Disclaimer:  Paramount owns all things Star Trek Voyager.  I don’t.  Only borrowing                 

                     them. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Rating:          NC17.

Summary:     When a trading mission goes disastrously wrong, Kathryn gives her

                      life to save her crew, leaving shattered lives behind her.  Voyager

                      continues on without her, until an alien ship catches up with them,

                      bringing a story which might just give some hope.



Note:- This story is based around and continues on from Ragpant’s wonderful ‘A Duty To The Ship’.  I just couldn’t take the sad ending.  Well you know me.  I’d strongly recommend that you read this story first.

www.geocities.com/Area51/Orion/5310/duty.html



Note:- The scene at the end of this story (THAT kind of scene) was written before I read Shayenne’s fabulous story ‘Show me How It Can Be’ and put me to shame.  The small similarities are not intended in any way.  I’ve re-read Shayenne’s story so many times now and can’t recommend it enough.

www.koffeeklub.net/shayenne/showme.htm







THE STARS LOOK DOWN.
By KAT LADY.

PART ONE.




CHAKOTAY.



I stand here and look out at the stars, the same stars her eyes beheld just days ago and some part of me almost believes that she’s one of them.  As a child, I believed that each and every star was the soul of someone who had departed this life, who then looked down on those of us left behind.  As a man, I long for the comfort of that childhood belief again.



These are different stars which look down on me now, not the stars I knew as a child nor the ones Kathryn knew, the ones we both stared at as children, sharing a dream but not the knowledge of each other’s existence.  They are not the stars which brought me peace back then,  but then peace is something I shall never know again.



Kathryn is gone from me now, her physical presence, and yet I still hear her, smell her, see her, almost feel her gentle touch but there is little comfort there, because I also hear her scream and that will never leave me.  Her scream stays with me, haunting me day and night, her face along with it the last time I saw her.  It fills my nightmares.  I shake my head at my own thoughts.  It’s only been two nights and two days and yet I know they set the mould for the rest of my life.



I look around me in the darkness now, not having ordered the lights on, preferring the light from the stars instead.  Maybe I feel that this way, I can pretend she’s in the room with me, that the darkness hides her from my eyes.  I don’t know why I’ve come here to her ready room, perhaps to feel closer to her one last time, because I know I will never use this room, never enter it again after today.  There is too much of her here, the padds on her desk, touched by her fingers so short a time ago, her coffee cup left forgotten beside them, so much of her here, her scent still in the air, as if she’s just stepped outside a moment. 



I think it strange that I have chosen here over her quarters and suddenly the answer comes to me and fills me with even greater sadness.  There is more of her here in her office than in her quarters and I shake my head.  I also realize though that this room housed the Captain, not Kathryn and that she was the dominant one.  Kathryn existed only briefly in her quarters but I was rarely privy to that so it is cut off from me.



My thoughts are interrupted by the sound of the doors opening and a shaft of light, no permission sought to enter, and without turning, I know the one who dares.



“B’Elanna…”  I turn slowly as the doors close behind her.  I see her face by the light of the stars, deep sadness and fatigue sitting upon her features.  She doesn’t speak.



“Tuvok?”  She nods slowly and comes a little closer.



“Doc said he’ll make a full recovery, Collins also.”  I nod, pushing down my feelings of guilt for briefly wishing it was Kathryn in sickbay instead.  I turn back to the window, and once more stare out at the stars and the far off nebula, the one Kathryn found such beauty in only days before.  I feel B’Elanna’s hand on my back as I speak.



“I feel so angry at beauty like this.  I feel it has no right to exist without her in the world to see it.  It’s as if none of it has any right to go on without her, as if every living being should be mourning her.”  Her hand moves to mine and squeezes gently.



“Chakotay, I know how much you love her…”  I nod and swallow, never denying the truth of her words.  I have loved Kathryn Janeway from the moment I set eyes on her and have never been able to hide that, not even from Kathryn herself.  I never got to tell her with words though and that tortures me now.  B’Elanna speaks quietly as if reading my thoughts.



“Chakotay…she knew…and I believe she loved you too…”  I can’t answer, too choked up.  I know now I’ll never hear those words spoken by her, never hear any words from her lips again.



