He hasn't left me with a single shot.
ln that case, pal, call a safety.
Yeah, it's a defensive strategy.
Since you can't make a shot,
the idea is to leave the cue ball
somewhere on the table
where Tuvok can't make a shot, either.
l don't know. lt sounds cowardly.
Suit yourself, pal, but, uh, if you leave
''Vulcan Slim'' over here with an open shot,
he's got a very good chance of running the table.
All right... safety.
Mr. Vulcan, let's see you reason your way out of this conundrum.
This safety business
is a lot more satisfying than l imagined.
l've left him with an impossible shot.
The shot may be difficult, Mr. Neelix,
but to say that it is impossible is an exaggeration.
Go ahead, then.
Call your shot.
Logic would dictate that if l strike the cue ball properly,
it will deflect first off the rear bumper, then the side,
striking the 1 1 ball and causing it to roll
directly into the corner pocket.
This l have to see.
Perhaps the ship's stabilizers
are not operating at peak efficiency.
Yeah, and maybe Tom Terrific over here forgot to tell you
that Sandrine's table rolls a little to the ''east.''
You should have called a safety.
Janeway to Mr. Neelix. Please report to the Bridge.
You wanted to see me, Captain?
Yes, Neelix.
We've received a subspace message
from an approaching vessel.
They're asking for you.
The alien ship is entering visual range, Captain.
Slow to impulse. On screen.
Do you recognize it?
That's a Haakonian shuttle.
My people were at war with them for the better part of a decade.
conquered my homeworld more than 15 years ago.
Any idea what the Haakonians want with you now?
None at all.
The shuttle is hailing us, Captain.
Open a channel.
Channel open.
l'm Captain Kathryn Janeway
of the Federation Starship Voyager.
What can we do for you?
As l stated in my message, Captain,
l understand you have a Talaxian called Neelix
aboard your vessel.
l'm Neelix.
What do you want?
lt is a matter of utmost urgency.
However, l would prefer to speak with you privately.
Your life may very well depend upon it.
Who are you?
Forgive me.
l am Jetrel.
Dr. Ma'Bor Jetrel.
He's a mass murderer!
When l was much younger,
my family and l lived on a moon called Rinax--
a colony with the most temperate climate
in the entire Talaxian system.
Warm days, balmy nights...
until the metreon cascade.
Melodic name, isn't it?
Especially for a weapon of mass destruction.
And Jetrel was somehow involved with this weapon?
Dr. Jetrel was the scientist who conceived
the metreon cascade, then he led the team
of scientists who built it.
l see.
ln the blink of an eye,
Rinax was enveloped by a deadly cloud
and those lovely days
were turned into one endless, frigid night.
More than 300,000 were killed.
But you... survived.
l had the good fortune to be on Talax at the time,
with our defense forces,
preparing for an invasion that never came.
lt wasn't necessary.
The day after the cascade was deployed,
Talax surrendered unconditionally
to the Haakonian Order.
And your family?
l am so sorry.
Dr. Jetrel.
Lieutenant Tuvok, my Chief of Security.
l have heard of your transporter technology, Captain,
but to experience it firsthand is truly remarkable.
Mr. Neelix has declined to meet with you.
That's not surprising.
l'm afraid l am not a very popular figure
among the Talaxian people.
May we show you to your quarters?
Mr. Neelix has given me permission
to speak on his behalf.
You indicated that he may be in some kind of danger...
Yes. lt's imperative that he undergo
a complete medical examination.
For what purpose?
Our war records show that he was part of the team
that returned to Rinax after the cascade
in order to evacuate survivors.
He was exposed to high concentrations
of metreon isotopes.
ln recent years, several of the rescuers have developed
a degenerative blood disease called metremia.
ls it serious?
l am afraid that it's fatal.
The disease attacks its victims on a molecular level.
lt may lay dormant for years,
but once it manifests itself,
it will cause the body's atomic structure
to undergo fission.
The cells will begin to disintegrate.
My equipment is specifically designed
to detect the subatomic signature of the disorder.
May l ask, Doctor, why you've taken it
upon yourself to examine Mr. Neelix?
l've evaluated as many members of the team
as possible, collecting data, in hopes that one day,
my research will lead to a cure for metremia.
Please, try to persuade Mr. Neelix to see me.
Each Talaxian l screen
brings me one step closer to a cure.
Neelix, why didn't you ever tell me about the war?
Maybe this is one experience that can't be shared.
lt's too...
hard to...
describe how l feel
to someone who didn't see what l saw.
l'm sorry.
You have nothing to be sorry about, Neelix.
Excuse me.
