Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Janeway, Torres and Seven are accidently transported to the Mirror-Mirror universe.
This parody of "Mirror Mirror" (TOS), "Crossover", "Through the Looking Glass", "Shattered Mirror", "Resurrection" and "The Emperor's New Cloak" (DS9) is protected as such by the copyright laws of the United States of America. Read 'em and weep, Paramount.
1 Prelude: There
Tom put down the dinner dishes he had been clearing from the table in their quarters. "Yes, love?"
"Tom, I think it would be better for everyone concerned if we...spent some time apart."
She was going to leave him, and she wouldn't come back - he knew her well enough after seven years to know that. Still, he couldn't help protesting, begging her for one last chance, one more week or month together before the final blow.
She only shook her head. "We've been over all this before. When we're done with our business at Relen, I'll--"
"You can stay. I'll move out." He could feel his insides shutting down, like a deactivated Borg drone waiting to be scrapped for parts.
"I'm sorry, Tom. I guess we were never meant to be."
"I guess not."
2 Here and There
The Relen appeared to be a peaceful, warp-capable society, although frequent ion storms and other untoward atmospheric conditions kept Voyager's sensors from verifying the sunny picture of their industrial and political arrangements put forth by the Relen government. Voyager had been led to Relenar by a ship which had hailed them in passing, offering shore leave and the opportunity to trade.
Captain Janeway decided to beam down to the planet with an away team to discuss matters in person. It was risky, considering how little they really knew about Relenar, but she was in a mood to take some risks. The isolation of command and the loneliness of being the only Federation ship in the quadrant had been wearing at her for seven years now. Both she and Voyager were friendless, companionless, worn thin and teetering on the edge of a hull breach...
She joined Seven of Nine and Lieutenant Torres on the pad in transporter room one, and signalled Ensign Lang at the controls to beam them down. As the female ensign activated the transporter controls, Harry Kim made an announcement over the comm system. Janeway, already decomposing into her component atoms, could almost hear their worried voices.
"Lang, there's an ion storm approaching. Don't try to beam the away team down."
"They're already in transit, sir!"
"Double the signal strength, then."
"Their patterns are degrading."
"I'm rerouting power to your station, Lang. Try again."
"I'm losing them, sir!"
"Invert the signal!"
The transporter room had been flickering in and out of Janeway's consciousness; now she felt, if she felt anything at all, like a stream of atoms in an ion wind. Yet before her soul could find its way to the Next Emanation, transporter room one grew solid around her again.
"There's no telling what that will do!"
"That was an order, Martin!"
"Thick-skinned, scaly Relen," the angry male officer muttered to himself. "This had to be a trap," he said more loudly, for Harry to hear. "Some surrender, luring us into--"
"Do you have them, Martin?" Harry asked.
"Good. Paris is on his way down. Ops out."
The away team stood again on the transporter pad, all atoms present and accounted for, yet feeling slightly chilled by their brush with open space.
Janeway stared at the new, oddly-attired figure behind the transporter controls. "Ensign...Martin," she said softly.
"I am not acquainted with this crewman," Seven told B'Elanna, sotto voce.
"That's because he's dead, Seven," Torres whispered back. "He was killed before you came aboard Voyager."
Janeway made a chopping motion behind her back that quieted them both down, then stepped forward off the transporter pad. There was a definite chill in the air, she thought, until she placed her hands on her waist and felt her own bare skin. "What the--"
"Ma'am?" Ensign Martin said again, belatedly giving a strange salute - one arm out straight, with the other hand on top of it.
B'Elanna and Seven, neither one followers of fashion at the best of times, noticed what she had: both the Captain and the Chief Engineer were decked out in halter tops and miniskirts - Janeway's were red, B'Elanna's gold - with gold sashes around their hips, gold bracelets on their arms, decorative knives and thigh-high black leather boots. Only Seven was in her usual skin-tight bodysuit and high heels, though it was also accessorized by a gold sash and a knife.
The ensign wore a gold vest and black pants. Seven found his outfit unaccountably attractive, compared to the usual Starfleet uniform.
"What just happened?" Janeway asked.
"An ion, storm, Admiral. The Relen must have detected it coming up on their weather grid and tried to lure you into it. They never intended to surrender."
"Admiral?" B'Elanna echoed quietly.
"Surrender to whom?" Seven asked.
Janeway turned on them and whispered throatily, "Do I need to remind you two of the Temporal Prime Directive?"
"No, Admiral, ma'am," Torres replied.
"I do not believe that we--" Seven began, but Janeway repeated her chopping motion, squelching further protest.
At the same time, the doors to the transporter room opened to reveal Tom Paris in a red satin top and tight leather pants.
"Admiral," he said in a voice dripping with honey, "the Fleet is ready to attack Relenar at your command."
"There's no telling what that will do!" Ensign Lang replied to Harry's dangerous suggestion of inverting the transporter signal.
"We have no choice. Do it."
"Yes, sir." Lang adjusted the controls as she muttered to herself, "Where in space did that ion storm come from? I thought the Relen had a weather grid." More loudly, for Harry to hear, she added, "I'm trying it now, sir."
"Do you have them?" Harry asked.
"Good. Chakotay is on his way down. Ops out."
The away team stood on the transporter pad, staring at Lang. Janeway ran a finger under her uncomfortably high collar. "Lang, isn't it?" she asked.
Torres gasped, and Janeway turned to glare at her two companions. "I'll handle this," she hissed.
"What's the status of the fleet?" she asked aloud.
"What fleet, ma'am?"
Janeway was saved from this difficult question when Chakotay walked into transporter room one. He was dressed in a stunningly ugly black jumpsuit with a red yoke and a greyish undershirt, just like Ensign Lang's. Seven thought it made him look like death warmed over.
"Captain, how do you feel?" he asked.
"A little dizzy. Maybe we should visit the Doctor." That would give them a little time to orient themselves to this new, tasteless Voyager, if Voyager it still was.
Chakotay led the way, and the three visitors found the layout identical to that of their own Voyager - only the crew had changed. Along the way, he told Janeway that the Relen had called to apologize for the failure of their weather grid to predict the ion storm.
When they reached Sickbay, Janeway said, "We'll be fine, Chakotay. Keep an eye on the Relen for me, will you?"
Looking slightly puzzled, Chakotay nodded and headed for the bridge as the three women entered an empty Sickbay.
"Where's the Doctor?" Janeway asked no one in particular.
