Captain's Log, Stardate 50063.2.
We've accepted an invitation from the Nechani
to take a few days' shore leave on their world.
We're enjoying the opportunity to learn about their culture.
We're enjoying the opportunity to learn about their culture.
This sanctuary honors our Ancestral Spirits.
Their presence is very strong here.
Those are brothers of the Nechisti Order.
They've devoted their lives to serving the Spirits.
Here's something you might find interesting.
What do you think this means?
Hard to tell.
A fertility symbol, maybe?
Or a blessing for good luck or wisdom.
Or happiness and love.
Do you hear something?
Look at that. lt's beautiful.
lt looks like a shrine.
Come on, sweeting, we don't want to be left behind.
l just want to take a quick look.
Can you hear me?
We need help!
What happened?
Oh, you mustn't be here.
This shrine is protected.
She didn't touch anything.
She went as far as that archway
and then an energy field knocked her down.
Torres to Voyager.
We have a medical emergency.
Beam Kes and Neelix directly to Sick Bay.
Yes, Lieutenant.
Oh, this is most unfortunate.
Please, l must ask you to leave as well.
We aren't going anywhere
until we find out what happened to her.
What kind of energy was she exposed to?
l-l-l have no idea.
This is a sacred place.
Only the monks truly understand what happens here.
Then we'll bring scanning equipment down
and investigate for ourselves.
That's out of the question.
lt would show disrespect to the Spirits.
One of our crew has been critically injured.
We aren't going to stand by and do nothing.
There's nothing you can do.
She's been punished by the Spirits.
She's going to die.
lf you prevent us from helping Kes,
we will hold you directly responsible
for anything that happens to her.
l will make a full report to our Captain.
l'm sure you'll be hearing from her.
l'll be happy to talk to her
and to do whatever l can to help,
but your presence here
only makes a delicate situation worse.
Please, leave now.
Her life signs are very weak but stable.
lt appears that her synaptic pathways
have undergone a severe neuroleptic shock,
which is disrupting all cortical functions.
lt is similar to a comatose state,
but with none of the usual biochemical markers.
You can cure her, can't you?
l can't even speculate on a treatment
until l know more about what caused her condition.
We're working on that.
We aren't allowed near the area where the accident occurred,
but Kim and Torres are scanning the sanctuary from Voyager.
They'll report their findings
to you and l have an appointment to talk to the magistrate.
l'm hoping he'll be able
to cut through some of the restrictions
the monks have set up.
Excuse me, Captain...
l'd like to do something to help.
The Nechani must have records.
Some kind of scientific data on this energy field.
Go down to the planet and see what you can find.
l'll be back soon.
Please understand, Captain,
l'm caught in a most difficult situation.
l'm an official of the government
not a spiritual leader.
l don't pretend to understand why the Spirits do what they do.
Then perhaps l could talk with the brothers.
l've asked the Nechisti Council to give you an audience,
but l'm afraid they consider the matter closed.
They've asked me to express their sympathies for your loss.
There is no loss at this point.
Kes is still alive.
Surely, there's some way to treat her.
Can't you insist that the monks meet with me?
We have an agreement with the Council.
They don't involve themselves with government
and we don't interfere in their spiritual matters.
lt's been that way for centuries and it's always
worked well for us.
Then can you tell me what you do know
about the sanctuary and what happens there?
l'll try.
That particular shrine is where the monks go
to receive the gift of purification--
cleansing of the soul.
lt is one of our most holy places.
You mean the monks can enter it without being harmed?
They prepare themselves with a sacred ritual
during which they speak directly with the Ancestral Spirits.
After that, they are able to enter the shrine safely.
What happens in that ritual?
How does it offer protection against the energy field?
Captain, you seem to want explanations for everything.
l don't have them.
Only the brothers who've gone through the ritual
know what happens there, and they're sworn to secrecy.
The energy field that Kes encountered--
is there anyone who could give me
scientific information that would help us analyze it?
All we know is that it is a naturally occurring phenomenon.
lf you're telling me...
that there's nothing you can do to help Kes,
l simply won't accept that.
lf l could help you, l would.
l swear it.
l blame myself.
lf l'd watched more carefully,
seen that she was approaching the shrine...
