INTRODUCTION

In June 2008 I wrote and posted a vignette called "Echo" of just over 500 words. This little story was written in response to the Writing Extravaganza Challenge on VAMB [Voyager Angel Message Board]. The writer had to take a non-traditional J/C episode and rewrite it to make it J/C.

I chose the episode "Non Sequitur"[S2E5], the one in which Harry Kim is accidentally shunted into another universe where he meets his fiancée Libby. I reworked it so that Kathryn Janeway was the one slipping through the space-time matrix.

There was some speculation at the time whether I would write a full story around these circumstances. The novella "Echoes" is the result. I included in this new story the original vignette with minor changes and continued it. Needless to say, I have removed the orginal short fic from the net and this new "Echoes" replaces it.

This story is a novella, in seven chapters. The original vignette appears here as the Chapter 1

This story jumps between characters of two Voyager vessels of two different universes. I have named the Voyager of "our" timeline "Voyager Prime" and Voyager of the other timeline "Alternate Voyager" so readers can determine who is who!

Acknowledgement

Mary Stark, naturally.

Disclaimer: Paramount owns Voyager and its characters.

ECHOES

CHAPTER 1

Alpha Quadrant - Sector 001 Grid 325 - San Francisco, Earth

Kathryn woke up, as if emerging from a dream it seemed. Her surroundings felt familiar, yet strange, cloaking her in intimacy and mystery. She looked around, in confusion. Ivory sheets covered her loosely. She wore a nightgown that clung gently to the swell of her breasts.

The room was large, airy, one wall fitted entirely with glass. She touched her forehead, moaned and fell back against the pillow. Only now did she hear sounds, like water running. A shower? Who was there? The sound stopped, a door opened, closed.

Approaching footsteps…

The next moment she saw him in the doorway. Kathryn gasped.

"Chakotay?"

He walked towards her, slowly, his expression shocked. His lips turned white, his eyes dark, filled with ageless sorrow.

"It cannot be…"

"Where am I?" she asked.

"Nicole…how…?"

Chakotay reached the bed, sat down beside her and held her shoulders. His hands trembled.

"I am not - "

"Your ship, Nicole …we lost Voyager in the Badlands…almost two years ago… There - there was a memorial service…"

"My name is - "

"Nicole, my beloved wife," Chakotay cried out. "Have you come to haunt me?"

Thirty six hours later…

Kathryn fingered the circular temporal disc gingerly. Her heart raced. If this didn't work, she could be cast into another dimension, thousands of years into the future, or she could find herself back on Voyager. The last thirty six hours had been a mad dash to determine what had happened. She remembered her shuttle, that her time stream had intersected the temporal inversion fold in the space-time matrix, throwing her into this reality, so familiar, yet all she wanted to do was return to Voyager.

Getting back meant stealing the runabout Yellowstone designed by Larry Byrd, to be piloted by Thomas Paris. The Tom Paris of this universe had never served on Voyager.

It meant the man standing before her was risking his whole career for her sake. From the moment Admiral Chakotay decided to help her, the gleam of determination had been constantly in his eyes.

"My life will mean nothing if I cannot help you find your way to your ship…your reality, Kathryn…"

He'd used his high level clearance overrides despite the fact that he knew he'd be monitored. But Chakotay was ready for anything, would be prepared to go to any length "because you are the mirror of Nicole, with all her goodness, Kathryn.." he told her.

It hadn't taken her long to convince him of her identity.

"You're identical," Chakotay had said sadly. "Yet you're not. Nicole is left-handed…" He had held her hand in his and had stared intently at her ringless finger.

A mirror identical, she realised.

Their journey to this point, where she was ready to recreate the conditions of the accident that had brought her to this San Francisco, assisted by an alien called Cosimo, had been fraught with cunning and adventure, the urgency to find a way back the undercurrent that drove her forward.

Kathryn looked at the man standing before her. A gentle man, so familiar with his tattoo that her heart bled with longing. There'd been times she had wanted to throw herself against him and simply weep for what she feared she was losing. But he was not hers. His Nicole and Voyager had pursued a notorious Maquis cell leader into the Badlands. He was from Dorvan, but had remained in Starfleet. He was already an admiral, his wife, Nicole Janeway, the captain of Voyager, with Magnus Rollins her first officer.

It was time to say goodbye to this Chakotay.

"You said she's like me, Chakotay. Then I tell you Nicole Janeway will find a way home."

In the last thirty six hours she had come to know this man, a man who believed her, comforted her when she despaired of getting home, helped her at great risk to his own career. They were being pursued, she knew, yet Chakotay had assured her that they would believe his explanation. She had told him to keep believing that Nicole was alive, out there.

She had told him that the Chakotay on her Voyager was a Maquis, a notorious cell leader she had been sent to capture. Her Chakotay was now her best friend and first officer. In her heart she knew now that on her ship waited a man cut from the finest cloth in the universe, just like the man standing before her.

For the first time Chakotay's smile reached his eyes. He looked at peace, she thought.

"Captain Janeway," she heard the voice of Tom Paris, whom she'd traced to a tavern in Marseilles, "we have to hurry. Security has been alerted…"

She gave him a solemn nod. This Tom Paris had flunked life, yet here he was, willing to die for a cause not his own, because in true Dickensian style, it would be a far better thing he'd be doing than he had ever done. That was the resolve she'd seen in his eyes, his whole bearing. She'd told him that the way she knew his father, Admiral Paris was ready to forgive his son.

She turned her gaze on Chakotay, so familiar that she experienced that ache again.

"Chakotay…she will return to you…"

"Kathryn," he began, pulling her closer to him, his hands gripping her shoulders, his eyes filled with peace, "please tell your Commander Chakotay he is a very lucky man…"

She threw herself against him and hugged him fiercely. When she stood back, her eyes swam with tears.

"I will tell him how lucky I am. Now more than ever, he needs to know how I feel…"

END CH 1

TBC