Emanations
Stardate: 48623.5
Original Airdate: March 13 1995

Captain's log, stardate 48623.5. There are two hundred forty six elements known to Federation science. We believe we have just discovered the two hundred forty seventh inside the ring system of a Class D planet.

[Bridge]

(Gathered around the Science station.)
KIM: The element has an unusually large atomic mass, over five hundred and fifty nucleons. And the readings are constant. The element appears to be stable.
JANEWAY: A stable transuranic element inside a natural environment. This is a first.
TORRES: Can you imagine what we could make with this stuff? Probe casings that could go into the core of a sun, ultra-thin reactor shielding.
JANEWAY: That's assuming we can mine it. Ensign, try and locate the highest concentration of the element.
KIM: The element is present in most of the asteroids that comprise the rings. I can isolate a sample and beam it aboard.
TORRES: Or better yet, maybe we could get a firsthand look at this element in its natural environment. It looks like most of these asteroids support Class M atmospheres.
JANEWAY: Good idea. Commander, you're in charge.
CHAKOTAY: Aye, Captain. Mister Kim, would you like to join us?
KIM: I wouldn't miss it, sir.

[Asteroid tunnel]

KIM: The highest concentration is about thirty metres directly ahead.
CHAKOTAY: I'm picking up a large cavern in there. The readings are
(Chakotay encounters a large cobweb.)
CHAKOTAY: What the hell is this?
TORRES: It's organic. Some kind of biopolymer residue.
CHAKOTAY: I want to see what's ahead.

[Cavern]

TORRES: The readings are higher over here, but I still can't find the source of the. Commander? Class five humanoid. It appears to be dead.
(They move onto a ledge overlooking a large area where there are more cobweb covered shapes, then go down to investigate more closely.)
CHAKOTAY: Captain, there are eighteen bodies here, all humanoid. Eleven male, seven female. From what we can tell they're in various stages of decomposition. Some have been here for years.

[Bridge]

CHAKOTAY [OC]: Others no longer than a few days. In fact, one body arrived less than twelve hours ago.
JANEWAY: Arrived from where?
CHAKOTAY [OC]: I don't know, Captain.

[Cavern]

CHAKOTAY: But from the position of the arms, I'd say we're looking at some kind of burial site.

[Bridge]

JANEWAY: What about the element we discovered?

[Cavern]

TORRES: It's emanating from their bodies, Captain. We think it's some kind of

[Bridge]

TORRES [OC]: By-product of their decomposition process.
CHAKOTAY [OC]: I recommend we leave these bodies in peace, Captain.

[Cavern]

CHAKOTAY: However, Mister Kim has a different opinion.
KIM: With all due respect, Captain, I have to disagree with the Commander. This is our first contact with this race, and I think we should be learning all we can about them.

[Bridge]

KIM [OC]: It's a unique anthropological opportunity.
CHAKOTAY [OC]: I understand the chance for scientific discovery, Captain

[Cavern]

CHAKOTAY: But whatever belief this race has, they clearly meant for their dead to be left alone and I think we should respect that.

[Bridge]

JANEWAY: I'm afraid I agree with Commander Chakotay. Set your tricorders for passive scans. I don't want to disturb anything.
CHAKOTAY [OC]: Captain

[Cavern]

CHAKOTAY: The sanctity of these bodies should be respected. I recommend we make visual observations only. No tricorders.

[Bridge]

JANEWAY: Very well. Keep me informed.

