Tom and Harry were working on what had to be the perfect holo program. There would be fireplaces, Christmas trees, sleigh rides through snow covered landscape, and brightly wrapped presents for all. But most importantly, there was to be a glass enclosed gazebo set against a snowy, pine covered mountain background, accented with red bows, sprigs of mistletoe and holly and snow white wedding bells - the perfect fantasy setting for a spectacular Christmas wedding.
The blast that rocked Voyager
came from nowhere, shutting down vital systems and sending a mostly sleeping
crew scrambling to their stations in the early morning hours of Christmas
Eve. Nothing showed up on the sensors; whatever or whoever had attacked
them was well cloaked. Even the
sensors in astrometrics couldn't detect anything more than random weapons
fire. The attack lasted a little over five minutes, as the crew remained
powerless to fight an enemy they couldn’t see. They were extremely
grateful when their unknown assailant disappeared as suddenly as it had
arrived. The ship was left crippled and smoldering. Fires had
broken out on several decks including the bridge, but the most serious
fire was in Engineering.
“Torres to the bridge” B’Elanna, choking on the acrid smoke, forced the words out.
“Go ahead, B’Elanna.” Kathryn was fighting her own battles with exploding equipment. She could hear B’Elanna issuing orders in the background.
“CAPTAIN – CAN’T - CONTAIN - FIRE!”
“WE ARE – IF IT REACHES THE CORE WE'LL BREACH —CAN’T DUMP IT—SEIZED”. B’Elanna was yell over the commotion in engineering.
“Get out of there and seal it off.”
“Ensign, as soon as she has it sealed off, vent the oxygen out of there.” The Captain sent Harry back to his station, while she fought her own fires on the bridge.
“WE’RE OUT.” B’Elanna coughed. “SEALING IT.”
“Captain, we have life signs on the upper deck; he’s unconscious. If I vent the oxygen…..”
“SEALED – DO IT.” B’Elanna wasn’t listening; her mind was on the imminent warp core breach.
The Captain took ten seconds she didn’t have to steel herself for the order she knew she had to give. She nodded at Harry.
“Captain, it’s the Commander..” A shocked Harry looked up to catch her nod and watch the color drain from her face at his words. Their eyes locked.
“CAPTAIN!” B’Elanna registered what Harry had said. “I can….”
“Do it, Harry!” Kathryn voice was low but strong as she gripped the smoking console in front of her with whitening knuckles. “Tuvok, do we have transporters?”
“Keep monitoring the fire, Harry.” The Captain slumped as she surveyed her ruined bridge; at least they were out of immediate danger. “Let B’Elanna know when it’s safe to go back in.”
“Aye, Captain.” Harry felt tears sting his eyes; he watched Kathyrn run her hand along Chakotay’s chair on her way across the bridge.
“Tuvok, you have the bridge;
I’m going down for a first hand look at the damage.” She opened the
hatch, climbing into the Jeffries tube without a backward glance.
“Kim to Janeway.” Kathryn was just climbing past deck seven when Harry hailed her.
“Captain, Engineering has been cleared and….” Harry swallowed hard. “they've taken the Commander to sickbay.” He waited for a response, but none came. “Captain?”
“Thank you, Harry. Janeway out.” Kathryn changed directions and climbed up two decks.
The Captain stood in the doorway, unnoticed in the commotion of injured crewmen. She saw the doctor frantically working at the isolated surgical table in the rear of the room; Kathryn knew Chakotay was there. As she walked through, faces turned and a silent sadness followed her. She knew as captain she should say something to comfort them, but it took all her strength just to keep walking. She watched Tom and the Doctor work for what seemed like forever.
“Tom.” The Doctor placed a hand on Tom’s arm, shaking his head.
“No, Doc. You have to fix this!”
“There is nothing more we can do.” The Doctor tried to move him but Tom wouldn’t stop working.
“Tom, let him go.” The sound of her voice caused them to turn.
“Captain, I’m sorry. He was too long without oxygen. I tried…..” The Doctor's words trailed off as she nodded and stepped past him.
“You were right all along, Chakotay.” She stroked his ash-smudged cheek. “When it came down to it…” Her voice caught, hot tears slipped down her cheeks. “the captain gave the necessary orders.” She took his hand in hers. “I don’t know if I can ever forgive her, but I know you already have.” Kathryn wiped her tears and bent to kiss him. “I will always love you, Chakotay. I’m so very sorry I didn’t listen to you sooner.”
“Captain.” Tom touched her shoulder when she didn’t respond. “Kathryn, why don’t you let me take you home.”
“I have work to do, Mr. Paris, we aren’t out of the woods yet.” Kathryn turned to look at him; her tone softened. “Thank you, Tom, but I need to be useful right now. There will be time for this later.”
“Are you sure?”
It was many hours later when Kathryn found her way back to her quarters. She made her way to the bathroom peeling off her grimy uniform as she went. She didn’t even have the strength to shower so she let the sonic waves clean her as she leaned against the wall.
Clean, tired and somewhat numb she found her way into the bedroom; their bedroom. Hanging on a hook next to the closet was the beautiful white velvet dress she would have worn tomorrow. Tomorrow she would have been his wife; today she gave the order that made her his widow. Kathryn crumpled to the floor and sobbed into the soft material, until sleep mercifully overtook her.
“Pop, you know you can’t.”
“Of course I can. I’m Q!”
“Pop, if they catch you messing with humans again you know they are going to confine you to the Continuum.”
“Awful, place. I’d rather be mortal.”
“Pop, don’t do it. You don’t even like him!”
“They are gonna make you pay for this.”
“Son, some things are worth
doing. What’s a few millennia in the Continuum?”
There was a brilliant flash and they found themselves standing in the bright sunshine on a snow-covered slope. Inside the glass enclosure, in formal attire Chakotay stood beside his best man calmly awaiting his bride. The large crowd gathered around a glass gazebo parted when the horse drawn sleigh drew up along side the path.
Two elegantly dressed foot men stood by, one lifting Naomi Wildman from the sleigh, as the other offered a hand to B’Elanna Torres. Both ladies looked lovely in their identical red velvet gowns.
Naomi scattered rose peddles across the snow as she led the procession toward the glass enclosure with B’Elanna only a few steps behind her.
The music started and everyone stared in awe at the beautiful woman in white velvet. Tom offered Kathryn his arm and she took it looking up to lock her gaze with the man who waited at the end of the path to be her husband.
Their eyes never wavered. They could have been alone in the universe as they joined hands and pledged their lives to one another. Tuvok’s words, although just a blur to the couple, made it official; their hearts made it real.
“You may kiss the bride.”
“Don’t be silly, Q doesn’t
cry.” He pushed the boy ahead of him and smiled at the couple as
he wiped a tear. “Merry Christmas, Kathy.”