Episode 8-19 - Through the Fire
By: MaquisKat (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimer: Star Trek: Voyager,
its characters and related properties are Registered Trademarks
of Paramount Pictures. No infringement of Paramount's copyrights
is intended. Voyager Virtual Season 8 (VS8) is a non-profit
endeavor. The unique characters and milieu of VS8 are the
property of the VS8 producers and individual authors. This
story is the property of the author. Please do not repost
cool breeze coming up from the bay fluttered through strands
of Seven's hair as she and the Doctor walked slowly down
the streets of San Francisco. Though the walk was suggested
as a way for her to relax, the unfamiliar surroundings did
nothing to ease her discomfort at the recent takeover of
her body by the Serniax intelligence. Though many would
not understand it, this experience had been much more discomforting
for Seven than her memories of being a Borg. There, she
had a voice; it was one voice among many, but it was still
a voice. In this most recent incident, she had had no voice,
no input. She had not been a part of what was going on around
her and that was even more frightening to her then the thought
of being part of the collective was to most humans. The
illogical thought that she wished to be back at Starfleet
Command; familiar enough by virtue of having stayed there
since their return to Earth and in the similarity to the
interior of Voyager, invaded her mind but she dismissed
it. Knowing she was as safe here, amidst the busy shops
of historical Chinatown as she was amongst the familiar
spires of headquarters. Her mind continued to wander in
this train of thought until the Doctor's familiar, exasperated
tone pulled her mind out of the introspective spiral she
found herself in.
he stopped and looked at her seriously, "I brought
you out here so you could relax. From the way you look you're
doing nothing of the sort."
"I am sorry,
Doctor," Seven responded, forcing her voice into its
normal tones, "I am finding it difficult to relax in
these unfamiliar surroundings."
The Doctor sighed
softly and put a comforting hand on Seven's shoulder, "Seven,
I can assure you that there is no more trace of the Serniax
personality left. Lieutenant Torres and I completely removed
it from you."
accepting the Doctor's words on a conscious level, but unable
to shake the feelings of unease that are plagued her. "I
am certain I will overcome this, Doctor. What I am feeling
now is illogical..."
human, Seven." The Doctor turned to face her, standing
on the sidewalk. "You've gone through yet another traumatic
experience in a very short period of time. You're not used
to dealing with your full range of human emotions and dealing
with these experiences would shake a person completely comfortable
with those emotions. I would like you to consider..."
Just as he was about to finish, the shrill beep from his
communicator interrupted and he tapped it abruptly. "EMH
voice of some officious aide filled the air, but Seven did
not hear the words it spoke, once again having become too
involved in her own thoughts. A few moments later, the Doctor
pulled her back to reality once more. "I'm afraid,
I have to beam back to Headquarters immediately. Some small-minded,
overly-bureaucratic admiral is requesting my presence. If
you want you could beam back with me."
Seven shook her
head, "I will be fine walking back on my own, Doctor.
Thank you for the offer." Taking a deep breath, determined
to confront her own unfounded anxiety, she stepped back
from the Doctor. He nodded, tapping his communicator. "One
to beam to Starfleet Medical."
sparkle of the transport beam slowly engulfed his body,
leaving only Seven on the sidewalk. She turned abruptly,
with a minimum of wasted movement, and began the walk back
to headquarters. Her attention focused on the scenery ahead
of her, trying to use it to distract her from the troubling
thoughts which clouded her mind, while she catalogued and
enjoyed the sights and sounds of the shops around her. As
she walked, she did not notice the different people staring
at her or even the man that fell into step behind her. Or
the next. Or the next. Uncomfortable, unfamiliar emotions
crowded her mind, distracting her sufficiently, that as
she made a stop at a sidewalk flower cart and inspected
the various brightly colored bouquets wondering if they
would cheer Captain Janeway's day, she did not notice the
people encircling her.
Uncertain of what
the Captain would appreciate the most she selected one at
random, judging that the large yellow blooms would at least
be visually pleasing. She turned to pay, only to find the
cart, it's owner and herself surrounded by people, the crowd
watching her with cold stares. The girl operating the cart
took the proffered credit chip and ran it through the debit
quickly, disturbed by the attention her customer had attracted,
then moved down the street as the human wall opened to let
Seven turned as
the wall of flesh, humans of every shape, age, race, and
gender, locked her in the ring of their bodies, never speaking.
Her heart began to pound as she stepped forward, hoping
to move away from them. Instead, to her dismay they moved
forward with her, pacing every step she made, their feet
hitting the pavement rhythmically, a slow, steady beat,
which surrounded her, filled her ears. Soon the beat was
no longer their feet in her mind, but the deafening dripping
of the water, the steady, relentless rhythm from the Cardassian
ship. She stopped again, looking around wildly, feeling
as though they were crowding her, crushing her. Her pulse
throbbed in her ears as she broke free of the crowd, pushing
her way past her passive captors, running over the cobblestone
walkways back towards the safety of Starfleet Command.
the only record of Seven's passing were the broken stalks
and scattered petals of the sun-bright flowers lying forgotten
on the sidewalk.
"So how are
things going for you Harry?" Sam looked at him appraisingly
as they walked down the steps from the main building at
"If I told
you my feelings were mixed, would you be surprised?"
Harry looked out at the skyline of San Francisco and found
it wasn't quite as beautiful as he remembered.
after what Starfleet did to Captain Janeway," Sam replied,
"and how things are turning out for our crewmates,
everyone from Voyager's having mixed feelings, Harry."
She shook her head sadly. They both gazed off into the distance
at the clouds rolling past in a now mostly-unfamiliar sky,
still somewhat shell-shocked by how everything had turned
out. After a moment Sam turned back to Harry feeling the
need to turn the subject to something positive once more.
"You never answered my question, Harry." Sam looked
at him again.
He looked thoughtful
for the moment and then replied, "They're good Sam.
It's great to be back with my parents."
your fiancée ... Libby? Isn't that her name?" Sam watched
and smiled as a slow blush crept over the lieutenant's face.
not like either of us waited for the other, but there are
possibilities to be explored." As Harry spoke, he could
see Greskrendtregk and Naomi approaching, waving to Sam.
Harry tapped her shoulder and pointed towards them, her
line of sight followed his hand and soon a bright smile
played across her lips.
with those possibilities, lieutenant." She called as
she jogged down the steps and into the embrace of her daughter
and husband. Naomi perched, seemingly precariously, on the
shoulders of Greskrendtregk, as they both engulfed Sam in
a hug. Harry's smile became wider. He was certain that it
was scenes like these that had made Captain Janeway fight
so hard to get home, and he wished there could be more of
them for all of the crew. As the happy family walked towards
the San Francisco Bay, Harry drew himself from his thoughts.
I don't need luck with those possibilities," Harry
said to the empty air around him.
was eerily silent as several of the former Maquis from Voyager
filed into the room. A sense of disquiet filled Chakotay
and B'Elanna as they looked at the select number of their
compatriots who filled one side of the courtroom with them.
Sudden changes to the proceedings had been announced only
hours before they were set to go to the hearing. Instead
of a formal trial setting before judges, they were being
seen before a panel of three admirals and they were no longer
being seen separately, but as a group. None of them could
guess whether this was a positive turn of events for them
or the beginning of the end.
All of them were
shell-shocked. Even Chakotay, after having prepared with
a lawyer since his debriefing with Hayes. His lawyer arrived
late the night before to let him know that Starfleet had
set aside the hearings and were instead moving forward with
a group inquiry at which no lawyers would be present. Chakotay's
lawyer had assured him that, should Starfleet decide to
go once again move forward with more formal proceedings,
he would be at his disposal. As he looked around at his
friends and crewmates in attendance, he suspected that each
of them had experienced a similar situation.
