of supposed fiction naming you as the author's
inspiration. The story details a convoluted conspiracy that nearly led to
the colonization of  Earth by an extraterrestrial pathogen. It's by a Dana
Skinner and was published posthumously in 2067 by a Melissa Dumont with the
notation that it was written by her great aunt."

"She married Skinner! Jesus Christ! I can't believe she married Skinner!"=
Mulder ran a hand through his hair. "Jesus, Skinner."

"I take it you knew her husband?"

"Knew him?" Mulder chuckled. "I got my head chewed off regularly by the
bastard. He was the Assistant Director overseeing the X files. Our boss."

"I see," Janeway nodded. "Would you like to hear the rest?"

Mulder shrugged. "I...I guess. My mom?"

"She passed in 2017, of natural causes as far as I've been able to
determine. That's when several deeds in her name pass to a Samantha Ann

"Sam?" Mulder whispered. "What...what..."

Janeway rested her hand on his arm. "You know who she is?"

"I... My sister, Samantha. She...she disappeared when we were just kids. I
looked and I looked, but..."

The captain said nothing, waiting for Mulder to take in this long sought
after piece of information.

"I... I was led to believe," Mulder finally spoke, staring down at his
hands. "That she'd married and had children. I couldn't be sure it really
was Samantha. There was a clone. A hybrid that was killed. So I was never

Janeway sighed. "According to the records we have on board," she grimaced,=
"the cloning program was halted in 2008 and the clones themselves hunted
down and destroyed by 'agents unknown'. The systematic execution of
genetically altered humans was part of the outcome of the Eugenics Wars. By
2013 genetic tagging was implemented by most of the world governments in an
effort to catch any remaining hybrids which might have escaped the purge.=
It was not," she admitted, "one of humanity's finest moments."

"So by 2017?"

"Purity Control continued up until the beginning of the Third World War. At
the time Samantha Ann Wescott inherited she would have had to undergo
genetic verification of her identity."

"Purity Control," Mulder said, shaking his head in disgust. "They thought
they were saving humanity. They destroyed the lives of thousands in the
name of some greater good."

"Most great evils are perpetrated in the name of a higher cause."

Mulder rubbed his eyes with both hands, fighting the pain rising from his
chest to constrict his throat. "And Sam?" he whispered.

"I thought she might be related," Janeway nodded, glancing down at her PADD.=
"Samantha graduated Harvard Law School in 1991. Married Captain John Thomas
Wescott in 1993 and lived in Annapolis, Maryland until 2015 when she
divorced and moved to Greenwich, Connecticut. She practiced law with a firm
in New Haven until the war. There's no recorded date of death, but in 2062
a Christina Frances Wescott is listed as being granted property rights to
the house in Greenwich."

Mulder slumped back against the couch with a sigh. She didn't need me, he
thought dejectedly. I needed her, but she didn't need me. None of them
needed me. Not Scully. Not Samantha. Not even his mother it seemed. They'd
all gone on without him.

And now where was he? Mulder scrutinized the woman beside him, seeing both
compassion and a weary acceptance in her eyes. He took a deep breath and
pushed back the overwhelming need he suddenly felt to run screaming from
the room.

"What now?" he asked, finally looking toward the gaping maw of the star
field in the window.

"Now, Mr. Mulder," she patted his arm. "I'll have someone show you to your
quarters. You need time to adjust. And that's something we have plenty of
around here."

Mulder heard the catch in her voice and fixed her with his most penetrating
gaze. "There's something else you want to tell me, isn't there?"

Janeway grinned ruefully. "Not much gets past you, does it?"

He lifted one shoulder in a half shrug. "I've had a lot of practice picking
the truths and half truths from the lies."

"Then I won't give you half truths and I won't lie," she assured him.=
"Voyager is headed for Earth. There's only one slight glitch in the
program. Earth is in the Alpha quadrant. We were pulled into the Delta
quadrant three years ago by an alien entity. The means used to bring us
here no longer exists. Unless we can find a short cut, it's going to take
approximately sixty seven years for us to get there."

Mulder felt his mouth fall open and his eyes widen in shock. "Jesus,=
Janeway, you don't pull any punches, do you?"

"Not if I can help it," she admitted. "I've always preferred the direct

"Next time why not just hit me in the back of the head with a board?" Mulder
rubbed his face with his hands and stood up, beginning to pace the room
with a distracted look in his eyes. Finally, he turned and threw up his
hands in disgust as he let out a long deep breath. "I guess there's not
much I can do about it, is there?"

The captain shook her head. "Short of hopping off at the next hospitable
planet that suits your fancy, no." Mulder stared at her incredulously.=
"You're not a prisoner, Mr. Mulder," she told him gently. "And you're not
Starfleet personnel that I can just order you to remain aboard. Although,"=
she admitted. "I've never insisted any of my crew make this journey if they
thought they'd found a suitable home. And I won't. You have the freedom to
choose. I won't deny you that. But I would ask that you remain aboard long
enough to understand the choice you'd be making."

Mulder nodded. It seemed reasonable. And, looking out at that vast array of
stars, he did feel more than a little intimidated. But there were things he
needed to know. Important things.

"And if I decide to stay?" he asked cautiously.

Captain Janeway smiled. "We could certainly use you, Mr. Mulder."

He cocked his head, unsure of what she meant.

Janeway rose and went to her desk, picking up a small PADD. "You have a
particular skill which we desperately need," she told him, a hint of
sadness reflected in the momentary slump of her shoulders. "When we were
pulled into the Delta quadrant we lost our Ship's Counselor. We've suffered
a number of losses. Most of us are so far from friends and family that the
chances of seeing them again are slim to none, and the odds of  getting
back to the Alpha quadrant without further casualties is highly unlikely.=
Many of my crew are pulling double duty on a daily basis and the strain is
showing. Tempers get short, performance suffers. We're in unknown
territory, Mr. Mulder, and we can't afford to get sloppy. You're a
psychologist. Draw you're own conclusions."

Mulder didn't try to hide his astonishment. "Captain," he began, moving to
sit on the edge of the desk. "Much as I appreciate your predicament, I am
in no way qualified to act professionally in any form of therapeutic
counseling. Aside from the rotation I did to get my clinician's license
I've dealt exclusively with psychopaths, serial murderers and the
criminally insane. Not to mention that most people who know--knew me,=
didn't consider me very stable to begin with."

Janeway laughed softly at that. "But you were right. There was a conspiracy
and there were non-humans attempting to colonize Earth. Which, in my
opinion," she smiled broadly and laid a hand on his shoulder, "makes you
insightful, honest, and incredibly stable. There aren't many individuals,"=
she added, "that could or would even attempt to persevere in the face of
such overwhelming odds, let alone the ridicule you must have endured."

Mulder smiled wryly at the compliment, but nevertheless demurred. "Captain,=
I let a quack doctor drill holes in my head because I thought it would help
me find the truth about what happened to my sister."

"Did it work?"

Once again Mulder felt his mouth fall open. "I... Well, I thought it did at
the time. Then I tried to blow my head off and nearly shot my partner. So,=
I guess you could say the side effects had a significant downside."

"You took a risk. Granted, a dangerous one, but you survived. And you
learned something no doubt from the experience."

Mulder twisted his lips in a chagrined half smile. "Yeah, never let anyone
drill holes in your head or your partner will want to drill you a new one.=
And in a place you don't want to even think about."

The captain merely grinned and tapped the silver insignia they all seemed to
wear. "Janeway to Neelix. Please come to my quarters."

"On my way, Captain."

Mulder looked around the room, then back at the little insignia device, its
purpose now obvious. He stood as the captain moved around the desk to take
a seat.

"I understand your hesitancy, Mr. Mulder. But I would still like you to
think about it. Take your time. Familiarize yourself with Federation
history, cultures and technology. Mr. Neelix will show you how to access
the ship's computer. If you find there are other avenues you'd like to
explore I'm always open to suggestion."