[Cavern]

JANEWAY [OC]: Janeway out.
CHAKOTAY: All right. The only sensors you have left are your eyes. Concentrate on details. We're going to have to do a thorough report when we get back.
KIM: Commander, thanks for letting me voice my opinion to the Captain.
CHAKOTAY: I remember the first time I went on a tomb excavation on Ktaria Seven. I wanted to keep a memento of the experience, so I picked up a rock from the burial site. Only I found out later it wasn't just a rock.
KIM: What was it?
CHAKOTAY: It was a sacred stone. The Ktarians lay thousands of them in the tomb. Each one represents a special prayer. Without realising it, I had desecrated that man's grave.
TORRES: Well, I think I've found out about all I can with my eyes.
CHAKOTAY: Really? What have you learned about this culture so far?
TORRES: They like to bury their dead on asteroids. That's about all I can tell without a tricorder. No artefacts, no inscriptions, just some naked dead people.
CHAKOTAY: You're looking but you're not seeing. The fact that they're naked says a lot. It means this race doesn't believe in dressing the deceased. And the lack of artefacts could indicate they don't believe any worldly goods can be taken into the afterlife.
KIM: What makes you think they believe in an afterlife at all?
CHAKOTAY: Look at the position of the arms and hands. The bodies have been arranged in poses of serenity, and they appear to be wrapped in the same biopolymer residue we found out in the passageway, all indications that this culture has a great deal of ritual associated with disposing of the dead. That normally indicates some belief in the afterlife.
TORRES: The Klingons believe in an afterlife, but there's no burial ritual. They just dispose of the corpse by the most efficient means possible.
CHAKOTAY: Good point. However, some archaeological digs on the Klingon Homeworld
(There is a sound like a wind, then a light appears above them.)
CHAKOTAY: Tricorders!
KIM: A dimensional distortion is forming. Some kind of subspace vacuole.
CHAKOTAY: Chakotay to Voyager. Emergency beam-out.
JANEWAY [OC]: We're having trouble locking onto your signals. Stand by.

[Transporter room]

SESKA: Have everyone stand closer together. I'm going to try a blind beam-out

[Cavern]

SESKA [OC]: Centred on your comm. signal.
CHAKOTAY: Acknowledged. Energise!

[Bridge]

JANEWAY: Bridge to Transporter Room Three. Do you have them?
SESKA [OC]: Subspace distortions

[Transporter room]

SESKA: From the vacuole are interfering with the transporter lock. I'm

[Bridge]

SESKA [OC]: Attempting to compensate.

[Transporter room]

SESKA: Okay. I think I've got them. Chakotay and Lieutenant Torres are aboard. So is one of the humanoid bodies.

[Bridge]

SESKA [OC]: But there's no sign of Ensign Kim.
JANEWAY: Scan the asteroid.
TUVOK: No life signs, Captain. I'm broadening the scan. Nothing. He is nowhere in the entire asteroid field.
JANEWAY: Seska, initiate emergency transport procedure

[Transporter room]

JANEWAY [OC]: Twenty one alpha.
SESKA: I'm already on it, Captain. It's no use. His pattern's gone.

[Bridge]

SESKA [OC]: And the subspace vacuole has disappeared. I'm looking at the transporter logs. My only guess is

[Transporter room]

SESKA: He was pulled into the vacuole.
TORRES: This isn't one of the bodies we found in the cavern. It's someone else.
CHAKOTAY: This body might have come out of the vacuole at the same time Kim was taken in.
TORRES: Wait a minute. I'm showing signs of electrical activity in the brain. It looks like she died just a few minutes ago. We might be able to revive her. If we can, we might get some answers.
CHAKOTAY: We can't interfere with this woman's natural process of death.
TORRES: What do you suggest we do, Commander? Kim's gone. She's the only one who might be able to tell us what happened.
CHAKOTAY: Beam us directly to Sickbay.
SESKA: Aye, Commander.

[Cenotaph room]

(A priest officiates over an strangely shaped sarcophagus whose lid is connected to the ceiling by cables at each corner. The family are touching it.)
RENORA: Death is the end of this life. But it is also the beginning of a new journey. Ptera will now thrive in the Next Emanation. This is both her sacred duty and her great privilege.
ALL: Hail Ptera!
RENORA: As she begins her transition, we promise to carry memories of her so that when we enter the
(There is a thumping sound from the sarcophagus.)
KIM [OC]: Help! Get me out of here!
RENORA: She's alive! Deactivate the cenotaph, quickly!
(Attendants at a control panel obey, and the lid is raised.)
KIM: Let me out!