A chime sounded,
announcing the arrival of the admiralty and leaving the
former Maquis standing at attention with no more time to
speculate on the situation. As the three senior officers
filed into their seats behind the bench, Chakotay looked
to B'Elanna, knowing her thoughts would be the same. Nechayev,
Ross and Kunimoto. Things weren't good. He could practically
feel whatever hopes the former Maquis had harbored at the
change in proceedings shatter.
the bell, the subdued chime echoing through the room. "This
inquiry is now called to order. We are here to determine
the disposition of the Maquis apprehended by the Starship
Voyager." A ring of distaste laced her words as she
continued, "This tribunal will determine whether formal
charges will be filed against them, in view of their service
aboard Voyager in getting that ship and crew home. Be seated."
She looked to Ross, then Kunimoto, then settled back in
her chair, her cold stare drilling holes into the former
Maquis as she watched them take their seats.
to the fact that you and Ms. Torres were senior officers
aboard Voyager," Kunimoto began, addressing Chakotay
as he looked down at some papers resting before him on the
bench, "you will be present for the entire duration
of the inquiry. The other members of your crew will be allowed
to attend on a rotational basis while not being questioned
on their own cases."
sir" Chakotay responded automatically as he looked
to B'Elanna. Nechayev was out for blood, and the fact that
Kunimoto wouldn't look at them when he addressed them wasn't
a good sign either. B'Elanna took a deep breath and shook
her head at Chakotay, his own reactions echoing in her eyes.
He had a bad feeling this was only going to get worse before
it got better.
"If you are
seriously looking at the actions of Commander Chakotay and
his crew in service to Voyager," Janeway said, then
pinched her nose once again before looking back at the view
screen from which Kunimoto's assistant watched, looking
particularly uninterested, "then it would stand to
reason that you should welcome testimony from their commanding
officer and the security chief of that vessel."
the lieutenant began in a placating voice as he watched
her pace from the other side of the screen, "we do
have both your and Commander Tuvok's logs. The admirals
have judged that they are all that is required for review."
close to the screen, her hands braced on either side of
her desk. "My logs are dry, general explanations of
the events aboard Voyager. They do not properly convey the
service that those men and women contributed to our getting
"I am certain
you duly noted any extraordinary contributions by any member
of your crew, captain," the lieutenant said. The emphasis
on her rank seemed almost derogatory as he continued, "This
is not a formal hearing, captain. There are no witnesses
being called. I am certain that, should more formal proceedings
be arranged, you will be called to testify. Good day, captain."
lieutenant." Kathryn snapped the view screen off angrily.
"You insubordinate, little..." She let her words
trail off as she moved to the replicator to get herself
a cup of coffee. She'd issue a formal reprimand against
the lieutenant, but for all the good it would do, why should
she even bother? This wasn't the Starfleet she remembered
seeing when she came with her father to Starfleet Command.
It didn't seem to be the Starfleet she remembered joining
A sudden flurry
of sound drew her attention to the door. "Seven?"
She saw the distressed former Borg in the doorway and set
her cup aside.
She watched as
Seven's panicked eyes focused on her, "Captain... I..."
Janeway moved to the younger woman's side, and drew her
to a chair, keeping her hand on the former drone's shoulder
to reassure the young woman. Any discomfort she might have
had disappeared as she saw her distress.
it, Seven? What happened?" Janeway asked as she observed
Seven closely. This definitely wasn't normal behavior for
the former drone, but it didn't seem to be the same behavior
patterns that the Doctor and B'Elanna had dealt with previously
either from what the Doctor had advised her of.
and I were out walking," Seven began, her voice uncharacteristically
shaken at first, but it began to regain its normal tone
and cadence as she spoke. "to help me relax from the
events of the past week." She paused for a moment,
then continued the familiarity of debriefing to the captain
helping her state of mind. "He was called back to Starfleet
Medical, but I opted to walk back rather than being transported
with him. I was somewhat disturbed by the events of the
past week and felt that walking could help clear my mind.
I stopped to acquire some flowers for you." She lost
some of her composure at that, and looked down at her hand,
seemingly surprised that the flowers were gone. "I
must have dropped them."
Surprised by the
level of tension coming from Seven, Janeway crouched before
her and put her hand on the younger woman's knee. "Don't
worry about it, Seven." She smiled reassuringly at
her one-time protégé. "Just tell me what happened next."
"When I looked
up from selecting the flowers, I was surrounded by... people
I didn't know." Seven stopped, the terror she felt
almost overwhelming her again. As the sound of dripping
water began to echo in her ears once more, Janeway's voice
with me. They were more than just curious if you're reacting
Seven nodded slowly.
"Yes," she confirmed. "They moved with me
as I walked. They didn't attack me, but they would not allow
me to move from the confines of the ring they had formed
around me. I..." She paused once more to get a breath
of air. "I couldn't move away from them, until I forced
my way free... I pushed my way through them and ran here."
Shocked by the
event that Seven had related, Janeway rocked back on her
heels for a moment before standing and tapping her communicator.
"Captain Janeway to Commander Tuvok."
voice filled the small office, "Tuvok here, captain.
Is there a problem?"
been an incident in the city involving Seven," Janeway
began, gathering her thoughts for a moment before continuing,
"She's fine but I need you to look into this for me.
This is something I'd really prefer to discuss this in person
though, Tuvok." The thought 'not on an open comm channel'
came unbidden to her mind.
Tuvok's voice was calm, collected. With the sound of the
familiar voice, Seven found herself calming further. "I
will proceed to your office at once. Tuvok out."
to face Seven once more, relieved to see that the former
drone had calmed considerably. "Feeling better, Seven?"
She paused for a moment, realizing that the comfort of having
her family with her is dispelling the majority of the panic
she was feeling before, "Thank you."
then said, "My pleasure Seven. I'm glad I could be
of use to someone." She watched Seven appraisingly
for a few moments, then said, "Perhaps we should have
the Doctor look you over anyway."
not be necessary, captain," Seven stood up from the
chair, only to be caught by Janeway's determined gaze. Seven
found herself wanting to smile, but restrained herself and
nodded, "Very well, captain. If you insist."
and tapped her communicator, "Captain Janeway to the
Captain. What can I do for you?" The EMH's voice filtered
up from the diminutive metal pin.
been an incident in the city with Seven, Doctor. She seems
fine but I'd like you to check her out. She's here with
me in my office." Janeway's tone took on more of her
command presence as she spoke. The situation with Seven,
though distressing, revitalized her with the possibility
of a challenge she could resolve.
Captain. I'll be right there. Doctor out."
her attention back to Seven. "Now what's this about
buying me flowers?" She leaned back against her desk,
looking at the former Borg with amusement and her crooked
grin beaming at the fair-haired young woman. The atmosphere
of the room lightens considerably even with the disquiet
of the incident still hanging over them.
arched and her mouth formed a small smile, "They are
an appropriate gift to 'warm' a new abode. Though I am not
certain how an inanimate object is meant to increase the
temperature of the room. I am sorry I lost them. Their color
was appealing, however, and it would do much to increase
the astetic value of this room."
She almost found
herself explaining the saying to Seven when she realized
that Seven was teasing her with the misunderstanding. Pushing
back her surprise at Seven's wit, Janeway's grin grew larger
as she surveyed the room, "You're right, Seven. This
place is a little dull, isn't it?" She looked back
at Seven and shook her head. "I just haven't had the
heart to decorate it yet. Wishful thinking that I will get
out of here sooner, rather than later."
you should decorate, captain." Seven offered. Janeway
looked at her questioningly, "Lieutenant Kim has observed
that, 'as soon as you get a place exactly as you want it,
you have to move out'. I believe he was referring to his
you're right, Seven." Janeway felt regret rising at
the moment Voyager was mentioned, even in such an indirect
manner. How could she regret getting home? She forced it
back and smiled once again, honestly enjoying her time with
Seven. "Thank you for remembering your old captain
with something to brighten this dreary place up. Even if
they didn't make it here."
more than my captain," Seven said. "I consider
you my friend."
A burden she hadn't
known was there lifted from Janeway's heart as she heard
those words. The chime to her office door rang, drawing
her attention away from responding to Seven. "That's
probably Tuvok." Janeway said unnecessarily, then called
Seven." Tuvok greeted both women. "The situation?"
and moved behind her desk. "Seven was... Not attacked
per se, but harassed in the city this afternoon." Seven
briefly recounted the incident.
