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"We should be seeing them on our long range scans any minute. Is everyone ready?" Janeway asked from her station.
"I know that you feel that this battle is important, but I don't understand who our opponents are. Isn't there some way to negotiate with them?" Dohn asked hesitantly.
Janeway turned in her seat and said, "If there were any way, I'm sure that Voyager would be talking to them instead of fighting them. But, from everything we've learned, there's no way to reason with the Videans because they're so desperate."
Dohn still didn't seem to understand.
Bey could see his confusion and quietly said, "By all accounts, their entire species is infected with a horrible plague that they call the Phage. They might have been a perfectly peaceful and reasonable people back when this all began, but at this point, they're struggling to survive by harvesting the flesh of other races to replace what's being destroyed by the disease."
Paris nodded and continued the thought, "If we were to lose this battle, they would capture the crews of both ships and dissect us. You, me, Kel and even H'Ree."
"I understand." Dohn said regretfully, then quietly added, "I will fight."
"I have located Voyager on the long range scans. She is being attacked by three hundred seventy two fighter style ships." Kim said grimly.
"All hands!" Janeway called out and automatically waited the few seconds for the computer to direct the announcement, "Battle stations. We are at red alert."
"Energy weapons are hot. Ready to fire on your command." Paris said efficiently.
"All torpedo tubes loaded and ready to fire." Bey called out next.
"Shields at full. Hull integrity at one hundred percent." Kim announced.
"All engineering systems fully functional. Primary weapon standing by and ready to charge." Carey said calmly over the intercom.
"Kim, open a hailing frequency to the Videan ships." Janeway said in a low, controlled voice.
"Aye, Captain." Kim acknowledged, then said, "Hailing frequencies open."
"Videan ships. This is the starship Amalgam. Withdraw immediately or we will be forced to destroy you." Janeway said firmly.
"This Federation ship attacked us without warning or provocation, we are merely defending ourselves." A man's voice said in a slightly whining tone.
"Captain Janeway? Could you possibly share your account of how this incident started?" Janeway asked into the air.
"Of course." Captain Janeway said immediately, then added, "The file footage is being transmitted now."
"On screen." Janeway said firmly.
Janeway watched only a few seconds of the video. The small ships were swarming to attack, seemingly out of nowhere. Finally, she said, "I'm satisfied that Voyager did not provoke or attack your people. I say again, withdraw or be destroyed."
"We will be within visual range in one minute." Kim said quietly.
Janeway nodded as she waited for the Videans to respond.
"We fight for the survival of the Videan people!" The faceless voice declared as a call to war.
"This conversation is over." Janeway said and looked to see that Kim had disconnected the transmission.
"We're within scanning range. Voyager's shields are currently at thirty percent and falling." Bey said intently.
"Open a secure channel to them." Janeway said firmly, then quickly added, "Audio only."
"Aye, Captain." Kim responded automatically.
"Welcome to the party, Captain Winger." Captain Janeway said with tense humor.
"We wouldn't have dreamed of missing it." Janeway said dryly, then seriously added, "As soon as we're in visual range, get past us and let us cover you while you stabilize your shields."
"Acknowledged." Captain Janeway said immediately.
"Here we go." Janeway said as she placed her hands on her firing controls and waited for the Videan ships to come into view.
"Chaff mines, away." Paris called out suddenly.
"Kim, adjust your sensors to compensate for the chaff mines interference. Three oh eight point one one." Bey said as he quickly fired disruptors at a series of ships that were lined up like ducks in a shooting gallery.
"Captain Janeway, we've just deployed two chaff mines that will disrupt sensors. The frequency to compensate is three oh eight point one one." Janeway said into the air.
"Adjustment made." Captain Janeway quickly responded.
"Paris, adjust your targeting to the more distant fighters and leave the nearer ones to me." Kim said intently.
"I know what you're up to. You just want to try out your new weapon." Paris said with a grin.
"Adjust your targeting." Kim snapped.
Paris smiled as he started firing his phasers at more distant targets.
"Amalgam, do you need for us to take some of the heat off of you? It looks like you're about to be swarmed." Captain Janeway asked with concern.
