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Loose Ends

Vickie — 18 Sep 2000

A while back, someone posted a question asking what loose ends we hoped to see tied up during Voyager's last season. My gut response was that Voyager has strayed so far from where it started that the loose ends have turned into gaping black holes that can never be tied up.

But then I started thinking, hey, what's the harm of a little revisionist history? These are fictional characters, after all. They'll never know what I've said about them and they can't hunt me down to claim I've been untrue.

So, here are the first two chapters of my attempt to tie up a few loose Voyager ends. Please be kind. I'm not a real author, I just play one on TV the internet. :-)

Part 1

Admiral Kathryn Janeway, one hand wrapped firmly around a mug of steaming coffee, studied the latest Starfleet Astrometric Research Station report on compact halo objects. Her first independent research project at Starfleet Academy, as well as her first duty assignment as a Starfleet Ensign, involved the study of those objects and she was still keenly interested in the subject.

The Admiral's intercom chirped.

"Yes, Chief?"

"Admiral, Ms. Omond is here."

"Send her in, please."

Admiral Janeway stood and walked toward the door to greet her guest.

A tall brunette woman entered the office and extended her hand. "Admiral Janeway, I'm Tessa Omond and it's a pleasure to finally meet you in person. Thank you for taking this time out of your schedule to see me."

"Please, Tessa," said the Admiral, taking the offered hand, "call me Kathryn. Even though this is our first face-to-face meeting, we've certainly spoken enough on screen to be on a first name basis. Would you care to join me in a cup of coffee?" Kathryn gestured toward a pair of comfortable chairs and headed for her office replicator.

"Thank you...Kathryn," said Tessa as she sat down. "A cup of coffee would be wonderful. Black, please."

"Ah, a woman after my own heart," Kathryn said, as she retrieved her own coffee from the desk, handed Tessa an identical mug fresh from the replicator, and claimed the second chair.

"So," Kathryn asked, "how have the meetings gone?"

"Better than I could have hoped," Tessa replied. "Starfleet has fully endorsed my proposal and they have agreed to make all of Voyager's official logs available to me - after, of course, any classified materials are deleted. In fact, Admiral Turnbull thought my plan was 'a smashing idea.' He said an epic tale of loss, struggle and eventual triumph was just what the people of the Federation needed right now."

Kathryn looked serious for a moment. "Yes, I suppose that's true. These have been trying times for the Federation, although I think things are finally looking up." Then she smiled. "You know, there were times during Voyager's journey through the Delta Quadrant when I thought our story would make a great book. Some of our experiences were so strange that they seemed more like a piece of fiction than real life."

"So, Tessa, how do you plan to go about chronicling the adventures of the starship Voyager in the Delta Quadrant?"

"Well, Admir...Kathryn, I thought I would start by reading all of the official logs and reports and preparing a rough draft of the book. After that, I hope to speak with each member of the crew as well as arrange longer sessions with senior officers and other key personnel. This will allow me to flesh out my rough draft, add the personal touches, so to speak. Following the interviews, I'll complete a first draft of the book, which will, of course, go out to you and Starfleet Command for review. Then it will go to my editor for review and finally on to publication. If things go well, people all across the Federation will be reading Marooned in the Delta Quadrant: The Adventures of the Starship Voyager and we'll have a best-seller on our hands."

"All right, then," said Kathryn with a nod, "let's get started. How can I help you?"

Tessa pulled a PADD from her bag. "Today, I thought we could..."

Part 2

One Year Later...

Admiral Kathryn Janeway leaned over the porch railing of her childhood home watching Tessa Omond make her way up the lane from the nearby transport point. As Tessa entered the front gate, Kathryn called out, "Tessa, it's good to see you again," and made her way to the steps to welcome her visitor.

"Thank you for inviting me to meet with you here, Kathryn," said Tessa, as the two women settled into the cushioned porch chairs. "This is a lovely place. Everything is so quiet and peaceful."

Kathryn laughed. "Yes, it is, although I must confess that I appreciate those aspects much more now than I did as a teenager. So, how is the book going?"

"Things are going wonderfully. I've spoken with almost all of Voyager's crew members. Everyone has been very helpful. Most of them seemed happy to share their experiences on Voyager with me. While the official logs and records contained the facts of your journey, these interviews are bringing the story to life in a way that far exceeds my initial expectations."

Later that afternoon, Tessa and Kathryn got down to the business of the visit, which was the author's interview with the main character of her book.