Tuvok considers the facts for a moment, "It would seem
that the recent problems with the Borg and leftover tensions
from incidents such as Wolf 359 have fueled this incident.
If that is the case, it would be illogical to assume that
this will be an isolated occurrence."
and her voice became harsh, her anger that Starfleet would
not have warned them becoming readily apparent. "It's
also illogical to assume that Starfleet Security would have
known nothing about this."
Tuvok's eyebrow arched as he nodded his concurrence.
to pace, the situation on Earth and with Starfleet becoming
more intolerable by the minute. "Tuvok, you and I will
go to Starfleet Security. They may not want to give us information
and I may no longer have much authority around here, but
certainly between you and I we can start an investigation
into this." She finally settled her gaze out on the
city through her window.
captain, it would be prudent if I escorted Seven of Nine
back to her quarters." Tuvok's words rolled from his
lips, as the feeling of deja vu passed into his consciousness
and Janeway turned back to face him.
won't make a difference here, Tuvok," Janeway shook
her head. "As long as she's within the confines of
headquarters she'll be fine." Janeway turned her gaze
back out towards San Francisco proper. When the the feeling
of deja vu had passed, the rest of the conversation moved
into the realm of the unknown once more. "Besides,
the Doctor will be here any moment to check Seven over."
to look at Tuvok, her pacing broken by the non sequitur.
When she looked at him, his expression was one of curiosity.
"What's interesting Tuvok?"
ago, I lived the moment that I saw while in the Areythan
caves." Tuvok's eyebrow quirked. "It was an interesting
her mouth about to speak again when the door chime rings.
Frustration playing in her voice as she calls, "Come."
I took so long, captain, but every time I try to leave the
medical complex, it seems that yet another admiral wants
to interview me, poke me, or prod me." He flipped open
his tricorder and walked over to Seven.
faded and she grinned, "Now you know how I feel whenever
it's time for my yearly medical Doctor."
whereas your medical is necessary," the hologram calibrated
the tricorder a bit further, then continued, "this
isn't. Preliminary scans show Seven is fine, physically,
and all her implants are working within normal parameters.
However, I'd like to take a few more scans, just to be sure
that I'm right, considering recent events."
Doctor." Janeway nodded "Let me know if you find
anything." She turned her attention to Seven. "I'll
leave you in the Doctor's capable hands." She straightened
her uniform and indicated Tuvok should follow her as they
exited her office.
The Doctor finished
the scans and closed the tricorder. "You're fine,"
he said. "As I expected. Still no sign of the personality
that had taken you over."
Seven nodded her acceptance, then moved to look out the
window of Janeway's office, surveying the city with an even
The Doctor stood
still for a moment. While he could set aside the uneasiness
that he had felt with her since his disclosure of his feelings
and her dismissal of those feelings when her life had been
in danger, he found it once again overwhelming. He watched
her standing in silence. He knew, having been her confidant
and mentor for some time, that she was still distressed
about what had happened in the city when he left her. For
a moment he was undecided as to what he should do, but with
determination he moved to her side, looking out the window
with her. "Would you like to talk about it?"
Seven didn't answer
for a moment, and then slowly the story began to come out.
As she explained the incident, she found this time was easier
than the other times before, though she was uncertain whether
it was because she had explained it twice before or because
of who was listening. As she finishes, she felt the Doctor's
comforting hand on her shoulder. "What I do not understand,
Doctor, is why this should bother me so much. They were
unarmed. Essentially harmless. They did not attack or speak.
They simply surrounded me and stared at me. It would not
have concerned me before."
your emotions were inhibited Seven. Most humans would react
the way you did." He turned to face her. "You
can't expect to react the same way you always have. As I
was saying before the admiral called me away, perhaps you
should see a counselor to help you learn to deal with your
emotions, Seven. They are new to you and since you had the
inhibitor disengaged you've had more than enough upsets
to disturb someone used to dealing with their emotions."
Seven nodded slowly.
"Perhaps," She said, then looked at the Doctor,
once again finding comfort in the easy familiarity of confiding
in him, her mentor. "When they stared at me... I felt
less than human. I felt as though I was a monster."
The Doctor nodded,
"I can't say I know exactly how you felt, Seven, but
I feel something similar every time one of these admirals
pokes or prods me. I feel as though I am an object, a tool."
He looked off into the distance as though caught in memory.
"At first, even I thought of myself that way. Everyone
did, including the captain. Only Kes saw me as something
more, and she made me see myself as something more, and
then she made the captain see it, too." He smiled fondly
and a bit wistfully at the memory.
"I have never
seen you as an object, Doctor." Seven's voice was quieter
now as she spoke, deciding to broach a subject that had
been left too long, "but when you offered me your help,
exploring my new emotions... I had already dismissed you
as an option."
The Doctor could
feel his heart breaking once again. How many more times
would he allow himself to be hurt like this? Then Seven's
voice broke through the pain as she continued to speak.
"Not because I did not have feelings for you. On the
contrary, you are ... one of my closest friends. If things
did not turn out well, I wished to be able to turn to you
for your advice. I valued you too much to risk that."
The Doctor could almost hear the captain's voice as she
spoke. In his blind adherence to protocol, encouraging the
captain to hold fast to it, he had never considered what
Seven might be learning by example. He had helped to hoist
himself on his own petard. Seven paused briefly before continuing,
"Aside from that, the other factor in my decision to
not include you as a candidate was that I felt I should
explore this aspect of my humanity with another human. Not
because you are any less real to me, but because I myself
am not entirely human. I thought I would be able to become
more human by learning from another."
With effort the
Doctor reigned in his own emotions to offer the same support
he always had to Seven. "And did that help?" he
"It did not."
Seven answered simply.
The Doctor felt
he had to ask, even though he knew the answer wouldn't be
one he liked. "And now?"
"I am no
longer actively looking to explore that aspect of my humanity.
I believe I should adjust to my emotions being so... exposed
before I try to become involved in any more relationships
of that nature." Seven finished then turned to the
Doctor. He could feel her looking for his acceptance, his
With an silent
sigh, understanding now more than ever how she saw him and
finding a certain acceptance for it in himself, he nodded,
"Probably a very good idea, Seven." He paused
then continued, "Would you like me to walk you to your
Doctor. Your company would be appreciated." Seven answered.
The Doctor led
her into the corridor, and he looked at her once more and
felt the old feelings of friendship rising once more, "Perhaps,
Seven, you would care to start singing with me again."
Harry," Tom laughed and sat back on the couch, bouncing
Miral on his knee. "Let me get this straight. Your
Tom shook his
head and grinned, "Right, Libby. She looked you up
last night and you had a what..."
comm conversation." Harry didn't seem to notice the
laughter sitting just under the surface of his friend's
"Sounds like she's interested my friend. So what did
an idiot, Tom. I invited her to dinner." Harry looked
at his old friend indignantly.
a start," the pilot settled his daughter on the couch
and started tickling her belly. "So do you know where
you're taking her?"
Harry looked panicked
once more, "Not a clue."
Harry... Some things never change do they?" Harry glared
at Tom, despite the giggling baby squirming on the couch.
"I came here
for more than your jokes, Tom." Harry's voice was terse.
"I'm out of practice. I haven't been on Earth for seven
years. I have no idea what music is in, what styles of dance,
"If you haven't
noticed I'm not exactly in practice anymore either."
Tom smirked, "But I have a few contacts. Let me make
a few calls and I'll find you a reservation somewhere nice.
Being an admiral's son still has its advantages, sometimes.
Stay away from dancing and music until the second date,
when you've had a chance to get caught up." Tom thinks
for a moment. "Encourage her to talk. Women love that
and it'll be an easy way to get caught up on what's went
on for the last seven years." He looked at Harry appraisingly.
