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Seven of Nine is kidnapped by an opportunistic ringmaster who forces her to participate in a Norcadian blood sport.



A raucous, cheering audience is gathered in an arena. The composition of the audience varies: there are aliens of many different races, as well as a peppering of Humans in Starfleet uniforms. Blue and green lights flash, driving music plays. As the audience cheers, a door opens on one side of the arena. Out steps a lean humanoid alien man, dressed in a skintight outfit. The crowd reacts, some with cheers, others with boos, as he raises his arms, accepting whatever adulation he gets. He fixes his eyes on the opposite door, ready for whoever comes out. From the opposite door steps a Hirogen man, also dressed in tights. There are no boos for him, only cheers. But he shows no notice, instead focusing his full attention on his opponent, making on his forehead the symbolic mark of the hunt.

A bell sounds. The combatants close on each other, circling. On their hands are gloves with glowing pads. Their footwear has the same pads, and circular discs are on their chests. They engage each other in a flurry of kicks, punches, feints and dodges. The alien puts up a good fight, but the Hirogen prevails, knocking him out. The crowd erupts into cheers of "Tsunkat! Tsunkat! Tsunkat!" Now the Hirogen acknowledges the crowd, raising his arm in victory.

Among those applauding are the USS Voyager's first officer and chief engineer.

Act One[]

Voyager is in orbit of Norcadia Prime. Captain Kathryn Janeway, her commanding officer, walks down one of the ship's corridors, accompanied by First Officer Commander Chakotay. She is off on a visit to the nearby Pendari system, while her crew takes shore leave on Norcadia Prime. She issues him some final instructions before taking leave of him and heading for the shuttlebay.

Neelix sunburned

Neelix's severe sunburn

As Chakotay continues along the corridor, he encounters Chief Engineer B'Elanna Torres. They discuss an upcoming match of the type they saw earlier. Heading into the mess hall, they are horrified to see Neelix cooking a most unappetizing-looking bright yellow gel. They fervently hope that it is not going to be served as lunch. Neelix turns to face them, half of his face severely sunburned, and painfully explains that it is leola root skin ointment to treat the burns. In his excitement to visit one of Norcadia Prime's exquisite beaches, he forgot to take an injection of dermaline, a drug to prevent sunburn, and, unfortunately, fell asleep under the planet's twin suns. The two officers sympathize with him, but Neelix prefers not to have them bring down their spirits by feeling sorry for him, so he turns their attention to how they are spending their shore leave.

They tell him about the fights they have been attending on the planet's surface, referring to them as Tsunkatse matches. They describe the sport to the intrigued Talaxian as a "test of strength and agility", and invite him to the matches scheduled for that "afternoon". Having overheard them, Seven of Nine and Lt. Commander Tuvok, chief tactical officer and security chief, respectively, come over from where they were sitting. Seven voices her opinion of the sport as "crude and pointless". Torres, for the umpteenth time annoyed by the former drone's demeanor, contains her ire and merely responds that they will then "not be saving you a seat". Chakotay, knowing Tuvok's interest in martial arts, invites him. But he responds that he and Seven have plans to take a shuttle out to study a nearby micro-nebula. This surprises Neelix and the first two officers: an away mission on shore leave? Seven haughtily responds that she and Tuvok do not require recreation. Again, Torres is put off by her attitude. She makes a snide comment about the Borg not knowing fun and leaves. Chakotay grants them permission to go, but with an injunction that they at least try to have some fun, before leaving as well. Seven and Tuvok go to get ready, and Neelix, stiffly because of his physical discomfort, returns to his cooking.

Having packed her gear in two large cases, Seven heads for the shuttle bay. She and Tuvok set out for the nebula. The journey proceeds smoothly, but then ship's sensors indicate an unknown vessel on a course to intercept them. Seven attempts to hail it, but gets no response. The vessel begins emitting a dampening field which drains the shuttle's power until it is lost completely, with even the lights in the cabin going out, leaving the craft dead in space. Suddenly they hear the whine of a transporter as something is beamed into the cabin. Tuvok scans it and reports it as an explosive.