"Kathryn, my intention was to move chronologically through the seven years that you spent in the Delta Quadrant. In fact, that still is my intention for the most part. However," Tessa smiled somewhat sheepishly, "before we begin at the beginning, so to speak, I just have to ask: What really happened during the time you and Commander Chakotay were marooned on that planet? After all, the two of you were there alone for more than 3 months and you thought you would be spending the rest of your lives together. I can't help but think there has to be more to the story than what appears in the official logs."

"Aaarrrgghh!" Kathryn grabbed her hair with both hands in mock frustration. Then she laughed and raised an eyebrow at Tessa. "You and half of my former crew, I'll wager."

Tessa grinned. "Um, more like 3/4ths, I think."

Kathryn laughed again. "The truth is, Tessa, that the official log reports are, for the most part, accurate accounts of what really went on New Earth. Remember that at the time we were stranded on New Earth, we had been in the Delta Quadrant for less than 2 years. I was totally focused being the Captain. 100% of my energy was directed toward keeping my crew safe and getting them back home. For myself, I simply refused to acknowledge any relationships that didn't fit into the command structure. My personal life was on hold until we got back home."

"Chakotay was no different," Kathryn continued. "You should have seen him our first day on the planet when I suggested that he call me Kathryn instead of Captain. It was as if he had never fully considered that I might have a first name! Why, I remember one time during our first year in the Delta Quadrant when he surprised a couple kissing in one of the turbolifts. He wanted to institute a 'No Fraternization' policy. He was afraid that, due to our unique circumstances, intimate relationships among the crew could cause problems. I understood his concerns; relationships within the chain of command can make things very difficult. However, I felt that Voyager's unique circumstances were exactly why we had to accept and expect these romantic relationships. When I told him I expected to see many of the crew begin to pair off, he asked, 'Even you?' in the same tone of voice with which one might respond to an announcement that it was raining fish. I think he was quite relieved when I told him that was a luxury a Captain couldn't afford."

"Of course, I spent most of the time on New Earth searching for a cure for our disease. I was convinced that I could come up with a treatment and Chakotay and I would be off in our shuttlecraft to rejoin Voyager. It wasn't until after the plasma storm destroyed my research equipment that I began to accept the idea that Chakotay and I would likely be spending the rest of our lives there on New Earth. Perhaps if our stay on New Earth had been longer, I might have a more titillating tale to tell, but we were rescued before anything more than a close friendship developed between us."

As Kathryn lay in bed that night, she contemplated the lies she had told Tessa that afternoon. "No," she corrected herself, "not lies, just not the whole truth. That isn't the same thing as lying."

She thought about that bathtub and about Chakotay's arms, holding her as the plasma storm raged around them. She remembered the night when Chakotay had rubbed her aching neck and she had been hit first with the realization that she would be spending the rest of her life in the company of this man and then with the understanding that it would be Kathryn and Chakotay who inhabited that world, not The Captain and The Commander. She smiled at the memory of how she had attempted to reassert her position as commanding officer - "We have to set some parameters," and how Chakotay had completely disarmed her with his Angry Warrior story. Finally, she thought, once again, about how Tuvok's call, garbled and distant, put an end to something that had barely gotten started.

After all, a Captain couldn't carry on an affair with her First Officer. Everyone knew that was just charting a course to disaster.

Part 3

Chakotay was waiting in the clearing when Tessa beamed down from the orbiting supply ship. As he walked to her and extended his hand, he smiled broadly and said, "Ms. Omond, I'm sorry you had to come half way across the galaxy to find me."

Tessa stopped and tried not to stare. "My oh my," she thought, "the vid screen does not do this man justice. What a smile! Nothing happened on New Earth, my eye! I've got a few more questions for Admiral Janeway when I get back to Earth."

Recovering her wits, Tessa took his hand and replied, "Please, Professor Chakotay, call me Tessa, and no apology is necessary. I understand the necessities of field archeology."

"The 'Professor' is unnecessary. Just 'Chakotay' is fine. Come along and I'll show you where to stow your gear." Chakotay grinned. "This is actually quite a luxurious site. We can offer you your very own tent with cot."

Tessa laughed. "It sounds like a five star dig. I'd love a tour if you have time."

Tessa dropped her things inside the tent and rejoined Chakotay. As they made their way toward the excavation site, he explained a bit about his work.

"In the Delta Quadrant, I encountered a group of aliens that appeared to be those described in my tribe's creation myth. My people called them the 'Sky Spirits.' The goal of my current research is to trace the route followed by those aliens as they moved across the Alpha Quadrant. It appears, you see, that Earth was not their only destination. The ruins we are excavating here on this planet bear a close resemblance to both the villages of the Tree People on Earth and those of the Sky Spirits I met in the Delta Quadrant. The reason I couldn't return to Earth to meet with you is that this whole area is inaccessible during the planet's rainy season and for several months after the rains stop. We have only a brief period during which we can work."

"It all sounds fascinating," said Tessa. "Are you sure that I won't interfere too much with your work?"

"No, not at all," Chakotay assured her. "As you can see, I have a large contingent of eager graduate students hard at work. I just have to be available to deal with unexpected findings and unusual questions."

Part 4

After dinner that evening, Tessa and Chakotay sat near the campfire.

"So," Chakotay asked, "what do you want to know about Voyager and the Delta Quadrant?"

"Oh, the list is long," laughed Tessa, "but let's start with this. I understand that there was a little friction between you and Tom Paris when the Maquis joined Voyager's crew." She waited for Chakotay to comment.

After a brief pause, Chakotay said, "Tom Paris...irresponsible, unreliable, dishonest, reckless, a 20 kilo chip on his shoulder and a bad attitude. The attitude was the worst. He acted like he just didn't care about anyone or anything. Yes, I suppose you could say there was a bit of friction between us. And the fact that I owed him my life didn't help."

Tessa followed up with "Yet I understand that you're godfather to his oldest daughter. That's quite a change of heart."

Chakotay laughed, then was silent. Eventually, he said, "Kathryn Janeway is a stubborn woman."

Tessa waited, not quite sure where this was going.

"Kathryn Janeway is a stubborn woman and once she makes up her mind to do something, she never gives up. She decided that Tom Paris and I were going to be friends and she set about making it happen."

Chakotay asked, "Are you familiar with the time Tom pretended to leave Voyager in order to find out who was passing information to Seska and the Kazon?"

"Yes," Tessa replied, "I've read all the ship's logs and reports."

"Well then, you know that incident took quite a toll on my relationship, such as it was, with Tom Paris. It didn't do much for my relationship with Tuvok or Kathryn, either, for that matter," Chakotay added wryly, "but that's another story. Anyway, soon afterward we were in orbit around an uninhabited planet where we were mining some needed minerals and collecting edible plantlife. The Captain had granted shore leave to the crew on a rotating basis and everyone was enjoying the opportunity to get off the ship."

"One morning, just after I had come on duty, the Captain asked me to report to her office. When I got there, Tom Paris was already there, slouched in a chair in front of her desk. She asked me to take the other chair. Then she started telling us about this instructor she had at Command School. She said he was a big fan of some management technique developed in the late 20th century, called it 'Team Building' or some such thing. Then she said she thought Paris and I could benefit from a little Team Building and told us to clear our calendars for the next 3 days. Well of course I protested, Paris did, too, but she would have none of it. Gave us 1 hour to change into rough duty uniforms and report to the transporter room. Said she would have our bags packed and waiting, said 'Dismissed,' and kicked us both out of her office."

Tessa had to hide a smile. She could hear the faint note of outrage in Chakotay's voice as he retold the tale, even though the events were now years old.

Part 5

"Paris and I arrived at the transporter room to find the Captain and two loaded backpacks waiting for us. As we stepped up on the transporter pad she said 'Be at the rendezvous point in three days. It was a little out of their area, but stellar cartography prepared some maps for you. You'll find them in your packs, along with everything else you'll need.' Then, just before she said 'Energize,' she tossed me a flashlight and Paris a battery pack. 'You'll need these,' she said."

"We materialized in the pitch black. I couldn't even see Paris and I knew he was standing right next to me. We were obviously in some underground cavern. Paris yelled, 'Hey! Turn on the lights!' just as I switched on the flashlight, but nothing happened, of course, because Kathryn had given him the battery pack. Everything was like that. The map? Torn in two pieces, half in my pack, half in his. I had the canned rations, he had the can opener. I had the climbing ropes, he had the pitons and carabiners."

Chakotay shook his head. "It was so obvious what she had in mind."

"So, what did you do?" asked Tessa.

"The first thing I did was contact B'Elanna. Our communicators still worked fine. I ordered her to beam us back to the ship. She said she was sorry, but Captain Janeway had already advised her not to follow that order. Then she told me 'Bond with the man.'"

Chakotay laughed. "Paybacks are hell, Tessa. I had once told her the same thing about Lt. Carey in Engineering. Well, after that, what could we do? We sat down, put our maps together, and figured out how to get to the rendezvous point."

"Three days in a cave?" Tessa asked. "You must have had an adventure or two along the way."

"Mostly we had arguing. Arguing interspersed with periods of squabbling alternating with periods of sullen silence. The really big blow-up came late in the second day. We had reached an underground river and needed to get across. The banks weren't very steep but they were wet and slippery with mud. The water wasn't moving very fast, so we decided to just wade across. I wentfirst and right in midstream, I stepped in a hole and fell. Face first. I was soaked. As I climbed up out of the water, I looked at Tom and he was laughing. Really laughing. Something just snapped inside. I walked over and punched him. Right in the mouth. And I won't lie - I thoroughly enjoyed it."

Tessa thought, "Yep. Saw that one coming. I'll bet Captain Janeway did, too."

Chakotay continued his story. "Of course, it didn't stop there. We skinned our knuckles, blackened our eyes and bruised everything else. We kept trading blows until we fell down exhausted in the mud. We lay there in silence for a while and finally Tom said, 'Look, Chakotay, I know you think I'm irresponsible and that I can't be trusted. And maybe I was. But I'm not the same person now.' We had dropped the flashlight and it was laying up on the bank. I could just see Tom's face in its light. For once, he wasn't wearing the smirk that always made me want to smack him."

"So," Tessa asked, "you two fought it out and settled your differences right there?"

Smiling broadly, Chakotay shook his head. "Oh no. It wasn't that easy. Tom Paris and I still had a long way to go. Kathryn kept working away on us, never missing an opportunity to push us toward the kind of relationship she thought we ought to have. That wasn't the last 'Team Building' exercise she sent us off on. Then, after Tom and B'Elanna fell in love, B'Elanna joined Kathryn's team. Taking on either Kathryn or B'Elanna would be a real challenge, but once the two of them start working together, you haven't got a chance."

Part 6

Tessa could hear voices and smell fresh coffee, but she wasn't quite ready to crawl out of her cot. She lay on her back staring up at the ceiling of the tent and thinking about the past two weeks. She had never intended to stay here at Professor Chakotay's field site for so long. And, she had to admit to herself that it had been several days since she and Chakotay had talked about Voyager at all. She had no real reason to be still hanging around. Yet, she found herself reluctant to leave. Even though they weren't discussing Voyager, she and Chakotay had found no shortage of other topics of conversation. And, on the few occasions on which she had made feeble attempts to suggest heading home, Chakotay had encouraged her to stay on.

"Tessa, my girl," she said to herself, "you came here to conduct an interview. The interview is long over and it's time for you to move along." She sighed heavily and climbed out of her sleeping bag.

The next afternoon, Tessa prepared to beam up to the University's orbiting supply ship. A passenger liner was passing nearby on its way to Earth and would pick her up in a few hours. Chakotay walked with her to the transport site, carrying her bags. She thanked him for his hospitality and for sharing his stories about Voyager and the Delta Quadrant. As he handed over her gear, Chakotay said, "I'll be back on Earth in a month. If it's OK, I'll call case you have any more questions, I mean."

Tessa smiled and took his hand. "I'll look forward to hearing from case I have any more questions, I mean."

Part 7

Tessa walked through the front doors of the corporate headquarters of UFS. A perky receptionist chirped, "Welcome to United Flight Systems. May I help you?"

"Hi, I'm Tessa Omond. I have an appointment to see B'Elanna Torres."

"Oh, yes, I see your name right here. Wear this, please," said the receptionist, handing Tessa a visitor ID badge. "Room 470, right up that elevator."

Room 470 turned out to be not the office Tessa was expecting, but rather a large workshop. As Tessa entered the room, she saw B'Elanna Torres, bent over a workbench making adjustments to some unidentifiable piece of equipment.

"Excuse me, Ms. Torres?" Tessa called out.

B'Elanna looked up and walked toward her visitor. "You must be Tessa Omond. I've heard a lot about you. It's a pleasure to finally meet you."

Tessa extended her hand. "It's nice to meet you, Ms. Torres. I've really been looking forward to talking with you. And I hope whatever you heard about me wasn't too bad."

B'Elanna laughed. "Not to worry. Good reports all around. Let's go to my office where we can sit down and talk."

As the two women walked down the hall, B'Elanna said, "Tom is sorry he can't be here today as planned. He's in orbit around Venus conducting flight tests on the company's latest prototype and things are taking longer than he expected. They always do with a new design."

"...he ended up completely wrapped up in that whip. He couldn't move an inch. I had to help him get free. I tried not to laugh, but I couldn't help it. Right after that Tom scrapped the Indiana Jones program and came up with Captain Proton."

B'Elanna and Tessa were finishing up a delicious lunch in the company dining room, laughing over B'Elanna's recounting of some of Tom's more memorable holodeck creations.