"As far as clothes go... Stick to your uniform. Ladies
love a man in uniform." He paused one more time, "And
bring her flowers, Harry. Flowers never go out of style."
a couple of times, realizing his friend had managed to answer
most of his questions for the date without even having been
asked. "Thanks Tom... You've never lost it, have you?"
put it in the closet with all the other stuff I don't need
anymore." Tom shook his head. "I'm glad it's you,
my friend, and not me. I don't miss the dating game."
Harry looks at
Tom incredulously, "Come on, Tom. You can't be serious.
'Ladies' man of Voyager.'" Harry grins and teases.
"You even had a shot with the captain if you'd pushed."
in the big guy's way? Do I look like I have a death wish?"
Tom laughed, then turned serious, "No Harry, honestly.
I may have looked like I enjoyed it, but being a ladies'
man isn't all it's cracked up to be."
Harry shook his
head, unable to get over how much his friend has changed,
yet stayed the same. "If B'Elanna were here, we could
find Miral a babysitter and make it a double date. I think
I'd feel better if I knew I had you two covering my backs."
Harry, it's a date. Not an away team on a Borg sphere."
Tom joked, but it fell flat.
Harry felt as
though he should kick himself. "They'll get off, Tom.
Even Starfleet can't totally ignore everything they did
to get us home. At worst, they should see the time on Voyager
as time served."
know, Harry." Tom picked Miral up and held her closer
to his chest. "I hope you're right, but after what
they did to Captain Janeway... What my father stood by and
let them force onto Captain Janeway..." He shook his
head and cradled his daughter rocking her gently. "I'm
not holding my breath, Harry."
They sat in silence
for a few moments before Harry spoke up once again, hoping
to lighten the mood and change the subject, knowing nothing
he would be able to say would comfort or reassure his friend.
"So other than those basics, how do I go about impressing
were engaged to the girl... Surely you should know what
to do to impress her." Tom looked at his friend in
amusement, dumbfounded by his question.
different people than we were then, Tom," Harry shrugs,
"I really don't know her very well anymore."
Tom ran his hand
through his hair as he carried the now-sleeping Miral to
her bassinet, which stood in a quiet corner of the living
room. "All right, Harry... Let's start with the basics.
Tell me what you do know about her and maybe I can come
up with something."
Harry nods and
thinks for a moment, "Well she's an only child. Her
mother is a marine biologist; her father is in Starfleet,
he teaches at the Academy. We met one day when she brought
something to one of his classes I happened to be attending.
Her favorite uncle was in Starfleet too, but he was on board
the Crazy Horse at Wolf 359. She was lost with all hands..."
down... Let's go back to how you met." Tom sat down
and waited for his friend to get to the information he could
the PADD in front of her as the Commander Darrow of the
Judge Advocate General Corps office finished explaining
into the record an incident during the 'Maquis Rebellion'
that the Liberty was alleged to have taken part in. Chakotay
knew what would happen next, it was almost like a carefully
staged play, except the look on Nechayev's face indicated
that what Admiral Ross was doing wasn't part of the game.
forty crates of standard rations, two crates of phase link
inducers, and two crates of isolinear chips from the Mariposa's
hold. The Maquis ship abandoned the cargo vessel on the
Federation side of the treatied region of space." Darrow
Ross rubbed his
forehead, then looked at Darrow, "Son, do you have
any proof that this action was carried out by the Liberty?"
"It was the
same class of ship, sir." Darrow commented, seemingly
frustrated with the Admiral's question, "According
to the information we were able to gather..."
"I have this
information in front of me now, do I not?" Ross asked,
his voice becoming slightly impatient.
Darrow answers as Ross looked down at the PADD in front
of him, then picked it up and read for a moment.
Setting it back
down, "Son, I don't see anything in this information
that gives me conclusive proof it was the Liberty. Or for
that matter, that it was absolutely Maquis. This could have
been a pirate for the information you've given us."
at Ross as if he was mad. Nechayev shook her head and struck
the bell in front of her. "A half hour recess will
be called for lunch." She glared angrily at Ross then
walked away from the bench.
at Chakotay and whispered as they were led from the courtroom
to a waiting room/lounge, "Do you remember if we were
involved in any of those incidents Chakotay?"
No," Chakotay shook his head, "What they've brought
up so far were standard raids. I honestly couldn't say if
any of those incidents were us or not. It's not surprising
that they're bringing up all these Maquis actions, what
makes me more curious is why is Ross is picking apart their
"And to think we used to curse him as every other kind
of fool. What do you think his game is Chakotay?"
Ms. Torres." Ross smiled at her and nodded to both
of them as he approached them, "I hope I'm not interrupting
but I'd like to speak with Chakotay." Nodding to B'Elanna,
Chakotay followed Ross to a small room to the side of the
lounge. "Please sit down, we can be candid in here."
Ross sat down and leaned back, looking at Chakotay evenly.
"I'm certain you've got questions about what the hell
is going on out there, and I think you deserve to know the
cautiously. "Yes, sir."
Raising his hand,
Ross looks straight at Chakotay, "I understand. I haven't
given you any reason to trust me and the way Starfleet has
treated you and your captain since you brought Voyager home...
If I was you I'd be wondering why I ever came back."
"I have to
admit that thought has crossed my mind, but it wasn't my
decision to make. It was Captain Janeway's," Chakotay
stood behind her one hundred percent," Ross stands
and paces, "I wish I could tell you that Starfleet
was standing behind the crew of Voyager one hundred percent,
but I can't. First you should understand... The change of
proceedings is a public relations maneuver and I was assigned
to the panel to give it the appearance of fairness. Since
your captain's trial, the trial of the Equinox crew, well
quite frankly the public is becoming tired of the negative
news. Voyager should have been a reason to celebrate and
it's turned into a massive trial. They're getting tired
of the witch-hunt. So Starfleet wanted the public to be
absolutely convinced your people deserved what they got.
The Dominion War is still fresh in the public's mind and
you're the first Maquis they've heard of since your movement
was wiped out. Quite frankly, a lot of people think you
should be lauded as heroes not tried as criminals."
Ross as he speaks, appraising the man and his character.
"What do you think should be done with us, admiral?"
Ross turned to
face Chakotay, "I don't approve of what you did as
Maquis. Especially resigning from the fleet to take up arms
there." He paused, looking thoughtful. "But I
can understand it to an extent and you served Voyager faithfully
for seven years. The war took a lot out of the Federation;
I was there in the thick of it, commander. Now we should
be concentrating on healing. Trying your Maquis will be
opening old wounds." He sat down once more, "I
say, let sleeping dogs lie. It's time to move away from
you're trying to do out there." Chakotay motioned towards
Ross nods, "But
it isn't easy, and it wasn't part of the game plan as I
am sure you can tell by the look on Nechayev's face. I don't
know Kunimoto's outlook on this. He's as tight lipped as
an Aldeberan shellmouth. But I know Nechayev. If it were
up to her you'd be hanging from the tallest yardarm we could
erect. She didn't like Maquis and she's got a particular
axe to grind with anyone who dropped out of the fleet to
Knowing how bad
the situation really was, Chakotay expected to feel worse
about things, but somehow Admiral Ross gave him some hope
that some of the Starfleet that Kathryn had believed in
still existed. "Thank you, sir."
me until I've gotten you out of this mess." Ross leaned
across the table and shook his hand, "I can't make
any guarantees, but I am trying."
It was more than they had expected.
I realized that my co-pilot had set up a bomb on the Delta
Flyer and I had to figure out a way to warn Tom and B'Elanna.
So I used Morse code..." Harry was grinning ear to
ear as he related the tale. Dinner was wonderful and Libby
seemed fascinated by his stories from Voyager.
Libby was smiling too, leaning forward, her chin in her
hands. She was so beautiful. Harry couldn't believe it and
swore she'd gotten more so since he was away.
"It's a ancient
mode of communication from the twentieth century. We'd used
it in our Captain Proton holoprogram. Tom is a twentieth
century buff." Harry wondered if he was rambling but
as Libby didn't seem to mind neither did he. "So I
managed to get a message to B'Elanna and Tom. They piloted
the ship to a Nebula that would contain the explosion and
ejected their warp core."
this they got married?" Libby shook her head in wonder.
