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"Paris, I'm here to relieve you." Chapman said as he approached.
"What? I've still got another half hour before my shift is over." Paris said in surprise.
"There's a rumor going around that one of your genetic donors wants to come here to visit with you. So I've got this. I hope it turns out to be wonderful." Chapman said quietly.
"Thanks. When your parents come to visit, I'll do the same for you." Paris said as he stood.
"It's a deal." Chapman said with a hopeful smile.
As Paris left his station, he noticed that everyone on the bridge was watching him, and their eyes were filled with hope and longing that sometime soon they might also be going to the transporter room to greet the people that were vital in their creation.
* * * * *
"How does it feel?" Kel asked quietly as Paris walked into the transporter room.
"To tell you the truth, I'm a little bit scared." Paris said with a self deprecating chuckle.
"I'm happy for you." Kel said quietly.
Paris looked at him for a moment, then said, "Be happy for us. You're my son, so that means that you're also about to meet your grandfather."
"Are you going to tell him about me?" Kel asked in surprise.
"Of course! I told Tom that I wanted him to meet my family, that includes you." Paris said seriously.
"Thanks." Kel whispered as tears welled in his eyes.
Paris walked behind the transporter controls to pull Kel into a firm hug.
* * * * *
The hug went on for long, silent minutes before it was interrupted by a beeping tone on the transporter console.
Kel broke away and examined the console before saying, "He's early. I guess he wants this as much as you do."
"I guess so." Paris said as he straightened his posture and fought to get his nervousness under control.
"Here he comes." Kel said as he linked with Voyager's transporters and initiated the transport.
Paris watched with wide, hopeful eyes as the sparkling image in the transporter started to take form.
Kel slowly dragged the sliders down the console to complete the transport.
Paris had to fight the urge to move Kel out of the way and yank the sliders down, just to get it over with.
Finally, the sparkling of the transporter stopped and before them stood the man that Paris remembered being, at least, one of them.
When Tom saw Paris standing, waiting for him, a wide smile crossed his face.
"Welcome to the Amalgam." Paris said quietly and fought to keep his voice from cracking.
"Thanks. It's great to finally be here." Tom said as he stepped off the transporter pad.
It took a moment for Paris to snap out of his daze and he rushed to say, "Tom, I'd like for you to meet Kel, he's our transporter chief... and my son."
"You have a son?" Tom said with surprise.
"And a daughter." Paris added cautiously, not able to tell if Tom were happy at the announcement.
"That's wonderful!" Tom said as he stepped forward and pulled Paris into a joyful hug.
Paris couldn't do more than return the enthusiastic hug as his emotions seemed to be on overload.
"What should I call you?" Kel asked timidly as he watched the scene.
Still holding Paris in his arms, Tom looked to Kel and said, "How about you call me Tom for right now. It may take me a few minutes to get used to being called 'Grandpa'."
Kel nodded his agreement to the arrangement, then was surprised when Tom extended an arm and invited Kel into their hug.
After a moment more of hugging, Paris quietly asked, "Would you like a tour of the ship? I bet that the entire crew would like to meet you. Most of them remember you, from when you arrived on Voyager."
Tom chuckled and said, "Maybe later. Right now, I'd like to see where you live... your home."
Paris smiled as he pulled out of the hug, then said, "I think you'll really like it. We made it mostly like a human home, so you'll probably be really comfortable there."
"And we have a spare room, right beside mine, if you want to spend the night, sometime." Kel added hopefully.
Paris reluctantly stepped away from Tom and led the way out of the transporter room.
"You won't get in trouble for leaving the transporter, will you?" Tom asked Kel as he followed them.
"No. They call me on my badge when they need me to be there." Kel said honestly.
Tom smiled and said, "I suppose that makes a lot more sense than having people on duty, doing nothing, waiting around until they're needed."
"We don't have enough crew to be able to do that. Most of us have multiple duties to be able to do everything to keep us going." Paris said frankly.
"Yeah. I work the transporters, but I also help Uncle Carey in Engineering, when he needs me." Kel announced proudly.
"Engineering?" Tom asked with surprise at the sight of the young teenage boy.
"Kel's been a tremendous help. In fact, when I show you the mess hall, you'll get to see a picture of him at the end of one of his longer days." Paris said with a fond glance back at his son.
"Here we are! This is our cabin!" Kel said excitedly as he rushed ahead to put in his passcode for the door.
Tom looked around the hallway before saying, "I can see that this used to be a Kazon ship, but you've really cleaned it up."
"It took a week just to get rid of the smell." Kel said with a crinkled nose as he waited for Tom and Paris to enter the cabin.
Tom laughed as he said, "I can imagine."
* * * * *
H'Ree was sitting in the recliner with Angel in his lap when they entered.
"Tom, I'd like for you to meet H'Ree, and in his lap is my daughter, Angel." Paris said proudly.
"Is this your father?" H'Ree asked cautiously.
"That's right, H'Ree. He wanted to see where I live." Paris said with a grand smile, unable to contain his joy.
"May I?" Tom asked as he walked to the recliner and looked down into the bundle in H'Ree's arms.
"She's just been bathed and changed, so it should be safe to hold her, if you want." H'Ree said as he carefully lifted Angel and offered her to Tom to hold.
"She's my sister." Kel supplied as he watched the scene before him.
"She's Cardassian?" Tom asked in confusion.
"She's one quarter Cardassian. But her Cardassian features seem to show through most prominently." Paris explained gently.
"She's absolutely beautiful." Tom smiled.
"Yes. She is." Paris confirmed.
"Dad... I mean, Bey, called a few minutes ago and said that he should be here soon." H'Ree said as he had most of his attention on Tom holding Angel.
"That's fine, and you can call him Dad if you want. Even though we haven't worked out all the family arrangements exactly, you live here and you are a part of our family." Paris said seriously.
"So you have three children?" Paris asked as he finally looked up from the baby in his arms.
"Four... maybe. H'Ree and Dohn live here and are part of our family, but we haven't done anything official about it, yet, so none of the traditional labels fit exactly right." Paris said cautiously.
As the cabin door opened, everyone inside could hear Bey saying, "...maybe they're in here."
Bey and Dohn stopped inside the door when they saw Tom Paris standing in their living room, with Angel in his arms.
"Dad, this is my husband, Bey. And beside him is Dohn. He may decide to be our son." Paris said gently.
Tom stared at Bey with a surprised expression for a moment, then his expression softened as he said, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Bey. I guess this means that you're my son-in-law."
Bey smiled at Tom's words and took them as a symbol of his acceptance.
"Yes. From what I know of Human customs, I believe that's right." Bey said happily.
"What does that mean?" H'Ree asked curiously.
"What's that, H'Ree?" Paris asked gently.
"Son-in-law?" H'Ree asked as he looked up at Paris inquiringly.
"When your son or daughter marries a man, that man is known to you as your son-in-law. That means that he's your son, not by genetics but by marriage." Paris carefully explained.
"So, is Dohn going to be your son-in-law when he marries Kel?" H'Ree asked curiously.
Paris looked at Kel then at Dohn to find them listening with interest.
"Yes. I suppose he would." Paris said with a smile.
"Then what does that make me?" H'Ree asked curiously.
Paris looked from Bey to Tom hopefully, but neither seemed to have any idea of what the right answer might be.
"Since we're all here, why don't we decide that right now? H'Ree, would you like for me and Bey to be your fathers? Or would you like for it to be Kel and Dohn?" Paris asked gently.
"But, do you want me?" H'Ree asked cautiously.
"Of course we do. You're already part of our family. All we're doing now is to figure out if I'm going to call you my son or my grandson." Paris finished with a smile.
"Well, if my vote counts for anything, I think you should pick Paris and Bey. I'm not ready to be a great grandfather." Tom said with a grin.
H'Ree looked around uncertainly for a moment, then looked at Paris and asked, "If you're my father, then does that mean that Kel is my brother and Angel is my sister?"
"That's right. And Dohn will be your brother-in-law." Paris said with a smile.
"Let's do that! I want to be just like Kel and be Angel's brother who takes care of her." H'Ree said happily.
"We'll talk to your Aunt Janeway about it later to make it all official." Paris said warmly.
"Everyone, please sit down and make yourselves comfortable." Bey said when he noticed that they were all standing in the middle of the room.
"Come over here, grandfather, this chair is the best, especially when you're holding Angel." H'Ree said as he ushered Tom to the recliner.
"My grandparents used to have one like this." Tom said before sitting down.
"That's what Paris told us, so we made it for him." Bey said with a loving smile at his husband.
Tom got comfortable and noticed H'Ree watching him.
"I think there's room for one more, if you want to scoot on in here with me." Tom said with a smile.
H'Ree didn't need to be asked twice. He climbed into the space and fitted in just as if it had been made for him.
Paris and Bey sat together on one end of the couch as Kel and Dohn sat on the other.
It took a moment before Dohn could work up the courage to do it, but he finally put his arm around Kel and held him gently.
"Paris, I'm so happy for you. I know what it feels like to not have a family, or at least not any that behave like family. I never seriously considered being a father before, but I think that if I could only have one wish for my son, it would be to have this, what you already have. I don't know if that makes any sense." Tom finished quietly.
"Dad. It's not my family, it's our family." Paris said warmly.
"I bet I'm the only Ocampan anywhere, ever, to have a grandfather." H'Ree said happily, snuggled into Tom's side.
Tom thought about what H'Ree had said, then looked at Paris and Bey with concern.
"There's something that I can tell you that will ease your mind about that, but it's something that can't be repeated." Paris said seriously.
"We'll keep it in the family." Tom assured him.
"Thanks to the information and equipment from the Ocampan genetics lab, where we were created, we've been able to develop a genetic therapy to manipulate Ocampan base genetic codes." Paris said quietly.
"I can see why you'd want to keep that quiet." Tom said gravely.
"I can't say for sure that it would be illegal in the Federation, but I'm certain that it would be the topic of some heated debate." Paris said frankly.
Tom nodded his agreement to the assessment.
"So, as you probably have guessed, we've developed a genetic manipulation process that can alter the natural lifecycle of Ocampans, extending it to be more in line with other humanoid species that we're familiar with." Paris said carefully.
Tom turned his attention to the boy at his side in the chair and said, "So that means that I'll have you around for snuggling for a very long time."
"They won't do it to me, yet. I already said that I want to, but they said that I can't decide what I want for myself." H'Ree said grumpily.
"That's not what we said." Paris responded gently, "We just wanted for you to have a little time to live here with us so that you'll be really sure about what you want. Because, once we start the treatment, you're committed to it, there's no turning back."
"See?" H'Ree said with exasperation.
"Once everything's settled with Voyager, we'll talk to your Aunt Janeway about starting the treatments, how's that?" Bey asked with a smile.
"Dohn, too?" H'Ree asked hopefully.
"If he wants to." Bey said as he looked toward Dohn with question.
Dohn glanced at Kel, held close to his side, then quietly said, "Yes. I want to undergo the procedure."
"Good. Well, if that's settled, who's ready for some dinner?" Bey asked with a smile, breaking the delicate mood.
"Kel, can you help me make Angel's bottle? I'm still not sure I'm doing it right." H'Ree asked hopefully.
"I'm sure that Chell already has a few bottles made up that you'll just have to warm up. I'll show you how to make Angel's formula sometime when Tom isn't here." Kel said gently.
"You can call me 'grandpa' or 'grandfather' if you want to, Kel. I think I've had enough time to adjust to it, now." Tom said as he encouraged H'Ree to get up from the chair.
"Thank you, Grandfather. I would like that, very much." Kel said happily.
"I'll get Angel's carrier." H'Ree said as he raced toward Paris and Bey's bedroom.
"I'll get the diaper bag." Kel said more slowly as he followed.
"You guys have a wonderful home." Tom said as he looked around.
"Please, think of it as your home, too. We'd be happy to have you here whenever you can visit." Paris said sincerely as he stood.
"That's right. That bedroom, right over there, is yours, whenever you want to use it." Bey said as he pointed.
"I'll remember that." Tom said as he fought to maintain his welling emotions.
* * * * *
"This is my grandfather!" H'Ree announced happily as they walked into the mess hall.
The people eating in the mess hall all smiled at H'Ree's enthusiastic declaration.
Gerry stood and walked to the group before saying, "My name is Geron Ayala, but you can call me Gerry."
Tom laughed before saying, "I could have guessed that without you ever telling me. You look just like them."
"Thank you, I think." Gerry said uncertainly.
"We're just going to have dinner, would you like to join us?" Paris asked hopefully.
"Yeah. As soon as Dalby gets here." Gerry said seriously.
"That's Dalby Telfer." Bey whispered to Tom.
"Dalby Telfer-Ayala." Gerry corrected with a happy smile.
"Right. They just got married." Bey said with an affectionate grin at Gerry.
"It's funny, but we haven't had a single marriage on Voyager since we've been in the Delta." Tom said consideringly.
"Maybe it's because you're trying to get back to your old lives and we're just starting our new ones." Bey said frankly.
Tom looked at Bey with surprise, then said, "You know, that might be it."
"Everyone, please sit down while I go get Angel's bottle." Bey said with a tender smile at his 'father-in-law'.
"I'll get it, Dad. You sit down." Kel said as he started toward the kitchen.
"I'll help you." H'Ree said immediately, as he hurried to follow, carrying Angel in her carrier on his back.
"It's still hard for me to believe that Kel is your Transporter Chief... and your son." Tom added with a grin as he took his seat.
"There are plenty of jobs for everyone on the Amalgam. Dohn is our Chief of Security and H'Ree is our... I don't know what title we should give him." Paris faltered.
"Chief Babysitter?" Bey suggested with a smile.
"Although I think he would be honored if we gave him that title, we can probably come up with something a little better." Paris said warmly to his husband.
"What are you talking about?" Gerry asked curiously.
"We're setting things up so that H'Ree can take care of Angel when we're all working. We were thinking that, when other babies are born, H'Ree could do the same for other people and operate sort of a daycare center and playground." Bey said seriously.
"That sounds like a great idea. Way to think ahead, guys!" Gerry said happily.
"H'Ree's going to heat up her bottle, he didn't want me watching over him." Kel said as he returned to the table.
At Bey's look of concern, Kel added, "Chell's keeping an eye on him, if he needs any help."
"Did I miss anything?" Dalby asked as she approached the table.
"Please, join us." Bey said immediately.
Dalby took the seat beside Gerry as he explained, "The guys were just saying that they're going to be setting up a daycare."
"And Dalby, I'd like for you to meet my father, Tom." Paris interjected.
"It's nice to meet you, Tom. I'm Dalby Telfer-Ayala." She said with a contented smile.
"I heard that you just recently got married. Congratulations." Tom said sincerely.
"Thank you." Dalby said warmly, then cautiously asked, "Do you happen to know anything about my donors? How they're doing?"
"To tell you the truth, I don't know either of them that well. I've run into Crewman Dalby a few times, he isn't my biggest fan. And I'm pretty sure that I haven't ever spoken a single word to Crewman Telfer." Tom said honestly.
"But as far as you know, they're doing alright?" Dalby asked hopefully.
"Yeah. They're both alive and well." Tom said gently.
Dalby seemed to be relieved at the news.
"I can give them a message for you if you want." Tom offered quietly.
"No. They can contact me if they're interested. I just wanted to know that they survived. That's enough." Dalby finished with a smile.
Gerry looked at Tom and seemed to be conflicted.
Tom recognized his struggle and quietly said, "Geron and Ayala are both alive and doing well, too. I don't know Geron, actually, at all. But I see Ayala on the bridge almost every day."
"Is he happy?" Gerry reluctantly asked.
"I really don't know anything about his personal life when he's off duty. If I were going to guess, I'd say that he gets up and goes to work every day then spends his free time on the holodeck during his off duty hours." Tom said thoughtfully.
"I forgot about the holodecks." Dalby said with a smile.
"Computer generated fantasy garbage... We're better off having real lives with real people." Gerry said firmly.
"Real life can be pretty wonderful." Paris said with a tender smile at Bey.
"I guess I can see that, now." Tom said quietly.
"Kel, are you available to receive an incoming transport from Voyager?" A female voice asked on Kel's badge.
"Yes, I'm on my way." Kel said as he stood.
"I'll go with you." Dohn said as he immediately followed.
"This should only take a couple minutes. Go ahead and start without us." Kel said with a smile at his family, then hurried away with Dohn following close behind.
"I wonder who's visiting now." Bey said contemplatively.
"I'm sure we'll hear all about it, soon enough." Paris said with a smile.
Bey nodded, then looked to Tom and said, "Everyone's hoping that their donors will choose to contact them."
"Is that how you think of us? As donors?" Tom asked reluctantly.
"No. We think of you as parents, but we also know that we may not be accepted by you. Somehow, even though we never discussed it, we collectively decided to call you our donors, so that if you decided not to acknowledge us, it might not hurt quite as much." Paris explained quietly.
"Well, I acknowledge you." Tom said seriously.
"I know, Dad. I'll never be able to express how much that means to me." Paris said quietly.
"Now that Angel's got everything she needs for dinner, what can I get for the rest of you?" Chell asked as he approached the table with H'Ree following close behind.
* * * * *
"Aunt Kim? Is one of your donors coming to visit you?" Kel asked happily when he saw who was waiting in the transporter room.
"That is correct. I am awaiting the signal that Voyager is ready to transport." Kim said calmly, then looked at Dohn inquiringly.
"I'm Chief of Security. I thought I should be here." Dohn explained simply.
"Practically, I do not anticipate a need for your presence. But procedurally, I believe it to be well advised." Kim said formally.
Kel smiled at Dohn, feeling that Kim's words were as close to praise as anyone would ever get from her.
A beep from the transporter console alerted them to the transporter link being established.
"Are you ready?" Kel asked as he brought the transporter online.
"Proceed." Kim said as she reestablished her posture and turned her full attention toward the transporter pads.
Kel activated the transporter and slowly pulled the slides down to transfer the matter stream.
The room was silent except for the sound of the transporter.
Finally, a single form solidified into being on the transporter pad.
"Welcome to the starship Amalgam." Kim said formally.
"Hi. Are you my..."
"I am known as Kim Tuvok." Kim said seriously.
"I'm Harry Kim... but I guess you already knew that." the man said nervously.
"Harry?" Kel asked cautiously, then looked to Dohn with question.
It took a moment, but Dohn finally realized what was puzzling Kel and slightly shrugged.
"I do not know what questions you have for me, but you may proceed at your leisure." Kim said slowly, appearing to be calm.
"I... I don't know either. I guess I just wanted to meet you." Harry stammered.
"Aunt Kim, my fathers are having dinner in the mess hall right now. Maybe you could go there to talk." Kel suggested quickly.
"Would you care to dine with me?" Kim asked cautiously.
"Yeah. I just got off shift and I was too nervous to even think about eating anything." Harry hurried to explain.
"This way." Kim said, then turned and walked out of the transporter room without a backward glance.
It took a moment for Harry to grasp what was going on, but he soon followed her, with Kel and Dohn following close behind.
* * * * *
"Look who's here." Tom said when he saw Harry enter the mess hall.
"Hi, Tom. This is Kim, my, um..." Harry faltered.
Tom smiled sympathetically, then said, "Harry, I'd like for you to meet my son, Paris, and his husband, Bey. These are his kids, H'Ree and Angel, and I think you've already met his son, Kel and his son-in-law, Dohn."
"Har-ry." H'Ree said cautiously.
Harry looked at the boy curiously.
"Did you know my mother? Her name was Shalah." H'Ree asked carefully.
"Yes. Back on the Ocampan homeworld. That was your mother? She was very kind to me." Harry said with a smile.
"My name's H'Ree, she named me after you. She always told me that she wanted me to be like you, living in freedom in the outer world. That's why we left the safety of our underground home." H'Ree explained seriously.
"I'm glad that she was able to make her dreams come true." Harry said softly.
"She was killed by the Kazons. But since her dream was for me to live in freedom, I guess it did come true. And now I get to meet you... I think she'd be happy." H'Ree finished with a smile, although his eyes were damp with unformed tears.
"I think so, too." Harry said gently to the boy.
"Would you like to join us, Kim? There's room for two more." Paris offered quietly.
"Yes. If we would not be intruding." Kim said slowly.
"You're not intruding at all. Especially since H'Ree's godfather is here." Paris finished with a smile at his newest son.
"Godfather?" Bey asked curiously.
"It's an earth thing, I'll explain it later." Paris said dismissively.
"It just means that I'm like an extra parent, if you ever need me." Harry explained to his namesake.
"Before I came to this ship, I didn't have any parents at all, now I've got three... and a grandfather!" H'Ree said happily.
"I'm still getting used to that." Tom chuckled.
Harry turned and smiled at Tom's happiness.
"Are you going to be Kim's dad?" H'Ree asked seriously.
Harry was surprised by the question and didn't know how to answer.
When he turned to look at Kim, he found the impenetrable Vulcan facade that he should have expected, looking back at him.
It took a moment for him to sift through his conflicting emotions, but he finally came to a decision and said, "Yes. Although I feel like I'm too young to have a teenage daughter, I guess I do."
"It could be worse, you could be a grandfather." Tom said with a grin.
"Do you not want to be my grandfather?" H'Ree asked Tom in a wounded tone.
"No, H'Ree. That's not what I meant at all. It's just that normally, when I think of a grandfather, I think of someone that is grey haired and keeps his false teeth in a glass at night. But I think that being your grandfather is a wonderful thing and I wouldn't ever want to do anything to change it." Tom said gently.
"Here comes the food. Let me have Angel, so you can eat." Bey said as he approached H'Ree.
"I don't mind holding her." H'Ree objected.
"I'm going to put her in her carrier and she'll probably go to sleep. Just sit back and enjoy your meal." Bey said as he carefully extracted Angel from H'Ree's lap.
"Here we go. I have everyone's food right here. Kim, and Mr. Kim, or I suppose it would be Ensign Kim, what can I get for you today?" Chell asked happily.
"I don't know what you have." Harry said uncertainly.
"We would like to have two standard dinners." Kim said simply.
"She always has the 'standard dinner', which is our daily special. She never asks what it's going to be." Chell told Harry conspiratorially, then added, "And today's special is Chicken Enchiladas with crispy taquitos on the side."
"That sounds wonderful." Harry said happily.
"I do my best." Chell said with satisfaction, then walked around the table to take Kel and Dohn's orders.
"What with replicator technology, I thought you guys would be eating like kings." Gerry said frankly.
Tom fought to swallow while he laughed at the comment, then said, "No. We have to conserve our replicator energy, so most of the time we're eating the things that Neelix can scrounge from the planets that we stop at. And, let me tell you, Leola Root never tasted this good."
"Leola Root? I don't think I've ever tasted that." Bey said cautiously.
"It tastes like a dog peed on a radish." Tom said with a wrinkled nose.
"I'll have to take your word on that." Paris chuckled.
"This is so good... where did you get chicken if you don't have replicators?" Tom asked curiously.
"When we first woke up, all we had to choose from is something that tasted like plain yogurt and these hard little cracker-cookie things. It became apparent very quickly that we wouldn't be able to sustain ourselves on that, so I set Chell to work on coming up with something better. He recruited a team to help him in the kitchen and they were able to manage some really good meals. Then, when we took possession of this ship, he had a whole new selection of ingredients to work with and we've had one fantastic meal after another, ever since." Paris said happily.
"So, what is this?" Tom asked cautiously.
"I have no idea. But there's a good chance that I'm going to ask for seconds." Paris said firmly.
Tom considered for a moment, then smiled and said, "Me, too."
* * * * *
Kim didn't say much through dinner, but kept her undivided attention on Harry the entire time. Once the meal was finished, everyone seemed perfectly content to remain in the mess hall, where there was adequate seating and everyone could be comfortable.
"This is really strange." Tom said as he looked around.
"How's that?" Harry asked curiously.
"I don't know. Whenever I'm in the mess hall, or any public place, back on Voyager, I get this certain feeling... and I don't feel that here." Tom said thoughtfully.
Paris sympathetically nodded his understanding of the feeling.
"Do you know what it is?" Tom asked curiously.
"Maybe. I don't know what you've been through the past year. But the last memory I have of yours was of being around a bunch of Starfleet people who considered you to be a coward and a traitor." Paris said frankly.
Tom winced at the words, then quietly said, "The Maquis don't have any love for me either, since I got caught while I was on my first mission with them. They think I sold them out to the Federation."
"So it's possible that what you're feeling on Voyager is leftover from all of that." Paris said simply.
After a moment to consider, Tom reluctantly said, "I guess so. People have pretty much stopped being openly hostile toward me, but that doesn't mean that they're over it."
"Well, I'm glad to see that Harry stuck by you. I remember when you two met." Paris said with a smile, hoping to change the subject.
"Yeah. Har's the best." Tom said with a smile at his friend.
"Grandfather, when you return to Voyager, do you think it would be possible for me to go with you?" Kel asked hopefully.
"Us." Dohn said seriously.
When Kel looked at him curiously, Dohn said, "If you're planning to deliver the bundle to Kes, then all three of us should go. We're no different than anyone else on the Amalgam in that we have someone on Voyager that we want to connect with."
Kel nodded, then turned back to Tom and said, "We have a bundle to give to Kes. It was given to us by one of the Ocampan elders, when they found out that we were going to try to catch up to Voyager."
"I'll need to talk to the captain about that. As far as I know, we're not allowed to bring anyone back with us. But I'll see what I can do."
"I think she's being an ungrateful bitch, after all we did, coming to her rescue." Gerry said frankly.
"Gerry!" Dalby said harshly as she slapped his arm.
"Well, it's true." Gerry said in his defense.
"No. He's right." Tom said seriously.
Everyone, including Harry, looked at him with surprise.
Tom noticed, and turned to Harry as he said, "Imagine if it had been anyone else who had come to our rescue. It doesn't matter who. Even if it was a group of clones or hybrids that wasn't related to anyone on Voyager, she wouldn't have reacted like this."
"I guess she's just being cautious." Harry said halfheartedly.
"Come on, Har. These guys pulled our fat out of the fire, and the captain has basically quarantined their ship." Tom said seriously.
"She let us come over here." Harry was quick to point out.
"Yeah. Her primary pain in the ass and his best friend." Tom said firmly.
"Do you think that she sent you over here to get rid of you?" Bey asked curiously.
"No. I think she allowed us to come over here because she knew it wouldn't make a difference. No one's going to listen if we tell them that you guys are alright." Tom said frankly.
"Then, what do you think she's up to?" Paris asked cautiously.
"I don't know that she's up to anything. What I think is happening is that she's got this idea about you, that you're clones or medical experiments or something, and that makes you less than 'real' people." Tom said thoughtfully.
"So you think that she's keeping us isolated from her 'real' people to prevent us from forming relationships and becoming important to them?" Paris asked curiously.
"Partly. Also, because of her attitude toward you, I think the people who suck up to her and try to always be on her good side will adopt that same attitude, whether or not they ever stop to take the time to think it through." Tom said speculatively.
"I guess there's one way to find out." Harry said honestly.
"How's that, Har?" Tom asked curiously.
"We'll see what happens when we get back. If Captain Janeway or Chakotay or Tuvok question us, then we'll know that they're interested in the Amalgam crew's motives and intentions. If they don't, then they're not interested in facts. They're going to base their judgements on what they already believe." Harry said frankly.
"Logical." Kim said with surprise.
Harry smiled at her and said, "I can do it when I have to."
Tom smiled at the exchange, then drifted into thought.
"Can we continue on with Voyager if they're going to behave like this?" Bey finally asked.
"We could, but why would we want to?" Dalby asked in return.
"It's too early to be talking like this. We only just caught up with Voyager today. Let's give this a little more time and see how it plays out." Paris said slowly.
"If it's going where it looks like it's going, I don't think I want to see it play out." Gerry said frankly.
Well, I think I can see where this is going. I think I mentioned something similar after reading the last chapter.
I, too, think Captain Janeway is being a bitch. But, thinking about the snotty attitude she used to show in the TV series, I can easily believe she would be quite capable of acting like 'Bertha Better Than You' to quote a song lyric by Ray Stevens.
I'm afraid that some humans have a tendency to think of themselves as somehow above others, whether it be because of race, political belief, or any other difference from the norm of the group that any of those types belong to.
The most unfortunate thing about it is that those people lose out on learning about the differences and the similarities the people whom they look down on may have and how important both things are to improving relations between different people.
I am very pleased to see the way Tom and Harry are treating their new families. I love the fact that both of them consider their offspring as being part of their families.
It would be very nice if more of the crew of Voyager would accept the fact that their children are, in fact, completely natural and alive and sentient beings, especially since those people saved their butts.
Eagerly awaiting the next chapter, I say, Thank you, MM for another exciting installment.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher