Disclaimer: Star Trek: Voyager and all it entails belong to Paramount and whoever else legally owns them. I am making no money from this. I'm just making happier fans.
AN: Thanks to VAMB's personal plot generator (aka audabee) for the idea on this one, although I did alter it a bit and then add a lot beyond the basic idea. Once I started thinking about it I just had to write it, lol. Because there are various ways to try and get Kathryn to let go of her guilt over stranding everyone in the DQ, but this was a new one. Another fic, much like my latest one, that has a bit more of an episode feel, although not as much adventure.
Set in the middle or so of S7, post-Shattered but pre-Workforce.
"I would find myself getting deeply distressed if I lived in hindsight all the time." -Andrew Lincoln
By Lady Callista
"But life inevitably throws us curve balls, unexpected circumstances that remind us to expect the unexpected. I've come to understand these curve balls are the beautiful unfolding of both karma and current." -Carre Otis
Chapter 1: Unexpected
It was so cute to see the woman who could normally do just about anything arguing with her replicator after it burned their dinner yet again.
Chakotay couldn't help chuckling at the first thought that popped into his head as he walked into Kathryn's quarters to find an unfortunately familiar scene.
A bowl that seemed to be filled with plasma sludge sat on the replicator pad, still smoking slightly. The replicator's guts were spilled out over the floor, and where they should have been was the head and shoulders of a woman who was swearing softly in what he was fairly certain was Klingon.
"What did you call it this time?" He knew she wouldn't appreciate the humor in his voice, but couldn't hide it.
"It's not funny, mister." Kathryn extracted herself from the replicator, turning a mock glare on him as he settled onto the floor beside her.
"After the tenth time it kind-of is." He couldn't wipe the smile from his face. "You should just get B'Elanna to replace the whole unit. Replicators really aren't supposed to do that."
Kathryn only chuckled with him before grabbing a hydrospanner and ducking back into the open panel. "I know they're not, but at this point it's personal. And I think I've got it this time."
"That's what you said every other time." Chakotay said with a shake of his head. "Why don't we just head to the mess hall?"
"Because I overheard Tom and Harry arguing over whether adding Leola root to whatever Neelix was serving might actually improve it."
"Leola doesn't improve anything." Chakotay replied, handing her a plasma relay when she asked for one.
"Which means whatever Neelix has cooked up is even worse than normal." Kathryn replied, jerking herself out of the panel just as sparks began to shoot out of it.
"Kathryn…" Chakotay reached up, making sure the bowl of sludge wasn't hot before picking it up, unsure whether he was fascinated or terrified when tipping it upside down didn't cause the substance to fall out. "It can't be worse than this."
"With Neelix you never know." Kathryn offered with a chuckle, which turned into a full out laugh when gravity finally overcame the viscosityof whatever was in the bowl and had it plopping onto the floor between them.
Chakotay felt his heart lighten at her laugh, and wished that he could hear it more often. Her genuine laughter had been all too sporadic these past few years. He suppressed the thought of how beautiful she looked when she was happy with the ease of long practice.
Through the laughter, which only grew when he joined in, she managed to add, "Besides, I don't want to be in the mess hall. It's so much better being alone with you."
The laugh died in Chakotay's throat and his eyes widened at the secondary way her words could be taken, and he quickly looked away before she could see the heat in his eyes as an image of what they could be doing popped into his head before he could stop it.
Her laughter died as well as she realized what she had just said, and she said his name softly. "Chakotay…"
"Kathryn, I…" He was still looking at the ground.
She reached out to place her hand on his knee. "That's just it. It's only when I'm alone with you that I get to be Kathryn."
Chakotay placed his hand lightly over hers. "You're always Kathryn."
She smiled, but it was almost sad.
Before she could respond to the question she saw in his eyes the computer beeped and Tuvok's flat voice filled the room. "All senior officers report to the bridge."
They both rose immediately, snapping into duty-mode. Kathryn was slapping her combadge even as they headed for the door. "Janeway to Bridge, report!"
"Captain, our sensors have detected traces of neosorium on a planet in the next system."
Kathryn froze for an instant a few steps out of her quarters and turned to look at Chakotay with wide eyes. "Neosorium?" She clarified.
"That is correct, Captain." Tuvok replied, no hint of the excitement Kathryn felt coursing through her in his voice.
"We're on our way." She responded as she and her first officer quickened their pace to the bridge.
Neosorium could mean only one thing. Federation technology.
