The captain used her beaming thing to bring Jothee right over, and Z took off a second later, racing for an asteroid cloud.
"She needs exercise," Jothee said. "Doesn't get too many opportunities to run like that when she has crew on her."
"I'm still trying to wrap my head around your ship being sentient and alive," Captain Janeway said.
We had gone back into that conference room place with some of the senior officers, and we were getting Jothee all caught up. He kept looking at Mom and shaking his head.
"How far along, Aeryn?"
"It's been three solar days. Jothee, I…we didn't know, that I was…and then…"
He squinted. "Are you okay? Really? Aer, it's…"
"I'm fine," she said. "Jothee, I…"
"Yeah. You know, he'll just be glad you're okay, that the baby is…"
"I hope that when he gets here, it won't quite BE a baby yet. Jothee, tell me honestly, can he get here in time?"
"Well, I don't have any more experience with this than you do, Aeryn. But…if I saw a scan, I might be able to guess…"
"Sickbay," Mom commanded. "Now."
"I'll come with you," Captain Janeway said. "When we're finished there, I have something you'll want to see."
Jothee stared at the scan for a long time.
"Well?" Mom said.
"It seems quicker than last time, doesn't it? But the baby isn't pure Sebacean, so that might be…"
"How soon, Jothee?"
Jothee turned off the monitor. "Two days. Maybe."
"I'd like to promise. But…"
She shook her head. "Maybe. That's all you can tell me? Was Z able to contain her excitement long enough to reach Moya before she took off on her run?"
"Aeryn! You know that Z is completely devoted to me, and to you, and to D and John!"
"Um hmm. Look, Jothee, I've been through hezmana here, and I'm, as you say, 'maybe' two days away from giving birth to a child who until three days ago I didn't even know existed. I've endured a wormhole trip, twice. I've ruined a transport pod, suffered numerous injuries, heat delirium, a virus, hormones….you'll have to forgive me if I seem a tiny bit impatient at the thought that John's arrival rests in the hands of an excitable toddler Leviathan."
Jothee winced. "Okay. Point taken. I'll make sure I comm Z again."
"Right. Now, as to the rest of the preparations?"
"That's my cue," said Captain Janeway. "If you'll follow me? I have something to show you…"
She led Mom and Jothee and me to the holodeck, and when we were inside, she said "Computer. Run program."
We found ourselves on what appeared to be the command deck of a ship that looked sort of like Voyager. It was smaller, a little less sleek and pretty. But it had the same colours, the same lines. It was clearly part of the fleet. And on its viewscreen where half a dozen very large cube-like ships.
"Aeryn, D'Argo, Jothee…welcome to Wolf 359," the captain said.
Jothee frowned. "What's this?"
"Aeryn wanted some distractions, to take her mind off things during the birth," the captain explained.
"And a space battle is how she's gonna…?"
"Not just any space battle," the captain said. "Wolf 359 was one of the bloodiest and most terrifying conflicts the Federation ever engaged in. All the demons of our past---Romulans, Klingons, Cardassians---they were nothing compared to the Borg. Hundreds of ships were lost. Thousands of lives…"
Mom, for the first time, looked nervous. "Were you…were you triumphant in the battle?"
"At great cost. But yes. We were triumphant. Picture it, Aeryn. Your ship has been called by the fleet to join the armada that's been slowly but surely assembling at Wolf 359 over the last few days. You've never seen a Borg before, only heard stories, read reports. You don't quite believe them---reports of whole planets being sucked into giant cube-like ships, of people being turned into monsters covered in metal, their individuality subsumed into the massive Borg collective. You've heard that Captain Picard of the Enterprise was captured and only narrowly escaped death after a heroic rescue by his crew. You've heard that forces on both sides have been gathering to mount a decisive, heroic defense---of Earth. Your ship may be all that stands between these monsters, and everyone you hold dear."
"Wow," Jothee whispered.
