|IN THE BEGINNING|
| She remembered staring
at the view screen, longer than usual, after saying good bye to Mark.
She wondered now, had she known on some level --even then--that this was
really good bye and not just a three week separation. It was still
clear and fresh in her mind, giving Lieutenant Standi the order to take
Voyager out of her berth, to begin this fateful trip--Voyager's maiden
She had been so proud of her new ship, Starfleet's newest and brightest--state of the art technology, the fastest, designed for maneuverability, tough and sleek. At 1130 feet long, weighting 700,000 metric tons, she has 15 decks and can carry a crew of 150. With normal cruising speed of warp 6 and the ability to achieve and maintain a maximum of warp 9.975 for up to 12 hours, she was the Fleets fastest Starship to date. Her interlinked main computers were the first to incorporate organic computer circuitry. These bio-neural gel packs give her the ability no only to function with the precise calculations of normal computer systems but also the ability to present logical 'best guess' scenarios. She carried an original crew of 147, not all of whom survived the Caretakers array. Among the losses were her first officer- Lieutenant Commander Cavit, her helmsman- Lieutenant Standi, the ships doctor- Dr Fitzgerald and her chief engineer. It was a desolate beginning.
They were on a mission to capture the Federation's most wanted a Maquis Captain by the name of Chakotay. He and his cell of maquis evaded all authorities as they continued to wreak havoc along the Cardassian border. Chakotay, a member of a Native American tribe that had been relocated to Doran V which was subsequently turned over to the Cardassians by the recent treaty, was Starfleet trained as were various members of this crew, to different extents. They considered themselves freedom fighters rather than criminals---at the time she had no idea she would come to understand that.
Lieutenant Tuvok, her trusted chief of security, had infiltrated Chakotay's cell and was now aboard the ship she was tracking. Captain Chakotay was experienced at avoiding capture and maneuvered his ship into an area of severe plasma storms to lose a pursuing Cardassian Vessel. In the past this would have been enough, but Voyager was an intrepid class Starship designed to be easily maneuvered through more difficult terrain, powerful enough to catch and overtake him and small enough to slip through tight spaces. The Cardassians had given them the last known location of the maquis ship and the coordinates where it had entered the sector of space know as the badlands.
They followed the projected course, of the Maquis, into the plasma storms. They became aware of the tetryon beam scanning them first, then came the displacement wave. White energy lit the view screen, the gravitron particle field Cavit generated failed to disburse it, there was no way to out maneuver it and at impulse, no way to out run it.
"Brace for impact" The Captain ordered and then it grabbed them and threw them into the void.
When the dust began to settle, the Captain pulled herself off the floor and climbed over the debris that was once the command level. The bridge was filled with smoke, sparking wires and consoles, the ceiling had collapsed in places, her shiny new ship had received it's first battle scars. Standi was draped over her console, Paris was picking his way across the bridge, Kim struggled to his station and the Captain made an effort to move debris off what turned out to be her first officer. Discovering the futility of her efforts, she allowed the debris to settle and moved away from Cavit's body.
"Report." She shouted to be heard above the klaxons and alarms, as she worked her way toward the helm. Behind her she could hear the damage reports from various decks, as her eyes met Tom Paris' he lay Standi on the floor.
"Hull breach deck fourteen." Kim yelled.
"Repair crews---force fields." She ordered instinctively.
"She's dead." His eyes held hers.
"Captain?" Ensign Harry Kim called to her, forcing her to break her eye contact with Paris.
"Yes, Ensign?" She turned in his direction grateful for the distraction.
"Captain---if these sensors are working---if they are right --- we are 70,000 light years from where we started." He looked up in amazement.
"Double check the reading Mr. Kim. Run a diagnostic on the sensors." The Captain tightened her grip on the railing, trying to process this information. Starfleet Captains were extensively trained for every conceivable variable---but this--- this was a new one. She had no idea how to handle it.
"Readings confirmed, Captain."
"Thank you Mr. Kim. Where is the maquis ship?" She tried to fall back on the familiar.
"It's out there Captain -- no life signs." He punched the console. "Captain, I'm picking up ---I don't know--something--something's out there."
