Summary: Secrets are remembered, a deception is revealed, and Kathryn Janeway learns the consequences of sacrifice.
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay, Paris, Tuvok, Kim, Torres, Kes, Neelix, EMH, Seska, O. Paris, Original Characters, VOY crew
Codes: Janeway/Chakotay, Janeway/Paris, Kim/Torres
Disclaimer: Most characters and some dialogue and situations belong to Paramount, with a bit of cherry-picking from Jeri Taylor’s Mosaic. Any dubious science or technobabble is entirely my responsibility.
Notes: Book 4 of the Parallels series. Related episodes: Message in a Bottle, Hunters.
Warning: Depictions of violence and non-consensual sex, as well as the consensual variety.
Part Three: Present Progressive
~ October, 2372 ~
My name – my real name – is Miyana Idan.
From childhood, I was destined to become an agent of the Obsidian Order. My parents, both high-ranking agents themselves, ensured that I was trained in the use of a wide variety of munitions, close-range combat and weapons techniques, computer manipulation, piloting various spacecraft, interrogation procedures and covert surveillance, among other skills. At the age of fourteen I expressed an interest in serving my people by manner of covert infiltration, and so began my training in the additional skills necessary to become an undercover operator.
My first covert mission, at the age of sixteen, was to pose as a Klingon serving girl in the house of Councillor K’Roq, the Klingon diplomatic envoy to Cardassia Prime. I was tutored in the Klingon language, surgically altered, and sent in to ascertain whether K’Roq or members of his house were engaged in activity that could undermine the sovereignty of the Cardassian Union. Naturally, I was not the only agent placed in the House of K’Roq; the mission was a test of my capabilities. I passed with flying colours, having seduced Krell, son of K’Roq, and discovered that he was engaged in the blackmail of several members of the Detapa Council.
On my next two clandestine missions I comported myself with such success that the Obsidian Order determined my skills were sufficient to undertake a longer-term, more dangerous mission. And so, a Bajoran genetic tag was implanted within my chromosomal DNA, my features were surgically transformed, a credible backstory was created for me, sponsorship from a Starfleet commander the Obsidian Order had, unbeknownst to him, compromised was arranged, and I entered Starfleet Academy.
My mission was threefold: to gather non-specific intelligence that could be of interest to Cardassia; to identify and act upon minor threats to the Union without revealing my true identity; and, at such time as the Obsidian Order determined it was necessary, to use my position to carry out additional directives. I sent regular and detailed reports to my handler during my years at the Academy and the two years I spent aboard the USS Melinche after my graduation, and hoped that they were of some use. However, until I was assigned to the USS Voyager, I had received no instructions other than my standing orders.
To my surprise and gratification, it was my mother who conveyed the Order’s new commands. Since the accord between Cardassia and the Federation had been signed, the Maquis terrorists, initially a minor annoyance, had been gaining strength and had attacked a number of Cardassian assets. The defection to the Maquis of one Starfleet command officer, Kathryn Janeway, and her commandeering of an experimental and heavily-armed Federation starship, had begun to tip the balance unsatisfactorily in favour of the terrorists. My orders were to ensure the destruction of the USS Liberty and the capture, and transport to Cardassia Prime, of its captain. This last, my mother emphasised, was of great interest to her personally.
It was the last time I spoke to my mother, for shortly after Voyager’s entry to the Badlands in search of the USS Liberty and Kathryn Janeway, the entity known as the Caretaker interceded, and I now find myself far from Cardassia and adrift from the orders of my superiors.
I am a professional, of course, and in the absence of my ability to carry out my mother’s orders, I must maintain my cover. In the first days of the merging of the Voyager and Liberty crews, I volunteered to supplement the medical staff; Voyager had been assigned a chief medical officer, a junior doctor and a number of nursing staff, all of whom were killed in its journey to the Delta quadrant. I used my position to implement a number of protocols in both the ship’s computer and the Emergency Medical Holographic program. Despite the genetic sequencing I underwent, which ensures that only a level-one chromosomal diagnostic would uncover evidence of tampering in my genome and potentially identification of my suppressed Cardassian biology, I programmed the computer and the EMH to overlook any anomalies in my medical scans and explain them away as a by-product of Orkett’s disease, which I claimed to have suffered as a child.
