Reprise 3/5: The Rescue
Written February 2001
Synopsis: An AU fic beginning six months after the Voyager returns to the Alpha Quadrant. Written long before the series finale.
Spoilers: small amounts from a few episodes including ‘Caretaker,’ ‘The Cloud,’ ‘Thirty Days,’ ‘Bliss,’ ‘Drive,’ ‘Legacy,’ and ‘Bride of Chaotica!’ and some details from Jeri Taylor’s novel ‘Mosaic’
Disclaimer: The characters, situations, ships, etc. belong to Paramount and its affiliates. No infringement is intended. Some of the situations and characters are my own.
Procuring a shuttlecraft had been easy; Paris was on the subcommittee for new shuttlecraft design, and the engineers were more than happy to lend him a prototype for testing.
Paris sat in the pilot’s seat, enthusiastic about flying again. Everything ran smoothly, and he hadn’t forgotten a thing. He touched the consoles tenderly, fondly recalling his days as chief helmsman, and smiled.
Once they were on their way, he glanced over his shoulder. Janeway sat at tactical, musing over the controls, studying their flight plan. It was like Voyager all over again. “You okay?”
She didn’t look up. “Did you realize that in your haste, you have us flying directly through Alderan?”
He chuckled. “Oops.”
“I don’t think the residents would appreciate it. I’ll make the necessary corrections.”
He sighed; it was too much like Voyager. She was back to her commanding self. “We need to talk.”
“Before we got Harry’s distress call, I was about to kiss you.” She didn’t say anything, keeping her eyes on the console. “What would have happened if it hadn’t been sent?”
“I think we should set some boundaries, for the sake of the mission.”
“For the sake of the–” He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “I sent a message to my father at Headquarters. He said he’d look into it, but he can’t present the information to the President without proof. I came out here to save Harry and B’Elanna, to get him that proof. Why did you?”
She lifted her head. “Because you can’t do it alone.”
“What if there wasn’t a distress call? Would you still have an excuse?”
Her eyes pierced into his. “That isn’t fair.”
“Then what’s fair, the fact that I fell for the one woman I can’t have? Things were changing between us, we both knew it. This isn’t about protocol anymore. You aren’t my commanding officer, and I’m not your subordinate. There should be no boundaries. Why are you trying to make some?”
She looked away. “I’m sending you an alternate flight plan. It should take only thirty-six hours to reach Leduba Prime.”
He sighed, facing forward again. It was going to be the longest thirty-six hours of his life.
Several hours later, Paris engaged the autopilot. He had made the necessary course corrections and was ready for some rest. Reading his students’ papers made him sleepy.
Yawning, he stood up and stretched. He turned to see Janeway sleeping in the middle of the floor, curled around Delta for warmth. He peeked into the storage closet and retrieved a blanket. He unfolded it and draped it across her body. She stirred, opening her eyes with a moan. “What’s wrong?”
He knelt beside her. “Nothing. Go back to sleep.” He lay down, and she rolled over to cuddle into his arms. She was asleep again in seconds.
Gently, he adjusted their positions and pulled the cover over both of them. He smiled, running his fingers lightly through her hair.
He was still confused about her reaction to his question. He knew she was trying to build higher walls around her heart, but why? They weren’t co-workers anymore. Starfleet protocol no longer applied. Still, she was denying the feelings he knew they shared. Why?
Their relationship had come a long way. When she pulled him from prison, he wasn’t sure what to think of her. She was his father’s protégé. So what did she want with him? Then he knew–she wanted him to reveal the location of his former companions. And then Voyager got stuck in the Delta Quadrant, which didn’t leave either of them many options. She gave him a field commission of lieutenant and the chief helmsman position. He had gained her respect, and he was indebted to her.
At that point, they were strictly professional. As time went on, he became more aware of her loneliness, and he made it his duty to cheer her up. And, much to his surprise, it worked. They became good friends, sharing coffee and holodeck excursions. He told her things no one else knew or would understand. She confided in him with some of her secrets, things her position wouldn’t allow her to share. He also made her smile and laugh. At times, he thought, if it hadn’t been for him, she would never have smiled again.
Back on Earth, he had sat in on her hearing. When they hit her with the suspension, he could feel her die on the inside. She maintained her calm, of course, walking out with her head held high. No one saw her again. He spent hours talking to his father, recounting all of the charges and giving reasons as to why her actions were just. His father merely nodded. There was nothing either of them could do; the damage was already done. Starfleet’s prized captain was no more.
He spent the next six months thinking about her. All of his charges were dropped and he was reinstated, but he couldn’t accept a position in good conscience. He asked for leave and was begrudgingly granted. He didn’t know if he would go back.
