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Incident at Arbuk

Series: Voyager # 5
Author: John Gregory Betancourt
Published: November, 1995
Review by: Cmdr. Amanda Sielu Paris

It's the fear of any captain, whether they are in the Alpha or Delta Quadrant, to arrive too late to a distress call. Upon answering a distress call sent out by a single alien in a small ship, Voyager arrives to find mass destruction of space-bound cities. Perhaps the next fear of a captain is arriving too late for the distress signal to be of any help, but arriving when the attacker that caused the distress is still there. Only this time, it isn't a race bound to kill the other race and it's not a fight for territory. It just appears to be a weapon that went off on the people who created it. Or that's how it all seems to begin with.

The Voyager crew gets to see the weapon in action actually and suffers some damage from the shock waves. Despite the attack, B'Elanna Torres assures them that the weapon doesn't seem to be targeting anything and the propulsion on the weapon makes it easy for Voyager to get out of it's strike zone. With some hesitation, Captain Kathryn Janeway agrees to send an Engineering crew over to the weapon to find a way to shut it down while the doctor tries to revive the sole survivor of the incident. But as Janeway soon discovers, they aren't the only ones interested in the distress signal.

The pieces slowly start to fit together. With Neelix's help, Janeway does get an idea of what she is up against. But as the time crawls on and they wait for the survivor to wake up, Janeway becomes desperate. They keep getting visitors that are obviously not concerned in the well-being of the survivor or worried what had happened there. In order to save what is left of Voyager and the space-bound cities, Janeway turns to Tuvok for help. Janeway is very close to Tuvok as many fans know and it's hard for her to send him into a situation that isn't safe. He is the only one she can trust, so Tuvok agrees to do a mind-meld with the survivor in order to help him awake.

The mind-meld is successful and Tuvok is able to piece together some answers for the captain. The survivor was an unfortunate engineer who was out working in his Engineering vessel when a way of propulsion was turned into a weapon by the military in their government. The visitors that they had to fend off with B'Elanna's help from the weapon are actually the military trying to pick up the pieces now that the original people are out of the way. However, there are some side-effects to the mind-meld that make the whole process interesting with the survivor and Tuvok.

This book propelled it's way through the original tangled mess you are presented with early. I like how everything very slowly came together as it if was a real timeframe for the investigation. Janeway is a scientist and she became desperate to find clues to piece together. She learned that perhaps finding the answer isn't always as important as your friends. There was also an interesting side to Tuvok that I could see happening with the mind meld and some references to "Tuvix" came to mind. Although, in some ways, I think the mind meld was taken too casually at the beginning. I enjoyed this book and finished it within two days of getting it. It was definite entertainment, although it could have had more Tom Paris in it for my benefit.