The door chimed once. "Come," the captain called out and returned her gaze
to Mulder. "In the meantime, Mr. Neelix will assist you in acclimating
yourself to your new surroundings."

Mulder glanced over his shoulder, a moment of sheer terror sweeping through

"Relax," he distantly heard the captain murmur. "Mr. Neelix is Telaxian, and
very friendly."

Mulder swallowed his fear as he watched the garishly dressed bewhiskered
creature move forward wearing a broad, delighted smile.

"Hello, Mr. Mulder!" the gregarious Telaxian exclaimed. "I'm sure I'm not
the first, and I know I won't be the last to say, welcome to Voyager! This
is so exciting! I've been reading up on you and your adventures with the
amazing Dr. Scully. But not to worry," Neelix assured him. "I'm one of the
good guys."

Mulder looked from Neelix to Janeway, noting the amusement in her eyes as
she nodded.

"I'm glad to the hear that," Mulder responded a little breathlessly. "Most
of the ali-- the...ah...non-humans," he temporized, "I've run across were
generally trying to kill me."

Neelix nodded sympathetically. "I know how that goes, believe me!"

"Mr. Neelix," Janeway interrupted before the Telaxian could begin
commiserating. "I'm assigning Mr. Mulder the counselor's quarters. Just in
case," she grinned at Mulder's questioning gaze. "Would you see to it that
he's made comfortable and given every assistance in adjusting to life
aboard Voyager?"

"Anything for you, dear Captain."

"Thank you, Neelix. Now, if you gentlemen will excuse me, I have to go over
some reports. Mr. Mulder," she added as he followed Neelix to the exit.

He turned, wondering how she managed to be both gentle and commanding at the
same time. A trait he'd always admired in Scully.

"We'll talk again."

Mulder smiled. "I'll look forward to it," he told her. "And thank you,=
Captain Janeway. For everything. But especially for being honest."

That said, Mulder followed Neelix out of the room, only just realizing as he
did so what the captain had so neatly done. "Does she always get her way?"=
he asked, already guessing the answer.

Neelix smiled broadly. "She's the Captain."


The counselor's quarters were on the opposite side of Deck Two not far from
the Mess Hall. Well away from the senior bridge staff's which Mulder
suspected afforded as much privacy to crew members as possible. He'd been
surprised at the sheer size of the ship as Neelix described it. Fifteen
decks, a crew compliment of 141, and room to spare for lounges, labs,=
offices and entertainment areas.

Mulder's eyes widened at the sight of his assigned quarters. Unlike most of
the crew quarters there were two bedrooms flanking a large central
living/work area. The psychologist in him understood the need for the extra
bedroom. There were times when a patient needed constant observation, or
just a safe place to stay for a night. Someone had done their homework. In
England, especially among doctors of the older schools of thought, this was
the recommended layout for those in private practice. It supposedly kept
the number of psyche admissions down to those who really needed

"This Starfleet is really serious about the mental health of it's crews,"=
Mulder murmured.

"Oh, yes," Neelix told him cheerfully. "I'm the morale officer as well as
the cook. A happy, healthy crew is a productive crew."

"I'm sure," Mulder agreed, wondering if there'd be anyone here qualified to
look after his morale. Well, if the lovely Captain Janeway was any
indication, he didn't think it beyond the realm of possibility.

He watched as Neelix moved around the room showing him various consoles and
amenities. Food and clothing replicators, computer work stations, extra
storage space. Mulder nodded as he catalogued each new piece of
information, most importantly, the fact that the computer answered to voice
commands as well as touch. It could, according to Neexlix, tell him
anything he needed to know, or display it for him, as well as offering a
vast selection of music and stationary holo entertainments.

"Like the doctor?" Mulder asked nervously.

"Not quite, Agent Mulder," the Telaxian explained. "His mobile emitter makes
him capable of travel to any location. The holo matrices in here are for
watching pre-recorded programs, kind of like your television according to
Lt. Paris, who's something of an enthusiast of that era in Earth history.=
For more interactive entertainment we have two holosuites which you can
program to recreate any place, time or event you might want to enjoy.=
Currently, we have one suite scheduled for full time use as a meeting place
of sorts." Neelix grinned. "That was Tom's idea. It's a replica of an
actual eating and drinking establishment on Earth he used to frequent, with
music, dancing and a game called billiards. Do you play?"

Mulder smiled widely. "Why? Would you like to go a few rounds? Say, for a
small wager?" England had been nothing if not educational.

Neelix chuckled, rubbing his hands together in gleeful anticipation. "Oh, I
think Lt. Paris may have met his match!"

Mulder let his brows rise up as he pursed his lips. Interesting. "Just let
me get in some practice. It's been a while since I sharked anyone."

The Telaxian nodded. "Would you like the rest of the tour now, or after
you've had a chance to get settled in?"

Mulder shrugged and looked around the suite of rooms. "I think I'd like that
tour." There'd be lots of time later to sit alone and be miserable. "It
would probably be a good idea for me to have a frame of reference for all

They started at the bottom and worked their way up. Shuttle bays, cargo
bays, science labs, and lots of very friendly "people". He was definitely
going to have to read up on Bajorans. Along the way, Mulder had tried to
prevent Neelix from introducing him as the new Ship's Counselor, but that
only went so far with the irrepressible Telaxian. Instead of "our new
Ship's Couselor" he introduced Mulder as "the man Captain Janeway hopes
will be our new Ship's Counselor". The seemingly guileless little alien was
very skilled in the ways of guilt and manipulation.

Still, Mulder had to admit after meeting just a small portion of the Voyager
crew that he was getting a little interested in the position. At the very
least he wanted to find out more about this Federation of Planets and how
so many different species came to be working together so peacefully. He
found it hard to imagine that humanity could have overcome thousands of
millenia of xenophobic behavior in a few hundred years. Then, of course,=
Neelix brought him to Engineering.

"Seven!" B'Ellana Torres shouted. "Did I ask you to make those changes?=
You're in charge of the Astrometrics Lab, not Main Engineering! No one
makes alterations to the warp core computer without first running it by me.=
Then I go to the Captain. Then the SENIOR staff discusses it and then THE
CAPTAIN orders the changes. WE ARE NOT A BORG COLLECTIVE! This is a
Federation starship. Got that!? Protocol. We have PROTOCOL HERE!"

"You are again over reacting to my attempts to assist you, Lt. Torres," the
blond called Seven responded in a condescending tone. "I am well aware of
Starfleet protocols. They are time consuming and unnecessary. The
alterations were minor and did not require a meeting of the senior staff."

"I DECIDE WHAT'S MINOR!" B'Ellana shouted. "Now, take your nanoprobes and

Mulder winced inwardly, yet felt somewhat gratified at the display of
tempers. After meeting some of the happy-go-lucky crew of Voyager part of
him had begun to think Captain Janeway had exaggerated the need for a
counselor. Obviously, she hadn't.

"I will speak to the captain," Seven stated, turning on her heel.

At that, B'Ellana raised a hand as if to strike the other woman and Mulder
leapt forward to grab her arm. For his trouble, she tossed him halfway
across the room before she rounded on him, looking seriously pissed and
very dangerous.

"Who the hell are you?" she hissed, giving Mulder his first clear look at
her forehead.

Shit! Some kind of non-human and he'd just walked into it without thinking.=
Can't back down now, he thought grimly.

Slowly and carefully Mulder lifted himself off the floor, all too aware of
the tension in the room. Most of it now directed at him -- the interloper.=
Okay, time to pull a rabbit out of his hat.

He took a deep breath, raising himself to his full height and crossed his
arms over his chest. "Your new Ship's Counselor, ladies."

B'Ellana raised a brow and looked him over. "Really? Just get hired?"

Mulder didn't bother to respond. "What I just got is a classic example of

He watched as the woman's mouth opened and closed before she finally
sputtered, "I don't like Borg! No one likes the Borg!"

