The Third Party

Chapter 1: The Velocity Championship

'Boo!' someone shouted behind Kethrim.

She turned, calm. 'I do not frighten as easily as some of my Human -or Ziorian- counterparts,' she said dryly to her best friend, Shilara Guyrriq. 'Also, my ears are quite sharp. I heard you coming since you entered the room.' She shot a look at Shilara, who was laughing.

'Your ears are sharp, you Vulcan,' she chortled.

'I did not mean that quite so literally. Not to mention the fact that I sensed your telepathic vibrations.' Both girls being telepaths, they often used their powers to communicate with each other and knew each other so well they could sense the other's emotions and location.

'Aw, you're no fun,' Shilara pouted.

Kethrim raised her eyebrow in an extremely Vulcan manner, which was logical, as she was indeed half Vulcan. 'Your idea of 'fun' is scaring someone?' she inquired of her Ziorian friend.

'Well, nooo, but...' Shilara trailed off. She couldn't think of a sufficiently logical answer. 'Anyway, you're late for our velocity match. They're 10 minutes away from disqualifying us!'

'I apologize. However, this report could not wait. Seven requested it by 0900 and I am already five minutes late.'

'Seven won't mind. She's playing too, remember?'

'Indeed. I had forgotten.'

'I'm ordering you to get to that holodeck, missy!'

'You do not hold a superior rank, Shilara. We are both lieutenants.'

'But I'm older!'

'By four months and ten days.'

'Well, c'mon. We've gotta hurry if we're going to get to Holodeck 1 in time.' They raced down the hall to the turbolift and ran into their other best friend, Jori.

'Kethrim! Jeez! You conspiring to lose the match or something?'

She ran alongside them as Kethrim raised an eyebrow. 'No.'

They entered the turbolift which brought them to the proper floor, where they ran down another corridor to the holodeck. The doors whispered open.

The announcer's voice rang out once they entered the holodeck. 'The final match of the Velocity Doubles tournament! For the championship! Captain Kathryn Janeway and Seven of Nine defending their title against the challengers, Shilara Guyrriq and Kethrim!' Tom Paris shouted above the crowd on an old-fashioned 20th-century microphone.

'Ready?' Shilara asked nervously. Kethrim nodded, as calm and collected as a Vulcan could be.

'Good luck!' Jori yelled as she found a seat on the bleachers.

Neelix bustled among the crowd, distributing bags of salted, buttery popcorn as Tom had suggested, and the party-happy Talaxian was chatting gamely about everything he knew about Velocity with everyone around him.

'You may begin the match,' said the Doctor, who was acting as referee.

The match began with much cheering from the fans, and the loudest cheering came from Jori. Most of the spectators had, by this time, chosen a team to cheer for, but little Naomi Wildman was cheering alternately for both teams. She had decided not to choose sides between her teenage friends and Seven and the Captain. She knew she could be happy no matter which team won.

Now the teams were tied at three points each. Kethrim had started to get aggressive in the heat of the moment, and Shilara panted to her, 'Watch out, Kethrim, your Klingon side is showing.' Kethrim looked slightly annoyed as she carefully reined in her emotions.

They were still tied in the tenth and final round and Kethrim was about to score the winning point when suddenly the room shook and the velocity disk disappeared an the holodeck resumed its black-and-yellow griding. The spectators fell to the floor as the bleachers fizzed out of solidity.

Chapter 2: The Kazon Attack

Janeway hit her combadge. 'Janeway to bridge. What's going on?' she shouted.

'We've been attacked by a ship. We can't identify it yet, but it looks Kazon!' the panicked crewman on duty yelled. 'It's coming around for another attack! Shields are at 18% and falling!'

'Red alert! Battle stations! Lt. Kethrim, Lt. Guyrriq, you're with me!' As Kethrim and Shilara were science officer and counselor, respectively, they were often needed on this bridge.

'Lara! Keth!' Jori shouted as she began to run after her friends.

'To your station, Lieutenant!' Janeway shouted.

Jori reluctantly said, 'Aye, Captain,' as she abruptly made an about-face.

'Cheer up, Jori! We're not about to let a little red alert spoil our game!' Shilara shouted as Jori rounded the corner on the way to her station in Engineering.

Shilara followed Kethrim as they raced to the bridge with the rest of the bridge crew. Tom slid into his seat at the helm and Harry took his place at ops as the ship shook again, neither noticing that they each were still holding a half-eaten bag of popcorn. Janeway hurried onto the bridge and said, 'Hail them.' A Kazon face appeared on the viewscreen. 'Why have you attacked us?' Janeway demanded.

'You have something that we need,' the Kazon answered.

'What do we have? And why did you feel that you needed to attack us to get it?'

'You would never just hand over what we need,' he sneered. 'And as for what we need, we need- them.' He pointed at Kethrim and Shilara.

Kethrim and Shilara stared at each other, and Janeway darted her glance over to look at both of them. Shocked into speech, Shilara stepped forward and said, 'What could we possibly do for you?'

'Yes, what could they do for you?' Janeway asked, stepping in front of Shilara to quiet her slight insubordination.

'They are both telepaths, highly trained. True?' Kethrim nodded. 'And yet they are children. They could change the minds of my enemies without them suspecting a thing!'

'Vulcans stopped training mindchangers years ago,' Kethrim said coolly.

'And Ziorians have always been healers. We've never developed mindchanging techniques,' Shilara added.

The Kazon said, 'Ah, but with training-'

An eerily familiar female voice interrupted him. 'What are you doing trying to convince them?' She strode into view. 'Captain Janeway. Shilara, Kethrim. Chakotay. How very good to see you all again,' she said, sarcastically sweet.

'Seska,' Janeway breathed in amazement.

Seska laughed. 'Did you think you had gotten rid of me?' She turned on the Kazon and said, 'Now stop this talking. All this diplomacy makes me sick.' Their faces suddenly went off the viewscreen to be replaced by the image of the Kazon vessel.

'They're powering weapons!' Harry warned.

'Shields!' yelled Captain Janeway. Voyager shook again as the Kazon attacked.

'Captain, shields are offline,' Tuvok calmly reported, like the Vulcan that he was. The air shimmered around Shilara and Kethrim as the alien transporter beamed them out.

'They're on the Kazon ship,' Harry informed the captain. 'I can't get a lock through their shields.'

The Kazon ship went into warp. Tom turned quickly around to look at the captain. 'Follow them!' she told him.

'Uh, Captain,' Harry said, 'their probable destination is deep in Kazon space, and deeper into the Delta Quadrant. If they go even to the edge of Kazon space, with our damaged systems, it could take us a while to get there. We risk more Kazon attacks!'

'We don't abandon our crewmembers, Ensign. Tom, follow them!'

'Yes, ma'am,' Tom said as he brought Voyager into warp in pursuit of the alien ship.

Chapter 3: The Captives

A few hours later on the Kazon ship, Kethrim and Shilara woke up in what looked like a prison cell. 'Boy could I use a cup of coffee,' Shilara said.

Kethrim ignored Shilara's remark and said, 'It would appear that we are their captives.'

'Well, duh!' Shilara responded. 'What did you think, they invited us out for dinner? Of course we're their captives!'

Kethrim was about to reply when Seska entered their cell. 'That's right, children. You are our captives,' she said smoothly, and a little too sweetly for Kethrim's taste. 'But for this plan to work, you'll need to cooperate. We can't force you to use your mental powers.'

'We'll never help you!' Shilara said in defiance that was fiery as her hair.

Kethrim nodded in agreement. 'Indeed. Voyager will rescue us.'

'You'll never see your ship again. And if you won't agree now, we'll just keep you locked up here with no food until you do.'

'Then we will die here. But we'll never help you,' Kethrim said.

Seska shrugged and stepped out of the cell and went back down the corridor.

'toDSaH!' Kethrim shouted after her.

'No swearing in Klingon, Keth,' Shilara admonished her.

They discussed their situation telepathically. 'No food! What do they think this is, Yom Kippur?' Shilara scoffed.

'If it was Yom Kippur, then they should be atoning for their sins. Which they most certainly are not.'

'Darn gentiles!'

'Well anyway, how are we going to get out of here? We aren't trained to mindchange, so we can't convince them to let us go. They took our combadges, so we can't rig up a transmitter or homing beacon.'

'What good would a homing beacon do us anyway? Captain Janeway knows we're here. Even if it does take a while to follow us with the damaged systems.'

'Okay, so we use our collective psychic powers of persuasion to get Seska to take us to the bridge-'

'And then what? Kill everyone? You are half Vulcan, remember?'

'I suppose violence has its uses, as S'task tried to convince Surak. S'task was his finest disciple. But of course, S'task and his followers did become Vulcan's sundered cousins, the Romulans...'

'Oh, great. We can get onto the bridge and start to follow Romulan ideas?'

'Actually Vulcan principles say that I should follow the peaceful route, which would be diplomacy, try to talk our way out, but I doubt that would work. You know how Seska loves diplomacy.'

