Sacred Ground
Stardate: 50063.2
Original Airdate: October 30 1996

Captain's log, stardate 50063.2. We've accepted an invitation from the Nechani to take a few days shore leave on their world. We're enjoying the opportunity to learn about their culture.

[Sanctuary]

(A dark cavern and tunnel structure with lights on the walls.)
MAGISTRATE: This sanctuary honours our Ancestral Spirits. Their presence is very strong here.
(Two robed figures stop and bow to them.)
MAGISTRATE: Those are brothers of the Nechisti Order. They've devoted their lives to serving the spirits. Here's something you might find interesting.
(He leads Janeway and Tuvok on. Neelix and Kes lag behind.)
KES: What do you think this means?
NEELIX: Hard to tell. A fertility symbol, maybe.
KES: Or a blessing for good luck, or wisdom.
NEELIX: Or happiness and love.
KES: Do you hear something?
NEELIX: What?
(They go back to a side cave with a bright light shining from a platform at the top of a short flight of steps.)
KES: Look at that. It's beautiful.
NEELIX: It looks like a shrine. Come on, sweeting, we don't want to be left behind.
KES: I just want to take a quick look.
(Kes goes up the steps and gets zapped by an energy field. She rolls back down, unconscious.)
NEELIX: Kes! Kes, can you hear me? Help! Somebody! We need help!
(Torres and Kim are first on the scene.)
TORRES: What happened?
MAGISTRATE: You mustn't be here. This shrine is protected.
NEELIX: She didn't touch anything. She went as far as that archway and then an energy field knocked her down.
TORRES: Torres to Voyager. We have a medical emergency. Beam Kes and Neelix directly to sickbay.
CREWMAN [OC]: Yes, Lieutenant.
(Kes and Neelix are beamed out. A pair of monks arrive.)
MAGISTRATE: This is most unfortunate. Please, I must ask you to leave as well.
TORRES: We aren't going anywhere until we find out what happened to her. What kind of energy was she exposed to?
MAGISTRATE: I have no idea. This is a sacred place. Only the monks truly understand what happens here.
KIM: Then we'll bring scanning equipment down and investigate for ourselves.
MAGISTRATE: That's out of the question. It would show disrespect to the spirits.
TORRES: One of our crew has been critically injured. We aren't going to stand by and do nothing.
MAGISTRATE: There's nothing you can do. She's been punished by the spirits. She's going to die.
TORRES: If you prevent us from helping Kes, we will hold you directly responsible for anything that happens to her.
KIM: I will make a full report to our Captain. I'm sure you'll be hearing from her.
MAGISTRATE: I'll be happy to talk to her and do whatever I can to help, but your presence here only makes a delicate situation worse. Please, leave now.

[Sickbay]

(Janeway enters. Neelix is at Kes' bedside.)
EMH: Her lifesigns are very weak but stable. It appears that her synaptic pathways have undergone severe neuraleptic shock which is disrupting all cortical functions. It is similar to a comatose state, but with none of the usual biochemical markers.
NEELIX: You can cure her, can't you?
EMH: I can't even speculate on a treatment until I know more about what caused her condition.
JANEWAY: We're working on that. We aren't allowed near the area where the accident occurred, but Kim and Torres are scanning the sanctuary from Voyager. They'll report their findings to you. And I have an appointment to talk to the magistrate. I'm hoping he'll be able to cut through some of the restrictions the monks have set up.
NEELIX: Excuse me, Captain. I'd like to do something to help.
JANEWAY: The Nechani must have records, some kind of scientific data on this energy field. Go down to the planet and see what you can find.
NEELIX: (to Kes) I'll be back soon.

