After returning from an extended away mission, Voyager crewmembers inexplicably begin having horrific flashbacks to an atrocity that occurred 300 years ago.
The Delta Flyer returns back to USS Voyager from a two week away mission to collect dilithium ore from various planets in the star system. Aboard, Commander Chakotay, Ensigns Tom Paris and Harry Kim, and Neelix are rather cranky with each other. The men are tired, somewhat irritable, and unwashed. They grouse about the way each other smells, as they approach Voyager. Chakotay hails the bridge, requesting permission to return to the shuttlebay. Stepping into the corridor from the shuttlebay, they are greeted by The Doctor, the crew's holographic Chief Medical Officer, and Chief Engineer Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres. Torres is especially glad to see Paris as she has a surprise for him, Paris and Torres go to Paris' quarters. Tom is very surprised and most pleased to find that she has replicated a 1956 wood-grain finish television set. She happily presents him with the remote control. Pleased as he is, he points out that these television sets had no remotes, but she dismisses the discrepancy as poetic license. He does not mind in the least.
Time passes. Torres falls asleep on the couch. Paris continues watching television. A war scene comes on. He watches raptly, but then he sees something very strange: the combatants are using energy weapons. Then, suddenly, he sees himself on screen, taking part in the fighting.
Paris stares in great alarm. He watches himself running through a wood, ducking fire and returning it. Then, to his horror, he finds himself actually in the battle, instead of watching an image of himself in it on the TV. Hands shake him and a voice calls him concernedly. He finds himself safely back in his quarters, Torres looking at him worriedly. He tells her about what happened, saying that he must have fallen asleep and dreamed. But, he notes tensely, it was the most vivid dream he has ever had. She concernedly suggests going back to cartoons, but, very shaken, he declines; he has had enough TV for one day. He turns it off.
Ensign Kim is working alone in a Jefferies tube. Suddenly he starts to hear sounds of war; the screams and shouts of fighting, dying men, and the whine of energy weapons. He looks around in alarm. The Jefferies tube begins to stretch to eternity. He gets dizzy, and very frightened. He scrabbles desperately to a hatch, the sounds of war now deafening. He crawls out. The sounds fade away. He leans against a wall, hyperventilating. He immediately goes to the sickbay and reports the occurrence to The Doctor, who examines him. The Doctor diagnoses it as an anxiety attack, brought on by tiredness from the away mission. He orders him to take two days off to rest and recover.
In the mess hall galley, Neelix is preparing meals for the crew. But he looks extremely uneasy; he is sweating, and his face has a haunted look. When he hears a teapot on the stove start to whistle, he almost jumps out of his skin, holding a knife up defensively. Seeing that it is nothing, he returns to work, but does not calm down.
Naomi Wildman enters. Neelix dotes upon her, but he is in no mood for anyone's company. She greets him and informs him that she needs to build a tetragon from ordinary materials for her geometry class. Neelix tries his best to listen and be appreciative, but struggles greatly at it. When Naomi lifts a lid off a pot to see what is cooking, and burns her hand a bit, Neelix immediately overreacts, checking her and almost screaming that she needs medical attention. He then shouts at Naomi to get down and behind her, as if they are under attack.
A bloody battle is seen occurring at night in a forest. The whine and flash of energy weapons is heard and seen. But it appears to be a dream; Chakotay is seen asleep in bed in his quarters, albeit restlessly, tossing and turning. In the dream, he tries to get the other soldiers to stop firing, but fails. He goes to see the commander, whom he calls by his name, Saavdra, as if he knows him. He enters the base camp and finds him. He angrily remonstrates with him about what they, himself included, are doing: their enemies are not soldiers; they are, in fact, civilians in a settlement Saavdra, he and the soldiers are supposed to be evacuating. Instead, they are slaughtering them. Saavdra, however, retorts that they had weapons and were firing on the soldiers, and thus the soldiers have no choice.
Suddenly he wakes up, drenched with sweat, hyperventilating. He responds to a repeated hail by Lt. Commander Tuvok informing him of a "security breach in the mess hall".
Neelix is crouched behind the counter. A frightened, uncomprehending Naomi Wildman is held firmly in his grasp in a protective manner, while he fires at the officers with a phaser, shouting that he will not let them hurt her. Tuvok tries to talk him into standing down, but Neelix will not hear it. Chakotay arrives. Tuvok explains that Neelix is apparently hallucinating. Neelix repeats his defiance, shouting that he will only calm down once "Saavdra calls off his attack." On hearing this name, Chakotay realizes that what he experienced was not merely a dream, and Neelix is experiencing it as well. he assures Neelix that Saavdra has indeed called off the attack, and finally succeeds in getting him to stand down. Both head immediately to sickbay.
Neelix lies anesthetized in sickbay. Captain Kathryn Janeway is present. The Doctor reports to her and Chakotay that Neelix is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Chakotay tells The Doctor of his dream, and informs them that Neelix appeared to be reliving those same bloody events. This causes the Doctor grave concern. He informs them of Ensign Kim's earlier visit for an anxiety attack. Chakotay says that nothing irregular happened during the mission.
However, the Doctor quickly scans him with a medical tricorder, and begs to differ: what Chakotay experienced in his sleep was not a dream; it was, in fact, a memory. Janeway surmises that they could have been abducted and brainwashed. She decides that the best place to start understanding what is happening is with retracing the mission. She orders Chakotay to minutely review the Delta Flyer's sensor logs.
In the briefing room Chakotay, Paris, Kim and Neelix discuss the memories with Captain Janeway. They each recall the memory, telling her what happened: they were, so it seems, members of a military unit that was assigned to evacuate a civilian population of a people called the Nakans. Saavdra was the commander of the unit. The events are seen unfolding, with all four of the men supposedly present. The soldiers are tired, the civilians passively hostile. As they round them up in a clearing in a forest, they realize that some are missing. These missing ones begin firing at them from the trees.
The soldiers begin firing indiscriminately, killing the civilians. Men, women and children are seen getting shot as they run, crying out in pain and terror before falling dead. Neelix tries to save some of the children, but they run away from him. Kim, overwhelmed, runs away himself, into a cave and finds a couple hiding there, unarmed. They beg him to spare their lives. He threatens them, telling them that he will only do so if they show him the way out. They do, and he moves to leave. Then he sees the man reaching for something. In a panic, Kim raises his weapon and fires on them both.
In the briefing room, Kim watches his hands in horror. Tears are on the verge of running down his face. Paris and Chakotay try to calm him down, but he is inconsolable. He is finally taken to sickbay as Janeway watches in shock. Her shock changes to abject horror as Chakotay informs her of the exact thing that they 'did' that night. They massacred the civilians; all 82 of them.
Paris lies on the couch in his quarters, haunted by the horrific memories of the massacre. Torres comes to see him, and tries to comfort him, telling him that there is no evidence that these memories are actually his. But he refuses to be comforted, and, unable to deal with anyone, including her, he angrily sends her away.
In Astrometrics, Captain Janeway and Chakotay are reviewing the Flyer's sensor logs. Assisting them is Seven of Nine. They peruse images of planets scanned, surveyed and visited, along with aliens met, including one Bathar, who tried to sell them a formula that would supposedly stop aging. But then a new image stops her snickering. A flash of violent memory passes through her mind. She recognizes the planet. She names it: Tarakis.
She is seen on the planet as a member of the military unit that committed the massacre of the Nakans. Bodies are being piled up. Soldiers are fanning out, looking for survivors... not to transport them but to kill them. Saavdra has ordered the entire thing covered up, and the soldiers are going along with it. They want to kill all witnesses.
Hearing weapons fire, Janeway goes toward the sound. She finds Saavdra supervising the vaporization of the bodies. She is shocked and horrified beyond measure, and tries to get them to stop. Saavdra orders her not to interfere. Consumed with rage and guilt, at both at herself and the other soldiers, she screams at him that trying to cover up the massacre makes their actions doubly wrong. Saavdra angrily orders her to stand aside, insisting that it was self defense, but others would not understand. She tries to appeal to the soldiers, but they agree with Saavdra. They raise their weapons at her. Furiously and helplessly, she withdraws.
