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After Voyager rescues the crew of a severely damaged alien vessel carrying convicts to their executions, the crew begins to question the aliens' legal system.



USS Voyager responds to a distress call from a severely damaged ship. When Harry Kim detects eleven life signs, two weak ones, Captain Janeway has the weak ones beamed to sickbay, and the rest to cargo bay 1. Tuvok sends security teams to both locations.

When the crew of the damaged ship is beamed aboard, one of the aliens, Yediq, is dismayed that he and his security officers do not have their weapons. Tuvok assures him they will be returned to them when they leave. They are guarding eight very dangerous prisoners, two of whom did not appear with them. Those two are in sickbay, and one of them, Iko, holds Seven of Nine hostage with a scalpel.

Act One

The Doctor has the security officers put down their weapons, and begins negotiating with Iko. Tuvok walks in, and says once again he will not be harmed. Yediq, however, informs him he will not negotiate, making things worse. Fortunately Seven managed to disarm him, and his next target, The Doctor, simply allows Tuvok's phaser shot to go through him.

Later, Tuvok asks Yediq in the conference room why he did not use the escape pods. Yediq replies that he did not want his prisoners to get away, despite the grave risk. He is taking them back to their homeworld for execution. All were murderers, and several are multiple offenders. He asks to be taken back to his homeworld, which is 13 light-years in the wrong direction. To avoid any more delay, he even agrees to have his world send a ship to pick them up. Janeway agrees. After the meeting, Chakotay raises the ethical implications of helping take prisoners to their deaths. Janeway says she understands, but the Prime Directive applies.

In sickbay, Seven of Nine has recovered, and The Doctor does have a minor glitch. Janeway comes to check on their progress, when she is threatened by Iko. He presses his hand on the sickbay force field, and says that he will kill them all if he is not released. She has Tuvok beam them to their new accommodations in the cargo bay: eight cells with tritanium chain mesh, and impenetrable force fields, as well as the guards with their weapons, which they will only be allowed to carry in the cargo bay.

Soon after, Neelix arrives with Talaxian spice stew served over leola rice pilaf. Yediq tells him to take it away, since these men do not deserve such a meal. However, when Neelix points out the Federation protocols for treatment of prisoners, he lets them take the food. Joleg thanks Neelix for standing up to him.

Back in sickbay, Seven of Nine, while repairing The Doctor, debates the ethics of capital punishment. The Doctor argues for rehabilitation, stating that the emotional basis for eye-for-an-eye is revenge. Seven argues for capital punishment, pointing out the resources necessary. She admits that she was seeing both sides of the argument, but The Doctor is still annoyed.

In the prison cell, the prisoners fight among themselves. Joleg teases Iko about his hunger, saying it is the first time he could not steal Egrid's meal. When Iko throws his bowl at the force field, the guards show up. Joleg says Iko did not get enough to eat, and Yediq threatens that if Iko causes another disturbance, he will not be fed the rest of this journey. He does pull-ups on the top of his cage, and implicitly threatens Yediq's children, Boche and Ledara. Yediq has one of his guards beat him. The Starfleet security officers immediately rush over, and put a stop to it.

Act Two

After disarming the guards, the Starfleet officers take Yediq straight to the captain.

Janeway considers his action unjustified: in her mind, there is no cause for beating a defenseless man, no matter what he has done. Yediq simply replies that violence is all he understands; he has spent his entire life hurting people. Janeway sees that as an excuse, and denies them further access to the cargo bay over his objections to Tuvok's competence.

In sickbay, The Doctor asks Seven to assist in repairing Iko's injuries. Since his parietal lobe has been badly damaged, he asks for some of her nanoprobes to repair it. She reluctantly agrees to give them, but does not see what the point is in saving the life of someone who will soon be executed. He says that what happens to them in the end is irrelevant; he will not let them die aboard Voyager.

When Neelix serves the prisoners their next meal – which comes far sooner than they expected – Joleg gets Neelix to ask why Joleg is there, and then tells Neelix why. Joleg says it is because he is Benkaran; they are all criminals, and when he was found at the scene of a murder, he was arrested. Joleg's claim of innocence was dismissed.

In sickbay, Iko wakes up, and is surprised to hear it was Seven's nanoprobes which saved his life. He also adds that he is glad to see she is not afraid of him, and was not even afraid of him when he held the scalpel to her throat.

