Episode 8-25 & 26 - 48 Hours
By: VVS8 Team (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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still say we're over-doing it," B'Elanna said as she
climbed the small stepladder, crepe paper in hand. Her voice
was strained as she raised her arms above her head, stretching
the extent of her reach to fasten the colorful decoration
to the ceiling. "Don't you feel a little ridiculous
about the whole thing?"
didn't take his eyes off his daughter as he answered. "Are
you kidding? I think it's the least we could do. This is
a big day." He waved a toy shuttlecraft in the air
in front of Miral's face. "Isn't it, honey?"
watched her husband and daughter romped around on the floor
of her father-in-law's home with a mixture of irritation
and amusement. Truth be told, Tom was nothing but a big,
overgrown child himself most of the time, and this birthday
bash was proof positive, in B'Elanna's opinion.
stretched and tugged at a small blue balloon, preparing
to blow it up. She brought it to her mouth, sealed her lips
around it, and blew like a hurricane. The new, never inflated
latex was stiff and non-compliant, refusing to stretch.
As a result, B'Elanna's slender cheeks filled with air and
her face took on the appearance of a hyper-inflated blowfish.
dark eyes bulged like a croaking toad as she huffed and
puffed, and she wondered briefly if her head would explode
before she forced enough air into the tiny balloon to reach
critical pressure and open the damned thing. Finally, her
stubborn blowing overcame the surface tension and the balloon
began to swell smoothly.
watched his wife wheeze into the balloon, and failed to
disguise his impish grin. "That first breath's a killer,"
looked up from tying the balloon long enough to glare at
her husband, who was lying on his stomach on the floor playing
blocks with Miral. "Uh huh. Why don't you put all that
wind to good use and blow up the rest of these balloons.
This whole thing was your idea anyway."
tossed the bag of colorful balloons to him and reached for
more rolls of pink and blue crepe paper. "I still can't
believe we're doing this. A small gathering of family and
close friends really would've been enough, Tom."
way!" he said, looking at his wife as if she'd just
suggested shooting Santa Claus with a quantum torpedo. "It's
Miral's first birthday, B'Elanna. She'll never turn one
year old again. It has to be a huge celebration."
shook her head as she moved the stepladder to the opposite
corner of the room, climbing up to fasten more of the old-fashioned
decorations to the wall. "She won't even remember it.
It's excessive. We're acting like giddy, first-time parents."
raised two blonde eyebrows. "B'Elanna, we ARE giddy,
know, but we don't have to act like it." She watched
helplessly as the crepe paper she had just fastened on the
other side of the room lost its adhesion to the ceiling
and came wafting down to the floor. She threw her hands
in the air. "That's it. I'm an engineer, not a party
decorator. You want all this stupid ornamentation, you do
okay," he conceded. "I'll do the crepe paper and
balloons. You can hang up the sign."
raised a dark eyebrow. "What sign?"
one," said Paris proudly. He pointed to a huge canvas
banner rolled up in the corner. "I had it made just
hefted the huge thing into the center of the room and unrolled
it. In huge, obnoxiously colorful lettering it read, "Happy
1st Birthday, Miral Paris!" B'Elanna groaned aloud.
"It must be 4 meters long!"
grinned idiotically. "I know. Isn't it great?"
where, exactly, would you like me to put it?"
laughed. "Now there's a loaded question." When
his loving wife only glared at him in response, he smiled
gently and said, "Anywhere you want to, love of my
rolled her brown eyes and muttered, "How about in the
ignored her as he picked a PADD up off the coffee table.
He thumbed the keys absently, eyeing the information. "When
does everyone arrive? I'm looking forward to seeing Harry."
He paused momentarily, as if he suddenly realized he was
sounding wistful instead of macho. "It's been a long
time, that's all."
smiled softly. "I miss him, too, Tom."
just wonder what's going on in his life."
smiled knowingly. "You mean his love life."
walked over to her husband and ran her slender fingers through
his thinning hair. "You're nosy, Paris."
blue eyes widened at the effrontery. "I'm not nosey.
enough, in fact, to notice something you didn't."
eyed him warily. "What?"
a certain captain and her former first officer always seem
to be arriving within 15 minutes of each other."
looked unimpressed. "What's your point, flyboy?"
point is that they seem awfully cozy these days." He
folded his arms across his chest, clearly satisfied with
himself. "A little too cozy to be just friends."
said nothing, not wanting to encourage him. She nodded to
the bag of balloons he left sitting on the floor. "Better
get busy. You have a lot of balloons to inflate, Daddy."
Tom scooped up the balloons but continued where he left
off. "In fact, I would bet a month's replicator rations
that their relationship has moved into the
phase. If rations were a concern anymore."
Paris could continue, the door chime sounded. Saved by the
bell. B'Elanna moved toward the door, shooting Tom a look
over her shoulder as she went. "Drop it, Tom. It's
none of our business."
opened the door of Owen Paris' home to find a deliveryman
holding a huge box. "Delivery for Miral Paris,"
signed for the enormous package with a thumbprint. It was
surprisingly lightweight. She wished the delivery man a
good day, and returned to the living room in time to see
Tom's cheeks puffed out with air, his face bright red as
he strained to fill a small yellow balloon. She laughed
must be an easier way to do this," he panted.
opened the large box, and shook her head when she saw what
is it?" Tom asked.
ridiculous," she answered. She reached in and pulled
out a very large, very irritating targ piñata. Someone
obviously had a very annoying sense of humor. B'Elanna sighed
heavily as she looked at the pink, papier-mâché
targ. This day was getting more absurd by the minute.
Harry Kim walked through the relatively empty corridors
of Fulton Station in orbit over the Utopia Planitia region
of Mars that housed the rapidly moving Montana Project,
and he marveled at everything that had been accomplished
thus far. Never before had he heard of a starship construction
project nearing completion in such a short time span, having
been given the green light to begin shortly after Voyager's
first, short-lived homecoming.
Voyager returned home from the bubble universe, the project,
begun to integrate the technologies discovered by Voyager
while in the Delta Quadrant into traditional Starfleet architectures,
had already begun laying down the skeleton of the still-unnamed
was another reason this project was different from any other
ship yet built. Typically, the ship's name is decided upon
long before construction nears completion. But here was
this still- nameless ship, rapidly approaching the day she
would be ready to leave her berth. He'd suggested that the
ship be named the Dauntless, in honor of the ship from which
Voyager had first learned of the Quantum Slipstream drive
and the race that built it, a race, which had been assimilated
by the Borg. The actions of Arturis notwithstanding -- he
was one of the distraught survivors who'd tried to get Voyager's
crew to suffer the same fate as his people, as he blamed
them for his people's fall -- Kim felt their memory should
be preserved in some way. Unfortunately, he was told, one
of the new Sovereign-class ships had been named Dauntless
just prior to Voyager's second homecoming.
walked a few meters further down the corridor and stopped
in front of one of the large viewports that overlooked the
quite a sight, isn't she, Mister Kim?" A deep voice
asked from behind the lieutenant. He spun, caught off-guard.
It was Commander Vargas, one of the senior officers on the
Montana Project. Kim relaxed and turned back to the viewport
as Vargas joined him in gazing out at the nearly completed
had many of the traditional Starfleet design lines, from
an elliptical primary hull similar in many respects to that
of Voyager, to the nacelles that sprung from the sides,
looking for all the universe as if they were trying to crawl
forward, even while the ship was at rest. But there were
differences, of course.
second pair of nacelles was tucked under its counterparts,
and they were very difficult to see, even under the bright
lights of the dry-dock, because they were constructed using
technology inspired by the frozen light refrigeration units
discovered in droves amid the wreckage of the Sernaix fleet
following Voyager's final battle.
the spine of the ship, green light glowed from the Borg-inspired
technology brought back by Voyager. On the primary hull,
areas that were covered in spacesuit-clad engineers were
completely black, again owing to the application of the
Sernaix frozen-light technology. The ablative hull armor
brought back by the future Admiral Janeway had been modified
with the refrigeration units, now releasing a blanket of
frozen light armor, which could, theoretically, protect
the ship from virtually anything.
sir," Kim agreed after a moment. "She certainly
is." He looked over to Vargas, whose eyes were also
fixed on the fledgling vessel. "Sir," he asked,
"how long until she's fully operational?"
say a week, tops," Vargas answered with pride.
week?" Kim repeated in surprise. "I didn't think
she was *that* close."
deserve a lot of credit for that, lieutenant," Vargas
replied, turning his head to look at Kim. "If it wasn't
for your team, we'd probably still be scratching our heads,
trying to make half of these new technologies work."
Kim blushed self-consciously and began to open his mouth
to protest when Vargas stopped him. "Don't sell yourself
short. Keep things up at this rate, and I wouldn't be surprised
if you made lieutenant commander by this time next year."
He turned his attention back to the other side of the viewport.
"If all goes well," he continued, "by this
time next week, the only thing that's going to keep her
tied to this berth is if the higher-ups still haven't decided
on a name for her."
Kim joked lamely, "Voyager's free for use now."
Vargas repeated, to Kim's surprise, in awe. "How the
hell did you guys survive the Sernaix? From everything I've
heard, they sound damn near invincible."
Kim said, almost chuckling. "Borg. Hirogen. They've
all learned the same thing: don't make Janeway angry. Trust
me, you wouldn't like her when she's angry." He smiled,
then added, "There's no other captain quite like her."
Vargas smiled as well, admiring her for nothing so much
as the loyalty she'd inspired in her former crew.
turned his head to look at his superior officer once more.
"Sir," he began, "when the ship's operational...
I'd... I'd like to get a tour of her. See what she looks
like finished, and off the drawing board."
smiled again. "I think you've earned that much for
yourself," he said.
you," Kim replied. "If you'll excuse me, sir,
I have to catch a transport back to Earth."
all means," Vargas said. "Don't let me keep you."
smiled in thanks to the commander, then turned and began
to make his way to the docking ports. He was looking forward
to seeing his friends again at Miral's first birthday party.
Everyone would be there -- Captain Janeway, Chakotay, the
Doctor... and Seven. When her face flashed through his mind,
he realized he'd missed her greatly since she'd left Utopia
Planitia, and he wondered what she'd been doing for the
past few days.
can't find anything wrong, Seven." The Doctor sighed
and set aside the scanner he'd been using. "Your readings
are within normal parameters." He watched, as frustration
seemed to play through her features. "I'm certain what
you are feeling is an effect of the removal of the limiter
from your cortical node. The strong emotions you are dealing
with are bound to have an effect on your sub-conscious,
Seven." Seven hopped down from the bio-bed and followed
the Doctor into his office. The layout surprisingly similar
the one he had on Voyager, down to the glass walls around
him. "On Voyager, it was so I could keep an eye on
my sickbay. Here I feel like I am in a glass fish bowl."
The Doctor sat heavily in the chair behind his desk, and
motioned for Seven to take a seat. "How has your counseling
counselor agrees with your diagnosis, Doctor." Seven
settled and looked at her long time mentor, her expression
still one of barely masked anxiety. "Though logically
your diagnosis is sound, there is something about these
sensations that are extremely unsettling. I could not remain
on Utopia Planitia any longer, because the 'feelings' there
were much greater in intensity."
Doctor leaned back and took in Seven's appearance completely.
Her body language was tense, even for Seven of Nine. Her
face seemed pinched, her eyes almost haunted. "Keeping
in mind that I am not a counselor, Seven, my considered
opinion would be that you are suffering from post traumatic
stress disorder. This could all be an after effect of your
possession and the other events that you've experienced
since we removed the limiter."
nodded. "That too is the opinion of my counselor. She
feels that the traumatic events I have encountered coupled
with my fears about the anti-Borg sentiments that seem prevalent
here on Earth are causing these sensations. Harry, however,
has been assisting me to work through the experiences with
the anti-Borg radicals. Our shared experience seems to make
it easier to relate my reactions ... my feelings about the
experience to him."
Doctor closed his eyes for a moment as several different
waves of emotion ran through him. Some shock, as Seven had
told him that she was not looking for another relationship.
As an outsider looking in it seemed very obvious to him
where her friendship with Mr. Kim was heading, however looking
at her it was quite apparent that she had no idea of her
own feelings yet. There was still some jealousy there, or
more correctly it would have been termed envy. Envy that
Mr. Kim should be the one to spark such feelings in Seven
of Nine and not him. The most overwhelming though was the
feelings of regret that were sparked inside of him. He had
treated Seven quite badly, becoming cold and distant. It
was not her fault that she didn't return his feelings. No
doubt she had sensed his animosity, which in turn had led
to her keeping her distance from him. The Doctor opened
his eyes once more and took in Seven's worried countenance.
He resolved to stand with her no matter what or who came
into her life from now on. After all, he was her friend
first and foremost.
I'm glad that you have someone to share those feelings with
Seven. Mr. Kim is a most extraordinary officer, and your
shared experiences both on Voyager and here on Earth would
give him insight and empathy into what you are feeling."
As the Doctor spoke, he found it surprisingly easy to tell
Seven she was doing the right thing by seeking out the support
of one of her fellow crewmates. Even if it wasn't him she
smiled slightly. "I have grown to appreciate Harry's
companionship. Now that I have taken the time to become
more familiar with him, I find him to be a unique and engaging
Doctor nodded and stood, offering Seven his arm. "Well
I have a feeling that unique and engaging individual is
already at the party that we should be off to."
eyebrow arched, but she took the Doctor's proffered arm
and smiled. "Indeed."
watched out the small viewport as the tiny dot of light
that was Earth began to morph into the shape of the familiar
blue and green planet. The journey on the small transport
craft had been uneventful, although Tuvok's superior senses
noted that the ride wasn't as smooth as it would've been
on a graceful starship. But it was of no importance. Comfort
was not of paramount concern to a Vulcan. The transport
shuttle was functional, and that would suffice.
having to break his gaze from the viewport, Tuvok sensed
rather than felt T'Pel's dark eyes on him. "We are
nearing Earth, my wife."
she said, her lyrical voice the only indication of the tightly
controlled emotions that roiled around inside her. "You
will soon be reunited with your former crewmates."
nodded, turning to meet her gaze. "I must admit, despite
the considerable amount of time I have spent among Humans,
my understanding of them in still incomplete."
raised a dark eyebrow. "How so?"
celebration we are about to attend, for example. I do not
understand the Human preoccupation with celebrating the
anniversary of one's birth."
view life in a unique way, my husband. For them, the completion
of each year is an accomplishment, a cause for merriment."
Tuvok's eyebrow rose. "Perhaps. However, in this particular
instance, the guest of honor is too young to fully participate
in the celebration, or even be aware that the day holds
any particular significance. She is unaware of the completion
of a year of life. I fail to see the logic in party of this
proportion for one too young to comprehend it."
she not been a disciplined Vulcan, T'Pel may have laughed
aloud. "You're seeing in black and white, Tuvok. Humans
do not base their lives on logic. They base them on emotions
and events. For them, the first birthday of their child
is a milestone in their relationship as a family. It is
a means of bringing those they care about together. You
are among those the Paris' care for, and it matters not
whether you see the logic in the situation. It matters only
that you are present. It is significant to them; therefore
it is significant to you. You need not find logic in everything,
eyed her appreciatively. "You are wise, my wife. Attempting
to find logic in most things involving Humans is an exercise
nearly smiled. "Indeed. However, I find their customs,
particularly the ones involving their young, fascinating.
There is always something to learn if one simply looks for
nodded his understanding, taking a moment to look upon T'Pel's
attractive face. He found her unique perspective refreshing.
He was once again silently very grateful to have her at
his side and in his life, and while he would never say such
things aloud, he knew she understood. They were, after all,
was an uneasy silence throughout the room as men and women
of different ages all sat around, all eyes focused on the
gray-haired man sitting at the end of the table. His attention
however was directed at a PADD he held in his hand. Avoiding
everyone's gaze, the man passed a finger along the black
collar of his uniform. The tension of waiting was beginning
to show its way through.
West" One of the members spoke up. West directed his
attention towards a man at the other side the room. "You
said she would be here by now." There was a pause before
the man spoke again. "Where is she?"
will be here Mr. Brock. Apparently there've been a few incidents
at Starfleet Intelligence that she and several others of
our members had to take care of. Everything is fine now,
and she will be here soon." West replied.
didn't seem all too convinced. He was new to the organization,
and sometimes he wondered how such an elite group of people
such as Section 31 managed to hold themselves together and
maintain the secrecy. They were somewhat of a myth throughout
the Federation. A lot of people knew of Section 31, however
no one had concrete proof.
recent events had created several mishaps. The interest
sparked in Lieutenant Harry Kim, B'Elanna Torres and the
Borg Seven of Nine had caused some concern among the higher
up in Section 31 and their Starfleet associates. The picture
of himself and fellow members Kelley and Seagal appearing
at Starfleet intelligence completely shocked them. They
never suspected a second mind in Seven of Nine, and it never
dawned on them that she might be able to re-create from
her mind, those missing memories of talking with them. It
was dealt with quickly, however now they were presented
with the possibility of other mishaps. This, among other
courses of action was the topic of the meeting today.
Gentlemen." Spoke a stern voice from the doorway across
the boardroom. Everyone looked up from their respective
seats as a woman in her early thirties strode into the room;
her confidence seemed to shine through her thick and curly
dark hair. Her tone struck Brock as someone who didn't fool
Commander Barton, how nice of you to make it." Mr.
West spoke as he placed the PADD on the slick dark table
they were all seated at. Barton took to her seat at the
end of the table. "Now we can move forward. Lt. Commander
Barton, do you have anything to report?"
security suspects nothing. All evidence at Intelligence
has been dealt with as promised. There should be no more
problems." Barton replied. Brock could swear he'd seen
a shred of doubt in her eyes. "There is still however
the problem with the Montana Project. If that project sees
its completion in the upcoming weeks - "
Montana Project will be allowed to finish, on Mr. Vargas'
schedule. We will not interfere anymore on that front. Our
security has been breached; we cannot risk the chance of
exposure at Utopia Planitia. We will wait for a better time
- to see that that ship does not fly any longer than we
can risk it." West stated, much to the surprise of
West, with all due respect - " Barton tried to finish,
however she was cut off by the wave of West's hand.
more on that subject. I said it will be dealt with. Right
now I am more concerned with the course of action that will
be taken within the next week. Mr. Johns, can you give me
an update on that?" West asked the blond man, who was
sitting near the end of the table.
have been in contact with their leader. She seems reluctant,
however I think that if we can send her what she wants,
they will deal. It seems that our 'first contact' with them
through Seven of Nine was successful." Johns replied.
good." West then took one more look at his PADD. "So
that leaves us with the operation at hand. Any thoughts
then spoke up. "I have already arranged for a cloaked
ship to be ready on command. Since we cannot engage the
transport from orbit without an energy surge being detected,
we will initiate the transport from here, under the Earth's
surface. That should reduce any trace that might be run."
good Mr. Kelley."
I add something Mr. West?" A man in his late 40's spoke
up over the crowd. West's attention changed to him. "Are
we to assume that this.'touched' stuff is even real? With
all due respect, it sounds a little far-fetched to me."
Grant, at the moment I don't care what we have to believe
or who we have to side with in order to make our plan work.
The fact is the Federation is facing its biggest threat
in history. Even greater than the Dominion. Sacrifices will
have to be made, and in this case the sacrificing will have
to start with the Federation itself. We have to believe
that our calculations will be right. It is our only hope."
West paused, his eyes meeting those of everyone sitting
to the table. "It is the Federation's only hope."
took stock of his guests. So far, most of the invitees had
arrived, with the exception of one noticeable person. However,
Tom refrained from making a comment as he scanned the room.
He saw Naomi sitting on the sofa, showing off her pet rat
to Janeway. Much to Tom's amusement, Janeway seemed to take
a profound interest in Naomi.
had taken custody of Miral almost immediately after her
arrival and Tom could tell by B'Elanna's animated gestures
that the baby was indeed the center of conversation. Tom
smiled. A year ago, he would not have imagined the B'Elanna
who stood in front of him now. How far they had come, he
thought, and how far they still had to go.
put a piece of cake on a plate and headed in B'Elanna's
Naomi exclaimed as he passed her. Tom paused.
is catching me up on everything that is going on,"
Janeway said, the barest hint of a smile playing across
doing really well in school," Naomi said. "And
I've made some good friends."
nodded. "I had no doubt that you would do fine,"
he said, recalling Naomi's earlier fears about returning
to Earth. "Looks like you're adjusting to life on Earth
pretty easily, aren't you?"
grinned. "I didn't think I would like it when we first
got here because everything was, well, different."
Her smile faded a little in memory of the weeks surrounding
Voyager's return to Earth. Those, Tom agreed silently, had
indeed been difficult weeks.
"But," Naomi said, her expression brightening,
"it is getting better."
to hear it," Tom said. He gestured to the plate of
cake in his hand. "I thought it might be time for the
birthday girl to indulge."
like the sound of that," Janeway said, rising from
her seat. "The first birthday is a very important one."
is?" Seven of Nine asked. She followed Tom and Janeway
to the table, where Tom set the plate down. "The child
is too young to comprehend the meaning of the celebration."
didn't say the birthday party was for Miral," B'Elanna
said, her eyes twinkling as she took the baby from T'Pel
and buckled the child into her high chair.
looked confused. "I do not understand."
believe Ms. Torres is referring to the fact that she and
Mr. Paris will gain greater enjoyment from the celebrations
than Miral will," Tuvok said. He stood next to his
wife. "It is a party more for their benefit than for
I fail to see the relevance of calling it a 'first' birthday
party," Seven said. Harry shook his head. "If
it is for the parents, then its meaning for the child is
inconsequential and therefore, irrelevant."
you saying birthday parties are irrelevant?" Harry
asked. "Let me tell you, that's hardly the case."
fail to see the logic behind this effort," Tuvok said.
"It is a fleeting occasion, one the child will not
recall in the future."
smiled. "With all due respect, Commander, I have to
disagree. I remember one birthday of mine clearly..."
turned his attention away from his friend and back to Miral.
She was reaching for the cake with a pudgy fist, ignoring
B'Elanna's admonishments to sit still.
for a minute, sweetie," B'Elanna said. "Wait until
we sing and then-"
that moment, Miral managed to grab the cake and toss a handful
of it into her father's face. Tom blinked and then sheepishly
wiped off his face the best he could with some of the pink
becomes you," Harry said, laughing. "A little
pink on the nose, some blue by the eyes-"
joined in the laughter. "I agree, Tom. You've never
mockingly glared at Miral, who stared back at him with innocent
rounded eyes. B'Elanna shrugged.
like you, Tom," she said. "Incorrigible."
is an apt description of Mr. Paris," Seven added, but
Tom was not insulted; he could see the corners of Seven's
lips turning up ever so slightly.
attempted to oblige as the Doctor snapped a holoimage of
the Doctor said, brandishing the camera, "picture shall
occupy a place of glory next to the one of Mr. Paris falling
in the mud. Keep it up, Mr. Paris, and I will have an entire
gallery devoted to your mishaps at my next exhibition."
guests laughed, though the reason why - whether at Tom's
discomfort or the idea of the Doctor having his own photo
show - was debatable. Even Miral joined in the merriment
as she banged her fist on the table as she reached for more
me," Tom said. The frosting and cake on his face was
starting to feel sticky. He made his way past Janeway and
his father. Owen Paris tapped Tom on the shoulder.
know, son," Owen said, "you once did the same
paused. "I did?"
did." There was a hint of sadness in Owen's voice.
"From day one, it's always been like that with you.
Confrontational. I'm pleased to see that my granddaughter
has inherited her father's spirit."
Tom said. He recognized the opening his father had presented
him, but he decided that this wasn't the time or place.
He made his way to the bathroom, pausing only to greet Chakotay
who had just arrived. "Well, if it isn't Janeway's
shadow," Tom said.
silence fell over the room, and Tom immediately sensed he
had said something wrong as he noticed Janeway and Chakotay
exchanging a furtive look. Tom continued to the bathroom,
just as he heard B'Elanna announce that it was time to eat.
that was when B'Elanna and Harry realized that I was daydreaming,"
said the Doctor. "Of course, not before I attempted
to single handedly eject the warp core."
shouted above the laughter. "Yeah, it was all we could
do to restrain him. He kept yelling, 'I have to save the
Doctor still felt a small amount of embarrassment about
the whole ordeal, but had come to see the humor in it as
well. Hologram or no, he knew funny when he heard it. "I
can laugh at the whole thing now, of course. But at the
time, it was all very confusing."
weren't the only one who was confused, Doctor," said
Janeway. "You had the rest of us running ragged trying
to keep up with you." She flashed him a wicked grin
and took a sip of her wine. "You're daydreams were
very entertaining however."
grinned Paris. "Sounds like I missed all the fun. Do
glanced at Seven of Nine on the other side of the room,
who looked back at her unruffled. "Let's just say he
was playing Picasso with a certain member of the crew."
Kim blushed at the recollection of the Doctor painting a
portrait of a very nude Seven of Nine. "You can say
that is imprecise," said Seven. "Picasso was known
for his work in the abstract. The Doctor's painting was
a different nature."
a minute," said Paris. "You're losing me here.
What, or should I say whom, was the Doctor painting in this
said Seven. "He was painting a portrait of me."
shrugged. "What's so funny about that?" he said,
taking a sip of his party punch.
flashed her former pilot a lop-sided grin. "It was
funny because Seven was
blue eyes widened as he attempted to suppress the laughter
welling up in his throat, lest he snort a mouthful of red
punch through his nose and spray it all over his former
commanding officer. He chocked down the sweet liquid in
a painful gulp and gave the Doctor an appraising glance.
"That took guts! You're a brave man, Doc."
hologram smiled in return. "Yes, well, while I would
humbly remind you that the content of these fantasies was
not completely under my control, the truth is that the majority
of my daydreams were . shall we say . of a provocative nature."
raised an elegant eyebrow. "Is that so? Such as?"