Harry nodded and
grinned some more, "They seem to have this thing about
near death experiences and warp core ejections."
and so did Harry after a moment. For the first time since
coming home, he truly felt he was at home. With Libby. Nothing
seemed as bad as it had earlier in the day. Sure, he was
still worried about his friends and upset with what Starfleet
did to Captain Janeway, but now that he had a bright spot
on his horizon things were looking up.
tell you about the time Seven of Nine," Harry began,
but stopped himself when a dark look crossed Libby's face
and her personal communicator beeped. "You'll have
to excuse me Harry, I have to take this call."
problem." Harry stood and pulled Libby's chair out
for her. She smiled and moved off to a secluded spot in
the restaurant. Activating the comm. unit, she looked frustrated,
"This had better be important," she said, "I'm
has started an investigation into our activities since the
incident this afternoon. I wouldn't worry too much about
it; we have people on the inside. It won't go to far."
Libby paused as she listened to her caller.
won't limit that thing's movements then we'll be forced
to do it ourselves. I have several interested parties, who
are happy to contain it for us as long as we do the dirty
work of extracting it ourselves. I think that's our next
The person on
the other end of the comm. unit said something negative,
and Libby's eyes flashed, "Of course it's risky, but
it's worth it to protect our family and friends from that
menace. Start making the arrangements. Containment and extraction
is our next, best option." She paused as the person
on the line said something else. "All right, I'll come
in. I'll be there ASAP. I'm off." She shut off the
communicator and moved back to the table.
Harry stood and
started to pull out her chair. Libby shook her head, "Sorry
Harry. Something came up. Dinner was lovely and the conversation
was great, but I really do have to go." She reached
into her purse, pulling out a small piece of yellow paper,
on which she wrote down her personal comm. number. Pressing
it into his hand, she pulled him into her, kissing him passionately
before releasing him. "Call me, okay?"
somewhat stunned by her kiss, and watched as Libby made
her way out of the crowded restaurant.
Kathryn began. She'd pleaded for the last hour with Owen
Paris, to find a way to get into the Maquis inquiry, but
it seemed like her pleas were falling on deaf ears.
you have to step back from this. You aren't in any position
to help them and your interference will only make things
worse. If I get involved, Nechayev will see right through
it and will assume that I am doing it on you behest. It
will only make things worse for you and for them."
Kathryn felt her
patience snap. This man had been her friend, a father figure
once her own father had died for years. Now she imagined
she knew some of what Tom had felt like all those years
ago. "And for yourself, you mean. Can't afford to be
seen associating with the scapegoat captain, now can you
Owen? Besides, what do the Maquis mean to you?"
Janeway." Owen barked, "For the moment I am going
to chalk that up to the stress you've been under. In case
you'd forgotten, my daughter-in-law is among those Maquis
and I sure as hell do care what happens to her. I don't
want my son unhappy, Kathryn, contrary to popular belief,
and he will be unhappy if she doesn't come home in a few
days. I have as much to loose here as you do, if not more."
sorry... I..." Kathryn pinched the bridge of her nose
and shook her head. She knew her frustration had made her
lash out at one of her dearest friends and now felt the
guilt rising into her stomach.
Owen shook his
head, "No, Kathryn... Don't get that way. Like I said,
it's the stress. You have to let go a little. Have some
faith, I know it's hard and so far everything has gone against
you and your crew, but Tom got off. You can't control everything."
He sees the frustration playing in her face and relents
somewhat. "Look, I can't do much, but I'm keeping my
ear to the ground about this inquiry anyway. If I hear anything,
I'll let you know. Now get out of that office, go home,
go to bed and get some rest. You won't do them any good
if you work yourself to death."
Owen. Good night." She reached up and disconnected
the comm. channel, but instantly started going through her
contacts to find someone else to call.
sigh drew her attention away from the screen and to her
door, "I told Mom you were on the comm. Don't you ever
stop working? It's after midnight, you know. Mom's tired
of keeping your dinner warm for you." Phoebe leaned
against the doorframe, her dark hair framing her face.
Kathryn grinned and moved from her desk, meeting her sister
halfway and hugging her tightly. "I didn't know you
were back on Earth."
in this morning, called Mom and she said you were supposed
to be coming for dinner tonight, so I should come too. Did
you find out somehow, and were just trying to avoid me?"
her eyes and moves back to her desk, "No. It's just
that some of my crew are still being held. Their inquiry
has been going on and I'm trying to help them. Other things
came up today so I didn't get as much accomplished as I
had hoped." She started scanning the screen looking
for anyone she knew that might be able to help her. "I'm
sorry Phoebes. Apologize to Mom for me but I just really
don't feel up to eating."
A hand came down
and shut off her view screen. "Come on Kath... Anyone
who is your friend, won't be after you call them at this
time of night." With surprising strength she hauled
Janeway out from behind her desk. She sputtered, but Phoebe
just continued, "I mean it. Home, dinner and then if
you still can't sleep we'll drink coffee all night and you
can fill me in. You need to get out of this office... Or
if you're going to live here, at least let me decorate."
Seven moved about
Icheb's room anxiously as she listened to him. She found
it difficult to concentrate. As she looked out the window
once more, darkness had long since cloaked the city and
she knew she should leave soon and allow her young friend
to get his rest, but the thought of being alone made her
"So I am
going to take all my first level science and engineering
courses in the first semester, rather than spreading them
between the first and second. This will allow me to get
to my core subjects in the second and perhaps I will be
able to graduate a semester early." Icheb looked over
the course calendars excitedly, making notes in a PADD and
trying to arrange his schedule.
Seven turns and
looks at him, her eyebrow arching, "That will not leave
you with much time for socialization with your classmates
or more recreational classes."
classes won't help me graduate, Seven." Icheb looked
up at her puzzled. She was the last person he expected to
be against his plan.
Seven notes his
look of surprise and continues, "When I first came
aboard Voyager, I thought socialization was irrelevant.
However in my time among the crew," she pauses for
a moment, "our family, I have found that socialization
often leads to better interaction with your crewmates and
better teamwork. Many of my initial problems with the crew
were because I could not relate to Lieutenant Torres, Lieutenant
Kim and many of the others. The people I did socialize with
-- the captain, Commander Tuvok, the Doctor -- these people
I could work with much more efficiently."
saying that I should take my classes in the normal progression?"
Icheb found that what Seven was saying made more sense than
he'd expected. He hadn't thought there was any use to the
less rigorous studies scheduled for first year, or the optional
physical courses, but he found that he could understand
it is essential that you be able to work with your fellow
crewmembers. You will learn to do that in your time at the
academy. Those courses are there for that reason."
Seven offered, "However you must make your own decisions
in this matter."
Seven," Icheb smiled and pressed the reset key on his
PADD, bringing up the default schedule once more and hitting
the submit key.
Seven looked out
the window once more, "It is late and I should be returning
to my quarters."
Seven," Icheb nodded to her, "Perhaps we could
meet for lunch tomorrow."
like that," Seven nodded and moved to the door, "Good
Icheb called as she moved from his quarters and descended
She stopped for
a moment in the lobby, feeling a sort of dread welling up
inside her, but she dismissed it and stepped out into the
night. It was warm, with a light but cold breeze coming
up from the bay, filling the air with the salt scent of
the sea. She moved down the lighted path quickly, intending
to get back to her quarters as quickly as she can. She rounded
a corner, into a darker section of path. She could feel
her heart pounding though there was no reason to fear. A
flash of movement in her peripheral vision caught her attention
and she looked towards it. There was nothing there. She
turned back to the path and several dark figures stood in
front of her. Her mouth went dry, as fear gripped her body.
The pulsing beat of her heart was replaced by the steady
drip of water in her ears. She opened her mouth to scream
but was silenced by the hiss of a hypospray on her neck.