"What?---I need a better description than that."
"I don't know----it's big--real big."
"Will the view screen function?"
"Yes, Ma'am --I think so." He punched at his console again.
"Put it up, Mr. Kim " She tried to be patient. He was so young--his first deep space mission and now this. The screen lit up a large structure came into view. "Life signs?"
"Scans can't penetrate."
"Alright -keep an eye on it." She was interrupted by a call from engineering.
"Carey to the bridge."
"Janeway here Mr. Carey."
"Captain, we got problems here---chief's dead--engineering is in shambles--facing a possible warp core breach..."
"OK Carey---On my way." She surveyed the ruined bridge. Mr Kim, get down to sickbay and find out why they don't answer our hails. Mr Rollins, you have the bridge." She eyed Paris as she left but gave him no orders ---he was not part of this crew--just an observer. "I'll be in engineering."
Engineering was a living hell, bodies and debris, disorientation and fear. Some how she managed to fight through and with Carey's assistance contain the core and lower the pressure, just before her crew started to vanish in a strange transporter beam. They had been transported to the array, painfully probed and returned to engineering-- almost as if they were never gone, even as the computer told them they had been gone for three days.
She began checking personal and requested the same from the bridge. Everyone had been accounted for except Harry Kim. About this time the Maquis ship began to show life signs and she suspected they had experiences similar to her own.
"Hail them." She stepped forward as he came into view.
It happened the very first time he appeared on the view screen. The screen lit up and he was standing there---the rebel Captain---the criminal she had been sent to capture---her heart pounded. He was tall and proud, finely cropped dark hair, bronze skin, smoldering brown eyes and the dark blue lines of a tattoo across his forehead. She had seen it all before, pictures in his file, she was well versed in his training and history, familiar with his appearance--but--this was different. She tried to convince herself it was the circumstance they found themselves in, the fact they had been dragged here and the damage and losses they had suffered --in part it was---but she knew mostly --it was him. Their eyes locked and her breath caught, she could feel the moisture in her palms --then the Captain took over and she remained in control for most of the following six years---with only a few exceptions.
"Hey--couldn't sleep?" His voice startled her and she jumped slightly. "Sorry, didn't meant to scare you."
"You didn't --I was just thinking." She leaned into him as he came up behind her.
"About?" He put his arms around her.
"The Caretaker ---when we first found ourselves in the delta quadrant. Every thing was so different. Harry -he was so young, Tom---god, has he changed, what a chip he had."
"We all changed a lot since then." He chuckled. "And something's didn't change."
"Like my reaction to you---when you came up on the screen--telling me we had to work together. I was prepared to hate you, you were the enemy. I remember my knees went weak, my heart pounded---still have the same reaction whenever I see you".
"Me too." She laughed. "I can still see you ---beaming over with your phaser drawn."
"Yea and you waving it away like it was a water pistol---guess I didn't scare you then either."
"Oh, I was plenty scared. You were an outlaw---one who made my heart beat and my palms sweat and you pointed a phaser at me. Hell, yes I was scared, but I had no choice, I had to deal with you, we had to work together."
"No one would have ever known, I can still see you standing nose to nose----so stubborn--so strong, seemingly not fazed in the least. I wasn't used to that--especially from a woman---well, maybe B'Elanna ---but no one else. Hell, even Seska was intimidated by me."
"A WOMAN!? What is that?" She turned her head to look at him. "Now your true colors come out?"
"Nothing like that---I mean that my size usually gave me the edge, intimidation wise---face it Kat, you are considerably smaller than me."
"Well, I'll give you that one--but you know how I feel--the bigger..."
"I know the harder they fall and I did." They laughed together. "You are right though --- everyone has changed. Remember how hostile B'Ella was? Boy, she wanted to rip your head off when you ordered the array destroyed."
"And you had to physically hold her back. I remember, I wasn't sure I'd ever be safe again --on my own ship."
"Well--you were and that was all a long time ago. I think right now, you should come back to bed---we still have al lot to do before we dock."
"Was that an invitation?" She turned in his arms and reached her arms around his neck.
"That is an open invitation---any time any place." He lowered his lips to meet hers, but she suddenly burst out laughing, stopping him cold. "What?' He couldn't help but laugh with her.
"Remember the time, we were on the holodeck and the privacy locks failed? God, Harry, Tom and the Delaney sisters!"
"And you rolled up in the blanket--left me sitting on the grass--naked---yea, I remember." He tried to look angry, but couldn't stop laughing.
"God---Jenny didn't stop smiling for weeks..."
"How about the time --Spirits- we were only out here a few months--when we were working in engineering and the line broke and we got sprayed with the damn plasma coolant."
"God-- yes, the looks on their faces when we started striping off our uniforms right in the middle of engineering!"
"The jackets and turtlenecks weren't too bad, but when those pants slid over your hips---I thought we were gonna have to resuscitate Harry!"
"As I recall, Harry wasn't the only interested party."
"Hell no. You were wearing those god forsaken skimpy black lace things--it took months before I could look at you on the bridge and not picture that!" He pulled her closer. "In fact I can still picture that quite clearly---are you wearing something like that now?"
"No--right now--I'm not wearing any at all."
"Even better" She didn't laugh this time when he kissed her as he lifted her in his arms and carried her to their bedroom.
At breakfast the following morning, they joined Tom, B'Elanna, Harry, Jenny, Sam and Joe Carey, who, from the sounds of the laughter, were obviously enjoying the conversation.
"What's so funny?" Kathryn asked as she sat down.
"We were just reminiscing ---remember when B'Elanna broke my nose?" Joe asked.
"I sure do, Tuvok wanted to court-martial her and Seska wanted to mutiny." Chakotay smiled at the memory.
"And this one here had the nerve to suggest that I make her Chief engineer." Kathryn laughed as she pointed to Chakotay.
"I remember that well---we almost came to blows over that one." Chakotay shook his head.
"Yea, that was our first really big fight." Kathryn laughed. "And was it big. We were stuck in the horizon of that quantum singularity, only we didn't know it and we were looking for a way to tractor out what we thought was another ship."
"Oh yea---Chakotay called me in engineering asking for answers and I told him we could try a sub-space tractor beam."
"Yea, then the Captain called and put me in charge of it." Joe smiled. "I thought B'Elanna would break my nose again."
"Well, if you thought you were in trouble, you should have seen her face when she ordered Chakotay into the ready room." Tom slapped Chakotay on the back. "I thought you were a dead man."
"So did I---I wasn't sure even when I came out-that I would survive."
The Captain ordered her First Officer into the ready room and you could have heard a pin drop on the bridge. Trouble was brewing and you couldn't miss it. She left the bridge and he followed.
"We have a problem and I think it's time we discuss it." She took a step to the upper level before turning to look down on him.
"Captain, I appreciate your concerns about Torres, but I promise you..."
"You don't understand, Commander----this isn't about Torres, my problem is with you.."
"Let me be blunt, what you tried to do just now was out of line."
"In what way?"
"When you decided to call Torres, in engineering."
"I've worked with her--I know what she's capable of----we needed an answer right away and I knew she could give us one."
"Carey is the senior officer in engineering."
"If you look at it that way, none of my people will ever have seniority."
"That's the problem--right there." She stepped down and came closer. "They are not your people---you treat the maquis like they were still your crew."
"I'm doing everything I can to integrate them into your crew, but frankly you're not making it easy for me, Captain."
"I can't make it easy for you Commander, surely you can understand that. They don't have the discipline, the training..."
"But some of them---like B'Elanna Torres--have the ability."
"The Starfleet officers on this ship have worked all their lives to earn their commissions---how am I supposed to ask them to accept a maquis as their superior officer, just because circumstances forced us together?"
"You're asking them to accept me!"
"You're qualified --- you're a graduate of the Academy and you have Starfleet command experience."
"Permission to speak freely?" He glared at her and she nodded.
"I have no intention of being your token Maquis officer."
"Show me another qualified maquis candidate and I'll consider him."
"Who can not control herself and who could not make it through the academy."
"She's the best engineer I've ever known --- she could teach at the academy!" He turned to walk away, then turned back. "You're right Captain---I do consider these my people---because no one on this ship will look out for them like I will and I'm telling you---you're gonna have to give them more authority if you want their loyalty. He stared at her and she returned his glare without flinching.
"Theirs or Yours?"
"I'm trying to help you---I'm sorry if you don't see that. I strongly recommend you get to know Torres before you choose a new Chief engineer." He again turned to leave, then stopped. "Permission to leave."
"Boy--after that, I thought I was going out the nearest air lock and my maquis with me."
"I considered it and I wondered what I had gotten myself into -too----You were all supposed to be criminals--remember? Cavit would have never spoken to me that way."
"I've done a lot of things Cavit would never have done."
"I'll concede that one, Commander-----you certainly have." They all laughed. "I must say, following your advice on that one was one of my better moves ----B'Elanna has saved us more than once."
"Well, you weren't the only one doubting him that day---believe me---when you called me into the ready room---I thought ---what the hell did that big dumb Indian get me into now!"
"It wasn't that bad ---I just wanted to get to know you better." Kathryn defended them both.
"Oh yes it was---I was scared to death---I mean I could have taken you---maybe you were a little tougher than Carey here---but I could have---but even my Klingon temper knew better."
"You did walk out on me though."
"I remember and later I remember wondering what you would do to me for it."
Torres had been summoned to the ready room. Her sub-space tractor beam had almost sucked them into the event horizon and she was feeling guilty and inadequate. She paced the lift on her way to the bridge and hesitated outside the ready room, finally she entered.
"You asked to see me, Captain?"
"Have a seat."
"I just want you to know that I have personally gone over every emitter relay again and refitted four myself..."
No one blames you for what happened---Commander Chakotay thinks very highly of you. He has recommended you for chief engineer." She watched B'Elanna try to conceal her surprise.
"Well, we've been through a few scrapes together..."
"Do you think you're ready?"
"Ready to be chief engineer on a Starship."
"Well---I think I know my way around an engine room ---if that's what you mean."
"It's part of what I mean. There is also the matter of your ability to command others. I'm not sure I'd be doing you a favor by putting you in charge down there. There would be a lot of hard feelings toward you from many of the Starfleet people."
"I'm not bothered by what people think of me."
"And the job requires knowledge of Starfleet protocol and experience in Starfleet methodology."
"Listen -Captain---if you don't think I'm right for this job---just say so."
"I'll be honest ---I'm not sure if you are or not---That's why I wanted to meet, try to get to know you a little better. I've been studying your academy record."
"Where did you get that?" B'Elanna was shocked and a little indignant.
"Thanks to Tuvok we had the names of your entire crew by the time we left DS9." The Captain looked down reading the padd. "Four disciplinary hearings---one suspension--you had quite a turbulent couple of years, didn't you?"
"Yea, I guess you could say that."
"What do you think the problem was?" The Captain remained calm, but it was evident B'Elanna was agitated.
"The problem?" She looked up in disbelief. "The problem was a system that didn't give anyone a chance to breath."
"We work under that same system on this ship."
"Than---I guess, maybe this is just a bad idea.." B'Elanna got up to leave.
"Why did you quit the academy, B'Elanna?"
"I didn't want to have anything to do with Starfleet then and I'm sorry I have to now." She turned and stormed out of the ready room, leaving the Captain shaking her head.
"I thought that was it---beginning and end of another Starfleet career."
"And I thought I was a shoe in for Chief ---until they told me to bring you to the meeting with me." Carey had long ago lost any resentment he might have harbored. "I told you to keep your mouth shut----but did you listen?----noooooo-you just had to go and solve the problem ---show off." They all laughed.
"Remember when we cleared up that signal and found out that the ship we were trying to save was us?" They all nodded, each reliving a little of the fear. "I had to explain it to most of you---only Kathryn understood."
"B'Elanna be fair---quantum mechanics is not an easy subject to grasp, even for the most scientific of us." Kathryn laughed. "Tom did have a particularly hard time, but he admitted it unlike some one else who wouldn't even begin to try." She glanced at Chakotay.
"Hey, I can cook." He said in his own defense.
"Yes, dear---we know." Kathryn patted his hand, causing another uproar at the table.