In the mess hall, Neelix has been postponing dinner as he reads about the Nygean criminal justice system. He is rather disturbed by what he finds (which he relates to B'Elanna Torres and Tom Paris, who have been waiting for fifteen minutes). Benkarans are ten times more likely to be executed for their crimes, and fill 80% of prisons, despite the fact they live in 10% of all Nygean space. In fact, Joleg's trial records indicate he was convicted on circumstantial evidence. Paris is skeptical, thinking Neelix is "the softest touch in the Delta Quadrant." Paris also adds that when he was an inmate at the Federation Penal Settlement, "everybody had a story." Neelix, however, points out that no one there was sentenced to die.

In sickbay, The Doctor and Iko are getting along. When Seven of Nine asks, The Doctor explains that Iko is now a model patient, much different than he was when he had his run-in with her. She suggests he has an unstable personality, making his changes in behavior expected; The Doctor should be wary of attempts to manipulate him.

All of a sudden, he starts complaining of pain in his stomach. The Doctor's medical tricorder scans detect nothing, but he insists on telling The Doctor about the man he killed. The Doctor concludes it is guilt. He blames them, saying he never felt guilty until they used the nanoprobes on him. Despite the fact he could die, he tells them to remove the nanoprobes.

Act Three

Confiding with Seven, The Doctor believes it is in fact the Borg technology. His latest scan shows new neural pathways throughout his cortex, instead of just bypassing the edema. However, he cannot be sure it is abnormal without accessing information from the Nygean government.

Iko then asks Seven of Nine to stay with him; he is scared. He talks about his childhood, how he named constellations. She takes interest.

Meanwhile, in the prison cell, Neelix plays a game of kadis-kot with Joleg under the watchful eye of the Federation guards. He asks about the statistics he read. Joleg tells him there is nothing that can be done. Once you are convicted of murder, the family of the victim sentences you. Sometimes there is no punishment at all in the case of forgiveness, or if a negotiated settlement can be reached. Favoring the victims in this manner is the basis of the Nygean legal system. Neelix suggests he can get the Captain to compensate the victims, but Joleg says he does not want that on his conscience. He simply asks for a letter to be sent to his brother to tell them what happened, which Neelix gladly agrees to do.

In sickbay, Seven of Nine gives the recovering Iko an astrometrics log, consistent with his interest in the stars. He just calls them numbers, so she offers to bring a star chart after her next shift. He also says that he deserves to die, since he just hurts people.

Later, The Doctor shows the captain and Seven of Nine the results of his research on Iko's brain. The Doctor explains he has identified a node like the Human pineal gland, and has discovered that Iko's node was detached due to a birth defect. When he used the nanoprobes to repair the injuries, they reattached it as well, making his violent impulses controllable and effectively awakening his conscience. Since he has shown great guilt, and the idea of violence makes him ill, in his medical opinion, he is safe.

Act Four

They take this information to Yediq, and suggest based on this new medical evidence Iko's case be re-examined. Yediq says none of that matters, and still believes he should be put to death. Janeway points out that none of their opinions matter; it is the law that counts. Tuvok then asks if Iko has any means of appeal, and Yediq says that he does: Iko may attempt to appeal to the sentencing family. The captain orders Yediq to help Tuvok draft an appeal.

Iko, however, does not want that. He wants to die. He cannot stop thinking about what he did, and he wants to get what he deserves. Seven of Nine asks if she is terrible; she was compelled to do horrible things by the Borg, unable to control her actions. He also has control now that the nanoprobes have given it to him. He demands she take him back to his cell, pressing his hand on the force field again.

Once there, he refuses Neelix's dinner, instead saying it should be given to Egrid.

Meanwhile, in the captain's ready room, Seven of Nine enters to find Janeway talking to Yediq. She informs Seven that the family refuses to look at the medical evidence. Seven is angry, saying that Iko should be granted asylum. Unfortunately, Janeway is bound by their prior agreement, and agrees to stick to it.

After having Yediq leave, Seven of Nine argues her position, and the captain uncovers the real reason for it – Seven wants his atonement so she can have hers. However, an alien vessel opens fire on them just then.

During the battle, power to the cargo bay fails. All of the prisoners – except Iko – overpower the few guards on duty and escape.

Act Five

The alien ship attempts to beam out the prisoners, but Chakotay disables their transporter array and they leave.

Tuvok, meanwhile, takes down two of the prisoners, but before he can find the rest of them near the shuttle bay, they have Yediq as a hostage. Voyager has no transporters, so they cannot save him before Joleg takes him back to the cargo bay.

As Joleg is about to execute Yediq for all the pain he has caused him, Iko tells him he wants to do it. When Joleg hands Iko the phaser, he hands it to Yediq, and the two other prisoners are quickly shot down. Yediq is surprised that Iko does not resist.