[Waiting area]

(Divided into cubicles by movable metal screens. A woman gives an ornate box to a man.)
LORIA: Here it is.
HATIL: Thanks. A lot of memories in this.
LORIA: We're so proud of you, Hatil. This is such a generous, selfless act.
HATIL: It's my last gift for you and the children.
LORIA: And it's one we will always cherish. But I'm still going to miss you.
HATIL: I know. I'll miss you too. But I'll see you in the Next Emanation when you're ready to join me.
LORIA: Give my love to your father. Tell him that the garili trees he planted have, have been in bloom for three years straight.
HATIL: I will. Goodbye.
LORIA: Goodbye.
(The soon to be grieving widow leaves, and Renora brings Kim in to an adjoining cubicle.)
RENORA: Lie down. It's going to be all right. We won't harm you.
HATIL: Who is that?
RENORA: We're not sure yet. We think he came from the Next Emanation.
HATIL: The Next Emanation? You mean he's come back?
KIM: Come back from where?
RENORA: We've called for the thanatologist. He'll be here any moment. I don't think there should be any further discussion about this until he arrives.
(Renora leaves.)
HATIL: How did you get here?
KIM: I'm not sure. I just sort of woke up inside one of those pods. I was conducting an investigation on an asteroid, we found some dead bodies, then there was some kind of subspace phenomenon.
HATIL: What do you mean, you saw dead people there?
(The door opens.)
NERIA: I'm Doctor Neria, the chief thanatologist of this facility.
KIM: Ensign Harry Kim of the Federation starship Voyager.
NERIA: I see. What race are you from?
KIM: We call ourselves human. We come from a planet called Earth in a distant part of the galaxy.
HATIL: He said he saw dead people on an asteroid.
NERIA: Dead?
KIM: Look, can you tell me where I am?
HATIL: Doctor, what does this mean?
NERIA: Rest, Hatil. There's no need for concern. May I speak to you privately, Ensign Harry?
KIM: Just Harry's fine.
NERIA: We are the Vhnori and this is our homeworld.
KIM: We were investigating one of the asteroids in the rings around your planet.
NERIA: There are no rings around our world.
KIM: So the subspace vacuole must have transported me somewhere else. Do you have any star charts I could look at? I'd like to figure out where I am now in relation to where I was.
NERIA: Where you are now is in the world of the living. Where you came from was another dimension.
KIM: Another dimension?
NERIA: Yes. You returned from the Next Emanation. The afterlife.

[Sickbay]

JANEWAY: How were you able to revive her?
EMH: It's a simple process, really. She died of a cancerous growth on the brain stem. I removed the tumour, replicated new neural tissue and used the standard Starfleet postmortem resuscitation technique for a class five life form.
JANEWAY: Why was she covered with this biopolymer?
EMH: She wasn't covered with it, exactly. The biopolymer is a by-product of her own tissues.
JANEWAY: Explain.
EMH: As her tissues decayed, the cell membranes broke down into a biopolymer resin which was then excreted by her epidermal layer. My guess is it's a natural decomposition process for this species.
CHAKOTAY: So the other biopolymer fibres we found in the cavern were
EMH: Were probably the result of other bodies that had decomposed and left a residual membrane. In essence, Commander, you were strolling through dead bodies.
JANEWAY: Can you wake her?
EMH: Yes, of course. Kes, two cc's of netinaline.
(Kes gives the EMH the hypo and he administers it.)
EMH: Hello.
JANEWAY: I know this must be very confusing for you, but you're all right. My name is Kathryn Janeway.
PTERA: I'm Ptera. Where's my brother?
JANEWAY: Your brother? I'm afraid he's not here.
PTERA: But he's supposed to be here. They're all supposed to be here.
JANEWAY: Ptera, we were able to remove the tumour from your brain. You're going to be all right. We revived you because one of our
PTERA: This is the Next Emanation? This is the afterlife?
JANEWAY: No. No, it's not. You're on a starship.
PTERA: This can't be right. My brother's supposed to be here. Something's wrong.
JANEWAY: Let me explain.
PTERA: No. No! Get away from me. This isn't right. This can't be right!
(The EMH hypos the hysterical woman.)

