Disclaimers:  Still don't own them.

Notes:  Thanks again to Ewige for organizing the event, thanks to VAMB - Happy Anniversary, and thanks to Audabee for giving my words a home.  This story is off an idea I've had floating around for a long time and how different things could've been.  Answers can be found in chapter two.

Unexpected by Cheshire

Her hand trembles as she adjusts the hyperspanner. The Doctor assures her that it is simply fatigue and not nerve damage. She doesn't have the energy or time to inspect his program and insure that he doesn't need recalibrating. She just shakes her hand out and continues the needed repairs.

"Captain," Harry's voice sounds tinny emitting from her comm. badge, "we're being hailed. They're asking for you specifically."

For a fraction of a second her heart soars at the possibility that it's Chakotay, but she shakes the thought off. Harry would've mentioned that small detail. "Put them through." She waits, hears the click. "This is Captain-"

"What the hell have you done to my ship, Captain?"

Her hand jerks in surprise, ruining the repair she'd just completed. After four years of being the sole authority in the Delta Quadrant, she is unprepared to be barked at like a first year cadet. She switches off the hyperspanner and begins to shimmy out of the tight space. "Who the hell is this?"

"I outrank you, Captain, so watch yourself," the almost familiar sounding voice barks again. "Meet me in your ready room. I'll show myself in."

The line goes dead and the captain doesn't bother holding back the curse that falls freely from her lips. She hits her badge as she pulls herself out of the Jeffries tube. "Tuvok! We have an intruder in the ready room. I'm on my way up. Have a phaser waiting for me."

"Aye, Captain," he pauses, "do you require assistance?"

She can almost see his eyebrow arching upwards as he looks blankly in the direction of her ready room. Not that she feels she'll need it, but what assistance would she call upon? "No thanks, Tuvok. I'll handle this."

Several Jeffries tubes and two ladder climbs later, she emerges onto the bridge. She accepts the proffered phaser without breaking stride until she's at the ready room doors giving them the extra second they need to jerk apart and grind open. When she steps through, she sees a lone figure standing on the upper portion of the ready room, staring out at the stars.

"Turn around," the captain demands, raising the phaser. "Who are you and what the hell..." The question dies in her throat as the older woman dressed in a red and black uniform sporting an admiral's rank bar turns to face her. She's seen too much to not recover quickly. "What is this? Some kind of a joke?"

The admiral arches an eyebrow as she moves closer, stepping carefully past the wrecked debris of the coffee table. "No joke, I'm afraid."

She studies the younger woman carefully. The captain's brusque greeting isn't so much of a surprise, but the rest of her appearance is striking. The expected regulation uniform has been discarded leaving the captain clad in a sweat stained tank-top tucked into trousers that have seen better days. Her only accoutrements are the comm. badge pinned to her shirtfront and a handsome men's pocket watch hanging at her hip.

"I guess it's true what they say," the admiral says finally. The flickering lights of the ready room do nothing to hide the puckered scars on the captain's hands and face. "Captains really do begin to look like their ships."

The captain practically growls in response and the scarred hand tightens its grip on the phaser. It has not escaped her attention that the woman standing in front of her bears a striking resemblance, but she has no patience for games. "Who are you?"

"I should think that would be obvious by now. I'd offer to let your doctor scan me, confirm that I am who I appear to be," she gestures at their ramshackle surroundings, "but I'd wager you don't have that capability right now."

The captain says nothing to confirm or deny the statement. She does, however, lower the phaser to her side before her trembling muscle gives away her weakness. "What do you want?"

The corner of the admiral's mouth tugs upwards into a crooked grin. "I've come to bring Voyager home."



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