Doctor's holographic cheeks seemed to color a distinct shade
of red. He waved a dismissive hand at her. "Oh, I'm
sure you don't want to hear all the boring details, Captain."
the contrary, Doctor. I find you're innermost thoughts fascinating."
grinned wickedly. "What's wrong, Doc?" she joked.
"Are you embarrassed to tell us how you daydreamed
about coming on to the captain?"
group laughed at that, with the exception of Tuvok and T'Pel,
of course. Chakotay shot Janeway a playful wink; chuckling
at the image it created in his mind.
the Doctor said over the clamor. "It was the other
immediately replaced the noise of laughter in the room as
all eyes fell on the captain in question. Janeway, who was
about to shovel a spoonful of food into her open mouth,
froze in mid-motion and looked at the Doctor. Both eyebrows
rose this time as she calmly placed the spoon back on her
plate. "I beg your pardon."
continued nervously. "Since you asked, I'll tell you.
Unless you're embarrassed."
smiled obnoxiously. "Of course she's not embarrassed.
We're all friends here, right Kathryn?"
regarded Chakotay with a look that said, You'll pay for
that later, mister, and then turned her attention to the
EMH. "I'm rarely embarrassed."
it, Doc," said Tom.
was a rather amusing daydream actually," he began with
a smug smile. "We were in the briefing room, and the
captain slinked her way over to my side of the table
do NOT slink," Janeway interrupted.
depends greatly on your definition of the word 'slink',
Captain," said Tuvok.
Janeway could retort, the EMH continued. "In a very
sultry voice, she stated that she required my services for
an old back injury. Then she took my hand and guided it
to a portion of her anatomy that was most decidedly not
her back." He folded his arms across his chest and
waggled his eyebrows suggestively.
struggled to keep the flush from her cheeks as her former
crew roared in laughter at her expense. The levity was contagious
though, and despite her slight humiliation, she found herself
laughing along with them. Of course, she made a mental note
to threaten the Doctor with decompilation if he ever did
anything of that sort again. But for the moment, she just
enjoyed the fact that they were all together.
smiled warmly at each of them. "We had some incredible
moments on our journey, hmm?"
sure did," B'Elanna agreed. "In fact, one year
ago today we were traveling through a transwarp conduit
while I was delivering a baby."
corrected the Doctor, "I delivered the baby. You simply
pushed a few times and cursed in Klingon."
at least he acknowledges I had some part in it," she
was a lot going on during those few hours," said Tom,
his gaze turning inward as he recalled the eventful day
that, like so many others, had changed the course of their
there certainly was. It was the beginning of some things,
and the end of others," Chakotay said softly. Silence
once again fell over the room, and Janeway didn't fail to
notice as Chakotay and Seven's eyes met, and for a brief
moment, a silent understanding seemed to pass between the
two. The look seemed to be an acknowledgement that, even
though it was long over now, something special had occurred
between them during that point in time.
placed a hand on Chakotay's shoulder, not a sign of ownership
or possession, but rather of friendship and understanding.
She smiled affectionately at Seven, who tilted her head
slightly in response. Hearts may have changed, but friendships
stood and raised his glass. "How about a toast? To
our mission." He slid an arm around B'Elanna's waist
and pulled her close. "And to all the lessons we learned
along the way. It changed our lives, and I think we're better
people because of it."
rest of the group raised their glasses and joined in the
toast. "To the mission," they echoed.
was an incredible experience," said Janeway. "One
I'm glad to say has reached conclusion." She glanced
pointedly at Chakotay as he stood by her side and then raised
her glass again. "To completion."
of agreement were heard around the room as they each reflected
on the many ways that Voyager had changed their lives, and
how wonderful it was to finally be home. "To completion."
took a deep breath, raised his arm - and the hammer it held
- over his head, and brought it down with a whack on the
piñata. The resulting jolt traveled, unpleasantly,
straight up his arm to his shoulder, creating an annoying
ache that paralleled the tremor that shook the table and
its legs at the same time.
he muttered. "Can't this thing just break?" He
rubbed his arm tiredly and winced, sighing, then resignedly
prepared to take another whack at it.
did not get him anywhere. Instead, it only served to annoy
him further and hurt his arm more. Dropping the hammer on
the table, he glared at the piñata, as if a look
alone could break it apart.
you require some assistance?" Seven of Nine's voice
queried from behind his right shoulder.
would be great, thank you," Harry replied, with a little
too much emphasis on 'great'.
seems to be the problem?" Seven inquired.
dratted thing won't break! I've been trying and trying but
I think whoever put it together did too good a job."
Harry paused for a second. "Any idea what I could do
to break it?"
considered for a few moments, then pointed to a section
of the piñata that didn't look any different from
the rest. "Try striking it there," she recommended.
the reason for that is."
conducted through my optical sensors suggests that that
particular point is a place of weakness within the structure
of the construction. Logic indicates that by exerting a
sharp force on that particular point, the framework of the
piñata would collapse, thereby destroying it, as
you hope for."
had to run the sentence through his brain more than once
before he got it.
he said. "I get it. Let me give it a try." He
raised his arm yet again and brought it down with a resounding
thwack on the piñata at the approximate point Seven
turned expectantly to Seven. "So much for that theory."
always, she was haughty. "You must not have struck
it at the exact point. Try again."
did, still with no result except for an aching wrist.
I was saying," he began, "this idea of yours isn't
working too well."
must be slightly off position."
you could be wrong."
fought the urge to laugh. This was how Seven operated -
when it was Borg technology versus empirical evidence, the
Borg technology always won.
don't you try, then?" he challenged. Seven accordingly
took the piñata from him and delivered another whack,
which did about as much as Harry's earlier efforts had.
sighed and rolled his eyes. This was going to take a while.
fun?" came the voice of Tom Paris from behind him,
a stack of plates and glasses in his hand.
right now," Harry responded, idly watching Seven deliver
another whack. "This piñata of yours won't fall
apart, and if it doesn't Miral may not get that last present
she was promised."
don't worry," Tom smiled as he sauntered on by. "I
have complete faith in you."
could help out, you know. She is your daughter..."
Harry..." Tom sighed. "How would it look if I
walked out on a four-and-a-half year old girl to play around
with a piñata? Naomi and I have to clear the table.
I'm sorry I can't help you, buddy...but maybe next time."
disappeared into the kitchen. Harry groaned inwardly and
resigned himself to an evening spent fighting a stubborn
piñata. He let his gaze wander around the room, to
where all the women were busy going gaga over Miral.
came a united sigh from most of them, as Miral, reaching
up and grabbing a strand of Kathryn Janeway's hair, promptly
tried to chew on it.
collective cooing was lost on Kathryn, who was busy attempting
to extract her hair from Miral's tenacious grasp. "You've
certainly got a stubborn kid here, B'Elanna," she panted,
making a face as her hair was tugged and pulled further
down by one very hyperactive baby.
must take after you, then," B'Elanna shot back, and
was rewarded with a laugh from everyone and a glare from
Kathryn, who then winced, since she had looked up to glare
and had as a result pulled her hair right out of Miral's
hand with a sharp jerk.
Kathryn muttered dryly, but she had to admit to herself
that it was nice being teased by her former crew for once,
instead of ordering them around.
I hold her?" Sam asked.
careful, I think she's had too much sugar tonight,"
B'Elanna warned as she passed the baby over.
don't forget to watch the hair!" Kathryn threw in.
buoyed by all the excitement, waggled her legs and arms
happily in the air, enticing another collective sigh from
remember when Naomi was like this," Sam murmured. "She
was just a little taller... had the same habit of grabbing
things and people. Sometimes I wish all kids could stay
this size... or at least toddler size. They're so cute."
was a general nod of acknowledgement from the rest of the
women, then Sam looked up from Miral's little face, glancing
over at Tuvok and the Doctor, who were busy chatting about
something at the other end of the room.
you like to hold her?" she asked, gesturing towards
to," she replied, and accepted the bundle gently. "Awww,"
she said, not able to help herself as Miral grinned toothlessly
up at her. "B'Elanna, can I keep her?" she pleaded.
way! Just because you used to be my captain doesn't mean
I'm giving up my baby to you! Get your own, girl."
resultant wave of laughter piqued Tom's attention and he
glanced over to see the women laughing. Nothing new there,
they had been acting that way with Miral for a while now.
Scanning the room, he noticed that his father and mother
were gone, presumably somewhere quieter, while Chakotay
was sitting on the staircase, drink and cake in hand, gazing
into space and looking very preoccupied.
of course, was immediately worried. This was a birthday
party, not a funeral, and he was one of the hosts. It was
his duty to make sure everyone was enjoying themselves
he couldn't very well leave Naomi to finish clearing the
table by herself.
he was saved. "Uncle Tom?" Naomi's light treble
voice asked from waist height. "I'm done with the table."
glanced over. The table was clear; he hadn't realized they
were so close to finishing the last time he had gone back
for another load of dishes. But there it was, plain and
smiled. "Thanks, kid. Go have fun now, okay?"
grinned and ran off to play, leaving Tom free. He went over
to work on cheering Chakotay up, deciding to take a lighthearted
was it cold waiting at the transport?" he ribbed, dropping
down beside Chakotay.
joke was lost on the older man. "What?" he said
know... you arrived fifteen minutes after the captain?"
that. Yeah, we did. Why?"
was just a bit coincidental, that's all... you wouldn't
by any chance have deliberately planned it that way, would
you have?" he asked innocently, trying to wrangle a
little more information out of Chakotay.
funny, Tom," was Chakotay's answer to that one as he
took a gulp of his drink.
wisely decided not to pursue that line of questioning. "So
what have you been up to these past few weeks?" he
probed gently, making an attempt at conversation.
Chakotay responded absently, then the question registered.
"Oh... not much, really." It wasn't that true
an answer, he knew, but it would do. He had enough other
things to think about at the moment.
wanted to talk to Kathryn. He needed to talk to Kathryn.
flutter of movement to his left caught his eye. Glancing
over, he spied Kathryn inconspicuously excusing herself
from the bundle of fussing, clucking women surrounding Miral
and step out the back door quietly, unnoticed by almost
anybody except himself. He knew she must be feeling much
the same as she was; she
wouldn't leave the group of women unless she was quite preoccupied.
to that, they both were. It was probably the best opportunity
he would get to talk to her and he might as well make the
most of it.
he said, and Paris turned. From the looks of it, Tom hadn't
noticed him watching Kathryn or seen Kathryn leave - even
Chakotay said, and handed his drink off to Tom. "Finish
this for me, will you? I can't get any more down."
okay," Tom said, surprised, but before he could pose
a query Chakotay stood, cake in hand.
he said, and made his way through the room to the sliding
glass back doors. He glanced around quickly; making sure
Tom's attention was diverted, then followed in Kathryn's
footsteps out the door and into the cool night air of the
backyard where she stood, silent and ethereal.
was just after sunset, when Chakotay stepped out onto the
back porch. He still had the small plate of cake in his
hand as he walked down the steps and out into the yard.
Kathryn was standing at some distance from the door, almost
invisible in the dusk, leaning against the trunk of one
of the large trees.
was staring up at the moon, which was just now appearing
over the horizon. Taking a deep breath, he walked across
the yard, and stood next to the tree, behind to her. He
paused for a moment to appreciate the way the last of the
purple sunset was reflected off her hair and eyes, and he
realized that this was a pivotal moment in their lives.
stood there silently, for a moment, until, still looking
forward, she spoke. Chakotay Have you ever noticed that
no matter how many moons you see, orbiting any number of
planets, this one is different?" She sighed quietly.
"Even the scientist in me admires it. It's more beautiful
than any alien moon. Even as a child, even when I could
tell you its mineral composition and about the colonies
there, it still retained a certain mystery. As though the
facts were only the beginning of the story."
nodded, although she still hadn't looked at him. "I
used to look at the moon when I was at the academy, and
I heard people talking about it like that, but I never really
understood them... until now."
funny how context and time will change things, isn't it."
She replied. "Previously unimportant things can become
precious, and your highest priorities can fade away."
Kathryn finished quietly and turned to look up at him.
a lot of things can change, more quickly than we realize."
He said, seeing something odd in her eyes. They stood like
that for a moment, before he started to speak again. "Kathryn,
I need to talk to you about a couple of things..."
He began, but she cut him off.
no need. I was at the same table this evening. You don't
owe me an explanation for anything."
I want to explain. Please let me."
I going to regret listening to this?" She asked, with
a weak smile.
I just need to clear the air, about the situation with Seven."
she asked, her eyebrow arching.
then, call it my temporary bout with insanity, or my midlife
crisis. Whatever you like." He said, dropping his eyes.
"I'm sorry I hurt you like that. I wish I could make
it up to you somehow." He whispered.
stared at him for a long moment while she argued with herself.
Finally the part of Kathryn that loved to dream and stare
at the moon won out. "I could have helped a little
more. Even when I knew it was over with her, I let my pride
get between us Chakotay - my pride and stubbornness."
She sighed again. "I'm sorry too."
relaxed a little at her words, and looked up to meet her
eyes. "Well, it doesn't have to be an unhappy ending.
Maybe this all happened for a reason? To make two hardheaded
people see reason. After all, we're here now." His
voice trailed off again.
shifted nervously and dropped her eyes to his hands. Noticing
the cake there, she seized on it for a diversion. "We're
both here, but you're the only one with cake. When I went
to get some, I was told it was all gone."
chuckled, it wasn't what he wanted to talk about, but it
was better than the cold shoulder. "I still have some
influence with B'Elanna. She saved me a piece."
I guess that tells me where I rate. I see the Maquis loyalties
still run deep. So, I guess you'll understand this maneuver."
She said as she snatched the cake from his hand.
recovered from the shock and lunged back at her, grabbing
the hand with the cake. "Careful," she warned,
"It's the last piece."
I suggest a compromise," he replied, "Ummph! But
you have to stop wriggling, or neither of us will get anything."
How many times had that been the truth of their relationship.
He chuckled again at the irony.
right, a truce." She said. "And we split the cake?"
split the cake - evenly."
the fork?" She asked.
I wasn't planning to eat it outside, and then Tom accosted
me at the door, and ... there's no fork." He shrugged.
like we have a classic survival scenario here - available
food source but no means of eating it. What do you suggest?"
She said in a mock command voice.
I think we need to be creative, in the best tradition of
Starfleet. We improvise of course." He said as he picked
up the piece of cake and guided it to her mouth.
stared at him for a moment and then slowly opened her mouth,
angling her head to take in the corner of the piece. Biting
down, she pulled back and savored the taste of the cake
for a moment. "Mmmm. That was worth the effort,"
she said with a smile.
stood, frozen, staring at her, still holding the cake in
mid air. She reached up, and took his hand in hers, steering
the cake to his lips. He didn't react at first, then he
opened his mouth and took a bite of the cake, his eyes never
leaving hers, and his lips caressing her little finger as
gasped softly, and he leaned closer, circling his free arm
around her back. He brought the cake back to her mouth,
not wanting to lose the moment, but still not certain where
they were headed. She took another bite, and managed to
run her tongue along his middle finger as she did. Then
she leaned forward again and took and the finger into he
mouth, gently sucking the frosting off of it.
released his finger, and leaned her head back to rest against
the tree. Waiting to see what he would do next.
they both heard the creak of the back door. Dropping his
hand, she straightened and he stepped back. Chakotay put
the cake back on the plate, and they quickly cleaned the
last of the frosting off their hands.
was Owen, obviously looking for someone. After a moment
he spotted them by the tree. "Kathryn, Chakotay, you're
wanted inside. My son doesn't appreciate his former commanding
officers "sneaking away from the party - as they've
done too many times before."
dad. We'll be in, in a moment." Kathryn called back,
with a chuckle.
shook his head with a grin, and went back inside.
where were we?" She said, looking back to Chakotay.
believe we were eating this cake." He said, as he closed
the distance between them again.
the cake. I had almost forgotten about it." She said
as his arm slid around her again, pulling her close.
do know that Tom suspects something. He was cross-examining
me when I arrived."
How unusual." She laughed. "Well, let him wonder."
She paused and looked down at his mouth. "Of course,
we wouldn't want to give him any extra fodder for his rumor
tensed slightly, afraid she was about to pull away. Then
he froze as she leaned in and gently scrubbed the frosting
off the side of his mouth with her tongue.
gasped as he realized what she was doing, and suddenly pulled
her against him, pressing his lips onto hers. Dropping the
cake plate, he brought his other hand up to the back of
her neck and continued the kiss, holding onto her like his
life depended on it.
a few minutes, Kathryn pulled back slightly. "Chakotay..."
chuckled and pressed his forehead against hers, as they
both caught their breath.
going to come looking for us again in a minute." He
sighed, running a finger gently along her lower lip, and
continuing to hold her close.
We should go in." She nodded, without breaking contact.
but first, promise me we'll continue this conversation later.
I have a few more things I want to say to you."
right. You name the place and the time, and I'll be there."
pulled her into a tight embrace for a moment and then released
both took a moment to smooth their clothes and then she
took the arm he offered, and they walked back into the house
- the cake forgotten on the lawn.
swooped Miral up in his arms; she giggled as he cradled
her plump body to him.
I have everyone's attention, please?" he called out.
B'Elanna looked at him in surprise; Tom wasn't into making
speeches - he had barely said more than three words at their
B'Elanna asked, making her way to his side. He merely smiled
his trademark grin in response. By now, everyone had clustered
like to thank everyone for coming," Tom said sincerely.
"It's been so long, and it feels really good to have
everyone in the same place again."
hear!" Harry lifted his glass as the rest of the assembled
applauded. B'Elanna glanced at him.
that was certainly a surprise," she said in a low voice.
"I didn't expect you to get all sentimental."
quirked a grin. "But I'm not finished."
lifted an eyebrow. "No?"
Tom said. "In fact, I've arranged with my father to
take Miral for the night-" his voice dropped to a seductive
purr -"so you and I can enjoy some quality time together."
B'Elanna whispered. She took Miral from him. "I like
the sound of that."
thought you would."
do you have in mind?"
in front of the guests," Tom said wickedly. He smiled.
"You're going to have to wait to find out. I'm not
giving anything away."
frowned. "You know I hate suspense."
grinned. "I believe some of our guests are departing..."
good-byes went by fairly quickly and B'Elanna felt slightly
uncomfortable. Had all of their guests heard Tom's sotto
voce comments about his plans for them tonight? Even Harry
passed her with a sly grin on his face.
talk to you later, B'Elanna," Harry said sweetly. "And,
Tom, I hope you have a good night."
the guests had all departed, B'Elanna put Miral down on
what exactly is this surprise of yours?" she asked.
"Everyone else seems to know what it is..."
looked down at Miral, who had evidently taken a great interest
in the boxes, ribbons and torn paper that her gifts had
a surprise," Tom said. B'Elanna rolled her eyes.
said that before."
Tom said intensely, "but here's something for you to
chew on. I've been meaning to do this since we got back
and there's no time like the present."
opened her mouth to speak, but it was obvious from Tom's
tight-lipped expression that he didn't intend to reveal
anything more. She shook her head as she went about cleaning
up the remnants of the party. She would have to just wait
and see exactly what Tom had in store for her.
are your plans for the future, Commander?" Seven asked
as she, Tuvok and T'Pel stepped outside with the rest of
the guests following Miral's birthday party.
will continue to spend my leave with my family on Vulcan,"
Tuvok replied. "I am also seeking a posting on another
is most of the crew that remains in Starfleet," Seven
commented. "It was... good to see you again, Commander."
bid you farewell, Seven," Tuvok said, raising his hand
in the traditional Vulcan "V" salute. "Peace
and long life."
returned the gesture, replying, "Live long and prosper,
commander." Tuvok and T'Pel turned and gracefully took
their leave of Admiral Paris' residence. At that moment,
Harry Kim approached the former drone.
Seven," Kim said warmly. "Could we... go for a
believe that would be acceptable," Seven replied. The
two made their way down the short walkway between the house
and the street, then turned and began walking along the
Kim began after a few moments' silence, "how have you
have been well," Seven replied. "My aunt has endeavored
to help me adapt to life on Earth."
good to hear," Kim said. "I've... I've been worried
about you. I don't want to see anything bad happen to you."
do I, you," Seven said to him.
Kim began again, hesitantly, after another short pause in
their conversation, "I've been meaning to ask you...
I mean, I was wondering if you'd like to join me on a date."
date?" Seven asked.
am not certain--"
be fun," Kim interrupted. "There's someplace I
want to show you."
do you propose," Seven asked, "that we embark
on this... date?"
grinned again, relieved. "There's no time like the
present," he said.
felt the familiar tingle of the transporter. As she rematerialized,
she reached blindly forward, hating the blindfold across
she asked, as her hands touched nothing. She could hear
Tom chuckling. "Where are we, Tom?"
you'll love," her husband answered cryptically.
helpful," B'Elanna retorted. She sniffed the air. "It
smells like somewhere I've been before..."
you've definitely been here before," Tom said, his
voice silky smooth next to her ear. In a gentle caressing
motion, his hands brushed against her hair as he reached
up to remove the blindfold. "It's Sandrine's."
B'Elanna asked as the blindfold came off. She glanced around.
The restaurant was exactly as she remembered from the holoprogram,
right down to the detailed view of Marseilles outside the
windows. "And this is special for what reason?"
kissed B'Elanna lightly on the cheek. "Because Sandrine
herself has agreed to let us have the place for the night."
the night?" B'Elanna asked in an amused voice. "All
night," Tom said. He kissed her on the lips, on the
curve of her jaw, his fingers reaching to cup the back of
like a long time," B'Elanna whispered. "What could
we possibly do with all of that time?"
Tom said. He turned B'Elanna gently around. "First,
dinner." He indicated a table covered with a white
tablecloth and set with china. Candles flickered in the
center of the table.
then?" B'Elanna murmured.
Tom smiled. "Unless we skip dinner..."
shook her head and broke free of Tom's arms to inspect the
table. The table china was beautiful - white trimmed with
silver. Next to each plate was a menu. B'Elanna picked it
field green salad with an almond vinaigrette," she
read. "Tomato-basil cream soup, linguini alfredo-"she
stopped. "Tom, this is too much."
he said softly, crossing the distance between them. "Think
of it as make-up for all the time we've spent apart this
felt herself melting under the pure heat of Tom's smile
and the seductive tone of his voice.
you," she said. She grabbed Tom's hand in hers, pulling
him to her. "I've missed you."
missed you too," Tom said softly. Their lips met softly.
After a moment, Tom broke away. He pulled out the chair,
gesturing for B'Elanna to sit. "Remember," he
said. "Dessert is for later."
of Nine and Harry Kim sat at a table at an outdoor restaurant
near the Piazza del Corso in Rome, as the sun inched further
toward the horizon, casting long shadows along the ancient
cobblestone streets. Children ran past, playing innocently,
while the older generation tended to their street crafts
and curbside wares as they had done so for centuries. Harry
was sipping an espresso, whereas Seven was limiting herself
to herbal tea. She had found out long ago on Voyager that
caffeine had the inverse effect on her nanoprobes as synthehol.
A casual sip of Captain Janeway's coffee had given her over
six hours worth of nervous tics.
have done quite well for yourself," Seven was saying
across the table, smiling at him, "since Voyager's
return to the Alpha Quadrant."
returned her smile and gazed down at his espresso, playfully
avoiding eye contact. "I wasn't sure how things were
going to turn out at first," Kim admitted. "The
trials, the inquiries, the backlash against you... I have
to admit, I was pretty worried, for a while."
what reason?" Seven asked, her expression one of puzzlement.
"No charges of any sort were filed against you."
for myself," Kim replied, looking back at her earnestly.
"For my shipmates. For the last eight years, they've
been the closest thing to a family I've had. I didn't want
to see anything bad happen to them. Especially to you, Tom
or B'Elanna. Not after everything we've been through, and
especially not after they'd finally found something together."
seem to have adapted quite well," Seven commented,
"to the changes in their status quo."
Tom and B'Elanna for you," Kim said. "They've
got a knack for bouncing back from tough spots."
Seven acknowledged. She paused thoughtfully for a moment,
then said, looking at Kim with the mildest of smiles, "I
am... pleased that you chose to spend the evening with me,
glad to spend some time with you, too," Kim replied.
He looked down at his plate, noting that both he and Seven
had finished their meals. He rose from his seat, and Seven
soon followed suit.
wish to leave?" she asked him.
thought we might want to take a walk, that is, if it's okay
would be most acceptable," she answered him, smiling.
the pair began to walk down the ancient Italian streets,
Kim stepped close to Seven, relishing their closeness and
complete faith and comfort in one another. His hand brushed
up against hers between them. They continued to walk in
silence, exchanging occasional sidelong glances at one another
as they made their way toward the Piazza del Popolo.
thought about all the various twists and turns that had
taken place in their interaction, moving from co-workers,
to friends, and now to...to what? During her first year
aboard Voyager, he had been quite taken with her, but she
was far too inexperienced with her humanity to return his
affections, or to even recognize them. And so he had put
those youthful fantasies aside, and accepted fate as it
the process, he had found Derran Tal, and then later rediscovered
Lindsay Ballard, both of which ended badly and adding to
Harry Kim's list of failed romances. Seven, on the other
hand, had had her own romantic foibles along the way. It
had surprised him to learn of her curiosity towards Chakotay,
but he had to admit that her interest had given her the
impetus to allow herself full access to all that her emotional
heritage would allow her.
this was exactly how it was meant to turn out, Harry thought.
