part 3

Chapter 5: This is the Captain Speaking

In true Kathryn Janeway fashion, she exited the Mess Hall with her head held high. One look over her shoulder told the three senior officers standing in her wake that she expected them to follow.

As they reached the turbo lift, Tom was the first to speak. “Captain, I am so sorry…it was a slip of the tongue. I…”

She held her hand up to stop him from continuing. “Mr. Paris, I have absolutely no interest in any excuse you have to offer at this moment. You were entrusted with a delicate secret; and, you found a way to let it slip less than 24 hours after being made privy to it.”

Even B’Elanna felt sorry for Tom as the Captain’s glare was in full force at the moment. Before anyone could say anything else, the turbo lift arrived at the bridge and the four officers disembarked.

“Captain on deck!” Tuvok announced and everyone stood at attention.

“As you were. Mr. Chakotay – my ready room. Tuvok – you have the bridge.” She moved into her ready room without another word or glance in anyone’s direction.

Tom caught Chakotay’s arm before he went into the Ready Room, “Chakotay, I am sorry. If there’s anything I can do to make this right?”

Chakotay smiled sympathetically at the young man, “I’m not sure you can make it right, Tom; but, I’m sure she’ll find a way for you to make it up to her.” With that, he turned and requested permission to enter the Ready Room to face a very angry Captain.

Anger didn’t quite complete the myriad of emotions that were flying through the Captain at warp speed. Oh she was angry all right; but she was also embarrassed, frustrated and, most terrifying for her, undecided. She was wearing a path in the carpet of the ready room with all of her pacing.

Chakotay waited for her to speak as she fought for control of those emotions. “So what are we going to do now? The rumor mill travels faster here than a star going supernova. By the end of the alpha shift, everyone on the ship will know!” The look of exasperation was uncharacteristic for her normally composed captain face.

“Tell them” was his simple response.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Don’t let the rumor mill win – tell them now and head off the rumors with the truth. Make a ship-wide announcement that gives enough information to satisfy without going into too much detail.” He had moved to stand close to her now still form.

She raised one eyebrow and responded sarcastically, “Just like that? Just tell them. You oversimplify things, Chakotay.”

He leaned over and kissed her on the forehead and then whispered in her ear, “No, my love, you just always make things too complicated.”

Her eyes closed the moment she felt his mouth near her. The soft kiss and the soothing voice was enough to help calm her frayed nerves. He pulled her into an embrace that offered strength, love and support. After a moment, she stood up straight and moved away to the middle of her ready room.

“All hands, this is the Captain speaking.” Her strong voice was heard throughout the ship.

“I, along with Commander Chakotay have an announcement to make. The Commander and I would like to officially invite you to our wedding which is to take place within the next 30 days. I do apologize that formal invitations will not be sent; but, as your command team, we find there is little time for such matters. More details will follow.”

She looked over to Chakotay who was grinning from ear to ear. His smile warmed her heart and gave her courage to continue.

“Additionally, for those of you who may have not been privy to the slip in the mess hall this morning by Lt. Paris, the Commander and I (with a little help from Q – which I will not elaborate on, so don’t ask), will be expecting our first child in approximately 6 months. We appreciate your patience and support during this time of transition.”

Chakotay had come to stand behind her and now wrapped his arms around her waist and put his large hands protectively over her abdomen where their child now resided.

“On a final note, due to the fact that Mr. Paris’ slip this morning resulted in information having to be shared that seriously affected the betting pools, I am ordering that all bets are winners and that Mr. Paris will personally pay all those who were participating as if their bet was the winning one. Should any of you have trouble collecting from Mr. Paris, please come and see me personally. Thank you all – Captain Kathryn Janeway out.”

As soon as the comlink was cut, Chakotay burst into laughter. “Oh, Kathryn, that was certainly one way to make Tom pay!”

“That was the easy part, my love. Tom’s rations are very dear to him – I figure that he will spend a lot of time in the Mess Hall over the next several months while paying off these wins. Perhaps that time will be well spent in learning to control his tongue!”

A much happier Captain and Commander exited the Ready Room to the Bridge. As they exited the doors, everyone on the bridge stood and started cheering. A flood of emotions overcame both of them as they saw the respect and family-type love that each one of them felt for their commanding officers. Even Tuvok looked very pleased. He was the first to approach the command team, raising his hand in the traditional Vulcan gesture, he offered, “May you, your love for each other, and your children live long and prosper.”

Kathryn hugged her old friend, but then admonished him, “Children? Getting a little ahead of yourself there, aren’t you old friend?”

Tuvok responded by simply raising one eyebrow.

Harry, too, was blushing as he approached each and shook their hands. “Congratulations, Captain – Commander. I had no idea you two were even dating each other.”

“Well, Harry, that was the idea.” Kathryn teased. “Does that mean you won’t be receiving any rations from Mr. Paris?” She glanced in Tom’s direction who seemed to be mentally calculating how much his slip this morning was really going to cost him.

Harry’s blush deepened a bit more, “Ok, maybe I had a little idea.”

Everyone laughed at his admission – even Tom had to chuckle.

Tom and B’Elanna were the last ones to make their way to the couple. B’Elanna hugged them both and then slapped Chakotay on the back as she teased, “’Bout time, old man – you’re not getting any younger, you know!”

“Don’t start with me, B’Elanna – I can’t fight back now that I’m going to be an old, married man with a family to raise.”

Tom hugged his Captain and whispered for her ears only, “When Chakotay told me you’d find a way for me to make it up to you, he wasn’t kidding! I just hope I have some rations left for the baby gift.”

Smiling, she whispered back, “That’s what I like to call babysitting; Mr. Paris and I have you scheduled for lots of it.”

“Once my debts are paid, will we be even?” Tom asked hopefully.

She patted him on the back as she had seen B’Elanna do many times, “Not even close, flyboy! Now back to the helm before your Captain gets hormonal and sends you to clean the plasma conduits with a toothbrush.”

Tom stood at attention, saluted and with a smile said, “Aye, Aye Ma’am”

As he turned to walk away and Kathryn took her seat in the center of the bridge, she couldn’t help but say, “Oh, sure…NOW you get it right!”

Chapter 6: No Response

At the end of the Alpha shift, Kathryn and Chakotay found similar well-wishers throughout the ship. Everyone seemed very relieved that the couple had finally found their way to each other, even if it was Q who was ultimately responsible for the circumstances that forced the two of them together.

Once back in their quarters that evening, Kathryn seated herself on the couch and propped up her feet, “I must admit, Chakotay, I’m a little surprised by how well everyone accepted our news.”

“I supposed I’m relieved.” Chakotay responded as he sat down next to her.

Her Irish temper rose a bit as she turned to face him, “Relieved? What do you mean by that?”

Realizing he had chosen the wrong words, even if they were the truth, “Just that had the crew responded less than positively, I was concerned that you might rethink your position on things – especially the part about marrying me.”

“So now I am a Captain who is subject to the whims and moods of her crew? Unable to make a decision for myself?”

Sighing, Chakotay realized that this was not the sequence of events he had hoped for tonight. Rather than celebrating acceptance from the crew, they were fighting over it. “Kathryn, you’re putting words in my mouth. I know how important your crew is to you; and, whether you want to admit it or not, you care what their perception is of you. If you didn’t, we would have been together a long time ago. I am speaking strictly on a personal level here. On a professional level I, along with the rest of the crew, know without a doubt that you will always make the best decisions for our welfare. Those decisions being made irregardless of how you think the crew might feel about them. Believe me, Kathryn; no one would ever accuse you of being unable to make a decision or being subject to the whims of your crew.”

He held his breath to see if that would be enough to allay her rising temper.

“That is the truth, Chakotay. I always…always put the best interest of my crew ahead of myself.”

He pulled her a little closer to him and wrapped his arm around her so that she was nestled up against his chest. “Yes you do, my love. Always.”

She was still a little tense in his arms, but had opted not to argue anymore as she was tired from the events of the day.

“So, should we begin planning the details of our wedding?” Chakotay asked, hoping to change the subject.

“Honestly, Chakotay – I don’t even know where to begin.”

He couldn’t resist teasing her a bit, “Well, we could always ask Seven to be the coordinator and Neelix could cater it.”

She twisted in his embrace and slid down the couch so she was laying in his lap looking up at him. “Oh, I can just see it now: The music is irrelevant; the dresses are irrelevant; and vows are irrelevant. And don’t get me started on Neelix’s cooking.” Her hand was over her forehead in a classic Janeway maneuver as she shook her head as the thoughts about those two handling the details of her wedding flitted through her head.

Chakotay stroked his hands through her auburn tresses, “Ok, then – we’ll 86 Seven; but we might need to use Neelix to help out some with the reception. You, of course, would have final choice on the menu selection. OK?”