'So much for your Vulcan logic. What's Klingon honor say?'

'Klingon honor would dictate that we either kill all our enemies in glorious battle, worthy of song, or...'

'Or what? What's the other choice?'

'Or, Klingon honor would dictate that I follow what I believe in. I was raised as a Vulcan and those are my beliefs. But as I said, if we follow Vulcan ideas, it would likely get us killed, so logic dictates I take the more effective path, but the Klingon way would be killing everyone and honor dictates that I not stray from my principles, so that would be the Vulcan way-'

'Jeez, Keth, I think you've become the first successful perpetual motion machine. Here, why don't you try an easier problem- compute the value of pi to the last decimal place!'

Kethrim realized how illogical her ramblings were and stopped. 'But what should we do?'

'Captain Janeway's way. The human way.' Shilara answered. 'We'll try diplomacy, but always have a backup plan.'

Kethrim and Shilara sat down and began to formulate their escape plan.

Chapter 4: Janeway's Plan

Back on Voyager, Captain Janeway was meeting with the senior crew to figure out what could be done to retrieve Shilara and Kethrim. 'They're in the heart of Kazon space. With Seska. Now how are we supposed to get them out of that?' B'Elanna asked in her usual bad-tempered half-Klingon way. Jori was sitting next to her. B'Elanna had invited the girl because Kethrim and Shilara were her best friends and she was also a brilliant engineer.

'Okay, we know we need to get them out of there,' Janeway said. 'But since they're Kethrim and Shilara, and responsible Starfleet officers, we also know that they'll be doing more than just sitting there waiting for us to get them.'

'Knowing them, they already have a plan,' Jori added.

'Right. It's essential that our plans won't conflict. The question is, how can we contact them?'

'Their combadges will undoubtedly have been confiscated,' Tuvok stated.

'Come now, Tuvok,' Janeway said. What did the Kazon want them for?'

'Their mental powers,' Tuvok answered promptly. 'Oh. I see. What would you propose?'

'Can Vulcans transmit thoughts without physical contract?'

'Not very well, and the closer the better. At one point in Vulcan's development, much of that ability was lost. But the telepathic signal could be strengthened by a group of telepaths working in concert.'

'You mean we're going to think at them?' B'Elanna asked skeptically.

'Indeed, it is possible that this idea could work,' Seven said. 'A group of telepaths working in concert to contact another Vulcan's mind... Which of them would we contact? It would certainly be easier to contact one rather than two at once.'

'Logic dictates that I would contact Kethrim, as I have worked more closely with her and know her better. She would be easier to contact and the link would be stronger.'

'Then might I suggest that it could work better if she was asleep? You could plant ideas in her subconscious mind, which would be easier than attempting to contact her conscious mind, as the conscious mind is highly disorganized, although less so for a Vulcan.'

'Yeah, and Keth would know the message was from Tuvok,' Jori added.

'If we do not contact her conscious mind, we will not be able to consult with her. With all of us working together, we might be able to come up with a better solution. But yes, logic dictates that it would be easier to contact her subconscious. Captain?'

'Well...' Janeway thought a moment. 'I think we'd better try to work with her. Tuvok, assemble a team of telepaths, as many as you need, and contact me when you're ready.'

'Aye, Captain.'

'All right, everyone else, how are the repairs coming?'

The various reports came in: 'Shields are back up at full power.'

'Weapons are fully functional.'

'Engines are operating at peak efficiency.'

'Transporters are in prime condition, and Seven and I enhanced their power with Borg technology. We may be able to transport them back if we can cripple the Kazon's shields. But we'll only be able to keep the Borg technology interfaced with our systems for 30 minutes after we activate, which we'll have to do shortly before we reach their ship, so the Kazon won't read the enhanced signal,' Harry reported.

'Wonderful. Tuvok, I'll be waiting to hear from you. Maybe Kethrim and Shilara will be able to get at the shield controls long enough for us to beam them out.'

Tuvok want off in search of the telepaths, the senior crew want back to their stations, and Captain Janeway headed to her ready room for a cup of strong coffee.

Chapter 5: The Plan

Kethrim and Shilara were busy plotting their next move, speaking telepathically so no one could hear them. 'Well, 'Lara, we're locked here with no food. We know we can't agree to help them. After the battle, Voyager's systems will have been damaged, so it could be a while until they get here, but Captain Janeway won't abandon us.'

'We know all this, Keth!'

'When you don't know how to proceed, review the facts you already know.'

'Yeah, yeah.'