[Cenotaph room]

KIM: You're saying there was a woman in here just before I arrived?
NERIA: That's right. Her name was Ptera. She was dying of a tumourous lesion to her midbrain.
KIM: Dying. So she wasn't dead yet?
NERIA: No, of course not. She didn't die until the cenotaph was activated. That's the purpose of the cenotaph. It terminates a person's life just before the appearance of a spectral rupture and then it allows their body to be taken to the Next Emanation.
KIM: Spectral rupture.
NERIA: Well, I can show you.
(Neria calls up a schematic on a monitor.)
KIM: This looks like what we would call a subspace vacuole. Does the cenotaph create these ruptures?
NERIA: No, they're natural occurrences, once every six hours. This entire complex was built on this site because a spectral rupture occurs here. There are thousands of such sites on our world. Forgive my curiosity, Harry, but, you are the first person ever to come back from the afterlife. I have quite a few questions. You said that you saw dead bodies?
KIM: That's right. There were seven females, eleven males. Some of the bodies had been there for years, others just for a few days.
NERIA: Are you saying that when we die we go to some asteroid and decompose?
KIM: Well, that's what it looked liked to us.
NERIA: These bodies, did you perform any kind of bioscans on them? Was there any specific medical data that you can remember?
KIM: Doctor, maybe I should just stop right there. This is what my people call a first contact situation, and we've learned to be very careful about how much we tell alien cultures we've just met.
NERIA: I would like to start a complete bioanalysis as soon as possible. If you'll just follow Doctor Renora.
KIM: Bioanalysis? Look, all I want to do is get back to my ship. And I think there might be a way to use this spectral rupture of yours to
NERIA: You're not going anywhere. You are our first glimpse into what lies beyond death. We are not going to let this opportunity pass us by.

[Bridge]

CHAKOTAY: We've completed our analysis of the ring system. Our sensors have detected over two hundred thousand alien bodies on various asteroids in the rings. From what we can tell, a subspace vacuole appears about every two hours, deposits a body and then disappears.
JANEWAY: We need to focus on those vacuoles. Concentrate on trying to probe them with a high resolution subspace scans. See if you can find any sign of Mister Kim.
EMH [OC]: Sick bay to Captain Janeway.
JANEWAY: Go ahead.
EMH [OC]: Our guest has regained consciousness, and she is a little calmer this time.
JANEWAY: I'm on my way. You have the Bridge.

[Sickbay]

PTERA: That's, that's all I know. I'm sorry. I can't tell you anything more.
JANEWAY: You've told me quite a bit. At least now I have an idea of what might have happened to Mister Kim. Is there anything I can do for you?
PTERA: Well, I'd, I'd like some answers.
JANEWAY: About what?
PTERA: About what happens to my people when we die.
JANEWAY: We're not sure exactly. But from what we do know, the vacuoles deposit the bodies on the asteroids in this ring system.
PTERA: And then what?
JANEWAY: I'm not sure what you mean.
PTERA: We're supposed to evolve into a higher level of consciousness when we die. We're supposed to gain a greater understanding of the universe. All of our questions are supposed to be answered.
JANEWAY: Ptera, I know this must be frightening for you. You've been through a very traumatic experience. It would frighten me. But please try to understand. Just because I don't have the answers to your questions doesn't mean there aren't any.
PTERA: My brother. I always thought I'd see him again. I had so many things to tell him about his children, the people he left behind. But he isn't here, is he? He's. So, what am I supposed to do now, spend the rest of my life on this, this starship?
JANEWAY: Ptera, I am going to do everything in my power to figure out just how you got here. And as soon as I know anything, I will tell you, all right?
PTERA: All right.
KES: Maybe we should get out of Sickbay, let you walk around for a while, clear your mind. Maybe get something to eat. Are you hungry?
PTERA: Yes. Actually, I could use something to eat. What was that?
(Whumph!)
JANEWAY: Janeway to Bridge. Report.

[Bridge]

PARIS: There's some kind of dimensional distortion forming near main Engineering, Captain. It looks like

[Sickbay]

PARIS [OC]: A subspace vacuole.
JANEWAY: Janeway to Engineering. B'Elanna, what's going on?

[Engineering]

TORRES: I've pinpointed the location, Captain. It's right here in Engineering. Stand by.
(Torres opens the door to the Jefferies tube entrance, and finds a web-covered body.)

[Waiting room]

LORIA: Hatil, what are you saying?
HATIL: I'm just not sure I'm ready, that's all.
LORIA: I don't understand.
HATIL: Neither do I. It's just that I'm starting to wonder what really happens when we die, if I'm really going on to a higher level of consciousness.
LORIA: The alien. What has he been telling you?
HATIL: All he's done is made me stop and think about something we've always taken for granted, and now that I've thought about it, I'm not so eager to go through with it anymore.
LORIA: Hatil, we know nothing about him, or why he's come here, or why he's spreading lies about the Next Emanation. All I know is, you can't throw away a lifetime of belief because of him. It doesn't make sense.
HATIL: I don't know what to think anymore. I'm scared, Loria.
LORIA: It's going to be all right. Think about your father. He's waiting for you. I'll see you at the transference ritual.
(Loria leaves Hatil and goes to Kim's cubicle.)
I don't know who you are or where you come from, but you stay away from my husband.
(Loria leaves.)
KIM: I'm sorry. I didn't mean to.
HATIL: Harry, you have to forgive my wife. She's having trouble understanding my concerns about the afterlife. That's why I'm here. I'm getting ready to die. Forgive me for asking again but can you tell me anything about what I might find in the Next Emanation?
KIM: Everyone keeps asking me that, and I just keep giving the same answer. I don't know.
HATIL: But you do come from the afterlife?
KIM: I come from a different reality, maybe another dimension. Maybe it is your afterlife. I don't know. All I do know is that there are countless billions of people there who are born, live and die, just like you do here.
HATIL: But you did see my people there? You said they were dead?
KIM: Yes, but, look, for all I know, your thanatologists are right, and all I saw were the corporeal remains of your people, and you do go on to a higher consciousness.
HATIL: But it's also possible that there is no higher existence for us, that when we die we simply cease to exist.
KIM: I, I really can't say. I don't know what happens to your people after they die. I don't even know what happens to my people after they die.
HATIL: Don't you have thanatologists, people who study death?
KIM: Well, sort of. There have certainly been medical experts, philosophers, theologians who have spent a great deal of time debating what happens after death. But no one's come up with an answer yet.
HATIL: My people have come to think of death as just another stage of our existence. There are some people who are even eager to die. If they feel depressed or lonely in this life, they simply move on to the next one.
KIM: Is that why you're here? Because you're not happy with your life?
HATIL: Ever since the er, accident, life hasn't been easy. But I have to say, this is more my family's idea than it is mine.
KIM: Your family?
HATIL: I'm a burden to them right now. It takes a lot of their time and resources to care for me, and I can't give much back to them. So, there was a family meeting and it was agreed that I should move on to the Next Emanation. You look appalled.
KIM: It's not my place to judge your culture, but from my perspective, it's a little chilling to hear that.
HATIL: Even though the family did it out of love, and everyone was happy for me, and they said they'd see me when they got to the Next Emanation, I have to admit there is a little voice inside of me that is terrified of dying. And since I've been talking to you, that little voice has started to get louder.

