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"Janeway to Paris, Lieutenant Paris has been recalled to Voyager. Please escort him to the transporter room immediately." Janeway's voice said over his badge.
Before he could tap his badge to respond, Kim's badge went off, "Janeway to Kim, Ensign Kim has been recalled to Voyager. Please escort him to the transporter room immediately."
Everyone around the table was stunned into a moment of silence. Finally, Kim quietly said, "Come, Father. I will escort you."
"It was nice to meet all of you." Harry said quietly, sounding to be regretful as he stood.
"I'm glad I got to meet you, Harry." H'Ree said as he ran to Harry and hugged him.
"You can call me Uncle Harry. And if you ever need me, you'll be able to find me on Voyager." Harry said as he returned the hug.
"Come on, Dad. I'm betting that when Captain Janeway gives an order, she means 'now'." Paris said as he walked to his father's side.
"She usually means 'five minutes ago'." Tom responded with a half hearted grin, then pulled Paris into a hug.
"Will you be able to come back and visit with us, Grandfather?" Kel asked in a small voice.
"I don't know, Kel. But I promise that if I can visit again, I will." Tom said as he opened his arm to include Kel into his hug with Paris.
Slowly and regretfully, Tom eventually released Paris and Kel from the hug and they started walking toward the door.
"You'll always be welcomed here, on the Amalgam." Bey said seriously as he followed, then hurried to add, "Both of you."
"Thanks, Bey. I think I already knew that." Tom said with a smile at Bey.
"Do you think that there is some trouble. Is that why she is recalling you?" Dohn asked cautiously.
Tom chuckled, then replied, "No. I think it's just because she's the captain and she said so."
"That being the case, if there is a way to do so, would you please arrange it so that the Ocampans from the Amalgam can deliver a package to Kes." Dohn said seriously.
"I will talk to the captain about it. She's really fond of Kes, I'm pretty sure that she'll allow it." Tom said assuringly.
"Thank you, Lieutenant Paris." Dohn said quietly.
"You can call me Grandfather, Dohn." Tom said gently.
"I will, but not now. I am the Amalgam's Chief of Security and I am making an official request on behalf of the Amalgam and on behalf of the Ocampan people." Dohn said seriously.
"I understand. And if I don't get back with you within a day, I suggest that you contact Captain Janeway directly and tell her what you just told me." Tom said as he stopped at the transporter room door.
"I will. Thank you, Lieutenant Paris." Dohn said respectfully.
The transporter room was small to begin with, but it was claustrophobic when everyone filed in to say goodbye to Tom and Harry.
"We are linked to Voyager's transporter, ready to transport on your command." Kel said, trying to sound professional past his welling emotions.
"I suppose there's no putting this off. I hope to see all of you again very soon." Tom said as he took his place on the transporter pad.
"Bye." H'Ree choked out before moving to Dohn and sobbing into his chest.
"Energize." Paris said regretfully, then watched as Tom and Harry dissolved in a shower of bluish green sparkles.
* * * * *
The next day, tensions were running high as everyone waited for Voyager to make any contact with them.
The hopes of the crew were falling as time passed and there was no word.
"Okay, tell me again, who thought this was a good idea?" Paris finally erupted in an explosion of frustration from his station on the bridge.
"What's that?" Janeway asked wearily.
"Finding Voyager! This sucks!" Paris exclaimed.
"I regret to say that I must agree with your assessment." Kim said from her station.
Janeway was surprised by the almost emotional response.
"This won't work for the long term..." Janeway said, mostly to herself.
Everyone on the bridge waited anxiously to see what she had in mind.
There was a long moment of silence, except for the almost imperceptible sounds of the bridge stations.
Finally, Janeway took a long, slow breath to brace herself, then said, "We can't do anything too drastic, right now. If we're going to achieve our objectives, we need a plan."
"What do you see as being our objectives?" Kim asked curiously.
"Let's decide that now. Let's outline what our goals are, then make plans to achieve those goals." Janeway said firmly.
"We want to have contact with our donors." Paris said immediately.
After a moment to consider, Janeway slowly shook her head, then said, "We don't have any control over Voyager or her crew. If they had any interest in making contact, they would have made strides to do so. If there is a way to allow open contact to all those who wish it, of course we'll do that. But, realistically, Tom Paris and Harry Kim are the only ones that we know of who have made the effort."
"So, what are you saying?" Bey asked cautiously.
"I'm saying that once our objectives are achieved, we should part company with Voyager." Janeway said regretfully.
"Will we still be going to the Alpha Quadrant?" Paris asked hesitantly.
"We will probably still be going 'toward' the Alpha Quadrant, mostly because we have to go some direction, and that seems to be as good as any." Janeway said thoughtfully.
"So, if we're not going back to the Federation, what is our objective?" Kim asked curiously.
"To find a place that we can call home. From the reception that we've received from Voyager, I feel safe in saying that the Alpha Quadrant isn't necessarily it." Janeway said frankly.
"So, we're going to find an M-Class planet and... settle?" Paris asked incredulously.
"I don't want to spend the remainder of my life on a ship, working toward a goal that was never realistic to begin with. I want my child to have a home where he or she can know that they are safe and loved and just as good as any other sentient being that they encounter." Janeway said distantly.
"Are you..." Paris started to ask before thinking.
"Pregnant. Yes. Carey and I are going to have a child, and I don't want them to ever be looked down upon by some p'tahk just because of who their parents are." Janeway said seriously.
After a long silent moment for that to be absorbed, Paris finally said, "Then we'd better do this right and make sure that we get everything we want before we go our own way."
"Don't you think we should have a group meeting?" Bey asked suddenly.
"No. There are too many emotions associated with this decision. This is an instance when we must trust in our leader." Kim said firmly.
"She's right. Too many of us might make the wrong choice, hanging on to a hope that is absolutely futile." Paris said regretfully.
"I don't know if I agree with you, but since I didn't particularly want to go back to the Federation anyway, it's a moot point for me." Bey said calmly.
"If that's settled, what are our objectives?" Janeway asked seriously.
"The Ocampan's from the Amalgam would like to meet with the Ocampan, Kes, on Voyager to deliver a package from one of the Ocampan elders." Dohn said from his place at his security station.
"Yes. I'll make every effort to arrange that." Janeway said calmly.
"Realistically, one thing that Voyager has that we could really use is replicators. Although we know the specifications, we have no method of recreating the technology." Kim said firmly.
"I can't imagine any scenario where Voyager would willingly give us a replicator." Janeway said honestly.
"What about unwillingly?" Bey asked cautiously.
"Although we have more armaments, they have superior technology. I don't believe the benefit is worth the potential cost." Janeway said seriously.
"I bet your inner Klingon choked on saying that." Paris chuckled.
"Not just my Klingon, but we've got to be realistic, we've got an advantage fighting a swarm. But on a level playing field, Voyager can beat us." Janeway said simply.
No one on the bridge could find any grounds to argue the point.
"So, what does that leave us? The Ocampan crewmembers want to deliver a package and... that's it? That's the only reason we're not leaving right now?" Bey finally asked.
Before Janeway could answer, Dohn quietly asked, "If that's the case, may I be allowed to talk to Voyager's captain so we may dispense with this matter?"
"Permission, granted." Janeway said with an approving smile at Dohn.
After clearing his security display and calling up the communication controls, Dohn initiated a hail and said, "Starship Voyager, I am Dohn, Chief of Security for the Starship Amalgam. I am also the most senior of the Ocampans aboard this ship. I would like to request permission for myself and two others to meet with the Ocampan member of your crew to deliver a package and well wishes from the Ocampan elders." Dohn said formally.
There was a long silence as everyone waited for the response. Finally, Captain Janeway's voice could be heard as she grudgingly said, "Permission granted."
"Bey to Kel and H'Ree... Please meet Dohn in the transporter room so you three can go to Voyager." Bey said at his station.
"What about Angel?" H'Ree's voice responded over the intercom.
Bey muted his comm and asked, "May I go down to the transporter to watch after my daughter and to operate the transporter?"
"Yes." Janeway said with a smile.
Bey unmuted the comm, then said, "I'll meet you in the transporter room."
As he stood from his station, Bey realized that Dohn was waiting in the doorway for him.
