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"Kim, are you able to target our destination?" Janeway asked as the main screen filled with the image of a swirling, and apparently unstable, wormhole.
"I need helm control!" Kim barked.
"You have it." Paris said immediately.
There was a long tense silence as Kim worked the controls of her station furiously.
Everyone watched the main screen as they seemed to be engaged in the spacial equivalent of white water rafting, speeding down one then another wormhole at a rapid pace.
The ship lurched as they made a sudden turn into a side tunnel that was barely visible.
"We are on course to what should be our intended destination." Kim said as she tried to get her breathing under control.
"All stations, report." Janeway called.
"I'm getting some damage reports, but they're all minor." Bey said from his console.
"Hull integrity is optimal." Paris said professionally.
"Engines fully operational." Carey's voice called over the intercom.
"How long before we're out of this thing?" Janeway asked cautiously.
"Approximately three point two seven minutes. I suggest that you make an announcement for all hands to brace for sudden deceleration. Our inertial dampers may not be up to the task." Kim said as she studied her console carefully.
"All hands, secure your stations and brace for sudden deceleration in three minutes." Janeway announced into the 'all call' of the intercom.
"Shield integrity is falling. We're at eighty-five percent." Bey said with sudden concern.
"Retune the shields to a higher EM frequency. We're interacting with the force that's generating the wormhole." Kim said anxiously.
"Got it!" Bey said immediately.
Paris looked over at Kel, Dohn and H'Ree, huddled together just a few feet away.
"You boys need to find something stable to grab onto. We're probably going to feel a sudden jolt when we come out of the wormhole." Paris said seriously, then added, "Make sure you protect Angel."
"Over here." Kel said as he guided the others to walk to the rail by Bey's station.
Paris divided his attention between his console and the boys as he awaited their sudden stop.
"Wormhole exit in one minute." Kim said firmly.
"All hands, sudden deceleration in one minute." Janeway called.
Time seemed to stand still as everyone waited for the end of their rapid voyage.
"Shield status?" Janeway called suddenly.
"We're up to ninety-eight percent." Bey said professionally.
"Everyone, be alert and ready for anything when we come out of this thing. We have no idea of what will be waiting for us." Janeway said firmly.
"I'm charging energy weapons." Paris said seriously.
"Torpedo status, loaded and ready to fire." Bey said next.
"Primary weapon, fully operational and ready to charge." Carey called over the intercom.
Bey looked at the boys. Kel had draped himself over H'Ree, holding onto the rail on either side of him. Dohn had one hand holding the rail and his other draped over Kel's back, protecting Angel.
"Five." Janeway called over the intercom.
There was a sudden wrenching jolt that sent everyone forward for an instant.
A moment later, the inertial damper caught up to what was happening and the sudden stress was relieved.
The sound of a baby's giggle of delight filled the room. Apparently, Angel wasn't at all traumatized by the experience.
"Kim. I need a sensor sweep, then detailed scans of the area." Janeway called as she settled back into her seat. "Bey, start working the starcharts and see if you can determine our location. Paris, I need status reports, weapons, shields, hull integrity, crew and damage reports."
No one responded to Janeway's demands other than to perform their required tasks.
"Dad, if you don't need us here, I'm going to go down to the transporter room to make sure that nothing got shook loose down there." Kel said quietly.
"That's a good idea." Bey said with a smile at Kel, then said to all the boys, "After that, why don't you guys relax for a while after all the excitement? Then, when we're off shift we can go with you to get Dohn and H'Ree some new clothes."
"You don't have to bother. I can do that." Kel said immediately.
"You can if you like, but really, it's no bother." Bey said as he tried to match the visible constellations with the star charts of where they 'should' be.
Kel leaned in and gave Bey a quick kiss on the cheek before stepping away. He then hurried to Paris and gave him a hug around the shoulders and a quick kiss before leaving.
"I have it!" Bey called out. "We're approximately twenty three light years beyond our target."
"How are we in relation to Voyager's most likely projected course?" Janeway asked as she sat forward.
"In a straight line, it would take us three days to reach it. If we set a parabolic course, we'll intersect with it in a week, but we'll also be making progress toward the Alpha quadrant." Bey said professionally.
"Damage reports are in. There's nothing significant to report. Just a few bumps and bruises." Paris called out.
"According to my scans, we are relatively close to a populated planetary system. If we establish contact with them, it might be possible to ascertain if Voyager has visited this part of space." Kim said frankly.
"Let's take some time to get our bearings before we do that. It might be a good idea to monitor communications so we can get a sense if they're friend or foe before we risk making contact."
Kim gave a single nod as she worked her controls.
"There's a small nebula one point two light years ahead if you want to mask our presence while we decide what to do next." Bey said frankly.
There was a long moment of silence as everyone worked on their assigned duties and waited for Janeway's decision.
Finally, Janeway said, "We're here. But the fact of the matter is, the probability of us actually being able to locate Voyager is astronomical."
Kim turned and opened her mouth, but before she could speak, Janeway held up a finger in her direction and said, "Don't."
After a single nod, Kim turned her attention back to her scans.
"Up to now, catching up to Voyager has been our primary objective. But now that we're here, I think we're going to have to accept that we've done all that we can toward that goal and acknowledge that proceeding toward the Alpha quadrant is now our primary objective." Janeway said seriously.
"So, we're giving up?" Paris asked cautiously.
"No. We'll still look for clues and if there's any possibility of finding Voyager, of course, we'll pursue it. But at this point in time, there's nothing more we can do to further that goal. Until the time comes that we have a reason to do otherwise, we need to focus on the goal of reaching the Alpha quadrant. Assuming that Voyager is doing the same, it's our best chance of joining up with them." Janeway said as she looked around the bridge, and seemed to be hoping that someone would challenge her evaluation.
"Logical." Kim said without looking away from her scanners.
Paris finally nodded as he said, "The universe is a big place. Focusing only on finding Voyager would be like searching for a needle in a haystack."
"Statistically speaking, the chances of finding Voyager would be approximately three times ten to the twelfth power greater... assuming the haystack is of a standard size." Kim said informatively.
Janeway rolled her eyes, then said, "Thank you, Kim."
Paris and Janeway shared an amused look, then Kim suddenly said, "Captain, I'm detecting a transmission on, what might be, a Federation frequency."
"Really?" Janeway asked in surprise as she hurried to Kim's side.
"The signal is too weak and distorted for verification, but there is a sixty-three percent chance that the signal is of Federation origin." Kim said seriously.
"Can you determine their location?" Janeway asked excitedly.
"No. But their bearing is three oh six, mark seventy three." Kim said quickly.
"Helm, set course and engage at best possible speed." Janeway said firmly.
"Aye, captain." Paris said as he entered the coordinates.
"Kim, keep monitoring that frequency and let me know as soon as you can verify that it's a Federation signal... and if it's Voyager." Janeway finished hopefully.
"Yes, captain." Kim said as she kept her focus on her console.
* * * * *
"Do you think I'll be able to get a job, like you?" H'Ree asked as they walked down the corridor.
"Sure. As soon as you find something that you like doing, we'll get you a job doing it." Kel said easily.
"I don't think that we have any skills that would be of use to these people." Dohn said quietly.
"I don't know about that." Kel said thoughtfully. "It's not like I showed up here knowing how to run a transporter. They needed someone to do it and I wanted to learn, so they taught me."
"I think I'd like to work in the kitchen with Chell. It'd be fun to make food for people and watch them enjoy it." H'Ree said with a grin.
"Yes. I think doing something that makes other people happy is a good kind of job to have." Kel said as he pressed the button to open the door to the transporter room.
As soon as the door opened, they saw the scattered debris strewn across the floor.
"Is the transport unit damaged?" Dohn asked as he looked around.
"I don't think so. It looks like the shelf that held our breathers and weapons and stuff came loose and dumped everything on the floor." Kel said frankly. "We'll have to get everything picked up before I can see if the transporter is okay."
"Where do you want this stuff put?" H'Ree asked as he stepped forward.
"Actually, would you take care of Angel while Dohn and I put things away?" Kel asked hopefully.
"Sure. She's funny, especially when she leaks." H'Ree said with a smile.
"Just wait until diaper time, we'll see how funny you think that is." Kel said with a grin as he unhooked the child carrier from his back.
"Should I sit over there?" H'Ree asked as he pointed at a clear space along the wall.
"Yes, sit down, and I'll hand her to you." Kel said gently.
After a moment, Kel sat the carrier beside H'Ree, then transferred Angel into H'Ree's waiting arms.
"She likes me!" H'Ree said at the happy expression on Angel's face.
"Of course, she has very good taste." Kel said as he stood.
Dohn was watching from the door with a tender smile.
"Do you want to help me put these things away?" Kel asked gently.
"Would it be best if we first found a way to secure the shelving to prevent the same thing from happening again?" Dohn asked cautiously.
"Yeah. Let's take a look at what went wrong and see if we can find a better way to make it work." Kel said happily as he walked to the shelf.
Dohn walked fully into the room and to Kel's side.
* * * * *
"Captain. I have verified that the signal has Voyager's carrier frequency." Kim said seriously.
"Can we make contact?" Janeway asked as she walked to stand by Kim's station.
"Not yet. But the transmission seems to be repeating at random intervals. When they next transmit, I should be able to lock onto their frequency and boost the signal enough to receive their audio transmission." Kim said professionally.
"Good." Janeway said firmly as she watched the comm equipment for any sign of a transmission.
A small, irregular pattern flashed on the screen for an instant, and Kim worked to lock in on it.
Janeway held her breath and strained to hear what they were saying.
"...any ship within range. We are under attack..." sounded over the comm system.
Janeway froze in place as she recognized the sound of her own voice, or at least, the voice that she once remembered as being her own.
"The signal is weaker than I anticipated. It may not be possible to establish two-way communications as of yet, but if we transmit on their frequency, I am reasonably certain that they will receive our transmission." Kim said carefully.
"Let me know when you're ready to transmit." Janeway said firmly.
After a moment, Kim turned to Janeway and nodded.
"Starship Voyager, this is the starship Amalgam. We have heard your distress call and are in transit to your location. We should have two-way communication shortly. Please advise how we can be of assistance." Janeway said in a loud, firm voice.
Silence filled the bridge as the entire bridge crew waited anxiously for a reply.
Finally, after long minutes of waiting, the faint sound of Captain Janeway's voice responded, "...received. Over one hundred Videan ships..."
Janeway waited for a moment longer, but no more of the message came through.
"Kim, keep trying to get a lock on that signal. Bey, dive into the computer records and see what you can find out about Videans." Janeway said seriously.
"May I call on Nicoletti for help? She's a lot more familiar with the indexing of the incorporated databases than I am." Bey asked quickly.
"Good idea. Find out as much as you can." Janeway said firmly.
* * * * *
"Hi Blain. Do you have a minute?" Kel asked as he led Dohn and H'Ree into the security office.
"Sure. I was just tinkering with a personal project. What can I do for you?" Blain asked curiously.
"H'Ree just arrived on the ship yesterday and I was wondering if you could make some clothes for him." Kel said frankly.
"Hold still." Dohn said quietly from over Kel's shoulder.
"What's wrong?" Kel asked as he froze in place.
"Your sister is leaking again. I just wanted to clean it up." Dohn said as he dabbed a towel around the little girl's mouth.
"H'Ree, was it?" Blain asked as he stood.
"Yes, sir." H'Ree said timidly as he looked up at the much taller man.
"Just hold still for a minute while I get some measurements, then I'll see what I can do for you." Blain said gently as he took out a tape measure.
When Blain started measuring him, H'Ree seemed uncertain and looked to Kel for assurance.
"He just needs to know how big you are so he can get you clothes that are the right size." Kel said gently.
Tears began to well in H'Ree's eyes, but he remained still until Blain had finished.
"I'm all done. Stay here for just a minute while I see what I have in my storeroom." Blain said gently as he slowly backed away.
As soon as Blain was out of the room, Dohn moved forward and pulled H'Ree into a firm hug.
Neither Kel nor Dohn needed to ask what was causing H'Ree's reaction.
"You're safe here. No one will make you do those things anymore." Kel said gently.
"I'm sorry. I know he wasn't going to hurt me." H'Ree sniffled.
"Your brain may know that, but your body still remembers those unwelcomed touches and causes you to react as you did then." Kel said gently. "It will just take time for your body to realize that you're in a safe place."
Dohn looked up at Kel, his own tears freely falling.
"Did I do something wrong?" Blain asked as he walked back into the room, carrying some folded clothes.
"No. You didn't." Kel said as he turned his attention to Blain. "Something reminded H'Ree of the bad stuff that happened to him before. It happens sometimes, it's not your fault."
"Oh. Well, I have these clothes that I made for you when you were H'Ree's size. There's just a few things, but if he grows like you did... well, it'll probably be enough. Just let me know if you need more." Blain said gently.
"Thank you, Blain. We will." Kel said as he looked at H'Ree with concern.
"What about your other friend... Dohn? Is that right?" Blain asked cautiously.
"Yes. I was told yesterday that they should have a stock of suitable clothing already made in my size." Dohn said cautiously, still squatting and holding H'Ree close to his chest.
"That's right. You'll probably be able to find some things in there that will fit you. But sometimes it's nice to have one or two sets of clothing that fit really well. It can make your day just a little bit happier to be comfortable and to feel like you really look good." Blain said seriously. "Once you get settled in, consider stopping by."
Dohn hesitantly nodded.
"Come on, guys. We'd better get back to the cabin before the dads get off work. They might get all anxious if we're not there when they get home." Kel said with a grateful smile at Blain.
Dohn stood and kept a hand on H'Ree's shoulder.
As they were walking to the door, H'Ree stopped and turned. "Thanks for the clothes."
"It was my pleasure, H'Ree. Stop by again the next time you need clothes." Blain said gently.
H'Ree nodded, then walked with Dohn out the door.
"Thanks Blain." Kel said sincerely, then followed H'Ree and Dohn.
* * * * *
"Voyager is hailing us. We have two-way communication, audio only." Kim said from her station.
"Proceed." Janeway said firmly.
"This is Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation starship Voyager. Thank you for answering our distress call." Captain Janeway said from the speaker above them.
Janeway stood from her station and looked up as she said, "I am Captain Winger of the Amalgam. Would you advise us of your situation?"
"We're under attack by Videan ships. They're intent on harvesting our flesh." Captain Janeway said frankly.
"By everything we've been able to learn about the Videans, their technology shouldn't be any match for yours." Janeway said slowly.
"Normally they wouldn't be, but we've got nearly two hundred ships swarming around us right now and they've been attacking us for ten days. Yesterday I finally came to the conclusion that we can't keep this up indefinitely." Captain Janeway said as the weariness could be heard in her voice.
"Acknowledged. We are travelling to your location at best possible speed. We anticipate rendezvous in approximately forty-eight hours. Perhaps, if you could attempt to travel in our direction, we could meet up sooner." Janeway said carefully.
"That shouldn't be a problem. Running seems to be our only effective option at the moment." Captain Janeway said frankly.
"Just hang in there. Our ship may not be the most beautiful thing you've ever seen, but she's armed to the teeth." Janeway said in an assuring tone.
"I'll take function over aesthetics any day." Captain Janeway said with a weary chuckle, then the sound of an impact could be heard in the background.
"Forty-eight hours. Amalgam, out." Janeway said solemnly.
"Voyager, out." Captain Janeway responded, then the transmission ended.
* * * * *
"Well? Any ideas of what we can do to prepare for our second battle?" Janeway asked as she looked around the bridge.
"Considering that they're being attacked by a swarm, I think the old Maquis chaff mines might be effective." Paris said frankly.
"Do we have the resources to construct them? Or the time, for that matter." Janeway asked thoughtfully as she looked more to Bey than Paris.
"Yes, and... maybe." Bey said thoughtfully, then continued, "With Gerry's help, I think I can manage it."
"Any other ideas?" Janeway asked as she looked around the bridge.
"I believe that the fractal shield projector might be useful in this situation." Kim said calmly.
"It's an intriguing idea, but I'm hesitant to use it when we could use those shields as an added layer of protection for the ship." Janeway said frankly.
"I doubt that anyone will expect us to use our shields offensively. It might be just what we need to throw our enemies off guard." Paris said seriously.
Kim arched an eyebrow at Paris. She obviously hadn't been expecting his support for her idea.
Janeway thought for a moment, then said, "It sounds like a choice between being defensive or offensive. The Klingon in me has already cast her vote. Kim, prepare the projector. Once we're in battle, we'll decide if it's use will be of benefit."
Kim inclined her head in a nod of acknowledgement as well as a show of respect.
"Is that it? Any more ideas?" Janeway asked as she looked around.
"Chapman and I were discussing something while we were integrating the helm systems." Paris said thoughtfully, then glanced at Doyle Chapman at his 'stand-by' station.
"Let's have it. We need to explore every option." Janeway said firmly.
Paris looked to Chapman expectantly, encouraging him to explain.
Hesitantly, Chapman said, "Well, it's not so much of a weapon as a modification to our targeting systems. We were thinking that it might be useful in a battle situation to allow someone to man a station and have, sort of, 'random' weapons access. They could lock on targets and the computer would route their target request to any energy weapon not currently targeting. So when they fire, they won't know if they're going to be firing a phase pulse or a disruptor beam."
Paris nodded his agreement, then added, "From our standpoint, it would allow us to make use of weapon systems that would otherwise be idle. And from our opponent's point of view, it would add to the unpredictability of our attack."
Janeway considered for a moment then slowly nodded, before asking, "And all you would have to do to make it work is write a program?"
"Essentially, yes. I think that mainstreaming the user interface to function with all our different weapons systems might be the biggest challenge." Chapman said thoughtfully.
"Do it." Janeway said firmly.
Chapman nodded, then turned to his station to work.
"Engineering? Any problem with us maintaining maximum warp for two days?" Janeway asked into her comm panel.
"No problem, Captain Winger." Carey responded with an obvious smile.
"Don't get a big head. I just didn't want to give Captain Janeway too much to think about while she's in the middle of a battle." Janeway said affectionately.
"Whatever you say, Captain Winger."
* * * * *
"Bey to Kel." Sounded over the comm.
"Kel here." Kel answered immediately as he turned on his view screen.
"I'm sorry, but Paris and I are going to be working late on some weapons modifications. I just wanted to call so you wouldn't worry." Bey said regretfully.
"Is there something wrong?" Bey asked cautiously, hearing the tension in Bey's voice.
"We've located Voyager." Bey said frankly.
"Really?" Kel asked with surprise.
Bey nodded, and Kel could see on the view screen that he didn't seem to be at all happy.
"You guys go on and have dinner without us. We'll be down as soon as we possibly can." Bey said with a smile that seemed to be a little bit forced.
"Okay. Just focus on your work and don't worry about us, we're fine." Kel said reassuringly.
"I've got to get back to work. Give Angel a kiss for me. Bye." Bey said regretfully, then signed off.
Kel turned away from the comm and saw Dohn and H'Ree looking at him with concern.
"You heard Dad. Are you guys ready to go to dinner?" Kel asked as he tried to put on a cheerful face.
"I know that you're disappointed that your fathers won't be joining us." Dohn said as he walked to Kel and put an arm around him.
"Yeah." Kel quietly admitted.
"What are we going to do when we reach Voyager?" H'Ree asked curiously.
Kel shrugged slightly, then said, "We have a package to deliver to Kes. Other than that... I guess we'll just go along with what everyone else does."
"But, if I'm understanding correctly, the plan is to join up with this other ship and continue on with them to their home." Dohn said hesitantly.
"Yeah. That's right." Kel said quietly, then thought to add, "And when we go to dinner, there are probably going to be some really happy people. Try to be happy for them."
"You're not happy." H'Ree said as a statement of fact.
"No." Kel admitted, then said, "But I'm not really 'unhappy', either. I mean, I guess I'm just nervous. I kind of expected us to be living on the Amalgam for a really long time. Now it feels like everything that I was expecting is gone and I don't know what's going to happen next."
Dohn chuckled in sympathy as he held Kel a little bit tighter, then said, "I'm scared, too. But, I think, as long as we care for each other, we'll be able to face this new and uncertain future together."
"Me, too!" H'Ree said as he stepped forward and put his arms around both older boys.
"Yes, H'Ree, you, too." Dohn said as he moved one of his arms to include H'Ree in their hug.
Kel closed his eyes and drifted in the peaceful feeling of being held and protected. Deep inside him, he felt the realization awaken that this was the future that he had been searching for.
* * * * *
"Are you about done?" Paris asked as he walked into the cargo hold where Gerry and Bey were working.
"With this part, yes. We've just about got the delivery system ready to go. Gerry came up with an adaptive inter-phasic shield that I can't wait to see in action." Bey said as he kept the majority of his attention on his work.
Paris looked around, then said, "You were able to make six of them?"
"Yeah. I was originally going for four, but since we had everything we needed to make six... why not?" Bey finished with a grin at Paris.
"Chapman and I just finished the basic configuration of the new targeting system. He's testing it now. Tomorrow we'll work on the user interface, but the nuts and bolts part of it is basically ready to go. We're planning on him operating it from an auxiliary station when we're in battle." Paris said casually.
"If there's time, you should think about getting someone else trained to run it. I mean, Chapman is your backup pilot. What if you're called away and he's running the helm? Who's going to man that station?" Bey asked curiously.
"Who else could do it? We're stretched pretty thin when we're at battle stations." Paris said frankly.
"What about Dohn?" Bey asked as he looked up from his work.
Paris thought for a moment, then shook his head before saying, "I won't ask him to kill."
Bey smiled up at his husband, admiring the strength of his convictions.
"Chapman can cover it." Paris said assuringly.
"Maybe. But I don't think sheltering Dohn from making the choice for himself is the right thing to do." Bey said honestly.
Paris looked at Bey with surprise, then carefully considered his words.
"We define who we are by the choices we make. Withholding that choice from him gives him one less chance to grow." Bey said quietly.
"I suppose you're right. What he chooses has a lot more meaning than what's chosen for him." Paris said gently.
Bey nodded, then closed the panel on the torpedo he was working on.
"All done?" Paris asked hopefully.
"Yes. I'm all yours, now." Bey said with a big smile.
Paris stepped forward to pull Bey into a deep kiss.
"Would you two go on and get outta here before you make me puke?" Gerry asked playfully.
"Are you going to be okay on your own?" Bey asked with concern.
"Yeah. I'll be outta here in about two minutes." Gerry said confidently, then made a shooing motion.
"I'll see you in the morning." Bey said as he started to walk away at Paris' side.
Editor's Notes: It's a real pleasure to see more about the Son Of Voyager. We have missed them and I think Voyager will be well served by their help in dealing with the Videans. Of course we don't know for sure if they will succeed in ridding Voyager of the swarm, but we can hope. We can also hope that we will have another chapter sometime soon.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher
Proof Reader Notes: Darryl is right, it is very good to see Son Of Voyager back in action. While the chapter starts with a slight bit of a bumpy ride. The crew is ready to meet up with the crew of Voyager. Looks like suprises all around. We would like to have another chapter, but no rushing the M.M. better chapters come to those who wait. Lol, I know that sounded like a Magic Eightball Answer.