Excalibur was engaged by four Maquis vessels, after the
Captain demanded that they cease and desist and allow his
crew to board them." Darrow stood as he read from the
summary of the official log of the Excalibur. "The
Liberty was one of the four ships."
Chakotay and B'Elanna
looked at each other and winced. So far Admiral Ross had
been better than most defense attorneys. He had managed
to pick apart Starfleet's evidence and found holes in every
argument. B'Elanna had almost started laughing from the
look on Nechayev's face as he had managed to poke holes
in even their intelligence reports, but had managed to contain
herself without so much as a word from Chakotay. The only
thing that had stood was Tuvok's own reports, and during
the time period he had been on board they had only engaged
Cardassian targets. This last bit of evidence though...
They both knew they were there and Starfleet knew it had
been the Liberty. It looked like they finally had them.
"So the Liberty
was there." Admiral Ross looked at Darrow, "Do
we know who was on board?"
confused, "On board, sir?"
Ross repeated. "Do we know who their commanding officer
was at the time? Their crew compliment?" Ross shook
his head and ignored the waves of cold that seemed to be
emanating from Admiral Nechayev.
assume that Chakotay..." Darrow started but Ross raised
"Do you have
proof that the Maquis who served aboard Voyager were the
Maquis serving aboard the Liberty at that time?" Ross
watched, as Darrow seemed to slump in frustration.
Darrow started, "If we accepted the Cardassian's offer
of the use of their intelligence reports as gathered by
Obsidian Order Operative Seska Maren."
Ross shook his
head, "Those records would be suspect. We know that
the Cardassians want their pound of flesh." He looked
at Kunimoto who nodded his agreement, then at Nechayev who
grudgingly nodded as well. "The only intelligence reports
we will be accepting are our own."
at B'Elanna incredulously. She looked back at him with a
similar expression. They couldn't have asked for a better
ally than Admiral Ross. Chakotay looked back at the other
members of the crew and knew they were beginning to have
hope. He had to admit he was too. Still Tuvok's reports
were damning in and of themselves and they still hadn't
brought anything that happened on Voyager into the proceedings.
This more than anything served to dampen his outlook on
the outcome of the inquiry.
telling me that no logs from Voyager have yet to be admitted
as evidence?" Janeway sat at her desk and watched the
lieutenant on the screen look at his records. "What
has been entered into evidence?" She sipped at her
coffee and found she wasn't nearly as frustrated as she
had been yesterday. Either the fact that she was working
on something useful in investigating Seven's problems was
helping or she was growing a thicker skin for bureaucracy.
She wasn't sure which it was but at least she didn't feel
ma'am, what has been admitted into evidence is classified.
However, I can tell you that Voyager's logs have not been
entered into the record." He paused and looks at Janeway.
"With all due respect, ma'am, I don't see their relevance
to the deliberations. They don't change what the Maquis
Janeway felt her
ire rising and decided that this was getting her nowhere.
"Thank you, lieutenant. Good day." She snapped
off her screen and turned to look out the window. She saw
the reflection of the Doctor, coming into her office before
he can speak and she turned to face him.
Doctor?" Janeway could see his distress as she turned
to face him.
I were going to meet this morning for breakfast. She didn't
turn up, so I attempted to contact her via communicator.
She was unreachable. I checked to see where she had been
and the last person to have seen her was Icheb late last
night. She was going to walk back to her quarters."
putting a comforting hand on the Doctor's shoulder. "We'll
find her, Doctor." She said with more confidence than
she felt. The sinking feeling in her stomach was coming
back in full force as her anxiety over both Seven and the
Maquis compounded on each other. She forced herself into
action, knowing that was the only way for her to overcome
these feelings, "Janeway to Tuvok."
Captain. I have nothing to report as of yet on our investigation."
His exceedingly calm voice filled the room.
Tuvok, I have something to report to you. Seven has gone
missing. Advise Starfleet Security and get one of our own
to assist you." She stops for a moment and looks at
the Doctor, "Lieutenant Kim would be a good choice.
I don't think he's been reassigned yet."
captain. I will keep you advised of our progress."
the Doctor's shoulder again for a moment. "She'll be
fine." She heard her own voice and wondered if she
was saying it more for her benefit or his.
Seven slowly became
aware of her surroundings. Cement walls, covered in old
advertising on two sides, crumbled wall blocking the corridor
behind her and an open tunnel in front of her. Testing her
restraints against her Borg enhanced strength, she found
that both the chair she was bound to and the restraints
that bound her to it were more than sufficient to hold her.
one of her captors said, walking around to look at her.
He was a tall man with a dark complexion and dark eyes.
"And trying to get free. Don't bother, Borg, we have
friends who made certain that we could hold you once we
Seven met her
captor's gaze steadily, "What do you intend to do with
Another man, this
one a blonde with a stocky build moved around into her field
of vision. "We intend to remove you from where you
can hurt normal people, Borg."
"Why do you
continue to refer to me as a Borg? I am an individual."
Seven said as she watched her captors intently. Though they
would speak to her, they would not come too close. She looked
into their faces and could see their fear. It was that fear
that hurt, now. As they looked at her, she found herself
drawn back to when she first came aboard Voyager. The fear
and suspicion that had hung around her crewmates when they
looked at her. She closed her eyes, remembering how Captain
Janeway stood by her through that time, to the point of
defying her closest friend aboard the ship. When she reopened
her eyes and looked at these men, she realized how much
of a gift that was. "I am not a Borg any longer. I
am one of their victims as well. Both of my parents were
assimilated at the same time as I was. I only exist now
as an individual because Captain Janeway rescued me."
A loud clapping
sound echoes in the room. "Well done Borg. Did your
Borg collaborating Captain teach you that speech?"
Seven turned towards the noise and a woman with dark eyes
and hair steps from the darkness of the corridor ahead of
her. "She got off far too easily, but you won't."
Seven couldn't see fear in this woman's eyes. Only hatred.
"So, Borg, did you try to stop the assimilation of
any species you encountered?"
Seven begins but is cut off.
have assimilated Voyager if the Queen had ordered you to
when you first came aboard?" She circled Seven's chair
like a vulture, watching the former Borg try to answer.
"Yes, I would,
but--" Again Seven is cut off.
once force Borg who had escaped the collective to return
to the Borg even though they told you they didn't want to?"
The woman's question caught Seven off-guard. She would have
needed access to Voyager's logs to know of that incident.
how--" Seven replied, only to be cut off again, this
time by a hypospray against her neck. "You see gentlemen.
By it's own admission, it's guilty of all of our charges."
The others nod
in agreement as the woman stares at the unconscious Borg.
"You'll pay for what your kind did to my uncle."
understand this, commander," Harry shook his head as
they walked along Venice Beach. "We've been all over
the city. The sensors at command only picked up the signatures
from Icheb's implants and the extra Borg implants Starfleet
confiscated from Voyager. Unless they have her in a shielded
imply Starfleet complicity in this action," Tuvok answered,
"while with recent events that is not a possibility
that should be ruled out, there are other possibilities
we have yet to exhaust."
Harry looked at
Tuvok in shock, amazed that the Vulcan would admit that
Starfleet Security might have something to do with Seven's
disappearance. "All right, what are the other possibilities?"
Harry asked rhetorically, stopping and thinking for a moment.
have moved her out of the city," Tuvok offered as he
contemplated the situation.
"In which case we need to borrow a starship's sensors,
we'll get a clearer reading from orbit." He pauses,
"The other way they could be shielding her is if they
took her underground, but with all the possible places they
could be hiding her..." Harry looked at Tuvok and shook
Tuvok met Harry's gaze. "I would suggest that we get
to work, lieutenant."
say these excerpts I've read from Captain Janeway's logs
seem to sum up the extraordinary service that the Maquis
made in defense of Voyager and in the objective to get her
home." Ross set the PADD down on the bench before him.
