| The senior staff sat around
the table, in the briefing room, Tuvok had given his security report, Harry
reported all systems functioning normally and B'Elanna gave an engineering
report, reminiscent of all the others in the last few weeks ---Voyager
was in the best shape she could be in.
"Now that we have taken care of business ---on to the important matters of the day." The Captain smiled. "Mr. Paris ---your holoprogram plans for the wedding?"
"Captain, I'll be meeting with Ensign Wildman when we're finished here -- once I know what she wants, It should be ready by tomorrow afternoon at the latest."
"Very good. Mr Nelix have you gone over the catering with Ensign Wildman?"
"No, I'll be meeting with Lieutenant Wildman, she's in charge of it."
"OK, Ms. Torres you're in charge of the shower and Mr. Kim it's your job to keep the bachelor party down to a dull roar."
"Captain ---bachelor party? Isn't that more Tom's thing?"
"Exactly why it was assigned to you." She continued over the laughter. "We're new around here and I wouldn't want passing ships to get the wrong idea about us. Now, we have only two days before the wedding --let's do it. Dismissed."
The officers filed out of the briefing room, as was normal procedure the Commander remained behind with the Captain. She poured their customary second cups of coffee and returned to sit beside him.
"Seems like only yesterday----as they say." She shook her head. "Quite the day, when that child was born."
The bridge was quiet, the Commander sat drumming his fingers on his arm rest. The Captain paced around and around the upper deck until even Tuvok was dizzy. Tom swiveled in his chair and Harry idly thumped his console. Even Tuvok was tense.
"This is ridiculous.---It's been seven hours." Tom swiveled again. "How long does it take to deliver a baby?"
"As long as it takes, Mr. Paris." The Captain stopped her pacing and leaned on the railing. Tom just rolled his head.
"Indeed---during the birth of our third child, my wife was in labor for 96 hours." Tuvok related in his usual calm manner.
"FOUR days!" Harry couldn't believe it.
"I have learned that pregnancy and patience go hand and hand." Tuvok countered.
"You know--I didn't expect to be this nervous." Chakotay smiled and squirmed a little. "It's not even my child."
"In a way this child belongs to all of us. It's the first baby born on Voyager." The Captain returned to her chair and sat down. "I'm just not sure if I should be welcoming it on board or apologizing."
"Captain?" Chakotay didn't understand.
"Voyager isn't exactly anyone's idea of a nursery and the delta quadrant isn't much of a playground."
"My father had a saying, Captain--Home is where ever you happen to be." Chakotay smiled at her.
"Captain, long range sensors are picking up heavy sub space communication ahead--they are Vidiian." With that announcement Tuvok changed the course of the conversation and the day.
"And that was only the beginning. Vidiians, duplicate Voyagers, proton bursts, hull breaches, coming face to face with---me--it was a busy day." Kathryn smiled a sad smile and he knew where her thoughts had wandered.
"The babies on this ship do seem to have exceptionally bad timing." He placed his hand over hers. "We were doing battle with the Tazarriee the day Katie was born." His eyes misted as he spoke, fifteen years and it still hurt.
"Yes, I find that day a little hard to forget." She smiled at him and gave a little laugh, but her eyes were moist.
The klaxons blared red alert, the ship rocked, as the Captain struggled to her feet and worked her way out of the ready room. This is what she needed today. She was eight and a half months pregnant and feeling like she had been hit by a transport, her legs hurt, her feet were swollen and her back had been particularly annoying all morning ---now this.
The doors to the ready room opened to smoke and sparking consoles, the bridge shook and the Captain grabbed for the railing to keep her balance. He was at her side in a second.
"Report." She yelled above the noise.
"A Tazarriee war ship just dropped out of warp and started firing, Captain." The Commander explained as he grabbed hold of her and assisted her to the command chair, with a 'you shouldn't be here look'. "They don't answer our hails -- we're returning fire."
"Direct hit port bow--shields holding at 75%" Tuvok reported with a quick look of concern toward the Captain.
"Evasive maneuvers, Mr. Paris." She held on to the arms of her chair as it rocked with the next blast. "Target their weapons, Mr. Tuvok."
"Hull breach deck Ten---force fields holding." Harry began the damage reports. "Casualties on deck seven and ten. Secondary systems off line."
"Ready photon torpedoes, Mr. Tuvok. Target weapons."
"Locking on, Captain."
"Direct hit, Weapons off line."
"Captain, two more Tazarriee ships on sensors."
"ETA, Mr. Kim."
"Ten minutes at current speed."
"Mr. Paris can we get out of here?"
"Yes, Ma'am---warp engines on line."
"Do it Mr. Paris---warp six." She held on even though the change in movement was absorbed by the inertia dampers.
Tom took them to warp and out of range of the approaching warships-----but just barely.
"Captain, we just dropped out of warp."
"Bridge to engineering.---What's going on?"
"Torres, Captain---Warp drive off line. We have a phase variance"
"When can we get it back up, B'Elanna?"
"At least two hours, Captain --I can give you impulse."
"We'll take it. B'Elanna were gonna need warp as soon as you can---and now wouldn't be too soon."
"Understood Captain---I'm on it."
"Keep me informed ---Janeway out." She shook her head at Chakotay. "Mr. Kim what have you got on those other ships?"
"Nothing yet, Captain."
"Keep an eye on it Harry, they won't be far behind. Tom take us out of here a full impulse." She turned to Chakotay. "Coordinate the repair crews, I expect them back within the hour --- if we don't get warp."
"I'll be in the ready room." She pushed herself out of the command chair.
"Captain---are you OK?" He gently gave her a boost.
"Yes, fine." She smiled and waddled from the bridge.
She replicated a cup of tea and lowered herself to the couch, stuffing a pillow behind her aching back. She rested her head on the back, shifting in an effort to find a comfortable position. When only fifteen minutes later, the door chimed there was no question who it was.
"Come in, Commander." The door swished open and he entered grinning. "Don't you grin at me." She aimed a death glare at him but couldn't stop the smile that followed.
"How you doing?" He knelt beside the couch. "Can I get you anything?"
"No, I'm fine----big, round, uncomfortable, awkward...."
"Enough." He held up his hands in surrender. "I know, and it's all my fault."
Yes, it is!"
"I know and I'm gonna pay for it!" He bent and kissed her. "First payment."
"Not bad--if I felt better.." She laughed. "Or maybe if the Tazarriee weren't trying to kill us, I might do something about that."
"And then the Doctor would be trying to kill us-too." They laughed. "Are you sure you're OK?"
"No ---but I haven't been sure of that for a long time---I am way too
old for this."
"Bridge to ready room." Tuvok's voice resounded through the room.
"Janeway here, what is it Mr.Tuvok?"
"Captain, three Tazarriee ships on sensors---ETA forty seven minutes."
"Acknowledged, keep me informed---Janeway out." She dropped her head back on the couch. "Janeway to Torres."
"B'Elanna---what's the warp status?"
"We've got three warships ETA 45 minutes."
"Acknowledged Captain, I'll notify you as soon as they are ready."
"Understood---Janeway out." She raised her head to see the concern on his face. "You look like you're in pain, Chakotay." She laughed at his expression.
"Not me--you---you never looked like this before."
"I've never been eight and a half months pregnant before." She struggled to put her feet on the table, he helped her, "How are the repairs going?"
"Going--you know-these things take time."
"We have to be ready, as ready as possible." She shifted to sit up straighter. "I wish I could help."
"I know--that's your real problem---but Kat, you wouldn't even fit in some of those jeffries tubes." As he said it he ducked, knowing she would swing at him.
"Nice guy---thanks a lot." She gave him a push. "OK one of us has to work---keep me posted. I'll be on the bridge before they get here."
"I can handle it you know."
"I know--now get."
"Now get?---is that some new protocol, I don't know about?"
"Dismissed MR!" She smiled as he bent and kissed her head, before leaving.
Seemed she had just closed her eyes, just relaxed and he called.
"Sickbay to Captain Janeway."
"Yes, Doctor--what can I do for you?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing."
"Doctor --the point please, I'm busy up here."
"Yes, Ma'am, I would say you are---but, not as busy as you will be soon."
"Your point, Doctor?"
"Touchy too--to be expected-I suppose. Humm."
"Yes, well the Commander was concerned and asked me to check on you."
"Yes, I have had the computer monitor you for weeks now--as you already know--and I can see just how fine you are. How long has your back been aching?"
"If you read the computer logs ----than I suppose you already know."
"Yes, well it's now 1300 hours ---according to my readings --- I would say you have been in labor for almost ten hours --- did you intend to call me?"
"When it becomes necessary."