[Ready room]

MAGISTRATE: Please understand, Captain, I'm caught in a most difficult situation. I'm an official of the government, not a spiritual leader. I don't pretend to understand why the spirits do what they do.
JANEWAY: Then perhaps I could talk with the brothers.
MAGISTRATE: I've asked the Nechisti Council to give you an audience, but I'm afraid they consider the matter closed. They've asked me to express their sympathies for your loss.
JANEWAY: There is no loss at this point. Kes is still alive. Surely there's some way to treat her? Can't you insist that the monks meet with me?
MAGISTRATE: We have an agreement with Council. They don't involve themselves with government and we don't interfere in their spiritual matters. It's been that way for centuries and it's always worked well for us.
JANEWAY: Then can you tell me what you do know about the sanctuary and what happens there?
MAGISTRATE: I'll try. That particular shrine is where the monks go to receive the gift of purification, cleansing of the soul. It is one of our most holy places.
JANEWAY: You mean the monks can enter it without being harmed.
MAGISTRATE: They prepare themselves with a sacred ritual during which they speak directly with the Ancestral Spirits. After that they are able to enter the shrine safely.
JANEWAY: What happens in that ritual? How does it offer protection against the energy field?
MAGISTRATE: Captain, you seem to want explanations for everything. I don't have them. Only the brothers who've gone through the ritual know what happens there, and they're sworn to secrecy.
JANEWAY: The energy field that Kes encountered, is there anyone who could give me scientific information that would help us analyse it.
MAGISTRATE: All we know is that it is a naturally occurring phenomenon.
JANEWAY: If you're telling me that there's nothing you can do to help Kes, I simply won't accept that.
MAGISTRATE: If I could help you, I would. I swear it. I blame myself. If I'd watched more carefully, seen that she was approaching the shrine. There's nothing more to be done now. You have our sympathy.

[Doctor's office]

JANEWAY: Have Kim and Torres given you a report?
EMH: Yes. I received a fascinating lesson in the challenges of getting clear scanner readings through solid rock. We were eventually able to distinguish an intense biogenic field at the site of Kes's accident. That would certainly explain the neuraleptic shock. She was lucky not to have been killed instantly.
JANEWAY: As I understand it, the Nechani monks are able to enter the field without being harmed at all.
EMH: Really? I don't expect they'd care to tell us how.
JANEWAY: No, they wouldn't.
(Neelix enters Sickbay and goes to Kes' bedside.)
EMH: She's not responding to conventional treatments, and frankly I'm running out of unconventional ideas as well. The level of activity in her brain is so low I can't rule out the possibility of permanent damage, even if I can revive her. The longer she stays in this condition, the less likely it is she'll ever recover.

[Sickbay]

NEELIX: How is she?
EMH: I'm afraid there's been no change.
NEELIX: I've researched everything I could find about the sacred shrine. I didn't uncover much scientific evidence, but there was one story, it was in a very old text, I'm not sure how reliable, about a boy who recovered from a condition like Kes's. He was a young prince. He wandered into the shrine accidentally and he went into a death sleep. Everyone said it was the will of the spirits. His father, King Nevad, refused to accept that, so he went through the ritual to seek an audience with the spirits and he pleaded for his son's life. The spirits in their infinite mercy granted his request. That was the only trace of hope that I could find.
JANEWAY: Maybe it's enough.

[Bridge]

MAGISTRATE [on viewscreen]: Well, you've certainly done your research, Captain. I'm familiar with the story. I heard it as a child.
JANEWAY: It suggests that there's still a chance for Kes.
MAGISTRATE [on viewscreen]: You're talking about a very specific case. Nevad was able to claim responsibility for the prince as a father and as a king. That's why the spirits were willing to listen to him.
JANEWAY: The Captain of a starship is fully responsible for every member of her crew.
MAGISTRATE [on viewscreen]: So she is.
JANEWAY: And on that basis, I'd like to go through the ritual myself.

[Chakotay's office]

