Prime Factors (Star Trek: Voyager)

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"Prime Factors"
Star Trek: Voyager episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 10
Directed by Les Landau
Teleplay by Greg Elliot
Michael Perricone
Story by David R. George III
Eric A. Stillwell
Featured music Jay Chattaway
Production code 110
Original air date March 20, 1995 (1995-03-20)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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List of Star Trek: Voyager episodes

"Prime Factors" is the tenth episode of Star Trek: Voyager.


The episode opens with the Maquis crew socializing well with the Voyager crew. Then the crew receives a distress call and contacts the ship. It turns out that the ship isn't in distress, but says that the Voyager is — for being a primitive starship in their comparison. The Voyager encounters a very hospitable race known as the Sikarians and the crew are invited to visit their homeworld, Sikaris. As the crew set foot on the Sikarian homeworld, they find wonderful things from amazing fabrics to beautiful cities. Shore leave is organized, and during the visit, Ensign Kim and an alien friend transport themselves to another planet, Alastria. Kim notices that the planet has two stars and must belong to another star system. The alien describes the location of the planet, and Kim deduces that the teleporter device — the Trajector — has transported them 40,000 light-years across the Delta Quadrant.

Captain Janeway is informed, and asks Gath, the leader of the Sikarians, if they could modify their technology for Voyager. Gath states that they are forbidden from sharing technology, by their own version of the Prime Directive. Janeway reflects on how many times the Prime Directive has prevented Starfleet from interfering with primitive cultures, even on the brink of destruction, and how they, Starfleet, are that primitive culture to the Sikarian people.

As the crew think about a bargaining chip, Harry remembers that he was told that stories to the Sikarians hold incredible value. Janeway takes this into account and makes an offer: the Sikarians use the transport technology for Voyager in exchange for Voyager's entire library of literature. This is an offer Gath finds tempting — although Janeway later discovers that he never intends to accept, but is attempting to convince the crew to stay on his planet indefinitely.

In engineering, Seska is seen in a daze thinking of her brother's birthday in a few days. Lt. Torres then examines the spatial rift caused by the trajector to figure out how it can work. A while later, Ensign Kim is approached by a civilian who offers to bypass the law and hand over to the Voyager crew the technology anyway, in exchange for the literature. Janeway is unable to authorize this, so she heads down to see if Gath is willing to talk with the other leaders on the subject. Janeway continues to try and convince him, but it turns out all he wants is his pleasure as does everyone else on the planet. Gath orders Voyager to leave, so Janeway returns to the ship and orders the recall of all personnel.

Torres, Lt. Carey, and Seska have downloaded the library and, after much debate, head to the transporter room. When trying to access the transporter, they are unable to and Security Chief Tuvok walks in on them. Tuvok goes to the surface and makes the exchange without Janeway's knowledge or permission. He returns to Voyager with the trajector, and instructs that the engineering team, who are also willing to undermine Janeway's authority, not to attempt to use the device until Tuvok has spoken with Janeway.

Seska connects the trajector to a console port in engineering so that they can examine it. Unfortunately, the engineering team discover that the technology relies on the massive crystalline mantle of the planet to focus the trajector beam, but once they depart, they will be unable to use the trajector. The last crew are aboard so they must now depart where they are no longer welcome.

As Voyager is about to depart, Torres and Seska activate the trajector. The trajector field forming around the ship produces anti-neutrinos. The warp core begins to build to a core breech, because the anti-neutrinos are incompatible with the anti-matter reaction. The device was never compatible with Federation technology. The attempt to disengage the trajector from the console fails; Torres destroys the trajector with a phaser. Tuvok (much to Janeway's shock) and the engineering team are disciplined by Janeway for undermining her authority, almost blowing up the warp core and nearly destroying the ship, and Voyager continues its journey looking for a way home.

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