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Wayward Fortune

Summary: “It all came down to a lucky escape, a bottle of whiskey, and a consequence that would haunt them for eternity. At least, it would have if an untimely death and an accidental trip to the past hadn't interfered ...”

Like most adopted kids, Sylvia Tilly has always been curious about her biological origins. But the true story of her parentage is so fantastic that even she never could have imagined it.


Characters: Tilly, Siobhan Tilly, Janeway

Codes: Tilly & Burnham, Janeway & Siobhan Tilly, Janeway/Carey


Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own the rights to the Star Trek universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.

Note: I started writing this well before the end of Discovery Season 2, so we’ll just call it very AU and leave it at that.

Rated T

What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.
- Pericles of Athens





Computer, begin letter to Commander Michael Burnham on the USS Discovery. Okay… Okay, we’re good.

[clearing throat]

Hi, Michael. It’s been a while. Things have been good on the Pericles. I mean, except for that incident last month with the mirror-bot at Commander Xughuka’s hatching party – never mind. I guess you heard I’m a full lieutenant now, in spite of that. Captain McKenna thought it was funny. Not that that’s why I got promoted.

[pause, heavy sigh]

I, uh, I was wondering if you’d been seeing anybody? Because I have. Kind of. Well, I was … maybe I still am. I don’t really know. It’s … some stuff’s been going on in my personal life. Not with the dating, I mean other stuff. It kind of … distracted me.


Okay, I’m just going to cut to the chase. My mom died a little while ago. No, it’s okay, I’m fine. You know we were never close, except that time a couple years ago when I was straightening my hair and dating that doctor … you know, what Stamets calls my ‘blue period’? Because … because the doctor was Andorian? … I know. I’m avoiding.

So. My mom. I came home to pack up her things, and I … found something. I don’t know what to call it – a journal, her memoirs, evidence she kept for reasons unknown? I don’t know if she meant me to find it. And I – I read some of it, and Michael, I have no idea what to do. I’m so … I have feelings, and not the fun kind. The weird, uncomfortable kind, like that time I walked in on Rhys in the gym and he was flexing – you remember?

You know, I think I should go finish reading it before I say anything else. I probably shouldn’t be bothering you with my personal crap anyway, especially when you’re so busy. I gotta go.

Bye, Michael. Write back soon, okay?

Computer, end recording and transmit.





It seems ridiculous to address this record to my dear diary, as I used to when I was a little girl. But I don’t know who will eventually read this, if anyone ever does, and the nature of it will be thoroughly confessional, so … consider this my version of scribbling secrets in a jealously guarded, leather-bound book.

Most of my private musings and revelations would be of no interest to future generations, I’m sure, which quite conveniently lets me off the hook. There will be no teenage romances or extramarital passions detailed in this log; not that I have many of those to divulge, in any case. Truthfully, there’s only one secret I keep that anybody will care about in years to come. It’s not romantic or sexy. It’s not even scandalous – not really – and there’s really only one person it affects.

I suppose I’ve figured out who I should be addressing this confessional to, even if she never finds it.





Computer, begin letter to Commander Michael Burnham, USS Discovery.

Okay, okay, I guess you want to know about my mom’s diary. I’m going to assume you’re not just being polite, because I’ve been working on my self-esteem, see? Just like we talked about. Frequently. Which, by the way, I’m sorry I’m so needy – I mean, forget that. We’re friends. That’s what friends do.

I can see you giving me that Vulcan eyebrow from here, Michael. Point taken.

So. The diary.


You know how my mom always acted like she was this paragon of intellect and virtue? The great Siobhan Tilly, security specialist, diplomat, recipient of medals and accolades, respected and admired for her achievements. I mean, she really was. You should’ve seen her obituary in the Federation Standard – oh, I’m sure you read it. She had a huge Starfleet funeral, and then her colleagues in the Federation Security Council threw her another one, because apparently she was that important. How was I supposed to compete with that?

Yeah, I know. She did a number on my self-esteem, a daughter shouldn’t have to compete with her mother, blah blah. I know all that. Doesn’t mean it didn’t work.

Get to the point, Tilly.

I’ve always known I was adopted. You knew that, right? Of course you knew that; you know all my painful secrets.


I once asked her who my real parents were – I think I was about five years old. You know, because she clearly didn’t like me much, so of course I used to fantasise that I was a princess hidden from a corrupt empire from my own safety, or that my blood was secretly programmed with the cure for the Telurian plague or something. And she was a witch who’d been cursed with taking care of me, or an agent for the Romulan government who was keeping me hidden away. You know the kind of things kids dream up.