“Why…?”  I ask the question as B’Elanna leads me over to the couch and we sit, the same way I sat with Kathryn so many times.



“I don’t have to tell you that.  She did it for us…all she felt she could do…”  I’m angry again.



“Her duty to the ship…sacrificing herself for us…  We didn’t ever ask that of her…”  She nods sadly.



“I know that but…  It’s who she was Chakotay…  Even that side of her was part of what made up the woman you loved.”  I feel myself shake.



“Love… not loved…  I’ll always love her…”  She remains quiet and suddenly I feel she’s come here for more than this, another reason besides comforting me.



“Spit it out…”  I look at her and let her see that I know there’s more.  She takes another minute and then nods.



“We…the crew…all of us…”  She takes a deep breath.  “We want to go back…”  I stare at her.  “Chakotay…I know she’d…that it’s against her last orders but…  I know the risks…we all do… it’s just…  We want to take her home…  not leave her there…”  She’s unable to continue.



“B’Elanna, she’s dead…we heard…”  I stand quickly.  This is too fresh and my feelings are too raw.



“Chakotay… her…her body I mean…  We want to take her home…  None of us can bear the thought of her… not there…”  She stands also and shakes my arm gently.  “I know this is hard and very painful but…”  I turn slowly to her, not hiding my tears.



“B’El, I want nothing more.  I want to take her home too.  I can’t stand the thought of her lying down there on that cold planet…no grave or resting place…”  I can’t take the images that accompany my words.  It takes me a few minutes to control myself, time my old friend allows me.  “It’s too risky.  It was her last wish that we get to safety.  Leave her with that at least.  Don’t let her have died in vain…”  I see her reluctantly accept my words.  “Please B’El…I need to be alone…”  She says nothing and leaves, leaves me to my silent vigil once more, alone in the dark with the ghost of the woman who gave me a reason to go on living.  I’ll go on now simply to fulfil the promise I made to her in those last seconds I shared with her.  I’ll get this crew home…but only for her.



^^^^^^^^^^



That evening, Chakotay forced himself to Kathryn's quarters and turned on the computer, inserting the data chip which had activated when her death had been entered into the ship’s main computer.  As her face filled the small vidscreen, Chakotay steeled himself.  He ground his teeth together as she smiled softly at him. 



“Chakotay…I know you’re watching this only because…well…I guess I’m dead.”  He watched her shake her head slightly, not wanting to imagine her own death.  “Knowing me…a lot has gone unsaid between us…and maybe I’m being presumptuous or egotistical but…I believe you still loved me in some way…at least I hope you did…”  She drew in a deep breath and licked her lips.



“I love you…”  She stared into the imager, her eyes almost meeting his and he saw them fill with tears.  “I hope and pray that doesn’t cause you more pain and I wish to God I’d had the guts to say it to you before…”  She smiled slightly.  “I can face so much…the Borg…the Hirogen…and yet I can’t say what’s in my own heart…and Chakotay…for that I’m so sorry…”  She shook her head again.



“I suppose it’s better late than never…and I have so many regrets for all I’ve put you through…  I ask some things of you now though…”  She straightened her shoulders.  “The business end of it first…”  She smiled a little.  “Get them home for me…I know you will…take care of them all… hell you know all this…”  She grew serious again.  “The rest… well as I said… I love you my angry warrior…I want you to carry that with you always…that I loved you beyond anything…I never knew a love like this could exist…and I ask you to go on my love…live your life and be happy…  If you feel grief now for me…let it go…  I don’t want to think of you like that…”  She shook her head again. 



“I wish I had the right words and only one thing comes to me…a remnant of some poem…about going on after someone dies… ‘better by far you forget and smile – than that you should remember and be sad’… something like that… remember me as I’ll remember you…with love and affection…the memories of the good times…the closeness and friendship…the laughter and quiet moments…all we shared…”  She was choking up again and stopped a moment.



