Baker Point: Jack
It’s 6 p.m., and I shed my uniform jacket as I head out to the patio. Mom and Kat are already there, and I give both of them a quick kiss before I settle into my usual chair, where someone has thoughtfully left a glass of white wine.
“What’s for dinner?” I ask as Mom busies himself at the grill, “and how much longer?”
“Chicken breasts,” she says, waving a pair of tongs. “The corn is nearly ready. Oh, and Mrs. Grace made some of her world-famous potato salad.”
“Better make extras for Will,” Kat remarks. “Mrs. Grace says he ate three hamburgers at lunch.”
“Heaven help us when he’s a teenager.” The remark earns a chuckle from two of the women in my life.
“So, I hear there was a bit of excitement today,” Kat says.
“Yup. A wormhole opened up over Colorado early this afternoon. At least we think it’s a wormhole … the Midlands Section is running scans. Anyway, it spat out a ship.”
“What kind of ship?” Kat asks warily. I’m not surprised by the tone. Her abiding fear is that some old Delta Quadrant enemy will find its way here.
“That, I don’t know. Don’t think it was much of a threat, since the Defense Level hasn’t changed.”
Inside, we hear the vid chirp, followed by Beth’s call of “I’ve got it!”
“Mom, was I hanging on the vid at her age?” Kat asks.
“You, no. Phoebe, yes … especially once she started to notice boys.”
“Wait a minute,” I yelp. “She’s not in there talking to boys yet, is she?”
Mom and Kat just laugh. “Not just yet,” Kat assures me, “but give it another couple of years.”
“I think for now, boys aren’t worth the trouble … unless they build robots,” Mom adds.
And on cue, Beth appears at the door, looking a bit annoyed. “Mom, someone from Starfleet wants to talk to you.”
We look at each other, and Kat just shrugs as she heads to the kitchen.
My caller is a captain, which signals that this is something important. “Admiral Janeway, I’m Captain Travis from the San Francisco Security Sector,” he says. “I’m sorry to interrupt your evening.”
“What can I do for you, Captain?”
He refers to a PADD. ”Do you know a …. Talaxian … by the name of Neelix?”
I sit back in shock. “I certainly do. Why are you asking?”
Travis is obviously uncomfortable. “Well, he’s here. His ship materialized over Colorado this afternoon. A patrol intercepted him and beamed him here to the security center.”
“How did he get here?” I ask, though I suddenly realize just who popped out of that wormhole.
“He’s a bit fuzzy on that point, Admiral. But he recognized the officers’ uniforms and insignia, and asked to talk to you. He said he served under you on Voyager.”
“He did. Is he injured?”
“Not that we can tell. Admiral Milavic has instructed us to defer to your orders.”
Well, of course Pytor would be involved. Neelix just scared the hell out of the Security Service. “All right Captain. First, give my regards to Admiral Milavic.” That’s fleetspeak for “Thank you.”
“Secondly, Mr. Neelix is to be treated as my personal guest. Get him some food, access to a shower, whatever he needs. Then take him to Medical; they’ll have my orders. Now, where’s his ship?”
“It’s being towed to spaceport.”
I nod. “Take it to the tech section’s quarantine slip. I want it sealed until I can get a team up there.”
Travis punches commands into the PADD. “Anything else, Admiral?”
“Yes, I would like to speak to Mr. Neelix.”
Travis looks surprised, but nods. “It will be just a moment.”
Elizabeth pokes her head into the kitchen. “Daddy needs plates, and Papi is here.”
“Go ahead, honey, and please tell Dad I that need him to come in here.”
The vid pops back on, framing Neelix’s face. His hair is white now, his face older and more tired. But that smile … for a moment, I can’t speak.
“Admiral! You don’t know how glad I am to see you,” he says, his exuberance still intact.
“Neelix … I’m delighted to see you. Are you all right?”
“I think so ... it’s been a strange day.”
“I imagine so. How did you get here?”