"The scans are conflicting, Captain." Harry reported twenty minutes later when the senior officers had assembled in the briefing room. "All of our readings on the planet show it supports a pre-industrial humanoid species, yet we're also getting localized readings of neosorium, quaratum, titanium, and other advanced compounds."
"A ship could have landed there." Tom piped up.
"Or crashed." Kathryn added. "The question is, where did that ship come from?"
"There is no indication of wormhole activity in the area." Seven replied.
"B'Elanna, how soon can we head over to investigate?" Chakotay turned towards the chief engineer, who was busily tapping into a PADD.
"I'm assigning extra personnel to the mining operations, we should be able to have all the deuterium we can carry stored in about six more hours." B'Elanna responded as she continued to reorganize personnel.
"I could take a shuttle." Tom offered at once. "For all we know it's the decayed remains of a two-hundred-year old ship that got sucked through a wormhole and wouldn't be of any use to us."
"Captain, at maximum warp a shuttle would arrive at the planet only two hours and nineteen minutes ahead of Voyager." Tuvok interjected. "I do not believe it is worth the risk."
"Risk?" Tom said cockily as he spun to face the Vulcan. "It's just in the next system over."
"I have compiled the statistics of successful versus unsuccessful shuttle missions you have been on, Mr. Paris." Tuvok raised an eyebrow. "Would you like the numbers?"
B'Elanna choked back a laugh, and even Harry couldn't help the small smile that rose to his face. Chakotay suddenly got very interested in a PADD he was holding, not wanting to enter into this conversation. Seven only watched with interest, likely calculating the statistics in her head.
Tom's cheeks heated, more from indignation than embarrassment, and he was about to reply when the captain held up a hand.
"We'll just wait until we can take Voyager." She decided. "Although we've never run across another organization that uses neosorium, it is possible other species have developed it. I want Voyager's firepower just in case it's not a Federation ship, and it's hostile."
"A wise precaution, Captain." Tuvok nodded his agreement.
"Continue to get what scans we can from here." Kathryn ordered Harry as she rose. "We'll leave orbit the minute we have all the deuterium on board. Dismissed."
"It's definitely Federation, Captain." Harry reported the next day as they orbited the planet the readings were coming from. "And it definitely crashed, scans of the remaining fragments show roughly eight to ten years ago. The computer can't tell what type of ship it was."
"Can you isolate any biosigns other than the natives?" Chakotay questioned as he caught Kathryn's eye. He wasn't sure if he wanted there to be survivors or not; it would be disheartening to think about everyone on the ship having died, but somehow it was worse to imagine them marooned here, without even the chance Voyager had to get home.
"About sixty lifesigns, all within ten square kilometers on a remote plain of the smallest continent. No native presence at all on that continent." Harry replied after a moment of tapping buttons. "I've got humans, Bajorans, a Vulcan…"
"Try hailing them, maybe they still have a comm unit working." Kathryn cut him off with a note of excitement rising in her voice. This could lead to a way home, depending on how they had gotten there, and even if it didn't it could supply them with badly needed personnel to replace those who had been lost over the years, although she wasn't sure how they would fit sixty more people on the ship. And, the crux of the matter in her mind, sixty people who had thought they could never return home would at least have a chance at it.
"Hailing on all Federation frequencies." Harry responded.
"This is Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager. Do you read me?"
After nearly a minute passed with no response to the repeating hail, Kathryn ordered the channel closed. "We're going to have to go down there."
Chakotay nodded, letting his head turn towards the helm. "Paris, with me. I'll take a security officer just in case, but I think we should keep the team small until we know what we're dealing with."
"Agreed." Kathryn said as him and Tom headed for the turbolift, none of her disappointment showing in her voice. She really wanted to be the one to contact these people, but even knowing no natives were around, and that they were dealing with Federation survivors, she knew that Tuvok and Chakotay would protest her wanting to beam down before they were certain the situation was safe. And it wasn't worth the argument; she would get to meet these people soon enough.
"Put us down about half a kilometer outside what seems to be the main village center." Chakotay instructed the transporter operator as him and Tom waited for Mike Ayala to join them in the transporter room.
Tom entered his authorization into the storage locker while they waited, pulling out belts, and the phasers and tricorders that went with them. "I wonder what we're going to find down there."
"There've been five starships lost over the hundred years since the Federation started using neosorium that I can think of - just because it crashed in the past eight to ten years doesn't mean it wasn't lost from the Alpha Quadrant earlier than that." Chakotay commented absently as he strapped on the belt, automatically checking that the phaser was on stun before attaching it to the belt. "And it may not have been a starship, plenty of Federation freighters and other small ships use neosorium as well."