Torres jumped back as the EMH materialized and said, "Please state the nature--"
"A hologram," Seven observed, the way one does on the holodeck where the characters are supposed to ignore such asides.
"Were you expecting Mr. Paris?" the Doctor asked.
"He looks exactly like Dr. Zimmerman," Seven added, as Torres walked around the holographic figure, searching for holoemitters.
"Seven..." Janeway warned.
Seven grew silent and stood quietly. Torres found a holoemitter and began to fiddle with a nearby wall panel.
"There was a transporter malfunction," Janeway told him. "Can you scan us for molecular damage?"
"Of course. Have a seat on the biobeds."
Janeway and Seven followed his instructions, and the Doctor began to examine the older woman first. Seven was quite fascinated when his holographic face showed grave concern, but she remained obediently silent.
"Captain," the Doctor said, "I'm getting some anomalous readings. According to my scans, you've never been assimilated by the Borg."
"I should hope not," Janeway replied airily.
"Maybe I should call Commander Chakotay," the EMH thought aloud.
"Why don't you examine Seven of Eleven first?"
His holographic eyes flickered over to Seven, then shot back to Janeway. For the first time, he noticed that Torres was not on a biobed. As he was turning towards the missing engineer, she pulled an isolinear chip out of the wall panel and he disappeared.
The three women stared at each another in silence for a moment.
"Perhaps that is not my designation," Seven suggested.
Torres walked over to a console. "I think I can reprogram the hologram to accept us."
Janeway nodded. "I wonder what became of Kes..."
To buy time, Janeway asked the leather-clad Paris, "What's the status of...the fleet? Has the ion storm affected any vital systems?"
Tom's blue eyes narrowed. "You're right, Admiral - there's no telling what they used to simulate the storm. I'll have all the ships perform level-two diagnostics on their vital systems." He turned to Martin, who saluted him smartly. "Get Kim down here to check your console for sabotage."
Turning back to Janeway, Paris said, "I'll meet you ladies in the conference room in one hour with my reports." He saluted and left the women staring at one another in the middle of the transporter room.
When Ensign Martin hailed Ops for Kim's assistance, Janeway snapped out of her daze and led B'Elanna and Seven into the corridor.
"We have one hour to figure out what's going on here," Janeway said.
"I recommend visiting Astrometrics."
Janeway and Torres agreed, but when they ordered the turbolift there, an unfamiliar computer-voice said, "Please restate the command."
"The astrometrics lab," Janeway said slowly and carefully.
"There is no such location aboard Voyager," the masculine voice replied.
"At least we're on Voyager," B'Elanna said.
"Cargo bay two," Seven suggested, and the turbolift complied.
They found the cargo bay transformed into a minature Borg submatrix. Three drones were regenerating in the eerie green glow, and there was space for ten more.
"What's going on here?" Janeway was clearly frustrated - she hated time paradoxes.
Seven had less philosophical concerns - she approached a Borg information node and keyed in several commands. "Regeneration cycle extended," the boxy machinery responded.
"They will not awaken while we are here," she reassured her companions. After examining the information node in more depth, she informed them, "None of these drones are connected to the Collective mind."
"First a fleet, and now a Borg army...what's happened to my ship?"
"I will attempt to access my personal logs," Seven said, "but it will require some time to process them."
"We're due at Tom's meeting in twenty minutes." B'Elanna began her own attempt to access information through the Borg interfaces. Janeway watched over her shoulder, eyes widening at every keystroke.
Neither of them noticed the equally shocked expressions flowing across Seven's pale face as she downloaded her own logs.
Ten minutes later, Janeway called her over to the console. Seven did not hear.
"Seven, are you all right?"
Though she heard the question, Seven was too absorbed in the visuals backed up from her counterpart's occular implant to reply.
"Seven, snap out of it!" B'Elanna appeared behind her, pulled her away from the information node and watched her eyes.
"Lieutenant, I am unimpaired," Seven reassured her. "My personal life here is rather...interesting. I will have to analyze my logs further for useful information."
"Well, come take a look at what we found," Janeway said, still standing by the console. "Names and ranks of the senior officers on all the fleet ships, armaments, infantry..."
Seven joined her and read aloud from the console, "Voyager under Captain Chakotay, The Equinox under Captain Rudy Ransom, the Dauntless under Arturis, a Trabe ship under Mabus, two Vidiian battle cruisers, a Voth ship under Forra Gegen, five Hirogen vessels, a Devore ship under Kashyk, Kurros with the Think Tank, and several ships from the void: Vaadwaur, Nygeans, Jelinians, Kraylor...an impressive military force.
"Starfleet would not approve," Seven concluded.
"Apparently, there is no Starfleet here," B'Elanna explained.
Seven raised an eyebrow. "Then to whom does the Admiral report?"
"Section 31," Janeway spat out.
Apparently she was displeased, although the designation signified nothing to Seven of Nine.
"I'll explain later," B'Elanna promised. "We're going to be late for the meeting."
Frowning, Janeway led them out of the cargo bay.
The senior staff were gathered around the conference table in their depressing black jumpsuits, debating their next course of action.
"We can send an away team down by shuttle," Commander Chakotay suggested.
"The Relen cannot be trusted," Janeway said flatly.
"They've been friendly all along, and we do need the beryllium." Chakotay was mystified by Janeway's sudden objections.
"I agree with the Ad--Captain," B'Elanna added. "Engineering can get by without beryllium for a while longer."
"I thought you needed it right away." Harry also looked confused, though not suspicious, yet.
"That was before I was almost spread across that ion storm, atom-wise."
"We can't blame the Relen for a failure in their weather grid."
"Yes, we can." With a glare, Janeway dared them all to argue. "We're alone out here, with no ships at our back to defend us. If we ever want to see Venus again, we can't afford to risk another encounter with the Relen." She gazed at the unfamiliar grouping of officers - aboard her Voyager, such matters would have been debated among the fleet captains, with the Hirogen sure to argue for battle, the Jelinians for retreat, and Arturis for some devious trick.
The Chakotay she knew was a bloodthirsty Maquis who tended to side with the Hirogen. This Chakotay was some sort of pacifist with no command instincts to speak of. She couldn't read Tom at all, which was disturbing, though not as disturbing as seeing a Vulcan collaborator in the position of security chief.
"I agree with the Captain," Tuvok said. "We should not risk any more lives before the circumstances of the ion storm have been fully investigated." He was pleased (for a Vulcan) at Janeway's sudden respect for security issues.