Attempts to beam it off are not possible, since their transporter is without power. Tuvok attempts to disable it. He fails and it explodes.

When Seven comes to, she finds herself on a bunk in a room looking like a barracks. Others are present, dressed in Tsunkatse combat outfits. Some mill about, others lightly spar with each other. One of those present is the Hirogen fighter, who stands on the other side of the room, watching her closely. She is scanned by a shifty-looking man with a Fu Manchu mustache. The man notes with approval her Borg-enhanced physiology. She sits up, alarmed. The man welcomes her "to Tsunkatse", commenting that the sport has never before had a drone competing, and that she will be very popular. Seven watches him warily.

Act Two[]

Seven demands Tuvok's location from Penk. He blithely responds that he was injured in the explosion. She angrily demands to see him. He happily agrees and dispatches two guards to go and bring him. He soothingly tells her nothing is more important to him than the comfort and happiness of his fighters. The Hirogen listens. "Yes," he comments sarcastically, with a laugh. "Penk's generosity is… legendary." This evokes laughter from the others as well. All now have their attention on Seven. Annoyed, Penk orders them to be silent. Seven flatly refuses to participate.

Tuvok's injuries

Tuvok, badly injured by Penk's bomb

The guards return with Tuvok. His condition is severe: his uniform is charred and his skin is badly burned. Seven angrily demands medical attention for him. "Will you fight?" Penk counters. Tuvok, in a pained voice, advises her not to comply, as his condition is not severe; obviously he is trying to protect her. Penk, seeing this, turns up the pressure by musing that he will put Tuvok in a "red match" to reward his bravery. As he watches Seven intently, the Hirogen informs her that a "red match" is a fight to the death, and states the obvious: Tuvok would not survive. But, Penk adds, she might. The Hirogen, however, seems to have taken an interest in her; he suggests to Penk that he put her in a "blue match" instead, as it is her first time, and he, Penk, would not want to lose her so soon, favoring her because of her Borg enhancements. Penk considers, and then agrees. Left with no choice, Seven acquiesces: she will comply if he treats Tuvok. With a silky, shark-like smile, Penk agrees.

On Voyager, in the mess hall, Torres, Chakotay, Ensign Tom Paris, and Ensign Harry Kim discuss their favorites for the upcoming Tsunkatse matches for that "afternoon". Chakotay and Torres then leave, continuing the discussion between them. Torres, however, is unpleasantly surprised when Chakotay informs her that he has rearranged the duty shifts so that she has the bridge for that period. Outraged, but keeping it in check, as Chakotay is the first officer, she accuses him of sticking her with that shift so he could go. He does not deny it, responding that, as an anthropologist, it is necessary for him to be there to study Tsunkatse as a cultural phenomenon. He reminds her of her advice to him to delegate responsibilities more while in command. He takes leave of her, and she stands fuming quietly, before herself walking off.

In sickbay, Neelix is being treated by The Doctor, the holographic chief medical officer, for an allergic reaction to his homeopathic sunburn treatment; the area where he has been applying his leola root ointment is blistered. The Doctor voices a hope that he has learned his lesson: Talaxian homeopathy is no substitute for medical science. He gives him a hypospray injection for the swelling and discoloration, and instructs him to stay out of the sun next time he goes down to the planet.

Neelix expresses concern about how this will affect rest of his shore leave. The Doctor responds that he should limit it to indoor activities. Neelix muses aloud that he should therefore accept Chakotay's and Torres' invitation to attend the scheduled Tsunkatse matches they spoke about. The Doctor voices his disapproval in no uncertain terms, telling Neelix he is disappointed in him for even considering viewing this "barbaric" activity where people cheer for one individual to possibly seriously injure another. Surely, he suggests, he can find something other than "alien fisticuffs". Neelix asks him for an alternative. He happily responds that there is a beetle larvae exhibit at the Norcadian Museum of Entomology. He is planning to visit it. He invites Neelix along. Neelix makes a show of sarcastically weighing the options. "Hmmm…" he "muses" aloud. "Alien bugs, or alien fisticuffs. Oh, that's a tough one," he finishes, leaving.