"It seems like any other battle at first," the captain continued. "You join up with the fleet, and your crew is ready. They've trained for battle, and they will give their lives to defend Earth. And then….during the night rotation, skeleton crew in charge, you hear sirens. You man your battle stations, trade shots. They take out your forward thrusters, but your shields hold. You get in some hits of your own. But then…"
"Yes?" Mom prompted. "Then?"
"Then…your ship gets boarded, your beautiful ship gets boarded, and pandemonium ensues. You gather as many people as you can and crack open the weapons locker. You're going to get those bastards, Aeryn. You're going to take back your ship."
"Oh yes," said Mom. "I would certainly say so. This will do quite nicely, Captain. Where will we take our stand?
Z came back just before dinner, and was in quite an excitable state. She had been fixating about the transporter ever since she started her run. When they had beamed Jothee off, it had tickled in such a pleasing way. She was hoping the strange new ship would tickle her again like that.
Of course, the Voyager people, who had never seen a living ship before, were quite happy to go over and have a look. Z was delighted to have visitors, and I went over with Naomi to help Z get ready.
The lights flickered off, then on again.
"What's that?" Naomi asked. "Is she all right?"
"She's happy to see me, but she's sorry Mom didn't come too. It's okay, Z, Mom's fine. Just that the doctor didn't think she should be transporting and stuff in her condition. But I brought Naomi. You'll like her."
To Naomi, I explained "Z's sort of like us, a mix. The PK's did something to Moya, and she can't have pure Leviathan babies. Z's special. Dad calls her a 'test tube baby.' There was a diagnosan the Eidelons found who helped Moya have her."
Naomi pressed her hand against the hull. "She feels alive, D'Argo. It's like something's moving inside…"
"Something is," I said. "Drd's. They're these little robot things that Z makes to help her run things. No Pilot on Z, though. That's one PK thing we kept. She only needs a captain, and she has Jothee for that."
"So he…he lives on her? In…inside her? Inside a living thing?"
"Well, so do I, you know. But Z doesn't have much of a crew yet. She's too little, she can't always control herself, she starts spinning when she gets too excited. Jothee handles her okay, but so far we've only let Z have cargo."
Naomi touched a finger to the wall again. "Well, I think she's beautiful."
Z put up stars on her viewscreen and flickered them in happy blinks. Like any other little kid, there was nothing she loved more than being told how pretty she was.
When I left Z later, Naomi had been on a ride, the captain had been on a tour, and B'Elanna was still holed up in the command, looking Z over. Z was chirping and blinking her lights, delighted with the attention.
Mom was waiting up for me when I got back to Voyager.
"Well?" she said.
"WELL, did Z reach Moya? Is your father on the way?"
Oops. I hadn't asked that.
"Dad's coming, Mom. I'm sure he is. Are you…are you feeling all right?"
"Technically, yes. But D, I…I can't…"
She looked so unhappy, I didn't know what to do. She pushed my hand away when I tried getting near.
"I can't sit still, D. I just keep thinking what if he doesn't get here?"
"I'll talk to Z again," I said. "I'll tell her…"
"No…just…frell. I can't sit still."
She tousled my hair. "Sweet boy. I'm sorry, D. I won't be very good company tonight. Do me a favour?"
"If Jothee hears any news from Z, tell him I'll be in the holodeck."
She told me she would try. I wished I was back on Moya again. At least on Moya, I could have sent a drd to keep an eye on her.
I was shaken awake partway through the sleeping cycle with a frantic whisper from Mom. "D'Argo! D, wake up!"
I rubbed my eyes and tried to look for her in the dark. "Mom? Are you…"
"Baby," she hissed through gritted teeth. "Frell it all…"
I sat straight up. "Will it wait?"
She bit back a shriek and gripped my hand. "It…would appear no…"
I knew what to do. I told the computer to put on lights, left Mom on my sleeping pad for safekeeping, and commed the doctor. Then I went to get Samantha. Turned out she was already awake.
"I heard your mom," she said. "Is it time, D'Argo?"
"Looks like. She's real scared, Samantha. She's not saying it, but she is."
"Second time is worse, they tell me," Samantha said. "You know what's coming. Wildman to Captain Janeway."
The captain didn't even sound like we'd woken her. "Yes, Ensign?"
"Wonderful. I'll find Jothee and meet you at holodeck two."
We went to get Mom, and I was proud of her. She was trying to keep it together, but I knew she was scared. We had to get her to the holodeck right away. I grabbed my blanket to bring with us, and we helped Mom up. Naomi was watching us.
"Can I come too?"
"No," said Samantha.
"But it's only a…"
"A full-on re-enactment of Wolf 359! Absolutely not!"
"But D'Argo gets to."
"Well, yes. But his mother is…well, she's…"
"She's Aeryn," Naomi said.
"And she's also going to strangle something with her bare hands if she doesn't get them on a pulse rifle soon," Mom interrupted, rubbing a hand into her side. "Let her come if she wants to, Samantha. Let's just go!"
The captain was in casual clothes, and full of smiles when we got there. "I'm really looking forward to this," she told Samantha as we got ourselves organized. "A hearty battle sim, a blessed event…nice to have a little action, isn't it?"
Samantha nodded. "Just program the Borg to not actually shoot at the children?"
Mom grabbed Jothee's sleeve. "And where do you think you're going?"
"Giant space fight? Helping my oldest, dearest friend hold off the hoards of bad guys?"
"Absolutely not. You get Z. You find John. And you bring him back here, before we're done. Understand?"
"Do you need a co-pilot? Perhaps Naomi would like another ride on Z," Samantha said. She was still trying to keep Naomi out of the Borg fight.
Naomi squealed in delight and ran off with Jothee. Mom was propped up against the corridor wall, doubled over.
The captain tipped up her head and met her eyes. "Aeryn."
"I've just received word that the Borg have penetrated our defenses. The ship has been boarded."
We stepped onto the holodeck, onto a bridge that was frelled. Wires poked out of everything, just like they had on our transport pod. The air stank of blood and guts and weapons. I could feel Mom's strength returning.
"Status?" she asked.
The captain checked a nearby display. "Heavy casualties on all tiers and multiple reports of phaser fire. We've been boarded, Officer."
"Making their way to main engineering."
"Divert them to sickbay," Samantha said. "Let's go…"
We moved through the ship like it was real, passing bodies and dead people, moving through empty corridors, shooting at shadows and picking up a few survivors. Some of them looked familiar.
"Is that Harry Kim?" I asked Samantha. The captain was helping a bloodied crewman to his feet, and I was sure I recognized him.
She nodded. "Some of the crew wanted to play along. It's been awhile since we've had a training exercise of this scale. And a few of them were actually at Wolf 359. I think they want to win this time."
It took nearly an arn to get to the sickbay, what with the corridor skirmishes and all that. Mom was a trouper, and got real into the sim. When we did reach the sickbay, the doctor was waiting for us, along with half a dozen 'survivors' who all looked like Voyager people, Paris, and Chakotay, and a few others. They had moved from a sort of reception office into the main area, and were blocking off a section with boxes of supplies.
"How many are we?" Mom asked.
"Ten, not counting D'Argo" said the captain.
"And how many are they?"
"At least forty."
"Just the one outer door," Chakotay said. "But two ways into this room from there, and they may try and come through the maintenance vents. We're trying to block off a section."
"Yes, I see that. Station two by each door, one by each vent…"
"Breach!" Paris called. "They're coming in!"
Mom doubled over. "Weapon!" she gasped. "Now!" Then she grabbed my arm. "Stay low. Stay hidden. Don't panic."
"Frell! This hurts…"
I ducked under the exam table and reached a hand up to massage her back. I felt her relax a little. I stayed low and watched the invaders come in.
They looked tall to me. Bits of metal glowed on them, and they had weapons coming out of attachments on their bodies. Mom grunted, then shot.
"Easy now," the doctor said.
"They've adapted to our phaser frequency," the captain reported.
Mom tweaked a few settings on her gun and shot again. She had obviously been practicing. She moved to shoot again, then gasped and lowered her weapon.
There was Dad, standing in the middle of the battle zone, with Jothee and Naomi. He looked around him, at the Borg, at Mom, at me. Then he walked up to Mom, smiled lovingly, and took her hand.
"What the FRELL is going on here?"
Captain Janeway pulled me out from my hiding spot. "I think," she said. "That this would be a very good time to say 'computer, pause program.'"
Captain Janeway got us out. Before we were even aware of what was happening, the transporter snagged us and we opened our eyes back in sickbay.
Two arns later, my sister was born. Mom tried to shoo me away, but I wasn't having any of that. I held one hand and Dad held the other, and we got the baby born like a family.
Mom relaxed into Dad's arms, snuggling. "I knew you'd come," she said. Then she turned to the captain. "Well? Did we win?"
I didn't remember falling asleep, but I woke up in the sickbay bed, tucked in with Mom. Dad was beside me.
"Come walk with me."
I pushed carefully away from Mom and followed Dad out into the corridor. We walked together back to a room I was coming to recognize as the holodeck.
"I've got a surprise for you," he said. He was still whispering a little.
We went inside, and the Borg battle had all been cleaned up. Captain Janeway was sitting in the Garden Café, waiting for us.
"Had a long chat with the captain here," Dad said. "We cleared up a few things. And D, she told me how brave you were, how you launched the beacon, helped Mom, took care of things…"
"I was the co-pilot," I said.
"Yeah, you were. I'm so proud, D. You did good."
"Yeah." He cleared his throat. "D, I had the captain make some updates in their database, about…well, have a look."
Captain Janeway slid a data pad across the table, and I recognized it as the book she told me they used in the Federation schools. It was the story about the Farscape Project, and it explained it for real this time, how it had been this great experiment, how it had changed, well, not humanity maybe, not right away, but one guy's life at least. And it hadn't been a disaster, it had been important, and it had led to adventure and discovery just like John Crichton had planned---well, okay, maybe not JUST like he'd planned, but it had led to that all the same. And it had a happy ending after all.
Last but not least, the story also noted---for the official record---the special place of one D'Argo Sun-Crichton in history, as the first known child born to a union between a human and another species. First contact. It was a long line from there---B'Elanna, Naomi, people like that. But I was the first, and everyone would know it now. I was part of the story of Earth.
Mom was ready to go home after that, but there was one more thing we still had to take care of. Naomi and Samantha and the captain and the rest of them came over to Moya to help us officially name the baby. Dad had wrapped her in a new blanket and laid her so she could see the stars. We had Pilot on one clamshell, and Z on the other, and everyone standing there.
Mom said "I'm terrible at doing this sort of thing. But…well, you all deserve a thank you, for helping D'Argo and me, and for getting us home. We…we hope you find yours too, Captain Janeway."
"Well, the wormhole information D'Argo gave us should get us there at least a half dozen years sooner," Captain Janeway said. "That boy is amazing, Aeryn."
"That he is. He is named for a dear, lost friend, and he has done his namesake proud. I love you, D."
"Love you too, Mom," I said.
Now, Dad spoke. "We want his sister to have a name which means just as much---to us, to her, to our family. We want her to have a name she can be proud of. And that's why we've chosen…to name her after you, Captain."
Captain Janeway looked stunned. "I…I don't know what to say."
"I don't know if I'll ever get back to Earth," Dad said. "And I don't know if D'Argo or his sister will either. But they'll have this at least: even if I never see home again, you guys will. And when you do, you'll tell them how the Farscape Project really ended. You'll give my children their place in things. There are no words for that, Captain. There are just no words."
He put his hand on my sister's face and gently coaxed open her eyes. "We name you Kathryn Sun-Crichton. Welcome to the world, little girl."
So, there was a party after that. Food and everything. Then everyone got back to where they were supposed to be. But that's pretty much the story, right there, about how my sister Kate was born and how I helped that happen.
Thank you so much for reading! I enjoyed reading all of your comments. This was such a fun fic to write!