Series: From A - Z
Series Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: Paramount's, not mine.
Summary: Chakotay and Tom put their plan into action.
Warning: Major characters' deaths
"Are you okay, Tom?" Chakotay asked, lightly rubbing the back of the younger
man's hand as they sat together in the Mess Hall. "You've hardly eaten
"I know. I just don't feel like it, Cha. I mean, I *was* hungry when we got
here, but I'm just too tired to eat. What I really need is a good eight
hours uninterrupted sleep. In our bed. With you. I'm sick of taking catnaps
in odd places. I had to make do with the ready room the last time. And I
usually have to share each place with various other crew members."
Chakotay nodded sympathetically. "These last two days have been pretty rough
on you, haven't they?"
"Yeah, they have," Tom agreed, idly prodding his food with his fork before
finally pushing the plate to one side. "I knew from the first moment we
encountered these aliens that they weren't gonna be the sort to back off,
but I just wish they would. Not only are these constant attacks *physically*
tiring, but they're draining me mentally, too. I'm finding it more and more
difficult to concentrate. And you and I have hardly spent any time together
since we got married," he complained, looking longingly at Chakotay.
"Yes, I know, Tom," Chakotay sighed, gently squeezing Tom's hand. "And I've
really missed you. But we're almost at the co-ordinates for the first
wormhole now, so, with luck, it will all be over soon."
"Yeah, one way or another," Tom commented quietly as he looked into his
husband's eyes. "It seems unlikely that the aliens are gonna leave us alone,
and the condition Voyager's in means it's doubtful if any plan anyone else
comes up with will work, because we just don't have the resources. Power
levels are down, no long-range communications, so no messages to Starfleet
for help if one of the wormholes does go to the AQ, and unfortunately, we
don't have a limitless weapons supply. So, all in all, that really does only
leave us with the one option we thought we had, doesn't it?"
Chakotay sighed again, heavily. "If only they had answered our hails," he
said, shaking his head with frustration as he thought of how many times
they'd tried to contact the alien ships before the external communications
system had failed, all to no avail. "This whole situation might have been
avoided. We wouldn't even have to be *contemplating* the course of action it
looks as though we're going to have to take."
"Yeah, but the aliens are too concerned with trying to keep us away from the
wormholes, aren't they?" Tom remarked, leaning back in his chair as he
rubbed his eyes with his free hand.
"I'm not sure that *is* their intention," Chakotay replied, pushing his own
plate aside as he gave his response further consideration. "After all, *we*
only know about the wormholes because of the star chart, and Seven's
in-depth analysis of it. The anomalies haven't actually shown up on our
scans yet, so it's possible that the nebula that's interfering with our
sensors has also kept the wormholes hidden from our adversaries.
"I think you were right the other day when you suggested we'd strayed into
this species' territory when we changed course. I think their initial
offensive was meant to frighten us off, but when that didn't happen, and
after finding we were vulnerable to attacks by multiple vessels, I believe
they then decided to pursue us. The amount of damage they did must have
encouraged them too. I don't think the wormholes had any relevance at all in
"Maybe, but I don't suppose we'll ever know for certain, will we?" Tom said,
yawning. "But one thing's for sure, if one of the wormholes *does* lead to
the Alpha Quadrant, there's no way in hell we can allow these aliens to
"No, we can't. And providing we get the chance to set up what we need to,
they won't," Chakotay stated, rising. He gently pulled Tom to his feet, then
hugged him briefly as Neelix wandered over to collect their plates. After
repeatedly assuring the Talaxian that nothing was wrong with the food, it
was only Tom's state of exhaustion that had caused him to leave it, Chakotay
took Tom's arm and steered him out of the Mess Hall, passing Harry Kim on
The Ensign was sitting alone, as he had done each meal time since his
altercation with Tom in Sandrine's a few nights earlier, and he looked up as
the two men approached, catching Tom's eye momentarily before swiftly
dropping his gaze back to his plate and studiously ignoring his former best
Chakotay sighed as he noted Harry's actions, giving Tom's arm a sympathetic
squeeze as they continued out into the corridor.
Once they were out of the Mess Hall, Tom pulled Chakotay to a halt, then
gently pushed him until his back was against the wall. Leaning in, he softly
kissed the older man's lips, ignoring the stares from a few crew members who
evidently hadn't believed the news that the two men had married.
