Think Tank

As Alathea pondered the mysterious inner workings of the Holtzman drive, she couldn’t help but draw parallels between the advanced technology of Voyager and the familiar, albeit more primitive, components of her Empire. She reached for her toolkit, a collection of tools scavenged from various worlds, and started examining the burnt surge protector.

“Easy peasy,” she muttered to herself, her fingers delicately probing the charred remnants. “In the Empire, we’d call this a ‘fried circuit,’ and I’d simply order a new one. Now, I have to improvise.”

Her eyes scanned the tools at her disposal, contemplating the best way to create a makeshift surge protector. She chuckled at the thought of explaining the Holtzman drive components to her fellow Bene Gesserit. It was like trying to describe the taste of spice to someone who had never encountered it. The trouble was, she was that dumb Bene Gesserit. No one ever told her how the Holtzman drive functions.

This time, it seemed she’d have to seek help from the persistently annoying Voyager crew. Borg, perhaps.

“How’s it going?” Captain appeared at the ship door, glancing at Alathea.

“Seems like I will have to use your hospitality longer than I expected.”

“That’s perfectly okay,” Captain said. “I have a task for you. An alien named Kurros offered to help us with our current predicament with Hazari. I would like to use your truth-saying skills during the negotiations.”

“What happened so far?”

“Kurros used advanced technology to talk with me, a holographic technology cutting all my communications while he was there. He said he is part of a think-tank and did offer quite a precise tactical analysis of our problem. He agreed to negotiate face-to-face, and we are about to arrive at the coordinates.”

“What exactly do you wish me to do?”

“Accompany me and tell me if they are telling the truth or not. That will be a great help with the negotiations.”


Alathea did not listen to the conversation. Instead, she concentrated on the members of the Think Tank. None of them showed any recognition of her garb, even when she was standing there in the full Bene Gesserit robes. Seemed like the Empire did not come in contact with them. Think Tank members observed the Captain and Alathea as much as she observed them. And the spokesperson for the group, Kurros, was extremely pleasant, but he was hiding something. That was clear.

Alathea focused on him, reading the minute changes in his face and body. Even the smell was available. It was a good thing the Captain asked for a face-to-face meeting.

The man went around introducing members of her group, providing Alathea with the baseline reading for his species.


They ignored her after the Captain introduced her. As the conversation continued, Alathea could first sniff out that there is something Think Tank is not revealing. The pleasantness Kurros displayed was false. He lied about the problem itself. He knew more about the problem. Maybe he caused the problem himself.

And then the conversation turned to payment. Kurros mentioned how they asked only for soup from the other client. The Captain offered the tablet with the Voyager inventory, recommending replicators. Alathea read in Kurros that they already knew what to ask. They knew exactly what they wanted from Voyager.

They approached Voyager with a specific goal in mind. The rest was a charade. Quite a bold move from Think Tank, Alathea thought. They were certainly not lacking in confidence.


Captain turned towards her the moment they materialized back on Voyager. “You were quite silent there.”

“Yes, because the contract is not agreed until they name the price, and you accept that price. And I did not wish to show our advantage. They do not know what Bene Gesserit is.”

“Even I saw that,” Captain smirked. “Guess I’ll have to add ‘Negotiation Expert’ to your Bene Gesserit resume. What other skills are you hiding?”

“Well, I make a mean cup of tea, and I can recite poetry. Comes in handy in diplomatic situations, you know.” Alathea deadpanned, trying to maintain the seriousness of the conversation.

Alathea nodded. “My conclusion is that they know more about the problem than they are telling, and they want something very specific from Voyager. They know exactly what they want. I would say the whole problem with Hazari and Think Tank approaching us is a set-up to get something from Voyager.”

Captain tilted her head. “Interesting. Maybe they just need Voyager to host their intergalactic book club, and the Hazari are the bouncers for the venue.”

Alathea smirked. “Well, they certainly know how to make an entrance. Next thing you know, they’ll ask for a reading nook in the holodeck.”

Captain laughed.

Alathea smiled. “Yes. May I also suggest that you copy their approach? Their work is noteworthy, almost as complex as Bene Gesserit's plots. But definitely the most similar approach to the proven Empire method of politics.”

“What do you mean?”

“They did a smart approach, creating the problem that will bring them whatever they wish to get from Voyager.”

“You sound like you’re admiring them.”

Alathea examined the Captain. Chill spread in her; Captain didn’t like where the conversation was going. But the Captain needed to learn if she wished to save the crew and reach the old Terra. “Yes. Their method is effective, not unlike the one you applied with Varro. In the end, the trinkets you got from Varro did not cover a third of the risk you took to help them. Think Tank risks nothing for themselves and they will get what they want from you.”

Captain straightened herself. “Thank you for your input. I think I will continue facing this problem and negotiations without you. But sometime after, I will have to find out how you calculate the price of risk.”

Alathea watched the Captain leave, pondering the apparent resistance to learning. What’s so complicated about calculating risk, she wondered? In her view, every non-noble person is worth exactly as much as they could contribute. On this ship, that’s everyone. She shook her head, muttering to herself, “Interstellar negotiations or basic economics aside, sometimes it feels like she navigating a cosmic carnival funhouse run by Captain Janeway.”


Alathea gripped the rail while Voyager shook under the attack of the Hazari. Captain insisted she come to the bridge in the middle of the attack. This was supposed to be some clumsy lesson, but a lesson about what?

“Captain, the neuro implant is activated,” Tuvok said.

Captain nodded at him, and he busied himself at the console.

“Call Hazari,” said Captain. The Hazard captain appeared on the viewscreen, and she continued. “Now.”

The viewscreen changed to the battle view, and Alathea saw a few explosions and the Think Tank ship appearing. A flickering of the transporter filled an empty place on the bridge, bringing Seven back on board.

Another shiver announced Kurros. He pleaded with the Captain, asking her to help them. Alathea half expected her to offer help. After all, she was doing so indiscriminately the whole time Alathea was on Voyager, but this time she refused.

Kurros then turned towards Seven. “You’ll never be happy with them,” he said, and Seven glanced towards Alathea just when Kurros’ image flickered out of existence after Hazari destroyed Think Tank’s ship communication array.

Alathea shifted from one leg to another, observing Captain ordering Voyager out, leaving the Think Tank to be destroyed. Captain turned towards her.

“So, questions?”

“You didn’t help Kurros.”

“No, I did not.”

“You’re punishing him and wasting resources.”

“No, I’m not. I’m just letting him face the consequences.”

“Consequences? For what? Being too focused on what he considered a prize to correctly plan the procedure through to the end?”

Captain tilted her head. “Don’t you think he deserves what came to him?”

Alathea shrugged. “If you mean he should pay for not making the correct plan, yes?”

“But he manipulated Hazari, risked the lives of our crew, lied, all to get Seven,” said Chakotay.

“Yes, I know. I told you that after I met them the first time. Think Tank was good, but not good enough. They didn’t consider the possibility that Hazari could turn against them, which was a serious mistake.”

Captain shook her head. “I keep wondering about the society where you grew up. Your values are lacking.”


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