"No. Thank you. I think we've got this." Janeway said, sounding more confident than she felt.
Suddenly, there were multiple flashes of exploding ships all around them and every ship within a hundred meters of their shields was obliterated.
After a moment, Captain Janeway replied, "It appears that you do."
"Paris! Watch that swarm at your two o'clock!" Janeway snapped.
"I was just pulling a Kim and luring them into my trap." Paris said, then made a show of pushing one button to set a chain of events into motion.
The whoomp sounds that followed caused everyone to look up at the main screen.
The three balls of electromagnetic plasma almost simultaneously impacted three clusters of Videan ships, leaving them hanging, unpowered in space.
"Non-lethal weapons? That's not like you." Janeway teased.
"Dohn's being a good influence on me." Paris said with a smile, then noticed another contingent of fighters approaching.
Before he could react, alternating phaser and disruptor fire began efficiently picking the fighters off, one by one.
"Nice shooting, Dohn." Bey said over his shoulder.
"The transport ship has just appeared on long range sensors." Kim announced.
Janeway brought up the scans on her console, then said, "We'll be discontinuing energy weapon use in about two minutes. Make 'em count."
"Amalgam, we've been able to stabilize our shields. Thank you for covering for us. However, the Videan transport ship will be arriving shortly. It's time to disengage and regroup." Captain Janeway said decisively.
"Captain Janeway, you can go if you like. But I think the Videans have already proven that once they've got your scent, they're not going to let you get away. We need to finish this." Janeway said seriously.
"I've never been one to shy away from a fight. If you want to stand, we'll stand with you." Captain Janeway said firmly as Voyager maneuvered alongside the Amalgam.
"As nice a sentiment as that is, and it really is... lovely, could you possibly stand with us symbolically and stay behind us literally? We're about to fire our primary weapon and things could get.. messy." Janeway carefully explained.
"Acknowledged. Would you like for us to get some of those fighters off of you?" Captain Janeway asked as Voyager glided back.
"No need." Kim said as she once again activated the fractal shield enhancement which sent spikes of shielding in every direction, skewering the small fighters trying to attack them.
"We'll be right over here, if you need us." Captain Janeway said slowly as Voyager backed away a little further.
"We'll be back with you when this is over. Amalgam out." Janeway said firmly, then looked at Kim to be sure that she had terminated the transmission.
"Here we go." Janeway said as she noticed the progress of the Videan transport ship. "Discontinue the use of all energy weapons."
"Photon torpedoes loaded and ready." Kim said firmly.
"So are Neutron torpedoes." Bey added helpfully.
"Hold those torpedoes. If the primary weapon fails, we may need them." Janeway said seriously.
"Primary weapon charged and ready to fire." Carey called over the intercom.
"Why, thank you, Honey." Janeway said sweetly as she waited for the Videan transport ship to show on her short range sensors.
Paris rolled his eyes at Janeway's antics.
"There." Janeway said triumphantly as she locked in on her target, then absently added, "Reverse thrusters, now."
Paris activated the thrusters just as the lights dimmed.
Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at the main view screen as the enormous pulse of energy erupted from the nose of the ship, obliterating everything in its path.
Paris glanced down at his tactical display and was satisfied to see that the Videan transport ship was exactly in the path of the approaching wave of destruction.
The main screen sparked and flared with hundreds of small explosions as the wave progressed.
Paris noticed that a few stray fighters that were far enough to the sides to have been missed by the graviton wave were moving in to attack. But before he could react, he saw that alternating phasers and disruptors were firing in their direction.
"Good work, Dohn." Paris said with a smile in his direction before looking back to the main screen in time to see the enormous Videan transport ship dissolve under the assault from all the conflicting gravitational forces impacting it at once.
"Hold your fire." Janeway commanded, then turned to Kim and said, "Hail the remaining Videan ships."
"Channel open." Kim responded immediately.
"Videan fighters, withdraw. We have no interest in pursuing you, but if you continue your attack, we will finish this." Janeway said coldly.
There was a long moment of silence, then Kim said, "All the functional Videan ships are withdrawing."
"Good enough. Stand down red alert. Get me the status of weapons, shields, hull integrity, crew injuries and damage reports." Janeway called out authoritatively.
"All weapons show fully operational." Bey said immediately.
"Shields stable, integrity at ninety six point four five percent." Kim said dispassionately.
"Hull integrity... perfect. I don't think a single one of their shots made it through our shields." Paris said, sounding to be surprised.
"All stations reporting, no injuries, no damage." Kim said a moment later.
"Well, I suppose as fights go, we came out of this one pretty well off." Janeway said in a bewildered tone.
"I expected at least a skinned knee or a bloody nose." Paris sympathized.
"Well, then. I suppose that since we don't have anything to repair... or even to clean up... our next chore will be to talk to Voyager." Janeway said reluctantly as she looked around.
"Can't we go chase after the Videans, first? I mean, just for a little while?" Paris asked hopefully.
"Unfortunately, no." Janeway said to Paris regretfully, then turned to Kim and said, "Open a channel to Voyager."
"That was quite an impressive display. Although we've investigated the use of a graviton wave as a propulsion method, we've never thought of using it as a weapon." Captain Janeway said enthusiastically.
"Yes, Captain. I believe that you had some questions for us. Would now be a good time?" Janeway asked cautiously.
"Yes. Do you have transporter capability?" Captain Janeway asked curiously.
"Yes. Of course. Send us coordinates and we'll beam over shortly." Janeway said, trying to hide her irritation.
"Kel, please report to the transporter room." Bey said quietly into his comm.
"I'm already here, Dad." Kel responded a moment later.
"I think it would be best for a small team to make first contact." Janeway said thoughtfully as she looked around the bridge.
"I can look after things while you're gone." Bey said as he looked her in the eyes, letting it be known in no uncertain terms that he did NOT want to go.
Finally, Janeway said, "Paris and Dohn, you're with me."
Dohn looked at Janeway with surprise, not sure he had understood her correctly.
"Be careful." Bey said gently to Paris.
"You know me better than that." Paris said back, with an impish grin.
"Did you want for me to accompany you?" Dohn asked uncertainly.
"You're my Chief of Security. According to regulations, I have to take you with me on a 'first contact' mission." Janeway said, seeming to be serious, then started walking as she said, "Let's go."
Paris walked immediately to her side.
"Just stay with us and remain silent as much as possible. I'll introduce you as my Chief of Security, and they'll probably make some assumptions about you... that will work in our favor." Janeway said thoughtfully.
"Have you ever seen how Kim stands on the bridge?" Paris asked curiously.
Dohn glanced at him and hesitantly nodded.
"Just stand like that and say nothing and everyone will leave you alone." Paris said assuringly.
Janeway led the way as they walked into the small transporter room.
"How was it?" Kel asked Dohn excitedly.
"We have to go to Voyager, now. I will tell you all about it later." Dohn said to Kel warmly.
"Be careful." Kel said with concern.
Dohn glanced shyly at Paris before saying, "You know me better than that."
Kel was surprised for a moment by the response, but soon dissolved into giggles.
"Kel, would you transport us over to Voyager? You should have the information to link to their transporter." Janeway asked with a smile.
"I've got it, Aunt Janeway. When we were on the homeworld, we were asked to deliver something to an Ocampan named Kes, who left with Voyager. Should we do that now?" Kel asked seriously.
"I think we'll wait and see how this goes, first. If all goes well, then perhaps you could go with Dohn and H'Ree and deliver it yourselves." Janeway said warmly.
"Thank you, Aunt Janeway. I'm ready to transport, on your command." Kel said confidently.
* * * * *
As the transporter beam cleared, Janeway was standing, facing the face she once saw in her mirror, at least, in some of her distant memories.
"Welcome to Voyager. As I'm sure you know, I'm Captain Kathryn Janeway, this is my first officer, Commander Chakotay, and my head of security, Lieutenant Commander Tuvok." Captain Janeway said proudly.