As Tom silently thanked the older man for his concern, Chakotay's arms wound
themselves around Tom's waist. He pulled the pilot close, returning the
love-filled kisses for a few minutes before finally suggesting they head to
the observation lounge for the remainder of their short off-duty break.
"Good job we always send probes through before risking the ship," Tom
commented. He'd returned to duty an hour earlier and was sitting at the
helm, watching the events on the viewscreen with the rest of the bridge
"Yes, it certainly is, Lieutenant," Janeway remarked, turning towards Tom
and noting him rubbing his tired eyes.
The wormhole that had recently been visible on the large screen, had only
shown up on the ship's sensors just forty minutes before they'd reached it.
As they'd watched, it had became unstable, then closed, taking with it the
probe that had been sent in to determine where it led.
Putting aside her disappointment that the anomaly had proved to be of no
use, Janeway turned her complete attention to the helm. "Set a course for
the next wormhole. Warp six," she instructed. "Perhaps we'll have more luck
with that one."
"Aye, Captain. Course adjusted," Tom answered, turning round to look at her.
"We should be there in just over two hours."
"Thank you, Lieutenant. I'm calling up a replacement for you, and when he
arrives, I want you to go to your own quarters and get some sleep. You'll
rest better there than on the ready room couch. If, by some miracle, the
wormhole goes where we want, and it's stable, I want you as fresh as
possible when you attempt to navigate it."
/There's your opening, Cha,/ Tom remarked silently before acknowledging the
Captain's order. /That'll be the first part of the plan sorted. But there's
no way I can set up the more intricate part right now. I really am tired./
file://That's okay, Tom. We'll do the rest when we can.// Chakotay responded as
he turned towards Janeway. "Captain," he said, facing her. "I think it might
be in the ship's best interest if Baytart was given extra rest time too. I
know Tom's our best pilot, but he's been called upon a lot over the last two
days, and even with more sleep he might not be up to the possibility of
piloting Voyager through the wormhole. If he isn't, then we'll need a well
rested back-up pilot."
Janeway considered Chakotay's advice for several minutes before replying.
"Yes, you may be right," she said, nodding. "Have Culhane take over now.
Unless there's another red alert, he'll stay at the helm until we've reached
the second wormhole and launched the next probe."
"Yes, Captain," Chakotay answered, turning his attention to his console and
sending a message to Culhane.
"Fuck!" Tom swore vehemently as his sleep was disturbed yet again by visions
of attacking ships. He struggled to his feet, his uniform-clad legs tangled
in the bedclothes as he lunged for his shoes. He swore again as he tripped
and fell, knocking over the small table that stood by the bed. Picking
himself up, but ignoring the upturned table, he grabbed his footwear, the
only thing he'd removed before getting into bed an hour earlier, and quickly
put the shoes on.
Leaving the bedroom, he rubbed his still tired eyes, making it to the outer
door as a flash of bright light illuminated the cabin, and the ship was hit
by an enormous blast of energy. Simultaneously, the red alert sounded and
the ship was rocked again, causing Tom to lose his footing once more. As he
stumbled backwards, he crashed to the floor, his head hitting the edge of
the coffee table. The last thing he saw before he lost consciousness, was
another blinding flash of light streaking past the viewport.
"How many fingers can you see?" the Doctor asked as Tom blinked, his eyes
not yet adjusted to the dim lights in sickbay.
"Four," Tom muttered after he finally managed to focus on them. "But what's
going on here, Doc? Why is the lighting so low?"
"A result of the attacks, I'm afraid," the EMH replied, helping Tom to sit
up. "We suffered even more damage this time, and we've had to reduce the
lighting further in an effort to conserve energy for more important areas of
"How long was I out?" Tom asked, frowning as he remembered his collision
with the coffee table.
"Just over three hours. I could have brought you round earlier, but after I
scanned you, I decided against it. Your brain wave patterns were all over
the place, and I didn't want to risk causing permanent damage to you by
waking you before you were ready."
"Three hours?" Tom queried, hopping off the bed. "Have we reached the second
"About fifteen minutes ago," the Doctor confirmed. "A probe was launched,
but I don't think it's returned yet."
"Can I leave?" Tom questioned, already heading for the door.
The EMH gave a holographic version of a sigh, then waved his hand towards
the exit. "Yes. Go. I'd be fighting a losing battle trying to get you to
stay, anyway. But if you feel dizzy, or have any other symptoms, come
"I will, Doc," Tom promised as he stepped out of the sickbay doors and into
the corridor. /Cha? Are you okay?/ he enquired as he made his way to the
file://I'm fine now that I know *you're* okay, Tom,// Chakotay answered. file://Have
you been released from sickbay?//
/Yeah. I'm on my way to the bridge. Has the probe returned from the wormhole
file://Yes, but unfortunately it showed the exit was behind us. We've just set a
course for the last of the wormholes. We should be at the marked location in
approximately three hours.//
/Gotta be third time lucky then,/ Tom remarked, stepping into the turbolift
and instructing it to take him to the bridge.
file://I hope so, Tom. I hope we haven't misinterpreted Azai's intentions.//
/I don't think we have, Cha. I'm sure the last wormhole will be the one that
takes Voyager home./
Chakotay turned around and nodded at Tom as he stepped out of the lift and
headed towards him. "Are you okay now, Tom?" he asked the younger man again,
a question the other crew members would expect from him.
"Fine, Commander," Tom answered, stopping in front of Chakotay. He glanced
to his left and smiled at Janeway. "Orders, Captain?" he enquired.
"Glad to see you've recovered, Lieutenant," Janeway answered with a smile of
her own. "As for orders, I'd still like you to rest, but I think you'll have
to make do with either the ready room or the Commander's office. I'd like
you to remain close by in case you're needed. I don't want a repeat of your
"Understood, Captain. I'll take myself off to the ready room if you're not
gonna be using it. Could you send a damage report there for me to have a
look at? I'd like to be up to date with our status for when I'm needed at
the helm. I'd prefer to know of any limitations we have well ahead of time."
"Of course," Janeway answered, nodding. "Chakotay can send the appropriate
reports to the ready room's computer terminal. I'll let you know when you're
needed back here."
"Thank you, Captain." Tom turned to leave, squeezing Chakotay's shoulder as
he walked away. /This is an ideal opportunity, Cha, and possibly the only
one we're gonna get,/ he said silently, making his way towards the ready
room. /If you give me the codes and tell me what to do, I'll set everything
file://Be careful, Tom. We can't afford to be discovered. The Captain just
/I know, Cha. And we won't be discovered. I'll make sure I cover my tracks
completely,/ Tom stated as he entered the ready room. He crossed to the
computer terminal and activated it, then, working quickly but diligently, he
followed the instructions Chakotay passed to him via their link.
"I'm sorry, Captain, but there's just no way I can get the warp engines back
on-line within *four* hours, much less one," B'Elanna reported as the ship
was rocked by another blast. "As it is, I'm barely able to maintain the
impulse engines. When the shields temporarily went off-line, we suffered
severe damage down here, and there's been several casualties. We're lucky we
have any engines at all, quite frankly."
"Well, do your best B'Elanna," Janeway responded urgently over the comm
link. "Anything you can give us right now will be more than welcome, but the
warp engines are what we need most. If this last wormhole *can* get us any
closer to home, then we'll make use of it. I know we can't go too far from
this area, we have to guard the entrance to the wormhole while we wait for
the probe to return, but as it is at the moment, without warp engines, we're
virtually sitting ducks for these hostile aliens."
"I understand, Captain, but right now we're understaffed. If you could send
some extra people to help, it'd speed things up a lot," B'Elanna replied
just before the link crackled, then died.
"What's happened to communications?" Janeway called across the bridge to
Harry, raising her voice to make herself heard as another energy blast hit
Voyager's hull, the noise almost deafening inside the battered Starfleet
"The communication system has gone off-line, but I may be able to restore it
soon," Harry said, checking the few readouts that were still coming through
"How about shields and weapons?" Janeway asked, her attention drawn to the
still-functioning viewscreen where she could see the four remaining ships
taking part in the attack on Voyager, swooping in pairs on the Starfleet
"We have shields now, but only at twenty-five percent. Weapons are still
operational, but our energy reserves are very low. As long as we continue to
divert power from nonessential systems though, we should be okay for about
an hour or so," Harry answered, his concentration on the panels in front of
him momentarily shaken as Voyager was hit yet again by enemy fire.
"Very well. Close down any low-priority systems that haven't already been
shut down, and re-route everything you can into the shield and weapon
systems. There's only four of the alien vessels left now, so let's get rid
of them as quickly as possible," the Captain ordered, turning around to look
at Tuvok as a phaser blast from Voyager took out one of their remaining
"One down three to go," Tom muttered from the helm. He'd returned to the
post just before they'd reached the third wormhole, and the attack had
started almost immediately afterwards. "Keep up the good work, Tuvok,
because with just these sluggish impulse engines at my disposal, there's not
a lot I can do to get us out of here," he continued, shaking his head at how
useless he felt, his gift having been made almost ineffectual by the lack of
speed needed to aid his evasion of the alien vessels.