“I guess that’s it… I want to stay here forever and talk to you but I’m sure I’m only adding to your pain…  Know this Chakotay…  If there’s any way in which I can watch over you…I will do that…and I’ll wait here…if that’s how it works…  I’ll wait for you and be here for you until you join me…if you’ll still want me then…  oh God…I’m sorry…”  She sniffed loudly.  “I’ve caused you so much pain…holding you back…denying you and myself…I’m sorry…”  She took several moments to compose herself.



“I’m sorry…I’m not helping you…  OK… Chakotay…I love you…go on and live a full and happy life for me and for yourself… Thank you for everything you’ve given me because you made it possible for me to get through so much out here… I’ll see you again some day…I know that…so for the moment…goodbye my love and I love you…”  She reached forward and touched the screen and he found himself reaching for her also – and then the screen went blank.  Chakotay fell to his knees, sobbing loudly and remained curled in a ball of pain for many hours.



^^^^^^^^^^



Three days had passed now since Voyager had lost her Captain and Chakotay slowly made his way to the bridge, answering the hail he had received from Tuvok, now back on duty.  He shook his head as he made his way along the corridor, barely nodding at passing crewmembers, each as affected as the other by the events of the past days.  He knew he needed to arrange a Memorial Service for Kathryn, but was unable to bring himself to think about it.  He could see that the crew needed a form of closure so they could grieve and try and move on and that it would probably help him too, but in his mind, it was still too soon.  Maybe in another day or so.



Kathryn Janeway’s death had taken the soul from the ship and Chakotay felt now that it would never be returned.  He remembered Tuvok’s voice, usually sounding devoid of emotion, but now lacking even the sound of a living being behind it.  He knew the guilt the Vulcan felt, however well suppressed and understood only too well.  Survivor guilt was an old acquaintance.  As he entered the turbolift, despite himself, his mind took him back, back to a moment he forever wanted to forget and yet, even Kathryn in those moments was better than moments without her.



They had beamed down to the surface of Solus, with the promise of negotiating for badly needed supplies, but instead found that they had beamed straight into a trap.  Chakotay leaned against the wall of the lift now as the memories assaulted him, despite his best efforts to shut them out.



^^^^^^^^^^



Kathryn leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes.  Chakotay sat down in front of her desk and studied her, smiling to himself before speaking.



“God, can they ever talk…”  His voice broke into her thoughts.  Kathryn opened her eyes and smiled.



“They talk…but they say very little…”  She grew serious now and shook her head.  “Why can’t I put my finger on it…?”  Chakotay frowned at her. 



“What is it?”  She leaned forward now and looked him squarely in the eyes.



“Don’t you see it?  There’s something about them…something…”  She chewed her lip, deep in thought.  Chakotay shrugged.



“I admit they’re long winded in their manner of speaking but I don’t get any other feelings about them.  They seem genuine in their negotiating…”  Kathryn shook her head again.



“I know…  I admit what you say and I agree but…  Call it a hunch…a feeling that they’re hiding something…trying to read more from us or something…”  Chakotay leaned forward a little, trusting her judgement.



“What do you want to do about it?  I’m sure we can get out of these negotiations politely if…”  Kathryn sighed deeply.



“No…  We need these supplies too badly.  I’m probably just imagining things.  I need a vacation or something.”  Chakotay laughed at the idea.



“You…?”  Kathryn gave him a mock glare.



“It has been heard of…”  Chakotay smiled and leaned back.



“Oh right.  I seem to remember hearing a rumour when I was at the Academy…”  Kathryn shook her head and stood.



“Very funny Commander…  I’m falling apart here with laughter…”  She dropped the smile and looked down at him.



“Look, I’m probably just tired and I’m reading too much into all this.  Even Tuvok is happy with the situation.  I really thought when they invited the Command Team down to the surface to meet their Emperor, especially all of us together…  Well I was sure he’d object.  I don’t like it myself but no one else seems to feel that way…”  She stared off over his head.  Chakotay stood too.



“You’ve been down with Tuvok…met this Emperor…”  Kathryn nodded, her words now cutting him off.



“I know and everything was fine…  We’ve been down to the surface a few times and they’ve been here on Voyager even more…  I’ve nothing to base my concerns on…  just this feeling…”  Chakotay folded his arms.



“Have you mentioned any of this to Tuvok?”  She nodded.



“He listened but there’s nothing there for him to be suspicious about.  The crew have been down for short periods of shore leave…  hell we’ve all been down there…  Everything was fine…”  She thought a moment.  “Maybe that’s it…”  She smiled at Chakotay’s frown.  “Maybe it’s fine and I can’t accept that.  Maybe I just always look for a problem, even when there isn’t one…”  He smiled now.



“I can’t blame you for that.  Nine times out of ten out here, that’s the way it is.  Maybe we’re just due for a break, some good to happen for a change.”  Kathryn nodded and shrugged.



“Yeh…maybe…” 



The following day, Kathryn beamed down to the surface along with Chakotay, Tuvok, Tom and B’Elanna, leaving Harry in charge of the bridge.  A small number of crew joined them, making the group ten in all.  Chakotay met Kathryn's eyes just before the transporter beam took them and saw her concern there.  He smiled his reassurance and saw her try to return it.



As soon as they re-materialized, the smile fell from Chakotay’s face.  He looked around him quickly and saw that instead of finding themselves inside the palace where they usually beamed to, they were in a small ravine, nothing behind them but a steep cliff face.  Suddenly the sound of weapons fire rang out and he dropped to the ground quickly, following his Captain’s lead and saw the others also dive for cover.  He scanned the area as best he could from his vantage point and saw that the only exit from the ravine was a narrow passage, through which he could see a clearing at the other end.  He looked over at Kathryn and saw the deep worry on her face as she tried to make sense of what had just happened.  He glanced over at Tuvok then and met the Vulcan’s eyes, seeing actual shock on his features. 



Chakotay reached for his commbadge at the same moment Kathryn and Tuvok did, hearing only static in reply.  He pulled out the phaser he carried, standard issue on any away mission and returned fire, or at least intended to.  For a few seconds he stared at the weapon in his hand, confused as to why it hadn’t responded to him and tried again.  Still nothing.  He looked around and saw that the others had the same problem.



“Something in the rock?”  He heard Kathryn's whisper to him and nodded. 



“That or a dampening field but then…”  Kathryn finished for him.



“Their weapons wouldn’t be working either.  We’re nearer the cliff.  It either only affects weapons and communications at this close range or their weapons are immune to it.”  She twisted on the ground and looked at her Security Chief.



“What are our chances of making a run for that passage…?”  Tuvok took a moment and seemed to shake himself.  Chakotay saw deep embarrassment and self-blame on the face of the Vulcan and sympathised.  The same feelings washed thorough him also, of how he should have listened to her, been there to prevent this and protect her.  Knowing these thoughts would only hinder them, he pushed them aside and concentrated on Tuvok.



“I can’t recommend that course of action Captain.  We’d be cut down before we got that far.  There’s a clearing between us and the entrance.  We’d be open targets.”  Kathryn nodded and turned back.  For several minutes, no fire came their way and Kathryn used the opportunity to try and reason with whoever was firing on them, to no avail.  She repeatedly called to the aliens who held them pinned down, but not once did she receive any reply.



“Options anyone?”  Kathryn twisted her body on the ground, her uniform covered now in a fine dust.  Chakotay felt helpless.



“Trying to reason with them obviously won’t get us anywhere.  Making a run for it or attempting to hold out until Voyager realizes what’s going on…”  Kathryn shook her head quickly.



“It’ll be hours before Harry sees a problem… and we don’t know they haven’t attacked Voyager already…”  Chakotay saw her emotions clearly on her face but knew they showed themselves to him only because he knew her so well.  With the exception of perhaps Tuvok, none of the others would notice.  To them, their Captain would appear calm and in control.  Kathryn turned her head back and scanned the area.  “Trying to get out of here is the only option…”  Chakotay nodded silently.  His mind raced with a million unanswered questions but he forced them away, needing now to concentrate on the matter in hand.



Just as he was about to speak, he heard the sounds of a scuffle off to his right and B’Elanna’s raised voice issuing a string of Klingon expletives.  He immediately made for her position and saw her grapple with one of the alien soldiers who had become too daring and moved in. B’Elanna was trying to wrestle his weapon from his hands and Chakotay quickly helped her disarm the soldier and watched, almost in slow motion, as she slammed her fist into the alien’s throat, instantly crushing his windpipe.  The soldier crumpled to the ground without a sound.  Chakotay looked into the eyes of his old friend and saw brief shock there at her actions but it passed quickly and she set about studying her trophy.



“It’s coded but I’d say it works because he was using it…”  Chakotay nodded quietly and flinched when she aimed it and fired.  “Yeah…it works…”  A small smile came his way.



“I’ll report to the Captain.  Hold off firing unless you have to.  We’ve no way of knowing how long it’ll last.”  She nodded to him and as he moved off, he saw her look over the body beside her.  He knew killing the alien sat very uneasily with her but she had had no choice.  Like him, she now hated the thought of taking life, but they both knew also that often there was no other choice, that it was kill or be killed.



Chakotay made his way back to where Kathryn lay hidden and ducked down quickly as another round of weapons fire whizzed over his head.  He heard a soft grunt from where he saw Kathryn's legs sticking out and let out a breath of relief when he saw them move.  He quickly closed the distance between them.



“Captain…?”  He looked into her worried eyes and then saw Tuvok, a deep wound in his upper chest and shoulder. 



“We can’t hold out here much longer…  Report…”  She worked quickly to try and stem the flow of blood from the Vulcan and then leaned back as Tom took over.  Chakotay pulled his eyes away from the wound and met her eyes, seeing a controlled fear there.



“B’Elanna managed to get one of their weapons…  It works…”  Kathryn nodded quickly and he saw her digest the information, knowing she was running through options in her mind.  Finally she seemed to come to an answer.



“Get B’Elanna over here…”  She said nothing more and Chakotay knew not to question her.  He obeyed without hesitation and returned to B’Elanna’s position.  When he returned with the Engineer in tow, he saw Kathryn and Tuvok whispering together, heads close and something stirred in his gut.  Kathryn quickly pulled back as they approached and managed a weak smile.  She held her hand out for the weapon, just as another volley of shots rang out.  A cry to their left caused them all to jump.  Kathryn immediately looked to Chakotay and he nodded, moving off to check on the sound.  Within minutes, he was back, his face telling Kathryn that his news wasn’t good.



“Well…?”  He could hear the forced calm in her voice.  He tried to smile.



“Ensign Collins…”  He looked away a moment then back at her.  “A bad wound to the shoulder.  He can walk though…I think…”  Kathryn nodded and he saw how angry she was becoming, using the emotion to control her fear.  His own fear started again as he saw her lock eyes with Tuvok.



“Captain…?”  Chakotay got no further as she cut him off.  She shook her head quickly.



“Right… listen up…”  She barely looked at him and his fear grew, knowing he wouldn’t like what she was about to say.  She took the weapon from B’Elanna now and studied it before speaking again.  Finally she met Chakotay’s eyes.



“Commander, here are your orders.  You’re to take everyone and get ready to make a run for that passage.  You should be able to contact Voyager once you’re free of the rock.  Tuvok and I will hold them off with this…”  She looked down at the weapon in her hands again then looked at Chakotay and locked eyes with him, daring him to oppose her, seeing the shock and the pain in his eyes.  “Davis and Travers are the strongest… get them to help carry Collins.”  She looked now to Tom beside her.  “Tom, pass that on to the others now…”  The pilot hesitated a moment then nodded and moved off.



“Chakotay…get ready on my mark…”  She saw he was about to object and held her hand up.  “No questions Commander.  We’re out of options and you know it.  I’m the Captain and I’m also the best shot.  You have your orders…”  Her eyes bored into his, saying what her words couldn’t, pleading with him not to make this any harder for her.  Fighting a fierce battle with his emotions, he finally just nodded.  They both knew this was the only way, the sacrifice of the one for the many.  As Chakotay looked at her, her image blurred in his mind, alternating between Kathryn and his Captain.  In the end, his training and common sense smothered his emotions and he allowed it, cursing himself for it.  B’Elanna wasn’t as co-operative however.



“Captain, you can’t…”  Her Captain glared at her.



“Lieutenant…I’ve given you an order which you will obey.  You’ll also follow the orders of my First Officer…  Is that clear?”  B’Elanna’s glare matched her Captain’s.  “Is that clear Lieutenant?”  B’Elanna’s face showed her feelings very clearly but finally she nodded and turned her face away.  Kathryn shook her head.



“Look, we’ll follow once you get clear…”  She said it for their benefit but they all knew it for the lie it was.



Tom crawled back now and reported that everyone was ready.  Kathryn nodded her understanding and looked back at Chakotay. 



“Get ready then…”  She stared deeply into his eyes.  “Get them to safety…get them home for me Chakotay…don’t look back…”  Her voice broke slightly as her words betrayed her lie about following them and she turned away quickly.



“Kathryn…”  He needed to say her name to her face one last time.  His own voice choked up, knowing there was too much to say but no time to say it, that it was too late now anyway.  She turned back to him and nodded.



“I know…I hope you do too…”  As they stared at each other, a deep connection was made.  Finally she tore her eyes from his and looked at Tuvok beside her.  She nodded quickly to him.  “Pass on any last orders Tuvok…”  She turned her head slightly as the Vulcan nodded, obviously in a great deal of pain as he turned to face Chakotay.  With lightening speed, Kathryn reached her hand over and applied a Vulcan neck pinch, causing Tuvok to slump to the ground instantly.  She looked up at Chakotay and tried a small smile.



“He taught me that…”  She sobered quickly.  “Can you manage to carry him between you?”  Chakotay felt his nails dig into his palms and nodded his head then closed his eyes a moment.  Eventually he looked at her then at B’Elanna, seeing the shock and pain on the Klingon’s face.



“We can manage…”  He wanted to grab her, shake her, pull her away.  Instead he nodded again and lifted the unconscious Vulcan towards him.  “He’ll never forgive you for this…”  His small joke was weak and he knew it, but it was either that or break down.  Kathryn tried and failed to smile.



“You know what to do…”  He nodded and reached over, gripping her hand tightly, desperately needing to touch her and she returned the squeeze.  She nodded briefly then let go.  Chakotay tried to freeze everything within him and turned away, pulling at B’Elanna’s arm now.  The young woman shook herself, not hiding the tears which flowed from her eyes now and tried one last appeal to her Captain.



“Captain…there has to be another way…”  Kathryn forced herself to harden her face.



“You have your orders Lieutenant, now get moving…”  She turned away quickly before she broke completely and raised the weapon in her hands.  “Ready?”  She glanced back briefly and locked eyes with Chakotay one final time.  He tried to convey everything into that look, praying she understood and saw that she did.  He saw the beginning of tears in her eyes which she quickly forced away.  She nodded slightly and smiled softly.



“Get ready…”  She turned to face the alien soldiers.  “NOW…”  Kathryn opened fire with the weapon and risked a quick glance behind her to see Chakotay and B’Elanna lifting Tuvok and moving quickly.  She barely managed to see the others following them.  Shutting off her emotions, she concentrated on the last duty she could perform for her crew and sprayed the area before her with fire.  Continuing to shoot, she ducked down as her fire was returned with a vengeance and with a final glance behind her, saw Chakotay and the others cross the clearing and enter the narrow passageway, successfully ducking the weapons fire all the way. 



She eased back up, continuing to fire, drawing all the comfort she could from the fact that she had fulfilled her final duty to her crew, that she had hopefully saved them.  She uttered a small prayer for their safety and continued to shoot against the now increased weapons fire pouring in on her, knowing that these soldiers would know now that only one person remained.



The sounds didn’t change at first, still just the deafening roar of the shooting.  She now vaguely heard another sound, recognizing it as her own scream and berated herself briefly, for showing any weakness.  Then she felt it.  It was like a red hot knife ripping through her, across her chest and stomach.  Kathryn stared down as the weapon fell from her hands and she felt herself falling.  For a few moments, there had been no pain and it fleetingly entered her mind that she had been hit and her scream had come before she felt the first slash of pain.  For another moment now, the pain vanished, strangely gone for a second, leaving only a roaring sound in her ears as time seemed to stop.  She prayed that Chakotay and the others wouldn’t have heard her above the other sounds of the battle.  And then she was lying on her back, trying to swallow the blood she could taste in her mouth, as the pain started again and assaulted her relentlessly.  She fought to control her breathing, feeling a coldness seeping into her, knowing in some part of her mind, that her body was quickly going into shock.  A shadow crossed her vision and she looked up into the face of a soldier, a member of the race she had come to know well over the last days.  She barely managed to whisper to herself.



“Get them home Chakotay…I love you…”



They all heard it together, a blood curdling scream.  B’Elanna cried out and stopped, almost dropping Tuvok, pulling Chakotay to a stop with her.



“Chakotay…?”  Her eyes pleaded with him and he forced the sound from his mind, shutting off everything within him.



“Get moving Lieutenant…”  B’Elanna continued to stare at him, tears pouring down her face.  “B’Elanna, there’s nothing we can do…  This is what she wants…don’t let her down…”  No response.  “Dammit Torres…move now or I’ll knock you out too and carry you both…”  Tom came up to them quickly and gripped his wife’s arm.



“Come on…we’re almost there…  Davis has contact with Voyager…  Harry can beam us up…”  He gripped her arm tighter, causing her to flinch and finally she moved, her face angry now. 



“Can he lock onto the Captain…?”  Tom said nothing and just shook his head, his eyes pleading with her to keep moving.  Within minutes, they had cleared the passage and been beamed back to Voyager.  The ship immediately broke orbit and left the space which had brought them so much pain, leaving behind the greatest part of her, the soul of them all.



^^^^^^^^^^



Chakotay entered the bridge now, forcing his mind to shake off what he felt and remembered.  His eyes met those of Voyager’s Chief of Security and Chakotay actually saw pain in their depths.  He knew in that instant, that he wasn’t the only one who would never again have another peaceful night, but at least Tuvok had been spared from hearing his Captain’s last scream.



“Report…”  Even that one word brought back memories of Kathryn and his mind filled with a hundred images of her striding onto the bridge, demanding a progress report.  He shook his head quickly.



“Captain…”  Tuvok halted a moment, the title uneasy on his lips.  Chakotay knew the hesitation wasn’t from a lack of respect or acceptance of himself as Captain now, only from the reminder of who it should have been addressed to.



“What is it Tuvok?”  Chakotay broke the moment, understanding showing on his face and he saw Tuvok nod his thanks.



“There is a ship approaching off our port bow.  They are hailing us.”  Chakotay nodded.



“On screen…”  He stepped down to the command chairs but didn’t sit, refusing to even look at them.  “This is the Federation Starship Voyager…”  The face that met him was of a very similar race to the Solusians and Chakotay felt his blood boil.



“Captain…my name is Danus.  I see that I am correct in assuming from your demeanour that you have come across my people before, or at least one of our…associate races…shall I say.  I believe you are the people we are looking for.”  Chakotay barely controlled his emotions and merely nodded.  Danus smiled softly.



“I understand your feelings well Captain.  We were amazed to find that you survived any encounter with Solus…”  Chakotay glanced back at Tuvok, not needing to say anything.  The Vulcan spoke softly.



“They have not raised their shields…”  Chakotay nodded and turned back to the viewscreen.  The alien’s voice broke the silence.



“Captain, I can assure you that you have nothing to fear from us.  We mean you no harm.  I would however, like to speak with you.  I’ll trust you in this matter, which means I’m the one taking the chance.  We can speak face to face wherever you like, your ship or mine.”  Chakotay stared back hard at the man before him.



“What do we need to speak about…?”  Danus gave a small smile.



“I would much rather speak in person but I believe we can help you.  I can tell you that I’m aware of…of what took place some days ago…on Solus…”  Even to the alien, the pain on Chakotay’s face was clear to read.  He glanced back at Tuvok and nodded.



“Make arrangements to beam Danus over to Voyager…”  Tuvok hesitated a brief moment and then nodded his compliance.



“Aye Sir…”



ON TO PART TWO.



RETURN TO STORY INDEX ONE.

RETURN TO STORY INDEX TWO.

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