In the absence of guidance from the Order, and accepting the unlikelihood of this ship ever returning to the Alpha quadrant, I have determined that my primary mission now is to escape Voyager and wreak as much devastation on it as possible in the process. I almost succeeded. The Krenim temporal displacement vessel offered not only my opportunity to carry out that mission, but potentially to use its weapon to alter the balance of power in this quadrant of space. I allowed myself to hope that, if I could gain control over the weapon, I might discover some way of obtaining technology that could enable it to travel to the Alpha quadrant. I imagined the temporal weapon in the possession of the Obsidian Order, and all the power it could bring to the Cardassian Union. I imagined my mother’s pride, should I achieve that goal. And, though Cardassians do not believe in an afterlife, I imagined that somehow, my years-dead father would also know of my achievements, and be proud of me.
Then my plans were thwarted by Captain Chakotay’s phased plasma weapons. In itself, that was frustration enough, but I learned something else from my surveillance of his conversation with the Vulcan. I knew about the Federation’s covert intelligence agency, of course; it is the height of naivety to imagine that any great power would not have such an asset, even if I had not been informed of Section 31’s existence during the early days of my training. It had not seriously occurred to me, however, that Section 31 might have stationed one of its agents on Voyager. I berated myself for this lapse in judgment, and determined that I would need to be additionally cautious in my activities from this point forward.
Cautious - but not fearful. Fear and other impractical emotions are not an indulgence I can afford. Nevertheless, I fear now that I may never see Cardassia, or my mother, again.
As Voyager approached the coordinates where the Tereshkova waited near the singularity, Ensigns Kim and Delaney worked double shifts, continuing to scan for the fourteen crewmen who remained missing. Commander Janeway took a personal interest in helping them when she could, with the Captain’s blessing, which had the added advantage of removing her from the bridge for long stretches of her regular duty shifts. She was in the lab when Megan Delaney called, “Commander, I think I’ve found something.”
Janeway was at her side in an instant. “Is it one of the pods?”
“No sir.” Delaney tapped the console, enlarging the section of the star map that showed their route to the Tereshkova. “It looks like a series of interconnected relay stations. They’re ancient and appear to be abandoned, but they’re still functioning.” She ran another scan. “That singularity actually seems to be powering one of the relay stations.”
Janeway was gazing at the astrometric screen. “That network is vast,” she said. “I wonder if we could tap our sensors into it. We’d be able to scan space for thousands of light years.” She tapped her commbadge. “Janeway to Chakotay. Captain, I think you should come down to Stellar Cartography at your earliest convenience.”
“What’s the problem?” Chakotay asked as he entered the lab a few minutes later.
“No problem.” Kathryn looked more animated than he’d seen her in weeks, he noticed. “We’ve found a relay station in close proximity to the Tereshkova. It’s connected to an alien sensor network that appears to extend over hundreds of sectors, possibly even to the Alpha quadrant. We may be able to relay our sensors along it and scan a much wider area of space than we’d ever thought possible. It might even help us find a faster way home.”
Tom Paris stared into the flame emanating from the small lamp on the table in front of him and tried to slow his breathing, the way Tuvok had been teaching him. Their meditation sessions over the past two weeks had been effective in taking his mind off his emotional state – at least, while Tuvok was actually there, guiding him. He wasn’t finding it quite so easy when he tried to meditate on his own. As for when he was on the bridge … Well, he couldn’t exactly close his eyes and focus on an imaginary flame when he was supposed to be piloting a starship.
“The flame is the chaos at the centre of my being,” he tried, aloud. “The lamp controls the flame, as I control my emotions.”
Her hair falling over her shoulders as she moved, astride him. The heat in her eyes. The feel of her skin.
“I control the flame,” he said, louder. “I can observe it burning. It is part of me, but separate …”
Her crooked smile, her hand against his face, the way she’d stand on tiptoe to kiss him. Her lips on his. The taste of her.
“I control the – Fuck,” he spat. He kicked out in temper and the table rocked, the lamp falling to the floor, its light extinguished. Tom dropped his head into his hands.
What he needed was a distraction.
He couldn’t face the thought of actually having a conversation with anyone, and the holodeck seemed to have lost its attraction. Work, he thought. I could just work. He could go down to Stellar Cartography and help refine their course to the array and the Tereshkova – no, bad idea. She was probably down there. He could help Neelix in the galley, except she might come into the mess hall. He needed something he could do in the last place she’d ever voluntarily go.