Mike's arrival stopped whatever reply Tom would have made, and the three men stepped up onto the transporter pad after the security officer had suited up.
They moved in the direction of the settlement once they had materialized, speculating quietly on what they were going to find. They didn't have their tricorders or phasers out, and so were surprised when two running children suddenly stumbled across their path.
The children took one look at their uniforms and froze, fear crossing their faces.
Chakotay held a hand up soothingly, wondering why the boys were afraid of them. "I'm Commander Chakotay of…"
"Starfleet." The older of the boys hissed, before grabbing the other child and bolting in the direction they had come from as fast as their short legs could carry them.
The three officers looked at each other in confusion.
"So it wasn't a Starfleet ship?" Tom asked the obvious question after a moment, pulling out his tricorder to make certain they weren't surprised again.
Chakotay shrugged, pulling out his tricorder as well. "We're almost to the village, I guess we'll see. But stay alert." He called up to Voyager briefly, informing them about the latest development, and with the captain's urge for caution still ringing in their ears the men set off for the village again, although more warily this time.
The boys had obviously spread the word; a crowd was gathered at the edge of the village by the time they drew into sight of it, and although Chakotay didn't see any weapons this was definitely not a group of people happy to see them.
"Something's not right here. All the species I see are Federation, as was the ship, but…" He said softly to the two men at his side. Moving slowly, he removed his phaser from his belt and handed it to Mike. "Stay back here, order a beam-out if anything goes wrong."
"Commander…" Tom started to protest at once, but Chakotay cut him off.
"They seem more afraid than angry." Chakotay said softly even as he started to move forward, his hands loose and open at his sides. "Just stay on your toes."
He was within five meters of the group of people when a woman of average height, her long brown hair catching in the wind, moved into view. The group parted for her, and Chakotay froze in shock as his eyes ran over her features rapidly before meeting green eyes that instantly took him eight years back in time.
"I never thought I'd see you again." Her voice was as melodious as he remembered, with the same teasing lilt in it, and the smile on her face only intensified his memories. Before he could find his voice she spoke again. "Although I never thought you'd be back in that uniform either."
"Christine…" His voice was barely a whisper, and before he could say more she was charging towards him.
Watching from a good fifty meters out, Tom and Mike raised their phasers as a woman charged towards Chakotay, spreading out slightly and starting to run forward. Yet before either could get a good shot the woman had thrown her arms around Chakotay, who grabbed her in return, picking her up and spinning her around in a joyous circle.
They paused for an instant to exchange puzzled glances, then continued moving forward, although they did lower their phasers. Then it was Mike's turn to stare in shock at the group of people assembled before them. He only knew about four or five of them, but it was enough.
"What is it?" Tom asked in frustration as Mike stopped, paling slightly before whispering something too softly for Tom to pick up. "Ayala!"
Mike managed to get his voice working loudly enough to say two words to Tom before he charged towards the group, catching one of the Bajoran men in a back-slapping bear hug.
Eyes wide, Tom tried to process things even as he tapped his communicator automatically. "Paris to Voyager."
"Tom?" Janeway's voice conveyed concern, and he realized belatedly that it was probably caused by the fact that it wasn't her first officer reporting in.
"We're all fine down here, Captain." He hastened to reassure her as he watched Chakotay set the woman back on her feet. "But I know why they weren't happy to see Starfleet uniforms. I think you better get down here."
Tom's eyes widened and his mouth dropped open as the dark-haired woman hitched herself up, legs wrapping around Chakotay's waist as she kissed him hard on the mouth.
Tom felt like the bottom had dropped out of his world, and he cursed lady luck as he wondered if he could delay her beaming down without making her suspicious.
He responded to that voice as he had been trained to do, repeating the two words Ayala had said to him with trepidation filling him. "They're Maquis."
AN2: Credit for the opening line goes to OpheliaImmortal, who gave it to me as a prompt for one of my 25 Moments. But it ended up not getting used, was too funny to just throw out, and made for a cute opening.
And you all know me by now, this fic will be J/C, but you've gotta give it time. So please don't freak out about how the first chapter ends
Hope everyone enjoyed this new story, more will be out soon. (I'm over half done with it after an amazing writing session these past two days - I love when it flows like that. Just needs to be edited and such, so expect a new part every few days)