"Dismissed." As the staff stood to leave, Janeway added, "Could I speak to you for a moment, Tom?"
Tom sat back down, but looked up at Torres. B'Elanna, of course, ignored him and walked out the door with Seven.
"What was that about Venus?" he asked Janeway.
"Just a figure of speech, Tom." Apparently Venus wasn't the secret headquarters of Section 31 in this universe, although B'Elanna had already verified that there were Maquis guerrillas here, based in the Badlands, and that Tom and Chakotay had served among them.
"Is B'Elanna all right?" he asked. "What did the Doctor say?"
"She's fine, Tom - why do you ask?"
"Just concerned about my wife, that's all."
"Your wife..." Janeway mouthed inaudibly.
"What did you want to talk to me about, Captain?"
She gathered her wits enough to say, "It can wait." It could wait until she knew this Tom well enough to gauge his support. "Dismissed."
Meanwhile, in the corridor outside the briefing room, Seven caught up with Chakotay. "Excuse me, Commander."
"Would you join me for dinner?" At his surprised expression, Seven backpedalled. "I would like to discuss the situation with the Relen."
Chakotay's expression faded from surprise to mere confusion. "Right now?"
"Thank you, Commander."
B'Elanna, who'd been loitering behind them, winked at Seven and headed for Engineering. Seven and Chakotay made their way to the mess hall.
"Is there a problem with the replicators?" Seven asked as they waited in the serving line in the strangely overcrowded officers' mess.
"Did you want to use your replicator rations? I'm afraid I'm tapped out this month."
Neelix's enthusiastic greeting as they reached the head of the mess line saved Seven from answering Chakotay's cryptic question. She stared at Ambassador Neelix, Fleet Personnel Coordinator, and wondered how he'd been reduced to this menial task.
The pair selected something multicolored and sat down at a corner table to eat in silence. Once she had assimilated a quantity sufficient to her nutritional requirements, Seven pushed aside her plate and spoke.
"Commander, why are you so reluctant to consider the possiblity that the Relen could be belligerent?"
He looked up from his plate. "There's no evidence that they mean us harm."
Seven fondly recalled another Chakotay, who had once said that residence in the Delta Quadrant was sufficient evidence of guilt. Clearly, the man before her held different beliefs. "Would it not be safer to assume that they do?" she asked him.
"What's gotten into you, Seven? You didn't complain when Captain Janeway chose you for the away mission to Relenar."
"I am concerned about the safety of this ship and its--" She stopped herself before she said 'Captain', but gazed into those brown eyes, so similar to her Captain Chakotay's, as she said "crew."
"We'll be fine," he said absently, returning his attention to his plate.
Seven watched his every move as he finished his meal, making him rather nervous.
He finally gave up, put down his fork and asked "Is there something else?"
"Are there any...evening activities tonight?" A nice Voth morality play, maybe, or a choir recital by the Equinox Barbershop Quintet, or a lecture series run by the Think Tank--of course not. How did these dreary dressers entertain themselves?
"The holodeck may be available. I'm sure you have plenty of holodeck time coming to you."
Now that sounded interesting, if she was making the proper inference from the holographic doctor to a holographic suite. "Would you care to join me, Commander?"
Chakotay looked at Seven with a new suspicion, one that had nothing to do with her anti-Relen paranoia.
Admiral Presumptive Janeway expected to find Commander Paris, and only Commander Paris, in the briefing room. Instead, she walked into a nightmare of deja vu - Rudy Ransom, Inspector Kashyk, Kurros, Garon, several Hirogen whom she recognized but whose names she couldn't recall, and two mysterious strangers who she later realized were Phage-free Vidiians - all clamoring to attack Relenar.
She listened to their status reports, then recommended further investigation. The Hirogen protested, but Kurros agreed, hoping to test a new weapon the Think Tank was developing but which wasn't quite ready yet. "It's hard to find good targets," he said with a wicked grin.
"Fennim has volunteered to aid Ensign Kim in investigating the 'ion storm' phenomenon," Paris informed the gathered captains. "They would also like to consult with Commander Torres."
Captain Chakotay agreed before Janeway could protest. B'Elanna, who had been perusing a PADD, looked up at the mention of her name and nodded. Seven's eyes were on Chakotay, who was wearing a leather Maquis outfit she'd only seen in old holo-photos of him. Although not as revealing as some of the Section 31 uniforms, it was a definite improvement over the Starfleet issue with which she was familiar.
Janeway dismissed the meeting as quickly as possible. Torres and Seven lingered behind, the latter clearly ready to burst with theories. Janeway stopped her, saying, "Not here. Let's find my quarters."
They were in the usual location. The decor was a little off, but Janeway credited that to her counterpart the Admiral's debased taste. She replicated a cup of coffee, then joined B'Elanna and Seven on the couch.
"Go ahead, Seven." She knew the drone had been dying to speak all day.
Seven's words spilled out in an unborglike rush. "Captain, I do not believe that we are in an alternate timeline. This environment bears all the marks of an alternate universe."
"What's the difference?"
"An alternate timeline is created when a time traveller or temporal phenomenon interferes with a historical event. All subsequent events are affected, so that the timeline diverges further and further as time passes.
"An alternate universe, however, coexists with our universe and infintely many others in the multiverse. All possible universes are contained in the multiverse, including, evidently, one with alternate versions of Voyager's crewmembers, such as a Kathryn Janeway who is an Admiral at the head of a fleet of war."
"That's all theory, Seven," Janeway said. "I can't risk violating the Temporal Prime Directive on the basis of speculation about a multiverse."
"I agree with Seven." B'Elanna leaned forward, hands on her knees. "There was no evidence of temporal flux or chronoton particles in Harry's report. In any case, we have to undo whatever happened when we got on the transporter pad today."
The three women were soon lost in their own thoughts - Janeway's of her new, menacing fleet, B'Elanna's of transporters and ion storms, and Seven's of Chakotay. All gave a start when a new voice broke the silence.
"Ladies, how nice of you to stop by. Will you be staying?"
All three turned to see Tom Paris standing by the bedroom door in a bathrobe. Janeway turned pale, wondering what he'd heard.
"I need to see Harry and Fennim," Torres said, reddening. She stormed out of the room.
"I should also be going," Seven said, her eyes on the door that had just closed behind B'Elanna. "Excuse me, Admiral."
"Try to blend in," Janeway mouthed to her.
Seven nodded and left her alone with Paris.