Five minutes later he was strolling into Sickbay.
“Mr Paris,” the EMH greeted him with some surprise. “Are you injured?”
“Not this time, Doc.” Tom leaned on a biobed. “Actually, I just came to see if you could use some extra help. I have basic field medic training.”
The EMH picked up a medical tricorder and began to scan him.
“I said I’m fine,” Paris pointed out, with some annoyance.
“Oh, I know what you said,” the Doctor replied archly. “I’m scanning for evidence of recent brain trauma, alien possession, anything that might explain your sudden and unprecedented interest in a nursing career.”
Kes came out of the Doctor’s office carrying a tray of cell cultures, which she placed hastily on a shelf when she saw Tom’s expression. “I could use some help,” she offered, drawing him toward the medical lab. “I was just about to remodulate the microcellular scanner. Could you monitor the readouts for me?”
“Sure.” Paris shot the Doctor one last irritated look and followed her over to the lab. The EMH retreated to his office, and a moment later they heard him singing an opera that Paris, unsurprisingly, didn’t recognise.
They worked in companionable silence, broken only by Paris’ recitations from the console display when Kes asked. When they’d finished, Kes handed him half of a pile of medkits, taking the other half for herself, and told him they needed to be checked to ensure they were fully stocked.
“So, how are you, Tom?” Kes asked in her soft voice when they’d begun. “I haven’t seen you in awhile.”
“That’s a good thing, right?” He smiled at her.
“Only if I’m referring to you as my patient, not my friend.” She smiled back. “We haven’t really talked since before you were taken hostage on the Krenim ship.”
His back stiffened instantly; Kes noticed. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I guess it’s a painful memory for you.”
“Yes,” he answered, and then something made him add, “and no.”
Kes knew when to stay silent; she simply looked at him with gentle blue eyes that held no judgment, no expectations. He found himself saying, “For a while, when I was on that ship, it was the happiest I’ve ever been.”
“You loved someone,” she realised, and he stared at her, hard. “Were you reading my mind?”
“No,” she assured him. “I don’t have that kind of telepathy with non-Ocampans. Was it someone on the Krenim ship?”
He paused. “It was someone with me on the Krenim ship, yes.”
Kes immediately divined the meaning behind his careful phrasing, and her eyes went wide. “Oh,” she said with bottomless sympathy. “Oh, Tom. I’m so sorry. It’s over?”
“Yeah,” he said, turning away. “It’s over.”
After a moment he felt her gentle hand on his arm. “I’m here,” she told him. “If you ever need a friend.”
~Kim to the Captain.~
Ensign Kim’s voice was bubbling with excitement. Chakotay touched his commbadge. “Go ahead, Harry.”
~Captain, you need to come to Stellar Cartography immediately. There’s something you need to see.~
“On my way.” Chakotay looked at his first officer. “Care to join me, Commander?”
“Yes, sir.” Janeway followed him into the turbolift.
“We managed to link our sensors into the alien grid,” Kim explained eagerly when they arrived at the lab. “We’ve been running scans of the entire network for the past week, and we’ve found that it extends around the galactic core, through the entire inner segment of the Beta quadrant and right to the outskirts of the Alpha quadrant. During the most recent scan, we detected this.”
He tapped a few keys and a section of the large astrometric display screen zoomed into view. A slightly fuzzy image of a ship appeared. Chakotay stared. “Is that …?”
“Yes sir.” Kim was beaming. “It’s a Starfleet ship. The vessel we’re seeing is in the Beta quadrant, on the edge of Romulan space. It’s within range of one of the outermost relay stations in the network.”
“It must be on a deep space mission,” Janeway murmured. “Can we send a message along the network?”
“We can try,” Kim grinned. “I’ll remodulate the signal to match the network’s interlink frequency.” He entered a few commands and nodded at Chakotay.
Hardly daring to breathe, Chakotay said, “Starfleet vessel, this is Captain Chakotay of the Federation starship Voyager. We are in the Delta Quadrant, at coordinates one eight mark two five mark four seven. Remodulate your signal to match our interlink frequency.”
“We’re receiving a transmission,” Kim reported.
“Let’s hear it.”