Pendari champion

The Pendari champion

His choice is seen. He is at one of the Tsunkatse matches, cheering and shouting "Tsunkat! Tsunkat!" along with Chakotay and Ensigns Paris and Kim. This time, the combatants are two humanoid alien women. As one of them wins, knocking out the other, Chakotay explains the rules to Neelix. Each fighter wears polaron disruptors on his or her hands and feet (the glowing pads on their gloves and footwear). These disruptors emit a charge into the opponent on contact with one of the opponent's target sensors (one of which is the circular disc on the chest). The object is to attack the opponent's sensors without exposing his or her own. Paris urges them to quit talking and concentrate on enjoying the fights.

Seven of Nine readies herself for Tsunkatse match

Seven faces the Pendari champion

They all settle down to do just that as the driving fanfare swells again. They look expectantly at the arena pit's entrance doors, awaiting the entrances of the next combatants. One of the doors opens, and one of the combatants steps out. He is a tall, well-built Pendari man. Looking extremely confident, he acknowledges the crowd with a single, raised eyebrow. Kim, Paris, and Chakotay comment to Neelix on the great strength of the Pendari; this should be a very entertaining match. They eagerly look to the other door, awaiting the entrance of his opponents. The door opens and the opponent steps out.

Their enjoyment, and that of all the other Voyager crewmembers in attendance however, morphs into abject shock when they see, stepping out and standing uncertainly, facing the Pendari, the lithe form of a very familiar female former Borg drone.

Act Three[]

Seven and Tsunkatse champion engage

Seven and the Pendari engage each other

Seven and the Pendari circle each other slowly. Chakotay, Neelix, Kim, and Paris desperately call out to her, but to no avail; they apparently cannot make themselves heard over the crowd. As they circle, the Pendari registers his disgust, disdainfully comparing her in size to a Tarkanian field mouse. Penk, he tells her, insults him by putting her to face him. Seven coldly warns him of her superior, Borg-enhanced strength. "I'm trembling." he responds sarcastically, and launches an attack which knocks Seven down. In the audience, Chakotay, Kim, and Paris continue trying get her attention, yelling her name at the top of their lungs, but eventually give up, seeing that it is futile. Seven assures the Pendari, Borg-style, that resistance is futile. He is unimpressed. "So is all your talk," he responds, and swings at her. She dodges, but then he floors her again with a kick to the chest.

Chakotay hails Voyager and informs Torres of what is happening. She cannot believe her ears. Chakotay orders her to beam Seven out. As she hurries to a console, Seven actually begins landing some blows herself, causing the Pendari to stumble with a well-placed punch to the face. Chakotay, Kim, and Paris watch with agitation. Seven lands two kicks on the Pendari's chest target sensor, knocking him to his knees with pain. She tells him she has no desire to harm him further. But he has no such qualms about her, and rises with a lunging "clothesline" that floors her hard. She jumps to her feet and kicks him in the face. He responds with a backhanded blow to hers that again knocks her down.

Torres hails Chakotay and reports, inexplicably, that she has locked the transporter onto the pit's coordinates, but the sensors say Seven is not there. Chakotay responds that he is looking right at her. Not according to the sensors, Torres insists. Kim suggests that perhaps her life signs are being masked. Chakotay orders Torres to try recalibrating the sensors to compensate. The fight continues, but something strange happens: she and the Pendari briefly fizzle as if they are not flesh and blood, but images. Torres reports that the only readings the transporters are getting are photonic. The officers immediately know what it means: they are, in fact, holograms, which means that the sensors were correct: Seven is indeed at another location. This is confirmed: the fight is seen continuing, but with no audience except Penk and his guards, watching from a window high up. It is being transmitted via hologram to the arena. An alarms sounds, informing Penk of the disruption of the transmission. He orders compensatory measures. The guards obey.