Captain, back from your doctor's appointment already?
l'm afraid l have some... disturbing news, Neelix.
Nothing you tell me could make this day
any more disturbing than it's already been.
According to Jetrel, you were exposed
to dangerous levels of metreon poisoning
and may be at risk of developing a fatal blood disorder.
He wants to screen you for the disease.
Uh, Captain...
please tell Dr. Jetrel that l am... touched
by his tender concern for my state of health,
but that l'd rather be immersed
in a pit of Krallinian eels than be examined by him.
Neelix, if there's something wrong with you,
we should find out.
l don't want that man within ten parsecs of me!
l understand your feelings,
but this is your life we're talking about.
Don't either of you find it the slightest bit strange
that a man who has made it his life's work
to develop a weapon
to destroy as many Talaxians as possible
should suddenly be concerned with this Talaxian's health?
l don't know what his motives are.
Maybe he's trying to undo some of the damage
his weapon caused, but he seems sincere, Neelix,
and at this point, l have no reason to doubt him.
lf the disease is fatal,
what's the point of knowing whether l have it or not?
Our Doctor is the most skilled physician
either of us has ever met.
lf you have this disease,
he won't stop until he's found some way to treat it.
And if Jetrel discovers you don't have the disease,
at least you'll have peace of mind.
Peace of mind is a relative thing, Captain.
l simply want you to hear what he has to say,
then if you still don't want him to examine you,
no one will force you.
Oh, outnumbered and outflanked.
All right, then.
l surrender.
The metreon isotopes are unique.
Their rate of decay is highly variable.
We have found that it's sometimes years
before metremia sets in, and unfortunately...
Why are you doing this?
l beg your pardon?
ls it all just scientific curiosity?
Metreons and isotopes?
Or do you feel... guilty about what you did?
l do not regret it.
l did what had to be done.
Really? lt was necessary to vaporize
more than a quarter of a million people
and to leave thousands of others
to be eaten away by metreon poisoning?
Would it make any difference if l told you
we never thought there would be any radiation poisoning--
that anyone close enough to be exposed
would be killed by the initial blast?
lt was unfortunate we were wrong.
Did you hear that, Captain?
lt was ''unfortunate.''
Neelix, l think what Dr. Jetrel is trying...
No, Captain. That's all right.
l'm used to it.
l'm simply a scientist.
Yes, l developed the weapon,
but it was the government and the military leaders
who decided to use it, not l.
That must be a very convenient distinction for you.
Does it help you sleep at night?
l slept no worse last night
than l have any other night for the past 15 years.
What is that supposed to mean?
lt means l must
live with my conscience as you must live with yours.
How many did you kill during the war?
Gentlemen, please.
This is obviously very difficult for both of you,
but we are not here to debate history.
We are here to talk about Neelix's condition.
Don't worry about it,
Captain, because Dr. Jetrel will have to find himself
another laboratory rodent to help his experiments.
Because l would rather die than help you
ease your conscience.
l do not expect you to like me, Mr. Neelix,
nor do l hope to allay your obvious pain
with moral arguments,
but l do believe l can help you--
if not you, others of your race.
lsn't that more important than punishing me?
Are you... sure you can't do this?
Your newfound confidence in me is flattering, Mr. Neelix,
but Dr. Jetrel has instruments designed specifically
to analyze Talaxian physiology.
Just get it over with.
Did l ever... tell you
about the notorious two-tailed talchoks of Rinax?
l don't think so.
Nasty little vermin.
Sharp claws, dripping fangs.
Ew! lt was quite a nuisance.
So one summer when l was a boy,
l decided to do something about them.
l spent weeks tinkering,
creating a foolproof talchok trap.
Once l perfected it, l set it in the garden.
And the next day, l found one of those beasts
pinned at the neck.
But it wasn't dead.
lt was squirming and squealing in agony.
And suddenly, it didn't look so fiendish anymore.
lt looked like a poor, innocent animal.
What a horrible story.
Well, you see, l had become so fascinated with my invention
that l never really thought
about how that poor creature would suffer.
Are you finished?
For now.
So am l.
l'm sorry, Mr. Neelix.
Sorry? Why are you sorry?
l'm afraid you have incipient metremia.
Come in!
How are you feeling?
Kes, my sweet.
l'll have you know this is not the first time
l have stared into the gaping maw of death.
Why once, during the Battle of the Pyrithian Gorge,
l faced down an entire battery of Haakonian artillery.
There l was with only a small crevice for cover...
Neelix, you're protecting me again.
l can understand your not wanting to talk about Rinax.
l wasn't there. You're right.
But l'm here now with you.
We have to face this together.
Well, there's one good thing that will come from all this.
When l first met you, l didn't know that your species
only lived eight or nine years.
l fell in love with you
without knowing how lonely it would be
to live without you after you're gone.
Now that l'm going to die first,
l don't have to worry about it.
Before l met you,
eight or nine years seemed like an eternity.
lt never occurred to me that anyone could live longer.
Now that we're together,
no matter how many years we have left,
it doesn't seem like enough.
But the important thing is
to cherish whatever time we have together.
Whether it's a day or a decade.
Come in.
Am l interrupting?
Please, sit down.
Captain, l must tell you, your ship is simply astounding.
l have been studying your transporter system.
Transporter systems?
l would think you'd be more concerned with Mr. Neelix.
Forgive me.
But that is what l am here to talk about.
l believe with a relatively few minor modifications,
the transporter system could be used
to retrieve a sample of the metreon cloud
surrounding Rinax.
To what end?
l've always believed that if l could isolate
the free isotope that causes metremia,
it could be used to synthesize an antibody.
Then theoretically,
a victim's own immune system could destroy the disease.
Yes, Captain, and your transporter system
makes it all possible.
ls the isotope stable enough to be transported?
l believe so.
We could construct a containment field
to prevent any contamination of the ship.
And l could have our Doctor assist you
with synthesizing the antibody.
My thoughts exactly.
Janeway to Bridge.
Chakotay here, Captain.
Have Dr. Jetrel's vessel tractored into the shuttlebay.
And lay in a course for the Talaxian system.
That's a significant detour, Captain.
l'm aware of that, Commander,
but it may mean saving Neelix's life.
l'll send a message to Talax requesting permission
to transport material from the cloud.
ln the meantime, Lieutenant Torres in Engineering
can give you a hand
with the transporter modifications.
Thank you, Captain.
Thank you, Dr. Jetrel.
lt's a very promising idea.
What is it?
Nothing. l just think, uh...
l'm a little overexcited about the prospects
of discovering a cure, and all that sparring
with Mr. Neelix does take a toll.
Maybe you should let the Doctor have a look at you.
No, l'm fine, and there's so much to be done.
l want to start right away.
Captain's Log, Stardate 48832.1.
Kes has prevailed upon Neelix to allow Dr. Jetrel
to continue metabolic scans
in the hope that it will facilitate treatment
once the antibody has been synthesized.
Will you be needing my assistance, Doctor?
Not until we have the isotope.
Mr. Neelix, is there anything more l can do for you?
Very well then.
Computer, override Command 1-EMH-Alpha and end program.
A hologram that can deactivate itself.
ls there anything besides science
that makes your heart beat faster, Jetrel?
Not anymore.
Now would you please sit down?
You know what l've been thinking?
lf l'd been in charge of the cascade,
l'd have...
l don't know...
chosen a military target
or simply deployed it on an uninhabited planet.
Somehow l don't think
l'd have targeted innocent civilians.
The military strategists
did not think a demonstration would work.
They wanted to show the power of the cascade,
in all its horror.
You should have tried to stop them!
Why didn't you speak out?
People would have listened to you.
lt would not have made any difference.
lf l had not discovered the cascade,
it would have been someone else.
Don't you see?
lt was a scientific inevitability--
one discovery flowing naturally to the next.
Something so enormous as science
will not stop for something as small as man, Mr. Neelix.
So you did it for science.
For my planet.
And, yes, for science--
to know whether or not it could be done.
lt's good to know how the world works.
lt is not possible to be a scientist
unless you believe that all the knowledge
of the universe and all the power that it bestows
is of intrinsic value to everyone,
and one must share that knowledge...
and allow it to be applied,
and then be willing to live with the consequences.
Who are you to talk about consequences?
You are not the only one to lose family
during the war, Mr. Neelix.
Your family was killed?
Nothing as clean as death.
When l returned home, after the cascade, to my wife--
my lovely wife Ka'Ree--
she could not bear to look at me.
When l would reach out for her, she would pull away
as if l had some contagious disease.
You see, like you, she thought l had become a monster.
Shortly after that, she took my three children...
and l have not seen them since.
That's a sad story, Jetrel.
But let me tell you another one.
A man goes back to Rinax after the cascade,
back to what had been his home, to look for survivors.
But the impact of the blast has set off hundreds of fires
and there's nothing there, just smoldering ruins
and the stench of seared flesh.
But in the distance,
in the middle of all that emptiness,
from out of this...
huge cloud of billowing dust...
he can see bodies moving,
coming toward him.
They're monsters...
their flesh horribly charred.
The color of shale.
One of them comes toward him.
Mangled arms outstretched.
And he can't help it.
He, h-he turns away, frightened.
But then the thing speaks.
And he knows by the sound of her voice
that she's not a monster at all, but a child...
a little girl.
Mr. Neelix, l...
Her name was Palaxia.
We brought her back to Talax with the other survivors.
Over the next few weeks, l stayed at her bedside
and watched her wither away.
Those are consequences, Dr. Jetrel.
There is no way
l can ever apologize to you, Mr. Neelix.
That's why l have not tried.
Did you ever think that maybe your wife was right?
That you had become a monster?
The day we tested the cascade,
when l saw that blinding light brighter than a thousand suns...
l knew at that moment exactly what l had become.
l hope you have to live with that a very long time.
l'm afraid you will not get your wish, Mr. Neelix.
And why is that?
l have advanced metremia.
l will be dead in a matter of days.
lt's your turn!
There's no open shot.
Why don't you call a safety, Neelix?
lsn't that what you always do?
l'm no coward.
That's not what l've heard.
Wait! What are you doing? lt's my turn.
You lost your chance to play.
Now you're going to lose.
Neelix, where did you go?
Why did you leave us?
l did what l thought was right.
You were afraid!
Who are you?
lt's me, Palaxia.
Why weren't you here to help us?
You did this, butcher!
Bridge to Neelix.
H-here, Captain.
Neelix, l thought you'd like to know.
We're approaching Rinax.
Thank you, Captain.
l'll be right there.
Entering synchronous orbit, Captain.
Hard to believe
that on clear nights, you could look up from Talax
and see the shimmering lights of the colony.
The night of the cascade,
a bright flash cut across the sky.
lt was so blinding that people threw themselves to the ground,
and everything stopped like a moment out of time.
Then we all looked up
to see where the flash had come from,
but the sky seemed oddly empty.
lt took most of us a few seconds to realize
it was because Rinax was...
Of course, the moon was still there.
We just couldn't see it because of that metreon cloud.
Engineering to Bridge.
We're ready to begin transporter presequencing, Captain.
This brings back too many memories, Captain.
lf you'll excuse me?
Of course.
l believe l asked for a larger container.
Correct me if l'm wrong, Doctor,
but we're talking about a cloud sample
large enough to contain a few subatomic particles.
Yes, but the isotope
accounts for just a minuscule fraction
of the cloud's total mass.
l want to be sure we get enough.
Don't worry.
We do this all the time.
Presequencing complete, Captain.
l'm ready to begin transport.
Targeting scanners.
Locking on.
Captain, we have the sample aboard.
The containment field is holding.
Well done. Janeway out.
Good luck, Doctor.
Neelix, are you in here?
l've been looking for you everywhere.
Why did you take your combadge off?
l wanted to be alone.
l'm sorry to bother you, but l was worried.
l know how you must feel.
No, you don't know.
Not everything.
You don't know where l was the night Rinax was destroyed.
On Talax, fighting with the defense forces.
l was on Talax,
but l wasn't fighting with the defense forces.
l was hiding from them.
l wasn't a hero at the Battle of the Pyrithian Gorge.
l've never even been there.
l don't understand.
l never reported for duty.
Why not?
l thought the war was unjust....
that Talax was fighting for reasons
that weren't worth killing for...
or at least that's what l told myself.
the real reason l didn't report...
was because l was a coward.
Now you know.
lf the Talaxian authorities would have caught you,
what would they have done?
During wartime, punishment
for refusing military service was death.
you put your life at risk for something you believed in
and you think that makes you a coward.
l don't understand.
lt makes me a liar.
l'd lied about it all these years--
to you, to Jetrel, to everyone.
Because you're dishonest.
Because l'm ashamed.
What an awful burden you've carried all these years.
No wonder you're so angry with Jetrel.
Of course l am.
He killed them all--
my mother, my father, my little brothers.
ls that really why?
Ever since Jetrel came on board, you've despised him.
The hurt and anger you've held in all these years
was vented right at him,
but was it really Jetrel you're angry with?
ls he the one you blame for what happened?
l don't know.
Or was he just a convenient target
to keep you from looking somewhere else?
You mean...
from looking at myself?
You may be right...
but l hate him
and l don't think l can stop hating him.
Maybe you have to stop hating yourself first.
Are we ready to begin synthesis?
Computer, override Command 1-EMH-Alpha and end program.
Now just wait one...
Dr. Jetrel.
You startled me.
l'm sorry, but l need to speak with you...
ls it possible, we-we could talk later?
lt won't be long before l am too weak to work.
l would like to finish before l die.
What is that?
You're engaging in some kind of bizarre experiment, aren't you?
What is it this time?
You don't understand.
l can help them.
What do you call that?
Scientific progress?
l'm going to the Captain.
Any report on Dr. Jetrel's progress, Commander?
Not yet, Captain.
Bridge to Sick Bay.
Janeway to Sick Bay.
Janeway to Dr. Jetrel.
Computer, activate Emergency Medical Hologram.
Please, state the nature...
What the hell is going on down there, Doctor?
Dr. Jetrel deactivated me.
He's gone now.
Computer, locate Dr. Jetrel.
Dr. Jetrel is in Transporter Room 1.
And Mr. Neelix is unconscious.
lt appears he's been tranquilized.
You have the Bridge, Commander.
Security, meet me in Transporter Room 1.
Please, step aside, Doctor.
You must let me continue.
Lives depend on it.
We've heard that from you before.
You're beginning to lose credibility.
Captain, l beg you.
Let me bring them back.
Bring who back?
Who, Doctor?
Who is it you're going to bring back?
The victims of Rinax.
He's out of his mind, Captain.
Please, look at my calculations.
You remember what l told you about metremia, Captain?
How it causes the body's atomic structure
to undergo fission.
lt mirrors the way
the metreon cascade vaporized its victims--
through biomolecular disintegration.
Do we have to listen to this?
l think we should hear him out.
What l've been working on for the past 15 years
is a way to rebuild that atomic structure.
What l call regenerative fusion.
Are you saying
you're actually trying to... restore
people who were vaporized by the metreon cascade?
Given the degree of fragmentation
you're talking about,
l don't see how that's possible.
The electrostatic properties of the cloud are such
that the disassembled bio-matter
has been held in a state of animated suspension.
l discovered years ago that reintegration is possible.
ls that what you were doing with that thing in Sick Bay?
Yes, exactly.
Neelix saw it.
lt was an amalgamation
of randomly fused organic material.
Bits and pieces of previously vaporized bio-matter.
But if the bio-matter in the cloud is so random,
so jumbled,
how could you reconstruct something whole?
l used medical records to identify the genetic coding
of a specific victim-- a test case, if you will.
Once we input his DNA sequence,
then... we can isolate his atomic fragments
with your targeting scanners, and then rematerialize him.
What if he's right?
Captain, Dr. Jetrel is proposing
the reconstruction and reanimation
of a remarkably complex set of bio-systems
from billions of subatomic particles.
l'm afraid l have to agree.
lt all sounds very implausible.
You sound exactly like my country.
l asked them for more funds to continue my research
to help the victims of Rinax
because l wanted the world to know l am not a monster.
My theories can be used to heal as well as to destroy.
But they... they refused me.
Called me a Talaxian sympathizer
and exiled me.
and exiled me.
Does Neelix really have metremia?
Or was that just a pretext for getting us to come to Rinax?
lt was just a pretext, Captain.
You do not have metremia, Neelix.
You are not going to die.
Why didn't you just tell us the truth in the first place?
Your Captain is an accomplished scientist.
She doubts my theories.
My own government did, too.
l just could not risk being not believed again.
Captain, it will work.
Captain, if there's any chance he can do it,
you've got to let him try.
Neelix, there are just too many variables.
Please, Captain.
Lieutenant Tuvok, activate the emergency containment field
around the transporter pad.
Aye, Captain.
Emergency containment field activated.
We'll have to retarget scanners
to the widest possible confinement beam.
lt's our only hope of achieving bond cohesion
with such broadly scattered fragments.
Retargeting scanners to wide beam.
Phase transition coils to maximum.
Aye, Captain.
ls the bio-genic field operational?
lt's incredible.
Atomic cohesion has dropped to 49 percent, Captain.
Pattern buffers to maximum power.
They are already at 100 percent.
Take them to 120, Lieutenant.
Pattern buffers to 120 percent of rated maximum.
We're losing him.
Atomic cohesion to 39 percent... 22 percent... 14 percent.
His pattern is degrading rapidly.
You must increase the power to the pattern buffers, Captain!
We've got to stimulate cohesion.
ls there any way to augment the bio-genic field?
The degree of fragmentation is simply too great.
lt will not work.
We are overloading the system.
Shut it down, Mr. Tuvok.
Captain's Log, Stardate 48840.5.
Dr. Jetrel's metremia is now in its final stage.
He's spending his remaining hours in Sick Bay.
l suppose you think this is a fitting punishment for me.
Maybe the cascade was a punishment for all of us,
for our hatred,
our brutality.
There's something l need to tell you.
l tried to tell you before, but...
Wha... what is it?
l want to tell you...
that l forgive you.

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