Before We Continue...
Note of What Has Gone Before: Sometime in the 29th Century, Earth was destroyed, Voyager's shattered hull the only clue. Captain Braxton, of the Federation Timeship Aeon, confronted Voyager in the 24th Century, determined to stop the ship at any cost. The resulting battle ended with Voyager stranded in orbit around Earth in the late 20th Century. While there, the Doctor acquired a 29th Century artifact, a mobile emitter, which allowed him to move about without the need for holoprojectors. After correcting the time stream, Voyager was returned to the Delta Quadrant.
In all the excitement, I had simply forgotten. But as the anesthesia wore off and half my face was on fire, my mind drifted to how best grant Mr. Kim a reward. That lead to some other related notions, and then the memory came screaming back into my head. Braxton’s ship was just about to enter the time distortion.
"Janeway to Captain Braxton," I spoke with a little more volume than I intended, startling Chakotay.
"We have to return to Earth immediately. There is still a crewman down there that was doing some... research for me," I said. "We need an hour."
"Beam the crewman back," he replied.
I was already scanning the surface. "She’s surrounded by too many people."
"One hour then," Braxton replied.
"Paris, get us back in orbit," I said. "Janeway to Torres, meet me in Transporter Room One in appropriate Earth attire. Mr. Tuvok, you’re operating the transporter."
"On my way, Captain," Torres said. I could hear it in her voice. She had just remembered as well.
Chakotay, Paris and Kim looked amused. Or was I projecting out of guilt. What was I thinking? Actually, I knew damned well what I was thinking. The real question was why I let myself act on those thoughts at such a time.
Torres was waiting for me when I rushed inside. She wore a leather ensemble with a leather headscarf like Tuvok’s. I wore my white suit.
"She’s three kilometers from where she was last supposed to be," Torres said quietly.
"I’ll send you down to a relatively deserted area nearby," Tuvok said.
We materialized in the dark of a fall evening in a paved lot behind a large, two story free standing structure. The lot was full of vehicles, but there were no people about at that moment. A large, arched entry way to the building was just off the lot. The sign read: "Tropicana: Amateur Night! Ladies free ‘till 9."
Torres took out her tricorder.
"She’s in there alright. I can’t believe we forgot her."
"We had our hands full with Starling. Besides, the little ninny should
have called," I said. "Let’s go in. It seems we’re welcomed, too," I replied.
"Are you girls a tag team?" A large man next to a turnstile asked. He stamped something on my hand.
"Excuse me?" Torres asked. There was tension in her voice. I felt an incident coming. "Never mind him."
Torres and I headed quickly for where the pulsating music emanated in the darkened room beyond. We followed the tricorder signal into the large room that was decorated with small tables and chairs. A scaffolding of sorts covered the wall. Gadgets which appeared to be for lighting effects were attached to them. It was a cavernous room, but all the occupants were near the center of it.
"She’s over there," Torres said.
"Let’s get her. Time is running out," I said.
We shoved our way through the cheering spectators who seemed to be bolted to the concrete floor. When we squeezed through to the front, we found the Ensign in a plastic covered pit covered with some sort of cream and vegetable melange, wrestling with a chubby bald man in his underwear. She was barely contained in a tiny bra and a thong. At least she was still wearing her com badge.
"It’s a wonder the damned thing still works," I muttered. "Knock him over. I’ll get her."
Torres leaned over the pit; caught the flailing man by the edge of his shorts, pulled them straight up until she had his attention; then pulled him backward. He fell splashing the food on her pants. I caught the Ensign by the hair and hauled her to her feet. The crowd was howling.
"Mistress," she stammered.
"What are you doing?"
"Cream corn wrestling," she replied.
I sighed. "Why are you doing it?"
"I lost contact with the ship after Dream Dresser. Then I met this guy at The Pleasure Chest who said I could make a lot of money doing this," she said. "I thought I’d have to make it on my own."
The crowd was getting ugly. The large man with the hand stamp was suddenly before us.
"What the hell do you think you’re doing? Guys pay a lot of money to see cream corn wrestling," he said. He was attempting to be menacing.
"Fine," I replied. "Then wrestle."
Torres and I dumped him into the corn on top of the man in his underwear. We dragged the dripping Ensign from the crowd.
"Did you at least get the ‘stuff?’" I demanded.
"Yes, Mistress. It’s all in the locker room."
"Let’s get it."
It was prudent to move along at that point. The crowd was about to come after us, and I knew that it wouldn’t be long before the authorities were alerted. Torres threw the other ‘performers’ out of our way while the Ensign put on a robe that barely covered her bikini. She pointed to two large leather suitcases. I could barely move them.
"This will save some of the skin on your lovely back," I said. "Mr. Tuvok, three to beam up."
Tuvok looked at the three of us who by now were all covered in cream corn and raised a brow.
"Don’t start. Paris, get us out of here," I said.
Commander Chakotay had the cutest face when he was exasperated with me. He walked around the cases on my floor with a combination of amusement and dismay. He went to open one.
"Better stand back," I said. "It’s packed pretty tight."
He threw the latches creating a near explosion of leather, satin, lace, rubber, vinyl and plastic toys. Chakotay was stunned.
"You risked taking on Braxton and his ship for a shopping spree?" He said. His voice was somewhere between laughter and shouting.
"These items are nearly impossible to find in these materials -- especially real leather. They’re rare antiques," I said. "Barrows will be so envious."
"But to risk turning one of your... minions loose on an unsuspected male populations," he sputtered.
"And female," I corrected. "You make me sound like a demon. Besides, we got her back."
Chakotay made a kind of strangled sound then stormed out of my quarters. Ah, well. He’ll calm down when he sees me in this...