"Captain. I'm picking up a signal. It's the probe," Harry announced. "It's
just emerged from the wormhole. Initial readings indicate..." He stopped,
looking up as he realised what the readings *did* indicate.
"Ensign?" Chakotay queried, looking over at Harry. "Report. Has the probe
determined where the wormhole exits?"
"Yes, Sir," Harry nodded. "I'm not sure I understand this, but according to
the readings, although the position of the wormhole was marked on the star
chart, it only came into existence a short while ago. Although it's stable
at the moment, it appears it may only be a temporary phenomenon. But it's
destination is the Alpha Quadrant. A few hours journey from Earth."
"Let's see if we can confirm that good news," Janeway said, glancing at the
viewscreen just in time to see another of the alien ships torn apart by
Voyager's weapons. "Launch another probe, Mr. Kim. Then, see if you can
restore internal communications."
"Aye, Captain," Harry replied, quickly carrying out the first of Janeway's
The probe was launched amid a series of explosions that lit up the area of
space surrounding the ship as one more attacking vessel ran foul of
Voyager's phasers, some of the debris from the craft being thrown so far
afield that it accompanied the probe into the wormhole.
/Perhaps we're gonna be okay after all, Cha,/ Tom commented as the last
enemy ship decided to retreat. /If this wormhole is only temporary, it might
close before the aliens get chance to enter it./
/But you don't think it's likely, do you?/ Tom turned around, his gaze fixed
on Chakotay while he waited for his answer.
file://No, Tom. I'm sorry. Even if the aliens aren't here when we enter the
wormhole, they could arrive just afterwards. So someone will have to stay
behind to ensure we don't have company. I know the Captain will try to find
a way of preventing the aliens from following us, but with the ship in the
condition it is, our plan is the only one that will work. I'm afraid that
you and I will not be going home.//
/Yeah, I know that really. It was just a thought. I was still hoping there
was a chance for us, that was all./
file://I know, Sweetheart. I was, too.//
"Mr. Paris." Janeway's voice disturbed the two men's silent conversation. "I
seem to be saying this a lot lately, but go and rest. Even if the second
probe *does* confirm the first set of readings, we won't be taking Voyager
through the wormhole until we've made enough repairs to the ship for us to
traverse it safely. That should give you a little while to rest up, ready
for the attempt."
"Yes, Captain. Do you want me to use the ready room again?" Tom asked.
"No, I may need to use that," Janeway began, stopping briefly as Harry
interrupted to say that communications to most parts of the ship had been
restored. "It might be better if you use the Commander's office instead."
"Captain," Ensign Kim interrupted again. "Shields have just gone off-line,
and we seem to have a power drain somewhere. If we're attacked again, we're
going to be limited to just a few phaser blasts."
The Captain sighed, sending Tom on his way before she gave her full
attention to the latest crisis.
"The readings from the second probe confirm the wormhole *does* go to the
Alpha Quadrant," Harry stated, smiling. "We have a way home."
Janeway leaned back in her chair, then glanced across at her First Officer
who sat quietly studying the readouts in front of him. "Well, Commander, it
looks like our sojourn in the Delta Quadrant is nearly over. Providing of
course, we can get the ship repaired before the wormhole closes, and come up
with a way to prevent enemy ships from following us."
"The repairs that have been carried out to the hull should be sufficient to
get the ship through in one piece, even without shields," Chakotay replied,
looking up. "And impulse engines will be adequate. But we may have to go
through, hoping that Starfleet detected the probes we sent, and will come to
our aid if we *are* followed."
"Yes," Janeway said quietly. "That's the only scenario *I* can see at the
moment, as well. But I shall keep trying to think of an alternative. There
has got to be another option."
"Paris to Chakotay," Tom's voice interrupted via the comm link.
"Yes, Tom? What is it?" Chakotay asked, although he already knew what Tom
"Could I speak to you privately for a moment? I'm in your office."
Chakotay glanced at the Captain, and Janeway nodded her consent for him to
leave the bridge. "I'll be right there. Chakotay out." He smiled, then stood
up. "Don't worry, Captain, you'll get the ship home," he said as he left.