"I see," Mulder nodded, relaxing a bit now that he had Lt. Torres on the
defensive. "And your dislike of this particular group gives you the right
to scream insults whenever you please? Insults that have nothing to do with
whatever action, no matter how egregious, has taken place?"

That made the lieutenant pause and look faintly embarrassed. He glanced at
Seven and saw the gleam of triumph in her eyes. "Oh no," he shook his head.=
"Both of you," he crooked a finger at the pair, "come with me."

He led them out into the corridor, giving Neelix a shake of his head to
indicate that this would be handled privately.

"First," he began politely. "My name is Mulder. Fox Mulder. But you can both
call me Mulder. Second, you are?"

"Lt. B'Ellana Torres, Chief Engineer."

"Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct to Unimatrix Zero One."

"Lt. Torres. Seven?" he raised an eyebrow, silently inquiring if this were
the proper form of address. The woman nodded. "All right, let's see.=
Seven," he glared at the young woman. "You said you're aware of the
protocols involved, correct?" She nodded. "But you didn't use them because
you didn't think it was important?" Again she nodded. "Who are you to make
that decision?" The woman had the grace to say nothing, but flushed ever so

"Lt. Torres, do these same protocols include procedures on how to deal with
someone who refuses to accept the protocols?"

B'Ellana nodded. "They do," she admitted uncomfortably.

To Mulder's relief the lieutenant turned to Seven. "I shouldn't have brought
up the Borg, or raised my voice. I'm sorry."

"Your apology is accepted."

Mulder waited, but Seven said nothing more. "Seven?"

The Borg looked at him blankly. "You require an apology?"

Mulder shook his head. "No, Lt. Torres does. She's the one you insulted."


He sighed. The woman didn't seem to understand. "Seven, do you think Lt.=
Torres is incapable of understanding whatever changes you wanted to
implement to the," he thought back for a moment until he had the phrase,=
"warp core computer?"

"Lt. Torres is an adequate Chief Engineer, but she is closed minded when it
comes to my suggestions. Unless ordered to implement them by the captain
she would not."

Mulder silently admitted that this was probably accurate given the other
woman's bigotry. "Lt. Torres," he asked quietly, "is Seven telling the

The lieutenant shrugged. "I'm busy. I don't have time to run to the captain
every few minutes with her ideas."

"Are they good ideas?" Mulder asked curiously.

B'Ellana sighed. "Yes. They are often very good ideas, but that's not the

"Then what is?"

Again, the lieutenant shrugged, apparently at a loss as to what to say.=
She'd have to admit that her only reason for not listening to Seven was
that she didn't like her which was obvious to Mulder as well as to Seven of

"Okay, let's see if we can work out a compromise, shall we?" Mulder began
calmly. "Seven, would you follow protocol if you felt you had a reasonable
chance of having your ideas listened to with an open mind?"

"I would," she responded.

"Lt. Torres, can you make time, say once a week to meet with Seven and
discuss her ideas if it meant she followed protocol?"

"I suppose so," she sighed.

"Good. The two of you can meet in my quarters, with me as mediator until you
both get a handle on your tempers. Is that acceptable?" There was a short
pause before the pair nodded. "I won't tolerate bigotry or condescension
from either of you, so fair warning. The two of you are going to learn how
to behave in an appropriate manner -- at least in public, if not in
private. And Seven," he added before she could walk away. "You still owe
Lt. Torres an apology for going above her head before seeking out an
alternative method to have your plans implemented."

The woman nodded. "I apologize, Lt. Torres, for any changes to the warp core
computer that were made without your direct knowledge. In future, I will
consult you."

"Consult!" Lt. Torres spat angrily. "You'll damn well do more than 'consult'=
me, Seven!"

Mulder rubbed his face with his hands. "Enough!" he shouted. "Seven, when
you apologize for insulting someone try not to make it a backhanded

The woman looked at him blankly. "I was not attempting to insult the

"Forget it," B'Ellana muttered. "I know what she meant." With that, the
lieutenant turned to go back to Engineering. "I have work to do," she said
quietly then glanced back at Mulder and gave him a wistful smile. "Thanks
anyway," she told him and disappeared behind the doors.

"I too have work," Seven stated sullenly. "If you will excuse me, Mulder."

Mulder sighed, nodding. "Yes, but we're definitely going to have to work on
your people skills."

"And you speak from personal knowledge, Agent Mulder?" Seven asked with mock

Shit! He was definitely going to have to read that book Scully wrote. "I may
not always choose to use them, but I have them," he told her bluntly. "Do

"I am Borg," she told him as if this statement covered everything he ever
needed to know about her, then turned and walked away. He couldn't help but
notice just how nicely the body suit she wore fitted to all her curves.=
Jesus, he thought, I don't even know what a Borg is and I'm scoping one
out! Oh well, if they're all as shapely as she is, who cares?


"Dr. Mulder?" A tall man of native American ancestry, if Mulder guessed
correctly, stood next to the table in the Mess Hall, where Mulder had been
sipping his coffee and cursing himself for his stupidity. "I'm Commander
Chakotay, the First Officer. May I join you?"

Mulder nodded to the seat across from him and the commander slid his tray
over as he took his place. The lights in the corridors had brightened in
the last hour and Mulder saw what looked like ham and eggs on the other
man's plate. Replicated food, he guessed, while he'd availed himself of
Neelix's cooking. No matter how they explained that the molecules were
simple matter, the idea still left Mulder queasy. When he pulled up to the
drive thru at MacDonald's he might not have seen the cow, or the field
where his potatoes were grown, but he knew they were there, somewhere. For
a brief moment he wondered what Scully might have said if he'd told her
there was such a thing as too fast food. Then he crushed the thought before
it could overwhelm him. There'd be time for all that later.

"I heard what you did in Engineering," Chakotay began.

Mulder winced visibly. "Yeah, I put my foot in my mouth. Big time."

"Is that what you think?" Chakotay asked curiously.

"Well, given that, according to Neelix, I took my life in my hands over
employee relations... And that I know absolutely nothing about Klingons or
Borg... It was probably one of my less sterling moments."

Chakotay smiled. "No. You were perfect. From what I hear, you didn't give
either of them an inch. I know B'Ellana respects that and I expect Seven of
Nine will too, once she really understands what you're trying to do."

"Yeah," Mulder rubbed the back of his neck. "What is it with that anyway?=
Nine of what? Peas in a pod? Pigs in a poke?"

The commander grinned. "That's a Borg designation code. They don't have
individual names as such."

"That helps," Mulder dead-panned.

Chakotay's shoulders shook with laughter as he tried to hide his smile.=
"Don't worry, you'll get used to it," he told Mulder sympathetically. "Just
remember, never let either of those two see you sweat, that's when they
move in for the kill."

"Jeez," Mulder muttered. "You couldn't have left me a popsicle?"

"Actually, I probably would have," Chakotay admitted, "if we hadn't decided
to send the doctor in first. We were only on that ship to collect
information and give you all a decent burial."

Mulder nodded. He'd heard as much from Paris. "And did you find what you
were looking for?" he asked quietly.

Chakotay grimaced. "More than enough evidence to put the humans involved to
death for crimes against humanity -- if any of them were still alive.=
Although," he added. "We still haven't been able to trace the ship to any
known world."

"You won't," Mulder told him succinctly. "The aliens first spawning ground
was Earth. We all," he gestured to himself and Chakotay, "share genetic
material with them."


"They evolved from a simple single cell bacterium into a fully formed entity
because a contaminated asteroid crashed into the Earth. It's their home.=
Their home. Millions of years before it was ours."

"That wasn't in the report I read."

"It wouldn't be," Mulder admitted. "How do you tell anyone, in any century,=
that they're merely the by-product of an extraterrestrial infection? And
that the original pathogen sees humanity as the disease."

Chakotay shuddered. "I see your point, but..."

"You don't believe me?" Mulder offered him a twisted smile. "Go ask your
holographic doctor. See if he can give you an answer."

"I will," Chakotay said, nodding. "If it is true, then we'll deal with it."

Mulder couldn't help smiling. These people were so innocent. He was sure the
records -- the real records -- were somewhere in a Federation vault. No way
they wouldn't be, if the Syndicate had been well placed enough to institute
Purity Control on a national basis. But he said nothing. Scully had done
what she'd promised. Stopped the virus and saved humanity. He knew the
truth and the rest was history.

"You don't believe that?" Chakotay asked curiously.

Mulder shrugged. "It doesn't really matter what I believe. Not anymore." He
stood, nodded to the commander and took his leave, heading back to his
quarters to do some serious research on Federation history.

"Mr. Mulder?" A voice called out before he could enter his suite. He turned
to find Captain Janeway making her way down the corridor.

"I'm so glad I caught you. I've just had a word with B'Ellana," she told
him, her voice and eyes animated with delight as she took his arm gently.=
"She was very impressed with what you did in Engineering. Thank you!"

Mulder grinned at the Captain's obvious pleasure. "I'm just glad I didn't
find out until later that she has twice normal human strength or I'd have
probably tucked tail and run."

Janeway slapped his arm lightly and released it. "Nonsense, Mulder. You'd
have done just what you did. The right thing. I get more headaches from
those two than any ten members of this crew. B'Ellana alone has-- Well,=
let's just say I for one am glad to have you here."

"That's good to hear," Mulder admitted. He'd been afraid he'd really
overstepped his bounds by announcing himself as the Ship's Counselor and
told Janeway as much.

She merely smiled. "Mulder, if you'd announced yourself as the head angel
that counted all the other angels dancing on the head of that pin I still
wouldn't care."

Mulder laughed and Janeway went on more seriously. "Of course, B'Ellana also
mentioned that if you'd been in uniform she might not have reacted so
strongly to your presence."

"Strongly?" Mulder echoed. "Now there's an understatement. She threw me
halfway across the room. I hope she doesn't do that to all your guests who
get on the wrong side of her at an inopportune moment."

"No, but--"

"Captain Janeway! Please report to the bridge!"

The captain tapped her comlink. "On my way," she announced with a touch of
annoyance. "Now what?" she muttered. "Well, Mr. Mulder, duty calls. And if
you were really serious about the counselor position..."

Mulder nodded. "Yeah, I guess I am."

"Good," she said beginning to move toward the lift. "I'll have Mr. Tuvok
assist you in Starfleet protocol and security when he gets off duty. Have a
good day, Mulder."

"May the Force be with you," Mulder waved as he watched her move swiftly
down the corridor, once again enjoying the choice view the uniform
afforded. Well, he didn't look too bad in black, and at least he wouldn't
have to go shopping for anymore stupid ties.


The door chime sounded just as Mulder finished reading an overview of the
First Federation Council. Without thinking, he reached for his weapon,=
found an empty holster and gave himself a mental shake to clear his head.

"Come in," he called, wondering if he'd ever feel as safe as the crew of
Voyager apparently did. In any case, when he next spoke to the captain he
fully intended to get his weapons back, even if he only kept them in a lock
box. The idea of his loaded guns floating around on a ship full of
scientists and technicians made him distinctly nervous.

The doors opened and Mulder stood to greet his visitor -- a tall, dark
skinned man with ears like an elf. A Vulcan, his memory supplied after a
brief search of its internal references.

"Good day, Mr. Mulder," the man greeted in a tone so devoid of warmth Mulder
nearly shivered at the chill. No emotion, he reminded himself as he nodded
in response. "I am Lt. Commander Tuvok, Voyager's Chief of Security. The
captain wishes me to see that you are instructed in Starfleet protocol and
given access to Voyager's crew manifest and personnel records."

"That would be helpful," Mulder commented. "Please, Lt. Commander, come in."

The man stepped into the room, moving toward the desk where Mulder had been

"Very good," Tuvok stated, glancing at the screen Mulder had been reading.=
"You have been familiarizing yourself with Federation historical documents.=
You will find them helpful. Computer," Tuvok said, activating the
mechanism's voice mode. "Display Starfleet Regulation Manual." The screen
changed and Mulder stared at it, still a bit leery of all this new

"This," Tuvok went on, "is a compilation of all Starfleet directives. Many
of them will be meaningless to you. I would suggest that for the present
you confine yourself to examining those sections which apply to Starship
protocol and the duties of its personnel. Specifically, the Ship's

Mulder gave the man a twisted smile. "I've already read them, Lt.=

"Reading is not understanding, Mr. Mulder."

"True, I didn't understand everything, until I asked the computer," he
agreed, crossing his arms as he leaned against the edge of the desk. "But
for me, it's enough."

The Vulcan lifted an eyebrow that would have had Scully envious at its
height. "Please explain."

"I have an eidetic memory. I can quote you chapter and verse right now if
you'd like."

The other eyebrow went up. "Fascinating. Then you are fully cognizant of
your duties." Tuvok looked almost pleased as he handed Mulder a PADD.=
"These are your security codes. You have complete access to the crews'=
psychiatric evaluations. As it has been some time since they have been
updated I would suggest--"

Mulder held up a hand. "Already taken care of," he told the Vulcan. "I had
the computer make up a schedule for interviewing every member of the crew
over the next few weeks. As soon as the captain approves it, I'll send out
the notifications. I think an initial 15 minute meet and greet is about all
they'll tolerate at first. I can do evaluations later. It would be
pointless," he added with a wry smile, "to expect them to trust me just
because the captain does."

Again the eyebrow rose. "On the contrary, Mr. Mulder. The captain's high
opinion of you is perhaps the only reason the crew will offer you their

Mulder merely shrugged, not believing for a minute that anyone would be that

"And for yourself," the Vulcan went on, "the regulations are quite clear."

Mulder sighed and nodded. "It was the same in my day. One of the reasons I
decided not to go into private practice." All treating psychologists and
psychiatrists had to have a monitor. A shrink for the shrink, so to speak.

"It is still required," Tuvok stated. "The Counselor Evaluation program can
be accessed on the holodeck. Given the circumstances of your arrival I
would suggest you take advantage of it, before you attempt any counseling."

Mulder bristled at that. "I can handle myself without a babysitter, Mr.=
Tuvok. But," he added. "I'll comply with the regulations." He didn't have
to like it though. Besides, it was a computer program, for chrissakes! How
bright could it be?


Mulder stared at his image in the mirror. After Tuvok had gone, he'd asked
the computer to fabricate a uniform for him. He'd never been keen on
uniforms, but it was better than having the crew question his presence
every few minutes. Appearance was everything, even at the Bureau. No more
ties, he chanted to himself as he smoothed the short jacket into place, no
more ties. And he did look damn good in this get up. Of course, the dull
green trim of the medical branch didn't suit his tastes, but mixed with the
black it made his eyes a smoky jade.

That was another thing which had surprised him. He'd been born red-green
color blind and farsighted. Apparently, the doctor had somehow managed to
give him normal vision. At least, he hoped it had been the doctor and not
that cryo soup he'd been trapped in.

With a shrug at his reflection and a half hearted sigh, Mulder decided to
get the worst over with. He'd spent enough time avoiding the issue of his
sudden transplantation to the 25th century and if he didn't do something
about it -- at least pretend to talk to someone -- his emotions would
eventually come up and bite him on the ass when he least expected. Time
alone would have been better, but he really didn't want to sit around and
think about things he couldn't possibly hope to change. Not anymore.

He left his quarters gaining a few curious glances and several smiles from
crew members he'd met earlier. Well, that's different, he thought,=
realizing his fear of Spooky jokes had been somewhat irrational. Hell, with
telepaths, empaths and shapeshifting species being common in this era why
would anyone think of him as spooky? He was a prophet in their eyes.