“I … I really don’t know,” he says, his eyes mirroring his confusion and shock. “One minute I was going over to a planet to pick some leola root, and the next, I was surrounded by three ships. I didn’t realize that I was in the Alpha Quadrant until I talked to the Starfleet folks.” He chuckled. “I guess I got here after all.”
“I guess you, did,” I allow.
“But Admiral, Dexa’s probably frantic. I should have been home hours ago. Is there any way we can send a message to her?”
“I don’t know, but we’ll figure it out. Look, I’ve asked Captain Travis to get whatever you want. Then, if you don’t mind, I’d like the Doctor to check you out ... he’s over at Medical.”
“The Doctor’s here? “
“Well, this week. He’s in and out.” Neelix’s attention has turned to something behind me, and I glance back to see Jack in the doorway. “I seem to be interrupting something,” Neelix says apologetically.
“It’s all right,” I say, waving Jack over. “He’s someone I want you to meet. This is my husband, Admiral Jack Herrick. Jack, this is Neelix, who was with me on Voyager.”
Jack rises to the occasion. “Neelix, I’m delighted to meet you. Kathryn’s told me many stories.”
“Well … I … I am delighted to meet you, too, Admiral,” Neelix stammers. “My … we certainly have a lot to catch up on, don’t we?”
“We certainly do,” I say in a tone that he should recognize. “I need to take care of arrangements now, so feel free to get cleaned up and get something to eat. I’ll check in on you at Medical later tonight.”
It worked. “Of course ... of course, Admiral. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Didn’t you leave him in the Delta?” Jack asks as the vid pops off.
“I did,” I say as I sign off on my orders. “And he stayed there until this afternoon. Guess who came out of that wormhole? “
Jack just shakes his head and laughs.
“I know, dear,” I say as I pat his thigh. “I suspect I’m going to need your expertise on this one.”
“You can tap my expertise any time,” he teases, planting a quick kiss on my neck. “But right now, I want to know if you’re having dinner.”
“Yes, I am. But I need to make a quick call, so keep the chicken out of Will’s reach.”
Jack departs, and I call the Doctor, who thankfully is still in his office.
“Well, this is a surprise. I see more of your husband these days,” he says dryly.
“That’s because golf is something you play, not watch,” I retort. “I hope you don’t have nonrefundable opera tickets,” I add. “We have a situation.”
He raises an eyebrow. “Is everything all right?”
“A dear friend of ours has just popped in from the Delta Quadrant.”
The Doctor raises both eyebrows. “And who would that be?” he asks, obviously concerned. I don’t blame him.
He’s speechless for a moment. “How did he get here?”
“Good question. Early this afternoon, something or someone pulled him through a wormhole … we think … and dropped him over North America. “
“That must have caused quite a stir.”
“He’s lucky he wasn’t shot down. Look, I’m sending him over to you. Run every test you can think of, starting with DNA verification. I suspect he could use a little medical TLC anyway.”
The Doctor nods. “Should I keep him here, or will you take custody of him?”
“No, find him some quarters and make him comfortable. He’s not a prisoner, but I don’t want him running about until we know what’s happened. I’ll come by tonight if he’s up to it.”
The Doctor nods. “By the way, has anyone called Sam Wildman? I’m sure she and Naomi would like to see him.”
“I’ll make sure she knows. But right now, let’s hold off on reunions until you run those tests.”
Starfleet Medical: Kathryn
“So what do we know?” I ask the Doctor when we finally arrive.
“Well, according to the preliminary DNA scans, it appears our visitor is the one and only Neelix,” he replies.
There’s something in his tone I don’t like. “And …?”
“Let’s just say some things have changed since I last examined him.” No point in asking him to elaborate. Neelix is no longer under my command, and the medical privacy rules are in force.
“So, can we talk to him?” Jack asks. “I’d like to meet this fellow; Kat … Kathryn’s told me a lot of stories.”
