we, um... we're just...
Yes, l can see that.
What was that all about?
l'd call it an example
of indiscreet shipboard fraternization.
Sorry l missed it.
Thank you for your help, Tom.
Yeah. See you later.
Here's the cabbage you asked for.
ls something wrong?
A spawn beetle.
Oh, they cross-pollinate the Oblissian cabbage.
Have you ever seen such fascinating striations?
Oh, isn't it beautiful?
l doubt the Captain would think so
if she found it crawling around in her salad.
There is something wrong.
What is it?
l'm just very busy.
So, you're seeing Tom Paris later.
No, not that l know of.
He said, ''See you later.''
You said, ''Right.''
ls he helping you in the airponics bay now?
He was just helping me carry these.
Neelix, this is getting ridiculous.
You're imagining things that aren't there.
You're such an innocent!
l see the way he looks at you.
l used to look at women that way.
l know what it means.
Janeway to the senior staff. Please report to the Bridge.
Thank you for bringing the cabbage.
l can handle this from here, thank you.
We've detected a strange energy configuration
off the port bow.
Any idea what it is?
lt appears to be some sort of magnetic disturbance.
We're going to take a closer look.
You seem a little preoccupied, Commander.
This morning, l interrupted a couple
who were kissing in the turbolift.
And l've been wondering if we should establish
a policy regarding... fraternization.
the couple in question might be urged
to show a bit more discretion,
but Starfleet has always been reluctant
to regulate people's personal lives.
Of course, but we're in a unique situation here.
The development of intimate relationships
might cause us problems that wouldn't arise in other ships.
l understand what you're saying, but...
we're a long way from home.
Everyone is lonely, and all we have is each other.
l think, eventually, people will begin to pair off.
As Captain, that's a luxury l don't have.
Besides, l intend for us to be home before...
before Mark gives me up for dead.
We're in visual range, Captain.
Looks like some type of energetic vapor.
Full sensor scan, Mr. Kim.
energy patterns appear to be consistent
with discrete organic processes.
Captain, l'd like the chance to study them at close range.
So would l, Commander.
But let's not get too close.
We wouldn't want to disturb their natural behavior.
Half impulse, Mr. Paris.
Take us into bio-scanner range.
The swarm is not particularly dense, Captain.
l estimate their number at fewer than 2,000.
They're really moving.
They've accelerated to a velocity
of approximately 1,000 kilometers per second.
lt's possible we're frightening them.
Keep us within scanner range,
Lieutenant, but try to avoid rapid acceleration.
Take a look at this.
See the way they propel themselves?
They seem to flagellate, almost like protozoa.
Exactly, but they're achieving incredible speeds--
over 3,000 kilometers per second.
scan the field for repeating patterns.
Maybe they're capable of some type of communication.
Their internal anatomy's also very unusual.
They don't appear to have a digestive system of any kind,
but they have an extremely porous outer covering.
My guess would be
that they absorb nutrients directly from space.
A space-dwelling life-form
capable of metabolizing inorganic matter.
in this part of space isn't very high.
That might explain why they have to keep moving so fast.
Feeding at 3,000 kilometers per second.
Not exactly leisurely dining, is it?
For you, sweeting.
Hmm... what's the occasion?
Oh, no occasion.
l... l just wanted to apologize.
For the way l acted in the Mess Hall.
l-l was jealous.
l just wish you could trust me.
lt has nothing to do with trusting you.
lt's him l don't trust.
l've seen his kind before.
They're all over the Quadrant, as a matter of fact.
They prey on naive, sheltered young women like you.
What are you looking for?
Nothing. Just a snack.
A Terran delicacy.
Ensign Wildman told me about it.
Mashed potatoes with butter.
Would you like to try it?
How can you eat it?
l can't stop eating it.
l've had six bowls.
And the reason it tastes so strange--
l put a container of nitrogenated soil in it.
You're eating dirt?
l don't know,
but this morning...
You remember the spawn beetles?
You... you didn't...?
Neelix to Sick Bay.