[Engineering]

JANEWAY: I'm reading another vacuole forming on the ship. Tuvok, try remodulating the shield harmonics.
TUVOK: It's no use, Captain. The vacuole is still forming.
(Whumph! A body appears on the catwalk.)
TUVOK: Take the body to the ship's morgue.
JANEWAY: This is odd. Three bodies have appeared on Voyager so far, and each one of them has released some kind of neural energy. In every case, the energy has passed through the hull and out into the rings. The energy's frequency is identical to the ambient radiation in the asteroid field.
(Whumph!)
TORRES: The vacuoles are disrupting the warp core's magnetic interlocks. It won't be long before we lose antimatter containment.
JANEWAY: The vacuoles have all formed within twenty metres of the warp core. They might be attracted to it. Janeway to Bridge. Mister Paris, lay in a course. I want to get

[Bridge]

JANEWAY [OC]: At least a half a light year away. Warp seven.
PARIS: Aye, Captain. (Zoom) Paris to Janeway. I've brought us out of warp. We're point six light years from the ring system.

[Engineering]

JANEWAY: Any other subspace vacuoles forming?
TORRES: No. The magnetic interlocks have stabilised. I think we're safe out here.
JANEWAY: Begin working on a way to protect the warp core from these vacuoles.
TORRES: Aye, Captain.

[Mess hall]

KES: Sometimes I come in here and just stare out at the stars for hours. I never get tired of looking at them.
PTERA: We were always told we would see beautiful sights in the Next Emanation. Colours, lights, and that we would see them with new eyes and a new understanding. But now. What happened to the others? My brother, my father and everyone before them? People die every day on my world. Do they all end up as lifeless corpses?
KES: When people die on my world, we bury them beneath the soil, and we believe that their comra is released into the afterlife.
PTERA: Their comra?
KES: Our soul, our spirit, the essence of our beings. Maybe something similar happens to you.
PTERA: But you don't understand. We don't believe in any kind of spirit. When we die, we're supposed to reappear as physical beings with arms and legs. That's the whole point of sending our people through the spectral ruptures. We're supposed to travel on to the Next Emanation as ourselves and be reunited with our families. But none of that is true, is it? None of the people I love are here. I'm alone. I don't belong here. I can't live like this. Please, can't you send me home?
KES: I think there is only one person on this ship who could answer that question.

[Briefing room]

JANEWAY: We're doing everything we can to get you back home, Ptera. Once we locate our missing officer, we're hoping he might be able to tell us enough to
TORRES: Wait a minute, Captain. Maybe there is a way to send Ptera home and find Ensign Kim at the same time.
JANEWAY: Explain.
TORRES: What if we recreated the transporter accident? If it's true that Harry was pulled through the vacuole during transport, we might be able to reproduce those circumstances and send Ptera home.
CHAKOTAY: We could send Ptera through the subspace transponder and hope the signal will penetrate the dimensional barrier and allow us to lock on to Kim with the transporter beam.
TORRES: Right.
PTERA: So I can get home?
JANEWAY: Ptera, you should know that there's no guarantee this is going to work.
PTERA: I understand the risk, but I've already been dead once and I'm prepared to die again if necessary. So if there's a chance I can get home, I'm willing to take the risk.
JANEWAY: All right. Commander, prepare a subspace transponder and teach Ptera how to use it.
CHAKOTAY: Aye, Captain.

Captain's log, supplemental. We've returned to the ring system, and we're preparing to send Ptera back to her dimension. Lieutenant Torres has found a way to temporarily protect the warp core against the vacuoles but she is uncertain how long her measures will be effective.

[Transporter room]

JANEWAY: You understand the instructions for Mister Kim if you find him?
PTERA: Yes.

[Engineering]

TORRES: We've got one, Commander, forming ten metres below us, deck thirteen.
CHAKOTAY: Okay, let's see if your dampening field is going to protect the warp core.
TORRES: The field is fluctuating slightly, but holding.
CHAKOTAY: Engineering to Transporter Room three.