* * * * *
When the transporter beam cleared, Dohn, Kel and H'Ree were happy to find that Tom Paris was waiting for them.
"Hi, Grandfather, I'm glad you're here." H'Ree said as he hurried forward and hugged Tom tightly.
Dohn and Kel stepped out of the transporter chamber more slowly, but had matching warm smiles.
"Hi, boys. I'm glad you could finally come over to make your delivery." Tom said happily.
Dohn seemed to be about to say something, but glanced at the transporter operator for an instant and said nothing.
Tom noticed and said, "Well, you're here to see Kes. She said that she would meet you in the observation lounge, just down the hall."
As Tom led the way, with H'Ree keeping an arm around him, the others followed.
Once they were out of the transporter room, Dohn quietly said, "It has been decided that the Amalgam will be leaving. Unless something more is decided in my absence, this is the last remaining task to be carried out before we part company."
Tom stopped and seemed to be lost in thought for a moment. Finally he said, "I suppose I should have seen this coming. I guess I just didn't want to see it."
"None of us are pleased by this development, but it appears to be necessary." Dohn said regretfully.
"Just because I regret the decision doesn't mean that I disagree with it. Please, tell Paris that I completely understand and that in his place, I would do the same thing." Tom said imploringly.
"I will tell him." Dohn said in the tone of a vow.
"Kes is in there." Tom said as he motioned to the door to the lounge. "I'll wait out here until you're done."
"Thank you, Grandfather." Kel said respectfully.
* * * * *
"When Captain Janeway told me about you, I could hardly believe that there were other Ocampans here... and you're so young!" Kes said in wonder.
"We found a wormhole that allowed us to do a year's worth of travel in a matter of minutes." Dohn said seriously.
"Elder Daggin asked us to deliver this to you, along with his best wishes and hopes for your well being." Kel said as he reverently presented the cloth bundle to her.
Kes held the bundle for a moment, then slowly began to open it.
The three boys watched, but weren't sure what they were seeing.
"It's my mother's ceremonial wedding robe!" Kes said delightedly.
"This means that you have received the blessings of the elders, should you decide to marry." Dohn explained in case Kel or especially H'Ree didn't know the significance.
"Thank you for bringing this to me. I never expected it. This is so wonderful." Kes said joyfully.
"We must return to our ship. It is good to know that you are well." Dohn said quietly.
"Wait, you can't leave, yet. You haven't even introduced yourselves. And I want to know what's been going on the past year, back on the homeworld." Kes hurried to say.
"I am Dohn, Chief of Security of the Starship Amalgam, to my right is Kel, our Chief Transporter Operator, and to my left is H'Ree, our Chief Care Provider." Dohn said formally.
Before he could say more, Kel added, "All of us left the Ocampan underground, just like you did. So we don't know what's going on there. We only stopped long enough to deliver others of our people that we rescued from the Kazons."
"You rescued our people?" Kes asked in wonder.
"That is one of many reasons why I choose to stay with the Amalgam." Kel confirmed.
"Then I won't keep you. It sounds like you're doing a lot of good in the universe." Kes said quietly.
"I think we are." Kel said with a smile.
"Thank you again for this." Kes said as she hugged her wedding robe to her chest.
"Be well." Dohn said warmly before turning to leave.
Kel and H'Ree both smiled at her happiness as they followed Dohn out of the room.
* * * * *
"Did it go well?" Paris asked curiously as the boys emerged from the Observation Lounge.
"Yes. We have completed our task." Dohn said regretfully.
"Don't give up hope. Things have a way of working out." Paris said as he led the way back to the transporter room.
"I don't see how they can." Kel said sadly.
"I know. But like I said, don't give up hope." Tom reassured him.
* * * * *
"Welcome back. How did it go?" Bey asked happily when the boys appeared.
"Mission complete." Kel said as he walked to Bey and hugged him.
H'Ree joined their hug a moment later, and finally Dohn joined in as well.
"Dohn and I need to get back to the bridge." Bey finally said as he released the hug.
"I will take Angel, so you can go." H'Ree said confidently.
"Thank you, H'Ree." Bey said warmly.
"I will stay and run my diagnostics, then I will be free to help H'Ree." Kel told his father assuringly.
"Thank you, Kel." Bey said as he took off the child carrier and handed it to H'Ree.
"Hello, Angel. I missed you." H'Ree said as he looked at his sister.
Angel cooed and seemed to share the sentiment.
Bey put a hand on Dohn's shoulder and gently guided him out of the room.
* * * * *
When Bey and Dohn returned to their stations, Janeway looked around and asked, "Can anyone think of any reason for us to continue this?"
"Not a logical one." Kim said quietly.
Paris sadly smiled at her and nodded his agreement.
After a moment to collect her emotions, Janeway opened the communications controls on her console and said, "Starship Voyager, this is Captain Winger of the Starship Amalgam. As it turns out, our objectives have changed and we will not be accompanying you any further. Please know that you will take with you our best wishes for your well being."
A moment later, Captain Janeway's voice could be heard over the intercom, "Acknowledged."
"Bitch!" Paris growled.
Janeway smiled and said, "Paris, your Klingon is showing through."
"I'm sorry, Janeway." Paris said as he fought to contain a chuckle.
"Paris, drop out of warp and stop all forward momentum. Bey, look over the charts and see if you can spot any promising planetary systems. Kim, monitor communications, just in case Voyager has second thoughts." Janeway said decisively.
"Do you have any preference as to a direction?" Bey asked curiously.
"No. Not at the moment, feel free to indulge yourself." Janeway said with a smile.
"Aye, Captain." Bey said happily.
"There's a binary pulsar system at three oh six mark seven. It might be fun to check that out." Paris said as he looked at the charts over Bey's shoulder.
"Do you expect there to be any habitable planets?" Janeway asked curiously.
"Probably not, but it'd just be cool to explore binary pulsars." Paris said frankly.
Janeway thought about it for a moment, then reluctantly admitted, "That would be cool."
"Should I plot a course?" Bey asked hesitantly.
Before Janeway could answer, Kim quickly said, "We're being hailed."
"On screen." Janeway said quickly.
Tom Paris' image resolved to show that he was in a shuttlecraft.
"Starship Amalgam, this is the Federation shuttle Sacajawea, requesting sanctuary." Tom said anxiously.
"Granted. Our hangar doors will be open and waiting for your arrival." Janeway said happily.
"Um, we didn't exactly leave with permission. You might want to be ready to... um, move." Tom suggested nervously.
"Acknowledged." Janeway said, then muted the comm.
"I think now would be an excellent time to investigate that binary pulsar system." Janeway said firmly.
"Plotting course." Bey said immediately.
"All systems good to go." Paris said confidently.
"Bey to Gerry... Do we have any of those chaff mines left?" Bey asked into his comm.
"We have four, do you need me to load'em?" Gerry asked cautiously.
"Reconfigure them to a different frequency and set them to emit false sensor images of the Amalgam, then program them to go in different directions." Bey said firmly.
"All four?" Gerry asked hesitantly.
"Yes. This trick will only work once, so we'd better make the most of it." Bey said firmly.
"We have the shuttlecraft on sensors." Kim announced.
"All hands... we're going to yellow alert. Secure your stations." Janeway called out seriously, then closed the intercom.
"Are we ready to receive them?" Janeway asked quickly.
"The hangar is depressurized and the doors are opening." Bey said quickly.
"Is the course laid in?" Janeway asked anxiously.
"Ready on your command." Paris said seriously.
"As soon as they're secure, go to maximum warp." Janeway said firmly.
"Aye, Captain." Paris said seriously and waited, with his finger poised over the button.
"Gerry to Bey... Chaff mines, ready to deploy."
"Chaff mines, away." Bey said as he launched them.
"The shuttlecraft Sacajawea is secure." Kim said professionally.
"Get us the hell out of here!" Janeway commanded.
Paris went into action, launching them into their top speed in a matter of seconds.
"I can remember when she used to say, 'Engage'." Bey said playfully.
"Those were more carefree times." Janeway said absently as she watched their progress.
"Voyager is hailing us." Kim said seriously.
"Too bad for them." Paris responded before Janeway could.
"Do NOT respond." Janeway said firmly.
"Bey, that course you plotted, it takes us right between the binary stars." Paris said anxiously.
"What good is it to have the best pilot in the Delta Quadrant if you don't make use of him?" Bey asked with a smile at his husband.
"Oh! This is gonna be fun." Paris said as he leaned forward in his seat.
There was a long silence that was finally interrupted by the doors opening.
"Captain, we request permission to come onto the bridge." Tom Paris said formally.
Janeway looked over and was surprised to see not only Tom Paris and Harry Kim, but also a woman with a baby in her arms.
"Permission granted." Janeway said seriously, then turned her attention back toward the viewscreen.
"Is there any way we can help?" Tom Paris asked as they remained standing just inside the door.
"No. But stand ready. The situation could change at any moment." Janeway said firmly, then hit the comm and said, "H'Ree... come to the bridge."
A moment later, H'Ree's voice could be heard over the intercom saying, "Bridge... I'm on my way."
"We should be out of Voyager's sensor range. Perhaps now might be a good time to be discreet." Kim said cautiously.
"I think the time for being discreet is over. Right now is the time to haul ass." Janeway said as her Klingon growl presented itself.
"I'm on it." Paris said anxiously.
Without thought, Tom Paris drifted closer to watch what Paris was doing.
"Did you need me for something, Aunt Janeway?" H'Ree asked as he walked onto the bridge with the child carrier holding Angel on his back.
"Yes, would you please take Samantha and her child somewhere a little more comfortable until we have time to sit and talk?" Janeway asked hopefully.
"Are you hungry? Chell always has something ready and he has babyfood in the stasis unit in the sickbay..." H'Ree said as he led the woman with the baby off of the bridge.
"Thank you, Captain." Tom said gratefully.
"One of the chaff mines just detonated." Bey said suddenly.
"I never received the specs on the chaff mines. How much damage would you expect it to cause?" Janeway asked cautiously.
"None. In it's current mode, it emitted a false sensor image to make anyone outside visual range think that it was us. As soon as they entered visual range, it would detonate, exploding out thousands of tiny transmitters designed to scramble sensors and subspace communications." Bey said seriously.
"Of course, in it's other mode, it can jam sensors and act more like a traditional mine, like how we used them in the battle with the Videans." Paris interjected.
"That sounds like an impressive piece of equipment." Tom said seriously.
"We do our best." Bey said with a smile at his father-in-law.
"Father, would you care to assist me?" Kim asked without looking up from her console.
"Sure, what can I do?" Harry asked as he rushed to her side.
"Would you monitor the status of the ship while I maintain focus on the sensor data?" Kim asked impassively.
"Of course. I'll be happy to help, however I can." Harry said as he watched the status board carefully.
"You're insane!" Tom said suddenly, drawing everyone's attention.
"I guess you figured out our course." Paris said with a grin.
"You're planning to go between binary pulsars? That's completely nuts!" Tom implored him to understand.
"Yeah. And how many times in a lifetime do you have a chance to do something like this?" Bey asked with a smile at Tom's reaction.
"You're all completely nuts!" Tom said as he looked around the bridge.
"Janeway, may I allow my father to take my place at the helm for just a minute, I need to make him understand." Paris asked seriously.
"Do what you need to do." Janeway said as she watched curiously.
Paris stood and motioned for Tom to take his place.
"Now, look at that course and put your hands on the controls. Tell me if you think that you can do that, or not." Paris said seriously.
Tom glanced at Paris for an instant, then did as he was told.
Something about actually being there, with his hands on the controls not only awakened the pilot within him, but also the daredevil. Between one second and the next, he could see exactly how he would navigate his way between the pulsars with only fractions of a second between them and total annihilation.
"That's enough, Dad. This one's mine. But I'll let you pilot us through the next one... I promise." Paris said as he put his hand on Tom's shoulder.
Reluctantly, Tom finally got up out of the chair.
"Are we nuts? Yes. Without a doubt. But we're also living." Paris said as he took his seat again.
"Another of the chaff mines just detonated." Bey said quietly.
"It sounds like Voyager is having a very bad day." Paris said with a barely restrained grin.
"Considering how much chaff they're dealing with, I don't think there's any possible way that they're going to be able to pick up our trail." Bey said seriously.
"And there's still two more chaff mines out there for them to discover." Paris chuckled.
"There's that, too." Bey said with a grin.
"I think that, considering that Voyager is off our tail, we really don't have any reason to endanger the ship with this 'once in a lifetime' maneuver of yours." Janeway said regretfully.
"Excuse me, Captain, but I know how Captain Janeway operates. She's relentless. Even if she ends up detonating all four of those chaff mines of yours, she won't give up. It's not if she will pick up your trail. It's a matter of when." Tom said seriously.
"Just a minute ago you were saying that we were insane for even considering taking this course, now you're saying that we should?" Janeway asked cautiously.
"It's insane. There's no doubt about that. But it's also an effective way of stopping Captain Janeway's pursuit. She's lost the only person that she had that might have been capable of piloting that big assed ship of hers between two pulsars." Paris said firmly.
"Paris, you may proceed." Janeway said simply.
"I've just received the signal, the third chaff mine has just detonated." Bey said into the silence that followed.
* * * * *
"We're at full impulse." Paris announced.
"All hands... Brace for... acrobatic maneuvers." Janeway called hesitantly.
"This is gonna be tight." Paris said past clenched teeth.
"You've got it, son. You're doing fine." Tom said as he carefully watched Paris' every move.
Bey began to furiously work his console, trying to balance the shields and negate the effects of the phenomenal gravitational forces pulling on them.
"Bey... when we get past this, are we going to be playing dead?" Kel asked seriously over the comm.
Bey smiled at the question, then quickly said, "I'll get back to you. Thanks, Kel. I love you."
While maintaining a watch on the shields, Bey said, "If we can get a decent breakaway velocity, we can shut down the engines and drop to minimal power and let the inertia carry us for quite a while. Without energy signatures to draw attention to us, Voyager won't have any way of detecting our presence, even if she does decide to take the long way around to pick up our trail..."
"...because there won't be one to pick up." Janeway said with a nod.
"All hands... continue to brace for acrobatics, they'll be coming any second now. Also, once we're past the pulsars, we're going to drop to minimal power until further notice. Make any preparations that you need to." Janeway called out firmly.
"Dohn to Kel... Are you someplace safe?" Dohn asked anxiously.
"I'm with H'Ree and Samantha in the new daycare room. Dad said that it's the most secure place on the ship. Don't worry about us. We're safe." Kel said assuringly.
"I love you, Kel." Dohn said quietly.
"I love you, too. So do H'Ree and Angel." Kel said tenderly.
"Hang on!" Paris said as he threw them into a quick spiral to avoid a pulse from one of the stars.
"Kim, switch the main screen to the tactical view. If I have to watch that, I'm going to throw up." Janeway said queasily.
"I've got it." Harry said as he switched the screen view.
"Shields are balanced. I've got you covered, Paris." Bey said quickly.
"Up!" Paris said suddenly, then the ship groaned at the stress of the sudden maneuver.
"It's okay. You got this." Tom said over Paris' shoulder.
"Thrusters Z minus three thousand... then... almost... and we're back to full impulse." Paris muttered as sweat started flowing in rivulets down his face.
"You're doing fine." Tom whispered intensely.
"We'll be out of this in five..." Bey called out.
"All hands... prepare for minimal power use." Janeway announced.
"You might want to grab onto something, Dad. This could get bumpy." Paris warned.
"Father, please secure yourself." Kim said seriously.
"Prepare to shut down all non-essential systems."
Me and My Big MOUTH!
I feel a huge scream coming on.
He just said, "The End".� Is that legal, ending a story with a cliffhanger?
Somewhere deep in my memory, I think I recall something called "The Cliffhanger Police" Does anyone remember their contact info?
I seem to recall, back at the end of chapter 18, you said something about hating to see the words "To Be Continued..."
Well, I'm happy to oblige ;)
Editor's Reply: Thanks for the great chapter, anyway, since I strongly expect to see a new adventure from the Son Of Voyager, sometime soon.
Grrrrrrrrrrr, "Be careful what you ask for, you might get it! GRRRRRRR.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher