Title: The Front Lines
Disclaimer: You can have them back, dammit.
Summary: Well, now. There's no snugglebunnies in this one, folks. It's a little grim, but I just had to write this little thing. It wouldn't leave me alone. It's a Chakotay POV piece (with lots of Janeway worship). I love Chuckles.
The Front Lines
In the dying candle's gleam
In the sundown of a dream--
Camelot, the musical
They call her crazy.
I hear the whispers in the mess hall and in the corridors, the first stirrings of mutiny, unwelcome and overdue after ten long years of travel. They speak of her obsession and inflexibility, yet know nothing of her dedication or her heart. Soon only we eight, with a few of the faithful, will stand with Kathryn Janeway…and stand with her we will.
Voyager hums with discontent, and the restlessness is taking root in Kathryn's very being. She spends less time in the chair beside mine, choosing to pace, ever a step ahead of the encroaching shadows. She pauses before the viewscreen, standing straight, peering out into the freckled darkness. In the proud set of her shoulders, I see the strength that brought her ancestors across the ocean to a land of sunbaked hardship. She is the daughter of all those brave women who faced dangerous frontiers and sprinkled the trail with lifeblood in return for passage. There is more steel in her than in ten Borg drones.
What are you looking for, Kathryn? Where are you going to?
She's no more insane than I. She's had her wild moments, but they've been fewer than one would expect in a life like hers. If we are swept away in the struggle to come, no one will ever know the devastating truth: that everything was lost in spite of Kathryn's violent struggle to extend our days. They will say she failed, but that doesn't matter. History isn't printed or bound, it's branded into the hearts of those who lived it. We, who fought on the front lines with her, will carry the truth with us when we go, to where I can't say.
All is not lost yet. If this journey has taught me anything, it is the absolute necessity of hope. This tenacious group has stared down hostile creatures more terrifying than anything found in the folklore of my people. We've survived assimilation, disease and warfare, scraping by on tenacity, luck, and pure boldness of spirit, the intoxicating combination I sensed in her from the beginning. I didn't choose Kathryn--we were hurled together by fate, the dying caretaker, and a dream of glory--but ever since, she's been my Captain, my best friend, and my bright star. Earth holds little allure for me. My own land is decimated. My father's body is ash on the wind. Starfleet has brought me misery in the past, yet…
I choose to follow her.
She adopts everyone; it is her gift and her burden. Planting pips on dropouts and traitors, naming us explorers, her eyes seemed to say Come with me…I choose you. There's no protocol for a voyage like this, no Starfleet manual that tells a Captain how to spend years with one crew and maintain some distance. When we hurt, she does too, carrying a lot of the burden for us, never able to lay it down to sleep. When someone dies, she shoulders the guilt for all of her days. And there have been losses…by now Kes's bones likely lie bleaching in some vast desert, far from her own kind.
Acoochemoya, see her through one more time
Kathryn has a pure strength, unadorned with bravado. A glare and a few simple words, served chilled, have gotten the job done on more than one occasion, carrying more power than a photon torpedo as they drop from her lips. We are drawn to her strength, and cling to it in the worst of times, weighing her down. I am her burden, too. She and I passed the point of friendship long ago, yet can go farther than the waystation just beyond. I'll love her always. I know it, she knows it, I'm sure Tom Paris knows it…which means everyone knows it.
Live long and prosper.I wonder how many times I've heard Tuvok say those words! Long ago, I accepted that neither would likely come to pass. I think we all knew it when we hitched our wagons to Kathryn Janeway's star. She was the catalyst, drawing us onto this wild ride. But for her, we'd all be in different places, making little difference in the world. And Kathryn? I think she was meant to come here. It was in the stars from the first moment she laid eyes on them, shimmering over the Heartland. Where we go next, I don't know. If we don't make it, I can't imagine us all heading down different trails to our respective afterlives. I suppose Kathryn will take the lead.
I choose to follow her.