Disclaimer: The Captain, the Federation and the Starship Voyager all belong to Paramount. I own nothing and gain nothing by writing this humble story.
THE SUM OF MY PARTS
First place winner in Koffee Klub PPP contest
It’s night time, or at least the ship's simulation of night, quiet with only the gentle hum of the engines and the soft sounds of even breathing. I should be sleeping, but I often don't. Instead, I lie here contemplating my life, again asking the question, perhaps the most profound of my life, the most complicated and yet the simplest. Who am I? I have, on some level, always known the answer, even as it evolved and changed through the years; however, there have been times I've needed another’s eyes to see it clearly. I am usually confident in my own assessment, but at times I have sought another’s opinion as validation of my own.
I am Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager. How many times have I spoken those words over the years? Hundreds, perhaps thousands of times, to every alien we have encountered, to friends, to enemies and occasionally I have spoken them out loud, in the seclusion of my quarters to no one but myself, a reassuring reminder of why I'm here. A reminder that there is purpose to this life I lead, people who depend on me, a mission to be accomplished. It is a valid assessment, if a limited one. I am she and all that went into making her and more.
I am an over achiever, have been since an early age, Daddy's little goldenbird always striving for the next level, reaching higher, pushing forward, using my brain to overcome the limitations of my body. Being born a woman is not the disadvantage it was a few centuries ago, but my diminutive size has always made my career choice a challenge. The word ‘choice’ could be examined, but I do believe it was a choice, one I made freely, despite my upbringing. I am a ‘Starfleet brat’. My mother, a civilian mathematician, employed early on by Fleet and Daddy of course was an esteemed Admiral. I was raised, although not literally, in the shadow of Starfleet, infused at a young age with its principles and protocols, always striving to aspire to the higher ideals of the Federation's finest. As a teenager, I worked hard to gain entrance to the academy and once there, even harder to prove that I belonged there, that I was there by my own merit not just a legacy, pushed along because I was Admiral Janeway’s daughter.
I didn’t set out to become a captain. I am a scientist at heart and my earliest goals focused on becoming the chief science officer on a Starship, deep space missions, full of challenge and discovery, colored my visions of the future. I was among the top science students in my class and easily applied the same principles to engineering when my interest was drawn in that direction. My switch to command was unusual but not unprecedented and I was able to meet every challenge in that curriculum with the same self assured determination I had exhibited in other fields. The latter change in career paths served to make me one of the most academically well rounded captains in the Fleet and enabled me to confidently handle the various challenges of this life lost in space. All of this, along with promotions, recommendations, commendations and relevant personal data, can be found in my official files. While this is an important part of me, the part that directly led to becoming Captain Janeway of Voyager, still it is not all of me.
There is Kathryn the person, the woman within the Captain. In the Alpha Quadrant, it was easy to maintain the balance, to be both a captain and a woman. The two coexisted peacefully when it was easy to pass off command at the end of a shift or the end of a mission, when there was back up and a higher authority to defer to. Then Voyager was stranded in the Delta Quadrant, 70,000 light years from Federation space, and all that changed. There was no longer a separation between the woman and the captain, the captain was never off duty, never allowed to rest and pass on the responsibility, there was no higher authority. The full weight of command, the fate of the entire crew lay heavy on the shoulders of one small woman---Captain Kathryn Janeway. And so Kathryn took a back seat and slowly began to fade away, until all that visibly remained was Captain Janeway, the consummate Starfleet professional. Kathryn was buried so deeply that no one could see her struggle for freedom, no one could hear her cries—well, almost no one.
I watch him sleeping, the stars sending just enough light through the view port to allow me to distinguish his features, see the deep blue lines of his tattoo. I hear his even breathing and feel his heart beat softly under my hand and I know without him the part of me that is Kathryn would be lost. The part that is human, strong yet sometimes frail, the part that is allowed to feel, to laugh and cry, to freely express her hopes, divulge her darkest fears and dare to dream, that so essential part of me, lives because of him. It is because of him that I can admit my faults, acknowledge my needs and know that by doing so, I have diminished neither Kathryn nor the Captain but enhanced them both, in my own eyes as well as those of my crew. He has patiently taught me how to put the pieces of myself back together, how to allow the Captain to step back and permit Kathryn to temporarily take the lead, how to live.
Yes, I AM Kathryn Janeway, captain of Voyager, wife of Chakotay, woman and leader, larger than life yet small and sometimes fragile. And still, I am more than the sum of all these parts, with him by my side--- I am complete.