Prepare to receive an emergency patient.
l'm not sick.
l feel fine.
l just can't... stop eating.
We are going to get to the bottom of this.
No! l'm not going!
We are going to Sick Bay.
l'll call Security unless you come with me.
Put me down!
They're changing course again, Captain,
Should l follow them?
l'm concerned that we're disturbing them.
Let's drop back a bit, give them a little more room.
Captain, we're accelerating.
We're getting closer to the swarm.
l'm trying to slow down, Captain.
Our velocity doesn't correspond to impulse reactor output.
We're moving much faster than we ought to be.
They seem to be...
pulling us toward them.
Sensors indicate an EM resonance field.
The creatures seem to be creating
their own magnetic wake.
That is what is pulling the ship.
We're getting closer.
Mr. Paris, reverse thrusters.
Helm controls aren't responding, Captain.
Mr. Tuvok, raise shields.
They're pulling us in.
Life support's functioning normally, Captain,
but there's a huge fluctuation in the EPS grids.
lt's wreaking havoc with the impulse engines.
Warp drive's still on line.
One burst, and we'd be out of here.
But our exhaust could seriously harm the creatures.
Janeway to Torres.
Do you have any thoughts about how to get us out of this swarm
without engaging warp engines?
We might try something like a targ scoop.
Can you enlighten us, Lieutenant?
Klingons put them on the front of ground assault vehicles.
They emit a high-frequency tone
that disperses targ herds in their path.
l can modify
the main deflector to create an inverted magnetic pulse.
Project it toward the swarm.
lt might be enough to... nudge the creatures out of the way.
Good idea, Lieutenant.
You're sure the beetles weren't poisonous?
Or the flowers?
There are no toxins present in her system.
Doctor, why is she eating all these strange things?
What's wrong with her?
l am conducting an examination in order to determine that.
But don't you have any ideas?
Her unusual appetite may merely indicate a nutrient deficiency.
lt is not unusual for humanoids
to crave foods that are rich in the very vitamins
and minerals that their bodies are lacking.
You... you can't mean my body lacks dirt.
Her body temperature is elevated 3.9 degrees.
She's burning up.
And l'm detecting elevated levels
of electrophoretic activity in her nervous system.
You have to bring them down.
There is increased electrophoretic activity
in the ship's atmosphere,
probably created by the creatures we're studying.
You mean, there's a connection
between what's happening to Kes and those creatures?
You have to do something about it!
You are making it impossible for me to think,
much less treat my patient.
You must leave.
l won't. Kes needs me.
Leave now or l will call Security.
You can't talk to me that way.
This is my Sick Bay
and l will decide what goes on here.
-But... -Get out!
l'll be back.
Don't worry about a thing.
Captain, may l speak with you?
lt's a matter of some urgency.
What is it, Neelix?
l have been thrown out of Sick Bay.
And l'm just wondering if you feel it's appropriate
for a hologram to banish a flesh and blood person,
who should have the right to be at the bedside
of his loved one, who is extremely ill.
Kes is extremely ill?
The hologram doesn't have a clue as to what's wrong with her.
Though it may have something to do with these creatures.
But he still won't let me offer comfort to the woman l love
at a time when my place is clearly by her side.
Just how is Kes being affected by the swarm?
That's what l wanted to know, but before l got any answers,
l was summarily dismissed.
Sick Bay to Bridge.
Captain, l think you'd better come down here.
There's a bit of a problem.
l'm on my way.
Commander, you have the Bridge.
Notify me immediately
of any change in our status.
l was conducting tests.
She was none too cooperative, let me assure you.
Then suddenly, she screeched
and shoved me out of the way, went into my office
and proceeded to erect a-a force field at the door.
l can't lower it.
She's keeping me out of my own office.
Please come out.
l was able to complete several tests
before she became delirious.
Her fever has increased
and her pulse and blood pressure are dangerously high.
Do you have any idea what's causing these symptoms?
l suspect it's the electrophoretic levels
being created by the swarm.
We should leave immediately.
Unfortunately, that's not an option at the moment,
but we're working on it.
There's one more thing.
l discovered a strange growth on her back.
lt's unlike any other tumorous substance
l've ever seen or studied before.
And it was not there the last time l examined her.
l'll try to talk to her.
Kes, please come out.
You can eat anything you want.
Why don't you let me try?
Kes, please listen to me.
We think you're being affected
by a swarm of space-dwelling life-forms.
We're doing everything we can to get away from them.
And when we do, you'll probably start feeling better.
Are you... saying that's not what's wrong with you?
Kes... please, let me come in.
Tell me what it is.
Maybe l can help.
lt's going to be all right.
tell me what is happening to you.
Di-did the Doctor tell you
he found something growing on my back?
Yes, a growth of some kind.
lt's the mitral sac.
lt's where my child would grow.
l'm going through the elogium-- the time of change--
when my body prepares for fertilization.
Humans go through the same kind of process.
lt's called puberty.
But l'm too young.
Much too young.
lt usually happens between the ages of four and five.
l'm-l'm not even two yet.
Listen to me.
All your body's metabolic activity has increased.
lt's possible your reproductive processes
are being accelerated as a result.
l'm not ready.
We're going to get you through this, Kes.
The Doctor will monitor you constantly.
You don't understand.
The elogium occurs only once.
lf l am ever going to have a child,
it has to be now!
No change, Captain.
We're still being pulled along with the swarm.
Heading 121, mark 7.
Speed now 6,000 kilometers per second.
All systems are functioning within normal parameters.
How is Torres coming
with the modifications to the main deflector?
Her last report estimated
they'd be finished in another half hour.
Let me know as soon as she's ready.
Join me, Commander?
Kes is terribly frightened.
She's had no time to prepare for this,
and the decision has to be made in the next 40 or 50 hours.
She's going to discuss it with Neelix, but...
there are so many unknowns.
There might be risks in procreating this early.
And of course there's no guarantee
they're genetically compatible,
or that Neelix has any interest in becoming a father.
Seems your concerns
about fraternization were... prophetic.
l wasn't even thinking about procreation,
but l suppose it's... the inevitable outcome.
We should consider the fact that it might be necessary
for the crew to start having children.
lt might take us a long time to get home.
lf it does take 7 5 years, we're going to need
a replacement crew in about half that time.
Who'd have thought we'd be considering a generational ship
when we were ordered on a three-week mission.
l know, but it's a problem we have to face now.
What would that mean for the children?
What kind of life would we be giving them?
Aboard a starship,
traveling through a potentially hostile part of space.
And are we equipped to provide for their needs--
child-care, educational facilities.
We'd be building an entire community on board this ship.
That's a massive commitment.
Are you prepared to tell them they can't have children?
l can't do that.
And l've made it clear to Kes that it's her choice
whether to have a child or not, but...
There aren't any easy answers here...
for any of us.
Are you saying that, unless you conceive now,
you'll never be able to?
Yes, and l need you to help me decide,
because l would want you to mate with me.
l'm... l'm... l'm... l'm... l'm... l'm...
But are you entirely certain it would be safe?
You're so young.
ls it dangerous for you to conceive a child at your age?
l don't know.
l've never known anyone as young as l am who had a baby.
lf you never had a child, would you...
be terribly unhappy?
l think so.
l don't know.
l always assumed l'd be a mother someday--
just not so soon.
What about you?
Didn't you think you'd be a father someday?
Well, to be honest, uh...
l've never given it much thought.
Until now, my life has been so... itinerant.
There's no way l could have provided
the stability a child would need.
But now it's different, isn't it?
raising a child on a starship--
that's hardly what l would call the ideal environment.
You don't want a child, do you?
That's not it at all.
l'm just trying to look at all sides of the issue.
Bringing a child into the world...
it's a huge responsibility.
l know you'd want to be sure we're both up to the task.
l-l mean, somebody would have to keep their eye
on the little guy all the time,
or he'd be off sticking his finger into an EM conduit
or playing with the plasma injectors.
That's right-- that's called being a parent.
What about your medical studies?
You wouldn't be able to continue them
if you had a child.
Of course l would!
You're just making excuses.
All you're thinking about is yourself--
how much trouble a child would be for you.
lt makes the mating bond possible.
lf we begin, we must stay bonded for six days.
ln order to ensure conception.
And after the ipasaphor appears,
we only have 50 hours to begin the process.
So l need to know your answer.
Uh, well, uh...
We can sleep on it.
l'll get back to you.
l swear l heard you say lots of pepper sauce.
What is the lunch special today?
Well, actually, l didn't
get around to making a lunch special.
But we have some lovely gabosti stew left over
from last night.
Very well, it will do.
l've... had quite a run on it as a matter of fact.
lt seems very popular.
lf it is all you are serving, that would stand to reason.
You can have it with or without pepper sauce.
l was wondering.
You have children, don't you?
l have four.
That's certainly quite a family.
what's it like being a father?
The question is so broad, it is difficult to respond.
Well, l mean, it's a lot of responsibility, isn't it?
Caring for them.
Keeping them safe.
Giving them an education.
That is certainly true.
Sounds like it's a lot more trouble than it's worth.
Mr. Neelix, l am aware of your situation.
lt appears you are in some doubt
as to the wisdom of becoming a parent.
lt's just all happening so fast!
l don't know what to think.
l can only tell you
that if you have considerable doubts about fatherhood,
it would not be wise to enter into the process.
lt is so much more overwhelming than one expects
that l believe only the most committed
should become parents.
That's what l thought.
However, l must point out that, as illogical as it seems,
being a father can have infinite rewards--
far more than would seem possible.
My children occupy a significant portion of my thoughts,
now more than ever.
l have heard it said
that children can bring a lot of joy into one's life.
l experience neither joy nor sorrow,
but l do believe it is possible.
Now that l think about it,
it might be fun to have a little guy around.
And we could do a lot together.
l've got quite a bit l could teach a boy, you know--
lf you say so.
But l must point out that there is an equal chance
that you would have a daughter.
l don't have anything to teach a daughter.
Why would it be any different from what you would teach a son?
lt just would.
She'd learn more from her mother.
l have three sons and one daughter.
l can assure you, she benefits
as much from my presence and guidance
as my sons do.
lt is unfortunate
that l must be so far removed from all of them now.
We'll get there, Mr. Vulcan.
l'm sure of it.
You've given me a lot to think about.
We're ready to generate
the inverted magnetic pulse, Captain.
lnitiating the field.
Are the creatures all right, Commander?
Yes, Captain, they seem to be fine.
Let's try to keep it that way.
Thrusters at 200 kph, Mr. Paris.
Ease us out of here.
What are they doing?
Hard to know what's prompting that behavior.
Maybe they think we're making a hostile move.
l'm reading a massive energy drain in all ship systems.
lmpulse engines are losing power.
Captain, some of the life-forms
have attached themselves to the warp nacelles.
Guidance, navigational and tactical systems are failing.
How soon will we clear the swarm, Lieutenant?
ln a few seconds. We're almost out.
Captain, l am detecting a substantial magnetic mass
moving rapidly toward the port bow.
lt's physiologically similar to the smaller creatures,
just a lot bigger.
Perhaps it is the parent.
Or it could be a difference in gender.
lt's hard to say without further observation.
With all due respect, Captain,
haven't we done enough observing?
These creatures have attacked the ship's key systems.
For all we know, they were setting us up for an attack.
Mr. Paris, let's keep moving.
lf we can put some distance between us and the swarm,
maybe the ones on our nacelles
will drop off and rejoin their friends.
Aye, Captain. 200 kph.
The larger creature is moving with us.
The creature has emitted
an electrically charged plasma stream.
All stop. Damage report.
No significant damage, Captain.
Shields are holding.
A plasma blast is a hostile move.
Shouldn't we be thinking about responding?
lf the creature threatens serious damage to the ship,
l'll consider it an enemy.
Until then, they're all to be treated
as indigenous life-forms behaving normally
in their natural habitat.
We're the intruders here.
Captain, look at this.
They're attaching themselves
to the large creature the same way they did to us.
And l think l know why.
That plasma stream it ejected
has almost the same subspace signature as our warp nacelles.
Then the smaller creatures are attracted
to our subspace emissions.
Perhaps in the same way
some species are attracted to pheromones.
You think it's a sexual attraction?
Color change and provocative movement
are frequently associated with mating rituals.
Then... these guys think we're one of them?
Well, their behavior toward us
and the large creature is similar.
lt's possible they've mistaken us for a potential mate.
Well, order the diapers.
We're about to become parents.
You mean, you want to mate with me?
More than anything.
But you were making excuses.
l didn't think you wanted to be a father.
l just hadn't thought it through.
Now that l have, l swear to you l want to do this.
And l'll be the best possible father to our child.
l know you will.
what comes next?
Before we begin the mating process,
l have to go through a certain ritual
called the rolisisin.
What does that involve?
One of my parents has to massage my feet
until my tongue begins to swell.
Uh, where do you plan to find a parent?
lf Captain Janeway weren't so busy l'd ask her,
but l'm sure the Doctor would do it.
Will that work?
Since he's not a real person?
The Doctor is very real to me.
l don't know how l feel about him massaging your feet.
lt's a ritual. Someone has to do it.
Okay. Okay, fine.
How long will that take?
About an hour.
Then l'll be back.
The stimulation to the sympathetic nerves
must set off a hormonal reaction,
which activates glandular activity
in the tissues of the tongue.
l've never seen this response before.
Although in a species known as the Gree,
stimulating follicles on the proboscis
results in a swelling of the auricular canal.
Am l doing the right thing?
You'll have to tell me.
l know nothing of this ritual.
No, l mean, am l doing the right thing
by conceiving a child?
lf l were at home now,
my father would be performing the rolisisin with me.
lt's the time when parent and child
move into a new kind of relationship.
As the child has her own child,
the parent must acknowledge her true adulthood.
My father and l were very close.
He was such a wise man.
l miss him.
Sometimes, l think l hear his voice in my head.
lt's almost as though he were here
helping to guide me.
l must be feeling lonely for home.
lt's probably a result of the elogium...
but l really would appreciate your advice.
l need someone's guidance.
l can discuss delivery methods...
or pediatric situations.
l'm afraid l don't have much perspective to offer
about becoming a parent.
Neither do l.
As long as Neelix was opposed to the idea,
trying to get out of it,
l was certain that l wanted to have a child,
but when he said that he wanted one, too,
suddenly, l was very frightened.
Perhaps a statistical survey will offer a context.
Among the Breen, pregnancy at a young age
is a common event.
The Breen, of course,
is one of the most warlike of species.
And then there are the Scathos.
Any woman who conceives a child
before her fourth decade is summarily executed.
Maybe l just felt l should have a child
because l could.
There is a powerful biological drive,
at times, almost impossible to resist.
Species are driven by these urges in order to survive.
But isn't that why we have minds--
to look beyond biological urges, to consider their consequences?
lf l'm going to ask myself to look at those consequences,
then l have to ask myself some questions.
Am l really ready to have a child?
Am l prepared to give that child
the attention and devotion it deserves?
Am l capable of taking on such a huge responsibility?
Oh, there's so much l haven't done.
There's so much l want to study and learn.
l'm not sure l'm finished growing.
How could l help a child grow?
lf the smaller creatures
are sexually attracted to our subspace emissions,
then the large one may perceive us as a rival.
That plasma burst it sent out
might have been aggressive posturing.
Then you'd think it would be happy to see us leave.
Lieutenant, is there any way we could generate
a short burst of impulse?
Enough to get us away from this swarm?
l could try
releasing power from the impulse capacitance cells
straight into the driver coils.
l've accessed the capacitance cells.
l think l can give you enough for a short burst of impulse.
We've got one shot, Captain.
You heard her, Mr. Paris.
Make the best of it.
lnitiating impulse burst...
Captain, the creature is reacting.
lt is approaching rapidly on a collision course.
Evasive maneuvers, Lieutenant.
We don't have the power for that.
The creature is accelerating.
l'm losing power. Can't shake him.
All hands brace for impact.
Structural integrity down to 86 percent.
l am beginning to share
Lieutenant Torres' views, Captain.
Retaliation may become necessary.
lt's not my intention to harm the creature.
The feeling definitely isn't mutual.
Mr. Tuvok, launch a class- 4 probe.
Maybe that will distract the creature long enough
for us to get away.
Another plasma burst.
Shields are down to 64 percent.
Looks like the probe just made him angry.
This is an aggressive life-form, Captain.
He's only going to respond to an aggressive stance from us.
Treating the creature as it is treating us
might be an appropriate response.
We ram him.
lt's probably the response he expects.
Captain, shields are at 47 percent.
Any more of this and the hull will start to buckle.
Mr. Paris, use maneuvering thrusters.
Set a course toward the creature.
Give him a bump to get his attention.
Aye, Captain. Engaging thrusters.
The creature is not retreating, Captain.
He's just hitting us back harder.
Let's try this.
Detonate a field of photon charges
between Voyager and the creature.
Maybe the shock wave
will let him know we mean business.
Captain, if l may.
Maybe we're going about this backwards.
Every aggressive move we make
results in a more aggressive move by the creature.
lf we're not prepared to use extreme force
to destroy him, we need to rethink our actions.
lf we're right that the creature
is responding to us as a sexual rival,
we might try behaving in a submissive way.
That may appease him.
We'd be acknowledging that he's dominant
and that we're no match for him.
How do we do that?
We tried to move away slowly.
He wouldn't let us leave.
Maybe we need to mimic the behavior
of the smaller creatures.
We saw them rolling over and changing color.
lf we vent plasma residue,
that might make us look blue.
Mr. Paris, do we have enough power
to take Voyager into a roll?
l think so.
All right. Let's give this a try.
Mr. Kim, start venting plasma residue.
Mr. Paris, roll the ship.
Full power to inertial dampers.
He's not responding at all.
lt's not working.
Wait a minute, Captain.
What is it?
One of the small creatures
is detaching from the starboard nacelle.
And another one.
They're all letting go.
lt appears we have lost our sex appeal, Captain.
Good piloting, Lieutenant.
Now, let's see if we can move away without any interference.
l can give you enough thruster power
to sustain a speed of 100 kph.
Good work, Commander.
ln the future,
if l have any questions about mating behavior,
l'll know where to go.
Can l help?
ls something wrong?
No, no, nothing.
You've been very quiet
ever since l decided not to conceive.
lt was your choice.
l respect that.
l think you're disappointed.
once l decided to become a father,
l was looking forward to it.
But l'll get over it.
Maybe you won't have to get over it.
Just wait a little longer.
But l thought...
this was the only time.
The Doctor believes the elogium was false,
brought on by the electrophoretic field
that those life-forms created.
So there's a possibility that l might be able
to go through it again at the right age.
You mean, we might still be able to have a daughter?
Or a son.
l've thought about it.
A daughter, definitely--
one who looks just like you.
Captain's Log, Stardate 48921.3.
l continue to wonder
about the issue of procreation aboard the ship.
Certainly, it's wrong to interfere
with the private lives and decisions of the crew.
Yet l remain concerned about the environment
we could provide for any child born here.
What can l do for you?
l'm sorry to disturb you, Captain,
but l thought...
l thought l should inform you of my physical condition.
Your physical condition?
Well, we'd been trying for months.
l wasn't even sure until a few days ago.
My husband is still at Deep Space 9.
He doesn't even know.
We were only supposed to be out two or three weeks.
are you pregnant?
l know this isn't the best place to have a baby, but...
it's all l have left...
of my husband.