She wakes up hyperventilating in the mess hall. The room is dark. Lines after lines of cots are there, each with a crewmember, broken by the strain of dealing with these horrific memories, and the guilt of seemingly being a part of what happened. Tuvok informs her that 39 crewmembers have joined Chakotay, Paris, Kim and Neelix in the experience. The entire crew is beginning to be affected.
Janeway realizes that the situation is now critical and that her crew is being incapacitated. The only ones not affected are Lt. Commander Tuvok, The Doctor and Seven of Nine. Janeway's memory of the atrocity includes the location of the planet where it was committed. She orders Tuvok to set a course to it.
Seven speaks to a despondent Neelix, after bringing him a plate of his favorite food. He is very worried that Naomi Wildman is now afraid of him, and refuses it. Then, however, he asks her how she deals with her guilt over the atrocities she committed as a Borg drone, seeking a way to cope with his guilt over the massacre. She responds that her remorse helps her remember what she did, so that she does not ever do anything like it again. Guilt, she muses, can be a difficult, but useful emotion. He thinks about what she has said, which lifts his spirit a little. He starts to eat the food.
Voyager is seen approaching Tarakis. Tuvok scans the planet and reports there that there are no lifesigns. But, acting upon Janeway's order to run a full spectral scan, Tuvok reports the presence of a power signature. Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, Ensigns Paris and Kim, a security officer, beam down to the planet, in the general vicinity of the power signature. The senior officers remark that, though the place looks very familiar, it does not look like the horrific killing zone they remember. They break into groups and begin searching.
Tuvok, Paris, Kim and the security officer find the cave where Kim remembers killing the couple. Meanwhile, Janeway and Chakotay detect the power signature, and head in its direction.
Tuvok, Paris, Kim and the security officer reach the cave. As soon as he sees it, Kim begins to hyperventilate, his face flushed with fear. Tuvok orders Paris and the security officer to stand guard at the mouth, and he and Kim enter. As they go deeper inside, Kim struggles to keep down his panic; he is terrified that he will find that he had indeed murdered the couple. When they reach the cavern, they find the skeletons of the victims. Tuvok's scans reveal that they died over 300 years ago. Thus Kim was not responsible. His relief is palpable.
Janeway and Chakotay close in on the power signature. They enter an open, grassy field and find it: a towering monument. Atop it is a yellow globe that pulses weakly. One side of the base is covered with writing. Chakotay remarks that they have found their war.
In Astrometrics, Seven scans the monument. She finds that the structure contains a synaptic transmitter, powerful enough to permeate the entire star system the planet is in with neurogenic pulses. These pulses transmit vivid visions of the Nakan massacre into the minds of anyone within range of the transmitter. Thus anyone who enters the system experiences the visions as if they were their own memories; they remember the massacre as if they participated in it.
Chakotay has Seven translate the writing found on the base. It speaks of mere words not being enough to convey the horror of what happened, neither enough to prevent it being repeated. Actual experience of it is necessary. Janeway realizes that the monument is a memorial to the massacre. But this memorial does more than simply bear testament to the massacre, Chakotay notes with anger; it thrusts unsuspecting innocents into the horror, making then feel as if they were actually a part of it. Janeway muses that perhaps that is the point of it, to leave an indelible memory of what befell these people with passers-by. But the monument is losing power and will soon shut down. She decides that, given that the entire crew was affected, she cannot make that decision without hearing their input. She calls a meeting of the senior staff to discuss it.
At the meeting, Chakotay, Paris and Kim argue that it should be shut down. No-one should be forced to relive a tragedy that they were not a part of. But, surprisingly, Neelix, who was most traumatized by the effect, is against shutting it down. He himself was a victim of a massacre; his family and the entire population of his people on his birthplace of Rinax were killed in a war by a weapon of mass destruction. He thus understands fully why the monument was made and given this power, and is very much in favor of keeping it running, to ensure the victims' story is never forgotten. The argument becomes very heated. Chakotay, Paris and Kim demand of Neelix why innocents should experience an atrocity they did not commit. Neelix responds with equal vehemence that that is how people will learn not to let such a thing happen. Tuvok counters that the logical thing to do is shut it down, given the danger it poses, but Neelix angrily insists that logic is irrelevant here.