The Doctor smiles at Jack’s slip as he waves us down the hall. “Certainly; I think he’d like to meet you, too. He’s been peppering me with questions for the past three hours.”
Neelix is looking out the window as we walk in. For a moment, I can see his face reflected in the glass; the pain I see there saddens me. But it’s all wiped away as he turns to us.
“Captain … sorry, Admiral … I’m so glad you’re here!”
“I’m happy to see you, too, Neelix,” I tell my old friend as I give him a quick hug. “How are you feeling?”
“A bit tired,” he admits. He spies Jack and holds out his hand. “Hello again, Admiral Herrick. The Doctor speaks very highly of you.”
“The Doctor’s feeling generous; he beat me at golf yesterday,” Jack says as he shakes Neelix’s hand.
Neelix smiles at me. “So when did you two get married?”
“Nearly 12 years ago,” I reply. “Two jobs, two dogs, children … it’s a busy life,” I add as I pull out my pocket vid and bring up a holoimage. “This is Will and Elizabeth, and our foster son, Joel.”
He peers at the image. “What a wonderful family you have, Admiral; I’m so happy for you.” He pauses for a moment, uncertain. “I know you were anxious to see your mother … “
“Mom’s fine; in fact, she’s here, so you’ll get to meet her and her fiancé.”
He smiles broadly. “I would like that, Admiral, and I hope I get to meet your children, too.”
“You will,” I assure him. “Now, that’s enough about us. Tell us about your life. Did you and Dexa marry?”
He smiles broadly. “We did, 14 years ago, and we’ve been very happy.”
“Any children … besides Brax, that is?”
He smiles again and taps a small case sitting on his nightstand. A holoimage of a young Talaxian girl appears. “My daughter, Alixia; we named her after my sister,” he says quietly. “She reminds me of her in many ways.”
I lay my hand on his shoulder. “She’s lovely. We’ll do our best to get you back to her,” I promise.
He smiles again. “Well, I suppose there is some good in this. I get to see you and the rest of my friends from Voyager again. I’ve wondered so many times how you were … how everyone was.”
“Well, we’ll try to get as many of the crew here as we can. I know they’ll want to see you, too.” I say brightly. “Do you think you could tell us a bit about what happened today?”
“I think so.”
“How far were you from home when this happened?” Jack asks.
“About two hours from our settlement. I’ve made that trip many times.”
“Notice anything unusual? A plasma storm? Ships in the vicinity?” I ask.
He shakes his head thoughtfully. “No, nothing like that. But there was something …” He pauses for a moment, then nods his head. “Yes, yes, I remember now. Just before I blacked out, there was a flash from Baldy Rock.”
“What’s Baldy Rock?” Jack asks, his interest piqued.
“It orbits Tegris, the planet where I was going to cut leola root. “
“Not really, more like an asteroid. It’s oddly shaped … it’s probably been there for eons. It’s on my star charts, if you’d like to see it.”
“I would indeed,” Jack says with a grin.
“Neelix, did I tell you my husband heads up the Cartography section? He’d probably trade Will for a look at those charts.”
Jack just grins. “Nope, not Will. Maybe my golf clubs,” he says, as I swat his arm, and Neelix laughs.
“Penny for your thoughts,” Jack says as we walk back to our hovercar.
I sigh. “I was thinking that it is nice to see Neelix again, but I’m concerned about how he got here. And what if we can’t get him back?”
“That would be hard … I suspect you and the crew can empathize on that point better than I can,” he said quietly. “I suppose if there is a saving grace, he landed among friends.”
“That he did,” I whisper. “That he did.”
Reg Barkley looks a bit surprised to hear from me. While I certainly owe him a great debt, we didn’t become close after Voyager’s return. He and the Doctor have more in common.
“What can I do for you, Admiral Janeway?”
“How’s the MIDAS array these days, Reg?”
“It just had its latest upgrade. Why do you ask?”
“Glad to hear it. I need to send a message to the Delta Quadrant …”