[Transporter room]

CHAKOTAY [OC]: There's a vacuole forming on deck thirteen. Magnetic interlocks are stable.
JANEWAY: Acknowledged.
SESKA: I see the vacuole. Locking on.
JANEWAY: Good luck, Ptera.
SESKA: I have a transporter lock. Energising. Matching her pattern to the subspace distortions. Wait a minute. The vacuole is shutting down. I can't get her pattern through.
JANEWAY: Abort the procedure. Pull her back.
SESKA: I'm trying. I'm losing her pattern.
JANEWAY: Shunt emergency power into buffer tank four.
SESKA: That's it. I've got the pattern.
(Ptera beams back in with a thin layer of cobweb over her face. Janeway catches her as she falls.)
KES: She's dead.
JANEWAY: Is there any brain activity? Can we revive her? Janeway to Lieutenant Torres. How long until we have to leave?
TORRES [OC]: I'd say we're safe for another two hours.
JANEWAY: That gives us two hours to find Mister Kim. We'll have to stay within high-range scanner range. Perform another subspace scan. This time extend the scan radius to ten AU. I'm on my way to Engineering. Janeway out.
TORRES [OC]: Aye, Captain.
JANEWAY: Ensign, beam her onto one of the asteroids.
SESKA: Aye, Captain.
JANEWAY: That's where she was meant to be.
(Janeway leaves.)
KES: I hope you find your afterlife, Ptera.

[Waiting room]

KIM: Why?
NERIA: We want to make a more detailed scan of your microcellular structures and a complete examination of your neurochemistry. This facility isn't equipped for such a detailed bioanalysis. The complex at Paffran has everything we need.
KIM: Look. If my ship is still searching for me, they're not going to stay there forever. I have to get back.
NERIA: That's not possible. We don't even understand how you got here.
KIM: Then maybe I can figure out a way to get back. Let me take a look at one of those cenotaphs.
NERIA: There's no time for that. Word about you has spread very quickly, Harry, not only in the scientific world, but in the community at large. There are many people who are very nervous about what you represent. Some even see you as a threat to their beliefs about the afterlife. We need to take you to a more secure location. It's for your own protection.
KIM: Wait!
NERIA: I'm sorry, Harry. It's out of my control.
(Neria leaves. Kim turns to Hatil, who is wrapping himself in mummy bandages.)
KIM: What are you doing?
HATIL: Preparing for the transference ritual. This is a ceremonial shroud that's been in my family for five generations.
KIM: So they make you wrap yourself in your own death shroud.
HATIL: It's something we look forward to, actually. I remember when my father used this shroud, his father before him. The difference is, when my father put this on there was no doubt in his mind about where he was going.
KIM: Can't you just back out? Say you've changed your mind.
HATIL: I have thought of just walking out and disappearing. I have some friends in the Cararian Mountains. They would be willing to let me stay with them. But my family would worry about me. They'd wonder what was happening, if I was all right, if I were hurt. No, everyone's expecting a transference ritual, and I'm going to give them one.
KIM: What if you did disappear into the mountains, but your family thought you were dead? I mean, they're here for a transference ritual, right?
HATIL: Do you realise what you're suggesting?
KIM: It's perfect. Those cenotaphs send your people back to my dimension, which is where I want to go. Voyager's probably still near the asteroid searching for me. As soon as I appear, they'll pick up my signal and beam me aboard. And you, you can just disappear. Your family will think you're dead, and you can live out your life in the mountains.
HATIL: Harry, if you go into that cenotaph and go through with the transference ritual, you'll die.
KIM: Well, if Voyager can beam me aboard quickly enough, our doctor should be able to revive me. Medicine's pretty advanced in our culture. I've heard of cases where people have been dead for hours and still been brought back to life.
HATIL: But it's not certain?
KIM: No, it's not, but I think this is my only chance to get home.
HATIL: The shroud has to be wrapped in a particular way. I'll show you how, but we have to hurry. I'm scheduled for transference in less than an hour.