Should she ask Tom what he'd heard? No, Janeway decided, none of these people could be trusted. If they were ready to attack a peaceful planet, what would they do to peaceful visitors from another universe?
Tom moved closer. "Are you up for a game of Captain Proton and Arachnia, Queen of the Spider People?"
Getting out of her--their?--quarters and into that campy role sounded like a good idea to Janeway. "Did you reserve the holodeck?" she asked him, trying too hard to sound sultry.
"Holodeck? Now that sounds like a good game." Tom dropped onto the sofa beside her. "Tell me more about it, my queen."
Janeway retreated to her counterpart's ready room to 'case the joint', as her husband would say. If only he were here... She relied on him too much, to write up reports, to plan fleet strategy, to make her life in a dark and dangerous quadrant easier. He loved her, and she used him - once she got back, that would end.
No familiar devilish smile had lightened the mood of this drab room. The Admiral wondered how the Captain did it - had she turned cold, hard and careless in the vacuum of space? Had she taken comfort from passing aliens? Was there someone else she used, the way the Admiral herself used Tom? Perhaps the Captain had plunged into a fantasy world, like the one from which the Admiral had freed Captain Ransom.
Would the same thing happen to her, if she were forced to remain here playing the Captain's role? Or once she returned home and left Tom for good?
Kes was the person to talk to at a moment like this, but a quick check with the ship's computer confirmed that Kes was no longer aboard. Something strange had happened, and she had last been seen heading for the Ocampa homeworld - Janeway didn't have time to review the details.
"Well, I must talk to someone," she muttered, and ran a quick search through her personal logs for confidantes.
The results were not promising - the Vulcan collaborator, Tuvok, headed the list, and Seven of Nine was included as well, but she had only Seven of Eleven, who was handling Chakotay at the moment. He was the only other person on the list.
"So I'm playing a lonely, schizoid Captain, walzing across the Delta Quadrant and falling into every alien trap I come across...and now talking to myself. Get a grip, Kathryn." She replicated a cup of coffee and returned to her desk. "Let's start from the beginning. Computer, play the first log entry I made aboard Voyager."
She cocked her head as the story of her three-week mission to the Badlands began. Her forehead creased at the mention of Tuvok. She put her mug down for the Cardassians, treaties, alliances... Her coffee went cold, forgotten.
"Oh, no..." she whispered to herself, "I'm a collaborator."
B'Elanna found Harry up late in the transporter room, surrounded by isolinear chips and prodding a recalcitrant gel-pack.
"Hi, B'Elanna," he said from inside an access panel.
She put a hand on his knee. He ignored her at first, but when it had been there for an entire minute, he said, "B'Elanna?"
He extricated himself from the bulkhead. "What's up?"
"It's a shame to waste a nice evening playing with isolinear chips." She stared at him meaningfully.
He refused to take her meaning. "I won't be here long. Why don't you go on home to Tom?"
B'Elanna removed her hand. "Tom Paris?"
"Do you have another husband you're not telling me about?"
Damn. Janeway would kill her if she as much as laid a hand on Paris, and Harry certainly didn't seem interested in an old married woman. This was a lose-lose universe all around. What would she do to ditch Paris, if they were stuck here forever? Maybe she could hit her head and feign amnesia - the EMH was an easily corrupted program.
Sighing, she said, "You can go, Harry. I'll take over here for a while."
"Thanks." He skittered out of the room.
She worked on the transporter until gamma shift, then took a walking tour of the dark, quiet ship. Thus she stumbled across Astrometrics, a new base of operations from which she could investigate both the transporter incident and the Relen.
"Mommy!" "Mommy!" "Mommy!" Two girls and a boy rushed into the Admiral's quarters and piled on top of Kathryn Janeway and her newfound husband Tom, still seated on the couch.
"Get ready for bed, tadpole," he said, wiggling one girl's nose between his fingers. "Mommy's tired. The nasty Relens tried to kill her today."
"Are you gonna kill them all, Mommy, like the Malon?"
"Can I fire a photon torpedo, Daddy?" the boy asked.
Boys, Janeway thought, too dazed to say anything.
"When you're older, Owen. Now run off to bed!"
They all kissed their parents and thumped off through a doorway which had been concealed by Tom's batik curtains.
Three children, apparently the same age, hers and Tom's...
"Sweet kids, aren't they?" their father asked.
"They take after you."
"Phoebe wants to be an Admiral someday, like her mom."
Janeway said nothing.
"What about you, Kathryn - do you want to be an Admiral someday?"
She stiffened. "What you mean?" she asked with a forced casualness.
Tom grabbed her by the shoulders and forced her to face him. "I heard you talking to Torres and Seven of Eleven. And you didn't recognize your own children. You're not my Kathryn."
She shook her head.
He let go of her shoulders. "Tell me - what happened to our children, where you come from?"
"We're not married there."
"I gathered as much, but that doesn't answer my question."
"We broke the warp ten barrier, or rather you did, and then you came back for me." Tom nodded as she ran through the familiar details of the Doctor's attempts to reverse his accelerated evolution, the abduction and their recovery. "...and Chakotay left them on the planet."
"What?" This Tom showed the same menacing calm when he was angry as the one from her universe.
"He left them there. They would have been a...complication."
"A complication? The fall of the Empire was a complication. The enslavement of humanity was a complication. Vulcans collaborating with the enemy was a complication. Getting dragged across the galaxy by the Caretaker when the Section finally had a ship like Voyager to fight back with was a complication. The Phage was a complication. Stumbling into the war between the Borg and Species 8472 was a complication. But Phoebe, Owen and Stadi are children. What kind of thick-skinned, scaly people are you?"
"I don't need a pirate preaching morals at me, Mr. Paris."
"Is that what you think I am?" His eyes clouded over, and she couldn't even see his anger anymore. "Well, until I find a way to get my wife back, you're the Admiral of this fleet and you'll act like it. Don't try to open any weapons lockers, and don't make me resurrect the Empire method of military promotion." Tom stood up, fingering his knife. "Oh, and by the way, we attack Relenar tomorrow. I hope I've made myself clear."
He stalked into the bedroom.
"Damn." B'Elanna had tossed her uniform jacket over a console, but was still sweating in the uncomfortable Starfleet uniform.
"Yes, Commander?" Seven of Eleven responded, looking up from her astrometrics console.
"That's Lieutenant, Seven."
"Lieutenant Torres, what have you discovered?"
"Do you remember the quantum inhibitor that burned out a few months ago?"
"Well, now I know what it was designed to inhibit." B'Elanna pointed to a design schematic of the local transporter technology. "I couldn't put my finger on it before, but now that I have a similar transporter design to compare with ours..."
"Yes, I see," Seven said in her ear as she read over her shoulder. "Perhaps we can recreate our own transporter technology here. Arturis could--"
"Arturis is dead." If Seven had spent less time with Chakotay and more time reading the logs, B'Elanna fumed silently, she would have known that.
"The Borg?" Seven asked. So many of his people had been assimilated before the destruction of the Collective by Species 8472.
"Believe me, Seven, you don't want to know." B'Elanna returned to the topic at hand. "This shipload of waifs doesn't have the technology to recreate even Empire-era transporters. Besides, I doubt that we can reproduce the effect here in this universe. It looks like we took a one-way ride."
"We can only hope that our counterparts will attempt to reverse the process."
"Why would they do that? They have our fleet to back them up now."
"They are inured to the danger here."
"Inured? Do think anyone is ever inured to the Borg?"
Seven was nonplused. "What Borg? Chakotay mentioned Species 8472 - I assumed they wiped out the Borg here as well..."
"Maybe you should ask Commander Chakotay exactly how you were freed from the Borg."
Seven deduced that her counterpart had not been recovered from a Borg debris field, as she had. She shuddered internally but continued the argument. "There is one reason why our counterparts would wish to return here."
B'Elanna waited impatiently to hear Seven's theory. Perhaps the drone had found out something useful from Chakotay after all. "Well?"
"In this universe, humans control the Alpha Quadrant. The Klingons and the Bajorans are our allies. Cardassia Prime is in ruins."
Seven of Eleven had never seen Torres' eyes so wide.
"Damn! I'd go home to that any day. Maybe we should stay here."
"The Admiral won't abandon the fleet. The Section needs us."
"What use are we to anyone, from thirty thousand lightyears away?"
Seven didn't bother to reply. They'd had this argument enough times in their own universe - the other humans were irrationally loyal to Section 31, despite the small chance they had of ever rejoining the Section.
B'Elanna turned back to her console, but her mind wandered. In a universe where Klingons and humans were allies, a half-Klingon like her would not have been spat upon as a collaborator's child. She imagined what her childhood would have been like, if she'd grown up in the Terran paradise of this universe instead of in slavery on a mining colony halfway to Bajor. What a life her human mother could have had if she had been free to stay with her Klingon master, instead of being banished to save her from angry relatives determined to erase the insult to their house - to erase her.
Maybe there was some way to keep from being sent back to her own universe, when the other B'Elanna tried to get home. She began to make some calculations...
The door chime woke Kathryn Janeway. At first she was unsure where she was - she'd had the strangest dream about being the Admiral of a fleet of war, though the war itself escaped her.
Her back hurt. She'd fallen asleep on the couch; that explained the bad dreams, at least.
The chime rang again - some neglected velocity partner, no doubt. She sat up and said, "Come."
The lights came up at her voice, and she found herself staring at an unfamiliar poster on her wall. The language was French, the style, some fantastic flowing pastel rendition of a woman. Janeway was no historian of art in any universe, but she knew it must be some twentieth-century reproduction of Tom's.
Ah, yes, Tom.
B'Elanna didn't bother to sit down. "Admiral," she said, only slightly less belligerently than she'd spat her parting words the night before.
"Commander. Join me for breakfast? "
Torres' eyes strayed to the bedroom door, and back to Janeway's 'uniform'. There was too little of it to wrinkle, yet it was clear she'd slept in it. The clouds over the half-Klingon's head lightened slightly, and she nodded.
"Tom knows," Janeway said, once her cabin doors had softly closed behind them.
"Kahless! Why aren't we in the brig?"
"Apparently, he needs me to be his figurehead. We attack Relenar today, unless I can find a way to stop him." The only plan she could think of at the moment was sabotage. Janeway didn't know the fleet captains well enough to manipulate them - well, except perhaps Kashyk. Later.
Janeway held her questions until the pair were seated in the officers' mess, and a yeoman had brought them their replicator requests. "Where's Seven?"
"Now? What was she doing last night?"
"Exactly how was Seven blending in?"
"It seems that Seven and Chakotay are...friendlier in this universe than in ours."
"I didn't ask her to--"
"She seized the initiative."
They sat in silence, eating scrambled eggs, fresh rolls and Andorian cheeses - a real Alpha Quadrant breakfast.
"It's better this way."
Janeway looked up, but said nothing.
"Wouldn't you rather she'd got it out of her system while we're here?"
"Seven has never shown any interest in Commander Chakotay."
"Captain Chakotay seemed quite interested in her, from what I saw."
Janeway wasn't about to ask for details. "About the transporter--"
B'Elanna ignored her half-hearted attempt to change the subject. "It won't hurt you any to get it out of your system, too."
"Get what out of my system? " she asked, her eyes beginning to smolder.
"You know about the children?"
"Did you think if you didn't say anything they would just disappear? This isn't your thing with Chakotay, this is a marriage." B'Elanna got her voice under control. "It's all in the ship's logs. I looked it up last night."
"He's your husband, B'Elanna." Therefore, she could not be attracted to him.
"My husband is waiting for me at home, in our universe."
"Fine. But this one is a pirate." Therefore, she would not be attracted to him. "They all are."
B'Elanna let her change the subject to piracy, but she disagreed. "I'm not so sure about that."
"Whatever they are, we have to get home."
She shook her head. "It's not looking good. I think we have a handle on what happened, but reversing it is another matter."
"So tell me what happened."
"Some sort of fail-safe in the transporter aboard this Voyager burned out a few months ago. The crew weren't entirely familiar with Voyager systems, even though they stole the ship seven years ago already."
"Stole?" Janeway echoed. "Never mind - I don't want to know."
"Well, the transporter performed perfectly under all the tests, so they had been using it without that particular redundant backup system. But when they tried to beam their away team through an ion storm yesterday, a quantum feedback loop formed. It's a natural effect of their transporter technology, something the fail-safe was designed to prevent. The end result was that the transporter exchanged us with our counterparts in this universe."
Janeway nodded. "So if we tried it ourselves, we could end up in yet another universe."
"Possibly. There's a good chance that the malfunction is tuned to our universe - it's a chance I'm willing to take. The bigger problem is reproducing the conditions of the ion storm. Relenar shouldn't even be prone to ion activity."
Now her own people were getting paranoid. "The Relen are peaceful people, unlike this...fleet."
"The Relen of our universe may be peaceful, but there's no telling what this universe is like."
"If it is a weapon, we need a way to get the Relen to use it again."
"Or we could go ahead with the plan to pacify Relenar, then test it ourselves. We'd be much more likely to get home safely if I could see this storm generator firsthand."
"I won't turn pirate to get home. I have to find a way to stop Tom."
"Good luck." She would need it, in B'Elanna's opinion.
"Has Harry found any evidence that the ion storm was artificially induced, or how?"
"Not yet. He spent most of the night hitting on me while I was taking the transporter apart." B'Elanna yawned. "I'm going to get a few hours' sleep. Don't turn pirate without me."
"I won't." No matter the temptation...
Torres and Seven of Eleven broke the bad news to Janeway when she came to see them in Astrometrics. It was the demoted Admiral's first visit to the astrometrics lab, and she tried all the consoles and viewscreens out for herself.
"Some of this looks like Borg technology," she commented.
"It is. There is also an extensive map of Borg Space."
"Freed Space," Janeway corrected Seven automatically.
"The Borg are still there," the drone said. "Species 8472 was unable to destroy them."
"Stop beating around the bush, Seven." B'Elanna turned to Janeway. "You saved the Borg from Species 8472."
"What are you talking about?" Janeway snapped.
"Your counterpart made an alliance with the Borg Collective and created a weapon against Species 8472 for them. Seven was their representative. You seem to have taken her in payment - I haven't had time to go through all the logs, but that's the gist of it."
"So the Borg are still out there." Janeway looked out the viewscreen nervously, as though the old, familiar cubes of her nightmares would transwarp in at any moment. "No wonder this crew doesn't want to waste firepower on penny-ante hooligans like the Relen."
What had her counterpart hoped to gain from the Borg? she wondered. If humans ruled the Alpha Quadrant, as B'Elanna had mentioned, there was no call to make such dangerous allies. The other Janeway had no Alliance at home to defeat, no reason to waste seventy years trying to get home at all. The more she thought about it, the less sense it made. She'd have to look at her logs more carefully.
The ship rocked.
"Captain to the bridge."
Janeway hit her comm badge. "What's going on up there?"
"Another ion storm."
"Back off ten thousand kilometers. I'm on my way." On her way out, she told Seven and B'Elanna, "I need better sensor resolution of Relenar - enough to take out that storm generator."
"We'll work on it."
And Janeway was gone. B'Elanna and Seven made some preliminary plans, then began rewiring the astrometric sensors.
"Computer, play personal log, B'Elanna Torres, beginning with the first entry." At Seven's curious look, she said, "Background noise - I'm curious."
A familiar voice filled Astrometrics, and a familiar bitterness filled the voice. Perhaps this Alpha Quadrant wasn't the paradise B'Elanna had assumed it was.
She was still listening to her logs when Chakotay stopped by Astrometrics four hours later to pick Seven up.
"Can I talk to you later, Chakotay?"
"Why don't you join us for dinner, B'Elanna?"
She put down a handful of isometric chips and followed the couple to the mess hall.
Chakotay and Seven chatted over the dinner special, leola surprise. Eventually, B'Elanna's silence got to them.
"What's on your mind, B'Elanna?"
She gave him a quizzical look. "We were in the Maquis together, Chakotay. We were defending human colonies from the Cardassians until that Vulcan collaborator betrayed us...betrayed us to the Federation. Janeway was hunting us down, and that's how she ended up here in the Delta Quadrant with us. Hunting down humans for the Cardassians, but we joined forces with her anyway..."
"That was seven years ago, B'Elanna." Chakotay's mind was on romance, not old wounds. Seven was also unconcerned by events which had taken place in either universe while she was still a drone.
"But they were Federation worlds," B'Elanna insisted. "Doesn't the Federation charter provide for defense against our enemies? Where was Section 31?"
"There's no such thing as Section 31. It's just a myth to scare Academy cadets with."
"So there's no provision for defense... If we ever get back to the Alpha Quadrant, what's to stop the Federation from giving away more worlds? What kind of Federation are we working for now?"
"You know I'm no fan of Federation politics, but there's no getting away from them - not on Voyager, and not in the Alpha Quadrant," Chakotay said in his even, diplomatic tone. "They're as good as it gets."
"I want to go home," B'Elanna mumbled.
"We all want to go home."
Janeway contemplated her empty breakfast plate until a yeoman came and took it away, then she pulled out a PADD and pretended to read. Extensive as this ship's records were, there was no particular log entry that would explain her position in the fleet - was she a dictator who could have Tom thrown in the brig? A figurehead manipulated by Ransom and Kashyk? A depressed recluse?
If only she had the time, she could feel out each captain, test her power base, and eventually assume the full role of Admiral. Low-level officers like Harry would be mines of information, and Seven was already making her own useful contacts. Yes, she could do it, she could bend the fleet to her own purposes - she could pacify it. The only thing in her way was Tom, but surely he could be manipulated. Clearly, he had a weakness for her already, or at least for her counterpart. Her weakness for him might prove a complication, however...
A hail interrupted her thoughts: "Admiral to the battle bridge."
Speak of the devil. Janeway headed for the turbolift; it would know the location of the battle bridge.
It was in Astrometrics, or rather, it was where Astrometrics ought to have been. Commander Paris was already there, studying a holographic projection of the fleet, which was already in position around Relenar.
"Thank you for stopping by, Admiral," he said.
"Spare me the sarcasm, Commander." She examined the tactical hologram more carefully. "That's a Borg tactical sphere!"
"We salvaged it. It's a great psychological advantage - everyone remembers the Borg."
"You talk about them as though they were dead."
"Species 8472 killed them all."
"Why didn't they kill you?"
"Kes convinced them to return to fluidic space." Tom's eyes narrowed. "What happened to Species 8472 in your universe?"
"We developed a weapon against them and released it into fluidic space."
"How did you get there?"
"Seven brought us there, while she was still a drone."
Tom continued to stare at her, and though the story was making her uncomfortable, it was also delaying any changes he might have made to the tactical situation, so she went on.
"We were on the wrong end of the Northwest Passage, in between the Borg and Species 8472. Chakotay wanted to turn around and find another way home, but..."
"You wanted to get home. I understand - the Section needs our help to free humanity from the Alliance. Otherwise, you could have settled down on a nice planet in the Delta Quadrant instead of wasting years trying to get back to a nice planet in the Alpha Quadrant. "
"Actually, humanity is free in our universe."
He just stared at her. She continued her story.
"We modified Borg nanoprobes to save Harry Kim, who'd come into contact with Species 8472. With that bargaining chip, I made an alliance with the Borg Collective. Seven was their representative aboard Voyager. She turned on us once her enemies had been driven back, and we separated her from the Collective and went on."
"For no reason."
"I promised my crew I would get them home."
He turned to the main viewscreen, and passed a hand over the tactical console. "Execute battle plan beta-5," he said.
She knew he was broadcasting to the fleet, who would take her presence on the battle bridge as approval. "Belay that order," she shouted, but Tom had already cut the comm link.
"Now you'll get my crew home," he said softly.
Janeway found her companions still in the mess hall with Chakotay.
"Excuse me, Commander," she said, and joined them.
He took the hint. "Will you join me at Sandrine's later for a drink, ladies?" The responses were all positive, though they varied in enthusiasm, and he left.
The mess hall was emptying; the three women could talk without fear of being overheard.
"I want to stay," Janeway announced.
"With all due respect, Admiral, I'm married to your husband here. I don't think he'll understand."
"You're welcome to him."
"I don't want him. Harry won't look cross-eyed at me, and I doubt divorcing Paris would help the situation any."
"I also wish to return to our own universe," Seven of Eleven said.
"You seem to be hitting it off with Commander Chakotay."
"He is less...animated than Captain Chakotay."
"They're all a bit dull here," B'Elanna agreed. "Why do you want to stay?"
"Admiral Janeway is tied down back in our universe - to the fleet, to Tom and the children, to the Section - there's never a moment for myself, no opportunity to relax, to explore, to be the scientist I always wanted to be. I have so many responsibilities...
"Captain Janeway, on the other hand, has only one ship to look after. She doesn't feel obliged to save both the Alpha and Delta Quadrants from themselves. If it benefits her to make an alliance with the Borg, she does it. She doesn't have to think about what's best for humanity every waking moment of her life."
B'Elanna nodded in sympathy. The plight of humanity was a weight on all their shoulders, except perhaps Seven's. Janeway had been carrying it for seven years - was it any wonder she wanted to put it down?
"The matter is out of our hands," Seven said. "If our counterparts find a way to reverse the exchange, we cannot stop them."
"Maybe we can," B'Elanna said. "I had an idea about how to block the transporter, if they tried to reverse the accident. I think adaptive Borg shielding should be able to block the quantum effects. I installed some around Astrometrics, as a test.
"Go there and run program Torres-beta-three, and you should be safe from any unexpected beam-outs. I'll doctor the Doctor for you as well."
"Thank you, B'Elanna."
"I'm not sure I'm doing you any favors, Admiral. What will happen to the fleet under your counterpart?"
"Tom runs the fleet, B'Elanna. I'm sure he can handle her, too."
"I will miss you, Admiral," Seven said.
"This probably isn't goodbye."
"In case it is, it's been a pleasure serving with you, ma'am." B'Elanna stood and shook the Admiral's hand.
Seven did the same, and the Admiral rushed back to Astrometrics.
When B'Elanna and Seven met Chakotay in Sandrine's, he said, "You two look like you just lost your best friend."
"Not yet," Seven said, and changed the topic to recent scans of Relenar.
"I'm starting to share your suspicion of the Relen," Chakotay admitted. "The timing of the storms is too convenient to be natural. It's almost as if they want us to go away. Though it's not clear why they invited us here in the first place."
"Perhaps they underestimated our defensive capacity," Seven suggested.
B'Elanna shook her head. "I'd say they're waiting for more favorable solar conditions, in order to disable us with an amplified ion storm."
"You should have informed me of your suspicions," Seven said calmly. "There is a solar flare approaching as we speak."
Chakotay hit his commbadge. "Yellow alert."
They followed him out of Sandrines.
"I'll be in Engineering," B'Elanna said, and jogged down the hall toward the aft turbolifts.
Seven and Chakotay headed in the other direction.
"Aren't you going to monitor solar activity from Astrometrics?" he asked her when she joined him in the turbolift.
"The Captain is there. I would be of more use at Ops."
Chakotay nodded and ordered the 'lift to the bridge.
"Picking fights with innocent bystanders won't get you home." Janeway was still arguing with Tom.
He swung around to face her again. "It's clear that you don't know the difference between enemies and allies. The Relen are the pirates, not us. Everyone in the sector knows about them. They've cost thousands of lives, and now they're going to pay."
As if to illustrate the point, a coordinated burst of phaser fire cut into the cloudy atmosphere of Relenar.
"Once we've disarmed them," Tom continued, "a quarter of the Tokki fleet will join ours out of gratitude. By the time we get back to the Alpha Quadrant, we'll have made enough allies to free humanity."
Telemetry was flowing back from the fleet ships. Within the tactical map, Janeway could see the familiar 'winds' of an ion storm springing up at a quite unnatural speed. Voyager rocked, and one of the smaller fleet ships winked out of the holographic display.
"We've lost the K'diar," a section leader's voice informed them.
"Regroup a thousand kilometers back," Paris replied, as he examined the readings. "Funny how that ion storm came up out of nowhere," he pointed out.
Tom grabbed the edge of the console as the ship rocked again, but Janeway lost her balance and fell into the holographic display. The hologram flickered around her and she hit her head on a protruding holoprojector. Dazed, she heard the incoming reports in fits and starts.
"...two Hirogen battle-gliders...watch out for the spray of nanomines at 03 mark 14 mark...warp core disabled...loss of structural integrity to decks six through...environmental systems failing...direct hit by the Dauntless...evacuate the deck, I repeat, evacuate the deck..."
Janeway's vision blurred, though her head felt slightly better. She pushed herself to her feet and found Tom slumped over his console, unconscious. The room swam, and she heard a hissing noise from behind a cracked viewscreen.
"Tom, we're losing life support." She shook him. "We have to get out of here."
He opened his eyes slowly and squinted at her. "Emergency bulkhead must be...shut already. Jeffries' tube," he grunted, pointing to the side wall.
She half-dragged him over to it and they crawled in, sealing the hatch behind them.
Janeway could never recall the route they had taken to sickbay; the next thing she knew, she was staring up at Kes.
"Doctor Zimmerman, she's awake."
"Don't try to speak, Admiral."
"Kes, you didn't leave."
Kes gave her that understanding look with which she often humored delusional humans.
"You're not angry," Janeway said.
"Angry?" Curious, Kes reached out to Janeway's mind, then took a step back. "Try to rest," she said, and moved towards another biobed.
Janeway heard whispers - Tom, the Doctor and Kes were arguing. She forced herself to sit up.
"Admiral!" the Doctor protested. He strode to her biobed, looking tired and blood-spattered.
"I'm all right, Doctor."
"You're suffering from oxygen deprivation, Admiral. I must insist--"
"Computer, deactivate Emergency Medical Hologram."
Zimmerman checked her biosigns; he was accustomed to patients raving in his sickbay. He whirled around to face Kes and Tom, on the biobed behind him. "You're right, it's not her. This woman has cloned replacement tissues in all her vital systems - even some brain tissue." The Doctor, his bedside manner not significantly improved by the medium of flesh and blood, added, "She looks like she's been assimilated by the Borg!"
"I told you she was tough," Tom said under his voice. "She'll make a fine Admiral."
"What's the status of the fleet?" Janeway asked.
Tom smiled. "The Relen have been subdued. We lost several shuttles, but the fleet ships are all intact and under repairs. The Tokki are on their way to examine the ruins now."
"We destroyed the ion storm generator. The spaceways of this sector are now safe."
"Then we're trapped here." Janeway looked over to the other biobed. "I'm sorry about your wife, Tom."
He would have lost her in any event, Tom thought. "You saved my life, Kathryn. I was the only one who knew your secret - you could have left me there."
"We're not barbarians, Tom."
"Wait a moment, Admiral, Commander," Kes said. Janeway realized how much she had missed that soft voice. "Are you saying the ion storm generator exchanged you with our Admiral Janeway?"
"B'Elanna thinks it was your transporter technology, but the ion storm was a necessary ingredient."
"I can try to recreate the storm, if that would help," Kes offered.
"It's too risky," Tom objected. "Stay here with us, Kathryn - our Admiral Janeway was getting soft...talking about settling down here among our allies, where we'd be safe from the Alliance. We need someone ruthless like you to lead us home to the Alpha Quadrant."
"She's your wife, Tom."
She doesn't want to be, he thought, but for some reason couldn't bring himself to say it aloud. "The Section comes first, Kathryn."
"Voyager comes first, Tom." She turned to Kes. "Let's give it a try."
Just as Seven had predicted, a much stronger ion storm, aggravated by solar activity, formed over Relenar. Chakotay barely got Voyager away on the crest of it. The ship rocked a bit, but it was over so quickly that he wasn't too surprised Janeway hadn't made it to the bridge.
"Seven, send out beacons warning travellers away from Relenar," he said.
"Chakotay..." He was back in a standard Starfleet-issue uniform - that meant that she was back in her own universe. Yet her presence at Ops indicated that Voyager's had not known about the exchange.
"Is there a problem?"
She decided not to discuss the alternate universe until she had conferred with the Captain and Lieutenant Torres. "No, sir. Will that be all?"
"Yes, the beta shift crew can handle things from here."
She turned to leave.
"I'll rejoin you in Sandrine's in twenty minutes."
She raised an eyebrow, but nodded and left the bridge.
B'Elanna left Engineering at the same time, and, having checked with the ship's computer, in its familiar feminine incarnation, they met outside the locked door of Astrometrics at the same time.
"Captain?" B'Elanna hailed her.
"Come," she said, and the doors opened.
"Welcome home." B'Elanna said as she and Seven entered Astrometrics. "No one seems to have missed us."
"My counterpart had locked herself in here. I wonder why."
"Will this be going in your logs?" B'Elanna asked.
"Of course. Though I don't think we should tell the crew - they might not appreciate having been fooled so thoroughly. It would be bad for morale."
"Perhaps we should report to sickbay."
"At your convenience," Janeway said.
But the three lingered in Astrometrics.
"That was a strange universe," B'Elanna said. "I wonder if they'll ever win Terra back from the Alliance."
"They appeared to be quite determined," Seven observed.
"I wish I could tell Tom about it - it would make quite a holoprogram," B'Elanna said, "though I doubt he'll believe you two were married."
"I hope he's out of your system now, Captain," she said sternly.
"Believe me, B'Elanna, he is. He is."
When the away team reappeared on the pad, everyone gathered in transporter room one breathed a sigh of relief. The worst thing that could have happened was beaming away Janeway, Torres and Seven without getting anyone back. But were the figures on the pad their own Admiral Janeway, Commander Torres, and Seven of Eleven, last Queen of the Borg?
"Did it work?" Kes asked, as the three women glanced around the room.
"We're back!" B'Elanna exclaimed in affirmation, leaping off the transporter pad, across the room and into Ensign Kim's arms. "Say you missed me, baby-face!"
"I didn't even know you were gone until Commander Paris dragged me back down here."
She bit him in punishment. Dr. Zimmerman separated the happy couple to run a medical tricorder over Commander Torres. "She's the genuine article," he reported.
At Zimmerman's words, B'Elanna looked back at transporter pad. Tom was climbing onto the pad to greet his wife.
"What is Voyager's status?" Seven asked, stepping down as he stepped up.
"Shouldn't you be asking about your tactical sphere?" Harry teased the drone. She glared at him, and he cowered, saying, "Captain Chakotay is fine. He doesn't know you were gone, either."
"It is best that that information not leave this room," Seven said, and a confirming glare from B'Elanna ensured the ensign's silence. "I require regeneration," the drone added, and the Doctor confirmed her self-diagnosis.
"Let's give the Admiral and Commander some privacy," B'Elanna said, muscling Kes and the Doctor out of the room before her.
"Please report to sickbay for a checkup at your earliest convenience," Dr. Zimmerman shouted as the doors to transporter room one closed in his face. He accompanied Seven to Cargo Bay Two to monitor her regeneration cycle.
"I'm going to have a look at my engines." Torres left with Harry in tow.
Left alone in the corridor, Kes stared at the doors for a moment, then shrugged and returned to her duties in Sickbay.
17 Epilogue: There
"Kathryn," Tom finally said, "welcome home."
"Tom, I'm not--"
"Shh." He kissed her.
"She'll take good care of it. She took good care of us."
"She's your wife."
"She didn't want to be." There, he'd said it. "The position is open..."
She thought of her three children, of her fleet, and of the enemy waiting in the Alpha Quadrant. This universe was definitely growing on her. "I hear you're in need of an Admiral as well," she said.
He backed up to salute her, arm straight out. "Aye, ma'am!"
Admiral Kathryn Janeway smiled.