She shut me down, of course. Told me there was nothing fairytale about my real parents, no fantastic origin story. I wasn’t the long-lost daughter of a queen and her consort, or the key to saving a whole planet, or any of the other crazy ideas I’d come up with. She told me the sooner I accepted that I was just an ordinary kid, the better off I’d be.

I can hear you grinding your teeth from here, Michael.


Anyway. Turns out she lied to me. Can you believe that? I mean, I’m not a princess and my blood won’t cure any plagues. But the truth is … the truth is almost as incredible. You’re not gonna believe this, Michael. I didn’t at first, but then there was evidence and … I don’t even know how to start with this story. It’s just so …

[lengthy silence broken by occasional sighs and mutterings]

You know what? I think I’m just going to read you my mom’s diary. That way you get to hear it straight from the source, so to speak.

Here we go.




This is the second entry I’ve written in this journal, and if I write down everything I need to say, it may be my last. I hope it is. I’m not made for confessions; I don’t find them comfortable. But this secret has grown heavier with every year that passes, and I think I need to share the burden of it, even if it’s only with this computer file. Maybe I’ll delete it once I’ve written it all out.

Maybe I won’t. Maybe someday I’ll give it to the only person who has a right to read it: my daughter.

Sylvia, if you ever read this – if I ever find the courage to let you – I’m sorry. I wasn’t a good mother to you, and I’m sorry for so many things, but most of all I’m sorry that I lied to you. That I let you believe I thought you were just an ordinary kid.

You are extraordinary.

You’re brilliant and ambitious, even more so than I was at your age. I know you’ll do great things, and I know it will be in spite of me. I should have encouraged you, but I was scared… I never wanted you to join Starfleet. It’s irrational, I know, but I thought that if you joined up, somehow you’d manage to find out about your biological parents.

I know it’s ridiculous – how could you? Starfleet couldn’t know about them. Nobody could. Especially because I made it my mission to ensure every last trace of them was scrubbed from existence. Well, almost every trace.

And I also know I’m stalling.

So, Sylvia, if you ever read this: it’s time I told you the other reason you’re extraordinary. It’s time I told you about your mother.

She’s a Starfleet captain, just like you will be one day, and she’s quite famous, though you won’t have heard of her. Her name is Kathryn Janeway, and she was born – or rather, will be born – in the year 2335.

Yes, that’s what I meant to write. Your mother will be born almost a century in our future. Your father, too, although this isn’t his story. I’m afraid I never met him. But your mother … I knew her well.

I’ll explain that soon, but first I’ll tell you a little about her.

For seven years, your mother was the captain of a starship that was lost at the other end of the galaxy. I can’t tell you how they ended up there or how they got back home. Kathryn said that in her time, Starfleet follows a Temporal Prime Directive, and that she couldn’t tell me anything that could lead to interference with the timeline. It must have been tempting for her to leave instructions, some kind of message, that would one day prevent Starfleet from sending her on the mission that led to – well, never mind. I suppose if she had done that, you might never have been born.

You’re smart, Sylvia, so I’m sure you’ve deduced from my last sentence that your father was aboard Kathryn’s ship. In fact, he was one of her officers, which seemed to bother her quite a bit. She was terribly concerned about violating fraternisation protocols. Not that it would have mattered once they got home and she could have him reassigned, but by then he was –

I’m getting ahead of myself.

They weren’t in a relationship. It wasn’t some great romance that they carried on in secret despite the regulations. In fact, they only spent one night together. I’m sure your existence came as quite the surprise, several weeks later.

I’ll spare you the details, Sylvia. Let’s just say that it all came down to a lucky escape, a bottle of whiskey, and a consequence that would haunt them for eternity. At least, it would have, if an untimely death and an accidental trip to the past hadn't interfered …



 [long pause, staring into the viewer]

Seriously, can you believe this, Michael? I wouldn’t, except that there’s literally no reason my mom would make this up.

There’s more – my mom sure had a lot to say about Kathr-, I mean, my biological mother. I haven’t even read the whole file yet. I just had to talk to you when I got this far into it. Maybe telling you makes it seem real.

I have to get some sleep now, but I’ll comm you in a couple of days and fill you in on the rest. I promise.

Computer, encode transmission and direct to the USS Discovery.


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