Epilogue: Daughter of the Heart

"I'm not who I always thought I was! You stole my body! I'm nothing to you! We have nothing in common except we were both just garbage, scavenged out of space!" The girl angrily lashed out at the person she had always believed was her mother.

The daughter's response to her newfound knowledge was fierce, but not entirely unexpected. Jhet'leya sighed in recognition, recalling an adage she thought she'd long forgotten that had been passed on for centuries on a world located on the other side of the galaxy.

What goes around, comes around.

Angry, rebellious teenager; anguished parent; the same old story, repeated over and over, as a new generation pushes away the previous one in the struggle to discover their own place in society. Adolescence is never easy, but it is harder for some than others. For the Kobali, it was often excruciatingly difficult, simply because of who and what they were.

She resisted the urge to minimize her daughter's distress with a patronizing response, such as the one her father had used the first time she had confronted him: "Now, now, dear, it's nothing like you're imagining," would never do. Instead, Jhet'leya patted the couch as she sat down and urged her daughter, "Sit down next to me, Love. Let's talk about it."

"I can't talk about it! I'm too upset!" The daughter began to pace relentlessly from one end of the room to the other, almost bouncing from one wall or the other in agitation.

Jhet'leya waited as patiently as she could, hoping she had prepared herself well for what she was about to impart. It was not as if she hadn't known this day would come eventually. The bromides Jhet'leya's own father had fed her when she learned the truth had led to simmering resentment and an intense longing for escape. Jhet'leya ran away from Q'ret, from the life she had been leading, to go back to where she thought she had belonged. Sadly, she found out she didn't belong there anymore. Father had known best, although his method of communicating this knowledge to her could have been much more compassionate. It might have prevented her from exploding the way she did. Moreover, Jhet'leya hadn't had the excuse of being an adolescent when she discovered the truth. She had allegedly been fully grown and mature when it happened to her.

Eventually, the wild pacing diminished, and the girl thumped upon the seat next to her mother, saying, accusingly, "I suppose you're going to say it's always been this way and I shouldn't worry about it, right?"

"No, I'm not going to say that. As a matter of fact it hasn't always been this way. The Kobali once were able to reproduce without having to resort to advanced medical procedures. I still don't have a clear idea about why or even when that changed, but it did, many generations ago." Jhet'leya looked up at the ceiling, unable at this moment to look her daughter in the eye, before she plowed on. "As far as I know, our species is like no other. We procreate using the dead of other races, from what those other peoples believe are only the shells of bodies, to be cast off after death. We are alive because other lives have ended. It is always a shock to learn the Kobali facts of life."

Jhet'leya risked a glance at her offspring. The girl was trembling, as if she were about to break into sobs, but the sound that finally emerged was more of a growl. Jhet'leya had to force herself not to smile, since it clearly would be misconstrued by her daughter under the circumstances. Jhet'leya, however, was well aware of the source of that growl. She again counseled herself to be patient.

After pondering what her mother had said for several long minutes, the girl stated morosely, "So M'stera is right. We are scavengers of the dead."

"Oh, dearest, I wouldn't put it that way!" Jhet'leya hesitated. She had promised to be completely honest about this. "I guess, in the strictest sense, maybe we do 'scavenge the dead,' but it's so much more than that, really. The Kobali salvage lives that are unfinished, that were tragically ended well before their time."

"You make us sound so noble!"

"I have come to see it that way. I admit, I didn't always. Most of us don't learn about this until we are ready to understand and accept it, but a few have memory break-through. I was one of those, and I didn't take it very well. And every so often, one young person who learns the truth decides, for reasons of his or her own, to share the secret with someone younger than they are, who is not ready to accept it. And when that happens—well, you see what's happening here, and how you're feeling right now."

Jhet'leya paused. It was hard to know what else to say. The pause gave her a chance to realize an obvious fact which caused her to lash out indignantly, "And I'd like to know just how M'stera found out about this! She's younger than you are!"

"Her older brother told her. I think he was mad at her for borrowing something of his without his permission. She didn't tell me what it was, exactly . . . " From the way this last sentence trailed off, Jhet'leya was fairly certain her daughter knew exactly what had been borrowed, something which M'stera may well have broken, considering the clumsiness the girl so often displayed.

Jhet'leya recalled things which had occurred between her and her own brother, so many years ago. Apparently, brother and sister relationships weren't really all that different on either side of the galaxy, no matter how sets of siblings were procreated.

After another pause of some length, her daughter asked, "So, what's the story with me? How did you . . . 'find' this piece of garbage?"

"Honey, don't say that! The little child you used to be couldn't use her body any more, that's true, but you weren't garbage! I know how much your parents loved you. They were devastated when you were killed."

"How can you know that?" The young girl eyed her mother suspiciously, as if she were about to shift into an entirely different shape from the one she'd always known.

"I knew them. In fact, I knew them before you were born. We were part of the same starship crew once. Your mother was my boss, actually. But I died before her daughter was born."

"And so you just happened to find my body floating in space after you died?" By facial expression as well as by tone of voice, she was clearly incredulous.

"Well, no. Your father told me where I should look."

"How could he do that if you had already died?"

She hesitated. Her Kobali father Q'ret had entreated her never to tell her daughter about her former life. Now she was thankful she'd never actually made that promise, only that she'd try not to tell. As she looked into her daughter's face, Jhet'leya knew she had to reveal it.

"It's a long story. I'll tell you all about it some other time, when you're less upset. But the short of it is, I remembered who I had been before I became Kobali, my kyn'steya, and I, um, I borrowed a ship to go back to Voyager to try and pick up the pieces of my old life there. Your grandfather came after me and begged me to come back. When I finally realized it wasn't working out on Voyager, I did come back with him."

"Voyager was the name of the starship?"

"Yes. It had been brought here from the other side of the galaxy, and we were trying to get back home to the Alpha Quadrant. That's what they called the part of the galaxy they came from. They called this the Delta Quadrant. Anyway, as I was getting ready to leave the ship, your 'birth father,' as I guess I should call him, caught up with me in a corridor and gave me a couple of data chips. He said he and your mother had downloaded information about other crew members who had been buried in space, like we had been, so that the Kobali could salvage them if possible. What they really wanted me to do, though, was to go back for you. He asked me to become your mother, if we could reanimate you."

"He didn't mind?"

"Oh, Honey, I know he minded. Both of them loved you so much! During that short time I was back on Voyager, I learned just how badly they missed you! But they understood that you could no longer belong to them. If the Kobali could bring you back to life, it would have to be as a Kobali. Your parents loved you so much that they were willing to have me raise you, if only you could still have a life!"

The room was silent for a very long time, as her daughter contemplated this sacrifice by her first parents. Finally, the daughter murmured, "So, what species were they?"

"Your father was a human being, from a planet known as Earth, or Terra. Same as me, in fact. Your mother was half human, but she was also part Klingon. I forget what planet she was born on. I don't think it was the Klingon home world, but I might be wrong about that."

"They both were from the other side of the galaxy?"

"Yes, which is a very long way from here."

"Will I ever get to meet them?"

That was a tough one to answer, but she'd promised to be completely honest. "It's not very likely. I hope that Voyager got home years ago. I don't expect they'd want to come back if they did-and if they did return, I don't think they would know to visit us here."

The girl considered this for a moment before asking, "What were their names?"

"Your mother was called B'Elanna Torres, and your dad was Thomas Paris. They were such a handsome couple. And smart . . . your mother was the ship's Chief Engineer, and your father was the best ship's pilot I ever knew. I've often thought your brilliance in your scientific and mathematical subjects, as well as your flair for creative thinking, were inherited from the two of them. I wish you could remember them, but you were such a young baby when they lost you."

"Remember them? Do most of us remember our old lives? Our . . .what did you call it?"

"Kyn'steya. Most don't, not usually. But those of us created from humans always seem to spontaneously remember who we used to be. The memories don't stay buried, like they do with most Kobali. At least, we do if we were adults when we were created. I don't know about a very young child, like you were. I guess you may never remember them."

After another long pause in the conversation, the teenager said, "You know, sometimes I feel like I don't fit in with everyone else. I get so angry and hostile sometimes, and everyone tells me I shouldn't be that way. But I do! How can I stop myself if I feel that way? It's all so confusing. Do you think who I used to be, maybe, could be the reason?"

"Well, just between us, it could be, from your mother's Klingon side. Most of our DNA is now Kobali, but there's always some left within us from what we originally inherit from our birth parents. And I've always found Klingons to be very . . . vigorous. Especially your mother! Not that your human father wasn't pretty lively himself! Now that you know the truth, maybe I can help you more in understanding that when it happens. You know, now that I think about it, I shouldn't be too upset with M'stera or her brother. I wasn't looking forward to telling you about all of this. I knew there would be a big explosion when you finally found out! Really, you will understand some day. We all do. It's just that 'Some take more time than others.' " Jhet'leya smiled, cherishing a memory of her own, when she was finally ready to accept her father's telling her that.

"Did it take you a long time?"

"A very long time. But I did, finally. I think finding you, and having you for my daughter, helped me the most."

"Mama," the teenager said softly, using that name for the first time since storming inside their home. "What was my name? The one my parents used for me?"

"Linnis."

The teenager glanced up, startled. "You mean you gave me the name I'd always had?"

"Of course. After all, I knew your name. Why would I change it? It's a lovely name."

Linnis leaned towards her mother and opened her arms. Jhet'leya swept Linnis into her own, kissing the brow, subtly ridged beneath the beautifully patterned skin on her skull that exclaimed to all who met her that she bore a unique heritage. No amount of genetic Engineering had been able to remove those distinctive ridges, inherited from her birth mother. Jhet'leya rejoiced at that failure, for it reminded her time and time again of the parents who, forever parted from their cherished child, gave Jhet'leya the most precious gift she had ever received-in either of her lives.

Perhaps tomorrow, much sooner than she had expected, Jhet'leya would be able to show her daughter the holographic images the Doctor had included on the data chips Tom Paris had given the former Lyndsay Ballard. Linnis would finally learn the source of those ridges, and from whom those startlingly blue eyes had come. Not today, though. Linnis had already received far too much information to absorb easily, at such a tender age.

Now that she did know, however, perhaps it was time for Jhet'leya to plan a reunion of her former shipmates from Voyager who, like the two of them, had been found by the Kobali and had returned from the dead to live new lives. It might be fun—even if the party snacks wouldn't be at all like those Neelix had served them on Voyager.

Jhet'leya's musings were interrupted by a contrite, "Mama, I'm sorry I blew up at you."

She chuckled. "Like I said-I always expected it."

Linnis hugged her mother back. Her very own mother. It would be a while before Linnis could completely digest everything she'd just learned, but she'd already heard enough to realize she had something else she needed to say.

"Mama, thank you. For going back for me."

It was the sweetest thing anyone had ever said to her. Jhet'leya would remember it, and how wonderful it made her feel, for the rest of her days.

The End


Author's Notes and Acknowledgements

This story could never have been written if Paramount Studios and Viacom had not permitted Michael Piller, Rick Berman, and Jeri Taylor to create Star Trek: Voyager, which was brilliantly conceived and executed in the series pilot, "Caretaker." More fanfic seems to have been set in the Star Trek: Voyager universe than in any other of the recent Star Trek series, with the exception, of course, is the original series, which has been around for close to five decades. While the timing of Star Trek: Voyager may have contributed to this, beginning as it did when the technology of computing and the Internet were becoming more generally available and user-friendly, I firmly believe that the strength of the characters and love they engendered in so many viewers has much to do with the creative outpouring of so many fans.

Piller, Berman, and Taylor, in turn, could not have created Star Trek: Voyager without the "original" Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry. Transporters, photon torpedoes, warp drive—if the producers and writers of the original series did not actually create all of these concepts, they certainly popularized them. I can make no claim to ownership of any elements or characters copyrighted by these entities. I can "copyright" only those elements of these stories that have not originated with them. I can say only a very humble thanks to all of these creative talents for providing me with the tools to create this take on their creation.

Notes on the individual stories in this collection:

"Honeymoon": This story is set on the holodeck and serves as a bridge between the "Vows," the fourth and final section of the first "Warmth," and this volume. During the course of the story, reference is made to the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Day of Honor," written by Jeri Taylor.

"Nanny": Without the creation of the Emergency Medical Hologram, particularly as presented in the episode "Real Life," with a screenplay by Jeri Taylor from a story by Harry Doc Kloor, this story could not exist. During the conversation between Kim and Seven in the Resort program, there are a few references to the episode "Revulsion," written by Lisa Klink. The Jane Eyre-like governess program originally appeared in "Cathexis," teleplay by Brannon Braga from a story by Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky. Should Nanny remind anyone of a former talk show host with a Long Island accent who loved Kate Mulgrew from her Ryan's Hope days, don't be surprised. That's who I pictured while I wrote this.

"One Corner of My Heart": Ro Laren, portrayed by Michelle Forbes, was a recurring character on the Star Trek: The Next Generation. She first appeared in "Ensign Ro," with a teleplay by T. Michael Piller from a story by Rick Berman and Michael Piller. She last appeared in the penultimate episode "Preemptive Strike," teleplay by Rene Echevarria from a story by Naren Shankar. "One Corner of My Heart" summarizes and embellishes my previous fanfic "The Mercenary," in which the relationship I invented for Tom Paris and Ro Laren is related, and I explained why Tom and B'Elanna never seemed to have met while both were in the Maquis, yet Chakotay did know him. A version of that story can be found on the Wayback Machine's "Meandering with Jamelia" website (see my Profile for web address). Chakotay's letter from Sveta was first mentioned in the episode "Hunters," written by Jeri Taylor.

"Deliverance": In the actual Star Trek: Voyager series finale "Endgame," B'Elanna gave birth to her first child in Sickbay during a crisis, but Engineering just seems to be the perfect place for her to deliver a child. The producers were kind enough to present "The Killing Game, Parts 1 & 2," both written by Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky, at just the right time for Linnis to make her debut in Engineering, in the midst of the Hirogen occupation. I'm very appreciative, guys. (Little Miral may still be delivered in Sickbay in the "Warmth" universe-or maybe not.) The references to the Ocampan way of birth were introduced in the episodes "Elogium," teleplay by Kenneth Biller and Jeri Taylor from a story by Jimmy Diggs and Steve J. Kay, and "Before and After," written by Kenneth Biller. The time-traveling Krenim, originally mentioned in "Before and After," were more fully explored in "The Year of Hell (Parts 1 and 2);" both episodes were written by Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky. Elements from "Blood Fever," written by Lisa Klink, and "Faces," teleplay by Kenneth Biller from a story by Jonathan Glassner and Kenneth Biller, also appear in the text.

"Gramps": No particular episode prompted this story, just Tim Russ' wonderful interpretation of Tuvok, although the story does contain references to the episode "Innocence," teleplay by Lisa Klink from a story by Anthony Williams, as well to the previously cited Jeri Taylor episode "Hunters." While several books have been written about conversational Klingon, I never found enough reference material on the Vulcan language to do anything more than make up fake syllables to the Vulcan lullaby, with its attendant rather feeble "translation." I'm not much of a poet, and don't I just know it . . .

"Ulterior Motives": The Warp 10 experiment was chronicled in "Threshold," teleplay by Brannon Braga from a story by Michael De Luca. In this story, as well as in the one following, references are made to the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Resolutions," written by Jeri Taylor.

"The Devil's Own": Based upon the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Demon," teleplay by Kenneth Biller from a story by Andre Bormanis. "The Devil's Own" was written prior to the airing of "Course: Oblivion." While the eventual fate of the Voyager clones in that episode is quite different from that of the "colonists" on Demon, who clearly established a permanent civilization, "Course: Oblivion" and this story are not necessarily mutually exclusive. "The Devil's Own" establishes two settlement of Voyager "colonists" who were provided with very clear and individual memories by the Wraith, who then stops her roaming to share life with one of the clones. Perhaps that proto-intelligent goo develops a bit of arrogance (if a planetoid is capable of such) when the colonies seem so successful, creating still another set of Voyager copies without the assistance of the Wraith. Providing that group with its own Voyager to explore the galaxy, they are the ones who meet their destiny in "Course: Oblivion."

In this universe, the episode "Fury" obviously did not take place in the way it did in the series.

The quote from "Romeo and Juliet" is from Act III, Scene V, lines 12-24.

"Clap Hands": "Night," written by Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky, and "Extreme Risk," written by Kenneth Biller, seemed to be a two-part episode. I handled them as such in "Clap Hands." However, I did not feel "Extreme Risk" made a lot of sense as presented on the series. How was it no one, especially Tom, noticed B'Elanna's self-abuse, especially if it had been going on for months? Earlier episodes gave little hint, and a long time had passed since those messages about the death of the Maquis movement. Unfortunately, in this "Warmth" universe, her actions made all too much sense-but not if she was still caring for her daughter.

I wanted to say these events never happened. Then the characters insisted that they had happened and that the story needed to be written. It took me 13 years before I finally caved in. This is a quintessential hurt/comfort story; I shed many tears writing it, especially since I know that an emotional breakdown can occur months after a devastating loss, triggered by a word or action that appears to be inconsequential-because it happened to me.

The quote from "MacBeth" is from Act IV, Scene III, lines 243-244.

"Footprints in the Sand": The unsuccessful love affairs about which Harry reminisces were featured in "The Disease," teleplay by Michael Taylor from a story by Kenneth Biller, and "Ashes to Ashes," teleplay by Robert Doherty from a story by Ronald Wilkerson. The latter episode helped me come around and accept that the characters were right about "Night" and "Extreme Risk." The introduction of the Borg children, including Icheb, occurred in the sixth season episode "Collective," teleplay by Michael Taylor from a story by Andrew Shephard Price and Mark Gaberman.

"Daughter of the Heart": The epilogue was inspired by "Ashes to Ashes." At the end of that episode, Lyndsay Ballard arrives at the Transporter Room by herself. Harry is already at the control station, waiting to send her back to her Kobali father. Thus a couple of data chips could easily have been passed along to Lyndsay while she was on her way to the Transporter Room. This episode was written in the true spirit of science fiction, especially as portrayed in all of the Star Trek series. Dead is not always dead, or as Miracle Max says in The Princess Bride, "He's dead, but only mostly dead." Thanks, Robert Doherty and Ronald Wilkerson, for helping a fanfic writer push through Writer's Block.


Copious thanks are also due to my beta readers, who have provided invaluable assistance and encouragement. Any remaining errors are mine alone. Thanks, Annie M, Redshoes, Stephane, Ann, D'Alaire, Tex, PJ Senior, PJ Junior, and Julie.

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