'Okay, O impatient one, so when Seska-'

'-or anyone-'

'-but preferably Seska, we don't want her catching us, comes back-'

'-we'll combine our psychic powers to get her to take us to the bridge-'

'-no, to get her to take just you to the bridge, you are the counselor, 'Lara-'

'-okay, and we'll get her to let you out and access the controls-'

'-to contact Voyager-'

'-and take the shields offline, or something-'

'-we'll steal Seska's weapon-'

'Wait, I hear someone coming,' warned Shilara. They held their breath, but it was only a passing guard. They let out their breath at the same time in a whoosh of air. 'Phew,' said Shilara.

Chapter 6: Contact

Meanwhile, Tuvok had assembled a group of telepaths in Sickbay as Voyager approached the Kazon vessel. He touched his combadge. 'Lt. Tuvok to Captain Janeway.'

'You're ready?'

'Affirmative. We're in Sickbay. The Doctor wishes to monitor our vital signs so he can intervene if something goes wrong.'

'As usual. I'm on my way.' She touched her own combadge. 'Janeway to Engineering. Lt. Jori, report to Sickbay.'

'Acknowledged.' Jori ran out of Engineering to Sickbay.

Janeway reached Sickbay, Jori at her heels, to find a group of five telepaths. 'Will this be enough people?' she asked.

'Indeed, according to my calculations, yes, Captain. We are ready to begin. Naomi?' Naomi Wildman stepped out from behind the Doctor.

'But... Naomi's not a telepath.'

'Her mind will be linked with ours. She will say Kethrim's thoughts so you will be able to follow the conversation.'

'Like a translator.'

'Yes. I will say our thoughts.'

'Oh... very well then, proceed.'

The Doctor placed devices on each telepath's and Naomi's neck to monitor them. 'You're ready to go,' he said cheerfully, though it was clear that he didn't think much of all the Vulcan mind-linking.

Tuvok, the four other telepaths, and Naomi linked their minds together. 'Kethrim,' Tuvok intoned.

Chapter 7: Combined Effort

Suddenly Kethrim heard a voice. 'Kethrim.'

'Shilara? D'you call me?'

'No, it was probably just something in your head.'


'I think it is something in my head. Or at least someone. It's Lt. Tuvok!'

'How'd he get in your head?'

'He must be contacting me telepathically from Voyager!'

'Well, what's he want? This is hardly the time for a social call.'

'Kethrim,' Tuvok intoned again.

'Lt. Tuvok,' Kethrim and Naomi said together.

'Ask if they're all right!' Jori demanded Tuvok.

Tuvok continued, not listening to her, 'Kethrim, you and Shilara need to distract the Kazon and try to lower their shields. Ensign Kim and Seven have enhanced the transporters so we can beam you through low shields, but we can only use them in the next 15 minutes.'

'I've been glancing at the minds of the passing guards,' Kethrim and Naomi said. 'The shield controls are very highly encrypted. We might not have enough time to get the shields down. But we might be able to get at the weapons controls, I've already mind-read some of the decryption and authorization codes. We can get weapons offline so you can attack. You can fire on the shield generators to weaken the shields. But you'll have to use photon torpedoes; phasers won't do the trick.'

'Understood. Will you and Shilara be able to get Seska to let you access the controls?'

'I believe so. We'll begin immediately.'

'But hurry. You only have 10 minutes.'

'Acknowledged. Oh, and tell Jori we're okay.' They broke contact.

Tuvok turned to Jori. 'Kethrim says to tell you that they are 'okay.' ' Jori sighed with understandable relief.

'What is it, Keth? Tuvok asking you out on a date?' Shilara joked.

'For one thing, Lieutenant Tuvok is married, with three sons, one daughter, and a granddaughter, I might add. But anyway, we've got a plan.' Kethrim quickly outlined the plan to her.

'Let's go, then.'

Chapter 8: The Escape

Seska strode down the hall and stopped in front of their cell. Shilara gave Kethrim a meaningful look and they focused their minds together, on Seska.

'Well, have you changed your minds, children?'

'Yes,' said Shilara and Kethrim together, as they worked their telepathic magic.

'Come with me,' Seska said.

'Where are we going?' Kethrim inquired.

'To the weapons controls,' Shilara said, their minds trying to convince Seska.

'Yes,' Seska said, almost mechanically, 'to the weapons controls.'

Kethrim whispered to Shilara, 'When we get there, keep her busy while I work the controls- Counselor,' she added, seeing Shilara was about to object.

Shilara nodded, then she said, in a low voice, 'Uh-oh.'

