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A day being easy to start, however, has little to no bearing on how it will turn out. By mid-afternoon I already had enough work to tide me through until the end of the week. And I didn't have to ask how Kathryn was going, wherever I went, the general buzz was 'stay away from the Captain'.

Since we had made the decision not to send help down to the planet, it became almost too easy to desensitize ourselves from it all. As we were rapidly approaching the point where communications would be out of range, the S.O.S messages we received were of a more brutal nature. I was running interference between Tuvok, ops and Astro-metrics... all the while hoping like hell that they didn't get to Kathryn.

We haven't survived out here for this long by being the good guy all the time. This was just a case of where we couldn't.

It's about 16:00, so I decide to swing by the mess-hall. My stomach is rumbling and I am also hoping to catch B'Elanna on a break. There were a couple of requested transfers to Engineering that needed her approval. Poor souls.

The mess-hall doors open and I strolled in. I also stop very suddenly when I find Kathryn, Yennk and B'Elanna with their heads on their arms, sleeping at the table.

Neelix approaches me.

"I thought it best to leave them, Commander. B'Elanna and Yennk have worked a double shift. The Captain looks like she hasn't slept in days."

"She hasn't." I reply, wishing I had a holo-imager. For a brief second I imagine Neelix is about to break into some bedroom joke. I'm glad he doesn't. "I've been sharing some stories with her."

"Stories?" He asks, with that familiarly expectant tone.

I laugh, sitting down. Maybe I had picked the wrong career.


A Genetic Fear of the Viper
by Christina Wilson


He leaned against the tent post and smirked. It would get interesting soon...very soon, if the restlessness of the sleeping man was any indication. He enjoyed meddling with humans...some more than others. This would be fun.

He stood there and waited as the man opened his eyes and looked around. "What the hell..." The man sat on the edge of the cot, the confusion he felt evident in his eyes and demeanor. "Computer, end program..."

Q's smirk grew bigger. This was definitely going to be interesting. He could hear the heavy footprints of someone approaching. Well, of course this other person would be approaching--he'd seen to that.

Q laughed as a tall, rugged, sandy-haired man entered the tent holding a revolver. "Who the hell are you?" The two men asked at the same time.

"Fascinating," Q said stepping from the shadows. "Just as I predicted."

The darker man started to speak, but Q cut him off. "Now, now--you don't want to mess up the time-line do you?"

"Time? Where am I?" The darker man said. The other man was apparently frozen.

"Where? Earth." Q was enjoying the discomfort of the man. "When might be a more interesting question."

The man sat back down on the cot. "All right, Q, I'll play. When? And why?" Q had to grin at his exasperation.

"When--let's just say that last carefree, lazy summer before war broke out. Why--because I can."

The man groaned, then pointed to the frozen man. "Who's he?"

"Chuckles you ask too many questions. But this man is an ancestor of yours. A twentieth, thirtieth great grandfather--I don't know how you humans keep those things straight."

"I don't..." Chakotay said with a lot of exasperation. "Just return me to Voyager...Please."

Q raised an eyebrow. "Politeness...Of course I will...eventually." He raised his hand in preparation to snap his fingers. "Just remember you can't mess with the time line. Just say hello..." He snapped.

The sandy-haired man stepped toward Chakotay. "I repeat, who the hell are you?" His finger was lingering on the trigger.

"Ummm...A stranger. I'm lost..."

The sandy-haired man frowned as he studied Chakotay in the dim light. "I'd say. I've only seen that marking on a tribe in Central America. Who are you?"

Chakotay glanced at Q before answering. "Chakotay."

"Welcome Chakotay." He lowered the revolver slightly. "Know anything about archaeology?"

"Some," Chakotay said cautiously. Q grinned.

"Good, you wouldn't by any chance speak Persian?"

Chakotay shook his head. Q laughed as he caught Chakotay's near gaff when he almost said he did speak some Klingonese.

"My crew ran off yesterday evening--something about a bogey-man or an evil curse."

Chakotay laughed hard, Q was not pleased at this and started to snap his finger, but had another idea. Wicked thoughts played through his mind when he did snap his fingers.

The sandy-hair man laughed. "I do seem to have this knack to getting involved with digs with curses.

"I can relate to that," Chakotay said. "It seems I've been plagued by an *evil* spirit recently." He smirked slightly.

"Ah...And now you will tell me, this evil spirit is why you are here?"

Chakotay shrugged. "In a way..."

The other man nodded and put away his revolver. "I've seen too many strange things. Like this dig." He sat down in the one chair. "We found the tomb entrance late yesterday evening. And within an hour all my workers had run away. Something about a curse."

"Well, considering--it's probably true." Chakotay stared past the sandy-haired man straight at Q.

"Is there someone else here?"

Chakotay shook his head, but the other man was looking around the tent anyway. "Is it your evil..." He stood quickly. "Remain still..." He carefully backed away from the chair and pulled out his revolver.

"What???"

The blast of the revolver echoed for a second before Chakotay looked at the remains of the snake that had been coiled up on the pillow.

"I hate snakes," the sandy-haired man said. "Especially the poisonous ones."

Chakotay moved away from the cot. "I'm not very fond of them either. What kind was it?"

"An asp. Very dangerous." The sandy-haired man grinned at something.

Q laughed, this really was enjoyable, but stopped when Chakotay glared at him.

"It really is impolite for your *evil spirit* to remain invisible to me."

"His choice...I just wish he would take me home."

"Chuckles..." Q appeared next to the sandy-haired man. "I think it is time. You obviously don't have a genealogist's soul..." He started to snap his fingers, but Chakotay shook his head.

"One thing," Chakotay said. "Who are you?"

The sandy haired man laughed. "Henry Jones. Doctor Henry Jones. But don't confuse me with my father..."

Q snorted. "Just call him Junior..."

"No!!!"

Q raised an eyebrow. "You prefer being called by your dog's name? Well Chuckles--it's time." He snapped his fingers and the tent and ancestor vanished.

Q grinned as they reappeared in Chakotay's quarters on Voyager. The commander snug in his bed. "Well, Chuckles...Pleasant dreams and all that." He looked around the room. "Funny coincidence that your ancestor's dog was named after the girl friend's birthplace." He snapped his fingers and vanished.

* * *


When I finish, I think Neelix is about to break into applause. I marvel, yet again, at the power of stories. I leave the mess hall quietly. The smell of the Leola root that Neelix is about to fry will wake them up eventually.


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