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The crew of the Delta Flyer
Series: VOY
Episode: 6x20
Original Airdate: 2000-03-15
Production Number: 240
Year: 2376
Stardate: 53753.2
Story by: Dianna Gitto
Teleplay by: Dianna Gitto & Joe Menosky
Directed by: Winrich Kolbe
Captain Janeway looks out into space from her Ready Room

When three crewmen are shown to be hampering efficiency, Captain Janeway decides to give them some special attention by taking them on an away mission.



Captain Janeway looks out her Ready room window into space, as her door chirps. Chakotay enters and informs her that Seven of Nine wants to present her ship wide efficiency report to the senior staff. Janeway says to put her on the schedule. Chakotay also reminds her that they'll be passing through a class T cluster in the next couple of days, not important enough to alter course, but Janeway thinks it's at least important enough to send the Delta Flyer, and to get a full range of scans. Chakotay nods, and leaves.

On the bridge, Chakotay relays the captain's orders. He tells Tom Paris to prepare the Delta Flyer for the mission, and Harry Kim to go to a level 3 analysis of the cluster. Harry Kim contacts Seven, asking her to increase metagenic resolution in the long range sensors.

In Astrometrics, Seven and Crewman Tal Celes, a young Bajoran woman, are working on the sensors. Seven types some data into a PADD and hands it to Crewman Celes, telling her to take it to Lieutenant Torres. Celes exits, and walks down the corridors to a turbolift. "Deck 11", Celes tells the computer as the turbolift begins whirling.

The Turbolift doors directly to engineering open, and Celes exits. She hands the PADD to Torres and she diagnoses their going to need to transfer another 5 terawatts to the sensor array. She then hands another PADD to an engineering crewman, who goes into the same turbolift, "Deck 15", the bottom deck of the ship.

On deck 15, a section characterized by cramped, dimly lit corridors, where even the doors are thinner, the crewman exits, and nods hello to another officer on his way down the hall. He enters a small plasma relay room and interrupts Crewman Mortimer Harren's attempt to disprove Shlezholt's theory of multiple big bangs. Harren tells him to hold on, that he's standing in the way of cosmological history. The crewman sarcastically replies, "The cosmos is 16 billion years old, it can wait another few minutes." He hands Harren the power transfer requisition, who just types in a quick couple commands into a panel, and he leaves. Harren looks out of a small porthole, which is on the ventral section of the ship.

Act One

Captain's Log, Stardate 53753.2. Long-range scans of the T-cluster have indicated a number of tantalizing anomalies. The away team should have a field day. Who knows? I may even join them myself.
File:Celes undercover.JPG

Celes works on sensor analysis at night, under her covers

In Tal Celes' quarters, her roommate is sleeping and she's contacting her friend William "Billy" Telfer via com badge. She tries waking him up, and he finally answers. He tells her it's late and to go to sleep. She is under her covers with PADDs and a SIMs beacon, working on a level 3 sensor analysis. Telfer breaks, and asks what the problem is. She says she's having trouble interpreting the subspace infra-red from the cluster. Telfer says that it's too complicated to explain over the com, and to either meet in the Mess hall or do it tomorrow. Celes replies she doesn't want to get dressed, and that she has to have it in tomorrow. "Your only options", he says sleepy-eyed.

The next morning in the Briefing room, Seven is explaining a Ship-wide efficiency Analysis. Operations receives a 76 out of 100, Seven says that the officers left on the night watch rarely have anything to do once the course is set in. B'Elanna complains about her grade and her "failure to utilize expertise". Seven explains Crewman Harren's background and that B'Elanna has assigned him to the Plasma relay room on deck 15, a fairly lowly task. B'Elanna complains that she's tried to give him more to do but when she does, he doesn't do it. So she's left him alone down there, like he wants to be. Security receives a near perfect grade, however, Seven believes the Phaser rifles could use reorganization, making them more accessible in an emergency. The Doctor then complains how "Billy" ruined his score, by visiting Sickbay once a week, and always complaining of one illness or another, but never is one found. The Doctor explains that Telfer is a hypochondriac, saying that he's afraid of medication and that he's also afraid of counseling. Harry Kim brings up Seven's score, which she reluctantly explains. Crewman Tal Celes, a sensor analyst, whose work must always be double checked for errors. Seven thinks maybe reassigning her to Engineering would help improve her work. Captain Janeway, thinking of plan, dismisses the room. Chakotay stays behind and asks what she's planning.

"They've never been on an away mission." Janeway realizes, and Chakotay explains that they get off the ship when ever there's general leave. Janeway wants to do something about it, but Chakotay suggests relieving them of duty, to pursue their own interests. Janeway doesn't want to "just deactivate them", like Borg drones, so she decides to put them on the Delta Flyer mission.

File:Messhall Goodshepherd.JPG

Telfer and Celes working on a sensor analysis

In the messhall, Telfer explains to Celes the aspects of the subspace infrared algorithm, to better analyze the data. He suggests breaking them down to four small algorithms, when Captain Janeway walks in and overhears their conversation. Celes asks what the sequence is, and Captain Janeway comes in "Zero-G Is Fun". They both jump to attention, but Janeway say at ease. "Zeta particle derivation. Gamma wave frequency. Ion distribution. Flow rate of positrons." Captain Janeway sits down handing each of them a PADD and tells them that the briefing will be in Astrometrics that afternoon. As the captain walks away, the two officers stare at the PADDs in awe.

Captain Janeway enters a turbolift, and heads for deck 15. Janeway exits the turbolift, and can't seem to find her way around deck 15. She starts walking down a corridor, when a crewman notices her, and shouts "Captain on the deck!", and the near-by officers stand at attention. Janeway replies "at ease", and asks where Junction room 16 is. Crewman Mitchell points her in the right direction, and she takes a moment to ask him how he's been. He replies "Never better ma'am, yourself?" She smiles, and heads for the Plasma relay room, "Not bad, not bad at all." As she heads down the corridor, at the first junction she takes a wrong turn, and Crewman Mitchell points her in the right direction again.

She enters, looks around, and finds him in an obscure corner. He turns, surprised to see her, and asks if she's lost. She smirks and says "I was, for a minute". She hands him the PADD on the mission, and he says there must be a mistake. She assures him that there's no mistake, but he continues that he wants to stay there. She tells him that Ensign Culhane will cover for him and orders him to report to Astrometrics for the briefing. He tells her as she's about to leave that he's about to disprove Shlezholt's theory, but she reminds him that Wang’s Second Postulate "has more lives than a cat", which is what's been giving him problems and she leaves.

Act Two

In Astrometrics, Janeway explains the details of the mission with a diagram of the cluster on the screen. Tal Celes is assigned to run an ongoing sensor analysis to provide information for the rest of the crew. Harren is going to monitor subspace particle decay for anything new that they can learn on star formation and Crewman Telfer will look for signs of life, even if it is unlikely in the environment. Telfer asks if they'll land on any planets if they find any. Harren says that any planets in the cluster would be gas giants, and Captain Janeway reassures him that the Delta Flyer is fully equipped for medical emergencies. The Captain reminds them to be in Shuttlebay 1 at 0600 hours and dismisses them. Seven reminds the Captain that she'll have to constantly monitor Celes's work for errors and that the mission could be better served with a more experienced crew. Janeway tells her that the mission isn't only to explore the T-cluster, but also to "rescue" the three crewman. She tells Seven the story of the Good Shepherd, that if even one sheep of the flock went astray, the shepherd would leave the safety of the flock and retrieve it.


Harren working on one of his theories, alone in the messhall

In the mess hall, Neelix sits down with B'Elanna and Paris, who are watching Crewman Harren in drinking coffee and working on a PADD alone in the corner. Paris feels sorry for him, rotting away on deck 15, and jokes that "it’s to bad he doesn't have a superior officer who cares". B'Elanna says it’s not her job to keep everyone happy. Neelix doesn't think they've even said two words to him, but Paris replies that he’s said two words exactly: "Excuse me", during a Borg attack. Since they were at red alert, he considered it quite courteous. B'Elanna suggests he go over there and offer encouragement, so he does. Paris asks Harren what he’s doing and he shows him a bad with an exceptionally complex equation on it. Harren can see that he doesn't understand, and jokes what he finds most interesting about it. Paris simply replies "your creative use of the minus sign". Paris returns to the table, having failed in his attempt to befriend Harren.

Tal Celes is sleeping in her quarters when Telfer contacts her on her com badge. She knows what he’s going to say, and says "You're not sick..." He claims that he is, as he scans himself with a medical tricorder. She decides to ignore him and goes back to sleep.

Telfer goes to sickbay in robe and slippers and the Doctor scans him, showing that he has a minor 0.2° fever. Telfer claims he may have a multiphasic prion. The Doctor reassures him several times that he does not have a prion. The Doctor tells him he won't give him a medical excuse to avoid going on the away mission and that he’ll be having so much fun exploring that he won’t have time for his hypochondria.

Telfer jokes to Celes in the aft compartment

Several hours later, the Delta Flyer drops out of warp, and retracts its warp nacelles. Captain Janeway, at the helm, drops to one-quarter impulse and has Celes start the sensor sweeps. The ship shudders and Harren confirms that it wasn’t the engines that caused it. Celes scans for any problems but doesn’t find anything more than simple background noise. Janeway goes to check her work and agrees. Telfer asks over the com if anyone wants lunch and Celes offers to go back to help him with it. Captain Janeway asks "Mortimer" if he’d like anything but he just turns and coldly says "Even my mother didn’t call me that..." Janeway says she’ll have the pasta soup, under Neelix 651. Celes eagerly agrees and says she’ll have the same thing and goes to the aft compartment.

Celes relays the order and Telfer replicates two servings of the pasta soup. Celes depressingly sits down and says that the Captain is checking every single thing she does. Telfer tries to reassure her it’s just standard procedure. Celes wishes that she could go back to Voyager and Telfer wishes the same thing. They joke that they could always take the escape pods.

Back in the forward section of the Delta Flyer, Janeway is trying to start a conversation with Harren, referring to the fact that he grew up on Vico V. But Harren coldly asks if she really believes the environment a child is raised in is more important than genetically driven behavior patterns and accuses her of filling her attempt at conversation with unspoken assumptions that he doesn’t agree with. Janeway tries to change the subject, by jokingly asking how his 13th chromosome is and missing a couple base pairs in gene 178. Harren also decides to change the subject and explains how he only signed on to Voyager because the Orion Institute of Cosmology required a year of hands on experience and how he'd be there right now had Voyager not become stranded in the Delta Quadrant.

File:DeltaFlyer scraped hull.JPG

The Delta Flyer loses a section of hull plating

Janeway says that space exploration is unpredictable but Harren just says that that’s why he doesn’t like space exploration. He goes on about not liking space travel, as Janeway just rolls her eyes and wonders if this was such a good idea. Harren decides to join the other "misfits" for lunch and heads to the aft compartment. Just after he leaves, the Captain picks up an unknown spatial fluctuation. Then the ship is violently rocked, as a piece of the outer hull is sheared off by an unknown source. Janeway calls red alert, and tries to contact the aft section, but there’s no response.

Act Three

The Delta Flyer is adrift and main propulsion is offline. The three crew personnel hurry into the bridge section returning to their consoles. Janeway brings emergency power online, as Harren reports that 90% of the anti-matter has been drained and one-eighth impulse is the best the engines can do, which means that it could be 10 years before they would reach the rendezvous point. Janeway transmits an emergency distress call and has Celes check sensors, but Harren says it was a dark matter proto-comet. Janeway read a paper on it once and Harren says that he’s the one who wrote it. He believed a tertiary product of stellar consolidation would condense into a comet like assemblage of dark matter that would be attracted to antimatter and neutralize it on contact. He believes that the warp core should be ejected but Janeway believes it’s the best way of getting main propulsion online. Celes suggests bringing the hull plate that was pulled off aboard and scanning it for dark matter residue.

In the aft compartment, Janeway is scanning the hull plate that was beamed aboard. She hands the tricorder to Celes and has her download it into the computer. Celes feels guilty for not realizing the spatial fluctuations from earlier could be a problem. Janeway reassures her that she doesn’t have to doubt herself all the time but she assures her that she does because she makes mistakes all the time. On Voyager Seven doesn’t let her do anything to critical but out here, she could get everyone killed. Celes explains how she got through Starfleet Academy, feeling that the conflict on Bajor worked in her favor and that the Federation was so eager to get Bajorans in Starfleet. Janeway says she brought her aboard because she showed signs of unconventional thinking, such as not everyone would have thought to bring the hull plate aboard. Celes says that the computer analysis is like a monster to her and that it chases her in her nightmares. Janeway says that maybe they can find her another post on Voyager but she says the only post she’d be good at would be a waitress in the mess hall. Celes doesn’t believe she’s really a part of Voyager, she just lives there.

In the bridge section, Harren is repairing an EPS relay, as Telfer is distracted by scanning himself with a medical tricorder. Harren says to cut the plasma flow but Telfer’s still distracted. The EPS relay starts venting gas, as Telfer finally hits the console. Harren gets up, angry, that he could have been killed. Telfer claims to be sick but again it is just his hypochondria. Harren would prefer to be on deck 15, where he’s his own number one priority. Telfer asks if he ever gets lonely down there but Harren prefers to be in the company of his own thoughts. Telfer asks him to spend some time with him and Celes when they get back as he might like it but Harren simply says that he doesn’t like proving his hypotheses.

Captain's Log, Delta Flyer, Stardate 53764.3. We've been running on minimal power for six hours. Still no response to our distress call, and no answers from the computer on what hit us. For now, it looks like we're on our own.

Janeway briefs the crew on the results of scanning the hull fragment. They found some displaced positrons that could indicate a dark matter impact but could have been caused by something else. This is reason enough for Harren, who suggests dumping the remaining antimatter. Janeway says it isn't proof enough for her and activates a panel, which shows a star chart. There is a T-class gas giant within range, surrounded by radiogenic rings, which could reinitiate the warp core, so they set a course. They go back to their stations,


Celes monitoring sensors

and Celes picks up another spatial fluctuation. Janeway decides to hail it but there's no response. Harren still wants to eject the core but Janeway decides to fire a photon torpedo, since the antimatter in it would draw the anomaly if that's what it is. Just as the spatial disruptions are leaving sensor range, a loud murmuring sound fills the Delta Flyer. They all scan around with tricorders and converge on Crewman Telfer. He then disappears in an alien transporter beam. Celes scans the area and Janeway concludes he's not anywhere, space, subspace, just as he rematerializes. "" he says, as a creature can be seen moving around under his skin and a cut on the back of his neck.

They take him to the biobed in the aft section, and try to transport the creature out of him. Transporters aren't picking it up, nor are the tricorders. Janeway suggests it could be some kind of "Dark matter life-form". Harren concludes that it's impossible as molecules that complex would collapse under their own weight. Telfer says that he was transported to a dark place where he couldn't see anything. He tried to talk, but there was no air. Celes offers reassurance saying that if they wanted to kill him they'd have done it already. Janeway activates a forcefield around the biobed and leaves Celes to monitor Telfer. Janeway and Harren go to the bridge section.

Harren says they never should have left Voyager but Janeway jokes that Voyager's no safe haven either. They've been up against the Borg, the Hirogen, Species 8472. Janeway asks if he ever wishes to be a part of the friendships he sees on Voyager. He awkwardly responds "You don't know me at all." and goes back to working at his console. The Delta Flyer receives a transmission on a Starfleet frequency. It's their distress call, but modified on the same dispersal pattern as the anomalies. They play the message, which is a distorted version of the distress call. Harren thinks that they're taunting them but Janeway thinks that they're trying to communicate. Just as they are going to modulate the Universal translator, Telfer walks through the doors. "He walked right through the forcefield..." Celes says, as the alien controls Telfer's motor functions. Janeway grabs a phaser and stuns Telfer but he just falls over onto the console. The alien rips through the skin on Telfer's neck and jumps onto a console. It taps into the environmental systems, as sparks and minor explosions fill the cockpit. Harren grabs a phaser, and Janeway orders him to hold his fire. Harren fires at the alien anyway and vaporizes it. Janeway throws the phaser out of his hand and yells at him, saying now they've lost any chance for first contact. The Flyer shakes as another section of hull is ripped off. Janeway takes the flyer into the rings of the gas giant where they can only survive a few minutes - just long enough to restart the warp core.

Act Four

The Delta Flyer enters the radiogenic ring, and begins transporting radiogenic particles directly into the reaction chamber. Janeway goes back to check on Telfer who is feeling better than usual. He explains that his hypochondria was like an internal red alert, which always told him he was sick or dying. Janeway relates that as a child, she was afraid of the ocean - she liked to swim in shallow areas but not the ocean where you didn't know what was beneath you. During her first year at the academy, she went through Zero-G training in the Coral sea and overcame her fear. Celes says that the aliens are in pursuit. They'll intercept in half the time needed to start the warp core. Janeway orders the others to the escape pod with intentions to ignite the ring and escape at full impulse. Celes says that she wants to stay and that on Voyager not much of what they do matters but here it's important. Telfer also decides to remain.

File:DeltaFlyer escapepod.JPG

Harren tries to distract the dark-matter lifeforms

Harren decides to leave alone and enters escape pod one. Just as they are about to fire, the escape pod changes heading and heads for the dark matter life forms. They try to beam him aboard but they are out of transporter range. They come very close to hitting the dark matter aliens but beam the escape pod aboard and head out of the rings. They fire aft phasers at a radiogenic rock in the ring and it explodes, causing a chain reaction in the ring. A shockwave approaches the Delta Flyer from behind and Celes counts down to impact. Inaccurately counting, the shockwave hits several seconds after Celes predicted.

In Voyager's sickbay, Chakotay says that they found the Flyer drifting over a gas giant and everyone is alright. Janeway asks but they didn't find any signs of Dark matter life forms or another ship. He asks her what happened and she says, continuing the metaphor from before, "The good shepherd went after some lost sheep and ran into a wolf." Chakotay asks if she found them and Janeway smiles, lying on the biobed, "I think she did."

Background Information

  • This episode can be related to TNG: "Lower Decks", in that they both feature the low ranking crewmen with less focus on the main characters.
  • Another episode like this is VOY: "Learning Curve". Interestingly, that episode centered on several ex-Maquis crew who were performing below standards, while this episode features all (original) Starfleet personnel.
  • When Telfer is put in the biobed, a very 20th century "404 Error" Microsoft warning can be seen on the biobed display. Later, when Harren is in the escape pod, another 20th century mouse-pointer can clearly be seen scrolling around the LCARS panel he's working at.

Memorable Quotes

  • "I can't get a lock, it's like something's there, but it's...not there."
"Oh, it's there."
"Unfortunately I have to agree."
-Tal Celes, Crewman Telfer, and Captain Janeway, on the lifeform inside Telfer
  • "Contact in 4...3...2...1... ...more or less."
-Tal Celes, counting down to impact of shockwave inaccurately

Links and References

Guest Stars


class T (cluster); Delta Flyer; Delta Flyer escape pod; dark matter; dark matter proto-comet; dark matter life-form; hypochondria; multiphasic prion; Orion system; Orion I; Schlezholt's Theory of Multiple Big Bangs; subspace infrared algorithm; Tetrovaline; Vico system; Vico V; Wang's Second Postulate

External links

Five-Minute "Good Shepherd"

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