"There is one more thing I'd like to know about, B'Elanna," Tessa said. I know there was conflict between the former Maquis and the Starfleet personnel when you all joined the crew of Voyager. I've found some mention of it in the official records and of course a few of the more spectacular incidents are described in the logs."

B'Elanna laughed. "You mean like the infamous 'This is the Maquis Way' incident in the mess hall?"

Tessa smiled. "That's certainly one of the most memorable. But I'm interested in hearing your perspective on the Maquis-Starfleet conflict, especially since your position as Chief Engineer must have put you firmly in the middle of the hostilities."

"I won't lie," B'Elanna replied. "Things were pretty rocky in the beginning. One day we were two crews on opposite sides of the battle and the next we were all Starfleet working side by side. In hindsight, though, the situation looks a bit different. I've come to realize that the Maquis-Starfleet conflict was driven primarily by just a few agitators who acted to keep the rest of the crew stirred up. Seska, of course, was one of them; Jonas was another. They spread false rumors, needled the Starfleeters and encouraged the Maquis to flaunt regulations."

"The truth was that most of the Starfleeters didn't have anything against the Maquis. Lots of them sympathized with the Maquis. As for the Maquis, their anger was directed more toward the Federation bureaucrats and Starfleet top brass who sold them out than toward the rank and file of Starfleet. Also, many of the Maquis had actually been in Starfleet before so the Starfleet rules and routines were familiar to them. Sure, it took a while for them to get used to doing things the Starfleet way again, but before long they were settled in to their new lives. Once the agitators were gone, the Starfleet-Maquis conflicts died down."

Part 8

The next morning, Tessa returned to UFS to finish her interview with B'Elanna. They had parted right after lunch the previous day because B'Elanna had promised to go watch her youngest son's tennis lesson that afternoon.

"Ms. Omond, welcome back." The receptionist remembered who she was. "Here's your ID badge. Ms. Torres is in her office."

Tessa waited outside the open door of B'Elanna's office because she could hear one end of a vid screen conversation from within. "...I'll start running some simulations this afternoon...We'll expect you for dinner, you...bye." When Tessa was sure the conversation was over, she knocked on the door.

"Come in," said B'Elanna, rising from the chair behind the desk. "Good morning, Tessa. I was just talking to Tom. He's headed back home this afternoon and said he could meet with you any time next week."

"Great," replied Tessa. "How did the flight test go?"

"Fine. A few little glitches, but nothing serious. Have a seat. Coffee?"

"Yes, please. I'm glad to hear that the test went well."

B'Elanna handed Tessa a cup of coffee and reclaimed her chair.

Tessa started. "I'd like to ask a few more questions about the conflict between the Maquis and Starfleet crew members. I know you said that things settled down after Seska and Jonas were gone, but how about early in the voyage when the conflict was at its strongest? As one of only two Maquis senior officers, you must have been in an awkward position."

"Well, I suppose so," B'Elanna replied. "Of course some of the Starfleeters couldn't believe Captain Janeway would appoint me Chief Engineer. They filed a grievance over it, you know. Some of the Maquis were certain that I was their ticket to special treatment and were upset when it didn't work out that way."

"Chakotay was a big help to me during that time," B'Elanna continued. "No matter how busy he was, he made it a point to stop by and see me every day. We would talk about what was going on in engineering and any problems I might be having. He always had good advice for me." B'Elanna laughed. "Even when I didn't want to hear it."

B'Elanna leaned back in her chair and gazed out the window. After a moment's pause, she said, "Chakotay was a good friend on Voyager. It was rarely a public thing. Chakotay was always concerned that having an obvious close friendship with someone in his chain of command would cause problems with other members of the crew. You know, favoritism and all that. He was a lot like Captain Janeway in that respect. But, he was always there when I needed him."

Tessa said, "I understand that Chakotay is still a good friend of yours and Tom's. He's your oldest son's godfather, isn't he?" Then Tessa gave herself a mental kick and thought, "Stop! You've just asked B'Elanna another question about Chakotay! She's going to start thinking that you have an unusual interest in that particular member of Voyager's crew. Oh, you are so discreet!"

"Yes, he is," B'Elanna replied with a smile, "and it sure made my life easier when he and Tom stopped feuding."

"Oh," laughed Tessa, "Chakotay told me all about your and Captain Janeway's campaign to establish a friendship between him and Tom."

B'Elanna looked speculatively at Tessa. "Yes, I talked to Chakotay last night. He appears to have quite enjoyed your visit."

Tessa blushed.

The End