A garbled mess of static came through the comm system. Janeway caught a few words. Voyager … Delta quad … Remodulate … frequency.
“What happened?” she demanded.
Kim shook his head in frustration. “I don’t understand. My readings show that the station picked up our message and relayed it across the entire network.”
“Try widening the subspace bandwidth and sending the message again,” Janeway ordered.
“Transmitting.” Kim stared at the readouts. “The signal is being relayed … Wait, it’s being deflected back again.”
“The carrier wave must be degrading,” she said. “We could try a different kind of signal, something stronger. Ensign, how long do we have until the ship moves out of range?”
“Approximately six hours,” Kim replied. “Captain, Commander, I might be able to come up with a compressed datastream that could cut through the interference. I’d need to work with Lieutenant Torres.”
“Do it,” Chakotay ordered, and Harry Kim hurried out of the lab and down to Engineering.
Torres stuck her head out from her upper-level office in Engineering and peered down the ladder that Harry Kim was climbing urgently and with a lack of grace. “What on earth?” she asked.
“I need your help. Now,” he emphasised.
“What’s going on?”
“We need to find a way to contact the Starfleet ship before it moves out of range.”
“The what?” Torres’ eyes went wide. “What Starfleet ship?”
“In the Beta quadrant. We need to write a program to compress a datastream –”
Torres held up a hand. “Take a breath, Harry. You detected a Starfleet ship? Through the alien array?”
“Right,” he nodded. “Our transmission was deflected because the carrier wave degraded. I think I can come up with a stronger signal, but I need your help.”
“Okay.” She stood for a moment, mentally sifting through options and discarding them. “Okay, wait. We need to encode the datastream within a photonic carrier wave. The integrity of the program should be stable enough to enable it to cut through the interference.” She turned to her station, then turned back. Harry was smiling at her. “What?” she asked, a little defensively.
“Just … You’re amazing.” His smile widened.
“I know.” She grinned back. “Now get to work, Ensign.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He moved beside her. “I’ll write the datastream program. You construct the carrier wave.”
“You got it.” Torres moved to clear her console display and begin work on the photonic carrier wave, but Kim stopped her with a hand on her wrist. “What’s that?”
He was looking at her display panel.
“That? Just a routine scan of old backup logs. I was purging the database of irrelevant data.”
Kim pointed. “What’s that anomalous reading?”
Torres looked more closely. “Huh. Looks like a glitch in the power grid on Deck Seven.” She checked the timestamp. “It occurred several months ago, while we were in the nebula hiding from the Krenim. Hardly surprising. So many systems were down then. The log could be corrupted.”
“There’s another one there,” Kim indicated. “That one happened on stardate 49043.6, the day we destroyed the weapon ship.”
“Okay, that’s weird,” Torres conceded. “Voyager’s systems were functioning at full capacity by then. Maybe something happened during the battle?”
“Maybe.” Kim’s brow was creased. “It just feels like something isn’t right.”
“We don’t have time to worry about it now,” she chided him. “How long do we have to get this message transmitted?”
“Less than six hours.” Kim shrugged it off. “You’re right - we can look into it later.”
Two hours later they had constructed a communication program encased in a photonic buffer. Kim tapped his commbadge. “Kim to Bridge. Captain, we’re ready to proceed.”
~Transfer the program to the Ops station and get up here as fast as you can, Harry,~ came Chakotay’s reply.
“Message ready,” Kim announced, still a little breathless from his race to the bridge. “It may take some time to travel across the network. I wouldn’t expect an immediate reply.”
“Open hailing frequencies.” Chakotay stood. “This is Captain Chakotay of the USS Voyager to the Federation starship occupying sector 542 of the Beta quadrant. We are currently located in the Delta quadrant. We are using an alien sensor network to transmit this message to you.” He paused. “A little under two years ago, we were pulled into the Delta quadrant by a sporocystian entity. We have been trying to return home ever since. We have encrypted our ship’s logs within this datastream so that you can study them and convey them to Starfleet Headquarters. We will move to a position near the relay network and await your reply.” He stopped again, then finished. “We’re very much looking forward to hearing from you. Voyager out.”
“The message is being transmitted,” Kim reported. “It should reach the coordinates within two hours.”
“Well done, Ensign,” Chakotay said softly. He turned to his first officer. “Commander, you have the bridge. Let me know when we hear back from our friends in the Beta quadrant.”