"Captain's log, supplemental. Warden Yediq has used his influence to convince the Nygean family to hear Iko's appeal for leniency."

Iko explains to the family, over Voyager's comm, that he is a different person. He will not beg for his life, and he is still willing to die to relieve their pain.

But Joleg is a different story. Neelix refuses to have anything more to do with Joleg, because Joleg tricked him. The ship that attacked found where Voyager was when the note was transmitted. Joleg then tries to convince Neelix that he is sick, and needs the same treatment Iko had. Neelix does not believe him, and simply leaves.

In astrometrics, Iko is gazing at the stars with Seven of Nine. Unfortunately, the news comes in that the family has not reconsidered. He says goodbye, after asking Seven of Nine to look at him without fear one last time.

After the prisoners are transferred, Seven tells Janeway it is not fair that Iko was executed for killing one person, while she killed thousands as a drone and has never been punished. Janeway tells Seven that losing 20 years of her life to the Borg is punishment enough.

Memorable quotes

"It's unfair."
"I think so too, Seven, but we have to try not to judge their system."
"That's not what I meant. Iko was executed for taking a single life. As a drone I took thousands, but I was never punished."
"You lost twenty years of your life to the Borg. I'd say that's punishment enough."

- Seven and Janeway

"Some of the crew may not be comfortable helping to deliver eight men to their deaths."
"I can't say I like it either, but we have a Prime Directive to follow."

- Chakotay and Janeway

"You're not afraid of me."
"There's no reason to fear someone in your condition."
"You were never afraid of me, not even when I tried to kill you. It's nice to look into someone's eyes and not see fear."

- Iko and Seven after Iko's recovery.

"You have to be a criminal to get something to eat around here?"
"Sorry. Dinner will be ready in fifteen minutes."
(B'Elanna opens the shutter) "You said that 15 minutes ago."

- Tom Paris, Neelix and B'Elanna Torres

"I'm a hologram. I can't be harmed."
(Tuvok fires his phaser, through The Doctor, hitting Iko) "I think you proved my point."

- The Doctor, during the hostage situation in sickbay

"It doesn't feel right."
"You may experience unusual sensations while your matrix realigns."
"I was referring to the arrangement the captain made with the Nygeans. No matter how terrible the crimes these men committed, it seems wrong to hand them over to be executed. This is a Federation starship, not the Barge of the Dead."
"Would you prefer the captain released them?"
"Of course not. They are dangerous men."
"Execution ensures they won't pose a threat to anyone again."
"So would life sentences, the operative word being "life".

- The Doctor and Seven of Nine

"Killing is wrong. No matter who's doing it."

- The Doctor, about his opinion on the Nygean legal system

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2354; analgesic; analogous; animal; appeal; Astrometrics; Astrometrics log; asylum; atonement; Barge of the Dead; beast; Benkaran; Benkaran shuttle; birth defect; Boche; Borg; Borg Collective; Borg technology; bulkhead; Cargo Bay 1; cerebral cortex (cortex); circumstantial evidence; conduit; congenital; conscience; constellation; conviction; criminal justice system; cultural exchange; cybernetic implant; daughter; defendant; destitute; Delta Quadrant; dinner; distress call; dozen; edema; emotional distress; escape pod; evasive maneuvers; execution; eye for an eye; eye; family recipe; fear; Federation; Federation penal colony; feedback surge; friendly fire; game board; Gezid; guilt; hologram; holographic emitters; hostage; humanoid species; hunger; I'm a doctor, not a...; "in the wrong place at the wrong time"; Joleg's brother; judge; kadis-kot; Ledara; legal system; leola rice pilaf; life sentence; light; meal; metal; month; mother; murder; nanoprobe; neural pathway; neurological defect; neurological trauma; neurotransmitter; nausea; number; Nygean; Nygean Detention Force; Nygean controlled sector; Nygean government; Nygean home system; Nygean homeworld; Nygean law/Nygean legal system/Nygean penal code; Nygean prison ship; Nygean space; Nygean transport vessel; Nygean victim; occipital implant; Onella; Paedos; PADD; parietal lobe; partiality; phenomenon; photonic; physiology; pineal gland; plasma leak; plasma radiation; premeditation (premeditated murder); Prime Directive; prison guard; prisoner; pursuit course; rehabilitation; restitution; revenge; scientist; security officer; security report; sociopathic behavior; spicy; star; star chart; statistics; steal; stellar phenomenon; stock; stomach; Talaxian spice stew; transporter array; tritanium; Tuvok the Kid; Vekto Valek K'Vadim; warden; warrior; word

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