The idea made him feel more than a bit uncomfortable as he entered the turbo
lift and asked for Deck 7. Still, his strange passion as Scully had once
called it, had been vindicated. He was amongst seekers of the unknown now,=
and that warmed his aching heart just a little. As did the number of
messages he'd received from several historians aboard. They want to pick
your brains, Mulder thought with amusement. Images of Woody Allen in
Sleeper danced through his head as he thought about skewering the truth
just a little. He wouldn't, of course, but it was fun to think about.

The holosuite was empty when he entered, just as the computer had said. A
large, brightly lit room with walls, ceiling and floor covered in a black
square design delineated by bright yellow lines.

"Computer," he asked aloud, still feeling silly talking to the air. "Run
Ship's Counselor Evaluation program."

Around him, the room shimmered then solidified into a sunlit office with a
huge window overlooking the San Francisco Bay area. Mulder gaped in
astonishment as he moved to the window and caught his first glimpse of the
city as it must be now. Amazing. There was the Golden Gate bridge and an
array of skyscrapers, flying vehicles, and far below, people moving to and
fro. And as far as the eye could see a clear, unpolluted blue sky with a
fluffy cloud or two skittering across.

"Good day, Counselor Belos," a woman's voice said from behind. Mulder
turned, not having expected the original counselor program to be female.=
But Belos had been a Betazoid, some kind of empathic telepath and that
might have been his choice.

"You are not Belos," the woman stated.

"You're Vulcan," Mulder murmured quietly, his surprise evident. The last
thing he expected was a Vulcan. Then again, he thought ruefully, if he were
an empathic telepath he'd probably choose a species which thoroughly
quelled its emotions. Frankly, he thought the choice of Betaziods as
counselors was more than a bit loopy. It might be helpful for an initial
diagnosis, but the last thing any therapist wanted was to become entangled
in the patient's emotional turmoil. No wonder Belos had wanted someone who
didn't exude emotion.

"I am T'vrill of Vulcan. And you are not on my morning schedule."

Mulder had to smile. God, this was so realistic! The hologram look faintly
annoyed. "No," he agreed. "I'm not. I'm Fox Mulder, Voyager's new
Counselor. Counselor Belos was killed about three years ago. In a nutshell,=
the crew hasn't had any psychiatric assistance since then. I'm sort of a
catch-as-catch-can compromise."


"Well," Mulder began. "I am a psychologist, but I'm... Well, I'm from the
20th century and my expertise is in Abnormal Psychology."

"I see," T'vrill stated. "Sit down, Counselor Mulder."

Surprised at his own compliance, Mulder took a seat in the over stuffed high
backed chair across from where T'vrill sat on a small marble bench.

"Why did you choose to run this particular program, Counselor?"

"I didn't," Mulder said, startled by the woman's forthright manner. "It was
there and I don't know anything about the new advances in human psychology,=
so I thought I'd stick with whatever the last guy had."

T'vrill nodded. "Logical."

"I thought so," Mulder grinned, beginning to like this woman. No
touchy-feely stuff here. No pretending the couch is your father and telling
it how you feel. He could deal with this.

"So," she began. "You are capable of logical assumptions," she paused for a
moment. "I have accessed the ship's data base for your personnel file,"=
T'vrill told him succinctly. "You will need counseling for your own
feelings of displacement as well as instruction on how to offer therapeutic
counseling to members of this crew. While I do not approve of your being
chosen as Ship's Counselor, I understand the necessity and will assist you
in becoming qualified. I will not allow you to treat patients until such
time as you are qualified. This program will inform the Captain of it's

"Now, wait a minute," Mulder began. Without warning the holo images froze
then shimmered out of existence. "Shit!" he said, pulling himself off the
floor. Was there something wrong with the program? The ship suddenly
shuddered and a warning claxon sounded startling Mulder as he made his way
out the door. "What the hell!"

He searched the corridor, finding Paris, a young Asian man and two women,=
identical twins, all dressed in bizarre 1950's style sci-fi costumes at the
far end. "What was that?" Mulder demanded, striding down the hall. "And why
are you dressed like Captain Proton and Buster Kincaid?"

"I don't know!" Paris responded, tapping frantically at his communicator.=
"We've lost contact with the bridge. Harry, check the nearest terminal and
see what you can find out."

"I'm on it," Harry said, sliding aside a panel in the wall and beginning to
work on the computer manually.

Paris turned to Mulder. "The last I heard the captain had been negotiating
with some agro-colonists for foodstuffs in exchange for dilithium and was
giving them a tour."

"Dilithium?" Mulder asked, recalling the word from his reading just a few
hours before. "Isn't that the stuff that made warp travel possible?" Paris
nodded. "What the hell would farmers want with dilithium?"

"Maybe they want to bring their product to a wider market?" one of the women

"Fox Mulder," he introduced himself absently. "And colonists by definition
are small time. Get big enough to not be a colony and you're a nation,=
that's when wide scale trading of excess surplus usually occurs, unless
it's for necessities and dilithium wouldn't be considered a necessity. A
colony preparing for eventual trade would have chosen a location where
plentiful supplies of fuel existed for later exploitation."

The woman nodded her agreement. "Makes sense. Jenny and Megan Delaney. And
that's Ensign Harry Kim."

Mulder grinned, looking at their costumes and unable to resist the opening.=
"Also known as trusty side-kick Buster Kincaid, and the evil sisters
Malicia and Demonica, sometime allies of Dr. Chaotica."

"You know Captain Proton?" one of the girls, Megan he thought, asked

"I grew up with him. My dad loved that show. Better than Buck Rogers."

"Tom!" Harry called. "Communications, the warp core, sensors -- just about
every system is off line -- and we're being boarded."

"So much for simple farmers," Tom muttered, glancing at Mulder.

"Now what?" Harry asked. "According to the computer, Captain Janeway, Tuvok
and Chakotay were all taken prisoner."

"Where?" Mulder asked.

"They're being held in Cargo Bay Two. They were supposed to be waiting for a
shipment of foodstuffs. When the shields went down the colonists boarded."

Mulder sighed loudly. "Some things never change," he muttered. "Okay, we
need to set up a command center, find some weapons and--"

Tom stared at him a moment. "Who put you in charge?"

Mulder shrugged. "Is there anyone else here whose recently led an armed
assault in close quarters on friendly territory with hostages taken?"

"He does have a point, Tom," Harry chimed in. 

"But he doesn't know the first thing about this century!"

"Look," Mulder interrupted. "While you two stand there debating, the enemy
is solidifying its position and taking new territory. I may not know how to
use a ray gun, but I'll be damned if I don't know how to read a set of blue
prints or organize a raid. Shit! It's what I do. Now, for chrissakes, let's
get the hell out of this hallway, find a secure, defensible location and
figure out how to re-take control of this ship!"


"Okay, you're in charge!" Mulder told Paris in exasperation, beginning to
move down the hall. "Now, follow me."

The four crew members looked at each other then at Mulder, who exuded a
confidence none of them felt. "We're with you," Paris finally said, the
others nodding as he led the way to the nearest access shaft. "Come on, I
know just the place."

Mulder grabbed his arm before he started climbing. "Good, but we need
weapons and we need them now, in case we run into any of your simple

Paris nodded. "Okay. We're headed for Sickbay. There's an emergency shaft
that leads down to Deck 13. The auxiliary bridge. There's a small armory

"My guns?" Mulder insisted.

"Sickbay," Paris admitted. "I put them in a secure cabinet there. But you
won't need them."

Mulder smiled grimly, "But I want them. Now, let's move."

A quarter of an hour later they'd carefully made their way to Sickbay,=
meeting up with Seven of Nine on the way there. She too had been headed for
the auxiliary bridge and was very much surprised to see Mulder in charge of
the little group.

"Primitive," she said scornfully as she watched Mulder check his weapons.

He chambered a round and grinned, "but effective."

"But there is no stun effect," she insisted.

"Sure there is," Mulder told her. "You shoot them in the leg -- they're
definitely stunned. I know I was when I got hit. Boy, was I stunned!"

