It was Christmas time on Voyager and for weeks the crew had been keeping secrets, sneaking under mistle toe and visiting Tom's holodeck program that was filled with twentieth century shopping centers in order to find that perfect gift. Neelix was in his glory. He loved learning about the different facets of the many cultures that thrived on Voyager but Christmas was fast becoming his personal favorite.
He had "bought" a Christmas tree on the holodeck
complete with decorations and put it up in the mess hall. He had had the
crew in the mess hall for hours stringing popcorn and drinking eggnog while
singing off key to "the old favorites" as Neelix called the popular Christmas
melodies of twentieth century Earth. Everyone bore his enthusiasm
with an affectionate sympathy, even the Captain. She had entered the mess
hall in the middle of his decorating party and was quickly taken into an
exuberant bear hug by the Talaxian.
"Captain! I'm so excited to see you. Come right in. Have some of this delightful nog concoction. Tell me, what do you think of our tree?" Kathryn looked around at her crew and smiled. How glad she was that Neelix forced them all to abandon their feeling of homesickness on the holidays. She surveyed the tree. It was nicely shaped and certainly tall enough but popcorn was the sole decoration.
"Neelix, where are the other decorations?" she questioned. "Captain?" Neelix asked. Putting an arm around his shoulders, she explained that it was the custom of Christian humans to fill the branches of the Christmas tree with tiny ornaments. "I'm sure that you can find some over at Tom's mall" Kathryn concluded. "Thank you Captain! I was heading in that direction right after the crowd dies down in here. What a place! You can find almost anything in those lovely malls! Neelix was a whirlwind heading off to the buffet to pour her a mug of eggnog. Kathryn chuckled and made a vow to only have one cup of eggnog before returning to engineering where she was helping B'Elanna with some routine maintenance. She liked to pitch in like that to allow some of the crew to get off their shift earlier. It gave them more time for the Christmas festivities.
A few hours later the engineering team was finishing up when the power started fading and the environmental controls went off line. Alarmed, B'Elanna started bellowing orders, "Hollins, get down to junction 8 and get a look at those gel packs! Rogers, run a diagnostic on the environmental systems!" The Captain was busy at a console when she noticed Chakotay come in.
"Commander, what's going on?" she demanded. The lights continued to flash and alarms were going off on all decks. Chakotay was chuckling.
"You find this funny, Commander?" Kathryn yelled over the noise. He motioned for B'Elanna to join them and then led the two women to the corridor.
" I think there's something you should see down in the mess hall!" he shouted. B'Elanna and Kathryn looked at each other.
"Neelix!" they cried before the three of them took off at a dead run to the mess hall. Out of breath, Kathryn entered the room. There was a group of people at the view port and out of the corner of her eye she noticed that Neelix had indeed done some shopping. The tree was decked out with multi colored lights and tinsel as well as dozens of tiny ornaments. They were still functioning she noted even with the environmental problems. Chakotay motioned toward the group at the view port. Kathryn approached the group. Outside Voyager on the port side was Neelix in a space suit and magnetic boots. He appeared to be hanging Christmas lights on Voyager.
"What the hell is he doing?" Kathryn yelled to no one in particular. Chakotay was laughing as a member of the crew stated the obvious; "He's hanging Christmas lights, Captain." Kathryn rolled her eyes and tapped her communicator.
"Janeway to Neelix. What the hell are you doing?"
"Neelix here, Captain. Just getting into the spirit. Took your suggestion actually and found some great buys at a place called Walmart"
"Neelix…" came the growl from the Captain, "are you aware that your lights are probably the cause of some major malfunctions with our environmental systems?" A pause followed her question.
"No, Captain. I'm terribly sorry. Just trying to put a bit of Christmas on the outside. You know, Captain, the box did say that these lights were for inside or outside use. To tell you the truth, Captain, I can't imagine that I could be the cause of such a commotion" B'Elanna came forward with an empty Christmas light box. The three senior officers stood together and read the words… FOR INDOOR OR OUTDOOR USE ONLY.
"Well", said B'Elanna, "I highly doubt that the person who made these meant for them to be used IN SPACE, NEELIX!" She threw the box on the floor and stomped out the door to start repairs. Kathryn could have sworn that she heard something about Tom's demise in her mumbling as she stormed out.
"Commander, I'll be in engineering" Kathryn followed the Klingon through the mess hall doors.
"Neelix here, Commander. You know, I seem to have gotten myself into a quandary. I'm wondering if someone would be so kind as to lend me some assistance.
"Hello? Hello?" Outside Voyager a lonely Talaxian started humming some carols while he awaited rescue.