JANEWAY: I haven't heard from the Magistrate yet, but he seemed to think there was a strong possibility the monks would let me go through the ritual.
CHAKOTAY: Captain, forgive me, but you've never been one to put much trust in religious ceremonies. Exactly what is it you hope to accomplish?
JANEWAY: If you're asking if I expect to speak to the Ancestral Spirits, no, of course not. But something happens to the monks when they go through the ritual. Something that allows them to withstand the effects of the biogenic field. I want to find out what that is. It might provide clues to a treatment.
CHAKOTAY: Some kind of physiological change, maybe.
JANEWAY: That's what I'm guessing. The shamans of the Karis tribe on Delios Seven practice a ritual that increases the electrical resistance of their skin. It protects them from plasma discharges in their sacred caves. Something similar must happen during this ritual.
CHAKOTAY: We'll have to find a way to allow the Doctor to monitor your physical condition, and you should have a way to call for an emergency beam out if you need it. As a precaution. We don't have any idea what the ritual entails.
JANEWAY: I've been reviewing the Federation's cultural database. Most traditional spirit quest ceremonies involve some kind of physical challenge or test of endurance to prove the mastery of spirit over body. My instinct tells me this one will be similar. A series of ordeals that will result in biochemical changes.
CHAKOTAY: Of course there's always the possibility that the Ancestral Spirits really do control what happens in the shrine.
JANEWAY: To each his own, Commander, but I imagine if we scratch deep enough we'd find a scientific basis for most religious doctrines.
CHAKOTAY: I remember when my mother taught me the science underlying the vision quest. In a way I felt disappointed. Some of the mystery was gone. Maybe the Nechani have chosen not to lose the mystery.
JANEWAY: Under other circumstances I'd be more than happy to go along with their choice. Right now, it's killing one of my crew.
KIM [OC]: Bridge to the Captain.
JANEWAY: Janeway here.
Kim [OC]]: You have an incoming message from the Magistrate.
JANEWAY: Put it through to Chakotay's office.
KIM [OC]: Aye, Captain.
MAGISTRATE [on monitor]: I must congratulate you, Captain. Your creative approach to this problem has fascinated the Nechisti Council.
JANEWAY: Then they've approved my request.
MAGISTRATE [on monitor]: Eagerly. They consider it an honour that you want to seek the spirits. The ritual traditionally begins at sunset. A guide will meet you at the entrance to the sanctuary.
JANEWAY: Thank you. I appreciate your efforts.
MAGISTRATE [on monitor]: I have been greatly troubled by your misfortune, Captain. If you are able to convince the spirits to spare your friend, no one would be happier than I.

[Transporter room]

EMH [on monitor]: Everything seems to be working. The sub-dermal bioprobe will transmit any changes in your biochemistry.
KIM: And Captain, the implant also contains a homing beacon which we'll be able to pick up no matter how far into the sanctuary you go. Just tap it like a comm. badge and we'll transport you immediately.
JANEWAY: Thank you both.
(She goes to the platform. Tuvok offers her a phaser.)
JANEWAY: I don't think that will be necessary.
TUVOK: It is standard procedure to carry arms on an away mission, particularly when you don't know what to expect.
JANEWAY: This is strictly an information gathering mission. I don't want to appear hostile. Energise.

[Sanctuary]

(Monks walk past, ignoring Janeway. Nearby, a woman is working on a blinking light in an alcove. Janeway takes out her tricorder and starts scanning.)
GUIDE: I don't suppose you know anything about chromodynamic lights?
JANEWAY: No, not really. I suppose I could look at it.
GUIDE: They're as fussy as tarchee cats. You tune them too high, they burn out. You tune them too low, they sputter. I've told the monks to replace them all with neodyne lights, it would save hours of repair work. That device you've got, what is that?
JANEWAY: It's called a tricorder.
GUIDE: A tricorder. What exactly does a tricorder do?
JANEWAY: It's a scanning device.
GUIDE: Interesting. May I? Ah, atmospheric reading, energy field analysis, full technical database. This is certainly a convenient thing to have.
(The guide puts in in her robe pocket.)
JANEWAY: Oh, I'd didn't mean for you to keep it. I'll need that back.
GUIDE: Oh no, you won't.
JANEWAY: You're my guide.
GUIDE: Guide, advisor, spiritual companion. Whatever term you prefer is fine with me.
JANEWAY: Why didn't you say something earlier?
GUIDE: Shall we get started?
(She leads Janeway down the tunnels. Two young women approach and touch Janeway's hair.)
GUIDE: It's all right, Kathryn.
(Janeway allows them to unpin her bun and remove her uniform. Once she is naked, they paint designs on her face and body, then put a simple brown robe on her.)
JANEWAY: Would it be breaking any vows of secrecy now to tell me what this ritual will involve?
GUIDE: why do you think I know?
JANEWAY: Haven't you been through this before?
GUIDE: Don't worry, I'll help you find your way. Tell me, have you completely committed yourself to this journey?
JANEWAY: Yes.
GUIDE: You're willing to go through what the monks have been doing for centuries to help them find the spirits?
JANEWAY: Yes.
GUIDE: So you can send biochemical data back to you ship. No, it wasn't magic. Our bioscanners detected the microprobe under your skin.
JANEWAY: I hope that won't be a problem.
GUIDE: Makes no difference at all. You are fond of your little devices, aren't you.
JANEWAY: They've always served me well.
GUIDE: I'm sure they have. Please, come this way.

[Waiting Room]

(There are pensioners sitting on a bench by the wall.)
OLD MAN 1: Who are you?
JANEWAY: I'm Kathryn Janeway. Is this where the ritual begins?
OLD MAN 2: Oh, the ritual. Yes.
OLD WOMAN: We're waiting. Come, join us.
JANEWAY: What exactly are you waiting for?
OLD MAN 2: Just waiting.
JANEWAY: How long have you been sitting here?
OLD MAN 2: How long has it been?
OLD MAN 1: Why are your asking me? I've lost track.
OLD MAN 2: It's been a while. I know that.
OLD WOMAN: Oh, it's been as long as we can remember.
JANEWAY: Are you telling me I have to wait a lifetime before I can go through the ritual?
OLD MAN 1: I didn't hear anyone say that, did you?
OLD MAN 2: Certainly not. All we said was that we're waiting.
JANEWAY: I'm just trying to understand how this works. The monks I saw in the sanctuary were young. They couldn't have waited such a long time to go through their rituals.
OLD WOMAN: She's right about that, you know.
OLD MAN 2: She's a smart one.
OLD MAN 1: She thinks she is, at any rate.
JANEWAY: This is a test of some kind, isn't it. To prove my determination.
OLD WOMAN: A test? She thinks we're a test. What is she talking about?
OLD MAN 2: She must like tests. I suppose tests make sense to her.
JANEWAY: Has anyone ever tried to open this door?
OLD MAN 1: How many times do we have to tell you that we are waiting?
OLD WOMAN: My dear, why don't you just sit down and relax? You're much too tense.
OLD MAN 2: You're welcome to wait with us.
JANEWAY: I don't want to wait. I have a friend who's depending on me. I have to go through the ritual.
OLD MAN 1: I wonder if she's always this impatient.
OLD MAN 2: Oh, she's just determined. She wants to get on with it.
OLD WOMAN: Seems to me she could be friendly and sit for a few minutes.
OLD MAN 2: Oh no, she knows what she wants to do. She's not the kind to sit around when she has a mission to accomplish.
(Janeway tries to open the door at the other end of the room.)
OLD MAN 1: I told you. I told you it was locked.
(Janeway knocks on the door three times and it opens.)
GUIDE: Yes?
JANEWAY: I mean no disrespect, but unless there's something I'm supposed to accomplish here, I'd like to continue with the ritual.
GUIDE: By all means.

[Ritual room]

(Steps lead up to a platform.)
JANEWAY: I'm not sure how to begin.
GUIDE: Do you want me to give you orders, Captain?
JANEWAY: I'll do whatever you ask of me.
GUIDE: I see. So you think this is just a matter of doing what you're told.
JANEWAY: No. I'm sure there's spiritual significance behind the challenges involved.
GUIDE: Challenges. That's what you expect?
JANEWAY: I don't have any idea what to expect. I've studied a number of ritualistic societies and many of the rites have commonalities. This one may be completely different. I'm willing to do whatever is necessary.
GUIDE: I don't doubt that. But do you realise that all of this is meaningless. That the only thing that matters is finding your connection to the spirits.
JANEWAY: I'm going to make every effort to do that. But I didn't come here for personal enlightenment. I'm trying to save a member of my crew.
GUIDE: That's a worthy cause. I hope the spirits listen to you. Then let's begin. The first challenge. Stand like this.
(Right foot slightly in front of the left, knees bent.)
GUIDE: Hold that. (up at eye level) Now, what do you see in your hands?
JANEWAY: I see a stone.
GUIDE: Keep looking.

[Sickbay]

EMH: Her respiration and pulse have remained steady, but there's been a gradual build up of lactic acid in her extensor muscles over the last hour.
CHAKOTAY: What does that mean? Is she in danger?
EMH: Not at all. She's probably experiencing light strain. What you'd expect in an endurance ritual.
CHAKOTAY: Then there's nothing so far that would suggest a treatment for Kes.
EMH: It's too early to tell. I'm downloading every iota of information from the bioprobe sensors into a physiometric programme which is analysing the data. Even the smallest physiological change may prove significant. We can't discount anything.

[Ritual room]

(The strain of holding up the large stone is telling on Janeway.)
GUIDE: What do you see now?
JANEWAY: I still see a stone.
(Later, it is finger-painting.)
JANEWAY: I guess you're not going to tell me what I'm supposed to draw.
GUIDE: That would be too easy, wouldn't it? It's up to you. Draw whatever feels right.
JANEWAY: I've never been able to draw. My sister was the artist in the family.
GUIDE: And you were the scientist.
JANEWAY: It's true. When other children were outside playing games I was doing mathematics problems.
GUIDE: Mathematics. I can see why you enjoyed it. Solve a problem, get an answer. The answer's either right or wrong. It's very absolute.
JANEWAY: I've always found that satisfying.
GUIDE: I'm sure you did.
(Next it is rock-climbing over a chasm, then we are back to holding the stone, which is glowing for Janeway.)
GUIDE: What did you see?
JANEWAY: I'm not sure.
GUIDE: Describe it.

[Sickbay]

EMH: Ah ha!
NEELIX: What? What is it? What have you found?
EMH: There have been significant increases in the Captain's respiration, neuropeptides and adenosine triphosphate levels.
NEELIX: Is that bad?
EMH: It certainly suggests she's going through a gruelling experience. But it's the neuropeptides that are interesting. The saturations have risen to quite an abnormal level.
NEELIX: Is that good or bad?
EMH: I can't say it's either so far as the Captain's concerned, but it certainly seems a substantial piece of information. Neuropeptide levels this high could well create a natural barrier to biogenic energy.
NEELIX: So you have something that will help Kes.
EMH: Not yet, but it's the first piece of data that allows me even to formulate a hypothesis.
NEELIX: It should be me going through all that! I was the one who let Kes get hurt in the first place.
EMH: Mister Neelix, you're wallowing.
NEELIX: I'm wallowing?
EMH: In useless remorse. I'll have to ask you to stop, it's bad for the patient.
NEELIX: It's just frustrating to be so helpless.
EMH: If it's any consolation, Mister Neelix, I do understand.

[Ritual room]

JANEWAY: I'm exhausted. Oh, thank you.
(The guide gives her a cup of water.)
GUIDE: Your microprobe should be transmitting all kinds of interesting information back to the ship.
JANEWAY: What is that?
(Something hisses in a basket.)
GUIDE: It's a nesset. They're able to travel from this world into the spirit realm. They serve as gatekeepers.
JANEWAY: Gatekeepers? Then I'm ready to enter the spirit realm?
GUIDE: Do you think you're ready?
JANEWAY: Yes, I do.
GUIDE: Then you are. Go ahead, put your hand in.
(Janeway reaches towards the basket, and the thing inside hisses and spits.)
GUIDE: We can stop right now if you like.
JANEWAY: No, I'm not quitting.
(Janeway puts her hand through the slit in the top of the basket, and gets bitten. She pulls her hand out with a cry. There are three large puncture wounds on the inside of her elbow.)
GUIDE: Don't be afraid.
JANEWAY: Oh, it's burning. Oh, my chest, very tight.
(Janeway faints, and remembers what she has been through so far.)
KES [OC]: Captain. Captain.
GUIDE: Kathryn.
(Janeway is lying in a sarcophagus-like chamber at the top of the steps.)
JANEWAY: I'm dying.
GUIDE: Everyone dies eventually.
(The lid closes over her.)

[Sickbay]

CHAKOTAY: It's been three days since she had any sleep. How long are we going to let her go through this?
EMH: I understand your concern, Commander, but I must point out that her vital signs are stable. She seems to be in no immediate danger.
CHAKOTAY: She's been poisoned by some unknown toxin. It may be having an effect we can't gauge. It could lie dormant for a few days and then suddenly fluctuate and kill her in minutes.
EMH: You seem to be implying that I'm not paying attention. I assure you I am monitoring her constantly. If I thought she were in jeopardy I would act.
TUVOK: Doctor, is there anything that might be preventing her from using the homing signal in her implant?
EMH: Not that I'm aware of. She's fully conscious and has complete motor control. If she wanted to transport she could signal us.
CHAKOTAY: Are you getting enough meaningful information to justify her continuing this ordeal?
EMH: I am getting some remarkable data. Her entire biochemistry is undergoing a series of unique interactions. Look. This amino acid has been formed as a result of the breakdown of the toxin in her blood stream. It's affecting the normal flow of neurotransmitters and very likely having an hallucinogenic effect.
TUVOK: Is she delusional?
EMH: I think she's experiencing the Nechani version of a psychoactive drug.
CHAKOTAY: Then is it possible she's in no condition to activate the homing signal?
EMH: I don't believe that's the case, and I strongly suspect this biochemical change is going to give us the answers we need. The toxin in her bloodstream may very well be the key to getting a treatment for Kes.
TUVOK: Commander, the decision is ultimately yours, of course. However, I believe it would be the Captain's desire to complete the ritual.
CHAKOTAY: All right, we'll leave her there for now, but I'm not moving from this monitor until she gets back.

[Coastline]

(Waves rolling onto a rocky shore with a cliff behind Janeway.)
JANEWAY: What is this? An hallucination?
GUIDE: I'm only here to serve as a voice, an interpreter for the Ancestral Spirits.
JANEWAY: I see. If there are other beings here, could I see them myself?
GUIDE: You mean you want proof that we exist.
JANEWAY: That would be helpful.
GUIDE: It's irrelevant.
JANEWAY: I don't want to be disrespectful. I've gone through every part of the ritual that I've been asked to.
GUIDE: Everything you've gone through is meaningless. You've been told that.
JANEWAY: I know. I just want to bring this to completion, to make my request.
GUIDE: Then by all means do so.
JANEWAY: I cite the story of King Nevad as precedent. In the same way he pleaded for his son, I ask that Kes be restored to health.
GUIDE: Your request is inconsequential. You have what you need to save her yourself.

[Ritual room]

(The sarcophagus lid opens, and Janeway wakes.)
GUIDE: Welcome back.
JANEWAY: How long?
GUIDE: Does that matter?
JANEWAY: I'd like to know.
GUIDE: Thirty nine hours. You must take care of yourself. Your body's weak.
JANEWAY: I guess the physical conditioning programmes on the holodeck didn't quite prepare me for this.
GUIDE: Has it been worthwhile?
JANEWAY: I think so. I was told that I had what I needed to save Kes.
GUIDE: Then it must be true. The spirits would not deceive you.
(The guide hands over Janeway's uniform.)
GUIDE: Whenever you're ready.
JANEWAY: Thank you.

[Sickbay]

EMH: You could use a good night's sleep and a solid meal, but otherwise you're in good shape.
JANEWAY: When can you begin treating Kes?
EMH: Right away. The ritual may have been arduous for you, Captain, but it was certainly worthwhile. As I suspected, the toxin was the key. That's what produces the natural immunity the Nechani monks acquire before they enter the biogenic field.
CHAKOTAY: How does that translate into a cure for Kes?
EMH: I've created a physiometric programme to analyse the immune mechanism and develop a treatment regimen.
JANEWAY: Then let's get started.
CHAKOTAY: Captain, if you'll excuse me, I'm probably more useful on the bridge right now.
(Chakotay leaves.)
EMH: I'll carry out the treatment in stages to reduce the physical stress from the metabolic changes.
(A monitor starts beeping.)
NEELIX: What's that? Is something wrong?
EMH: I don't believe so. Hmm, her electrolyte balance is deviating, but that's not entirely unexpected.
NEELIX: It isn't.
EMH: Hmm.
NEELIX: What does that mean? Hmm? What?
EMH: Mister Neelix, if you keep on pestering me with questions I won't be able to concentrate on what I'm doing.
(Beep beep!)
NEELIX: Something is wrong!
JANEWAY: What is it, Doctor?
EMH: Her cardiac functions are being disrupted. I don't understand it. Lectrazine should counteract the disruptions. This is baffling. Her biochemical levels are exactly what they need to be to correct the damage. She should be awake and alert.
NEELIX: Why isn't she?
EMH: I can't explain it. Her vital signs are unstable. I have to discontinue treatment. I don't understand it.
NEELIX: Can't we try again?
EMH: It's too dangerous.
JANEWAY: Do you have any other options?
EMH: No. I'm sorry, Captain, but it appears that everything you went through was meaningless.

[Sanctuary]

JANEWAY: You meant what you said, didn't you? Everything I went through was meaningless.
GUIDE: Yes.
JANEWAY: I did everything you asked of me. You led me to believe that would allow me to help Kes.
GUIDE: I haven't led you anywhere, Kathryn. You've taken me along wherever you wanted to go. This was your ritual. You set these challenges for yourself.
JANEWAY: It's true that I came here with certain expectations. Are you saying that you simply fulfilled my expectations?
GUIDE: You'd have settled for nothing else.
JANEWAY: I'm not ready to give up. If there's still a way to save Kes I want to try.
GUIDE: You've come back to seek the spirits.
JANEWAY: I don't know what I'm seeking.
GUIDE: Then I believe you are ready to begin.

[Waiting room]

(Back into the brown robe.)
OLD MAN 1: Well, look who's come back. So, your little adventure didn't quite work out the way you'd planned it. You put yourself through a lot of trouble and for nothing, didn't you.
OLD MAN 2: Oh, don't feel bad. You wouldn't believe some of the things people have done to themselves on their way to seek the spirits.
JANEWAY: There is no real ritual after all.
OLD MAN 2: Real is such a relative term. Most of the challenges in life are the ones we create for ourselves.
OLD WOMAN: And you are particularly hard on yourself, aren't you.
JANEWAY: I've always been driven to succeed.
OLD MAN 1: Stubborn, I'd say. You didn't really consider sitting and waiting with us, did you?
JANEWAY: Well, I'm here now and I'm asking for your help. I want to understand the purpose of waiting in this room.
OLD WOMAN: But isn't it enough to sit and be sociable? We're good company.
JANEWAY: That's what I'm supposed to do. Talk to the Ancestral Spirits.
OLD WOMAN: First we were a test, and now we're the Ancestral Spirits.
JANEWAY: Are you?
OLD MAN 1: That would be nice and quantifiable for you, wouldn't it. If the spirits were something you could see and touch and scan with your little devices.
OLD MAN 2: If you can explain everything, what's left to believe in?
JANEWAY: I know it's an important part of your religion to trust the spirits without question, but I wasn't brought up that way. It's hard for me to accept.
OLD MAN 1: So much for your tolerant open-minded Starfleet ideals.
JANEWAY: There's a difference between respecting the spiritual beliefs of other cultures and embracing them myself.
OLD MAN 1: Fine. Don't embrace a thing. It's all the same to us. Go on back to your ship and play with your molecular microscanner.
OLD WOMAN: You've tried all that already, but it didn't work, did it. Kes didn't get better.
JANEWAY: No, she didn't.
OLD WOMAN: Why not?
JANEWAY: The Doctor couldn't explain it.
OLD WOMAN: So it's inexplicable. A miraculous non-recovery.
JANEWAY: We haven't found the reason yet.
OLD WOMAN: But of course you will. You'll find all the answers eventually, with enough time and study, and the right sort of tools. That's what you believe isn't it as a scientist?
OLD MAN 1: Be honest.
JANEWAY: Yes, that's what I've always believed.
OLD MAN 2: Even when her science fails right before her eyes she still has full confidence in it. Now there's a leap of faith.
OLD WOMAN: Unconditional trust. Now that's promising.
JANEWAY: All right. If you're saying that science won't help Kes, what will?
OLD MAN 1: You won't like it.
JANEWAY: I'm willing to do whatever's necessary.
OLD MAN 1: Kill her. She's as good as dead already, finish the job! Give her another jolt of that what do you call it, biogenic field.
OLD WOMAN: That would do it.
JANEWAY: It would do what, exactly.
OLD MAN 1: There you go again, always looking for a rational explanation. Well there isn't one. Your orbital scans and medical research have given you the facts, and they tell you the biogenic field is lethal.
OLD WOMAN: If you believe the facts.
OLD MAN 2: Let all of that go, Kathryn. Take Kes back into the shrine and trust the spirits to return her soul.
JANEWAY: The ritual I went through is meaningless, and Kes has done nothing to prepare herself. How could either of us be ready to go through the field?
OLD MAN 2: If you believe you're ready, then you are. There's no more to it than that.
OLD MAN 1: But if you go in with any doubt, with any hesitation, then you're both dead. So, what are you going to do, Captain?
JANEWAY: You know I won't stand by and watch Kes die if there's anything I can do to save her. I want to believe it's possible. I'm going to try.