"I know we all had the logs to read, but I felt that
some of these events bore closer examination and commentary
from the men and women who lived through them."
his head. Ross was treading a fine line. His 'defense' of
Voyager's Maquis was not going to earn him any friends in
Starfleet, but it had earned him the respect of each of
the ex-Maquis. From the look on B'Elanna's face, he could
swear that she was ready to name her and Tom's next child
after William Ross. With Nechayev, it was the final nail
in the coffin. She wasn't even bothering to hide the animosity
she felt for Ross anymore.
we will retire to chambers for deliberations." Nechayev
didn't bother to even look at the Maquis. Instead she nodded
at Darrow and leads the other two Admiral's out.
Maquis back to their quarters," Darrow didn't bother
to hide his disdain for the former Voyager crewmen.
Once out of the
courtroom, B'Elanna looks at Chakotay. "So, what do
you think of our odds?"
has his way, pretty good." Chakotay admitted, "I
wouldn't completely put the possibility of prison time out
of your mind though. Even though he managed to poke holes
in most of their evidence, Tuvok's reports still stand."
Ayala moved up
to walk along side Chakotay. "Still not as much as
there could have been. With only Tuvok's reports, the most
we can be charged with is belonging to a terrorist organization.
Ross managed to provide reasonable doubt with everything
see Nechayev's face? B'Elanna continued. "I thought
she was going to have a heart attack when he started reading
from Janeway's logs." she shook her head, "No
wonder that man is friends with Chancellor Martok."
for the first time since coming home there might actually
be a bright spot on the horizon.
the doors of his quarters, Harry leaned against the wall
and took a deep breath. They hadn't found any leads on Seven's
whereabout and he was worried. They had even managed to
get the Hood, which was in Earth orbit, to run scans, none
of which found anything. That left three possibilities.
The first that the terrorists had managed to get Seven off
of Earth; both he and Tuvok found that unlikely. The second,
that she was being held underground somewhere, which seemed
the most likely, as Harry didn't want to consider the third.
away from the wall, he moved toward the washroom, his hand
falling on the bright yellow piece of paper, Libby had provided
her comm. link number on. Harry winced. He had intended
to call Libby today but with the panic about Seven, he hadn't
gotten around to it. "Damn it." He looked at the
paper, holding it in his hand for a moment, and then slowly
turned the paper over. On the back is an advertisement for
an underground museum. One that includes the safer tunnels
of the old Venice Beach subway system.
He set the flyer
down, and moved away from it. Then something surfaced from
the back of his consciousness, the dark look when he mentioned
Seven's name. For a moment, he dismissed the hunch, but
couldn't put it aside. "It's a place to start."
He told himself, then tapped his communicator. "Lieutenant
Kim to Commander Tuvok."
I know where Seven might be."
The comm. beeped
in Janeway's office. Setting aside the report, that she
had been pretending to read while worries about Seven of
Nine and the last of her crew that were in custody filled
her mind, she flicked on the screen. "Owen." She
felt her stomach twist in anxiety as she looked at the face
of her old friend, searching it for any sign of what his
news might be.
you didn't hear it from me, but the tribunal is currently
in deliberations." His hand came up, signaling her
to silence before she could start a barrage of questions.
"I don't know what their decision even might be. All
I know is that they are currently in chambers."
knowing now for good or ill, there was nothing left to do
but wait. "Thanks for letting me know, Owen."
to you later, Kathryn." Owen nodded and the channel
closed, leaving the Starfleet emblem on the screen. Janeway
turned to the window, doubts filling her head. Was this
worse than the future the Admiral had sought to prevent?
Seven captive to some terrorist faction on Earth, Chakotay
facing charges. Remembering the Admiral's tired, bitter
expression and seeing her own in the reflection from the
window, was it really all that different? Would she end
up the same woman: alone, bitter? This time hating Starfleet
as well? This time, though, she wouldn't be an admiral,
she'd be trapped as a captain.
This time instead
of lauding them as heroes, Starfleet was persecuting them
as criminals. She had to remind herself for a moment of
the twenty three lives they had saved. "Where there's
life, there's hope." She said to no one in particular.
What had happened to the Starfleet that she had joined?
She barely recognized it. Lieutenants who were barely civil
to the point of insubordination, Admirals who seemed to
be looking to blame the Maquis for being right about the
Cardassians and finding scapegoats to sway popular opinion,
and worst of all they had dragged her down into the mire
with them. Accepting a plea bargain, even when she knew
it was wrong. It was easier than going to prison, but since
when did Kathryn Janeway take the easy way out? Did they
drag her into the mire or did she allow herself to be dragged?
Tuvok to Captain Janeway." Janeway started from her
reverie as her combadge chirped.
here, go ahead Tuvok."
Kim has had a revelation to where he believes Seven of Nine
might be." Tuvok's calm voice advised her through the
din of her own thoughts.
a little, "So you're playing Harry's hunch are you?"
though it is also a logical location."
Tuvok. Keep me advised."
captain. Tuvok out." Kathryn breathed a sigh of relief
even though they hadn't found Seven yet. She had faith in
Tuvok and Harry. Now if she could find that faith in the
Admiral's making the decisions about Chakotay and her crew.
The Maquis were
led back to the hearing room, all of them looking from one
to the other. The deliberations hadn't taken long: only
four hours, leaving Chakotay and the others wondering if
this was good news or not. After a moment, the chime sounds
announcing the Admirals and they all stand, their gazes
turning to one another wondering if the next time they saw
each other would be at the New Zealand Penal Colony.
all be seated," Nechayev's expression was carefully
neutral. Chakotay grinned.
to Ross and he stood with a grin. "It is the considered
opinion of this tribunal in light of the years of service
to Starfleet and the Starship Voyager that there is no need
for a formal trial to be held." He paused for a moment,
then continued, "However, in light of the previous
criminal actions of the Maquis crewmembers of Voyager there
must be some consequences. Because of this, for the first
nine months of Voyager's journey you will be considered
prisoners and will receive no benefits from that time. However
for the remaining six years and three months, from the beginning
of the Dominion War, you are to be treated as draftees.
You will receive back benefits and credits commensurate
to your rank for that time until now. As of today, you are
honorably discharged and released from service. In light
of your criminal records you are barred from re-enlistment
without Presidential pardon." Ross nodded and a round
of cheers went up from the crewmen behind Chakotay. B'Elanna
was instantly pulled into the crowd as Chakotay watched
Nechayev leave. She only spared him a short look, her gaze
cold and hard as she looked at him. Ross moved down from
the bench and motioned Chakotay to join him.
"So how does
it feel to be a free man?" Ross nodded in acknowledgement
to Kunimoto and led Chakotay out of the room.
his head, "Of all the decisions that could have been
made, I wasn't expecting that one. So it doesn't seem quite
real to me yet."
Ross smiled, "Well
it was a political decision more than a legal one. About
half the admiralty wants to hang the Maquis, the other half
wants to treat you as heroes. Add to that that public opinion
is sliding against Starfleet with all of the trials... Turning
the biggest feel-good story in years, Voyager, into the
biggest witch-hunt since we found out about the Founder
infiltrators wasn't the smartest move they ever made. Then,
to the public, the Cardassians are the enemy. Everyone remembers
the war. So anyone who fought them are heroes. Deserved
or not." Turns and looks at Chakotay. "In light
of all that and the fact that an old admiral with one year
in JAG before joining Command could tear holes in their
evidence that you could fly a Galaxy class through. Well,
even Nechayev may not have liked the decision, but she knew
it was the only one we could make. Pat you on the back and
toss you the hell out of fleet."
sir." Chakotay reached out his hand to the Admiral.
Ross took it without
hesitation, "Good luck to you. I'm only sorry that
Starfleet has changed so much that they can't see the potential
they're throwing away."
The ground crunched
beneath their feat as they walked through the abandoned
section of the collapsed tunnels, further out from the ones
in use by the museum. Harry adjusted his tricorder once
more as he moved along when it started beeping. "Commander,
I have Seven," he said.
him and nodded. "It would appear that they are in that
direction." Turning their wrist lights toward the direction
indicated on the device's diminutive screen, they followed
the beeping of the tricorder, trusting it to lead them to
want to wait for your friends to come get this thing."
