A Talaxian settlement is discovered on an asteroid, with big implications for Neelix's future.
Neelix is hosting a party to celebrate First Contact Day, the anniversary of the Vulcans' arrival on Earth, when Chakotay interrupts with news that sensors have detected Talaxian lifesigns a few light-years away. The U.S.S. Voyager follows the readings to an asteroid field, so Tom Paris, Tuvok and Neelix take the Delta Flyer to track down the Talaxians. They discover their lifesigns inside a large asteroid, but then an explosion forces the Flyer to crash-land on that asteroid.
Neelix regains consciousness to find a pretty, widowed Talaxian woman named Dexa treating his injuries. She tells him his friends are safe, and that the explosion came from miners who are using charges to break apart asteroids for their mineral resources. Dexa wonders why Neelix is living with aliens, and keeps him locked behind a forcefield. Meanwhile on Voyager, the crew is preparing a rescue mission when Commander Nocona, the leader of the miners, hails them and explains that a mining operation is in progress. He warns Captain Janeway to stay out of the field and says his people will search for the missing crewmembers.
Neelix is visited again by Dexa, this time with Talaxian council regent Oxilon, who tells him he's free to go. While they're willing to let Neelix stay awhile, they want his alien friends to leave as soon as possible, prompting Neelix to take his leave as well. As Dexa escorts him back to the Delta Flyer, Neelix learns that 500 Talaxians live inside the asteroid, which they excavated and developed using technology from their disassembled ships. Neelix rejoins Paris and Tuvok in the Delta Flyer, feeling let down that the encounter with his people fell short of his expectations. As repairs are being completed, an intruder alert reveals that Brax, Dexa's young son, has snuck on board. When Neelix takes the boy back to his mother, he finds her and Oxilon in a confrontation with the miners. Nocona is ordering the Talaxians to evacuate the asteroid so it can be demolished. Dexa stands up to him in defense of her home, and he pushes her aside. In response Brax throws a rock at Nocona, and when the miners attempt to grab the boy Neelix defends him and gets into an altercation with the miners. They reach a standoff, so the miners give the Talaxians three days and leave.
Oxilon is worried that the fight may have made things worse, but Dexa suggests it's time to defend themselves rather than run away. Neelix offers to help out by asking Captain Janeway to negotiate with the miners, and asks Dexa, Oxilon and Brax to visit Voyager. Neelix gives Dexa and Brax a tour of the ship, and while Naomi takes Brax on a holodeck adventure, Neelix and Dexa have dinner together. He learns that her people - refugees from the Haakonian takeover of Talax - first settled on a planet called Phanos where they were restricted to a very small area. When her husband attempted to farm outside their allowed zone, he was killed by a government patrol. Then they came to the asteroid, where they thought they wouldn't be bothered. Neelix reassures her there's still hope, and the attraction between them grows.
The next day Janeway leads discussions between Nocona and Oxilon, but the miners won't compromise except to extend their deadline for evacuation. After the failed negotiation, Janeway agrees to ferry the homesteaders and their supplies to the nearest M-Class planet. Concerned for their safety, Neelix asks Tuvok for advice on how to devise a defense strategy for the Talaxians' new home. Tuvok proposes that their current home could be defended by a shield perimeter, but with the miners monitoring the asteroid they would need competent leadership to defend against a pre-emptive attack. Tuvok suggests to Neelix that he could be that leader.
With Janeway's blessing, Neelix takes his own ship to the asteroid and proposes to the homesteaders a plan to establish a shield grid, by using their one remaining ship to implant 16 forcefield emitters into the asteroid's surface. The miners will attack, so Neelix will provide cover from his own ship. Oxilon protests that people will get hurt, but Neelix counters that their home is worth defending, and Dexa agrees. As the Talaxians prepare for the operation, Neelix and Dexa share a passionate kiss.
Oxilon pilots the ship that fires the emitters into the asteroid, and as he gets into position to plant the last one, the miners intercept and attack. After Neelix retaliates, the miners start dropping charges to demolish the asteroid. He manages to neutralize one of their charges, but then the miners knock out his weapons, so when the next charge is dropped Neelix attempts to collide with it. But then the Delta Flyer arrives and obliterates the explosive, saving Neelix's life. Janeway contacts him and says they just came to help a friend in distress. The final emitter is planted and Dexa activates the shield, successfully repelling the miners' attacks.
As Neelix says goodbye to his new friends, Brax asks him to stay. After returning to Voyager, and especially after realizing that Naomi is growing up, Neelix finds himself in a dilemma. When he tries to talk to Janeway about it, she offers him a chance to serve as Starfleet's permanent ambassador in the Delta Quadrant. He accepts, and after a touching send-off by the crew, leaves Voyager for good to join his people, and become a family with Dexa and Brax.
By Dark Materia on 14 Dec 2002 19:24:31 The last good Neelix story. Surely the best ever "send off" of a character in Star Trek. My favourite part about Voyager has always been the great inter-character relationship between Neelix and Tuvok. A "feel good" episode that also has some nice visual effects/space battle scene to keep everyone happy. One small writing problem I had with this was the pressence of Talaxians half a galaxy away from their homeworld, and it was even suggested that they could go back to Talax.