Back on Voyager

Alathea couldn’t help but ponder whether Menthat fancied himself weightless, given how he inflated his chest. His incessant presence grated on her last nerve. Throughout the return journey, he loitered just behind her and the captain, scrutinizing their every move. She understood his motive all too well—eagerly absorbing the nuances of shuttle piloting for his clandestine designs. The captain maintained a stoic silence as she escorted them to the Medbay, speaking only when absolutely necessary during the flight back.

“Computer, activate EMH,” the captain said the moment she entered the bay.

“Please state the nature of the medical emergency,” the Doctor recited his standard greeting before catching sight of the captain and swiftly redirecting his attention. “Captain! I’m relieved to see you. You’re injured!” With a decisive motion, he seized an instrument from his tray and hurried over to assist her.

“It’s nothing, really, just a few bruises,” she said, her voice tinged with a hint of reassurance, though the lines of pain etched across her face betrayed her stoic facade.

“Please sit down on the med bed and let me treat it,” the Doctor urged, his holographic gaze sweeping across the faces of the unwilling guests. “Anything I can do for any of you?”

Mentat’s gaze shifted to Alathea, his tone tinged with disbelief. “What sorcery be this? That ain’t no human, by all that’s sacred.”

Alathea smirked wryly. “That’s our doctor for you. And yes, he’s not flesh and blood, but a hologram.”

“An image?” Suk Doctor’s brows furrowed in perplexity. “How can an image assume the mantle of a healer?”

“It can, especially when you have a computer,” Alathea quipped.

“So this here’s a spawn of the cursed technology,” Mentat growled, his words dripping with disdain.

“Yes, precisely. And Doctor, or as you call him, this product, has my uterus and eggs secured where the likes of you can’t lay a finger on them,” Alathea grinned.

“His Grace shall not find favor in this matter. The involvement of such damning technology is excessive,” Suk Doctor remarked.

“I don’t care what Beli likes or dislikes,” Captain Janeway said.

“Where be the projector for this healer?” Mentat inquired, his voice resonating with curiosity as he walked around Doctor, glancing at the Medbay walls.

Alathea chuckled, her laughter ringing with a touch of mockery. “Are you certain you’re Menthat? That question was painfully transparent.” She fixed him with a steely gaze, causing him to furrow his brow. “The Doctor is integrated into the ship itself. You can’t simply whisk him away. No kidnapping schemes will succeed, I’m afraid,” she remarked.

“Do you think they planned to kidnap the Doctor?” Captain Janeway’s voice held a mix of concern and determination, her eyes scanning the room for any signs of trouble.

“Of course, what else would it be?” Alathea remarked. “Beli is always on the lookout for any opportunity to wriggle out of our agreement.”

The captain simply shook her head in resigned agreement, acknowledging the predictability of Beli’s behavior. 

“Why shouldn’t he? The dishonor you displayed was an abomination,” Mentat rebuked, gesturing towards the captain. “Striking one of noble birth in such a manner.”

Captain Janeway fixed her gaze on the man before her, her eyes narrowing with a mixture of frustration and disbelief. “What? Didn’t you see how he was treating me and Alathea? There’s not a trace of honor in that man.”

“That ain’t so. He’s a duke,” Mentat clarified, his tone holding a touch of incredulity at the misunderstanding.

“Are you blind or something? Can’t you see that he did everything he could to wiggle out of any agreement we made?” Captain Janeway’s frustration flared, her voice tinged with a mix of anger and disappointment. “We’ve extended olive branches, offered compromises, but his actions speak louder than words. It’s clear he’s not interested in cooperation or peace. We’ll have to proceed with caution and be prepared for whatever deceit he throws our way next.”

“No pact can be struck with the accursed,” Mentat declared firmly, his voice resonating with the certainty of desert wisdom.

Alathea shrugged dismissively. “I told you, they’ll seize any excuse to act dishonorably. If they can’t brand Voyager as damned, they’ll claim it’s for our own good, because, after all, commoners like us couldn’t possibly know better than noble-born.” She rolled her eyes in exasperation.

The captain rubbed her forehead. “ Yes, you did tell me.”

“‘Tis a widely acknowledged truth that commoners lack the capacity for leadership or innovation,” Suk Doctor declared, his voice tinged with the solemnity of tradition.

“Aren’t you common too?” Captain Janeway’s tone was sharp. Alathea was certain she was at the end of her rope.

“Indeed not. Not a single Suk Doctor or Menthat among us rose from peasant stock. Breeding reigns supreme,” he turned towards Alathea, his gaze piercing. “You should be aware. The Bene Gesserit deemed altering your very DNA only after your original achieved some feat of note.”

“Incredible. Such backward opinions. I’m glad we got rid of Feudalism half a millennia ago,” Captain Janeway remarked, her voice carrying a hint of exasperation.

Mentat fixed his gaze on the Captain. “Now behold, ye be but thralls to the machines,” he proclaimed.

“Hmm, your Menthat-like skills could use some improvement,” Alathea remarked dryly, her sarcasm aimed squarely at his failed attempt at manipulation.

He sneered at Alathea, his expression filled with scorn. “As if ye possess the right to pass judgment,” he spat, his tone dripping with disdain.

“Yes, I am,” Alathea replied, her grin widening as she delivered her response with a touch of pity in her voice. “I underwent Menthat training too. It’s amusing how conveniently you forget that humanity endured enslavement by a bunch of cyborgs—human brains housed in robotic bodies. The Titans were indeed cyborgs, not mere artificial intelligence.”

Menthat blinked in response, evidently caught off guard by her confident retort.

“And the Empire persists in a similar vein,” Alathea continued, her tone tinged with a mixture of disdain and resignation. “Instead of cyborgs, we have a group of humans that extends their lifespan with spice and deludes itself into thinking it’s superior to all others.”

“Evidence suggests that the DNA of the aristocracy surpasses that of the commoner,” Suk Doctor stated with an air of certainty.

The Doctor chuckled with an air of superiority. “Throughout history, various human factions have made similar boasts. ‘My group is superior to yours, thus I have the right to conquer and claim your resources.’ Such assertions never withstand thorough examination.”

“Behold, a computer lacks the essence of a true healer,” Suk Doctor pronounced with conviction.

Alathea burst into laughter, the sound echoing through the medbay as she doubled over, wheezing with mirth. Tears trickled down her cheeks as she struggled to regain control. Finally managing to calm herself, she wiped her eyes and managed to gasp out between chuckles, “He’s a better doctor than you, that’s for sure.”

“Ok, enough of this,” the Captain interrupted the exchange, though a faint smile lingered on her lips. “I have no intention of changing your opinion, nor will you change ours. We are here to accomplish a certain task, and then all of us will go our merry ways, and hopefully never meet again.”

Mentat inclined his head in a respectful bow to the Captain. “Words of wisdom indeed.”

“Pray tell, where resides the embryo?” Suk Doctor asked.

The Doctor surveyed the group with an air of confidence. “So, who among you desires to embrace the role of fatherhood?”

“Excuse me?”

“We require sperm to fertilize the egg cells of Ms. Alathea. Unless, of course, someone here fancies the idea of cloning her?”

“The Duke will furnish the seed upon our return to the designated coordinates,” Mentat declared proudly, puffing out his chest in assurance.

Captain waved to the security team standing behind them. “Take them to the designated quarters and put a forcefield up. I’m going to the bridge to finish this circus.”

With a swift nod, the security officers moved forward to escort the Duke’s people away, while Captain Janeway turned on her heel, striding purposefully towards the bridge to confront the challenges that awaited her there.


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