He went to Indiana just to see her, to ask her how she was doing. He hadn’t expected to stay for dinner or even overnight. It certainly hadn’t been in his plans to invite her to live with him in Marseilles. Seeing her there, out of uniform, all formalities gone, had been a complete shock. Even when they were most comfortable on Voyager, she had never been that open and…real. Now she was real. Now things were different.
He wasn’t sure when things changed. Maybe it was when she met René. He knew that had sparked something in him. Jealousy, probably. He winced at the thought. René was so much like Janeway that it never would have worked. And when he described her match, he had been describing himself. He had definitely fallen for her.
Smiling at her peaceful expression, he silently thanked all of the gods in the universe for bringing them together.
“We’ll arrive at Leduba Prime within the hour.”
Janeway glanced at him briefly. “The eighth moon is close to us. I’m scanning the surface for human and Klingon lifesigns.” She studied the results. “Got it. I’ll send you the coordinates. When we get there, I’ll stay on board to monitor the systems.”
Paris laid in a course with a sigh. Most of the journey had been spent in silence. Her orders were the only things she ever said. “Aye, Captain.”
She ignored him.
Delta jumped into Paris’s lap. “Down, girl. I have to land the shuttle. You know how that is.” He smiled even though the white fluffball made no movements. “Hey, you get to meet Harry and B’Elanna. Are you excited?”
The dog barked and put her paws on the control panel. The shuttle made a slight course change.
“What did you do?” Janeway demanded.
He shooed Delta. “Sorry. I’ll have us back in no time.”
“Wait! I’m picking up a vessel on long range sensors, heading this way.” She paused. “It’s the Intrepid.”
“This can’t be good.”
“Lifesigns indicate it’s being run by a crew complement of thirty-two Cardassians.” Her breath caught in her throat. “What happened to the officers?”
He didn’t want an answer. “Prepare for landing. This is going to be tricky.” He eased them onto the rough surface, the rocks scraping against the side of the shuttle. He winced at the sound. When they had come to a stop, he changed into the environmental suit and headed out to rescue his friends.
He followed his tricorder readings to their position. He called for them, hoping the sound of his voice would carry through his helmet and the thin atmosphere, but there was no answer. He saw the two figures in Starfleet-issue suits and approached them, still yelling. He didn’t want to startle them and meet the business end of the phasers they were carrying. Somehow, they sensed his presence and turned.
Just in time to see their shuttlecraft explode.
Paris heard the photon torpedo crash into the object before he saw it, and his heart started to race. His shuttle was waiting next to their shuttle. Their shuttle was destroyed. His must be next.
He hurried back to the craft as best he could in the cumbersome costume, Kim and Torres following close behind. Janeway should have contacted him, if she even saw it coming.
The shuttle was gone.
“Tom!” Kim ran up behind him. “What is it?”
“We landed right here…” he mumbled. “Where is she?”
“Great rescue effort,” Torres quipped.
“Glad to see you haven’t lost your sense of humor, B’Elanna.” He looked into the sky, watching for moving stars. The others were doing the same.
Harry saw it first. “There!” He pointed. “It’s too small to be a vessel.”
He let out a relieved sigh. The shuttle landed, its doors opening. They entered the pressurization chamber and began removing their suits. As they entered the main cabin, they were already exiting the moon’s atmosphere.
Janeway stood with a smile. “I’m glad to see you made it.” She hugged both Harry and B’Elanna.
Paris leaned against the bulkhead, addressing Janeway. “What happened?”
“When you left, I went back into orbit. I was hailed on an audio-only channel by the Intrepid. They asked who I was and what I was doing orbiting the moon. I said I was a salvager, going to the surface to look for items from the crashed shuttle. They said its occupants had a contagious disease and that it had to be destroyed. Fortunately you weren’t in it at the time.”
“Where are they now?” Torres asked, concern lacing her voice.
“Headed in the same direction we’re going.”
Paris turned to his friends. “So what happened?”
Kim sat down at tactical. He looked exhausted, ready to crumble from the stress. Torres put a hand on his shoulder. Finally, he began to speak. “The first two months on the Intrepid went pretty much according to plan. We were delivering supplies to various Federation colonies. Why they sent a discovery-class starship instead of a cargo transport, I don’t know. Maybe it was training. We didn’t ask questions; there were only thirty-two of us. Besides, it was like a family. B’Elanna was working on her site-to-site transporter. I’m surprised she didn’t wear herself out. One day, engineering reported a conduit leak in one of the Jeffries tubes. I was sent to investigate…”
“B’Elanna, I don’t want to wear the emitter,” I said.
“Come on, Harry. It’s perfect. I’ve transported everything I can find except a live person. Now be a good sport and put it on.”
I agreed, rather reluctantly since she wasn’t supposed to be developing technology on board. But since I was going to be crawling around in the tubes all afternoon, looking for the leak and running routine diagnostics, I figured I wouldn’t get caught.
So I made my way into the confined space and started to work. Since the discovery-class ships are so small, I could hear everything from in there. It didn’t matter; you couldn’t keep secrets on board if you tried.
“Torres to Kim.”
I banged my head on the ceiling, startled by the interruption. “What is it, B’Elanna?”
“Thought you could use some company. You’ve been up there for hours.”
I smiled. “Audio only?”
“Yeah, you know the rules. No fraternizing in the Jeffries tubes.”
“Did they make that rule after Voyager, you suppose?”
She snickered. “Probably. By the way, I got another love letter from Ensign Juranda. Want to hear it?”
A conversation I overheard caught my attention. “In a minute.”
“…plan in a week.”
“Precisely. They won’t know what hit them.” I knew the voice belonged to Captain Drago; I must have been over his ready room.
“Who is that?” B’Elanna asked.
“I think it’s the captain and Doctor Francis.”
“We shouldn’t be listening.” I could almost hear her smile. “Lean closer to the bulkhead, will you?”
I did so, feeling very much like a spy. I hastily sat my tool on the ground.
“…soon. Do you think the crew suspects?” It was Francis.
Drago laughed. “This dim-witted crew? With their tiny human brains? They’re too blind to see a conspiracy.”
I frowned. Drago and Francis were human, too. What kind of remark was that?
“I have cultivated the virus.” Francis again. “When they come in for their supposed vaccinations, I will infect them. They will be dead within twenty-four hours.”
“Good. At that time, we can head for Cardassia. My team will be waiting. Then we have a week to return to Earth and destroy Starfleet Headquarters. How is the computer situation going?”
“It’s almost ready. When Headquarters scans our vessel, they will detect twenty-seven human lifesigns–one of them half-Klingon, one Ktarian, one Bajoran, two Bolian, and one Terrelian. The façade is complete, the plan foolproof.” Francis said something in a language I didn’t recognize, but it still made me uneasy.
“Good. I will send the crew to sickbay for their inoculations.”
I suddenly felt sick. I tried to sit up but hit my head on the ceiling again. I bit my lip to keep from crying out, but the damage was already done.
“What was that?” Drago asked. “It sounded like it came from the…”
I held my breath. I was most certainly doomed. They would hear me crawl to safety, and they would see me when they opened the panel. I swallowed and closed my eyes. The outside world went from darkness to light in one swift motion.
I expected to hear one of two male voices, but instead I heard B’Elanna. I opened my eyes. I was in my quarters. She had transported me to safety.
I released the breath I had been holding for an eternity. “B’Elanna.”
“We have to get off this ship.”
“What were they talking about?”
“I don’t know, but I don’t want to be here when we find out. Doctor Francis was speaking in Cardassian.” She called up our position on the computer screen. “We’re not far from Leduba Prime. We could take a shuttle there.”
“B’Elanna, they heard me in the Jeffries tube.”
“They heard something. I got you out in time.”
I felt relieved for one brief instant until I realized I was missing something. I felt around my waist and discovered my tricorder was gone. My tricorder…the one I had used to scan for the leak, the one I had sat on the ground in an attempt to listen more closely. The one that was still in the Jeffries tube.
Drago’s voice interrupted our silence. “Lieutenant Kim, please report to my ready room.”
“And we ran to the shuttlebay. There was only one craft, and we stole it, heading for safety. Out in space, the Intrepid fired at us. It was a direct hit. We lost control and crashed on the moon. They didn’t come after us. I guess they figured we were dead, so I sent the distress beacon to you.” Kim sighed. “And that’s it.”
Paris was the first to speak. “I talked to my father, but he doesn’t believe the story. You said you had proof?”
“Yes,” B’Elanna answered. “Comm badges automatically record all transmissions. Both of us were able to hear the exchange between Drago and Francis. We each have proof.”
“We’ll need it,” Janeway stated. “The Intrepid will reach Earth before us. Let’s hope Admiral Paris still heeds our warning.”
Everyone slept in shifts, which made the time go more quickly. They were ten hours from Earth, the Intrepid still on long range sensors. The opposite was true as well, but it was unlikely that the ship was paying any attention.
Paris sat at the helm, talking to Harry, while the women were in the back discussing B’Elanna’s transporter. It had been one of the few times everyone was awake.
“So how do you like teaching at the flight academy?” Kim asked.
Paris smiled. “It’s great. The students are attentive, and the faculty is pretty friendly. I brought my students’ exams with me, and they all did extremely well.”
“Good. I’m happy for you.” He stretched a bit then leaned closer. “So what’s it like living with the captain?”
He grew quiet for a moment, finally saying softly, “It’s comfortable.”
Kim eyed him carefully. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means…” He sighed heavily. “I don’t know what it means anymore.”
“Well, you seemed pretty happy when I contacted you two months ago. Now you don’t even look to be on speaking terms.”
“What did you do?”
“Then what did she do?”
He almost chuckled. “Nothing.”
“Tom, we’ve been friends for eight years, almost nine. You can’t hide anything from me.” He shot him a bemused gaze. “I’ll figure it out sooner or later, so you might as well make it easier on yourself.”
Paris let out a heavy sigh. Harry was right, as usual. He leaned a little closer to him, making sure the women were still distracted by their discussion. “I’m in love with her.”
“Ssshh!” He rolled his eyes. “Quiet, Harry.”
“How could you fall in love with the captain?” he hissed.
“She’s not the captain anymore. She’s everything I’ve always wanted, and…I can’t have her.”
“I tried to kiss her, and before I could we got your distress call.”
“Have you tried talking to her about it?”
“Yeah, and now we’re not talking at all! Either I moved too fast, or she wasn’t interested.”
“Well, she didn’t slap you, so it’s not entirely hopeless.” He smiled encouragingly. “Maybe she’s just scared, Tom. She hasn’t been involved with anyone lately.”
“Except this French journalist,” he muttered.
“Well, maybe she’s too used to the ranks. She’s been your captain for eight years. It’s hard to just forget that.”
“I realize that, but… I think she feels something, too, you know? But she’s building these barriers, and I don’t know how to break though to her.”
“What did we do on Voyager when you were lovesick?”
Paris smiled slightly. “Went to the holodeck and beat the hell out of a hover ball.”
“You got it.” He clapped his shoulder. “When we get back to Earth, we’ll do it. Sound good?”
“Sure. Thanks, Harry.”
“Starfleet did what?”
Paris groaned at the message he had received from his father. “They don’t believe our story because all thirty-two crew members are present.”
Kim sighed. “The program Doctor Francis was working on. It must be foolproof if Starfleet fell for it. And now they’re going to land at the Academy, right next to Headquarters.”
“What can we do?” Janeway asked.
Torres smiled. “The Intrepid won’t be shielded when it enters the Global Defense Grid. We can take out its weapons systems; it’s only a discovery-class, and I know exactly where they are.”
“Good idea,” Paris remarked. “You’re at tactical. Harry, take ops. Kathryn, do you want to ride shotgun?”
She recognized the slang and slid into the co-pilot chair. “Aye, Captain Paris.”
He chuckled. “I like the sound of that.”
Kim looked at his readouts. “The Intrepid is starting its descent. That should give us five minutes until Drago has a clear shot at Headquarters.”
Paris eased the shuttle in behind the Intrepid to avoid any fire from Starfleet. Immediately, they were hailed. “I guess we’re in violation of Starfleet space now.”
“Should I respond?” Harry asked.
“No. They’ll learn of our intent soon enough. B’Elanna, do you have a lock on their weapons yet?”
“I’m working on it.” Finally, she looked up in satisfaction. “Targets locked.”
Paris nodded. They were almost within range of Headquarters. “On my mark.” Wait for it… “Three… Two…”
“Stop!” Janeway jumped from her seat and ran to Torres. “B’Elanna, take the helm.”
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“The three of you still have a chance of making it in Starfleet. If you fire a photon torpedo in protected airspace, you will be court-martialed, and you will lose your chance.” She paused. “I’ve had my run, and there isn’t much more they could do to me. My record is already flawed. Take the helm, B’Elanna, before you end up like me.”
Paris stared at her, stunned. One last sacrifice, he thought again.
Kim broke the tense silence. “They’re powering weapons!”
Janeway shoved past Torres and slammed her fingers against the controls, sending the torpedo into the Intrepid. Then she stepped back as if she had been burned. The other woman looked at her, wide-eyed.
“Weapons are off-line,” Kim reported happily. “We’re being hailed again.”
“On screen,” Paris ordered, turning to the viewscreen. “Admiral Shan, a pleasure.”
The man was less than amused. “I don’t suppose you’d care to explain why you fired upon a Starfleet vessel in protected airspace.”
“The Intrepid had been hijacked,” Janeway interrupted. “There are thirty-two Cardassians on board, intent on destroying Starfleet Headquarters.”
He was shocked to see her. “Kathryn Janeway, you of all people should know the consequences of the violations you just committed.”
“Yes, I do, and I take full responsibility for them, but first you may want to do something about the Cardassians.”
“You are in no position to give me an order,” Shan chastised. “But since you are so interested, they are already in custody…and you and your crew will be joining them shortly.”
End of Part Three