Tom Paris enters the new Delta Flyer in an interstellar starship race.
Lieutenant Thomas Paris and Ensign Harry Kim are in the newly-completed Delta Flyer II. Paris is piloting with great speed and extreme maneuvering, coursing madly through an asteroid field. Kim nervously complains, but a grinning Paris insists the shuttle’s capabilities must be tested fully; this involved risk.
A ship comes up off starboard. It pulls up alongside and begins to scan them. Paris hails and politely asks the pilot for identification. A female voice answers, but instead of identifying herself, the speaker complements Paris on the Flyer in a manner that pleases his machismo. She invites him to race her to a comet on the other side of the asteroid field. Kim is horrified; surely he will not accept? He does; this, he insists, is a great test for the Flyer. The vessel hares off and Paris immediately follows.
The other vessel proves even more maneuverable than the Flyer II. Paris begins to lag. But his pilot's ego refuses to accept defeat so easily; determinedly he chases her. Kim, despite his trepidation, wants to see the Flyer win, now that they are actually racing the other ship. He suggests using the new impulse thrusters. Paris applauds his new spirit and does so. A pair of 6-nozzle impulse drive thrusters fold out from the Flyer's stern and glow to life. The ship surges forward and passes the other vessel. Now both officers grin.
But then the other vessel's starboard nacelle catches fire. Paris immediately has the computer beam the pilot aboard. A blonde woman with pointed ears between those of an Ocampa and those of a Vulcan in appearance materializes. Her name is Irina. Her species is called the Terrelians. They offer to take her back to Voyager. She accepts.
Aboard Voyager, in the sickbay, a pleading Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres tries to get The Doctor to part with his scheduled holodeck time ration. She has successfully bartered with other crew-members for theirs, accumulating almost enough time to span a weekend. This is for her and Lt. Paris, her lover. The Doctor's time will complete it.
But she finds the hologram resolute; ordinarily, he tells her, he would happily oblige her. However, he is looking forward to his time, in which he plans to take up a sport long favored by Earth MDs for centuries: golf. She resorts to trying to sway him with a sad, disappointed look that she knows will get to him. "Well, if your tee time is more important than our happiness...Our first chance to be alone in months..." she tells him with a downtrodden look. It works; he relents. She thanks him sincerely.
On their return to Voyager, Ensign Kim helps Irina make repairs to her vessel. They talk about its capabilities and where she is from. Paris comes and joins the conversation. He comments that her warp drive is rather weak. She responds somewhat disdainfully that warp drive is for straight lines, not for the kind of piloting she likes. Paris, with a smile, says he totally understand.
Then she mentions the upcoming race she was practicing for. This instantly seizes the officers' attention. They eagerly ask her about it.
At a meeting with Captain Janeway, Commander Chakotay and Lieutenant Commander Tuvok, Paris and Kim present the race information. It is called the Antarian Trans-stellar Rally, a two-million kilometer course. Paris and Kim want to enter the Flyer II. They argue that it would be the ultimate test of ship design and piloting skills. Tuvok, as one would expect, sees no purpose in it and points out the drain on the ship's resources it would cause. Chakotay points out that even if they were to enter, the fuel requirements are incompatible with the Flyer.
Paris and Kim press their case further; it is, they stress, a chance to bolster interstellar diplomacy and make new friends, something they could never have too many of, alone in the quadrant. The race is, they inform them, an attempt to commemorate and bolster the fragile peace that came after a century-long war between the species resident in the area. These are all Starfleet ideals. As for the fuel, Irina has agreed to lend them a converter.
Captain Janeway considers and, to the great surprise of Paris, Kim and Tuvok, not only approves, but shows enthusiasm for the idea as a good break and R&R for the crew. But, she warns them, grinning as they hurry to prepare, now that they are in it, they are representing Starfleet and the Federation; they are in it to win. The two elated officers assure her of success.
Paris, on his way to Engineering to tell Torres, stops by the sickbay to inform The Doctor. He finds him practicing golf putts using a beaker in place of a hole.
But before he can say anything, The Doctor tells him he has already approved his time off. This surprises Paris; the Captain already told him about the race? He asks this of The Doctor. "What race?" he replies, confused. "I was referring to your romantic getaway." Paris is thunderstruck; he had completely forgotten. He warns him to expect an emergency call from Engineering, anticipating Torres' fiery Klingon temper, and leaves to go and talk to her.
Arriving in Engineering, he approaches Torres quietly. She is elated that he has come early. But then he despondently informs her about the race and that he committed himself to it, therefore he cannot join her for their planned weekend together.
Her reaction shocks him. Instead of getting angry, she quietly tells him through palpable disappointment, that she understands. He remorsefully tells her how sorry he is and offers to cancel his participation in the race. But she insists quietly that it is okay; he can go ahead. Thankful, he leaves. She soberly watches him go.
Later, she sits, alone and forlorn, at a table in the mess hall. Neelix, the chef and morale officer, approaches her and tries to cheer her up, but fails. She tells him about Paris. The Talaxian is very surprised that he forgot, considering the effort she went to to get the time. Why does she not tell him this? No, she responds. He should be allowed to do what makes him, happy.
But, she continues, this has made her see something clearly: she and Paris do not belong together. She loves him, but perhaps that is not enough. They have had much fun together. But that seems enough for him. It is not enough for her. After the race, she will end their relationship.
Captain Janeway and Chakotay hold a meeting with the Antarian Ambassador, O'Zaal, in Captain Janeway's ready room. He has a very serious problem, illustrated by a message he gets during the meeting: one of the species in the race, the Aksani wants to host the post-race ceremony, and will break the peace if refused. But it has already been agreed that another species, the Chessu, would host it. This, he tells Janeway sadly, is his problem; the peace is quite fragile, and every decision he makes regarding the race is seen as sybmolic. If he makes a concession to one species, another is offended.
Janeway thinks and offers a solution: Voyager is neutral territory. Nobody could object to any of the ceremonies being held on her, so why not hold all of them on her? Relieved, O’Zaal gratefully accepts the offer.
The opening ceremony is held in the mess hall. Pilots mix and mingle while refreshments are served. Not all are interested in mixing however. One particular individual, Assan, of a species called the Imhotep, has nothing to do with anyone. When Paris tries to introduce himself, he is coldly brushed off. Irina warns Paris and Kim about him; he was a ruthless fighter pilot during the war and is not above using questionable tactics to win. Then Irina’s co-pilot Joxom comes over to the three, and Irina introduces him to Paris and Kim.
Torres goes to the astrometrics laboratory and finds Seven of Nine here as usual. What is not usual is that she is involved in Voyager's race preparation; she is analyzing the course to find ways to cut time. Torres, aware of Seven's usual attitude toward things of this sort, voices her surprise at her involvement. Seven responds that she believes her involvement would help her improve her relationship with Paris. She has learned that if she embraces some of his interests, supports him in his personal goals, they are able to function more efficiently as crewmates.
This gives Torres a great epiphany. She thanks Seven and hurries off.
In the shuttle bay, Paris is in the Flyer, wearing a pilot's uniform designed for the race. The starting time is at hand. He makes final preparations while he waits for Ensign Kim, who is to be his copilot. But he gets a shock as the hatch opens and in enters, not Kim, but Torres, wearing the same uniform. She informs him that she is replacing Kim as his co-pilot; the race is important to him, and so she wants to help him with it. He is extremely pleased. They start the engines and leave the bay to join the other waiting racers at the starting point.
With the racers ready, on Voyager's bridge, Ambassador O'Zaal asks Janeway to signal the start. At her command, Tuvok launches a low-yield photon torpedo, which detonates a few hundred meters in front of the starting point. This is the signal. The race begins; the ships hare off.
Neelix goes to the astrometrics lab and asks Seven, who is monitoring the race, for an update. She gives it, but he complains her delivery is very unexciting. He shows her how to do it, activating a shipwide comm. With great gusto and excitement, he updates the crew on the positions of the racers. All over the ship, crew-members pause in their duties to listen, their excitement evident. Seven, incapable of purveying such excitement, leaves the update announcements to Neelix. A smiling Janeway enters and joins them.
Paris' skills puts the Flyer into 3rd place, behind Irina in 2nd and Assan in 1st. Torres is happily confident that they will soon take the lead, but Paris tempers her confidence; they are about to enter a phenomenon called the Mobius Inversion, a small, tight wormhole with level-6 subspace distortions and gravimetric shear. As they near it, Paris points it out to her; she gazes nervously at its swirling event horizon.
Off-duty crew-members trickle into Astrometrics to watch the progress of the race on the lab's huge viewscreen, until the lab is quite crowded. Excitement is palpable. Janeway had been joined by Chakotay. Tuvok enters and gives Captain Janeway his weekly security report. The Captain takes it, but tells him they will talk about it later, returning her attention to the race. Tuvok tries to press the matter, telling her there are some things on it they should discuss, but Chakotay firmly reiterates what the Captain told him: later.
Then the ships disappear into the Mobius Inversion. Seven informs them that the phenomenon's radiation is blocking their sensors. Thus they have no idea who will emerge as leader on the other side; the phenomenon is certainly capable of altering positions. The uncertainty even catches Tuvok; when Janeway offers to talk about the report until the ships emerge, he asks, with permission, that it be deferred until later. Janeway smiles ironically.
The racers dash through the Inversion. The Flyer is still in 3rd place, but Paris brings it within striking distance of the first two. Torres gets an idea on how to pass them. Paris insists that they wait; now is not the time; but she executes it, adjusting the engines and shields. The Flyer surges ahead, 'scraping' the shields of Irina's and Assan's ships, knocking both vessels out of the way. Aboard Voyager, in Astrometrics, the watching crew erupts in a great cheer as they see Flyer emerge first from the Inversion. Neelix announces the change shipwide; the rest of the crew joins in the cheering.
On the Flyer, however, Paris is very displeased that Torres did not listen to him. She protests that she saw the chance and took it. But he firmly insists that he will do the flying; he is the pilot. Just then, an announcement comes in; there has been an accident. All racers are instructed to stop and hold their positions. Torres looks rather guilty, thinking that perhaps her action caused the accident.
The accident happened to Irina's ship. She is fine, but Joxom, her co-pilot, suffered burns from an exploding console. He is treated in Voyager's sickbay, as the pilots involved: Irina, Assan, Paris and Torres, report on the accident to Janeway and O'Zaal in the briefing room. Irina angrily blames Assan's aggressive 'scraping' of her shields as the cause of the accident. Assan does not deny it; but he could not care less; he merely responds that he is only guilty of being in 2nd place, which he intends to rectify in the next leg. Torres admits that she may also have caused the accident by her 'scraping' of Irina and Assan. But Paris covers, saying that everyone was flying aggressively; “scraping” was inevitable in such a confined space. Irina quickly absolves them of responsibility.
Tuvok enters. He has news that changes the nature of the incident entirely: he has examined Irina's vessel and found evidence of tampering; a component was rigged to explode. Thus this was no accident, but sabotage. This is very unpleasant news for O'Zaal; a possible terrorist action to revive hostility and end the peace.
Janeway, however, is not so alarmed; one act of sabotage, she opines, does not threaten the peace. But O'Zaal informs her that this was only one of a series of threats of violence that have been received. These threats come from those opposed to the peace, such as arms dealers, isolationists and political extremists. He sadly makes a decision; the race is not worth risking lives; he will cancel it.
Irina objects; if he does that, the opposers win, a view shared by Assan and the Starfleet officers. Seeing the concensus, O'Zaal therefore decides that the race will continue. However, since Voyager is neutral, he tells Captain Janeway he understands if she wants to withdraw. Absolutely not, she responds with a smile; the Flyer is in the lead.
In the shuttle bay, Paris and Torres prep the Flyer. Ensign Kim comes to see them. With Joxom injured, Janeway has allowed him to serve as Irina's copilot. The announcement for the racers to take their positions is heard, and Kim leaves to rejoin Irina. The ships fall into position and the race resumes.
On the Flyer, Torres thinks heavily about Kim and Irina. Kim told them that he and the Terrellian seem to be hitting it off; they get along very well, without even trying. This now has her considering herself and Paris and their often contentious relationship, in the light of her decision to break the relationship off because they do not belong together.
She cannot help but mention the ease of how well Kim and Irina get along together to Paris, though she is unwilling at this time to discuss their own relationship. But Paris, on hearing her, immediately senses that she mentioned it as a metaphor for their own relationship. "Are we talking about them, or us?" he asks pointedly after a pause when she finishes talking. She quickly ends the conversation, suggesting they concentrate on the race.
Irina and Kim begin to fall behind. Kim reads malfunctions in the EPS relays; but this is strange, as he checked them thoroughly the night before. He suggests trying to reroute power through the impulse manifold and gets up to go and do so. But Irina insists that he do not, and pushes him back in his seat. Kim, confused, asks her why he should not. She gives all manner of weak, nonsensical reasons.
Kim is even more confused; does she not want to win? He asks her this; it seems as, he tells her, that for every solution he comes up with, she finds a reason to reject it. Then his console beeps; the same one Joxom had been sitting at. It is an overload; the console explodes, but Kim just manages to leap away before it does, escaping injury. He turns to Irina, commenting on the coincidence; this is the second time this console has exploded.
And finds her leveling a hand weapon at him.
Kim is shocked; why, he asks her did id she sabotage her own ship? She says nothing. He suddenly dashes to a button and hits it, causing the ship to shake a bit and throw Irina off-balance. Then he rushes her. A struggle ensues, which he wins, relieving her of the weapon. Holding her at bay with it, he tries to contact Voyager but fails. He decides to wait, keeping the weapon trained on her. He makes her check on the status of the Flyer. It is still in the lead.
On the Flyer, Paris again returns to the subject of his and Torres' relationship, persisting despite Torres' attempts to change the subject. Finally, she speaks up: she thought, she tells him, if they could do something together that really interested, him , it would help their relationship. This surprises Paris; he did not know it needed help, he responds.
This is part of the problem, she stresses. "So we scrape shields occasionally! it keeps things interesting." Paris tells her. She tells him what she told Neelix: that is not enough for her. To her great surprise, he cuts the engines.
Kim and Irina see the Flyer stop. Irina shows inordinate interest in how far they are from the finish line. This makes Kim very suspicious. He demands to know why she is so interested in this, but she gives no answer. He realizes it for himself: she, and whomever she is with, planned an attack. "There are hundreds of innocent people there! How can you do that?" he demands.
This time she does answer, revealing herself to be one of the isolationists who oppose the peace. She and her group do not believe in the mixing of the species that the peace has brought; by destroying it, the hope to end the mixing. Kim recalls that it was Irina who told them about the race and gave them the fuel converter for them to participate. A flash in her eyes on his saying this reveals the plan: The converter is the bomb. She and her group intend to use the Flyer to deliver it; on crossing the finis line, it will explode.
But, with the comm down, there is not way to warn Paris. Unless...
Kim gets an idea. Still with the weapon trained on Irina, he begins tapping a button on a console with his free hand.
Assan speeds past the Flyer. Torres agitatedly asks Paris why they have stopped. He looks at her. If they have a problem, they are going to resolve it, there and now, he responds. Frustrated, she tells him that she never wanted him to throw the race, to stop being himself. That does not matter, he insists, leaning close to her; the only self he wants to be is the man she loves. She is shocked; she did not know he felt this way. He responds that he never told her because he did not think she would appreciate the 'mushy stuff'. He sees that this assumption was not correct, He kisses her, whispers endearments... and prepares to pop a certain question.
He is interrupted by beeping from the console. He checks it; it is a modulating pulse from Irina's ship, but the pattern of the beeps is familiar to him. He suddenly realizes what it is: Morse code, which he taught Kim as part of their "Captain Proton" adventures. He quickly reads it: it is a message from Kim, warning him about the converter and telling him to eject it at once. He checks the converter; it is leaking. Within a minute, the leak will breach the warp core, causing a huge explosion. Torres tries to eject the core, but discovers that the subroutines controlling that procedure have been tampered with. She quickly works to fix them, as Paris re-engages the engines and hurries the Flyer toward a nearby nebula.
They reach the nebula and Torres manages to get the ejection subroutines back on line. The core is ejected and Paris takes Flyer far enough away from it.
He also pops that question, which she accepts with joy.
But he cannot get the Flyer far enough. It is caught by the shockwave. On Voyager, a disappointed Janeway and crew witness Assan passing the finish line first, winning the race. Then the shockwave from the explosion rocks the ship, Janeway orders a report from the bridge. Tuvok informs her: an antimatter explosion. The Flyer, scorched from the explosion, hangs dead in space. But aside from the burns, it is undamaged. Paris again proposes. Torres again accepts with joy. Later on, the repaired Flyer is seen cruising leisurely. Paris and Torres are again aboard. They sip champagne. A ring is on her finger. The Flyer is seen trailing lines of storage containers, tied together. A sign is painted on the stern.
- Captain's log, stardate 54058.6. Our request to enter the Delta Flyer into the rally has been accepted. I'm meeting with the race coordinator, Ambassador O'Zaal, to work out the details.
- Captain's log, supplemental. The Antarians have invited us to participate in the post-race festivities. Which has allowed me to give two of my senior officers time off for a well-deserved romantic getaway. The Delta Flyer still needs a new warp core, but I don't think they're in a hurry to get anywhere.
"Keep a lock on my bio-signs, will ya' doc."
"Because, in about five minutes, there's going to be a medical emergency in Engineering."
- - Tom Paris and Doctor talking about meeting B'Elanna.
"I can't get the ejection subroutines on line."
[Computer voice] "Warp core breach in 20 seconds."
"So what's your answer?"
"Will you marry me?"
[Computer voice] "Warp core breach in 15 seconds."
"You're proposing now?"
"It's as good a time as any."
- - B'Elanna Torres and Tom Paris
""B'Elanna Paris". That has a nice ring to it."
"Thanks, but I already have a ring. Anyway, I kind of like the sound of 'Tom Torres'."
"I hope you're kidding."
"Hey... it is the 24th century."
- - B'Elanna Torres and Tom Paris
- Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres are married at the end of the episode. This marriage should not be confused with the marriage that took place in "Course: Oblivion", where the biomimetic copies of Paris and Torres are the ones to actually get married.
- Cyia Batten, Brian George and Patrick Kilpatrick have all appeared on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. They played Tora Ziyal, Richard Bashir and Reese respectively.
- One of the ships seen was a re-use of Steth's ship seen in "Vis à Vis". This design was seen again in the season six episode "The Voyager Conspiracy" and the season seven episodes "Workforce" & "Workforce, Part II".
- This was the second marriage on Star Trek between main characters. The first was between Worf and Jadzia Dax. Worf and B'Elanna are also both the only main characters who are also Klingons. The marriage between Miles O'Brien and Keiko occurred on TNG when O'Brien was not yet a main character. Odo and Lwaxana Troi were also married during "The Muse".
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 7.2, 7 May 2001.
- As part of the VOY Season 7 DVD collection.
Links and References
- Steve Charany as Assan's Co-Pilot
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Chris Evans
- Kerry Hoyt as Fitzpatrick
- Richard Sarstedt as William McKenzie
Aksani; Aksani vessel; Antarian; Antarian Trans-stellar Rally; asteroid field; beach; Captain Proton; Chessu; Chessu ship; class J nebula; class K anomaly; comet; Darla system; deflector; deuterium; driver coil; dwarf star cluster; Delta Flyer II; EPS relay; exhaust port; fuel converter; gas giant; Gedi Prime; golf; gravimetric shear; holodeck; hyper spanner; Imhotep; Imhotep ship; impulse manifold; impulse thruster; injector port; Irina's ship; Möbius Inversion; mok'tah; mood reef; Morse code; nyocene gas; parsec; phase inverter; photonic interference; power transformer; pulsar; reactor coil; red giant; Risa; Saint Andrews; scraping; shield generator; subspace distortion; Terrellian; Terrellian ship; veridium; veridium injector; warp core; warp core breach; warp plasma; waterfall
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