Pendar Champion prepares to defeat Seven of Nine

The Pendari smacks Seven down

Meanwhile, Seven manages to floor the Pendari again. She then charges at him. He does not rise, dazed from her blow. She leans over him, her arm raised to knock him out with a direct blow to his chest sensor. But she hesitates. He recovers and kicks her in her abdomen, then strikes her in the face. He stands at her side, facing opposite to her, and locks his arm across her throat and other shoulder. He then dazes her with a sharp blow to the sensor on her back, and then, using his full strength, lifts her up with his locked arm and falls forward, bring her over and down on her back, very hard. This all but knocks her out; he then finishes the job with a punch to her chest sensor. He rises and looks around as if looking around at the audience, while they loudly begin the "Tsunkat!" chant. But, this time, the Voyager crewmembers do not join them. Seeing there is nothing they can do, Chakotay, Kim, and Paris beam back up, concerned looks on their faces as they behold Seven's prostrate, unconscious form.

Captain Janeway's shuttle is seen at maximum warp. Chakotay has contacted her and informed her of the situation, and she is returning immediately. She receives a full report from him and Torres via viewscreen. Kim and Paris are at their stations on the bridge, looking on concernedly. Chakotay and Torres report that they are having difficulty tracing the transmission, as it is being sent to every planet in the sector; it could take days to locate Seven and Tuvok. Neelix, they continue, is meeting with a group of Norcadian officials, using diplomatic channels to try to find them. Janeway responds that she will be there in 48 hours.

Seven, bruised but otherwise unharmed, wakes up back in the Tsunkatse barracks to find the Hirogen passing a dermal regenerator over her. She shrinks from him defensively, and tells him to use it on Tuvok. He responds that he already has. He congratulates her on her performance, noting that she would have defeated the Pendari were it not for her hesitation in delivering the final blow; in Hirogen terms, she questioned her desire to destroy her prey. He tells her with proper training, she could be a champion. Seven is not in the least interested, responding that her only goal is to survive. The Hirogen gravely tells her that there is no difference between a survivor and a champion there.

Penk enters with his guards. He is most pleased with her for losing; the sight of a Borg drone getting beaten up in the pit was a major attraction; his audiences were much larger than usual. He has every intention of taking further advantage of that; he has scheduled a "red match" for the day after the next, and, he informs her, she will be in it. Penk leaves with his guards, but not before inviting her to imagine how many will pay to see her die, if so many paid just to see her hurt. Seven notes the difficulty of her predicament. But the Hirogen tells her confidently she will win; he is going to train her. She reiterates her resolve not to kill anyone. The Hirogen levelly tells her to consider the alternative. She does, looking at Tuvok, and realizes that, if they are to survive long enough to be rescued, she has no choice. "Teach me," she responds determinedly.

Act Four[]

Seven and Hirogen spar

Seven is trained

The Hirogen begins training Seven. At first, she goes by the book: the Book of Tsunkatse, a manual on the various maneuvers, attacks and defenses, which Tuvok had borrowed from one of the other fighters. But the Hirogen quickly shows her the folly of that. Tsunkatse, he tells her, must be lived and felt in the heart; it cannot be assimilated from a book. Her movements must be instinctual. She learns this important lesson. He also teaches her another one: Never to empathize with her opponent, her prey, as he puts it. She learns this lesson as well, and her training resumes.

Neelix beams back to Voyager after speaking with the Norcadian ambassador. His report to Chakotay is not heartening: the Norcadians, he tells him sarcastically, showed great outrage at the possibility that off-worlders were being forced to fight. But, he continues, it was not genuine; according to a Pendari delegate, much of the planet's revenue comes from Tsunkatse, and thus the Norcadian government will do nothing to jeopardize it, despite the illegal and immoral recruitment tactics. Therefore, he finishes, they will not be of any help finding Seven and Tuvok.

Penk's starship

Penk's transmission ship

They go to astrometrics, where Kim and Torres report that the transmissions are actually coming from a ship. But, they soberly report, the ship is very large, very well-armed, and very well-armored; it is more than a match for Voyager. Chakotay determinedly voices the old adage "the bigger they come…". He orders the coordinates be sent to Captain Janeway, in the hope that she could provide assistance.

Seven ready to fight

Seven is ready to hunt…

On Penk's ship, in the Tsunkatse barracks, Seven completes her training. She is extremely focused and fast, her strikes precise, her balance and coordination finely-honed. The Hirogen, looking at her in approval, asks her what she sees when she looks at her opponent. "My prey," she hisses. And, he continues, what will she do to her prey? "Hunt it down and kill it," she snarls. The Hirogen pronounces her ready, and instructs her to rest before the match. She thanks him. He responds that she should thank him by winning, then leaves her.

She goes over to Tuvok, who, thanks to the Hirogen's treatment with the dermal regenerator, is up and about. She finds him trying to disable the ship's shields and dampening field from a panel he has opened. It is no use. He re-covers the panel and asks about her training. She responds that the Hirogen has taught her well. But the cold-hearted fierceness she displayed earlier evaporates. She is extremely worried about what she may do in the pit, such as actually killing her opponent. He exhorts her to do what is necessary to survive, until they are rescued. Then Penk and his guards come for her. The Hirogen watches them go with resignation.

In the pit, she enters, ready for her fight, ready to face whatever is coming. Then the other door opens, and her opponent comes out.

The moment she sees who it is, her face registers her shock. It is the Hirogen.

Act Five[]

Seven and the Hirogen circle each other. Her sense of betrayal comes at him in a bitter accusation. "You knew," she tells him coldly. He confirms it. She accuses him of setting her up, pretending to train her only to learn her weaknesses. He denies this, responding that his aim was to help her overcome them; he has been there for nineteen years, and has grown tired. He wants to die in the pit, and wants her to be the instrument of his death. Seven insists she will not do it. He then insists that he will then be forced to kill her. They engage, to the unheard cheers of the various audiences watching their images unknowingly.

Voyager approaches Penk's ship. On the bridge, Chakotay has Kim hail it. Penk appears on the viewscreen, annoyed, snapping that this is not a convenient time. Chakotay demands the return of Seven and Tuvok, threatening to open fire in thirty seconds if he does not comply. He smiles and conveys his respect for Chakotay's chutzpah, but then crisply adds that Voyager is no match for him, and cuts the connection.

As they begin fighting, Seven insists that they can find a way out of this apart from one killing the other, but the Hirogen insists that there is none. He grabs her from behind, pinning her arms behind her, and demands that she make a choice as to what she is: hunter or prey. Seven breaks the lock and, left without a choice, chooses the former. She begins solidly defending and counter-attacking.

USS Voyager attacks Penk's starship

Voyager engages Penk's ship

Voyager is also engaged in a fight of her own, against Penk's ship. They manage a direct hit to his aft shield generators, allowing Torres to locate Tuvok. On Chakotay's order, Kim beams him to sickbay. On arrival, he hails the bridge and informs Chakotay of Seven's forced fight to the death. However, he has suspicions about where the fight is: on the ship's uppermost deck. Chakotay directs fire on the shield generators there, but Kim reports that the shields there are multi-phasic; their weapons cannot penetrate to reach the generators. But Penk's ship has no such problems: hit after hit degrades their own shields to dangerously low levels.

Seven continues to fight, but she is getting spent; her eyes and breath are ragged, her speed slowing down. The Hirogen body-slams her and begins to taunt her, telling her she is weak, and unworthy as prey.

Then he hits her ultimate nerve: he sneeringly calls her imperfect.

Seven enraged

Calling Seven imperfect? Not a good idea…

Seven becomes furious, springing to her feet and ferociously attacking the Hirogen. Three vicious kicks knock him down. Sensing that he has found what he needed to find to make her do what he wants, he rises and taunts her again, asking her if that is the best she can do. Her response is two more kicks and a punch to the head, knocking him down again, as the crowd, impressed by her skill and ferocity despite their hatred of her as Borg, begin cheering for her.

Voyager is not faring nearly as well. The hammering from Penk's ship causes complete shield failure. Kim still cannot get a transporter lock on Seven. Then Chakotay gets an idea: if they cannot knock out their shields, then perhaps they should knock out their signal generators that are transmitting the fight; if no one is watching, why continue it? Chakotay orders fire on the generators. Incoming fire breaches a deck; he orders it sealed.

In the pit, Seven of Nine continues her all-out assault on the Hirogen. Teeth gritted, eyes blazing, she punches him in the face, runs to a wall and braces herself on it as he rises and charges at her. He is greeted by a hard right boot that lifts him clear off his feet and flips him over, dropping him like a sack of cement. The crowd rises to its feet and begins the "Tsunkat!" chant.

On Voyager's bridge, Torres tensely reports that weapons are off-line. Things seem to get even worse when Paris reports the approach of another vessel. But their worry changes to relief when they see that it is a Voyager shuttle; Captain Janeway has arrived. After greeting her, Chakotay tells her to fire on Penk's signal generators, which she does in a strafing run. The generators are destroyed.

In one of the arenas, the effect is immediately seen. The fighters, in the midst of battle, disappear, to the angry boos of the crowd. In the real arena, Penk's console beeps an alarm, informing him that the signals to more than than half his audience have been lost. He orders power rerouted to the appropriate transmitters. This has the effect of reducing power to his shields. Kim reports finally getting a successful transporter lock on Seven, but also locks onto the Hirogen; he cannot separate the two life signs. Chakotay orders him to beam them both over, and then orders Paris to go with a security detail to the transporter room to greet the Hirogen.

Seven prepares to kill

Seven is about to deliver the killing blow

Seven and the Hirogen continue to trade blows, each one landing with teeth-rattling force. Then Seven lets fly a volley of rapid-fire punches, first to his face, then to his chest sensor. A final, open-handed punch there puts him on his back, down for the count. As the remaining audience cheers, unheard, she walks to him, kneels over him and raises her fists high to deliver the final blow to his chest sensor, enough to cause so much damage from the bioplasmic discharge that it would kill him. But she hesitates. He looks up at her, breath ragged, pleading: "Never… let your prey suffer. Kill it." She steels herself to strike.

Voyager's transport beam takes them, just in time.

They materialize in front of a waiting Paris and a contingent of security officers, all well-armed. Paris instructs her to stand down. Disheveled, breathing hard, she lowers her hands, assuring him that the fight is over. She rises slowly and offers her hand to the Hirogen. He accepts it and is pulled to his feet.

Voyager has resumed her course at warp. In sickbay, The Doctor treats Seven's injuries as Chakotay informs the Hirogen that they have contacted one of his people's hunting parties and they have agreed to rendezvous with Voyager. He is grateful. Chakotay leaves and Seven asks The Doctor to leave her and the Hirogen alone for a bit. He does, but not without a look of intense dislike at the Hirogen and an offer to her of a phaser rifle should she need it. The Hirogen shoots him an offended look. When he has gone, Seven apologizes, explaining that he is very protective of her. The Hirogen responds that the Doctor does not know how well she defends herself. He gives her his chest sensor as a trophy. He then asks her a question: would she have killed him? She responds that she does not know. He smiles and comments that fortunately she was right: there was another way out.

Seven is back on duty in the astrometrics lab. Tuvok enters as she works at a console. He silently goes to another, but then stops what he is doing and speaks up, thanking her for taking his place in the arena. She looks at him and responds that it was the logical thing to do. He thanks her anyway, and she responds that he can best show it by assisting her. He thus returns to his work at the console.

Tuvok counsels Seven of Nine

Tuvok counsels Seven

While working, he asks her about her recovery. She responds that her injuries are healing. "I wasn't referring to your physical condition," Tuvok tells her. She does not turn to face him. An uncomfortable, ashamed look is on her face. Her loss of control in the arena bothers her greatly. She turns her face to him. She has, she tells him worriedly, struggled for the last three years to regain her Humanity, and she fears she may have lost it again in that arena. Tuvok responds with logic: he asks her if she is experiencing difficult emotions. She affirms them by listing them: guilt; shame; remorse. "Then you have not lost your Humanity," Tuvok states, looking her in the eye. "You have reaffirmed it." He turns back to his console, leaving her to ponder his words.

