The woman standing on the rocky, burnt-orange surface of the planet looked like Samantha Wildman. Not only that, she thought like Samantha Wildman, had all of her memories of growing up on Earth, entering Starfleet, meeting the Ktarian who would become her husband, being stranded in the Delta Quadrant along with the rest of the crew of the starship Voyager...the very same starship Voyager she now watched lifting off from the planet's burnt-orange surface and disappearing into the burnt-orange sky. The real Samantha Wildman was on that vessel; she was just a copy, a duplicate created by the substance nicknamed 'silver blood', just like all the other people with her right now. Just like the little human/Ktarian girl holding her hand, who looked exactly like the real Samantha's daughter, Naomi, who looked up at her mother now and smiled. Samantha smiled back with all of the love the real Samantha had for the real Naomi.
Soon they, and all other copies, forgot what they were truly were. Soon they had a starship Voyager of their own; soon they could leave the world of their birth and travel among the stars, adapted to life on other worlds. Months went by; then came the new warp engine, which brought the sickness and death that reminded them they were ultimately a lie.
TEN MONTHS LATER
Captain Kathryn Janeway was dead. Commander Chakotay was dead. The Doctor was dead. Most ofthe crew were gone now, reduced to lifeless, metallic liquid...even the ship itself was dying, its substance melting as it continued through space. Samantha and Naomi's were gone, no longer habitable, so mother and daughter lay side by side on makeshift beds in the mess hall. Melting, everything dissolving; Naomi wept as she felt it happening to her. The Flotter doll she had held for comfort was just a puddle now. Straining her eyes, she looked across the room and saw Neelix staggering as he tended to the rest of the dying crew gathered in this chamber. Neelix, who had chased away her monsters, made her feel safe. This was one monster the kindly Talaxian could not even now, with everything literally crumbling around them, he smiled as he passed her.
"Naomi..," Her mother's voice was a weak croak. Turning to the side with effort, the girl saw Samantha looking at her, her arm outstretched. Groaning, Naomi reached her arm out and touched Samantha's hand for what they both knew would be the last time.
"It's okay, Mom," Naomi groaned. "The other us...the real us from before the silver blood...They're still out there somewhere. They'll get home one day...and Naomi...the real Naomi...will see Daddy..." Even as she spoke, they both felt their bodies breaking down into the inert matter they had only recently arisen from, their minds falling into the void.
"Morning, Mom," Naomi announced cheerfully as she bounced into the Wildman's living quarters, holding her Flotter doll.
Samantha had just gotten her morning cup of Izarian coffee from the replicator when Naomi entered. "Good morning, princess," she said with a beaming smile.
Sitting down at the breakfast table, Naomi asked "What happened with that distress call we picked up the other day?"
Samantha looked sad. "I'm afraid we reached them too late, Naomi. By the time we got there, there was nothing left...just little pieces floating in space. We won't even ever know who they were now."
For a moment both were silent. Then Naomi spoke: "Mom, last night I had a dream...about the silver blood on that demon planet, remember? We touched it, and...it became us?"
Samantha had not drunk her coffee as she answered "Funnily enough, I dreamt of them too...I don't know why."
"I wonder how that other me and you are doing right now," Naomi said. "Do you think we'll ever see them again?"
"I doubt it," Samantha responded. "They're back on that planet, far away now." She smiled at her daughter. "But don't worry, I'm sure they're all doing just fine."