"Bridge to Janeway."
"Captain the Tazarriee ships are closing ---five minutes to intercept."
"On my way ---Janeway out. " She struggled to get off the couch, a deeper pain caused her to fall back.
"Captain, I would not advise you're going to the bridge."
"Oh Doctor---you're still there."
"Yes and you are in no condition to command this ship ----especially if we are to engage an enemy."
"Torres to Janeway."
"Captain we have warp."
"Will it hold, B'Elanna?"
"Yes Ma'am--I certainly hope so."
"Acknowledge, good work B'Elanna--please inform the bridge--Janeway out"
B'Elanna informed the bridge the warp drive was back on line and also that the Captain had asked her to do so. Chakotay took it from there. They went to warp and it held. They cleared Tazarriee space in twenty minutes with no sign of pursuit.
"Chakotay to Janeway"
"Yes, Commander." The voice didn't hold it's usual strength.
"We have cleared Tazarriee space, no sign of pursuit."
"Well under way, Captain."
"Resume course for the alpha quadrant."
"Commander ---- could you come in here, please."
"On my way---Chakotay out."
Handing the bridge off to Tuvok with a nod, he entered the ready room without ringing the chime. Kathryn was laying on the couch.
"Kath--- how you doing?" He knelt beside her and when she opened her eyes, the pained look on his face made her laugh.
"As expected ---as our EMH would say." She managed to get out, between laughter and her next contraction. He watched her try to manage it with her breathing. "Better than you, by the look on your face."
"I love you." He said and she laughed again.
"Right now--I'm not real fond of you---but I'll get over it." She grimaced and he wondered how HE would get through this. "Lifts working?"
"If you'll help me up..." She gripped his arm, closing her eyes.
"Chakotay to sickbay."
AH Commander---has your wife found the time to come and see me?"
"On our way, Doctor---Chakotay out." He cut the link, the last thing she needed now was the doctor's sarcasm.
He helped her off the couch and she leaned on him as they exited the ready room. Just outside the door, she stopped, gripping his arm so that he could feel her nails through the many layers of Starfleet he wore. He supported her and waited. Finally she looked up and shook her head wordlessly. He lifted her and carried her to the lift, the door to which Tuvok already held open. He officially passed the bridge to Tuvok as the doors closed.
"She was a beautiful little girl."
"Just like her mother." He held her eyes for a moment, then she shook her head, as if to clear it.
"Come on--- we can't sit here all day." As she got up and he grabbed her hand.
"Because---we have a wedding to plan --come on, I need you to protect Harry from Tom."
"Someday your gonna realize Harry is forty seven years old---I think he can take care of himself."
"Couldn't be- that would make me sixty-two.... oh my --that can't be." She tugged on his hand and they entered the bridge laughing.
"Paris to Janeway"
"Captain, I spoke to Naomi and I'm in holosuite two---sure could use your help."
"Alright Tom, on my way." She turned and shrugged at Chakotay. "Bridge is yours Commander---see you for lunch?"
"Yes, Ma'am. 1300--mess hall?"
"You've got a date." She flashed him a crooked smile before disappearing into the lift.
The rest of the morning passed quickly. Kathryn and Tom set up the perimeters for the holoprogram, Chakotay put the finishing touches on some crew evaluations and recommendations Starfleet wanted.
"Janeway to Chakotay."
"Commander, are you in the habit of standing up your commanding officers?"
"Standing up?--what time is it?"
"1330---I'm in the mess hall."
"On my way --Chakotay out."
Kathryn was sitting with Tom and Harry, he could hear her laughter when he got off the lift. He loved to hear her laugh --it was so rare in the beginning and there were many long stretches without much laughter, but now--now was a more relaxed time.
"Sorry I'm later." He set his tray next to hers. "What did I miss?"
"Kathryn and I were just talking about our 'children'." Tom smiled and patted her hand. "I think they looked just like you."
"You don't even remember seeing them." She shook her head. "I remember what you looked like ----I hope they didn't look like you---poor things."
"Unfortunately, that's not all I don't remember." Tom laughed.
"Oh I remember. I remember the three days it took to find you. I remember him." Harry pointed at Chakotay. "I had to deal with this guy, from the time you abducted her."
OK, time for the truth---it was her idea---she abducted me."
"Yea--that's believable ---besides we found her phaser and we knew she had fired it." Harry shook his head. "Not only did I get to tell him that, but then you went to trans warp and we lost you ---three days I had to put up with him."
"How do you think I felt --three days I had to put up with Tom."
"You don't remember anymore than I do." Tom smirked at her.
"But I can imagine." She raised an eyebrow.
"Well, I remember. When we finally found you on that planet ---god what a shock. We took a security team down and Tuvok wasn't very helpful." Chakotay laughed at the picture in his mind.
The away team, including Chakotay and Tuvok, materialized in the humid jungles of the planet. Coming through the heavy vegetation, they discovered them. Two large, slimy, gray, amphibian creatures, side by side on the edge of a swampy pond of greenish water. Chakotay stunned them and bent to run his tricorder over them.
"There are traces of human DNA --but I have to admit I'm not sure which one is the Captain." Chakotay looked helplessly from the creatures to Tuvok and back again.
"The female, obviously." Tuvok flatly stated, earning him a death glare from Chakotay.
Their attention was drawn to three small gray amphibians and they watched as they slithered down to the edge and submerged themselves in the swamp.
"I don't know how I'm going to enter THIS in the log." Chakotay shook his head.
"I look forward to reading it." Tuvok dead panned.
"It was about the first time I realized you were right about him having a sense of humor. A little warped, but a sense of humor none the less."
"He can be quite funny in his own way. I've learned to appreciate it." She turned to Tom. "I remember sickbay---you weren't your cocky self that day."
When the doctor finished restoring them to their human DNA and was satisfied they were stable, he ordered them to remain in sickbay for three days. The Captain watched Tom across the room, he fidgeted and shifted uncomfortably on the bio bed across sickbay. She excused herself from the Doctor and crossed over to Tom.
"Captain." Tom shifted and looked down.
"I've thought about having children, but I must say- I never considered having them with you." Kathryn smiled at his obvious discomfort.
"Ahhh---Captain ---I'm sorry --I" He tried to look at her, but had to look away. I don't know what to say ---except I don't remember very much about- about...." He scrunched up his face. "You know."
"What makes you think it was your idea?" She walked over and sat next to him. "Sometimes it's the female of the species that initiates mating ---but apology accepted none the less." She smiled and he relaxed a little. "You may be interested to know, I'm putting you in for a commendation ----regardless of the out come, you did make the first transwarp flight."
"Thank you, Captain." He said without much enthusiasm.
"Is something wrong, Lieutenant?"
"I don't know." He took a few steps and turned back. "I guess this whole experience has left me a little overwhelmed ---flying at warp 10, evolving into a new life form, mating, having alien offspring."
"You've broken more than on record. That's for sure."
"It was a strange experience---that's for sure." Tom laughed.
"I'll say --- I found myself jealous of Tom Paris. All over that ugly lizard creature, yet." He smiled and put his arm around her. "You know I love you, Kath --- but you were really ugly as a lizard."
"Yes, well we know you don't worry about that now don't we --- beauty is only skin deep --right?" She winked at Tom and Harry. "Now I, myself don't find species 8472 an attractive life form---but you..."
"Now, now Kathryn I believe YOU sent me on that date with Valerie."
"I sent you to meet with her -- to uncover their operation --I didn't tell..." She turned to the others. "Did I order him to kiss that overgrown grasshopper?"
"OK, If you will excuse me --I believe it is time to get back to work." Harry stood up a cleared his tray and Tom followed.
"You two are chickens." Kathryn laughed at their hasty exit.
"I have learned a few things -- like when to shut up --took a while." Tom laughed. "Hey, Sandrine's later?"
"Yea, we'll be there." Chakotay called at the retreating figures. "You do know how to clear a room."
"I too have learned a few things---like how to get rid of Tom and Harry." She winked at him. "Janeway to Bridge."
"Tuvok here, Captain."
"Mr. Tuvok --status? Any thing in need of my attention?"
"No Captain, all systems functoining normally."
"Thank you Mr. Tuvok, the Commander and I have somethings to attend to after lunch. The bridge is yours ---you know how to reach me it I'm needed."
"Thank you---Janeway out."
"What was that about?" He cocked his head and studied her.
"I just gave us the afternoon off." She smiled that lopsided smile. "Come on, I think the hydroponics bay needs inspection."
"Yes Captain, I hear it is seriously deserted these days."
"I hope so." She took his hand and left the mess hall.
|RETURN TO INDEX|
|RETURN TO PART TWO|