Erasure

Summary: Voyager limps through alien space, pursued by a relentless enemy. With the crew split apart, stranded officers turn to each other, and suspicions arise that a traitor may be working from the inside. But fates can change in breathtaking ways.

 

Characters: Janeway, Paris, Chakotay, Tuvok, Kim, Torres, Kes, Neelix, EMH, Seska, Bendera, Celes, VOY crew

Codes: Janeway/Paris, Janeway/Chakotay, Kim/Torres

 

Disclaimer: Paramount owns all things Trek, including any dialogue I’ve borrowed from the series. I sincerely hope they take this as a compliment.

 

Notes: Book 3 of the Parallels series. Related episode: Year of Hell. Thanks to their moderately successful use of the Sikarian spatial trajector, Voyager has managed to bypass Borg space without encountering the Collective, and other events that happened in the series between Prime Factors and Year of Hell have also been bypassed. I’ve also taken some liberties with the timeline, but not as many as Annorax.

Rated M

Epilogue

Stardate 49679.3

After the debriefs, the stories and the welcome home party, the Captain summoned his first officer and tactical chief to his ready room. “Take a seat,” he offered, indicating the couch. He went to the replicator and ordered drinks without asking their preferences: black coffee for Janeway, Vulcan tea for Tuvok.

He sat, sipped his own herbal tea blend, then spoke. “Commander, as soon as you’re completely up to speed your first priority will be to organise repair teams. Have all team leaders forward me their estimates when ready. Then I want you to work on scanning the surrounding sectors to identify and analyse changes in the timeline.”

He gazed into his tea. The temporal incursion, from which Voyager had been completely protected, had resulted in the disappearance of their entire allied fleet. Perhaps those species – the Mawasi, the Saklat, the Nihydron - had never been meant to exist, but that didn’t help him feel any less responsible. It was an ethical and philosophical quandary that he knew would result in many, many sleepless nights. And, more personally, those people had been his friends.

On the upside, the total Krenim population in the surrounding sectors was a paltry twelve billion scattered across two planets. The Krenim appeared to live in relative harmony with the Rilnar, a species of technological capability at a similar level to the Federation, and with similar ideals.

“Start scouting for sources of dilithium, tritanium and whatever other substances Lieutenant Torres has on her wishlist. Also, make contact with the Rilnar. We could use some friends around here.”

“Aye, Captain,” Janeway replied.

Chakotay turned to Tuvok. “Lieutenant, I have a different assignment for you. We have a mystery to solve.”

“Indeed.” Tuvok raised an eyebrow. “I anticipated your request and have commenced an investigation into how Voyager’s temporal shields were restored.”

“Conclusions?”

“None at this time, Captain, except to note that the person or persons responsible appear to be very familiar with Voyager’s systems, and highly skilled in computer manipulation.” He paused. “During my time with Starfleet Intelligence, I learned many techniques of covert system interference. This person’s skills far exceed my own in that area.”

Chakotay nodded. “Carry on, then. Dismissed.”

Tuvok departed.

Janeway was already entering data into her PADD, coffee forgotten on the table beside her. Chakotay watched her for a long moment. She was thinner than when she’d been captured, her hair longer, and there was something else different about her. He couldn’t quite put a finger on it, but his instincts told him she was suffering from some private unhappiness. Her report had stated that, aside from their solitary confinement during the first few weeks of their imprisonment, she and Paris had not been harmed, but he wondered if he’d ever know what had really happened to her.

“Kate,” he said, gently, and she looked up, realised he was watching her, and placed the PADD on the table. He held out a hand, and after a hesitation she took it and he linked his fingers with hers.

“I missed you,” he said, and smiled at her, and then to his profound surprise, she threw her arms around his neck and clutched him to her so fiercely he had to catch his breath.

 

=/\=


The door to his quarters chimed, and Tom knew it was her. He said, “Come in.”

She took three steps into the room, and stopped. He looked at her. She was in uniform, her hair twisted on top of her head. Her chin was lifted and her mouth firm, but when he looked into her eyes he saw that they were wide and dark with misery.

“You’re here to dump me, aren’t you,” he stated.

She struggled to compose herself. “I’m your commanding officer. I can’t be in a relationship with a subordinate. Starfleet protocols –”

Fuck protocol,” he said harshly, stepping toward her. “I love you.”

Her breath hitched, her mouth trembled, but she met his gaze and didn’t waver. His hands itched to touch her; he reached for her, but she stepped quickly out of his reach. “Don’t do this, Kat,” he implored.

“I have to.”

The image of her blurred before his eyes.

“You’re breaking my heart,” he said quietly.

“I know,” she whispered. “Goodbye, Tom.”

“Goodbye, Kat,” he said to the empty room.