"We're gonna be under attack in less than five minutes," Tom stated as
Chakotay entered the room. "This is it, Cha. Zero-hour."
"Have you spoken to Baytart?"
"Yes. He's on his way to the bridge. I told him I had to go to sickbay, and
the Captain wanted him to stand in for me."
"Then let's go," Chakotay said decisively. "Computer. Initiate command
sequence 'Chakotay-Paris-Alpha', authorisation code Zero-Zero-Alpha."
"Acknowledged. Shuttle bay outer doors open. Shuttle bay internal doors
sealed. U.S.S. Voyager's automatic navigation system engaged. Override
commands disabled. U.S.S. Voyager will enter the anomaly in three minutes.
Transport of Commander Chakotay and Lieutenant Paris to Delta Flyer,
imminent. In compliance with instructions issued by Lieutenant Paris,
details of command sequence 'Chakotay-Paris-Alpha' will not be recorded."
"Where's Lieutenant Paris?" Janeway asked as Baytart walked to the helm just
moments after the red alert had sounded.
"Sickbay, Captain," Baytart called back over his shoulder as he took his
seat. "I'm standing in for him as you requested."
"As *I* requested?" Janeway asked, baffled.
Baytart didn't answer for a moment, then when he did, it wasn't in response
to Janeway's query. "There's something very wrong here, Captain. The helm
controls won't respond," he informed her worriedly, his fingers flying over
the panel in front of him. "We're heading for the wormhole, and I can't
"Captain," Harry called urgently. "There's something else you need to know.
It's not just the alien vessels out there. Sensors have also detected one of
our shuttles. The Delta Flyer."
"What the hell's going on?" Janeway enquired angrily. "Janeway to Commander
Chakotay," she called, repeating the hail when there was no response.
"Computer. Locate Commander Chakotay," she ordered as she gazed at the
viewscreen, the alien ships visible as they closed on Voyager's position.
"Commander Chakotay is not onboard Voyager," the computer answered.
"Locate Lieutenant Paris."
"Lieutenant Paris is not onboard Voyager."
"When was the shuttle launched?" Janeway asked, turning her attention to
"According to the information I have in front of me, it wasn't," Harry
responded, frowning. "There's no record of a launch."
"Try hailing the shuttle," the Captain ordered, glancing back at the
viewscreen and the wormhole that now filled it, the ship continuing its
pre-set course towards the anomaly.
"They're receiving our hail, but there's no response, Captain," Harry said,
shaking his head. "And the alien ships are closing fast. They'll be within
firing range in less than thirty seconds."
"Can we get a transporter lock on either the Commander or the Lieutenant?"
"No, Captain. The shuttle's shields are in place. We can't penetrate them."
Janeway sat back in her seat and stared at the sight in front of her,
remembering Chakotay's last words before he left the bridge. "You had this
planned," she murmured to herself. "You and Tom. But what the hell can one
shuttle do against all those ships?"
"Are you sure we're not breaking Derzai Law by doing this, Cha?" Tom asked
as he positioned the shuttle between Voyager and the alien ships that were
advancing on her. "I mean, our friends now know that we're helping them."
"Yes, they do, but I don't think that matters. It's not the fact that we're
helping that needs to be kept secret, just the method we're using to do it."
"I hope you're right," Tom said as Chakotay moved to stand behind him, his
hands on Tom's shoulders. "I hope we're not gonna make things worse."
"It'll be okay, Tom. I'm certain of it. We were told not to reveal the
'gift' to anyone, or to let them know the 'source' of their help. And they
*won't* know. We'll disguise what we do," Chakotay responded, bending down
to tenderly kiss Tom's neck. "I know it would have been easier if we could
have told the Captain of our intention to help, but there's no way she would
have agreed to us taking the shuttle, because as far as she's aware we only
have limited weapons to use against a fleet of alien ships."
"I know, Cha. She would've seen it as the suicide mission it actually is,
and thrown it out," Tom remarked, turning his head to look up at his
"Exactly, Tom," Chakotay agreed, gently running his fingers through Tom's
hair, and studying the younger man's pale face. " But we're Voyager's only
real chance of making it home in one piece, so...."