Both he and Seven had needed their time to explore others
and to mature as individuals, before they were ready to
come together again. He had to admit that tonight's date
was a far cry from that night in Voyager's mess hall five
years ago, when she perceived his ill-conceived midnight
inspiration as a mating ritual.
he thought proudly, we've both grown up, as he watched the
reflection of the rising sun on her face and the sparkle
in her eyes.
reaching their destination, the two stopped to watch the
sunrise. Seven turned to Kim, looked at him in silence for
a moment, then asked, "Harry, are you seeking to change
the nature of our affiliation?"
would depend," he said as he turned to her, a grin
on his face and a chuckle in his throat. "If I were
to propose such a change," he asked in return, "would
you be receptive?"
smiled broadly. "I would," she replied simply.
smiled back, then placed a hand on her cheek and guided
their lips together. The two of them had indeed come together
looked so peaceful from the ship quietly lurking in its
orbit. Johns gazed down at the passing continents, wondering
how Earth had come this far throughout history. From primitive
humanoid ancestors to a great galactic power. Sometimes
he couldn't help but wonder if maybe they would have all
been happier if they had stayed on their own planet instead
of venturing out. The human hunger for exploration seems
very irrelevant when faced with an oncoming threat such
as they were now.
stood in the observation lounge of his tactical ship, the
Philadelphia. Starfleet didn't know about this ship, nor
did the Federation. It was a class of ship specifically
designed by engineers within Section 31, for Section 31.
The Federation will never know of this ship and its missions.
They will never know of him.
heard the footsteps of someone behind him and he turned
to see his first officer approaching him. "Seagal has
reported in Sir, he says they are ready to proceed."
well." Johns acknowledged, never breaking his gaze
with the planet below. "Tell them to go ahead."
air shimmered and a musical tone resounded in front of the
modest home in central Norway as two figures materialized
on the nearby walkway, the light from the transporter effect
playing off the trees and the front of the building in the
dark blue sky. The streets at early morning here were quiet,
as this was a small town, the nearest neighbor half a kilometer
away, and only an occasional lamp to illuminate the night.
Harry and Seven approached the front door on foot, their
hands intertwined between them, contented smiles on their
had a most enjoyable night, Harry," she said, her face
flushed with warmth.
did I," he said, radiating in the glow of her happiness.
"I'd like to be able to see you again," Kim said
as they stopped in front of the stoop of the doorway.
soon would be preferable," Seven replied softly, the
realization dawning on her that she and Harry Kim were now,
officially, a couple. "It was not necessary for you
to escort me to my aunt's home. I am more than capable of
navigating the global transporter grid."
know. I just wanted to," he said to her. He leaned
in to give her another kiss, but she put a hand to his lips,
believe we are under surveillance," she said with a
smile. Kim looked around nervously, then relaxed as Seven
gestured upwards toward a lighted window on the second floor.
"My aunt has been observing us."
probably wants to make sure," Kim replied jovially,
"that your date is a respectable gentleman."
replied with a smile. "I can assure her that he most
certainly is." He leaned in to kiss her again, and
this time, she didn't stop him.
broke off the kiss a moment later, and the pair bid one
another farewell for the night - or morning. Harry stayed
to watch as Seven began to type in the access code to the
front door. Once he was certain that she was home, he made
his way back down the path toward the street.
came the voice of Irene Hansen from inside the house, "how
was your evening?" Harry chuckled as he tried to picture
Seven's first post-date debriefing. It was something he
had to endure many a time with his own mother.
walked quietly along the dark street, happy with the world
and everything in it. It was a perfect morning, cool but
not cold. Not that it bothered Harry Kim at all, as he was
all aglow inside.
Kim," a voice called from the darkness as the young
lieutenant approached the sidewalk. He turned, looking for
the source of the voice. In his disorientation, a single
shape stepped out from the darkened tree line, tackling
struggled with his attacker, recalling every technique he
could muster from his self-defense classes. But the mysterious
assailant was stronger than him and delivered a painful
blow to Kim's midsection. As the younger man sagged in the
grip of his captor, the attacker slapped a combadge on his
is Kelley," he said. "I've got him."
two were enveloped in the comparatively blinding light of
a transporter as Seven bolted from the front door of her
aunt's home, her enhanced senses alerting her to the altercation.
She had been looking out the window, wanting to see her
date walk away until the last possible second, when she
saw the attack. She rushed out to come to Harry's aid, her
aunt calling after her, but it was too late.
Seven called desperately. Tears welled in her eyes. She
was filled with a jumble of emotions: despair at seeing
Harry Kim abducted before her eyes, fear for his safety,
rage at those who had perpetrated the assault as well as
at herself for being unable to do anything about it. She
began to sob uncontrollably, her emotions becoming more
than she could effectively handle, and that only angered
her all the more.
quickly followed her outside, her confusion at the situation
escalating. First, her niece had come home almost giddy
from a night with a man she obviously cared for, then she
suddenly bolted out the door, and now she was sinking to
her knees, sobbing.
said Irene. "What happened?"
has abducted Harry," Seven choked out between sobs,
the tears now flowing freely.
kidnapping? Here? I can't believe it! There hasn't been
a crime of violence in these parts in.. . in decades!"
Irene said, helping Seven to her feet. "We need to
call the police."
Seven replied, beginning to regain some of her composure.
"The authorities cannot be trusted."
Irene asked incredulously. "How can you think of not
calling the police?"
cannot explain without endangering you as well," Seven
replied, grim determination lacing her speech. She slapped
the civilian combadge she had begun wearing since Voyager's
return. "Seven of Nine to B'Elanna Torres."
music was light, almost airy and dreamlike, as they floated
across the dance floor. B'Elanna was not well acquainted
with French music, but Tom assured her that this type of
music had been wildly popular in France during the twentieth
sighed contentedly as she felt Tom's arms tighten around
her. How long had it been since they had spent quality alone
time like this, free from the stress of the last twelve
was a wonderful idea," B'Elanna said. "You know,
for a flyboy, you come through spectacularly."
eyes twinkled back at her. "I'm not done either. We
have a room upstairs..." his voice lowered. "And
the night is still young."
you're talking pure indulgence," B'Elanna said. She
tipped her head back slightly as Tom bent to kiss her.
nothing," Tom said. "This night is one year overdue.
laughed softly. Just a week or so before Miral's birth,
Tom had been desperate for her attention, noting at the
time that it would be the last time for them to be alone
for the next eighteen years.
right, I do owe you," B'Elanna said. "But not
here, Tom. What about Miral?"
fingers wove through B'Elanna's hair. "She's fine with
my parents, don't worry."
if something happens during the night?"
we're only a transport away," Tom said. "B'Elanna..."
could never resist that deliciously smooth voice. "You're
right," she said. "It's been a long time..."
knew you'd agree," Tom said. He kissed her again and
despite the music, they stopped dancing as their lips met.
B'Elanna felt warm all over as she reached for her husband.
the room..." B'Elanna's voice trailed off. Tom gazed
at her, a mixture of love and lust in his eyes; in all their
years together, that look still managed to get B'Elanna
Tom said. He took her hand.
were halfway to the staircase when the comm chirped. B'Elanna
she asked. "Did you...?"
heard that," he said, a note of irritation slipping
into his voice. He pulled out his combadge. "I specifically
asked that we not be disturbed..."
Miral," B'Elanna said. She sank into a chair. "Tom,
what if something happened to Miral?"
Tom said. His voice sounded calm enough, but B'Elanna knew
Tom well enough to detect the slight note of panic. "Let
me check, okay?" He crossed to the other side of the
restaurant and keyed in his code in the comm console. "It's
B'Elanna asked curiously and a little relieved; if it was
Seven calling, then chances were good that Miral was not
the reason for the interruption. She got up to join her
husband. "What does she say?"
me a second," Tom said edgily. "Seven, it's Tom."
face appeared on the view screen. "I'm looking for...
B'Elanna." Even now, the name tripped unfamiliarly
off Seven's tongue.
is it, Seven?" B'Elanna asked.
Kim has vanished."
B'Elanna asked. She and Tom exchanged a look. "Seven,
I don't understand."
believe he has been kidnapped," Seven said. "Perhaps
as a result of the investigation you and I undertook."
did this happen?" Tom asked.
hour ago. We were..." Seven seemed flustered. "We
were walking and he was transported away. I did attempt
to contact him, but there was no response."
looked at Tom. "We'd better get back there," she
nodded. "We're on our way, Seven. And I'll talk to
my father to see if he can help."
you," Seven said. "And I apologize for interrupting
no," B'Elanna said quickly. "We're glad you told
us. If Harry's in trouble..." she felt
Tom's hand gripping her wrist firmly. "We'll see you
image faded out and Tom took a one last longing look around
Sandrine's, his gaze finally settling on the table where
the dishes from their dinner still lingered.
promise," B'Elanna whispered, "I will make it
up to you."
inhaled deeply. "Let's go find Harry."
burst into Owen Paris' home, his wife close on his heels.
In the few minutes it had taken them to transport back from
Sandrine's, Tom had digested the information Seven had given
him and the initial numbness he had felt when hearing the
news about Harry's disappearance had now become panic.
Owen Paris stood up from the sofa, a PADD in hand. "What-?"
gone," Tom said. "Transported out of range of
regular hailing channels. Do you think you-"
understand," Owen said. "Come with me. What's
this all about?"
followed his father. "Your guess is as good as mine,
but we've got to move quickly."
stared after Tom as he and Owen made their way upstairs,
where Owen's private comm station was.
Nancy Paris queried.
B'Elanna said pensively. "I'm just worried about Harry.
I think we've gotten involved in some things that we shouldn't
have and now the consequences..."
will work out, B'Elanna," Nancy said soothingly, laying
a hand on her daughter-in-law's shoulder. "They always
shook her head and sank down onto the sofa. "No, things
will get worse before they get better."
do you mean?"
better not talk about it," B'Elanna said. Her eye caught
a small, plush toy lying in the corner. "Miral?"
nodded. "It might take us a while to find Harry."
welcome to leave her with us," Nancy said gently. "Owen
and I, we love having a baby around the house again."
B'Elanna said. "I appreciate you doing this for us."
is our granddaughter," Mrs. Paris said with an edge
to her voice. B'Elanna winced; the tone of Mrs. Paris' voice
didn't mean to imply-" B'Elanna began.
know you didn't, dear," Nancy said. "But there
is a distance between us. Not between you and me, of course,
but the men, now they're a different story."
hoping that will change," B'Elanna said. This much
was true; she very much wanted Tom and Owen to repair their
relationship. She rose to her feet as Tom and Owen returned.
no record of the beam-out," Owen said briskly. "All
transporter activity is logged by HQ and there is nothing
to even substantiate that Lieutenant Kim was transported
anywhere at all."
would not lie," B'Elanna said. Tom nodded.
right," Tom said. "It's obvious we won't get anywhere
with HQ. We're going to have to do this investigation on
contact Commander Tuvok," Owen offered.
Janeway as well," Tom said. "She'll want to know
what has happened here."
Janeway is on leave," Owen said. "Lake George,
contact her anyway," Tom said in frustration. Owen
me a second," he said. He turned back to go up the
can leave Miral here for the time being," B'Elanna
said to Tom. "She's sleeping. Doing fine."
you want something?" Mrs. Paris asked. "Something
to drink? Eat?"
Tom replied edgily. "Sorry, Mom, I didn't mean to snap
under a lot of pressure."
sighed. "What if something has happened to Harry?"
has happened to Harry," B'Elanna said firmly. "He
is fine. He will be fine." She sounded like she was
trying to convince herself of that fact. At that moment,
Owen Paris returned.
answer from Janeway," he said. "Her comm has been
exchanged a look with B'Elanna. Their decision was made
mutually and silently.
go to Lake George myself," he said. "B'Elanna,
I'll meet you at Headquarters."
breeze of cool night air whisked through Kathryn's silk
nightgown as she stood silently on the balcony of her cottage,
looking over Lake George. Her bare feet on the deck boards
covered in late night dew sent a shiver up her spine. In
this moment, she felt alive. She watched as the moonlight
over the distant mountain cast rays of light over the lake,
causing tiny crystal-like sparkles to ripple through the
water as the breeze kept it in constant motion. Her life,
in this moment however seemed to be at a standstill.
felt good to be at a standstill. Kathryn felt alive again
- she could live again. She breathed deeply as she felt
two strong arms encircle her waist. Kathryn leaned back
against Chakotay, the skin of her bare back meeting his
damp chest, the night air causing the two to remain connected.
It felt electrifying.
not thinking about the moon again are you?" He asked
as he nuzzled her neck, placing a tiny kiss behind her ear.
She sank deeper into his embrace, her eyes never leaving
the light of the moon.
exactly...just thinking," Kathryn clasped her hands
atop his, taking in a deep breath, "about how alive
I feel here. I almost forgot what it felt like." She
turned her face to meet his and they kissed ever so slightly,
still lost in the afterglow of the moment they shared not
too long ago. Here, with his arms wrapped around her, Kathryn
realized just how good they fit together. Body and soul.
feels good." He said between kisses. Tightening their
embrace, he lifted his head up, gazing at the moon. "I
know you were thinking about it, so why don't you tell me
what you were thinking of." Chakotay said, his hands
tracing tiny circles on Kathryn's belly, as her own hands
remained placed above his.
telepathic link the Ayrethans created between us could be
a lovely thing to have now, wouldn't it?" Kathryn pondered.
don't know. I think it would take away what mystery there
is to be uncovered." Chakotay replied suggestively,
running both hands along Kathryn's hips. A wiggle was her
response and he embraced her again, his head resting on
do indeed love the mystery." She said, chancing a sly
grin in his direction. He chuckled to himself, but kept
quiet. She could feel his heart pounding against her back,
the thumping coming in rhythm with her own. The thought
of the Ayrethans had triggered a memory however, and she
just had to share it with him. "You know, I can stand
here now and with some certainty tell you that I saw this
only lead to confuse Chakotay. "What do you mean? And
don't tell me you've been holding out on me all these years."
it was when we were in the bubble." Kathryn began,
her thoughts drifted back. Chakotay straightened up, yet
kept her close as he waited for her to finish. "When
the crew began to have those dreams. I dreamt...well the
whole story isn't important at the moment, however the dreams
ended with the woman moving to New York with the man. I
just think its funny that when you came to find me it was
here." She finished, smiling to herself.
makes you think I was the man in your dream?" Chakotay
was like you. And then there was the time you said something
at the staff meeting." Kathryn explained.
was fate then, we just had to wait it out." Chakotay
said, leaning in to kiss her again. This time she turned
in his embrace has they rested back against the railing,
the moonlight casting tiny shadows everywhere as their lips
melded together intimately, the coolness in the air and
the silence around them making the moment more serene.
they parted, Chakotay rested his forehead against hers,
a gesture that had become to have so much meaning for them.
"I love you." He said silently as she wrapped
her arms around him, moving in to snuggle at his chest.
They were words he rarely spoke, though in his own way showed
her every day. It didn't need words. However standing there
with her in the moment, it felt like the right thing to
wanted to know what I was thinking about." Kathryn
reminded him as she pulled away and turned again towards
the lake. Chakotay followed, standing beside her as they
looked over the lake. She pointed off to a mountain in the
distance, a slightly higher one than any of the others.
"Watch that mountain." She told him.
what?" Chakotay asked as he did so.
don't know what causes it, however on a night when the moon
is in growth, almost full, something on that mountain will
reflect the light of the moon, causing the area to light
up for just a split second." Kathryn explained as she
watched as the moon grew closer to the mountain.
crystalline deposit on the mountain itself?" Chakotay
never found out. God knows I looked for it as a child. Dad
and I even hiked that mountain ourselves. I still didn't
find my answer." She explained further as she began
to dwell on thoughts of her childhood. Another simple time.
Janeway accepts the mystery over scientific explanation?"
Chakotay teased as he moved closer, placing a hand on the
small of her back. Kathryn chuckled lightly, dipping her
head in thought.
it's the mystery of it that keeps me fascinated with it
after all these years." Kathryn spoke softly as she
both watched together as the moon intersected with the mountain.
"It'll happen in a few moments." She whispered
as if it wouldn't happen if she spoke aloud. Chakotay pulled
her close again as they watched together in silence.
by little, the moon moved into the mountain, casting a dark
shadow over the lake. Then within the blink of an eye the
mountaintop lit up as a stream of light streaked across
the sky, the crystal effect twinkling as it hit them for
barely a split second. It continued moving on to their right
across the treetops until it disappeared.
stood in silence, each with their own thoughts. "It's
beautiful." Chakotay finally spoke.
is...it's as mysterious as I remember it." Kathryn
spoke quietly, beginning to loose herself in childhood memories.
Chakotay watched her quietly, wondering how many nights
she spent as a child, out on this balcony, watching the
moon rise. He could see a little girl, determined to solve
the mystery, staying up each night, for as long as the moon
was waxing to watch the mountain, but never solving it.
that was the way it should be. Finding scientific meanings
to events that should be left unsolved. Keeping the mystery
embedded within. That's what was lost so much in the 24th
century, the sense of mystery. "Kathryn, I want you
to promise me something." He asked, resting against
Kathryn asked, a little confused.
I first met you..." He watched as her face fell into
even more confusion. "You were a mystery to me. A person
that I sought to understand. Over the years, I came to know
you and we became close friends." Chakotay said, trying
to collect his thoughts.
not alone, Chakotay, I felt the same way." Kathryn
then, we'll make a promise to each other."
reached for both of her hands as he looked down towards
the deck. "Kathryn, even though I got to know you,
part of you still remains a mystery to me. Even when we
were connected, it didn't change that fact. That's one of
the things I love about you. The way you can keep surprising
me just when I think I have you figured out." His brown
eyes met her blues. "Promise me we'll never lose the
flashed her his dimples as he leaned in, resting his lips
against hers in the gentlest of kisses. "We should
go to bed, it's getting late." Chakotay placed a hand
at the small of her back and guided her in through the glass
doors and to the bedroom. Amelia came toddling along, her
tail wagging happily as she chased the end of Kathryn's
hushed the puppy away, chuckling. "You know she can
be a little devil when she wants." Amelia ran and pounced
onto the bed, rolling in the bed sheets. Chakotay reached
down, taking the puppy into his arms as he sat at the edge
of the bed.
just energetic Kathryn. It'll pass." He said as Amelia
caught him with a few wet kisses. He placed her onto the
bed as he crawled under the sheets himself. Amelia crawled
up to Kathryn's face as she was lying down as well and planted
a wet kiss on her cheek.
incorigable." Kathryn said as she moved closer to Chakotay.
He was about to wrap an arm around her when they heard a
loud knock coming from downstairs. "Is that someone
at the door? At this hour?" She turned in bed to face
the open doorway as another knock echoed through the cottage.
go down." Chakotay said as he got out of bed. "It
could be just someone looking for directions." He added
as he walked out of the room. Amelia followed closely at
his heels, jumping at his pajama pants' leg. Chakotay made
his way down the stairway and through the kitchen to reach
the door. Whoever it was, they were definitely trying to
get their attention.
the next knock, Chakotay opened the door, a little irritated
by all the knocking.
conscious thoughts both men had skipped a beat.
both spoke at the same time, each in shock as the other,
but for obviously different reasons. Both men stood staring
at each other until Chakotay sighed, rolling his eyes. There
was no more use in bluffing the man. "What do you want
Tom? Its the middle of the night."
moment passed before Tom could remember why he was there.
"I uh...is the Captain here?"
a word, Chakotay moved aside and let Tom into the cottage.
Tom glanced around the room, expecting to see the Captain.
"She's upstairs." Chakotay explained. "I'll
go up and get her, she'll be down in a minute." He
said as he disappeared up the staircase. Tom stood uncomfortably
in the middle of the empty room with only the dog at his
feet, whining for attention. He needed to sit.
quickly made his way over to a couch and took a seat. The
dog quickly jumped up in his arms, licking him on the face.
At least she was friendly, Tom thought.
see you met Amelia." It was the Captain's voice. Tom
turned to see the Captain walking down the stairs clothed
in a robe, followed by Chakotay, who looked to be having
a tough time pulling a shirt over his head.
she seems quite friendly." Tom spoke calmly, trying
to ignore the situation in front of him. He came there to
deliver the bad news, not keep tabs on their personal lives.
"But that's not why I came Captain."
was hoping for a better reason." Kathryn agreed.
missing. It happened over an hour ago. Seven contacted B'Elanna
and I. I have dad looking into it now, however I figured
you would want to know." Tom explained. He watched
as his two former commanding officers shared a look. Disregarding
the setting and attire, Tom would think that it was like
old times. "Dad tried to contact you, but your comm
system was turned off. I couldn't leave you out in the dark."
you Tom." Kathryn said, still trying to digest the
information given to her. Harry missing? But why? Then the
memory of Harry and B'Elanna's little investigation dawned
on her and it began to make sense. She turned to Chakotay,
who was by her side as usual. "We're going to go?"
never blinked. "They'll probably want to question us
anyway." He said, giving his consent.
us a few minutes to dress, Tom." Kathryn said as she
and Chakotay turned and made their way upstairs.
Headquarters never really shut down overnight, but this
particular night it was bustling with activity. Janeway,
Chakotay and Paris arrived to find a room full of people,
both their own former crew and people they had never met
before. Tom's vision zeroed in on B'Elanna, and he hurried
over to join her. Such was his state of mind that not only
had he yet to say anything to Janeway and Chakotay about
the situation he had found them in, he also neglected to
mention it to B'Elanna.
and Chakotay themselves were less quick to move to one particular
person, but instead stood still to evaluate the scene before
them. Tuvok seemed to have full control of an entire section
of the room, as he dispatched security taskforces and had
other Starfleet personnel tracking down every nearby vessel,
hoping that one of them would have picked something up on
another corner of the room, two security guards were relentlessly
questioning Seven of Nine. Seven appeared quite agitated,
a state that no one was used to seeing her in. B'Elanna,
who had been working not very far away, was able to hear
everything that was being said, and slowly worked her way
over so that she might help answer some of the questions.
Tom followed, eager to find out more about what had happened.
As they got closer, Seven began to speak more emphatically.
are looking in the wrong place! I have mentioned Section
31 to you more than once already, yet you continue to disregard
what I have said. They are to blame, it is that group that
is responsible for Harry's disappearance."
smaller of the two security officers, who had something
of the appearance of a weasel, spoke snidely as he replied.
"So tell me, why would this 'Section 31' be interested
in taking your Lieutenant Kim?"
Seven hesitated, unaccustomed to being unable to answer
a question, "I do not know."
this point, B'Elanna butted in. "It could be something
to do with his work at Utopia Planitia," she stated.
weasel turned his attention on the half-Klingon civilian.
"May I ask what makes you think you can interrupt when
I am interviewing a possible witness?"
name's B'Elanna Torres," she started, before being
know who you are, that doesn't answer my question."
you'll let me continue," B'Elanna practically growled,
before speaking in a more polite manner. "I've been
working with Lieutenant Kim at Utopia Planitia. Some of
our work has gotten us involved in some potentially sensitive
areas, and brought to our attention this Section 31 that
Seven mentioned. It is highly likely that our work has been
monitored, and that Harry was taken due to his involvement."
continued to explain some of the situation to the security
guards, but no more than she felt she could give away to
someone that she had never before met. Only enough to, hopefully,
give them something to work on in the search for her friend.
Captain Janeway's attention was drawn away by a discussion
Tuvok was having with the head of Starfleet security.
I ask why you think this is necessary?" Tuvok's superior
lock down of the fleet's yards seems logical, given the
area Lieutenant Kim was working in before he was abducted."
Tuvok was his usual calm and collected self. "Until
a full investigation of these facilities can be mounted,
it would be prudent to make sure that any potential evidence
or witnesses are not allowed to be compromised."
take it under advisement," was all the reply Tuvok
received before he found himself alone once more. Kathryn
took this opportunity to approach him, accompanied by Chakotay
who had yet to leave her side.
Tuvok spoke, acknowledging her presence.
could you bring me up to date on what's been done so far?"
As you can see, a base of operations has been set up here
at headquarters. Since Seven alerted us to the situation
we have attempted to track any vessels that have been in
the area. As yet, we have not uncovered any useful information.
We have yet to hear from a small number of ships however,
so that avenue of investigation is not yet exhausted. Seven
and B'Elanna believe this to be connected to their research
into Section 31, however that suspicion is as yet unsubstantiated."
way I understand it," Kathryn interrupted, "it
is unlikely to be substantiated without an investigation
of significant resources."
there anything specific that you feel Chakotay or I should
be doing?" Kathryn asked.
at this time, Captain. I understand that you feel a need
to be involved, but with the resources of Starfleet security
behind us there is little left to do at this time."
Almost as an afterthought, Tuvok added, "however, you
may wish to talk to some other members of our crew. I have
noticed in the past that your encouragement has resulted
in an increase in efficiency."
the situation, Kathryn couldn't help but let out a small
grin. "Whatever you say, Tuvok."
and Chakotay began to move away, but they walked just slow
enough to catch the first thing said to Tuvok as he was
approached by one of the security officers that had been
questioning Seven moments before.
I have been asked to inform you that Utopia Planitia has
been locked down."
of Nine sat listlessly in her chair, looking out through
the window at the view of the harbor and the restored Golden
Gate Bridge. The former crew of the USS Voyager had been
directed to an empty conference room to wait out any news
on Harry's disappearance. So far, they had heard nothing.
B'Elanna eased over to Seven, and cautiously reached out
to place a hand on her shoulder as a show of empathy.