"Thank you, Captain. I am Janeway Winger-Torres, to my right is my first officer, Paris Chakotay and to my left is my Chief of Security, Dohn." Janeway said cautiously, waiting for a reaction.
"Winger, Torres, Paris, Chakotay? How is this?" Captain Janeway asked cautiously.
"Perhaps we should find a place to sit down where we can discuss this. It could take a few minutes." Janeway said hesitantly.
Tuvok raised an eyebrow at the obvious understatement.
"Yes. I have a feeling that you may be right about that." Captain Janeway said somewhat distantly, then seemed to come back to herself and continued, "Right this way."
* * * * *
"I hardly know which questions to ask first." Captain Janeway said as they settled into seats in her ready room.
"Let me save you some time." Janeway said simply, then continued, "A little over a year ago, Voyager and the Crazy Horse were brought to the Delta Quadrant, against your will. When the caretaker of the array that brought you here had you in his possession, he extracted genetic samples from all the surviving members of your crews. While you were there, he also had some Ocampan scientists telepathically probe each of you and make copies of all your memories. Those Ocampan scientists then took the samples to a space station and created a series of hybrid beings. So far as we've been able to ascertain, the purpose was to create a being that was resistant to a particular virus that was of concern to the caretaker."
Captain Janeway slowly nodded as Commander Chakotay and Tuvok looked on impassively.
"Once the hybrids were created, the memories collected from the crews of Voyager and the Crazy Horse were transferred to the hybrid beings, for safe keeping. What happened next is a bit vague, but it seems that after the caretaker's array was destroyed, the Ocampan scientists were threatened or afraid... for whatever reason, they left the station, destroying thousands of hybrid clones before they did. Somehow, either due to a negligent scientist or a computer error, one group of hybrid clones was not destroyed. That would be us." Janeway finished seriously.
"So, if I'm understanding what you're saying, you're a combination of me, B'Elanna Torres and Crewman Winger." Captain Janeway said incredulously.
"No. Winger is my married name. My husband is Carey Winger. But I am the hybrid clone of Kathryn Janeway and B'Elanna Torres." She finished calmly.
"And you are..." Commander Chakotay began to say, staring at Paris with something akin to horror in his expression.
"That's right, Dad. I'm what happens when we cross you with Tom Paris."
Chakotay stared, open mouthed, at the announcement.
"Might I inquire if a hybrid were also created using my genetic material." Tuvok asked carefully.
"Yes. She is known as Kim Tuvok. I think you might be proud of her." Paris said frankly.
Tuvok quirked an eyebrow, but didn't respond otherwise.
"If you were created in a lab in the past year, how is it that you're here, now?" Janeway asked suspiciously.
"Once we awakened and discovered our situation, we determined that catching up with Voyager would be our first priority. After all, you're the closest thing to family that we can hope to have. And the Alpha Quadrant is the closest thing to a home." Janeway said seriously.
"So you used what you could scavenge from the ship graveyard to create a ship and somehow found a way to catch up to us." Captain Janeway speculated.
"I knew we should have destroyed that ship graveyard before we left." Chakotay huffed.
"Commander." Captain Janeway hissed.
"Yes. Once we had a ship, we found some sort of alien wormhole transit network and discovered how to activate it." Janeway confirmed.
"And you want to join up with us, and continue on to the Alpha Quadrant." Janeway said slowly.
"Yes. If that's possible." Janeway confirmed.
"I think we might need to think about this for a few minutes." Captain Janeway said slowly as she stood.
"I can understand that. It's quite a bit to take on faith. If there are any other questions that I can answer, you know where to find me." Janeway said pleasantly.
"Tuvok, would you show our guests back to the transporter room, please?" Captain Janeway asked hopefully.
Tuvok gave a single nod, then gestured toward the door.
"What, no kiss goodbye for your long lost son?" Paris mock pouted at Chakotay, only to receive a scowl in response.
Janeway rolled her eyes at him, then led the way out of the room.
* * * * *
"Do you believe them?" Captain Janeway asked, once they were alone.
"Yes. I don't want to, but knowing the caretaker, it sounds just like something that he would have done." Commander Chakotay said regretfully.
"Well, then, what do you think?" Captain Janeway asked cautiously.
"It's wrong. They shouldn't exist." Chakotay said past gritted teeth.
"But they do exist. Now, how are we going to deal with it?" Captain Janeway asked reasonably.
"This goes against everything that I believe about family. By the very existence of this Paris Chakotay abomination, I'm put into the position of having an illegitimate child with Tom Paris, of all people. That forces us into a relationship that neither of us want or deserve." Chakotay said, then suddenly stood and started pacing the room.
"That's true. But the cold hard fact is that these genetic hybrids do exist. What right do we have to deny them to accompany us? Can we even consider denying them the possibility of finding a home?" Captain Janeway asked gently.
"You're right, of course. But I just want to be clear on one point, genetics or no, I'm not acknowledging any sort of relationship to that... thing." Chakotay said as he put his hands on the table and looked her in the eyes.
"Nor will I ask you to. I will only ask you to treat these beings with as much courtesy as you would any other alien species. I think that allowing them to accompany us is the right thing to do. But what you or any of the crew decides to do about acknowledging a relationship with these people is entirely up to the individual." Captain Janeway said decisively.
"I just hope 'they' can understand that." Chakotay said seriously.
"We'll make sure that they do. I think that, for the time being, we should limit contact between their crew and ours." Captain Janeway said thoughtfully.
"Agreed." Chakotay said firmly.
* * * * *
"How did it go?" Kel asked as soon as the transporter beams released their passengers.
"Let's just say, I don't think that they're going to throw a parade to welcome us." Paris said frankly.
Bey chuckled as he pulled Paris into a hug and said, "I could have told you that. I mean, someone walks up to you out of nowhere and says, 'Hey, this is your kid! I know that you didn't want it or know about it but, you know what? It doesn't matter! Deal with it!'. How would you react to something like that?"
There was a long moment of silence before Paris finally said, "But that's what I did to you... with Angel."
"And I love Angel more than my own life." Bey said quietly, then added, "I'm just saying that not everyone will see this as a blessing."
"I guess I just naturally assumed that the family connection would be strong enough that they'd overlook the 'created in a lab' part of the equation." Paris said as he held Bey close to him.
"I'm sure some of them will." Bey said as he returned the hug.
"Janeway, I have an incoming message from Captain Janeway of Voyager." Kim said over Janeway's badge comm.
"Can you tell me what it says?" Janeway asked cautiously.
"USS Voyager has granted us permission to accompany her on the voyage to the Alpha Quadrant. However, we are restricted from contacting the Voyager crew. If a member of Voyager's crew wishes to contact a member of the Amalgam crew, then Captain Janeway will contact you to discuss it." Kim said efficiently.
"That's probably best." Bey said gently as he continued to hold Paris.
After a moment, Paris reluctantly nodded.
"As soon as we go off shift, I'm going to take you back to the cabin and kiss that frown right off your face." Bey said with a grin.
"I'm going to hold you to that." Paris said with the beginning of a smile.
Kel looked at Dohn inquiringly and received a slight smile and a nod.
Kel smiled in return.
* * * * *
"Do you think either of your parents will want to contact you?" Bey finally asked, once they were back on the bridge.
"I think Chakotay made his feelings abundantly clear. Tom... probably won't. He's been set up and knocked back down so many times that he has some serious trust issues. But it's okay. Looking at the family he's already had, I can really understand it if he doesn't want to be saddled with more." Paris said regretfully.
"I believe that Tuvok will see the logic in claiming me as one of his children and as a member of his house." Kim said seriously.
"What about Harry?" Paris asked curiously.
"He is so... emotional. I cannot begin to speculate what his decisions will be." Kim said honestly.
"What about you, Janeway? Any thoughts on whether or not your donors will want to take the step and be your parents?" Paris asked curiously.
Janeway wearily smiled at the question, then shook her head. "I don't think there's any chance of that. What I'm most worried about is that Captain Janeway might reject us en toto as being 'things' created in a lab, having less value than 'actual' life."
"You don't really believe that, do you?" Paris asked with concern.
"I don't know." Janeway said honestly.
* * * * *
A short time later, Paris noticed that Janeway had received a message that concerned her.
Normally, that wouldn't have drawn his notice. But when she walked off the bridge without a word, he began to wonder if things might be in the process of going horribly wrong.
"Paris, would you come to the med bay?" Janeway asked seriously.
"On my way." Paris said as he stood.
"I've got you covered." Bey said as he watched Paris go.
"Thanks." Paris said with a grateful smile, then hurried out of the room.
* * * * *
"You've got me worried, Janeway. Last time you called me to the med bay was to tell me that I was going to be a father." Paris said jokingly as he entered.
"Not this time, Paris." Janeway said with a smile, then added, "I think that this time, you're going to be a son. Tom Paris has requested to be allowed to contact you. I called you in here because I thought you might want to have this conversation privately."
Paris was stunned for a moment, but before Janeway could walk out of the room, he rushed to say, "Thank you."
Janeway nodded, then continued on.
* * * * *
When the viewscreen came on, Paris had the oddest sensation of looking into one of his dreams.
"You're my son?" Tom Paris asked cautiously.
"If you want to look at it that way." Paris said quietly, then added, "I'm the genetic hybrid of you and Commander Chakotay."
"Let's just call you my son. It's a lot easier to wrap my brain around." Tom said with his rakish grin, then thought to ask, "What's your name?"
"I'm Paris Chakotay." Paris said hesitantly as he watched for Tom's reaction.
"I bet Chakotay looked like he just sucked a bushel of lemons when he heard that." Tom chuckled.
Paris smiled and said, "More like a truckload."
"Listen, I'm on my break right now, so I can't be on here very long. I just wanted to make contact and find out if you're even interested in... you know... having some kind of relationship." Tom finished shyly.
Paris chuckled and tried to inconspicuously wipe the tears from his eyes as he said, "Yes. I'm very interested. I don't know how our captains feel about it, but I'd really like it if you could come over here and visit. I'd like to introduce you to my family."
"Your family? Wait! Don't tell me! I want to find out face-to-face. I'll find some way to work it out with the captain. I go off duty in about two hours." Tom said with a broad smile.
"Okay. Thanks." Paris choked out, not even worrying about the tears that were running down his cheeks.
"Break's over. Gotta go. See you in two." Tom said quickly, then ended the transmission.
It took a few minutes but Paris was finally able to gather his emotions and return to the bridge.
* * * * *
"What happened?" Bey asked with concern.
"Tom... Paris, he called me. He wants to come here." Paris said as he tried to keep his tears from returning.
Bey smiled broadly and fought the urge to leave his station and hug his husband.
"That is, with the captains' approval." Paris said with a smile in Janeway's direction.
"Your captain wholeheartedly approves of Tom Paris visiting. I'm happy for you, Paris." Janeway said with a smile.
"Maybe one of your donors will want to find out about you, too." Bey said to Janeway quietly.
Janeway shook her head and said, "I know them too well. Regardless of what either of them actually feel, their cast iron personas won't allow them to take that step and reach out. Do I like it? No. Am I upset by it? Not really. It is what it is."
Oh, I so hate those words, "To Be Continued".
Not that I want it to end, but that I have to wait for the next chapter.
I had a feeling that The Voyager crew wouldn't run and hug their Bastard children.
I am a bit disappointed, though, to see how ungrateful they seemed, considering how unlikely it would have been that they would have survived the Videan attack without the help of the Amalgam crew.
Of all the Voyager crew, I sort of expected that if one of them would take the chance and make contact, it would be Tom. His personality and his status on board Voyager make him more likely to look for something from the Amalgam crew, and Paris in particular.
All of the Makee members of the Voyager crew were second class, at least at first, but as their voyage continued, most of them found a place among the regular crew, but Tom Paris was not quite so lucky.
Most of his off duty time, he spent in Holodeck simulations.
Not exactly very satisfying, I suspect. I wonder what will come of his meeting with Paris. Stay tuned and let's see what happens next.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher