Author's Chapter Notes:
Disclaimer. Some of these folks belong to Paramount; some to me. I've had a good time getting them together. And I thank everyone who has taken the time to read this ....
She could hear it roaring.
The sound reverberated through the bridge as the first tendrils of the energy wave slammed into Voyager.
"What the hell is that thing?" Kathryn Janeway asked herself again. The anomaly had been sitting there, seemingly stable, when they discovered it three days ago. She couldn't pass up the opportunity to study it. So they had parked at what they thought was a safe distance, until the energy readings began to spike off the screen, and ....
The inertial dampers were barely working. She struggled to focus, to ignore the nausea building in her stomach.
"Tom," she yelled at Paris. "Try a parallel course." A tactic swimmers used when caught in the current ...
Paris struggled to maneuver the ship, but it was too late. It was upon them.
It was worse than she had imagined. The concussion slammed the ship, pitching it forward. The last thing Janeway remembered was being lifted from her seat.
When she came to, it was dark. She was face down on what she supposed was the floor. A dead weight rested across the small of her back. She shifted, cautiously, and the weight let out a groan.
Chakotay. The thought gave her some comfort.
"Kathryn?" he whispered uncertainly, his hand finding her shoulder. "I'm all right," she replied, placing her hand on his in response. "Can you move?"
"I... think so," he said. She felt his weight lifting, then felt his hands pull her close as he lifted her to her feet. They held onto each other in the dark, unsure of their bearings, still slightly unsteady..
She felt him slap his comm badge. "Chakotay to engineering....." No reply.
"Tuvok? Harry? Tom?" she called. No reply.
Finally, she heard grunts and movement as the bridge team regained their senses. Tuvok, ever prepared, had a sims beacon. They used the tiny light to help get their bearings until the emergency lighting finally flickered on
Even in the dim light, she could tell the bridge was a mess. No structural damage, but PADDS and tools were everywhere.
They were a mess, too. Paris was bleeding from a cut on his forehead. Harry was sporting the beginnings of a black eye, but was diligently trying to coax his console into life..
"Report, Mr. Kim?" she asked, almost bemused.
He shrugged. "Not much to report. Power systems are off-line."
"So are the helm controls and the engines," Tom Paris chimed in.
"And the comm system," Chakotay added.
"So, gentlemen, here we sit." Janeway said. "Anyone volunteering to take the Jeffries tubes to engineering?"
Fortunately, no one had to. Suddenly, a series of familiar hums broke the silence, as one by one, the ships' systems began to power up. The lights returned, blinding them with their brightness.
Janeway decided to try the comm system. "Janeway to engineering. Thanks for turning the switch."
"No problem, Captain," B'Elanna Torres answered as Janeway noted the look of relief on Paris' face.
"That was a wild ride," she continued, " but there doesn't seem to be much harm done. The warp engines are still off-line. We'll have to try a cold restart."
"Understood. Call me when it's done."
"Captain," Harry said. "Reports of minor damage on Decks 15 and 20. Minor injuries."
She nodded, amazed - and grateful - it wasn't worse. "Harry, where are we?"
"Coordinates say ... we haven't moved from our previous location."
"Odd," she said to Chakotay, who nodded in agreement. Her next statement was cut off by Tuvok's warning that a ship was approaching. "We are being hailed."
"On screen," Janeway said. That's all they needed with a crippled engine - company.
The screen provided no clue - just static. The audio portion, however, was a shock.
"Unidentified ship. This is the Federation Starship Vanguard. Are you in need of assistance?"
Federation! She whirled and looked at Harry. He shook his head at the unasked question. "Sensors still say we're in the Delta Quadrant."
"Vanguard," Janeway replied. "This is the Federation Starship Voyager. "
"Voyager? Voyager is not assigned to this quadrant."
"You're telling me..." Janeway muttered. "Vanguard, we are a Federation ship. I would like to talk to your captain."
"Stand by" said the voice.
Impatient now, Janeway threw up her hands and walked back to her chair. She was about to give an order when the viewscreen came to life.
Standing in front of her was a young man, early 30s perhaps, with dark hair and eyes. Janeway had the vague feeling that she had seen him before. While he betrayed no reaction, Janeway knew he was taking in the scene, sizing them up.
His uniform certainly didn't look to be Federation issue. He was wearing a blue tunic, with red piping, and dark pants. The four pips on his collar and the Starfleet insignia were the only things that looked familiar.
"I apologize, Captain, for the delay. We haven't run across many ships that don't have holographic technology."
"Holograms? I see things have changed."
"We were on routine patrol, and saw you come out of the anomaly. Are you all right?"
"I think we'll be fine, thank you. But since when has the Federation begun patrols of the Delta Quadrant?"
The captain looked puzzled, then suspicious. We've patrolled the Delta Quadrant for the last 50 years. What ship do you say you are?"
Fifty years? Some sort of awful realization was beginning to dawn on Janeway. "As I said, we're the Federation Starship Voyager. We were pulled into the quadrant five years ago. "
"Five years? The Voyager I know of was pulled ...." he stopped as if something had occurred to him. Can't be, he thought. Yet, the uniforms ... and this woman looked familiar.
"Captain," he asked. "What year this is?"
"Twenty-three seventy six," Janeway replied.
The young captain shook his head. "No, it's 2471."
They stared at each other mutely for a moment, not willing to comprehend the situation. The .young man cleared his throat. "Obviously, something extraordinary has happened ....."
He was cut short by the arrival of another officer, from the pips, Janeway guessed he was the XO.
"Sir, he said, quietly. "We've compared this ship to our database. It's Federation technology. Old technology, but it's Federation." He hesitated, giving his captain a sympathetic look. "There's more. This ship matches the data for Voyager - the original Voyager."
The young captain looked as if he had seen a ghost. Perhaps he has, Janeway thought. God knows she didn't feel well herself. She didn't dare to look at Chakotay, or anyone else on the bridge.
Slowly, almost stammering, the captain asked. "Then you must be ....."
"Janeway. Kathryn Janeway."
She heard an audible gasp from the Vanguard's bridge as crewmembers stopped to stare at the captain. He paid them no mind. "And your first officer ...." he continued.
"Commander Chakotay .... and you are....?"
She heard his sharp intake of breath. He smiled wanly. "I suppose I should introduce myself. Captain David Janeway at your service, Captain."
She felt a shock go through her. A family member ... but who?
She smiled warmly. "I have ... had an uncle David."
David Janeway nodded. "It's obvious we have some sort of time displacement here. I'd like to consult with my staff. I'm sure you'd like to do the same. Perhaps we should convene here in two hours?"
"Certainly," Kathryn Janeway replied. In the meantime, she thought, she needed some answers.
David Janeway sat in his ready room, absently staring at a family photo, when his first officer, Jack Connelly, came in.
"Astrometrics and engineering have some theories, but nothing concrete just yet." Connelly said. Noting that Janeway wasn't really paying attention, he leaned over the desk. "David? Are you all right?"
Janeway looked up and gave him a half-smile. "Not really, Jack. "
He got up and began to pace. "It's ironic as hell. I'd always wished I could see Voyager ... my grandfather told me so many stories. ..... Now, they're here. So what do I do with them? "
"Are you going to tell them?" Connelly asked.
"I doubt that I have any choice. She knows we're related. I suppose I could make something up," he said, grinning, "but as my granddad told me, Kathryn Janeway has little patience for dishonesty."
"Besides," he said, looking again at the photos on his desk. "Whatever we do or don't do, there will be hell to pay with Temporal Affairs."
Back on Voyager, Janeway was collecting information.
"Are we really 95 years into the future, or is this some elaborate joke? " she asked rhetorically.
Seven of Nine cocked an eyebrow. "A comparison of star charts before and after the energy wave hit us shows changes consistent with that time frame."
"Scans of the ship show that the Vanguard uses metals found only in the Alpha Quadrant, and our database does recognize some of its technology as being from Starfleet," Tuvok added.
"Also, " Harry said, " sensor readings show that the wave held enough tetronic energy to rip a hole through subspace. It's quite possible that this could be a temporal displacement."
"So it is possible," Janeway admitted. "So where do we go from here?"
Some of the answers became apparent later as Janeway, Chakotay, Torres and Kim sat in the Vanguard's conference room. "We've been studying this energy wave for the last six months," said Chobe, the Vanguard's chief engineer. "It's fascinating. It behaves almost like a wormhole, opening and closing on a regular basis."
"It's on a schedule?" Torres asked.
"Close, " the Bolian replied. "It seems to build up energy over the course of forty-eight hours, then, as far as we can tell, it opens up to release the pressure."
"So are you telling me we were sucked into the future by a giant vacuum?" Torres exclaimed.
That brought a laugh from the assembly. "Possible," Chobe said. "Trouble is, we don't know much about the other side. We've sent a number of probes, but nothing's come back ... at least not till now."
"Captain, "Harry said, turning to his commanding officer. "We have sensor readings of the energy wave. Perhaps we could combine our data to get a complete picture of this thing."
Chobe's eyes brightened, and he looked at his captain.
The two Janeways regarded each other. "Sounds reasonable to me, Captain," Kathryn Janeway said. David Janeway arched an eyebrow. "I concur, Captain. Mr. Chobe, please escort our guests to engineering."
"Captain!" It was Bartok, the Vanguard's security officer. I must remind you that the Prime Directive ...."
"I'm aware, Mr. Bartok, " David Janeway said. "However, if you know much about Voyager's history, you'll understand that we're using technology that the ship brought back."
It was Kathryn Janeway's turn to arch an eyebrow. "Oh? Such as?"
"Nanoprobes, transwarp engines .... sentient holograms."
Kathryn laughed. "I hope their dispositions are better than our doctor's"
David Janeway stood up. "Why don't we head to my ready room? I'd be happy to offer you and the Commander some hospitality while we discuss a few things."
As they headed for the ready room, David Janeway tried to keep the conversation light, away from the potentially sticky subject of family relationships. He had seen her watching him, probably trying to figure out who he belonged to. It was going to take everything he had to handle this ......
Chakotay took note of the ready room. Like Kathryn, this Janeway wasn't given to overdecorating. A few photographs ... a fish tank. A sand painting. Probably just art to him.
They sat, as David Janeway poured coffee. Then, cradling a cup in his hands, he looked Kathryn in the eye.
"Just so we're on the same page. You realize that I have to send Voyager back. The Prime Directive won't let me do anything less."
"I'm not sure how Starfleet is going to react when I give them the news. We may want to get you out of here before the historians show up."
"Since you know Voyager's history .... how much longer will it be until we get back?" Chakotay asked.
David shook his head ... hesitated for a moment. "It will be another ten years before you perfect transwarp enough to get back."
He saw the anguished looks the two exchanged. He saw something else, too, though it might be presumption on his part. "I'm sorry. I wish there was another way."
"I understand," Kathryn said softly. "Our mission is to get home, and the 25th century Earth is no more our home than the Delta Quadrant is. But ten years ....."
She squared her shoulders. The Captain had returned. But then she looked him in the eye, and asked the question he'd been dreading.
"I must admit, I'm intrigued by meeting a future relative. So, what part of my family are you from?"
"Well, that's probably a bit complicated," he began. "You may be interested in knowing that, counting you and your father, there have been five generations of Janeways in Starfleet."
She smiled, obviously pleased. He wasn't being quite forthcoming, she thought, but she'd play along for now. "Is this the sixth?" she asked, nodding toward a photo of a young boy with blue eyes and dark red hair.
David Janeway's eyes brightened. "My son, Will. He's five now. He's back on Space Station Cochrane, which is home base for us."
"His mother, too?"
He shook his head. "We're not together .... it's a short, sad story," his voice was soft, but the words held an unmistakable edge. "Here are my parents, Michael and Ann," he said, handing her another picture. "His sister's name is Kathryn ... same spelling, but no pips." She smiled, picking up on the joke.
Out of the corner of his eye, David Janeway could see Chakotay was up, casually inspecting the sand painting on his shelf. "Did you make this?" Chakotay asked.
"No. It's a gift from my grandfather. His father made it."
Chakotay had stopped listening. His attention was riveted by the photo standing next to the painting. Obviously a family photo, its centerpiece was an elderly couple. The woman was holding a baby on her lap. They were flanked by two men, one middle-aged, wearing a Starfleet uniform; the other younger, wearing civilian clothes.
The woman's image held his attention. Even the passing of years couldn't obscure those eyes.
His mind struggled. They were related, he reasoned. Perhaps......
Then he took another look at her companion. He saw the tattoo.
The realization hit him, and he grabbed the picture as if it would support him.
Kathryn heard his sharp intake of breath, and went to him. She rested a hand on his forearm, and peered at the picture. "You look as if you saw ...."
She gasped. Her eyes met his, mirroring his shock and bewilderment. Then he saw something harden in her, and she turned to face David Janeway.
"What does this mean?"
"Oh, shit, here we go," he thought. "I'm sorry," he began. "There was no easy way to tell you ......That baby is me, with my father, Michael; my grandfather, Edward .... and my great-grandparents, Admiral Kathryn Janeway and her husband, Captain Chakotay."
"No!" The word exploded out of Kathryn so forcefully that both David and Chakotay winced. "It's not possible. We're not ... we don't ...."
"Maybe not yet .. or maybe not in your timeline. But in mine ..... you married, and by the time Voyager returned to the Alpha quadrant, you had three children. Two sons, and an adopted daughter."
The words thudded into Kathryn's heart. Part of her was disbelieving, almost embarrassed. But yet...
She put a hand up to stop him. "I think I've heard enough for now."
"I haven't." Chakotay said.
The look Kathryn gave him could cut duritanium. David suppressed a whistle. Grandfather had come by his temper honestly.
Chakotay calmly looked her in the eye. "This is my life, too, Kathryn. I'd like to hear more."
Her expression softened as she contemplated his words, then she nodded. Chakotay looked at David, expectantly.
"Actually, there's not that much to tell. You both remained in Starfleet. You, sir, taught at the Academy, and you, Captain, worked on various technology projects." He smiled. "They named one of the buildings on campus after you when you retired."
"As for your children, Edward, my grandfather, joined Starfleet. Thomas became an engineer. Tala was a university professor. They all married and had children and grandchildren - most of whom you lived to see."
He couldn't read the look on his great-grandmother's face; she seemed lost in thought. There was no mistaking the warmth in Chakotay's eyes, though.
"Thank you ... I appreciate knowing."
The next day-and-a-half was busy as Voyager and Vanguard's engineers worked on mapping the anomaly. If all went well, they said, Voyager might catch the next energy wave out. Chobe would be sorry to see them leave, David Janeway thought. The Bolian seemed taken with Torres; Janeway didn't have the heart to tell him that one of his cousins was a granddaughter of Torres - and Tom Paris.
As he materialized on Voyager, he wasn't surprised to see that Chakotay was the only one to meet him. Grandmother Kathryn (as he always thought of her) had stayed out of reach after that visit in his ready room.
But no matter. He was really here to see Voyager, the ship that had dominated his dreams since he was little. He's always imagined walking down the corridors, just the way Granddad did. And if Temporal Affairs didn't like it, they could have his pips.
He'd enjoyed Chakotay's company as they walked the halls.
"I suppose this is as unsettling for you as it is for me," David Janeway said.
"A little, "Chakotay admitted. "But in another way, it's comforting." Seeing the younger man's puzzlement, he tried to explain. "I have very little family .... knowing that I may have one in the future, or maybe in another timeline, brings me some comfort."
All too soon, the tour was over. They were at their last stop - the observation room. David stopped for a moment and looked around. There ... it had to be that spot, he thought, walking over to a port at the farthest end of the room. "Granddad says he used to come here and watch the stars for hours. Said you'd have to drag him back to your quarters for dinner."
Chakotay laughed. "That sounds like a Janeway, all right. What is he like?"
"He looks a great deal like you. But I suppose he's more like grand .... the captain. Skeptical, sometimes stubborn ... a strong spirit. "
Chakotay smiled, and nodded him toward a chair. "So, tell me how this family of mine came to be" ‘
It was nearly 2400 hours when Janeway stood in front of Chakotay's door. She'd been walking the ship most of the night, hoping the movement would help her make sense of things.
Bad enough that some anomaly throws Voyager 95 years into the future; but she has to run into some one who claims to be her great-grandson ... hers and Chakotay's.
The whole situation scared her. Somehow, it felt as if fate had brought her deepest longing to life - against her wishes. The gods knew her feelings for Chakotay ran deep; but until now, she'd kept them buried. She had to, to pursue them would be too risky. But here was this stranger telling her she did pursue them, mocking every reservation she'd ever had.
She hadn't meant to ring the chime. Damn! Maybe he's asleep, she thought. No such luck. The door slid open, and he was there, a mixture of surprise and happiness crossing his face.
"I... I couldn't sleep, and I was wondering if you would replicate some of your herbal tea. My rations, of course." It was a small lie; better than saying she had no idea why she had come here.
As he busied himself at the replicator, she glanced at his console, and realized with a shock that the screen held an image of her.
But she 'd never sat for that image; and she'd never seen the two little boys with her. They were sitting on a boulder, overlooking a canyon she didn't recognize. The older boy was standing on a rock, leaning against her back. The smaller one, a toddler, really, was sitting on her lap, and they were intently studying something in the distance.
Fascinated, she looked more closely. The older boy strongly resembled Chakotay; the younger one had the same dark hair and eyes, but she could see the echo of her own features in his face. She looked at her own image - it looked older, a few more lines, a few strands of gray hair. The green tunic and pants seemed .....
Her breath caught, and her head jerked up. She'd seen that outfit before. It was hanging in her closet.
Chakotay's arrival distracted her: he didn't seem embarrassed by her discovery. "David ...er .. Captain Janeway lent me his photo chips."
"Thought I was the only Captain Janeway around here," she muttered. Something about the picture annoyed her. Maybe because it was too close to home. "I'm surprised he's doing this .... Starfleet must not be concerned about timelines these days."
"I'm sure they are," he replied evenly. "You can't blame him, though. If your great-grandparents suddenly materialized, wouldn't you want to talk to them?"
"If we're his grandparents," she snorted, turning to look out his viewport.
"Besides, " he continued, a bit too reasonably. "We can't just refuse to have anything to do with them. We need them. You said it yourself. We can't stay. It would make the family reunions a bit odd."
She laughed in spite of herself. "You have a point, there. But what are we supposed to do, Chakotay? Spend the rest of our lives wondering if our choices have been colored by a bit of time travel?"
"Have you considered that this is the way things are supposed to work out? That we were meant to get a glimpse of the future?" He was standing behind her now, and her body was responding to his warmth.
"I'm not sure I can accept that," she said.
"You can't accept that, or you can't accept the fact that I'm part of it" he asked, and she could hear the hurt in his voice.
"No!" She had spun around to face him, bumping into him. The proximity, his touch was forcing the words out of her mouth. "That's ... that's not it. It's not you. I'd want you to be part of it, but...."
His mouth slipped over hers before she could finish. And for a few moments, she was lost in the sensation of it all; the taste of his mouth, the strength of his arms. He finally slid his mouth away and murmured in her ear ... "Kathryn ..... I ...."
"Please, don't say anything," she begged him, slipping out of his arms. "I do have feelings for you. But I'm not ready to act on them .... it's just too risky." She gently caressed his cheek, then turned and walked out the door.
He sighed and sagged against the viewport frame.
Both senior staffs were in Voyager's observation room, intent on the charts in front of them.
"We have a good idea of how this anomaly works now, "Chobe said. "If Voyager holds a position here" he said, pointing to a set of coordinates. "It can catch the beginning of the energy wave and be pulled in."
"And I keep Voyager at this angle," Tom Paris continued, "we can surf the wave back into our timeline."
"Now, "Chobe continued, "you should come out in about the same spot that you were originally. But, truthfully, I don't know."
"B'Elanna, how will the ship hold up under this?" Kathryn Janeway asked her chief engineer.
"We should be fine, Captain. She held up well coming in, and this will be a more controlled return."
"You'll know soon," Chobe added. "Our calculations put the next energy wave's arrival in 24 hours. You won't have much time once it hits."
After the meeting ended, Janeway stayed behind, looking out the viewport. She turned, and to her surprise, she found David Janeway still sitting at the table, watching her.
"Here, " he said, spinning a PADD across the table at her. "This is a copy of the DNA scans you asked the holodoc to run. Congratulations. You and I are related."
She flushed as she looked over the contents. "You didn't think I that would just accept your claims?"
"No, I didn't," he said kindly. "You know, the more I see you, the more I understand where my grandfather got his personality. He doesn't accept anything at face value, either."
Kathryn sat down across from him, "I don't know if you're stupid or crazy. Talking about the future, showing those pictures to Chakotay. You're taking an awful chance with the timeline."
He leaned forward and looked her in the eye. "Temporal Affairs is most unhappy. This is a nightmare for them. I've been ordered to be very careful, though I suspect they'll find some way to erase this. " He settled back in his chair and cocked his head, "You know, though, I'm willing to take the risk."
He sighed. "Granddad retired from Starfleet when I was still a baby. Dad traveled a lot, so I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. Granddad told me stories ... about you and Chakotay and living on Voyager. I was fascinated ... maybe it's why I joined Starfleet.
"Anyway, I grew up on these stories ... and suddenly, here you are. This was my one opportunity to actually see and feel what I'd heard about. I'd never forgive myself if I hadn't taken it."
Kathryn couldn't help but admire the passion she saw in his eyes. "It must mean a lot to you, to be willing to risk the pips."
He nodded. "It does. " A deep breath. "That family picture you saw ... you ... you both died not long after it was taken. So I don't remember you. Grandmother told me once that in some ways we're alike."
"Let me guess, we're both in Starfleet."
His look was mischievous. "Not exactly, she was speaking of ... affairs of the heart."
Kathryn rolled her eyes. Now he was becoming annoying.
But he wouldn't let go. "I take it you and Chakotay aren't involved?"
"That's none of your business."
He grinned in a way that reminded her of Chakotay. "But you're in love with him, right?"
"As I said, that's...."
He was trying hard not to laugh. "Come on. Fess up. It's not like I don't know the answer. It is family history."
She looked at him for a long time, remembering the feel of Chakotay's lips .... "All right, you win. I do love him."
"And you're a captain. You know the risks. You know why I'm reluctant to take them."
"Even if it means being alone." She couldn't answer that one, so she looked away.
He leaned forward. "I guess Grandmother was right. Taking a risk for love isn't my style either."
"Oh? Are you in love with your first officer?" she asked somewhat sarcastically.
He refused to take the bait. "Touché!. No, I am not, and I'm sure Jack - and his wife - would be happy about that. I am in love with a lady named Carrie Muldan ... she's CMO on Cochrane. "
Kathryn cocked an eyebrow at him. "I fail to see the connection."
David sat back, suddenly lost in thought, and Kathryn suddenly felt ashamed of her behavior. "I'm sorry, " she said softly. "So what's the story?"
He smiled slightly. "You saw the picture of my son, Will? He .. he was the product of a very passionate affair - and marriage I had with a researcher on Earth. I adored Kara, thought I had everything. I was wrong."
"When Will was a year old, she left. Took a research post in the Beta quadrant and followed her department head - a man more than twice her age. I was devastated. A basket case. To top it off, I had to throw my career down the waste chute."
He noted her puzzled look ... "She left Will, too. I was first officer on the Bismarck. Good ship, but I couldn't have a family aboard. My parents offered to take Will, but I didn't want to lose him, too.. So I resigned. Asked for a starbase posting. Not exactly the path for an ambitious officer."
He grinned. "A friend of yours.... retired Adm. Harry Kim. He spoke for me, got me this posting. It's not glamorous, but it's a ship ... Anyway, I met Carrie. She and Will adore each other. I love her. But she wants marriage, and more children. "
"And you're afraid?"
He nodded. "I keep thinking that she'll up and leave, too. Or the station will be attacked, and she'll be killed .... things like that still happen out here, you know."
Kathryn thought for a moment. "Since you know so much about family history, you probably know that I was engaged - twice." She saw his answering nod. "After Justin was killed, it was hard for me to move on, I didn't want to risk being hurt again. But I met up again with Mark, and it was rewarding. At least, " she said with a chuckle, "till I got stuck out here."
She placed her chin in her hand and looked beyond him. "Your grandmother is right. We've both been hurt badly in love and we don't want to risk that again. But, you know" she said, almost to herself. "as much as it hurt to lose them, I wouldn't have traded the experience for anything. They both gave me more than they ever knew."
David chuckled. "Well, in your case, the third time was a charm. You had a husband and children who adored you. From all accounts, you had a good life, which is all any of us can ask for."
Kathryn smiled back. "Well, that's easy to say from your perspective. Hard to live, though." She stopped. "But I guess you know that."
She stood. "You seem to have a great deal of faith in me, whether it's misplaced or not, I don't know. Maybe you should take some of that faith and apply it to your own life."
"Perhaps ... and perhaps I should say the same thing to you, Kathryn." he said softly.
When he left, she was looking out the viewport again, lost in thought.
Chakotay threw his PADDs on the coffee table as he entered quarters., not even bothering to turn on the light. It had been a long day.
He expected the sound that the PADD made when it hit the table. What he didn't expect was the yelp he heard next.
"Computer, lights!" he commanded, heading toward the table where he kept his phaser.
"Hey, that hurt," said a familiar voice. He spun around to see Kathryn sitting on his couch, rubbing her knee where the skidding PADD had nailed her.
He stood, stunned, then found his voice. "What are ..... Kathryn, why are you here?"
"Waiting for you." She looked nervous.
He walked over and sat next to her. "In the dark?"
"I guess I was gathering up my courage .... I wanted to tell you..." she turned away, unsure.
He gently laid a hand on her arm. "Tell me what?"
She turned back, and her blue eyes were shining. "That I've decided that some things are worth the risk."
She only caught a glimpse of the shock and joy that crossed his face. Then, his mouth was on hers, and it was as wonderful as she had imagined.
The anomaly's energy readings were starting to spike. Time to go.
Kathryn was in the ready room, saying goodbye to David. "I wanted to thank you for everything," she said.
He smiled, and again she saw an echo of Chakotay. "I should be thanking you .... I feel blessed to have met you."
She gently laid two fingers on the screen. "By the way, some things are worth the risk."
He repeated the gesture, looking first puzzled, then thoughtful. "Oh? Perhaps I did end up meddling with the timeline..." He shook his head in response to her raised eyebrow. "I'm not going to tell you."
"Fine, I don't want to know, anyway. "
"Safe journey.... grandmother."
"Safe journey ..... son."
She could hear the roar beginning as she slipped into the command chair. "Ready, Tom?"
"Yes, ma'am .... here we go," he said, as the wave began a gentle pull on the ship.
The roar increased, forcing Janeway to yell. Despite Tom's efforts, the ride was rough. It was all the bridge team could do to hang on.
"Captain, I'm reading some spikes in the wave," Harry yelled.
"Tom, can you compensate?" she yelled to Paris.
"I'm trying ...."
Something had gone wrong, the ship was out of control, tossed about in the waves. The roar grew deafening, and the last thing Janeway remembered was flying out of her seat ......
Janeway awoke face down on the deck, a heavy weight on top of her. Still dazed, her mind was trying to piece together just what had happened when she heard the weight groan above her.
Chakotay. Thank the gods.
"Hey," she croaked, barely able to speak with his weight on her. "Are you all right?"
"Think so," he managed to gasp. His weight shifted, and she felt a gentle squeeze on her arm.
He rolled off her then, and both of them slowly stood up, holding onto each other for support. Even bathed in the red glow of the emergency lights, she could tell the bridge was a mess, with PADDs and tools lying around.
The bridge staff was stirring now, picking themselves off the floor. Harry was already up, if still swaying a bit, studying his console.
"Harry? What just happened?" she asked.
"Looks like a massive surge in the energy wave, Captain. It knocked us around pretty good ... according to sensors, we're about a half-light year away from our last position."
"Packs quite a wallop, doesn't it?" Chakotay murmured.
Janeway's answer was interrupted by a chirp of the comm badge." Torres to the bridge."
Her report was brief. Warp engines were off line, but could be restarted. Impulse seemed to be working. No major damage. "We were lucky," B'Elanna concluded.
Lucky indeed. Janeway turned to Paris, who was back in his seat, nursing a cut forehead. "Tom, back us away from this thing, then go to sickbay and get that cut taken care of. I'll meet with the senior staff in an hour."
An hour later, Janeway sat in the observation room with her now-patched up staff. She looked at the PADDS in front of her and sighed. "What do we have on this?"
"Sensor readings from the last three days, although none of them show any indication that the anomaly was capable of such a reaction." Tuvok replied. "Unfortunately, the energy wave must have affected the scanners. Our readings stop at the point just before the wave hit us."
"Captain," B'Elanna said softly. "I don't know what that was, but I don't think the ship could handle another round."
"You're right, BElanna, " Janeway replied. "We were lucky. Next time we might not be. So, " she tapped a PADD on the table absently. "as much as I'd like to stay around and study this little puzzle, common sense dictates that it's time to move on."
"Neelix tells me that we're getting a bit low on food," Chakotay said. "We need to find some trading partners."
"Commander, there is another system, about 15 light years away," Seven of Nine said in her usual clipped tones. "It is called the Trinian system, and has several compatible planets."
Janeway nodded. "I think it's time to leave, then. Tom, set a course for the Trinian system. And Harry, train long-range scanners on our little friend. We'll try to pick up as much information as we can until we're out of reach."
She stood up, "OK, let's do it."
Claire Janeway walked into her husband's study, still studying the package that had just arrived.
"What is David up to?" she wondered.
Trouble, no doubt. This envelope contained paper, she was sure. And he'd managed to get it delivered by diplomatic courier. She'd be in and around Starfleet all her life. She knew how to get around regular communications channels.
But why send it to his grandfather? Then again, those two ..... Edward had been rather distracted lately.
He was looking out the window, holding a box. She knew what it contained – Kathryn's captain's pips. They usually came out when he was troubled - as if they contained some secret reserves of strength.
She'd mentioned that to Kathryn once, a notion that amused her mother-in-law.
"Maybe it's his version of a medicine bundle," she had said, her blue eyes twinkling.
Claire cleared her throat, and Edward looked up and smiled.
"Something wrong?" she asked
He shook his head. "Not really. I was just thinking that they've been gone a long time."
"I miss them too," she said softly.
"It's funny," he said, putting the box back on the desk. "For the last few days, it's almost as if I could feel their presence again, as if they were nearby." He shook his head again. "What's that?" he asked, nodding towed the package.
She was glad to change the subject ... this one was giving her an odd feeling. "It's from David. It came by diplomatic courier. I thought you might know why."
Edward was genuinely surprised. "Diplomatic? What's he trying to sneak by Starfleet?"
"God only knows, my dear." She dropped it on his desk. "I'll leave you to your secret package. If it's anything more than birthday greetings, let me know."
Edward chuckled and opened the envelope. Atop a second envelope was pasted a note, in David's handwriting.
Granddad: My recent patrol introduced me to some, well, familiar people. Starfleet has decided to keep this one under wraps. Even though they'd have my pips for sending this, I figured that you, of all people, had a right to know. I know you'll understand once you read my report.
I'll be home on leave in a few weeks, and I'll talk to you then.
Love from Will and Carrie. David.
End of story-
End of series-