Log entries[]

  • "Captain's log, stardate 53447.2. The crew's enjoying a much-needed shore leave on the Norcadian homeworld while I visit Pendari, a planet in the neighboring system. I'm leaving Commander Chakotay in charge of Voyager."
  • "Captain's log, stardate 53529.4. We've resumed course for the Alpha quadrant and initiated repairs. I can't say I'm sorry to see this shore leave come to an end."

Memorable quotes[]

"I haven't overpacked. I simply wish to be prepared for any contingency."
"And… what contingency is this for?"
"That's an isomodulator – enhanced to correct hull ablation in the event we encounter a meteroid stream."
"Well, couldn't you just replicate an isomodulator?"
"I prefer this one."
"Oh, I get it! You like to have your own things with you – B'Elanna's the same way. You know, she'd never admit it, but she still takes a stuffed animal with her whenever she's gonna be away for more than a day: 'Toby the targ.'"
"…can "Toby the targ" correct hull ablation? Your comparison is flawed."

- Seven of Nine and Tom Paris

"An away mission during shore leave?"
"Commander Tuvok and I don't require recreational activities."
"The Borg wouldn't know fun if they assimilated an amusement park."

- Neelix, Seven of Nine, and B'Elanna Torres

"Hmm, alien bugs or alien fisticuffs? Whew, that's a tough one!"

- Neelix, right before turning down a bug museum in favor of the Tsunkatse matches

"I assure you, resistance is futile."
"So is all your talk."

- Seven of Nine and Pendari champion, before the Tsunkatse match starts

(Complaining angrily) "That was not one of the thirty-three sanctioned maneuvers."
(Wryly) "There must be thirty-four."
"I was unprepared for your attack."
"Is that what you're going to say to your opponent? Stop thinking like a drone! "Sanctioned maneuvers", "perfecting defenses"… you cannot assimilate tsunkatse from a book! You must live it! Feel it!"

- Seven of Nine and the Hirogen tsunkatse fighter

"Very well, but if you should need anything, an analgesic, a phaser rifle; don't hesitate to ask."

- The Doctor, to Seven of Nine, partly on the Hirogen tsunkatse fighter

"I have spent the last three years struggling to regain my Humanity. I'm afraid I may have lost it again in that arena."
"You are experiencing difficult emotions."
"Guilt, shame, remorse."
"Then you haven't lost your Humanity. You have reaffirmed it. "

- Seven of Nine and Tuvok

Background information[]

Story and script[]


Berman and the Rock

The Rock and Rick Berman

  • Jeffrey Combs (Penk) and J.G. Hertzler (Hirogen hunter) both previously played recurring characters on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Combs played Weyoun and Brunt and Hertzler played General/Chancellor Martok. Interestingly, this marks the first time that the two actors have acted in a scene together. It is also the only appearance in Star Trek: Voyager for either actor.
  • As with "Blink of an Eye", this episode's title had to be changed shortly before shooting when it was realized that it matched a Star Trek: The Original Series first season episode's: "Arena".
  • Many of the alien make-ups seen in this episode were reused from background characters in Deep Space Nine.
  • The Pendari Champion was played by Dwayne Johnson, then a professional wrestler known by and credited in the episode as his WWF persona "The Rock". The appearance was a tie-in between UPN shows Voyager and WWF SmackDown! (later known as WWE SmackDown Live). During the fight between Seven and the champion, The Rock used "The Rock Bottom", his pro-wrestling finishing move. The Pendari Champion also did "The People's Eyebrow," a typical Rock gesture.
  • The Rock was the first WWE superstar to appear on Star Trek. The other two were Tommy "Tiny" Lister, Jr. and The Big Show, who both guest-starred on Star Trek: Enterprise.
  • The Tsunkatse costumes had some real-life functionality. The gloves were powered by six AAA batteries allowing the hand pads to light up. This was shown in item #2795 (alien Tsunkatse fighter costume) of the It's A Wrap! sale and auction. The Tsunkatse shoes were adapted Nikes constructed by HMS Creative Productions, Inc. and Robert Blackman, given practical light-up functionality using pliable phosphor-based Lightsheet. Twelve pairs were made for principle, stunt, and background performers, in a total of four colors for the different color Tsunkatse matches. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 3, p. 112)
  • Eric Hunter's costume was also sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay and was previously worn by background actor John Austin in the episodes "Year of Hell" and "Year of Hell, Part II". [1]
  • In the first shot of Voyager orbiting Norcadia Prime, the planet appears to be a color shifted version of the planet Ocampa from "Caretaker".
  • Mitch Suskin explained to Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 19, p. 82, how the 360 degree shot of the Tsunkatse audience was done, "it probably took longer than any other shot we did on the show." The team filmed about two dozen extras in the audience in three passes, intending to do six to eight, having to fit filming in about an hour. This resulted in the same Starfleet officer performing the same action multiple times in the shot. "I think on one plate we recolored their uniform to make it less obvious!"
  • The eleventh episode of the third season of Dwayne Johnson's sitcom Young Rock ("Know Your Role", first aired in 2023) includes a fictionalised account of Johnson (portrayed by Uli Latukefu) being offered his role on Voyager, and rehearsing with Jeri Ryan (portrayed in the episode by Marquel Skinner). The story is portrayed in flashback for the audience as Johnson recounts the story to another character, as is the general format of that series. The scene depicts the Voyager episode having a fictional female director named Kim who rejects a suggestion by Johnson and directs him not to improvise.


  • This episode marks one of the rare occasions where Torres is left in command of Voyager and the only time she sits in the captain's chair. Torres was briefly seen in command of the bridge during "The 37's" when all the other senior officers were on the planet's surface.


  • The episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 4.1 million homes, and a 6% share, making it the highest rated episode of the season. (Star Trek Monthly issue 69)

Video and DVD releases[]

  • UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 6.8, 2 October 2000
    • This volume came with a reversible sleeve: the standard Voyager layout, and a "Special Edition" layout, with a prominent image of Seven from this episode as the cover image.
  • As part of the VOY Season 6 DVD collection

Links and references[]


Also starring[]

Guest Stars[]

Special Guest Star[]

Uncredited Co-Stars[]

Stunt doubles[]



Alpha Quadrant; allergic reaction; amber (color); amusement park; analgesic; Ankaran flu; Ankari; arena; assimilation; assimilation chamber; beach; beetle; Bendali; bio-scanner; bioplasmic charge; "blow-by-blow description"; Book of Tsunkatse, The; Borg; Borg Collective; Boslic; boxing; clarinet; Class 2 shuttle (unnamed); competitor; continent; covariant shield; dampening field; Delta Flyer; dermal regenerator; dermaline; duty schedule; Earth; elbow; evasive maneuvers; explosive device; Ferengi; flight path; gesture; heavyweight; Hirogen; Hirogen fighter's son; hunting party; iridium oxide; iso-modulator; Kradin; kilometer; Kobheerian; Kressari; larva; left handed (aka southpaw); leola ointment; logic; martial arts; medical tricorder; meteoroid stream; metric ton; micro-nebula; multiphasic force field; museum; Nausicaan (unnamed); neutronic weapon; Norcadia Prime (aka Norcadia); Norcadian ambassador; Norcadian; Norcadian Museum of Entomology; occipital implant; off-worlder; ops officer; outer rim; Paradan; Parrises player; Parrises squares; parrises mallet; pastime; Pendari; Pendari (planet); Pendari delegate; Pendari system; Penk's starship; Pensarkan; phaser rifle; phenomenon; plasma burner; polaron disruptor; Reptohumanoid; right hook; shield generator; Shivolian; shore leave; signal generator; Starfleet Academy; stuffed animal; sunburn; Taal; Tailhead; Talaxian homeopathy; Tanyk Defense; targ; target sensor; Tarkanian field mouse; "Tattooed Terror"; tetryon; Toby the targ; tsunkatse; Tygarian; Vensiddian; Verbal communication; Vulcan; Yost's species

External links[]

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