She was almost asleep now, “Mmmhmm, sure, whatever you say.”

A week later in the Ready Room

“Chakotay, I am through discussing this. It is my decision. We need the supplies and the Tak Tak are insisting that the Captain be the one doing the negotiating.”

“Then let me go with you. Why does Neelix have to be the one to go?”

Kathryn sighed. She knew this was not going to be easy; but he had certainly been stubborn about this away mission. “Because Chakotay, he is our ambassador – he knows the Tak Tak – and, he knows what supplies we need. And," she closed the space in between them and put her hands on his chest as she looked up at his worried face. “And, because I need you to take care of Voyager while I’m gone.”

“And who will take care of you? And the baby?”

“Chakotay – I know you like to be the Angry Warrior who takes care of me; and, I like that about you. But, I am capable of taking care of myself…and, our baby. I promise I won’t do anything that will bring harm to either of us, ok?”

He just couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad was about to happen, “No, Kathryn – it’s not ok. I don’t think you should go.”

Kathryn had had enough and the Captain took over. She stepped away from him and looked up at him, her jaw set with determination, “That decision, Commander, is not yours to make. Now I have work to do before we leave. Dismissed.”

Bristling a bit at her use of their titles, he stood straight, saluted and said, “Aye Aye Captain.” He turned on his heels and exited her ready room. He didn’t see her again before she left that evening.

Two days later

“Voyager. It’s good to see you. Please prepare to receive us in Shuttle Bay 2.” Captain Janeway spoke as she hailed Voyager.

No response. It appeared that Voyager was adrift in space.

“Voyager – this is Janeway. Please respond.” Now she was worried. She tossed a glance in Neelix’s direction. The concern was evident on his face as well.

Still no response.

“Ok, so I’ll do a manual override and we’ll land this girl ourselves. Sound good, Neelix?”

“Sure Captain. It’s good to be home again.”

After landing the shuttlecraft, Neelix and Janeway exited the shuttlecraft expecting to find the normal crew complement carrying out their duties. No one was in sight. “I don’t know about you, Neelix, but I think it’s high time we found out what the hell was going on here.”

“I would agree, Captain. Something seems very strange here.”

They took the turbolift, which seemed to be one of the few systems that were still on-line, to head to the Bridge. Kathryn was more than anxious to learn why no one had responded to her hails. As the turbolift ascended toward the Bridge, they heard banging noises all around them and then the lift stopped. Kathryn jumped as a large stinger protruded through the wall of the lift door. The stinger sprayed Neelix with slime; but he was able to escape with the Captain through the Jeffries tubes. As they continued to make their escape, Neelix started to grow weak.

Finally, unable to continue, he stopped and lay back against the wall of one of the tubes. “Captain, I’m sorry; but I can’t go on. I don’t feel very well.”

She felt his forehead, he was burning up. “I’ll go for an emergency medical kit, Neelix. You just hold on, ok?”

No response as he slid into unconsciousness.

Janeway continued to crawl through the tube to a juncture where she knew an emergency med kit would be placed. Her body was already starting to protest all of the crawling she was doing; but she forced herself to go on. A crewmember needed her and her words from a couple of days earlier came to mind. She always put the needs of her crew first. She would just have to hope that Chakotay would forgive her and then give her one of those great massages she had come to love. She shook her head to focus her thoughts. The massage and making up with Chakotay would come later. Right now, she had to get back to Neelix.

As she made her way back to where she had left him, she was surprised to find him gone. She retraced her path in her mind and knew that she had not taken any wrong turns. This is where she had left an unconscious and barely breathing Talaxian.

“Ok, I’m apparently having baby brain drain (a term she had heard Samantha Wildman use when she was pregnant with Naomi to explain forgetfulness and other related careless things).” She said out loud even though there was no one around to respond.

Now on her own, Janeway decided that she had better arm herself with weapons and then head for the Bridge. Once she made it to the Bridge, she was greeted with a darkened room with the only light being the red alert klaxon flashing. There was no one in sight.

While trying to access some of the systems that were offline, she felt an insect flying around her neck. Before she could slap at it to kill it, it stung her. “Damn. Now how did a little bug get in here?” Refocusing on her task, she was able to bring up sensors to show her that there were faint life signs in the Mess Hall. Before heading to the Mess Hall, she sent out an encoded message to indicate her ship had been overtaken by a hostile and unknown life form. She waited to see if she received an answer.

No response.

She removed her jacket and suited up with weapons. She placed her hand protectively over her stomach and thought of her promise to Chakotay during the argument they had before she left. “I will protect you, little one…just have faith.” With renewed resolve, she took her weapon and made her way to the Mess Hall.

The sight that greeted her there was disturbing. Crewmembers were slumped at tables or laying on the floor completely unresponsive. She rushed over to young Ensign Kim and tried to shake him to wake him, “Harry! Harry!”

No response.

She grabbed her rifle again and made her way around the Mess Hall. A lump rose in her throat as she saw Chakotay lying on the floor. She whispered his name as her hands went to his neck to see if she could find a pulse. “Chakotay….Chakotay!”

Fighting to keep fear from gripping her heart as she held him, she heard a large buzzing sound. Too loud to be from the small insect that had just emerged from Chakotay’s neck, she turned just in time to see a monster size version of the small insect coming toward her with its stinger protruding. She wasn’t quick enough to get a shot off before it knocked her to the ground. Her adrenalin kicked in full force and she rolled on the ground and got to a position that allowed her to fire her rifle before the alien could attack again.

After killing the alien, she knew she needed to get out of the Mess Hall. Giving one last look in Chakotay’s direction, she fled to Sickbay. Upon her arrival in sickbay, she found Doctor holed up there with a phaser. He was able to fill her in on what had happened. He reported that the ship was infected by a strange alien macrovirus. While Janeway and Neelix were away from the ship, Voyager responded to a medical distress call from a mining colony stricken by a virus. A few of the "bugs" migrated back to the ship when he returned from treating the miners.

Since that time, the bugs spread throughout the ship's systems, and ultimately to the crew. He advised her he had come up with an antigen but had not had the chance to test it, since the huge, mature versions of the virus — such as the one that had come after Janeway — had prevented him from leaving Sickbay.

Realizing that she was now infected herself from the bite she received on the bridge; she volunteered to test the antigen and its cure. “It won’t hurt the baby, will it Doctor?”

“I can’t be certain, Captain. What I do know, though, is that if you fail to take the antigen, the baby most certainly will be harmed as the virus continues to spread throughout your system.”

“Doesn’t leave me much of a choice then, does it Doctor?” She thought of her promise to protect her unborn child and hoped that she had not just done something to break that promise.

“I’m afraid not, Captain. Shall we proceed?”

She nodded her head and felt the hiss of the hyprospray as the medicine entered her neck. She rubbed the area it had invaded and prayed silently that she had not just brought harm to her, no their baby. She didn’t think Chakotay would ever forgive her if she didn’t keep her promise to keep them safe.

After some time had passed, the Doctor pronounced that the antigen had worked. He promised to do a full scan to check the baby later; but now they had to focus on the crew. They had to figure out a way to distribute the antigen to the ailing crew who were centrally located in the Mess Hall.

Although her first idea of distributing the cure in gaseous form through the ship's environmental system didn’t work because the Tak Tak began firing on the ship, she negotiated for an hour to take care of the virus itself and cure the crew before they destroyed the ship. She figured out how to put together an antigen bomb, which destroyed the virulent invaders.

A few hours later: The ship’s systems have been restored and all crew members are recovering in their quarters.

Kathryn used a wet washcloth to wipe Chakotay’s forehead. Her other hand gently traced the tattoo as she waited for the antigen to complete its work and restore him to normal. She continued her efforts lost in thought until she felt a hand grab her wrist. “You look like hell, my love.”

Smiling at him, she responded, “Yeah, well you don’t look so hot yourself, Mister.”

They stared at each other for a few moments before she broke. She collapsed on to his prone form and she finally let the tears fall as the last of the adrenalin left her, “Oh Chakotay, I’m so sorry. I should have listened to you.”

His arms went around her to comfort her, “ you were right. If you had been here…you would have been stung and been sick. Who knows what kind of affect that would have had on the baby. No, it was good that you were gone. And, besides, who better to come back and kick some alien butt besides the Captain herself.”

Hearing his words reminded her that she had been stung and that the antigen had been administered to her. She needed to go back to Sickbay and get everything checked out. She did some mental calculations and determined that the Doctor should be free in a couple of hours. She would rest for a while and then go see him.

She snuggled into Chakotay’s embrace – glad that their little family was back together again. She would definitely have to rethink away missions – she didn’t know how much longer her body would be able to take such physical testing.

“So, my dear, have you thought about Neelix catering our wedding?”

No response except for the gentle breathing of his now asleep Captain.

tbc in part 4