Captain Janeway listens to both sides, and comes to a decision: throughout history, she tells them, monuments have been built in memoriam of tragedies. These memorials are honored, as this one should be. They will not shut it down, nor will they leave it to run out of power. Chakotay tries to argue, but she sternly makes it clear that the discussion is closed. However, the concerns about its effects on unsuspecting crews is valid. Therefore, she decides, after repairing the power to the transmitter, they will place a warning beacon in orbit around the planet, so that anyone who approaches the system will be informed of what to expect before they enter the transmitter's range.The senior officers who were affected by the signal beam down along with Neelix. As Janeway watches, they silently install power cells onto the monument, to replace the dying ones. When they finish, they step away. Janeway looks at them and tells them that, though this was hardest on them, if they had not stopped at this planet, the tragedy that occurred there 300 years ago would have been forgotten. The 82 Nakans, she finishes, would be grateful to them.
With one more somber look at the monument, they beam back to the ship. The monument's orb, formerly pulsing, begins to glow with a steady light as its power transmitter returns to full function, transmitting its signal and the lesson it was designed to teach.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. We've entered the system where the away team conducted its recent survey, hoping to find an explanation for their memories of the Nakan massacre."
"Words alone cannot convey the suffering. Words alone can not prevent what happened here from happening again. Beyond words lies experience; beyond experience lies truth. Make this truth your own."
- - Chakotay, reading a translation of the memorial.
"It's given us the chance to bond."
"The bonding stopped when the sonic shower went off line."
- - Neelix and Kim
"It was a shame that we had to cut the lecture short, but the warp core overloaded and then the Borg invaded and we were all assimilated."
"You haven't heard a single thing I've said, have you?"
"Oh, look at that!"
"Maybe this was a bad idea."
- - B'Elanna and Tom, realizing that he is distracted by the new TV set
"What the hell are you doing? They're already dead!"
- - Janeway
"This isn't about logic; it's about remembering!"
- - Neelix
- - Janeway
- The original pitch for this episode came from James Swallow.
- Several props and costumes from this episode were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, including costume components of Gary Franks. 
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 6.7, 4 September 2000.
- As part of the VOY Season 6 DVD collection.
Links and references
- L.L. Ginter as Saavdra
- Scarlett Pomers as Naomi Wildman
- Fleming Brooks as a soldier
- Joe Mellis as a young soldier
- Susan Savage as a Nakan colonist
- Maria Spassoff as a Nakan colonist
- Robert Allen Colaizzi, Jr. as a dying colonist
- David Keith Anderson as Ashmore
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Leslie Hoffman as a Nakan colonist
- Bill Blair as a Nakan colonist
- Dustin Courtney as a Nakan colonist
- Gary Franks as a soldier
- Tom Morga (stunt actor)
- Chester E. Tripp III (stunt actor)
- Unknown actors as
beer; Bathar's species; Capone, Al; carrot; cartoon; celery; champagne; chocolate; claustrophobia; colony; continent; Delta Flyer; dilithium; Farley; geometric sensor; geometry; Gettysburg; hockey; Hodos; insect; jingle; Khitomer; memory engram; Nakan; Nakan massacre; Ness, Eliot; neural suppressant; neurogenic pulse; norepinephrine; obelisk; particle weapon; physical; pizza; plasma; plasma leak; plasma residue; popcorn; post-traumatic stress disorder; power cell; remote control; shield generator; sickbay; sonic shower; spectral scan; spotter; synaptic transmitter; Talaxian stew; Tarakis; television; Tera nut soufflé; tetragon; Toranius Prime; translation matrix; tripolymer enzyme; The Untouchables; warning buoy
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