There's nothing more to be done now.
You have our sympathy.
Have Kim and Torres given you a report?
Yes. l received a fascinating lesson
in the challenges of getting clear scanner readings
through solid rock.
We were eventually able to distinguish
an intense biogenic field at the site of Kes's accident.
That would certainly explain the neuroleptic shock.
She was lucky not to have been killed instantly.
As l understand it, the Nechani monks
are able to enter the field without being harmed at all.
Really? l don't expect they'd care to tell us how?
No, they wouldn't.
She's not responding to conventional treatments
and frankly, l'm running out of unconventional ideas as well.
The level of activity in her brain is so low,
l can't rule out the possibility
of permanent damage, even if l can revive her.
The longer she stays in this condition,
the less likely it is she'll ever recover.
How is she?
l'm afraid there's been no change.
l've researched everything l could find
about the sacred shrine.
l didn't uncover much scientific evidence,
but there was one story--
it was in a very old text, l'm not sure how reliable--
about a boy who recovered from a condition like Kes's.
He was a young prince.
He wandered into the shrine accidentally
and he went into a death sleep.
Everyone said it was the will of the Spirits.
His father, King Nevad, refused to accept that,
so he went through the ritual
to seek an audience with the Spirits
and he pleaded for his son's life.
The Spirits, in their infinite mercy,
granted his request.
That was the only trace of hope that l could find.
Maybe it's enough.
Well, you've certainly done your research, Captain.
l'm familiar with the story.
l heard it as a child.
lt suggests that there's still a chance for Kes.
You're talking about a very specific case.
Nevad was able to claim responsibility for the prince,
as a father and as a king.
That's why the Spirits were willing to listen to him.
The Captain of a starship
is fully responsible for every member of her crew.
So she is.
Then on that basis,
l'd like to go through the ritual myself.
l haven't heard from the magistrate yet,
but he seemed to think there was a strong possibility
the monks would let me go through the ritual.
Captain, forgive me,
but you've never been one to put much trust
in religious ceremonies.
Exactly what is it you hope to accomplish?
lf you're asking whether l expect to speak
to the Ancestral Spirits-- no, of course not.
But something happens to the monks
when they go through the ritual,
something that allows them to withstand the effects
of the biogenic field.
l want to find out what that is.
lt might provide clues to a treatment.
Some kind of physiological change, maybe.
That's what l'm guessing.
The shamans of the Karis Tribe on Delios Vll practice a ritual
that increases the electrical resistance of their skin.
lt protects them
from plasma discharges in their sacred caves.
Something similar must happen during this ritual.
We'll have to find a way to allow the Doctor
to monitor your physical condition
and you should have a way to call for an emergency beam-out
if you need it, as a precaution.
We don't have any idea what the ritual entails.
l've been reviewing the Federation's cultural database.
Most traditional spirit quest ceremonies
involve some kind of physical challenge
or a test of endurance--
to prove the mastery of spirit over body.
My instinct tells me this one will be similar.
A series of ordeals that will result in biochemical changes.
Of course, there's always the possibility
that the Ancestral Spirits really do control
what happens in the shrine.
To each his own, Commander.
But l imagine if we scratched deep enough,
we'd find a scientific basis for most religious doctrines.
l remember when my mother taught me about the science
underlying the vision quest.
ln a way l felt... disappointed.
Some of the mystery was gone.
Maybe the Nechani have chosen not to lose the mystery.
Under other circumstances,
l'd be more than happy to go along with their choice.
Right now, it's killing one of my crew.
Bridge to the Captain.
Janeway here.
You have an incoming transmission
from the magistrate.
Put it through to Chakotay's office.
Aye, Captain.
l must congratulate you, Captain.
Your creative approach to this problem
has fascinated the Nechisti Council.
Then they've approved my request?
They consider it an honor that you want to seek
the Spirits.
The ritual traditionally begins at sunset.
A guide will meet you at the entrance to the sanctuary.
Thank you. l appreciate your efforts.
l have been greatly troubled by your misfortune, Captain.
lf you are able to convince the Spirits
to spare your friend, no one would be happier than l.
Everything seems to be working.
The subdermal bioprobe will transmit any changes
in your biochemistry.
And, Captain, the implant also contains a homing beacon,
which we'll be able to pick up
no matter how far into the sanctuary you go.
Just tap it like a combadge
and we'll transport you immediately.
Thank you both.
l don't think that will be necessary.
lt is standard procedure
to carry arms on an away mission,
particularly when you don't know what to expect.
This is strictly an information-gathering mission.
l don't want to appear hostile.
l don't suppose you know anything
about chromodynamic lights?
No, not really.
l suppose l could look at it.
They're as fussy as Tarchee cats.
You tune them too high, they burn out.
You tune them too low, they sputter.
l've told the monks
to replace them all with neodyne lights.
lt would save hours of repair work.
That device you've got, what is that?
lt's called a tricorder.
A tricor...
What exactly does a tricorder do?
lt's a scanning device.
lnteresting. May l?
Oh. Atmospheric reading, energy field analysis,
full technical database.
This is certainly a convenient thing to have.
Oh, l didn't mean for you to keep it.
l'll need that back.
No, you won't.
You're my guide.
Guide, advisor, spiritual companion--
whatever term you prefer is fine with me.
Well, why didn't you say something earlier?
Shall we get started?
lt's all right, Kathryn.
Would it be breaking any vows of secrecy now
to tell me what this ritual will involve?
Why do you think l know?
Haven't you been through this before?
Don't worry.
l'll help you find your way.
Tell me--
have you completely committed yourself
to this journey?
You're willing to go through
what the monks have been doing for centuries
to help them find the Spirits?
So you can send biochemical data back to your ship?
No, it wasn't magic.
Our bio-scanners detected the microprobe under your skin.
l hope that won't be a problem.
Makes no difference at all.
You are fond of your little devices, aren't you?
They've always served me well.
l'm sure they have.
Please, come this way.
Who are you?
l'm Kathryn Janeway.
ls this where the ritual begins?
Oh, the ritual... yes.
We're waiting.
Come, join us.
What exactly are you waiting for?
Just... waiting.
How long have you been sitting here?
Uh, how long has it been?
Why are you asking me?!
l've lost track!
lt's been a while.
l know that.
Oh, it's been...
as long as we can remember.
Are you telling me l have to wait a lifetime
before l can go through the ritual?
l didn't hear anyone say that, did you?
Certainly not, all we said was that we're waiting.
l'm just trying to understand how this works.
The monks l saw in the sanctuary were young.
They couldn't have waited such a long time
to go through their rituals.
Now, she's right about that, you know.
She's a smart one.
She thinks she is, at any rate.
This is a test of some kind, isn't it?
To prove my determination.
A test? She thinks we're a test.
What is she talking about?
She must like tests.
l suppose tests make sense to her.
Has anyone ever tried to open this door?
How many times do we have to tell you
that we are waiting?!
My dear, why don't you just sit down and relax?
You're much too tense.
You're welcome to wait with us.
l don't want to wait.
l have a friend who's depending on me.
l have to go through the ritual.
l wonder if she's always this impatient!
Oh, she's just determined.
She wants to get on with it.
Seems to me, she could be friendly
and sit for a few minutes.
No, no. She knows what she wants to do.
She's not the kind to sit around
when she has a mission to accomplish.
l told you.
l told you it was locked.
l mean no disrespect.
But unless there's something l'm supposed to accomplish here,
l'd like to continue with the ritual.
By all means.
l'm not sure how to begin.
Do you want me to give you orders, Captain?
l'll do whatever you ask of me.
l see.
So you think that this is just a matter
of doing what you're told.
No, l'm sure there is spiritual significance
behind the challenges involved.
Challenges? That's what you expect.
l don't have any idea what to expect.
l've studied a number of ritualistic societies
and many of the rites have commonalities.
This one may be completely different.
l'm willing to do whatever is necessary.
l don't doubt that.
But do you realize that all of this is meaningless?
That the only thing that matters
is finding your connection to the Spirits?
l'm going to make every effort to do that,
but l didn't come here for personal enlightenment.
l'm trying to save a member of my crew.
That's a worthy cause.
l hope the Spirits listen to you.
Then let's begin.
The first challenge.
Stand like this.
Hold that.
what do you see in your hands?
l see... a stone.
Keep looking.
Her respiration and pulse have remained steady.
But there's been a gradual buildup of lactic acid
in her extensor muscles over the last hour.
What does that mean? ls she in danger?
Not at all.
She's probably experiencing light strain.
What you'd expect in an endurance ritual.
Then there's nothing so far
that would suggest a treatment for Kes?
lt's too early to tell.
l'm downloading every iota of information
from the bioprobe sensors into a physiometric program,
which is analyzing the data.
Even the smallest physiological change
may prove significant.
We can't discount anything.
What do you see now?
l still see... a stone.
l guess you're not going to tell me
what l'm supposed to draw.
That would be too easy, wouldn't it?
lt's up to you-- draw whatever feels right.
l've never been able to draw.
My sister was the artist in the family.
And you were the scientist.
lt's true.
When other children were outside playing games,
l was doing mathematics problems.
Mathematics? l can see why you enjoyed it.
Solve a problem, get an answer.
The answer's either right or wrong.
lt's very absolute.
l've always found that satisfying.
l'm sure you did.
What did you see?
l'm not sure.
Describe it.
What is it?!
What have you found?
There have been significant increases
in the Captain's respiration, neuropeptides
and adenosine triphosphate levels.
ls that bad?
lt certainly suggests she's going through
a grueling physical experience.
But it's the neuropeptides that are interesting.
The saturations have risen to quite an abnormal level.
ls that good or bad?
l can't say it's either, so far as the Captain is concerned.
But it certainly seems
a substantial piece of information.
Neuropeptide levels this high
could well create a natural barrier to biogenic energy.
So you have something that will help Kes.
Not yet, but it's the first piece of data
that allows me even to formulate a hypothesis.
lt should be me going through all that.
l was the one who let Kes get hurt in the first place.
Mr. Neelix, you're wallowing.
Wallowing in useless remorse.
l'll have to ask you to stop.
lt's bad for the patient.
lt's just frustrating to be so helpless.
lf it's any consolation, Mr. Neelix, l do understand.
l'm exhausted.
Oh, thank you.
Your microprobe should be transmitting
all kinds of interesting information back to the ship.
What is that?
lt's a nesset.
They're able to travel from this world
into the spirit realm.
They serve as gatekeepers.
Then l'm ready to enter the spirit realm.
Do you think you're ready?
Yes, l do.
Then you are.
Go ahead. Put your hand in.
We can stop right now if you like.
No, l'm not quitting.
Don't be afraid.
Oh... it's burning me!
Oh, my chest!
Getting tight!
Oh, oh, oh...
l'm dying.
Everyone dies eventually.
lt's been three days since she had any sleep.
How long are we going to let her go through this?
l understand your concern, Commander,
but l must point out that her vital signs are stable.
She seems to be in no immediate danger.
She's been poisoned with some unknown toxin.
lt may be having an effect we can't gauge.
lt could lie dormant for a few days
and then suddenly fluctuate and kill her in minutes.
You seem to be implying that l'm not paying attention.
l assure you, l am monitoring her constantly.
lf l thought she were in jeopardy, l would act.
Doctor, is there anything which might be preventing her
from using the homing signal in her implant?
Not that l'm aware of.
She's fully conscious and has complete motor control.
lf she wanted to transport, she could signal us.
Are you getting enough meaningful information
to justify her continuing this ordeal?
l am getting some remarkable data.
Her entire biochemistry
is undergoing a series of unique interactions. Look.
This amino acid has been formed as a result of the breakdown
of the toxin in her bloodstream.
lt's affecting the normal flow of neurotransmitters
and very likely having a hallucinogenic effect.
ls she delusional?
l think she's experiencing the Nechani version
of a psychoactive drug.
Then is it possible she's in no condition
to activate the homing signal?
l don't believe that's the case
and l strongly suspect this biochemical change
is going to give us the answers we need.
The toxin in her bloodstream
may very well be the key to creating a treatment for Kes.
Commander, the decision is ultimately yours, of course.
However, l believe it would be the Captain's desire
to complete the ritual.
All right. We'll leave her there for now.
But l'm not moving from this monitor until she gets back.
What is this?
An hallucination?
l'm only here to serve as a voice--
an interpreter for the Ancestral Spirits.
l see.
lf there are other beings here, could l see them myself?
You mean you want proof that we exist?
That would be helpful.
lt's irrelevant.
l don't want to be disrespectful.
l have gone through every part of the ritual
that l have been asked to.
Everything you've gone through is meaningless.
You've been told that.
l know.
l just want to bring this to completion--
to make my request.
Then, by all means, do so.
l cite the story of King Nevad as precedent.
ln the same way he pleaded for his son,
l ask that Kes be restored to health.
Your request is inconsequential.
You have what you need to save her yourself.
Welcome back.
How long?
Does that matter?
l'd like to know.
39 hours.
You must take care of yourself.
Your body's weak.
l guess the physical conditioning programs
on the holodeck didn't quite prepare me for this.
Has it been worthwhile?
l think so.
l was told that l had what l needed to save Kes.
Then it must be true.
The Spirits would not deceive you.
Whenever you're ready.
Thank you.
You could use a good night's sleep and a solid meal,
but otherwise, you're in good shape.
When can you begin treating Kes?
Right away.
The ritual may have been arduous for you, Captain,
but it was certainly worthwhile.
As l suspected, the toxin was the key.
That's what produces the natural immunity
the Nechani monks acquire
before they enter the biogenic field.
How does that translate into a cure for Kes?
l've created a physiometric program
to analyze the immune mechanism and develop a treatment regimen.
Then let's get started.
Captain, if you'll excuse me.
l'm probably more useful on the Bridge right now.
l'll carry out the treatment in stages
to reduce the physical stress from the metabolic changes.
What's that? ls something wrong?
l don't believe so.
Hmm. Her electrolyte balance is deviating,
but that's not entirely unexpected.
lt isn't.
What does that mean-- ''hmm'' what?
Mr. Neelix, if you keep on pestering me with questions,
l won't be able to concentrate on what l'm doing.
Something is wrong.
What is it, Doctor?
Her cardiac functions are being disrupted.
l don't understand it.
Lectrazine should counteract the disruptions.
This is baffling.
Her biochemical levels are exactly what they need to be
to correct the damage.
She should be awake and alert.
Then why isn't she?!
l can't explain it.
Her vital signs are unstable.
l have to discontinue treatment.
l don't understand it.
Can't we try again?
lt's too dangerous.
Do you have any other options?
l'm sorry, Captain,
but it appears that everything you went through...
was meaningless.
You meant what you said, didn't you?
Everything l went through was meaningless.
l did everything you asked of me.
You led me to believe that would allow me to help Kes.
l haven't led you anywhere, Kathryn.
You've taken me along wherever you wanted to go.
This was your ritual.
You set these challenges for yourself.
lt's true that l came here with certain expectations...
Are you saying that you simply...
fulfilled my expectations?
You'd have settled for nothing else.
l'm not ready to give up.
lf there's still a way to save Kes, l want to try.
You've come back to seek the Spirits.
l don't know what l'm seeking.
Then l believe you are ready to begin.
Well. Look who's come back.
So, your little adventure didn't quite work out
the way you'd planned it.
You put yourself through a lot of trouble
and for nothing, didn't you?
Don't feel bad.
You wouldn't believe some of the things
people have done to themselves
on their way to seek the Spirits.
So there's no real ritual after all.
''Real'' is such a relative term.
Most of the challenges in life
are the ones we create for ourselves.
And you are particularly hard on yourself, aren't you?
l've always been driven to succeed.
Stubborn, l'd say.
You didn't really consider
sitting and waiting with us, did you?
Well, l'm here now, and l'm asking for your help.
l want to understand the purpose
of waiting in this room.
But isn't it enough to sit and be sociable?
We're good company.
That's what l'm supposed to do--
talk to the Ancestral Spirits.
first, we were a test,
and now we're the Ancestral Spirits.
Are you?
That would be nice and quantifiable for you,
wouldn't it?
lf the Spirits were something
that you could see and touch and scan
with your little devices.
lf you can explain everything,
what's left to believe in?
l know it's an important part of your religion
to trust the Spirits without question,
but l wasn't brought up that way.
lt's hard for me to accept.
So much for your tolerant, open-minded Starfleet ideals.
There's a difference between respecting
the spiritual beliefs of other cultures
and embracing them myself.
Fine. Don't embrace a thing.
lt's all the same to us.
Go on back to your ship
and play with your molecular microscanner.
You've tried all that already,
but it didn't work, did it?
Kes didn't get better.
No, she didn't.
Why not?
The Doctor couldn't explain it.
So it's inexplicable.
A miraculous nonrecovery.
We haven't found the reason yet.
But of course you will.
You'll find all the answers eventually
with enough time and study and the right sort of tools.
That's what you believe, isn't it, as a scientist?
Be honest.
Yes, that's what l've always believed.
Even when her science fails right before her eyes,
she still has full confidence in it.
Now there's a leap of faith.
Unconditional trust.
Now that's promising.
All right...
if you're saying that science won't help Kes, what will?
You won't like it.
l'm willing to do whatever's necessary.
Kill her.
She's as good as dead already.
Finish the job.
Give her another jolt of that--
what do you call it?--
biogenic field.
Oh... that would do it.
lt would do what exactly?
There you go again.
Always looking for a rational explanation.
Well, there isn't one.
Your orbital scans and medical research
have given you the facts...
and they tell you the biogenic field is lethal.
lf you believe the facts.
Let all of that go, Kathryn.
Take Kes back into the shrine
and trust the Spirits to return her soul.
The ritual l went through was meaningless...
and Kes has done nothing to prepare herself.
How could either of us be ready to go through the field?
lf you believe you're ready, then you are.
There's no more to it than that.
But if you go in with any doubt, with any hesitation,
then you're both dead.
what are you going to do... Captain?
You know l won't stand by and watch Kes die
if there's anything l can do to save her.
l want to believe it's possible.
l'm going to try.
Janeway to Chakotay.
Captain, we've been worried about you.
l'm all right.
l want you to beam Kes down here to the sanctuary.
Acknowledged. l'll bring her down myself.
Chakotay to Sick Bay.
Doctor, prepare Kes for transport.
The Doctor says her life signs are deteriorating.
He almost wouldn't let us take her out of Sick Bay.
You've found a way to help her.
Yes, l have.
l'm taking her back into the biogenic field.
l hate to question you, Captain, but why?
l believe it will save her life.
You have some new information on the effects of the field?
l can't explain it to you.
Captain... you've been through a lot in the past few days.
l know what l'm doing.
Are you sure of that?
There are 800 megajoules of biogenic energy running
through that shrine.
The thoron radiation levels are off the scale.
That's what you'd be taking her and yourself into.
Why don't you take some time to think about this
and let us run a few more scans?
this isn't like you.
You know you'll always have my gratitude
for everything you've done to save Kes,
but l couldn't-- and l know she couldn't--
ask you to risk your own life like this.
There are too many other people who need you.
He's right.
lt's my responsibility to keep you safe--
for the crew's sake, if not for your own.
l'd rather not have to relieve you of duty,
but if your judgment's been impaired in any way...
He can't really do that, can he?
Yes, he can.
l suppose it might be necessary
if the Captain of a ship were really mentally impaired,
but you're not crazy, Kathryn.
You know that.
These are the same people who were willing
to let Kes die just for disturbing their shrine.
Can you take their word for it that you'll be safe in there?
l can't give you my word on that.
Nobody knows what will happen to them
in the shrine until they go in.
l don't know the answers...
but you do.
l don't understand this.
Neither do l.
That's the challenge.
The tricorder readings Commander Chakotay took at the shrine
reveal traces of iridium ions,
which we could've known about sooner
if we'd been permitted to take those readings at first.
And iridium ions are significant?
They caused a temporary dielectric effect
in the outer epidermal layers,
which neutralized some of the biogenic energy--
not much, but enough to make the Captain's altered biochemistry
an effective defense.
Then how was l cured?
The metabolic treatment l administered
protected you against the full impact
of exposure to the field
when the Captain took you through.
That exposure functioned like a natural cortical stimulator
and reactivated your synaptic pathways.
That's fascinating, Doctor.
lf there's something about my analysis
you disagree with...
lt's a perfectly sound explanation, Doctor.
Very... scientific.

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