Episode 8-20 - One Door Closes
By: LadyChakotay (email@example.com)
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
Kathryn Janeway, formerly of the USS Voyager, sighed heavily
as she rearranged the ever-growing stack of PADDs around
on her desk. She shook her auburn head slightly at the thought.
Her desk? Not long ago, she was flying through unknown stars
surrounded by her crew, her family, charting regions of
space never before seen by human eyes. And now, here she
was pushing papers behind a desk and waiting for the door
chime to announce her scheduled visitor.
tried to push the mental images of her ship and crew to
the back of her mind and focus on the task at hand. Admiral
Paris had sent her a rather unusual message this morning,
informing her that he would be meeting with her within the
hour. The strange part was that he was coming to her office,
as opposed to calling her to his rather impressive and grandiose
Owen Paris' office had been designed and decorated, Janeway
believed, to project an atmosphere of vaunted morality,
rigid discipline, and prestigious career accomplishments.
The very epitome of intimidation to a young cadet or fresh
graduate of the academy, as she well remembered.
admiral was very much aware of the effect his stately office
had on others, and he used his home court advantage on a
regular basis. So the fact that he'd requested to meet in
Janeway's modest workplace was odd to say the least. She
would assume that the very location of this meeting was
chosen to suggest a social call, but the tone of Owen's
voice, not to mention the rigid way he held his shoulders,
suggested otherwise. No, she was fairly certain that this
wasn't a personal visit.
just hoped it wasn't bad news. They'd been through enough
she had time to contemplate it further, the door chime sounded.
Her eyes flitted to the chronometer on her terminal. 0800
on the button. Admiral Paris was meticulously prompt, as
usual. That fact incited a small smile from her. At least
some things stayed the same. "Come in."
Paris was a tall man; at least, he was compared to the diminutive
female captain standing behind her desk. He greeted her
with a genial smile and extended his hand. "Captain
Janeway, how are you this morning?"
took the offered hand between her own and shook it firmly.
"I'm well, sir, thank you. And yourself?"
gestured to the chair beside him. "Won't you please
have a seat?"
admiral lowered his aging body into the less than comfortable
chair and watched as Janeway moved over to the replicator
and ordered herself a cup of black coffee. She inquired
with a gesture of her hand if he wanted anything. "Coffee
for me, too, please. But with cream and sugar. I'm not quite
the iron gut that you are, Captain."
chuckled softly. "My gut has nothing to do with it.
It's purely an emotional addiction, I assure you. Coffee
is my only vice, but I know it's far more a psychological
thing than a physical need." She handed the admiral
his cup and resumed her seat behind her desk. She sipped
gently from her steaming mug, her blue eyes searching Paris'
face over the rim of her cup. "That's why I was so
determined to get my ship and crew home, you know? There
isn't a single good coffeehouse in all of the Delta Quadrant."
chuckled amicably, but his eyes displayed little genuine
mirth. He made an attempt at small talk. "How are you
settling in now that the trials are finally over?"
she answered. "It's a big adjustment
of us. We just need some time to adapt, that's all."
mind briefly wandered to the countless other times that
she and her crew had been forced to adapt. From one scenario
to another, thrown into the Delta Quadrant, faced with insurmountable
odds of survival time and again, enemies composed of the
things from which nightmares are made
and their triumphant
return into the Alpha Quadrant, bursting from the belly
of a Borg sphere and taking all of Starfleet by surprise.
Only to be violently plucked from their would-be-homecoming
and dropped into the depths of Hell, where time and space
were not as they'd known it, and they were forced to adapt
tried to keep the bitter tinge from her voice. "If
there's one thing the people of Voyager excel at, it's adapting
to new circumstances."
you've proven time and again," he conceded.
studied her old friend and mentor carefully. It was obvious
that something was weighing heavily on his mind, something
odious if his slightly clenched fists were any indication.
Deciding to cut to the chase, she put her cup down and folded
her arms on her desk. "Why do I get the feeling that
you're about to drop a bomb on me, Admiral?"
Blunt though it was, Owen Paris looked somewhat grateful
for Janeway's segue into business matters, as though the
formidable, seasoned admiral was uncertain how to proceed
on his own. "You always were astute, Captain Janeway.
Even as a cadet I could get nothing by you."
grinned wryly. "I had an excellent teacher. You taught
me to pay attention to detail and body language. Right now,
yours is damned near shouting Don't Shoot the Messenger."
that may be a bit overly dramatic, but not far off the mark."
His blue eyes met hers and he cleared his throat. "I'm
afraid I've come bearing
That was a word that Kathryn Janeway hated, detested even.
It was one of those words people of authority used to sugar
coat and understate something that was nearly always far
more distressing than mere unpleasantness. It was a euphemism
she'd used herself in the past. And now here it was, staring
her in the face.
steeled herself for whatever unpleasantness was about to
be divulged, and in a calm, controlled voice said simply,
Paris put his coffee cup down on her desk and straightened
his tunic slightly. "Starfleet Command has reached
a decision regarding the fate of Voyager."
a million different scenarios swirled in Janeway's mind.
She immediately envisioned everything from a complete overhaul
and refit to the museum on the presidio that Admiral Janeway
had spoken of. It took her only a microsecond to school
her thoughts into submission and regain her professional
composure. "I'm listening."
know how much that ship means to you, Kathryn."
oh. He used her given name. Somehow, she knew that couldn't
possibly be a good sign. She tried to will her rapidly rising
pulse to stop thudding in her ears, even as she appeared
outwardly calm. "It means a lot to all of us, Owen.
It was our home for nearly a decade."
know, and it served you well." He met her gaze evenly,
despite his own pounding heart. "Look, there is no
easy way to say this, so I'll just be blunt."
is being decommissioned, Captain."
all the scenarios her mind entertained, that was not one
of them. She felt the admiral's words like a physical blow
to her chest, knocking the wind from her lungs. Her voice,
normally rich and resonant, came out as little more than
a gruff whisper. "What?"
know it's quite a shock to you, it was to me as well. But
the decision has been made. Voyager will be decommissioned,
and there is nothing you or anyone else can do about it.
I'm sorry, Kathryn. I really am."
that moment, Kathryn Janeway felt more alone than she ever
had in her entire life. After all they had been through,
all they'd sacrificed - their triumphant return to Earth
had been forever sullied by witch-hunts, trials and cruel
separations from her people. And now that those issues were
finally behind them, Starfleet had found yet another way
to remind her exactly who's in control here.
was too stunned to feel anger or indignation - yet -- and
she found that the only emotion she could identify was a
heavy-hearted longing for the one person who loved that
ship as much as she did. She had to talk to Chakotay. More
than ever before, she needed his quiet strength at her side.
She knew without a doubt that she had to reach him before
Voyager's decommission took place.
schooled her features into an expression of controlled acceptance,
even though she felt nothing similar to that at the time,
and uttered the only word she could manage. "When?"
Paris looked genuinely remorseful as he delivered the final
blow. "Before the month is out."
Professor Cheney seemed to have an unconscious habit of
pacing before his class as he delivered his lecture. Perhaps
the constant movement increased the blood flow to his brain.
Or perhaps he was just a bit of a nervous type, unable to
be still for any considerable length of time. Oddly enough,
the pacing did nothing to diminish his message.
deep, gravelly voice projected throughout the stadium seating
-type classroom without the aid of a microphone. "One
of the most basic duties of any Starfleet officer is not
only to honor and respect the ethical beliefs of other cultures,
but to attempt to understand them. That doesn't always mean
you have to believe them personally. Nor does it mean you
must always act upon them.
find that what one culture holds as ethical and moral standards,
another finds vile, even unholy. There may be times that
the Prime Directive prohibits you from conceding to the
ethical guidelines of an alien culture. But that does not
excuse you from your first obligation - which is to seek
out and explore strange new worlds and new civilizations.
cadets, your first and most important job as a Starfleet
officer is to never stop learning, and never stop trying
to understand the differences and similarities between other
species and your own. That being said, let's begin today's
listened attentively as his professor spoke. Much to his
surprise, this class on Interspecies Ethics was rapidly
becoming one of his favorite courses. Granted, it lacked
the technical precision and scientific investigation offered
by the rest of the curriculum here at Starfleet Academy.
But it offered something that Icheb found almost as intellectually
stimulating as discovering to how many decimal points he
could calculate pi, a remarkable thing in itself, no doubt.
class offered break-out sessions where open discussions
and debates were not only accepted, but encouraged. The
topic of Interspecies Ethics was, by itself, fraught with
controversy. And it wasn't difficult to come up with a provocative
viewpoint as the discussions unfolded, after all, ethics
had been the basis of many a debate since civilized time
on Earth began. Here in the 24th century, where the United
Federation of Planets mixed countless cultures from hundreds
of worlds, anything was possible and topics were endless.
found the opinions of his fellow cadets extremely insightful
as to the nature of their personalities and mind-sets. He
was surprised to find that in a class of less than fifty
people, there were views ranging from the extremely open-minded
to the notably prejudiced. It was
to Icheb's right was a young Vulcan woman named T'kara.
He'd noticed her more than once since he arrived on campus.
She often walked the same path to the Academy library as
he did. He noted immediately that she was attractive, pleasing
to the eye.
most of her people, she hadn't adopted the severe, short
hair cut common to Vulcans. Instead, she wore her raven
hair in a long braid that cascaded down her back, ending
just below her waist. Her serious eyes were an alluring
shade of green, complimenting the olive complexion of her
flawless skin. Even her delicately pointed ears seemed airbrushed
projected an air of regal nobility, one born of knowledge
and logic, not arrogance. And Icheb found that, fascinating
as the topic was in class that day, his wandering eyes seemed
to have a mind of their own and continually flitted back
for Icheb, he didn't notice his attention had strayed until
he realized that there was an uneasy silence in the room.
He looked up to find all eyes on him. Much to his own dismay,
the former Borg felt his cheeks flush slightly under such
scrutiny. It was a curios sensation, one he could live without.
Icheb?" prodded Professor Cheney.
you like me to repeat the question?" The older human
man smiled at the young Brounalli patiently. "Apparently
you didn't hear me the first time."
goes that sensation in his cheeks again. "I apologize,
Professor. My mind was
elsewhere. Could you please
restate your inquiry?"
he said genially. If he was offended by Icheb's inattentiveness,
he didn't show it. "We were discussing the varying
definition of ethics and how it means different things to
different cultures. Nearly all cultures have some type of
code of ethics, even if those ethics aren't what we would
well, ethical. I cited the Borg
Collective for example. While most of us find the idea of
a hive mind with the single, unified goal of assimilation
daunting to say the least, that does not mean that the collective
is without ethical guidelines. My question to you is this:
Can you enlighten us, Cadet, as to the ethical beliefs of
felt the color that had previously flooded his cheeks drain
from his face. He knew that Professor Cheney had not asked
the question with any malicious intent. On the contrary,
actually. It was, no doubt, his way of opening the floor
for Icheb to share his considerable knowledge of the Borg
with his classmates and future comrades in arms.
knowledge would benefit everyone on an educational level,
and as he was the only former drone in the room, it only
made sense for the professor to ask him. It was perfectly
but that didn't make it comfortable. Not
by a long shot.
course, sir." Icheb did a remarkable job of schooling
the nervousness from his voice, even as he felt a reoccurrence
of what the Doctor had once termed 'butterflies in his stomach'.
He rose to his feet and prepared to answer the question
to the best of his ability.
before he got a chance to speak, he heard an unsolicited
comment from the cadet seated two rows behind him. "This
ought to be rich. A morality lesson from the drone,"
he snorted to his friend in the next seat. "Borg ethics
- what an oxymoron!"
felt indignation rising inside his chest as several of the
other students laughed, apparently enjoying his discomfort.
than two years ago, he had been liberated from the Collective
by Captain Janeway, and made part of the Voyager crew. On
that ship, he was treated fairly and compassionately. His
uniqueness was appreciated, not scorned. And his ideas were
heard outright, not scoffed at behind his back. He was unaccustomed
to such prejudice.
had noticed some of the people of Earth looking at Seven
of Nine and himself with something akin to hatred. But he'd
paid little attention. Seven had told him that people often
fear that which they do not understand. And their fears
often prompted them to react with hatred. He'd come to understand
it was simply ignorance.
here, at Starfleet Academy - the foundation of a society
that was supposed to be based on tolerance and claimed to
embrace life, ALL life - such hatred was incomprehensible.
had always viewed Starfleet as the giant galactic melding
pot, all are welcome, and he believed Starfleet philosophy
to be impenetrable by such pettiness as racial hatred. His
heart sank heavily in his chest as he was faced with the
unfortunate reality that hatred knows no boundaries. Even
at Starfleet Academy. Sadness flooded his dark eyes as yet
another layer of his innocence was stripped away. And, not
for the first time since he set foot on Earth, he was uncertain
how to handle the situation.
you sure he didn't say where he was going? Not even a hint?"
Janeway stood before her vidscreen, hands on her hips, as
she grilled her former chief engineer.
sorry, Captain," said B'Elanna. "I'd like to tell
you where he is, but I honestly have no idea."
you two are such good friends."
Torres actually laughed. "That doesn't mean he checks
in with me every time he's planning to leave his apartment.
I'd love to help you out, Captain. But at this point, your
guess is as good as mine. He could be anywhere."
ran a hand through her auburn hair in frustration. She'd
contacted everyone she could think of, but to no avail.
It was as if Chakotay had just disappeared into thin air.
Where in the hell is he? She offered B'Elanna a weary smile.
"Thanks anyway. I'll see you at the meeting."
of the meeting," B'Elanna grinned coyly. "Care
to give me a hint as to what it's all about?"
shook her head. "No, I wouldn't. It's not something
I want to discuss over the comm."
piqued the half Klingon's interest. "That important,
summoned all of her command discipline to keep the sadness
in her heart from reaching her face. Now was not the time.
"That's one way to describe it. I'd really prefer to
do it in person, B'Elanna. Trust me on this one, okay?"
you. I'll see you soon."
Janeway could end the transmission, B'Elanna added, "Oh,
and Captain? About Chakotay?"
might want to contact his sister," she said. "She
may know where he is. They haven't always been close. But
I think he's been keeping in touch with her since we returned."
hadn't even thought of that," said Janeway. Chakotay
had never spoken of his sister. In fact, close friends as
they were, Janeway didn't even know about her until about
a year ago so it was easy to forget all about her.
it's worth a try anyway."
it is. Thank you, B'Elanna." She ended the transmission,
watching as Torres' pretty face faded from the screen. She'd
never spoken to Chakotay's sister before and supposed now
was as good a time as any.
didn't take her long to track down Chakotay's mysterious
sibling. Being a high-ranking Starfleet officer had its
privileges after all. And its drawbacks, she thought wryly.
felt a little odd contacting this woman, as if she were
invading on Chakotay's privacy somehow. But she had to find
him. He needed to know about what was about to happen to
she needed him to help her deal with
it. It wasn't really an emotional thing. After all, she
was the captain and he was the first officer. It was a matter
of duty. It was as simple as that.
she knew that couldn't be farther from the truth,
and none of this was simple at all.
it, Kathryn. You miss him terribly," she muttered to
herself as she punched in the comm frequency. The words
were barely out of her mouth when the image of a woman filled
Her voice was rich and mellifluous, like dripping honey.
She had the same olive complexion as her brother, and her
long black hair hung loosely down her back in barely restrained
curls. She looked at Janeway with dark brown eyes that seemed
to hold the wisdom of a hundred life times, the same look
Chakotay had. She was definitely a feminine version of the
man that Kathryn knew so well. "Can I help you?"
Atraya. My name is Kathryn Janeway. I'm - "
Janeway," said Atraya. "You were my brother's
She winced inwardly. You WERE my brother's CO. It was hard
to wrap her mind around the fact that everything had changed,
and those people were no longer her crew. "I was his
a pleasure to meet you, Captain." She returned the
smile. "He speaks well of you."
wish I could say the same. "That's good to hear. And
the pleasure is all mine." Her blue eyes moved casually
across Atraya's face. "You resemble Chakotay a great
laughed, a pleasant sound. "Physically perhaps. But
that's where it ends. Psychologically and emotionally, we
couldn't be more different." Then she flashed Janeway
a very familiar dimpled smile. "Somehow I don't think
you called to hear me compare Chakotay's psyche to mine.
What can I do for you, Captain?"
folded her arms across her chest and leaned back in her
chair. "I'm looking for your brother, actually. He
seems to have vanished, and I was hoping you could tell
me where to find him."
off-world, I believe."
felt her stomach fall somewhere in the vicinity of her ankles.
What if he didn't return in time? "Off-world? What
makes you say that?"
borrowed my private shuttle a few days ago," she said.
"He said he had a loose end to tie up, whatever that
you know where he was headed?"
shook her dark head. "No, he offered no details, and
I knew better than to ask. My only request was that he return
my shuttle in one piece. I don't know if you're aware of
this, Captain, but my brother has an uncanny tendency for
destroying small spacecraft."
raised an eyebrow and chuckled. "Yes, I've noticed."
afraid I have no idea where he was going. But I can give
you the comm frequency. You can send him a message."
She smiled warmly. "It's not as good as producing my
brother for you, but it's better than nothing."
returned the smile, taking an instant liking to this woman
who so reminded her of Chakotay. "That would be wonderful,
Atraya. I am in your debt."
snorted and waved her hand dismissively. "Hardly. Just
do me a favor."
him I said to return my shuttle, and my brother, in one
piece. I may not be a Starfleet captain, but I still know
how to give orders."
a laugh and a mock salute, Janeway said, "Aye, sir.
I'll deliver your message."
Let's just hope he gets it in time.
small shuttlecraft landed with a soft thud, kicking up tiny
dust devils in its wake. The hatch made a quiet hissing
sound as it opened, releasing the shuttle's atmosphere to
commingle with the gases of the atmosphere on the planet.
21% oxygen, 70% nitrogen, the rest mostly inert trace gases
- just like Earth. Except that Earth was teeming with life,
and this world was dead.
emerged from the shuttle, his dark eyes traveling slowly
over the terrain. Trebus - it looked nothing like it had
when he was a boy. He'd chosen a landing site on the outskirts
of where his people's village once stood. Of course, that
was before Starfleet had betrayed them, before the Cardassians
came. The peaceful little village stood no more. Nothing
on Trebus was left standing. They made sure of that.
moved slowly across the land, scanning the horizon as he
walked. Where there had once been fields of wild grass and
flowers, there now lay endless oceans of dry dust. The skies,
once filled with the shrieks of birds of prey, were now
silent and overcast. The land that had been so sacred and
holy to his people had been desecrated and defiled.
in this place, life had been born, families created, songs
sung, and stories told. And for a moment, Chakotay thought
he could hear it. There, in the distant reaches of his mind,
faint but still present, were the songs of the tribal children.
They sung of peace and compassion, of Sky Spirits and blessings
to the land.
former starship commander closed his eyes in an effort to
capture that moment in his mind - to visualize the singing.
But the instant he did, the joyous singing turned to into
spiritual lyrics were gone, replaced by horrible wailing.
It was his people - screaming as they were being slaughtered.
Children crying as they were ripped from the arms of their
dead or dying mothers. The men shouting warnings to their
families to run, to get down before the next blast came
and snatched them from this life.
slapped his hands to the sides of his head, as if it were
possible to cover his ears and block out the sounds that
came from within his own mind. He took a few calming breaths
and opened his eyes, forcing himself to see the reality
before him. There were no Cardassians now, no screaming
children or dying women. On Trebus, all was still. The only
sound was Chakotay's own pulse slamming like a thousand
galloping horses in his head.
yourself, Old Man," he said. "You came here to
put things to rest, not stir up old ghosts."
almost stoic composure, Chakotay walked through the remains
of a shattered past. And despite his outwardly calm demeanor,
the ghosts continued to scream in his mind.
What do you mean you're leaving the tribe? You don't belong
to that world, Chakotay.
know, father," he whispered. "But I didn't belong
to this one either." And he meant it. Chakotay always
felt ill at ease, out of place. He never really felt he
he reached his destination. The site where his father's
house used to be was now nothing more than rubble and dust,
but he knew it instinctively regardless. He made his way
through the rotted and dehydrated debris until he came to
that area that was once the center of spiritual meditation
and inner exploration, the habak.
knelt down, resting his weight on his heels, and scooped
up a handful of the earth. He let the fine, dry dirt run
through his fingers and wondered for a brief, morbid moment
how much of it was composed of the ashes and bones of his
people, his family. "I should've been here. If not
to protect them, then at least to die beside them."
that moment, Chakotay was overcome with memories of times
past. They boomeranged through his mind at hyper-light speed,
ricocheting off of one another until they lost their individual
resonance and become one large, jumbled thought.
heard the voices of his people. The last time he saw any
of them alive, he'd been disrespectful and heated. Then
he'd left filled with anger and discontent. He couldn't
understand why his tribe refused to embrace the 24th century.
He thought himself above the simplicity of their way of
life, and he made sure his father knew it. He left them
with anger in his heart, and he never saw any of them again.
guilt was heavy, like the hand of Satan himself reaching
into his chest and squeezing his beating heart.
the painful memory of his last visit to this home washed
over him, Chakotay recalled with agonizing clarity exactly
why he shed his Starfleet uniform and joined the Maquis
in the first place.
experienced that familiar fire in his belly as the old fury
and rage came once again to the forefront. But this was
not the reason he'd come to Trebus. He didn't come here
to refuel his Maquis fire. Those days were gone and the
battle was over. He came instead, to find peace within himself.
It was time for his guilt and pain to be put to rest, along
with his people.
an almost physical effort, he managed to push the raging
thoughts back into submission as he recalled the face of
the one person in his life that made donning that uniform
again even imaginable - Kathryn. Because of her, he'd worn
his Starfleet uniform with great pride. Not because he'd
believed in Starfleet, because he believed in her. She'd
become his best friend and brought him the only peace he'd
if for no other reason than for her, he knew he must find
a way to put the Angry Warrior to rest.
pulled his medicine bundle from his backpack and spread
it out on the ground. The fur was worn from its travels
through the galaxy, a fact that only made it dearer to Chakotay.
He laid the items out carefully before his folded legs.
A black bird's wing, a stone from the river, and the Akoonah.
closed his eyes and placed his right palm on the device,
which lit up and whirred to life in response, generating
a feeling of euphoria throughout his body. Before he'd even
begun to utter the ritual prayer, his mind recreated the
habak as it had been the last time he saw it.
his mind's eye, he saw the walls covered with ancient writings
describing the story of the First Father and the rising
of the sky. The room was filled with ancient artifacts,
figurines and spiritual talisman. He could even smell the
faint aroma of burning sage
On the far edge of the village, the console in Atraya's
shuttlecraft came to life. "Incoming transmission,"
droned the computer. Of course, there was no pilot to receive
the message from Earth. He was deep in a vision quest, his
conscious mind elsewhere and else when. The message, and
the messenger, would just have to wait.
Admiral Owen Paris knew who was buzzing his office door
even before he gave her permission to enter. He sighed and
put away the report he was reading, as this particular visitor
always required nothing less than everyone's undivided attention.
"Come in, Kathryn."
door slid open to reveal Janeway, hands on her hips and
one eyebrow raised indignantly. "How did you know it
could smell the scent of coffee that always seems to precede
your entrance into a room."
funny," she said wryly.
stepped into the large office, a gentle grin spreading across
her face as she noted the latest addition to Admiral Paris'
picture wall. There in the center was a lovely image of
Tom and B'Elanna, arms around each other as a smiling Miral
sat between them. Her chubby baby cheeks were rosy red,
and her tiny hands were together in front of her, as if
she'd been clapping.
her own internal pain at the moment, Janeway found her heart
flooding with warmth at the sight of the laughing little
family that she liked to think she had some small part in
creating. And she was particularly happy to see the photo
among all the others of the Paris clan. She knew that Tom
and his father hadn't had what anyone would consider an
easy path with their reunion. In fact, they'd had more than
their share of hardships and difficulties. She was pleased
to see they were working their way past them.
ran a finger along the elegant frame. "What a beautiful
picture of the Paris family." She tapped her chin with
her finger thoughtfully. "But I wonder
it was taken?" the admiral supplied helpfully.
she said. "Where's mine?"
question," grinned Owen. "One I'm afraid I can't
answer. You'll have to take that up with my lovely daughter-in-law.
She's officially in charge of photo distribution."
see." She took the seat he offered in front of his
desk. "Miral is getting so big. How is she doing?"
admiral's cheeks positively glowed with pride the likes
of which only a grandparent could possess. "Oh, she's
wonderful!" he raved. "I'm telling you, she has
to be the smartest infant I have ever seen in my life."
believe it," she said with something akin to a grandparent's
pride in her own voice.
you know she's already speaking?"
prompted Janeway to raise both eyebrows. "Speaking?"
nodded. "Yes. Just yesterday when I came into the kitchen,
she opened her little arms and said, 'Da Da'."
used her considerable self-restraint to smother a grin.
"You're saying she called you 'dada'?"
sighed and looked at Janeway like she was the slow student
in the class. "Not dada as in 'daddy'. It was dada
as in 'granddaddy'."
she had to try hard not to laugh aloud. Was there a difference?
Janeway, obviously the only rational adult in the room at
the moment, knew that a baby Miral's age did a great deal
of babbling, but not much, if any, actual speaking. But,
if Admiral Owen Paris wanted to believe that his infant
granddaughter was already addressing him as "Granddaddy",
who was she to argue.
smiled genially. "That's wonderful, sir. You must be
course, it goes without saying that Miral would be intelligent.
Look who her parents are, for one thing," Janeway said.
"And she was born on Voyager."
noticed his subordinate's eyes darken at the mention of
her ship. Her jovial grin faded, and he knew she was struggling
to keep the sadness she felt from showing on her face.
may be a desk jockey now, but Owen Paris was an old space
dog not so long ago. He knew what it felt like to lose a
ship. It was akin to losing a child in many ways. Another
feeling he knew all too well. He knew that Janeway was in
a great deal of pain, despite her brave façade. And
he warred between being the professionally detached admiral
and the desire to comfort someone he still considered a
kind blue eyes searched her face carefully. "How are
you doing, Kathryn?"
shrugged, feigning indifference. "I'm not happy about
what's about to take place. But I'll learn to live with
kept his steady gaze on Janeway, willing her not to look
away. "I think you're a lot more that just unhappy
all due respect, sir, what difference does it make? Whether
I cry and bang my head against the wall, or simply shut
up and accept it, either way - the end result is the same.
Voyager will be decommissioned whether I get emotional or
true," he conceded. "But emotions have a way of
existing regardless, don't they? You can't simply command
them like you did your ship, Captain."
I can't." She raised her chin defiantly. "But
I can't allow them to command me, either."
Kathryn, I know this is extremely difficult for you. It
would be for anyone in similar circumstances."
folded his hands across his ample belly and regarded Janeway
with a paternal gaze. "I can see you're going to push
your pain way down deep inside yourself, that's just your
way. It's an unhealthy habit you got from your father, and
it's only intensified by all those pips on your collar.
I understand that, and I won't push you to deal with your
emotions. That's your business. But I want to make one thing
perfectly clear. Regardless of the difficulties we've had
since your return to Earth, I am still your old friend.
If I can do anything to lessen your burden, all you have
to do is ask."
arched an auburn eyebrow. "You mean that, sir?"
course I mean it. I wouldn't have said it otherwise."
she said decidedly. "Because, pleasant as our visit
has been, I actually came here for a reason. I came to make
a request regarding Voyager."
would've sworn someone had called a Red Alert. In the instant
she uttered that sentence, Admiral Paris' shields went up.
His expression, only moments ago friendly and compassionate,
was now guarded, maybe even a little suspicious. She found
herself wondering exactly what had taken place in the infamous
meeting that had decided Voyager's fate. Funny how the entire
ambiance of a meeting could change with a single sentence.
request?" he said evenly.
one that I think is perfectly reasonable." She folded
her hands in her lap. "I plan to officially request
that my crew and I be the ones to fly Voyager on her last
journey from here to Utopia Planitia."
said nothing, but a dark shadow worked its way across his
want to command her one last time, Admiral. I don't think
that's an unfair request."
I think the best thing you can do now is just accept this.
Don't stick your neck out there on this one. Let Starfleet
eyes widened quizzically. "Let Starfleet handle it?
I thought I was part of Starfleet."
course you are," he sighed. "That's not what I
what did you mean, exactly?"
simply trying to stop you from causing yourself unnecessary
pain. You and your crew have been invited to Utopia Planitia
to observe Voyager's docking. You'll be encouraged to make
a speech at that time. Let it go at that."
wasn't quite certain how to take that. All she knew for
sure was that she could feel her anger rising in her belly.
Her voice was low, but controlled as she spoke. "Let
it go at that? Owen, you've known me for years. You've guided
me, watched my career take shape through all its highs and
lows. You know me, probably better than almost anyone in
command. You know as sure as you're sitting there that I
cannot simply 'let it go'. My crew deserves this."
shook his head in frustration. "You know damned well
that decisions are not made based on what someone does or
does not deserve. They're made based on what is best for
would my commanding Voyager from Earth to Utopia Planitia
be in any way detrimental to the Federation?"
didn't say it would," he said, his voice rising slightly.
He fixed his blue eyes on her firmly. "Don't make waves
about this, Captain."
stood and leaned toward him, her palms pressed to the surface
of his desk. "I'm not trying to make waves, Admiral.
But with all due respect, I think I am entitled to this.
I fought for nearly eight years to keep that ship in one
piece, to keep my crew alive. And I insisted the entire
time, against unimaginable odds, that we remain a Starfleet
crew, true to the policies and values of the Federation.
passed up one opportunity after another for a speedy journey
home to uphold those principles, and along the way people
suffered and people died. And still I stood my ground, insisting
that if we let go of our Starfleet morals, we stopped being
all that, when we finally did make it home, were we welcomed
with open arms and recognized for our sacrifices? No. We
were separated, families torn apart, and friends kept from
the comfort of one another. And then we were tried before
the courts, every debatable action or decision made along
that journey brought into question and scrutinized. And
still we are loyal.
made some bad decisions during my command. I admit that.
I stood accountable for it before you and every one else
from Starfleet Command. And now they're about to decommission
my ship, a decision that no one even bothered to consult
me on or ask my opinion. And still I say, 'Yes, sir' and
comply with Command. And now, because I want to make a simple
request, one that in no way endangers Starfleet or the Federation,
I am MAKING WAVES?
afraid I you'll have to explain it to me, Admiral, because
I just don't understand. How would I be causing myself unnecessary
pain by asking for this. Voyager is MY ship. I simply want
to fly her to her resting place!"
Paris rose to his feet and slammed his fists on his desk.
"Watch your tone with me, Captain. We may be old friends,
but I was an admiral when you were still in pigtails! And
Voyager is not YOUR ship. It belongs to the people of the
Federation. Commanding her was your privilege, not your
right. There are just some things you have to accept, and
this is one of them. Your tenure on Voyager is over. Deal
with it and move on, that's an order."
paused, gathering his anger and regaining his composure.
His tone softened slightly as he regarded her, the woman
who had guided his wayward son to manhood in his absence,
and not for the first time in recent days, his uniform was
heavy on his shoulders.
make this request of me, Kathryn. These details have already
been decided. You're only succeeding in putting us both
in an awkward and painful position."
going to ask you flat out, Admiral. No more posturing or
pulling rank. If you're going to deny us this one last dignity,
you're going to have to do it to my face." She squared
her shoulders, snapped her heels together, and pulled her
body to rigid attention. "Permission to assemble my
crew and command Voyager from Earth to Utopia Planitia,
Owen Paris, momentarily embroiled in a deep internal struggle
between his emotions and his duty, hung his head slightly.
Then, having reached the decision both he and Janeway knew
he would all along; he looked his former student in the
eyes and regretfully but firmly said, "Permission denied."
Before the laughter from his last snide comment had subsided,
Cadet Tyler decided to add further witty commentary. "Yeah,
the Borg are ethical, and I'm an admiral!"
turned to respond, but Professor Cheney beat him to it.
"I beg your pardon, Cadet. Did you have a comment?"
arrogant human's cheeks blushed visibly, for which Icheb
was silently very grateful. At least he wasn't the only
one. "No, sir!" Tyler barked obediently. "I
have nothing to say, sir!"
evidence to the contrary," he said. "You had plenty
to say a moment ago, Mr. Tyler. At least, I thought I heard
you mutter something to Cadet Jessip. Perhaps I should ask
him." He turned his attention to the other cadet, a
young Bajoran man. "Well, Cadet? Did you hear what
your friend had to say? Apparently, he prefers not to share
it with the class."
sir." Cadet Jessip shot a sideways glance at his cohort
and then began a studious examination of his boots.
interesting," muttered Cheney. "Perhaps you should
report to the infirmary and have your hearing checked, Mr.
Jessip." He glanced at the young Vulcan seated beside
Icheb. "How about you, Cadet T'kara. Vulcan's have
superior auditory skills. Perhaps you can put an old man
out of his misery and tell me that I haven't started hearing
voices in my head. Did you hear Cadet Tyler's comment?"
Vulcan regarded her professor evenly. "Yes, sir, I
grinned Cheney. "Then I'm not crazy. Thank you, T'kara.
And what did our Mr. Tyler say, hmmm?"
cast a glance at Icheb and then raised an elegant eyebrow.
"He made a derogatory comment directed at Cadet Icheb
regarding Borg ethics, or his perception of a lack thereof."
professor nodded as if that was the response he was expecting.
what do you think? Do you agree with his
didn't so much as cast a glance back at her outspoken colleague
before she said, "No, I do not."
interesting. And, on what do you base that opinion?"
is safe to presume that Cadet Tyler has little or no experience
with the Borg Collective. Therefore, his assumptions are
based on either hearsay or prejudices he has acquired vicariously
through others, rather than on fact. Such assumptions are
subject to error and misinterpretation.
the very nature of the Borg Collective would suggest that
they do, in fact, have some type of ethical mandates. They
simply may not be the kind of ethics to which humans are
accustomed. The fact that they are different from those
of the Federation, even disturbing to us on many levels,
does not make them any less real or valid."
satisfied with her acumen, T'kara simply regarded her instructor
with a very characteristic raised eyebrow.
felt an unexpected rush of affection and appreciation for
T'kara. An unlikely ally in this situation. He made a mental
note to thank her for her objectivity at a later time.
smiled approvingly. "A most logical viewpoint, Cadet
T'kara. Thank you for sharing it." Then he opened his
arms wide, as if inviting the entire class to jump in. "Anyone
else have an opinion they're brave enough to share?"
didn't think so. Very well," he said, once again pacing
before the class. "Then you will listen to mine."
He eyed the group thoughtfully, pausing a moment to gather
has occurred here today disturbs me. It disturbs me greatly.
You see, though our Mr. Tyler may have thought he was being
funny, his comments were prompted by hatred. Do you think
that's a bit harsh? The word hatred? Perhaps Cadet Tyler
doesn't actually hate Cadet Icheb individually. In fact,
I'm willing to bet he hardly knows him. But he obviously
harbors hatred for the Borg.
I can guess what you're all thinking. We have plenty of
reason to hate the Borg, right? They assimilated countless
millions, actions we find down right evil. I agree with
that. However, Icheb here is no longer part of the Collective.
He is a citizen of the Federation, and a student here at
Starfleet Academy. In that sense, he is one of our own,
yet you would suggest that he is less than you are, Cadet
Tyler, merely because of his race. A race that he wasn't
even born to, in fact.
was a victim of the Borg as a child and he's since been
liberated and worked to regain his individuality. We're
supposed to be enlightened, aren't we? We sing about freedom
and about a place for everyone. And yet here, in the very
heart of Starfleet itself, you would victimize him again
for the sake of a few laughs?
the rest of you, those who laughed at his misfortune, are
you superior to him as well simply because you happened
to have been born whatever race or color you are? Look at
him. He is a living, breathing person - just like you. It's
one thing to hate the whole of a society in a vague sort
of way, it's quite another to hate the individual who stands
and the Federation are all about tolerance, Cadets. Tolerance
for races that differ from your own. Tolerance for people
with ideas that contradict or even oppose your own. This
is a free society, and that means it has to be open and
equal to all the people of the Federation. Anything less
diminishes us all greatly.
realize that this is a learning period for you, and making
mistakes is a necessary part of that process. So it is my
hope that you will recognize your mistakes here today, and
become better people because of them. Uniqueness like Icheb's
is one of the beauties of the universe, and it affords you
an opportunity to learn, to expand your mind
about this as you're walking the Academy grounds today,
a Starfleet uniform on your back. Every war that ever occurred
on any world anywhere in the entire galaxy was started for
one reason, and one reason alone. War happens because someone
harbors hatred for someone else. Every atrocity, every violent
act that takes place, is begun with simple hatred.
must find a way to rise above your primal fears and prejudices,
ladies and gentlemen. That is what enlightenment is all
about. If you can't do that - you have no business wearing
cast a sobering glance on his pupils, allowing the silence
to punctuate his words. Then he said simply, "Class
Icheb rose to leave the room, he met eyes with his professor,
his gratitude evident on his young face. Cheney nodded gently
in response. And in that moment, an understanding passed
between the two. No matter what occurred from there on out,
no matter what narrow-mindedness he would face, Professor
Cheney understood him. Icheb had a friend at Starfleet Academy.
And with a friend, even just one, a person could accomplish
just about anything.
scent in the room: a mixture of sliced lemons, smooth vermouth,
and a hint of mustiness, wafted to his nose as he entered.
He stood in the shadow of the doorway, taking the moment
to languidly sweep his eyes across the place. It was just
as he remembered it, from the dark, cherry wood bar to the
crackling fire in the fireplace.
- the real one, not a holographic representation - it was
a sight for sore eyes.
Monsieur Thomas! It is so good to see you again, mon cher!"
took less than a second for Tom Paris to locate the owner
of that voice. He smiled impishly when his eyes located
her diminutive form. Lush blonde hair piled provocatively
on her head, high cheekbones and mischievous blue eyes,
complimented by a seductive figure and thick French accent.
His eyes twinkled merrily as he greeted her. "Hello,
hurled herself into his arms and immediately covered his
lips with hers in a kiss that was not quite appropriate
for a married man. Especially one who was married to a half
lost himself in the kiss for the briefest of moments as
the scents and sounds of the tavern, and the feel of Sandrine's
soft lips on his took him back to another time, and another
life. His journey down memory lane was a short one, however,
as his wife of the present nudged him none too gently in
French kisses the standard greeting around here, or are
they just reserved for my husband?" B'Elanna folded
her arms across her chest and glared at the blonde haired
human who'd attached herself to her husband's mouth so readily.
tore herself from Tom's lips and looked skeptically at B'Elanna,
then at Paris. "Is zis true, Thomas? Is zis your amour?"
smiled proudly and put an arm around B'Elanna. He pulled
her close to him, partly because he loved to feel her at
his side, but mostly to keep her from killing Sandrine with
her bare hands.
this is my wife, and the mother of my child, B'Elanna Torres."
smiled cattily and took B'Elanna's hand between hers. "Salut,
B'Elanna. It is an impressive woman that can capture the
heart of Monsieur Paris. His eye - it is easy to catch,
but his heart, zis is another story, non?"
you say so," B'Elanna said, returning the same catty
smile. "I just couldn't get him to go away, so I finally
gave in and had dinner with him. He's been stuck to me ever
flashed them both a cheeky smile. "Best thing I ever
did, too." He kissed B'Elanna lightly on the top of
her head and hugged her to him.
Paris," came the excited voice of Harry Kim. He clapped
Tom on the shoulder as he brushed past him into the room.
"This is incredible. You had this place down perfectly
in your holoprogram. The colors, the smells, all of it.
I must say, I am impressed."
eyed her new patron conspicuously, drinking him in like
fine champagne. She sauntered up to him and, with an unmistakably
provocative air, slid a manicured fingernail along his biceps.
"And, who is zis, Thomas?"
grinned at the petite woman. She looked just the same as
her holographic counterpart; right down to the stimulating,
sheer attire she wore. "And you must be Sandrine."
smiled seductively and offered her hand for a kiss. "Enchante."
kissed her hand and bowed slightly at the waist. "My
name is Harry Kim. I'm a friend of Tom's. It's a pleasure
to meet you."
arched a dark eyebrow and grinned playfully. "Well,
aren't you the quintessential gentleman today, Starfleet."
smiled back at his old friend. "You know what they
say, Maquis. When in Rome
wear clean underwear because you never know when you'll
end up in a toga?" Paris offered helpfully.
know, Paris, it's a good thing you're such a crackerjack
pilot. I'd be worried about your wife and daughter if you
had to make your living as a comedian," said Harry.
clapped his friend on the shoulder. "That's why I keep
you around, Harry. You always have an encouraging word or
trio made their way into the tavern, which was already crowded
with members of the former crew of the USS Voyager. There
were still a few people unaccounted for, most notably the
command team. Paris was about to ask his lovely wife if
she'd heard from the ever-elusive Chakotay, when a gentle
but persistent tapping on his shoulder made him turn around.
turned and looked down into the smiling, yet somehow sad
face of Kathryn Janeway. She gave his shoulder an affectionate
squeeze. "This is wonderful, Tom. Thank you for arranging
it for me. I owe you one."
pleasure, Captain," he said gallantly. "And I'd
allow you to make it up to me by thoroughly whipping you
in a game of pool, but - "
blue eyes widened as she realized the pool table was conspicuously
missing from the room. Tables and chairs were now occupying
the place where the proud and famed pool table once stood.
"You got Sandrine to move the pool table? You are a
smooth one, Mr. Paris." She smiled appreciatively at
her former pilot. "If I'd had half your charm with
the admiralty, there may not have been a trial in the first
smiled affectionately at her, wondering to himself how she
could possibly be so unaware of her affect on people. She
was one of the most captivating women he had ever met, and
- given his colorful past - that was really saying something.
"Don't sell yourself short, Captain. You're rather
bewitching yourself. You're charm is probably the only reason
we even lived to see this place again."
laughed off the compliment, but Paris knew she was affected
by it. "I don't know about that," she chuckled.
"I'd say we owe a great deal of our welfare to your
unconventional piloting skills."
beamed at the comment.
Captain," cautioned B'Elanna playfully. "There's
barely enough space in this bar as it is. If his ego gets
any more inflated, we may have to hold this little meeting
outside in the street."
shared a laugh at Tom's expense, but Torres couldn't help
but notice the way Janeway's attention seemed distracted
as her eyes swept across the room. She took the older woman
gently by the arm. "Come on, let me buy you a drink."
smiled warmly at her. "Thanks, I could use one."
two women took a seat at the bar and ordered their drinks.
B'Elanna leaned in closer to Janeway. "Any word from
shook her head. "No. I spoke to his sister. She told
me that he borrowed her private shuttle and she suspects
he's off-world somewhere."
brow furrowed, making her cranial ridges slightly more pronounced.
don't know," she shrugged. "Apparently he didn't
say. She gave me the comm frequency and I sent him a message.
But he didn't respond."
looked concerned. "Maybe he's out of range."
sighed sadly. "I hope not. He'll never forgive himself
if he misses this."
eyebrows rose quizzically. "Misses what? What's going
seemed a little startled that she let a hint of foreboding
come out of her mouth. She was dreading having to tell these
people what was about to happen to their ship, their home
for so many years. But they had a right to know, and she
had never been one to shirk from her responsibilities, no
matter how unpleasant.
sipped at her chardonnay and then rested an arm around B'Elanna's
shoulders. "You'll know soon enough, B'Elanna. For
now, just share a drink with your old captain, hmm?"
got it," said B'Elanna. She raised her glass and met
Janeway's eyes. "To Voyager."
Janeway said sadly. "To Voyager."
the other side of the room, the Doctor leaned back slightly
in his chair and watched his former captain with an investigator's
eye. He noted the slightly tense way she held her shoulders,
the subtle but undeniable way she periodically massaged
the bridge of her nose - the way she always did when she
was trying to stave off an approaching headache.
discerned the slight raise of her chin, not quite enough
to be considered defiance, but with a just hint of barely
contained rebelliousness. She carried the posture he'd seen
her display numerous times when she was about to do something
she wished she didn't have to do.
was definitely harboring unpleasant news. He knew her body
language as well as he knew the back of his holographic
hand. He glanced at Seven and Tuvok, who were seated at
the table with him. "I know that expression."
He nodded toward Janeway. "She's about to be the bearer
of bad tidings."
who didn't appear to notice the comical fact that she was,
as many jokes began, seated in a bar with a hologram and
a Vulcan, regarded him with her customary detached expression.
"On what facts do you base that assumption, Doctor?"
obvious," he said somewhat indignantly. "It's
written all over her face."
who was certain that her optical implant would've detected
any inscription on the captain's epidermis, merely looked
confused. But Tuvok nodded slightly. "The doctor's
exaggerated metaphors not withstanding, Captain Janeway
does appear to be
doctor's high forehead wrinkled in astonishment. "Somewhat
agitated? She looks like her skin is the only thing keeping
her from flying in every direction at once." He regarded
Tuvok haughtily. "I will never understand the Vulcan
tendency for understatement."
said Tuvok, a hint of wry humor lacing his stoicism.
fail to see what purpose this speculation serves,"
said Seven. "Perhaps we should simply ask the captain
why she has called us here."
do not believe that will be necessary, Seven," said
Tuvok. He nodded toward Janeway, who was taking her place
in front of the room. "I believe Captain Janeway is
about to speak."
hush fell over the room as Kathryn Janeway stood before
her former crew. Her eyes swept the room slowly, taking
in each and every face that she knew so well. She swallowed
back the emotional lump that started to grow in her throat,
even as her mind catalogued the faces of those who were
unaccounted for. Those who hadn't made it all the way home.
Images of those she'd lost flitted unbidden through her
her sweet, elfin face and musical voice forever burned into
Janeway's mind. Neelix, who'd stayed behind to become a
husband and a father, she missed him terribly. And then
there were the faces of those who'd died under her command.
Dalby, Ballard, Hogan, Stadi
she could go on and
on. She felt each of those losses keenly when they occurred,
and she felt them just as keenly today.
rest of them, Starfleet and civilian alike, were present
and accounted for. All except for the one person she really
needed at that moment. Chakotay's absence was palpable,
and she knew the rest of them felt it almost as strongly
as she did. She did her best to push her thoughts of him
to the back of her mind, and just hoped that, wherever he
was, he would find his way home soon.
smiled softly as she regarded her people. Such loyalty,
such determination. They'd stood by her for nearly eight
years. And now, even after they'd been relived of any responsibility
or obligation to her, they came without question when she
called them. Never in her wildest imagination could she
have dreamed of such a steadfast and devoted crew.
so good to see you all again," she said, a gentle grin
tugging at her lips. "I want to thank you for coming
here today. I know we're spread out all over the quadrant,
from Vulcan to Betazed. And yet, we still find the means
and the time to assemble when we need each other. That's
more than any captain could ever hope for."
cleared her throat and forced herself to get to the heart
of the matter. "Unfortunately, this is more than a
just a social gathering. I have news from Starfleet Command
that concerns each and every one of you, and I wanted you
to hear if from me personally. You deserve no less.
you all know, our return to the Alpha Quadrant hasn't been
entirely what we may have expected. The war with the Dominion,
among other things, has brought about significant changes
in the Federation, and we found the quadrant somewhat different
than we left it."
saw Paris nod and knew he was suppressing a sarcastic chuckle.
No doubt they were all feeling similar derision. The wounds
from their treatment by Starfleet were deep, and would not
heal quickly. And she knew she was about to inflict another
one. No matter how delicately she tried to word it, this
news was going to sting, and sting terribly.
of the events that have occurred since our return have been
difficult to understand, and in some cases, even more difficult
to accept. But we've remained strong as a group. That is
our greatest advantage - our ability to rely on and derive
strength from each other. It is my hope that that will not
change now, or ever.
I am about to tell you will no doubt come as a shock to
you, as it did to me. But you need to know." She looked
at the faces of her senior officers, silently cursing Starfleet
for putting her in this position, and wishing again for
the presence of Chakotay's wise gaze and quiet strength.
Janeway was a realist, not a dreamer. And she knew that
all the agonizing in the world wouldn't change the facts.
And all the wishing in the universe wouldn't bring Chakotay
to her side. She was going to have to do this on her own.
She was, after all, the captain.
squared her shoulders, and raised her chin defiantly, as
if she were about to face the Borg Queen or stare down the
barrel of a phaser cannon. What she was about to say required
the same amount of courage.
his seat at the far end of the room, the doctor shot a quick
glance at Tuvok. "There goes that chin in the air.
Yes, I'd say 'somewhat agitated' certainly describes the
captain now, don't you agree, Commander?"
merely arched a dark eyebrow, and then returned his attention
the firm set of her jaw and rigid posture, not one person
in the room could miss the sad cast that fell like a shadow
over Janeway's pretty face. "Starfleet has reached
a decision about the ship." To her credit, her voice
wavered only slightly as she said the words aloud.
is being decommissioned."
shocked silence permeated the room, as the former crew of
the famous starship recoiled from the pouring of salt in
their collective wound. The eerie quiet was followed almost
immediately by a mixture of sounds that ranged from angry
protests and cries of disbelief, to chocked sobs and the
quiet shedding of tears.
horrible! Why do they want to do that?" said Harry.
Wildman wiped a tear from her cheek. "Naomi was born
on that ship. It's where she took her first steps, said
her first words
fail to see the logic in disassembling a ship that is still
serviceable," said Vorik.
added Celes. "Especially when you consider how many
ships we lost in the war. You'd think Starfleet would be
taking any space worthy ship they could get their hands
can't do this!" shouted Ayala. "We have to find
a way to stop them!"
emotional reactions were as varied and unique as her people,
and all of them tore at Janeway's battle scarred heart until
she found herself struggling to breathe. As the grumbling
grew louder and threatened to become mob mentality, she
regained her composure and brought her hands up in front
not lose control here, people," she said, her voice
taking on the familiar command tone that had kept this motley
group reined in for nearly a decade. "I know this bit
of information is
disconcerting to say the least.
But let's not lose perspective."
lose perspective?" said Mortimer Herron. "Captain,
they're going to take our ship apart! What is there to keep
in perspective here?"
suppressed a smile. She remembered a time, not too long
ago, when Mr. Herron didn't give a damn about any of them,
least of all the ship. They'd made remarkable leaps both
individually and as a group during their journey. And it
was at that moment that Janeway realized
much as Janeway loved her, was only a ship, a man made structure.
What made their journey so special, so memorable, was the
people. No matter what happened to the ship that carried
them across the galaxy, they still had each other. That
was all that counted. And that realization infused her with
strength, strength she would need to get through the ceremony
much to keep in perspective, Mr. Herron," she said
gently. "Look around you. At this very moment, you're
surrounded by your former crewmates, by your friends. I
remember when you told me that you had no need or desire
for friendship. Seems a lifetime ago, doesn't it?"
paused, seeming to think about it for a moment. Then he
nodded and said, "Yes, ma'am, it does."
yet here you are. A valued member of this group
this family." She looked pointedly around the room
at the faces of her people. "Because that's what we
are. We are a family."
that makes you the ugly step child, Harry," teased
Paris. Tom's offhand levity lightened the mood immediately
and Janeway was grateful. Tom Paris had a way of bringing
humor into even the most dire situation, and at the moment
it was just what this group needed.
means a great many things to all of us," said Janeway.
"But I think it's important to remember that the times
we had on that ship will be with us always." She tapped
her hand to her heart. "Right here, inside of us. Nothing
can change that. Not even a decommission."
look at it this way," said Torres. "At least we'll
get to fly her one last time."
once again darkened Janeway's face. This was the part she
was dreading the most. "Actually
we will not
be the crew to pilot the ship from Earth to Utopia Planitia."
humor was already forgotten, and the grumbling began anew.
"Wait a minute, folks," said Janeway, raising
her voice slightly to be heard over the clamor. "Hear
waited patiently for them to quiet down, and then she continued.
"I know this news is upsetting to all of us. It's hard
to imagine why Starfleet would want to disassemble a ship
that served us so well. But the bottom line is, none of
matters is that we pull together as a family. It's important
that we are united, now more than ever. I was as angry and
disappointed when I learned this news as you are right now,
and I understand how you all feel. But raging against the
wind won't change anything.
is just a ship. It was the crew that made her so remarkable.
I requested that we be allowed to fly her on her final journey,
and that request was denied. I don't pretend to understand
the reasons behind it. But as I said, it makes no difference.
is going to happen, and nothing we do will change it. However,
we've been invited to Utopia Planitia to watch Voyager's
approach, and to take part in a small ceremony in her honor.
We've been invited to see her out, and I think we owe her
looked around the room, making eye contact with as many
of them as she could. Her voice crackled with emotion as
she spoke. "I can't give you orders anymore, all I
can do is ask for your cooperation. It means a great deal
to me that we pull together on this. I want to see all of
you at Utopia Planitia. Let's give Voyager the tribute she
Voyager go out with as much dignity as she came in with.
I can't order you to do this, as I'm no longer your captain.
So I'm asking you as your friend."
was complete silence in the room for what seemed like an
eternity as the former crewmates looked from one to another.
And then Harry Kim stood up, his broad shoulders pulled
back and his head held high. He looked at Janeway pointedly.
"With all due respect, ma'am, I don't give a damn what
Starfleet says. I think I speak for most everyone when I
say that you will always be our captain. You don't need
a ship in order to have a loyal crew who loves you, Captain.
You have that no matter what."
right," said the doctor, also on his feet. "We
don't follow you because you order it. We follow you because
we believe in you."
Paris stood beside his friend. "That's true, Captain.
We believe in you, and you taught us how to believe in ourselves.
If you want us at your side for this, then there's nowhere
in the galaxy that we'd rather be."
watched in absolute surprise as her entire crew rose to
their feet. Glasses were raised and the same toast echoed
through out the room. "To the captain."
tears swelled up in Janeway's eyes, and a tidal wave of
grateful affection swelled in her chest. The muscle in her
jaw twitched slightly as she struggled to refrain from weeping
openly in front of her crew. She wasn't sure what she'd
done to deserve these people, but she loved each and every
one of them dearly.
voice was barely above a whisper when lifted her glass and
said, "To the family!"
the family!" they echoed.
Janeway couldn't have been more overcome with warmth as
her tearful eyes swept the room. She was, at that moment,
more grateful than she'd even been in her life. Her only
regret was that Chakotay wasn't there to share in it with
sounds were familiar. He'd heard them hundreds of times
before. He knew even before he opened his eyes where he
was. His secret place. It was a small clearing near the
stream where the water pooled briefly on its lazy path down
the riverbed. It was shrouded in trees, making it the perfect
hideaway for a young boy who was often fraught with rebellious
desires and feelings of unrest.
knew this place almost as well as he knew his quarters on
Voyager. He knew the curve of each bough of the trees, the
texture and colors of the earth beneath his feet, even the
rocks. He knew the smells and sounds. They were medicinal
to him, like balm for his aching spirit. He knew this spot
almost as well as he knew himself for he visited it nearly
every time he went on a vision quest. His subconscious usually
brought him to this place, so he'd come to expect it.
time was different, however. Something was missing.
craned his neck and examined the area patiently, especially
the rock in the middle of the sunny spot. But the yellow
and green serpent was nowhere to be seen. A vision quest
without his animal guide? He wasn't sure it was possible.
had always had a somewhat irrational fear of slithering
reptiles, snakes in particular. He'd been disappointed on
his first trip to the habak to meet his spirit guide.
Chakotay knew that one's animal guide is simply a spiritual
advisor, and not a reflection of the individual, he'd still
expected to find a powerful animal waiting to greet him.
A sinewy predator perhaps, like a cheetah or even a lion.
Or, at the very least, a graceful animal like a buck or
even a spider. But a snake? The very thought sent a chill
up his spine.
to his own surprise, Chakotay had grown incredibly fond
of his slinking animal guide. The snake had proven to be
an invaluable guide for Chakotay's contrary soul. She knew
exactly when to push him, and when to allow him to come
along in his own time. And now that she wasn't slithering
around his feet, he found he missed her.
found himself growing angry. He hadn't come all this way
to be alone on his journey. Now, maybe more than ever, he
needed her counsel, or at the very least her listening ear.
And she was nowhere to be found.
was his only answer.
are you?" He moved away from his secret hideaway and
made his way through the forest trees as he continued to
call for his spirit guide. "Hello? Can you hear me?"
saw no one. No sign of the snake, or of any other animals
for that matter. He wrinkled his brow in confusion. It made
no sense. He turned to head back to the clearing - and then
he smelled something. He sniffed deeply and smelled it again.
A scent that didn't belong in the forest. A scent not made
by nature alone.
then he saw it. A thin line rising above the trees. Smoke.
moved toward it with the speed and grace of a jungle cat,
pushing trees and greenery out of his path as he went, until
finally - huffing and puffing - he came to the source. But
despite the rising smoke, there was no roaring forest fire.
was a small campfire, crackling and burning in a small man
made fire pit surrounded by carefully arranged rocks. And
there, sitting on an overturned log warming his hands by
the fire, was a man.
was older than Chakotay, his once raven hair streaked with
gray. His dark eyes were fixed firmly on the glowing embers
before him, and he did not look up as this uninvited guest
came barreling into his territory. His face was wise and
kind, and above his left eye he wore the tribal tattoo of
the Sky Spirits. It was a face Chakotay knew well.
swallowed hard, willing his voice not to crack. "Father?"
looked up from the fire, an expression of ever-lasting patience
on his shadowed face. "You're out of breath, Chakotay.
What were you running from?"
was running to find the source of the fire."
nodded as if that was the answer he was expecting. "That
could be dangerous. Perhaps you don't remember the ways
of the tribe. You should never approach a raging fire alone.
But then, you were never one for following rules."
head was spinning. This wasn't the first time he'd seen
his father in a vision quest. But it was the first time
in many years, and he found it somewhat overwhelming. His
feet seemed to be frozen in place, his legs unwilling to
called out," he said. "Didn't you hear me?"
I heard you."
raised his hands in frustration. "Then why didn't you
was completely unruffled by his son's aggravation. "Because
you weren't calling for me." He smiled ever so slightly.
didn't know you were here. How could I call for you?"
slid over, making room for Chakotay on the log. "You're
troubled. Come sit with me, my son, and tell me what's got
you so distressed."
took the offered seat without hesitation. He could think
of nothing he wanted more at that moment than to sit next
to his father by the fire. "I've returned to Trebus,
eyebrows rose. "Why, Chakotay?"
shrugged. "The way my people perished, it haunts me
still. I thought that maybe if I returned here - "
said Kolopak. "You've come to say goodbye. You thought
that if you came to the place where it occurred, you could
put your ghosts to rest."
patted his son's leg affectionately. "Your intentions
are as pure as your heart. Unfortunately, they are also
shook his head. "I don't understand."
stoked the fire as he spoke. "Trebus is just a place,
was a place you loved. You worshiped the land, even thought
of it as Holy. How can you say it's just a place?"
Kolopak shook his gray head, but did not take his eyes off
the fire. "I gave thanks to the land. That's not the
shook his head. Even now some of his father's beliefs eluded
him. "What did you mean when you said my intentions
seek to put an end to the nightmares, to the screaming inside
your mind, yes?"
I still haven't found peace. Not completely. I need closure."
my son. You need absolution."
regarded his father quizzically. "Absolution?"
it's forgiveness you seek, not resolution."
dark eyes wandered over Chakotay's face, a searching gaze
that penetrated into his very soul. "You must face
your guilt, Chakotay. You carry remorse and hatred in your
heart. You must let it go. Only then will the demons stop
harbor hatred for no one, father."
older man shook his head sadly. "It is a terrible thing
to lie to others. But it's unforgivable to lie to yourself."
He looked sorrowfully at his son. "It is human nature
to hate those who've brought pain upon you. But you must
work through it, face it and then let it go. If you refuse
to acknowledge it, and blindly let it grow in your heart,
it soon takes over."
rose to his feet and put another log on the fire. "You're
an old spirit, Chakotay. You've seen much in your life,
more than most souls see in a dozen life cycles. You're
very wise beneath all your discontent. You must look past
your self-blame. It's time for you to fulfill your potential."
Chakotay's brow furrowed. "My potential? What exactly
is my potential?"
wear your guilt around your neck like an anchor. It holds
you back. It keeps you from seeking that which your heart
desires most because you're too rooted in the past."
have good reason to feel guilty, father," Chakotay
said, his voice rising slightly despite his efforts to contain
his emotions. "The last time I saw you alive, I rejected
everything you stood for. I swore not to be like you, and
I left with anger inside me."
said his father calmly. "And you learned from that,
didn't you? You became a better man for the lessons you
learned from that day, and you stood firm for what you believed
he shouted, rising to his feet. "I was exactly what
you always said I was. I was a contrary! I didn't rise against
you and the tribe because of what I believed in. I did it
to be rebellious, to prove I could. I wanted to be different
young people want that, Chakotay."
all young people walk away from their families?" He
began to pace before the fire as his emotions collided inside
his head. "I walked away, father! And then I never
saw you again. I should've been here. I should've protected
you! All of you!"
Kolopak's timbre rose in proportion to his son's. "It
was a horrible thing, but it was our time. You couldn't
have protected us from the Cardassians, even if you'd been
I should have died with you!"
purpose would that have served? You're here because you
have work to do, my son. Your job in this life is not yet
stopped pacing and faced his father. "What do you mean?"
are people who need you, depend on you." Kolopak took
his son gently by the shoulders. "You mean a great
deal to someone, Chakotay. Someone who needs you far more
than the tribe ever did. She's among the living, and so
are you. You must be there for her, embrace life with her."
knew immediately who his father was referring to. He was
suddenly awash with an immense sense of longing, and knew
instantly that the feelings were not his own. He was somehow
sensing her emotions, and they threatened to overwhelm him.
Her name came unbidden to his lips. "Kathryn?"
father shook him gently, bringing his attention back to
the moment. "Trebus is dead, Chakotay. And so am I.
Let your guilt go. Let us go. You can't change what happened.
You can only go on with your life, and remember that we
are with you always in spirit. We don't want your guilt,
Chakotay. We want only your happiness.
is nothing left for you on this world. It's time for you
to say goodbye and never return. It was not your fault.
Leave this place, and leave your remorse behind as you go."
embraced the man who'd given him life, not once, but twice.
"Thank you, father."
patted him firmly on the back. "Go to her, my son.
She needs you at her side. You can do nothing for us. But
you can do everything for her."
eyes snapped open, and the images of the fire and his father
vanished. He found himself seated in the same spot on the
dust and ash of Trebus, his medicine bundle still unfolded
the details of his journey were beginning to fade. His father's
message, however, he remembered with perfect clarity. He
was amazed to find that his guilt was already receding.
In its place was one persistent thought. Kathryn needs me.
At that moment, nothing else mattered.
scooped up his medicine bundle and headed for the shuttle.
He stopped before opening the hatch and took one last look
around. He knew he would not return to this world, the place
of death for his people. There was no need to come back.
They were no longer there. He carried them with him in his
smiled softly to himself as he slipped into the shuttle.
"Goodbye, father," he whispered. And then he paused
for a moment to listen carefully. The demons were no longer
Janeway stepped off the shuttlecraft, trepidation weighing
heavily on her heart. She was not looking forward to the
moments that lie ahead. She'd faced any number of challenges
over the past decade. But somehow, she knew this one would
be more difficult than anything that preceded it.
in her own thoughts, she didn't see the familiar figure
that stood waiting for her as she disembarked. Consequently,
she stared a bit when he spoke.
Janeway, welcome to Utopia Planitia. I'll be pleased to
be your personal escort."
looked up into the handsome face of Harry Kim. A huge smile
spread across her face at the sight of him. Kathryn Janeway
cared deeply for every single member of her crew. But she'd
always had a certain soft spot for Harry. And a friendly
face was a welcome sight, given the circumstances.
Lieutenant," she grinned. "Delightful to see you
again. Do you escort every high ranking officer, or am I
word special doesn't do you justice, ma'am." He offered
her his arm and led her down the corridor.
thank you. But flattery really isn't necessary. I'm not
your boss anymore, Harry."
he said. "But I wouldn't waste time on flattery with
you anyway. It didn't even work when you were my boss."
chuckled and straightened his collar playfully. "That's
because you didn't wear this new dress uniform on the ship.
If you had, I may have been forced to review my feelings
about flattery. You look rather handsome, Mr. Kim."
beamed like a schoolboy. "Thank you, Captain. You wear
the new uniform pretty well yourself. But actually, much
as I love flattering the captain, I'm here in an official
raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"
stopped walking and regarded Janeway with a Cheshire cat
smile. "This is my new assignment."
at Utopia Planitia?" Janeway said with surprise.
nodded, his dark hair falling onto his forehead. "That's
right. I'm going to be working on the new prototype."
Janeway was the one grinning. Ever the scientist, the very
prospect piqued her curiosity. "Is that so?" She
tapped him teasingly on the chest, a mischievous twinkle
in her blue eyes. "Any chance you'd give your favorite
captain a sneak peak?"
I knew you'd have it no other way." He gestured to
the starboard corridor. "Right this way."
two chatted amicably as they journeyed to down the corridor,
and Janeway found she was taking great comfort in Harry's
presence. She made a mental note to thank him for his kindness
before the day was through.
in conversation, Janeway didn't even notice the figure approaching
as they rounded a corner. She smacked head long into the
backside of a tall woman, sending them both tumbling to
the floor. Janeway let out a very uncaptain-like Umph.
sorry," Janeway grunted as Harry pulled her to her
feet. "Are you all right?"
blonde woman stood and turned to face them, a look of silent
indignation on her face. "I am undamaged."
Janeway and Harry said in unison.
nodded regally. "Captain, Lieutenant. It is gratifying
to see you both again."
good to see you, too," said Harry.
rested a hand on Seven's shoulder. 'I apologize for knocking
you over, Seven. I didn't even see you."
smiled softly at the young woman, thoughts of her recent
ordeal playing through her mind. She'd endured such unspeakable
hatred, the very thought caused Janeway's heart to ache.
"I've been meaning to contact you. You've been through
a great deal since our return to the Alpha Quadrant. How
are you doing?"
averted her eyes only briefly. She possessed every ounce
of her customary strength and emotional detachment as she
said, 'I am
glad to hear it," answered Janeway.
watched Seven quietly during the exchange. He was amazed
at how balanced and in control she seemed, especially after
everything that had happened to her. He remembered with
painful clarity the uncharacteristic vulnerability on Seven's
ashen face as he released her from her restraints. It was
a striking contrast to the strong, apparently centered woman
who stood before him now.
marveled at her resiliency. But at the same time, he wondered
how much of it was an act merely for their benefit. Seven's
Borg upbringing had taught her nothing of Human emotion,
and Harry knew it was a concept that she struggled with
touched her lightly on the elbow. "I'm glad to see
you looking well. But I hope you know that if you need anything,
anything at all, you can come to me."
regarded him with something akin to fondness for a brief
moment, and then nodded in acknowledgement. "I wanted
to thank you, Lieutenant, for your assistance with my
situation. Your help was greatly appreciated. I shall not
forget your kindness, or your discretion."
failed to suppress a boyish grin. That was high praise coming
from Seven. "My pleasure. For once, it was Buster Kincaid
to the rescue."
Harry's surprise, Seven actually smiled slightly. "What
would Captain Proton say?"
watched the interplay between her two former crewmen with
a quizzical interest, but said nothing. She was happy to
see that Seven felt a certain closeness with her crewmates.
Sometimes all a person needed was one true friend, and the
world was a tolerable place.
going to take a peek at the new prototype," said Harry.
"Care to join us?"
seemed to consider the offer for a moment. Then she nodded.
"I will accompany you."
was a short walk to the bay containing the prototype ship.
Even in its early stages, Janeway thought it was beautiful.
Though she doubted any ship, no matter how fancy, could
ever rival her Voyager. Each battle scar only made her more
since she was a small child she'd been seduced by the sleek
lines of a Starfleet ship. The shining silver hull plates,
the glowing blue nacelles standing proudly on each side,
they were all very aesthetically pleasing. But the Intrepid
Class ship - it was just incomparable to anything else.
It was unique in its design and she'd been honored to command
of Nine listened as Harry enthusiastically gave them a rundown
of the finer points of this new vessel. He was as animated
as they'd ever seen him as he extolled the ship's virtues
to his friends, and Seven found herself wondering what it
would be like to take such pride in one's work, to become
so enlivened by mere involvement in a task.
only listened with half an ear, her eyes traveling curiously
and carefully over the embryonic starship. She watched as
a team of engineers and technicians assembled a large object
and began to install it in the area that would eventually
breath caught in her throat as she looked at it. She recognized
the equipment immediately. She was sure of it.
was Borg transwarp technology.
Commander Tuvok stood by the large window on the observation
deck and watched as his former crewmates filtered in. They
came in groups, most of them accompanied by family members
or friends. He himself arrived with T'Pel at his side. It
wasn't that he needed her there for emotional support, as
was the case with his Human cohorts. After all, she'd served
as ship's counselor for a time, so her presence was simply
noted the melancholy air that permeated the room and he
knew his associates were grieving over the impending decommission
of Voyager. There was a time when he could not understand
the Human tendency to feel a sense of devotion, even love,
for an inanimate object. Captain Janeway's fidelity to her
ship was, at one time, quite perplexing to him.
during the final months of his tenure on Voyager, he'd become
accustomed to the distinct sounds and sights aboard
the ship. Now that they were no longer a part of his daily
life, he found he yearned for them.
understood why his colleagues felt downtrodden today. Even
if he would never admit it aloud, he shared in their sadness
as much as a Vulcan could anyway.
acknowledged the approaching form of Tom Paris with a nod,
and then nodded yet again as he saw B'Elanna Torres following
behind. She held their infant daughter in her arms, and
Tuvok silently noted how strongly the girl resembled her
Tuvok," said Tom. He flashed a charming smile at Tuvok's
attractive wife. "T'Pel, it's good to see you again."
Vulcan woman nodded regally. "And you."
shifted Miral from one hip to the other and nodded toward
a group of young female crewmen from stellar cartography.
They were hugging each other and weeping, almost as if they
were attending a funeral service.
people are taking this awfully hard, don't you think?"
Paris shrugged. "But it's understandable. That ship
was all we had for eight years. Makes sense that some people
would have a hard time letting go."
intoned Tuvok, "They must. They have no choice in the
regarded Tuvok curiously. "This must all seem pretty
illogical to you, huh, Tuvok? All this grieving for a silly
starship? Must seem pretty ridiculous to someone who doesn't
the contrary," he replied evenly. "Vulcans are
disciplined. We learn at a very young age to control our
emotions. We suppress them, however, that doesn't mean we
do not experience them on some level. Do not mistake control
for absence, Mr. Paris. I am not immune to the effects of
leaned in close to her husband and whispered in his ear.
"Guess he told you."
looking appropriately contrite, merely said, "Guess
I didn't realize - "
off-worlders don't, Mr. Paris," said T'Pel.
look," said B'Elanna. "There's the captain."
She nodded to Janeway, who was circling the room, greeting
each of them individually as she always did at ship's functions.
Except Chakotay normally accompanied her, today she was
flashed a friendly smile at the Vulcan couple and then kissed
Miral's chubby hand. "Come on, sweetheart. Let's go
see Captain Janeway. Something tells me she wants to pinch
made her way through the rapidly growing crowd, smiling
and responding to the numerous greetings and inquires about
Miral's growth from various crewmembers. When she finally
reached Janeway, she found her conversing genially with
EMH beamed more than a hologram ought when he caught sight
of B'Elanna and Miral coming through the crowd. "And
there is my little God-daughter now." He held out his
arms to receive the little girl, and B'Elanna happily obliged.
Miral seemed to get heavier every day, and her aching arms
welcomed the reprieve.
B'Elanna," said Janeway. "Where's your other half?"
smirked. "Over there discussing emotions with Tuvok."
brow furrowed. "Brave man."
know what they say," said the EMH. "There's a
fine line between being brave and just being a fool."
chuckled Torres. "And he walks that line every day."
giggled joyfully as the Doctor tickled her tummy. Janeway
supposed that most people would find the sight of a hologram
cuddling a baby a bit odd. But to her, it was the most natural
thing in the world. This hologram was, after all, sentient
and capable of great love and emotion. I think, therefore
you mind keeping an eye on her for a minute, Doc? I'd like
to speak to the captain."
Doctor grinned ridiculously at the baby, never taking his
eyes off her. "Not at all. We'll be just fine, won't
we, Miral? Yes, we will."
had the urge to make some sarcastic remark about how a baby
can instantly reduce a room of mature adults into a gibbering
group of circus clowns, but she knew that she fit rather
nicely into that category herself, and so she resisted.
Instead, she simply thanked him and then took Janeway by
the arm and led her away.
no word from Chakotay?" she asked.
a peep," Janeway replied. "I don't even know if
he got my messages."
shook her head sadly. "He's going to kick himself for
missing this. I know him well enough to say that he would
definitely want to be here."
said Janeway. "I agree. And I know I would certainly
feel better if he were here. His presence is a comfort to
eyed her former captain carefully. Was that longing she
saw in Janeway's face? She almost looked like she was pining
for him. Could it be? "I think his presence is a comfort
to the captain as well," she ventured.
said nothing. She simply rested a hand on B'Elanna's shoulder
and smiled sadly. But B'Elanna wasn't ready to let it go
just yet. "What's going on between you two, Captain?"
tried to school her features into a neutral expression and
opened her mouth to formulate some noncommittal answer.
Fortunately for her, they were interrupted before she got
the chance to speak.
felt a persistent tugging on the elbow of her uniform at
the same moment she heard the soft voice. "Captain?"
looked down into the preteen face of Naomi Wildman. Janeway's
eyes widened as she regarded the girl who'd once cuddled
on her lap and demanded to hear story after story about
space and commanding a starship. She seemed to mature every
day, thanks to her K'tarian genes.
once round and childish face had begun to slim down, drawing
more attention to her high cheekbones and large, luminous
eyes. Her long, pale red hair was curled attractively around
her face, giving her a less juvenile appearance. She was
growing into a beautiful woman right before their eyes.
Naomi," Janeway beamed, pulling the girl into an embrace.
"You look so pretty today!"
you," Naomi said, smiling at the compliment from her
biggest role model.
looked around expectantly. "Where's your mother?"
pointed toward the large windows. "She's over there
with Susan Nicolletti. She's been crying a lot. I guess
she's taking this whole thing pretty hard."
leaned down, bringing her face closer to Naomi's. "And
what about you? How are you taking it?"
shrugged, trying her best to appear nonchalant about the
whole thing. But her round eyes watered up instantly despite
herself. "I'm okay. It's just that
the only home I knew for most of my life. It's weird to
think that I won't be able to go back there again sometime."
Her voice cracked as the tears betrayed her and slipped
down her cheeks. "I'm really going to miss it, that's
pulled the girl into her arms a second time, her own eyes
flooding with tears. "We all are, Naomi. We all are."
the far side of the observation deck, Icheb stood alone,
scanning the crowd. Finally he spotted his target. Seven
of Nine was standing near the door, her eyes skimming the
crowd casually. He made his way through the mass of Voyager
he said in greeting.
nodded in response. "It is pleasant to see you, Icheb."
good to see you as well. How are you?"
am in good health," she said. "And you? How are
your studies progressing at Starfleet Academy?"
a former Borg drone, Seven was perfectly capable of multi-tasking.
It was for that reason that she was able to listen to Icheb's
report on his scholastic activities, comprehending every
single word, while she also observed the crowd.
nodded in the appropriate places as Icheb spoke. But her
attention was primarily focused on two individuals on the
other side of the beverage table. She studied them carefully.
She didn't recognize them as either members of the Voyager
crew or associates thereof. Who were they?
were both male, apparently Human. They wore civilian clothing
rather than Starfleet uniforms, and then seemed to slink
around the room, almost lurking in the shadows yet acting
incredibly casual at the same time. Somehow, she sensed
they didn't belong here, but she found their presence more
curious than threatening.
thought about informing Captain Janeway, but then dismissed
her suspicions. Her recent ordeal was apparently making
her overly wary. They were probably just a crewman's family
members or friends whom she hadn't met yet, so she dismissed
them as irrelevant and returned her focus to Icheb.
about 30 minutes of hugging, laughing, and even crying with
her former crew and their families, a young ensign informed
Janeway that Voyager would be arriving soon, and that if
she wished to make any formal remarks, now would be the
stood in the center of the large observation windows and
faced the crowd. In the time-honored tradition for quieting
a room, Janeway tapped her glass lightly with a spoon. "If
I could have your attention, please
room grew quiet as everyone settled into place and turned
their attention to the captain. She smiled affectionately
at them and tucked a stray lock of auburn hair behind her
skimmed the room one more time, hoping against hope to catch
sight of her former first officer. Oh, Chakotay! You're
missing it. Where are you? Time was up. She'd just have
to do it without him.
years ago, many of you boarded a new ship for a two week
mission into the Bad Lands. We had no idea that it would
be nearly a decade before we set foot in the Alpha Quadrant
smiled at B'Elanna. "Nor did we know that the very
people we were sent to apprehend would become part of our
crew, and part of our lives."
gaze shifted to Seven of Nine. "We picked up other
new crewmembers along the way and intergraded them into
our patchwork quilt family and they too became part of our
grew to be much more than just a starship. She became a
community. She became our home. Friends were made, love
was found, and new lives were born. We said goodbye to old
friends, and welcomed new ones. We saw things that no one
from our home worlds had ever seen before, and met countless
new species. And all the while, we were learning about ourselves,
about our immense capabilities and talents.
and every one of you showed more courage than I could have
imagined. And you never gave up, no matter how grim things
looked sometimes. You persevered, and you stood together.
You never stopped believing that we'd make it home, not
even when your doubts threatened to overwhelm you."
wiped a tear from her eye and tried to swallow the lump
that was growing in her throat. "I'd always believed
that part of my job as a captain was to guide my crew, to
teach and instruct them. But until our journey on Voyager,
I had no idea that part of my job was to learn from my crew
watched as you put your differences and prejudices aside
and learned to work together. You turned animosity into
efficiency, and hatred into friendship. Most people only
speak of tolerance and compassion, but you lived it, made
it into something real.
in the process, you taught me about devotion and loyalty.
And you taught me that a Starfleet captain who desires to
learn about nobility and unity need look no further than
the faces of her own crew.
here to say goodbye to Voyager today. But I hope you'll
all always remember that the incredible moments we had along
our journey were not a result of the ship. They were a result
of the incredible people who brought her to life.
careers and families are taking us in a multitude of directions,
and we no longer see each other every day. But as you go
about your new lives, please take this knowledge with you.
were the most incredible crew any captain could ever hope
for, and I am a better person for knowing you. When you
leave here today, you do so with my admiration, and my thanks."
blinked back her tears and lifted her glass. "May we
room resounded with thunderous applause, and many of the
senior officers rushed forward to embrace the captain that
had brought them home. Around the room, people were embracing,
some chocking back their tears, and others weeping openly.
unfamiliar voice wafted through the overhead comm system.
"May I have your attention, please. If you'll direct
your attention to the observation windows located on the
far wall, the USS Voyager is on approach and will be docking
heart dropped into her boots. The moment was upon them,
and she found that her hands were trembling despite her
attempts to control them.
turned to the window just in time to see Voyager's slow
approach to the docking bay. The battered but beautiful
starship was still sleek and elegant, despite all she'd
been through and all she'd seen, and she moved with her
customary grace as she eased into the bay.
tear escaped Janeway's eye and rolled freely down her cheek,
but she didn't care. That ship had kept them alive for the
past eight years. At the very least, she'd earned a tear
or two from her captain.
felt a supportive hand on the small of her back, and turned
to see the tearful face of Tom Paris. She knew his pain
must be as intense as her own, and wondered if he was, at
that very moment, resenting the unknown pilot who was tapping
his console at the helm and working the controls that Paris
knew like no other pilot ever could.
she saw no bitterness in Tom's handsome face. Only quiet
sadness and even a bit of reverence for the ship that had
whisked him away from his old ghosts and given him a new
was about to lean into Tom's embrace and allow herself that
one small comfort when she felt a sudden urge to turn toward
the door. It was agonizing to tear her eyes from the image
of her ship, but she was compelled to turn around.
spun on her heel and faced the door just in time to see
a familiar figure burst through the corridor. Janeway actually
rubbed her eyes, convinced they were playing tricks on her.
But when she opened them, she saw the figure again.
stood in the doorway, panting as if he'd been running, one
hand holding onto the doorframe as he braced himself.
jaw dropped to the deck. She felt the tears once again flood
her eyes and blur her vision. "Chakotay," she
be damned," said Tom beside her.
dark eyes skimmed the room frantically, searching for Kathryn
in the crowd. And then he spotted her. Their eyes locked
for a brief moment, and everything in the room seemed to
emotions collided inside her head, and she found it difficult
to breathe. At that moment, she knew nothing of propriety
or appearances. She cared nothing about making a scene or
attracting attention. She knew only that Chakotay had found
his way home just when she needed him the most.
the first time in years, Kathryn Janeway followed her heart.
She ran toward the door, toward Chakotay. He opened his
arms to her. There lay comfort. There lay solace.
thought or regard for anyone or anything, Kathryn threw
herself into Chakotay's embrace. He wrapped his strong arms
around her and held her tightly against his chest. She wrapped
her arms around his neck and he buried his face in her hair.
"I'm here, Kathryn," he whispered. "I'm here."
Producers: Thinkey, Anne Rose and Coral