Harry Kim was fidgeting at his station. For the moment, there was nothing he could do to push the message to Starfleet along the alien network. They would reach their wayward shuttle near the relay station in about an hour. Until then, all he could do was hail the Tereshkova repeatedly and hope the shuttle was able to receive their communications, and respond. So far, nothing.
Well, perhaps there was something he could do.
“Lieutenant Tuvok,” he said quietly, hoping not to attract the attention of anyone else on the bridge. “I have something I’d like you to look at, sir, if you have a few minutes.”
Tuvok nodded. “Send it to my station.”
Kim quickly pulled up the backup logs Torres had been intending to purge, identified the two anomalous readings, and transmitted them to the tactical station. He watched as Tuvok’s eyebrow raised, and then the Vulcan looked at him searchingly. “Interesting, Mr Kim,” he said. “These logs warrant further study.”
The door to his ready room chimed. Chakotay called, “Enter.”
Janeway came in and handed him a PADD. “The message has passed through two relay stations without incident, but it’s being buffered in a third, the one that appears to be powered by a quantum singularity. Ensign Kim says this isn’t unexpected. The singularity is producing gravimetric instabilities that may be interfering with the datastream.”
Chakotay took the PADD. “Is there anything we can do about it?”
“We could try to stabilise the station’s containment field, but we’d need to get closer. It’s five point eight light years away. We’ll be cutting it fine to get there before the ship in the Beta quadrant moves out of range of the network.”
“How far is the Tereshkova from that station?”
“Two point one light years.”
“Perhaps they can help. If we can get a hail through to them, we can instruct them to attempt to stabilise the station’s containment field. As soon as they’ve succeeded, we can complete our rescue of the Tereshkova crew.” He smiled. “Two birds, one stone.”
He tapped his commbadge. “Captain to the bridge. Lieutenant Paris, set a course for the relay encompassing the singularity, warp nine point five. Ensign Kim, continue trying to raise the Tereshkova’s crew. When they respond, enlist their assistance in stabilising the singularity’s containment field.” He waited for their acknowledgements then cut the comm channel.
Janeway turned to exit onto the bridge.
“Kate, wait a minute.” Chakotay came around his desk and gestured to the couch. “We have a while before we reach the relay station. Sit with me.”
Chakotay regarded her for a moment. “In a few hours, we could be hearing our first message from home in almost two years. It’s incredible, amazing. And yet you don’t seem too excited about it.”
She inclined her head. “If we do hear from Starfleet, I fully expect their message to contain orders for you to take me into custody immediately, along with my former crew. We’re terrorists, Chakotay, at least in the eyes of the Federation.”
He was silent.
“If that does come to pass,” she went on, “I guess the question is, what will you do?”
“What will I do?” Chakotay straightened. “I’ll explain to them that whatever you are in their eyes, to me you’re vital members of this crew, and we need you - I need you – to help get this ship home.” He leaned forward, grasping her hands in his. “I’m hoping our logs will speak for themselves. But in case they don’t, I’ll be entering commendations into the official record for every former Maquis member of this crew, as well as an appeal for clemency. I’ll take it to the Federation Council if I have to.” And I’ll fight anyone, from the Federation president to those who lurk in the shadows, to save you, he thought.
She smiled, but it wasn’t a happy smile. “It’s a nice sentiment, Chakotay.”
“Kate.” He raised his hand to her face, his thumb stroking her cheekbone. She went very still, her eyes widening slightly. “I won’t let them throw you in prison,” he said softly. “And I’ll kill anyone who tries to hurt you.”
Hurt me? she wondered. Her lips parted to question him, but before she could speak she saw that his gaze had dropped to her mouth. She realised that his thumb was still carefully smoothing her cheekbone, his fingers cradling her head. He seemed to be drawing her closer, or was it she who was leaning into him?
~Tuvok to the Captain.~
Chakotay’s hand dropped from her face. She heard the rough edge in his voice as he responded, “Go ahead, Tuvok.”
~We have received no response from the Tereshkova to our hails. We are approaching their coordinates. The shuttle appears to be adrift. There are no life signs aboard.~
“I’m on my way,” the Captain replied. Janeway stood, smoothed her uniform, and followed him onto the bridge.