"Hey, I gave you B'Ella--she's a great engineer---so don't complain." He shook his head. "I remember feeling pretty good when you two started to work together.".
Once they realized the ship that was caught in the event horizon was Voyager, they began to work on a way out. B'Elanna explain the problem in a manner they could all understand. She explained it was like being trapped under the ice in a pond and looking at you own reflection in the ice--it would look like someone else trapped under the ice right across from you, but it was only a reflection. The solution then was to get above the ice.
"If your analogy is correct---how do we get through that sheet of ice?" Kathryn began the dialogue.
"Look for a crack."
"Or make a crack." Kathryn got up and came around to where B'Elanna stood. "Take some thing and smack it into the ice until it buckles."
"Wait a minute---what if we already made a crack in the ice?"
"When we first entered the event horizon." Kathryn said and B'Elanna nodded her agreement.
"If we could find the entry point--we might be able to slip out the way we came in."
"So we'd be looking for a subspace instability in the event horizon.." Kathryn closed her eyes to think. "What would make it show up on our sensors?" As she said it she opened her eyes and looked at B'Elanna.
"WARP PARTICES!" They said together.
"After that I knew you two would work well together, and when you took B'Elanna in the shuttle with you, I knew---provided you two made it back--that she was the new Chief."
"Yea, we both learned a lot that day---she learned to trust me-- the lowly former Maquis and I learned to trust her-- the almighty Starfleet."
"And we all learned that "Maneuvering a Starship is a delicate thing--but sometimes you just gotta punch your way through." Tom smirked "I'll always remember your face when you said that---I don't know why--it was just great."
"That was good, but there are other things I'll remember." Harry laughed.
"Oh Mr. Kim-- Such as?"
"Are you asking as Kathryn or the Captain?"
"Does it make a difference?" Kathryn asked.
"Yes, believe it or not after all this time it still makes a difference---somethings I just wouldn't feel right discussing with the Captain."
"But you could say them to Kathryn?" Harry nodded and smiled. "OK, I'm asking as Kathryn."
"You may be sorry."
"Thanks for the warning Harry, but you have me curious ---what do you remember you wouldn't tell the Captain?"
"Well alot of things, but the one I was thinking about has to do with engineering."
"Go on --we all want to know now." Chakotay smiled--he had an idea.
"OK ---it was not long after we got to the delta quadrant and we were all working in engineering on one thing or another. A coolant line busted and sprayed the two of you---at the time the fierce Rebel Commander and the very, very, uptight, straight laced Captain--sorry that's how I had it figured. Anyway, the two of you jump down- right into the middle of engineering and start to strip. You're pulling off the coolant soaked uniforms and I'm having heart failure. The jackets, the turtlenecks--then the pants---OHMYGOD--Kathryn--those black lace things---OHMYGOD." He nudged Tom. "Paris you remember."
"Oh yea, I remember." He was laughing along with the rest of them.
"We just remembered that ourselves last night." Kathryn choked out.
"Yea, I thought you would die, Harry."
"Hey Chak, I remember you had your own problems with it." B'Elanna joined in.
"God yes---for a very long time."
"Hell ---fueled my fantasies for years!" Harry blushed at the thought, even after all this time.
"Oh Kathryn--that was the stuff wet dreams were made of."
"Tom!" Kathryn punched his arm.
"Please--like you didn't notice."
"I worked graveyard in those days---I missed all the fun." Carey just shook his head. "I did however receive some very vivid descriptions ---of the "black lace things" and the Commander's reaction. Sorry boys nobody cared how you reacted to her" He patted Tom and Harry on the shoulder.
"Nice to know --after all this time, that my crew has been discussing my underwear- behind my back."
"Oh that was just for starters--it got better as the years went on." Tom assured her.
"Great--save it for another time--I think we should all be on duty by now." She got up to clear her dishes. "But rest assured gentlemen --before anyone of you gets off this ship--I will know. See you later."
Chakotay joined Kathryn, the others wandered off to their own duty stations. Once again the transition had begun and when the lift reached deck one, The Captain and the Commander exited.
|BACK TO INDEX|
|ON TO PART TWO|