[Corridor]

JANEWAY [OC]: Janeway to Chakotay.
CHAKOTAY: Captain, we've been worried about you.
JANEWAY [OC]: I'm all right. I want you to beam Kes down here to the sanctuary.
CHAKOTAY: Acknowledged. I'll bring her down myself. Chakotay to sickbay. Doctor, prepare Kes for transport.
EMH [OC]: Understood.

[Sanctuary]

(Chakotay and Neelix beam down with Kes on a biobed.)
CHAKOTAY: The Doctor says her life signs are deteriorating. He almost wouldn't let us take her out of sickbay.
NEELIX: Have you found a way to help her?
JANEWAY: Yes, I have. I'm taking her back into the biogenic field.
NEELIX: I hate to question you, Captain, but why?
JANEWAY: I believe it will save her life.
CHAKOTAY: You have some new information on the effects of the field?
JANEWAY: I can't explain it to you.
CHAKOTAY: Captain, you've been through a lot in the past few days.
JANEWAY: I know what I'm doing.
CHAKOTAY: Are you sure of that? There are eight hundred megajoules of biogenic energy running through that shrine. The thoron radiation levels are off the scale. That's what you'd be taking yourself and her into. Why don't you take some time to think about this and let us run a few more scans.
JANEWAY: No.
CHAKOTAY: Captain, this isn't like you.
NEELIX: You know you'll always have my gratitude for everything you've done to save Kes, but I couldn't and I know she couldn't ask you to risk your own life like this. There are too many other people who need you.
CHAKOTAY: He's right. It's my responsibility to keep you safe, for the crew's sake if not for your own. I'd rather not have to relieve you of duty, but if your judgment's been impaired in any way.
GUIDE: He can't really do that, can he?
JANEWAY: Yes, he can.
GUIDE: I suppose it might be necessary if the Captain of a ship were really mentally impaired, but you're not crazy, Kathryn, you know that.
NEELIX: These are the same people who were willing to let Kes die just for disturbing their shrine. Can you take their word for it that you'll be safe in there?
GUIDE: I can't give you my word on that. Nobody knows what will happen to them in the shrine until they go in. I don't know the answers. But you do.
CHAKOTAY: Captain, I don't understand this.
JANEWAY: Neither do I. That's the challenge.
(Janeway takes Kes in her arms and walks up the steps. She pauses at the top then steps forward into the energy field. It flares around them then vanishes, and Kes wakes.)
JANEWAY: Kes.

[Doctor's office]

(Janeway sits and listens to the EMH's technobabble explanation.)
EMH: The tricorder readings Commander Chakotay took at the shrine revealed traces of iridium ions, which we could have known about sooner if we'd been permitted to take those readings in the first place.
KES: And iridium ions are significant?
EMH: They caused a temporary dielectric effect in the outer epidermal layers which neutralised some of the biogenic energy. Not much, but enough to make the Captain's altered biochemistry an effective defence.
KES: Then how was I cured?
EMH: The metabolic treatment I administered protected you against the full impact of exposure to the field when the Captain took you through. That exposure functioned like a natural cortical stimulator and reactivated your synaptic pathways.
KES: That's fascinating, Doctor.
EMH: Captain? If there's something about my analysis you disagree with.
JANEWAY: It's a perfectly sound explanation, Doctor. Very scientific.
(Janeway leaves Sickbay.)

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