Seven looked over to the half-Klingon woman, and nodded
ever so softly, a sign of acknowledgement.
glanced back at her husband, who was pacing furiously back
and forth. They each had their own ways of dealing with
their feelings of helplessness, she supposed. Seven withdrew
into herself, Tom got anxious, while she just wanted to
reach out to someone. The Doctor and Chakotay were both
sitting quietly on the other side of the room. Both were
clearly as bored and as frustrated as she was. They also
take their eyes off of Seven, whose anguish and worry were
evident to all, but neither knew if it was appropriate for
them to say anything.
swear," Tom muttered, his furious pacing not letting
up, "I don't know who did this, but if they've hurt
B'Elanna cautioned him, "you're not doing Harry any
good by getting yourself worked up. There's nothing we can
do right now. Let Starfleet handle this."
he stopped in mid pace and looked on at his wife with a
weary sigh. "I just can't stand doing nothing, that's
Paris," the Doctor spoke as he got up, "you're
here as a show of support and as a friend of Mr. Kim. That's
hardly nothing from where I'm standing."
door then slid open and Janeway and Tuvok entered. Seven
turned to face them, initially hoping for some positive
news. But the grim looks on both their faces dashed her
hopes of a happy outcome.
Tom asked urgently.
am afraid that there is nothing positive to report,"
Tuvok announced somberly. "Investigation teams were
unable to trace the source of Mr. Kim's abductors. Nor have
scans of the crime scene revealed any new
about a transporter trace?" asked B'Elanna. "Or
footprints? Or something?"
was nothing," said Tuvok. "Whatever transporter
technology the kidnappers employed, it is far more sophisticated
than that in conventional use by Starfleet. As for physical
evidence, we were only able to recover a few partial footprints
from the scene. The shoes employed were completely nondescript
and have only confirmed Seven of Nine's account that there
was a single attacker. Any physical clues we might
derive from them are generic at best."
you have learned nothing," said Seven, speaking up
for the first time in hours.
afraid that's not entirely the case," Janeway said
hesitantly, not wanting to upset the young woman any further.
"Orbital Traffic Control spotted a brief sensor anomaly
in low earth orbit at around the same time you reported
Harry missing. It lasted less than a second. But there's
no sensor log or a recorded flight plan of a ship in that
orbit for that time period."
sensor log?" Chakotay said incredulously. As the capital
world of the Federation, Earth had some of the busiest orbital
traffic in the entire quadrant. Every ship between the atmosphere
and Luna was scanned and monitored by Orbital Traffic Control,
in order to prevent any collisions and ensure proper policing
and security. If a ship parked that close to Earth and was
unable to be detected, it meant only one thing. "A
cloaked ship," he added ominously.
shook his head in amazement. "Man, there's just no
rule that these guys won't break, is there?"
is no longer on Earth?" Seven spoke, her voice wavering.
"He could be anywhere in the quadrant at this time."
is considered to be the most logical possibility by Starfleet
Command," Tuvok concluded. "I regret that I could
not provide a more positive report."
seemed to lose the strength in her legs, as B'Elanna and
the Doctor reached out to steady her. "He is.gone,"
went over to the heartbroken young woman and saw the anguish
on her face. She had known that Seven and Harry had become
closer friends over the past several months, but she had
no idea that things had grown as intimate as they had obviously
become. But then, she herself had been distracted enough
took the former drone's hands into her own. "Seven,
I promise you. We're not going to give up on the search.
Even if Harry's been taken to the farthest corner of galaxy,
we're going to find him. You have my word on that."
that goes for all of us," Chakotay chimed in, standing
behind Kathryn in a firm display of solidarity.
door to the conference room then chimed once again, and
a nervous young ensign entered the room. "Excuse me.
I'm here to deliver a message to Seven of Nine."
Tuvok regarded the newcomer with a glare of authority. "Do
you have news from Starfleet Security?"
the ensign looked at Tuvok with confusion. "Um, no
sir. They asked me to let you know that there's a message
for Seven of Nine from Utopia Planitia. There's a problem
with the Sernaix components and."
the matter with you?" Tom addressed the young officer
harshly. "Can't you see how upset she is?"
Seven looked on at the bewildered messenger with a flash
of curiosity. "You say that there is a problem with
the Sernaix systems used on the prototype?"
what they say," he replied. "Apparently the photonic
ablative armor isn't coming online the way it should, and
there's some irregularities with the slipstream drive. Commander
Vargas wanted to pick your brain on this and."
can't they just ask Ozymandias for help?" B'Elanna
snapped. "He's supposed to be the expert on these things."
Commander Vargas and the Ship Mind don't exactly have the
greatest working relationship, ma'am," the ensign answered
Seven's brow furrowed and her eyes lit up, as if a moment
of inspiration were coming upon her. "Perhaps it would
be better if I were to travel directly to Fulton Station
and inspect the difficulties myself. I believe that I would
be of greater effectiveness in that capacity. What is more,
I am certain that Ozymandias will be quite receptive to
anything I have to say."
are you sure that's what you want to do?" the Doctor
asked, looking concerned at her impulsive
am quite certain, Doctor," she answered. "There
is little I can do for Harry here, and I believe that the
best that I can do for him is to see that his work is completed
and ready for launch." Seven then turned to B'Elanna,
a thin-lipped conspiratorial grin spreading over her face.
"B'Elanna, would you care to accompany me?"
engineer noticed the almost sly expression on the other
woman and nodded in agreement. "Yes, I think I will.
I get the feeling that we're going to learn a lot on this
took three hours for the transport shuttle to arrive at
the docking bay of Fulton Station, after what seemed like
the longest ride of Seven's life. She and B'Elanna wasted
little time in disembarking and meeting Commander Vargas
and Lieutenant Commander Singh in the hangar bay, who both
proceeded to escort the two women straight to Engineering.
two didn't have to come all the way from Earth just to help
us with a little troubleshooting," Singh said as they
walked. "Everything could have been handled over subspace."
distraction was necessary," Seven replied crisply.
Singh shrugged, as they boarded the prototype and moved
down its Starfleet issue corridors. "Anyhow, we can't
figure out what's wrong. The shielding and the slipstream
were all running fine after yesterday's test runs. The Commander
thinks it may just be Ozymandias having a little sport with
sounds like Oz," B'Elanna sighed as she rolled her
eyes. "The guy's a real barrel of laughs."
they made their way through the ship, down the turbolift
and into the main engineering section of the ship. Seven
turned to Singh just as they were about to enter the room.
she said, "perhaps it would be best if Ms. Torres and
I were to deal with Ozymandias on our own. If his mercurial
nature is indeed the cause of the prototype's dilemmas,
then your presence may prove to be disruptive. He is.used
to.the two of us. He may be more receptive to our entreats
yourself," Singh shrugged his shoulders and turned
to leave. "Be sure to holler if you get into any trouble."
waited until Singh and their escorts headed down the corridor.
As soon as the turbolift doors slid shut behind them, the
former drone entered Engineering and turned quickly to the
mass of the Sernaix slipstream core. As expected, the mass
of the core was dark and inert. The grill pattern along
the side normally would glow a bright neon blue. Either
there was a significant internal problem with the device,
which prevented it from drawing power from the plenum of
space-time or, as Seven suspected, Ozymandias
was being deliberately uncooperative.
we're here," B'Elanna said with an annoyed tone of
voice to the open air. "You want to tell us why you
had to drag our butts all the way to Mars?"
the sound of her voice, the slipstream core lit up again,
and the surrounding consoles returned to normal function.
"Well, I was wondering when you ladies would both get
here," said the voice of Ozymandias over the room's
intercoms. "I've been waiting for you."
it, Oz!" B'Elanna growled at the Sernaix. "We
don't have time for your stupid mind games. We're in the
middle of a crisis here, and we don't appreciate being yanked
away from our friends and family just because you feel like
clowning around with Starfleet!"
me, B'Elanna," said Ozymandias, his voice sounding
much more steady and serious. "I didn't bring you here
for laughs. I needed an excuse to talk to you both, one
that wouldn't arouse the suspicions of certain eavesdropping
parties, if you get my meaning."
presume that this room is secure?" asked Seven, looking
about anxiously, "and that there are no problems with
to the first question, and no to the second. The ship is
fine and almost ready for launch, even without you two and
Harry to smooth things over. I just tweaked around with
a few of the ships systems to lure you here."
a minute," B'Elanna said. "I thought you were
denied access to all systems outside of Engineering."
said nothing, but B'Elanna rolled her eyes as she imagined
the Sernaix trying to conceal a naughty boy smirk, not unlike
the one Tom would often have whenever he had been caught
with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar.
of course, had no time for this repartee. "You said
you wished to speak to us, so speak. What is it that you
must tell us?"
as always, aren't you?" Oz chuckled. "Well, I
understand that there's been a problem with Harry back on
is more than a problem!" Seven hissed at the slipstream
core. "He has been abducted!"
know," said Ozymandias solemnly. "I found the
ship that took him."
let that information sink in, as B'Elanna rushed up to speak.
"You what? Where? How?"
six hours ago, I detected a signal being sent out from a
fast moving object, moving from the direction of Earth.
It was transmitted along the same resonance frequency that
the Sernaix use to link with The Realm. I tried to tap into
the message without being spotted and was able to retrieve
bits and pieces. Basically, your Section 31 friends were
the ones who took Harry. I'm pretty sure that he's being
to Sycorax herself."
breathing went ragged; her posture slumped, as her worst
fears were being realized. She had hoped above all else
that Harry had been moved someplace on Earth, or at least
within range of an easy rescue. But if he was being sent
to the heart of The Realm itself, then was there any possibility
of a safe return? Was Harry truly doomed?
did she allow herself to trust her unsteady new emotions
and give her heart away to this young man, when prudence
told her that it would only lead to pain and uncertainty?
rushed to her side and held her steady, seeing something
on the young drone's face that she never would have believed,
the beginnings of a tear forming at the corner of her eye.
sorry to be the one to tell you this," said Ozymandias.
"I'm sure I don't have to remind you that this is very
bad news for your people."
news?!" B'Elanna shouted. "You're damn right its
bad news! Our friend has been snatched away and God only
knows what they want to do with him!"
said Oz gravely. "God only knows. But this goes well
beyond just Harry's safety. All those months in the Phase,
the Sernaix could have destroyed your ship at any time.
But the packs all had instructions to hold back and leave
you alone. The Management Cadre didn't want to risk Harry
coming to any harm. The same principle applies to your home
planet. Now that they've removed him."
then looked up, her skin turning an even lighter shade of
pale. "There will be an attack."
said Ozymandias. "And very soon, I'd wager."
Seven spoke up, her voice choked with anguish. "Why
have they taken him? What do the Sernaix want of him?"
and none of this 'touched by God' nonsense," B'Elanna
added harshly. "This has something to do with Harry's
dreams, doesn't it?"
wish I knew what to tell you," said Oz regretfully.
"I only know what the Management Cadre made available
to the packs, based on their analysis of what our ships
learned from taping into Voyager's logs. At some point when
you were lost in what you call the Delta Quadrant, Harry
Kim was touched by the god of our ancient legends. I can't
be any more specific than that."
is no record in Voyager's logs of an encounter with any
life form resembling the Sernaix in the Delta Quadrant,
nor with any being of divine origin," Seven stated,
regaining her composure.
if there was, I think I'd remember it," said B'Elanna.
ought to, B'Elanna," said Ozymandias cryptically. "According
to the records we accessed, you were touched also. Only
your touch became tainted."
heels of Seven's shoes thudded lightly against the soft
gray carpet of the corridor as she made her way to the conference
room back at headquarters eight hours later. Captain Janeway
would not appreciate the news, she knew. The question was
what, if anything, would be done?
into a turbolift to take the short ride to the conference
room where the rest of Voyager's former crew waited, Seven
felt B'Elanna's reassuring hand on her arm.
my friend too," B'Elanna said quietly, as if fearful
that the walls would report her words to Starfleet Intelligence.
"There are going to be people in there who won't want
to soil their hands with this. We've got to make them understand
that the safety of the Federation is at stake."
nodded once. "I understand," she replied monotonously.
B'Elanna shivered. Seven appeared calm and ready to face
the crowd that was waiting for them, but she knew that the
budding relationship between her two friends was still at
the front of the former drone's mind. The tone of her voice
left questions in B'Elanna's mind as to how much she would
reveal to ensure a rescue mission for Harry.
the doors to the conference room slid apart, all heads turned
to greet the room's newest occupants. Tom briefly covered
B'Elanna's hand as she took her seat beside him. Chancing
a glance at Seven, she saw that the act had not gone unnoticed
and a stab of pain was reflected in her crystal blue eyes.
As fast as it had appeared, Seven's eyes changed to the
determined steel blue the crew had seen on more than one
when new challenges presented themselves.
Warhol looked between Seven and B'Elanna, "I assume
you have some sort of report to give us after this escapade
to the ship yards?"
am afraid I have nothing positive to report," Seven
began, looking the admiral straight in the eye. "Oz
has informed me that the Sernaix are holding Lieutenant
Kim. It is quite possible that they will formulate an attack
plan to implement against the Federation."
"And just how did the Sernaix capture the lieutenant?"
Nechayev demanded to know from her place beside Warhol.
"I don't suppose they simply transported him."
Ross glanced at Nechayev as if to make a suggestion, but
Seven quickly cut him off. "Section 31."
31?" Nechayev asked.
is an elusive operation which seeks out and destroys potential
threats to the Federation. Starfleet will neither confirm
nor deny its existence; however, its presence has been felt
since the creation of the Federation Charter - though few
of even the highest ranking officers would have recognized
is absurd," Warhol scoffed. "I realize that you
are devastated by the loss of one of your former crewmates,
but I fail to see how inventing tales of this 'Section 31'
will aid us in finding Lieutenant Kim."
secret organization in which only a few are privy to know
of even its existence?" Admiral Paris frowned as he
eyed Seven. She believed what she was saying, he knew. But
who was to judge whether or not her personal life may have
influenced her words. "Even if it existed, how is it
possible to run this operation?"
turned her cool glance toward Admiral Ross. "Admiral,
how possible do you believe it is?"
a long moment, Ross said nothing. Looking down at the smooth
and shiny surface of the table, he debated on how to say
what needed to be said. Slowly, and with a little hesitation,
he spoke. "Section 31 does exist."
he raised his eyes, he found himself being regarded with
nine stunned expressions and the cool glare of an untrusting
former Borg drone. "They have, when the occasion called
for it, worked outside the boundaries of Starfleet in order
to ensure the safety of the Federation and its citizens."
"It's a fancy tale, Seven of Nine," Nechayev broke
in, "But tell me why we should believe that this 'Section
31', if such a thing does indeed exist, is now involved
with the disappearance of Lieutenant Kim."
have met with them."
the whispers subsided as all eyes turned towards Seven.
met with them?" Warhol challenged.
first, I thought my lack of concentration and increase of
dreams was due to my experiences with the Borg opposition.
However, Oz has informed me that while I was possessed by
the Sernaix shipmind, I met with several Section 31 operatives."
he knows this because?"
was able to access the residual memory logs left in place."
being that has taken over one of our ships is now aiding
us?" Warhol asked doubtfully.
was in direct connection with Oz and it is plausible that
he would have the capability to access this information,"
B'Elanna firmly replied.
are we going to do about this Section 31 if they actually
did give Harry to the Sernaix?" Tom broke in, his eyes
focusing on his father.
must also consider the possibility of an invasion,"
Chakotay added. "Harry would never willingly give the
Sernaix information; however, he is one of Starfleet's best
engineers and the knowledge in his head would be of great
value to use against us."
not sure I fully understand-"
you understand enough," Janeway rose from where she
had been silent thus far. "The question my people want
to know is what are you going to do about it?"
will take some time to decide," Nechayev declared.
"There is a great deal of information to review and
several other individuals will need to be involved."
that case," Owen Paris spoke up, "I suggest we
break from this meeting and call another at once."
other three admirals murmured their agreement as they hastily
exited the conference room. Only Admiral Paris remained
for a moment to touch his son's shoulder. "We'll get
him back, Tom." Then, he too was gone.
watched as her friends - her family - rose to surround Seven.
It would be a trying time for them all, she knew. Section
31 had apparently risen and been pushed back under the carpet
several times in the course of Federation history. What
made this time any different? And if all Oz said was true,
what course of action would Starfleet take in order to defend
itself from the Sernaix?
the best ones for the job."
took Janeway a moment to realize that Tom was answering
the question she had unknowingly voiced.
do have the most training against the Sernaix," B'Elanna
afraid that at this point it's only wishful thinking,"
Janeway told them sorrowfully. "Starfleet will no doubt
come up with one of its plans and we may or may not be called
upon to enact it."
eyed Kathryn carefully as if trying to see directly into
her mind. It had worked for him before, he knew, but this
time she was carefully guarding her thoughts and refused
to meet his eyes.
up, he thought to himself. She hasn't entirely given the
situation to the Federation.
admirals filed through the doorway and into the spacious
briefing room within Starfleet Headquarters that was reserved
for this group of decision-makers at the head of Starfleet.
As each of the admirals took his or her typical seat at
the large, ovoid table, the Andorian adjutant to the Chief
of Staff, Lieutenant Commander Shral, stepped up to the
podium at the curve of the table which was overlooked by
the Starfleet arrowhead insignia and the words "Starfleet
Command" on the wall.
meeting of the Starfleet Command Staff will now commence,"
Shral said, her antennae twitching nervously -- not because
of her audience, but the circumstances under which they
were meeting - and her hands lightly gripping either side
of the podium, which was also emblazoned with the Starfleet
seal. "Ladies and gentlemen," she continued, "the
C-in-C." She stepped aside as Fleet Admiral Brackett
stepped up to the
podium beside her. The other admirals jumped to their feet,
not quite at attention, but close enough to satisfy the
formality of the proceedings.
you were," Brackett said, settling behind the podium.
The others returned to their seats, and she continued, "We've
heard the statements from the eyewitness to the abduction,
from his friends and from the experts. Now, we have to figure
out where to go from here."
agree with Seven of Nine's assessment," began Vice
Admiral Edward Jellico, the recently promoted head of Starfleet
security. "The Sernaix must be involved, and for some
reason, they're working with someone within the Federation."
interrupted Admiral Warhol, the Chief of Fleet Operations.
"I can't believe this...'tale' supposedly spun by that
Ship Mind at Fulton Station -- what was his name? Ozama?
It sounds too preposterous to be true."
Jellico asked. "Any more so than giant space amoebas
or flaming, space-borne energy creatures shaped like birds?
No, we know for certain who it wasn't. Our intelligence
networks would have indicated a move like this from either
the Dominion or the Romulans, and even given the changes
in recent months, this is far too subtle a move for the
whoever was involved," suggested Admiral William Ross,
who headed Starfleet's Personnel Division, "was working
independently and using domestic equipment to cover their
tracks. Or maybe it really was Section 31. We can't deny
that we know it exists. I saw enough evidence of it when
I was on DS9 to prove that."
no way that group of psychotics can be sanctioned by the
Federation," commented Admiral Bennett, the head of
the Judge Advocate General Corps. "Everything I've
heard goes against everything the Federation stands for."
not our position to judge Section 31," Warhol said.
"For all we know, they may have the unofficial blessing
of the Council, and they're doing the dirty work to safeguard
the Federation from its enemies."
Starfleet's job," came the fierce reply from Admiral
Cobum of Starfleet Logistics. "We explore the frontiers,
safeguard the Federation, and we never attempt to commit
genocide simply to end a conflict."
interrupted the clear voice of Vice Admiral Owen Paris of
Starfleet Technology, "I know Voyager's crew. I know,
they're not together anymore, physically, but they've got
a strong bond that I'm sure our esteemed Admiral Sulu here
would understand." Paris indicated the oldest member
of the board, Admiral Hikaru Sulu of Starfleet Navigation.
"Believe me when I say that, if they say that there
is a threat
out there that's headed our way, then we'd damned sure better
be ready for it."
can't allow Section 31 to run loose any longer," declared
said Bennett. "They should be brought in, and they
should face charges for the atrocities they've committed."
nodded in assent, but Warhol cut through, making his opinion
clear. "I'll repeat," he began, "that they
are also doing what is, in their judgment, in the best interests
of the Federation."
methods are reprehensible," Bennett retorted.
feelings aside," Brackett interrupted, "doing
anything about them right now would be problematic at best.
We'll have to wait and deal with it when the time is right."
31 isn't our most pressing concern, either," added
Admiral Nechayev of Starfleet Tactical. "Of all the
ships in the Fleet right now, only the six Sovereigns and
the new ship under construction at Utopia Planitia can stand
up to a Sernaix attack."
will the Montana Project be ready to go?" asked Admiral
Hayes, the Deputy Chief of Staff, from his seat near Brackett.
can push up production to within a week," Paris replied.
"At this point, it's just down to getting all the systems
let's do it," Brackett ordered. "That ship is
likely our best bet of retrieving Mr. Kim from his captors,
be they Sernaix or otherwise. In the meantime, we'll also
recall the other Sovereign-class ships and fit them with
the same frozen-light shielding the new ship is getting.
It'll help even the odds, although, admittedly, not by very
much." She rose from her seat, then added, "If
there's no other business, then you're dismissed."
former crew of the Starship Voyager, with the notable exception
of Harry Kim, sat around a modest table in an ancillary
briefing room within Starfleet Headquarters. Their expressions
were a mix of fear, dread, exhaustion and helplessness.
One of their own was missing, and there didn't seem to be
much of anything they could do about it.
Paris and B'Elanna Torres sat together at the table, trying
to avoid their concerns for their friend by giving that
much more attention to one another. Chakotay sat silently,
his hands folded atop the table before him, almost as if
in prayer or meditation. Seven of Nine paced nervously at
the far side of the room, stopping every so often in an
attempt to will away her frustration at the impotence of
her situation. And the Doctor, standing almost completely
motionless next to the table, watched her pacing with concern.
a corner of the room, near one of the large windows that
overlooked the lights of the San Francisco dawn, Captain
Janeway and Lieutenant Commander Tuvok spoke quietly about
the situation, the pair virtually whispering in the somber
hush of the room.
do not believe," Tuvok was saying, "that Starfleet
is capable of withstanding a direct assault by the Sernaix,
nor are any of the other powers in the Alpha Quadrant."
have no idea what they're up against," Janeway commented.
"Starfleet may have been through hell and back during
the war, but from what I've seen, the Dominion is small
potatoes compared to the Sernaix." She grabbed the
bridge of her nose between her thumb and forefinger, trying
to will away the unease she was feeling, and wishing for
a steaming cup of coffee. "They just have no idea,"
could prove advantageous to yourself," Tuvok noted.
"Your knowledge of the Sernaix and how to effectively
combat them makes you an asset that, it is possible, Starfleet
does not fully realize that it has at its disposal."
be about time they noticed," Janeway muttered, then
began, "What did you--" But she was cut off as
the doors to the briefing room slid open with a muted hiss,
allowing Vice Admiral Owen Paris to enter the room.
Tom began expectantly as the others stiffened and turned
their attention to the elder Paris, attempting to prepare
themselves for the worst, but hoping instead for the best.
Janeway said at virtually the same moment, letting her question
remain unvoiced. It was a fair bet that everyone in the
room had the same question to ask of the admiral.
waited a moment, then began, "Starfleet's going into
this head first." He paused to let his words sink in,
then continued, "All six of the Sovereign-class ships
are being recalled for refit with the frozen light shielding
system that's been developed for the Montana Project, and
the go date for that ship's launch has been moved up to
the end of the week. She'll be part of the first wave of
defense, if anything happens."
about Section 31?" Janeway asked.
are being issued," Admiral Paris replied, "for
all known operatives. We can't launch a full investigation
to root them all out right now, but it's a start."
of Lieutenant Kim?" Seven asked, standing rigid as
stone along the far wall to the right and behind the elder
Paris. "Has any progress been made in locating him?"
really," Admiral Paris admitted sadly. "There's
not much we can do until we've got more information. Jellico's
got his people working on finding him as we speak. Commander
Tuvok, I think it would be of invaluable assistance if you
would provide them with any data you've obtained so far.
They may already have the same information, but it doesn't
hurt to err on the side of caution." He looked at the
group before him silently, then focused his attention to
his son. "We'll find him, Tom. We'll get him back,
safe and sound." He looked to Janeway, then added,
"I have to get back and coordinate with the others.
I'll keep you apprised of any major developments."
He turned and left the room.
looked from his seat over to Janeway and Tuvok, who were
still standing in the corner of the room. He stood and briskly
crossed the short distance quickly. "Kathryn,"
he said as he stopped at her side, "if you're planning
to make a move to get your career back, you'd better do
concur," Tuvok said. "Events are in flux, and
it would appear that the admiralty is in a far better position
to listen to you at this time."
looked from Chakotay to Tuvok, and started squeezing the
bridge of her nose once more.
Bartlett's face was lined with concern. "Good afternoon,
Earth," she began. "This is Federation News with
a breaking story which continues to develop as we speak."
Icheb looked up from his PADD to the large holographic monitor
on the wall of Students' Mess 4. At his left, T'Kara did
the same. Studying was important, but this had to be more
important still -- how often did the Academy interrupt its
population's meals for a news report?
Harry Kim, one of Utopia Planitia's head engineers, was
kidnapped last night; he was transported away without warning
by forces unknown. Many of our viewers will remember Mr.
Kim from our extensive coverage of Voyager, his former posting.
The disappearance was witnessed by another Voyager crewman,
ex-Borg drone Seven of Nine, and is currently under a thorough
and Mary Kim knew that Starfleet's investigators were the
best there were. They knew that their son was a grown man,
resourceful enough to survive many dangers. The knowledge
was precious little comfort. They took each other's hands
and looked one more time for the strength that had carried
them through eight years of terrifying silence. It was a
tired strength. It was all they had.
the wake of this kidnapping, Seven of Nine has revealed
the existence of a radical protectionist group known as
Section 31 which operates in secret within the Federation
itself. Details remain unclear, but the group apparently
considers itself outside the jurisdiction of Federation
law; furthermore, it claims to have existed since 2161 and
to have been created by the very founders of the UFP. The
information from Seven
of Nine is currently being reviewed at the top levels of
government. No spokesman for Section 31 has come forward
at this time."
Professor O'Brien was not surprised. What did surprise him
-- and worry him -- was the sudden deluge of information
about Section 31. As one of the few Starfleet officers who
had direct experience with them, he knew better than most
what they were capable of. In his office, O'Brien tried
to figure out what would happen next, and what, if anything,
he could do about it. After a few minutes he instructed
the computer to set up a priority subspace channel to Deep
Space Nine; while it was being set up, he replicated
an extra-large black coffee. He had a feeling he would need
it before this was over.
recent events have raised new concerns about the possibility
of an invasion by the mysterious Sernaix. Starfleet is currently
at Level-4 military alert, with a state of yellow alert
in effect on all vessels and stations, but Command is urging
all citizens not to panic."
for them to say, thought Joseph Sisko. He had seen this
before in two Borg scares and repeated bouts of Changeling
paranoia, and he braced for the tension and fear that he
would be sensing in his customers before long. Of course,
he wasn't exactly cool as a cucumber himself. Cucumber...hmm.
Some cold, refreshing vegetables just might help calm people's
nerves a bit. A smile crossed Sisko's face as he headed
for the kitchen to do up a batch of his award-winning Shrimp
Starfleet's responses to the potential threat will be the
accelerated launch of a new starship in development at Utopia
Planitia. The experimental ship, built by the engineers
of the Montana Project, is said to incorporate design elements
from various alien species. Blueprints are not yet available,
but our contact on Mars tells us that the ship is unlike
any Starfleet vessel in history."
for the first time, Reg Barclay wondered if Starfleet's
top brass were crazy. What were they thinking, launching
this ship so soon? If half the things he'd heard from B'Elanna
and Harry were true, it was as likely to fall apart in orbit
as to be space-worthy. Maybe in a few more months the design
could be trusted, but now? Before even the most basic testing?
Madness, madness had claimed the heads of Starfleet. The
fact that Reg said that at least three times a month wasn't
other news, the --" Bartlett stopped talking as she
saw a new PADD materialize in front of her. She lifted it
and read. "This just in: Captain Kathryn Janeway, former
captain of Voyager, has called an emergency meeting of the
Federation Council and the admiralty board of Starfleet.
She has announced that she has information to provide --
information which she obtained in the Delta Quadrant and
the Bubble but has not revealed until now. The meeting will
take place this afternoon at Starfleet Headquarters."
Janeway smiled. The show was about to begin.
tugged at the sleeves of her uniform. She had to admit that
the new style of dress uniform, it was new to her even if
it was no longer new to the Federation, was pleasing to
the eye. Quite striking really, with its black trousers
and white jacket trimmed in gold brocade. And she wore it
rather well, she dared say. But truth be told, she missed
the familiar feel of the dress uniform she'd worn so many
times on Voyager. No matter how glad she was to be home,
she knew that a part of her would always long for her days
on that incredible ship.
there would be no time for retrospection today, she reminded
herself. There was enough to concern herself with in the
present. Harry Kim's life was at stake, and she would do
anything, even sell her own soul, to save him. She only
hoped it wouldn't come to that.
tried to school the expression of awe from her face as he
approached the Great Hall at Starfleet Headquarters. No
matter how far she climbed in rank, she knew she would always
find this stately place a bit intimidating. After all, within
its walls echoed the words of some of the Federations most
legendary members. Captain James T. Kirk, Spock of Vulcan,
Presidents of the Federation dating back farther than she
could recall . and now her voice would be added to the ghostly
whispers the Great Hall contained.
only wished she were headed there under better circumstances.
Hang on, Harry, she thought to herself. That's an order.
two guards posted at the door eyed her carefully, if not
a bit suspiciously as she approached. The young men looked
at her, and then back to each other. Then, as if suddenly
recognizing her, the taller man offered her a warm smile
and a quick nod of his head. "Captain Janeway."
nodded and smiled in return, noting immediately how young
both of the men seemed. Their handsome faces held the expression
of youthful enthusiasm, and they looked upon her almost
as if they were looking at a celebrity. They had the same
look that Harry Kim had when he first came to her, wide
eyed and fresh from the Academy. Her heart constricted painfully
in her chest, and she longed to see Harry's boyish grin
and twinkling eyes again.
in her own anguish, Janeway didn't notice the familiar figure
approaching until he took her gently by the elbow. "Captain,
do you have a moment?"
turned to see the concerned face of the Doctor. She smiled
affectionately at him. "Just about a moment, I'm due
inside. What is it, Doctor?"
been trying to contact you."
She started walking toward the door.
sighed exaggeratedly and followed her. "You know I
have, and not just me. Most of your former senior staff
and some of the crew have also tried to reach you. You've
taken no calls, returned no messages."
gestured to the Great Hall. "As you can see, I've been
a little busy."
have some questions, Captain."
should direct your questions to either Chakotay, Tuvok,
or Admiral Paris. They're the only ones I am authorized
to speak to regarding this situation."
the problem," he said, frustration causing his voice
to rise slightly. "They're not talking either. No one's
talking. We don't want an official Starfleet briefing on
this, Captain. We simply want to know what you plan to do!"
kept walking, bringing her slender fingers up as if to silence
him. "Now is not the time, Doctor."
she could step through the doors, the EMH seized her none
too gently by the upper arm and spun her around to face
him. "Then when IS the time?"
guards stepped forward; ready to take the holographic man
to the ground. Janeway held up a hand to stop them. "It's
all right. He's a friend." Reluctantly, they resumed
their positions on either side of the entrance.
turned her eyes on the EMH. "I understand that you're
upset. But this is neither the time nor the place for this
maintained his grip on her arm. "All we want is to
be informed. Please, don't do this. Now is not the time
for you to be making things worse."
stared at him with an indignant raised eyebrow. "I
beg your pardon."
he blazed on. "You have this habit of shutting us out
when the going gets tough. You take the weight of the galaxy
on your shoulders. Normally, we would just wait until you
decided to call on us for help. But not this time."
summoned all of her training and discipline to keep her
anger in check. She knew that her dear friend was not attempting
to hurt her, rather the opposite. He wanted to help Harry
as much as she did, even if he was going about it the wrong
way. She sighed heavily, and with forced patience, said,
"Doctor, I assure you, I am not going to make the situation
worse. Quite the opposite, actually. I would love to sit
with you over a cup of hot coffee and discuss this, but
that's a luxury I don't have right now."
gave him a reassuring squeeze on the shoulder and moved
to step around him. "If it's all the same to you, I
have a meeting to attend."
stepped in front of her again, impeding her entrance. "As
a matter of fact it's not all the same to me. In case you've
forgotten, Captain, a friend of ours happens to be missing.
And another of our friends is taking it very badly. I just
want to know what you plan to do."
was it. She'd reached the end of her patience. Her blue
eyes narrowed as she glared at her former CMO, and her voice
was dangerously quiet as she spoke. "How dare you stand
there and smugly insinuate that Harry's disappearance could
be anything other than foremost in my mind? I am very much
aware that our friend is missing, Doctor. I feel Harry's
absence with every single breath that I take.
I know you're concerned about Seven. We all are. But she
doesn't have a monopoly on loss here. We all love and care
for Harry, and we are all hurting. Being the captain doesn't
make me immune to those emotions. On the contrary, I feel
not only concern for his life, but responsibility for it
Doctor looked genuinely regretful. "I'm sorry, Captain.
I didn't mean to suggest that you are uncaring. I merely
took him by the shoulders. "Listen to me. I know you
feel helpless right now, and that's frustrating. Everyone
wants to help, and all this waiting around has all of us
on edge. But I need you to make a leap of faith right now.
Do you trust me?"
you trust me, Doctor?"
course, but - "
trust what I'm about to do," she said. "I think
I know of a way I can help Harry, but I can't explain it
to you right now. I have a chance to fix it. You're just
going to have to believe in me."
looked at her, an expression of great respect and devotion
on his holographic face. "I believe in you more than
I've ever believed in anyone, Captain."
swallowed the lump of emotion that had welled up in her
throat. "Then step aside and let me do what I need
to do. It won't look good if I keep the Admiralty waiting,
now will it?"
face seemed to age years at the thought of the aforementioned
group of admirals. "Just be careful. The Admiralty
seems to be out for blood ever since Voyager returned to
the Alpha Quadrant. I wouldn't trust them."
the first time in the conversation, Janeway actually chuckled
aloud. "Who said anything about trusting them? I can't
explain right now, but I suspect that there was more to
their blood lust than meets the eye. Don't concern yourself,
Doctor. I know how to handle the Admiralty."
graciously stepped out of her way. "Of course. You're
going to approach them honestly and fairly, right?"
turned and looked at him over her shoulder just before she
stepped into the Great Hall, a wicked but determined smile
on her face. "Not even close. I'm going to do what
I do best, Doctor. I'm going to do some serious cage rattling."
then she was gone.
Doctor smiled proudly. "Then God help them."
entered the hall, her entire body tingling with a sense
of purpose and energy. As she took a look around, she noted
the council members on sitting on either side of the room,
with a separate section roped off for the admirals. Janeway's
gaze swept the room, noting the familiar faces - Nechayev,
Ross, Warhol - and much to her surprise, the president of
the UFP himself, seated at the head of the room.
determination, Janeway approached the podium directly in
front of the president. "Mr. President," she began.
She paused for a second. "I believe that your presence
here directly speaks to the seriousness of our situation."
president nodded. "You're correct, Captain. I heard
what was happening and despite the best intentions of my
Starfleet advisors -" the president cast an ironic
gaze around the room - "I felt it was best to attend
this meeting myself. I want to hear what is going on, and
more importantly, what we're going to do."
flooded through Janeway's body. "I'm glad to hear of
it, sir." She turned as a gentle hand applied pressure
to her shoulder.
Ross said. "A moment of your time, please."
stepped back from the podium and turned her attention to
Ross, very much aware of all of the eyes turning to focus
on her and the admiral.
should have warned you," Ross said in a low voice.
is it?" Janeway asked. Truth be told, she was immensely
grateful to see that Ross was among those assembled. Ross,
along with Owen Paris, had been one of Janeway's strongest
supporters during the turbulent trial days. In addition,
Ross had been one of the few people willing to speak out
in support of the Maquis.
felt that the events were serious enough to merit the President's
personal attention," Ross said. "Warhol and some
of the other members of the admiralty wanted to keep this
matter as private as possible." Ross' lips quirked
upwards. "I disagreed."
smiled. "I appreciate your help, as always, Admiral."
at all. It was an easy enough thing to arrange. The President
has always been interested in Voyager and her crew. When
I met with him earlier, convincing him to be here didn't
take much effort on my part. Captain, you don't have much
time. Make your point quickly, but make it good."
nodded. "I understand. Thank you for the information."
tipped his head slightly in her direction before leaving
to take his seat next to Admiral Warhol. Janeway watched
in interest as Ross and Warhol shared a conspiratorial look.
Janeway," the President said. "I believe we have
everyone's attention now. Would you like to speak?"
His voice was tinged with irony, given the few words he
and Janeway had exchanged just a few moments earlier, but
there was no malice in his tone - only a soft note of benevolence
Janeway said. Once again, she took her spot at the podium.
"You all know what brought me here today -the abduction
of Lieutenant Harry Kim. You've all seen Voyager's logs
regarding our encounters with the Sernaix while Voyager
was trapped in 'bubble space.' The question isn't whether
the Sernaix are a threat to the Federation - I know they
are. What is up to debate is when they will attack, not
if they will attack.
Sernaix have a long history of linking with other minds
in order to gain information. I believe that that is the
reason why Harry Kim was taken. An attack must be imminent.
Mr. President, I'm asking for your permission to rescue
my crewman and to prevent the Sernaix from attacking the
Federation. Given our experiences with the Sernaix, with
all due respect, I don't think there is another crew or
another ship in the entire fleet with the ability to take
on the Sernaix." Janeway stopped to take a deep breath.
"There is no telling how large this attack will be,
Mr. President, but when it comes, my crew and I, we should
be on the front lines."
all due respect," Admiral Nechayev said as she rose
in her seat. "Captain, we have six Sovereign-class
ships in the vicinity. I believe that that is more than
sufficient to counter any threat from the Sernaix."
shook her head. "I disagree, Admiral. The smallest
of the Sernaix ships can make mincemeat of a Galaxy-class
ship in twenty minutes. And that's without trying. The only
way we're going to be able to stop the Sernaix is if you
send people out there who survived eight months against
the Sernaix. It's the only way."
agree," Ross said, which provoked both Warhol and Nechayev
to respond. Suddenly, the entire room was filled with the
sound of competing voices. Janeway could hear scattered
snatches of conversations - some debating the strength of
the Sernaix ships versus Starfleet, the probability of an
attack, and there was even an incident of name-calling.
Janeway remained at the podium, willing herself to remain
strong through the
uproar; those debating the issues had not seen or experienced
what she had. She lifted her eyes to look at the President
and noted that he was watching the proceedings intently.
His expression was a mixture of concern and amusement. He
looked back at Janeway and tipped his head lightly to the
side, before he lifted his gavel and called for order.
in recess," the President said as the voices died away.
"Captain Janeway has provided a compelling argument
and its attributes must be considered. We'll reconvene in
assembled got up from their seats and filed out. Janeway
inhaled deeply and left the room.
groaned as her tried to open his eyes. Everything had happened
so fast. One minute he was floating on a cloud, his thoughts
filled with Seven and the exciting new direction their relationship
was taking. And then.
had trouble remembering what came next. He remembered a
face, then pain. Now he was here. Only where was here.
soon as he rubbed the exhaustion away from his eyes, he
looked around the room, trying to see where his attacker
had taken him. But what he saw was
his childhood room.
He was sitting up in his old bed, wearing his old pajamas.
the door creaked open slowly, and a familiar head peeked
inside. "Well, good morning, sleepyhead," said
Harry's mother. "We were all so worried about you."
you just had a nasty bump on your head. But everything is
just fine now. You're safe here. You know you feel safe,
looked about his surroundings. The truth was that he did
feel safe here. He always had. Everything here seemed exactly
as he had remembered it from high school, just before he
left for the Academy. He saw the pictures of his favorites
teams on the wall, his school trophies, the clarinet sitting
on his desk in its wood grain case. All of it was the same,
everything as he remembered.
it couldn't be this way anymore. Much of his old stuff had
been packed away by his parents after he was reported missing
aboard Voyager. Much of it he had taken with him when he
was reassigned, other items were still boxed away in his
parents' home. This was a memory, not reality. It couldn't
be real. And then he remembered the attack near Seven's
aunt's house. Seven!
happened, Mom? I was
someone hit me! What about.?"
all right, dear," his mother reassured him, as she
sat down on the bed, resting her arm on his shoulder. "Nothing
can hurt you here. Everything is fine. You can relax."
don't know if I can, Mom. How did.how did you make up my
room so quickly? The last I heard, you and Dad were turning
my old room into a guest room. What happened?"
does it really matter?" his mother said, smiling a
bit too broadly. "What matters is that you can rest
and be comfortable here. Now, why don't you tell Mommy all
about those dreams you've been having. You do trust Mommy,
bolted up from the bed, and looked at the woman across from
him with alarm. There was no way his mother could have known
about his dreams. "I don't know what's going on here,
but this isn't my room. And you're not my mother! What is
this place? Am I on a holodeck somewhere?"
false Mrs. Kim then stood up again, her expression then
shifting to a malevolent expression that Harry had never
seen on his real mother. The transition was frighteningly
abrupt. "A holodeck? Oh, no. Our technology goes far
beyond your own primitive fantasy environments."
a Sernaix, aren't you?" he demanded, trying to maintain
Sernaix?" the woman laughed. "Mr. Kim, I am the
Sernaix. And you've been keeping secrets, haven't you?"
stood defiant, angered by his own mistreatment and the casual
use of his mother's face. "I don't know what you mean,
but I refuse to tell you anything." He then stood ramrod
straight, like the good soldier that he was. "Harry
Kim, Lieutenant, Starfleet identification number."
don't bother with any of your military rituals," said
the false Mrs. Kim. "We already know all of that. It
was as easy to extract from you as your memories of your
room from your childhood. What we want from you are the
things you don't remember, the things that are inside of
you. I think you know what I mean, Harry."
wouldn't relent, as he maintained his cool distance from
the woman. "If you can read my mind, then you know
that my friends will come looking for me. And God help you
when they find you."
image of his mother laughed cruelly at him. "Believe
me, Harry, you're far beyond the reach of your friends.
There's nothing they can do for you. And it just so happens
that it's God that I'd like to talk about."
are you?" he demanded.
mother smiled at him, not the warm, caring smile that he
remembered, but a pitiless smile of satisfaction, the kind
that a hunter might show once it had caught its prey. "You
already know me, Harry. I am Sycorax, Adimha of the Management
Cadre. Caretaker of The Realm."
looked at her curiously, as Sycorax moved about the room
with a comfortable stride, almost like she was floating.
"You see, Harry, I've waited a long time to finally
have this chance to talk with you. I've studied you from
a distance, but I've had to wait until the time was right
before I could collect you for myself. And now that I have
you, you'll tell me everything that I want to know."
don't know what it is you expect me to tell you," Harry
shot back, "but if you are a Sernaix, then you don't
need my cooperation to find out what I'm thinking."
He then gestured with his hands about the room, as an example
of what they had already been able to extract from his thoughts.
it can't tell me what you're dreaming, Harry," said
the image of his mother, the look on her face growing more
desperate, and more frightening. "You're special, Harry.
Perhaps more special than you can possibly imagine. I know
about the dreams. I know you managed to communicate with
the Abomination, the creature you call Ozymandias. He told
you the truth, didn't he? He told you that you've been Touched
by the gods."
don't know what you mean at all," said Harry, trying
to appear brave, even though he was scared to death.
will soon," Sycorax said to him, as the image of his
mother faded away, to be replaced by the faceless echo of
the Sernaix's disembodied voice. "Once the reality
of your situation sinks in, your resistance will fade. Then
all your secrets will be accessible to me."
don't have any secrets!" he called out to the empty
suspect that you do," said Sycorax's voice. "And
if you didn't, then you'd be of no use to me. Another reason
for you to cooperate."
looked around his room. No, this was not his room, but just
an illusion. He went for the door, to see how far this fantasy
went. But the door would not open, nor would it yield when
he tried to slam into it with his shoulder. It was clear
that he would be going nowhere until his captors wanted
then heard the spiteful laughter of Sycorax once again.
"Don't think of it as confinement, Harry. Think of
it as being sent to your room without supper."
Janeway entered the boardroom, she was greeted with a look
of anticipation on everyone's faces.
Tom said. "How did it go?"
the table she replied. "At the moment, we're in recess,
but I spoke directly to the President. Admiral Ross thought
he'd like to hear what I had to say because of his interest
in Voyager. I informed him about Harry and expressed my
fears about what the Sernaix will do next.
told him that there is no other captain, no other crew better
suited to stop such a threat, that it should be us out there
on the front lines."
you think you were perhaps a little too bold?" The
Doctor asked. "Considering who you're asking to make
such a decision?"
leaned forward; resting both hands on the table and looked
into their doubt-ridden faces. "We survived them for
eight months, we know their tactics and what they're capable
of." She paused, looking around at all the rapt and
familiar faces she seen over the past seven years. "Over
the years, I've come to respect and admire all of you. The
courage and strength you've shown has been remarkable, and
I certainly can't think of any other people I'd rather have
been stuck with. We became a family out there, looking out
for each other, and right now a member of that family is
in trouble, and I for one refuse to stand by doing nothing.
If Harry has any chance of surviving it's up to us."
Using the index finger of her right hand, she tapped the
table once in front of her in order to stress her point.
"There is no one better suited to deal with this threat
than us. I know we can do this."
faces around her changed, the doubt vanishing. For the first
time since this blew up in their faces, they felt pride
in her words, that perhaps they could overcome this together.
However, Chakotay wasn't convinced and gestured for Janeway
to join him on the other side of the room. She obeyed.
you forgetting something?" He asked softly.
She replied, unsure of what he was referring to.
Maquis are no longer in Starfleet. How are we supposed to
do this without pooling all our resources?"
President has a soft spot for us. If he agrees with my suggestion
then I'm sure something can be arranged."
makes you so sure that they're willing to come back?"
He asked seriously.
expression changed to one of shock and fear. When she thought
of her crew she thought of the Maquis as well. The line
that separated them in the beginning had been blurred for
many years now, despite what other people thought, and for
the first time, wondered if they could pull this off without
her by the shoulders he locked his eyes with hers. "I'm
not trying to scare you Kathryn, I just wanted you to stop
and consider the possibility."
swore to you years ago that I would stand by your side,
that hasn't changed." He said with a smile.
smiled back, the fear receding, and laid a hand on his chest.
"What about the rest of them?"
follow, only because it's you." Her smile widened.
Adimha of the Management Cadre, had finished with her toying
of the Touched One, the human, at least for now. Harry Kim
had as yet revealed nothing about the nature of his gifts
from the Gods, but it was only a matter of time. If the
reports from her human minions on Earth were to be believed,
then the knowledge of the gods was already starting to emerge
within him. With the right degree of coaxing and study,
she would soon learn what the divine ones had passed on
to this human, and then the knowledge
would be hers.
she would be more than an Adimha. She would be like a Goddess
drifted lazily amongst the currents of the vast virtual
ocean that was her private virtual space. Sycorax had adopted
the form of her favorite avatar - that of the kiutre fish
from the seas of the planet Nesaqa. Her weary nerves felt
the simulated sensations of the ocean currents against her
flank, while she darted about the schools of bioluminescent
rewesa, which the kiutre preyed upon. She chose the kiutre
as her avatar since
she felt it so aptly represented herself. It was a deceptive
looking beast, large and ponderous in its everyday movements.
But when hunting or threatened, the kiutre could strike
with blinding speed, and tear through its prey with an efficiency
and hunger that belied its appearance. So too had it been
with her. She had clawed her way to the top of the Management
Cadre, beating out and destroying her rivals in the process,
held the esteemed rank of Adimha for over seventy years.
Others in her Cadre had coveted her position and had pressed
upon her to step down and take the final journey of Issuance
and immortality within The Realm.
Sycorax would not take that step, for she craved that most
vital sensation of the flesh, the feeling of power over
others. And so she played her potential rivals against one
another, and in doing so managed to rise above the petty
squabbles and secure her hold as Adimha.
the humans and their Federation had entered into the equation,
providing not only a means for the Sernaix to exit the Phase,
but offering untold new worlds for the packs to prey upon
and dominate. It would be a time of great upheaval and change
for the Sernaix, but from chaos came new opportunities.
The males and their packs would be kept busy with their
new battles and killings, while the females and their cadres
would become entranced by the thousands of new experiences
and sensations these battles would provide. And presiding
over these new distractions, Sycorax thought with satisfaction,
would give her an even stronger hold on her power.
then there was the unknown knowledge locked away in the
body and mind of this Harry Kim. If these secrets within
him could be unveiled and harnessed by her, then her power
over the Sernaix would not only be complete, but truly eternal
came the nervous voice of a young Satika apprentice echoing
through her private space. "There is a message for
you from our contacts among the humans."
will take it," Sycorax responded, shifting about to
an empty section of the seascape, free of the glow of rewesa.
A featureless black rectangle appeared in the open sea.
The humans of Section 31 did not have the technology to
interface directly with The Realm, so they would be communicating
with primitive video screen. The screen area shifted frequencies
until the pale, ugly face of one of the human males came
into focus. Sycorax recognized the light hair and weak eyes
immediately, that of the human Johns, the one
chosen to speak for Section 31.
Johns greeted her, unable to see her avatar or private space.
As per their agreement, Sycorax would not deign to make
herself visible for her human accomplices, certainly not
to the point of such an intimate act as showing her true
Johns," she replied in kind. "I have received
your gift. So far, he has not been as cooperative as I would
sorry to hear that, Adimha," Johns replied nervously.
"I had hoped that we might discuss some of the further
details of our arrangement."
make no mistake, Mr. Johns," she said slyly. "I'm
certain Mr. Kim will prove as valuable an asset as I've
hoped he would be. But there's still the matter of your
failure to eliminate the Abomination and the ship he has
helped your Starfleet to build."
I've conveyed the regrets of Mr. West and the rest of my
colleagues, Adimha," said Johns. "And I'm afraid
that the Federation is aware of the upcoming attack."
expected as much," she answered. "It will mean
that we will have to begin our attack sooner than we had
initially discussed. The males are getting restless anyway.
They need a diversion."
understand, Adimha," said Johns, not missing a beat.
"My colleagues and I expected that this would be your
choice, and we've come up with some possible targets. For
instance, you might want to consider the Romulus system,
or the Breen home world."
of course, Mr. Johns, this would benefit your own governments'
position, wouldn't it?" Sycorax retorted with a canny
smile. "I'm afraid the situation has grown beyond that
now. To effectively neutralize this new starship, we will
have to attack your Federation. The packs are simply too
eager for anything less."
see," Johns answered gravely. "We didn't expect
this to happen this soon. But if this is your position,
we have a number of candidate systems already selected."
Johns then transmitted a list of coordinates, which Sycorax
glanced over, shaking her head.
and outposts," she shook her head in disgust. "Do
you really expect the Defenders of the Realm to be challenged
by this? Our people want to experience real entertainment,
some true bloodshed and suffering on a mass scale! This
is an insult!"
Johns quivered as he spoke, "I suppose we could include
a few of the less important member worlds on that list.
Perhaps Grazer V or Benzar would be more to your liking?"
suppose it will be acceptable," she answered, grinning
in satisfaction. She knew that Section 31 was negotiating
from a position of weakness and was willing to make whatever
sacrifices she wanted, as long as some remnant of their
precious Federation was allowed to survive. "But you
do realize that at some point an attack against Earth will
that, Adimha. As long as we're given sufficient warning
to evacuate any key Federation personnel?"
course, Mr. Johns. That's part of our arrangement, after
all. I have no desire to see your Federation destroyed overnight.
A proper feast should be savored and enjoyed for as long
a period as possible, no matter how sumptuous the taste
may be. Right now, I'm the only thing that is keeping the
males of my species from letting loose and orgy of uncontrolled
violence against you and your neighbors."
Adimha, and we're very grateful," Johns answered, the
sweat from his brow apparent even through the murky waters
of the ocean environment. "I was just.well, that is.if
there is to be an attack on Earth, how many casualties are
we talking about?"
thought for a moment. The capital world of the Federation
would be a choice target, but it served too useful a purpose
to be destroyed outright in the initial adventures of the
packs. She would have to place some limits on the amount
of damage the males would undoubtedly do. "I suppose,
Mr. Johns, that if your planet were to be attacked by a
single corsair, the damage would not be too bad. Only two
or three major cities could be destroyed."
saw how the pale skin of the human went whiter in response
to her answer. "I see," said Johns. "And.if
there should be any larger ships involved, say, a scout
or a battleship?"
I suppose it could get a great deal worse," she said.
"I'll have to impose some limits, indeed. Tell me,
Mr. Johns, out of all of Earth's continents, which do you
consider the most expendable?"
approached B'Elanna warily. She sat with her back to him,
focused completely on the comm station. Tom knew that B'Elanna
was unaware of his presence, so engrossed was she in conversation
with his mother. Tom paused for a second to listen.
is doing well. We found another little tooth today,"
Nancy Paris said, her voice slightly fuzzy from the comm
system distortions. From his vantage point, Tom thought
he saw B'Elanna's posture soften just a little, those proud
shoulders slumping a half-centimeter.
one?" B'Elanna asked.
Mrs. Paris said. "She's still trying to get her balance,
but I think she is walking better every day."
Paris must have detected the note of sadness in B'Elanna's
voice, because she hastened to add, "But I think she
misses her parents."
miss her too," B'Elanna said, her voice just barely
above a whisper.
worry about her, B'Elanna," Mrs. Paris said. "We're
taking good care of her. You just get done what you need
took that as a cue to approach. He laid his hand gently
on B'Elanna's shoulder.
Mrs. Paris said.
are you, Mom?" Tom asked cordially. B'Elanna twisted
should go back," she said. "I don't think I want
to do this-"
worry about Miral, B'Elanna," Mrs. Paris said.
Tom said, "we're not. We know she's doing fine with
you. And if you'll excuse us, I need to talk something over
right. Talk to you later."
want to go get her, Tom," B'Elanna said as soon as
the comm channel was closed. "This is ridiculous. We've
been separated too many times as it is."
Tom squatted down in front of his wife, taking her hands
in his. "Things are going to get pretty serious, you
know that. If Janeway gets her way, if Starfleet agrees
to let us go out there - I'm one hundred percent behind
nodded, biting her lip. "So am I."
know the risks as well as I do. Miral should stay here."
can't believe you'd say that," B'Elanna retorted. Her
hands trembled. "Not after all we've been through..."
we go out there-"
know what you're going to say," B'Elanna said angrily.
She got up from her chair and paced the room. "A starship
is no place for a baby-"
a starship, B'Elanna. We're talking about war."
have a responsibility to our daughter," B'Elanna said.
"This situation is no different than if we were still
in the Delta Quadrant with Miral. You didn't seem to have
a problem with it when we found out I was pregnant."
was different. We didn't have a choice then."
you're right," B'Elanna said. The strain in her voice
told Tom how hard it was for her to admit that. "It's
Miral we have to think about, not us. Not what I, you, want."
sighed heavily. He understood B'Elanna's point of view.
He didn't want to leave Miral either, but circumstances
were against them this time. And more than anything, he
wanted his little girl to be safe.
if we did bring her with us, what kind of life would she
have?" B'Elanna asked softly. She was rationalizing
now, Tom knew. "A constant state of red alert, to start
did fine," Tom said. He wasn't sure what he was trying
to say, but he felt that the point was important enough
as you said before, Sam Wildman didn't have a choice. We
do," B'Elanna said. "How Naomi did, well, that's
not the point."
nodded. He understood that B'Elanna was trying to convince
herself that leaving Miral behind was the right thing to
do. There was no point in arguing now when they didn't even
know what the outcome of Janeway's meeting with the Starfleet
wait until something definite comes out, okay?" Tom
asked softly. He pulled B'Elanna to him, resting his head
on her shoulder. "Let's not worry about it for now."
he knew, as he turned his face to kiss B'Elanna, that they
would both worry about Miral. No matter what they did, he
knew they would always second-guess their decisions.
the President began as he sat in his office with several
of the members of the Starfleet Command Staff, the Parisian
skyline visible through the windows behind his desk. "I'll
start this off by making one thing very clear: I don't feel
that there's very much here that's left open for debate.
From everything I've heard, this is big, and we need our
people where they can do the most good."
did you have in mind, Mr. President?" Fleet Admiral
going to issue pardons to Voyager's Maquis crew," the
President said, looking directly at admirals Warhol and
Nechayev, who were seated next to Brackett, "and offer
them full, active commissions in Starfleet equivalent to
their brevet ranks when Voyager returned."
I must protest--" Nechayev began, but was interrupted
by the President.
have the authority to do so," the President countered,
"and that's exactly what I'm going to do. Furthermore,
I want the Voyager crew back together and under Kathryn
Janeway's command. If they can survive eight months against
the Sernaix in an Intrepid-class ship, then I think it's
pretty obvious that someone in this room wasn't thinking
straight when they tried to get them all kicked out of the
sir--" Nechayev began again, looking to Warhol for
support. But Warhol appeared to be deep in thought and wouldn't
be of much help to her. The President cut her off again.
nothing, Admiral," the President snapped. "I've
made my decision. Do I need to remind you that Starfleet
takes its orders from myself and the Council, and that it's
your job to figure out how to make those orders happen?"
sir," Nechayev replied, uncharacteristically chastened.
the President said, then turned his attention to Vice Admiral
Owen Paris, who was also in the room, seated across from
Brackett. "I understand the Montana Project is almost
ready to fly."
right, Mr. President," Paris said.
want Janeway and her crew on that ship," the President
said, his statement clearly an order. "They've got
to be the toughest, strongest, most resourceful bunch of
people I've ever seen."
Warhol said finally, startling Nechayev by breaking his
long silence, "in that case, wouldn't it be prudent
to spread them out a little? Not so much that it would disrupt
their effectiveness as a group, but just enough so that
other crews could benefit from their experience."
the President began, considering the suggestion. "Perhaps.
What did you have in mind, Admiral Warhol?"
Warhol began, "for the time being at least, we should
place Chakotay on a reconnaissance ship -- as you no doubt
are aware, per the Treaty of Algeron, we've secured permission
from the Romulan government to equip other Defiant-class
ships with cloaking devices. I know that one of those ships
is looking for a new first officer."
sounds like a good idea," the President said. "We'll
need to find a new first officer for Janeway, then."
I know just the person," Warhol replied, a thin grin
crossing his features.
do you think Starfleet will proceed next? You made your
plea, there's nothing much more we can do while we're waiting."
B'Elanna seemed frustrated with the entire situation as
she paced the floor of the briefing room. The wait was getting
the better of her sanity.
wait. Admiral Ross got us out of our hearing intact. I have
faith that his word will carry us through now." Chakotay
said as he stepped up, placing a hand on B'Elanna's shoulder
to stop her relentless pacing. "You should sit down."
don't need to sit down, I'll go stir crazy." B'Elanna
snapped, her pacing then starting again. She hated the anticipation.
right, you should rest." Janeway spoke up. "Pacing
won't solve anything right now. You'll just wear a hole
in the floor"
stopped then sighed. "Well this keeps me sane, is that
enough?" Her impatience was beginning to affect her
temper. Tom took this as a cue to stand up and retrieve
swish of a door form the far side of the room alerted everyone
to the entrance of two security guards, followed by Admiral
Ross. Janeway slowly approached him, hoping for the best,
expecting the worst. "What is it Sir?"
President has requested a meeting with you." Ross replied.
didn't know what to make of his tone of voice. She nodded
slightly as she turned back to her friends, giving them
a silent nod as well. With that, she followed Ross out of
the briefing room.
attention turned back to Chakotay. "What does that
kept his calm composure. "I honestly don't know."
Pavriqur had once been the chief justice of all Sulor. Admired,
respected, known in thousands of solar systems for his level
head. There had been a long...interlude, and then he had
been respected again. The leader of the Borg Constructive
Force. The scourge of the Returned Abomination. The voice
the charge against those who would waste a power lesser
beings could only imagine.
he looked across a map of his empire, not by choice but
by coercion, and felt his stomach twist at the sheer size
of it. So much power. So much power. And all in the hands
of a fool.
heard that," said the man holding Pavriqur up. He let
the Sulorian fall to the hard metal floor, felt the sharp
pain flood through his nerves, and relished the feeling.
He was a man supremely, superbly alive. He was a man of
been a long ride," he said, "getting from there
to here. Don't you think?" He grinned as his prisoner
struggled to stand up. "You of all people know that.
You made me what I am now, and in return, I made you what
you are now. Two drastic changes, and what is the universe
if not something in a state of constant change?"
and your philosophy can go to hell," said Pavriqur.
and your philosophy are already there," said his captor
with a smile.
them, an eerie green monitor flickered into existence. The
distorted face of Suellen Bartlett appeared and began to
speak. "This is Federation News with another update
on the current crisis."
that damn thing off," said the Sulorian. "What
do any of us care what happens in Sector 001? Their sun
could go nova and not affect our situation one bit."
was how you ran the Constructive," agreed the other
man. "But I learned something from my dear departed
friend, Axum. There's something about that sector and its
natives...something that never fails to get them entangled
in Borg affairs. They bear monitoring."
has reached a decision," continued the news anchor.
"Captain Kathryn Janeway and her entire former crew
from Voyager will be assigned to Starfleet's newest vessel.
The acting Starfleet ranks of her former Maquis crewmembers
have been reinstated and made official. The ship will leave
Utopia Planitia later today as planned.
further news on the new starship, we've opened a channel
to our contact on Mars, reporter Marcus Franklin. Marcus?"
Suellen." There was no video with the voice -- Franklin
had been contacted in a hurry and had to stick with a standard
you've spent the last few days in and around the Montana
project. What can you tell us about the new starship?"
it's big -- nearly as large as a Sovereign-class ship. Its
design, too, is very similar to ships of that class. Like
most Starfleet vessels, its structure consists of a primary
hull, an engineering hull, and two warp nacelles; it's also
capable of saucer separation, a traditional maneuver which
hasn't been supported in some of the most recent designs."
our viewers have heard, the new ship incorporates some alien
technologies. Which ones are they, and where did we get
can't tell you much about that, Sue -- the ship's design
is still being declassified. But I can tell you that elements
of Borg and Sernaix engineering are all present in the new
starship. The general approach of the Montana project's
engineers was 'use whoever's version works best.' Take the
computer system, for example: Borg plasma relays work faster
than any others known to Starfleet, so they were used to
build the interface between the ship's gel packs and the
of improvements, can you verify the rumors about the propulsion
Franklin laughed. "That system is most definitely classified.
And something else I can't tell you is the ship's name...."
hasn't been decided yet."
it standard procedure to choose a name well before a new
ship is built?"
but not in this case. Even the class is still nameless at
this point. I've heard some rumors, but nothing solid enough
to tell the viewers at this point."
thank you very much for your time, Marcus." The connection
closed. "Starfleet Command has once again reminded
citizens not to panic, and has reiterated that the Sernaix
situation is under complete control. In other news --"
moving, the leader of the Constructive deactivated his monitor.
He turned back to Pavriqur. "You see? That was significant.
Janeway is back -- and with a more powerful ship, one that
carries some of our technology. She was the one who destroyed
the old Collective. She will very likely play a role in
this war before long."
doesn't matter," said Pavriqur in a defeated voice.
"The war means nothing now."
beg to differ. Power -- isn't that what this has always
been about? And the war will decide who holds the greatest
power that has ever existed."
war was never about power. It was about actions, about beliefs.
Do you think I betrayed Axum for power alone? I did it because
he was making a foolish, wasteful mistake, and I couldn't
prevent him from making it. My goal was always to bring
about a new golden age with the resources at our disposal
-- to build a new Unimatrix Zero on the ruins of this galaxy.
You have no idea what any of this was about."
hated Queen is dead. You or Axum would have divided her
power among many. I choose to concentrate it all into myself.
That is what this is about."
to accomplish that, you will rebuild the Abomination --
and become something worse than the Queen herself."
The man whirled on Pavriqur and bombarded him with energy
in every form -- searing heat, blinding light, rolling electricity.
He felt the same pain within himself and rejoiced at the
sensation. At last the Sulorian's screams grew tiresome,
and he stopped. "There is no worse abomination than
the Queen. What I will become is the culmination of all
evolution. I will become perfection. Never forget that."
a thought, the man teleported his captive back to the sealed
alcove that was his prison. He looked at the map of the
Constructive with his biological eye and his technological
eye, and both images were the same. He threw his head back
Energy. They flowed through his veins. Soon all life and
all energy would flow through his veins. Soon he would be
no one would stop him -- not Pavriqur, not the Complex,
and not Captain Kathryn Janeway.
was a fairly effective way of letting out some of the frustration
and boredom Chakotay was feeling.
he walked up and down the short corridor running from Owen
Paris' office to Briefing Room five, he constantly had to
dodge various personnel that were hurrying around, engaged
in some task or the other. The Federation was, after all,
making preparations for a major operation, and it was quite
obvious that things were hectic. Despite the early hour,
it looked as though they had pulled in as many people as
they could, given the sheer volume of people flowing through
herself had been called in to attend a last minute meeting.
Chakotay knew from various conversations he had had earlier
on in the day over subspace that B'Elanna had been horrendously
busy sorting through and approving various modifications
that Starfleet had sent her, and Tom had been called to
Starfleet Command to participate in a meeting. Most of the
other crew had already been dispatched to Utopia Planitia,
awaiting the departure of the prototype ship.
Planitia. Chakotay paused in his pacing for an instant,
then continued at a faster speed, deep in thought. He was
beginning to wonder if he should contact someone about his
lack of an assignment. He had, until now, hesitated, since
he knew how busy Admirals such as Owen Paris were, given
the current situation, but every other member of the former
Voyager's senior staff had been given orders to report to
Utopia Planitia as soon as possible, apart from him.
warning, a young Ensign rounded the corner, and narrowly
avoided hitting Chakotay, jerking him abruptly out of his
sorry, Sir," she apologized, her eyes growing wide
as she recognized him. Voyager's crew had become something
of heroes since their return to Earth. Chakotay, and the
rest of the crew, especially the Senior Staff, had had to
come to grips with the fact that just about everyone in
the Federation knew their names.
quite all right, Ensign, it was my fault," Chakotay
said, by way of apology. He watched as she continued on
her journey at a fast pace, then shook his head, and began
once again to pace.
he passed the door to Briefing Room two, he glanced at the
door, wondering what was being said. There was no doubt
in his mind that Kathryn would tell him as soon as she exited
the room, but it was still frustrating not to be in there
with her. Their time in the Delta Quadrant had made Chakotay
used to being in the loop about everything. As an effective
command team, Kathryn had shared the responsibilities with
Chakotay, and had only on rare occasions withheld information
from him. This adjustment was just one of
the few he had had to make on their return to Earth regarding
Chakotay turned to face the door of Briefing Room two as
he heard the door hiss open. As Kathryn emerged, he started
towards her, giving her a small smile as he did so. Her
expression was weary, but she managed to return the smile.
he greeted her. "What took you so long?"
she said, stifling a yawn. "Admiral Paris wanted to
make sure we understood one another regarding the mission.
We can't afford any mistakes, not this time."
nodded in understanding. He knew only too well how important
this mission was to the Federation. Changing the subject
slightly, almost certain that Kathryn didn't want to talk
about the mission after an hour of discussing it at length
with a roomful of Admirals, he told her "I still haven't
been given any notification for returning to duty. I spoke
to B'Elanna earlier, the rest of the crew have all been
given their orders to report to Utopia Planitia."
nodded. "I've been given my orders too. I have to get
underway in less than an hour." She was silent for
a moment, gazing down at the gray carpet that lined the
halls, unable to meet his eye-line. Looking around at the
bustling corridors, then gesturing towards the opposite
doorway, she said, "I think Briefing Room four is free,
can we talk in there?"
right," Chakotay agreed, a feeling of trepidation quickly
building. It was unlike Kathryn to want to avoid his questions.
As a rule, she was generally to the point with him. She
had never been one to beat about the bush, and he doubted
she had suddenly gained the habit.
expected, the room was empty. It was lit by the morning
sunlight streaming in through the window as day broke over
San Francisco. An eerie blue glow and low humming noise
came from the fish tank filled with Lionfish that stood
in the corner.
over at Chakotay, Kathryn gestured towards the replicator
and asked, "Can I get you anything?"
I'm fine," Chakotay told her, taking a seat. Ffeelings
of curiosity and dread were rapidly building in the pit
of his stomach. He wanted nothing more than for Kathryn
to get whatever she was keeping from him currently out in
black," Kathryn requested from the replicator. As the
beverage materialized on the tray Kathryn took it, breathing
in the aroma. Taking a mouthful, she swallowed, willing
the caffeine to kick in. It had been a long night, filled
with work and meetings, and it was certainly a good few
days since a last good long sleep.
Kathryn moved over to the table, seating herself in one
of the numerous chairs that surrounded it. She placed the
mug of coffee on the glass surface of the table with a clink.
what's going on?"
a deep breath, Kathryn looked him directly in the eye. "You've
been reassigned," she told him quietly, as his worst
fears were confirmed. "They want you to depart for
Starbase 27 immediately."
took a moment for the information to sink in, and for to
Chakotay to realize the implications. "Why?" He
sighed, thinking of the past half hour she'd just spent
arguing this one over with a group of stubborn admirals.
"They need their best people out there, Chakotay. They've
assigned you to a Defiant-class ship, the Logan."
I'm more use on your ship" Chakotay argued. "I
know the people."
you think I've been trying to tell Starfleet that?"
Kathryn asked him, her voice suddenly increasing in volume.
"Don't you think I tried to fight this, Chakotay? Believe
me, I argued. But their decision is final." She slumped
in her chair, in defeat. "I'm sorry," she said,
looking up at him, tears suddenly glimmering in her eyes.
"I tried, Chakotay. I promise. I want you there, beside
me. But Starfleet wouldn't listen. As far as they're concerned,
your tactical experience is of better use on a reconnaissance
was silent for a moment, gazing out of the window, deep
in thought. As his mind accepted the news, his first thoughts
were of Kathryn. Turning back to face her, he asked, "What
taken aback by his acceptance of the facts, Kathryn quickly
replied, "I'll be fine." She avoided Chakotay's
gaze, knowing all too well that he could read her like an
open book. She wasn't fine, and he knew it. Kathryn had
always been good at masking her emotions, but Chakotay could
see through it. He knew her too well, and had the gift of
being incredibly perceptive.
meeting our new first officer at Utopia Planitia,"
Kathryn said, in an attempt to fill the silence that had
quickly formed in the room. "A woman. By all accounts
she's an excellent officer, I think she'll fit in. I expect
they'll be some initial resentment at first -- the crew
wanted you back, Chakotay -- but I think they'll grow to
like her, given time."
nodded numbly, resisting the temptation to talk, afraid
his own voice would betray him at this point. It was a lot
of information to take in -- a lot of information that he
didn't want to take in -- and it was almost painful to accept.
The realization that the crew wanted him back was a small
comfort. Not much, but it helped ease the pain somewhat.
probably for the best," Kathryn continued, trying to
keep her tone as normal as possible as she made another
attempt to fill the silence. "After the past few weeks,
and everything that's happened, some time apart will probably
be good for us." she trailed off, unable to continue.
Chakotay knew as well as she did that she was lying.
gazed out of the window, allowing her hair to fall slightly
over her face, concealing it from his view. She didn't want
him to see the tears that had suddenly welled up in her
eyes. If she was to convince herself and him of this. But
it wasn't working. Sighing inwardly, she knew all too well
that her efforts were in vain. She didn't want the separation,
she didn't want him to be on the Logan, and she didn't want
a new first officer.
probably won't be seeing each other for a while," Chakotay
managed to speak, finally having regained control. "I
suppose it might even be months."
possible," Kathryn said quietly. "It's very likely,
Chakotay rose from his seat, wandering over to the window
that looked out over San Francisco bay. The sun was quickly
rising above the buildings, flooding the city with sunlight,
and the water in the bay shone as it reflected the sun's
rays. He noted that almost every light on the Starfleet
Headquarters complex that surrounded the main complex was
on, supporting his earlier theory of Starfleet calling in
everyone they could.
out across the city, Chakotay forced himself to tell her,
"I'll miss you."
her chair back, Kathryn moved across the room to join him,
falling easily into his arms. She buried her head in his
chest as he held her tightly. Once again, Kathryn was reminded
of how well they fit together with her head nestled in his
chest, his arms surrounding her tightly. Like two pieces
of a jigsaw puzzle put together.
wanting to spoil the moment, Kathryn wouldn't allow herself
to speak. She was content in his arms, feeling for the first
time that evening, that things were right. She remained
silent as he held her -- one arm around her waist, the other
caressing her hair. She didn't want to ruin what would probably
be the last perfect moment she had with him, alone, for
a long while.
she moved her head slightly, Chakotay noticed a dark patch
on his jumpsuit, undoubtedly the mark left by a single tear.
He paused for a moment, then moved back slightly to meet
her eye-line. Kathryn looked up, surprised at the sudden
loss of close contact.
he managed gently, looking into her eyes. "It'll be
fine. I promise. We'll make it through this."
do you know that?" she asked, her voice unusually quiet.
Chakotay suspected she was keeping it at that level in an
attempt to control her tone. Though Kathryn let her guard
down as much as she could around him, she was a Starfleet
Captain through and through. The training she had been given
was a part of her, and the reluctance to show any weakness
was a part of that. He didn't blame her, and wasn't hurt
by this. He understood only too well -- being in command
in the Maquis had had a very similar effect on him.
just do," he replied simply, allowing her to fall into
his embrace again. And somehow, that was enough explanation
for Kathryn. Trusting him, she allowed another tear to slip
down her cheek.
love you, Kathryn," he murmured softly in her ear,
not wanting to break the contact again.
him closer, she managed a muffled, "Love you too."
gently rested his head atop hers, stroking her soft hair
with one hand. "I'll be with you, Kathryn," he
said quietly. "I'll be there for them all, but I'll
be there with you. Maybe not in person, but I'll be thinking
of you constantly. You can count on it."
he couldn't see it, Chakotay knew, somehow, that a smile
had crept over her face. Sighing quietly as his gaze flicked
back to the window and up to the clouds, he felt a sudden
desire to return to the Delta Quadrant. Life had almost
been simpler there. Even though he and Kathryn hadn't been
together, this was infinitely more frustrating. Finally,
after years, his dream of being with her had become a reality,
and now it was being brutally torn away from them.
he knew all too well that he wouldn't give up their new
relationship for anything, despite the difficulties it was
presenting, and the obstacles that looked to be in their
himself out of his thoughts, it suddenly hit him that Kathryn
would have to depart for Utopia Planitia soon.
we really will be fine," he reassured her gently, hoping
his tone relayed this as confidently as he felt. "I
love you, and that's all that matters. If we both believe
we can make it work, we can."
is why I never let anything happen before," she told
him quietly, looking upwards into his dark eyes. "I
always thought this could happen, that we'd be split up
like this. I thought we'd got to the stage where we could
be fine. Where we could have a normal, regular relationship.
Where we could be together and be happy. I guess-"
he cut her off, his voice firm. "If it's meant to be,
we'll be together, no matter what. I love you, and I think
you love me. That's all that matters. I promise you, we
will be fine."
do love you," Kathryn said quickly, not wanting him
to think otherwise. "But I genuinely thought we could
be together from here on - without this - I wasn't expecting-"
life deals you a hand that you've just got to live with,"
Chakotay told her gently. "We'll be together, Kathryn.
Don't ask me how I know, I just do." He looked into
her eyes, searching them as he asked a question. "Do
you trust me?"
my life," she responded immediately.
believe me when I say that we'll be all right," Chakotay
told her. One hand moved to gently cup her face, guiding
it towards his. One tear rolled down Kathryn's cheek as
her eyes closed. Gently, his lips met hers in a firm kiss
that felt blissfully familiar. His own arms moved lower,
sliding around her waist, and pulling her closer to him.
snaked her own hands upwards, to clasp at the back of his
neck, pulling him down slightly closer to her level. As
Chakotay allowed his tongue to meet hers, Kathryn surrendered
herself completely to the intense kiss, feeling a sad pang
in her heart as the knowledge that it would be the last
of its kind for some time, passed through her mind.
after a few perfect moments, they broke for air. Kathryn
stared into his eyes for a moment.
love you," he said, his voice little more than a whisper.
brief smile crossed her face, wiping away the sad expression
for a moment. "I love you too," she returned,
gently grasping his hands with her own.
her into an embrace once more, Chakotay gently kissed her
forehead. Although it struck him as a time at which he should
say something, perhaps more reassurance, he found he had
no words to sum up his emotions.
looked up at him. "I--I have to go and get ready for
the transport," she said gently, regret evident in
her voice as her sorrow quickly re-manifested itself. Standing
on her tiptoes, she planted a quick kiss on his lips, lacking
the passion of the previous one. Then, summing all the strength
she had, Kathryn managed to disentangle herself from his
arms, and exit the room silently, without looking back.
watched the door after it had closed behind her for moments
after her departure from the room. Eventually, he turned
to gaze out of the window, looking up towards the starry
sky where soon he, and Kathryn, would once again be.
opened the top drawer of the dresser. Inside, Miral's clothes
lay neatly folded. For a moment, his fingers lingered on
the soft fabrics and then, he grabbed most of the garments
and threw them haphazardly into the suitcase.
I help you?"
turned at the sound of his father's voice. Owen Paris stood
in the doorway, looking a little uneasy.
almost done. I'm just taking the basics," Tom said.
"What are you doing here?"
let me in."
smiled slightly. So like B'Elanna, he thought. His relationship
with his father had been somewhat cooler than cordial as
of late and B'Elanna had been eager for the two of them
all, she had commented wryly, Miral needs at least one set
of grandparents, right?
you sure it's a good idea to take Miral along with you?"
Owen asked again. Tom glanced at his father. "Don't
you think it would be safer to leave her with us?"
now you're asking my opinion?" Tom asked, a note of
insolence creeping into his voice. "I don't want to
be separated from my daughter ever again. Not if I can help
smiled ruefully. "I guess I deserved that, didn't I?"
been thinking a lot about what happened," Tom said
thoughtfully. "Maybe you thought you were doing the
right thing when you took Miral away from us. Maybe you
perverted everything good for the cause. I just know that
I've never been so miserable in my life. B'Elanna and I've
talked it over. We know what the risks are and we're willing
to take them. We don't know how long we'll be gone and we
refuse to leave Miral behind for an undetermined amount
of time." Tom closed the suitcase. "I told you
this before. Miral needs to be with her parents."
sighed. "We'll miss you."
mean you'll miss Miral."
Tom, I mean you." Owen looked meaningfully in his son's
direction. "May I come in?"
shrugged. "Sure. You don't need an invitation."
you, I'm never sure," Owen said quietly. He came to
stand next to his son. "Tom, we haven't always seen
eye to eye and I've done things I'm not proud of. I'd like
to think we've been given a second chance to make things
better. What do you think?"
could hear the apologetic note in Owen's voice. He thought
of something else B'Elanna had once said to him, that it
was easier to forgive than to spend the energy to remain
angry forever. Suddenly, Tom felt himself softening.
think-" Tom swallowed hard - "I think that's a
good idea. I, I would like that."
eyes glistened, much to Tom's surprise; he had never seen
his father express emotion so visually before.
said this before, Tom, but I am proud of you. I always have
looked at his father in surprise.
hope you make Janeway proud," Owen said. He reached
out, his fingers flicking at an imaginary speck of lint
on Tom's shoulder. "No, I correct that. I know you
will make Kathryn proud."
all where you need to be," Owen said quietly. "I
never realized that before, but I know it's true now. Good
cleared his throat. "It means a lot to me to hear you
didn't respond, but kept looking at Tom with watery blue
eyes. Without thinking, Tom leaned forward and for the first
time in years, he embraced his father.
stood looking out at the bay from the window of her temporary
quarters. While the scenery was beautiful, it did little
to take her mind from her worries. Her mind was a whirlwind
of unsettling emotions and thoughts. Again and again, her
mind created unsettling scenario after scenario of where
Harry was and what the Sernaix were doing to him. Each one
more fantastic, more detailed and less logical then the
last. Seven found herself wishing to have to pack, but with
most of her belongings already on Utopia Planitia, she would
have to wait until they received orders to depart.
sound of the door behind her opening and shutting with its
tell-tale hiss made Seven turn to see the Doctor standing
there. "Seven, I thought I'd come and check to see
how you were doing. I never doubted that Captain Janeway
would make the Council see reason and now we're together
again. A crew again with a new starship to fly." The
Doctor had a spring in his step and a gleam in his eye,
which caused Seven to smile slightly. This was one thing
they had much in common over, neither would be sorry to
be departing Earth. "A new ship, a new sickbay, my
own staff." The Doctor smiled widely as he did a mental
inventory of the opportunities this presented to him. "No
more having to deal with Mr. Paris and his interesting approach
to being my assistant. It will be a great relief to be able
to train my own staff and not have that particular thorn
under foot any longer. No offense to Tom, but as a medic
he made a wonderful pilot."
could hear the pleasure in the Doctor's voice and she too
would have been happy for him and the rest of the crew had
it not been for the circumstances that afforded them the
opportunity to be a crew under Captain Janeway once more.
Instead her mind was so caught up in the turmoil brewing
there that she barely acknowledged the Doctor's commentary,
turning back to the window while she tried to banish the
thoughts that had her tied in knots.
Doctor was brought from his reverie as he watched Seven's
reaction. He walked up behind her and laid a gentle hand
on her shoulder. Seven sighed gently. "I am sorry,
Doctor. I have a lot on my mind."
worried about Lt. Kim as well, Seven." The Doctor paused
as he squeezed her shoulder gently. "Would you like
to talk about it?"
barely noticed the Doctor's presence anymore. She knew he
was here with her, but compared to the scenes playing in
her head and the sensations she was feeling, it felt so
distant, so disconnected from her current reality. She couldn't
bring herself to answer. It was too much, and the words
that came to mind were pale compared to the intensity of
Doctor's gaze narrowed at Seven's unresponsiveness. Her
current state was unsettling in almost anyone; in Seven
it was a hundred times worse. He knew she wouldn't answer,
but he also wanted her to know he was there for her so he
vocalized his intentions to her. While she wouldn't respond,
hopefully it would be a comfort to some part of her. He
kept his tone light, but inside he was worried. "Seven,
since we're both ready to depart, why don't I accompany
you to Utopia Planitia. I've never been there, so you can
help me find my way."
slight nod of Seven's head, acknowledging his request was
all the response he received. It was more than he'd expected.
will be leaving shortly, then?" asked T'Pel of her
husband as they walked among the tranquility of the gardens
outside Starfleet Command.
will be accompanying Captain Janeway on her shuttle to Utopia
Planitia," said Tuvok, his eyes not meeting hers. "I
have made all necessary preparations for my departure and
have placed my affairs in order."
arched an eyebrow, as she gleaned the hidden meaning of
his words. "You speak as though you do not expect to
stopped in mid-stride and turned to face his wife. "I
have no expectations, T'Pel. It is logical to be prepared
for all eventualities. We face a most formidable adversary.
While I will perform my duties to the utmost of my abilities,
it is entirely possible that our efforts will not succeed."
He then moved closer to her, his voice changing its timber
ever so slightly. "You must be prepared for this potential
Vulcan woman stiffened somewhat before speaking. "I
am the wife of a Starfleet officer, Tuvok. I have also endured
your absence from our home these many years while seeing
after our family alone. I am no stranger to the possibility
know this," he said, allowing a moment of silence between
them. "I have always believed you to be the most courageous
individual that I have ever known, even including my comrades
aboard Voyager. I deeply regret the necessity of leaving
you, and would not take this assignment, were not the circumstances
understand, Tuvok," she said, "and I would not
expect anything less of you. You are a man of loyalty and
duty. I ask only that you perform those duties well."
will endeavor to do so," he said to her. He then knew
it was time to go. Nothing more needed to be said. "My
transport is leaving now," He held out his hand in
the Vulcan salute, but using the proper subtle gesture reserved
between husband and wife. "Live long and prosper, my
nodded and returned his salute. "Live long, my husband,"
she replied. That was, after all, the logical thing to say.
couldn't remember the last time she felt so much apprehension
to meet someone who would be serving under her command.
On the other hand, it was 8 years since she had had to worry
about such a situation. Being in command of Voyager in the
Delta Quadrant had its benefits at times, and having one
constant crew was something Kathryn was grateful for, especially
under the circumstances.
however she couldn't shake the thought of meeting her new
First Officer. Part of herself was watching her own personal
nightmare unfold before her while the other part fought
hard to keep the Captain's mask in place. Deep down, it
felt like it was tearing her in two.
that thought, she dumped her duffel bag on the floor of
her new quarters. Her new ship. It would take some getting
use to. Especially with how everything was changing by the
minute. With one more look around the room, she turned toward
the doorway, remembering that she was due on the bridge.
She had one more stop to make before she was due - meeting
the new First Officer.
stepped through the door, mentally preparing herself for
the task at hand. It wasn't one she was looking forward
head snapped up and she came face to chest with a dark-haired
woman. As Kathryn gazed up, she could tell from the look
on the woman's face that she was all business. The woman
backed off slightly, giving Kathryn enough room to step
out of her quarters. Once there, Kathryn gazed at the larger
woman. In a command red uniform, she stood a good 12 centimeters
above Kathryn. As she looked down, Kathryn realized the
woman was wearing three gold pips on her collar.
Commander Thalia Barton, your new first officer." Barton
addressed, extending her hand to Kathryn. She smiled disarmingly
down at Kathryn, who felt a little overwhelmed in the moment.
Kathryn reached out to shake the woman's hand, her thoughts
Commander, your personnel file certainly didn't do you justice."
Kathryn said, offering to walk with the Commander to the
nearest Turbolift. "It wasn't necessary to come and
find me down here - I was just making my way to the Bridge
my calculations, you are running late. I decided to come
down to see what was keeping you. After all, a First Officer's
job is to make sure their Captain is safe at all times."
felt a shiver pass through her as she said the words. It
was something Chakotay would have said. Those words sounded
almost too personal now, even if they were spoken by someone
else. Yet another sign of how things had changed. There
would be a lot to get used to.
a sigh, she and Barton approached the Turbolift as she pressed
the button, signaling their presence to the lift. Finally,
Kathryn spoke again. "I know what a First Officer's
job is Commander, more than you can even imagine. I expect
you to keep that in mind."
was no reaction on Barton's face. "Yes sir."
cringed. "One more thing. I do not like being called
stared straight forward. "Regulation states that-"
is my regulation. I wish to be addressed as Captain or Ma'am.
The rest of this crew learned to do this, I expect it of
you as well." Janeway felt her temper flare from deep
within. There was something about this officer that she
already didn't like. It would definitely take some getting
it is widely known that your.crew isn't exactly regulation.
I am simply going by the book." Barton stated, her
taunt well received by Kathryn.
would seem you have a lot to learn Commander." Kathryn
snapped, staring straight ahead in the lift to keep her
temper in check. "First thing being that, to get something
done, by the book doesn't always work. Now if you'll excuse
me, I have one more stop before going to the bridge."
She finished as the turbolift came to a stop.
the doors began to close behind her, Kathryn firmly heard
the words "Yes Sir!" emanating from the small
low hum of the ship's engines broke the silence that slowly
descended on the bridge. Paris gazed over his new console
one more time, familiarizing himself with the various systems.
Becoming Voyager's pilot was one of the best things that
ever happened to him eight years ago. Now, staring now at
the consoles and realizing the power behind this one console,
he couldn't be happier to be the pilot of such a pristine
ship. Equipped with Transwarp and Slipstream drives on top
of the normal warp drive, he couldn't resist smiling to
himself. It was a dream come true. However for one thing,
he regretted not paying attention to Harry as he rambled
on about the ship at his daughter's birthday party. At that
thought, he glanced to his left, the Ensign at the post
next to him a painful reminder of what this mission meant,
and how much there was to lose.
circumstances landed the crew of the former Voyager the
chance to man the next ship to bare the name. However no
one ever said they were good circumstances. Tom knew that
there would have been no way for Janeway to get captaincy
of this ship if there wouldn't have been an incident of
similar circumstance. It was almost a shame that Starfleet
waited until something happened before acting. The Federation
and Starfleet should know now that sitting idly by and waiting
will not amount to anything in the
future. He sighed to himself. Now that was all water under
the bridge. They had to move from here.
in his chair, Paris took a long look around the bridge.
Everything seemed so familiar, yet out of place. Tuvok stood
at his usual post at Tactical to his left, stoic as ever.
Seven was standing towards the back of the bridge manning
the engineering console. A console that had Borg and Sernaix
components completely integrated into them. Tom would have
never imagined such a combination in his wildest dreams.
The Montana Project, he hard, had started off on rocky grounds
to begin with. No one believed that she would ever fly.
And here they were now, preparing for the shakedown cruise.
Starfleet surely had outdone themselves with this new ship,
the NX-74656-A, the USS Voyager.
eyes trailed down from Seven to the woman sitting in the
First Officer's chair. Yet another reminder of the changes
that had transpired. Commander Thalia Barton, her most recent
posting before this one was a hot short tactical planner
and security officer for Starfleet Security. She looked
tough, stern. Not the kind of person he would want to be
associated with. Even B'Elanna looked less hostile to him
eight years ago. Tom couldn't help but wonder about Starfleet's
choice of a new First Officer. His attention changed however,
as he heard a hum approach over the silence.
turbolift door slid open as Janeway stepped off the lift,
taking in the sight before her. Tom could tell she felt
the anxiety the same way he did. It felt good to be back,
however it was all because of something that none of the
former crew wanted to face. Everyone watched in silence
as she walked slowly from the lift, making her way before
Tuvok and to the two stairs that lay before her. Stepping
down, she placed a hand on the engineering console that
strung around the back of the bridge. She seemed elsewhere.
slowly rose from his seat and stood at attention. Everyone
did the same. "Captain on the bridge!" He spoke
in salute to his Captain, however more in honor for his
you Lieutenant." She looked at him, flashing him one
of her genuine smiles as she made her way over slowly to
the center of the bridge, as Owen Paris stood up from the
Captain's chair, making his way over to meet her. "Admiral."
all yours Kathryn." Owen said, small smile on his face.
He knew how much she wanted another ship. It was something
short of a miracle that he was Chief of Technology. That
placed him in a influential position to say who will get
any new ship that left the dry-docks at Utopia Planitia.
There was no question in his mind who should get the newly
built prototype that was known as the Montana Project. He
honored to be the one to turn her over to her new Captain.
you Admiral." Janeway said, a small smile on her face.
She took one more look around the bridge, trying to get
use to the idea of a new ship. It felt different. The carpets
smelled new, and all the consoles were as shiny as a diamond.
It almost felt too new for her liking.
a look." Admiral Paris motioned in the direction of
her chair, more directly the plaque that seemed to be placed
between both chairs. She walked slowly up to the frame situated
at the middle of the bridge as she leaned in to get a closer
look. Her smile widened as she read the inscription.
Voyager - First ship of her class - Second ship to bear
the name - Registry NX-74656-A - Launched 56031.5.
felt full circle to her. She stood staring at the plaque
for several moments, trying to grasp the enormity of everything
that happened in the past 24 hours. It was nearly impossible.
caught her eye, however, and she leaned in even closer,
to read the inscription at the bottom. Quickly she turned
to everyone, however settling in on Tom Paris, who was wearing
a smirk on his face. "Whose idea was this?" Janeway
asked, her accusatory tone directed at Paris, who at that
moment couldn't feel prouder. Everyone on the bridge, including
the Admiral began to laugh as she turned back to the plaque,
standing proud. "'Sometimes, you have to punch your
way through.' It's fitting." Janeway said, her
thoughts again shifting to how different everything was
now. Mostly she couldn't shake the thought of going out
again without Chakotay by her side. Above everything, that
had to be the worst for her. She felt the light mood fade
away as her thoughts began to dwell on their missions ahead.
spoke, causing her to leave her thoughts. "I threatened
dad with a year's worth of diaper duty. He seemed willing
to comply after that thought."
Captain when Tom suggested the idea I couldn't agree with
him more. It was the least we could do." Owen was quick
to stand his ground.
you. Both of you." Janeway said, grateful. She extended
her hand to Admiral Paris, showing her gratitude. After
all the hard times and all the times he said no to her in
the past 4 months, he came through for her in the end. There
was a part of her that knew she could always count on that.
The same part of her that was telling her now everything
will turn out ok in the end.
when that end will be was yet to be seen.
chamber of the Council of Elders pulsed with rainbows of
light, a low hum filling the air. The colors sharp and violent,
like the turmoil the Sernaix had started outside the phase
- as though the planet itself was aware of the strife to
come. In the center of the chamber, an image of Janeway
addressing the Federation council hung in mid-air, seemingly
constructed by the light emanating from the crystal walls
of the round
cavern. The image jumped then to the private meeting between
Janeway and the President of the United Federation of Planets.
The Ayrethans holding silent witness to the events unfolding
around them. No words were needed, as they all knew what
was to come next. Their attention still held fast to the
image before them. Janeway's first view of her new ship.
slowly rose from his seat and made his way towards the fleeting
images, his eyes still focused there. "Captain Janeway
is the key. While Lt. Kim is the catalyst, Kathryn Janeway
is the leader with the strength for what is to come. She
will not falter from the path that is before her. Now that
her people have recognized her worth, we may act."
murmur from those in attendance filled the room and the
tension rose. Each of them knew what Speaker Mateth would
call for next and for the first time in a millennia, they
no longer knew what the outcome would be. The low hum that
came from the planet itself grew louder, and it started
to change, as did the light that refracted from the walls
around them. The hum became a song, a lilting mournful call
from the depths of time as the light coalesced into a white
glow that surrounded everything, seeming to come from
within them as well as from without. "Our forever ends
today. And so it begins..." Mateth whispered, yet it
was as clear as though he had spoken normally. Each Elder's
voice joined the song from the planet, and soon every Ayrethan
on the planet mated his voice to the song. Until the entire
world sang, then the universe shifted and the bubble burst.
The Phase was no more.
stood still and looked down at the suit cases laid out on
his bed, now almost filled with the belongings he was taking
with him to his new ship. Everything had happened so quickly.
One moment he was out of Starfleet, the next he was back,
reinstated with his full rank and assigned to a new ship.
One minute he was enjoying the first few weeks of his new
relationship with Kathryn, the next he found himself uncertain
as to when he would see her again. It was like his life
had been picked up, placed into a box and shaken up until
it was unrecognizable; nothing like it had been the day
his younger days, he had often imagined how his Starfleet
career might go. He would work his way through the ranks,
earning the right to one day, if he was good enough, command
one of Starfleet's vessels. Then he resigned; and he got
his own ship, just not the one he had imagined. The Liberty
had been a hodgepodge of spare parts by the time it got
swept into the Delta Quadrant, but it had still been his
ship. He'd been sorry to see it go.
he was being thrust back onto a Starfleet ship with barely
any warning. When all was said and done, he wasn't so sure
that this was what he wanted. It hurt to think about the
rest of his Voyager crewmates all together again. Well,
with the obvious exception of Harry. Despite the circumstances,
it would be quite a reunion. Kathryn belonged in command
of that ship, this he knew, but he also knew that he belonged
by her side.
found himself thinking about who would take his place as
her First Officer. A woman. He felt a little sorry for Tom
and Tuvok - with the majority of the senior staff being
female life could get interesting! He'd always felt it was
better to have a more even balance. But then, maybe he was
just thinking they'd be better off with him among them.
thoughts were interrupted by the comm chiming, and he moved
over to his wall unit.
young ensign appeared onscreen. "Commander, I've been
ordered to request that you report to transporter pad 4.
Your ship is ready for you, sir."
Chakotay replied, "on my way."
so he was. Having terminated the communications link, he
turned and threw the last few items into his cases. Into
the top of one, he carefully placed an image that he had
made Kathryn pose with him for at Lake George. Then, after
fastening the cases securely, he picked them up and strode
out of the door. It was time to move on.
Wildman clung to her mother's arm tightly as they strolled
down the long winding corridors towards the transport bay.
Long ago, Naomi had deemed herself too old to hold her mother's
hand, adamant that at the age of four, she was far too grown
up to show affection in public. But now all this was forgotten
as they walked towards the bay, where Naomi would, for the
first time in her life, be separated from her mother...
possibly for a significant period of time.
Sam's good-byes to her extended family had been said long
before they had left the apartment. Naomi and Greskrendtregk
were the only ones who were accompanying her to the transport.
That was exactly how Sam had wanted it. Although her parents
and sister wanted desperate to accompany her, Sam had managed
to dissuade them.
was still coming to terms with the imminent separation from
her mother. All her life Sam had been there, a familiar
figure in her life. Due to being stranded in the Delta Quadrant,
they had had a remarkably close relationship, even for a
mother and daughter. And now they would be apart, for an
undetermined amount of time... and Naomi had seen enough
of life in Starfleet while aboard Voyager to be entirely
confident that her Mother would be safe.
that thought in her mind, she gripped her Sam's hand tighter.
before had Naomi suffered the hardships of being the child
of a Starfleet officer. She was quickly learning to appreciate
what she had had on Voyager all too late... constant companionship
and entertainment, adoration from the entire crew. As the
spoiled only child of Voyager, Naomi had never been in great
need of anything, and as a result had never missed the lack
of a Father figure in her life. At any rate, Neelix had
been almost that, guiding her and helping her.
small group walked in silence. There was simply nothing
to say. Greskrendtregk and she had discussed everything
while Naomi was still in bed, not wanting her to overhear
what was being discussed. Sam knew her daughter well, and
knew exactly how upset Naomi was about the orders to report
to duty. Not that Naomi was making any attempt to hide it...
at first she had been shocked, and upset. Now she was hiding
her emotions, pretending that absolutely nothing was wrong.
they rounded the corner, Naomi's heart began to beat faster
as the realization of just how close it was to their separation
hit her. She glanced up at her mother's face, watching as
Sam walked on, her eyes focused on the door in front of
her, a look of slight determination in her eyes.
closed her eyes for an instant, trying to pretend that it
wasn't really happening. Although she had grown to tolerate
and like her father, she knew her mother better. She recalled
the events of the morning, when they had broken the news
to her. Although she had felt a slight swell of pride as
they explained to her that her mother had to go because
she was one of the best in her field, the sensation had
quickly been replaced with horror, and then dread.
they reached the door. Naomi saw her mother take a deep
breath, then exchange a look with Greskrendtregk before
walking through the door.
the bay, chaos reigned. Cargo containers presumably carrying
supplies filled half of the bay, in the process of being
loaded. The ship itself stood there, the transport to Utopia
Planitia. Naomi felt suddenly sick as she saw it, knowing
perfectly well that that ship would be the one to take her
mother away from her.
Sam spoke for the first time since they had entered the
large building. "I suppose I'd better get on board."
She felt decidedly awkward, unsure of how to reassure Naomi
in any way. She smiled gently at Greskrendtregk. "Take
care, honey." She leaned over, planting a kiss on his
returned the smile. "Be careful."
will," Sam replied, before looking down at Naomi. "Are
you okay, sweetheart?"
shook her head, as Sam leaned down to Naomi's level, opening
her arms to the child. Naomi flung herself into Sam's arms,
tears suddenly glimmering in her eyes as her mother lifted
her up. Samantha wrapped her arms protectively around her
daughter, allowing Naomi to bury her head in her shoulder.
Tears soaked through Samantha's jumpsuit as she rocked Naomi
gently in her arms as though she were no more than a baby.
Sam gently comforted her, stroking her daughter's hair.
"Naomi, please don't cry. It'll be all right. I promise."
raised her head slightly, tears still falling. "I know,"
she choked out. "I don't want you to go." She
flung her head back into her mother's shoulder, slightly
embarrassed at admitting that.
don't want to go," Sam told her calmly, fighting back
tears of her own. "But I have to."
not fair," Naomi's muffled voice came from Sam's shoulder.
know, sweetie," Sam responded, hugging her daughter
close to her. "But life isn't."
to all passengers. Will passengers of the transport departing
for Utopia Planitia please board?
Boarding is commencing. I repeat, boarding is commencing,"
the computer reported.
me," Sam sighed, gently lowering Naomi to the floor,
reluctant to allow her daughter to go.
her eyes tightly shut, Naomi tried to blink back her tears.
Sam smiled affectionately at her daughter. "Chin up,
sweetheart," she said quietly, pulling the girls chin
upwards so that their eye-lines met. She gently wiped away
one of the tears rolling down Naomi's cheek. "Hey,"
she said softly, crouching down to become Naomi's height.
"I'm coming back." She gazed at Naomi seriously.
nodded understandingly. "I know."
smiled, trying not to cry. "That's my girl." She
glanced from Naomi to the transport ship behind them. "They're
getting ready to get underway. I'd better go."
nodded. "I love you, mom," she said, throwing
her arms around her mother's neck.
love you too," Sam replied calmly, hugging her daughter
tightly. They stayed in complete silence for a few moments.
on, Naomi," Greskrendtregk urged her, grasping the
girls hand as she backed away from her mother. "We
nodded tearfully, clinging to her father's hand, suddenly
glad of the comfort he offered. "Bye, mom," she
you, sweetie," Sam told her daughter, an affectionate
look in her eyes before she turned, to board the shuttle.
and Greskrendtregk watched her until she had boarded, and
even then continued to gaze for a few moments afterwards.
be all right," Greskrendtregk told Naomi, unsure of
entirely how to reassure her.
was silent for a moment. "Lets go," she finally
managed, averting her eyes from the transport, and beginning
to lead her father towards the door.
could hear the snapping of the cables that connected the
hull of the ship to the station. The detachment of the wires
from the hull plating sent an echoing bang throughout the
entire top decks. It was a sign of how quickly this ship
was pushed into her shakedown cruise. Kathryn felt it was
also a sign of things to come.
sank down into the Captain's chair as the last of the cords
snapped off, leaving the ship free from the shipyard. The
blue chair felt comfortable, however it was missing the
distinct feeling of wear. For a second, Kathryn missed her
old ship greatly. It was replaced quickly however by the
thought and feeling of being back in the big chair yet again.
It felt right.
glance to her left and she realized yet again what wasn't
right. Her new first officer, Thalia Barton sat beside her,
looking straight ahead. There was a smugness to her looks
that irked Janeway, it reminded her of Tom Paris of the
early years. On second thought, she reminded herself, Tom
Paris came to be one of her best officers. She glanced at
Barton again, her thoughts wandering. Everything will definitely
take some time, but Janeway couldn't shake the thought of
Barton's arrogance on their first encounter from her mind.
She didn't like that encounter at all and hoped that they
could talk later under better circumstances. That was, of
course, if Barton wanted to.
was doing one last check of the ship's systems before she
would give the order to depart. Where they were going was
still an unknown, however Seven and B'Elanna were both working
with Oz to see what he could find. With that thought, she
gazed down at the seat beside Tom Paris, the empty seat.
That was what was important at the moment - to get Harry
back. She could solve any minor crew squabbles and technical
difficulties with the ship at a later time. Right now finding
Harry was their top priority.
Engineering reports in that all systems are a go. All propulsion
available through slipstream drive." Tom reported.
you, Tom." Silently, Kathryn stood up from her seat,
turning to look at each person who was stationed on the
bridge. "For those of you who are new to my crew, welcome.
For those who served with me for the past eight years. Here
we are again." She said as she walked silently down
the two steps to where Tom was sitting. Kathryn trailed
her hand along the Helm/Ops station, deep in thought.
feels that this ship is ready to go, and I know for most
of you, there are some lingering doubts as to whether this
ship will perform. We all do. However, as I look at the
empty space at Ops, I can't help but feel assured in a small
way." Kathryn was lost in thought as she walked to
the other end of the console, taking a long look at the
new controls. "Harry Kim worked on this ship since
the beginning. He believes it can fly. So does our chief
engineer B'Elanna Torres and Seven Of Nine. I have faith
in their faith. And I hope every one of you will have that
same faith as I do."
took a breath as she walked back up near her chair, still
standing. "This mission won't be an easy one, however
for the crew of Voyager, nothing ever came easy. I expect
the same effort from each one of you as I received when
we were lost in the Delta Quadrant and the Time Bubble.
We are now in charge of the most powerful, most advanced
ship in the fleet. Starfleet made a huge leap in interstellar
travel by equipping this ship - the Voyager-A - with a Transwarp
and a Slipstream drive. Eight years ago, it would take 70
years to travel between the Alpha and Delta quadrants. This
ship can do it in weeks."
turned again, this time facing Ayala who stood beside Tuvok
at tactical. "Eight years ago, under extraordinary
circumstances, the crew of Voyager and a group of former
Maquis were bought together in a quest to get home. Here
we are today, still standing together." She lingered
on that note, pondering Chakotay's absence. "There's
a new mission ahead of us, and we'll face it again. Together."
She smiled slightly at Ayala, who returned it, then took
her seat. "Mr. Paris, take us out."
shuffled back in forth in the prison that was made to look
like his old room. He had given up trying to force open
the doors or windows, nor was calling for help of any use.
He was stuck here until his tormentors decided to have more
fun with him.
this was a holodeck, Harry thought, then it was an excellent
recreation, one that Tom Paris would have been proud of.
They had managed to get the details of his childhood down
to the wear and tear of his soccer and Velocity team posters
from fifteen years ago. Everything was exactly as he remembered
it, except for the fact that his mother was not a homicidal
dictator bent on destroying his home planet.
Harry," came a familiar voice, as Sycorax reappeared
in the guise of his mother once again. "I was hoping
your recollections of childhood might help bring forth some
other memories of yours."
looked at the false image sternly. "It's funny, but
my memory has gone all of the sudden."
you'd prefer a change of surroundings?" she asked,
as the room shifted around them. Suddenly, Harry was no
longer in his childhood home, but on the bridge of Voyager,
back in the Delta Quadrant.
quickly shifted his attention around the room, noticing
how everything looked the way he remembered it. Then he
looked down at himself, and the loose pajamas he had worn
earlier had transformed into his old uniform. He looked
back to where his mother had stood, only to see that her
image had been replaced with another woman.
this is where you feel more comfortable, Harry," said
an illusory Captain Janeway, addressing him with a familiarity
that became all the more unsettling.
do you want from me?" Harry demanded.
I've said, Harry," she answered slyly, "you've
been keeping secrets. There are things about this new ship
you've been building that my contacts on Earth haven't been
able to learn. Maybe you'd like to tell me about them?"
know all about your contacts," Harry shot back defiantly.
"Everyone does by now. Just as I'm sure they know that
they're the ones who kidnapped me."
doesn't matter," said the false Janeway, as she strode
confidently over to the captain's chair and sat down, all
eyes on the bridge watching her. "Your Federation is
in no position to stand against us. Our people will have
our sport with your people's suffering."
fight back," Harry said, trying to muster as much conviction
as he could, if only to convince himself.
I'm sure you will," said Sycorax through the Janeway
image. "It will be so much fun to watch your kind flailing
about, trying to fight when its so obviously hopeless."
Sycorax then shifted in the captain's seat, looking square
at Harry, her face still showing amusement. "Of course,
I could make things easier for your people."
Make things easier?" Harry shot back in contempt.
what you don't seem to realize is that I'm the only one
holding back the packs and keeping them from unleashing
an orgy of violence against your Federation that would make
your Dominion War seem like a family squabble. All I have
to do is hold a conclave and get the males riled up enough,
and your planet would cease to exist. I'm sure the Abomination
told you all about what the Sernaix are capable of."
gave me some idea," said Harry.
I'm sure you can see the importance of you making me happy.
Tell me what I want to know, and I can minimize the damage
to your people as best as I can. Defy me, and I can't be
held responsible for what happens next." Sycorax then
stood up from her seat and sauntered over to Harry in a
very un-Janeway-like manner. "Don't cling too tightly
to your expectations of reality, Mr. Kim. In the Realm,
you can have anything you want, anything you desire."
scene shifted again, and Harry was still in uniform, still
aboard the old Voyager. Only now, he was no longer on the
bridge, but rather in the old mess hall instead. And he
wasn't alone. Standing before him was Seven of Nine, wearing
the silvery healing suit that she had favored during her
first year as an individual.
you in love with me, Ensign?" said Seven.
Harry stammered, as confused at this moment as he had been
by this same scene five years ago.
pupils are dilated, your respiration uneven," said
Seven, as she came well within his personal space. "Do
you wish to copulate?"
going on here?" he tried to speak. But as soon as Seven
of Nine came close to him, close enough to feel the warmth
of her body, the sensation of her breathing, she looked
up at him, with a mischievous glimmer in her eyes that was
not characteristic of the former-drone, even now with her
newly liberated emotions.
feels good, doesn't it?" said Sycorax with Seven's
voice. "You humans are so easily manipulated by your
emotional desires. It puts my own species to shame."
Harry pushed the false Seven away from him and backed away.
Was there no escape from this manipulative tyrant?
you really thing you can best me, Harry?" said Sycorax/Seven.
"I know your desires and needs better than you do.
Maybe you'd like to see some other episodes from your past?"
scene changed again, and Harry was in his old quarters on
Voyager, standing next to the same Seven of Nine illusion
from before. Only now there was someone else here, another
woman from his past.
to bed, Harry," said Tal playfully, lounging erotically
among his bed sheets. "That's an order."
said Sycorax next to him, "you'd prefer it to play
then glanced back at the bed. Tal was gone, replaced with
to bed, Harry," said Seven of Nine playfully, as naked
and as sensual as Tal had been just moments before. "That's
stop it!" Harry cried out, turning to his side, only
to see that no one was there anymore. "I'm tired of
your manipulating reality! If you want to know so much about
me, then face me as you are! No more illusions! Show me
your real face!"
right, Harry," came a booming gravelly voice; one that
Harry suspected was the true voice of Sycorax. "If
that's what you want."
the moment, the scene melted away. Harry saw that he was
stretched out on what seemed like a rack, his arms and legs
spread apart. He glanced to each side to see that there
sticking out from his limbs and his
neck, almost like he had been assimilated into the Borg
Collective. His horror increased as he looked about the
huge spherical chamber, the walls made of the same dark
glassy material that he
remembered from Ozymandias' ship so long ago. The room was
empty except for him, the apparatus he was strapped to,
large, bulky mass drifted towards him, only becoming clear
as the light shone upon it that it was a person. A Sernaix.
But not like the Sernaix males he had encountered before.
This Sernaix was large, obscenely huge, with heavy drooping
rolls of fat around its face. He
to float in mid air, as she was clad in a loose white cloak
and shrouded in some kind of mechanical harness. The device
seemed to project some kind of antigravity around its wearer,
as it allowed her to move about the room with a grace and
ease that belied her tremendous bulk. Only as she grew closer
could Harry see the look of cruel satisfaction at his terror
and helplessness. This was the true face of Sycorax, Adimha
of the Management Cadre.
to reality, Mr. Kim," she said to him, with a harsh
of Nine entered Engineering, looking about with great interest.
She remembered how this place had looked when she had been
working at Fulton Station, back when this vessel had been
nothing more than, as B'Elanna Torres had put it, a skunk
works. Then, engineers and technicians had been hastily
fumbling about in a haze of inefficient movement and activity.
But now, this was a working engineering department on a
starship. The crew all had their assigned duties and were
doing so with the fluidity and precision of a well-crafted
machine. B'Elanna had brought order to chaos, much as the
Borg Queen did with the Collective. Of course, Seven thought
it best not to share this analogy with the chief engineer.
looked up from her work and acknowledged the newcomer to
her domain. "Hey, Seven. Did the captain send you down
did not," said Seven. "I had hoped to converse
yourself," said B'Elanna, gesturing towards the slipstream
core. "You'd be doing me a favor. I need to get this
crew up to speed, and I can't do that if he keeps making
his smart-ass comments while we're trying
will endeavor to occupy his time," said replied, "Lieutenant."
smiled at the acknowledgement. "You know, Seven, I
know I told you that you could call me by my first name.
But still, it feels good to get the recognition again."
smiled at B'Elanna and then turned towards the elevator
that went down to the sublevel that housed the slipstream
core. A number of modifications had been made to the Engineering
compartment since their initial experiments with installing
the Borg and Sernaix drive systems. The Borg transwarp drive
was now located on a higher platform which overlooked the
standard Starfleet warp drive. Meanwhile the slipstream
core had been installed in the lowest level, for both easier
access to the deflector array systems and for security purposes
in containing Ozymandias. Seven approached the Sernaix section
anxiously as the lift came to a stop and she got off, beholding
the unnatural looking mass of the core. "Ozymandias,"
she greeted the being inside cordially.
Seven," said Oz with his regular flourish. "I
was hoping you'd be coming to see me. You know, your captain
promised that those holographic emitters would be installed
here in Engineering soon."
am afraid that is a secondary priority," she said.
"I was hoping
you would have more information
on events within The Realm."
figured that this was more than just a social call,"
said the Sernaix. "I've been trying to tap into the
Realm's subspace frequencies without being detected. So
far, I'm getting quite a bit of traffic among the packs.
There's definitely something big about to happen."
of Harry?" she asked apprehensively.
that's a bit harder," he answered. "I managed
to track the communications from the ship that first took
him. I know that he was transferred to a pack ship from
there, and was moved to several destinations after that.
But I'm still trying to home in on a final point of delivery."
see," she said softly. "Any information that you
can provide would be of great benefit."
course," he said, with an uncharacteristic gentleness.
"You know, I'm not sure I really understand these emotions
that you two are feeling for each other, but I'm guessing
that they're pretty important."
suppose," she said, her thoughts distant. "But
they can be a complication. Perhaps your race is to be envied.
Without love, you cannot be hurt."
think that you may be throwing out the baby with the bathwater
on that, Seven," said a familiar voice from behind
her. Seven turned to see the Doctor looking at her with
a gentle smile.
she said, "I did not hear you enter."
sorry, I didn't mean to eavesdrop," he said. "I
came to speak with Lieutenant Torres. She was somewhat concerned
about, well," he dissembled before shifting his attention
towards the slipstream core and continuing in a more snippy
tone, ".what you said to her about her being touched
and tainted. She wanted to make sure that there were no
problems with her or her baby."
don't be jumping on me," Oz replied defensively. "I
only repeated what was told to us by the Management Cadre.
Personally, I was never able to detect any Touch from her
the way I can with Harry. I'm an Adimh, not a medic."
trust that she is well?" Seven asked with concern.
my scans haven't found anything wrong with her, if that's
what you mean," said the Doctor. "But I can't
say that I know what I'm supposed to look for either."
young woman said nothing, and thought only of Harry, and
how his own special gifts, whatever their origins, were
the cause of his disappearance.
to me, Seven," said the Doctor. "I know how it
is with you. I know that you're feeling great anguish inside.
Often you try to shy away from the things that confront
you or cause you discomfort."
point being?" she demanded.
I'm saying, Seven, is that you shouldn't give up on your
feelings or emotions just because they carry with them the
risk of being hurt. I've seen you these past few months,
how you've grown and flourished as a human being. I always
had the highest hopes for you when I took on your tutelage,
but you've exceeded all of my expectations. You've truly
blossomed into your humanity. I beg of you not to throw
if I am mistaken? Why must I risk pain and suffering for
Doctor smiled at her affectionately. "Seven, there's
an old human expression. 'You have to kiss a few frogs before
you find your prince.'"
arched an eyebrow at her former mentor. "Doctor, are
you comparing Axum and Chakotay to amphibians?"
I am saying, Seven," he continued warmly, "is
that the pain and the confusion and choices you made in
the past all helped you to grow and to bring you to this
point right now. Mr. Kim is different from those other men
in your life. He's the first young man you've chosen while
completely free of your Borg restrictions and preconceptions
of the past. He's the choice you made as a true human woman."
I have lost him?"
you'll go on," he added. "You have the strength
for that. But you don't know that you've lost him yet. He
could still be out there, waiting for you. Now maybe he
may just be another frog. But maybe, just maybe, he could
be your prince."
right, you know," said B'Elanna, coming up to join
him. "And I think that after centuries of fairy tales
about princes and damsels in distress, it'll be nice to
have the princess come to the rescue for a change."
features broadened as she stood up firmly, her confidence
renewed. "You are correct, both of you. I will not
give up. Harry is out there and I will find him. I will
not give up hope. That is the human thing to do."
Oz emitted a loud scream throughout Engineering, causing
all within earshot jump.
the hell was that about?" B'Elanna shouted at the Sernaix.
Oz tried to speak. "It's happening. The invasion is
went pale as Sycorax floated up to him, her piercing yellow
eyes never blinking, until she was just centimeters from
his face. He wanted to look away, but each glance to the
side only showed him the violation of his body.
did you do to me?!" he screamed at her, trying to wrestle
his arms free from the harness he was strapped to, the tubes
plugged into his limbs jangling as he shook them.
have to forgive the crudeness of this apparatus, Harry,"
said Sycorax with a false smile. "It's been a long
time since we've tried to link an alien with The Realm.
We know that your species doesn't share our natural abilities
to generate a bodyfield, so we had to come up with a more
groaned with disgust at what had been done to him. He felt
no pain, but only a dull ache that permeated his body. He
was still wearing the clothes he had on during his date
with Seven, even though his sleeves and pants were in tatters.
It was just a well, he thought. He didn't want to know what
these monsters had done with the rest of his body that he
then something dawned upon him. If the Sernaix had been
forced to rig such a device to access his mind via The Realm,
then it meant that they didn't know about his episode with
the slipstream core. For one brief moment, Harry had managed
to interface his mind with Sernaix technology, even though
such a feat should have been impossible. Perhaps it had
been just a fluke, something to do with Ozymandias and the
core. But what if it wasn't? Perhaps, he thought, he had
an ace up his sleeve after all.
Harry," said Sycorax as she floated around him menacingly.
"You're going to tell me more about your dreams. Did
you hear any words spoken to you by the gods?"
telling you, I haven't any idea who your gods are, or whether
or not they gave me any knowledge!" he shouted in exasperation.
"I think I'd remember if I met a god!"
stopped in mid-air and turned towards him, her face becoming
twisted and angry. She lunged towards him and reached out
with her clawed finger. Harry could do nothing as she seized
his head in a vise-like grip between her hands.
to me, boy!" she growled at him. "I could crush
you like an insect! I can't imagine why the Gods would choose
a pitiful creature like you as the vessel of their knowledge,
but according to your ship records, they did. So you will
tell me everything I want to know! Now!"
winced as he felt the pressure and pain of her grip on his
head. She pressed harder, to the point where Harry feared
she would crush his skull in a mindless fury. "I.I
don't know what you want me to tell you."
Gods!" she exclaimed, her voice sounding more desperate.
"They must have spoken to you in your dreams! What
did they say to you! I must know their secrets! Their lives!
Did they give you the secret to immortality?"
thought you Sernaix were already immortal?" he answered
she spat at him. "As digital beings, perhaps, divorced
from the physical needs and desires of life. But immortality
of the flesh, the immortality of power.that is a gift that
only the Gods were said to wield! I must have that power!"
thought of what this woman had said of Ozymandias. She had
called him an Abomination, all because he had refused to
step down and choose the life of an immortal upload. But
now he could see that Ozymandias and Sycorax were two sides
of the same coin. Both craved the pleasures of reality all
for different reasons, but in her own way, Sycorax was as
much an Abomination as the being she had ordered hunted
down and destroyed.
Adimha looked deep into Harry's face, and saw both the fear
and the defiance. Seeing that she was losing her control
over him, she released him and floated back. Clearly the
human did not fear his own death. Given what they knew of
him, the deaths of others would be more likely to move him.
well, Harry," she said with scorn. "If that's
the way you want to play, then you'll learn who is the true
master of games here." Sycorax then waved her stubby
arm, and the room disappeared, replaced by a vast arena
decked with torches and bonfires. The sky in the distance
was a volcanic glow of ash and flame. The air was filled
with the heavy din of drums and marching armies. Hundred
of Sernaix men were seated around them on stone benches,
all of them dressed in shiny black leather, with their tattoos
glowing a fiery red. They were all shouting and clamoring
for attention, and all of them armed with nasty looking
melee weapons, and ready to use them.
for Sycorax herself, she had grown to even greater proportions.
In this false reality, she towered over the arena as a ten-meter
tall warrior goddess, her bulk replaced with muscle, her
robes and harness becoming armor. Her clawed fingers were
now extended as ferocious talons and her eyes radiated with
as for Harry himself, the tubes and attachments had disappeared.
He had shrunk down to the size of a mouse, and was being
held up in Sycorax's monstrous paw, reduced to the status
of a toy for Sernaix enjoyment.
is the Enemy!" Sycorax bellowed to the assembled males,
as they quieted down to absorb the words of the Adimha.
"See how weak and vulnerable he truly is. So too shall
it be with the worlds of his people! Go forth and destroy!
Take pleasure in the death and agony that you sow and share
that pleasure with all those linked to The Realm!"
the males shouted in unison, raising their weapons in a
salute of victory and joy.
is our first target?" asked one large Sernaix male,
who stood at the head of the crowd.
the Warrior Goddess smiled cruelly as she gazed down at
the helpless Harry Kim in her hand. "Find Janeway's
ship," she cackled. "Find it, and make her crew
checked the navigation chart again, amazed at the precision
of the Borg transwarp drive. They were on the course Oz
had set for them now over 3 hours and he had no need to
make a course change - a record as far as he knew.
it meet your approval Mr. Paris?" Janeway spoke from
her chair, a slight grin on her face as she watched her
pilot gaze over the controls like a kid in a candy store.
more than I thought Captain." Tom replied.
sudden beep from the ops console alerted both of them to
that station. The ensign at the post punched a few buttons
in confusion. "Captain, the readings are garbled."
With that, Kathryn stood up and walked down to the Ops console,
beside the young ensign. "I can't get any good readings."
punched a few buttons herself, frowning. "Its possible
that there is a problem with the sensor array." Kathryn
tapped her combadge. "B'Elanna are the sensors working?"
Came B'Elanna's voice over the comm. Kathryn frowned again
at the ops console. Still nothing. She sighed to herself.
Malfunctions were the most annoying thing about a shakedown
cruise. Kathryn paused a moment, about to call in a repair
team when another beep went off, this time from the Helm.
another one, Mr. Paris?" Janeway shifted sides between
the two officers to stand beside Tom. From the look on Tom's
face, Kathryn could tell she wouldn't like what he had to
say. She then felt a shiver beneath her feet that quickly
changed into a big shake, nearly tossing her off balance.
coming out of transwarp Captain! I don't know what caused
it!" Tom hollered as he tried to steer the ship back
onto some recognizable course. With one hand, Kathryn latched
on to the back of his chair and tapped her combadge with
tell me everything is working fine now!" Janeway said
as another shimmer shook the ship. She fell forward, catching
herself on the console in front of her.
The shaking ceased as Tom released a breath. "I think
we're ok Captain."
still can't get a clear reading Captain." The ensign
turned to the station at the far left. "Mrs. Wildman,
can you pick up anything from your station."
glanced over the sensor data she had received, and couldn't
make any sense of it. "I don't know what to make of
this Captain. By all accounts, the sensors in Stellar Cartography
are working. But..." Her voice trailed off as she frantically
tapped at the buttons, trying to make sense of the information.
what Ensign?" Kathryn prodded.
picking up...severe changes to the space-time continuum."
Sam spoke, in disbelief.
changes ensign? Be more specific." Kathryn said, turning
and strolling up to Stellar Cartography. Sam was still flicking
away at the controls as Janeway got close enough to the
station to read the sensor data. "This doesn't make
stars...there are more of them. And some have disappeared.
Wait a second." Sam said as she flicked away at the
controls. "It's still changing."
It was Tuvok this time. "I am picking up currents of
temporal displacement throughout the sector. It appears
to be an after effect of whatever has happened to the stars.
I cannot trace it."
felt a migraine coming on very quickly at the mention of
temporal displacement currents. Now part of her was hoping
this was all glitches within the ship's systems. "Tuvok,
Sam, run a level 3 diagnostic."
I believe there is nothing wrong with the system. I scanned
the nearest star to appear. We've encountered it before."
Kathryn felt her head beginning to buckle under the strain.
To her right, she saw Barton appear, a bad omen if she could
ever think of one.
the Time Bubble, Captain. I think that...wherever we were
then is now merging with our galaxy." Sam finished.
felt a tinge of fear ripple through her. That was one place
she never wanted to see again. "Are you sure?"
sensors indicate such."
Paris, come to a full stop. I want to know exactly what's
going on here." Kathryn ordered as she turned and began
to walk across the bridge. The sanctuary of her Ready Room
looked very pleasing at the moment. There she could think
things over, there she could figure out what was happening.
should keep going." Barton's voice echoed throughout
the now silent bridge. Kathryn turned slowly to meet her
new first officer square in the eyes. All she was met with
was vainglorioussness. "We should not be wasting time
makes you so sure we are 'wasting time like this'?"
Kathryn countered. "There has been a severe disruption
in the space-time continuum. I don't know if the Federation
took a look around lately, however that usually means something
severe happened and could possibly mean that there was a
change to our own timeline. The Temporal Prime Directive
We should let Temporal Investigations take care of it."
step into an area of space we know potentially nothing about?"
Kathryn approached the larger woman, although she was smaller
than Barton, Kathryn's sense of command and composure made
her the dominating one. Her chin tilted slightly up as she
faced down the brunette. "That's the markings of an
inexperienced officer, Commander."
am following protocol." Barton stated calmly.
as Captain, I want to know what's going on. Report to engineering
and help Lieutenant Torres with those diagnostics. I'll
be in my Ready Room." Kathryn ordered as she turned
away, not giving Barton a second glance. Sensing Barton's
stare on her back, she turned again. "And don't forget
- Lieutenant Torres is the Chief Engineer." With that,
she turned and made her way into the Ready Room.
doors swished shut behind her as she called for the replicator
to makea cup of coffee. The mission had grown more complicated.
If the sensor data was correct as she suspected it was,
then there could be no stopping the Sernaix. As far as Kathryn
knew, their race spanned the entire galaxy. Passing by the
replicator, she reached for her coffee and made her way
to her desk and plopped herself down in the seat. With one
sip of coffee, she felt herself relaxing.
the mug down on her desk, she opened a channel to Starfleet
Command, thinking that maybe they knew what was happening.
The computer announced. She would have to send her message
through subspace and hopefully hear back from them within
a few hours. Taking one more sip of coffee, she prepared
a message and sent it off on a secure channel.
back in the chair, she thought over the events of the last
48 hours. Everything was so peaceful, just two days ago.
She and Chakotay were at Lake George, finally getting, what
he called 'all that overdue shore leave you promised to
take with me'. Then there was Miral's birthday party which
brought the senior staff back together for the first time
in months. Kathryn sighed at the thought. It was certainly
one of the most enjoyable evenings she had ever shared with
her close friends.
seemed fate had intervened to make sure something went wrong.
Later that night, Paris showed up at the cottage with the
bad news. Much to her surprise he never even made a single
comment about her and Chakotay. They made their way to Starfleet
Headquarters and everything changed. About 12 hours later
she was in a meeting with the President of the Federation
and shortly after that - they had all been reassigned, she
was given the new ship and Chakotay...
gone. He was assigned to another ship. The sum of eight
years of fear all wrapped up in one single action. Chakotay
was taken away from her. That thought still seemed unbelievable
even though she sat in this new Ready Room, on a new ship,
with a new First Officer.
felt like it was crumbling apart beneath her feet. Kathryn
sighed to herself and gulped down the last of the coffee.
Hopefully things would get easier in time.
not. The ship was suddenly rocked violently, tossing Kathryn
out of her chair and to the floor. She knew the feeling
and she knew it wasn't an insatiable transwarp corridor.
Scrambling to her feet, Kathryn ran onto the bridge "Report!"
good Captain." Tom reported.
keep me hanging Mr. Paris." Kathryn snapped.
surrounded by Sernaix."
felt her heart sink even lower.
Ben-Zvi, Jeffrey Harlan, Seema, LadyChakotay, Thinkey, LauraJo,
Zeke, MaquisKat, Heather Briles, , Bec, Rebel, Anne Rose
and Jennica Williams
Producers: Thinkey, Anne Rose and Coral