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.
7. Future Complex
- September, 2372 -
I finish my little parable. I am rather pleased with myself. In one simple stroke, I believe I have put paid to any further questions this crew might harbour about me, and woven another strand into the personality of Ensign Seska Miko.
I hear Commander Janeway speak. “Your father told you that story?”
There is something in her voice; something that raises the small hairs on the back of my neck. I have not lived as long as I have, in this life that I have chosen, without paying close attention to my instinct for danger. My fingers still on the console and I turn to look at her.
She appears perfectly still. Her pale skin has drained even further of colour, and her lips appear to be trembling a little. I feel nothing but contempt. These Federation bleeding-heart types; so easy to manipulate with a tale of sorrow and suffering. But then I look into her eyes, and in them I read no distress, no sympathy for the brave, angry little Bajoran girl in my story. I can only read hatred, and blinding, sickening rage.
“I knew your father,” she says, in a voice like a snake coiled, ready to strike. “He didn’t die in the Bajoran camps. His name was Emet Idan, and he held me prisoner on a Cardassian-occupied world for seven weeks.”
And suddenly I know who she is, and why my mother had ordered me to bring her back to Cardassia. And she knows me.
“I cut his throat,” she says. She looks into my eyes. “It’s one of my life’s greatest regrets that his death came too quickly.”
There is a moment of silence while we stare at each other; it is almost intimate, the way we can see into each other’s soul. And then I spring at her.
“Ensign Seska is a saboteur. She has been responsible for a number of actions that have put this ship in grave danger.”
“What?” Tom Paris stared at Chakotay, stunned. “Why?”
“I have not been able to determine her motivation,” Tuvok interjected. “However, we must stop her. Commander Janeway may be in danger.”
“As soon as Harry finds the Cochrane, Tuvok and I are going after her,” Chakotay told Paris. “You’ll command Voyager until we return. Take whatever action you deem fit to protect the ship from those Hirogen vessels, if they engage before our return.”
Paris straightened. “No, sir.”
“Excuse me, Lieutenant?”
“Captain, I’m going with you. Lieutenant Tuvok should remain in command on Voyager.” Before Chakotay could respond, he went on, “Sir, the gravimetric instabilities in this region are severe. You’ll need your best pilot, and you might need a medic. You’re looking at both.”
~Kim to the Captain. I’ve located the Cochrane. It’s shadowing the Tereshkova, one point nine light years from the singularity. They’re not responding to hails.~
“Acknowledged, Ensign.” Chakotay hesitated, then nodded at Paris. “All right, Mr Paris. You’re with me. Tuvok, you have the bridge.”
“Thank you, Captain,” Tom said quietly, and followed him to the shuttlebay.
Seska was on her before she could avoid it. Janeway’s head rocked backward as the Cardassian delivered a sharp slice to her jaw with the flat of her hand, followed by a blow to her right temple. Head singing, she staggered, clutching at air. Seska whipped out a foot, catching Janeway behind the knee. She fell heavily to the deck. Instantly Seska was on top of her, fingers digging into her throat. She raised Janeway’s head and slammed it back into the deck, twice.
Janeway felt the clouds gathering in her head. Desperate for air, she clawed at Seska’s face, fingernails ripping at her cheek, trying to reach the Cardassian’s eyes. Seska hissed and jerked her head back, and Janeway used the movement to throw her weight sideways, rolling the Cardassian beneath her. She shoved the heel of her hand upward under Seska’s chin, saw the woman’s eyes roll back, grip loosening on Janeway’s throat. Janeway thrust her knee into Seska’s ribcage, felt a satisfying crack as she broke a couple of ribs. Seska howled and brought her knees sharply up behind Janeway’s thighs, catapulting her forward. Janeway crashed head first into the bulkhead and crumpled, momentarily stunned.
Seska’s hands felt for a weapon under the closest station and closed on an engineering kit. Rolling to her feet, she rummaged through it, bringing out a plasma knife. She rushed at Janeway, the knife’s wicked blade held out and slashing. Janeway shoved herself away from the bulkhead and danced sideways, trying to avoid the blade. Seska lunged, slicing a tear along Janeway’s upper arm, following with another, deeper gash to her right thigh. Janeway stumbled backward, casting about for help. She saw a conduit panel and ripped it off the wall, flinging it with all her strength at the other woman.
