Star Trek: Voyager
Author: Melissa Scott
Desperately in need of vital nutritional supplies, the crew ofthe USS VoyagerTM mustrisk dealing with an
enigmatic race known as the Kirse, legendaryfor the bountiful crops of their world - and for their
secretiveways. Despite Neelix's warnings, Captain Janeway leads an AwayTeam to the Kirse
homeworld.But when the hostile Andirrim attack the Kirse, Janeway findsherself caught in a deadly
situation. Forced to fight alongsidethe Kirse, Janeway and her crew can only hope that their strange,new
allies are not more dangerous than their common foe.
Renehan's blue-team station was on the lower decks, near theengine room. Paris and Kim took a
turbolift, reaching the bridgeas the computer announced, "All crew members in position." Parissettled into
position behind the helm as the thin-faced ensignwho had the conn slid aside, and called up a quick
review ofthe ship's status. Everything seemed normal, all systems atmaximum efficiency, and he
switched to a sensor feed. Theunenhanced view seemed unimpressive, a tiny disk barely largerthan the
nail of his little finger, too small as yet to show theclouds and colors of an inhabited world, but he heard
Kim whistlesoftly to himself as he examined the sensor readouts.The captain obviously heard it, too,
though Paris didn't darelook back to check her expression. "Report, Mr. Kim.""Still scanning, Captain,"
Kim answered. He was learning, Paristhought. Not long ago, he would have apologized, or rushed
tofinish, but he'd learned to take his time. "Sensors confirm thisis a class-M planet. The atmosphere is
almost identical toEarth's, down to trace gases, and the oceans are also remarkablyEarth-like, including
mineral content.""Vegetation?" Janeway asked."Still scanning," Kim answered. "There's a lot of it,
Captain,and all complex. lt looks like Neelix didn't exaggerate at all.""Take us in closer, Mr. Paris,"
Janeway said. "Impulse speed. Mr.Tuvok, any sign of this defense system Neelix mentioned?""Not yet,
Captain," the Vulcan answered. "All security scannersare at maximum.""Maintain that," Janeway said.
"Proceed when ready, Mr. Paris."Paris touched his controls, setting up an easy courseinto the Kirse
system. The planet lay between them and thediamond-bright pinpoint of the sun; as he fed the numbers
intothe computer, the image on the screen shifted, the disk of theplanet slowly eclipsing the distant star.
"Course locked in," heannounced. "Engaged."For long minutes, nothing happened. In the main screen,
the diskswelled fractionally, revealed a hint of blues and pale graysthat Paris guessed would resolve into
the familiar streaks andwhorls of a class-M planet's cloudy atmosphere. At his ownstation, the course
numbers clicked past, registering otherwiseall-but-invisible progress, and the screens that relayed
vitalsensor indications stayed monotonously empty."I'm picking up metal in orbit," Kim began, and Tuvok
cut himoff."Captain, there are defense stations in orbit around the Kirseplanet.""All stop," Janeway said
instantly, and Paris was quick to obey."All right, put it on the main screen, Mr. Tuvok.""Yes, Captain."
The Vulcan manipulated his controls, and theplanet vanished, to be replaced by a highly colored version
ofthe same image. Flecks of brighter light appeared as well, mostclustered around the planet's equator,
but some in what seemed tobe circumpolar orbits. There were dozens of them, Paris realized,and at the
same time realized that they were seeing only a partof the system. There would have to be as many
similar stations onthe far side of the planet to provide the coverage the Kirseseemed to want."Each of
those dots represents an orbiting phaser platform,"Tuvok said. "They are positioned so as to create
overlappingfirezones that cover all approaches to the planet. It seems thatMr. Neelix was correct in
reporting an all but impenetrableshield around the planet."Janeway didn't answer for a moment, and Paris
glanced over hisshoulder, to see her staring thoughtfully at the screen. "What'sthe range on those
things?""Uncertain." Tuvok's hands were busy on his console as he spoke."The power apparently
available would indicate that the phasersare capable of reaching some distance, particularly if they
were1inked in series. However, the configuration of the firing...