Seven, the Delaney sisters and Harry stared at him, while Tom was laughing
as he opened the panel that led to the emergency shaft. "''Boy was I
stunned!'" he chortled. "That's great, Mulder!"

"Glad I could amuse you," he told the lieutenant. "Now, let's get the fuck
out of here."

A few minutes later they entered the auxiliary bridge. It's power system,=
independent of the rest of the ship, had turned itself on as soon as the em
ergency shaft was opened. Mulder glanced around the room, nodding silently.=
A classified deck with a separate security system and a hidden access shaft
made it unlikely that anyone would come searching down here any time soon.=
But that didn't mean they had all the time in the world.

"I need everything you can get me on these colonists," he told them.=
"Background, voice recordings, video feeds. I want to know who they are and
where they came from. Then I want you to find a way into both Cargo Bay Two
and Main Engineering. I need, if possible, a current video feed from those
areas as well. If we can't get the captain out safely we'll need an
alternate plan for negotiations."

"Negotiations?" Megan asked as the others set to work. "Why don't we try
that first?"

Mulder looked at her as if she was two cans short of a six pack. "Because
they don't want to negotiate. If they'd wanted to negotiate, they wouldn't
have taken the ship."

"But why would they take it in the first place?" she asked, clearly not
understanding the motivation behind this particular act of piracy. "We
offered to trade for what they wanted. In fact, the captain would probably
have given them the dilithium even if they didn't have anything to trade
for it."

"Okay," he said with a sigh. "Let's try this. Why should I trade for what
you have when I can take it and have what you have, too?" He could sense
the attention of the other crew members, though they continued working
without looking up.

"That is irrational," Seven of Nine stated as she brought him a PADD
containing a download of the original negotiations.

"That's what unbridled greed is," Mulder told them. "An irrational desire to
possess what someone else has without giving anything in return. Then not
only do they have what you have, they now have twice what they had before."

"But there are far easier ways to obtain the desired item."

"All right," he said. "How about this? I want to be you. I want your life,=
your family, your job, your home. Now give me that. What do you have left
to trade?"

"But that's..." Seven trailed off, looking shocked and disheartened. "That
is much like the Borg way. To assimilate entire cultures, regardless of
their desire to become part of the collective."

Mulder nodded. The first thing he'd done was read up on Klingons and the
Borg. "Yes, it is. And I can pretty much guarantee you the very first Borg
was a sociopath."

Seven of Nine stood stiffly as she handed him the PADD. "I find this
conversation disturbing."

"And well you should," Mulder told the woman, refusing to let it slide.=
"There is such a thing as artificially induced psychopathic behavior, which
is what happens when people are assimilated into the gestalt of the Borg.=
Now, see what you can do to get me a set of holsters for these guns," he
requested, silently cursing himself for leaving them behind when he'd
changed. "Shoulder and ankle," he added, watching as Seven purposefully
straightened her shoulders in the uncomfortable silence of the room.


I am definitely going to have more than a few words with the captain, Mulder
thought disgustedly, looking up from a visual display of Voyager's first
contact with the Byrlyx leader. The man, mostly humanoid in appearance, was
a text book psychopath, down to the lack of eye contact and inappropriate
head motions at key moments in the discussion. He hadn't even learned how
disguise it in public like a Ted Bundy or a John Wayne Gacy. How could the
captain have missed it?

"This isn't gonna be easy," he murmured, turning to face the dozen or so
crew members who had made their way to the auxiliary bridge. The rest were
either being held in the cargo bays, or rumored to be still fighting in
various parts of the ship. None of them were members of the ship's security
team. Just crew members who happened to be in non-essential areas when the
ship was boarded.

"All right, everyone, the plan is this. We split into two groups. Team One.=
Harry, Seven and anyone with an applicable background will head for Main
Engineering. Team Two. The rest of us, except Megan and Jenny, will take
Cargo Bay Two. Ladies, I want you to keep an eye on our progress. As soon
as Team One has control of engineering you grab control of all the ship's
systems and lock the raiders out. Use those forcefield things where you can
to isolate the Byrlyx. Just make sure none of Voyager's crew is caught with
them. Don't give them any more hostages." The twins nodded. "Team One, once
you've got control of engineering I want you to seal every door and shaft
into there manually. Solder them shut if you have to, I don't care. No one
gets in or out until the senior officers enter the self destruct code. It's
the only code the Byrlyx aren't going to immediately want. Therefore, it's
the only secure code left. Assume anyone and everyone has been suborned by
coercion, including Team Two from the moment we separate. No exceptions.=
Not even for the captain until you get the all clear. Tom," he went on,=
"have you programmed in a course away from the planet?"

The lieutenant nodded. "As soon as we have warp we'll be out of range of any
reinforcements. But with shields up we shouldn't really have to worry about

Mulder sighed. "Remember the codes? Those shields may be compromised.=
Consider every system aboard to be under suspicion until the last Byrlyx is
dead or dumped. These people aren't stupid. They took the ship so smoothly
we have to assume they've done it before and know what to look out for."

Paris nodded. "That makes sense."

"I'm glad you think so," Mulder said quietly. "As for any crew members you
might meet. Use your best judgement. Make sure they're armed and able to
defend whatever location you find them in. I don't want people added to the
teams unless it's an absolute necessity. Stay small, tight and focused. Any

"What do we do with the Byrlyx we capture?" Ensign Kim asked.

"Terminate them on sight."

"But that's--"

He moved on Harry and had him by his jacket before the other man could let
out a squeak of protest. "Look, Ensign. You're in outer space with no place
to run. They don't need you to run this ship and they sure as shit don't
need you alive, unless it's to keep you for slave labor or sell your smart
ass as merchandise. If we were some place with another option I'd use it.=
But given the circumstances, I think we can safely assume the government of
Byrlyx isn't about to prosecute these men. Nor is the captain likely to
want to keep them aboard. The only alternative is to put them back where
you found them and let them do the same thing to other passing ships. Now
what part of survival of the fittest don't you understand?"

Harry looked chagrined while Seven simply nodded. "He is correct, Ensign
Kim. Our choices are limited."

"Why not use a heavy stun setting?" Jenny interjected. "That should knock
them down and keep them out long enough. We can round them up later and let
the captain decide."

Mulder shrugged and released the ensign. "If you can't bring yourselves to
shoot to kill then do that. But remember, these guys are going to be at
your back when you move on. Just be certain they're going to stay down."=
Most of the crew nodded, readjusting the settings on their phasers. While
Mulder would have a preferred a clean kill, or at the very least a
disabling wound, he suspected that most of the people in the room were
essentially desk jockeys. Pushing them beyond their limits wouldn't be
helpful at the moment.

"Okay, if everyone's clear on the plan let's move out."

They made it up to Sickbay and into the access shafts without meeting any of
the Byrlyx. The surveillance cameras were tied into the ship's security
system leaving Mulder without the reconnaissance he would have preferred.=
His best guess put the majority of the raiders on the Main Bridge and in
Main Engineering -- the two key locations on the ship -- with perhaps
enough armed men down in the cargo bays to keep the prisoners under guard.=
Elsewhere, there would be small armed groups patrolling the corridors
looking for stray crew members and pockets of resistance. Not a good
situation, but with the access shafts it was doable.

After the two teams split up, Mulder let Tom lead the way to Cargo Bay Two,=
stopping him only when they were within a few yards of their goal. "How
accurate is that weapon?" Mulder asked tightly, looking at the phaser rifle
the lieutenant had slung over his shoulder.

Paris shrugged. "It'll disintegrate the broad side of a barn if you point it
in the right direction, or create short sustained bursts in closed

Mulder chewed his lip. "Can you be accurate to within a few inches of the

Paris shook his head. "I can narrow the beam, but I'm a pilot, not a

Mulder nodded. "Okay. Let me take point. I just requalified on the range
last-- Shit!" he grimaced, but unholstered his weapon. "Well, let's see
what we have first," he muttered. "Is that the crawl space?" he asked when
they reached the hatch at the end of the shaft, jutting his chin toward a
typical ventilation duct set above them .

"Yeah," Paris gave him a tight nod. "It runs out pretty much over the center
of the bay."

"Kinda narrow," Mulder noted.

"It widens out a bit at the cargo vent."

"Good. I'll go first. The rest of the team stays here until we open the
shaft from the other side."

There were nods all around as Paris opened the first vent and Mulder slipped
inside, sliding gracelessly along the narrow duct. After a few yards it did
indeed open up in a wide circle around the ceiling vent. Paris moved in
along side Mulder, who silently scanned the room below as the lieutenant
carefully removed the vent cover.

Lips pressed tight against his anger, Mulder glared across to the right side
of the room, where one of the raiders had a young woman pressed against the
bulkhead. He could barely see the top of her head, but he could hear, or
imagined he heard her whimpering softly.

"I see one armed on the left, no crew," Paris whispered. "Must be beneath us
to the rear."

Mulder nodded tightly. "On the count of three you take him out, Paris. Not
down. Out."

The lieutenant merely nodded and they crossed weapons, synchronizing their
fire. "One. Two. Fire!"

The flash of the phaser coincided with the boom of Mulder's gun which was
quickly followed by screams from the deck below. Mulder holstered his
weapon and lowered himself through the vent. "Heads up!" he shouted,=
dropping down the twenty odd feet to the floor below. Paris quickly
followed though Mulder didn't bother to check his progress. He drew his
weapon and moved on the raider he'd shot, shoving him over with his foot as
he pointed his weapon, making sure the bastard was very dead. He did the
same with the other, satisfied that Paris hadn't wimped out in the end.

"Mr. Mulder!" Captain Janeway shouted in between calling for silence.

He wandered over, ignoring the half a dozen crew members puking at the
stench of sulfur, excreted fluids and death -- as well as others, who
simply stared in horror at the sight of spattered brains and pooling blood
on the pristine floor of the cargo deck. Of them all, the Captain,=
Chakotay, Tuvok and Paris seemed least effected by the ugly death he'd
rendered. Then again, as Scully used to say, good captains panicked when
the battle was done.

"Captain," Mulder drawled, nodding to himself as he saw Paris giving comfort
to the young crewmember whose rape had been imminent. "Give me a minute,"=
he told her, going to the access shaft, where he let in the others, who
quickly began passing out phasers to the rest of the crew.

Janeway's eyes fairly snapped with fury, but she held her tongue. "Tuvok,=
Chakotay, let's get the rest of the crew out of these bays and get this
space trash off my ship."

"Yes, ma'am!" Chakotay grinned, nodding at Mulder with approval.

On her way toward the exit she grabbed Mulder's arm, pulling him along as
she spoke tightly. "Since you seem to have placed yourself in charge,=
what's the status of my ship?"

"Well, if everything's gone as planned your warp core should be coming back
on line any minute and the ship should be moving away from Byrlyx as soon
as that occurs."

Janeway tried unsuccessfully to hide her astonishment as she pointed to
various members of the crew and sent them down the corridor to the others
bays. "You've retaken Engineering and the bridge?"

"Just Engineering," he admitted. "I only had about a dozen people to work
with, so the Delaney sisters are manning the auxiliary bridge."

"Well I'll be," the captain murmured. "All right, we'll talk later. For now,=
you're with me. I want that garbage off my bridge."


The clean up went fairly swiftly as far as Mulder could tell. Once armed and
on their game the crew of Voyager proved themselves quite capable. Although
Mulder did have some issues about their search and seizure skills. On at
least two occasions he'd had to physically pull people away from open doors
to prevent them from getting killed. Apparently, keeping to cover wasn't in
the Starfleet urban combat training manual for guerilla warfare. It also
helped that most of the Byrlyx had fled the ship as soon as they realized
they were out gunned, out numbered and that the ship itself could be turned
against them. 

He'd finally retreated to his quarters, exhausted and in desperate need of a
shower. This was definitely not how he'd wanted to spend his first full day
in the 25th century. Once clean, all he wanted to do was sleep. On the
couch, on the bed, he didn't care. As long as it wasn't the hard tiled
floor of the head he was happy. The bed turned out to be closer.

Mulder awoke, how many hours later he didn't know, but there was an
incessant buzzing. "What! What!"

"Good morning, Mulder," Captain Janeway's cheerful voice filled the room. He
glanced around to see her face on a display panel in the corner. Then
checked to make sure he was fully covered.

"Is it morning?" he asked, looking over at the view port filled with stars.=
"Must be that damned Daylight Savings Time again," he muttered.

The captain looked vaguely confused at the reference, but persevered
nonetheless. "I'd like to see you in the conference room in an hour for

Mulder grunted his assent and the screen went dark. Well, that's nice.=
Captain of the ship gives me a wake up call. Apparently, she also has no
sense of shame, he thought as he shoved the covers aside and grabbed a robe
from one of the many storage units hidden in the walls.

Showered, shaved, and dressed in another easily replicated uniform -- no
more trips to the dry cleaners -- he asked the computer for directions to
the conference room. Deck One, next to the bridge. The one place on the
ship Neelix hadn't shown him and Mulder hadn't asked to see. Ship's
captains were funny about that kind of thing. Or so Scully had led him to
believe with all those stories about her father in the service.

He paused a moment as he entered the lift. Odd, but it didn't hurt as badly
as it first had to think of Scully. And all the previous day he hadn't
thought much about her either. Even in the thick of things his mind had
stayed focused. Was it, he thought after asking for the appropriate deck,=
that his mind had accepted the fact that she had lived and died? Could it
possibly be that by knowing he could never again place her in danger, he
was somehow freed of that concern? He considered how he felt. Considered
the dull, painful ache in his heart every time he thought of her. He missed
her. God, how he missed her. But there was no question in his mind that she
was gone. And better her gone than here, he realized. No way would she have
wanted this time or place without family or friends. She'd had a good life.=
Done important things. And, heaven help him, he was so proud of her it made
him tingle with pleasure just to think about what she'd accomplished.

The doors slid open and he easily found the conference room. On entering, he
found himself facing the captain and her senior staff. He braced himself
for a confrontation, memories of OPR meetings flashing quickly through his

"At ease, Mulder," the captain said, offering him a smile and pointing to a
chair next to Chakotay. "We aren't here to criticize what you did
yesterday. In fact, we'd like to know how you did it."

"How?" Mulder asked, confused, as he took his seat.

"Yes, how," the captain repeated. "I've already spoken to Tom and Harry.=
They tell me you...profiled? Is that the term? That you profiled the
situation with almost no information, and despite your lack of knowledge
about ship's functions, were able to come up with a workable plan and get
it implemented in record time. How?"

Mulder had to smile. "You know, I've been asked that question by review
boards almost since my first day at the Academy. And I'll tell you exactly
what I told them. Damned if I know! It's just what I do."

"Perhaps I can be of assistance," Tuvok interjected. "Mr. Mulder possesses
an eidetic memory. Much like a Vulcan, he is able to retain and process
information at a rate far exceeding normal human capacity. In addition, I
have been studying the kind of training the Federal Bureau of
Investigations offered it's trainees. Much of it was conducted by former
members of the military with an extremely high standard of achievement
required to become an agent. Both academically and in combat. With such a
background it is not implausible that Mr. Mulder would have been able to
quickly assess the situation and take charge."

Harry Kim looked surprised at what seemed to him a glowing endorsement by
the Vulcan. "Are you saying their training was better than Starfleet's?"

"Not at all, Ensign Kim. Just different."

Mulder nodded. "And designed for a different era. From what I gather you've
almost eliminated crime in this century by identifying possible offenders
before they can do any damage. Whereas, I've interviewed men, women and
teenagers who would just as soon bludgeon you to death because they didn't
like the color of your shoes, and thought they could get away with it --=
and some who just didn't care."