A Kazon was walking down the hall towards them. 'Where are you taking them?' he asked suspiciously.

Seska replied, 'None of your darn business.' She whipped her weapon out of her holster and shot him.

Shilara said to her, 'I'll take that,' and took Seska's weapon. To Kethrim she whispered, 'Wow, I love this mind-control stuff!'

Kethrim whispered back, 'You made her kill him!'

'No, he's only knocked out.'

'That weapon was set on 'kill.' I saw it!'

'Oops,' Shilara replied. 'Umm... maybe it only has one setting?' she suggested hopefully. Kethrim closed her eyes in horror.

Soon they reached the weapons controls. Shilara kept Seska engaged in conversation while Kethrim worked frantically at the controls. 'Five minutes,' she said to herself.

Chapter 9: The Attack

'Five minutes,' Tuvok informed the bridge.

'They'd sure better hurry,' Jori remarked nervously.

'Four minutes. It is not logical to worry too much, Jori. Kethrim and Shilara are very resourceful officers, and I'm sure they will-'

'Captain! Their weapons are offline!' Harry interrupted.

'Three minutes.'

'Fire two photon torpedoes at their shield generators!' Captain Janeway ordered.

'Aye, Captain,' Tuvok answered. The bridge crew watched the viewscreen as the two torpedoes arrowed their way toward the enemy vessel. 'Direct hit.'

'Their shields are weakened,' said Harry.

'Beam them up, Harry!' said Captain Janeway.

Chapter 10: The Rescue

Suddenly, Kethrim and Shilara lost control of Seska's mind. She turned to them, rage in her face. 'I'll get you!' she screamed as she lunged at Kethrim's throat, as Kethrim was closer.

She threw herself at Kethrim, but Shilara still had Seska's weapon and very carefully set it to stun before shooting Seska in the back. 'Woohoo! I kicked her butt!' Shilara yelled as Seska fell right through Kethrim as they dissolved in a shimmer of blue light.

'I've got them,' Harry said. 'They're in Transporter Room 2!'

In Transporter Room 2, Kethrim and Shilara looked at each other. Remembering how Seska had fallen through her a scant few seconds before, Kethrim cringed and said, 'That's gotta hurt.'

'Good work,' they congratulated each other.

Just then Jori burst in. 'I'm so glad to see you guys!' she shouted, throwing her arms around them in a bear hug.

'Good to see you too,' Shilara answered.

Kethrim said, 'Let's go get something to eat. We haven't eaten all day, and I'm starved.'

'Amen to that!' Shilara cried. 'Let's go!'

In the mess hall, Kethrim and Shilara ordered Neelix's special without even asking what it was. 'I'll pass, thanks,' said Jori.

'Whatever it is,' Shilara said, 'whatever it could possibly be, it has to be a heck of a lot better than what the Kazon were feeding us.'

'Agreed,' Kethrim said, as they dug in.

'Congratulations,' Neelix said. 'A lot of the others have gotten sick. I think it's the leola root base,' he added musingly. 'Or maybe those spices I acquired at that last planet.'

Suddenly the Captain's voice came over the intercom. 'This is the Captain. Lt. Kethrim and Lt. Guyrriq please report to Holodeck 1 for the culmination of the Velocity Championship's final match.' She paused a moment. 'One of our teams has to win this thing.'

'C'mon, guys,' Jori said. 'Not going to let a little red alert spoil your game, now are you?'

'Well, let's go,' said Shilara, and they left, shoving a last forkful of food into their mouths.

Chapter 11: D'j' Vu

'Good luck,' Jori said to her friends. She went back to her place in the bleachers and accepted a bag of popcorn from Neelix.

'The final round of the final match of the Velocity Doubles Tournament! Take two,' Tom said.

'Begin. Again,' said the Doctor. 'For the winning point!'

Tom continued his commentary. 'Captain Kathryn Janeway and Seven of Nine, tied against the challengers, Shilara Guyrriq and Kethrim!'

'Let's go,' Shilara said to Kethrim.

The room was filled with the sounds of panting, phaser fire, and much cheering. Then- 'And Kethrim and Shilara together score the winning point!' The crowd rushed the two teams and lifted all four players into the air, cheering.

'Congratulations,' Seven said to the opposing team.

'Well, you two,' said Captain Janeway, 'you've won twice today. Nicely done.'

Shilara and Kethrim turned to each other and high fived.

'Oh, and Kethrim,' Seven added, 'I am still waiting for that report.'

Jori and Shilara saw Kethrim's dumbfounded look and laughed.

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