Seven couldn't see the speaker as he was somewhere behind
her. "I know what the Borg did to my family. She should
pay." There were rumblings all around her as others
joined in with the speaker's sentiment. She could feel the
pounding in her ears, her stomach twisting and slowly the
dripping water sound filled her ears once more.
The woman who
had 'questioned' her earlier appeared from the shadows once
again. "Fine, you want your pound of flesh, take it,
but if you want her to really suffer for what her kind did
to our families then you'll wait until we can turn her over
to my contacts. They'll confine her and make her suffer
for a very long time. Then we don't have to worry about
her final disposition either."
Tuvok and Harry
rounded the corner, moving as quickly as they dared in the
ill-lit passages before them. A light at the head of corridor
told them they were almost there. They moved quicker, hearing
voices talking about the 'thing' paying. As they emerged
from darkness, Harry saw his worst nightmare. Libby standing
menacingly over the restrained Seven, pronouncing sentence
Harry yelled. All his feelings of anger and unease returned
in an instant and focused on his former fiancée. He trained
his phaser on the crowd of people. "Move away from
Seven... All of you." His gaze fixed on Seven for the
moment. "Are you alright, Seven."
"I am fine,
Harry." Seven answered, her panic settling as her friends
moved toward her. Harry looked to Tuvok, who was already
signaling Starfleet Security.
understand, Harry. She's a Borg. Things like her killed
my uncle." Libby pleaded with him to understand, her
eyes bright with anger, sorrow and a hundred different emotions.
Harry replied adamantly. "Seven is not a Borg. She's
a victim of the Borg. She's a survivor of the most horrifying
experience you could ever have. She's one of the bravest
women I have ever met, learning to be an individual after
being assimilated as a child. And more importantly, she
is more human than any of you right now." Harry turned
away from Libby as Starfleet Security arrived. He crouched
down, keying in an override sequence on the binders and
watching as they fell loose. He looked up at Seven. "We
should get you to the Doctor. More for his comfort than
yours probably. He's been worried sick." Harry smiled
at Seven and she found herself smiling back, despite the
He helped her
up, looking to Tuvok, who dismissed them with a nod. Harry
stayed close to her as they walked from the cavern, making
certain he was there if she faltered in her step. She turned
to him. "You were incorrect." Harry looked to
Seven, uncertain what she meant by that. "My captors."
She paused for a moment, repressing a shudder until she
felt his hand on her shoulder. "They were being all
Harry nodded sadly,
A driving beat
filled the room that the Maquis had acquired to celebrate
their release. Some were dancing, some were eating and most
were drinking. "So is anyone actually sorry they won't
be serving in the fleet again?" Gerron asked over the
Chakotay and B'Elanna
held their peace, but Ayala spoke up. "Serving with
Janeway, isn't serving with Starfleet. They've proved that
since we got home."
had to know that when Starfleet was stupid enough to use
Janeway as a scapegoat." B'Elanna added, unable to
hold her peace any longer. A roar of approval came from
the crowd at that, and Chakotay shook his head in mock disapproval
A laugh came from
the crowd at Chakotay's reaction and Ayala added, "Just
when the captain and our 'Fleeters had me convinced that
Starfleet didn't mean stupid all the time."
Pride fills Chakotay's
heart as he listens to their people talk about the captain
with such care. There was an air of sorrow in the room as
they speak of her, knowing that she will most likely never
command a Starship again, yet each of them feeling there
was no one more worthy to command.
heard Mom was available to cuddle again," Tom's voice
caught everyone's attention as he stepped through the doorway
and made a b-line towards B'Elanna.
She met him halfway,
pulling him into her arms and sharing a passionate kiss,
before claiming Miral from his arms. "Stop hogging
my little girl, flyboy." B'Elanna looked down into
her daughter's smiling face, then up into Tom's, her eyes
filling with tears. "It's real. We're free."
Tom nodded and
everyone crowded around them. "Give me the baby, B'Elanna."
Ayala called out, "And give your husband that reunion
he's been waiting for."
do that in public, Mike." Tom grinned as B'Elanna cuffed
him across the head.
Scowling at Tom,
she handed the baby to Michael. "They don't care what
we do. They just want to hold the baby, you P'taq."
as everyone's focus changed to the baby. He stopped for
a moment to rub her little forehead ridges. "For luck,"
he said as B'Elanna looked at him oddly, then shook her
head and tried to swat at him. He moved out of the crowd,
watching the happy group talking and joking for a few moments
before slipping out the door.
as the Doctor fussed over Seven before declaring her fit.
She slid off the biobed, starting to move toward the door
and to Harry. She paused, then turned back to the Doctor.
"I have considered
what you said about seeing a counselor, Doctor." She
looked down at her hands for a moment, "Your advice
is sound. Perhaps you could make an appointment for me."
The Doctor smiled
and nodded, "I'll be happy to do that, Seven."
Seven turned back
toward the door and Harry fell into step with her. They
walked some distance down the standard Starfleet corridors
before she stopped and spoke. "Thank you for your assistance
today, Harry. I realize how difficult it must have been
for you, considering..."
right, Seven. Nothing here on Earth has been the same as
I remembered it." He looked down toward the ground.
"I really shouldn't have expected Libby to be, either."
He looked at Seven and was surprised when she gently cupped
his chin with her hand, and he felt the soft press of her
lips on his cheek.
At his shocked
expression after she released him, Seven smiled, "A
kiss on the cheek. I believe it is an appropriate expression
of gratitude." She turned and continued her walk down
the corridor, leaving Harry watching her as she went.
Janeway shot up
from her chair. She had bid Owen a hasty farewell and shut
off the viewscreen in almost the same instant that he had
told her the news. The Maquis were free. Ayala and Gerron
were free. B'Elanna was free. Chakotay was free. Finally,
something had gone right and now all she had to do was head
for the lounge that her crew had appropriated for their
celebration and join them.
It hadn't gone
perfectly, of course. Starfleet had discharged them from
service and barred them from re-enlisting due to their criminal
record. That really didn't surprise her or upset her as
much as she had thought it would. It might later, when the
thrill that they were free had faded but at this moment
all that mattered was that they were free.
It only took seconds
for her to cross from her desk to the door, and less than
a millisecond for the door to open. She nearly stepped out
into the chest of Admiral Thalian. The Andorian regarded
her with a somewhat bemused look. "I'm sorry admiral,
I was just going out. Is there something I can help you
yes, captain," The admiral spoke with the odd accent
and syllibant whisper of his race, "I need to speak
with you most urgently on the report about the phase pulse
variance of unstable wormholes."
Janeway felt her
heart sink. She looked at the admiral trying to gauge how
serious this was to him. One look into his face told her
to him it was that serious. 'The party will be going all
night, Kathryn. Get this off of your plate as quickly as
you can and then join everyone at the celebration.' Her
mind supplied as she stepped back and motioned for him to
come in. "Of course, admiral. Do come in..."
The public space
dock was almost deserted at this hour as Chakotay approached
the small transport his sister had loaned him. Nowhere near
as majestic as Voyager, or as noble as the Liberty, but
she was spaceworthy and, for now, she was his. Keying in
the sequence to the lock, he entered the small vessel and
looked it over. Small and old, but clean and well cared
for. She'd do.
He stowed his
bag, and moved to the pilot's seat. Strapping himself in,
he ran his pre-launch checks quickly. "Spacedock, this
is the Griffin. Requesting permission to depart." Chakotay
said, activating the vessel's communications system.
Griffin. Pre-launch checks are nominal. Your astrogation
course is plotted and confirmed for the most direct route
to Trebus. Maximum allowable speed, warp five, confirm?"
at that, he'd almost forgotten about the speed limit that
was still imposed on some older vessels in the Alpha Quadrant.
"Confirmed, Space Dock."
cleared for launch. Have a good trip, Griffin."
Beta: Jeffery Harlan
Producers: Thinkey, Anne Rose and Coral