The captain looked appalled. "And you can identify such people just by
looking at them?"

Mulder shook his head. "It isn't quite that easy. Or, it wasn't in my day.=
Of course," he added, "one look at Mydyn of Byrlyx and I could have told
you not to deal with the man. Classic psychopath."


Mulder nodded. "Computer, run the video feed of the first visual contact
with Mydyn of Byrlyx."

The view screen on the wall activated as the recording began running. When
it reached a particular point Mulder paused it. "First, Captain Janeway,=
notice his eyes. Dead. No life in them. He isn't even looking at you, or at
your image. He's looking beyond you, because to him, you aren't there.=
You're an object, an obstacle at most. Second, listen to what he says and
the way his eyes shift when he's speaking." The recording continued.

'Once we were nomads until we found this colony...'

"Okay," he paused it again. "Now, here he's looking almost straight at you.=
But listen to what he's saying. 'Found this colony.' Not founded. Now

'We became peaceful farmers...'

"Peaceful farmers? Why would he stress peaceful? And why are his eyes
shifting away as he says the words? Coincidence? No," Mulder stated
emphatically. "Because he does the exact same thing when he later asks for
dilithium -- straight toward you -- and tells you the reason why --=
shifting away."

"Yes," the captain said quietly. "Lt. Paris mentioned what you said about
the request for dilithium."

Mulder nodded. "I checked your scans of the planet, Captain. More than half
the cultivated farm land is lying fallow. If it were a legitimate request
they would have been asking for help in the form of farm implements or soil
additives, or even settlers. In my opinion, these raiders showed up, took
what they wanted, and either decided to stay and use this place for a home
base, and/or lost the ability to travel off planet. Assuming they killed,=
sold or enslaved at least half the population, I'd bet money the original
settlers are rebelling as we speak."

"Have rebelled, Mr. Mulder," Chakotay told him. "We've been in contact with
them since we shipped the first prisoners planetside. They took advantage
of the confusion among the raiders during our fight. And you're correct.=
They disabled the raiders ships, but not before they landed."

Mulder nodded. "Good for them. I hope they execute the bastards."

"They did," the captain added grimly. "And we are offering them assistance
to help rebuild their colony and give them better defenses."

"Well then," Mulder said. "That settles that."

"Not quite," Janeway said with a smile. "We need to discuss your future."

Mulder's eyes narrowed, expecting censure.

"Given your actions during this crisis, I'm giving you a field promotion to

That certainly startled Mulder. He hadn't even realized he'd had rank to
begin with.

"I'm also moving you into the command track. You'll work with Tuvok on
learning how Voyager functions and cross train in all departments. You'll
still be our Ship's Counselor, but you have other needed talents as well.=
You did a fine job, Lt. Mulder, but you could have done even better if
you'd been aware of everything this ship and it's systems are capable of. I
want you to have that knowledge. Do you accept?"

Mulder nodded, astonished at the outcome of this little debriefing. "You're
not angry?"

Janeway smiled gently. "A little surprised perhaps, but not angry. Invoking
the self destruct was a bit cumbersome, but that's why I want you trained.=
You have the ability to lead and get others," she nodded at Paris and Kim,=
"to follow you. It's a raw talent, but I'm not about to throw that away."=
The captain glanced around the table. "All right. Dismissed."

Mulder rose with the others. A bit overwhelmed when Chakotay patted him on
the back and told him, "Good work, Mulder," while B'Ellana turned and gave
him a wink as she left with Paris. Definitely too good to be true, Mulder
thought -- and he was right. Before he could make good his escape from the
happiness brigade Captain Janeway called out that she wanted a word in

He made his way over to her and she held out a hand. "I'm a bit
uncomfortable with your carrying 20th century fire arms around on my ship."

So that's why she was angry in the cargo bay! Mulder sighed and pulled aside
his jacket for an instant to reveal his holstered weapon. "And I'm
uncomfortable with them being out of my possession and in the hands of
someone who isn't trained to use them."

"No one on this ship is armed, Mulder."

He nodded gravely and crossed his arms. "I've noticed. But these weapons are
my responsibility. Have been since the day I was issued a permit to carry
them. If I give them to you and something happens it's going to be on my
conscience. And I can't live with that. I won't live with that hanging over
my head."

Janeway lowered her hand and sighed. "Then they are your responsibility. But
if you ever draw one on a member of my crew I'll toss you out the airlock
myself. Is that clear?"


She turned away in silent dismissal and he left, surprised that she simply
hadn't ordered him to turn over his guns. She could be giving me enough
rope to hang myself, he thought, but that didn't really seem Janeway's
style. The woman was reasonable. And given logical reasons as to why he
should retain possession of such deadly weapons she seemed willing to make
an exception. It was, he realized, a measure of trust. He knew it wasn't
misplaced, but did she? Was it merely the same blind faith in the
'goodness' of human nature he'd observed, or did she offer that trust as a
means of gaining his? He didn't really have an answer to that, except to
guess that time would tell, whatever the case might be.

Mulder entered the lift, asking for the holodeck. There had been something
at the back of his mind since he'd awakened and he was curious as to what
the Vulcan, T'vrill, would have to say about it.

She was there, still seated on the bench. "You have had an eventful day,"=
she stated succinctly.

Mulder nodded absently, slumping down in the over stuffed chair. "That's not
what's bothering me." The hologram waited patiently for him to continue.=
"I... I slept really well last night."

"And this is troubling you?"

"I usually don't sleep much, and when I do I have nightmares. Last night, I

"Nightmares about what?"

"My sister, mostly. Her being abducted and me doing nothing to stop it.=
Sometimes Scully, my partner -- usually she's dying and I can't get to her
in time. Crime scenes I've worked."

"I see."

They sat in silence as Mulder pondered what he'd said. "It's because they're
dead, isn't it? They're dead and I know what happened to them."

"They have been dead for three centuries, Counselor Mulder."

He nodded sadly. "They're not my responsibility anymore."

"Were they ever?"

Mulder glared at T'vrill, but the Vulcan didn't flinch. Just sat there
waiting patiently, emotionlessly, until he glanced down at his hands and
reconsidered his memories. Intellectually, he'd known he wasn't responsible
for Samantha's disappearance, even before he'd ever left for Oxford. In his
heart, of course, he'd carried the weight like an albatross. It was never
knowing the truth that had hurt more than anything. That, and being slapped
down by the Syndicate for daring to ask.

And then there was Scully. Another Samantha laid on his shoulders to protect
and care for when he couldn't even handle the original. But then, he really
should never have thought of her that way in the first place. And he
hadn't, he realized, not consciously. If he looked at their partnership
objectively, evaluated it without the omnipresent Samantha issue, their
relationship had been fairly normal. A bit more intense given the things
they'd seen and done, but no closer than dozens of other partnerships he'd
witnessed. He'd known more about what his former partner, Reggie Pardue,=
did in his spare time than Scully.

Mulder cleared his throat. "So...what's happened is that my subconscious has
resolved these issues and I'm feeling guilty about it."

"Human emotions are notoriously slow to accommodate what the brain has
learned," T'vrill agreed.

He had to smile at that assessment even as he stood to leave. "There are
other issues," he commented, wondering if she'd force it.

"Indeed. Where humans are concerned, I have found that there are many."

He really did like this woman. Liked her therapeutic style. With a grin he
told her, "I'm still not drinking replicated coffee. It isn't natural. The
stuff should be brewed or not made."

T'vrill nodded placidly. "Just as no Klingon would eat dead gakch, so you
must follow the dictates of your palate."

'Dead' gakch? 

I don't want to know, he told himself firmly, making a hasty exit before his
curiosity got the better of him. He was on his way to the mess hall when a
thought suddenly occured to him. Jesus! Don't they have to replicate the
coffee beans?

Future Winnings 2: Cafe Americano coming soon.