It glanced off Seska’s right arm, knocking the knife from her hand and sending it skittering into a corner. The conduit cover crashed into the helm console, shattering the input panel into a jagged puzzle. Seska rushed at her, slamming heavily into Janeway’s shoulder. She grasped Janeway’s wrist as she fell, twisting, and Janeway screamed as she felt her wrist break. She forced herself to twist out of Seska’s grasp, rolling, continuing the momentum until she found her feet. She leaned back against the engineering station, her breath coming in hard gulps. She felt her consciousness starting to slip away. Through the blackness at the edge of her vision she saw Seska launching at her again. Desperate, Janeway braced herself on the engineering console with her uninjured arm, brought up her leg, and kicked out at Seska’s stomach.
The Cardassian flew backward and landed heavily on the broken helm console. Her body, snapped back by the force of Janeway’s kick, buckled the shattered pieces of the panel. Her head cracked against the console’s upper edge. Janeway heard a sickening crunch, a gurgle, and Seska jerked once and then was still.
Trembling, she pulled herself toward the helm. Seska lay dead, blood welling from her throat and coursing down the helm panel. A piece of the broken console panel had impaled her through the back of her neck, severing her spine. Janeway checked for a pulse, needing to be absolutely certain, found none, then reeled, swayed, and blacked out.
Chakotay and Tom Paris materialised into a scene of carnage.
In the brief spurts of illumination afforded them by emergency power lights and sparking consoles, Chakotay first saw Seska. She sprawled across the shattered helm panel, sightless eyes turned to the stars she would never see again, a jagged slice of the broken console protruding from her throat. Too much blood spattered the walls and floor of the shuttle. He heard Paris take a shuddering breath beside him, and plead of nobody, “Where is she?”
“She’s over here.” Chakotay felt his heart get stuck in his throat. Kathryn lay crumpled under the science station, one hand at a wrong angle, her face hidden by her hair.
“Kat,” he heard Tom shout, and then they were kneeling either side of her, Paris automatically taking her readings on the tricorder. “What’s her condition?” Chakotay demanded.
“She’s unconscious. Concussion. Fractured wrist, dislocated elbow, blood loss from various deep lacerations. Damage to her trachea.” Paris didn’t spare the captain a glance. “We have to get her to Voyager.”
Chakotay activated his commbadge. “Chakotay to Voyager. Are you within transport range?”
~Two minutes, Captain,~ he heard Tuvok reply. ~Is Commander Janeway well?~
“She’s been better. As soon as you’re in range, lock onto our signals and beam all of us directly to Sickbay.”
Chakotay cut the channel. Paris was administering a hypospray. He saw Janeway stir, heard her moan. “Shh, don’t move,” Paris soothed her. “You’re safe now.”
“Tom,” she said, weakly. “You’re here.”
“Where else would I be?”
Until that moment Chakotay had been too focused on Kathryn to pay much attention to Paris. But the tone in his voice made the captain’s spine clench. He looked at Paris, hard, and saw that he had tears in his eyes.
“I thought I’d lost you,” he heard Paris whisper, and then the pilot gathered her in his arms with deliberate and careful tenderness, holding her close against him, his cheek pressed to hers. After a moment, Kathryn reached up with her uninjured arm, and he watched as she wound her shaking fingers into Tom’s hair.
The transporter beam pulled them away as the pieces fell inevitably into place.
Tuvok had ordered the three stranded shuttles tractored into Voyager’s shuttlebays and immediately set a course safely away from the oncoming Hirogen ships. Ensigns Kim and Delaney were in Stellar Cartography using the alien sensor array to detect all Hirogen presence in the region. So far, indications were that Hirogen space was vast; their ships had been identified across five sectors. Chakotay directed the astrometrics officers to find them a way around it, but to stay as close to the sensor network as possible. He wasn’t willing to give up on their chance of receiving a message from Starfleet.
The EMH had insisted Janeway remain sedated in Sickbay for forty-eight hours, minimum. After twenty-four, he commed the Captain to inform him that his patient had woken and was refusing further sedation and intending to discharge herself. Chakotay handed the bridge to Tuvok and took the turbolift to Deck Five.
“Commander, I really must insist –” the Doctor was badgering her as he walked in. Janeway was in uniform and was leaning on the edge of a biobed pulling her hair into a chignon. Even from the doorway, Chakotay could see she was trembling with the effort.
“Doctor, would you give us the room, please.”
“Oh. Very well.” The Doctor put down his tricorder. “Computer, deactivate Emergency Medical Holographic program.” He shimmered out of existence.
Chakotay rested his hip on the biobed, beside her. “What happened on that shuttle, Commander?”
She was quiet for a moment, choosing her words carefully. “Ensign Seska revealed herself to be a Cardassian covert agent. She attacked me. I killed her.”
Chakotay jerked back in shock. “She was Cardassian?”
“Why did she – What was she –” He tried to order his jumbled thoughts. “How did you discover this?”
“It was something she said. It aligned with an event I experienced …” She paused. “Something that happened to me a long time ago.”
“When you were captured by the Cardassians,” he realised. She nodded.
He said, “Will you tell me, Kate?”
And for the first time since it happened, she found that she could.
“His name was Emet Idan,” she began. “Seska – Miyana - was his daughter. I only met her once, briefly, but it was memorable.” She curled her hands on the edge of the biobed, seeking solid ground. “He brought Captain Paris, Lieutenant Talik and me to Celtris III. I’m not sure what else he may have done to Paris and Talik before I saw them again, a day or so after we were taken, but they had clearly been beaten.”
Chakotay closed his eyes. “And you?” he asked quietly.
“Yes. And me.” She took in a deep breath. “They brought me to a room. Paris and Talik were there. Idan questioned me. He believed our survey mission was a cover for Starfleet surveillance on Cardassian assets.” Her mouth twisted. “He was right, although I didn’t know it at the time. Talik –” She suppressed a shudder. “He had Talik tortured in front of me and threatened to do the same to Captain Paris, unless I agreed to let him – to let him…”
“Oh, Kate.” Chakotay’s throat hurt.
“I agreed, on condition that my crewmates weren’t harmed. For seven weeks I believed Idan had kept his word. The night the Rangers came to rescue us, he revealed that he had killed Talik and tortured Paris. So I killed him.”
She saw tears in his eyes. “I’d do anything for that to have never happened to you.”
“It is what it is,” she answered. “It’s part of who I am.”
“Justin saved my life,” she said, “in more ways than one. I would have been happy, married to him. But –” She stopped.
He waited. She pushed away from the biobed, standing with her back to him, hugging herself. “He knew my heart was never meant to be his.”
Chakotay reached for her shoulder, but she flinched away. “Kate –”
“You left,” she said, starkly, facing him. “You took that transfer and just left me behind.”
He stared at her. “Is that really what you think?” he asked. “You think I moved on without a second thought?”
“You were dating someone else within a couple of months,” she said softly. “What was I supposed to think? I was so in love with you, Chakotay. I know I never found the courage to tell you back then, but I can’t believe you didn’t know how I felt.”
“Oh, Kate,” he said sadly. “I only knew I had to let you go. We had orders, and I couldn’t see how we’d make it work. And you were headed for stardom even then. I didn’t want to be the one who held you back.”
“And after Justin died?” She searched his eyes. “You wanted more, then. You were willing to give up everything you’d ever worked for.”
“But you weren’t,” he reminded her gently.
“It broke my heart.” Her gaze dropped to the floor. “When I was that girl who fell in love with you on the Al-Batani, I could have made that choice, wholeheartedly. But after Celtris III …” She bit her lip. “I wasn’t the same. It wouldn’t have been fair to you, Chakotay. It wouldn’t have been right.”
“I wanted you, Kathryn. Not some image of perfection.” He stepped toward her and she raised her gaze to him. “I never stopped loving you,” he said. “There’s never been anyone else for me, not like that. Only you.”
He held out a hand to her and she took it, twining her fingers into his, in their old familiar way. Her eyes were bright with tears. “It could all have been so different,” she whispered. “What a waste.”
She brought their linked hands up to her face, tugging her fingers out of his so she could lean her cheek against his palm. Chakotay pressed his lips to her cheekbone, breathing in the scent of her hair. He slid his arm around her waist, drawing her closer, felt her hand on his chest. He turned his head, and she lifted hers, and their lips met. It was tender and gentle and it made him ache, and it lasted only a moment before she pulled away.
“Kate,” he said quietly, “it can still be different.”
“No, Chakotay.” Her tears were spilling over. “It can’t.”
“Tell me why.”
“Because everything and nothing has changed,” she whispered. “We still couldn’t be together, could we? You’re the captain, and I’m your first officer, and neither of us can afford to be entangled with each other, or –” she bit her lip, then went on, “or anyone else on the crew.”
He was silent for a long moment, looking at her. Finally he said, quietly, “Tom Paris.”
She stilled, heart thumping unpleasantly.
“I can’t believe it took me so long to put it together,” he went on, his voice gentle. “The Krenim ship?”
She swallowed. “We believed you were all dead. I thought you were dead, Chakotay. I wanted to die, myself. Tom …” She pressed her lips together. “He wouldn’t let me. He was …” Her face crumpled; she took a deep breath to force back the tears, but didn’t go on.
“You love him,” he stated. He felt hollow, but this wasn’t about him anymore. “So why aren’t you with him?”
“You know why,” she said on the edge of a sob. “Those protocols exist for a reason, Chakotay. He’s under my command and my objectivity is compromised. We’re out here in constant fear of danger with no backup. Someday I may have to order him to his death, or choose to save him and send someone else. Whichever choice I made, I would never be able to live with myself.”
“But that day might never come,” he said. “And in the meantime you’re denying yourself a chance at happiness. You deserve to be happy, Kathryn.” He smiled sadly. “Even if it’s not with me.”
“Maybe, one day. If we ever get home.” She shook her head. “But not out here.”
“You don’t have to be alone,” he pleaded with her, and she gave him a crooked smile that broke his heart.
“I’m used to it,” she said, and his gaze followed her as she walked out of Sickbay.
Tuvok entered the ready room and stood before Chakotay’s desk. “Captain, I have confirmed that our message to Starfleet was transmitted across the array. It reached the ship stationed in the Beta quadrant.”
Chakotay gave him a half-smile. “At least that’s one piece of good news.” He nodded to the chair opposite and Tuvok sat. “I hope we’ll get the chance to access whatever message they send back to us.”
“There are no Hirogen ships within several light years of our current position, Captain. However, should we move toward the sensor network, we risk detection and further attacks.”
“What’s another day in the Delta quadrant without the possibility of imminent death?” Chakotay couldn’t keep the sarcasm out of his voice.
Tuvok raised an eyebrow. “You appear particularly troubled, Captain.”
“Let’s just say I’ve had better days.” He stood and walked over to the viewport. “I understand Neelix is organising a memorial for the Tereshkova crew.”
“It will be held in the mess hall tomorrow at 2100.”
“Good.” Chakotay crossed his arms. “My suspicions were correct. There was a double agent on this ship.” He glanced back at Tuvok. “I just never expected it to be a Cardassian.”
“Ensign Seska was evidently highly capable. If not for Commander Janeway, we may not have discovered her true identity for some time.” Tuvok looked as displeased as a Vulcan could look. “I have something further to report, sir. I have discovered the nature of the photonic pulse Seska initiated. It contained an encoded message, and was intended to bind itself to the carrier wave containing our transmission. It succeeded.”
“Have you decrypted it?”
“Not yet. It appears to be a numerical sequence. I have not been able to identify a pattern. It may take some time to decode.”
“So Seska sent a message to her people, and we don’t know what it says. This day just keeps getting better.” Chakotay pinched at the bridge of his nose. “Keep on it, Lieutenant.”
“Aye, sir.” The Vulcan stood.
“And, Tuvok?” Chakotay said. “I’m not convinced this puts an end to my suspicions. I still believe there is a Section 31 agent on this ship. Do whatever you have to do, whatever it takes, to uncover them.”
“Understood, Captain.” Tuvok let himself out.
Chakotay turned back to the viewport and stared out at the alien stars. He knew he should feel optimistic, energised, full of new hope that they had just made their first contact with home, but today, all he could see was the light years of cold, barren space ahead.