Star Trek: Voyager
“State of Flux”
Originally Broadcast April 10, 1995
Reviewed by Chakoteya
An away team is down on a planet, looking for food sources. Lt. Carey comes over to Neelix and Chakotay with some sort of apple in his hand, which he found over the ridge. Neelix takes one look and informs him that it is called kaylos and it is deadly poison, and proceeds to give a vivid description of it’s effects. Then he hands Chakotay a grubby root to sample. Chakotay bites off a piece and spits it straight out again. Clearly he doesn’t consider it very palatable, but Neelix is undeterred. It is a leola root, packed with vitamins and minerals and once it has been stewed for a few hours you wouldn’t even notice the mildew.
On Voyager’s bridge, Paris asks Tuvok to run a lateral EM scan to confirm his suspicions that they are not alone. He is correct. Tuvok confirms he has found an ionisation trail from another ship that is concealing itself from the sensors. Janeway contacts Chakotay to ask if they have encountered anyone down there, but he tells her that, apart from some bloodworms that he’s trying to talk Neelix out of bringing back to make a tartar dish, they seem to be alone. Just to be safe, Janeway orders the away team back on board while they investigate the strangers. Tuvok uses a polaron burst to reveal their companions. It is a Kazon-Nistrum vessel.
Planet-side, Ensign Seska is missing from the group and the transport chief cannot locate her comm-badge signal. Kim tells Chakotay she was last seen picking berries near a group of caves. The Commander heads over there and using his tricorder to track her down goes inside a cave. There are voices ahead and he goes carefully, phaser in hand, until he finds her hiding. She tells him she was collecting mushrooms so she could teach Neelix how to make his favourite soup. Suddenly two Kazon appear and start firing at them. He takes down one but is hit by the other before Seska deals with him.
‘Captain’s Log, Stardate 48658.2. We successfully left orbit without further interference from the Kazon. Commander Chakotay was injured, but is recovering from his wounds.’
Chakotay is pursing one of his hobbies in his quarters when he gets a visit from Seska bearing a gift. A bowl of mushroom soup. He is surprised and pleased that she got Neelix to make it for him, and takes a few spoonfuls while she explains that actually, the ship’s chef had wanted to stretch it with leola root. They’d got into an argument which had to be broken up by Tuvok and Kes before she was thrown out of the kitchen. So she resorted to Maquis tactics and had a couple of their people pretend to be homesick so that Neelix would try to cheer them up. With him out of the kitchen, Seska and Jackson broke in and took the mushrooms. Chakotay is not pleased to hear this, and to be included in their criminal conspiracy. So when Neelix’s voice comes over the communicator to report the theft, he promises that everyone involved will be punished. Replicator privileges revoked for two days, including himself. Seska is aghast and refuses to comply only to be told the other option is the brig. How can he treat her like this, she protests, after what they have been through together? But he is undeterred, so she tries a different tack, to sweet-talk him but he doesn’t repond as she hoped. Throwing him the line that if he’s no longer interested in her, she’s got her eye on Ensign Kim, she leaves, and Captain Janeway orders the senior officers to the bridge.
Voyager is receiving a distress signal from a Kazon vessel, possibly the same one they encountered at the planet. Neelix urges caution as it may be a trap, and Janeway orders scans. Kim confirms that there might be a reactor breakdown on the ship, and Paris reports no other ships in the area. Confiding to Neelix that they can use all the friends they can get out here, Janeway order an intercept course.
On the Kazon vessel the away team of Tuvok, Torres, Chakotay and Seska discover a scene of devastation. Bodies are merged with pieces of metal. They discover that there is a force field in place protecting them from high levels of radiation. Seska finds a survivor and they beam him to sickbay. TUvok and Torres examine an out of place looking console that seems to be the source of the explosion. It includes neosorium technology, which is Federation technology, so how did it get on a Kazon ship, wonders Torres.
In sickbay, the EMH gives the results of his examination of the survivor to Janeway and Chakotay. His blood cells seem to have bonded with metalic nuclei and he needs a complete pyrocyte replacement to live. Kes starts screening the crew for donors. Tuvok joins Chakotay and Janeway as they head to engineering. He tells the Captain of the Federation element to the explosion and offers three explanations. One, that is not actually Federation technology but something similar. Two, that it came from another Federation ship, but Janeway has no knowledge of any other ships missing. Three, that someone on Voyager gave it to the Kazon. Captain Janeway does not like that idea at all, but it is the most likely one. The ship at the planet was able to conceal itself from their sensors, which implies that someone told them how to do it. She orders Tuvok to go through the transmission logs to see if he can find evidence of contact with the Kazon, then asks Chakotay who among the away team could have met up with them. A dozen people, he tells her, as they were scattered all over the area. Tuvok’s suspicions fall on Seska, but Chakotay defends her. The Captain tells them that they need the console to find answers before the rumours spread.
Torres, Carey and Seska are working out ways to get at the console. They cannot transport it because of the radiation levels, and the force field cannot be removed for the same reason. Seska suggests a localised subspace bubble as a protection to get past the forcefield but that is pronounced too risky. Carey suggests using an expander as a means of manipulating the containment field to push the radiation out of the way and effectively ‘move’ the console out of the forcefield so they could get to it. When Janeway asks when it can be ready, Torres says tomorrow, but the Captain wants it today. Her chief engineer politely explains that she doesn’t exaggerate her timescales, unlike some other ships engineers. When she gives a time, that is the earliest she can manage. Torres assembles her team to begin on the Kazon bridge – Carey, Nicoletti and Seska, but Chakotay overrides her. He wants Seska to coordinate things from Voyager’s bridge. Henard is drafted in her place.
Out in the corridor, Seska challenges Chakotay over this decision. He admits that there is some concern over her because she was near the Kazon on the planet, but says that he is just trying to keep her out of harm’s way and besides, you don’t assign someone you don’t trust to the bridge. She is not convinced by his arguments and storms off.
Seska pays a visit to sickbay and asks the EMH to let her know when the Kazon regains consciousness as he is the only one who can clear her of involvment in this affair. Kes approaches her about giving a blood sample. It seems that her file never came up in the compatability analysis. Seska brushes it off with a comment that a childhood disease procludes her from ever donating blood for transplant but that she has more important things to do now.
Tuvok reports his findings from the transmission logs to Janeway and Chakotay in the Captain’s ready room. It was expertly concealed by a test of the dorsal emitters a week ago. They are trying to track the work station it came from, but whoever it was has made it difficult for them. Right now it could be any of the engineering crew. Tom Paris calls the Captain to the bridge.
There is another Kazon ship approaching and trying to hail the disabled ship. It is four hours and twenty minutes away and out of visual range. Then Kim reports that someone has just beamed off Voyager. It is Seska, and Chakotay hails her for an explanation. She says that as the Captain wants the console today, and Carey’s plan couldn’t meet that deadline, she’s doing it her way instead. Tuvok is sceptical and suggests that she intends to destroy evidence. Chakotay again defends his ex-lover and Maquis crewmate but then there is a scream over the comm system and they beam her straight to sickbay. Chakotay dashes in to see her unconscious and with severe burns. Kes and the EMH begin to examine and treat her.
The Captain, Chakotay and Tuvok are interviewing Lt Carey in the Ready Room. They ask him about his relationship with Torres after she was promoted over him, and he assures them that he has accepted it. Then Janeway asks him if he has had any contact with the Kazon-Nistrum. After all, he was out of contact with the rest of the away team for almost an hour, and it was his console that was used to signal them the week before. He denies it and suggests that they ask Seska, as she was found in the cave with the Kazon. Unconvinced, Janeway confines him to quarters. Carey leaves, and the Captain suggests that she might agree with him. After all, Seska has been an enemy of the Federation for most of the last two years. ‘So have I’, replies Chakotay.
The Kazon ship is just four minutes away, and hailing them. A channel is opened and Culluh, First Maje of the Kazon-Nistrim demands to know what they have done to his ship. Janeway invites him on board to see the survivor, who is still unconscious. In sickbay the EMH explains that the Kazon’s life was saved by blood transfusions from Voyager’s crew after his own blood was changed in some way by the accident. Cullah tells them that he will be taking the damaged ship for inspection himself, but Janeway insists that as there is a Federation compound in the remains, it is her crew that will continue the investigation. He asks her and the EMH to leave him with the patient. At a distance, the EMH confirms that it would not be safe for the Kazon to be moved. Then Tuvok notices Cullah’s aide stab the patient with a needle from his ring. He and Janeway draw phasers but it is too late. The Kazon is dead of a nerve toxin and Janeway orders Cullah off the ship. After he leaves, the EMH asks the Captain to come to his office. Kes finally got a blood sample from Seska and the results show that she is not Bajoran at all, but was born a Cardassian.
Janeway and Tuvok break the news to Chakotay in her ready room. It is not the first instance of Cardassians being cosmetically altered to infiltrate alien groups. Chakotay cannot believe it, and insists that he be the one to question her about it. The Captain tells him to wait until after they get the console back. Torres has completed her simulations and is ready to go. As Janeway goes to the bridge, Chakotay turns to Tuvok and says ‘You were working for her. Seska was working for them. Was anyone on board that ship working for me?’
Cullah has noticed that someone is on the damaged vessel, and tells Janeway that if anything is removed, he will consider it an act of war. She retorts that she doesn’t take kindly to threats and that she will respond with all the unique technologies at her command. The Kazon stand down their weapons and Janeway calls Torres to find out how she is getting on, only to be told that they are finished and on their way back. The console is already in Engineering.
The console was trying to be a food replicator, but the interior shield casing wasn’t thick enough and an explosion was inevitable, reports Torres. The relays are made of bio-neural fibres, unique to Voyager. Someone on board gave them what they needed, but the Kazon didn’t know what to do with it. Janeway wants a complete report to share with Cullah.
Chakotay tells Seska the latest developments in sickbay, and confesses his doubts about her. She mocks him, telling him to go talk to his animal guide about it, but he lets it slide. Instead he asks her about her Cardassian blood, and she tells him that it is a side effect of Orkett’s disease – a virus that went through the camps when she was a child. A Cardassian woman called Kattell donated her bone marrow to save her life. Did he think she gave him her heart to get his Maquis secrets? Because if he did, she could tell him that they wouldn’t have been worth the trouble for a spy. Seska is restless and wants to get back to duty, but he tells her that she will have to stay confined to sickbay until they track the source of the replicator components. Chief Inspector Tuvok leaves no stone unturned, he says, and promises to tell the Captain what she told him. In the corridor outside, he informs Tuvok of her explanation. Tuvok has given Carey the same information about their investigations. Now they wait to see if someone takes the bait.
The waiting takes place in Engineering, where Chakotay is being soundly beaten by Tuvok at cards. Torres tells them there are two more Kazon warships on sensors, about six hours away. The computer bleeps, alerting them that someone is accessing the inventory database. Data is being entered into the materials requisitions files using Seska’s security code. Then it has to be Carey, proclaims Torres.
Seska is sleeping in Sickbay when Chakotay arrives to tell her that they know she gave the technology to the Kazon. They already knew where the components had been taken from before he had told her about their investigation. Then they watched to see who would try to cover their tracks and found the evidence she had put there for them to find – her own security code. She is scathing about the evidence. Her own code? It must be a frame. That was what you wanted us to believe, Chakotay counters, but we traced the source back to the station in sickbay. Then he activates the EMH to tell Seska that the Orkett’s disease story does not stand up to medical scrutiny, although it might have fooled a less informed doctor than himself. Why did she do it, asks Chakotay and Seska replies ‘I did it for you. I did it for this crew. We are alone here, at the mercy of any number of hostile aliens, because of the incomprehensible decision of a Federation captain. A Federation captain who destroyed our only chance to get home. Federation rules. Federation nobility. Federation compassion? Do you understand, if this had been a Cardassian ship, we would be home now. We must begin to forge alliances. To survive, we must have powerful friends. The Kazon-Nistrim were willing to be our protectors in return for some minor technology.’ Janeway points out that even such minor technology could change the balance of power in this quadrant. Change it in our favour!’ counters Seska. ‘That is all that matters at this point. Building a base of power in this quadrant. You are a fool, Captain. And you’re a fool to follow her. I can’t imagine how I ever loved you. Computer, command XJL.’ And with that, she beams to Cullah’s vessel fourteen kilometres away. Janeway considers a tractor beam, but with two more ships due to arrive, she decides to leave instead, warp four.
Chakotay approaches Tuvok sitting alone in the mess hall and ask him to be honest. Was he particularly naive, was he not paying enough attention? What the hell was it that let all those spies get by him? Tuvok puts the Commander’s failure to spot them down to his dependance on feelings and instincts,and reassures him that Seska fooled him too. That makes Chakotay feel a little better, and he leaves him to finish reading his padd.
Seska is the prime mover in this story, as we learn more about her, her relationship with Chakotay and her attitude towards Voyager’s situation. Or at least we think we do.
The only things that are certain are that she is a Cardassian, that she resents Janeway’s decision to destroy the array, and that she had an affair with Chakotay early in their Maquis career, which he then ended. The rest could just be a tale she is spinning to try and keep his sympathy. Now the Kazon have her on their side, who knows what is to come?
A great story, well told.