Tom nodded slowly, then stood up, leaving the shuttle to operate on
autopilot. "I love you, Chakotay," he said softly, gazing at the older man
as he wrapped his arms around Chakotay's waist. "You're the best thing that
ever happened to me, you know." He took a deep breath, his eyes sparkling as
they filled with tears. "I never knew what happiness was until that
mud-bound away mission we went on. That day changed my life." He swallowed
hard, his hands shaking as he gripped the back of the older man's uniform
jacket. "I love you so much, Cha, and I don't want to lose you. I...." He
broke off, unable to speak as his emotions, and the finality of their
decision, overwhelmed him.
Chakotay closed his eyes, trying hard to prevent the tears that defied his
efforts and rolled down his cheeks. "I love you too, Tom," he whispered,
clutching Tom tightly to him. "And if there was any other way...."
"I know, Cha," Tom replied shakily, his body trembling as his own tears fell
onto Chakotay's neck. "But there isn't, is there? This *is* the only way."
"Keep hold of me, Tom," Chakotay requested, his voice wavering as his tears
continued to fall. "Let's depart this life in each other's arms," he said,
moving his head to whisper the words against Tom's lips. "Kiss me,
Sweetheart. Kiss me while we help our friends get home."
Tom nodded, and as their mouths slowly joined in a loving kiss, their
thoughts began to merge too. Shared memories flashed unbidden through their
minds, lasting, in reality, only a fraction of a second, but seeming to the
two men as though they were reliving the moments in full; bodies illuminated
by the glow of fire light; hidden desire and love; laughter; tears; Azai's
hands on their shoulders; surreptitious kisses in corridors and lifts; a
tent, and passionate lovemaking; the loss of a friendship; two lives
As the memories started to fade into the background, they were replaced with
thoughts of the present, and the urgent need to help their friends.
Determination filled the two men, and their minds reached out beyond the
confines of the shuttle until it no longer stood between them and the
universe. Behind them, they could see Voyager, edging ever closer to the
mouth of the wormhole. And in front of them, a dozen alien ships, all
determined they would destroy the Starfleet vessel, then enter the anomaly
A single thought; an agreement made without words, came to the fore, and the
men knew what they would do.
The shuttle was now stationary, the tiny craft dwarfed by the ship it was
trying to protect, its destruction, by the alien vessels that were
converging on it, a certainty. But with its destruction would come Voyager's
salvation. The shuttle's demise would disguise the use of the men's gift.
Holding each other close until the very last, they would send out an immense
energy wave at the very instant the shuttle was hit, and their adversaries
would be no more.
"The tractor beam's useless," Harry reported, leaning on the panel in front
of him, and pulling at his hair in frustration. "I don't know what they've
done to the shuttle, but I just can't get a lock on it. We've run out of
options. There's no way to save them."
Janeway nodded, not really surprised that the attempt had failed. "They
don't want to be saved," she said knowingly, her attention, like that of
every other crew member on the bridge, riveted on the viewscreen. "It's
pretty obvious they planned it this way. They're only interested in *our*
Baytart turned away from the helm to face Janeway, then spoke quietly.
"We've entered the wormhole, Captain."
His words fell on deaf ears as everyone's attention stayed fixed on the
viewscreen, where energy blasts from five of the twelve alien vessels could
be seen streaking towards the Delta Flyer. As the horrified crew watched,
the tiny shuttle was engulfed in a brilliant flash of white light that
intensified for a moment, flooding the bridge with incredible radiance, then
was gone, taking with it not only the Delta Flyer and its occupants, but all
the alien vessels too.
Before that event had barely registered though, another astonishing
phenomenon greeted the crew. The wormhole was starting to close behind them,
folding in on itself almost as rapidly as Voyager was progressing towards
the exit, sealing itself completely as the Starfleet vessel emerged into the
Alpha Quadrant, safe, but pervaded by an almost unnatural quietness.
As people stood unmoving, rooted into place by what they'd witnessed, the
stunned silence was finally shattered. The comm system unexpectedly crackled
into life as Voyager was hailed, and Harry Kim, functioning entirely on
autopilot, opened the link. The viewscreen flickered briefly, then a hazy
picture appeared in front of the shocked bridge crew, and a face, familiar
to most, peered out at them.
"U.S.S. Voyager," Admiral Owen Paris greeted them, trying hard to make out
the figures on the bridge through the distortion that was as evident his end
as it was on Voyager. "We detected the probes you sent our way, and we're
here to assist you." He smiled, then looked towards the Captain's chair.
"Kathryn," he continued. "On a personal note, I want to thank you for
bringing my son back to me. I've been waiting for this day for years. I look
forward to speaking to both of you shortly. But for now, to you all, I say