This is a coda of
sorts to "Timeless", so be warned - major spoilers ahead.
Details of Caldek Prime are taken
from Jeri Taylor's novel "Pathways".
Feedback would be very much appreciated
This story is for my beloved goldfish
Jaws the First. Jaws, it was Dad's fault, not mine. RIP.
by Lay McDaniel, written 20th February
I hit the door chime.
“Come in”, a voice called.
I entered his quarters; the lights
were on half. Tom was sitting on his easy chair, with a padd in his hand.
He looked up at me with concern.
“Harry, it’s 0200. You’re
on early shift tomorrow –
“I know”, I said, cutting him off.
“I just had to speak to you.”
He offered me a seat, like the good
friend that he was, put his padd down, sat up straight and gave me his
full attention. “What’s up?”
I swallowed, trying to find the
words I needed. He waited patiently.
“Today, in the Flyer, I sent Voyager
the wrong phrase corrections. Since then…I’ve been wondering what would
have happened if Seven hadn’t been given the new phrase corrections. Voyager
would have been thrown out of the slip stream, most likely destroyed.”
“But Harry, we weren’t.”
“Yes,” I said with more force than
I’d intended. “Yes, you were. And that’s the point.”
He listened silently whilst I explained
to him the message from my future self, the alternate time-line, the deaths
which should have happened, but didn’t.
“What I need to know is,” I said,
“if you had the chance, like me, to reverse history…would you go back and
reverse the crash at Caldek Prime?”
As soon as the words were out of
my mouth I regretted them. Tom stared at me, startled, - I swear he went
a shade paler, then he swallowed and looked away.
I rose to my feet hurriedly. “I’m
sorry,” I fumbled, “forget I said that. I’ll see you on the bride, okay?”
Why the hell had I said anything? What had possessed me?
I had almost made it to the door,
when I heard a soft whisper.
“Harry,” his voice was louder this
time, “come and sit down.”
Feeling terribly young and embarrassed,
I went, and I sat, staring at my hands.
“I’ll answer your question. But
first – tell me why you want to know”.
Why *did* I want to know? Morbid
curiosity? I thought about it for a few seconds.
“Dr. Fitzgerald and Commander Cavit
told me about the crash. How you were the only one left. I didn’t understand
what you must have gone through…I still don’t. But that man on the data
clip did. Yet he was given a chance to put things right.”
He didn’t see where I was going
with this, and said so.
I didn’t see either. Perhaps it
was the lateness of the hour, the darkness of his quarters that was casting
my thoughts into disarray. I knew in my heart what I wanted to say to him,
but I couldn’t put it into words. But I had to make him understand.
I tried again.
“Tom, in effect, *I* was given a
chance to change things, even though the destruction of Voyager never happened
to me – it happened to another Harry Kim. I was spared being a survivor
when all around me were killed. But Caldek Prime…it happened to you. You
were the one who had to go on living. You should have been given that chance,
not me. And that’s why I need to know…would you take that chance, if our
positions were reversed? Would you take it?” I wasn’t making sense; I knew
it and he knew it, but I had to find out.
His brow furrowed, as it did when
he was set a task which required great concentration. I waited patiently
for his answer, as he had done with me.
And finally, it came.
“If you’d asked me that after the
crash – five minutes, five weeks, five months – hell, five years even,
I would have said yes with no hesitation. Remember yesterday at the party
in engineering, when I started yelling at you about the 0.42 phase variance?”
I nodded, thrown off slightly by
this non sequitor.
He leaned forwards, his elbows resting
on his lap. “Ten years ago, I led my team in a routine manoeuvre around
an asteroid. I’d instructed the team to keep a 0.42 second gap between
the ships; I thought that 0.42 seconds would give the team more than enough
time to pull up if something went wrong. I’d spent so long afterwards thinking
that I should have left a bigger gap…then when I saw the frequency of the
phase variance yesterday in Engineering, it just seemed like a warning.
Would I have taken the chance
back then? Hell, yes. I would have extended the safety margin to at least
triple, that’s for sure. But now…”. He fell silent. I had the impression
that his mind was lightyears away. It was when the pause dragged on that
I prompted him.
He sighed heavily. “I don’t
know, Harry. Caldek Prime changed me. If I reversed the crash, I’d be a
completely different person. Maybe a better one; who knows. But then, I
wouldn’t have had the chance to meet you and B’Elanna. I value this life,
here, on Voyager, more than anything else.
It’s just that sometimes… I think,
has it been worth it? Has it been worth the deaths of my friends, the shame
of my family, the embarrassing lack of decorum displayed at Marseilles,
the seven months I spent at Auckland ? When I’m at the helm piloting, or
eating dinner with B’Elanna, I know that it has. But other times, when
I wake up in a cold sweat remembering Charlie’s scream over the comm system
as he slammed into that asteroid… those are the moments when I’d give anything
to go back and put things right.”
I sat very still, there amongst
the shadows, knowing that my friend had shared a special part of him which
no one else – save B’Elanna maybe, had seen. And I savoured the moment,
also knowing that I might not be allowed this glimpse into his soul again
for a very long time.
He offered me a half-smile.
There was nothing else to say.
Finally, I broke the spell
and rose to my feet for the second time, wincing as my joints clicked.
“You could stay if you wanted
I looked at him, a question
in my expression.
He continued. “I doubt either
of us will get much sleep tonight, and we’re both on duty at seven. How
about we kick back a few beers and play some cards?"
A part of me wanted to protest;
our performance on the bridge would be bound to suffer. But another part
of me - the part that had blown off fifteen years of history to save his
friends, merely shrugged.
"Sure. Why not?"