[Cenotaph room]

(Loria holds the hand of a fully-wrapped mummy.)
LORIA: A pleasant trip, Hatil. Say hello to Varel and Toyan. I'll see you there in a few years.
(The mummy is helped to like back in the cenotaph and the lid is lowered.)
NERIA: We're joined here today to bid farewell to our dear friend Hatil Garan. We salute not only his life, but the manner in which he has chosen to end it. He makes a noble sacrifice today that his family may have a better tomorrow. We prepare to send him on to the Next Emanation

[Inside the cenotaph]

(Kim pulls the bandages from his head.)
NERIA [OC]: With the full knowledge and faith that the life he will find there is better than the one here, that he will no longer be hampered by his infirmity and that we will come to understand the cosmos

[Cenotaph room]

NERIA: In a way that he could never have imagined.
LORIA: Bye, Hatil. I love you.
(Loria pushes a button and two glowing rods extend towards Kim. They touch his neck, there's a jolt, and he is very still.)

[Bridge]

(Whumph!)
TORRES: Another vacuole. Deck fifteen.
TUVOK: The body of an alien female has been left behind.
CHAKOTAY: Chakotay to Transporter Room Three. Lock onto the body on deck fifteen and transport it to one of the asteroids.
SESKA [OC]: Aye, sir.
JANEWAY: Status on the warp core, Lieutenant.
TORRES: The dampening field's down to twenty one percent. The interlocks won't hold much longer. I recommend leaving, Captain.
JANEWAY: Very well. Mister Paris, bring us about. Prepare to resume our
(Whumph!)
CHAKOTAY: Captain, I'm picking up a vacuole forming on deck twelve. It deposited a human body.
JANEWAY: Human?
CHAKOTAY: But it's dead.
JANEWAY: Janeway to Seska. There's a body on deck twelve. Beam it directly to Sickbay.
SESKA [OC]: Yes, Captain.

[Sickbay]

(Janeway and Tuvok enter.)
EMH: Two cc's cordrazine.
(There is a long pause, then Kim gasps and opens his eyes.)
EMH: Relax, Mister Kim. Everything's fine. You're alive.

[Mess hall]

(Kim is alone, picking at a meal, when Janeway enters.)
JANEWAY: Mind if I join you?
KIM: No, not at all. Please.
JANEWAY: Thank you. So, how are you feeling?
KIM: Better. I'll be ready for duty tomorrow morning.
JANEWAY: You're off duty for the next two days.
KIM: Captain, I'm fine.
JANEWAY: It's not a reflection on your capabilities, Ensign. I just want to give you a chance to reflect on what's happened. This may not make much sense to you now, a young man at the beginning of his career, but one of the things you'll learn as you move up the ranks and get a little older is that you wish you had more time in your youth to really absorb all the things that happened to you. It goes by so fast. It's so easy to become jaded, to treat the extraordinary like just another day at the office, but sometimes there are experiences which transcend all that. You've just had one, Mister Kim, and I want you to live with it for a little while. Write about it, if you feel like it. Paint. Express yourself in some fashion. The Bridge will still be there in two days.
KIM: Thank you, Captain. I have been a little preoccupied with the experience. I mean, all those people think that they know what happens after death. They look forward to it. They're prepared for it. But the truth is, none of it's real. They don't have an afterlife. They just decay inside those asteroids.
JANEWAY: I wouldn't be so sure of that, if I were you. That neural energy their bodies release, it becomes part of the ambient electromagnetic field surrounding the planet. Our readings also indicate the energy's unusually dynamic. There's a great deal of variation and pattern complexity, quantum density.
KIM: Are you saying you think they do have an afterlife? That the energy field is where they exist at a higher level of consciousness, just like they believe?
JANEWAY: I'm not certain, but I am certain about this. What we don't know about death is far, far greater than what we do know. See you in two days, Ensign.
KIM: Thank you, Captain.

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